23 September, 2020

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Minister Kabir Hashim’s Hogwash

By Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

According to media reports, Minister of Public Enterprise Development and subject minister for the national carrier SriLankan Airlines, Kabir Hashim, responding to a question from JVP Parliamentarian Dr. Nalinda Jayathissa is reported to have stated, he had written to President Sirisena requesting investigations by the recently appointed Special Presidential Commission should be based on the J.C. Weliamuna Report. The Weliamuna Board of Inquiry was hastily appointed, shortly after the installation of the Yahapalana government.       

Minister Hashim has supposedly further stated, the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) should investigate SriLankan Airlines and now defunct Mihin Lanka. He had expressed his willingness to testify before the COPE on the two airlines, should an investigation be initiated.

Minister Hashim has been the subject minister of both SriLankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka till its amalgamation with the national carrier since August 2015. He failed to direct the Chairman of the airline to conduct internal inquiries based on the findings by Weliamuna and his associates. The report highlighted issues related to Man Power (HR) including recruitments carried out before Presidential elections, Tenders associated with Duty-Free Services besides alcohol for onboard service and General Sales Agent appointments abroad. The mothballed report for which the subject minister must be held accountable cost taxpayers over Rs 3.5 million. Having neglected his duties during last two and half years, the sudden urge for an investigation by COPE in the wake of the appointment of the Special Presidential Commission is suspect of sinister motives. 

The mandate issued to the Special Presidential Commission is to investigate wrongdoings at SriLankan Airlines and Mihin Lanka during the period January 01, 2006 till January 01, 2018. The Weliamuna investigation report did not go as far back as January 2006. It also did not cover wrongdoings between January 10, 2015, until January 01, 2018.

No doubt, an in-depth investigation is required to establish the truth relating to the purchase orders of six Airbus A330-300 and eight A350-900 aircraft by the previous administration.  That said, a thorough investigation into mismanagement in many other areas including recruitment, especially to critical positions, promotions and service extensions is equally necessary.  Also required is the examination of procedures and processes. Such an in-depth investigation is bound to provide answers to the airline’s continuing abysmal financial results. 

An investigation by COPE as suggested by the subject minister will serve no purpose at this juncture. Lessons must be learned from the two COPE investigations into the Bond scam in which the SLFP and other members were on the offensive and UNP on the defensive, resulting in findings being watered down with footnotes to reach consensus. Members of the Yahapalana government were found to have had hundreds of phone/Viber/ WhatsApp conversations with those accused.

A COPE investigation into the national carrier will not be similar to the two Bond investigations by COPE. UPFA members and their acolytes committed wrongdoings before January 2015.  Yahapalana members and their acolytes have taken their turn since January 2015. Any report is bound to end up with more footnotes than content.

As for the offer to give evidence during a COPE investigation, the less said, the better. The public is aware of the ‘invaluable’ evidence given by Minister Hashim and another Yahapalana minister during the Presidential Investigation into the Bond scam. There is no reason to believe, evidence during a COPE investigation of SriLankan Airlines relating to matters pertaining after January 2015 would be any less ‘invaluable.’ It would be an utter waste of public funds.

Consequent to the SriLankan Airlines Board meeting held on January 25, 2018, the public came to know, a majority of Directors had requested the resignation of the Chief Executive Officer within one week or face dismissal. At the end of one week, a statement from the Prime Minister’s office stated, such a course of action is not possible without the approval of the subject minister, thus making the Board of Directors irrelevant.

Directors demand the resignation of CEOs under extenuating and compelling circumstances. Reasons for a majority of Directors to demand the resignation of the airline’s CEO needs investigation. Unfortunately, this issue cannot be investigated by the Presidential Commission as it falls outside the mandated period.

The transformation of SriLankan Airlines Limited to the Department of SriLankan Airlines going back in time to the Air Ceylon era of 1947 – 1979 is now complete.           

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Latest comments

  • 7
    0

    Kabir Hashim has been singing for his supper ever since R. Premadasa gave him a slot in Kegalle after coming to an ‘understanding’ with his late father. The Hashims are a well known family from Kegalle.

    These days, he is the gopher for RW. Who is the man with any self-respect who will tolerate being treated the way Hashim has been, by his beloved leader and his henchas?

    Why is he writing to MS when Sri Lankan and Mihin have been his responsiblity? i He did not raise a finger to manage or supervise both entities since January 2015, except complain; that he was never informed.

    And to boot, he lost his electorate in the latest polls….

    Mr. Hashim, please keep the ounce of respect you have left, resign, and go home. Don’t go home and just contemplate. Think, how you wasted the opportunities you had to be a honest human being. When the creator calls upon you, these are also the failures you will have to answer for. …….

    Funny thing, all these characters run to the Kovils, devales, temples and Mosques. They have completely forgotten the day of reckoning can come tomorrow, the day after or next year. It will come!

    • 0
      0

      Dear “upul”,

      Kabir Hashim is surely one of the ablest Ministers. I have never even met him, but I think that he can contribute much.


      On the other hand, what you say makes eminent sense. Some of these very able people, who are also personally well-off, should do something like this. It will take the public by surprise, may be even shock them.

      It may be the only way to make the public THINK about whom they should vote for.

      I wonder if My3 could apply such thinking to his role. In his case, if he does this, given his age, there would be no coming back. However, he could live out what one hopes will be a long life in great happiness. That is what intelligent men should do!

      In Kabir’s case, he could either be recalled, or remain retired. He won’t be the loser, will he?

      As for Ranil – let us not talk!

  • 9
    3

    You have a personal grudge and chip on your shoulder. You wanted to become CEO and you have been engaging in a propaganda war since then. Is Rakkitha giving you information? UL’s current record is much better than what it was under MR. During MRs’ time you would not have had the balls to write on UL.

  • 1
    1

    To all readers
    The Presidential Commission mandate to investigate wrongdoings in the two airlines is for period 01 January 2006 to 31 January 2018 and not till 01 January 2018 as stated.
    *
    Therefore, the Commissioners could investigate reasons for Directors to demand the resignation of CEO, if they so desire.
    *
    My apologies for the inadvertent error.

  • 1
    0

    Here’s the real problem.

    Any investigation will reveal the involvement of the Politicians. That is why all investigations are de-railed or go nowhere.

    The Weliamuna Commission Report paints a very accurate picture of the situation at the Airline. It is just the tip of the iceberg.

    No action has been taken against anyone named in the report – including the current HHR Pradeepa and former COO Druvi. Both are still employed by the Airline.

    These people are being protected at the highest levels.

    Who pocketed the Commissions on the aircraft orders?

  • 0
    1

    To All Readers
    An inadvertent error has taken place.
    *
    The Presidential Commission’s mandate is to investigate wrongdoings in the two airlines during period 01 January 2006 to 31 January 2018 and not 01 January 2018 as stated by mistake.
    *
    Since a majority of Board members demanded the resignation of the CEO on 25 January, reasons for same can be investigated if the Commissioners so desire.
    *
    The error is regretted

  • 0
    0

    News about SriLankan Airlines are fake/planted or both!
    Is it correct that the Board has resigned?
    How about the CEO?
    For a start, Kabir on behalf of GoSL must issue a final statement on this.

  • 0
    0

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  • 0
    0

    This proposal by Minister Kabir Hashim is yet another subtle attempt to “Derail” investigative scope and limit the stipulated reference to the Presidential Commission. At a time, a Presidential Commission has been set up, will any person with an iota of self respect and respect to a Government decision, goes to propose a side by side inquiry by another limb of the Legislature, viz. the COPE that has no “TOOTH” . We saw the role played by the UNP members of the COPE ( Foot Note Gang) during the investigations related to the “Bond Scam”. Perhaps, this proposal of the Minister could be to do the same, but to play around with a “Different Stroke”. As regards this “Waliamuna Report”, I remember, the present Chairman, Mr. Ajith Dias making a public statement to the effect that a “Sub Committee” of the Board of Directors went into the contents and found that most of the “allegations” made had no BASIS. The findings of that “Sub Committee” were forwarded to the Minister and no further action was necessary. Mr. Jayaweera: Do you remember that? I hope, the Commission will look into how and “WHO” proposed and started “Mihin Lanka” ; the way it was staffed ; what contracts it entered into by whom and with whom; and how the loss of Rs. 3 billion recorded in the very beginning etc… The “BIGGEST BRAIN” behind it, is none other than the former MP Sajin Vas Gunawardene – the “Worst” of “Worst” ROUGES operated under the direct command of MR; but now FORGOTTEN by the people and the politicians of all shades. Do you all remember this man (Sajin) becoming the organizer of the May Day Rally held in Galle under the patronage of the President and then received “Ministerial Security Services”. It was also in public domain, the “protection” he received from a “Strong Man” in UNP and who knows, still that “facility” would be in place. Please let the Presidential Commission to do its work. I hope the Legal Team already assigned by the AG to assist the Commission will perform well.

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