The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced the nomination of Ambassadors to five countries, namely Japan, Lebanon, Brazil, Nepal and Myanmar among other diplomatic appointments that have been made recently. Three senior career diplomats belonging to the Sri Lanka Foreign Service have been selected for posting to Japan, Lebanon and Brazil, while a senior civil servant and a veteran broadcaster have been designated for Nepal and Myanmar respectively, according to a Foreign Ministry release.
Jayantha Palipane, a senior career officer, counting 23 years service is the new Ambassador designate to Japan, and will succeed the current Ambassador, Ranjith Uyangoda who will be completing his tenure shortly. Mr. Palipane is presently holding the post of Additional Secretary (Political Affairs) in the, Foreign Ministry and has served previously as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Germany and Egypt.
M. Mahroof, currently serving in the Foreign Ministry as Additional Secretary has been named as the Ambassador-designate to Lebanon. He is also a career diplomat with 23 years of service. During his earlier appointment as Additional Secretary in charge of Consular Affairs, he had overseen the reorganization of the Consular Division, whose services have been streamlined to provide an efficient and friendly service to the large number of people visiting the Division. Mr. Mahroof had earlier served as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman and the State of Qatar.
A. M. J. Sadiq has been nominated as Ambassador-designate to Brazil. He counts 20 years in the Sri Lanka Foreign Service and had served as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Following his return to Colombo in August 2007, he headed the newly creator Research and Policy Division in the Foreign Ministry, prior to his present appointment as Director General of the Public Communications Division.
Thosapala Hewage, Secretary to the Ministry of Ports and Aviation has been, nominated as the new Ambassador-designate to Nepal with effect from January 1, 2009. Mr. Hewage is the most senior officer in the Sri Lanka Administrative Service and brings to his diplomatic appointment the rich arid diverse experience he has gained in the public service. He had been earlier Secretary to the Ministry of Enterprise Development & Investment, prior to which he had served as Secretary to the Ministry of Urban Development Water Supply, and also as Secretary to the Minister of Environment & Natural Resources.
W. Newton Gunaratne a leading media personality has been named as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador-designate to Myanmar. Until recently, he had been the Chairman of the Independent Television Network (ITN) and Lakhanda Radio. Mr. Gunaratne has also been a longstanding broadcaster at the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC).
Apart from the routine transfer of career officers
Other appointments to Foreign Missions
in the Sri Lanka Foreign Service to Missions abroad, the Foreign Ministry has also appointed some persons who have excelled in their professions to overseas missions.
Suresh Chandra Rajaratnam, a senior lawyer and academic, counting 35 years experience at the Bar, has been named as the Deputy Permanent Representative to the Sri Lanka Mission to the United Nations in New York.
Mrs. Manoranee Silva, a senior lawyer in the corporate sector has been appointed as Deputy High Commissioner at the Sri Lanka High Commissioner in Pretoria, with effect from January 1, 2009. This appointment has been made in the context of Sri Lanka’s plans to expand and consolidate bilateral relations with South Africa.
Neville de Silva, a veteran journalist will take up duties shortly at the Sri Lanka Embassy in Bangkok. His wide-ranging experience in media relations, especially in the Asia-Pacific region will be an asset in consolidating the public communications domain of the Embassy. Following his appointment, it will be possible for the mission to project Sri Lanka’s counter-terrorism agenda through the mass media.
Sunil Sarath Perera, a senior broadcaster of repute and one-time Chairman of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation has been posted as Minister-Counsellor to the Sri Lanka Embassy in Kuwait. He would be in a position to bring to bear his media experience in developing and strengthening public relations with the 150,000 strong Sri Lankan expatriate community in Kuwait.
While the appointments of the above persons from outside the Sri Lanka Foreign Service, have been made to missions abroad, strictly on the basis of their proven expertise in their chosen professions, it has to be acknowledged that such postings have been necessitated in order to supplement the need for specialized officers in the overseas missions. Moreover, there is an institutional requirement: to maintain a 1:2 ratio of career officers between the Foreign Ministry and Sri Lanka missions abroad.
Another reason for this, development is due to the irregular and erratic recruitment to the Service that has occurred in the past.
New batch of FS officers
Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama has already taken remedial steps to ameliorate this situation. Upon his initiative, a selection board has been appointed to conduct interviews to recruit a new batch of officers to the Foreign Service (FS) from among those who have been successful at the open competitive examination, conducted earlier this year by the Department of Examinations.
The Minister has directed that regular recruitment to the Foreign Service should take place, in keeping with the increasing demand for competent officers to serve in the Foreign Ministry as well as missions abroad.