Interviews

Contesting to make a strong president: M.L.A.M. Hizbullah

Former Governor of the Eastern Province M.L.A.M. Hizbullah asserted that he didn’t want to become president and that he was only contesting the presidential election to “make a strong president” for Sri Lanka.

Below are excerpts of his interview with The Sunday Morning:

What made you decide to contest the presidential election?

I’m contesting the upcoming presidential election to get the Muslim vote and to unite the Muslims. In addition, I want to support the Muslim community and demand the rights of the Muslims as well as ensure they are protected from whichever candidate ultimately wins the election.

You say you want to work with the next president for the betterment of the Muslim community and the country. Does this mean you don’t want to be president? Do you expect to lose?

I don’t expect to be president. How can I become president of this country? I have no such ideas. What I want to do is to make a president. I want to make a very strong president for this country. I want to make a president who can lead and unite this nation and ensure the security of this nation.

After the events of Easter Sunday, there has been a negative image of you being portrayed, especially among the Sinhala majority. How do you hope to overcome this?

All these are false allegations that have been levelled against me for political reasons by Rathana Thera and Gnanasara Thera. It is hate speech against me.

These allegations have nothing to with the official investigation being carried out by the relevant authorities.

The Terrorist Investigation Division, the Criminal Investigation Department, and even the Financial Crimes Investigation Division have inquired into all these allegations and have determined that they are all false and baseless. It has been proven that I have no involvement in these things.

What would your objectives be if you are elected president?

We need to have a president who can lead the country and protect the country from terrorism, extremism, and any sort of threat to the country. The president must be able to wipe out any form of threat to the country so that the country can be free to develop.

With all that has happened this year, do you think anyone outside the Muslim community would vote for you?

I’m mainly expecting Muslim votes, but in my electorate in Batticaloa, I might get votes from people I have helped. I have helped many people in Batticaloa. There are about 2,000 Sinhala votes in my electorate and there are also a large number of Tamil voters in the Batticaloa District. They could also vote for me.

Are you a serious contender or merely contesting to break the Muslim vote of the United National Front?

No, that is not true. I’m a serious contender. I have no intention of getting anyone else’s votes. I know nothing about breaking the United National Party’s Muslim votes.

I’m seriously contesting. I want to get respect from all communities. I am contesting the election with a manifesto.

Those who agree with my manifesto will vote for me.

From 1988 until last year I have been contesting in Batticaloa, so my vote base is only in that region. I don’t have votes anywhere else, so how can one say that I’m trying to break another’s vote? Those who accept my manifesto will vote for me. So this talk of me trying to break votes is not true. Those are just false allegations levelled against me.

How do you hope to get the support of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) vote base?

I’m expecting votes from all Muslim parties. Whether it is the SLMC or the All Ceylon Makkal Congress, I’m expecting the votes of all Muslim in Sri Lanka.

(SG)