Breaching his own pledges to end nepotism in government President Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Government recently delivered a bonanza of diplomatic posts to the sons, daughters and nephews of ministers and regime loyalists and in a shocking twist, the list includes the Dulmini Attanayake, the daughter of newly minted National Organizer of the main opposition SJB.
Colombo Telegraph learns that Dulmini Indrachapa Attanayake has been appointed as the Third Secretary to the High Commission of Sri Lanka in Canberra, Australia. Dulmini Attanayake already resides in Melbourne Australia.
Dulmini Attanayake is one name among a list of political appointees to Sri Lanka’s embassies overseas recently approved by President Nandasena Rajapaksa. Every appointee is the son or daughter of SLPP politicians and regime loyalists.
Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunge’s daughter Pavitra Ranatunga who also resides in Adelaide Australia has been appointed Third Secretary to the Sri Lankan Consulate in Sydney.
Minister Bandula Gunawardane’s daughter Randula Gunewardane will soon leave for New York, as Third Secretary to the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations.
Former Rajapaksa critic Duminda Dissanayake’s brother Amila E Dissanayake has been appointed Third Secretary to the Sri Lankan Embassy in Paris.
Daughter of SLPP Loyalist Mohan Samaranayake and currently Director General, Presidential Media Subashini Samaranayake has been appointed Third Secretary to the Sri Lankan Embassy in Vienna.
Thulasi Samarasinghe, the nephew of former Navy Chief and Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Australia, Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe has been posted as Third Secretary to the Sri Lankan High Commission in Singapore.
But while family bandyism has been a hallmark of Rajapaksa Governments political analysts said the true shocker was the appointment of Tissa Attanayake’s offspring to a Embassy overseas under a SLPP presidency. Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa recently appointed a host of new office bearers to lead the SJB, giving Attanayake a plumb post as National Organizer.
Tissa Attanayake who crossed over to the Rajapaksa Government shortly before the 2015 January presidential election, was the UNP’s worst performing General Secretary. After former UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa broke from the Grand Old Party to form his own Samagi Jana Balawegaya, Attanayake joined the party. After the parliamentary elections in August 2020, Attanayake was named as MP in the SJB National List.
Attanayake’s daughter Dulmini was previously posted – also to Canberra – after the 2018 coup attempt by former President Maithripala Sirisena. However strong opposition from the Finance Ministry to her appointment resulted in the posting being cancelled.
Tissa Attanayake has maintained long-standing ties to the Rajapaksa regime since 2013-2014. In 2014, Rukshan Jayasinghe former UNP MP Chandrani Bandara’s son was posted as a diplomat in the UAE. This diplomatic appointment was considered to have been a favour from the Rajapaksa Government to Tissa Attanayake for services rendered as a failing UNP General Secretary.
Attanayake also played a pivotal role in securing Maithripala Sirisena’s consent to be the common candidate from the opposition, shortly before decamping to the Rajapaksa Government before the election took place. He then claimed that there was a pact between Sirisena, UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and TNA Chief R. Sampanthan during the election campaign in a bid to help Mahinda Rajapaksa score points with the nationalist base. The signatures on the document were later found to be forgeries and resulted in Attanayake being arrested and remanded. The charges were eventually dropped.
Back now as SJB National Organizer, the favour granted to Attanayake’s daughter provides the strongest evidence yet of an existing Fifth Column within the Sajith Premadasa led opposition party. The tactic has been regularly used by the Rajapaksa Government when it is in power, in a bid to divide and conquer opposition parties. Several UNP MPs in opposition during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s presidency were long suspected to be moles reporting the inside workings of the opposition party to the ruling regime. Several such MPs were well compensated by the Rajapaksa regime at the time, with similar diplomatic postings.
The appointment has sparked alarm in opposition circles, with officials and politicians wondering how other opposition party MPs might be wooed by the Rajapaksas and how internal matters and discussions could be compromised by this type of infiltration into Premadasa’s inner circle. (By Nimal Ratnaweera)