By Marlon Dale Ferreira –
Minister Navin Dissanayake‘s pet Jayananda Warnaweera is finally out. He has been on the run for nine long years avoiding ICC Anti Corruption Security Unit officials on match fixing related charges since 2006. This too being in the protected custody of the big wigs of SLC all this time. Next on the cards is Minister Dissanayake’s Dad’s (the late Gamini Dissanayake) pal and former Mahameweli Secretary Nuski Mohamed, who is schedule to bid adieu hopefully soon. That’s if the current Minister of Sport Dayasiri Jayasekara cracks the whip on him too, like he has now done on Warnaweera.
It was Colombo Telegraph who initially exposed both Nuski Mohamed and Jayananda Warnaweera on the 26th of April in a story titled “Sri Lanka Cricket: Sports Minister Navin Breaks Own Rules For Nuski” which highlighted the facts that questioned the then Sports Minister Navin Dissanayake’s appointment of them to his handpicked Interim Committee. The expose of Warnaweera has now been proved right, with him being removed from all official dealings with the sport by Interim Committee Chairman Sidath Wettimuny and company and also debarred him from even entering the premises of his very own Galle Cricket Stadium. This was for his continuous avoidance in meeting ICC’S Anti-Corruption Security Unit officials who flew into the island for the second time in two months just recently. They were miffed by his disrespect so than his cowardice of meeting them.
When Minister Navin Dissanayake scrapped the entire Executive Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket in March 2015 and retained both Jayananda Warnaweera and Nuski Mohamed as Committee Members of his appointed Interim Committee then, he sent out a strong signal that the rest of the 20 odd Executive Committee Members were rogues, whilst these two were portrayed to be more holier than the Pope.
Quite correctly Minister Dissanayake has now been proved wrong.
When the then Sports Minister Dissanayake was contacted by telephone, he said he knew nothing of Warnaweera’s match fixing allegations and ACSU’s want of grilling him. In Nuski’s case Minister Dissanayake said that he had resigned from being a Director of SVA Agencies where he had direct dealings with the “Cricket Shop”, where millions of rupees of SLC monies were channeled through the purchase of cricket equipment over the years.
It was proved beyond reasonable doubt to him then, that Nuski Mohamed was in violation of the country’s Sports Law, but Minister Dissanayake chose to turn a blind eye.
In Jayananda Warnaweera’s case the turning tracks at the picturesque Galle Cricket Stadium, is similarly as picturesque for any fielding team who have witnessed the mysterious collapse of test sides in the past. These are such test teams who have gone on to lose matches from being in a seemingly strong position. We saw it as recently when Pakistan collapsed to lose a test match to Sri Lanka this year and the Indians shortly followed suit. So did the ICC’s ACSU officials, they saw it too.
Such cricket matches and the ensuing results always seemed suspect, similar to the suspect off cutters that the Galle Cricket Stadium’s curator Jayananda Warnaweera bowled during his playing days.
Now the sudden resignation of the former Sports Minister Navin Dissanayake’s ‘golden boy’ Warnaweera and his subsequent withdrawal from all forms of the sport by Sri Lanka Cricket comes as no surprise. That is at least to the ICC’s ACSU Officials.
The ICC’s ACSU had hounded this alleged ‘match fixer’ Warnaweera for the past nine long years and time was running out fast for Southerner.
Speculation is rife that many bookies and informants were evicted from the Galle Cricket Stadium during the series Sri Lanka played against both Pakistan and India. This was mainly due to the anticiapted and aggressive drive that the ICC’s ACSU officials played and were supported well by Sri Lanka Cricket’s Head of Anti Corruption Retired SSP Lakshman De Silva.
There is much more than what’s read in the main stream media, as now startling evidence has surfaced, as to how Warnaweera had been protected and shielded all this time from the Anti-Corruption Officials.
It usually takes the skinning of around eight to ten rabbits to make up the famous Australian furry felt hat the “Akubra”, one similar to that worn by Warnaweera as he used to strut around the grounds on match days. However beneath that hat lay the brain that was craftily used to deceive many a batsmen with a dubious bowling action during his playing days. There was also that one faster ball that he always chucked in his over that usually deceived the batsman and the umpire too. The ball I am referring to is the one he hurled at a faster pace that left many a batsman shaking his head in disbelief, as he walked back to the pavilion. They were either bowled through the gate or trapped plumb in front. But those perhaps who were deceived the most were not the batsmen. They were the punters. They were the ones that lost much money when the team they backed collapsed mysteriously and the ensuing result turned on its head rather than the spinning track of Galle, especially on days four and five.
It was the ICC’s ACSU officials who first intimated their want of questioning Warnaweera in 2006 and officially wrote to the then Interim Committee Chairman Jayantha Dharmadasa.
However Prakash Schaffter the current Secretary in the Interim Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket, who was incidentally in Jayantha Dharmadasa’s committee then in 2006, said that he never knew anything regarding the ACSU’s request and as a matter of fact had never seen the official email. He said this when he was contacted on the 9th of October 2015.
That’s strange and a tad hard to believe, as this writer has had a copy of that email request in his possession for quite some time now.
Jayantha Dharmadasa was the President of the Galle Cricket Stadium then and with no prizes for guessing, Jayananda Warnaweera was his club Secretary.
Bigger rogues have been protected at SLC some would say.
As in Warnaweera’s case he had a trump card up his sleeve that had any Chairman of SLC have him kept wrapped in cotton wool. That was the crucial number of Galle District cricket club votes that he had firmly in his control, that even made Arjuna Ranatunga our Mr. Clean, D.S.De Silva and even Upali Dharmadasa pretend they never knew anything of this sort for the next eight years.
Why should they? They all had more to lose than gain in turning Warnaweera in. Pretending they never knew of this ACSU request was suitably their best option, with always an AGM scheduled around the corner during their terms.
But the critical question is this. Why was the initial email and request made by ICC’s ACSU to Jayantha Dharmadasa disregarded and shelved for at the beginning and also for so long?
ICC’s Anti-Corruption Officers swamped Colombo in their quest to get hold of Warnaweera in September last month, when they stayed at the Hilton Hotel in Colombo. Warnaweera promised to attend the requested meeting and at last minute he backed out.
The officials returned a second time again in early October or rather a few days back. This time Warnaweera was officially served a letter and had responded in the affirmative that he will be present. The ICC ACSU officials stayed at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel Colombo this time. Warnaweera never turned up for this meeting too and the ICC Officials left back to their head quarters in Dubai a second time within two months, still not being able to grill the Galle curator.
“Strangely Warnaweera submitted a letter resigning from the post of Interim Committee Member of SLC, it appeared that the letter was back dated” said an official from SLC on condition of anonymity.
Interim Committee Chairman Sidath Wettimuny then instructed that Warnaweera be instantly relieved of all dealings with SLC and the sport of cricket in all forms, especially his role as the curator of the Galle Cricket Stadium.
He was even banned from entering even his own hallowed club of over two decades in Galle.
However what sources from within SLC has confirmed is that Warnaweera is in for bigger trouble with the ICC for failure to meet their officials, than the alleged charge of match fixing itself.
So now after nine long years the Chairman of the current Interim Committee Sidath Wettimuny is being praised for getting rid of Warnaweera. But then again if our ‘Lords Hero’ is to get any further praise as an official, he ought to be consistent in his decision making process, as much as he was consistent in protecting his wicket for two long days on days one and two in scoring that majestic knock of 190 odd runs against England somewhere in the 80’s.
Hot on the heels now comes a press conference organized by SLC and scheduled for Monday the 12th of October 2015, where SLC’s Official Health Care Partner is to be announced. Nawaloka has been picked over Hemas which is quite understandable, especially for its location rather than the services it provides.
However the catch here is that this crucial decision was made by the Executive Committee of SLC in 2014, to award the contract to Nawaloka Hospitals where strangely Jayantha Dharmadasa himself was at the helm at both the cricket abode and also Nawaloka Hospitals too.
If this then is not a major conflict of interest and going against the norms of ethics, then Nuski Mohamed should be bestowed sainthood whilst still alive. That is simply for the role he has played supplying cricket equipment to the tune of millions of rupees under the guise of his immediate family members who own the sports good store the ‘Cricket Shop’. Even his attempt of transferring his shares and resigning from the post could not cover this sordid act, as it was proved beyond reasonable doubt that his replacement as the director of SVA Agencies shares his own personal home address 3/16 Kynsey Road in Colombo 8.
The three man investigative committee of lawyers comprising Ravi Algama, Waruna Mallawaarachchi and Jaliya Bodinagoda, who were appointed to look into the fraudulent affairs of SLC have already handed in their final report.
In it, it is reliably learnt that even they have highlighted that awarding the Health Care Partner contract to Nawaloka Hospitals is not the right thing to do. But sadly it is all signed, sealed and delivered and is to be only officially announced.
It has been well over two weeks since the lawyers’ findings and their report has been submitted and should be worth a read especially as they were paid a whopping sum of Rs 3.6 million (thirty six lakhs) as their professional fees. That is six lakhs more than Lawyer J.A.Weliamuna was paid to investigate Sri Lankan Airlines earlier this year.
it is reported that one copy was submitted to the Minister who appointed them probe SLC, Navin Dissanayake and two other copies were presented to the current Minister of Sports Dayasiri Jayasekara.
We caught a glimpse of how sport dwindled in this country both locally and internationally when Minister Navin Dissanayake held the country’s sport leash and made blunder after blunder in the few months he was control. That was the time he even permitted his Mum and her Kennel Association dogs to also run amok at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium for a pittance of the regular price usually charged. He was also more interested in hurriedly signing off a mega multi million dollar deal with a Chinese company to build the thrice cancelled high altitude sport training center in the heart of Nuwara Eliya.
If the decision to axe Warnaweera is anything to go by the powers wielded by the new Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara, then perhaps sport in Sri Lanka may be heading in the right direction.
It perhaps may be the opportune time now for Minister Jayasekara to also play the game by the rules and treat all fair and square.
If he stays consistent and does what is required of him, then it would be only a matter of time before even Minister Dissanayake’s father’s buddy Nuski Mohamed also receives his marching orders, like Warnaweera did, and be held accountable for violating the country’s Sport Law.