(Excerpts From the “Sunday Times”Political Column of August 13th 2017)
” Adding to the unease of the UNP was another development. Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe in different public comments and in newspaper interviews, strongly criticised the Concession Agreement between the Government and the Chinese company for the Hambantota Port project.
Rajapakshe, known for wallowing in controversy, said it was his commitment to take back the Hambantota Port one day from Chinese hands. If it was clearly a violation of collective responsibility since the Cabinet of Ministers had approved the Concession Agreement, which is a legally binding document, it was to spark anger amongst UNP backbenchers.
On Thursday, they began a signature campaign for a Vote of No Confidence on Rajapakshe. The thrust of their accusations was on violating collective cabinet responsibility.
However, the identities of most backers to the motion also laid bare another possibility. They were closely associated with then Minister Karunanayake and believed the Justice Minister was the cause for some uncomfortable moments when he appeared before the Commission of Inquiry – an accusation which Rajapakshe has dismissed.
They felt this was again retaliation for Karunanayake raising issue at a Cabinet meeting over Rajapakshe’s close association with Avant Garde Maritime Services Ltd., a company which is under several probes now for allegedly amassing enormous wealth providing private security for cargo vessels from sea pirates active in the seas off Sri Lanka.
Premier Wickremesinghe was to summon key movers and direct that no such motion should be forwarded. He had said that such a step would require discussion and approval at the Working Committee, the main policy making body of the party and from him as the leader. Eka deng kunu koodeyta daanna oney or we must dump it in the waste paper basket, declared a Deputy Minister who was one of the movers.