A weekend news paper in its front page in a main caption announced ‘After Geetha’s case, Foreign Ministry checks whether any diplomats are dual citizens’. According to the article Ministry has sent a circular requesting for information of Sri Lankan diplomats who are holding dual citizenship. Articles also goes on to state that some countries would not want their citizens to serve as diplomats of another country. Quoting the Vienna convention it states that such appointments can be made only with the consent of the receiving state.
We at Lanka News Web don’t know whether to laugh or cry as it was Lanka News Web that first raised the issue under Yahapalana. Like the proverbial saying the Ministry is trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted. But we salute the current Foreign Secretary Esala Weerakoon for taking the initiative to gather the information presumably to recommend to the government to address the issue.
During Rajapaksa regime all and sundry with dual citizenship were appointed. Mangala Samaraweera did not spare the Rajapaksa’s and loquaciously promised to bring an end to this practice. But it was to be yet another broken promise by Samarweera and the Yahapalana government. They wasted no time in appointing their kith and kin with dual citizenship to Embassies.
Lanka News Web investigation team exposed the appointment of a Sri Lankan holding British Citizenship (dual citizenship) who was permanently residing in the UK as a high ranking diplomat to the Sri Lanka High Commission in London. It was Manoj Warnapala and he is still working in the Sri Lankan High Commission. He is the son-in-law of the worst ever Defence Secretary Sri Lanka had, Austin Fernando, who is also known as the Yahapalana Monitoring Governor. We exposed how the then Acting High Commissioner Dr. Chanaka Thalpahewa raised some issues on making such appointments and informed his observations to the then Foreign Secretary Chitrangani Wagiswara. As she did not know how to respond true to her form Wagiswara who was paying homage to Austin to make sure of her retirement posting complained to then Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and wanted action taken against Thalpahewa. Samaraweera scared of the Government Agent – Gramasevaka connection Austin Fernando has been flaunting decided to punish Thalpahewa. The end result was that an officer who gave a professional opinion was penalized by immediately transferring him out of London and kept in cold storage in Sri Lanka without being given any work in the Ministry for months. Yahapalana Government went on an appointing spree doling out diplomatic postings to many kith and kin who had dual citizenship including to London (in addition to Warnapala).
Investigations by Lanka News Web have revealed that it is most likely that the consent of the British Government was not obtained when appointing her citizens (dual citizens) as Sri Lankan diplomats in that country. But investigations have exposed that Warnapala has given his house in London on rent and has moved to a house with the rent paid by the Sri Lankan Government.
Now the worm has turned Lanka News Web is proven correct. The Ministry has realized the folly of appointing diplomats of persons having nationalities of other countries. At least now the Ministry should remove not only those who are holding dual citizenship but even Permanent Residency visa to represent Sri Lanka in that country as there is a divided loyalty. The Ministry might be thinking of possible repercussions of diplomatic immunity being compromised if the receiving state decides to impose its laws on its citizens even if they happen to be Sri Lankan diplomats.
Because of the personal ambitions of Wagiswara and political expediency and lack of foresight of Samaraweera a problem that should not have become a problem has become a problem not for them but to their successors. Wagiswara continue to enjoy her retirement posting despite being callous, selfish and unprofessional.
Sri Lanka has a Foreign Service with many competent and capable officers. It’s a pity that the politicians and the politically connected want their relations to be appointed to Embassies as a holiday destination while career officers are overlooked. It looks like there is no difference between Rajapaksa regime and the Yahapalana. With the likes of Samaraweera, Wagiswara and Austin Fernando Yahapalana days seems to be numbered.