Q : You had previously stated that the Minister had refused the Delimitation Committee report. Did the Minister actually reject it?
He said that in order to accept it, the signatures of the other two members must be there.
Q: Saying that the report was rejected and saying that the signatures of the other two members were required to accept the report are two different things.
It is like this. We wanted to hand over this report quickly. This is because the signatures of the majority were found in the report. This is why we took the report and went. We were told that the report could not be accepted without all the signatures.
Q: The Minister says that he didn’t receive a report to refuse.
If he is saying that, there is nothing we can do. He came to this office of ours, sat in the chair in front of me and ate with us together. During that, he asked us information regarding this. We said that two members didn’t sign. An agreement was reached, which was to send two copies of the report to the two who stated that they couldn’t sign it without reading it again. I drafted a letter and sent two copies. Because the majority signed, we took the report and went near the Minister’s room. Then a boy ran towards us and informed us that the Minister had called us to the conference hall. By that time, the media too had come there. We went there and handed over the report. There, the Minister asked the Secretary to look at this. So, how can he say that the report wasn’t handed over?
Q: Weren’t all five involved in preparing the report?
All five were involved.
Q: What we could see is that there didn’t seem to be any consensus between the five in this regard.
No, not at all. It is with great enthusiasm and with a common understanding that we prepared the report.
Q: Why did two persons especially want to see the report that had been prepared together by five?
There is no issue in that. If someone wants to look at it again, then they must.
Q: You are the authority regarding this. If the signatures of all were given to this according to a certain manner, this issue wouldn’t arise.
When two refuse to sign, am I to take them by the hand forcibly and get it signed? They are not babies. They are grown-ups. After being influenced by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), Saliya Mathew signed it the other day.
The five of us met and initially decided to give the report on December 27. Yet, because there were issues with regard to giving it on the said date, we met again and decided to give it on January 2. The report was completed on December 31. The three of us signed on December 31. After we signed, I called the other two by phone and told them to sign this.
Q: Then, did the duo accept your word?
It was then that they said that in order to sign, they needed to read it again.
Q: Who are the other members in this Committee?
Saliya Mathew. He was the former Governor of the Sabaragamuwa Province. He was nominated by the SLFP. The United National Party nominated Attorney-at-Law S. Misbah. The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna nominated Attorney-at-Law Upul Kumarapperuma. The Tamil National Alliance nominated Prof. Balasundaram Pillay.
Q: Then, who said that they wanted to read the report again prior to signing?
Saliya Mathew and Misbah.
Q: It takes a long time for this report to come out. Why did it get so delayed?
Truthfully, several factors affected this. One was that we did not have adequate resources. We did not have enough translators. We had to give translations of this in Tamil and English. At the very least, we did not even have proper computer facilities. There was no one who would act with responsibility. It was with much difficulty that we protected this information. Yet, we did not receive adequate resources. This is the truth.
There was another delay. That was a delay on my part. During the period this process was ongoing, my wife died. My mother also died. Due to these events, I had to stay away from this work for a short period.
Q: The Minister says that you all didn’t inform him in writing that you all lacked the resources.
This was a job we did with cooperation. A lot of things took place on the basis of verbal agreements.
Q: You have stated previously that the Minister had an intention to abscond on this report.
We cannot state what the Minister’s intention is.
Q: This is like a drama. Now, one can say that this is a game played by you and the Minister in consonance after consulting each other.
This I completely reject. We don’t become stooges of political parties. I am a former Chairman of the Sri Lanka Administrative Sangamaya.
Q: There were newspaper reports that the report was a weak one.
Personally, my opinion is that we did this report well. As for the Prime Minister’s request, we gave him the report. Because he requested, adding a separate note to the report, we provided the Prime Minister with the shortcomings we saw of the Provincial Councils system, the Local Government system and also of the previous report, none of which were aspects and subjects that came under our purview. Quoting a spokesperson of the Prime Minister’s Office, the content of this separate document attached to the report has been reported as shortcomings in our report. It was with good intentions that we believed that these changes should be made and this is why we gave them.
Q: Now the situation has done a summersault.
Yes. This has been given to the media with the addition of errors.
Q: Do you feel that someone had an intention to sabotage this report?
One can say that. It can also not be the case. Truly, we cannot understand as to what is happening in our country. It is extremely difficult to comprehend what these devilish scheming ploys are.
Q: At the rate things are going, what will happen if the Minister does not accept the report?
There is nothing we can do about that. We have fulfilled our duty. As a Committee, we worked with full cooperation. Recently, Prof. Balasundaram Pillay had given an interview to the Indian Express newspaper. In that he states that the minorities had been done a great justice by this report. I think this is the first time one heard in recent years where the North has praised the South.