Tuesday 21 August 2018

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

21 August 2018

Presidential Inquiry about the President

The Sri Lankan media has been calling for stern action in regards to the Central Bank Bonds Scam.  Given that the UNP and the SLFP have been  the two major parties in Sri Lankan politics,  if one is criticized on one issue – the same measure needs to be used on the other side to keep the intellectual balance. Today’s news brought us the message about criticism of a position within Sri Lankan Airlines that I was responsible for developing  under the guidance of Singapore Airlines managers. That position was responsible for monitoring General Sales Agents (GSAs) about which activity the Island reports as follows under the  heading – ‘Previous UL Chairman bypassed laid down procedure in appointing GSAs’

[Top officials at SriLankan Airlines had not followed the proper procedure, detailed in its 2009 manual, when selecting General Sales Agents (GSA) for a number of countries, it was revealed at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) on irregularities at SriLankan Airlines, SriLankan Catering and Mihin Lanka, yesterday.
Shiromi Cooray, Manager, Industrial Relations at SriLankan revealed this, testifying before the commission…………………………………….
A number of agreements, signed with various travel agencies, in countries that included Dubai, Seychelles, Thailand, Singapore and Pakistan, Sri Lankan had not followed the procedures. For example, the agreement signed with Ms Vision Voyage for Seychelles in 2013 had not been cleared in a financial or legal review. Nor was a market survey carried out. "According to the 2009 manual overriding commission (ORC), a commission paid to an agent or broker on business sold by sub agents in his or her territory, that SriLankan can pay for a GSA is 2.5% for passengers. However in GSA agreements signed with companies in Dubai, Seychelles, Thailand, Singapore and Pakistan, SriLankan has paid over 5%," she said referring to board meetings.]

I think apart from Associated Motorways Ltd.’s Chairman Sir Cyril De Zoysa, no business CEO known to me followed the due process manuals in Administration. In Program driven Public Service, due process is of utmost importance because their core purpose is to bring the minds of People together – to become Common. Sri Lankan Airlines was neither this nor that. It was expected to be both.

If this Presidential Commission is politically driven, then no person who was appointed Independently by Sri Lankan Airlines and its predecessors should be tested publicly. During my times Due Processes as inherited from Singapore Airlines were followed by the Agency & Interline division – as Industrial Divisions section was then known. My heir in that position  retired only last year. In a subjective system – all of us become responsible for weakening the system. During my time – no GSA was entitled to higher than Industry standard commission. If they were paid above that – that was the problem of Finance Division.

If the above were true – the Head of Finance and the Head of Legal in addition to the Head of Commercial and the Head of Internal Audit would have all needed to collude. I do not understand why they are not being subpoenaed by the Commission. Ms Cooray is a junior player and is likely to state the obvious. The lady was NOT in that position in 2013.

If the then Chairman is the culprit – then the President who was then part of the Government that failed to follow the Public Service regulations. Hence this Presidential inquiry is about the President also.

Senior Administrators in the  University of NSW here in Australia were also closing blind eyes to deviations from financial rules to attract more research grants. I questioned them and provided  restructuring solutions from zero base. I was bullied and my financial senior tried to cheat me without knowing the provisions of Public Finance and Audit Act (NSW) 1983. I knew it as if I had myself given birth to it. In a way I did,  in Commercial Services Division of the NSW Government, where I  gave life to such regulations. But the bullying got worse and worse when I made suggestions which were taken by my seniors – as if I was trying to teach grandmother to suck eggs.  In a way I was – because they did not really seek to be democratic. I eventually went to prison for seeking to escalate the matter to the Governing Council – through Due Process. This probably would have been the fate of anyone who was recruited on merit basis by Sri Lankan Airlines/Air Lanka.

The inquiry is a waste of Public Funds and is likely to weaken the self-confidence of the staff in affected positions. This seems to be why Jesus gave us the lesson about stone throwing:

[The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery.  Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?"  They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.  When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." 8 And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 11 She said, "No one, sir." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again."]

As per Article 9 of the Sri Lankan Constitution, the President has the responsibility to ensure that the Commission’s processes are satisfactory to Buddha Sasana.  

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