The Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration has gone back to the 2005-2014 practice of appointing a host of near and dear ones to top government posts, the latest in a series being the appointment of his schoolmate and Los Angeles neighbour Malraj De Silva.
Malraj De Silva
According to an advertisement calling for representations on ambassadors nominated to serve in Sri Lankan missions overseas, published in the newspapers by the Secretary General of Parliament, De Silva has been nominated by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to serve as Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The last time the Rajapaksa regime held power Malraj De Silva was appointed Sri Lanka’s Consul General to LA, allowing him to continue to reside in his hometown that he shared with Gotabaya Rajapaksa while earning a fat paycheck courtesy of the Sri Lankan Government. De Silva is still under investigation by the FCID for renting a palatial residence in LA while serving as Consul General at a whopping USD 8000 per month. De Silva never provided a statement to FCID officials about the charge. It was claimed that Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s son Manoj Rajapaksa resided at the luxury house while he completed his higher studies. Two military personnel had been assigned to him for security, while water, electricity and other utility expenses were borne by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Gota at Malraj De Silva’s home
Rajapaksa stayed at the De Silva residence inside a gated community located east of Los Angeles, California when he visited the US in March/April 2019. It was during that visit that Rajapaksa was served summons in the case filed against him in a California district court by the daughter of slain Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, accusing the former defence secretary and current president of Sri Lanka of masterminding and executing her father’s murder in January 2009.
Video taken at Malraj De Silva’s home in Los Angeles and features Upul Dharmadasa, Gotabaya’s travel agent who has been appointed Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority:
The appointment comes even as the system is still reeling from the shock of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s travel agent Upul Dharmadasa and buddy from LA, being appointed Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority.
Both Dharmadasa and De Silva feature prominently in a video that circulated widely on social media, that shows Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Meanwhile, Eva Wanasundera a former Justice of the Supreme Court who retired late last year and a self-proclaimed “good friend” of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has also been nominated as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to France and UNESCO.
The nomination comes amid an earth shattering scandal involving actor politico Ranjan Ramanayake’s phone recordings that seem to indicate he regularly held discussions with serving members of the judiciary. The Rajapaksa administration has come down hard on the recordings, accusing the Yahapalanaya regime of interference with the judiciary even though no evidence is yet to surface that any of the judges did Ramanayake’s bidding.
The Rajapaksa family meanwhile, who designed the flawed and illegal impeachment against former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake and during whose previous term of office the judicial system bore the brunt of political interference, has resumed the old practice of granting diplomatic postings to retired Supreme Court judges. The moves call into serious questions the political affiliations and inclinations of members of the senior judiciary while they were serving. The nomination of former judicial officers as politically appointed diplomats could also be construed as a post-retirement perk, that judges have to work for while on the Bench, legal experts explained.
Justice Wanasundera has been openly affiliated with Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was her batchmate in Law College. In 2015 Wanasundera gave current President Gotabaya Rajapaksa his first big legal victory by issuing an interim order preventing his arrest by the FCID over the 2006 MiG deal investigation, in the unprecedented fundamental rights application filed by the former Defence Secretary seeking to prevent his arrest. The interim order continues to be in effect, but Justice Wanasundera subsequently recused herself from hearing the case on personal grounds. However her recusal followed an order she made in Rajapaksa’s favour, to prevent his arrest by the police, which stunned legal observers at the time. Many senior legal experts opined that Justice Wanasundera’s recusal warranted a lapse of the interim order since she had precluded herself from having anything to do with the case involving the former President’s brother.
Gotabaya theologian Dr Nalin De Silva has also been nominated as Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s ambassador to Myanmar.