Democracy Continues, Sri Lanka Style...
When Sinhala Politicians fall out, some truth may out?
14 February 2007
Sacked Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera writes to
Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse
Mangala Samaraweera M.P.
B20, Stanmore Crescent
14 February 2007
HE President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Re. Allegations leading to the Removal of Ministerial Portfolio
Under the executive powers vested in you as the President, three
Ministers, including me, were removed from our respective
ministerial portfolios with immediate effect on 9 February 2007. I
was informed of this fact while I was on an overseas visit to
Singapore. I was not surprised by this decision as I view it as the
culmination of certain events that occurred during the past few
After our ministerial portfolios were taken away, the Executive
Committee of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party was convened via telephone
on your instructions. The internal discussions you had regarding the
inner workings of the party were given immense publicity through the
state controlled Rupavahini and ITN television networks, Sri Lanka
Broadcasting Corporation, Lakhanda Broadcasting Service and the Lake
House Newspaper Group. These events were rebroadcast repeatedly.
Additionally, the text and other details of the discussions were
made available to other media outlets through your Media and
As the leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, I never expected that
you would make public the internal discussions of the party. I
strongly believe that the internal affairs of the party should be
kept within the party. Conflicts should be resolved internally and
not be publicized in a manner where opponents could exploit them.
Furthermore, the harsh criticism you directed at us during your
state visit to the Maldives was also given much publicity in the
I do have legal recourse to these allegations. However, I choose to
use my Right to Respond, which is available to me through our
constitution and through norms of civil society, to submit this
letter to you.
The entire country is shocked by your incensed decision but I am
not. Although I worked tirelessly to ensure your victory at the
polls, in the past few months I have noticed a growing sense of
mistrust and anger towards me as well as a concerted effort to
marginalize me. Though I worked with great trust in you, it seemed
clear to me that you bore a grudge against me for our previous
I have many examples of such disagreements, but choose to mention
only a few at this point.
I. It has always been a tradition of our Government for the Minister
of Foreign Affairs to be a member of the Security Council and attend
its meetings. Informing and justifying the decisions taken by the
Security Council to the international community has always been a
part of the Foreign Minister's job. Under your Presidency, I was not
made a member of the Security Council, but I continuously risked my
life in our fight against the LTTE.
During my tenure as the Foreign Minister, the LTTE was proscribed
in Canada and
the European Union. Additionally, I was responsible for
coordinating our struggle against terrorism with India and the
United States. I was responsible for coordinating and expediting the
Government's efforts to procure weapons from other countries. I
performed all these duties successfully.
The fact that I wasn't part of the Security Council was a source
of amazement for other members of the Security Council and they have
even informed your Excellency regarding this fact. Whenever they
voiced their concerns about me not being present at the Security
Council meetings, you informed them that I would be asked to attend
future meetings. However, I was never asked to attend a Security
Council meeting. Several members of the Security Council have
informed me that I was not invited to any meetings due to the
influence of your brother Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
II. I have always understood that power is a necessary tool for a
politician to perform his job. For this reason, I helped create
Governments and overturn Governments. I pursued political power in
order to serve the people. By using this power, I rebuilt Matara. I
provided employment for many young men and women. I don't have any
aspirations to build a dynasty because I am the last of the
Samaraweera family. Therefore, I consider the poor, downtrodden
people of this country my sons and daughters; my brothers and
sisters. Nothing pleases me more than the smile on the face of an
unemployed young man or woman when they obtain a job. Though we
never had enough jobs to match the demand, I have provided thousands
of jobs during my tenure as a minister. Likewise, all my deputy
ministers, other members of parliament form our party and children
of employees were all provided with jobs under guidance.
However, a few months ago, due to malicious lies spread by some of
your confidants with vested interests, you stopped all hiring at the
Port under a Presidential order. This decision shocked me and I saw
it as a move you or those around you to destabilize me politically.
III. Upon assuming duties as the Minister of Ports & Aviation, under
your directions, I made arrangements to appoint a great number of
people close to you for senior positions at various organizations
under the Ministry of Ports & Aviation. Some of the people who
obtained these positions of power have abused your trust by creating
dissent at these organizations and conspired to work against me. I
informed you on several occasions regarding such activities.
I wish to bring to your attention one such example. Upon your
recommendation, I appointed a close associate of your brother Mr.
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as the Vice Chairman of an organization under my
Ministry. This person was completely unaware of the prevailing
political climate of the country and the rules governing the
management of this organization. The only qualifications he had were
that he was a close associate of Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and was a
fellow resident of the United States. When this person began to
abuse your trust and create dissent within the organization, I had
to call a board meeting to resolve matters. At this meeting, in
front of the Secretary to the Ministry and other board members, this
person verbally abused me and behaved in a very inappropriate
I have been a Cabinet Minister for many years but I had never been
subject to such behavior. While behaving in an abusive manner, he
let it be known that he had the support of your brother Mr.
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. When I complained to you regarding this
incident, you promised to remove him from his position and avoided
discussing the matter any further. I had also complained about this
officer to Presidential Secretary Mr. Lalith Weeratunge who informed
me several times, that steps would be taken to immediately remove
this person from his position. Although, as the Minister responsible
for this organization, I had complete authority to dismiss this
person, since he was appointed on your recommendation, I had to
tolerate his behavior and not dismiss him in order to protect your
reputation and not create unnecessary problems. The man you promised
to dismiss has now been appointed by you as the Chairman of this
organization. This incident was a clear indication of your regard,
or the lack thereof, for me.
There is a similar situation at the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. A
senior officer appointed by you has been abusing your trust and
created many problems that have destabilized the entire
organization. I believe that you have used these officers to
sabotage my Ministry and to destabilize me.
IV. During my tenure as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, I managed
to accomplish a great deal. Due to our successful efforts to isolate
the LTTE internationally, I became a prime target of the LTTE. I
have been continuously informed of this fact by the national
intelligence agencies. As you well know, a large number of LTTE
terrorists who were gathering intelligence to make attempts on my
life have been arrested. When even your coordinating secretaries
have been provided with heavy security, it is indeed disheartening
to see that you have shown no concern or interest regarding my
security. In order to strengthen my security, I had to finally
resort to asking for help from your brother Mr. Basil Rajapaksa and
your coordinating secretary Mr. Sajin Vass Gunawardene. Even at such
a late stage, they made arrangements to provide me with a
bulletproof vehicle and increase my security. I wish to thank them
for their assistance.
These are but a mere few examples. Under such circumstances wouldn't
it be natural for me to think that you have been trying to
marginalize me ever since assuming high office?
Be that as it may, I was flabbergasted when you informed the
executive committee of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party that you may
consider reappointing me to my ministry if I correct whatever wrongs
I have done. I believe it is my duty not only to inform members of
the SLFP but to the people of Sri Lanka that you have misled them
with unjust allegations against me. Therefore, I intend to answer
every major allegation you have made against me.
01. Having Worked Against the Palestinian Cause?
You have accused me that the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka
to the United Nations was absent and did not vote when 158 countries
voted with Palestine. This was a special resolution brought to the
UN by the Palestinian Authority against Israel for its abuses of the
Palestinian people. United States and several other countries were
campaigning against this resolution. As the Foreign Minister, it was
a great challenge for me to decide how we should use our vote.
On the one hand, I am fully aware that we should not abandon the
cause of the Palestinian people who have maintained close ties with
Sri Lanka since Mrs. Bandaranaike's reign. I too identify closely
with the Arab cause. As a matter of fact, most of my private travels
have been to Arab countries. On the other hand, Sri Lanka can not
afford to antagonize America, an ally who has helped us in our
struggle against terrorism, not only in words but also in deed.
Having held length discussions with Foreign Ministry officials, we
reached a decision. Sri Lanka is the President of the Israel
Practice Committee (IPC), which investigates abuses committed by
Israel against the Palestinians. I was of the opinion that it would
be more productive for Sri Lanka to protect its integrity and
impartiality in the IPC. Therefore, on the vote held on 17 November
2006, Sri Lanka, as Chairman of the IPC, was not present at the
vote. It should be noted that at the Third Special Session of the
Human Rights Council on 15 November, Sri Lanka voted in favor of
On 29 November 2007, the Foreign Minister of the Palestinian
Authority, Dr. Mahmud Al Zaher, sent me a letter expressing the
Palestinian Government's gratitude for the way Sri Lanka conducted
itself at the vote. (I have attached a copy of the letter for Your
Excellency's perusal). Furthermore, two days after the vote, US
Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns telephoned me. The decision
taken by us regarding the vote went a long way in building trust and
strengthening US-Sri Lanka ties. Few days afterwards,
at the Co-Chairs Meeting in Washington DC, Nicholas Burns
expressed America's fullest support to the Government of Sri Lanka
in defeating the menace of LTTE terrorism. After the meeting
he also held a press conference that was very encouraging to the
Government and the people of Sri Lanka.
It is a victory when we can win the goodwill and trust of both
parties in such a complex international dispute. As the President,
you should be proud of the performance of your Foreign Minister in
achieving such a result. You should be praising the Foreign Ministry
since this was an international victory. We should be proud that a
developing country like Sri Lanka, while facing a myriad of
challenges, possesses such a pragmatic and effective foreign policy.
It is very disappointing that one of the primary reasons you gave
for my ouster from the Cabinet did not have any negative effect on
the Government of Palestine.
02. Boycotting Emergency Rule Vote
You have also alleged that my boycott of the Emergency Rule vote as
yet another reason for my dismissal. On the date when the debate on
the emergency law was being held, you had convened a meeting at
Temple Trees at 2.30PM to discuss the launch of the 1,000 Houses
Project initiated under the Ministry of Finance and Planning. This
meeting was called under a letter sent by you on 06 February 2007.
When I was the Minister of Urban development, we launched a project
to develop Beira Lake and to provide housing for low income earners.
Upon reassuming duties at the Ministry of Ports & Aviation, we
launched a project to develop the Beira Lake under the sponsorship
of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority. Along with the Beira Development
Project, steps were taken to develop plots of land adjacent to the
lake that was owned by the Ports Authority. Therefore, I was most
keen to attend this meeting. In order to attend this meeting, I left
parliament in the afternoon of that date. You had also written a
letter to Ports Development Minister Sripathi Sooriyarachchi that he
too attend this meeting. When I arrived at your meeting, Minister
Sooriyarachchi informed me that the meeting was going to be delayed.
Therefore, we both remained at the Ministry of Ports until we
received notice that you were ready to start the meeting. However,
at around 3.30PM, we were informed that you would not be attending
the meeting. At this point I went back to Parliament but due to
traffic congestion, I was unable to reach Parliament in time.
The Chief Government Administrative Officer Mr. Wanniarachchi had
forwarded a list of those who had not voted to the Presidential
Secretariat. As you are well aware, this list indicated that in
addition to the three Ministers who were dismissed, there were 23
other Ministers and Members of Parliament who did not participate in
the emergency rule debate. The entire country is unaware of this
fact. On that date, there were 122 votes in favor of emergency law
while 17 members of the TNA voted against it. Once you deduct the
remaining 5 MPs of the TNA and the Speaker of the House, there were
80 MPs, including a large number of Ministers, who did not vote.
Therefore, accusing me of boycotting the emergency debate does not
hold water. How can you justify the dismissal of only 3 Ministers? I
need not remind you that I have been a responsible Member of
Parliament for 17 years as well as a Cabinet Minister for 11 years.
If you look at my voting record at all previous emergency debates,
you would see that I have always voted with the Government on every
occasion, if I were present in the country.
03. Conspiring to Overthrow the Government Due to Loss of Position
You have alleged and furnished information to the Executive
Committee of the Party that I conspired to overthrow the Government
due to loss of position and privileges. I have offered my
Ministerial Portfolios in order to protect the Government. Thus,
nobody in the SLFP will ever believe such charges against me. When
the People's Alliance was in danger of collapsing in 2001, we formed
a coalition Government with the JVP. Because we had to limit the
cabinet to 20 Ministers at that time, I gave back my portfolio in
order to protect the Government. Similarly, during a dangerous
period when even your candidacy for President was at risk, I
relinquished my portfolio as Minister of Media, in order to run your
election campaign. The fact that I do not engage in politics for
positions of power and prestige or personal gain is something that
every member of the SLFP is aware of.
Despite working tirelessly and successfully as your campaign manager
during the last Presidential election, I never requested you to be
appointed as the Prime Minister. Though I had the necessary
qualifications, I never asked you for any position and you had
praised me for it in the past, a fact which I still remember. I have
never worked against the Government for the sake of position or
privileges. While within the Government, I have never criticized the
Government in public. I have never leaked cabinet secrets or
confidential documents to the media to embarrass the Government. I
have not created divisive groups within the Government of the party
and not do I intend to do so. This is not my political philosophy.
Therefore, accusing me of conspiring to overthrow the Government is
something no intelligent person would ever seriously consider.
04. Indirectly Helping the LTTE
The LTTE was banned in Canada and the European Union, which has 25
member countries, during my tenure as the Foreign Minister.
Furthermore, you are well aware of the problems that sprang up when
we were taking steps to get the LTTE banned in Australia.
When I was the Foreign Minister, I urgently requested you and
Secretary of Defense Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa that until individual
countries within the European Union legislates laws banning the
LTTE, we should take steps to avoid
human rights violations,
harassing the media, attacking
places of worship,
schools even when we take
defensive military action against the LTTE.
That Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera was
concerned to avoid human rights violations 'until
individual countries within the European Union legislate laws
banning the LTTE' is comforting, principled - and gives candid
expression to Sri Lanka's commitment to human rights and
As a true patriot, I was focused on creating a conducive
environment to get the LTTE banned in 25 countries. Therefore it is
indeed very disappointing when you attempt to portray me as an LTTE
As the Minister of Foreign Affairs, I was a prime target of the
LTTE. I was cautioned by the state intelligence agencies to be aware
of the risks I face because of my successful campaign against the
LTTE. Your inappropriate attempts to portray me as an LTTE
sympathizer is nothing but a blatant attempt to justify the decision
to dismiss me from my Ministerial post.
I. Delays in Building Hambantota Port
It was your intention to appoint a person from the Southern Province
as the Minister of Ports so that the Hambantota port could be
developed quickly which in turn would bring rapid development to the
Southern Province. This was one of my primary goals as well. The
delays in building the Hambantota port may not have pleased you but
on several occasions I have privately informed you on the underlying
When the Prime Minister of China visited Sri Lanka on the invitation
of former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaranatunge, Sri Lanka
Ports Authority signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a Chinese
company to build an oil bunkering facility. However, once you became
the President, you instructed that Hambantota should be developed
into a more comprehensive port. We called for business proposals for
In February 2006, a Chinese company had submitted a business
proposal to the Ministry. While we were busy analyzing this report,
your brother, Mr. Basil Rajapaksa submitted to me another proposal
submitted by a different Chinese company. In addition, another close
relative of yours also submitted a similar proposal. You are well
aware of the problems this created and it took quite a long time to
resolve this dispute. Finally, as per your instructions, I made
arrangements to award the construction of the Hambantota port to a
joint venture between the two Chinese companies.
Sri Lanka Ports Authority and the Chinese joint venture company
signed an MOU to prepare a comprehensive feasibility study. When you
travel to China at the end of this month to celebrate 50 years of
diplomatic relations between the two countries, all arrangements
have been made by the Ministry of Ports for you to sign the contract
with the Chinese joint venture company.
I do not know whether the problems that your relatives and
associates faced in winning the Hambantota port development project
was also a factor in my dismissal.
II. Mihin Air Deal
Your Coordinating Secretary Mr. Sajin Vass Gunawardene was very keen
to launch Mihin Air budget airline on Independence day, 4 Februrary
2007. He is the Managing Director of this airline. Though his
request was reasonable, I advised you that it would be politically
harmful to your reputation if you were to circumvent administrative
and financial rules and regulations in an attempt to speed up the
approval process. Once I explained my reasons, you too agreed with
me. In order to expedite the process, you sent a Cabinet paper for
my signature a few hours before it was due to be tabled. In order to
avoid a confrontational situation with you, I signed the cabinet
Paper against my conscience. Rushing through the approval of a
project that requires comprehensive analysis and a feasibility study
and the use of funds from the Employers Provident Fund to start such
a business are two things that I did not condone. Furthermore, many
Ministers complained to me about the fact that no copies of this
particular cabinet paper was made available to the Ministers.
Though Mr. Sajin Vass Gunawardene was annoyed at me and other
Ministry officials for the delays in getting the project approved, I
had explained to you the true picture of such a project.
Additionally, at one cabinet meeting, you indirectly accused me of
ordering the tearing down of Mihin Air advertising billboards.
However, subsequent investigations indicated that no such acts of
vandalism had taken place. Even now Mr. Sajin Vass Gunawardene is
actively engaged in efforts to launch Mihin Air. As I was a
hindrance to his attempts to circumvent the law in order to get
approval for Mihin Air, I believe that too was a factor in my
dismissal. In the recent cabinet reshuffle, the fact that Mihin Air
was taken away from the Ministry of Aviation and brought under your
control under the Gazette notification of 29.01.2007 is confirmation
of my suspicions.
III. Written Notification of Internal Issues
I have proved my loyalty to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party not only
through words but also through deeds. Every SLFP supporter is well
aware that I have worked tirelessly to build SLFP Governments and
bring down UNP Governments. Therefore, it is our primary duty and
obligation to protect the SLFP and our Government. On numerous
occasions, I have tried to discuss with you about attempts to bring
down or destabilize the Government. Though you are a sensitive
politician with decades of political experience, you never had time
to discuss these matters with me. On many occasions, your actions
were the complete opposite to what you said.
On many occasions, when we come to meet you to discuss matters of
importance, after a couple of minutes of conversation, you would
state that you would make a decision after talking to your brothers
Mr. Basil Rajapaksa ad Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, and walk away. I
take this as an indication that you were not interested in
discussing matters with me.
During the last Presidential election, having worked closely with
Mr. Basil Rajapaksa, it was my impression that he was a very astute
political dealmaker yet the fact that you gave him the authority to
make decisions on behalf of the party and the Government was a great
source of consternation to many party members. You are our political
leader but Minister and members of Parliament from our own party are
obstructed from speaking to you regarding their problems. Since you
were not interested in hearing our concerns, I began to send you
letters expressing my concerns. However, my intention in writing
these letters was not to insult you but to inform you. Even during
President Kumaranatunge's era, I had written to her regarding
matters of importance.
In order to obtain the support of the international community
against the LTTE, I wrote to you that the Government should take
steps to clear its name against charges of human rights abuses. I
even brought to your attention the fact that Sri Lanka is showing
signs of being isolated internationally and advised you on how to
formulate the foreign policy of Sri Lanka in one of my recent
IV. Problems Regarding Astrologers
I am well aware that you are a great believer in astrology,
talismans and the occult. It seems that several others, who know of
this as well, have been insinuating that I am a grave threat to you
as I too have a strong horoscope. I am completely unaware of what my
horoscope states and do not have any faith in it. I wonder if the
lies spread by these conspirators to gain your trust have also been
instrumental in me being dismissed last week.
V. Phobia of Chandrika
I am fully aware that you have been acting in an agitated manner
from the time the former President arrived in Sri Lanka. We should
give her credit because we were able to come in to power after 17
years. President Kumaranatunge was the leader who united a party
split by bitter infighting and brought it back to power after 17
years in the political wilderness.
On numerous occasions I have informed you that the close friendship
I have with her is not detrimental to you. Today she is not involved
in politics. Therefore, there is no political danger to you from
However, there are certain parties with vested interests who are
trying to create problems for me by highlighting my friendship with
her. I will never forget the strength she gave me politically and
perhaps her friendship with me might be another reason for my
VI. Maubima Newspapers:
Many people claim that there is some sort of a connection between
Maubima newspaper and me. Apart from the fact that Maubima publisher
was the head of Colombo airport, which is under my Ministry, and my
Coordinating Secretary works as an editor at Maubima and my sister
worked at Maubima's sister paper, the Weekend Standard, I don't have
any connection to Maubima. Even prior to this, several interested
parties have attempted to create a connection between Maubima and me
in order to discredit me in your eyes. This is a completely baseless
I wish to remind you a few things about Standard Newspapers (Pvt.)
Limited, the company that publishes Maubima because I would be
remiss in my duty if I didn't. As your Campaign Manager at the last
Presidential election, I had to face great many obstacles. We saw
there was an urgent need for a newspaper that would appeal to the
English speaking middle class of Sri Lanka. I asked my friend Tiran
Alles, the Chairman of the Colombo Airport Authority and Aviation
Services to start an English newspaper. He accepted this challenge
without any benefit to him and managed to publish four editions
before the Presidential election.
Nobody should forget the fact that he printed 50,000 copies of the
newspaper and distributed it free of charge was a significant factor
in ensuring your victory at the polls. My sister was the Coordinator
of this newspaper and she resigned from the company after the
After the Presidential election, the company launched Maubima as an
independent newspaper without any partiality or bias toward anybody.
Even though I don't agree with many articles that are published in
the paper, I admire their efforts in being truly independent. Though
some actions of the Government has been criticized in the newspaper,
I do not have the power to ask him to stop publishing what the
editors see fit. In any case, I do not believe that journalists
should be influenced in any manner.
The sole purpose of those who tell you that I have close connections
to Maubima is to drive a wedge between us and to create fear in your
heart about me being a threat to you.
I do not know if this too is a reason for me to be dismissed. But I
completely denounce this witch hunt against a newspaper by calling
it a terrorist newspaper.
Dear President Rajapaksa,
According to newspaper reports, if we rectify our errors, we will be
taken back into the fold of the party and offered our previous
cabinet Portfolios. However,
What have we done wrong?
* was the fact that I sent you a secret letter stating the fact that
some of your relatives and associates are interfering in Ministers'
work an offense so great to be dismissed from cabinet?
* is it wrong to make you aware that the hard earned victories of
our brave soldiers are cheapened by abductions and disappearances?
* is it wrong to propose a system to ensure human rights and media
freedoms are protected?
* is it wrong to propose ideas that would protect the party and
strengthen the Government?
* therefore, if you can mention what wrongs we have committed, it
would greatly help us and the people of Sri Lanka.
Whatever the case, the conspirators' next objective will be to
remove us from the party. We suspect as such due to the fact they
tried to deliver a mortal blow to us by asking us to correct the
mistakes that were done. The harassment that began immediately after
my Ministerial portfolio was removed under your order was massive.
An order was given to remove my security a few hours after I was
dismissed. Presidential Security Division raided my home to take the
bulletproof vehicle that was provided for my protection. Upon my
return to Sri Lanka, the security forces that were present at the
airport behaved as if they were preparing for a major terrorist
attack. Nobody except close family members was allowed to come to my
home to visit me.
Even Members of Parliament who came to visit me were turned away.
Even the doctors who came to treat my ailing mother were not allowed
to enter my home. Some of my officers' homes were raided and they
were threatened. Even the security personnel from the Ports
Authority who were in my home were removed. Even the telephone at
the security gate and the gardening implements and lawnmower were
removed under orders from the Vice Chairman of the Ports Authority.
Even the office that served as your election publicity office was
raided by armed personnel.
Today I have to face a level of harassment that I didn't have to
face when the UNP came into power. When I asked a senior security
officer why such action was being taken, he informed me that it was
done under orders of your brother, Secretary of Defense Mr.
Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. I am fully aware that the situation will
deteriorate further once this letter reaches your hands. I wouldn't
be too surprised if I were to be abducted.
Such threats and harassment will never intimidate me. These actions
will only strengthen me politically. As a person who led several
campaigns since 1994 to ensure victory for the Sri Lanka freedom
Party and for our party members, I will never abandon the party.
When the UNP caused the downfall of our Government, I was there to
ensure that we came back into power. In the future too, I will be
committed to protecting the party and ensure victory.
Today the forces that were against Mahinda Chinthana have taken over
the Government. As the man who was the Campaign Manager during your
presidential election, I will continue to battle with the forces
that supported you to ensure that the promises made during the last
election will be fulfilled.
It was reported in the media that in the speech you made to the
executive committee accusing us of various misdeeds, you left the
door open for us to come back. If such an invitation is extended by
you personally, I will not reject it. However, I would like to point
your attention to certain conditions that should be fulfilled by you
in order for us to reach a successful conclusion. If these issues
are not resolved, I do not believe that we would be able to come to
any compromise. Therefore, in light of the political issues I had
highlighted in the recent past and the present crisis, I have
prepared 10 points of discussion that I would like to present to
01. A Clearly Defined Action Plan to Address the Grievances of Those
Who Ensured Your Victory.
After a group of dissident UNP Members of Parliament joined the
Government, there is a growing perception in SLFP supporters and
among various political parties and factions who worked towards your
victory that their political lives are at risk. Those who opposed
you during the Presidential election have now obtained positions of
power and party members and supporters have been abandoned.
Especially as the leader of the party, you should listen to the
issues and address the grievances of loyal party workers. A
mechanism to find solutions for these issues must be found and a
specific day or a few hours a week should be reserved exclusively
for party activists.
02. Limit the Cabinet to 35 Members.
Our cabinet that has
become the laughing stock of the world should be reduced to a
manageable level of a maximum of 35 Ministers. (Please note that I
am not expecting any position in this new cabinet).
2-1 An environment Where Ministers are Able to Freely Perform Their
In the recent past, some of your relatives and close associates who
also have assumed your executive powers have been interfering in the
workings of several ministries that have caused immense problems
amongst the Ministers. Most serious of these allegations have been
leveled at your brother, Mr. Basil Rajapaksa. This is seriously
affecting the stability of the Government. Therefore, a suitable
mechanism must be established to free the cabinet form the clutches
of your family. An environment should be created where the cabinet,
under your leadership and guidance, should be free to engage in
2-2 Reassign subjects that clearly belong to each Ministry
As President you oversee 05 Ministries: the Presidential
Secretariat, Ministry of Religious Affairs, Ministry of Finance and
Planning, Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Nation Building.
According to the 2007 budget, the combined budget of these 05
Ministries is Rs.76,658,400 million. The entire expenditure for the
country is Rs.131,942,000 million. You control 60% of the country's
budget while 106 other Ministers are responsible for 40% of the
Not only has this caused much dissent amongst Ministers but has made
Sri Lanka the only country n the world where a single individual
controls 60% of the country's budget.
Especially the Ministry of Nation Building has taken over Samrudhi,
Rural Economic Development, Fisheries Housing, Regional Development,
Rural Livelihoods and Estate Infrastructure Development that were
previously functioning as separate Ministries. Additionally, 22
other important ministries such as Road Development Unit, Jathika
Saviya, Water and Power Supply Unit, Gamaneguma, Southern
Development Authority, 10,000 Tanks and Udarata Development
Authority too have been taken over.
Most Ministers state that the unofficial Minister for Nation
Rebuilding is Mr. Basil Rajapaksa. Already he travels to every
district and chairs meetings keeping even senior Ministers aside.
Mr. Basil Rajapaksa leads Jathika Saviya and Village Awakening
programs. This has caused a great deal of dissent amongst many
Furthermore, 27 important institutes such as Telecommunication
Regulatory Commission, PERC, Land Reform Commission" Military
Procurement Company" Mihin Air" Land Reclamation and Development
Corporation and Essential Services Commissioner Generala have also
been brought under your control without even being gazetted.
Similarly, important institutions that were under the control of
other Ministries such as Import & Export Control Department, HDFC
Bank and SME Bank have also been taken under your control.'
As such, you may keep the Ministries you can handle, according to
your wishes, and return the other Ministries to the relevant line
Ministers. By returning the Ministries and ensuring these
institutions are run well and efficiently, you will be able to
provide the service to the people who don't have any recourse.
03. Re-Establishment of Samrudhi Ministry.
After the recent Cabinet reshuffle, Samrudhi Ministry has been made
part of the Ministry of Nation Building and thus devalued.
Samrudhi Ministry which was started in 1994 under the People's
Alliance Government, is now internationally recognized as the most
successful political institute to alleviate poverty. During the last
election, the UNP announced that they would abolish the Samrudhi
Ministry. Due to this reason, even the Samrudhi recipients who were
annoyed at us supported you unconditionally to ensure your victory.
Therefore, Samrudhi Ministry should be re-established under your
control or under another appropriate Ministry.
04. Protecting Human Rights and Guaranteeing Media Freedom
I first entered Parliament in 1989. When I saw the massive human
rights violations that took place during this reign of terror, I
joined up with you to build the Mother's Front and reestablish human
rights in Sri Lanka. I think you remember very well our struggles
from almost twenty years ago and as a man who tirelessly fought for
human rights, you can not allow a repeat of that terrible period in
our history. It is not secret that disappearances, abductions,
kidnappings and killings keep happening on a daily basis in Sri
We have absolutely no arguments against defeating the LTTE
completely. But the human rights violations that occur within the
country have now become a hindrance to defeating terrorism. By
becoming known as a Government that violates human rights, we are
allowing LTTE to build a case against us for the international
community. Responding to terrorism with even more terrorism is not
the act of a responsible Government. Therefore, take a clear
decisive path to prevent human rights violations.
As the Minister of Defense, one of your most important duties is to
stop the harassment of the media under the pretext of preventing
terrorism. When the media tries to expose corruption that happens
under the guise of war, the Government should not suppress and
harass the media. There is an international perception that this
Government condones media harassment. This is a disturbing trend.
Therefore, clear decisive moves must be made to eliminate media
harassment. There should be no room to brand democratic forces and
dissenting voices as LTTE sympathizers.
05. Develop Friendly relations with India and the International
Many countries with whom we had very close relations with are now
distancing themselves from Sri Lanka. Even the historic friendship
we had with India must be further strengthened. Our friendship with
the United States, the leader in the global struggle against
terrorism and the European Union, who banned the LTTE a few months
ago, must become even tighter. It would be critical to find out why
all European countries boycotted the Aid Forum held in Galle
Soon after you assumed the Presidency, the international community
had faith in your unique style as well as restraint and patience
shown in the face of adversity. Unfortunately, events that followed
subsequently have corroded their trust in us. This is due to the
fact you have taken decisions that were diametrically opposite to
what you had promised world leaders. Consider these facts and
reformulate your foreign policy to benefit the country.
06. Work Towards Finding a Political Solution to the Ethnic Conflict
In order to truly defeat the LTTE, a political campaign must be
launched simultaneously with the ongoing military action. If we are
to free innocent Tamil people form the grip of the LTTE, it is
essential to offer a political solution that addresses the genuine
grievances of the Tamil people. Make a clear statement that a
political solution to end the armed conflict will be offered within
07. Create an Environment for the Business Community where they can
conduct Business in a peaceful climate
There were many reports about Tamil businessmen who were kidnapped
for ransom. There are allegations that after they pay huge amounts
of money as ransom, they are being asked to leave the country. I
wish to point your attention this issue.
It is important that you pay attention to the allegation by the
business community that it is impossible to run any business in Sri
Lanka without paying bribes and kickbacks to politicians and high
officials. Obstacles like this can cause immense problems in the
country and cause the economy of the country to collapse. It is
therefore imperative that the business community be allowed to run
their businesses without hindrance from politicians. Such an
environment will also attract investment into Sri Lanka both from
overseas and within the country.
08. Renew the SLFP-UNP MOU so that the Government Can Win the
Support of the JVP'
The JVP, who ensured your victory by forging an alliance and forming
a coalition Government, has now distanced themselves from the
Government. There are many reasons for this. At a time when forces
that were against you have joined you to maintain the Government,
the forces that supported you are distancing themselves from you.
This is not a good sign. Create a strategy to win back the support
of the JVP.
Take steps to renew the MOU for two years that was signed between
the SLFP and the UNP that had the blessings of all religious leaders
and intellectuals of the country.
09. Create a Strategy to Reduce the Cost of Living and Stop
Corruption and Wastage.
The people of Sri Lanka are facing serious difficulties due to the
ever increasing cost of living. Inflation is at 22%. It is important
to control the wastage and corruption that happens in most
institutions that do not have any controls or systems in place to
control corruption. Such measures will somewhat reduce the cost of
living. Make arrangements to offer the relief measures outlined in
10. Stop Bribery, Corruption and wastage.
10-1 Chairman of COPE, Mr. Wijedasa Rajapaksa, in his report accused
important politicians and high officials of cheating the country out
of more than Rs. 125 billion. Take steps to bring the culprits to
justice expeditiously. While their cases are pending, suspend their
10-2 Make whatever necessary amendments and immediately activate the
anti-corruption and anti-wastage proposals forwarded by UNDP.
I did not bring these proposals forward because I desire to obtain a
ministerial portfolio or any other benefits. My honest intention is
to protect the party, the Government and you. Should you be willing
to implement these 10 proposals, I am willing to discuss matters
with you at any time and continue on our journey together to ensure
victory and prosperity for Sri Lanka. I respectfully request an
honest answer from you regarding my proposals.
Finally, I place my life and the lives of my Parliamentary
colleagues, Anura Bandaranaike and Sripathi Sooriyarachchi in your
hands as the Minister of Defense. Although I have been removed as
the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the threat by the LTTE terrorists
does not end. The ban imposed on them by the European Union, which
has dire consequences for the LTTE, has earned me their enmity. As
you are well aware, whether in power or out, the LTTE will always
target those who they see as enemies.
Furthermore, after this letter becomes public, I will be the target
of underworld gangs, kidnappers and criminals. Under such
circumstances, a few hours after having been relinquished of my
portfolios, you have reduced my security. Therefore, I would like to
emphasize that you are entirely responsible for my life and for my
protection. I would like to state that it is your duty to ensure
that we do not meet with the same fate that befell Ministers Gamini
Dissanayake and Lalith Athulathmudali.
Since you gave so much media coverage to baseless allegations made
against me when I was stripped of my portfolio, please be advised
that I too will forward copies of this letter to the media so that
the people of Sri Lanka shall be informed of what transpired.
May the Noble Triple Gem Bless You.
Member of Parliament for Matara District