Governor of the Eastern Province, Austin Fernando on Wednesday rejected allegations leveled against him by the Eastern Province Chief Minister, Nazeer Ahamed who claimed that Fernando was undermining his authority.
“I have not done any such thing. I can’t imagine why he said that, as far as I am concerned we work together without issues, even though there maybe differences of opinion,” Fernando told the Colombo Telegraph.
His comments came after Ahamed accused Fernando of undermining his authority and also interfering with his duties. Ahmed also tried to defend his outburst at the Naval Officer, who was the compere at a school function at the Sampur Maha Vidyalaya last week, where he admonished the officer telling him to ‘get out, you idiot,’ by blaming the Governor for not knowing protocol and for not informing the compere that Ahamed was the Chief Minister.
“My job is not to introduce the Chief Minister to the compere,” Fernando said.
The Governor added that if the Chief Minister had a problem with him, then he should have taken up the matter with President Maithripala Sirisena, or made a complaint to the leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, Rauff Hakeem.
“But, that clearly was not the time and place to take it up. It was a school function and he should not have acted like that. If he had a problem with me, he could have made a complaint to President Maithripala Sirisena,” Fernando said.
According to Ahamed, he was not officially acknowledged by the compere, and when he had tried to get on stage after being invited by the governor, the compere had stopped him, and hence he had lost his temper. “The governor should have told the organizers I was the Chief Minister. It’s his fault,” he reportedly said.
The Governor went on to add that as in any provincial council, there can be differences of opinion between a Governor and the Chief Minister. “Even in our case if there was something I did not support, I would tell him so, and that is normal. But, you can’t go around acting like that,” Fernando added.
Meanwhile, Navy Commander Ravindra Wijegunaratne has requested Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi to take action against Ahamed for insulting the naval officer. Hettiarachchi had also met Sirisena to given him a detailed report about the incident, just before Sirisena’s departure to Japan for the G7 summit. ( By Munza Mushtaq © Colombo Telegraph)