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No Code Of Ethics For Rambukwella

2013 Jul 09

By Nirmala Kannangara


Another ministerial offspring is in the limelight again and this time bringing disgrace to the country in the eyes of the world because he was unable to distinguish between a cabin door and a toilet door due to being under the influence of liquor.

Ramith Rambukwella, son of Media Minister and Cabinet Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella has not only brought humiliation to the country but also to the gentleman’s game with his unruly behaviour on board British Airways flight 2158 from St. Lucia to London’s Gatwick airport.


Although this incident has been reported in many foreign newspapers claiming the cricketer was under the influence of liquor, it is interesting to see how Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is now trying to cover up the matter by claiming that it was due to dim lights that Rambukwella had mistaken the toilet door with the cabin door.

According to a press release issued by SLC, the team manager Jayantha Seneviratne has submitted a report to the CEO to inform that the A team boarded the BA flight from St. Lucia to London around midnight on Sunday, June 30.
“Halfway through the flight, Ramith tried to use the toilet but as the lights were switched off in the plane the player has mistakenly tried to open one of the cabin doors thinking it was the toilet door. As the passengers brought to his notice that he is trying to access the incorrect door, the manager has walked up to the player and directed him the right way.

The player apologized profusely to the passengers and to the cabin staff who accepted it in good faith. An inquiry will be conducted based on the Manager’s report and disciplinary action will be taken on the player concerned if found guilty,” says the report.

Issuing yet another statement, SLC says, “Further to the earlier press release on the above subject, the Disciplinary Committee of SLC met, and has directed Rtd. Senior Superintendent of Police Lakshman de Silva (Manager – Anti Corruption & Security of SLC) to conduct an inquiry into this incident and give his report within 7 days to the CEO of SLC. The CEO Ashley De Silva will then forward the said report to the Disciplinary Committee for further action”.

SLC is now attempting to say that Ramith could not find the toilet door due to the dim lights while the team manager Jayantha Seneviratne has not mentioned in his report that the accused was drunk at the time of the incident. However, reliable sources at SLC said that it was confirmed that the said cricketer was under the influence of liquor.

“We could understand if a person who was travelling in a flight for the first time mistaking the door but for a person who has travelled many times abroad, this is just a joke,” said the SLC official.

Meanwhile, a SriLankan Airlines pilot on conditions of anonymity queried as to why British Airways has told the media that a cabin door cannot be opened in mid air when it is a known fact that the door could have opened if the lever was pulled with power.

“There is a pin and if it was taken off and the right pressure was applied to pull the door, it would have opened. The disaster would have been grave. Had the door opened, all those who were seated closer to the cabin door without seat belts on would have been sucked out immediately. In addition, since the temperature is minus 45C when the flight is at 35,000 ft above ground and due to the pressure, the passengers would have suffocated,” said the sources.

According to him although there is no limit to alcohol being served on board SriLankan Airlines it is not the same in BA flights.

“They have limited serving alcohol in BA flights. In this case the incident had occurred about six hours after take off. As claimed in foreign media, if this cricketer consumed alcohol before boarding the flight, he would not have acted in such a drunken manner after six hours. Since BA does not serve liquor the way they do in SriLankan Airlines we can assume that Minister Rambukwella’s son may have taken liquor with him on board and have consumed halfway through,” sources added.

Meanwhile, a former teacher at Royal College Colombo who wished to remain anonymous said that it is Ramith’s parents, who have to be blamed for this incident for not punishing the son from his young days as he had seen how the parents covered up all the offences young Ramith committed during his school days.

He further accused the Cricket Board for not taking prompt action against Ramith and queried as to whether it was because he is the son of a powerful minister in the country.

“This is yet another typical Sri Lankan institute. If this happened to a normal citizen, strict action would have been taken immediately against the suspect but just because Ramith is the son of the Media Minister, the Cricket Board is waiting for the manager’s report. We are waiting to see as to what the outcome would be,” said the sources.

According to the sources, it is not a surprise for Rambukwella (Jnr) to behave in such a manner be it in the country or out of the country as he knows that his father and mother are there to protect him even though he commits any wrong deed.

“Most of the Royal College tutorial staff members were unhappy with Principal Upali Gunasekera for not taking any action against Ramith on many occasions. We cannot put the entire blame on the principal as he was under tremendous pressure from Minister Rambukwella and his wife on many occasions when Ramith was caught for misdeeds as a Royal College student. Had these parents punished the son when he first committed the offence, these parents wouldn’t have had to undergo such a humiliation and even Ramith would not have behaved in such an unruly manner,” said the sources.

Code of Ethics

Incidentally Minister Rambukwella has been talking about a code of ethics for journalists but many are of the view that he should first introduce a code of ethics to discipline his own son who has misbehaved on several occasions, at least to ensure that his son should not bring disrepute to the country and Sri Lanka Cricket.

Sources further said as to how he and many other staff members left Royal College as it was disgusting for them to notice how Principal Gunasekera safeguarded the sons of politicians without taking any disciplinary action against them.

“So many such incidents happened at Royal College and since we could not bear it any further some left the service while the others wanted transfers. With regard to Ramith on two occasions he was found guilty but the principal could not take any action as his parents threatened him. However, the principal still could have taken a stern decision if he was a straight forward person. That is why we are accusing the principal as well,” said the sources.

According to him, Ramith, together with four other students including another cabinet minister’s son, forcibly broke into the Record Room at Royal College in 2008 where personal files of students are kept.

“Since records relating to the assault of another student by this group were in their personal files they broke into the record room and ransacked it taking the files they wanted,” he added. As reported in The Sunday Leader soon after the incident took place in 2008, in the process of the internal inquiry four students had confessed for having committed the crime.

“Acting on those confessions, the Principal debarred the four students from all co-curricular activities including sports for a period of one month. However, given the amount of evidence against Ramith Rambukwella and the fact that he refused to confess, the principal ruled that he would receive the same punishment over a longer period of three months. Minister Rambukwella’s wife was summoned during the course of the inquiry and was shown by the principal, the written confessions of the other four boys involved, all of whom claimed that her son was the mastermind behind the break in.

“The minister’s wife had little to say, and Keheliya proved that the insubordination and cockiness genes were the result of his chromosomes with his performance the next day.

“Minister Keheliya Rambukwella had arrived at Royal College with his wife and several beefy, armed security personnel in tow, and sat before the principal of Royal College, denying any involvement of his son in the break in and robbery.

“The minister, according to inside sources, threatened to drag Principal Gunasekera before the Human Rights Commission and to file a Fundamental Rights case against him in the Supreme Court, if he did not immediately withdraw the punishment meted out to his brat to which instructions the principal had to abide by due to fear,” the paper article states.

The article further reports that within 48 hours, the then Education Minister Susil Premajayanth wanted Royal principal to punish Ramith by preventing him from attending rugby practices, but to allow him to attend cricket practices as a compromise.

Meanwhile the sources further said that when Ramith was found in Dambulla for misbehaving in a hotel after an interschool cricket competition in 2009, the end result was the same.
When the master in charge informed the principal and when the principal wanted to take disciplinary action against Ramith and wanted to suspend him for two weeks, once again the culprit’s mother had come to the school and threatened the principal asking whether he would like to work in a remote school. The Principal had no options but to withdraw the suspension immediately to which the old boys, parents and the staff were furious.

Meanwhile a leading figure in the country’s cricket arena on conditions of anonymity said how Ramith was caught at the Continental Hotel one night with a foreign woman somewhere in 2011.
According to him, Ramith was a member of the Under 19 team. When the Team Manager informed the incident to the relevant institutions, instead of suspending the cricketer and taking immediate disciplinary action, the Team Manager Mr. Jeffery was removed. This is what is happening even in cricket. Cricket is no more a gentleman’s game in Sri Lanka. Even politics has entered into cricket,” he added.

He further said that when there are many upcoming talented cricketers waiting to get an opportunity to play for the A team, it was surprising as to how Ramith was able to get into the squad.

“He may have performed well in school cricket but not at club level or even in the A team, he added.

Meanwhile reliable sources from Sri Lanka Cricket said that a special meeting was held at SLC with the young players on Thursday, July 4 morning to reprimand them not to conduct themselves in an unruly manner that would bring discredit to the game and to the country.

“The meeting was headed by Nishantha Ranatunga who warned the provincial cricketers and the emerging players not to play around with their future. There were around 50 young up and coming cricketers and they were warned not to fall prey to rupees and cents, pretty women and not to get involved in any unnecessary issue which would breach the code of conduct. We wanted them to behave properly – to become the country’s ambassadors. We hope they will follow SLC guidelines,” the sources added.

Prathibha Mahanamahewa, Attorney-at-law and Commissioner Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka told The Sunday Leader that it is the prime duty of the country’s sportsmen to discipline themselves as they are considered role models.

“The country’s 20 million population look at them as their role models and witness how they behave. Therefore they should give a proper leadership especially to our younger generation. Cricket is a gentleman’s game. Everyone respect them as they are ambassadors of their respective countries. Therefore their behaviour should be exemplary. In this case the cricketer has behaved in an undisciplined, anti-social and an illegal way.

These affect the cricketer in two ways. It is a black mark for his dignity and respect and the other is a bad mark to the country. That is why the foreign media never went by the cricketer’s name. Instead they said a Sri Lankan behaved in an unruly manner on board a BA flight. This is discredit to the country. Law is equal to everyone irrespective of the position or any other connection. If this cricketer behaved in an anti social way or s breached code of conduct there must be a disciplinary inquiry.

“One officer can prepare a preliminary report in regard to this. But that is not final and conclusive. You cannot come to a judgement based on the preliminary report. You must consider media reports, video clips and other materials also.
“Based on the preliminary report, a disciplinary inquiry should be conducted and apply the law if found guilty,” said Mahanamahewa.
Meanwhile several messages were left with Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, Jayantha Dharmadasa and Nishantha Ranatunga seeking a comment but all attempts failed.

    Extract from Mail Online
    Was flying from St Lucia to London Gatwick after playing Tri Nations Tour Drunk player ‘tried to open the cabin door several times’ at 35,000ft A drunken Sri Lankan cricketer caused panic on a packed British Airways passenger flight when he tried to open the cabin door at 35,000ft.

    In his stupor he tugged away for up to two minutes at the exterior door before telling BA cabin crew on board the packed Boeing 777 that he had mistaken it for the toilet.

    The incident alarmed eye-witnesses among the 229 passengers on board flight BA 2158 as the Sri Lankan cricket team flew back high over the Atlantic Ocean from St Lucia to London Gatwick after playing against the West Indies in the Tri Nations Tour.

    Wrong door: A member of the Sri Lankan cricket team tried to open the cabin door on the British Airways flight from St Lucia to Gatwick while the plane was at 35,000ft. The team had boarded in Grenada for the overnight flight which stopped over in St Lucia before landing at Gatwick just before 8am Monday.

    Witness Charlene Francis, 26, from Willesden in London was just feet away from the unfolding drama with her one year-old daughter ‘TJ’, her mother Linda and sleeping brother Kevin, when the incident happened in economy class about six hours into an eight hour flight from St Lucia to London’s Gatwick Airport.

    The recruitment consultant who is on maternity leave said: ‘It was pretty frightening. I’m a nervous flyer anyway but things had been fine until then. I was awake. My daughter had been crying. So I saw everything.’

    She said the man wrestling with the door was among a group of cricket players wearing the blue Sri Lankan polo-shirt team uniform with their country’s name in yellow lettering.

    ‘Suddenly he came over and tried to open the cabin door several times. It went on for a few minutes. He was pulling quite heavily.’

    The Sri Lanka cricket team was flying to London after playing against the West Indies in the Tri Nations Tour. ‘The BA flight attendants came running down the aisle and tried to calm him down. He seemed quite disoriented.

    At one stage he was leaning against my daughter’s cot.’
    She heard the man telling cabin crew that he had been looking for the toilet – an account confirmed by BA.

    Mrs Francis said: ‘It was very scary. He looked very dazed or drunk. He was very tall and wearing black and red ‘Dre’ headphones.

    ‘He had a blue polo shirt and the team logo along with his team-mates.
    ‘Some of his team-mates were shouting and telling him to stop. I was just a few feet away. My mum was really upset. Thank goodness he was stopped.

    ‘Somebody said they had been drinking for four hours before they got on the plane.’
    BA said: ‘During the flight a man got up and tried to go to the toilet.

    ‘But instead of going to the toilet he tried to open the aircraft door in mid-flight.
    ‘The event was linked to “an element of alcohol”. He explained his mistake and cabin crew accepted it in good faith. Cabin crew reassured customers who witnessed the event.’

    The player, who has not been identified, was intoxicated on the flight back from the game, pictured, and thought the cabin door was the bathroom
    BA stressed that it is impossible to open the pressurised door in mid-flight and that at no point was the safety of passengers compromised.

    Security were informed on the ground but police were not called or involved.
    After leaving the BA flight at Gatwick, the player and his team mates subsequently boarded another plane belonging to another airline taking them on to Sri Lanka.
    Officials confirmed witness accounts that the man at the centre of the drunken escapade was a Sri Lankan cricketer but declined to name him.
    A British Airways spokesman said:’ There was a minor incident onboard the BA2158 service from St Lucia to Gatwick involving a customer who we believe had been drinking’

    He added: ‘It is impossible to open an aircraft door when it is at high altitude and at no point was the aircraft in any danger. ‘Our cabin crew are highly trained to deal with such incidents and offered re-assurance to customers who were sitting near to the door.

    ———————————————————

    Ministerial brats that have run amok with impunity

    While the government is accused of not taking any disciplinary action against the ministers who have allowed their offspring to go on the rampage with the security provided for them, Sri Lanka Police too have come under severe criticism for trying to cover up such cases and being slow on the uptake.

    Their eagerness to solve any issue connected to ministerial offspring remains at rock bottom. This was too apparent in the case of Asela Widyalankara, son of the former DIG Batticaloa, Ravi Waidyalankara who came under severe attack by Daham Sirisena, son of Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena on February 24 on the Pasikudha beach

    It was commendable as to how DIG Waidyalankara maintained his silence over the issue without taking any undue support from the police when Health Minister, Maithripala Sirisena, was blamed for putting pressure on the police to release his son and friends without any magisterial inquiry.

    DIG Waidyalankara is a role model father to all the ministers who have used their powers to cover up their sons’ misdeeds.

    It was not so long ago Public Relations and Public Affairs Minister, Mervyn Silva’s son, Malaka Silva, and former Minister, Mano Wijeratne’s son Rehan Wijeratne, assaulted an Army Intelligence Officer at Jaic Hilton.

    The army officer who was beaten by the ministers’ sons and MSD personnel was later admitted to the Accident Ward of the Colombo National Hospital. An army corporal who was with the Army Intelligence Officer at the time of the incident too came under attack by these ministerial offspring and the MSD personnel. Malaka Silva was accused of taking the service firearm and the mobile phone of Major Chandana Pradeep.

    As a result of not having any evidence to prove, the Attorney General (AG) acquitted Malaka, Rehan and the rest from all charges levelled against them last week.

    Due to alleged presidential patronage, no action has been taken against Malaka on any such occasion.

    Once, he was accused of assaulting Chaminda Senasinghe, brother of UNP Parliamentarian, Sujeewa Senasinghe, with the pistol butt at the Bistro Latino Restaurant.

    He, together with two of the MSD bodyguards, had once again pleaded guilty for attacking Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) officers who were on a drug raid at My Kind of Place at the Taj Samudra Hotel in 1995.

    Malaka was charged of intimidating and obstructing the PNB team which went on a narcotics raid with a Court order on a tipoff to arrest an ‘ecstasy’ dealer who was said to have been trafficking the drug to the hotel. The PNB officers, who were in civvies, were leaving the nightclub after the raid, when Malaka threatened them at gunpoint and assaulted them with the help of MSD bodyguards.

    However, the police later released Malaka and the MSD officers claiming that there was no evidence against them.

    It was the same with the cases of the sons of Ministers, S. B. Dissanayake and Mahinda Wijesekera at a Colombo nightclub.

    Pavitra Fernando, son of the then Airport and Aviation Services Limited, Chairman, Hemasiri Fernando, was attacked by the sons of Ministers S. B. Dissanayake and Wijesekera at a nightclub at Hotel Oberoi. There again the police tried to cover up the incident by disallowing Fernando to lodge his complaint at the Kollupitiya Police.
    It was also a similar case with Lohan and Chanuka Ratwatte. Although they were wanted in connection with the mass murders in Udatalawinna where 10 Muslims were massacred allegedly by servicemen who were providing security to Anuruddha Ratwatte, the police deliberately failed to arrest the two brothers.

    ———————————————————-

    Drunk Sri Lankan novice is son of media minister

    A drunk, 21-year-old Sri Lankan novice cricketer was at the center of an investigation after attempting to open a cabin door during a flight to London, mistakenly thinking it was the toilet.

    Ramith Rambukwella (pictured), son of a Sri Lankan government minister Keheliya Rambukwella, was on board Sunday with the rest of the Sri Lanka ‘A’ squad heading back from its tour of the Caribbean when he tried to open the cabin door as the aircraft was flying at 35,000 feet.

    Mass Media and Information Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, himself fell from a balcony during a trip to Australia last year. He was suspected to have been drunk.
    According to a report by team manager, Jayantha Seneviratne, the team has boarded the flight BA 2158 from Grenada around 5 pm on the June 30 to London. The incident took place around midnight, seven hours into the flight.

    The report said Rambukwella made the error “due to dim lights in the cabin.’’
    Sri Lanka Cricket said in a statement that it was “disappointed to hear of such an incident,’’ adding: “An inquiry will be conducted based on the manager’s report and disciplinary action will be taken on the player concerned if found guilty.’’

    The 21-year-old has never played a test, ODI or Twenty20 match for Sri Lanka’s senior team.
    Hong Kong Standard
    (07-03 09:35)
    ———————————————————

    ‘T’ Training For Flying Cricketers!

    Airline sources say that certain airlines are contemplating to suggest to the Sri Lankan Cricket that it is advisable that all Sri Lankan cricketers should be given some sort of guidelines to identify between a toilet and a cabin door on board.

    They have also said that such a ‘training’ would be a contentious issue as this incident involving the Sri Lankan cricket on the BA flight had taken place under the influence of liquor.

    They also noted with concern that as a result of this action by the Sri Lankan cricketer the passengers who witnessed the incident had been terrified, and it is one of the most shocking experiences a traveller can come across in air travel, where the passenger expects a cosy and peaceful journey!

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