Right of Reply Dayasiri Jayasekara and SLFP/SLPP intimidate Election Commission

Saturday, 16 May 2020 00:02 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Angajan’s Vadamaraatchi Youth Front leader handing out donated goods from the GS’s premises

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

In your issue of 13 May, you report that the Sri Lanka Nidahas Podujana Sandanaya (SLNPS) – the coalition including the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), through SLNPS National Organiser and SLFP General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekara, speaking from the SLPP Head Office – strongly criticised the Elections Commission as partisan, and threatened to take action against some of its members when the new Parliament is convened. This is electoral thuggery at its worst.

In particular Jayasekera named me and accused me of levelling baseless allegations against his members in the north. He said SLNPS offices in the north were removed by the EC after I complained about them. However, he claimed, the offices of TNA were not removed. “We do not see any problem of TNA having an office in the north but the questionable move was why Hoole decided to remove only the SLNPS office in the north,” he added.

He is bluffing and bullying. The issue of offices being removed concerns Angajan Ramanathan’s office in the Kachcheri. He had it as a Coordinator’s Office but after Parliament was dissolved, he had to vacate. The order to vacate had nothing to do with me but the complaints came from many sources, including Jayasekera’s ally, the EPDP. EC neutrally is not about looking the other way when election laws are violated by anyone.

During election time, Angajan Ramanathan cannot use Government property. There was no issue of removing TNA offices because the TNA was not unlawfully using Government offices for electioneering. As a politician representing the people, it is important to be accurate in statements. Readers in judging Jayasekera’s charges against me must remember that according to the International Crisis Group, “Dayasiri Jayasekera, made a public intervention to arrange bail for several Sinhalese arrested for the rioting” following the 21 April 2019 massacres. 

The link https://twitter.com/srilankatweet/status/1128479037838336001?s=21 shows Jayasekera at the Police station rescuing thugs who attacked Muslims.

And now Jayasekera threatens to remove me as an Election Commission Member for doing my work as soon as the elections are over? Recently Prof. G.L. Peiris has accused a member of the Election Commission of being a saboteur (Island, 2 March, coinciding with the dissolution of Parliament). It seems that there are forces threatening EC Members with sacking if they do not obey these forces. EC Members’ work is, among other things, to prevent election cheating. 

For instance, Angajan Ramanathan’s followers have been diverting donations coming to the Jaffna Kachcheri for those adversely affected by the Pandemic. These are diverted by high Kachcheri Officials to Angajan Ramanathan. The photo shows Angajan’s Vadamaraatchi Youth Front leader handing out these donated goods from the GS’s premises. The table stock-taking identity, KVD/J/350/04, shows the venue to be the GS’s office. The photo is from his Youth Front’s Facebook, but was removed as soon as the press got wind. When several complaints came to me about wrongfully diverted donations, I passed them on to the Commission. A high-level five-man inquiry team is in Jaffna now.

Now Angajan Ramanathan says he is sending me a letter of demand for Rs. 500 million for besmirching his “good name”. Good name? In the last LG elections, the Point Pedro Government clinic gave out medicines in sachets claiming to be from Angajan Ramanthan’s Youth Front, the same one now claiming to give relief supplies. In that instance, no action was taken. 

There are confirmed stories about EPDP Yogeswary Patkunarajah the Mayoress of Jaffna being chased with a pistol from which several bullets were fired. This was during the 2010 Parliamentary Elections. The case is ongoing. During the 2013 Provincial Elections, a close family member of his was charged with threatening TNA candidate Thambirasa using a pistol. That is also an ongoing Police case. Jayasekera has strange bedfellows from thugs who attacked Muslims to those allegedly going about brandishing pistols at mayors of Jaffna.

In our society, talking about these well-known facts is considered being non-neutral. No wonder horrible people get elected.

The message to us is clear: “This is all a game to project democracy. But we will cheat. If you stop us, we will remove you.” If the SLFP and SLPP are serious about democracy, they should stop their officials who threaten the EC when we do our work.

As for me, I will do my work, having accepted my appointment as EC Member. I hope Jayasekera’s colleagues in Parliament have the good sense not to remove EC members for doing their work. If they lack that good sense, I would rather leave my job than bow down to thugs.