Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday appointed international relations expert Admiral (Rtd) Dr. Jayanath Colombage to the post of Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Relations. Previously, Adm. Colombage was Additional Secretary to the President dealing with foreign relations.
Adm.Colombage succeeds Ravinatha Aryasinha, a career Foreign Service officer.
Apart from Adm.Colombage, there are three other former military men in the list of Secretaries: Maj, Gen. (Rtd) Kamal Gunaratne (Defense re-appointed), Maj. Gen (Rtd) Sanjeewa Munasinghe (Health re-appointed) and Maj.Gen (Red.) A.K. Sumedha Perera (Agriculture-re-appointed). All three have been with President Gotabaya since he was elected late last year.
Admiral Colombage’s appointment as Foreign Secretary is of strategic significance as Sri Lanka has assumed importance in the emerging situation in the Indian Ocean region. India, China, US, Australia and Japan are jockeying for positions in the region which is on the main East-West shipping route. With regional and world powers vying for dominance in the region, the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Relations may have to play a critical role in containing tensions and ensuring peace in the region. As a former member of the Pathfinder Foundation, a Colombo-based Think Tank, Adm.Colombage had been involved in dialogues and seminars with India, China and other countries on a variety of issues including trade and investment.
An expert in maritime security and asymmetric warfare, apart from international relations, Adm. Colombage’s Ph.D thesis was on “Asymmetric Warfare at Sea; the case of Sri Lanka”. It was published by Lambert Academic Publishing in Germany. He is also a Fellow of the Nautical Institute of London.
Adm. Colombage had served the Sri Lanka Navy for 36 years and retired as the Commander of the Navy on July 1, 2014. He was the 18th Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy and was decorated for gallantry and commended for exceptional service to the navy. Upon retirement, Adm. Colombage served as the Director for Indo-Sri Lanka Initiatives and Law of the Sea Centers at the Pathfinder Foundation. He represented the Pathfinder Foundation and Sri Lanka in many bilateral, regional and international fora, presenting papers, participating in panel discussions and chairing sessions on international politics, strategic and maritime security-related fields. Adm. Colombage has been a guest lecturer in universities and training institutes in Sri Lanka, India and China. Admiral has also been an editor and reviewer of number f internationally renowned academic journals.
Apart from a PhD from General Sir John Kotalawela University, Adm.Colombage has an M.Sc in Defense and Strategic Studies from Madras University and an MA in International Studies from Kings College, London. He is a fellow of Nautical Institute of London.