Capri imbroglio worsens

Elections called for new Committee; office bearers keep out of special meeting as Interim Committee takes over management of the troubled club

The imbroglio at The Capri Club worsened this week as the Interim Committee of Management called for fresh elections for office-bearers on September 29 and the remaining office-bearers who remain in a dysfunctional Management Committee claimed they were still in charge.

The situation has given rise to questions as to who would conduct scheduled elections and who manages the club’s finances till the elections. The management of one of Colombo’s once elitist social clubs is now torn between two factions, one comprising three persons, viz., the President Morgan Fernando, Vice President Ananda Chittambalam and a newly appointed Treasurer N. Loganathan and the other an Interim Committee headed by several past presidents of the club backed by the general membership.

This week, the Interim Committee informed members that nominations for new office-bearers would be called shortly and stated that only members of “good standing” can attend under terms of the club’s constitution.

On Thursday, a meeting summoned by the former office-bearers was called off because of a lack of quorum. The three remaining office-bearers, Fernando, Chittambalam and Loganthan who refused, at a stormy meeting on September 2, to step down despite a request from the membership did not show up for Thursday’s meeting. Twenty seven members had turned up to discuss, inter-alia, the report by a select committee of the club that went into an alleged VAT scam, where Fernando and Chittambalam were found guilty of violating club rules.

Mr. Fernando refused to comment yesterday on their absence from Thursday’s meeting and on the Interim Committee calling for nominations for fresh elections.

Several long-standing members of the club have been slapped with either suspension or charge sheeted for violating club rules during the past year in a club which has as one of its objectives “to promote goodwill and social understanding among members”. While some members have taken the office-bearers to court others have demanded the resignation of especially, Ananda Chittambalam.

In what veteran club members say is an unprecedented step in the club’s 57-year-old history, the Interim Committee has drawn the attention of members to clause 19 of the club constitution and said that “only members of good standing may attend and vote at the annual general meeting” also scheduled for September 29.

Clause 19 states that any member, inter-alia, who is a defaulter in terms of the rules cannot vote at elections. The club’s select committee that went into the alleged VAT scam found several office-bearers, including Fernando and Chittambalam had violated club rules in making payments to a questionable ‘tax consultant’ without proper approval.

An amendment to the club rules recommended by a separate select committee is to ensure that those seeking office henceforth should be those persons who have not faced criminal misappropriation or cheating charges in a court of law.

“We thought of just one current office-bearer who is the cause of all the club’s problems when we brought this amendment”, a member of the committee told the Sunday Times.

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