It seems that the house of Kemal Dervis can't be saved. This time the Parliament, the President and the Prime Minister's office of Sri Lanka have expressed grave concerns about UNDP Regional Center of Colombo involvement in the internal political affairs of Sri Lanka.
The scandal is simple, once again the UNDP's illegal hiring and nepostism in positioning friends, girlfriends, gay-friends and even non-existing friends in posts, have led to UNDP's reputation to go to the lowest levels ever in Sri-Lanka and South Asian Region.
Corruption, derailing of funds from Ford Foundation and other Trust Funds aimed at assisting and building capacities of Sri-Lankan Government, politicising and siding with various political fractions, illegal funding of political parties, are among issues now involving the office led from Omar Noman.
Well what can you expect when a person from a speech-writer of Hafiz Pasha is made director of a Regional Center ?
Here we are publishing a statement on the official website of the Sri-Lankan Mission to the United Nations in Geneva.
Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka - Geneva - Switzerland
20th February 2008
The appalling situation at ICES continues to reverberate, with yet more articles claiming that it is essentially an internal dispute that has spilled over into the public domain. It is even argued that those who had for many months tried to bring honesty into the system were somehow traitors. One writer introduced the metaphor of civil society activists being trees that should stick together to survive, disaster occurring when a woodcutter has an axe with a wooden handle, i.e. one of the trees has betrayed the group to government.
But what happens when trees get diseased? Surely they have to be cut down, before the disease spreads and kills off every tree. In such a situation, the axe has in fact saved the species.
The question is, was ICES so deeply diseased that culling was essential? The answer can be seen in a letter sent recently by Omar Noman, Chief of Policies and Programmes at the UNDP Regional Centre in Colombo. His name had appeared second in the list of those who had signed a petition protesting at the removal of Rama Mani. It was sandwiched between the names of Sithie Tiruchelvam of the Neelan Tiruchelvam Trust and Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu of the Centre of Policy Alternatives. Mr. Noman’s affiliation too was given, as though to suggest that these three worthy institutions, including the UN, stood together in this brave struggle.
But Mr. Noman had been deceived, and he said so in no uncertain terms to Rama Mani. His letter is attached. Rama Mani’s attempt to involve the Resident Coordinator of the UN, along with ambassadors of countries who had research projects with ICES, is symptomatic of the low methods employed by those who have rallied to her defence and presented the issue as a battle between ‘authoritarian tyranny and individual liberty’. As far as ICES was concerned, the truth was that this was a battle between honesty and dishonesty, accountability and irresponsibility, due procedure and culpable carelessness.
It involved differences between those who thought that a contract had to be honoured and those who cared not a damn for whose money they were using for what. It involved a contrast between those who do not tell lies and those who lie, deceive and cheat.
Bradman Weerakoon has claimed that ‘An appeal by me to the President’s office involved a small relief of 5 days more’ and that he and Sunil Bastian would deal with remaining issues including ‘liaising with the President’s office re inquiries commencing there on events leading to the security decision to remove Rama immediately from the country.’ Radhika Coomaraswamy has claimed that the Foreign Ministry assured her Rama Mani would be granted her visa. It is inconceivable that such claims could be true, in view of the categorical assertion regarding the matter by the Prime Minister on the floor of the house.
But those who, as the UNDP Regional Centre Chief puts it, care nothing about any 'awkward and embarrassing position’ they put others into through deceit and deception, need to be guarded against through forthright language such as Mr. Noman uses, to ensure that such tricks are not repeated.
Prof Rajiva Wijesinha
Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP)