“I have thought about Dhanapala’s position quite a bit. Dialog clearly considers him a valuable person and seems to pay him well for his services on the Board. I have no problem with that. However, irrespective of whether I was a member of the Friday Forum, Bolshevik Party or anything else, I would have a problem if a company on whose board I served, engaged in unethical practices.” says Professor Kumar David.
Commenting under the article ” ‘Dhanapala’s Position Ethically Untenable’ Says Dr. Pradeep Jeganathan“, Professor David said; “The question then is this. Is Dialog engaging in unethical and indefensible practices by illegally blocking Colombo Telegraph and presumably other websites because they open their columns to writers who are anti-government (and others who are pro-government as well)? The very posing of the question so explicitly makes obvious the answer. Dialog, and the other Internet service providers who engage in such activities are in violation of the Telecommunication Regulations and it would not be unfair to call them servile political stooges. In Dhanapala’s case this is compounded by the thought in many people’s minds, and I admit in my mind too, that he may be influenced by the apparently large payment he receives for his services on the Board.”
Jayantha Dhanapala, a prominent member of the Sri Lankan civil society group, the Friday Forum, is a member of the board of directors of Dialog Axiata PLC. Dialog one of Sri Lanka’s key telecommunications providers, has been surreptitious blocking access to Colombo Telegraph, over a period of time.
Dhanapala, in his communications with Colombo Telegraph uses the word ‘alleged’, implying that he is not certain if indeed Dialog had blocked Colombo Telegraph. However, our investigations reveal that he had told his friends that he could not access Colombo Telegraph. This was 7-10 days prior to our first communication ( February 17, 2014) with him. The use of the word is inexplicable since Colombo Telegraph provided him with the technical report which clearly shows that Dialog was indeed blocking Colombo Telegraph. Dhanapala has claimed that he is a regular reader of Colombo Telegraph. As such it would be strange indeed if he, a Director of Dialog, was using another internet service provider to access the site. “Its also quite surprising that he would use the term, ‘alleged’ to describe the blocking, when neither he, Friday Forum nor Dialog has contested the US State Department’s HR report for 2013, which reports the blocking of CT from Sri Lanka.” Dr. Pradeep Jeganathan, told Colombo Telegraph.
Commenting under the article “Jayantha Dhanapala Is A Liar; Caught Lying Over Silence On Colombo Telegraph Blocking” on March 16, Professor David said; I was in Sri Lanka till yesterday (15) and just left on a short trip. I can confirm that Mobitel and SLT, both of which I use, started blocking CT last week. Friends who are Dialog users have complained bitterly that Dialog has been doing so for much longer. I tried from their homes – blocked! I am firmly of the view that anyone who cares about freedom of information and democracy must take a strong, explicit and public stand on this outrage, not so much against websites, but against us the people and our right to access opinions and information.”
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.
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
Fourth – August 23, 2013 – Colombo Telegraph Blocked, How To Reach Us Now: Sri Lanka Telecom And Mobitel Joins The DPI Club!
Fifth – January 07, 2014 – Once Again Colombo Telegraph Blocked; Dialog And Etisalat Tamper DNS Responses