The Sunday Leader

London, Sans One, We Have Come!

by Nirmala Kannangara

In relation to our investigation titled ‘London, Here They Come’, published on May 29, 2016, several persons mentioned in the article have responded. We publish certain parts of their responses along with an editor’s note.

Following our exposes on Sri Lanka-England cricket matches, the SLC officials who were supposed to travel to England at the beginning of June in one delegation decided to take turns and go separately. However, only one SLC member, Chryshantha Kapuwatte, stayed back in Sri Lanka without travelling to UK but the rest went on different dates.

 

Chryshantha Kapuwatte’s reply: 

Lawyers of Chryshantha Theadora Kapuwatte state that their client is a reputed and respected businessman in Sri Lanka who has been functioning as an Executive Committee Member of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) since January 4, 2016 to date.

“Our Client instructs us to state that you have written and/or published and/or caused to publish an article on The Sunday Leader dated 29th May 2016 under the heading ‘London, Here They Come!’

The said article states that Our Client, his wife and daughter are scheduled to travel to London on business class ‘using SLC money to enjoy a memorable pre-Christmas in London next month’ together with twelve other office bearers of SLC, inter alia.

We are instructed to state that the said article and in particular the aforesaid sentence quoted above, in the context in which it was published is per se and in innuendo defamatory of Our Client and his family and holds out Our Client to public ridicule and contempt by way of the office held by him and as a person.

As a   company and / or publisher and / or editor and/ or journalist you should have been aware that the contents of the said article is baseless, false and to your knowledge.

We are further instructed to state that the aforesaid malicious action of writing and/or publishing the said defamatory article has been caused by you without reasonable or probable cause and with the animus injuriandi of defaming Our Client and his family and tarnishing his and his family’s reputation and public image and the said publication has been carried out with express malice.

Our Client’s reputation, goodwill and public image which has been built up over a period of more than 25 years in the business platform has been tarnished and severely affected by the aforesaid publication.”

 

Mohan De Silva – We are instructed to state that our client never intended to go to England nor has gone to England nor received nor allocated any such allowance as stated in your article.

 

Anura de Silva – We are instructed to state that our Client went to London upon an invitation as an official of Sri Lanka Cricket, as a Member of the Executive Committee and was not accompanied by his family as stated in your article. Further our Client was not allocated an allowance as stated in your article and travelled on his personal funds.

 

 Shammi Silva – We are instructed to state that our Client went to London as an official representative of Sri Lanka Cricket, being the duly elected Hony. Treasurer of SLC.

 

Ashley De Silva – We are instructed to state that our Client never intended to go to England nor has gone to England as stated in your article.

 

Sujeewa Godaliyadda – We are instructed to state that our Client visited London at his own expense as it is his prerogative and was not on the expenses of Sri Lanka Cricket in any way, despite being invited as a member of the Executive Committee Member of SLC.

 

Ranveen Wickramaratne – We are instructed to state that our Client went to London as an official of Sri Lanka Cricket and was not accompanied by his family as stated in your article. Further our client was not allocated an allowance as stated in your article.

 

Ashley De Silva – We have been instructed by our Client to state that the said article discusses that our Client as a person who will travel to London with his spouse to enjoy a memorable pre Christmas on business class air travel using the funds of Sri Lanka Cricket. The said article also depicts that our Client will not be spending his own money to purchase air tickets for his spouse. The said article also states that the hotel accommodation of our client’s stay in London is also to be borne by Sri Lanka Cricket and the cost of the same, which includes cost of other persons, amounts to Rs 2,128 million for 15 days. We are instructed to state that our Client never intended to go to England nor has gone to England as stated in your article.

Writer’s/Editor’s note:

Following our exposes ‘London, Here They Come’ the SLC official/s who were supposed to travel to England at the beginning of June decided to take turns and go to England to show what we reported was not factual. Only one SLC member, Chryshantha Kapuwatte, stayed back in Sri Lanka without travelling to UK but the rest went on different dates.

Now that you have confirmed that you have received invitations, I appreciate if you could also send me the invitation letters from England and Wales Cricket Board which were given for visa purposes. This will clearly reveal if your family members had been invited as well or is it only you that obtained the visa for the tour. Indeed, it is good news to note that members of the Executive Committee has spent their own money to purchase air tickets and match tickets rather than being a burden to SLC which is struggling with the finances, since having lavishly spent the monies on an event management company to organize a dinner of that magnitude in London.

Also it is noticed that the Treasurer has indicated that he and the Assistant Secretary had been in England in official capacity and official business, bearing in mind the extravagant dinner that they had to attend to in order to pay all cost and organize and manage the event.

May be it is best to know that once the desired business was over, if they did continue to stay at SLC expense for any other reasons better known to them, which can be highlighted to the cricket loving public.

With regard to the per diem for EXCO members, it is best that you stipulate the amounts due to a member of the EXCO when invited and when on official business; and if provided or not provided with accommodation, the entitled allotment, transport cost, etc…

It is noteworthy that the two Vice Presidents, Jayantha Dharmadasa and K. Mathivanan had declined to visit England at their own expense and stayed back to ensure that the work at SLC is being carried out.

It is also noteworthy that the Secretary and CEO have gone at later dates, 24th June and 25th June to attend the ICC meeting and witness the one day matches and return on or around 2nd July, as according to the ICC agenda, the meetings were held only on June 28th and 29th but not beyond that date. We wish to ask the Secretary and CEO on whose account they had stayed in London before and after the ICC meetings if they claim they had not used SLC funds. Allowances paid to the Secretary and CEO for official duty and for other days need to be specified. Although it says that Raveen Wickramaratne did not accompany his family to London, I would like to ask why Wickramaratne made a request to the England and Wales Cricket Board to provide an invitation letter to the British Visa Office in Colombo requesting to issue visas for his wife Dhammika Shamalie Perera Wickramaratne and daughter Vinushi Nirvada Wickramaratne?

In regard to the letter sent on behalf of Mohan de Silva, it says that he never intended to go to England nor has gone to England nor received nor allocated any such allowances as stated in my article. However, it is surprising that by the time this newspaper received De Silva’s letter of demand, he was touring UK. Although Mohan de Silva was not an invitee for the ICC as per the document The Sunday Leader is in possession, he still traveled to London claiming that he was travelling for ICC meetings. In fact Mohan de Silva got an invitation latter from the England and Wales Cricket Board to get a visa for his wife Annette Felicia Celestine Shiranthi de Silva as well although he said he did not have any intention of touring England.  Aruna Wijaya Arumadura de Silva too got the England and Wales Cricket Board to send him an invitation to obtain the UK Visa.

It is true that after my expose and on the request of the SLC, Cryshantha Theadore Kapuwatte did not travel to London, although he too obtained a visa for his tour. The England and Wales Cricket Board also sent a letter of invitation to Sujeewa Godaliyadda and his wife Liyanaarachchige Helan Kalyani Wickremasinghe to obtain the UK Visa.

 

Sidath Wettamuni’s response to Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera:

I was amazed to read the comments attributed to the Minister of Sports, Hon. Dayasiri Jayasekera and reported in last Sunday’s The Sunday Leader with regard to the indoor nets and swimming pool projects. The statement the Minister is reported to have made that I gave the contracts to construct the indoor nets and swimming pool to a person who has done a swimming pool and indoor nets for my son’s residence, is utterly false.

The Contract was given to the Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau [CECB] which is a semi government body coming under the Ministry of Mahaweli Development and Environment and  proper procedures were followed prior to awarding the Contract. The Minister of Sports must be or should be aware of this fact since the Contract with CECB and all related documents are with SLC and also we kept the Minister advised.

The Minister’s statement is even more difficult to fathom when the simple fact is my son does not have his own residence or a swimming pool or indoor nets! My son and my daughter live with my wife and I in our family home, which certainly does not have a swimming pool or an indoor net!

I also must state that, indoor nets and a swimming pool are absolutely essential for any venue at which international cricketers train and play. Indoor nets are needed to enable players to train during rainy weather and after dark. A swimming pool is needed for recovery, exercises and physiotherapy. These are basic facilities and almost every international venue outside Sri Lanka has these basic facilities. This is basic knowledge and anyone who knows anything about cricket will know that.

Unfortunately, for decades, we in Sri Lanka had overlooked putting these basics in place at any of our international venues and, therefore, one of the first things we did as an Interim Committee was to plan and start the Projects for constructing indoor nets and a swimming at Premadasa Stadium and indoor nets at Pallekelle and Dambulla.

The Minister of Sports, Hon. Dayasiri Jayasekera was the chief guest at the functions held to lay the foundation stones and inaugurate the Projects at Pallekelle and Dambulla and I clearly recall his speeches in which he was full of praise for the Projects. He fully recognized the crying need for indoor nets at these venues at that time. These speeches are recorded. His sudden change of direction now, is incomprehensible to me.

As for the claim that there are no funds for indoor nets and swimming pools, I absolutely disagree and I can demonstrate that this statement too is incorrect. A look at the Balance Sheet and Accounts of SLC as at 31st December 2015, when the Interim Committee handed over, will confirm what I say. Further, the Interim Committee had reserved the funding for the Projects and the 2016 Budget provided for this expenditure.

 

1 Comment for “London, Sans One, We Have Come!”

  1. Jay

    Good for you Sidath. Ministers live on Ill-gotten monies and therefore they try to paint everyone with the same brush.

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