- Mrs. Grand International Sri Lanka Rasangi Chamika Vithanawasam levels allegations against National Director Malith Ranasinghe
By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya
Rasangi Chamika Vithanawasam recently represented Sri Lanka at the Mrs. Grand International pageant held in Myanmar from 8 to 14 November, but rather than retuning to the country with titles and awards, Vithanawasam is instead armed with allegations of sexual bribery against the competition’s National Director Malith Ranasinghe.
Ranasinghe is the Chairman of MR Entertainment and the National Co-ordinator of several other international pageants, including the upcoming and highly anticipated Miss Tourism World, which will be taking place in Sri Lanka in December.
According to the Magen Ratata organisation, which Vithanawasam sought help from, evidence is being gathered to seek a court order against Malith Ranasinghe, and Magen Ratata President Sanjaya Mahawatte said they are hoping to obtain a court order preventing Ranasinghe from holding the position of National Director of the Miss Tourism World pageant or, if he does, to not hold the pageant in Sri Lanka, as it could harm the reputation of the country if similar incidents are to occur.
Mahawatte told The Morning Brunch that two police complaints have been filed thus far, through which some of the money owed by Ranasinghe to Vithanawasam has been recovered, but they have not yet had any success with the one filed with the Nugegoda Police to recover a sum of Rs. 250,000.
In addition to this, the Magen Ratata organisation is hoping to file cases against Ranasinghe on counts of sexual bribery. Mahawatte said he has had no communication with Ranasinghe regarding the allegations made by Vithanawasam.
Allegations of sexual bribery
Addressing the media on Monday (21), Vithanawasam alleged that Ranasinghe had made advances towards her multiple times, inviting her to parties. A recording was played of a phone conversation between the contestant and Ranasinghe prior to her flight to Myanmar. In it, Ranasinghe invites her to a “party” that only he is attending. She agrees on the condition that she brings a friend. She explained that she had sent an image of her friend to Ranasinghe on his request, after which he “approved” of her.
Ranasinghe had allegedly told her to come prepared to spend the night, and the conversation is being used as evidence of sexual bribery by the Magen Ratata organisation. The Magen Ratata President also pointed out that Ranasinghe had invited Vithanawasam to consume illegal drugs, as, in the recorded conversation, he allegedly says they can “smoke a joint” (cannabis) at the party.
Questions were raised about the allegations, as Ranasinghe could not recognise Vithanawasam at the beginning of the call despite Vithanawasam saying Ranasinghe had called her earlier that day, and had been told she would call him back. Vithanawasam said this was because she wanted to record the conversation due to what she had heard about him.
Vithanawasam claimed she had spoken to Ranasinghe in a friendly manner as she wanted to essentially catch him in the act. She said he had called her several times before and made similar suggestions, but added that they hadn’t met more than once.
This was when she signed her first agreement with Ranasinghe at the Mrs. Universe pageant held in 2020, where she was informed she had been selected to represent Sri Lanka, but later found out another contestant was being sent for the competition.
Vithanawasam claims to have paid Ranasinghe close to Rs. 600,000, part of which was given to him at the signing of the first agreement, and the rest through a bank transfer. When she demanded a refund, he said this could not be done, and that she would have to participate in another pageant, which is what led her to take part in the Mrs. Grand International competition. It is part of this money that Vithanawasam has now managed to recover through the complaints made to the Police.
The second contract was signed with regard to this competition, where the contestant said the cost of accommodation, flights, national costume, and ground transport was to be borne by Ranasinghe, which didn’t happen.
Non-payment of franchise fee
On 20 November, Vithanawasam shared several images on Facebook, which indicate that Mrs. Grand International National Director Malith Ranasinghe had not paid the promised $ 1,000 franchise fee while giving various excuses for the delay.
The letter is not dated, but is printed on Mrs. Grand International Organisation stationery, and is signed by Khunn Hsett Han, the founder of the pageant.
“Although he (Ranasinghe) had promised to pay $ 1,000 as the franchise fee a year ago, he had delayed making the payment over various excuses, such as cash transferring to foreign countries from Sri Lanka being prohibited due to political issues, and so on,” the letter reads.
Han, in the letter, goes on to say that the pageant organisers had constantly inquired about the issue, and were assured the fee would be sent through the Mrs. Grand International Sri Lanka contestant when she travelled to Myanmar for the pageant. According to the letter, Ranasinghe had asked that they not inquire about the issue until the arrival of the Sri Lankan contestant in Myanmar.
“Once Mrs. Grand International Sri Lanka arrived in Myanmar, we learnt that neither had she brought franchise money in cash, and nor does she know the franchise money has not been paid yet.”
In order to preserve the dignity of the contestant as well as Sri Lanka, the organisers permitted Vithanawasam to take part in the pageant despite the franchise fee not being paid.
Bad experience in Myanmar
At the press conference, Vithanawasam shared her experience at the pageant, saying she arrived in Myanmar on 7 November. At the hotel in Mandalay, she had received a warm welcome and even took part in a photoshoot. On 13 November, the organisers informed her that she could not take part in the final round due to non-payment of the franchise fee, which she had not been informed of before, on Ranasinghe’s request. However, when the organisers didn’t receive the fees, they went to Vithanawasam.
Her family in Sri Lanka was unable to transfer the money due to restrictions on outward foreign transfers by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
“My two brothers lodged a complaint against [Ranasinghe] with the Kadawatha Police, and in the meantime, my husband made the $ 1,000 payment within 24 hours, so they let me proceed to the finals.”
However, Vithanawasam says she was treated unfairly by the organisers, as she was made to stand at the corner of the stage, behind a “very tall” Indian contestant, and her photographs and video footage weren’t shown during the pageant.
Neither the organisers nor Ranasinghe helped her travel back to Yangon, where she stayed in a hotel before flying back to Sri Lanka.
“I didn’t go to represent my name. I took our flag. I represented my country. So what he did was not only unfair to me, but our entire country,” Vithanawasam said.
The other side of the story
Speaking to The Morning Brunch, Mrs. Grand International Sri Lanka National Director Malith Ranasinghe said that the truth behind the allegations against him can be understood just by listening to the recording, as he had not initially recognised the caller. He added that he has all documentation required to stand by his version of the events, and will take all necessary steps to prove his innocence.
While not directly posting about the allegations, Ranasinghe posted a photograph on Facebook on Monday (21), captioned: “Have you not seen people drinking and dancing before? Just go, without blaming me for everything.”