Minority Opportunism: Cross Overs & Alliances – Rauf Hakeem

Sri Lanka’s Minority Population makes up 36% of Sri Lanka’ total population. Muslims account for 9.3% around 1.9million of Sri Lanka’s 21million population. The present proportional representation system has enabled minority leaders to act as king-pins plugging themselves into Parliament to prop up a government and demanding plum portfolios or threatening to join the opposition. This has been the modus operandi of all Muslim parties that successive governments have had to align with. We look at the political opportunism in SLMC & its leader. What has the party done for Muslims by doing kangaroo jumps every parliamentary election?


Hakeems History of Cross-Overs


1994 2000 2001 2004 Jan2007 Dec2007 2010 Nov2010 Dec2014 2015 2020


Hakeem joined SLMC (Sri Lanka Muslim Congress) in 1988 & became SLMC General Secretary from 1992-2000.

His Parliamentary career began as a National List MP having aligned to the PA government of Chandrika Bandaranaike in 1994.

He became SLMC leader in 2000 after the untimely death of A H M Ashroff but contested under the National Unity Alliance but aligned with PA

He crossed over from PA to UNP in 2001 after getting dismissed by President Chandrika

He contested from SLMC aligned to UNP in 2004 but crossed over to UPFA in Jan 2007 then left UPFA in Dec 2007 but re-entered Parliament joining UNP as a National List MP.

He continued with UNP in 2010 but crossed to UPFA in November and was made Justice Minister. He leaves UPFA in 2014 December crossing over to join the Joint Opposition that canvassed for Maithripala Sirisena in January 2015 Presidential Elections. He contested under SLMC & UNFGG and entered Parliament. Not crossed over as yet!


Alliances & Cross Overs

  • SLMC with PA in 1994
  • NUA with PA in 2000
  • SLMC with UNP in 2001
  • SLMC with UNF in 2004
  • SLMC with UNF in 2010
  • SLMC with UNFGG in 2015
  • SLMC with SJB in 2020


Parliament & Positions

  • 1994 Parliamentary ElectionsPA National List& appointed Minister of Shipping, Ports & Rehabilitation & Deputy Chairman of Committees.
  • 2000 Parliamentary Elections– National Unity Alliance from Kandy & appointed Minister of Internet & International Trade Commerce, Muslim Religious Affairs & Shipping Development.
  • 2001 Parliamentary Elections– SLMC joins UNF & Hakeem contests from Kandy & appointed Minister of Ports Development & Shipping.
  • 2004 Parliamentary Elections– SLMC from Ampara district & appointed Minister of Port Development & Shipping, Minister of Eastern Development & Muslim Religious Affairs
  • 2007 Jan– SLMC joins UPFA & Hakeem appointed Minister of Posts & Telecommunication. SLMC leaves UPFA in Dec 2007.
  • 2008– Re-entered Parliament as UNF National List MP.
  • 2010 – Parliamentary Elections– UNF candidates in Kandy
  • 2010 Nov– Joins UPFA & appointed Minister of Justice.
  • 2014 Dec– SLMC leaves UPFA & joins Common Opposition to support Maithripala Sirisena for President.
  • 2015 – National Government& Hakeem is appointed Minister of Urban Development, Water Supply & Drainage.
  • 2015 Aug Parliamentary Elections– SLMC joins United National Front for Good Governance to contest Parliamentary Elections & Hakeem contests from Kandy district. Appointed Minister of City Planning & Water Supply.
  • 2020 Aug Parliamentary ElectionsSLMC joins SJB to contest Parliamentary Elections


Sacking & Resignations

  • 2001 June– President Chandrika dismisses Hakeem from Cabinet.
  • 2008 April– Resigns from Parliament to contest Provincial Council Elections as UNF candidate in Trincomalee & elected to EPC (Eastern Provincial Council) but resigned in July 2008 after UNF failed to gain control of EPC.
  • 2014– President Rajapakse dismisses Hakeem from Cabinet


Rauf Hakeem represented Kandy District & Ampara District to get elected to Parliament.


Kandy District population is 1.37million

Muslim population in Kandy District is close 200,000


Ampara District population is close to 700,000

Muslim population in Ampara district is close to 290,000


Now look at the votes given by Muslims to Hakeem since 2000


Electoral history of Rauff Hakeem
Election Constituency Party Alliance Votes Result
1994 Kandy District SLMC United People’s Front Alliance NL  
2000 parliamentary Kandy District SLMC National Unity Alliance 28,033 Elected
2001 parliamentary Kandy District SLMC United National Front 71,094 Elected
2004 parliamentary Ampara District SLMC United National Front 68,627 Elected
2008 provincial Trincomalee District SLMC United National Front NL
2010 parliamentary Kandy District SLMC United National Front 54,047 Elected
2015 parliamentary Kandy District SLMC United National Front for Good Governance 102,186 Elected
2020 parliamentary Kandy District SJB Samagi Jana Balavegaya  83,398 Elected


Rauf Hakeem has functioned as Minister of Shipping & Ports from 1994 – 2000 – 2001 – 2004


Rauf Hakeem as functioned as Minister for Rehabilitation -1994


Rauf Hakeem has functioned as Minister of Internet – 2000


Rauf Hakeem has functioned as Minister for International Trade & Commerce – 2000


Rauf Hakeem has functioned as Minister for Muslim Religious Affairs – 2000 – 2004


Rauf Hakeem has functioned as Minister for Eastern Development – 2004


Rauf Hakeem has functioned as Minister for Posts & Telecommunications – 2007


Rauf Hakeem has functioned as Minister of Justice – 2010


Rauf Hakeem has functioned as Minister for Urban Development, Water Supply & Drainage – 2015


For a decade, Rauf Hakeem a minority minister held the portfolio of Minister of Ports & Shipping (1994-2004) exactly what is the development or progress that he brought to this critical revenue centre of the Government?


The most controversial of appointments was that of being made the Minister of Justice after crossing over from UNP in 2010. The many irregularities committed during this tenure was a key reason to request governments not to appoint a minority minister (elected or from national list) as Justice Minister because the likelihood of fairplay was unlikely.


It is the fault of governments for appointing politicians who are representing an ethnic political party to positions where they are unlikely to be fair by all ethnic communities given that their mandate is to serve only their community first & foremost.


Ironically, the cross overs – were not made in the interest of the Muslim population or has benefited the Muslim population one bit. These were all personal gains and for personal perks and to plug personal friends and cronies of one community into State positions.


In summing up a comment by Yvonne Ridley is suitable to describe the plight of Muslims at the hands of corrupt and opportunist Muslim politicians who love to drum the ‘minority’ ‘racism’ ‘discrimination’ card not for anything else – only to divert media and international attention for themselves and gain cheap political publicity. This is really no different to the theatrics that the majority politicians play as well. However, the people must see the larger picture and not become prey to these corrupt and opportunist politicians.


“The Muslim politicians I met – all men – had the backbones of sticky toffee puddingand were more concerned about their political careers in government than the plight of their brothers and sisters…a bit like the pathetic few we have in European parliaments.”

(Ridley, Y. 2006, ‘The Plight of Sri Lankan Muslims’)

Yvonne Ridley

– http://yvonneridley.org/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=27




Shenali D Waduge

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