An Elections Department official said yesterday even though the majority of candidates are grossly violating election laws they are unable to take any action against them beyond warning and advising them in writing.
Elections Department consultant Bandula Kulatunga said that they have received several complaints regarding the usage of public servants in election campaigning meetings but in spite of the warnings the activities have continued. “Recent incidents were reported in Colombo, Kelaniya as well as in Negombo. We wrote to the relevant authorities and parties and have advised them to cease any such activities,” he said.
However, Ceylon Teachers Union (CTU) General Secretary Joseph Stalin said that the campaign meetings had continued. “The meetings were conducted by several UPFA candidates. Not only were they misusing their power to influence public servants, they had also used public property,” he said pointing out that 20 buses had been utilised to transport the teachers to the meeting.
A similar meeting had been held on March 10 at 12.30 p.m. at the Negombo Municipal Council Hall for the teachers and principals of the Negombo education zone. The principals from the schools in the Negombo education zone were summoned to the Bolawalana Teachers centre on March 4 and were made to submit lists of names of teachers that would be attending this meeting. The meeting had commenced at 12.30 p.m. As a result many schools in the district had faced difficulties in continuing the work for the rest of the day since there were no teachers available.
Another meeting had been organised at the New Town Hall on March 11 for the teachers and principles of the Colombo education zone.
“We have already written to the Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake about these malpractices. In our letter we also urged him to take necessary action against the officials of the zonal education offices that encourage such orders,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Kulatunga said no candidate has the right to make use of state sector personnel or public resources for their election campaign purposes.