Anura Kumara Disanayake–
JVP Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake told Parliament yesterday that out of 49 posts of heads of diplomatic missions, 35 had been filled with political appointees and the Foreign Service had been converted into an SLFP branch.
Moving a motion for a debate at the time of adjournment of the House, MP Dissanayake said politicisation of the Foreign Service had paved the way for the current crisis situation in the country’s foreign relations.
The MP accused the Ministry of appointing relatives, friends and close associates of the government to high positions in the Foreign Service, with complete disregard for their competence.
“Our diplomatic mission in Canberra has 20 staff, out of which 19 are political appointees,” revealed Dissanayake. “Ambassador to Netherlands Buddhi Athauda, Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga, Ambassador to Washington Jaliya Wickramasooriya, High Commissioner to the Maldives Dixon Dela, High Commissioner to Nigeria A. S. P. Liyanage, Ambassador to Sweden Oshadi Alahapperuma, Consul in Sydney Yasara Abenayake, Ambassador to Turkey Bharathi Wijeratne, Ambassador to Vietnam Prof Ivan Amarasinghe, Ambassador to Germany Sarath Kongahage, High Commissioner to Singapore, Ferial Ashroff, Ambassador to Jordan Gamini Rajapaksa, Second Secretary in London Muthu Padmakumara, First Secretary in Melbourne, Osada Yapa Abeywardene and Second Secretary in the Permanent Mission to UN in New York Chamithri Rambukwella. All of them are either relations or friends of the SLFP leaders,” MP Dissanayake said.
Those who were qualified to hold such positions had been ignored and the government had to resort to hiring expensive foreign companies to get the job done.
The JVP Leader said: “The government has hired so many foreign consultants. How much was paid to them? Where did the money come from? Why was Parliament not consulted on this?”
The government had, MP Dissanayake said, paid the PR Firm Bell Pottinger Rs. 8.8 million to write the President’s speech at the last United Nations sessions. Besides the PR Firm Thompson Advisory was paid Rs. 90 million to write two letters for the Governor of Central Bank Ajith Nivard Cabraal.
Deputy Minister of External Affairs, Neomal Perera, who replied to Dissanayake’s question said the appointment of close associates of the government to high positions of the Foreign Service was nothing new. “Every government in power has done this so as to be able to project the government’s stance in foreign countries.”
He added that if those appointed were found to be wanting, they would be immediately recalled.
[Original caption: Country’s DPL service has become an SLFP branch – JVP leader]
By Saman Indrajith