Good governance activists in Sri Lanka urged the Chairman of Transparency International Sri Lanka to resign form all posts he currently holds, including the Special Presidential Task Force for the recovery of illegally acquired state assets.
“Just saw the Colombo Telegraph story on the Sri Lankan Airlines inquiry – the Weliamuna report. Extremely disappointed myself. I was under the impression that the work done was voluntary – this is what was told to people with links to Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL). For your information, J. C. Weliamuna is the Chairman of TISL – still. Absolute conflict of interest.” an activist and a staff member of the Transparency International Sri Lanka told Colombo Telegraph last night.
“He must resign from all posts” another staff member and a good governance activist said.
JC Weliamuna is the Chairman of Transparency International Sri Lanka, co-convener of the Lawyers Collective, Lawyers for democracy and a key member of the Friday Forum. On 29th of April, he was appointed as a member of the Special Presidential Task Force for the recovery of illegally acquired state assets by President Maithripala Sirisena.
We asked Weliamuna to reveal the amount he was paid to investigate Sri Lankan Airlines – the first government-commissioned inquiry into the previous Rajapaksa regimes’s corruption and malpractices.
Three days ago Weliamuna speaking to Colombo Telegraph confirmed that he along with his team comprising three other members U.H. Palihakkara, B.A.W. Abeywardane and M.K. Bandara were paid Rs 3.5 million. At that time Colombo Telegraph did request for a breakdown from the chairman of Transparency International Sri Lanka, Weliamuna but he was not in a position to do so. A subsequent email was sent to him seeking this information. Weliamuna has not responded to that question as yet. The day before yesterday we emailed Weliamuna once again and requested him to furnish at least the amount he did receive as his fee but he is yet to respond to that question as well.
Previously when we reported the “Colombo Telegraph blockade, the internet provider Dialog Axiata PLC’s and the Jayantha Dhanapala issue“, Weliamuna told Colombo Telegraph, that “Every individual has a right to raise matters of conflict of interest and such matters are generally raised in the public interest (as opposed to private interests). Conflicts can arise in any sphere including private companies and even media organisations and therefore I believe that Colombo Telegraph, like any citizen, has every right to raise it in the public interest.”
TISL website says;
J. C. Weliamuna (Chairman)
Mr. J C Weliamuna is one of Sri Lanka’s leading public interest and Constitutional lawyers, with 24 years active practice. He had appeared in hundreds of leading human rights and constitutional cases including landmark governance related case. He holds a Master of Laws from the University of Colombo, where he served as a visiting lecturer. He is also an Eisenhower and a Senior Ashoka Fellow.
After establishing his legal career in commercial law, Mr. Weliamuna moved into the fields of constitutional and human rights law, and became an active contributor to local and foreign media on governance and human rights challenges in Sri Lanka. He has played a leadership role in several pro democratic movements in the country and in the sub region.
He was TI Sri Lanka’s first Executive Director, where he served from 2002 until 2010. Presently he serves as a director of TI’s Board after being elected by Global membership of TI movement in 2010.
“There ought to be transparency on both the framework set for the inquiry and the basis for charging – the danger is this ends with those involved profiteering without [the public gaining] adequate benefits”, a Finance Ministry official told Colombo Telegraph on the condition of anonymity.
The final ‘Weliamuna Report’ report was submitted to the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on the 31st March 2015 and recommended criminal investigations into the entire re-fleeting process and had noted instances where former chairman Wickramasinghe, a brother-in-law of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and airlines’ CEO, Kapila Chandrasena, should be prosecuted.
Mean while, yesterday, Ruwan F. Guruge, the owner of Sri Lanka Mirror emailed the following story [of his own website carried] to the editor of Colombo Telegraph, copying to J.C. Weliamuna, Krishantha Cooray, one of the UNP exco members and the head of the UNP media unit and also to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera. His email reads as follows:
An organised mudslinging campaign targeting Attorney-At-Law – J.C. Weliamuna has commenced after investigations have commenced on the Weliamuna report committee with regard to the irregularities at Sri Lankan Airlines.
It is said that an advance payment of Rs. 12 million has been made for the mudslinging campaign.
The former chairman of Sri Lankan Airlines was non other than the brother of former first lady – Shiranthi Rajapaksa.
The Weliamuna report has revealed of staggering financial irregularities and corruption that has taken place between 2006 – 2014.
The report was handed over to the President and the Sri Lankan Airlines chairman on March 30.
A lawyer tasked with the campaign against the report and Weliamuna, has been paid an advance of Rs. 10 million. According to sources, a trade union of Sri Lankan Airlines has been tasked with the mudslinging campaign and for this purpose an advance payment of Rs. 02 million has been made.
The mission, which is headed by a prominent official of the Rajapaksa government is also joined by a group of officials facing charges by the Weliamuna committee report.
Editor’s note – “Weliamuna has been a great contributor to Colombo Telegraph, a friend but moreover he is my private lawyer who is representing me in the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. CT did ask Weliamuna a simple question for the benefit of our readers – the question was pertaining to the fee the Weliamuna team had been paid. When Weliamuna was contacted over the phone he did confirm the fee to be a sum of Rs 3.5million in total but he was not in a position to provide a break down at that time. CT did write to him subsequently but he is yet to reply us.”