Ex military personnel elbow out political henchmen

The government has siganalled a significant change in its policy by the appointment of senior retired military officers and one serving military officer to head important offices generally reserved for political appointees.For the first time, the government has also appointed a retired service commander as Secretary to the Highways and Road Development Ministry.

The government appointed Retired Major General Asoka Thoradeniya (Military Police), as Chairman of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC) early this year while General V. R. Silva (Artillery) succeeded Major General Vajira Wijegoonewardena as Commissioner General of Prisons recently.

Over a week ago, retired Navy chief Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda replaced Sirisena Amarasekara as Secretary to Highways and Road Development Ministry. Since then Amarasekara has been shifted to the Ministry of Agriculture. Karann-agoda’s appointment came close on the heels of revelation of unprecedented irregularities in the Rs. 85 billion southern highway

development project.

Well informed sources said that another retired army officer Major General A. R. A. T. Soysa had recently been appointed Managing Director of the Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals Limited (CPSTL).

Sources speculated that Soysa, who had been in charge of security of the CPC before his new appointment was likely to be appointed as Chairman of the CPSTL, a position currently held by W.B. Ganegala, Secretary to the Ministry Petroleum and Petroleum Resources.

Sources said that though some politicians had been disappointed over the appointments, the government had indicated that retired security forces officers would have to be looked after. Sources said that though a former Prisons Chief who had held the post during the previous UNF administration had made representations to the government in a bid to take over the Prisons again, he hadn’t been successful.

The government has also appointed Brigadier Udaya Perera, formerly Director of army operations, as Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner in Malaysia. Hot on the heels of Perera’s appointment, Major General Jagath Dias, who had commanded a fighting Division in the Vanni liberation operation, too, will receive a diplomatic appointment. Dias is expected to join the Sri Lankan mission in Germany. Sources said though some retired service chiefs had received overseas diplomatic appointments, except Major General Janaka Perera hardly anyone else had been given such appointments by previous governments.

Major General G. A. Chandrasiri, one time Jaffna Security Forces commander tipped to be General Sarath Fonseka’s successor, recently received appointment as Governor of the Northern Province. He replaced Dickson Sarathchandra Dela.

Speculation is that former Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Air Chief Marshal Donald Perera, too, will receive a diplomatic appointment.

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