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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2648

Austin Fernando: a model civil servant as new presidential advisor

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

Judging by what we have seen so far since his victory, the modus operandi of President Sirisena and that of Mr Mahinda Rajapakse, the former president, clearly seems to be poles apart. For instance, President Sirisena’s tendency to value quality over quantity is a case in point, as evidently demonstrated by the choice of close advisors for his period in office.

By stark contrast, his predecessor had dozens of them, yet no expert could see the disaster that he got himself into, was in the offing – a classic failure that stemmed from embracing quantity at the expense of quality.

In this context, President Sirisena’s appointment of Mr Austin Fernando, a former defence secretary and a seasoned civil servant, came as no surprise. Mr Fernando, an old boy of Richmond College, Galle, is someone who has a great track record in handling various government positions throughout the country as a senior civil servant.

His years of experience, unique wisdom, creativity and above all down-to-earth style, coupled with maturity, will invariably position himself at a fitting place in the inner circle of President Sirisena, in the noble attempt of the latter to streamline the mechanisms of good governance.

Mr Fernando, a pragmatist, reached the pinnacle of his career when he became the defence secretary of the last UNP government. As Emerson said that the height of the pinnacle is determined by the breath of the base, Mr Fernando’s success in reaching the apex of the administrative service clearly reflects the seamless amalgamation of his skills and vision in forming a robust base.

Since his retirement from the government service, he has been working in his capacity as an advisor to various institutions while keeping his productive spirit alive.

As someone who knew Mr Fernando for years, I have no doubt that he will play a key role in the new administration on behalf of his motherland, in facilitating Mr Sirisena’s Herculean task of bringing about a leaner, productive government.

- Asian Tribune -

Austin Fernando: a model civil servant as new presidential advisor
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