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A fiasco at the Kadirgamar Institute?

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I can say without fear of being contradicted that Asanga Abeygoonasekera was indeed the best director the institution has had, for he turned out not only to be competent but also committed and  results-oriented I can say without fear of being contradicted that Asanga Abeygoonasekera was indeed the best director the institution has had, for he turned out not only to be competent but also committed and results-oriented

It was indeed a rude shock to learn that Asanga Abeygoonasekera, who was the Director at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute, had been removed as he had been considered a ‘Political Appointee’, this brings up the question as to the matter of defining who a political appointee is; is it a person who has been appointed only because of his or her political connections (the jobs for the boys syndrome?).  Someone appointed without following accepted procedures for whatever is the appointment, someone appointed only because of his or her political connections. This must be defined by government, for there are persons who are eminently suitable for particular positions and should be appointed in their own right in the national interest.

I have followed the work of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies from the time it was established, not only because I had worked closely with the late Lakshman Kadirgamar but also because of my own interest in the subject. I had worked closely with Minister Kadirgamar when I was Additional Foreign Secretary and he it was who always wanted to establish a Think Tank for the Foreign Ministry and to also professionalize the Foreign Service.

I must confess that in the early years I was disappointed with the work of the Institute which one clueless minister used as his alternate residence! Some of us complained but nothing came of our protests; it was only after Asanga Abeygoonawardena took over that the Institution came alive; he may not have had an International Relations background but he most definitely put the Institute on the map.

He may have in the process projected himself too but that is incidental to what he achieved with the cooperation of his young staff, I must confess that when I was first introduced to him I had my reservations as I thought him to be too young and inexperienced for the job but I can say without fear of being contradicted that he was indeed the best Director the institution has had, for he turned out not only to be competent but also committed and results oriented.

As I have stated earlier I have followed the work of the Institute and I wish to set out at least some of the achievements of the Institute that I am aware of.

 Though established in 2000 and acquired statutory status in 2006, the Institute produced their first Research Journal only after Abeygoonasekera took over and a third journal was published this year. The Institute held a number of National Reconciliation Conferences after the war was over; the Institute had established a number of partnerships with AT Think Tanks; the Institute also published a number of valuable research papers and last but not least the Institute had built a Research Pool with international scholars. This was achieved because of the leadership of Asanga Abeygoonasekera.

It is a huge mistake to have asked him to resign merely because he had been appointed during the term on the last administration and is considered to be a ‘Political Appointee’. Every right-thinking person would agree that such a conclusion is absurd. I would urge the government to reappoint him in the national interest and to stop this practice of removing all appointees of the previous government merely because they had been appointed by the previous administration without checking on their performance in the responsibility entrusted to them.

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