19 September, 2018

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Sunanda Saga, States Of Denial And NGO Accountability

By Uvindu Kurukulasuriya

Uvindu Kurukulasuriya

One common thread runs through the many different stories of denial: people, organizations or whole societies are presented with information that is too disturbing, threatening or anomalous to be fully absorbed or openly acknowledged. The information is therefore somehow represented, disavowed, pushed aside or reinterpreted. Or else the information ‘registers’ well enough, but its implications – cognitive, emotional or moral – are evaded, neutralized or rationalized away.

Consider these common expressions and phrases.

Turning a blind eye, Burying your head in the sand, She saw what she wanted, He only heard what she wanted to see, Ignorance is bliss, Living a lie, Conspiracy of silence, Economical with the truth, It’s got nothing to do with me, Don’t make waves, They were typical passive bystanders, There’s nothing I can do about it, Being like an ostrich, I can’t believe that this happening,I don’t want to know/hear/see any more,The whole society was in deep denial, It can’t happen to people like us, The plan called for maximum deniability, Averting your gaze, Wearing blinkers, He couldn’t take in the news, Wilful ignorance, She looked the other way, He didn’t admit it, even to himself, Don’t wash your dirty linen in public, It didn’t happen on my watch and I must have known all along.

The above common expressions and phrases are from “States of denial: Knowing about atrocities and suffering” by Stanley Cohen. Stanley Cohen is the Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Stanley Cohen says; Statements of denials are assertions that something did not happen, does not exist, is not true or is not known about. There are obviously many occasions on which individuals, organizations or governments are perfectly justified in claiming that an event did not happen at all, or not as it was alleged to have happened, or that it might have happened, but without their knowledge.

Now consider the following item;

“FMM has not made any statement that I have misappropriated any amount of money form the movement. FMM has not even asked me to explain any such misdeed. This is a allegation by some media. On the contrary I have worked voluntarily for years for the FMM and spend my own resources for its activities; On several occasions I have challenged any one to prove if I have taken a cent from FMM for my personal use. I am still an active member of the movement.”  On February 9, 2012  Sunanda Deshapriya wrote in Groundviews website.

I posed a question under that asking “Sunanda, Can you explain why you were sacked by CPA? Sunanda has not answered yet.

Sunanda did not use robbed money to buy an air ticket for Jacqueline Park and the FMM Committee never approved a decision with regard to “robbing money”

On December 28, 2008, talking to Namini Wijedasa at Lakbima News, Sunanda cleverly misled the reading public. I would like you read it again.

What is your response to the allegation that you swindled money while you were attached to the Centre for Policy Alternatives?

I have already accepted that I spent some money without going through due process but it was done with the consent of the groups we were working with. Not a cent was taken for personal use. We used that money for some other activity we were doing. Even the person who exposed this story knew what was happening. He was part of it. We discussed it among ourselves.

What was that activity?

We used it to pay the airfare of an international expert. There is no allegation from CPA or from anyone at CPA that I had used this money personally.

Who is that expert?

I haven’t discussed this so far. I only want to say that we used the money for some other activity. There is still an investigation in progress by FMM.

Why did you not follow due process?

There was no other alternative to do that. At the end of the project, we found that something was missing. So we discussed among ourselves and decided to do it the way we did, without cheating the money but by using the excess money for something else. Ninety per cent of NGOs work like this. I know that other NGOs have had much bigger issues and there has been internal disciplinary action. But Sara (Saravanamuttu) and some others have gone to the press. I accept their right to go to the media.

But you fight on the side of honesty, don’t you?

I accept that this was not the right way to do it. I paid the penalty. I paid the whole amount, 180,000 rupees, to CPA out of my personal funds.

On January 19, 2009 talking to Frederica Jansz, Sunday Leader,  Sunanda Deshapriya said;  “I admit I did something wrong by taking those funds from the CPA budget – but I have paid the price for that. I only did so to buy Jacqueline Park her air ticket to attend the 2007 Public Service Media Prize-Giving. No sooner funds were reimbursed from the IFJ, I intended to return these monies to the CPA. I did not do this on my own – I had the FMM Committee’s approval for it.”

So he says five things; Not a cent was taken for personal use, used the money for some other activity, Ninety per cent of NGOs work like this, He paid back the whole amount. He had FMM Committee’s approval for this.  According to Deshapriya he had FMM approval for rob the money!!

On December 19, 2008, the Executive Director, Centre for Policy Alternatives Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu issued a press statement. “The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) accepted today the resignation of Mr. Sunanda Deshapriya, former Director and former Head of the Media Unit, with immediate effect. Mr. Deshapriya was associated with CPA since 2002.
Mr. Deshapriya has personally returned in full money owed to the organisation after an investigation into financial anomalies of a project he was responsible for.
The Board of CPA will meet on Monday, 22nd December 2008, to consider the issues arising from the resignation of Mr. Deshapriya.”

On December 20, 2008 Malinda Seneviratne wrote to Lakbima News; Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu stated that Deshapriya was involved in a transaction that ‘lacked clarity’. Now this is a gentlemanly way of saying, ‘he is a swindler’.

So far I did not write corruption issues involved with Sunanda. Why I am writing this issue after three years? I thought it’s unethical to go public since I was the complainant and the person who did all the preliminary investigations and handed them over to Free Media Movement, Sri Lanka Press Institute and the Centre for Policy Alternatives.

CPA had taken the decision and sacked Sunanda Deshapriya. SLPI has taken the decision and suspended the “safety fund” project. But FMM has not taken any action. Talking to BBC Sandeshaya on January 12 this year FMM Convenor Sunil Jayasekara said “the FMM has decided not to carry the investigations further”.  So now I have no ethical issue with writing about this subject. I will write next week about what happened. The day Sunanda was sacked Dr Saravanamuttu said to me, “Tell Sunanda not to come to any public event, I will expose him calling a press conference” . The next day he came with a theory called ‘lacked clarity’. How did this happen? How did Sunanda Deshapriya rob the money? How Deshapriya, International Federation of Journalists and some other NGO tycoons manipulated the investigation. Until next week I must say this; Sunanda did not use robbed money to buy an air ticket for Jacqueline Park and the FMM Committee never approved a decision with regard to “robbing money”

Deshapriya wrote an article to Ravaya on January 8, 2012 about Anna Hazare’s campaign against corruption. In that article he says; “There are multiple allegations against Anna Hazare, one among them is inevitably financial malpractices.” Wow!! See how Deshapriya is trying to use Anna Hazare to whitewash himself! “Being like an ostrich in a States of denial !”

To be continued next week… 

How Sunanda Robbed Money And Rs 30.9 million Unaudited FMM

uvindu@journalist.com

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    OMG!! Dear CT, I can’t believe this! Is this that Sunanda Deshapriya?

  • 0
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    I have been waiting for this Uvindu! Great! well done!

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      of course , well done for exposing these corrupt bunch, how can they point their finger to Sri Lankan government since the buggers are the same.

      • 0
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        hey man thats what srilanka is all about from the peon in the government department to the high ranking officials from the police station ,kacheri,immigration you name it.They will not lift a finger if their palms are not greased ha ha. Now its steal what you can time here in sri lanka.

  • 0
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    we were gossiping about this, this is true

  • 0
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    :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) I have no word to say!!!!! Great!!

  • 1
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    This guy Deshapriya will do anything for money. I know very well. Selling Human Rights for good life.

    • 1
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      you are correct.susanda the humbug,the so called journalist,lives in germany and does exactly what you say.selling human rights is good bussiness,and further more for medico journalist like susanda, probably with zero school education,it is also recognistion from idiots like him.ranjit demel berlin

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    Sri lanka has less ‘Desha priyas’and more ‘Money-priyas’!!!Every one knows this fact.Citizens will follow the footsteps of the ‘King’-the ruler!

  • 0
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    Good, Uvindu. Lets expose the govt, tose hackers who write their rubbish like Case Chetty and also the NGO robbers. Lets see how that goes!

    • 0
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      Thanks Moron. I still have to be published writing about people like you who can’t make a difference between wood and tress.

  • 1
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    I Must Say a Good Work !!! Could’ve been Better if U Could Pen the Whole Details Rather Than Delaying it for Another Week !!!

  • 1
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    Good work Uvindu. Interesting. “Sunanda Saga, States Of Denial And NGO Accountability.” It also applies to USA, EU, NGO, AI, HRW, UN and UNHRC who are in deep denial of accountability, partiality, transparency! They have become a policeman

    People like Sunanda Deshapriya who went around the world voicing in international platforms against Sri Lanka on corruption and accountability were involved in same corruption and fraud. Preach one thing, practice another thing.

    People who want to probe others frauds, corruptions and crimes are denying own frauds.
    People who fight for democracy are dictating others.
    People who fight against dictatorship are worse dictators.
    People who fight against corruption are even more corrupted.
    People who voice for free media and freedom of expression are blocking critics/readers. The list goes on..from citizens to politicians, judges… in any profession…

    Most are corrupted; morally, politically and economically and denial continues…

    Aricles like this help to make people aware the dirty side of so called ‘moral people’.

    We all tend to make mistakes but we must not deny and accuse others as we were clean. Admit and put it right. Some people deserve to be forgiven on certain given circumstances, some faults are for good.

    The worst dilemma is not choosing right from wrong but right from right.

    Stanley Cohen’s statement:

    “Statements of denials are assertions that something did not happen, does not exist, is not true or is not known about. There are obviously many occasions on which individuals, organizations or governments are perfectly justified in claiming that an event did not happen at all, or not as it was alleged to have happened, or that it might have happened, but without their knowledge… Statements of denials are assertions that something did not happen, does not exist, is not true or is not known about….”

    is often true, even in family atmosphere home :)

  • 1
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    Good article in respect of Sunanda Deshapriya Hope this has been detected by auditors

  • 1
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    BLOODY GOOD !!!

  • 0
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    Read the story, with great interest, of course! You are a very brave man, Uvindu, and a very very good journalist. There are still differences between right and wrong in this world of ours – thank you for helping us understand and remember!!! Wish you all the best!

  • 0
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    It’s not all bad news. Sunanda’s (alleged) shenanigans have contributed to the enrichment of the English language.

    Dr. Saravanamuttu’s ‘Lacking Clarity’ can now sit alongside Churchill’s ‘Terminological inexactitude’ as a euphemism for a lie.

  • 1
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    These are the sort of people who try to talk in international organizations like UNO against the country they were born. They do all sort of jugglery while they are posing them as saints criticizing every trivial act of others as genocide. For international community they are heroes, when they bark against their mother country. They provide “amnesty” to these fraudsters and pamper and uphold these culprits.

    These cancers should be exposed.

    Thanks!

  • 1
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    Why waste so much space on a swindler like Sunanda Deshapriya?

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    This man is a former brainwashed terrorist,ally for Wijeweera who took the same path. probably anti Sinhalese and anti Buddhist. I doubt his name is Sunanda Deshapriya it should be Desha-Apriya. Few people on earth can go against their country in this level.

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