20 October, 2020

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President Sirisena Finally Accepts Austin Fernando’s Resignation Letter

President Maithripala Sirisena has yesterday accepted his Secretary Austin Fernando‘s letter of resignation.

Austin

Colombo Telegraph reported about a month ago (June 12th) that Fernando’s short stint as the Secretary to President Sirisena was set to end soon and that the latter’s aides were looking for a replacement.

We reported on June 12th that Austin Fernando had tendered his letter of resignation but the President had not been ready to accept his resignation and therefore Fernando had to leave the letter on his table and leave.

Sirisena appointed Fernando as a presidential adviser on 15 January of 2015. He was thereafter appointed Governor of the Eastern Province on the 27th of January 2015. He resigned in order to become Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka on the 1st of July 2017.

We publish below Fernando’s a farewell speech in full:

Born on 12th June 1942, having had my primary education at Hikkaduwa Sinhala School, post-primary education at Richmond College, Galle, I was admitted to University of Ceylon, Peradeniya in July 1960. As a young graduate I entered the teaching profession in May 1963 and joined the Ceylon Administrative Service (CAS) in October 1967. 

Starting my new CAS career in Batticaloa District, I had an extremely eventful and memorable stint in the public service. I was appointed a Secretary of a Ministry, at the young age of 44. Although it was an enviable age to rise to such position, I also experienced the departure from public service in an abrupt manner in August 1996 at the unripe age of 54. When I did depart the service in 1996, I did so to uphold my unwavering principle of integrity. It repeated in November 2003. None would envy that for sure. But this experience was also for the best. Due to my employment in the private sector I was able to fund my daughter’s education in Pakistan which I was finding difficult as a government servant. Today when I see her carrying out her post graduate education at University of Oxford, I reflect that being removed from government service at that time was a blessing. Today, too, I leave with the conviction that everything happens for the best. 

In 1996 I left government service keeping my uncontested integrity intact. This time in 2018 my departure may also seem abrupt to you. Many may interpret it in different ways. Social media have been discussing it for some time now. But it was discussed and agreed with His Excellency the President on 22nd of May 2018 at his office. I leave today at the mature age of 76. At 76, the world is a philosophical place! 

Free man with a free conscience

Since 1996, I joined the public sector twice from the private sector – in December 2001 – as Secretary Defense and as Advisor and Governor of Eastern Province in January 2015, following as Secretary to HE the President in July 2017. The last position is the peak a public officer could reach in public service. It is a respected, sought after, esteemed position: a jewel on a crown. 

I have pleasant and unpleasant memories of my present tenure. I will not discuss the unpleasant memories. Some of the memories encouraged me to leave public service and reminded me that the time has come for me to leave the secretariat. My thankful gratitude goes to two private sector organizations that gave me shelter when I needed it most- the Resources Development Consultants Ltd (for 5 years plus) and Japann International Cooperation Agency , Sri Lanka Office (for 11 years).   

For a mere clerk’s son, without any political, social, or ancestral ties, to reach the apex position in public service proves that Sri Lanka is a country of opportunity, if one has perseverance, efficiency and integrity. I have done my part with total integrity, impartially, without malice towards anyone, even when I had been ill-treated, misunderstood, penalized, slandered etc.  Tomorrow the same slandering and insults will begin. But I shall remove them from my heart with a smile, reflecting that this is the nature of the world. 

Since I have no ill earned assets from irregular means and I have not been part to murder, torture, disappearances or wrongful punishment of any person. Tomorrow, I can walk on any street anywhere without security personnel surrounding me. Even in the times I was provided a large number of security personnel, I used them to the minimal.  I am a free man with a free conscience. I am finally free. 

Straight line in the ECG means you are dead

The Indian business tycoon Ratan Tata said “Ups and downs in life are very important to keep us going, because a straight line even in an ECG means we are not alive.” I was alive always and full of life and vigor and went on to work late hours, carry on with long meetings and continued at home too when there was an overflow of files from office. The delay of a file in my room would have been always less than 24 hours. If there were delays those were connected to payment of public monies. I was the Chief Accounting Officer of this secretariat. 

I engaged in difficult tasks related to constructive actions by this government.  I was a member of the Working Group that drafted the concept paper and an outline of the draft legislation for the creation of the Office of the Missing Person. I chaired the Working Group that drafted the concept paper and an outline of the draft legislation for the reparation mechanism to be presented before the Parliament soon. I contributed to the Sub Committee where preparatory work was done for the Parliamentary Steering Committee in formulating a new Constitution for Sri Lanka. I am a great believer of reconciliation, democracy and good governance and this was a reason why I committed for such endeavors. 

I thank my betters and the officers of the state

When I leave public life today after 55 years since joining the teaching profession I have to appreciate many ‘greats’ such as EF Dias Abeysinghe, DBIPS Sirivardhane, Dharmasiri Peiris, Bradman Weerakoon, Shelton Wanasinghe, Baku Mahadeva, Minister Gamani Jayasuriya etc.  Let me begin from the minor employees, lower, middle and non-executive grades of officers like others who stood with me through thick and thin throughout my career. Even the smallest worker who have stuck with me through thick and thin have contributed my standing here today. Whether they are here or not, I thank them all. 

There were executive grade officials of various disciplines and services other than the Sri Lanka Administrative Service officers who gave their fullest to me. I think them. They all know that I did my best to uplift their professional conditions. In fact I took the lead to implementing the monthly allowance of   50 000 rupees for cabinet secretaries. Even for the ministry of justice, I did the same with the support of Hon Attorney General and Hon Chief Justice. Even if any other service justified such facility I would have assisted them as well.

Throughout my career I have worked with non-governmental organizations- local and international, diplomats, civil society groups, trade unions and Associations, media organizations, religious dignitaries at the highest and local levels and their institutions, legal personnel at various levels inclusive of the Hon Chief Justice and Judges of the Superior Courts, Hon Attorney General, Independent Commissions etc. I am thankful to all of them for having given me their best professional support when I needed it most. I thank them.

I have actively engaged in political activities from my young days. When I was climbing the ladder in the public service I started disconnecting myself from political leadership. It was because I was not entitled to political rights after joining Ceylon Administrative Service. I could therefore adjust myself without being attached to political ideologies. I was acceptable to anyone and so much so I could be the Defense Secretary in a United National Party (UNP) led government in 2001 and the Secretary to the President in 2017, led by the worst political rival of the UNP. 

My then engagement with the UNP Government has been used to interpret my current political leanings by some fake hangers-on, even after I took office as Secretary to the President. If the critics had read my book “My Belly is White” and believe what I have said regarding my being appointed as the Secretary of Defense they would clearly understand the invalidity of such comments. 

Similarly, some have been commenting of my alignment to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party because I have been appointed to my incumbent position by the President of the SLFP. The President is the best witness of what happened. 

I am only a friend of this country

I have my great respect to the President and Prime Minister, but I am not a political acolyte of their political parties. I have associated the President and the Prime Minister for 43 and 30 years respectively as a friend of this country with a truthful, independent voice. When they were fighting for peace, reconciliation, good governance and social justice through their politics, I had been helpful in their campaigns. When they were not in power there were no large crowds that you see today at their homes and offices. Some of those gathered are the very people who were their bitter opponents. But currently they enjoy exclusive posts and many worldly comforts. 

When I started working for their governments as an officer I kept aloof from politics. Like a swan that separate milk from water I could separate politics from administration! This has invited vitriolic criticism of me by those who do not understand the dynamics of governance without political servitude. 

The state is a bigger concept than government

In my public service career I have developed a rapport with party stalwarts from almost all political parties and they too looked up to me for clarifications on political history and constitution. I could do this because in my heart my concerns were larger than politics. My concern was whether  something I was about to do or say was good for my country; whether it was the just thing for all communities; whether it would build peace and serenity; whether it would enhance love and compassion to all; whether it was environmentally friendly. In my life, my conscience and my service to my country have always been more important to me than individual politicians and political power. Remember, the state is a bigger and greater concept than a government. There is a difference. May be the odd individual but I consider that these should be our mottos as public officers, rather than to venerate the wrong with bent knees.

Fake hangers on

Two of the scourges of public service is the seniority preference and political patronage. These scourges frustrate efficient, productive officers with potential to serve the country better.  The fake hangers on are a nuisance to politicians as well as to the bureaucracy. They have their personal or political agenda and try to put the politicians and bureaucrats to their own groove of thinking. What should be done is to cut off these fake intruders for reasons, and not cut real people for fake reasons. It is those who protect fake hangers on and the institutions themselves that will suffer because of it. 

In dealing with fake people I had a policy. It was to be blunt as possible. I know that sometimes I have hurt their feelings by being so. I consider it as a strength but one may consider it as a weakness.  But my saying this today I have exhibited that I am unprepared to give up this good habit!   After all I may live a few years more and trying to change my good ways now at this late stage.  Let me be the authentic Austin Fernando!

Former Indian Elections Commissioner T.N. Sheshan in his book Degeneration of India names politicians, ‘Unpublic Service’, judiciary and media as the four reasons for India’s degeneration. If you assume Sri Lanka’s public service as ‘unpublic’, then considering the criticisms on the other three components, I feel that at least if the public service does not pick up, Sri Lanka’s  degeneration will  be inevitable.  It will be difficult to achieve if politicians, public service leadership, law enforcers, judiciary, media and civil society do not individually and severally shoulder the reformation process with vigor.

In 2015 I accepted the position of advisor to the President on the request of His Excellency. I accepted the post of Governor Eastern Province on the recommendation of the Prime Minister and condoned by President. While functioning as the Governor, I continued to advice the President as an honorary service. On 30th April 2017 having evaded his request several times I gave in to the repeated request of His Excellency and conceded to being appointed President’s Secretary. The authenticity of this claim is well known by WJS Karunarathne and Mrs. Anuradha Jayawickrama.  

The one who laughs last laughs best

When I took up this job it was my intention to leave within a year or so, since it should be taken over by a younger person for grand running. I am happy that circumstances have made it possible for me to leave today to keep to my original intention, though certain intruding factors such as completely unqualified persons looking for a replacement for me while I was in office have hastened the process.

All the positions we hold are like costumes of a dance. Once the dance is finished the dancers remove their costumes and wear the new costume for the new dance. I remove my costume happily while the happy laughter of those who are happier than I for that echo in the back ground. But remember, “The one who laughs last laughs best” .I don’t know who will have the last laugh. 

I am matured enough to have successfully forgiven persons, who during my long tenure planned, executed and manipulated to cut grass under my feet,  and slung mud at me. My mind is not a dustbin to keep anger and hatred. I consider it as a treasure box to keep, love happiness and sweet memories. I think all of you will endorse that I did not keep anger, hatred and was not jealous of anyone. I always strived to treat you with love and respect without exception and reservation to keep happiness intact

True power lies in your ability to give it up

Some may wonder with only several months left to the end of the first term of Presidency, why I have not simply managed and hanged on to this powerful position? But, as there is a fair amount of young people with long careers ahead of them gathered here today, let me humbly share with you a word of wisdom: there is no inherent power in power. If there were an inherent power in power, you can’t oust those with power. The true power of power- whether it is personal, professional or political- comes with your ability to give up that power. The strength that renouncement of power gives you is unmatched by any other force. The Buddha taught us this lesson 2500 years ago. It is something important that public servants and politicians alike should reflect on. 

There nothing, no person, no position, no comfort, no luxury no hope that I cannot give up. I know very well what it is to suffer. I also know well what comfort is. If I saw something beautiful I have directly appreciated it. This is well known by those who associate me closely. I have associated kings and paupers. I have wept at the sight of mass murders at Aranthalawa, Aluth oya or Fort Bus Station. I have sung and danced in happy times. Even today it is like that. Tomorrow I will be the same. But I prefer the smell of sweat of the poor in a camp in Kilinochchi or Sampur than the smell of perfume in Colombo 7 or Paris.  This has been conditioned by my experiences in public service. Therefore today I can leave public service and lead a normal life. 

I gratefully remember who paved the way to what I am today- my parents, teachers, religious personalities who advised me, colleagues in public and private sectors, political heads, who gave a helping hand in many ways whenever I needed their strength, friends who have given me unconditional love, cracked a jokes, lessened my pain in hard times. I thank my family, especially my wife who bore my semi-public life reluctantly with enormous grace, silence and great patience. I thank my emotionally resilient and persevering children who have shared the ups and downs of my journey with philosophical jocularity. I thank my innocent grandchildren who missed my personal attention on them. This is their time. 

Hand on my heart

For the last three years I stayed away from writing. There is so much in my mind that used to produce at least two good quality Sinhala and English articles per month. I could not write these things because of the bonds of public service. After today I’m free from that bondage. It gives me new hope that now I can write and speak on public service and politics from today onwards. Especially I believe I should share my views on the spheres of politics, society and reconciliation. 

I have kept my lessons learnt in public service in my heart to be shared by anyone who needs them. I hope to publish at least a drop of it one day before I die. And if I am to do so, I must have respite. The designation of President’s Secretary is not suitable towards that end. I was able to type 250 pages of my memoirs before June 2017. Since June I have only types 10 pages. Now I can start again. I will also start writing about the last year very soon. Therefore I extend my profound thanks and gratitude to all who hastened my departure. I am respectfully grateful to them.

Recently at a meeting here in the secretariat a person sated that if you keep your ear to the earth what you will hear will shake our hearts. At that moment I thought that its’ easier to keep your hand on the heart than to keep the ear to earth. If you keep your hand to your heart you can hear an echo full of truth. Whether I keep my ear to the earth or my hand to my heart, I’m sure I will not hear any echo that shall shake my heart. I can be happy about that. 

Lalith Weeratunga, you are entwined to our lives

However echo- or-no echo, there was one sight at the twilight of my public service that shook me. That was connected to my friend Lalith Weeratunga. As most of you know him personally, what I’m about to say will forever entwined in the lives of most of us. And I must say it because almost all of you are younger than I and this advice will serve you well in your future.  

Following the verdict of the Sil Redi issue, you may have seen him being escorted to Welikada Prison. He was walking with a brave face, but helpless, most certainly with the crushed spirit. With all due respect to the judiciary, I still wonder if it is he who should have been sent to prison. Those who ordered him and the fake handers on were not to be seen on that day. The only person who was with him was my long standing dear friend, his wife, Indrani. Whether it is public service or service of the people, for an unjust or unfortunate reason when we are depressed, remember only our spouses and children will be there for us till the end. This is a reality you must internalize and repeat like a mantra. It should be your daily mantra. 

You were all my children

I say good bye to you completing over fifty years in public service wishing you all the best in your personal and professional lives. I don’t think I will be a public servant ever again. It is for tomorrow to see. My heart and my home are both open for your joys, success and sadness. I will say the following words for you to etch them in your hearts. The greatest inheritance you can leave your children is your honesty, lawfulness, respect for and humanity. There is no jewel more precious that true respect for humanity and true love for humanity. Protect that jewel, forsaking your life. As Governor of the Eastern Province, and as President’s Secretary, for the last three and a half years, you have won my special appreciation as officers, and colleagues. Some were my friends. You all were my brother and sisters and daughters and sons to me.

I no longer pat his back- but my affection is unchanged

It would be a great oversight if I don’t speak a few words about His Excellency the President. I have known him for the last 43 years when he was a young man full of personality. All these years till today we have had deep mutual love, affection, friendship, trust and personal bond.  On 8th November 2015 at his Wijerama Residence he confided in me that he was going to make a dangerous political leap. I explained to him the dangerous repercussions that can befall on himself and his family and asked him if he was willing to face them. He said yes. Then I patted him on the back and said “in that case I will take this path with you”. I still remember when I said that his eyes shined and he smiled. Since His Excellency is now the President, I no longer pat his back, but my affection for him is unchanged, even by an iota. Therefore I always extended to him the same mutual love, affection, friendship, trust and commitment as on that that day. 

With time, with his rise to the pinnacle of political life our relationship evolved accordingly. New associated materialize and the priorities of a head of state also change. Therefore if I could not adjust to politics because my core is the service of the state, and if it inconvenienced him I apologize for that. When an older person errs, many times the younger person has to forgive and forget. I hope he extends the same courtesy to me. 

 I must also make special mention on Mrs. Jayanthi Sirisena whom I know for long years. During my tenure as Governor or President Secretary she never once made a single request for any special privilege or comfort. She is a great example of separating family life from political life. I say this with the greatest confidence. She is a guiding light to political authority. I wish the best of joy, health and prosperity to the President First Lady and their children. 

Your honour is the greatest inheritance for your children

Unfortunately or unintentionally if I have been harsh to anyone of you please forgive me. If I have hurt your heart, forgive me. None of that has been intentional, but situational.  You meet me on the road in future, talk to me, ask me how I am, and smile with me. I only expect that friendship from you. If anyone of you made a mistake I have taken full responsibility for it and shielded you from the President or any other official. This is because I considered you to be my children.  Without my support you would have been orphaned. I hope my successor will protect you the same way. I also hope that the President, my longtime friends Presidential Advisors WJS Karunarathne, Dr. Sarath Rajapathirana, Thilak Ranaviraja, the officials of the secretariat, personal staff of the President led by Eric Weerawardhana and the family of the President will all support the new Presidents Secretary as they have supported me. 

Always remember there is no greater jewel than your untainted honor and it is the greatest inheritance you can leave your children. 

Thank you all very much. May the noble triple gem bless you.  May God bless you. May you have health, good luck, happiness and prosperity in abundance!

Farewell.

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Latest comments

  • 4
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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

    • 2
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      [edited out]
      To Austin,
      “Whether it is public service or service of the people, for an unjust or unfortunate reason when we are depressed, remember only our spouses and children will be there for us till the end. This is a reality you must internalize and repeat like a mantra. It should be your daily mantra. “
      Wrong again.
      ” Aththahi Aththano Natho
      Kohee Natho Parosiya” # Buddha

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        anonymous
        austin should go and talk to people whose spouse or/and children have deserted them.Lord Bhuddha was right.Detachment is better than attachment and misery.

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          shankar

          Had all the bureaucrats put their foot down and stuck to their Buddhist principles they could have prevented all those theft, murders, riots, war, discrimination, human right violations, ………………. got the country moving. Instead they were enjoying the freedom to steel with impunity and motivated by their parochial loyalty to build/convert this island into a Sinhala/Buddhist ghetto.

          Now it appears that they want to convert this island into a Sinhala/Buddhist fascist ghetto with the blessing of high priests. All their sins are forgiven in return for their loyalty to their political masters.

          Has any self respecting functionary come out of his/her cocoon to challenge his/her master of thieving, mass murder, nepotism, ………………… ?
          Remember the Bureaucracy is the permanent state the trustees of the island who should be engaged in actively protecting people, state and its assets.

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            native

            you are muddling things up.Austins farewell letter has nothing to do with sinhala bhuddhist chauvinism which is your favourite topic.He mentions how he has not stolen a single cent during his whole career.For that we must build a statue of him in the independence square.just imagine after independence if all the public servants including the politicians had been like him,where would this country be now.isn’t he a good role model to follow for future generations?

            Also he is a non communal man.Just imagine after independence if all public servants including politicians (tamils too because the TULF of chelva’s were also racists to get votes away from tamil congress of GG ponnambalam)were non communal then where would we be today.

            If everyone was like austin we would have been a well developed peace full and prosperous country today with people not leaving our shores in droves. instead we were like a bus stop where people stop here for a short time before they go.

            The past is the past and cannot be undone,but let us hope that infuture all public servants including the politicians have austin as their role model.

            • 0
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              I now understand why the President took so long to accept the letter.

              After all he has to finish reading it, isn’t it?

          • 0
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            Native, never short of misleading BS.

  • 5
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    Dear Mr Austin

    Would it be too much of an ask if I wanted your email address.

    You are a living example of a great public servant my beloved motherland has ever produceda gentleman to the core and also a statesman par excellence.

    Wish you all the very best, good health in your retired life.

    M H Liyanage
    mhliyanage@gmail.com

  • 3
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    Dear Sir,
    You are absolutely right in your stand regarding administration and politics. Administrators (Civil Service) should never dance to the tune of the politicians.
    This goes for Judiciary , Police, Military and even Paramilitary services.
    They should on principle dissociate themselves from political affiliations and politics in general.
    How I wish people of your caliber and principles were in majority in our civil service. We would not have to strive and struggle as we are doing today, where our civil service has become a yes boy to the executive. Sri Lanka would have been a much better place.
    As you retire having served our country for the past 55 years relentlessly, leaving a special mark behind for aspiring young blooded officers to follow, I wish you a blissful retirement for now.
    Who knows when Sri Lanka will need your services again.
    Take care and wish you and your family the very best.

    Lasith

  • 5
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    OMG Rambling balderdash

    • 1
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      Just what I was thinking..

  • 4
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    Austin Fernando’s stint as the Secretary to President Sirisena was short. As the job designation implies he would have had very little independence. However he showed creativity at every stage.
    Thank you Austin for the services rendered.
    .
    Compare with the former Defence Secretary – ex-pat at that. GR only served himself!

  • 4
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    You are a great public servant Sir never bowed down to high ups for your Benifit you took the correct decision for the TV station God Bless You And Your Family And Enjoy your Retirement Sir

  • 7
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    ALL PROBLEM started with 1972 SRIMAVO government they brought NARTH AMRAKOON from outside civil service to be the secretary to MINISTER PETER KENAMN.CIVIL SRVICE LOST ITS CLOUD.another reason is political influence over appointments to HIGHER POSITIONS.1966 UNDER DUDLEY government there were tamils like SRIKANTHA, ALVARPILLAI, AND other MUSLIM secretarys who worked without any problem.TO DAY ALL HIGH POSITIONS ARE HELD 100% BY SINGALA BUDIST WHO ALL RUNNING BEHIND WOMEN AND MONEY.THIS WILL NEVER CHANGE UNTIL THEY STRIP MOTHER SRILANKA NAKED.

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      Mr PARAGON
      Please let me correct you on one historical event.
      1965 Dudley S Govt appointed Ananda Tissa de Alwis, as the Spermanent Sec to the Ministry of State (Newly created Ministry with wide powers) of JRJ. To my knowledge this is the first time from 1948-that day Polititions were appointed as Perm. Secs.
      If you are writing the political history (1965 onwards only), 1960 July Treasury Sec was RAJENDRAN/HE Tennakoon, Navy Commd. Kadiragamrer, AG Ameer, Alvapillai Food commissione, Chanidi Chunmugam Rubber Controller and Food Com. All thes I write with my memory and may have few errors.
      B 4 1965 Cabinet of minsters change but chief accounting offices are PERMANENT and nothing but PERMANENT.
      .

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      PARAGON

      “THIS WILL NEVER CHANGE UNTIL THEY STRIP MOTHER SRILANKA NAKED.”

      Your mother Sri Lanka is already stripped naked.

      Isn’t it why any Tom, Dick and Harry’s from China, Hindia, the West, UNHRC, UN, Pakistan, Japan Israel, ……………………………….. are groping your mother Sri Lanka 24/7/52?

  • 3
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    You were all my children
    A man come to this earth, leaves it one day. No sad feeling. Mother Earth replaces that loss with another one. A great servicer would have to leave his work, one day. Man’s civilization has shown that experienced set examples, follower builds from there and the human civilization has grown to this stage. We don’t know the Lankawe Administrative Services has a replacement in this case.
    It was great career without paralleled History. Where were you is not the question; how did you fare is the question. What did you do is only what is your heart is, not what is your education nor what is your brain power is.
    This is the first essay I read in CT, from Austin. With this, his career is ended at 76. Though he left on his own will earlier too, he is still much sought after performer. Only narcissists need to self-advertise him/her. I am only a friend of this country. That is a word from a man who thinks State is bigger than the government.
    Wish you all the best!

  • 7
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    He knew the ship is sinking. So he jumped.

  • 8
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    the path is all set for Hemasiri Fernando to take over.

    Ladies, beware.

  • 9
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    More cannot be said about this farewell letter by Mr. Austin Fernando.

    A lot can be said about the serious lack of men of integrity in Public life.

    Just imagine, how many in Parliament will have the ability and intelligence to read this and grasp the principles it enunciates?

  • 13
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    Mr. Fernando:
    Out of respect for your dedication to public service and your open, genial nature, I gave 15 minutes of my life reading through your farewell speech carefully. It is understandable you wanted to be diplomatic and avoid hurting people’s feelings, given the nature of the occasion. But that doesn’t mean your language has to be tepid – full of platitudes, banalities and bromides. Yet there are some not so subtle hints that I liked:
    .
    “… certain intruding factors such as completely unqualified persons looking for a replacement for me while I was in office have hastened the process.”
    .
    “Therefore I extend my profound thanks and gratitude to all who hastened my departure.”
    .
    And the delightful – Freudian Slip? – referring to the President:
    “I have known him for the last 43 years when he was a young man full of personality”
    .
    Enjoy your retirement, Sir

  • 4
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    You have written so much about you. However you failed to write what you did not do with several reminders. I have been subjected to persecution under the tenure of Mr Lalith Weratunga for many years . I HAVE WRITTEN TO you ABOUT THE MATTER AND SENT FIVE REMINDERS. BUT YOU FAILED even TO ACKNOLEDGE the receipt of my request. Now I can understand that why you did not want to follow up. He seems to be a close friend of yours. Please at least read what I have written in my request before you leave you will become indebted to the nation for ignoring facts provided which I can prove at any time.l

    • 3
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      “He seems to be a close friend of yours”
      Austin tries to question the fairness of the decision of the judiciary over Sil Redi case instead of questioning whether Lalith W. could stood up to the noble principles/ideals of Public Service and restrained himself from dancing to the tune of the politicians and thereby protecting the honour and dignity of Public Servants.

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      DAVID PERERA

      “Now I can understand that why you did not want to follow up. He seems to be a close friend of yours. “

      It is a networked fraternity, works well based on unwritten principle, “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”, irrespective of right or wrong, rewarded in kind when need arises, ………………….. keeps mental record of “You Owe Me One”, reciprocate at the appropriate time, ………………… bend the law slightly without breaking it when required, nepotism is hard to remove, hence live with it, colluding with political masters are inevitable evil which benefit both the masters and functionaries, ……………………

      By the way when did you receive a reply from a functionary ………………….. ?

    • 0
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      Bravo DAVID
      Also revisiting the encounter: ” MAY 26, 2016 AUTHOR: COLOMBO TELEGRAPH
      Sampur Outburst: Governor Austin Fernando Denies Undermining Eastern Chief Minister’s Authority”
      With all due respect to Austin F, Could not he avoided the situation and the incident immediately before that at Kinnya.
      In Kinnya if AF acted a bit diplomatic/tackfully joining the arrogant CM EP in a Motor car journey in a back seat of a limo with CM, less than 20 minutes, instead of a 5 minutes flying time, in a Helicopter, (without breaching the protocols related to US ambassador).
      Further a risk assessment may show a such a short Heli ride is many times Risky.

  • 4
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    It is a pity that Austin Fernando’s letter is so long and rambling and for that
    reason fails to make any clear or understandable point.

    I think he is trying to say his integrity was being compromised or that he was being undermined
    by others in the President’s office.

    Or something else, heaven knows; my English is not good enough to get it.

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      Prof David, “English is not good enough to get it” as you put it is not the only reason not to understand what Austin states so succinctly .There is another reason namely your great age.Then other things like chronic dementia ( forgetting the gist of a sentence immediately on reading)may be contributory factors too.What to do Prof.but take it with a smile!

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      Yes! Prof! It is clear that his integrity was being compromised. But he, being the boss of the rest of the staff, the other staff cannot compromise his integrity. Then who can? He was brave enough to refer to the fate of Lalith Weeratunge. He was clear in saying that when one falls into trouble only your near and dear would be there AND NOT THOSE WHO GAVE INSTRUCTIONS. Prof! Isn’t that good enough a hint as to who was asking to do something and the consequences of carrying out the instructions? Prof! You teach students to pick up the relevant information to solve a problem from a plethora of irrelevant. It is strange as to why you fail to do it this time.

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    Farewell letter says read between the lines: just one piece of it.

    “Since I have no ill earned assets from irregular means and I have not been part to murder, torture, disappearances or wrongful punishment of any person. Tomorrow, I can walk on any street anywhere without security personnel surrounding me. Even in the times I was provided a large number of security personnel, I used them to the minimal. I am a free man with a free conscience. I am finally free. “
    Who he is referring to is a given.

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    Not one mention of the post conflict issues of the north and Tamil refugees. Or the anti Muslim riots. Sadly Mr Fernando and his ilk in the SLAS choose to follow their political masters and look the other way ignoring the most troubling issue of our time: intolerance and the ongoing fragmenting of our national identity. O tempora O mores…

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    austin looks a decent man.He must have resigned because sirisena got him to do indecent things.

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    We must congratulate Austin Fernando for his courageous stand for the moral independence of the pubic officers in their conduct of public affairs . the public service given by the British is surely but surely destroyed and is being replaced by a service of political henchmen which is to the detriment of good governance in the country. Good governance will never be restored unless the law banning politicians from interfering with public officials is enforced. The law is already there but the Prime Minister must see that his political MPs are kept away from interfering and confine themselves to criticizing and questioning them only in Parliament through the Minister in charge. this is the British system we are supposed to be following but not doing so as the MPs are allowed a free run.How long more will there be public officials like Austin Fernando. Isn’t it easier to worship the politicians who have power to further your career? Where is he independent Public Service Commission. We need to enforce the law against politicians who interfere in the Administration. MPs should be debarred from visiting government offices but raise issues only in the Parliament.

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    Austin has many more years of service to the nation. He is an exemplary and proud product of the SLAS like Lalith W, who are efficient and capable of adapting to any situation. I will not wish him a happy retirement as he will be perhaps more active now. Tired but not retired.
    I expected that in his farewell speech he would pronounce ” MY BELLY IS WHITE”

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    “I don’t know who will have the last laugh.”

    god will have the last laugh,because the king and the beggar will both end up in the same spot in good ol mother earth.In fact god must be quite amused by what we do through our life.Sometimes god must be shocked also to the extents that we will go.Quite good free entertainment provided by humans.

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    To correct part of my comment above:
    “Following independence in 1947 and the official post of Secretary of Treasury, with appointment begin of grade of an Permanent Secretary and to the most senior member and head of the Ceylon Civil Service.

    Charles Ernest Jones, CCS (29.09.1947 – 12.12.1950)
    Theodore Duncan Perera, CCS (13.12.1950 – 12.03.1951)
    Arthur Godwin Ranasinha, CCS (12.04.1956 – 22.11.1959)
    Leopold James Seneviratne, CCS (14.10.1954 – 14.08.1956)
    Samson Felix Amarasinghe, OBE, CCS (15.08.1956 – 31.05.1961 )
    H S Amarasinghe, CCS (01.06.1961 – 10.10.1963)
    H E Tennekoone (11.06.1963 – 18.12.1963)
    H J Samarakkody, CAS (19.12.1963 – 14.11.1968)
    M. Rajendra, CAS (15.11.1968 – 06.05.1971)
    C.A. Corray, SLAS (17.05.1971 – 01.07.1975)
    Dr. L R Jayewardena (16.07.1975 – 08.03.1978)…….”

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      Korala Thune Gamarala

      Thanks.
      Where are the other Tamils who were supposed to have swarmed the Civil Service?
      somass, Helass, sach, Shenali, Waduge, Eagle Blind Eye, Taraki, wannihami, Johnny Baby, ……………………………………………………and Kamalika Pieris believe it was.

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    I remember posting a comment on an essay by Austin Fernando that appeared on CT regarding the Srilanka Administrative Service[ SLAS]. It read as from Zenith to Nadir.
    But, I must hasten to add that Austin Fernando himself rose from Nadir to Zenith.
    We would not see the likes of him in the Public Service in the foreseeable future.
    Well done Austin Fernando.

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    Who cares..

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    Thank God pathola Austin is gone

    I can remember him taking food to LTTE cadres in hospital when Defence Secretary. He simply acted like a servant of LTTE

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    Mr Fernando has blown his own trumpet too much. He has mentioned many virtues expected from a public servant but very carefully avoided mentioning about nepotism! He knows that he cant do it as he got his SON IN LAW appointed to a diplomatic position to our High commission in London from the back door using his position. He cannot deny this. His son in law is a very mediocre lawyer in London who is now enjoying the comforts of a house and tax free salary etc from the government. An outsider has been appointed in charge of consular section leaving room for irregularities. People inside the office say that Minister Counsellor Hanifa would do a better job than him. Hanifa too a retired clerk promotee over 70 years of age thanks to Minister Mangala Samaraweera. It is very unfair to promote a very old clerk to a DPL position when so many protocol officers are retained in Colombo without a posting. Hanifa was indispensable under the previous regime as well as the current one though people say no one is indispensable in public service.

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    Sampath, It is not fair to drag his son in law’s appointment as he is a qualified lawyer. Definitely, it was because of Austin’s position and influence. But don’t forget Austin was a honest and capable public Servant who didn’t amass fortunes using his position unlike some of his predecessors. Who in this world doesn’t use influence to get a job. The fault is on who approved the appointment. If you see Nagananda Kodituwakku saying that former Presidential Secretary W.M.P.B. Menikdiwela’s daughter had taken gold bars in her suitcase and when caught by customs at airport, Menikdiwela appeared soon and hushed the investigation. I have also heard from a engineer from ITN saying that Menikdiwela used to get a free TV from a popular Japanese brand TV agent in Colombo at that time, everytime TVs are sold to Army camps. I don’t know whether this true or false. But Austin is not wealthy and this shows he has not made money. So, we have to proudly salute him for his honesty, brilliance and dedication to duty. If he was a corrupt official, he would have sent his daughter to Harvard, Cambridge or John Hopkins, instead of Pakistan.

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    Mr Fernando, You are quite right when you say that the state is a bigger than government. However, you contradict that very statement when you refer to Mr Lalith Weeratunga’s Sil Redi case and sympethise for him. Mr Lalith Weeratunga is someone who issued circulars to other government officials on good governance and careful utilization of public funds etc. However, he himself had not followed the instructions he gave others. He had not learnt that the state is a bigger than government during his long career. The judgement meted out to him is a lesson for all public servants.
    In your case too, though you, a mere clerk’s son, reached the apex position in public service without any political, social, or ancestral ties, with perseverance, are you able to say the same about your son’s appointment to a diplomatic mission ? Is Sri Lanka a country of opportunity for talented people today? Today, only nepotism and being stooges of politicians is the qualification to be appointment to positions.
    The problem with both politicians and public servants in Sri Lanka today is that neither practices what they preach.
    Happy retirement unless tomorrow would see you appointed to a diplomatic post, as rumoured!

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    Since I have no ill earned assets from irregular means and I have not been part to murder, torture, disappearances or wrongful punishment of any person. Tomorrow, I can walk on any street anywhere without security personnel surrounding me.

    The strength and conduct of your honesty management ignited the force greater success.

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