The Board of Directors of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) has withdrawn the prestigious Integrity Icon 2018 award presented to controversial figure, Dr. Wasantha Dissanayake, Director of Apeksha Hospital who has in recent months being labelled a racist.
In a statement TISL said, “Following a preliminary inquiry, TISL’s Board of Directors had suspended the Integrity Icon 2018 Award presented to Dr. Wasantha Dissanayake, Director of the Apeksha Hospital. Dr. Dissanayake was afforded the opportunity to appeal this decision and has chosen not to do so. TISL can therefore confirm that the award has been withdrawn.”
Dissanayake has been in the center of controversy in recent months after he levelled serious allegations against the Fight Cancer Team Sri Lanka, and its founder, M.S.M. Mohammed, who have been collecting funds to purchase a tomotherapy machine and linear accelerator machine via a bank account operated by the Ministry of Health.
Asoka Obeyesekere, Executive Director of TISL said that the decision to withdraw Dissanayake off his award was taken following his Facebook post in December 2019 which contained inappropriate and offensive language. “A letter was sent to Dr. Dissanayake asking him to provide an explanation. At the Board Meeting in January 2020 it was decided that the actions and explanation offered were not in keeping with the values of TISL and Integrity Icon. Having considered his response, the board decided to suspend the award, and Dr. Dissanayake was informed that he could appeal the decision by 12 March 2020. No appeal was lodged and therefore the award has been withdrawn,” Obeyesekere said.
Mohammed and his team has categorically rejected allegations by Dissanayake who claimed that Mohammed was misusing funds collected. Addressing a press conference in December, Mohammed said that the control and management of the fund, which Dissanayake referred to as having been misused was in fact vested with the Health Ministry. “Only the Health Ministry has the sole legal authority to deal with financial transactions in the account,” Mohammed said.
In February, the Fight Cancer Team also lodged a complaint with the CID over the spate of fake and racist news spread by Dissanayake.