Veteran Lankan diplomat’s abrupt transfer raises eye brows

More political appointees lined up?


by Sujeeva Nivunhella in London

Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner in London, M. R. K. Lenagala has been moved out to Berlin in an abrupt transfer, which has caused consternation amongst the Sri Lankan expatriate community.

Less than six months after his elevation as Deputy High Commissioner, he has been transferred with effect from September 1.

Lenagala is the third high profile career diplomat to be prematurely transferred from the Sri Lankan High Commission in London before their full term ended, after Dr. Chris Nonis assumed duties as the High Commissioner on September 1, 2011.

The first was then Deputy High Commissioner P. M. Amza who was moved out to the Sri Lankan Embassy in Berlin. However, he was recently elevated as Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union.

The second was Minister Public Relations M. K. Padmanathan who was sent back to Colombo. Two of Dr. Nonis’ personal secretaries also resigned.

Minister (Media) Neville de Silva has been promoted Deputy High Commissioner following Lenagala’s transfer. A veteran journalist De Silva, (73) worked as the Deputy Ambassador in Sri Lanka’s Embassy in Bangkok prior to his appointment in London a few months ago. Like Nonis, De Silva is also a political appointee.

Lenagala is an experienced career diplomat, who had served as personal secretary to four Foreign Ministers, Lakshman Kadirgamar, Anura Bandaranaike, Mangala Samaraweera and Rohitha Bogollagama. He also worked in the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in New York as counselor. 

At the time pro-LTTE Tamil groups in the UK were lobbying British Parliamentarians, Lenagala and then Deputy High Commissioner Amza were credited with wining over many British MPs. It was these two career diplomats who initiated the first group of British MPs to tour Sri Lanka and to assess the ground situation post-war.   

Two new appointments to the Sri Lankan High Commission in London are on the cards — a person identified as Yoganathan is expected to assume duties as First Secretary and Miss Muthu Padmakumara, daughter of Lake House Chairman, Bandula Padmakumara as second secretary. Miss Padmakumara is also a political appointee.

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