Investigations by Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) have revealed that certain MPs and candidates of the ruling party are using helicopters, VIP security personnel and even Defender vehicles belonging to the VIP Security Division for election campaign work.
Twenty vehicles without number plates were seen being used for election propaganda work in the North Western and Central Provinces.
Vehicles that are being used for election work belong to State institutions functioning under the Prime Minister’s Office, Private Transport Ministry, Cooperative and Internal Trade Ministry, Animal Husbandry and Rural Industries Ministry, Buddha Sasana Ministry and the Education Ministry.
In addition, over 10 provincial office buildings of State institutions in the NWP and Central Province are being utilised for election propaganda work. These are Government and semi-Government institutions under the Ministries of Public Administration, Education, and Cooperative and Internal Trade. This is a gross violation of the usage of State property and is a grave malpractice under Election Law.
Also among government buildings being sued for election propaganda work are the premises belonging to the Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society – Ginigathena, Provincial Education Office – Nuwara Eliya, the old Provincial Secretariat Office at Udaaludeniya – Gampola, and premises belonging to the Ragala Cooperative Society.
Meanwhile, the leader of a prominent constituent party of the UPFA has ordered that all OICs of police stations should attend the election propaganda meetings held in the Nuwara Eliya District. While their presence has been made compulsory, it follows that a large number of police jeeps would accompany his motorcade. It was also noticed that vehicles of the National Livestock Board are being used to distribute food parcels at the propaganda meetings of the Nuwara Eliya District.
The use of public officials in election propaganda work keeps increasing. An Assistant Director of Education in the Central Province was seen addressing a propaganda rally. Samurdi officers and bus inspectors of the Road Transport Authority of the Central Province were seen actively engaged in propaganda work.
When a Lak Sathosa office was officially opened on 22 August at Piduruwella in Kurunegala, the candidates of the district made use of the occasion for election propaganda activities. The candidate who is the son of an influential minister was openly violating the election law relating to public property.
Another instance of the UPFA candidates engaged in election propaganda work was when the newly appointed graduates to the divisional secretariats of the Kurunegala District attended a meeting at the Maho Divisional Secretariat where two ministers addressed the gathering. Here too the Government candidates were conducting propaganda work.
TISL’s Program to Protect Public Resources (PPPR) earnestly request the candidates to avoid suing public property which are maintained using public money by way of taxes paid by the public, for election propaganda work. It requests the Commissioner of Elections and relevant authorities as well as civic conscious public to intervene and stop the malpractices since they are a gross violation of the Election Law.