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News

November 18, 2007  Volume 14, Issue 22


Focus

Arts

Letters

Issues

Review

Fashion

Editorial

Spotlight

           
How the public paid for Malaka's remand time   


Athauda Seneviratne, Mervyn Silva and Malaka Silva

Labour Ministry pays salary and vehicle
hiring charges of Malaka

Presidential circulars violated by Ministry

Malaka paid cost of living allowance and
fuel charges during remand

Athauda and Mervyn spend over
Rs. 500,000 per month on fuel

By Sonali Samarasinghe

Evidence in our possession shows that ministerial brat Malaka Silva was paid a government salary of Rs. 40,795  including a massive Rs.76, 000 for a vehicle to attend to his official duties by the Ministry of Labour, during his period in remand.

Malaka Silva was remanded on September 11, 2007 for pistol whipping Chaminda Senasinghe an accountant, at the Bistro Latino Restaurant and salsa bar. Even though it was his victim Senasinghe who had 11 stitches on his forehead and was in a state of shock, it was Malaka who quickly took up rooms at the nearest hospital.

On October 16 the Supreme Court in an interim order issued instructions that Malaka be transferred to remand prison from his hospital bed following a fundamental rights application filed by human rights activist Jeevan Thiagarajah. Two days later he was released on bail on an application filed by his mother J.A.M. Lucida.

Malaka is the Private Secretary to his father, Non Cabinet Minister Mervyn Silva. His mother Lucida is the Coordinating Secretary. Therefore both draw salaries, and allowances including for vehicles from the Ministry of Labour as part of the Ministerial staff.

According to a circular on government spending signed by President Rajapakse himself in October 2006 the posts of private secretary and coordinating secretary are temporary appointments only for the duration of the particular minister's period in that office.

 Temporary employees

A veteran public servant told The Sunday Leader under normal circumstances a temporary employee would firstly not have the same privileges granted to permanent employees such as EPF and ETF and pension rights.

Secondly a government employee charged with a criminal offence would, under prudent practice be interdicted from his employment until the conclusion of the case. Under no circumstance may he be granted allowances for a vehicle to attend to his official duties especially when he was in remand, according to public service rules. It is so for example in the case of a policeman or a public officer charged with a criminal offence.

However Malaka, the moment he was released on bail was to gallop over to his Daddy's office full of beans and buck and secure for himself a couple of letterheads to collect his official financial entitlements from the state.  

In a shocking letter that displays an unparalleled arrogance of power and lack of propriety  Malaka Silva on November 1, writes under his hand to the Secretary, Ministry of Labour Relations and Man Power claiming that since the Ministry had failed to supply him a vehicle for his official duties for the months of September and October, he had been compelled to hire a vehicle registration No. JF 4305 from the company Riverview Private Limited.  No quotations are called for and he chooses on his own accord from whom to hire the vehicle. (See box for letter)

He also annexes to his claim a statement by the manager of Riverview Hotel (Pvt) Ltd. for a sum of Rs. 76,000 for the specified two months. (See box for statement)

On November 5 the Ministry of Labour approves the payment and issues a payment voucher for the said amount of Rs. 76,000/- (See box for copy of voucher)

It is not immediately clear what kind of official duties came under the purview of Malaka Silva during his time in remand notwithstanding the fact that due to his 'vomitish' feeling he had to take up rooms in a national hospital rather than at the remand prison. Granted the condition of the remand prison is enough to make anyone sick, but ministerial brats like Malaka must think of that before they set about wreaking havoc on the public weal.

 Handsomely rewarded

While some journalists falsely accused are made to spend time in remand for no other crime than for doing their job well, Malaka Silva not only does not have to spend time in remand even though he is charged by the police with a criminal offence but he is also rewarded handsomely for it by the government through the tax paying public.

The payroll for the month of September of the Ministry of Labour Relations and Foreign Employment reveals that Malaka Silva had received a sum of Rs.40,795 for the month of September including a fuel allowance of Rs. 14,400 and a cost of living allowance of Rs. 2125. (See box for copy of payroll)

Ironically however Malaka was during most of September and October supposedly enjoying government hospitality at the Remand prison. Perhaps Malaka felt that since he had declined an invitation to reside at the remand prison and thereby saved the state a colossal amount of money for his upkeep for one and a half months he was entitled to claim the benefit from the Ministry of Labour of which his father is non cabinet minister.

Be that as it may let us take a look at the entitlements of Non Cabinet Minister Mervyn Silva.

According to Presidential circular no. CSA/P1/40 signed October 23, 2006 the entitlements for non cabinet ministers are as follows:

Security Vehicles  - 01

Security personnel (police) - 04

For cabinet ministers the entitlement is much the same except they could have 05 security police personnel.

 The circular states that if there are more than one minister or deputy minister to a ministry the number of security vehicles and personnel and fuel allowances should be claimed only for one ministerial post.

The Presidential circular signed by President Mahinda Rajapakse also states that Members of parliament representing constituencies outside the western province will be entitled to a monthly maximum diesel allowance of Rs. 30,000  for their security  vehicle per month. MPs representing constituencies in the western province will be entitled to Rs. 20,000 diesel for their security vehicle per month.

Additional vehicles/personnel        

Any security vehicles or personnel obtained outside the entitlement must be approved by President Rajapakse himself according to the circular. 

Keep in mind that Mervyn Silva is a national list MP and has no constituency to nurse. Silva contested in the Colombo District and lost dismally not even getting a few thousand votes. He later pleaded with former President Chandrika Kumaratunga falling prostrate at her feet much like Mayantha Dissanayake did at President Rajapakse's feet. For this his wife Lucida was made a national list MP and she resigned to make way for husband  Mervyn Silva.

Therefore Silva is entitled only to the Rs. 20,000 per month. Therefore both Ministers are entitled to an aggregate of Rs. 50,000 fuel allowance per month or Rs. 60,000 at the maximum. Shockingly documents in our possession show the ministers average at least half a million rupees in fuel bills per month.   

Be that as it well may let's see how payments have been made by the Labour Ministry with regard to fuel allowances of the two labour ministers. One the cabinet minister Athauda Seneviratne and the other the non cabinet minister.

Payment for fuel

According to documents in our possession here is a list of fuel payments made to the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation from 02.07.2007 to 23.10.2007 for obtaining fuel coupon books for the two ministers. This mind you despite the fact the circular states that all entitlements must be made as if there is only one minister even if there are two or more ministers in a ministry.

Date            Peoples Bank                   Amount
           
       Narahenpita cheque no. 

02.07.2007        344353                  Rs. 325,000

11.07.2007        344751                  Rs. 100,000

23.07.2007        347801                   Rs.150,000

NOTE: Therefore for July alone the petrol bill for the two ministers is Rs.575,000

This is in addition to Minister Athauda Seneviratne's private secretary Dr. Parakrama Athauda, claiming on July 13, 2007 a sum of Rs. 24,800 for the Minister's official vehicle.  

01.08.2007                    348000      Rs.300,000

20.08.2007                    348566      Rs.175,000

30.08.2007                    348779      Rs.100,000

03.09.2007                    348782     Rs. 375.000 

NOTE: On 12.09.2007 Sarath Senanayake the coordinating Secretary writes stating that the minister had used up all his coupons during a tour of A'para and claims a further Rs. 19,000 for fuel.

Again on 19.09.2007 Senanayake claims for the minister's official vehicle a further Rs. 14,000 

17.09.2007        351365           Rs.200,000

24.09.2007                             Rs.100,000

01.10.2007        351598          Rs.375,000

08.10.2007                            Rs.  19,000

17.10.2007        352874          Rs.200,000

23.10.2007        353162          Rs.100,000 

According to another Presidential circular also sent out in October of 2006 the other entitlements of ministers and deputy ministers are specified.

For instance a minister or deputy minister can have in his staff one private secretary, one coordinating secretary, one media secretary, one public affairs secretary (Cabinet ministers may have two), and two drivers.

Together with office hands and other staff the total for a minister is a staff of 15 and for a deputy minister a staff of 10.                   

The private, coordinating and public affairs secretaries are employed on a temporary basis and are not entitled to any perks as per the permanent staff.   

According to this circular both the minister and his deputy may have two official vehicles while a maximum of Rs. 7.5 million for a car or jeep and Rs. 5.5 million for a double cab inclusive of all taxes.

Mind you the circular states that if perchance a vehicle has to be hired from outside it should only be done by a letter seeking prior approval from the Treasury written under the hand of the Secretary to the relevant ministry.

The maximum fuel allowance for a Minister per month is as follows:

Petrol    Rs. 75,000 (Outside western province),                            Rs.50,000 (within WP)

Diesel   Rs.30,000 (out of WP)   

            Rs. 20,000 (within WP)

The maximum fuel allowance for a Deputy Minister

Petrol    Rs. 65,000 (Outside western province),                            Rs.40,000 (within WP)

Diesel   Rs.30,000 (out of WP)   

            Rs. 20,000 (within WP)

Likewise the number of vehicles for the staff of a minister is five and a deputy minister is three.

Even taking into account the entitlement of Rs.75,000 per month for a minister for his two official vehicles. the two labour ministers burning up an average of Rs.575,000 fuel  per month is inexcusable.

Mind you the staff of the ministers do not need to dip in to the fuel allowances of the minister himself as they have their own allowances. For instance Malaka Silva as the private secretary has a diesel allowance of Rs.14,400 per month. Lucida as the Coordinating Secretary has a diesel allowance of Rs. 23,200 per month.

Labour Minister's vehicles

However Minister Mervyn Silva has an official list of eight vehicles of which his official vehicle and Audi does not have a registration number but a garage number WP2006/2007 (Please see box for details of vehicles.)

President Rajapakse as the minister of Finance may have sent out circulars willy nilly in October of 2006, he may have admonished the public to tighten their belts; but his own jumbo cabinet of 107 ministers continue to dish up for themselves large chunks of the public's money even at a time they are incarcerated in remand for assaulting a member of the very public from whom they get their sustenance. 

    No wonder then millions of big bucks are on offer to keep the Government going in Parliament considering the lifestyles of the ministers that are at stake at public expense.


Victims of Rajasingham

The strategies adopted by the Editor of the Asian Tribune KT Rajasingham "to make ends meet" has been exposed by one of his victims, R Jayadevan who was held in LTTE captivity and later released.

In an article posted in the Independent Sri Lanka website, Jayadevan exposes how Rajasingham uses his web newspaper to attract money, some details of which were exposed in last week's issue of The Sunday Leader where the whole plot to send Karuna into exile came to be highlighted.

Published below is Jayadevan's article in full for readers to draw their own conclusions.

By R Jayadevan

The Sunday Leader newspaper published in Sri Lanka is playing a laudatory role to expose the shenanigan dealings of K T Rajasingam (KTR),the founder, owner and the Editor of Asian Tribune. His underhand dealing with the government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to discharge his hate towards Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan alias Karuna has been rightly exposed and even the GoSL too remain vulnerable on this sordid affair.

KTR has an established track record of questionable dealings. He always worked with the ulterior motive to spin money. Prior to moving to Sweden, he is said to have been involved in all kinds of illegal trades, primarily in the human trafficking business in Thailand.

I first came to know KTR's questionable business in 1996, when one Nathan (true name withheld) approached me at Tamil Refugee Action Group where I was employed as Co-ordinator. Nathan was my accountancy client as well and he was running a petroleum  business in London.

Nathan came to seek my help to release his brother and sister from the immigration custody in Bangkok. I did everything within my capability - to the extent of dealing with the Thai immigration and the UNHCR. I found Nathan very desperate and extremely worried about the plight of his family members.

He told me that he is also dealing with KTR in Bangkok and had already paid him ú25,000 to secure the release of his dear ones. When the situation became desperate for him, he asked me to accompany him to Bangkok and said he will bear all my travel and accommodation costs. But I could not join him due to my own commitments.

When Nathan returned, he confirmed he had managed to get his family members out of Thailand. He said he paid over ú45,000 in total to KTR to help him. He said KTR was initially saying he had high level contacts with the Thai authorities and wanted sufficient money to win them over to get his relatives released. In Bangkok, Nathan was introduced to a local authority councillor who was teaming up with KTR throughout his stay.

It became clear to Nathan that KTR did not make any substantial progress. Both his dear ones were about to be produced in the court. Nathan did not know where to turn, except for KTR. He was told by KTR if the case is lost, both his family members will serve long prison sentences. KTR told Nathan to give him further sums to find ways to take them to a neighbouring country. Nathan had to use the funds of his business to pay for the demands of KTR.

With the receipt of the sum demanded, KTR had taken both of them to Cambodia illegally before the court hearing. From there, the family members flew to an African country.

Nathan is very bitter that KTR milked him knowing his desperate plight. He said KTR does not have any feelings and is a ruthless man.

What Nathan told me about the lifestyle of KTR in Bangkok is worth mentioning. KTR was said to have claimed refugee status in Thailand and was receiving dole money from the government. But he was living a luxury lifestyle in an expensive property (House No: 8/6, Muban Amoronpan Nakorn, Sukapibal Road 2, Suan Siam, Bangok 10230, Thailand.) and was driving a brand new Mercedes Benz car. KTR had apparently told Nathan that he was carrying a variety of passports in his name and that his refugee status is based on his Sri Lankan Tamil identity.

Nathan has still not recovered from his dealings with KTR. He lost his petroleum retail business just after he returned from Thailand.

I  know  of people who had fallen victims to KTR's money demands. I also know some who refused to part with the money demanded by him. I am one of them.

When I returned from LTTE captivity in Vanni in March 2005, KTR phoned me several times. My story was occupying his web paper for couple of weeks. At the tail end of his reporting, he called me one day and asked me to give him ú5,000 for giving coverage about my captivity by the LTTE. He said he wanted the money to upgrade his website. I refused. I told him about my precarious financial situation as a result of my long incarceration by the LTTE. He refused to accept my reasons and pressurised me to part with the money. He could not succeed in his effort.

Few days later, he phoned and asked me to prepare a viability report to build prefabricated houses in the Tsunami affected areas in Sri Lanka. He said there is funding from the European Union. I categorically told him he should engage a paid consultant, as I do not have the time or the desire to do it. He was annoyed with me and said he does not wish to have any dealings with me in the future, as I am refusing to all his requests. That was the last conversation I ever had with him.

But the man was very angry with me and joined with LTTE operatives in London and Oslo and ventured into a campaign of publishing nonsense about me in the Asian Tribune. I still cannot believe a man of that age having used my story to bolster his paper could sink to such low level. Having known the LTTE persons with whom he had dealings, I am not surprised he might have obtained money from them too to write nonsensical stories about me.

It is the very same predicament the Editor-in-Chief of The Morning Leader Sonali Samarasinghe is facing now. KTR's conduct is a curse for all the good intended Sri Lankan citizens. It will not be surprising to see KTR joining the nasty LTTE club to extend his will and to cover up his dastardly deeds by continuing to write fictitious stories and commentaries.


More Spotlight...


Victims of Rajasingham


 

 


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