Harin refutes Thilanga’s charges
Ex-Minister of Sports Harin Fernando flatly rejected allegations made against him by former President of SLC Thilanga Sumathipala, who charged the former had politically victimized former Sri Lanka head coach Chandika Hathurusinghe and ex-star Asanka Gurusinghe. “I only intervened by issuing a circular to SLC, to hold all coaches of the national team set up accountable for their actions,” he told a private TV talk show aired last Monday (2 August). “I never specifically mentioned the names of either of them (Hathurusinghe, Gurusinghe).
In fact I had been a fan of Hathurusinghe from my school days, and what would have been the reason for me to hound him politically? I felt at the time considering the massive nosedive of the national team’s performance or result wise, that the set of coaches of the national team should be held accountable.
There was no such directive from me to sack these coaches as alleged by him (Sumathipala).” Sumathipala taking part in the same private TV talk show last week, had charged Fernando had willfully intervened to oust Hathurusinghe and Gurusinghe from their posts.
The SJB National List MP alleged that Sumathipala had drafted a draconian contract for coaches of the national team where they could not be held answerable for the team’s performance. “That guy (Hathurisinghe) was being paid a whopping sum as his salary by the then SLC board, and I thought for the massive amount that was being given to him, he should be held answerable for the team’s performance on the field. That is why I issued a circular to consider their overall coaching performance and take action accordingly, and at no stage had I mentioned that they should be fired forthwith. But, what transpired was something entirely contrary to what I envisaged.”
Hence, he insisted that he had only intervened to rectify the issue on behalf of cricket here, but charged that the former SLC President had twisted it politically to suit his own vested interests. Asked for his view on the present status quo of cricket in the country, Fernando expressed hope that under subject Minister Namal Rajapaksa all sports here could be revived, but maintained that it would only succeed if there was minimum political interference.
Fernando also dismissed an allegation by the former SLC President that the previous Government had ratified an Act in Parliament hastily, specifically targeting the latter, preventing him running for office of SLC. The former Minister had proposed the Act in the House to bar those with links to the gaming industry from contesting posts of sports bodies. He noted that such measures had been undertaken in keeping with ICC regulations, and maintained that he has proof to substantiate it and was not targeting a specific individual as had been alleged by the former SLC President. (JK)