Gota’s Meritocracy Appointments In Question: Derana Varuni’s “TEA Man” Appointed As Chairman Telecom

Gota’s Meritocracy Appointments In Question: Derana Varuni’s “TEA Man” Appointed As Chairman Telecom

Contrary to appointing people on meritocracy to top governmental positions, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa‘s buddy Dilith Jayaweera‘s Derana Group business partner Varuni Amunugama‘s husband Rohan Fernando has been appointed as the Chairman Sri Lanka Telecom.

It can be confirmed that Rohan Fernando has absolutely no professional knowledge or experience in the Telecommunications business.

Incidentally Rohan Fernando is the Son-in-Law of Senior Politician and parliament front row member Sarath Amunugama, who has held several Ministerial positions over the years.

Meanwhile Rohan Fernando’s wife Varuni Amunugama taking to her Derana Group’s newspaper The Sunday Morning, went on to embellish her husband’s professional profile in her hope of seeking justification for what is now viewed by many as yet another nepotistic appointment by the Gotabaya Rajapaksa led government.

“Rohan Fernando has 40 years experience and is a veteran in the tea trade,” Varuni Amunugama’s newspaper went on to gloat.

The newspaper further wrote “He has also served as the Chairman of the Tea Exporters Association of Sri Lanka and as a Director at Sri Lanka Tea Board. Beyond the tea industry, he has served as the President of the National Chamber of Exporters and as a Council Member and a Management Committee member representing the board of the National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka. He has also served as a Director at several organizations including Ceylinco General Insurance Ltd. and Industrial Technology Institute.”

Varuni Amunugama’s desperation in singing hosannas about her husband is quite understood, as her husband’s professional acumen was exposed earlier in an article published by the Daily Mirror on the 1st of November 2017 titled “If government needs a backbone, TEA needs a brain

In that published article the then Chairman Sri Lanka Tea Board Rohan Pethiyagoda exposed the Tea Export Association Chairman Rohan Fernando’s incompetence in handling finances.

However more shockingly he unveiled his disloyalty to the then ousted Rajapaksa family.

The Chairman Sri Lanka Tea Board wrote “But it seems Rohan Fernando has belatedly chosen to set himself up as a critic of the previous administration, of which he was very much a part. How quickly loyalties fade! Indeed, he was a Director of the Tea Board at the very time these “ad hoc” expenses were incurred. I have checked the minutes of board meetings of the time and can find no record of any objection or reservation being voiced by Fernando on these matters.”

“He did not even call for a vote at the board, which is the minimal expression of dissent. The waste he refers to is therefore as much his responsibility as anyone else’s. He was very much part of the problem for which he now presents himself self-righteously as the saviour. He claims the present government lacks a backbone. It was the present government which, however, had the backbone to bring the SLC sponsorship to an end and also to close down the “tea café” he refers to. The present administration found the backbone to do the right thing. Where was Fernando’s backbone when he was party to the decision to “waste” these hundreds of millions of rupees?” Pethiyagoda wrote.

The following day Rohan Fernando responded to Rohan Pethiyagoda’s story in a subsequent article titled “TEA Rohan responds to Tea Board Rohan”.

Meanwhile commentators on several social media platforms have begun expressing their displeasure as several governmental top positions have been granted to extended Rajapaksa family members and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s California buddies.

Rohan Fernando’s appointment is nothing short of a reward for the good work his wife Varuni Amunugama and her Triad Advertising Agency team played in running a very successful Presidential Election campaign for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Earlier in November 2019, 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 sources close to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Security detail speaking to Colombo Telegraph said that the government is fixated on intercepting, tapping and monitoring phone calls of Journalists, rights activists, intelligence officers, NGO’s and also several of its citizens.

If that may be the case, then Rohan Fernando’s cherry picked appointment to the post of Chairman Sri Lanka Telecom could be the perfect foil to support the currently appointed Defense Secretary Kamal Gunaratne who also is the Chairman of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission. (By Dasun Jayakody)