The Sunday Leader

“Please Release Me”– Azaath Salley

Azaath Salley

The former Deputy Mayor of Colombo, the outspoken local government politician Azaath Salley who has been in the news recently for threatening to leave the UPFA, spoke to, Faraz Shauketaly of The Sunday Leader to quash rumours that he wants position and fame. Salley maintains that his interests are to represent the people of Colombo and work for their betterment. In a candid interview he cast doubt on the Moragoda and Mahroof duo, and says he only wished to work for the people. Excerpts:

Q: Why did you abandon the UNP or why did you join the UPFA?
A: I was a member of the UNP Working Committee and at that time was the Presidential elections. I opposed Sarath Fonseka’s Presidential candidature and opposed it at the Working Committee. I mentioned to the UNP leader that this party was formed as a United party and that Fonseka must not be the candidate. The UNP had a history of its leader being the candidate. If he was not willing then it ought to have been S B Dissanayaka or Sajith Premadasa. I opposed whilst Cader Hajiar said he would carry Fonseka on his shoulders as the best candidate. After the meeting we got letters saying we had been removed from the Working Committee. Simply dismissed just like that. In the meantime we were invited to join the UPFA and decided on that. We came on a matter of policy and principle after we were told by the UNP that we were not needed by them.  In the full knowledge of my candidacy for the Mayoral role.  I did not join because I have illegally got 2 passports or because I owned failed banks or because I was subject to adverse COPE reports.  My contribution to President Rajapaksa has been immense and our campaign to keep Fonseka out was successful.

Q: How many votes did you get at the CMC election when you were part of the so-called Spectacle Party?
A: Around 30,000

Q: How many votes did you get at the last CMC elections as part of the UPFA?
A:Over 10,315 votes. I was the second highest. There is doubt and talk about Moragodas votes but that is another story I don’t want to talk about that.

Q: Doesn’t this indicate that your popularity amongst the people of Colombo is more party driven rather than individual popularity?
A: No, the individual popularity also matters. There is a slight change in that. The minorities are usually with the UNP. The minorities do not usually vote with the UPFA. Since the Presidential Elections, with the powerful campaign we did the message was carried that you had to go with the ruling party if you wanted to get things done. I was the highest of all the Muslim candidates. I beat Mr Mahroof.  Mr Muzzamill got more because he was from the UNP.

Q: By moving out of the UNP then joining its traditional rivals were you not trying to tag on to the popularity of the President?
A: The President is popular true enough. At the same time when appointments are made good people must be appointed and for good governance a sound opposition is also a must. After elections all rivalry must be put aside and work must go on with unity to deliver the people’s needs.

Q: So did you contest the last CMC election to work for the people, or as a spoiler candidate to claw back votes from Mr Muzammil?
A: Not at all. I was firmly of the view that we could wrestle, control and win. It is my view that the government did not do enough – apart from my meetings there was very little. My leaflet went to the houses and we got the votes.

Q: By not being consistent in your choice of party and a coherent policy you are being accused of switching sides in typical minority party style fashion:  you do not appear to be a mature politician?
A: What we have been taught is to do the right thing. After the elections, the President himself said you are defeated. Do not come and say do this and that. In short what he was saying is do not try to topple this administration. Work together. Of course I am a mature politician. If you read His Worship, The Mayor’s letter to me when I threatened to resign you will see that he said that I have a role to play. One must always be useful to someone. One must be able to dip into one’s own pockets if need be and spend for the benefit of the people while being very careful with the public money.

Q: Are you suffering from a case of  ‘sour grapes’ now that Mr Muzammil is the Mayor? After all on two occasions that we know of, the Deputy Leader of the UNP at that time, Karu Jayasuriya said as much, that you could have been Mayor. Have you missed your boat?
A: No no not all I do not regret at all. I believe in the man on top. He is the man who decides for us. Without his knowledge nothing happens. I worship my convictions. I know I have done and believe in that, I have done the right things. I can rest easy on that. I have neither missed the boat nor the bus for that matter.

Q: At the end of the day, are you trying to manipulate being given some form of position – some fame even – for the electoral support you gave during the last Presidential election and the last CMC election?
A: I have said very clearly that I do not run behind positions. Position runs behind me. Even today when the President goes for a meeting they ask for me not Fowzie, Moragoda, Cader or Reza Zarook? No, Temple Trees is always asked to send me. I am very happy with that position. My appeal remains high. I am different, my recognition is different.
Q: Will you refuse any position offered?
A: I have not asked for anything at all. I am only saying that let right be right and wrong be wrong. Let us wait and see what they want to do. At the moment I am not in a position to take up anything. I have only asked the President to Release Me. I have been asked to stay on for the moment.
Q: What is your ultimate goal as a politician?
A: I need to serve my people. I do not care what happens to me but my history of working for
the people is paramount. I have done health camps, many other issues where no one has spoken, where there is injustice, my convictions mean that wherever these things are, Azaath Salley will be there.

4 Comments for ““Please Release Me”– Azaath Salley”

  1. Ha…ha…ha…what a funny interview.

  2. ranjit de mel

    ahumbug like the majority of the politicians.

  3. Ramzan Khan

    Wowwwwwwwwwww Sally, you are big lire, but this time our people will not faith on your sappy words, you are out from politics and you don’t know how to do the politics better sell coconut in Maligawatta town, that is suite for you….!!

  4. Mervyn

    Mr. is your mind controlled by anybody else or YOU? If your mind is not subjected to any outside controls then you are not a straight forward person. You should just decide on your own and leave, I do not think any body will miss you. You are dragging this issue for your own benefit. Remember you were not wanted by the UNP once, and you left on your own so follow the same procedures without dragging this matter any further. You all are well branded for jumping over the fence to eat green grass on the other side.

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