PB who 'knows nothing about airlines'
Staff exodus with Emirates'
exit leaves airline struggling
Loss of code share will drastically
cut SriLankan's visibility
Emirates could control SriLankan
from within and without
By Sonali Samarasinghe
In an atmosphere of declining business and
insecure staff the Government of Sri Lanka
will take over the management of SriLankan
Airlines on Tuesday, April 1.
Precipitated last December by the failure of
the national carrier to accommodate 35
members including President Mahinda
Rajapakse on a fully booked flight from
London to Colombo which would have resulted
in off loading commercial customers, the
ensuing rift between major shareholder
Emirates and the Rajapakse government
culminated in Emirates cocking a snook at a
renewal of the management contract.
The government will take over management of
the national carrier on the back foot. It
has no business plan or a way forward. It
has ditched its former Chairman Harry
Jayawardena and up until Friday, March 28
was still juggling names for the
chairmanship and board. Thus it was that
even as late as Friday morning the names of
Secretary, Ministry of Aviation, Tilak
Collure and Treasury Secretary P.B.
Jayasundera were being bandied about.
Finally President Rajapakse appointed
Punchibanda Jayasundera as chairman, a man
who once told The Sunday Leader he knew
nothing about airlines in relation to a
question on his appointment as a director of
Mihin Lanka. An appointment he later
resigned fromon April 10, 2007.
The rest of the government appointees to the
board are Nishantha Wickremasinghe, the
brother-in-law of President Rajapakse,
Lalith De Silva, earlier of Telecom during
Thilanga Sumathipala's chairmanship and
Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal's
brother-in-law Sunil Wijesinghe who is also
chairman of Dankotuwa Porcelain.
Informed sources however told The Sunday
Leader newly appointed consultant Lalith de
Silva, earlier of Sri Lanka Telecom and
Saudi Telecom whohad been presenting himself
as the President's man, had been pushing for
the executive chairmanship of the company
rather than as a figure head chairman under
the Emirates management deal.
The fact that all executive decisions were
being made by Emirates with the GOSL members
not having executive powers was another
contentious issue raised by the government
in early December 2007 at a one-on-one
discussion between Wickremasinghe and
Knows nothing about airlines
Meanwhile Treasury Secretary Jayasundera is
a man who may not know anything about
airlines but is well versed in the sale of
the national carrier to Emirates as it was
he, as chairman, Public Enterprise Reform
Commission (PERC) who clinched the
controversial deal 10 years ago, widely
regarded as one of the most corrupt scams
perpetrated on the public weal by the then
Chandrika Kumaratunga government of which
Mahinda Rajapakse was an integral part.
After all, Rajapakse was a part of the
Chandrika led cabinet that approved the
controversial deal in the first place.
On March 17 this year President Mahinda
Rajapakse had called for the resignations in
writing of the government nominated
directors Harry Jayawardena (Chairman),
Nishantha Wickremasinghe, Sanath Ukwatte and
Raju Chandiram. The letter written at the
behest of Rajapakse calling for their
resignations was in fact signed by Punchi
Banda Jayasundera himself, who has now
clinched the top post to the detriment of
Harry Jay. However informed sources said the
government was looking for a full time
chairman unlike Harry who ran his own
Nishantha Wickremasinghe on behalf of the
government flew to Dubai two weeks ago for
last minute negotiations with the President
of Emirates and Director, SriLankan
Airlines, Tim Clarke, but Clarke indicated
he was unable to meet him and directed
Wickremasinghe to CEO, SriLankan, Peter
Earlier it was only Nishantha Wickremasinghe
who emerged as a saner counsel in the chaos
following the eviction of Peter Hill. Last
week Wickremasinghe declined the
chairmanship of the national carrier citing
pressure of work.
With Wickremasinghe's refusal two other
names were put forward, Singer Chairman
Hemaka Amarasuriya and Tobacco Company's new
Chairman Jayampathi Bandaranayake. However
given the magnitude of the problems the
airline was bound to face with the exit of
Emirates there were few takers for the post.
And here's why.
Exodus at SriLankan
A large number of staff are getting jittery
about the future. Already 32 pilots are
leaving, many going to Kingfisher Airlines
while some 30 engineers have left, a large
chunk of them to a maintenance outfit in Abu
Dhabi called Gamco. Of the cabin crew some
40 have already left for more lucrative and
stable prospects at Etihad and Emirates.
Such an exodus would mean the airline would
have to shrink its operations, reduce its
frequencies and cut down on certain routes
as the airline would not be able to
operationally sustain itself.
No CEO yet
So far there is still no Chief Executive
Officer or Chief Operating Officer appointed
although the carrier had advertised
internationally for the CEO post. Ironically
this was despite the government making the
appointment of expatriates as heads of
departments, CEO - catering, engineering
etcetera one of the primary contentious
issues that led to the eventual parting of
ways with Emirates.
Former Head of Commercial, Seelan, now
country manager China , and Head of
Worldwide Sales and brother of Sajin Vass,
Manoj Vass Gunawardena have both applied for
the post of COO while informed sources said
Manoj had also applied for the post of CEO.
Airline staff are more concerned about the
post of CEO which they say has to be filled
by a knowledgeable man with airline
expertise unlike with the post of chairman
which is more a political appointment with
perks and benefits.
Staff are concerned that political
appointments and a large exodus of staff
will affect the credibility of the airline.
Changing the structure of the company
The seven member board consists of four
government appointed directors and three
Emirates Directors - Tim Clarke, Gary
Chapman and Nigel Hopkins. Emirates owns
43.63 % of the shares while the GoSL owns
51.05% and employees hold 5.32% of the
shares. The government will be unable to
change the structure of the company without
the approval of Emirates which will remain
the national carrier's largest competitor in
the skies. Mind you Emirates will also have
access to SriLankan Airlines secrets
including a huge data base of passengers,
routes and agents.
There are some unsavory options before the
government. It can buy out Emirates but so
far Emirates run by the astute businessman
Tim Clarke is not selling. In January
Emirates floated a sum in excess of US$150
million as the value of their stake in
SriLankan Airlines but for the time being
Clarke said it would retain its equity and
maintain a board presence. And their lies
the rub for the government.
Emirates bought the 40% stake plus full
management control and exclusive rights for
10 years at a mere US$ 70 million.
At the time chief negotiator for the
government was none other than P.B.
Jayasundera. Perhaps he has been returned to
the national carrier to make restitution for
his follies 10 years ago.
While day to day activities and resolutions
could be carried through with a 50 plus 1
majority at a board meeting, special
resolutions may be passed as per the
Companies Act only at an Extraordinary
General Meeting and by a majority of 75% of
those shareholders entitled to vote and
voting on the question and where not less
than 15 working days notice specifying the
intention to propose the resolution as a
special resolution has been duly given.
It would take a special resolution to change
the structure of the company. A special
resolution would be required to alter the
company's Articles of Association, approve a
major transaction, approve an amalgamation
of the company, reduce the company's stated
capital, wind up the company, and change the
name or status of the company.
If for instance the government intending to
dilute the share slice of Emirates decided
to increase its share capital, it would only
be able to do so at an EGM and the special
resolution to do so would require 75 percent
under the Companies Act. However even
international norms require a majority of
two thirds that is 66% of the majority.
Unfortunately the government has only 51.05%
shares. Even with the employees' shares the
government can still only muster 56.37% of
the majority and therefore Emirates will
remain a formidable force within the company
with the government rendered a eunuch.
Share purchase agreement
Furthermore the Share Purchase Agreement
between the government and Emirates will not
end tomorrow, it will be only the management
contract and Business Plan that will cease.
Therefore the provisions of the Share
Purchase Agreement will also come into play.
For instance if the government decides to
sell its shares it is obligatory for the
GOSL to offer first right of refusal to
Emirates under the agreement and vis a
Maintaining the leases say SriLankan
Airlines administrative sources would be one
of the biggest challenges. In fact it is
reliably learnt that airline leasing
companies are already getting jittery about
the Emirates pull out as questions arise
whether SriLankan Airlines can stand alone
surrounded by such huge financial
The uncertainty has placed the government in
a very vulnerable position. The other issue
is of guarantors for the leases when
Emirates walks out.
and lease back
Emirates operated on a sale and lease back
policy of the fleet and therefore the
company is cash rich at the moment and the
government will not face any immediate
monetary anxiety. The Emirates sale and
lease approach made sure the company had an
easy cash flow with a balance sheet that
showed no liabilities and no assets. The
government is however expected to face
problems from the lessors who will no doubt
call upon the government to at least obtain
a guarantee from Emirates or come back with
a principal operator of stature.
Banks and investors were willing to take
risks or negotiate without collateral due to
the stature of Emirates as a financial
giant, however industry sources say it would
be difficult for the Government of Sri Lanka
or SriLankan Airlines alone to negotiate in
the financial world of airlines at the same
level of acceptance.
There was a great deal of economisation with
Emirates acting as big brother but with
SriLankan having to negotiate on its own
probably having to pay cash up front the
running will be tough. The government too
may have resorted to the sale and lease
method of its aircraft but that road has
already been travelled by Emirates.
The national carrier will not be able to
stand alone if there is no capital infusion
for expansion of fleet, redecoration of
aircraft or increase in capacity and routes.
With all the negatives in the country, a
lack of a modern fleet, a lack of flatbed
seats and the prevailing war situation,
SriLankan Airlines will face many challenges
as it goes it alone.
Company sources said sorely needed
refurbishing of the aircraft which will cost
a minimum of US$30-40 million or at least a
redesign of the seats in business class
which will again cost a heavy packet.
Offices of Emirates and SriLankan Airlines
have been amalgamated in approximately 23
destinations and if SriLankan Airlines wants
to move out after April 1 that too would
involve a cost factor. Moreover station
managers and staff would also have to be
maintained by SriLankan Airlines further
upping the cost factor.
Air Lanka had a frequent flyer programme
called Serendib Club whereas Emirates at the
time did not have such a system. Emirates
following the 1998 deal took over the
Serendib system, upgraded it into a more
sophisticated programme and renamed it
Skywards where Emirates became the dominant
BOI Chairman Dammika Perera earlier lamented
to The Sunday Leader the entire programme
was controlled in
and even the membership is not made known to
the overseas SriLankan country managers.
Meanwhile Skywards members have already been
informed in writing of the key changes from
April 1, 2008 as follows:
"Earning Miles: You can continue to earn
Skywards Miles for travel on SriLankan
March 31, 2008.
Any missing miles can be claimed within six
months of the travel date.
"Reward tickets: Rewards on SriLankan
Airlines should be redeemed by March 31,
2008 and will be valid for a period of one
year from the date of issue. Assistance with
any ticket changes will continue to be
handled by Skywards service centres."
However now comes the crunch. With regard to
Gold and Silver membership benefits starting
April 1, 2008,
the following benefits will only be
available when flying with Emirates:
(1) Priority check-in at Business Class
counters when travelling in Economy Class.
(2) Guaranteed excess baggage allowances.
(3) Guaranteed seat reservations for Gold
(4) Lounge access in
when travelling in Economy Class for Gold
April 1, 2008,
all Skywards queries are to be directed to
the Emirates office in Colombo.
Skywards of course continues to be
internationally accepted and with Emirates'
expansion to over 100 destinations
worldwide, and a global network of partner
airlines, hotels, car rentals and financial
services, Skywards could be used not only
for travel but for upgrades and
inspirational shopping and a variety of
exclusive holiday and leisure rewards.
SriLankan Airlines meanwhile has commenced
a frequent flyer programme called SmiLes.
However industry sources say the scheme is
localised and gives no value to the customer
especially in the international market.
Locally oriented and more designed for a
local budget carrier rather than an
international airline, the quaint scheme
offers exclusive privileges on SriLankan
Airlines flights, free miles when you fly
with SriLankan, airlines ticket purchases /
partial payments, purchases on in-flight
duty free, Serendib Treasures and purchases
on holiday packages from SriLankan Holidays.
SmiLes members who reach the Silver Tier
level can also opt to join the Baggage Plus
or Baggage Premier programme. The Baggage
Plus members will get an additional 25kgs
and Baggage Premier members will get
additional 35kgs. SmiLes Baggage Premier
members will also have access to the airport
lounge and guaranteed seating on economy
Meanwhile obviously Emirates is holding on
to its huge customer base from Skywards
courtesy SriLankan Airlines.
Both carriers benefit from the code share
agreements and given that SriLankan does not
fly to many countries like US, Canada, Rome,
Zurich, and code shares with Emirates
including flights code shared to Singapore,
two points in Germany other than Frankfurt
and some lesser known points in the UK like
Birmingham, this would be a major loss.
SriLankan's international visibility will
drastically decline which will in turn
affect its load. The loss of code share
flights also means that customers are
inconvenienced. Furthermore a code share
Emirates flight gave SriLankan Airlines 25%
of the fare which SriLankan would now lose.
SriLankan has been totally technologically
integrated with Emirates. The national
carrier shares the Emirates owned Mercator
system which was upgraded at preferential
rates of US$1-2 million.
Not only does Emirates have access to all
SriLankan Airlines data they will either
withdraw the service within six months or
charge SriLankan the going commercial rates
of US$5-6 million to remain. Mercator was an
outgoing system from Emirates that was
handed over to SriLankan.
Industry sources earlier told The Sunday
Leader it was obvious Emirates had been
getting ready for a pull out. By selling the
two remaining aircraft owned by the national
carrier and then leasing them back Emirates
had successfully liquidated their assets.
With 43.6% of the shares they would also
have equal status on a future board and
could be the biggest stumbling block in any
decision. Emirates would remain SriLankan
Airlines' formidable competitor in the skies
with one advantage.
Emirates would be able to control SriLankan
not only from within but also from without
including through their IT reservation
system with which SriLankan is now totally
Receding from a position of strength
SriLankan flies to 51 destinations in 28
countries in Europe, Asia, Middle East,
Australia and North America but these
include a large number of code share
flights. SriLankan is the most frequent
foreign airline into India with a total
of 95 flights per week. In 2007
passenger revenue was Rs. 54.6 million,
a 10.67% increase from 2006 which was Rs.
49.4 million. The number of passengers
carried in 2007 was 3.18 million as
opposed to 3.01 million in 2006.
GoSL - 51.05%
Emirates - 43.63%
Employees - 5.32%
By virtue of office, three of the
government nominee directors including
the chairman own one ordinary share each
of the company.
At the time of privatisation in 1998 the
national carrier's fleet consisted of
nine aircraft. That is four ageing
Lockheed L1011 Tristars, two Airbus
A320s and three Airbus A340s. These were
owned by the airline. Today SriLankan
has 15 aircraft all on financial leases.
They are six new A330-200 aircraft, four
A340s, five A320s, two Antonov AN12F
Freighters, a Cessna Caravan aircraft
and two Turbo Otter amphibious aircraft
SriLankan Airlines Group posted a
post-tax profit of 862.18 million Sri
Lankan rupees (7.8 million dollars) for
the financial year ended March 31, 2007
- a drop of 50 percent from the previous
By Rupert De Alwis
Applications for the Journalism Awards for
Excellence 2007 conducted by the Editor's
Guild of Sri Lanka in association with the
Sri Lanka Press Institute (SLPI) will close
tomorrow (March 31) in the midst of
controversy as the once prestigious awards
head towards mediocrity.
The controversy comes even as the Editors
Guild and SLPI have deliberately shut out
Leader Publications from participating in
the awards scheme by including in the
general entry rules a clause which makes it
imperative for an editor to endorse that the
newspaper from which a journalist makes an
application subscribes to the Code of Ethics
of the Guild and the Press Complaints
Editors working for Leader Publications,
needless to say, are not members of the
Editors Guild and the Group does not
subscribe to the Press Complaints Commission
or the mandate of the SLPI.
Ironically, the Leader Group has hitherto
been the most successful newspaper group
since the inception of the awards in 1998,
sweeping the boards by winning practically
all the top awards. Neither has the Leader
Group ever had any connection of any sort
with the management of the awards scheme nor
the panel of judges.
This group has won the top most award -
The Journalist of the Year Award every year
since the inception of the awards in 1998,
except in 1998, 2001 and 2003. In 2003 the
entire staff of the Leader Group decided not
to participate in the awards to show
solidarity with one of their colleagues -
Frederica Jansz, who faced harassment by the
Editors Guild regarding her application.
The Editors Guild of Sri Lanka had been
conducting the Journalism Awards of
Excellence for 10 years since 1998 but
collaborated with the Sri Lanka Press
Institute (SLPI) - an organisation fuelled
primarily by Swedish funds in 2003.
Rich man's club
While the Press Institute is a private, rich
man's club run by a select few businessmen
who also run newspapers, the Leader Group
and several other publications have not
subscribed to the SLPI or to the Sri Lanka
Press Complaints Commission, nor does it
accept its mandate.
In fact this club is so exclusive that the
Editors Guild has not yet invited Daily
Mirror Editor, Champika Liyanarachchi to be
a member even though the criteria to be
invited as a board member is six months as
an editor of a national newspaper.
Liyanarachchi has been an editor since
January 2007. Ironically, however, she has
to endorse the applications of any
journalist of the Daily Mirror who wished to
qualify for an award stating the newspaper
subscribes to the Editors Guild Code of
Meanwhile it is interesting that the Press
Institute which has its own hierarchy is
nevertheless controlled by Waruna
Karunatilleke, a cameraman attached to
Reuters, much to the discomfit of several
high level board members. The Press
Institute has two arms - the Press
Complaints Commission and the Sri Lanka
College of Journalism.
SLPI which is funded primarily by the Swedes
has run into financial and administrative
trouble as it continues to make executive
changes due to an exodus of top level staff,
and the Swedes deciding to now pull out
their financial support, has compelled the
SLPI management to look at appealing to the
European Union to bail them out if
Shutting out the best
However shutting out the Leader Group which
consists of three publications - The Sunday
Leader, Irudina and The Morning Leader from
the awards in order to force the hand of the
Leader Group to join the rich man's club at
the Sri Lanka Press Institute has backfired
on the cash strapped Sri Lanka Press
The reason SLPI needed the support of the
Leader Group in particular was to not only
justify their existence as an all
encompassing, umbrella media organisation in
the country but to also be able to peddle
that line in order to ensure a steady,
foreign cash flow.
No free lunch
But there's no such thing as a free lunch
and foreign funding was available only if
SLPI could showcase itself as a body that
had in its clutches every single media group
in the country. This was not to be as the
Leader Group including several other
publications would not subscribe to SLPI nor
bow down to the dictates of a select, few,
private businessmen who wished to control
the newspaper industry in the country.
While SLPI started off as a body focusing on
the print media they have now tried to
encompass the electronic media as well.
However, again SLPI has run into trouble
with both the massive MTV/MBC network which
owns the Sirasa, Shakthi and MTV TV channels
and three radio channels, and Swarnavahini
of the EAP Group, rejecting in writing, the
mandate of the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).
Such was the desperation of the PCC to rope
in for example the Maharaja electronic media
group, that repeated appeals were made only
to be rejected out of hand.
Again so desperate was SLPI to have the
membership of the Leader Group and show full
control of the newspapers in order to
attract foreign funds that it resorted to
subterfuge by even including Leader
Publications in its Press Complaints
Commission Annual Report 2006.
Not only that, while it has shut out the
Leader journalists from the awards of 2007,
in its Annual Report 2007, PCC unabashedly
continues to abuse the Leader Publications
name in order to showcase itself as an all
encompassing body and to attract much needed
Even though the PCC told The Sunday Leader
it had not yet fully prepared its 2007
report despite the fact a staff member had
assured The Sunday Leader an Annual Report
2007 could be collected from their office,
the PCC official website has an Executive
Summary of the Annual Report 2007.
There, in order to create a false impression
that the Leader Group is part of SLPI and
PCCSL among the several newspapers against
whom it had received complaints, it also
lists The Sunday Leader.
The Annual Report 2007 of PCCSL does in the
first paragraph acknowledge that several
challenges remain for PCCSL such as securing
the participation of The Sunday Leader, The
Sunday Observer, The Morning Leader and
Irudina newspapers. Nonetheless, by later
including The Sunday Leader in its
complaints list, it negates its own
assertions in its first paragraph.
However what is absurd is that admittedly,
the only clout the PCCSL has in so far as it
stands to influence the newspaper industry
is that a newspaper subscribes to the PCCSL
process when carrying a 'right of reply.' In
laymen's language, this means that if a
newspaper carries a right of reply it would
acknowledge PCCSL at the end of it. This
does not in anyway mean that PCCSL has any
right to compel a newspaper to in fact carry
a right of reply.
PCCSL also continues to communicate with the
three editors of the Leader Group in order
to create an impression of solidarity in the
eyes of the public, its sponsors and foreign
This is despite the fact that Leader
Publications has not subscribed to the
mandate of the PCC or the Sri Lanka Press
Institute and thereby does not wish to
accept any communication from either the PCC
or SLPI on any matter. Neither does Leader
Publications recognise the authority of
It is interesting however that PCCSL in its
last report (2006) has attempted to mislead
the public and the funders by noting down
complaints received against The Sunday
Leader, thereby creating the perception it
subscribes to the SLPI/PCCSL mandate.
By not stating the Leader Group is not party
to the PCC in its report, PCC has attempted
to create the perception that Leader
Publications also comes within its mandate.
This deception practiced by SLPI is all the
more evident since the report referred to a
complaint received against the Lanka
newspaper and noted that the said newspaper
does not accept the PCCSL mandate. Therefore
by making specific reference to the Lanka
newspaper not accepting its mandate, it has
deliberately and wilfully created the
impression that Leader Publications does
subscribe to its mandate.
In fact in its complaint summary for
February 2006 it states under the 'Action'
column regarding Lanka newspaper - the JVP
"03-02-2006: Forwarded to The Editor for
necessary action on 07/02/2006. As Lanka
newspaper is not a member newspaper the file
closed on 28/03/2006."
However with regard to The Sunday Leader for
instance, in the same column it says,
"01/03/2006: Wrote to the Editor to take
Certainly for an organisation consisting of
a few kultur members that has taken upon
itself the role of policing the media, its
conduct raises serious issues of
While the Leader Group is not against self
regulation which is rigorously practised
within the group as much as the group
respects the rule of law, good governance
and democratic values of which Responsible
Freedom of Expression is the bedrock, it is
against a rich man's club attempting to
manipulate the media industry to suit
business interests and personal agendas.
Code of Ethics
The Leader Group has since its inception
subscribed to an International Code of
Ethics, most particularly to speak to the
other side at all times when writing a
story. For this our journalists have had to
suffer in remand as we saw in the case of
young Arthur Wamanan.
The Leader Group also holds its sources
sacred and as a result we have on numerous
occasions had to suffer the inconvenience of
having CID officers grill our journalists
and editors to reveal our sources. We have
stood steadfast, informing the CID we are
willing to face any challenge in court but
will never reveal our sources.
The Leader Group also carries rights of
reply. The only difference is we do not
acknowledge the PCCSL at the bottom of the
Keeping the best out
Funnily, however, it is for this lack of
acknowledgement that the Sri Lanka Press
Institute which consists of The Editors
Guild, The Publishers, The Working
Journalists Association and the Free Media
Movement, has now barred the journalists of
the Leader Group from participating in the
The general rules of entry inserted newly
and specifically aimed at shutting out the
Leader Group states that "all entries by
journalists must carry the declaration by
the journalist/s that they abide by The Code
of Professional Practice (CPP) of The
Editors Guild of Sri Lanka and by the Rules
and Procedures of the Press Complaints
Commission of Sri Lanka."
CPP has nothing that is not already included
in the internationally accepted General Code
of Ethics for Journalists as expounded by
the International Federation of Journalists
and Article 19.
In any event the Leader Group does indeed
subscribe to the contents of the Code of
Professional Practice, though it does not
acknowledge the authority of a chosen few
rich men. Nor does it acknowledge SLPI or
PCCSL as having any validity in law or fact,
especially as the conduct of SLPI has been
in serious question with regard to various
matters of the media.
The Leader Group bows only to the supreme
law of the land. In every other instance it
remains unbowed and unafraid.
Keeping the Leader Group out of the awards
scheme for 2007 by bringing in new
regulation was aimed at achieving two goals.
Firstly to force the newspaper group into
giving free advertising space to SLPI and to
force the hand of the Leader management to
accept the authority of SLPI, and secondly
it was thought that it would create a split
within the organisation with the journalists
and staff upset that they would not be
considered for the awards scheme due to a
decision of the management. The thinking was
that the anxiety of The Sunday Leader
journalists would then force the group to
subject itself to the dictates of the SLPI.
However this too backfired on SLPI with the
journalists stating that if the organisation
was being penalised and harassed they would
not participate in the awards scheme. In
fact even freelance journalists attached to
The Sunday Leader were of the same view.
Ironically, for SLPI which is reeling under
a lack of funds, the shutting out of the
Leader Group from the awards scheme has only
helped bring into sharp focus the absurdity
of their existence in the eyes of their
foreign donors and the fact that they are
not in fact an all encompassing media body.
In the final analysis, by keeping the Leader
Group that has consistently been the top
award taker since the inception of the
scheme in 1998, out of its Awards Scheme
2007, the organisers have only devalued the
value of the awards for the remaining
It may prove a cake walk for mediocrity and
will certainly be akin to holding a Cricket
World Cup without Australia.