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The election was held on August 17th, and four days later I learnt that I had not been put into Parliament. I had been on the UPFA National List, which I gathered had been with the approval of both factions of the SLFP. But it had become clear almost immediately that happened that the polarization that was taking place would leave no room for anyone trying to hold a balance.

I had not been able, before it was submitted, to see the President to check about whether I would be on the List. But I did see him on July 14th, along with Faizer Mustapha, who had also resigned as a State Minister early in the year, deeply upset that as the leading Muslim in the SLFP who had supported the President’s campaign he had not been put into the Cabinet. The President told us that he had been responsible for ensuring that we were on the list, and we thanked him, but Faizer was much more worried about the fact that he was low down on the list, and kept questioning the President about his chances of being nominated to Parliament.

Maithripala, with a touch of the gentle irony I had found attractive in my few dealings with him, noted that he had thought we had come to thank him, not to complain. But Faizer was not to be deterred in pressing his case, and proceeded to claim that the Rajapaksa camp was deeply hostile to him because of his devotion to the President. I found this odd, given that Faizer had been one of those who crossed over to support Sirisena only when it became clear that he had a chance of winning, and when it was obvious that the Muslims would vote for him en masse and the Muslims who remained in the Rajapaksa camp had, for the moment, no prospect of political success.

But it was precisely those who crossed over late, in pursuit of their own advantages, who had to convince the President of their undying loyalty. They had nothing else to put forward, since obviously they had no commitment to the principles on which for instance Vasantha Senanayake and I had moved to support Sirisena – having previously, unlike others in government with a few honourable exceptions, raised questions with Mahinda Rajapaksa when we thought his government was going astray. Read the rest of this entry »

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qrcode.30602779I am writing in response to the letter from Mr Kamal Nissanka which appeared in the columns of the Sunday Island on July 26th. He claims in an email sent to other party members that this was in response to an article that appeared on the 19th. In fact the Island rang me up with regard to a press release he had issued, which makes it clear that bringing this matter into the public domain was a strategy employed by Mr Nissanka for reasons that should be obvious.

His latest letter is replete with inaccuracies and half truths. It is possible that his memory is faulty, but fortunately there is email evidence to the contrary with regard to his claims.

1. Mr Nissanka said that ‘I handed over Dr Rajiva Wijesinha’s nomination application to Mr Susil Premajayanha at the Ministry of Education at Battaramulla’. However, though the party had suggested my name be put forward, Mr Nissanka had also put forward his own name. When I met the President I asked him about a candidacy for the Liberal Party, at which point he said ‘Who is this Nissanka whose name has been given? We want you on the List.’ I did not mention this to Mr Nissanka at the time, but I discussed this with him later, and he did not deny this.

2. Contrary to what Mr Nissanka is now claiming, there was no great discussion in the Party about the 18th Amendment. There was no need for pressure from the party for me not to vote for the impeachment of the Chief Justice, since my reasons for not doing so have been explained by me very clearly. I should note that, in discussion, there were a couple of lawyers from Kurunagala whom Mr Nissanka had introduced to the party, who were in favour of the impeachment.

3. He claims that ‘My political relationship with Dr Wijesinha began to sink as he resigned from the state minister post without informing the party.’ On the contrary it began to sink because I did not appoint him to a position in the Ministry. The several emails he sent in this regard make the position clear.

The first was sent on the very day I assumed duties, with another immediately after.

Kamal Nissanka <kamalliberal@yahoo.com>

Jan 13

to Ananda, me

They expect me to have some position in the Rajiva ministry. I think in political type positions priority should be given to me and Stephen. Our ultimate goal is to go to parliament through NL or district contest. Party expenses are also vital. If we have political type positions we can contribute to the party.

There should be a dividend to the great sacrifice for the party.

On 15 Jan, 2015, at 7:50 pm, Kamal Nissanka <kamalliberal@yahoo.com> wrote:

Considering all these development I suggest that when positions are offered in Rajiva ministry priority should be given to me and Ananda Stephen. I have no opposition giving to other members of the committee thereafter.

In fact Mr Palitha Lihinikumara requested me tio get the “Post of Adviser- Student Affairs”. He said somebody who has an understanding  in present day radical student politics should be in charge on that.

I suggest Ananda Stephen be given “post of coordinating Secretary”. If not we cannot face our support base. I hope all of you agree with this parameter and suggestions. Fruits should be tasted by those who planted the trees.  

I explained at the Committee meeting we had a few days later that I would be happy to make appointments to cadre positions at my disposal for those able to work full time. Mr Stephen, the Deputy Secretary General, said he was willing to work full time but none of the others was able to do this.

I also explained that the post of Student Advisor had been created by a special Cabinet Paper prepared by my predecessor. With the change of government that had lapsed. I said I was not like my predecessor and did not think it proper to create new positions. I do not think it a legitimate use of government funds to help the party.

Despite this the claim was reiterated in an email of January 25th –

Kamal Nissanka <kamalliberal@yahoo.com>

Jan 25

to me, Ananda, Shalini

I have emphasized that I should be given suitable position at least for the next six months until the next parliament comes and depending on how we face elections. I thought the “Student Area” is the best for me where I could develop new relations. If possible I think Peradeniya, Rajarata, Wayamba Jaffna, Eastern, could be one area {plus or minus Sabaragamuwa and Uva) or any different arrangement. 

It should be noted that numerous ex-party members and our recent political friends are also expecting various favors through me from you and. In some cases not jobs but maybe a letter or other help. (This is the nature of Sri Lankan politics).

My view is that those who worked for the regime at the last election should not be given any position in the ministry and that would discourage us and will create an ongoing conflict. (I am not going to interfere with existing members)

And then attacks on my leadership began after what can only be described as a bitter sign off.

Kamal Nissanka <kamalliberal@yahoo.com>

Mar 27

to Ananda, me, shalini, Roshan, ravindra.abeyw., rkottageapo, Sarath, drnewtonpeiris, dunstan53, Upali, Adikari, Dr, Romesh

Some of the active members of  Rev Sobitha group pushed me to get “Student Advisor” postfrom Rajiva. I also being a mad guy eating (sic) the dead rope suggested (to) Rajiva that I should be given “student advisor”. What was Rajiva’s response? “I am not going to act like SB in appointment(s). That is the end of LPSL secretary asking favours and position from Rajiva ministry. I don’t want to be the leader o the party at this juncture. So there is no leadership struggle but I am dead sure that Rajiva can’t lead the party. For the betterment of the party he should not be the leader, we need an alternative. I thought this would be “leadership council”

4. He is talking nonsense with regard to the attempt to dismiss me, because that happened in December, and my case was very ably handled by Mr Harsha Amerasekera with no input whatsoever from the Party.

5. Finally, with regard to the vexed question of an MoU, the party decided at its January meeting to write to the UPFA about an MoU. Mr Nissanka took some time over this but he finally did so. Towards the end of March Mr Susil Premjayanth sent an MoU and wanted it signed and sent back urgently. I signed it but before I could send it, Mr Nissanka and the Deputy Secretary General said that Mr Nissanka should sign it. I had no problems with this but did worry about the delay in him getting to Colombo to sign it. Mr Nissanka had not attended the Committee meeting in February and we did not have one in March.

However he did sign the MoU finally at the meeting held on April 11th. I gave this to Mr Premjayanth, but he has not as yet given me back a copy of the document signed also by him.

It is odd that Mr Nissanka does not mention that he signed an MoU

Ananda Stephen

Jun 30

to Kamal, me, Roshans, Shalini, Sarath, dunstan53, Upali, Newton, Romesh, Adikari, tilak, Dr, ravindra.abeyw., bakmeewatta, Anura

Dear Kamal, 

Thanks, what happened to the MOU which we signed few months back ?????? initially Rajiva was planning to signed  and subsequently you signed .I strongly feel that we should ask for a meeting within next couple of days with UPFA to discuss this issue. If they don’t give us nominations the only other option is UNP, no other, we have to act fast.

6. Subsequently both Mr Nissanka and Mr Stephen, following correspondence with HE the President, sent in applications to Mr Premjayanth for nomination to District lists. They were not called for interview, and then declared, at the meeting of our Committee on July 7th that they did not wish for nomination. However the minutes as written by Mr Nissanka noted that ‘committee did not want to sabotage if any member of the party further negotiate with President regarding nominations. Dr Rajiva volunteered to discuss with President Maithreepala Sirisena regarding a national seat nomination and a district nomination for Kurunegala’. In fact I asked for a mandate from the party for this. The district nomination was a reference to the application of one of our Pradeshiya Sabha Members who had also sent in an application, and who perhaps tactlessly I had said was potentially our best candidate since he had already proved himself.

It should be noted that he had supported the candidacy of President Rajapaksa in January, and I believe the reference to not giving positions to those ‘who worked for the regime at the last election’ in the January 25th email was to him, even though he had been unanimously co-opted to the Committee at the previous meeting.

7. I should add that I am astonished that the Secretary General, without any authorization from the Committee that met on July 7th, put forward four lists off his own bat for the election. The leader of the Colombo list told me that he had found us on a website, and that he had previously contested with Dr Wickramabahu Karunaratne – whose political stances have been light years away from those of our Founder, Dr Chanaka Amaratunga.

http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=129279

In a forceful critique of attempts to amend the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, the Secretary General of the Liberal Party, Kamal Nissanka, also made no bones about the fact that the current Provincial Council system had many flaws. Though the Liberal Party has always been in favour of devolution, we have also noted that there are several things about the 13th Amendment that need improvement. However we believe that this is best done through comprehensive discussions and consensus, certainly not through contentious piecemeal adjustments.

But while several structural changes are desirable, Kamal also noted a very practical problem that I had not seen highlighted before. He wrote that the system ‘had become a method  of wielding power  by  the same people  who enjoyed  power in the centre.  Close relatives of leading politicians were promoted to stand for provincial councils making it a political extended family.’

This indeed makes a mockery of the idea that Provincial Councils should provide the people with an alternative mechanism to address their concerns. Given that the current structure entails several overlaps, the duplication of authorities which have the same perspectives means that in essence the senior partners will lay down the law.  The Provincial Councils then become a sort of rubber stamp for the central government.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

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