In the past week the media has been inundated with emails under the title ‘Stakeholders of SLC’ trying to get the Sri Lanka Cricket membership to agree and bring pressure on the Minister of Tourism and Sports Navin Dissanayake to hold an early election despite the fact that he had promised he would do so by January next year.
Why the Minister has wanted to buy time is because he wants to make certain amendments to the existing Sports Law where specific areas can be described as ‘flawed’ or ‘outdated’. The Sports Law was first introduced in 1973 by the then Sports Minister KB Ratnayake and although it has gone through certain amendments over the years there are plenty of areas that are outdated and need to be amended.
The existing Sports Law precludes a lot of individuals from contesting. The four-year rule for example was interpreted by the previous Sports Minister without an opinion from the Attorney-General. The former Minister said the law will be effective from 2013 and that one cannot seek another term if that person has served four years from that time.
Another issue was the way the law is worded. It says anyone of the above posts i.e. president, secretary, treasurer etc can be taken cumulatively. For instance if X has served as secretary for more than four years and as a treasurer for more than four years, when you add all that up you are not entitled to contest because the maximum period a person can serve is four years only. One is retrospective and the other is cumulative.
When the present Sports Minister sought a ruling from the AG his interpretation of the four-year rule was in conflict with what has been told. So as it is the AG’s ruling that stands at the moment until the amended Sports Law is presented in Parliament and gazetted.
There is also the question of whether the interim committee period where one held office should be taken into account or not. According to the Sports Minister if you have completed three years you cannot contest because you go beyond four years half way through your term.
Then there is the Sri Lanka Cricket constitution that says unless you have served two years in the Executive Committee or any other sub-committees you cannot contest for the key positions like president, secretary, treasurer etc.
With all these issues, the Sports Minister decided the best course of action is to postpone the AGM of Sri Lanka Cricket, although that was not the only reason for doing so because according to him it was also on the grounds of corruption and allegations against certain elected individuals.
To get the Sports Law amended the Sports Minister has appointed a three-member committee and he is awaiting their report. The Minister feels the end of the year will be a good time because there is a Parliamentary election also coming up.
If Parliament is dissolved as the country’s President has hinted you cannot gazette the notification. Whoever becomes Sports Minister after elections the process has to be gone through, that is why the Minister had sought time till January.
The Minister has to await the report of the committee and see what they recommend. He has given the committee two months probably till end June to study everything in the Sport Law regulations and make the necessary changes if required.
This situation has been explained by the Minister to the ICC hierarchy when he met them recently in Dubai. He had said if Parliamentary elections are held during this period he cannot table the amended Sports Law in Parliament, it cannot be debated and it cannot be gazetted.
The significant point that needs to be noted is that the Minister did not replace the elected body but their term lapsed in March 31 by operation of law. Thus he had to appoint a body of persons to continue the running of SLC, thereby the interim committee.
The interim committee is a responsible set of people and they will utilise the funds available at SLC in the best possible manner towards the development of cricket. Tournaments will be held and stake holders will be rewarded as in the past. There is no issue here as it is being made out by members of the previous committee.
Around US$11m is expected from the ICC, a part of which the interim committee is likely to use to settle the Bank of Ceylon loan of US$5m (borrowed for the construction and development of three stadiums for the 2011 World Cup) the other half will be used to make proper centres at R Premadasa Stadium, Pallekele and Dambulla and to run the domestic tournaments and to pay the player contracts. So by the end of the year the money received from ICC will be more or less expended.
This is what the previous administration who are screaming for early elections fear. They don’t want the money to be used the way the interim committee is planning to dispense. Why they are in a hurry to come to power is to make use of this money to play their political game by giving the money to districts and provinces to buy votes for them, not for proper development.
They want elections as soon as possible because they feel the delay will be not good for them. The elected body does not want the membership to get used to a process that is put in place. They don’t want to allow clubs to get into a transparent mode of doing things. The most amusing aspect is that some of these individuals who are now raising concerns and clamouring for elections have also held positions in interim committees.