Oct 22, 2017

24 hours left, to see if President will relent to caste Featured

The defence establishment is keenly watching if Navy commander Vice Admiral Travis Sinniah will be given a service extension, or not.

That is because certain top figures in the government and the defence establishment belonging to a certain social group are involved in an attempt to get a person from their hometown appointed as the Navy chief, defence sources say.

Previously, they had urged the president not to appoint Sinniah, but he did not relent, and gave him the position, at least for one month.

Why one month extension for Sinniah

Sources at the president’s office say a conspiracy by this social group resulted in his being given a term of one month only.IMG 5931 1

A spokesman said the Navy chief had written to the defence ministry seeking an extension, but its secretary Kapila Waidyaratne had kept the letter concealed.

Then, Sinniah had met the president and inquired from him, and was told the president had not received the letter of request.

The next day, the president was due to leave for the US, and with a promise to discuss the matter further, Sinniah was given a term of one month.

Is Russian ship the reason?

When asked if the media criticism of a plan to purchase a warship from Russia affected the Navy chief’s extension, the spokesman said that was not so.

Or, exposure of Karannagoda?

He also rejected another report in the media that an exposure by Sinniah about his predecessor Wasantha Karannagoda over the killing of 11 schoolboys of Trincomalee prevented his getting an extension.

In the event Sinniah retires, the senior most officer to succeed him will be S.H. Ranasinghe.

However, he will be able to hold office for not more than one month, as he reaches the age of retirement next month.

The next in line is N.B.T. Rosairo, and he too, should retire on 04 January 2018 upon reaching the age of retirement.

P.H. de Silva

If P.H. de Silva is appointed the Navy chief, he can remain in that position until 17 July 2020.

The above-mentioned group is trying to get de Silva appointed.

Like defence secretary Kapila Waidyaratne, de Silva hails from Ambalangoda.

Even if Sinniah is given an extension, de Silva will not lose much, as he has more than three years of service left in the Navy.

Mastermind of the conspiracy

Vice Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne, a predecessor and the current chief of defence staff, and from Ambalangoda, is said to be one of those who had strongly objected to Sinniah’s appointment to lead the Navy.

In the two months of his retirement from the Navy, Wijegunaratne had not handed over the official residence at Stanmore Crescent, although he has been given a CDS official residence at Buller’s Road.

He even took with him 11 of the vehicles he had been given as the Navy commander.

Sinniah has been given a third class Navy quarters at Hector Kobbekaduwa Mawatha.

Now, Wijegunaratne has decided to handover the official residence to the defence secretary.

Field Marshal sees the truth

Minister, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, also from Ambalangoda, believes an extension for Sinniah will help develop the Navy.

It is not good for the Navy and for national security to change commanders every month, he points out.

Ministers back Sinniah

Meanwhile, several ministers have noted the president would be able to convince the local and international communities that he was not interested in racial, caste and other differences, by giving a service extension to Sinniah.

They hope the president would take the correct decision.

24 hours

Sinniah will have to retire if he is not given the extension before president Sirisena leaves for Qatar on October 24.

President’s office sources say pressure on him from the group is intensifying by the day.

However, the defence establishment believes he will take a reasonable decision, as he vowed, at a Dipavali celebration, to do when meeting the country’s challenges.

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