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President gives into ‘caste’; extends Navy chief’s term!

President Maithripala Sirisena has given a six month service extension to Navy commander Vice Admiral Sirimevan Ranasinghe, reports say.

Due to retire on November 19, he will now remain in the position until May next year.

Previously, the president justified the mere one month extension
given to ex-commander Travis Sinniah, by saying that that would prevent injustice to his successor.

Now, N.B.T. Rosairo, presently the Navy’s chief-of-staff, will be denied the opportunity to become the commander, as he retires on January 04.

It was Sri Lanka Mirror that broke the news that as the president had been reluctant to extend Sinniah’s term, certain top figures in the government and the defence establishment belonging to a certain social group were involved in an attempt to get a person from their hometown appointed as the Navy chief.

Before that, they urged the president not to appoint Sinniah, a Tamil, as the Navy commander.

But he did not relent, and gave him the position, at least for one month.

The defence establishment is unhappy that the president was able to defeat racists and caste-minded persons for a short period of less than one month.

Sinniah had written to the defence ministry seeking an extension, but its secretary Kapila Waidyaratne had kept the letter concealed.

The conspiracy was to see that P.H. de Silva, who is from Ambalangoda just like Waidyaratne is, was appointed to the position.

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

Sinniah made history

Sinniah made history by becoming the first Tamil to be the Navy chief after the end of the war and holding the position for the shortest period, as he did not give into politics.

Since 1973, all Navy chiefs excepting him held the position for at least one year, as the list below shows:


Ravindra Wijegunawardena, the incumbent chief of defence staff and from Ambalangoda, getting three service extensions, remained in the Navy commander position for two years and one month.

He was one of the persons in the forefront of opponents of Sinniah.

Sinniah was not able to occupy the Navy commander’s official residence at Stanmore Crescent and had to put up with a third class quarters at Hector Kobbekaduwa Mawatha.

Without giving the official residence to Sinniah although he has been given an official residence at Buller’s Road, Wijegunaratne gave it to Waidyaratne.


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