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
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
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.
There had been meetings on February 13 and 21
called by the Colombo Tea Traders Association and held at the Tea
Board to discuss the Japanese pull out from the auction.