22 May, 2019

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Wiliamuna Controversy: Jayaratne Sees Nothing Wrong

“I am not aware of the terms of engagement under which Mr. Weliamuna provided these services nor the associated terms and conditions, including confidentality commitments and client/ service provider relationship terms. In that context I am unable to determine whether or not Mr. Weliamuna is free to indicate publicly his fees from this assignment. Hence I am unable to respond to your question, whether transparency principles upheld by Mr. Weliamuna, have been violated or not, by him failing to respond to your request for his fee income from the assignment.” says, Chandra Jayaratne, former chairman of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, and Friday Forum member.

Chandra Jayaratne

Chandra Jayaratne

Jayaratne made the above remarks when asked of his opinion on the “Wiliamuna controversy”. J. C. Weliamuna is the Chairman of Transparency International Sri Lanka and a key member of the Friday Forum. Weliamuna was the head of the investigation committee of Sri Lankan Airlines.

After the investigation, on the 29th of April, he was appointed as a member of the Special Presidential Task Force for the recovery of illegally acquired state assets by President Maithripala Sirisena.

Colombo Telegraph asked Weliamuna to reveal the amount he was paid to investigate Sri Lankan Airlines – the first government-commissioned inquiry into the previous Rajapaksa regimes’s corruption and malpractices.

As reported, Weliamuna speaking to Colombo Telegraph confirmed that he along with his team comprising three other members U.H. Palihakkara, B.A.W. Abeywardane and M.K. Bandara were paid Rs 3.5 million. At that time Colombo Telegraph did request for a breakdown from the chairman of Transparency International Sri Lanka, Weliamuna but he was not in a position to do so. A subsequent email was sent to him seeking this information. Weliamuna has not responded to that question as yet. We asked Weliamuna once again and requested him to furnish at least the amount he did receive as his fee but he is yet to respond to that question as well.

Jayaratne said; “I am certain that Mr. Weliamuna has participated in the inquiry in his professional capacity, whilst engaging in his normal day to day professional practice / vocation.

“Though he holds many other positions in civil society organizations, including TISL, I am sure that he has not represented any of them in this engagement. I see absolutely no conflict of interest in his this engagement in this professional assignment with his roles in the civil society institutions, including being the Chairman of TISL. This assignment with Sri Lankan Airlines would in fact advance transparency and good governance assurance and be supportive of anti-bribery and corruption and will thus be supportive of the end goals of TISL

“I find no negative issues with Mr Weliamuna receiving fees for providing his professional services, whilst engaging in his livelihood providing professional practice

“I am not aware of the terms of engagement under which Mr. Weliamuna provided these services nor the associated terms and conditions, including confidentality commitments and client/ service provider relationship terms. In that context I am unable to determine whether or not Mr. Weliamuna is free to indicate publicly his fees from this assignment. Hence I am unable to respond to your question, whether transparency principles upheld by Mr. Weliamuna, have been violated or not, by him failing to respond to your request for his fee income from the assignment.”

“Journalists should focus their energies on the quality of the output of the Weliamuna report. I know it’s a little difficult when the government has not made the entire report public, and only released snippets.” said Prof. Rohan Samarajiva.

When asked for a comment he said; “Here is where the urgent enactment of the Right to Information (or as it is now called, the Freedom of Information) Bill becomes relevant. An RTI request to the Secretary of the Aviation Ministry would have enabled a journalist who so desired to learn how much the individual members of the committee were paid. Even more importantly, an RTI request, or a threat of one, would have enabled perusal of the contents of the output produced by the committee so that an assessment could be made whether it justified the expenditure of public funds.”

His full response can be read here.

Meanwhile speaking to Colombo Telegraph, a Finance Ministry official said; I’m talking purely because this issue of integrity is extremely important, more so in this yahapalanaya times. These justifications were seen also when there was a dispute over Mr Jayantha Dhanapala‘s sitting on the Board of Dialog, a company blocking free expression in Sri Lanka while at the same time, advocating free expression as head of the Friday Forum. At that time, these very people saw nothing wrong with it and hammered Colombo Telegraph for exposing it, saying that the Rajapaksas were behind it. This terrible ambivalence is what has taken away the moral authority associated with the so-called civil society. Unfortunately elitists who preach good governance in Colombo cannot recognise this. The pro-people activists who brought Sirisena to power however do recognise this and are disturbed by it.”

“An individual has all the right to openly campaign for a political party to come into power and thereafter accept a financially beneficial payment for doing a job of work for that party. But this ‘committee’ was set up by the relevant Minister informally and not in the same way as for example, President Sirisena appointed Commissioners to an anti-corruption Commission which is under a particular law and subject to proper regulation. Even so, there is nothing to prevent an individual from accepting such an informal political position. But after doing so, he or she cannot continue as the head of a civil society organisation pretending to be impartial and non-political. This is where the conflict arises. This is where the integrity of that particular civil society organisation is damaged. It is a question of integrity, pure and simple. These matters cannot simply be covered under a blanket of saying that ‘so and so is under attack’ or that the Rajapaksas have paid for these ‘attacks.'” a Finance Ministry official told Colombo Telegraph on the condition of anonymity. He is barred from officially talking to the media.

“And the other question is basic. Why is Mr Weliamuna refusing to disclose the exact payment that was paid if there is nothing to hide? ‘” the ministry official further said.

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Latest comments

  • 4
    0

    If at all Conflict of interest is being pointed out then that should be against appointing Welliamuna in the first place to the commission since he had been an ardent critique of the Previous regime due to their very obvious corruption as well as human rights violation, not because that he was paid for the service .

    • 0
      5

      Chandra Jayaratne

      Nothing wrong, when it is a DOUBLE STANDARD.

      We have a Double Standard Yaha-Palanaya problem.
      [Edited out]

  • 3
    2

    Meanwhile speaking to Colombo Telegraph, a Finance Ministry official said; I’m talking purely because this issue of integrity is extremely important, more so in this yahapalanaya times. These justifications were seen also when there was a dispute over Mr Jayantha Dhanapala‘s sitting on the Board of Dialog, a company blocking free expression in Sri Lanka while at the same time, advocating free expression as head of the Friday Forum. At that time, these very people saw nothing wrong with it and hammered Colombo Telegraph for exposing it, saying that the Rajapaksas were behind it. This terrible ambivalence is what has taken away the moral authority associated with the so-called civil society. Unfortunately elitists who preach good governance in Colombo cannot recognise this. The pro-people activists who brought Sirisena to power however do recognise this and are disturbed by it.”

    “An individual has all the right to openly campaign for a political party to come into power and thereafter accept a financially beneficial payment for doing a job of work for that party. But this ‘committee’ was set up by the relevant Minister informally and not in the same way as for example, President Sirisena appointed Commissioners to an anti-corruption Commission which is under a particular law and subject to proper regulation. Even so, there is nothing to prevent an individual from accepting such an informal political position. But after doing so, he or she cannot continue as the head of a civil society organisation pretending to be impartial and non-political. This is where the conflict arises. This is where the integrity of that particular civil society organisation is damaged. It is a question of integrity, pure and simple. These matters cannot simply be covered under a blanket of saying that ‘so and so is under attack’ or that the Rajapaksas have paid for these ‘attacks.’” a Finance Ministry official told Colombo Telegraph on the condition of anonymity. He is barred from officially talking to the media.

    “And the other question is basic. Why is Mr Weliamuna refusing to disclose the exact payment that was paid if there is nothing to hide? ‘” the ministry official further said.

    I completely AGREE

  • 5
    5

    This article further proves how CT intends to continue their relentless witch hunting campaign against JCW , I’m glad that JCW had decided to just ignore this “NON Issue ” of CT for good . JCW has already provided enough information (Total amount Rs 3.5) , but for strange reasons CT wants more hence insisting
    on a breakdown (individual payments) list,one wonders what is the real motive behind this cherry picking ? it has been reported some where that certain individuals (guilty party) had started to attack JCW character in-order to undermine his report ! question is , why would CT takes part in such contracts ?

    • 3
      2

      Ayyo CT, just forget it, Weliamuna is “apemniha” (our man)

      Remember our boss Rajapaksa said in an inimitably candid statement of his idea of governance – it boils down to “ape minihava beraganna oney”

      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/cjs-husband-was-our-man-we-quietly-covered-it-up-but-unp-wanted-impeach-cj-mr/

    • 0
      0

      But political will translated into political decisions cannot be justified along with partisan politicking. Politicking rubs the whole issue the wrong side up and devalues the political will and its action. Most investigations taking place don’t seem to prove such political will is being turned into impartial inquiry. Weliamuna investigation is one such bad instance. Apart from transparency and accountability issues raised by Colombo Telegraph (CT) and Amrit Muttukumaru, the very appointment of J. C. Weliamuna for investigations on SriLankan airlines smacked of “green” politics. For over three years, Weliamuna was a prominent campaigner against the Rajapaksa regime on “Platform for Freedom” with then Leader of Opposition and UNP leader Wickremesinghe and other UNP stalwarts. He was also a very conspicuous presence in most other UNP led protests. He is quite openly, “UNP in politics”. And from what Chandra Jayaratne had responded to CT on Weliamuna investigations the implied truth is, that investigation lacked expertise to handle the responsibility given. Therefore he volunteered with his expertise. It’s another aberration, for these high profile investigations are not mandated to have volunteers in the panel of investigators. If Weliamuna investigation lacked expertise, Jayaratne’s volunteerism should have been made public. Political colour and incompetency together with undisclosed volunteer investigators violates social trust, a supreme necessity in today’s political context of many uncertainties.

      Kusal Perera

      read more;
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/political-necessity-used-for-politicking-negates-independent-commissions/

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 1
    4

    Nothing wrong Sir………….
    Just kindly show us your Invoice………………..

  • 7
    1

    I would suggest that Mr. Weliamuna just ignores CT and their nit-picking for the simple
    reason as why CT cannot insist that the EC disclose the Declaration of Asssets Form as
    given by MR during PE Nomination – equally important as the mere 3.5 Mil.rs. Fee for
    a fraud in Billions?

  • 7
    1

    This attack on Weliamune looks an organised one with money power and you
    can guess from where. We are morevthan sure weliamune is not going to be disturbed but
    Would face the obstacles even more strongly.

    • 0
      0

      But political will translated into political decisions cannot be justified along with partisan politicking. Politicking rubs the whole issue the wrong side up and devalues the political will and its action. Most investigations taking place don’t seem to prove such political will is being turned into impartial inquiry. Weliamuna investigation is one such bad instance. Apart from transparency and accountability issues raised by Colombo Telegraph (CT) and Amrit Muttukumaru, the very appointment of J. C. Weliamuna for investigations on SriLankan airlines smacked of “green” politics. For over three years, Weliamuna was a prominent campaigner against the Rajapaksa regime on “Platform for Freedom” with then Leader of Opposition and UNP leader Wickremesinghe and other UNP stalwarts. He was also a very conspicuous presence in most other UNP led protests. He is quite openly, “UNP in politics”. And from what Chandra Jayaratne had responded to CT on Weliamuna investigations the implied truth is, that investigation lacked expertise to handle the responsibility given. Therefore he volunteered with his expertise. It’s another aberration, for these high profile investigations are not mandated to have volunteers in the panel of investigators. If Weliamuna investigation lacked expertise, Jayaratne’s volunteerism should have been made public. Political colour and incompetency together with undisclosed volunteer investigators violates social trust, a supreme necessity in today’s political context of many uncertainties.

      Kusal Perera

      read more;
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/political-necessity-used-for-politicking-negates-independent-commissions/

  • 6
    1

    CT is completely out of its depth here again. Welimuna is a professional and is entitled to charge fees for his services. His being in TI is of no relevance. The best people have to be appointed to undertake the assignment and Welimuna is one of the most respected transparency activists in the country. What Welimuna was paid is what he would have negotiated with the government and this is no business of CT. He could have demanded LKR 1 or 10 million for his services, and if his skills and competencies are needed, it is perfectly in order for the government to agree to his demands, otherwise the government had the option to find someone else to undertake this assignment.

  • 1
    2

    So JCW should be Holier than thou Holy in all other roles simply because he has something to do with Transparency International! This is cutting it too fine.

  • 1
    3

    There is definitely a conflict of interest. He was in the forefront of Maithri’s campaign and exposed corruption of MR regime in several television debates. He should have in the first instance refused to accept such an assignment even without a professional fee. Therefore there was s an element of transparency issue in his report though we have questions about the integrity of the then Chairman of Sri Lankan.

  • 9
    1

    It seems that CT is pursuing the JCW matter with a vengeance arising out of a personal matter.
    May I request CT to close this absurd pursuance instead of making a mountain of a mole hill. Let us stop brewing a storm in a tea cup. There is more for you to report than to pursue something of little or no public interest.

  • 1
    3

    Since he was paid with public funds, all aspects of the transaction should be transparent and available for public scrutiny.

  • 1
    1

    Rohan Samarajiva (RS) writing to CT justifies in charging SLR 3.5 million to Weliamuna (W) being professional fees for6 weeks sittings and coming out of a 136 page report on Sri Lankan Airlines and RS says that fee of SLR 3.5 million should share out among 4 members of the “Committee”. As far as we know it was a one-man committee and it was W who disclosed the names of 3 juniors who assisted him in the work. It is strange in his reluctance to disclose the breakdown and indicate the manner the fees were shared out as the basis of his fees. .After all it was public funds that was used.

    RS quotes late Lee Kuan Yew as having stated that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys and also states that journalists should focus their energies on the quality of the output of the Weliamuna Committee. It is not surprising for RS to come forward in this instance as the public were aware what RS was paid for his appointment during President Chandrika’s time which was absolutely disproportionately higher than the remuneration paid to local experts but he failed to contribute much to Sri Lanka other than his talks.

    Professionals are free to levy their fees and they are the best judges in deciding the same.

    But here it is a credibility of the persons concerned against the backdrop of transparency and good governance which he strenuously proclaimed and obviously under the new government apparently most favored position that W enjoys. Despite what these people uttered. they are not genuine, real and independent

  • 2
    2

    Rohan Samarajiva (RS) writing to CT justifies in charging SLR 3.5 million to Weliamuna (W) being professional fees for6 weeks sittings and coming out of a 136 page report on Sri Lankan Airlines and RS says that fee of SLR 3.5 million should share out among 4 members of the “Committee”. As far as we know it was a one-man committee and it was W who disclosed the names of 3 juniors who assisted him in the work. It is strange in his reluctance to disclose the breakdown and indicate the manner the fees were shared out as the basis of his fees. .After all it was public funds that was used.
    RS quotes late Lee Kuan Yew as having stated that if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys and also states that journalists should focus their energies on the quality of the output of the Weliamuna Committee. It is not surprising for RS to come forward in this instance as the public were aware what RS was paid for his appointment during President Chandrika’s time which was absolutely disproportionately higher than the remuneration paid to local experts but RS he sadly failed to contribute much to Sri Lanka other than mere talks.
    Professionals are free to levy their fees and they are the best judges in deciding the same.
    But here it is a credibility of the person against the backdrop of transparency and good governance which he strenuously proclaimed and obviously under the new government apparently most favored position that W enjoys. Despite what these people uttered. they are not genuine, real and independent
    .

  • 6
    1

    This is absolutely wrong…The professionals can charge their fee for their expertise.It s not difference to all the professionals.That s why those who live in other countries get hair cuts, pedicure, manicure, Dentistry and their tailoring done in Sri Lanka when they visit the motherland for holidays for a lesser fee as it s very expensive in the West as well as East. So acquiring such knowledge and expertise is not as easy as mud slinging.

    Being a Professional my self, we are not bound to give breakdown of our fees to media or any other person, but to the Inland Revenue Department. Let Weliamuna disclose it to the IRD and pay his taxes accordingly. If CT really want to know the fee break down, CT should contact the authority that made the payment. Weliamuna is absolutely correct in not giving the CT, the break down of his fee. So if another media ask another lawyer to give his fee break down for the cases he is appearing, will he do that? This is client – Professional relationship and the agreement for the payment for the services rendered is between them.

    So far I never saw anybody questioning about the accuracy about the Weliamuna Report except Namal Rajapakse and Nishantha Wickramasinghe. No doubt he has done a great job.

    However, I appreciate Weliamuna very much for his hard work, ability, commitment and integrity. Weliamuna did not flee the country, when there were bomb attacks at his house. He did not leave the country when he got death threats and a Criminal released from jail to kill him by the previous regime, during the Shirani Bandaranayake impeachment. He fought for democracy, good governance and for a corruption free society while going through all the harassment and while being in the country with his young family. WHAT did the CT editor do?

    It appears that those who work for the society cannot earn their living by rendering their professional expertise. Then who is going to do that. I do not think any body who are worried about Weliamuna’s civil society role and his fees have done anything to bring back the Democracy we did not enjoy for the last 10 years. As CT editor himself has mentioned in his previous article – I am sure Weliamuna must be appearing for CT editor for a Fundamental rights violation case and that shows who is genuinely fights the cause.

    Mr. Weliamuna..we value your contribution to this society. Please take care of your self and your family. CT seems to have taken over the job that MR and regime used to do.

    • 0
      1

      Talk something you know, Weliamuna fled to Europe after the impeachment saying he was under threat. Not only him a few others too. All expenditures were paid by foreign orgs. Ask Weilamuna please.

      • 1
        0

        Let it be, but you have been saying that there had been no high profile abuses in the national carrier ? You the men are like weeds that would not be able to round up by Glyphosat in lanken society. Unfortunately, over half of lanken population needs to be educated again and again. They may feel what Rajapakshes spread through out the years were the truth about the country and the economy. This bugger Buandula Gunawardhana will have to face it now or later even if he would go against current brave politicians going against high abuses of MR and thugs. Those who sat with him for any crime would have to take anything to protect the Mahandanamutta. But entire world is clear thought some fractons of the lanken society is not yet clear that Rajapakshes are over corrupted thugs similar to Hambantota IRCers assualted the visiting fact finding mission of UNP a year ago.

    • 0
      0

      But political will translated into political decisions cannot be justified along with partisan politicking. Politicking rubs the whole issue the wrong side up and devalues the political will and its action. Most investigations taking place don’t seem to prove such political will is being turned into impartial inquiry. Weliamuna investigation is one such bad instance. Apart from transparency and accountability issues raised by Colombo Telegraph (CT) and Amrit Muttukumaru, the very appointment of J. C. Weliamuna for investigations on SriLankan airlines smacked of “green” politics. For over three years, Weliamuna was a prominent campaigner against the Rajapaksa regime on “Platform for Freedom” with then Leader of Opposition and UNP leader Wickremesinghe and other UNP stalwarts. He was also a very conspicuous presence in most other UNP led protests. He is quite openly, “UNP in politics”. And from what Chandra Jayaratne had responded to CT on Weliamuna investigations the implied truth is, that investigation lacked expertise to handle the responsibility given. Therefore he volunteered with his expertise. It’s another aberration, for these high profile investigations are not mandated to have volunteers in the panel of investigators. If Weliamuna investigation lacked expertise, Jayaratne’s volunteerism should have been made public. Political colour and incompetency together with undisclosed volunteer investigators violates social trust, a supreme necessity in today’s political context of many uncertainties.

      Kusal Perera

      read more;
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/political-necessity-used-for-politicking-negates-independent-commissions/

  • 4
    0

    Why the so-called Bureaucrat from Ministry of Finance is anonymous? Why CT gives more emphasize to statement of anonymous man?

    Is there any thing wrong in the findings of Welliamuna and groups?

    • 0
      2

      [Edited out] you yourself is anonymous and questioning others! LOL Talk what he says instead of talking bullshit.

      Even so, there is nothing to prevent an individual from accepting such an informal political position. But after doing so, he or she cannot continue as the head of a civil society organisation pretending to be impartial and non-political. This is where the conflict arises. This is where the integrity of that particular civil society organisation is damaged. It is a question of integrity, pure and simple.

  • 2
    0

    Well said Mr. Jayaratne.

  • 2
    0

    A professional together with 3 others conducted an investigation and charged a fee.So,whatis the controvacy?
    Well said Chandra Jayaratne.

  • 2
    0

    Nothing wrong at all.

    Well said CJ

  • 3
    0

    Weliamuna has disclosed that rs.3.5 million was paid for 26 days of work for him and his team. what more do you want to know? why? There is no conflict of Interest. So what is the issue really for CT? I am disappointed by CT.

    Is this a conspiracy by those affected by these inquiries?

  • 2
    0

    Dear Mr. Jayaratne, you must have guts to say what wrong as wrong. What right as right. It doesn’t matter weliamuna or Wicramasinghe. If he has done something wrong we have to tell him that is not acceptable at least and ask him to take corrective actions immediately

  • 1
    0

    A glaring omission is the fact that Mr Jayaratne played an active part in the Weliamunr inquiry at SriLankan Airlines. Even though his name is may not be mentioned in the report all those summoned before the commission were questioned by Mr Jayaratne who was sitting with the panel members Palihakkara and Bandara. So how can Mr Jayaratne postulate on this subject after being an active part of the coterie. Good governance my foot ! To the young buck who is wishing for a Fulbright, dream on, parts of the report that you contributed has so many conjectures, that will need to be explained at a later date…and Fulbrights will be enlightened

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