16 October 2018
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Is Mahishini Kolonne the real Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka?

KolonneAn infamous MR-Sajin crony Mahishini Kolonne has effectively taken over the affairs of the Foreign Ministry by fooling Mangala Samaraweera. It is a sorry state of affair at the Foreign Ministry that Samaraweera has become a blind follower of Kolonne.

 

Kolonne has joined the Foreign Ministry in 1998 during the era of late Hon. Lakshman Kadirgamar. It is alleged that when she joined the Foreign Service she did not have the basic qualification i.e. a university degree. But she had been able to sit for the Foreign Service examination and enter the Foreign Service through her political connections. Though selections to the Foreign Service were done through open competitive examination during Kadirgamar era, there were few entrants who came to the service via back door. This exercise was conducted officially in a secret and extremely sophisticated manner so that nobody could suspect qualifications and political affiliations of any entrant to the Foreign Service. This was mainly done by manipulating interview marks. These matters were exposed by the JVP leader Anura Dissanayake in the parliament in 2013 during his lengthy speech on Foreign Ministry.

As exposed by Colombo Telegraph website on 20 March 2015 Kolonne was an integral part of the inner circle of Sajin Vass Gunawardena who virtually ran the Foreign Ministry. During Sajin’s time the vicious and evil axis of Kolonne – Kshenuka Senevirathna – Majintha Jayasinghe – Rodney Perera destroyed the conduct of Sri Lanka’s foreign relations, devastated lives of many innocent and efficient Foreign Service officers (both senior and junior) and also the administrative system of the Ministry of which after-shocks are still haunting the Ministry. The danger is that, though invisible, this axis still controls almost every activity of the Foreign Ministry.

As exposed by the Colombo Telegraph Kolonne has done a complete “U Turn” after the fall of MR regime and become the most trusted officer of Mangala. There are few key reasons behind this phenomenon. The principle reason is that Mangala does not have the luxury of the service of an efficient, versatile and effective Foreign Secretary at present. He had this supreme luxury in Mr. S Palihakkara, when Mangala held the same portfolio in 2005 -2006 period. Mr. Palihakkara, probably the best diplomat Sri Lanka has produced after Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala, guided Mangala Samaraweera tremendously well during that short period. Both Mangala and Palihakkara had to leave the Foreign Ministry prematurely due to interferences of Rajapakse brothers and Sajin Vass. Another important factor is the non-commitment to work by career foreign service officers due to various reasons. Most of the efficient, senior and experienced officers are languishing in the Ministry as they have not been assigned significant tasks or sidelined. Therefore, they do not get any opportunity to meet the Minister often. Though there is a change of government in Sri Lanka nothing has changed in the Foreign Ministry. Therefore, instead of professionalism, cronyism has crept into the Republic Building once again.

Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka is currently not handled by Foreign Secretary Mrs. Wagiswara or other senior officials. Sri Lanka’s foreign relations/policies are basically handled by Kolonne and Prasad Kariyawasam, Ambassador in the USA. These two have been able to manipulate Mangala successfully. It is an open secret that Kariyawasam and Kollonne have been in intimate terms for years. This was extensively facilitated by Sajin Vass by appointing Kolonne as Deputy High Commissioner to New Delhi when Kariywasam was the High Commissioner. In addition to that appointment both Kariyawasam and Kolonne have been included in number of delegations so that they could spend time together. Both of these officers are agents of India, and in essence, they are more Indian than even Narendra Modi or Atal Behari Vajpayee! For Sri Lanka this is a national security threat which cannot be neglected at all.

Kaiywasam and Kolonne have become key players in formulating Sri Lanka’s human rights policies, structure and functioning of so called “domestic mechanism “on accountability etc. These two are working closely with Mangala on these extremely important and domestically sensitive areas of policy which can jeopardise national security and even could lead to collapse of present government. It is learnt that nobody in the Foreign Ministry is aware of decisions being taken in those areas, not even Foreign Secretary. Even the Prime Minister or Cabinet of Ministers are not privy to the developments in such issues. No consultations are done with Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Geneva in this process and he has been kept in the dark regarding all decisions taken and also policies formulated. The drastic and detrimental actions proposed by Kolonne on domestic mechanism have been diluted and thwarted by some intelligent and far sighted officials of the Attorney General’s department, who understand the domestic and international sensitivities, gravity and possible fallouts of this exercise, better than opportunistic Kolonne and Kariyawasam.

In addition to destroying Foreign Ministry and conduct of foreign relations Kolonne has been able to carry tales against her own colleagues to Samaraweera. Mangala had not been a believer in gossip but suddenly he has started to believe such tell tales. By doing so Kolonne has placed some of the best Foreign Service officers in the “bad book” of Mangala. A classic example is the case of Ms. Sashikala Premawardhana, who is presently on deputation as senior assistant secretary/foreign relations at the Ministry of Defence. Premawardhana is a very intelligent and capable officer who has a proven record as professional diplomat. She worked closely with Mangala during 2005-2006 period under the guidance of Mr. Palihakkara. Kolonne has been able to convince Mangala that it was Premawardhana who was behind the hard line, anti-western policies of previous government and Gotabhaya whereas it was Sanjaya Kolonne, own brother of Mahishini Kolonne who did all that for Gotabhaya. Ironically, Sanjaya Kolonne was the architect of “National Security State” concept (as described by none other than Dayan Jayathilake) of Gotabhaya. The curious case between Kolonne and Premawardhane is that they were great friends and have studied together in India and also joined the Foreign Ministry together in 1998!

Kolonne has not been permitting officers of her own division to attend overseas training programmes which are essential in their career development. Most of these programmes are fully funded scholarships or training programmes by various international agencies such as UN which provide opportunities for officers to enhance their knowledge, meet diplomats of other countries etc which are vital in conducting foreign relations. The logic behind this curtailment is that UN Division of the Ministry is a busy one and therefore all officers must always be present in the Ministry. However, the truth is that it is Kolonne who handle almost everything and other officers are not assigned specific tasks which warrant their presence essential in Colombo. The simple reason behind this is that professional jealousy.

Kolonne has also become a shameless thief of intellectual property. She gathers information from other officers and line agencies and feed such information to higher authorities including Mangala as if she is the one who did all hard work. However, according to Foreign Ministry officials it is extremely difficult to obtain any information from her even for official purposes when information is needed. Ironically, Mangala has issued a directive recently to say that there are no “confidential” or “sensitive” information in the Foreign Ministry and everybody should share information!

Blatantly violating ethics of apolitical and impartial conduct of public servants Kolonne has been conducting duties of Ministry spokesperson – her new additional assignment - like a politician always referring to misdeeds of the previous government for which she is also culpable.

If Mahinda Rajapakse comes to power tomorrow Kolonne will immediately join that bandwagon too. She would also be readily accepted as politicians need unscrupulous officers like Kolonne. Knowingly or unknowingly Mangala Samarweera is sitting on a ticking time bomb. He should realise grave dangers he is facing before it is too late in order to safeguard his own future and existence of his government. We wish him good luck.

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