This is the third tranche of my expose` of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES, Colombo, Sri Lanka) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC, Ottawa, Canada) on research and financial frauds committed in a research and advocacy project co-funded by the Department for International Development (DfID, UK), IDRC, and William and Hewlett Foundation (California, USA).
Two present members and one past member of the Board of Directors and one past Executive Director of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) Colombo are/were members of the Friday Forum, which in its own words is “an informal and self-financed group dedicated to democracy, good governance, human rights and the rule of law. It has for over five years sought to alert the public on issues concerning the rights of the citizen. We work on a non-partisan basis and have been critical of both the Government and Opposition.”
The current chairperson of the ICES, Daneshan Casie Chetty – a retired Foreign Service personnel, is a member of the Friday Forum; Tissa Jayatilaka, Executive Director of the US-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission, is a member of the Board of Directors of the ICES as well as the Friday Forum; Chandra Jayaratne, a member of the Friday Forum, was a recent past member of the Board of Directors of the ICES during whose tenure Mario Gomez was inducted as the Executive Director of the ICES in late-2012; a former Executive Director of the ICES (1999-2006), Radhika Coomaraswamy, was a member of the Friday Forum until recently.
Radhika Coomaraswamy is said to be a long-time friend of Navsharan Singh, Senior Programme Officer at the IDRC Asia Regional Office in New Delhi. Radhika Coomaraswamy was given an honorary title ‘Emeritus Fellow’ by the ICES in late-2014. Incidentally, most of the titles held by this retired international civil servant are honorary (Doctorate, Deshamanya – Pride of the Nation, and recently ‘Emeritus Fellow’ of the corrupt ICES), and not earned titles/qualifications. I would like to publicly ask the management of the ICES whether such bestowing to its former Executive Director was a quid pro quo for securing the aforementioned project from the IDRC.
None of my email communications about the ICES-PPID-IDRC project since December 2014 to the aforementioned two current members of the Friday Forum who are also members of the Board of Directors of the ICES (Daneshan Casie Chetty and Tissa Jayatilaka) have been acknowledged, let alone replied, except the very first snail mail communication to the chairperson Daneshan Casie Chetty which was just acknowledged but not replied to date (January 2016). This kind of indifferent behaviour is unbecoming of the messiahs of ‘good governance’ and does not bode well for accountability of the office bearers of non-profit institutions.
The members of Board of Directors/Governors/Trustees of non-profit institutions are accountable to the activities and finances of their respective organisations in the same way Directors of business companies are. Accountability and transparency should apply to the (honorary or paid) office bearers of non-profit institutions as well. Self-regulation should be the way forward for the non-profit sector in order to keep the State out of oversight of its activities.
I would like to remind the Friday Forum that the principles of ‘good governance’ should be applicable not only to the political society (government and opposition), but to the civil society (academia, faith-based institutions, NGOs, professional associations, etc.) as well, because both the political and civil societies are mostly funded by public money (domestic and/or external). Therefore, I publicly urge the Friday Forum to call for an independent civil society investigation into the research and financial fraud committed by the ICES / IDRC in the aforementioned project funded by external donors.
*Muttukrishna Sarvananthan (Ph.D. Wales, M.Sc. Bristol, M.Sc. Salford, and B.A. (Hons) Delhi) is a Development Economist by profession and the Founder and Principal Researcher of the Point Pedro Institute of Development (http://pointpedro.org), Point Pedro, Northern Province, Sri Lanka. He was an Endeavour Research Fellow at the Monash University, Melbourne (2011 – 2012) and a Fulbright Visiting Research Scholar at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, Washington D.C. (2008 – 2009) who can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org