- Denies letters issued because Perera and Senasinghe are supportive of Premadasa
- Insists democratic space exists within UNP for dissent
- Says other parties select candidates “in their kitchen” but UNP has transparent process
United National Party (UNP) Chairman Kabir Hashim yesterday downplayed the decision to initiate disciplinary inquiries against two of its Non-Cabinet Ministers, insisting that it would not be a “serious issue” and presenting it as evidence of internal-party democracy.
Hashim speaking to reporters was dismissive of the letters sent to Non-Cabinet Minister of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology Ajith P. Perera and Non-Cabinet Minister of Science, Technology and Research Sujeewa Senasinghe by UNP General Secretary and Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam to show cause on or before 9 September.
Kariyawasam in the letters also said a disciplinary committee would be appointed and that Perera and Senasinghe had violated the party Constitution through their statements widely published by media.
“From time to time when complaints are submitted to the party’s General Secretary by stakeholders, it is standard for him to demand explanations in writing. That is what has happened. I don’t believe that Ajith P. Perera or Sujeewa Senasinghe have behaved in a way that has violated the party Constitution. I don’t think there has been a breach of discipline,” he said.
He expressed confidence that the issue would be resolved amicably once Perera and Senasinghe presented their explanations to the UNP General Secretary.
Responding to a question on whether Perera and Senasinghe had been selected because they had openly supported UNP Deputy Leader and Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa’s efforts to be named as the party’s presidential candidate, Hashim replied that this could not be the case as no action has been taken against Premadasa.
“There are people openly saying they want to be the presidential candidate, if these disciplinary inquiries were about that issue, then letters have to be sent to them as well. I don’t think that was the case. I believe it is in response to someone’s letter or complaint, they probably wanted to take look into that.”
“There could be similar letters sent to other people in the future. We don’t know,” he added lightly.
Hashim also opined that anyone could get such letters as within the UNP no one had impunity based on their positions. He pointed out that unlike other political parties there was space within the UNP to voice opinions and this was a sign of that space.
“There is room in our party for people to speak freely. In other parties candidates are chosen inside kitchens and that is where they make their decisions.”