Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) has up to now received 165 complaints of election malpractices relating to public property being used for propaganda work in the Central and North-Western Provinces, ahead of the elections.
Of these, TISL investigation teams have confirmed 112 to be valid.
The TISL said in a communiqué: The misuse of government vehicles from lorries and double cabs to helicopters by UPFA candidates as well as the physical use of public buildings and vacant land, and the participation of public servants from trainees to Governors, has been endorsed by the investigation teams.
There is evidence to prove that up to now, over 300 vehicles belonging to ministries, departments and other institutions have been used for election propaganda work. This is mainly because of the active involvement of almost all the ministers in the election campaign. Over a thousand public officials and other staff have also been actively involved.
The UPFA candidates are using SLTB buses to transport their supporters for election rallies. To quote one incident, 234 buses were used to commute people for a meeting held at Talawakelle on 15 September presided over by the President. When questioned, the Manager of the Central Province SLTB office said that the buses were released after a Secretary of Minister Arumugam Thondaman came and paid Rs 2.7 million. The release of such a large amount of buses severely hampered the movement of the people.
In order to circumvent the Election Commissioner’s circular prohibiting the use of public property for election purposes, a whole series of ‘development projects’ have been started. In the North Western Province, 114 such projects were launched on 13 and 14 September, and all were in effect election propaganda meetings. On 13 September alone 84 projects were launched in the Puttalam District. Several instances of misusing government vehicles were noticed in several districts in the Central Province too. TISL is in possession of details including the numbers of vehicles, and places where public land and buildings have been used.
Details relating to these instances have been forwarded to the Elections Commissioner.