Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara‘s niece is to be given a diplomatic posting in the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington DC, it is learnt.
Janathri Nanayakkara who completed an undergraduate degree at the US Binghamton University, a state university in New York will join the Sri Lanka Embassy staff in Washington, External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris has announced. She has also worked as an intern at the UN and is also reported to have supported at the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN in New York.
Janathri who is the daughter of Minister Nanayakkara’s brother Asanga will be posted to the Sri Lankan Mission in Washington because there was a ‘shortage’ of Foreign Service officers, Sunday Times reported Prof. Peiris as saying.
Minister Peiris said he was making the recommendation to appoint Janathri “taking into consideration her educational qualifications and the possibility of utilising the special skills and experience mentioned in her bio-data in an effective manner for the Mission and the shortage of officers in the Foreign Service,” the Sunday Times report noted. The two year posting will take effect from the day she assumes duties, the Minister said.
However questions are being raised about the young girl’s appointment since her qualifications would entitle her to sit the official Foreign Service Examination and face the interview and get through to the diplomatic service the legal way.
Janathri has a double major in economics and in political science with a concentration in global and international affairs. She had originally enrolled at the University of Maine on full scholarship but transferred to Binghamton where she said the environment “eased me into a new culture.” Janathri’s sister is also studying in the US.
In the University magazine Pipe Dream, Janathri notes that her eventual ambition is to become an ambassador for Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka’s mission to Washington DC is almost entirely served by politically appointed diplomats. Before Ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam, a veteran career diplomat was transferred to the US capital the mission was being headed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s cousin Jaliya Wickremasuriya. Chamithri Rambukwella, the daughter of Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella is also serving as a politically appointed diplomat in Washington.
Analysts and retired Lankan diplomats have noted the ironies of staffing the Washington Embassy with political appointees when Sri Lanka’s foremost international challenges emanate from the United States. “It is no wonder the Government then has to spend hundreds of millions of rupees on PR agencies and lobby firms. How on earth can political sons and daughters barely out of school and with no training have any idea how to navigate the waters in DC?” one observer noted.
The new appointment comes amid strong criticism from the Government about the hundreds of political appointees presently serving on Sri Lankan missions abroad.