Hon. Sajith Premadasa MP
Leader of the Opposition,
Re: Suspension of Membership from the Samagi Jana Balawegaya
I write further to my letter dated 26th May 2022 by which I requested a time period of 30 days to respond to your letter dated 20th May 2022.
At the very outset I would like to place on record the fact that I am deeply saddened by the contents of your communication dated 20th May 2022 by which you called on me to show cause as to why I should not be expelled from the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB). The SJB is a party which was founded by several members including myself, and I have played a decisive role in every decision taken by the Party up until May 2022. The Party was founded on the premise that it would work towards the betterment of the citizens of Sri Lanka, and champion their rights and needs whilst safeguarding their franchise.
I am further astounded that you remained fixated in playing party politics in the face of an unprecedented national crisis affecting every citizen in Sri Lanka. The decisions taken by me have not been made lightly, and have always had the best interests of the Party at its forefront. I am still working in achieving a SJB led government that will serve the people of this country.
I have also become aware that you have purportedly appointed two persons to the posts I held in the SJB. You have appointed another SJB Member of Parliament as the Chief of Operations of the SJB and another person as the SJB Chief Organizer for the Wattala Electorate. I state that you made these appointments even before I sent my letter of explanation. This demonstrates bias in that you have already decided on this matter and therefore making the entire process of the purported disciplinary matters against me an exercise in futility and violates the principle of audi alteram partem.
I am advised that the communication under reference is not compliant with the provisions of the Constitution of the Party (SJB), and in particular Article 3, nor it resonates with the greater good towards the public (pro bono public). Accordingly, I am advised that your communication under reference has no legal standing and is void ab initio. Without prejudice to my legal rights, I wish to make the following response:
1. The SJB, including myself, and its Members have tirelessly worked at championing the rights of the People and giving a voice to the voiceless of this country;
2. In August 2020 the SJB was appointed as the Opposition in Parliament and you were appointed as the Leader of the Opposition mainly due to the superlative contribution made by many persons including myself from the SJB;
3. The then Ruling Party SLPP consisting of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse MP failed to deliver the aspirations of people leading to an unprecedented economic armageddon resulting in island-wide public agitation calling for the resignation Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse and the Ministers of the then Government;
4. Whilst the then Government was making excuses in covering up its failures, the SJB including myself made every effort to make public awareness of the pending economic collapse due to maladministration;
5. The SJB as the main Opposition took it upon itself to champion the cause of the people with several Members of the SJB, myself included, organizing protests and rallies against the then Government demanding their resignation;
6. You would no doubt appreciate that I led from the front having organized protests and rallies against the then Government including the SJB rally /protest march from Kandy to Colombo;
7. We have had several discussions in finding a viable political solution prior to the resurrection of the failing economy. As a first step, the Members of the SJB including myself extended our fullest co-operation to you and the Party in ousting the ten Government as a first step;
8. We then worked towards exerting pressure calling for the resignation the then Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapakse, with the view to establishing a Government led by the SJB;
9. The rising public outcry and the political pressure created by us precipitated the falling of the then Government with the resignation of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse that led to the dissolution of the Cabinet. Upon the said vacuum of leadership, the populace of this country called for an all party Government or a National Government;
10. You were then called on by President Gotabaya Rajapakse to take over the Premiership. The Members of our Party held discussions over several days, and you were strongly advised that the need of the hour was for you to take the helm in the best interests of the public and steer Sri Lanka out of the economic and social turmoil. Then public at large expressed their disappointment when you refused to accept the Post of Prime Minister. Yet we remain committed towards working for a SJB led government.
11. However, it was not to be, and your procrastination in taking a decision, the President extended the Prime Ministership to Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe MP, who then took over the Premiership and called on all Members of Parliament to support the All Party Government;
12. Thereafter the Government which was formed with Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe is not a Government of the UNP or any one political party. Rather, it is a government of the representatives of the people transcending party lines.
13. The public outcry for Gota / Rajapakses to go home remains unabated. However equally loud is the cry for strong leadership and for economic salvation!
14. I thus urged you repeatedly to set aside political differences and support the Government of Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe e as Prime Minister so that the expertise of the members of the SJB and their positive contribution could have a broader impact in bringing about political and economic stability to Sri Lanka;
15. The SJB a responsible political party should continue to champion the rights and needs of the people lest it suffers the same fate as the previous Government;
16. Accordingly, after several days of discussions with you and with the leadership of the SJB, and further having requested the SJB to nominate several of its members to form part of the consensus government, I have agreed to lend support to the government on behalf of the SJB. I have not left the SJB, nor resigned or acted against its interests;
17. The SJB has in fact moved closer in achieving its political goal of forming a Government and more importantly its principles that ensure the betterment of the public, establishing political stability and economic revival in making Sri Lanka a formidable country in the eyes of the world.
Accordingly, I have justifiable and conscionable cause for my decision to act as an emissary of the SJB within the bipartisan / consensus government. I further request the opportunity of facing a disciplinary committee / panel to explain my good intentions, as I have nothing to hide from the Party. I am confident that the Members of my Party, the SJB, would whole heartedly agree that the SJB must do its utmost to be part of the solution, and not be judged by history as having backed off from an adversarial situation and bringing ridicule and contempt to the SJB in the eyes of the public.
Without prejudice to the above I am advised to place on record the fact that your actions are not within the confines and compliant with the Constitution of the Party. Therefore your lack authority to make the decisions which you have purported to make, and the purported ‘show cause’ letter served on me has no legal force and/or consequence.
I take this opportunity to remind you that the SJB must always remain a party with the people in their hour of need and therefore not to look at petty political gain. I have done no more than pave the path for you and the SJB to deliver on the promises made at the 2019 General Election.
I will appear before any committee lawfully appointed by the Party and state my case, if so summoned. I remain confident that I have not acted against the interests of the Party but rather have, and continue to work towards achieving its principal goal in securing an SJB lead Government that will act in the best interests of the public.
In the circumstances I re-iterate that there is no reasonable/justifiable cause for me to be expelled from SJB.
Kindly ensure that due process is adhered to, and that I am given a fair hearing.
I await your response.
HARIN FERNANDO M.P.