19th November 2018 18:26:48 Hours
The newly-appointed Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Mr Hemasiri Fernando this afternoon (19) made a formal courtesy visit to the Army Headquarters (AHQ) and called on the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake.
A ceremonial Guard Turnout upon his arrival at the Army Headquarters premises greeted him in accordance with military traditions after Lieutenant Colonel Pradeep Gamage, Commanding Officer at the AHQ Battalion received him before he received the salute.
A Guard of Honour, considered as the highest military respect that could be accorded then presented a salute to the visiting state official. Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment troops awarded the salute.
The visiting top official was afterwards invited to inspect the parade, together with the Parade Commander in the company of Major General Shavendra Silva, Adjutant General of the Sri Lanka Army in accordance with customary military traditions. A few minutes later, the Secretary Defence received the honours in the Guard of Honour, witnessed by a large group of senior Army officers.
At the foyer to the Commander’s Secretariat, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, Commander of the Army welcomed the visiting Secretary Defence warmly and introduced him for the first time to the Principal Staff Officers in the Army where Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, Commandant, Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force, Director General Infantry, Adjutant General, Director General Finance Management, Quarter Master General, Master General Ordnance, Military Secretary and Director General General Staff were present.
During the formal and brief meeting that ensued at the Commander’s office, both Mr Hemasiri Fernando and Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake exchanged views on matters of mutual importance and interest before the visiting Secretary Defence watched a presentation, submitted by Major General Niyshshanka Ranawana, Director General General Staff at the AHQ Board room, in which he was enlightened on the Army structure, its role and tasks.
The climax of the day’s visit saw a representative large gathering of senior Army officers arriving at the main conference hall at the Commander’s Secretariat in order to listen to the formal maiden address of the Secretary Defence.
Mr Hemasiri Fernando, a veteran in the state administrative field carries a distinguished career of top level appointments before he assumed office as the Secretary Defence on 31 October 2018. Mr Fernando served Sri Lanka Navy (Volunteer Force) during 1972 - 1994 before his retirement as a Commander from the Navy.
A graduate at the University of Colombo, Mr Fernando has been perhaps the most rewarded as Chairman, Secretary and Adviser many a time in the state sector mainly due to his administrative and practical skills. He is currently the President’s Chief of Staff and Adviser to the President.
His contribution to the field of telecommunication, railways, postal services, sports, tourism, aviation, Olympics, Commonwealth Games, South Asian Olympics and wildlife as Secretary to respective institutions, Ministries and Departments has been highly admired and well accepted.
He served as the Secretary to the Prime Minister in 1994 and was the author of several coffee table books and other books on railways. He also was awarded the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Merit Award in recognition of his contribution to the promotion of Asian Olympic participation. Similarly, he was honoured awarding the Association of National Olympic Committee (ANOC) Merit Award.
He has been the Vice President in the Olympic Council of Asia since 2011 and the Vice President in the Commonwealth Games (Asian Region Federation) since 2007.