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Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Joint Opposition (JO) MP Keheliya Rambukwella speaks to Rivira with regard to the current state of political affairs.

Q : There is a rumour that you plan on joining the Government?

It was through the newspaper that I came to know that I was going to join the Government. I do not know from where this news was found and written.

Q : The rumour was that you along with several other bigwigs of the JO are planning on joining the Government.  

If I am joining the SLFP’s Government side with a bigwig it would be with the most powerful among us, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. If we were to do so, we would agree with such a programme.

Q : There is also a rumour that you have received an invitation from the United National Party (UNP) to take up a Ministerial portfolio.  

I do not even know now whether it is the UNP or the SLFP that is calling me. Some persons are saying that I am going to join the UNP. Others are saying that I am going to join President Maithripala Sirisena. They further say that I am ready to join to fill the vacancies that would arise when the Ministers who are ready to leave Sirisena, leave. Various stories are being told. I do not know anything about them.

Q : Did you not receive a Governmental invitation to join the Government?

Plenty of times they have called. That is because what is there now is an uncertain Parliament. Not just me, but others in our JO have in the past on numerous occasions received such invitations.

Q : You have no intention whatsoever of leaving the JO?

Most definitely.

Q : As much as the media came to know of your alleged decision to join the Government, Rajapaksa too must have come to know of the news. By this time, he must have spoken to you.

There is nothing to talk about. I was with him when the news that I was going to join the Government was in the morning newspapers and was being read. It was only then that Rajapaksa and I came to know that I was going to join the Government.

Q : Although you participated in many of the press conferences conducted by the JO during the initial period, we have not seen you join media briefings held in the recent past.

There is no such thing. I have joined all the special press conferences and media briefings conducted by the JO. In the same manner, I will be attending such press conferences and media briefings held in the future. There is no need for all MPs of the JO to attend all the press conferences and media briefings of the JO. Whenever my attendance is required, I will participate.

Q : What do you make of the political situation in the country at present?

The country’s political situation has reached an extremely dangerous state. The reason for this is that the country has become a country sans a definite direction. Like a kite of which the string has broken, one cannot say anything about where it is going to and how it works.

The Department of Inland Revenue has taken to the streets. Tell me if there is any group that has not taken to the streets. A new word has been coined for this. The Government states that they have created a democratic sphere.

We have to think as to whether this is in fact the case. Even now, the issue pertaining to the landslide incident in Mawanella has yet to be solved. Neither have the problems of the people who got caught to the floods in Kolonnawa been solved.

The people of Meethotamulla and Salawa, from time to time, take to the streets and fight on behalf of the issues they face. It is in a country faced with such chaos that hundreds and thousands of jobs and investments in the millions are being spoken of as materializing by 2025.

Q : Are you not saying that this Government’s shelf life is less?

I do not say that. Why is the Government not going for an election? Because they have not fulfilled the promises made to the people and because they have not done the service as expected by the people, the Government is afraid of going for elections.

The Government knows that the people will take a decision regarding them. It is the sovereign right of the people to elect the rulers that the Government has snatched. It is by holding the proper elections at the proper times that the opinion of the people can be known.

Q : What will be your role when a Government of the JO comes to power in the future?

I am acting in the JO not in expectation of any position or profit. It is only the JO that is at present fulfilling the role of the Opposition in the country. Other than fulfilling the duty of the Opposition together with the JO, we have not discussed about the powers and positions of any Government that is elected in the future.

Q : The Government is getting ready to amend the Inland Revenue Act.

The Government is getting ready to substitute a system such as the one in Singapore. The Singaporean system is not suitable for our country. Singapore is a country where the per capita income is about USD 67,000. For such a country, no problems will arise out of the provisions of the proposed Bill. We cannot approve of Acts purported to increase the country’s income. These people are joking that they are going to make the country a paradise by 2025.

Q : In the future, the Local Government election will be held under a new system. Field officers have been denied the opportunity to contest at elections this time around. Is this not a loss to the JO?  

The aim and goal of the Government in introducing such an Amendment to the Act is precisely to achieve this intention. Among the former members of Local Government authorities, there were about 400 who served as field officers. It is after a selection that they have been included in this provision. What all this shows is that the Government is afraid of holding elections.