A Rotarian replies to Muttukumaru’s remarks on Rotary Leaders in the Daily Mirror of 27th April 2018
I am John Baskaran, a resident of Kandy and a Rotary member for over 15 years. Muttukumaru is no stranger to me. I am one of the few people who has previously taken him on. I respond to his article on Friday 27th April prominently featured in this newspaper. Muttukumaru, as he admits himself, was a former member of the Rotary Club of Colombo and was sacked from his club. Thus anything he says is biased.
In his tirade against Rotary, he has sent over 15,000 mails all over the world in an eight to ten year period.
His mails were mostly but not exclusively about two senior Rotary Club members K. R. Ravindran and Tissa Bandaranayake, to whom he has again referred to in the above article.
He attempts to thinly veil his attack on these two by not mentioning their names, although there is little doubt as to their identity.
Mr. Ravindran is a well-known business personality and has served as global President of Rotary International- the first Sri Lankan and one of a handful of Asians to do so. He has met and been received by world leaders, His Holiness the Pope and the Secretary General of UN.
Mr. Tissa Bandaranayake is a reputed chartered accountant who has been inducted into the ‘Hall of Fame’ of his professional Institute and is a former member of the Rotary International Finance Committee.
Both these persons have brought laurels to their profession, industry and country.
Let me now respond to the several specific falsehoods, half-truths, distortions, innuendos and malice about us in his article.
I have documents to support every word I state below:
- The ‘integrity’ issue he writes of refers to his objection to one advertisement from a Casino that was published in a fund-raising souvenir for an International Rotary event hosted in Sri Lanka in 2005 with over 700 overseas guests, including its top brass. Out of the total cost of nearly Rs. 9 m in organizing this major event with 99% of the visitors from overseas, the value of the one advertisement he referred to was Rs. 300,000. None of the learned International leadership present at the event found anything wrong with the advertisement, except Muttukumaru.
His own Club President, the head of Rotary in Sri Lanka (the District Governor) and finally the World Headquarters itself confirmed to him and attempted to educate him that it was neither unethical nor immoral to accept an advertisement from a legal entity operating in this country as contended, even if it were a casino. They pointed out that in fact Rotary Conventions had been held in Las Vegas.
However, Muttukumaru continued to allege in thousands of mails sent around the world that the Chairman of the organizing committee, who was K. R. Ravindran should be personally held responsible and therefore deemed him a person of questionable character, unfit to be in Rotary.
nMuttukumaru, after due process was sacked from his own Rotary Club by his own colleagues and not by RI (Rotary International) as he states.
- Separately he continued to circulate a multitude of mails about the professional work and standing of Mr. Bandaranayake and broadcasted that he was no longer a member of the Finance Committee of RI apparently because of his writings. He insinuated that Mr. Bandaranayake had been removed. This was utterly false for Mr. Bandaranayake did complete his full three-year term on the committee.
Both, Messrs Ravindran and Bandaranayake, independently filed legal action on Muttukumaru to protect themselves from the thousands of mendacious and defamatory mails being circulated by him, to randomly selected Rotary members, their bankers and business associates and others, in Sri Lanka and all over the world. The legal action they instituted, according to Muttukumaru in this article is “an abuse of the legal system!”
- He writes of a court settlement with identical undertakings by both parties. He undertook in court to stop writing such mails about the organization and/or the petitioner and the petitioners readily agreed to reciprocate because they were not in any case in the habit of sending out unsolicited mails, had never done so, and had no intentions of doing so!! They would happily give such undertakings to not only court but to God and country and anyone else who cared to ask, at any time!
- Muttukumaru defaulted on that solemn undertaking given in court with another email campaign against Rotary’s much-vaunted schools project of which Ravindran was Chairman. He wrote to Rotarians of the world and to all the overseas funders of the project claiming financial wrongdoings.
- Contrary to Muttukumaru’s assertions Rotary’s flagship tsunami-related schools project received national and worldwide acclaim and has been featured as a model project in many forums including the international conventions. The project sent back to newly built schools across the country, with over 12,000 children and cost over Rs 1B to complete.
Although Muttukumaru had zero knowledge of the project and without a shred of evidence to support his claims, he made and continues to make in the said article, completely unsubstantiated allegations of financial irregularities.
No wonder then that as a result an irate Rotary public moved a formal motion which was unanimously supported and adopted at a gathering of Sri Lanka Rotary at the Galadari on May 2010, where 600 members present resolved and affirmed “to unreservedly and unequivocally admonish and censure him” and that he not be allowed to set foot into any Rotary Club in the country”, the first time such a serious resolution was passed by a full body against an individual Rotarian anywhere in the world!
- Notwithstanding Muttukumaru’s assault on him, Mr. Ravindran was subsequently nominated first as a Board Director and then as the global President of Rotary International and was based in Chicago. Muttukumaru, of course, continued to mass circulate mails. His mailing list even included members of the Swedish Parliament, the Charity Navigator, the Pulitzer Prize Board, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Power Reporting Co and such others.
- Consequently a ‘contempt of court’ petition was filed against Muttukumaru.
- The decision of the court as borne out by the prominent headlines of your sister paper The Sunday Times of No. 8th, 2015 not only necessitated him tendering an apology to the petitioners in court but also agreeing to pay Rs. 10,000 to a charity picked by the petitioner, which Muttukumaru conveniently omitted to state in his article.
- In the said article he states as follows: (Mr. Ravindran) “was even appointed special ambassador to attract foreign investment by RW (the Prime Minister) I do not wish to speculate on how much of FDI came in due to his efforts”.
He maliciously does not care to report that Mr. Ravindran never did accept that appointment nor the other important appointments offered to him by the Government.
Subsequently HE the President conferred on Mr. Ravindran the title of ‘Sri Lanka Sighamani’– Jewel of Sri Lanka.
-Rtn John Baskaran
This correspondence is now closed.