Minister Bashir Segu Dawood is no ‘whipping board’ - A leader with high political resolve
Mr. Bashir Segu Dawood, the newly appointed Minister for Productivity Promotion resolutely denied that he is not be a whipping board for somebody to use him as check against his Party Leader Rauff Hakeem or against his community interest.
He was responding to a question of rumor taking rounds that Government offered him the ministerial slot as check against Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader Rauff Hakeem.
He told that, "I did not enter politics with an ordinary background longing for power, position and authority. I entered politics from a revolutionary organization to work for the downtrodden in the country. My political entry was a struggle and it was ‘a do or die journey’ and we had a harden resolve to work for the well-being of humanity " and said with grit that "I will not be made use as check against anyone at any given time."
He said in the beginning he was a member of Eelam Revolutionary Organization of Students (EROS), and also was a member of the High Command. And when the organization decided to contest in the 1989 Parliamentary General Elections, he was a candidate from the Eastern district of Batticaloa.
The EROS was a former Tamil militant group. EROS' political wing was known as the Eelavar Democratic Front.
The EROS contested the 1989 parliamentary general elections as independent groups in four electoral districts in the North and East of Sri Lanka and polled 229,877 votes (4.11%), securing 13 of the 225 seats in the Parliament.
In 1990 EROS was disbanded and all Members of Parliament from EROS either resigned or vacated their parliamentary seats, but on the request of EROS Leader Eliyathamby Ratnasabapathy, Bashir Segu Dawood said that he continued as the Member of Parliament till the end of the term, up to 1994.
When referring about his political journey Minister Bashir Segu Dawood said, as EROS was disbanded and subsequently on the request of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Leader M.H.M Ashrof, "I joined the SLMC".
He went on to clarify that “ Right from the beginning my entry in politics was not for any political position, but for the liberation of the people and it was a journey of uncertainty even of our very survival.”
He continued, “I failed to be elected in the 1994 elections, but was appointed as the United National Front's (UNF) National List MP in the Sri Lankan Parliament in December 2001.
In January 2003 Bashir Segu Dawood was elected chairman of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress.
He did not re-enter parliament at the April 2004 parliamentary election, but in July 2004 he was appointed as a National List MP by the UNF, replacing W.P.S. Pushpakumara.
He resigned from Parliament in April 2008 to contest the Eastern Provincial Council elections. He was subsequently elected to EPC and became the leader of the opposition.
Minister Bashir Segu Dawood returned to Parliament again in April 2010, this time representing Batticloa District for the UNF.
When Asian Tribune pointed out that there was a criticism against him that he has accepted the new Ministerial portfolio without obtaining the necessary green light from his party – Sri Lanka Muslim Congress.
He responded by saying, “I have seen such reports also in the media. Already I resigned from my earlier position as the Deputy Minister of Co-operatives and Internal Trade Affairs.
He said that he resigned from the position as Deputy Minister during the Eastern Provincial Council Elections.
While being in the Government, SLMC decided to contest as an independent entity against the UPFA Government and said, “as I did not desire to campaign against the UPFA Government - I discussed with the party leader Rauff Hakeem and resigned my position as the Deputy Minister. Anyhow, I continued to function as the Chairman of my party.”
Minister Bashir Segu Dawood said he detested the use of perks and privileges accrued by the position as the Deputy Minister and did not made use of the government property while campaigning against the Government for SLMC candidates in the Provincial Council Election.
He said even though he resigned from the position as Deputy Minister and tendered his resignation, President did not accepted his resignation and continued to remain technically as the Deputy Minister, anyhow he said that he never made use of any of those resources that came out of that Deputy Ministerial position.
He said, “I handed over the Government vehicles and subsequently didn't attend the Ministry and remained as an ordinary Member of Parliament.
When told that he has accepted this time the Ministerial portfolio, on 28 January, without the concurrence of his Party High Command, he denied that allegation and said that the Party High Command which met subsequently approved his appointment, best wishes were offered and they felicitated him
When narrating he said, "Even on the very morning of 28 January, on the day of swearing, there was a news item in the media stating that there will be a new Minister for the Eastern Province and Mr. Susantha Punchinilame of Trincomalee will be appointed."
He added, "I was under the impression that I will be offered with some other Deputy Minister portfolio or else a position as a Project Minister."
"Before I left for the swearing in ceremony, I contacted Mr. Hasan Ali MP, the Secretary General of our Party and informed him as the Party Leader was not in the country. "
"When I asked for the whereabouts of the Party Leader, he said he was in India on a private visit. Then I asked Mr. Hasan Ali for the telephone number of the Party Leader and he provided me a roaming number. When I dialed the number repeatedly, there was no response. "
"After his arrival, I called on him at his residence and we had a very cordial meeting. I found that he was little disturbed that the Government has failed to inform him as the Leader of the SLMC regarding appointing one of the party members as a Minister. "
Minister Bashir Segu Dawood explained, "However, I explained to him of my position and told him that I have informed the Party Secretary General the moment I was invited to attend the swearing in ceremony and also of the attempts I made to contact him over the telephone. He told me that he found there were my miscalls registered on his mobile phone."
He added. "There was never any misunderstanding between us. I am in the party for the last 13 years and stood shoulder to shoulder with him and always supported and defended him whenever there arose any situation. He never said anything against accepting the portfolio when I met him at his residence, but he did not wish me at that time. "
He said, "But at the party high command meeting he informed publicly that he did not wish me well when I met him and he came and hugged me and wished me well."
When asked of his present position in the SLMC, he said, "I am in the position of being the second in command of the party. I am next to Minister Rauff Hakeem. He is the Leader of the Party, I am the Chairman, followed by Deputy Leaders one, two and three and next is the Secretary General. "
He said after a lapse of 23 years he was the first person to be appointed as a Cabinet Minister from Batticaloa district.
Earlier, he said "we had V. Nalliah, K.W, Devanayakam as well as Chelliah Rajadurai as Cabinet Ministers from Batticalao district. "
But he pointed out that there was never previously a Muslim from the Batticaloa district as a cabinet Minister.
Minister Bashir Segu Dawood was appointed as Minister for Productivity promotion on 28 January, replacing Minister Lakshman Senivaratne , when he was appointed as the Project Minister for Sugar.
He said that the earlier the Ministry office was located at Nugegoda and he has planned to open his Ministry office at Battaramulla and announced that he will endeavor to work for the people of this country.
- Asian Tribune -