A member of this year’s transparency International Sri Lanka chapters’ “integrity Award’ panelist has failed to disclose apparent conflict of interest, Colombo Telegraph can reveal today.
Good governance watchdog Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) has given this year’s ‘Integrity Award’ to the Chairman of the ‘Ravaya’ newspaper, Victor Ivan, a known fraudster by way of marking the International Anti-Corruption Day.
A member of the selection panel, Vimukthi Jayasundara, a Sri Lankan film director, screenwriter and visual artist, has worked in Ravaya as a contributor, copy editor and received a monthly remuneration for his services in the late 90s. Jayasundara came from the remote down South, looking for opportunities and subsequently edited an arts page in Ravaya along with Manubandu Vidyapathi and Ruwan Jayanath.
After a private viewing of Vimukthi Jayasundara’s film “Sulanga enu pinisa” Ivan wrote a positive and lengthy review. This was one of Ivan’s first film reviews.
When contacted by Colombo Telegraph and asked why he did not declare his conflict of interest, Jayasundara said that he was not legally obliged to declare his early involvement with Ravaya. “I was not a permanent employee’ he said. However, he added “Now I feel I should have declared. Now I realize it is a moral issue.”
Jayasundara also contributed to the Ravaya fund.
“There is no record that Jayasundara declared his conflict of interest.” A source close to the chairman of the panel told Colombo Telegraph
According to the guidelines of Transparency International, disclosure of conflict of interest “applies, except as otherwise stated, to every person associated with Transparency International (TI), its Secretariat or any of its National Chapters as a board member, officer, resource person or staff member. The “interests of any person associated with TI” include the interests of any person with whom they have a close personal relationship, including their spouse, life partner, children, parents, siblings or other close family members.”
Further to that the person who handles the integrity awards, Ananda Jayasekara served as Ivan’s clark. A source close to the chairman of the panel told Colombo Telegraph, “there are serious doubts whether all nominations for the award were properly handled, whether some were hidden or manipulated”.
The current editor of Ravaya, KW Janaranjana is also a director of Transparency International.
After Colombo Telegraph raised concerns over the award given to Ivan, Ivan wrote an article in Ravaya defending himself for accepting the award and also insisted that the decision on the award was unanimous. However Jayasundara said he was away when the final decision on the award was taken and that he was asked via email about his approval on the final decision. He said from the very outset of the selection process, nobody challenged the chairman’s decision. I only communicated my consent via email, Jayasundara said.
So far the Transparency International has failed to respond to our public interest questions on the award.