Mohan De Silva On The Sri Lanka Cricket Election
Mohan de Silva, former candidate for Vice-President in Sri Lanka Cricket elections, expressed his disappointment and regret over the manner in which the election was held. Speaking to The Sunday Leader he explained that they had withdrawn due to ‘gross violations of the
Q: Why did you wait till the morning of the election to announce your withdrawal?
A: That is a good question, we were not scared to contest but wanted to safeguard the Cricket Board’s constitution and the members’ rights and privileges. Until the 30th of last month (December) we felt that it would be a fair and just election. We were well ahead in our campaign. Unfortunately issues developed on the 30th, district heads were summoned to a meeting and were given a directive to virtually vote for Upali Dharmadasa’s team. Besides that, there had been a gross violation of the election laws.
Q: In what way were there violations?
A: Delegates from the 22 districts were all changed after having submitted their names to the Ministry of Sports on December 19. Furthermore a circular issued by the Ministry stated that the election would be held for the seven office bearers. However, the executive committee which should also be voted in (in accordance with the Sri Lanka Cricket constitution) were appointed and NOT voted in. The delegates who voted in yesterday’s (Tuesday) election were not eligible to do so under Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) law.
Q: How did you counter these violations?
A: We met with the Director General of the Department of Sports Development to find out the new names of the voting delegates. She responded that she had the authority up until 10 a.m. the next day, which was the day of the election, to accept the names of these delegates. It was at this point that we knew they were clearing the way for people to come in and support the other side. When no reply had been given to our queries we decided to withdraw.
Q: Do you feel that you have let down Thilanga Sumathipala’s supporters and the public for having allowed this election to go uncontested?’
A: Despite the pressure exerted on the clubs to vote the other way, there were people who were going to break the mandate and vote for us. On that morning they urged us not to withdraw. However, if we had gone ahead they would have been exposed and subjected to harassment. On principle we chose to withdraw and also to avoid any repercussions.
Q: Do you feel that having allowed an uncontested election to occur, you were on the right track to removing political influences?
A: We want to convey that message to the country and the government. I have nothing against Upali (Dharmadasa). When Thilanga decided not to contest we agreed that Upali was the right man to lead the Board.
Q: Was Thilanga Sumathipala pressured into withdrawing from the contest?
A: Not really, I do not think anybody told him not to contest. He discussed with us the pros and cons and we felt it was not the correct time for Thilanga to come in. Upali Dharmadasa announced his intention to contest the election soon after the Minister announced the elections. Putting two and two together we felt that he had the blessings of the hierarchy. Whatever it is we have accepted Upali’s leadership and have contested the other positions.
Q: So are you satisfied with Upali Dharmadasa taking over?
Q: Are you not satisfied with the others who contested?
A: We are not satisfied with their eligibility. They may have contributed to the game of cricket, but there are a set of rules which have not been adhered to.
Q: Do you feel that Sri Lanka Cricket is on the correct path to de-politicising?
A: Yes. I definitely feel that we are; it was always our intention to safeguard the institution.
Q: Nishantha Ranatunga is the CEO of the Carlton Sports Network (CSN); do you feel it is right that a man involved closely with the media should be allowed to hold such a post?
A: According to the Sports law no media person can hold office in the Cricket Board. Nishantha’s interpretration is that since he is not a journalist but only a CEO and has no direct role with the media, he is exempt from this rule. That is a matter to be debated and legally analysed.
Q: Do you feel this election could tarnish the image of Sri Lanka Cricket?
A: I have a strong feeling, it has already done so. International news agencies have been calling me asking for interviews.