Despite lot of opposition to his son-in-laws appointment to the London High Commission, the newly crowned Yahapalana Monitoring Governor, Austin Fernando, is still working hard to get all the perks for his relative. With the news breaking exposure by Lanka News Web many thought Austin will try to restore his self made image as ‘an outstanding civil servant’. Even indication that Prime Minister and Foreign Minister are upset about this appointment and may review it has not stopped Austin from wanting to make sure that his daughters family is cared for. Banking on his personal contacts with the President, Austin has been working with Foreign Secretary Chitrangani Wagiswara and the newly appointed ‘nanny’ of his son in law S. Gunaratana to make sure that British citizen Manoj Warnapala is well setup in his new role as a ‘Sri Lankan Diplomat’ in charge of the Consular Section of the High Commission.
On instructions received from Austin Fernando Wagiswara has been busy trying to put Warnapala in charge of Consular section of the High Commission and to get him all possible allowances and perks. As reported earlier due to some issues raised so far Warnapala has not been put in charge of the Consular section. This has annoyed Austin. Another thing that has annoyed Austin is that London High Commission has asked for some clarifications from the Ministry about the payment of housing allowance to Warnapala. A Foreign Ministry source told that Warnapala cannot ask for the housing allowance if he owns a house in London. Due to this developing situation Austin has asked Wagiswara to send Gunaratna to London without wasting time. Gunaratna who is desperate to go on a posting and knowing that his appointment might be reviewed has been contacting the British visa office in Chennai daily trying to fast track his visa and go to London immediately.
Lanka News Web reliably understands that together with the exposure in Lanka News Web and the print media reports that Foreign Secretary is going to be appointed as High Commissioner to London the death of the Acting High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in Maldives on 22 October in Male has put Wagiswaras under more pressure. W. A. T. Gunathilaka was seriously ill and she returned to Sri Lanka end of August in a wheel chair to undergo medical treatment. While she was in hospital Foreign Secretary has pressurised her to get back to Maldives. Everyone knows very well that medical services are not good in that country. Gunathilaka died in Male. Now it has come out and officers in the Foreign Ministry are critical of Wagiswara’s action. Wagiswara is also worried that Prime Minister and Foreign Minister will go into detail about Warnapala’s appointment and about Gunathilaka being pressured to get back to Male while being seriously ill. Because of this Wagiswara has got cold feet and is reluctant to immediately go to London. Together with Austin and Gunaratna she has hatched a new plan. The first stage is to get Gunaratna to spread the story that Wagiswara has turned down the offer to go as High Commissioner to London. Gunaratna has already started doing this using his friends and media contacts. Then Wagiswara will wait till things settle down and then make her move to London. Till then Gunaratna will be there in London to do as she and Austin says.
Many in the Foreign Ministry are unhappy and question why Gunaratna was handpicked by Wagiswara overlooking many deserving senior officers who have been serving in the Ministry and are due to go on a posting. According to a Foreign Ministry source Gunaratna’s father was a clerk in the Foreign Ministry for decades and one of the Overseas Administration mafia - those who never leave the division. Even after returning from postings he has remained in Overseas Administration. There was an allegation that after his last posting Gunaratna senior tried to dismantle a vehicle and ship it to Sri Lanka in the heavy baggage container. An inquiry was started. But the subject file ‘disappeared’ and the inquiry was discontinued. During Wagiswara’s junior days in the Ministry Gunaratnas father has done lot of ‘official’ help to Wagiswara. So now it is Wagiswaras turn to give ‘official’ help to junior Gunaratna. A retired Ministry staff member told Lanka News Web that ‘Like father like son. He knows how to change his colours and look after the seniors who in turn will look after him.’
Meanwhile Lanka News Web understands that many community organisations and individuals in the UK have complained and written against the recent appointments to London High Commission and a review of the appointments may be made. Community members and right thinking Sri Lankan public are wondering whether the foreign service and the government is so bankrupt to appoint persons with such questionable backgrounds to an important place like London.