The six-member presidential select committee (PSC), appointed to nominate Chairmen and directors to state institutions, yesterday denied it was supporting nepotism or favouring certain candidates among the 11,000 estimated applications it had received to date.
Committee member, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa told Daily Mirror that the committee had made recommendations to the posts of Chairmans and directors based on the credentials of the applicants and the experience they possessed.
Godahewa denied allegations that the committee was pressurized to nominate certain individuals with political connections and said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had warned against any such political appointments. "All the recommendations the committee has made to date, is based on the applicants' qualifications.
We have to date, nominated lawyers, doctors, engineers, professors, industry experts to the posts of Chairmans and board of directors, only because they qualify for it. Neither has the President, Prime Minister or Ministers interfered with our recommendations," Godahewa said.
The appointment of Lanka Sportreizen Chairman, Thilak Weerasinghe, in the board of directors of Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd, has received flak in recent days with allegations that his appointment was political due to his link with the Mahinda Rajapaksa family.
However, Godahewa said that Weerasinghe followed the normal procedure of making an application to be on the board of directors of airport and aviation and was nominated due to his experience in the industry.
"Weerasinghe is a leading expert in the tourism industry and his nomination was made based on his qualifications. The committee has never considered any political appointment," Godahewa said. When contacted by Daily Mirror, Weerasinghe said he followed due process to apply for the position and was accepted due to his experience in the tourism and aviation trade.
The recipient of local and international awards, he said he had vast knowledge in the aviation industry as his company had been handling seaplanes, emergency flights, charter flights, etc for several years and he had also initiated several national tourism and sports events in Sri Lanka including the Colombo Marathon, which brought in a large number of tourists. Weerasinghe further said he served on a special task force for tourism under former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as well.
"My appointment was based on my experience and qualifications and not due to my link with the present Prime Minister. Currently, we have a cross-section of experts on the board of directors of airport and aviation which include a lawyer, a jet fueling expert and a communication developer. Rumours of my appointment being political are false," Weerasinghe said. (JAMILA HUSAIN)