In a letter addressed to Colombo Telegraph, S. Rodrigo, Acting Director General – Public Communications confirmed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did in fact intercede on behalf of Daham Sirisena, son of President Maithripala Sirisena, and three other persons to facilitate the obtaining of UK Visas.
Colombo Telegraph publishes below the full text of the response sent by Rodrigo to the Colombo Telegraph news story on Daham Sirisena’s UK Visa application, including his covering note:
Dear Mr. Kurukulasuriya,
Please find enclosed a letter from the Ministry addressed to you regarding an article that appeared in the Colombo Telegraph on 21 March 2016.
We would be grateful if the contents of the letter could be given the same prominence as the original. A copy of the text of the letter in Word is also attached.
An article on your website regarding the application for visas submitted by Daham Sirisena and three others to visit the UK has been brought to the Foreign Ministry’s attention. Regrettably, the article contains a number of inaccuracies and distortions.
The actual facts are outlined below.
- The passport of Daham Sirisena and three others was sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 1st March, 2016 requesting the Ministry’s assistance to obtain visas to visit the UK.
- The Ministry issued a Third Person Note to the British High Commission to facilitate the issue of visas.
- The relevant visa was issued to Daham Sirisena. However, due to insufficient information the remaining three applications were withdrawn.
At no point did the Secretary/Foreign Affairs nor the Chief of Protocol summon the Deputy High Commissioner of the UK Mission to the Ministry to lodge a protest regarding the issue of the relevant visas.
The Ministry is well aware that any decision on visa matters rests with the Mission concerned.
Editor’s Note: We thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for responding to our report and confirming all the main elements we have exposed.
Our report said that Daham Sirisena and his three friends (the Ministry simply calls them ‘others’) requested Ministry assistance to obtain visas to visit the United Kingdom. We challenge the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to reveal the names of the three friends who they describe as “others.”
We boldly reveal today that one applicant recommended by Daham Sirisena had earlier overstayed his visa and had been blacklisted. Another applicant was blacklisted for submitting fraudulent documents. Thus, in effect, the son of the President of the Republic of Sri Lanka was trying to smuggle into the UK two persons who have broken UK laws.
There are serious issues that arise from this situation. Is this an attempt by Daham Sirisena to smuggle fugitives? How can the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (more to the point, M.R. Hassen, the Chief of Protocol) accept the responsibility to obtain visas for those who are not entitled to diplomatic privileges? If this is allowed, theoretically even Wele Suda, the drug mafia boss, could persuade some influential persons to ask the MFA to issue a Third Party Letter to support an application for a UK visa.
As the MFA says the Ministry issued a Third Person Note. The only difference in our report is that we said it was a note from Hassen (on behalf of the Ministry) supporting the applications of law breakers.
We have checked on the MFA claim that Deputy High Commissioner (Laura Davies) was not summoned to the Ministry. We have confirmation from a source at the British High Commission that she was present at the MFA on March 17. There was no necessity to summon her, we were told, since she was there for a conference regarding the British Council. We say with full authority that Foreign Secretary Chitranganee Wagiswara sought Davies’ explanation regarding the non-issuance of visas for Daham Sirisena’s friends. This is when Davies bared all the embarrassing details which we revealed in our post.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is totally silent on what happened next. Why did President Maithripala Sirisena impose a news blackout on this incident? Is the partial response from the Foreign Ministry also a sinister attempt to embarrass him. After all, they have confirmed the main thrust of the Colombo Telegraph story. Why doesn’t the MFA release the three names?Is MFA trying to turn the spotlight on what Sirisena tried to blackout?