The day they came for MP Dolawatta | Sunday Observer

The day they came for MP Dolawatta

25 September, 2022

Sri Lankans have passed through many dark ages in the annals of history including a three-decade-long conflict that resulted in the destruction of lives and property. The incidents of May 9 were reminiscent of this destructive distant past when the houses and other property of many Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna MPs were attacked and destroyed as a result of the increasing dissent against the Government. SLPP Colombo district MP and Attorney-at-Law Premanath C. Dolawatta also fell victim to the day's violent events.

Dolawatta considers himself lucky in comparison with other politicians as his house was attacked and damaged but not set on fire that day. Recalling the events of that unfortunate Monday, Dolawatta says he arrived at the Temple Trees around 11.30 am to attend the meeting held to bid farewell to the former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“At the time the final speeches were being made I spoke to the PM, wished him well and left the event. I had no inkling of the events taking place outside during that time” he said. Dolawatta says he only learnt of a curfew being imposed on his way. “I purchased some items from Rajagiriya and was proceeding to my residence when my driver received a call about houses of Government MPs being attacked,” he recalled.

Name - Premnath Dolawatta
Date of Birth - 17.11.1981
School AttendedColombo D. S. Senanayake College
Professional QualificationsLawyer,  Reading for a post - graduate degree at the University of Colombo
Positions held:  
Former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Media Spokesperson
COPE Committee Member
OtherFounder of Truth Seekers Organisation

Dolawatta believes that had he taken his regular route, he would have suffered the fate that befell MP Amarakeerthi Athukorala. “I heard of houses, vehicles and offices being attacked. When I got back home my supporters inquired if they should visit me and if I was safe. I had never hurt anyone's feelings and have always respected the right of others to hold their own views often standing for that right. So believing I was safe I opted to stay home” he said.

According to Dolawatta, however, the situation changed in the blink of an eye. Dolawatta says he received a call around 4 p.m. from the Presidential Secretariat informing him of MP Athukorala’s violent killing. “Understanding that the situation had become dangerous I told my wife that we must leave our home. She, however, refused.” he said. Finally managing to convince her, Dolawatta says he and his family left home around 6.15 p.m. on the day. “Right at that moment the electricity supply was disrupted and in a matter of five minutes, I was informed my house was being attacked. My parents and one of my brothers were in the house at the time. The mob had entered the house forcefully and begun destroying the property within. However, as our neighbours converged, the mob had then soon disbanded”, he added.

Dolawatta says following the incident he did not take an interest in looking for possible suspects. “Some suspects connected to the incident were arrested many days later but now I understand this was an organised attack which was carried out misusing the people’s anger towards the Government.” he said.

“My house comes under the Nawagamuwa Police area. Had the Police acted in an expeditious manner this could have been averted. It is unfortunate the Police was not able to protect the house of the only MP living in the area”, he added.

Dolawatta claims his house was more than a century-old and many things within had been destroyed. “My only relief was that it was not set alight and my books had also been left unharmed. I believe I have suffered a loss close to Rs. 135 million in this incident” he said.

The SLPP MP believes this was not an isolated incident but was part of a larger organised series of attacks carried out by a group. “Everyone knows who has the organisational capabilities for this. I am saddened by the incident as I was an MP who would even criticise the Government if I felt it was wrong.

As a professional, I have nothing to gain by engaging in politics. I have never used a Government vehicle and till April 12, 2022, I never had a personal security officer because I understood there is a shortage of Policemen in the country.

I have even voiced my opposition to attacking or harming protesters. There have been occasions where I have intervened to secure the release of the Frontline Socialist Party and Janatha Vimukthi Permauna activists when they were arrested.

I have no allegations of corruption levelled against me and even if I had no one can take the law into their hands and attack anyone or destroy their property. There was a clear element of fascism in these attacks” he said.

“The President we chose was not able to politically control the country as expected during this time. We as politicians also bear responsibility for his appointment. However, I strongly believe we need a stable Government at this juncture. I view President Ranil Wickremesinghe as someone who is able to do this,” he said.

Dolawatta who has resided in Bomiriya, Kaduwela since his childhood first attended the Ihala Bomiriya Kanishta Vidyalaya before heading to the D.S Senanayake College in Colombo following the Grade 5 scholarship exam.

Intending to embark on a legal career, following his A’level examination he entered the Sri Lanka Law College with second-class honours.

By the time he took oaths as a lawyer in 2008, he was also following a postgraduate degree at the University of Colombo. Dolawatta entered politics in 2015 after the defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa at a time he was left isolated and abandoned by others.

“I stood by him as I felt it was an unfair defeat. As a lawyer, I believe any suspect must have representation and his day in court. I was with Mahinda Rajapaksa and the joint Opposition at a time no lawyer came forward to even draft a letter for them despite many attempting to dissuade me.

But I took that risk and many others including senior lawyers followed suit thereafter. I then supported them when necessary and took a step back. I also acted as the legal advisor of the Opposition to reveal the corruption and injustices of the Good Governance Government.

Sarath N. Silva and I carried out many seminars across the country to educate the people about these acts of the Government. When I entered the election fray various rumours about me began to circulate but I did not back down. I faced many issues but I was among the first who caused the collapse of the Good Governance Government.

I took our party to the people. After my appointment as the media spokesman for Mahinda Rajapaksa I was granted the chance to contest the elections”, he said.

Dolawatta received the SLPP ticket from the Central Colombo electoral area, a United National Party (UNP) bastion in 2020. He was able to secure 70, 000 preferential votes to become a Member of Parliament.

Dolawatta said he believes as a politician he has been able to protect the trust the people have kept in him. “I was able to intervene when the Good Governance brought forward several harmful draft bills.

I was also able to extend my support to bring about good changes within our Government. Perhaps that is why I have not been allocated an electoral seat to carry out my political activities” he opined.

Dolawatta said his wife suffered mental anguish as a result of the May 9 events. “Though we have managed to clean up and restore what was damaged even after that there have been occasions where my daughter suffered cuts due to the scattered pieces of glass from the day's events,” he said.

Never having faced a similar incident in the past, Dolawatta reiterates he had nothing to gain through politics having earned every dime through his profession instead.

Though he says doubts arose in his mind about continuing a legal career under these circumstances he has decided that fascism should not be allowed to take over. “What we must now focus on is not gaining power but instead we must work together to change this system and rebuild the country’s economy. All politicians must unite.

The people also have a responsibility to not allow such incidents from taking place yet again” Dolawatta said adding that both politicians and the people now have a responsibility to protect this country at this critical juncture.