The Sunday Leader
Dear Ms. Jansz
Regarding the Article : Ministerial Spouse, A Land Thief.
This is in reference to the above captioned article published in your prestigious newspaper and also the phone call I made to you regarding the same.
1. I am baffled by the unfounded, biased accusations made against my wife and me in the mentioned article. These are wilful attacks to destroy my personal and political life, made by a man whose sole purpose is to carry out character assasinations of individuals who has helped him in the past in order to cover up his past. And I like to state here with responsibility that I did not receive any phone calls, fax messages nor emails, from your office before publishing this article.
2. The person mentioned in your article, i.e. L.R.M Abeysinghe is not at all my wife! My wife’s maiden name is Dhammika Manike Abeysinghe. As a newspaper who champions in investigative journalism, may I please invite you to employ all your resources to get this matter verified from the offices of registrar of birth, marriages and registration of persons and also from the residents of Matale, since they will be dumbfound to know that I have two wives! I believe you would agree that all Abeysinghes in this country do not become my relatives or wives simply because my wife’s maiden name is the same.
3. I believe you would agree that once sworn in as a minister, as expected, my responsibility would be to work for all the citizens of this country, not just for voters from my constituency or members of my political party. Hence if a citizen was to write to, meet and make request, etc., it is my responsibility to listen to the grievances and make my recommendations to relevant government officials, if I consider in prima facie that there are grievances. As your newspaper has rightly quoted, from there onwards it’s the responsibility of the relevant government officials to follow the necessary guidelines stipulated by the relevant laws, evaluate such grievances and take necessary actions. In that process, they have more say than I do, and it will become more of following laws than political wishes of a minister. So that’s what I have done, made my recommendation, expecting the officials to carry out their duty within the legal framework they operate. So whether its L.R.M Abesysinghe or Frederica Jansz, if a request is made to my office and if the subject matter comes under my purview, I would certainly make my recommendations expecting that government officials would follow the guidelines. And you would have realised I have followed this principle right throughout.
4. I believe you would also agree that any citizen of this country has the right to make any legal request from the government or from a minister. And as your newspaper has also highlighted, the UDA has not given this land free nor was the ownership transferred. It’s on a lease and she has to pay according to the valuation which will be done every 5 years. Don’t you agree that it’s the right procedure?
5. The article accused that my wife draws two salaries from the government. Yes, she is an English teacher at Vijaya Vidyalaya of Matale. As to whether she draws two salaries, as leaders of promoting investigative journalism, please check with the school and also with the accountant of the regional education office.
6. I acknowledge my wife does have a jeep but we are surprised to read that it’s being rented out to Noritake Lanka Porcelain for such an amount. Please do help me here, can you please investigate and inform me exactly since when this vehicle has been given to them, who has given it to them, where is such an agreement, how many times this vehicle has even entered the premises of this company, etc. This would certainly shed new light on this matter and would also make sure that your recognition as an investigative newspaper is being upheld.
7. I keep wondering why your newspaper wants to jeopardize my marriage and relationship with my children. Now all of them want me to sell my home, which is worth 80 million rupees, according to your investigation. And all those who lent me money during the last election are now insisting on returning them by selling this house. Our family never knew that it was worth that much and my kids are looking for the extra storey, since we only have a two-storey house. So, my humble request is that you send a valuator to value my house at the commercial rate which will then help me to sort out the debt scenario I got into, due to last elections. More than that it will help restore peace in my family. But please make sure that you send someone who will be able to identify a house and understand whether it’s two-storeys or three! I don’t think I need to tell you as to how to get a Declaration of Assets and Liabilities of a parliament member, which would the tell you whether I have a wealth over Rs. 500 million, which of course I would love to have!
8. Now why hurl these accusations at me? If you investigate my political carrier you would notice that I climbed the ladder with much hardship, yet serve my people and that is why I am holding this post today. I started as a member of the Municipal Council of Matale, leader of the opposition of the same and later ended up being the mayor of the council. I will not hesitate to boast here that it’s my visionary planning and tireless work which brought the honour to the council, by winning 1st place at the Swarnapura All-Island Competition for Municipal Councils. And it is for such political career an old friend is now trying to throw mud since I did not heed to his personal request to abuse my power.
9. Yes, there is a complaint against me in the Bribery Commission made by this same person and I am waiting for the inquiries to start on this matter. I also invite you to join the process, so that my lawyers can consider your newspaper as well, when I am taking legal action against this defamation.
10. I would also like you to take time to investigate your source, Mr. Elkaduwa. Who is he? Where does he live? etc. What is the relationship he had with me in the past? Why did he stop associating me after gold jewellery went missing at my house, including the panchayuda of my son? And why does he accuse me of being a land thief when residents of Matale accuse him of being a panchayuda thief? Investigate as to why he doesn’t live at his Matale address? There are many citizens of Matale who are looking for him to collect the money they have lent him in the past and you would be doing a real social service by notifying those people as to where he lives exactly. You can investigate and verify this from the people in Matale. Why did he workfor me in the past and then is making all these accusations against me now? If he is accusing me of abusing power now, who got his son into Lakehouse a few years ago after speaking to, then minister? In case if he doesn’t remember, ask him whether the name Rohana Dissanyake rings any bells? Investigate as to how much money he received during the last election from my opponents when he walked into a Matale Post office and handed over nearly 250,000 letters to be sent to residents of Matale against me.
Finally, I am in the process of discussing and finalising legal action against this person’s continuous defamatory actions against me. I am waiting for the Bribery Commission investigations to be finalised so that it will help me to sue him. And meanwhile, I request that your prestigious newspaper championing investigative journalism will give the same publicity to this letter in your newspaper as you have given to him and his unfounded allegations against me. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need any further clarification in this regard.
Your public servant
Deputy Minister of Transport
Nirmala Kannangara says:-
Ms. L. R. M. Abeysinghe is Minister Rohana Dissanayake’s sister-in-law. A fact which we got wrong by initially mistaking her to be his wife, which was not revealed by Dissanayake when he contacted The Sunday Leader, until vigorously questioned.
Both his sister-in-law and mother-in-law reside at the address mentioned in the said article.
A request for the land in question had indeed been made by Dissanayake’s sister-in-law. The matter is therefore before the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery and Corruption.