The head of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s legal team President’s Counsel Ali Sabry is at the centre -of controversy, after he featured in a video clip that has gone viral, agreeing that Muslims would get “a massive thrashing” if they failed to vote for the former Defence Secretary.
The clip is doing the rounds in messaging groups, Facebook and Twitter.
Addressing the crowd, the clip shows Ali Sabry PC saying that Gotabaya Rajapaksa had already won the election with Sinhala votes. Muslims must be a part of that victory, the senior lawyer told the small gathering. He then poses a rhetorical question to the crowd: “If we don’t support him, what will happen?”
Someone in the crowd replies “ambanaikku kidaikkum”. Loosely translated ambanaikku is derived from the Sinhala word ambane, meaning “a lot” or “massive” and “kidaikkum” meaning “will get”. In Sinhala, the phrase would be “Ambanakata hambuwei”.
As the crowd laughs nervously, the President’s Counsel aligned with Gotabaya guffaws and agrees: “Exactly! Ambanaikku kidaikkum that is exactly what will happen! We need to understand this, this is the reality”.
Following the storm of controversy, the President’s Counsel attempted to clarify things, claiming that the full clip which he claims shows him working with the local community and trying to win back confidence. “UNP realising they are losing Muslim votes have totally misquoted a comment from the crowd and attributing it to me” he said adding “desperate measures call for desperate measures.”
However several translators proficient in Tamil have insisted that the interpretation provided above is the correct one, and the implication that voting against Gotabaya Rajapaksa could result in violence being unleashed against the Muslims was also abundantly clear.
Multiple sources regularly in touch with Ali Sabry PC told Colombo Telegraph that this was a sentiment the head of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s legal team repeatedly expresses in private communications with people, particularly Muslims who remain unconvinced about Rajapaksa’s candidacy. Ali Sabry PC has repeatedly told confidants that the only way Muslims can buy insurance about their safety is to ensure Rajapaksa does not feel he owed his victory purely to the Sinhalese people.
Ali Sabry has been at the forefront of discussions with Muslim community leaders, insisting to them that at least half of the Muslim community must vote for Gotabaya Rajapaksa to ensure they were stakeholders in his victory and minimise the chance of reprisals and pogroms under his watch, Colombo Telegraph learns. Some community leaders are convinced this may be the only strategy available to keep their people safe from harm post election, highly placed sources told Colombo Telegraph.