UDA In Breach Of Election Guidelines
By Nirmala Kannangara
Disregarding the Election Commissioner’s directives, the Urban Development Authority (UDA) has released several vehicles from its fleet for election campaign work in Matale, Deniyaya and Colombo, The Sunday Leader learns.
Seven UDA double cabs bearing registration numbers 59-214, 57-4068, 54-7027, 54-7502, 57-4065, 58-7245 and 56-3242, as well as a motor car, registration number 15-8430, have been released for election work since December 2009. Questions have now been raised as to why the Urban Development and Sacred Area Development Minister Dinesh Gunawardena allowed his officials to flout the election laws of the country, at a time when the Elections Commissioner has ordered all ministers and ministry secretaries not to use public property for election work.
“This was not the first instance where Minister Gunawardena has flouted election guidelines. Soon after the Elections Commissioner cancelled new appointments, promotions and transfers until the conclusion of the January 26 presidential poll, Minister Gunawardena and his Deputy held interviews at their respective party offices in Maharagama and Matale and offered 300 jobs for party supporters. Minister Gunawardena is known to be adopting double standards and now talks on good governance in public, but in private flouts election regulations,” reliable UDA sources told The Sunday Leader.
According to the sources, out of the eight vehicles that were released, the dark green and red (58-7245 and 56-3242) double cabs have been released to the Presidential Secretariat. Both have now been sent to Deniyaya for election campaign work, while the respective drivers Nihal Kithsiri and Ranjith Padmasiri are said to be claiming overtime round the clock in addition to other allowances.
Meanwhile the three gray coloured double cabs 54-7027, 54-7502 and 57-4065 have been sent to Matale – Urban Development Deputy Minister Rohana Dissanayake’s electorate for campaign work and the three respective drivers Damith, S.K. Gunaratne and Lal Amarasiri too are reported to have claimed overtime while the other three vehicles are in Colombo for Minister Gunawardena’s campaign work, according to the UDA sources.
“Apart from these eight vehicles, more have been sent to other parts of the country on the Minister’s request, and we are now in process of getting the details of these illegal vehicle releases,” claimed the sources.
All attempts to contact Gunawardena by The Sunday Leader for a comment failed.
Meanwhile it is also learnt that UDA Chairman Sanath Weerakoon has directed the UDA security to remove common candidate Gen. Sarath Fonseka’s posters from the premises.
“While delivering a political speech for the UDA employees on January 1, Chairman Weerakoon ordered the UDA security to remove Gen. Fonseka’s posters from the building, but not President Rajapaksa’s posters and cutouts. We are totally against the Chairman’s directives and have requested the security not to remove the General’s posters unless they remove President Rajapaksa’s posters as well. Although the UDA is not the UPFA property, the administration believes that we all are bound to work towards the incumbent President’s victory and that was why they make such directives openly,” the sources added.