“I am dismayed and disappointed that Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala, remains a key member of two institutions that are clearly in ethical and moral conflict” said Colombo based senior social anthropologist, writer and op-ed columnist Dr. Pradeep Jeganathan, to Colombo Telegraph today. “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. Jeganathan made above remarks when asked his opinion on 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.
“I’m also somewhat mystified that this conflict of interest, and resultant ethically untenable position is being clouded over by a wooly headed notion of “good corporate governance.” he said. “It is certainly fair to say, that Ambassador Dhanapala can not speak for Dialog Axiata PLC. But certainly, he can consult his conscience and speak for himself. And more importantly, act ethically.” Dr. Jeganathan 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.
“I have a deep disquiet about the very concept of ‘good governance’ – which implies that public affairs, and common interests can be ‘managed’ in the same way as a for profit company. This is perhaps where we need to rethink our collective ethical stance,” Dr. Jeganathan concluded.
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!