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News

Sarath Fonseka Pulling his Punches  

By Munza Mushtaq and Cassandra Mascarenhas

General confusion prevailed in government quarters as to whether former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka had accepted his new appointment as Secretary to the Ministry of Sports with even Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge expressing his lack of knowledge on the issue.

Lokuge told The Sunday Leader yesterday evening, “I don’t know whether he has accepted this because I am in Matara, call me on Monday and I will tell you.”

President’s spokesman Lucien Rajakarunanayake also expressed his total unawareness on the matter. "I honestly don't know," he said.

Fonseka is reported to have told close confidantes that he will not accept any position which was likely to be an insult to his stature. He had said it was better that he leaves the country in dignity rather than accept positions which discredit his standing.

Attempts to contact Fonseka failed as his mobile was continuously switched off over the weekend.

Government’s defence spokesman minister Keheliya Rambukwella however shrugged off mounting criticism over the controversial appointment.

Rambukwella told The Sunday Leader that the appointment of Fonseka was in no way an insult to him as this was the senior most position when it comes to public administration.

The defence spokesman maintained on Friday that the former Army Commander had already accepted the new appointment.

Rambukwella further reiterated that Fonseka is currently holding the highest position in the military as Chief of Defence Staff and now Secretary to a ministry which is the highest position in public administration.

“People who have no idea about the government administrative structure are making baseless comments. If it’s an insult as everyone says, why did nobody voice any protests when Navy Commander Wasantha Karannagoda was appointed as a ministry secretary,” he said.

Both the United National Party (UNP) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) criticized the government’s decision to appoint Fonseka as a Sports ministry secretary insisting it was an insult on the ex-commander.

UNP MP Lakshman Kiriella pointed out that while the government was seen promoting terrorists in the likes of Karuna Amman, individuals who led the movement against the rebels are made mere secretaries that too with no relevance to their subject.

 “He has not accepted it yet but we see this as an insult to a person who has conducted the war very successfully. Karuna Amman who actively participated in so many raids against the Sri Lankan army is now a cabinet minister while Sarath Fonseka is a secretary who in reality has to bow down to Karuna Amman,” Kiriella said.

“This is a real insult to him and I hope he refuses to take up this new appointment,” he added.

JVP Propaganda Secretary Vijitha Herath told The Sunday Leader that the new appointment was not a suitable position for Fonseka.

“The government is trying to insult all military commanders, for example Wasantha Karannagoda was also appointed as Secretary to the Highways and Road Development Ministry. We see this as a very unhealthy development,” he added.  

Meanwhile, members of the general public too expressed their surprise over the new appointment highlighting that the new position did not give due recognition to Fonseka.

Factory Worker Nimal Istanil was of the view that the position of Secretary to the Sports Ministry was not a suitable job for the former Army Commander. “How can he be demoted in this manner, they can’t expect him to take orders from someone else? The job is not good enough for him; he should be given a better post, Istanil said.

J.V.P. Karunatunga, a three-wheel driver questioned the basis on which the appointment was made. “General Sarath Fonseka was an army commander, he has nothing to do with sports but in this country with all its politics, it does not seem to matter if the person is suitable for the job or not.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

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