The Question of Eligibility of the Foreign Service Officers for Promotions

(Lanka-e-News - 28.March.2018, 11.30PM) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has initiated an action to promote the officers in the Grade I of the Foreign Service to a special grade as per the Foreign Service Minute of 2016. According to this service minute, the promotions should be granted through an interview process and the Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already requested the permission of the Public Service Commission for the interview and related processes. However, the criteria to be used at the interview and the questions related to the actual seniority of the most of the senior Foreign Service Officers have been met with harsh criticisms by the officers of the Foreign Ministry. They alleged that the most of the senior officers have not fulfilled the requirements for their promotions since beginning of their career and yet they have influenced the Foreign Secretary to adopt interview criteria that would ensure their promotions.

It is a fact that like other services such as the Administrative Service and the Accountancy Service, the Foreign Service is also governed by its own service minute, Financial Regulations, Establishment Code and other rules and regulations of the government of Sri Lanka. Accordingly, the Foreign Service Minute, which is the main document that explains the rules, regulations and procedures applicable for recruitment, confirmation and promotion of the Foreign Service officers. Therefore, after the appointment, the officers need to pass first and second efficiency by examinations, second language and foreign language examinations.

However, according to the sources close to the Foreign Ministry, among the top 24 officers in the Grade I of the Foreign Service, some have received their promotions without fulfilling the above requirements as per the previous service minute.  As stipulated in the 1994 Foreign Service minute, the officers of that time needed to pass their first efficiency bar examination within three years of their appointment. Thereafter, the second efficiency bar examination should be completed within six years of the appointment. It was also required for them to complete the foreign language requirement within three years of the appointment and for the confirmation in the service. The issue is that a number of top most senior officers in the Foreign Service have used many side-avenues and frauds to get their promotions and confirmation in the service rather than sitting for examinations.

Paying attention to their dirty tricks of the senior officers, some of the junior officers have decided to challenge the seniority of some senior officers exposing their misdeeds. There is a seniority list published by the Minister of foreign affairs. However, it is alleged that this list does not reflect the actual seniority of the officers. Some officers of the Foreign Service, therefore, have registered their protest on the utilization of this seniority list to consider promotions to the special grade of the Foreign Service.

It is alleged that 07 officers have taken more than 06 years to complete their second efficiency bar examination. They are A. Wijewardnea, E.M.R. Perera, S.Nakandala, S. Ganegamaarachchi, T.Ravinthiran, A.L.M.Lafeer and P.M.Amza. As per the service minute, if an officer failed to fulfil any requirements within the stipulate period, in this case within 06 years of the first appointment, their seniority should be considered from the date of completion of the service requirements and they should be kept below the officers who have already done the examinations within six years.  Unfortunately, this has not happened. In addition, Mr. A.L.A.Azeez has failed to complete the first efficiency bar examination within 03 years.

According to the information received from the Minister of foreign affairs, A.L.A. Azeez has failed six times in his accountancy paper. This officer belongs to the batch recruited to the Foreign Service in 1992. However, instead of a result sheet from the Department of Examination, he has submitted a document issued by M.Maharo the then director of the Overseas Administration Division of the Foreign Ministry to secure his promotion. However, according to the records of the Department of examination this officer has not passed his examination. Surprisingly, in 1995 with the support of H.M.Shafick , Deputy Commissioner of the Department of  examination, a number of Tamil and Muslims officers have been able to manipulate their examination results. A.L.A. Azeez has also failed to fulfil the second language requirements. Instead of a certificate issued by the Department of examination or obtained through the departmental examination, he has submitted a written request stating that a study programme he underwent in Geneva in 1993 has a Foreign Language component. Yet this is not correct.

Similarly, P.M.Amza, instead of a proper certificate, has submitted a letter of attendance from a Sri Lankan institute that he participated in a class to learn the Arabic language. In this case, a letter of attendance cannot be considered as a certificate. It is also learnt that M.Keegall has submitted a forged certificate for his foreign language requirement with the forged signature of Dr. Palitha Kohone, the permanent representative of the UN. Yet, at the advise of the then Minister G.L.Peiris, then Secretary K.Amunugama dropped the charges against him and he was allowed to continue in the service. Present Ambassador in Bahrain S.U.J.Mendis has also not passed his efficiency bar examinations but then Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama has submitted a cabinet paper requesting to exempt him from this requirement. This is totally a bias decision and an incorrect procedure. This special favour has been granted to S.U.J.Mendis to repay the support he has extended to the son of the Minister to write his dissertations to the Singapore Management University.

It is also learnt that Majintha Jayasinghe, present Deputy High Commission in Malaysia, has been promoted without any qualification purely through a political purposes. He has failed his efficiency bar first examination eight times within a period of eight years. Later, he became a favourite of Sajin Vas Gunawardena, the monitoring MP for Foreign Ministry. He was paid over Rs. 3 million as in areas for keeping him in the seniority list backdating. This whole process was completed with the strong support of then Secretary, K. Amunugama. There is a case pending in this regard.

While some officers received royal treatments, five officers who were unable to fulfil the requirements of promotion were demoted and kept in the lower positions in the seniority list. They are Kapila Jayaweera, P.Karunaratna, Ransiri Perera, Tiloma Abhayajeewa and Dhammika Semasinghe. They are still receving stepmother treatments at the Ministry, while all the crooks are enjoying undue benefits.

According to the information received from the Foreign Ministry, the secretary of the ministry seems to be infavour of using this incorrect seniority list for the promotion of officers to the special grade of the Foreign Service. The junior officers of the Foreign Ministry have started that they are very closely monitoring the situation in order to take legal action if the seniority list of the Foreign Service is prepared correctly and demote the officers who have not eligible to serve as senior officers in the Foreign Ministry. Above are a few examples where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs failed to follow the correct procedures and government rules and regulations. The officers of the Foreign Service have already made their submissions to the relevant authorities seeking their assistance to correct the mistakes and put the house in order.

By A Special Correspondent 

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by     (2018-03-28 21:15:44)

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