Whilst making a mockery of the government appointed four member board to screen persons to head state enterprises, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s personal travel agent Upul Dharmadasa from Los Angeles USA was appointed as the new Chairman of the Sri Lanka Civil Aviation Authority.
The said mockery based on President Gotabaya’s promise to appoint those on meritocracy was further confirmed when Amith Wijesinghe a former SriLankan Airlines’ Cashier turned Manager and a close associate of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, was also appointed as the Deputy Chairman of the Sri Lanka Civil Aviation Authority.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Upul Dharmadasa and Basil Rajapaksa
The government had earlier made it public that in order to maintain transparency, it was appointing a four-member selection board to screen the persons nominated by ministers to head state enterprises operating under them.
The board consisted of former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, former John Keells Holdings Chairman Susantha Ratnayake, Prof. Jagath Wellawatte, Dr Prasanna Gunasena and the Cabinet Secretary Sumith Abeysinghe.
Meanwhile President Gotabaya’s Travel Agent Upul Dharmadasa shot into the limelight, when he was exposed hastily trying to obtain an upgrade on Emirates Airline for his clients President Gotabaya and wife Ioma to travel from Los Angeles to Colombo in April 2019.
This was during the period when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was served summons at the Trader Joe’s parking lot in USA.
The role the Travel Agent Upul Dharmadasa played in frantically getting the upgrade was published a few days ago in the Sunday Observer under the published title “CHECKMATE: Inside Ahimsa’s Legal Gambit against Gota”.
The publication read “As this news reached SLPP stalwarts, Gotabaya Rajapaksa was struck by a stunning breach of privacy as details of his Emirates flights and cancellations came to be posted on social media.”
“Included in the social media posts were not only copies of his air tickets and boarding passes, but also the details of telephone calls made on his behalf by Los Angeles travel agent Upul Dharmadasa seeking an upgrade to First Class for the Rajapaksa couple.”
“The fidelity of the leak was exceptionally striking since the flight bookings were paid for with Emirates frequent flyer miles, as Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his wife Ioma both enjoy the most elite “Skywards Platinum” status with the Dubai-based airline. The bookings were made directly with Emirates and not through a travel agency.”
On the another note Amith Wijesinghe the appointed Deputy Chairman of Sri Lanka Civil Aviation Authority who is affectionately known as “Wije” to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was famously known for lending out the Sri Lankan Airline’s daily collections to traders in Colombo on a short term basis.
On clarifying this further a senior SriLankan Airline official sent the following messages:
“There was a time people used to say he made lots of money by giving daily collections to big Pettah business people. He was such a thief. Later somehow joined during Manoj’s time as a sales officer and later he became a sales manager. Yes he knows all cops, ministers, Field Marshals and heads of Armed forces since he goes to the airport for special handling. MR calls him Wije and sometimes takes him in his private visits in our planes.” (By Dasun Jayakody)