ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 22

CBK’s new job stirs controversy

Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga is due to attend the first official function in the capacity of Senior Consultant to UNESCO for Education in Asia next month in India amidst protests about her new appointment.

A spokesman for the former President’s office said that Ms. Kumaratunga is due to attend the event linked with the programme in achieving the goal of ‘Education for All’.

The spokesman said he was not aware of the reasons for Ms. Kumaratunga to request that Sri Lanka be excluded from her area of responsibility.

Ms. Kumaratunga will be entitled to remuneration and other perks in the capacity of Senior Consultant. This could include a UN Laissez Passer (diplomatic passport), business class (free) travel, per diems etc., but she is unlikely to receive security.

Meanwhile, Preethi Perera, Secretary General of the Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO which co-ordinates UNESCO activities in Sri Lanka told The Sunday Times that details about how Ms. Kumaratunga would be functioning were yet to be notified.

He said Ms. Kumaratunga’s role would be to work towards achieving the goals of UNESCO with one of its main objectives being the goal of Education for all by year 2015.

Mr. Perera said that Ms. Kumaratunga’s decision to request to exclude Sri Lanka might have been to avoid any ‘conflict of interest’.
He said that though Sri Lanka would be excluded from the functions it would not have an impact, as the programmes for Sri Lanka was coordinated with UNESCO.

Earlier this week the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) officially expressed its objection to Ms. Kumaratunga's appointment.

The AHRC in a letter to UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura outlined its objections to the appointment.

Ravaya newspaper Editor Victor Ivan also has objected to the appointment on the grounds that Ms. Kumaratunga’s educational qualifications have been questioned. He has sent his objections to Mr. Matsuura.

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.