Wednesday June 19, 2013
Salley To Put An End To The SilenceNiranjala Ariyawansha Special to Salem-News.com
"... What happened to Lasantha Wickramatunga? Now everbody calls me and says what happened to Lasantha will happen to me. I don’t care."
(COLOMBO Sunday Leader) - At the recently ended elections Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) contested separately. However after the elections ended they decided to support the government. We spoke to Azath Salley on his opinion over the party’s decision after the elections. He also shared his views on the leadership of the party.
Excerpts of the interview:
Q: What was the basis of the SLMC decision to contest separately at the Eastern Provincial Council elections? What were the conditions or agreements with the government?
A: SLMC did not want to leave the government. They asked for 6 seats from Ampara district. But they were given only four. Now it has come to lght that when he came to contest separately, Rauf Hakeem had a plan to deceive the Muslim and Tamil people.
He spoke totally against the government. He said this is a government, which demolishes mosques. People had no faith in him. At the time of Dambulla mosque incident people like Ameer Ali and Hisbullah said that this is a government that destroys mosques. These same people at the election asked the people to vote with the government in order to protect the mosques. This is what I can’t tolerate. We do not survive because of this government. Government does not give us our food. We must not do anything wrong. Hisbullah says not a single stone was thrown at the Dambulla mosque. But we saw what happened.
I believe that we live only today. What happened to Lasantha Wickramatunga? Now everbody calls me and says what happened to Lasantha will happen to me. I don’t care. I went for this election even after writing my last will. I have no expectation about my life even to that extent.
Q: You say that what Rauf Hakeem did during the Eastern election was to criticize the Government and through this get the anti government vote. After wining the election with those votes he joins the same government, which he was so critical of. How do you analyze this?
A: Clearly 4,011,000 people voted against the government in this election. The Government got only two lakhs of votes. It has no moral right to take over the eastern administration. This was done by force. The International community is watching this.
Those who received only two lakhs of votes form the government, whereas those who got four lakhs are in the opposition.
The President told Sampanthan that they were waiting to sit in the opposition once TNA form the eastern government with SLMC. Will they allow that? Once when Hakeem was on the stage I told that he says that he is the Minister of Justice. But he is only the JP Minister.
We had people like A. C. S. Hameed, Nissanka Wijeratna as Mintsers of Justice. None of the Presidents took over the Attorney General’s department under them. Just like taking all the eatable pulp of the jak fruit, the ministers are given the bark. These Ministers have no power to do anything.
I heard that when I am not on the stage someone has claimed that he is trying to put a padlock to Azath Salley’s mouth, but I cannot be controlled by anybody. Now you can understand how much I am suffering. I am ashamed to be in this government. When Hakeem says this is a government that destroys mosques people think he is a good Muslim and votes for him.
Q: As a person who knows so well about both Hakeem and the Government, what did you do in the East?
A: What I wanted was to put forward three independent groups to the three districts. Sri Ranga and myself wanted to form a Tamil-Muslim Alliance. We formed it and invited the three groups led by Hakeem, Rishad and Athaulla. That discussion failed. But when the government was not willing to give the number of seats Hakeem wanted, he called me and said we are coming out from the government.
I told him you came out not because of your love for the Muslim people. However I told him, since you are out of the government, I will get the anti-government vote for you.
Q: Didn’t you also did the same thing as Hakeem? If you knew Hakeem so well and you knew he was going to cheat, why did you support him?
A: I know it only now.
Q: How long have you known him?
A: I have known him for a long time. I have always protected him. Here also I thought he will be honest. That is why we joined with him. I was only concerned about taking the anti government vote.
Other thing was I wanted to remove this notion that a person from Colombo cannot win in the east. I got the second highest number of votes. People in Batticoloa changed history.
Q: You also did what Rauf Hakeem did?
A: No. While scolding the government he went and joined them. Until the last moment I tried to prevent him joining the government. People of the east told me to do whatever I can, to prevent Hakeem going to the government. They wanted us to join with TNA. I scolded Hakeem in public asking him not to betray the people.
Ashroff’s dream was a Muslim chief minister and the establishment of a Tamil speaking administrative unit. Hakeem betrayed that. From the day Ashroff died nothing good has happened to anybody in that party. From that day SLMC was in power. But what have they done to the Muslims? Nothing. Can people get out from their houses even after a slight rain?
No. Highest number of cancer patients are in the eastern province. The reason is the sewerage pits. These are overflowing. Few people have pipe borne water. We had big plans to rectify this situation. We had plans to develop the fishing industry. All that is over.
This was never a free and fair election. Police were partial to the government.
Q: Are you stating that this time around too the governmentpower base was firmed further at the recent Provincial elections?
A: Yes. Definitely. They are the only people who control this country. They want to control the country according to their wishes and that is why they will not appoint the independent Police Commission and Election Commission. Now S. M. Chandrasena has to forego his Cabinet position if his brother has to be appointed Chief Minister. Pavithra Wanniarachchi has asked that her husband be made the Chief Minister. She was also told to resign her Cabinet position if that is to be done.
Is there no shame amongst the Ministers of this government? Why cannot these people ask from the President if he holds that office why his brothers are not asked to vacate their positions? They were appointed by the people’s vote.
Q: This time the control of the Eastern Provincial Council was solely decided on the strength of the SLMC. The TNA without any conditions invited the SLMC to join them and take control of this Province. That was a golden opportunity to move away from racism but with the SLMC taking the position they did, were they not making history by further fostering racism?
A: Yes. Definitely. There is no point in talking about that. The SLMC should take the total responsibility for this. I did not think that they would betray in this fashion.
b>Q: Would you agree that it was the TNA at the forefront politically, just prior to and after the elections?
A: Yes. Most definitely. They were the one’s who understood the situation on the ground. We are proud of their loyalty to each other. And Mr Sampanthan invited the SLMC with humility. We respect that gesture. I asked for forgiveness from him publicly for the mistake that SLMC made. One day someone called me and asked whether we were with the LTTE. Is Sampanthan LTTE? So what of the government? It is the government that is cohabiting with those who killed for the LTTE.
The TNA is democratic. We have to go forward with them. First they said that it would be for two and a half years and then went further to offer the Chief Ministerial post for 5 years.
Q: Do you think that religious harmony has eroded in recent times?
A: To be truthful 95% of the Sinhala people are friendly. But there are a few racists. They are behind this. The newest trend is to collect stones. The place in Muttur where 200 Muslim families lived they say is theirs. There is a place in Balangoda called Jailani where we used to worship from long before. Now Udaya Gammanpila takes about 200 people and goes there saying that place is theirs. What is this?
This is not what Buddha preached. Live and let live. Is this what it is?
No. Assaults, breakings and destroying. Now is the stopping of animal sacrifice at Munneswaramn a victory for the government? No. This is to downplay the feelings of a few. We are not third class people in this country. We were born in this country. I wish to tell the JHU that we and the Tamil people have the same rights as the Sinhalese.
When the British left this country they had asked T. B. Jayah what the Muslims want. T. B. Jayah had said that we wished nothing and to give it to the Sinhalese. They are our brothers. We will sort out our problems with them. Is this the response to the trust that was there?
They break up religious sites of others saying these are temple lands. Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero had a fine answer to this. He said that temple lands are lands that belong to all religions. But some of these can have liquor bars, but not religious places of worship of other faiths. This is funny, he said.
Source: The Sunday Leader
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