UNP'er in UPFA Cabinet, says Bogollagama
By Asif Fuard
Kurunegala district UNP parliamentarian Rohitha Bogollagama
who was sworn in as Advanced Technology and National Enterprise
Development Minister claims he is still a member of the UNP though
a minister of the UPFA Cabinet and adds he still accepts Opposition
Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as his leader.
Bogollagama in an interview with The Sunday Times said, in the past
there have been instances where members from the opposition have
joined the Cabinet like the members of the CWC who have accepted
portfolios though without joining the government.
are excerpts from the interview:
As a Minister for Advance Technology and National Enterprise
in the UPFA government, what are your responsibilities?
Advanced Technology and National Enterprise Development
is a major area in today's world. The Government has identified
the enhancement of technology. This is an area the country was lacking
in since independence. There has been no focus on entrepreneurship
for the last so many years.
subject is well recognised in the current budget when it comes to
medium and small scale industries. Time and money have been allocated
in order to develop entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka. This Government
has very correctly addressed this issue and I am happy to say that
we have a development programme that will carry this through and
bring the national economy to a higher level and a greater contribution
from service and industrial sectors, agricultural and plantation
we already have a Ministry of Science and Technology. Now what is
the difference between the Ministry of Science and Technology and
the Ministry of Advanced Technology?
There are designated areas that have been assigned to
the Science and Technology Ministry which covers a wide area of
subjects. Our Ministry will always look at areas that are not assigned
and does not fall within Science and Technology. Areas such as research
were in the UNP for a long time. So does this mean you have left
the UNP and joined the UPFA?
I have not left the UNP. I'm still a UNPer and I'll continue
to be a UNPer. As a member of parliament I've been called upon by
the President to serve in her Cabinet and to pursue a bipartisan
approach in resolving some of our objectives.
people in your electorate voted you in as their representative to
serve the UNP, but now since you have crossed over haven't you let
I haven't crossed over. I'm still in the UNP. And I plan to remain
in the UNP.
Mr. Bogollagama does this mean you are in the Opposition?
No, I'm not in the Opposition. I'm in the Cabinet. The
CWC is in the Opposition but they are members of the Cabinet and
also in the past there are similar examples. For instance, Lakshman
Kadirgamar and D.M. Jayaratna who were from the Opposition were
appointed by the President to serve in the UNF Cabinet last year.
So they are from the Opposition, but serving in the Cabinet. They
were serving under the administration of Ranil Wickremesinghe because
the Cabinet appointments are made by the President. So if Parliament
could discharge the responsibilities of a Minister, this is where
the Constitution has made correct provisions.
were a very close associate of UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.
In fact you even edited and published a book about him. So what
does he think about this?
With my membership in the UNP, Ranil Wickremesinghe is
still my leader. He is a good leader and I have associated with
him for a very long time. I have worked with him very closely. So
the need for a bipartisan approach on national issues is understood.
you inform Mr. Wickremesinghe that you were joining the Cabinet?
I informed the Leader of the Opposition after being appointed
are reports that when your son fell ill while studying in the United
States, there was an undertaking by the President to pay the hospital
bills through the President's Fund. Is it correct?
Not at all! He did not get any money from anywhere. People
fall ill but my son was not treated by anyone's fund, for that matter.
Journalism should not stoop so low. I don't think you should have
even raised that question. If a person is not well why should it
be questioned. We all fall ill for that matter.
what about the hospital bills?
My son did not take any money from any fund.
there is to be an election in the near future, under which party
would you contest the elections?
A. That is a matter for the future, so there is no point
raising hypothetical questions. I'm a UNPer I will contest under
the UNP ticket.
there been any members of your party (UNP) who may have opposed
your joining the Cabinet?
I don't think they opposed me being in the Cabinet because
the right thing to do is to support a national issue. Nothing will
be left of this country unless the parties unite and resolve the
a judge has been killed. There have been so many leaders who have
been killed and this is a major catastrophe in society.
can talk politics, we can become leaders but there will not be a
country left to govern.
to take disciplinary action
The UNP is set to take disciplinary action against the
new Minister of Advanced Technology and National Enterprise, Rohitha
Deputy General Secretary, Tissa Attanayake said disciplinary action
against Bogallagama would be taken once the Working Committee and
Executive Committee approved it. The Parliamentary group has already
given its go ahead. He said the process would take at least three
Bogollagama in an interview with The Sunday Times said he had not
left the UNP but likened himself to others who functioned as Government
ministers while remaining in a party not within the UPFA, though
he conceded he did not inform the party leader prior to his move.