The Youth Wing of SJB, protests in front of the SLC Headquarters in Colombo - (Pic by Pradeep Pathirana)
By Yohan Perera
Opposition politicians claimed that the allegations of match-fixing made by former Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage were conjured to victimise Sri Lankan cricketers who spoke against the construction of the proposed stadium in Homagama, during a protest held outside Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) Headquarters in Maitland Place yesterday.
Aluthgamage last month told a private television station that the 2011 Cricket World Cup final which Sri Lanka lost to India by six wickets was fixed and should be investigated, before he backtracked a week later saying it was only a suspicion that he wanted looked into.
The protest was organised by the ‘Samagi Tharuna Balawegaya’, the youth wing of the Sajith Premadasa-led ‘Samagi Jana Balawegaya’ (SJB).
A media spokesman for the ‘Samagi Tharuna Balawegaya’ said that it was imperative to safeguard the reputation of the former cricketers.
“We have come forward to safeguard the dignity of Sri Lankan cricket stalwarts. We feel that this drama had come up after the cricketers went against the construction of a cricket stadium in Homagama recently. We have come here to safeguard the cricket stars who had sacrificed their lives to bring glory to Sri Lanka,” the spokesman said, adding “former Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage should have raised the issue as soon as the World Cup final was over if he was suspicious that the match was fixed.”
Meanwhile, former Member of Parliament Mayantha Dissanayake claimed the match-fixing drama was a conspiracy to harass the cricketers just of getting political mileage.
“We feel that the government is trying to harass Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene,” he said.
“We vehemently oppose the move by the government to spoil Sri Lanka cricket which was built up by my father Gamini Dissanayake, who was the Head of SLC during the 1980s. My father built up Sri Lanka’s cricket with the objective of paving the way for Sri Lanka to bring the World Cup one day,” he said.
Former Member of Parliament Harsha de Silva, who is seeking re-election at next month’s parliamentary election also attended the protest and alleged that SLC has incurred losses running into millions because of corruption and that these were the issues that warranted investigation.
“A book can be written on the amount of corruption at SLC,” de Silva alleged. “There were instances where hard disks have gone missing at SLC. There were instances where funds received after granting of broadcasting rights have gone missing. I have questioned as to how SLC opened accounts in foreign banks. Even Buddhists monks have been put into difficulty, with SLC acquiring lands from them to construct a cricket university.”
“I have questioned all that in committee meetings in parliament. SLC is where corruption takes place. We would like to question as to why no investigations are conducted on these matters,” de Silva who was a Member of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) which carried out several investigations on corruption at SLC, added further.