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 Post subject: Weird and twisted - Normal in Sri Lanka
 Post Posted: Thu May 25, 2006 5:00 pm 
Weird and twisted - Normal in Sri Lanka
Arrest of Director Tea Research Institute (TRI) Dr. Ziyard Mohamed

It was the day the suicide bomber struck at the army headquarters that Dr Ziyard Mohamed, harried Director of the Tea Research Institute (TRI) returned to the country along with colleagues after a successful visit to Japan convincing the authorities to lift an unofficial ban on Ceylon Tea imports over contamination issues.

“I was arrested few days later,” he said recalling a rare case where one of two persons traveling overseas from the same organization and with the same approval was arrested for misappropriation of funds taken for the trip. If that is not victimization; what is?

Subsequently all charges against Dr. Mohamed were dropped and the President ordered his re-instatement. His trip had been approved by the TRI board but some directors were ‘gunning’ for him and waited till he was away to bring in flimsy charges.

Ironically it was the TRI director’s efforts, backed by the Sri Lankan team, in Japan through the presentation of trials and documents to show Ceylon Tea was clean as a whistle that has cleared the way for Japanese buyers to resume purchases in Colombo from May 29 onwards.

But what credit does Dr Mohamed get for fighting for the industry and country? Arrested by police and being sacked from his job.


By Steve A. Morrell
@ The Island / 29th April, 2006


We have been informed that Director Tea Research Institute (TRI) Dr. Ziad Mohamed has been arrested and as we write, is in remand. Reasons for the arrest, according to sources who do not wish to be quoted said that, Dr. Mohamed left the Island on official work to Japan. He had Tea Board approval, but prior to his departure Ministry approval was not received. Assuming such approval would be forthcoming he left.

We spoke to the secretary Ministry of Plantation industries J. Abeywickrama who confirmed our information was correct and he also said that because Dr. Mohamed did not await Ministry approval, and that he had spent state funds in proceeding on this trip, it was a case of misappropriation of cash, and based on this assumption Dr. Mohamed is now in remand. Mr. Abeywickrama further said that when a Government official usually leaves on official work such as this approval and sanction has to be obtained by the Minister, who would subsequently obtain approval from the Prime Minister. After such approval is received departure may be initiated. He said that Dr. Mohamed did not await prior approval before he left.

The Chairman Tea Research Board, who was not available for comment, although we attempted to raise him on the telephone, according to our information issued a letter of ‘Vacation of Post’ to Dr. Mohamed, and on his return had him arrested last Thursday (27), by the CID. Dr. Mohamed, is now in remand.

Draconian action such as this was further compounded because, according to our information Dr. Mohamed was the best person to undertake this trip, because he was carrying out tests and trials on the contamination residue of tea which the Japanese buyers were complaining.

The Tea industry was facing crisis situations on this raging controversy. Japanese authorities had carried out tests and found there was contamination of tea which carried residue of the weedicides 2 -4 D, and Glyphosate. They had kept the Government informed, and also tea industry sources that tea from Sri Lanka would not be purchased by them, till a clear certificate was issued. Dr. Mohamed was identified by the Tea industry in its entirety to represent the country and defuse any conflicting conclusions. Dr. Mohamed, confirmed the TRI was working on the problem. This was said when ‘The Island’ visited the TRI early this year to ascertain its progress and contribution to the industry in relation to this very problem.

With research ongoing Dr. Mohamed’s departure to Japan became necessary or else Tea would be in trouble.

His arrest would be an irredeemable blow to the industry, and would affect its future in a drastic manner tea sources said.

We also learn that industry sources are presently endeavouring to secure his release. They said the industry is behind him.



Over arrest of TRI director
Workers go on protest march


by Dasun Edirisinghe
The Island / 29May2006


Workers of the Tea Research Institute and Institute owned estates held a protest march yesterday against the arrest of Dr. Ziyad Mohamed Director of the TRI.

Dr. Mohamed was arrested by Nuwara-Eliya Special Crime Investigations Bureau on Thursday and the magistrate ordered him remanded till May 02 on an allegation of utilising TRI funds for private foreign tours without the approval of the Minister.

The arrest follow a complaint to police following an Internal Audit Report that the suspect obtained Rs. 211,602 to go abroad without approval, OIC of the SCIB H. B. Dissanayaka said.

The Institute’s daily routine was paralyzed yesterday to the protest march, sources said.



Controversy and confusion over TRI director’s position
Tea exports to Japan still in hot water

@ ST /Sunday, May 7, 2006

The charges framed against TRI director Dr. Mohamed Ziad for his alleged misappropriation of state funds over his visit to Japan have been dropped, but the vacation of post notice served on him is yet to be withdrawn.

This has delayed the despatch of an important report to Japan ensuring that exports of Sri Lankan tea to that country remain unhindered. When Dr. Ziad’s case was taken up on Tuesday at the Badulla Magistrate’s Court where he was charged under the Public Properties Act, the Attorney General informed court to drop the charges as the allegations levelled against Dr. Ziad cannot be proceeded with.

Accordingly Badulla Magistrate Leon Seneviratne dismissed the case.
Defence lawyers pointed out that it was a practice that officials travel overseas pending approval.

Immediately after the mission to Japan was over, the participants were supposed to submit an Import Tolerance application to the Japanese Government asking it to accept residual levels of pesticides in tea exports to Japan.

However until Friday this application had not been sent whereas it should reach Japan before Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera visits Japan in the third week of May.

This mission was originally to be undertaken in March. However on the advice of the Sri Lankan Embassy in Japan the members were asked to come with proper statistics to support the case.

During his trip in April Dr. Ziad had made seven presentations to Japanese buyers requesting them to buy Sri Lankan tea. Sri Lanka exports 9 million kilograms of tea to Japan every year.

Tea Research Board Chairman Amarananda Weerasinghe said that although the court charges against Dr. Ziad were dropped he is still considered to have vacated his post as he didn’t obtain the Prime Minister’s approval for the trip, which is a requirement for a Government official.

He said Dr. Ziad could only be reinstated in his post once he furnished the approval letter certified by the Prime Minister. Mr. Weerasinghe said that Dr. Tissa Amarakoon, a senior research officer who joined Dr. Ziad for the trip had Minister Milroy Fernando’s approval which automatically qualified him for the Prime Minister’s approval as well.

The Sunday Times learns that both names for approval for the Japanese trip were contained in the same paper. Tea Planters’ Association General Secretary Malin Gunathilake told The Sunday Times that the TRI director’s participation at the meeting with tea buyers in Japan was required as he had to explain the scientific side of the issue.

He said that the country could have lost considerable tea exports to Japan if the meeting with the Japanese buyers had to be postponed and that was why Dr. Ziad went to Japan.

Mr. Gunathilake said that though Dr. Ziad went on the trip pending approval he had the approval of the TRI board. He added that the meeting has enabled Japanese buyers to be convinced that the so-called pesticidal residue contained in tea was not harmful to Japanese tea consumers and that the buyers had asked the authorities here to continuously monitor tea exports.


President re-instates TRI Director
Chairman of the TRI to be removed

@ ST/FT / 21-05-2006

Dr. Ziyard Mohamed, Director of the Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka who was removed from his post last month over an issue of an overseas trip is to be reinstated. President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Friday directed Plantation Minister Milroy Fernando to withdraw the vacation of post notice served on Dr. Mohamed.

The Sunday Times FT learns that the Chairman of the TRI Amarananda Weerasinghe who was allegedly involved in serving the vacation of post notice on Dr. Ziyard is to be removed from his post.

Dr. Ziyard who earlier appealed to the Plantation Ministry for reinstatement told The Sunday Times FT, “If there was any doubt whether this was a case of victimisation, that was cleared when Nuwara Eliya Magistrate Leon Seneviratne himself broached the issue of this being a case of victimisation.”

Dr Mohamed, highly respected by the industry, was part of a tea delegation that went to Tokyo to convince the authorities that Ceylon Tea was not contaminated as suspected. It was the TRI director who with scientific evidence and seven presentations to the Japanese authorities – by him and supported by the team -was able to convince the authorities that Ceylon Tea was a safe product. Japan buys nine million of kg a year, only about three percent of the total tea exports but it’s the highest priced teas sold and worth a total of Rs 2.7 billion last year. The unofficial ban of Ceylon Tea to Japan, which saw the Colombo tea auction falling sharply by Rs 40 per kg on a day when Japanese buyers were absent, is to be lifted on May 29.

So why was such a highly-rated official in the industry victimized? “I don’t know. Somebody didn’t like me, maybe,” he said, distressed and concerned over an incident that occurred as he was taking on the Japanese on their own turf to make a clear case that Ceylon Tea was not contaminated. That mission ended in success for the country’s main commodity export but for Dr Mohamed it was injustice awaiting him at home.


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 Post subject: Thank you dear friends and colleagues
 Post Posted: Sat Jun 10, 2006 9:53 pm 
Thank you dear friends and colleagues

The recent trial I underwent has been painful,
But I realize now it was a blessing in disguise;
I feel so privileged to have so much support -
From so many people, all loving and wise.

My friends, family, professionals, the President,
And the entire society never failed -
To show that they would stand by my side -
To show that justice would prevail!

My faith in God has only increased,
And my faith in all of you has too;
I have learnt and gained so much from this,
And for that, I must thank you.

My dear friend, you being there for me -
When I was in pain and suffering too,
Is something I will deeply cherish -
My whole life through!


M. T. Ziyad Mohamed
Director
Tea Research Institute of Sri Lanka


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