“I am confident that no one in the civil society in Sri Lanka approves restrictions on media freedom by State Sector or Private sector. I am also equally confident that without exception, the civil society condemns the blocking of the websites (including Colombo Telegraph) by the Government, directly and/or indirectly by giving unconstitutional directives to the regulator (TRC) and the service providers. Blocking of websites is among the series of challenges we face today, under an authoritarian setup.” JC Weliamuna, one of Sri Lanka’s most prominent Human Rights lawyers and activists, the former Executive Director of Transparency International Sri Lanka told Colombo Telegraph.
As a member of the Civil Society group Friday Forum, he made above remarks when asked his opinion on Jayantha Dhanapala’s roles as a director of Dialog Axiata PLC and as a member of the Civil Society group Friday Forum. Dialog continues to block access in Sri Lanka to news websites critical of the government including the Colombo Telegraph. [Colombo Telegraph is being blocked by all internet service providers and mobile networks – private and state owned – in Sri Lanka.]
The Friday Forum, representing a group of distinguished Sri Lankans, publishes statements about democracy and good governance, and frequently, and in our view rightly, criticises the erosion of democratic rights including the freedoms of expression and information in Sri Lanka. The Friday Forum’s public statements that are often issued under the signature of Dhanapala.
“Re the specific issue of conflict of interest raised by Colombo Telegraph relating to Jayantha Dhanapala, I am sure that, in the course of his dealings with Dialog and its stakeholders, Dhanapala would follow the corporate best practices and principles of corporate good governance. Further, as required under the Company law and Codes of Conduct, I have no doubt that Dr. Dhanapala, being a person with high integrity, will address the instant issue within the framework of corporate governance and avoid any potential conflict of interest.” Weliamuna said.
“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.” he further said.
The Dialog Axiata PLC’s 2013 annual report is clear that: “The Board has separate and independent access to the Group’s Senior Management… ..The directors, especially non-executive directors, have access to independent professional advice in the course of fulfilling their responsibilities, at the Company’s expense.”
Dhanapala is an “Independent, non-executive” director of Dialog, and would in accordance with company policy, have “independent access to the group’s senior management,” and also “professional advice,” on the legal status of the blocking.
When contacted for comment on the ‘aims and objectives’ of the Friday Forum, a prominent member replied that it was committed to supporting the “rule of law,” “freedom of information and expression,” and “an independent media.”
While Colombo Telegraph has no direct information of the quantum of compensation Dialog pays Jayantha Dhanapala, the 2013 annual report of lists an amount in excess of 76 million Rupees, as directors compensation for the entire board of 8 members, who meet 7 times a year.
Jayantha Dhanapala Is A Liar; Caught Lying Over Silence On Colombo Telegraph Blocking
Jayaratne Says Dhanapala Will Stand By Best Practices, Dhanapala Pussyfoots On Illegal Web Blocking
Article 19 Slams Ban On Colombo Telegraph Website
Dialog Board Director And Friday Forum Member Jayantha Dhanapala Fails To Stop CT Blockade On Dialog Network
Dhanapala May Be Influenced By Large Payment He Receives From Dialog – Professor Kumar David
‘Dhanapala’s Position Ethically Untenable’ Says Dr. Pradeep Jeganathan
Sara Says ‘Dhanapala – WebBlocking’ Issue Needs To Be Resolved Within The Framework Of Good Governance
Subtle Business Interests More Damaging Than Anti–Democratic Regime: Dhanapala Should Answer Conflict Of Interest Questions – Dr. Nirmal Ranjith
Sri Lanka Blocks Websites And The President Lies On Twitter
Once Again Colombo Telegraph Blocked; Dialog And Etisalat Tamper DNS Responses
TRC Blocks Colombo Telegraph, Warns Service Providers To Maintain It’s A ‘Technical Glitch’
Colombo Telegraph Blocked, How To Reach Us Now: Sri Lanka Telecom And Mobitel Joins The DPI Club!
Sri Lankan Govt. Periodically Blocked Colombo Telegraph In 2013: US Human Rights Report
History of Colombo Telegraph blocking
First -December 26, 2011 – We are blocked but we will not be stopped
Second – May 8, 2012 – Colombo Telegraph Blocked Again
Third – March 29, 2013 – Sri Lanka Blocks Colombo Telegraph and Selected Tweets: Colombo Telegraph Unblocked
Fourth – August 23, 2013 – Colombo Telegraph Blocked, How To Reach Us Now: Sri Lanka Telecom And Mobitel Joins The DPI Club!
October 26, 2012 – Colombo Telegraph Was Hacked
August 9, 2012 ColomboTelegraph Password Cracking Attempt Blocked
Freedom House Report: Freedom On The Net 2012, Sri Lanka Is A Country At Risk
Park / March 25, 2014
This shows clearly that even the so called distinguished educated persons in Sri Lanka can be purchased with benefits and money. They do not have a soul! This is the same situation with various Pundits’ and rats who are running around looking for a hole to put their head in.
burt / March 25, 2014
Are you referring to people like DJ, Rajvir etc. I heard they are much cheaper.
Amarasiri / March 25, 2014
Dear JC Weliamuna,
“I am confident that no one in the civil society in Sri Lanka approves restrictions on media freedom by State Sector or Private sector. I am also equally confident that without exception, the civil society condemns the blocking of the websites (including Colombo Telegraph) by the Government, directly and/or indirectly by giving unconstitutional directives to the regulator (TRC) and the service providers. Blocking of websites is among the series of challenges we face today, under an authoritarian setup.” JC Weliamuna, one of Sri Lanka’s most prominent Human Rights lawyers and activists, the former Executive Director of Transparency International Sri Lanka told Colombo Telegraph.”
This is called DOUBLE SPEAK. Also called talking from both sides of the Mouth.
It is also like following two Religions that are in conflict with each other.
Mr. Jayantha Danapala needs to make a choice.
Is he for press freedom or not?
Is he for the right of the people to know what is happening or not?
Make your choice. Become a Shill or become man of Principles.
BBS Rep / March 25, 2014
Jayantha Danapala’s situation is unenvialable indeed. Damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. It is foolhardy not to heed MR and Cos’ control of media and the internet, and shameful to hold membership of a forum dedicated to democratic principles and good governance. The only decent thing left for JD to do is to resign from the Friday Forum.
burt / March 25, 2014
Yes he should be publicly given the opportunity to resign as the conflict of interest is not his making but if he does not then Friday Forum has little choice other than to fire him and protect the integrity of the forum.
ainsley / March 25, 2014
Yes, true, burt.
All these high-sounding statements by everyone will be of little use if they do not walk the talk…let us see.
The Professional / March 25, 2014
JD has two choices:
1. To resign from Dialog;
2. To resign from Friday Forum;
The first choice will allow him to come clean and the second choice will show that he is dead broke. A third choice would be to get Dialog to sponsor Friday Forum.
Nimal / March 25, 2014
Getting Dialog to sponsor Friday Forum is the best option. That will resolve the contradiction Dhanapala is facing?
Shall we ask who are Friday Forum’s sponsors? Will they reveal that? Is this simply philanthropic work of a well meaning group of aristocrats and capitalists fighting for bourgeois democracy?
Does Friday Forum fund any other organizations, such as Rights Now,
Collective for Democracy, which channels funds to fascist and anti-feminsit political group Sri Lanka Vanguard Party?
Nimal / March 25, 2014
It seems that Friday Forum members have a ready made answer at their hand which includes the key technocratic legalese terms “ corporate best practices and principles of corporate good governance.”
So, Weliamuna has now become a corporate lawyer suddenly?
When Weliamuna says that Dr. Dhanapala “will address the instant issue within the framework of corporate governance and avoid any potential conflict of interest” does he mean that he will resign from Dialog?
Let us see.
Palayang yako! / March 25, 2014
What on earth is wrong with these “defenders of democracy?”
Weliamuna says “Re the specific issue of conflict of interest raised by Colombo Telegraph relating to Jayantha Dhanapala, I am sure that, in the course of his dealings with Dialog and its stakeholders, Dhanapala would follow the corporate best practices and principles of corporate good governance. Further, as required under the Company law and Codes of Conduct, I have no doubt that Dr. Dhanapala, being a person with high integrity, will address the instant issue within the framework of corporate governance and avoid any potential conflict of interest.”
This is the same sort of rubbish that people like Saravanamuththu advanced in defence of Dhanapala earlier.
Better than this piece-meal approach by these humbugs, why don’t they simply disband this organization and stop issuing statements that are simply hypocritical and little else?
Wathsala E. / March 25, 2014
Until the recent obvious, shameful and hypocritical act of Dialog Axiata in blocking a news website as credible as The Colombo Telegraph, Dialog was seen as the liberal and educated classes’ service provider. Now it is seen as any other bend-over institution to the regime struggling to survive and lacking the credence to stand up. Subscribers beware of Dialog!
Saranga / March 25, 2014
Jayantha Dhanapala is playing double game. He wants to have the cake and eat the cake. In the history of SriLankan politics several prominent people have done this successfully. But now in the age of internet several international eyeballs are focussed on Srilanka. Well SriLanka is asking for the attention. Poor Dhanapala cannot play this “Have/Eat the Cake” game any more without getting into scrutiny
Kutti Machan / March 25, 2014
Mark my words every one of you in the Human Rights-NGO-Civil Society complex:
You are a Jayantha Dhanapala waiting to hit same side goals pretty soon. Clean up your closets if you want to avoid the ignominy.
Harry Hatton / March 26, 2014
Will lawyer Welliamuna consider resigning from the Bar association if it exceeds its mandate or acts in a partisan manner or gets into political agendas?In sri lanka today who can claim to be just ?