by Saman Indrajith
Provincial Councils and Local Government Minister Faiszer Musthapha yesterday told Parliament that he was not responsible for the delay in holding local government elections.
Denying his alleged involvement in a petition before the Court of Appeal to delay elections, the Minister said that the LG delimitation Gazette was flawless and that he tried his best to do justice for all political parties, including the minor parties, with the delimitation process.
He said he had been in Malta last week attending the Commonwealth Local Government Forum’. “We presented an application to host that Forum in Sri Lanka in 2019. I presented a Cabinet paper in that regard and mentioned about my visit in it. As a Cabinet Minister representing the SLFP, I went to Malta with the approval of the President and the Cabinet.
Denying any links to the petitioners, Musthapha said he valued his legal profession more than being an MP. “I have been in the legal profession for the last 20 years. I have carried out my duties as an MP and a lawyer. There was a case filed against me and an interim order was given. There were allegations that I was party to this case. Some people dubbed it a ‘Musthapha vs Musthapha’ case as the lawyers assisting in that case worked in my father’s chamber at a particular time. Lawyers appear for various purposes,” he said, stressing that he would at no point sell his integrity as a lawyer and a President’s Counsel for the sake of politics.
“I worked with good intentions. It is not my fault that the LG polls could not be held due to a court order. But somebody has to suffer for the past sins. Some people, who are looking for ‘billy boys’, are trying to use me for that purpose. Despite that, I always do justice to the country, parliament and my party,” he said.
Chief Opposition Whip and JVP Leader Anura Dissanayake intervening at this point asked whether the minister was not aware of the flaws in the February 2017 gazette for nine months till November 17. MP Dissanayake insisted that it was a “Musthapha vs Musthapha case” as the petitioners were close associates of the SLFP ministers.
The minister said: “I hope my name will be cleared when the court announces its verdict in the case. The Attorney General, who appeared for me, told the court that there is no fault in the gazette.
“Two no confidence motions have been filed against me. I am not afraid to go before a people’s court to prove my case as my intentions were clean. Any citizen can go before the court and file a petition. There can be different interpretations on motives behind a case. We cannot waste time finding such motives. Neither the President nor the SLFP has any involvement in the case. If an interim order has been obtained you cannot blame the legislature or the executive. We should respect the court and obey its order.”