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Sri Lanka: artist’s son hits at BAT
  1. David Simpson

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    In our last issue, we reported how CTC, local subsidiary of BAT, had been exploiting for public relations purposes a foundation named after one of the region’s most famous artists, George Keyt, who died in 1993 (see ARTICLETobacco Control 2003;12:345–6). We recently learned that Mr Keyt’s son, Sachin Keyt, has no illusions about the scale of BAT’s appropriation of his late father’s good name. We print below extracts from an interview that Sachin Keyt gave to a Sri Lankan journalist last year:

    “Even when my father was living this foundation did not give him the due place. My father trusted them and after his death only I came to know that they had taken rights of my father’s paintings away. He was not a fool, but innocent and childlike. That’s the way of real creative artists... I am very displeased about the activities of this Foundation and the sponsors of this annual event, which is being held by manipulating my father’s name. Cigarettes are harmful and sponsoring of an event of art by such people is a disgrace done to a great artist like my father...

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    BAT advertisement for the George Keyt Foundation—“they are ruthless people”.

    “When my father was living, too, the manner in which they treated my father was not right. The Foundation had power to the extent to control my father. Soon after his death they just stopped the allowance due to my mother and she was very disappointed. After a couple of months she too passed away. When my father was alive they took away his entire valuable, old paintings, which he had dearly collected for years. They said they wanted to sell them for the maintenance of the Foundation. But what is the Foundation doing now? They are ruthless people. This is the truth, which I want to reveal to art lovers.”

    CTC uses its sponsorship of the George Keyt Foundation to try to present itself as a socially responsible company. One of its recent public relations advertisements in national newspapers reproduced the name and logo of the foundation, along with an artist’s easel. Presumably it justifies the cost of such ads as a small price to pay to try to avoid effective tobacco control measures. It is nothing new for a tobacco company to profit from the dead.