| by Pearl Thevanayagam
(March 09, 2014 –Bradford, UK, Sri Lanka Guardian ) Globe-trotting foreign minister Prof. G.L.Peiris, latest UN ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinghe and government spokesman Mahinda Samarasinghe are giving out statements willy-nilly and making flatulent remarks which contradict one another and this does not bode well for Sri Lanka’s diplomacy.
Of the above-mentioned GLP should lead and others follow suit. When GLP lies through his teeth he does it with panache and in his customary Oxbridge verbiage. His pregnant pauses during question time gives him breathing space to counter sparks flying in his direction from firebrand opponents.
Thank goodness Tamara Kunanayakam was not given this breathing space at UNHRC since her crude utterances last year against respected UNHRC high commissioner Ms Navi Pillai with impeccable credentials put Sri Lanka to shame and caused irreparable damage in diplomacy.
But then you cannot expect much from an unknown quantity whose demeanour and decorum is not what the government expected notwithstanding the fact she once succoured our President in her abode in France when he was just an MP. And the President is still paying for his gratitude in promoting her to the UN as ambassador.
It takes seven generations to make a gentleman/woman and Tamara needs double that if she is ever to address an August body like the UN in the most crucial period in Sri Lanka’s history. Hailing from a mixture of upcountry Tamil and Jaffna parentage she does not have what it takes to make a diplomat.
Sri Lanka’s future depends on astute diplomacy and it seems that the government’s approach in the ongoing UNHRC sessions where SL is being dissected and probed to answer for its conduct during the war which took the lives of innocent Tamil civilians in their thousands and rendered thousands more homeless and fleeing for their lives time and again is once more open to international scrutiny.
Sri Lanka had time on its hands but what did it do? Dithered and sat back on its posterior hoping against hope the UNHRC resolution could be thwarted by playing innocence and ignorance and covering these with showcase developments such as modernising the cities, broadening its highways a la Singapore and demolishing shanties to make way for high rise apartments thus relegating their dwellers to homelessness.
Defence Secretary and President’s brother Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is in charge of Colombo and its development. His idea of developing Colombo is to get rid of the vermins called shanty dwellers. What defence has got to do with urban development is a conundrum and nobody is the wiser for it.
That this whole island is controlled by Rajapaksa Government would not have been tolerated in any democracy. But the point is we do not have a democratic state. We have an oligarchy which parties till kingdom to come. One could stretch it further and say Rajapaksa family are entrenched to rule at will and to hell with its people and their grievances.
What happened to our diplomats who were nurtured in Foreign Service protocol in years gone by? Insanity has taken over sense and sensibility and even academics are being proselytised to the point of forfeiting their good credentials into genuflecting before an autocratic government.
Opportunistic journalists lured by diplomatic perks were despatched to the four corners of the world to become dis-information counsellors. What did they do? They swigged duty free liquor and basked in diplomatic immunity and when their term ended came home to roost with duty free vehicles and some of them sought political asylum in countries where they once served as counsellors. Talk about patriotism.
One can turn traitor but one does not defecate on his/her home patch and that is what our emissaries are doing. Sri Lanka does not need Tamil diaspora to wash its dirty linen in public. Its appointed diplomats are doing this very well; thank you.
What are the lessons the ruling dynasty has learnt so far? That it has no one on its side in the long haul. GLP will not hesitate to switch to the winning side. He will change his tune to appease the side he is on. He has done it before and he will do it again. Like Pontius Pilate he would say that he was enticed into speaking for the government against his will.
Rajiva Wijesinghe and Dayan Jayatillake are already distancing themselves from the government. How many more rats would desert the sinking ship? Only time will tell.
(The writer has been a journalist for 25 years and worked in national newspapers as sub-editor, news reporter and news editor. She was Colombo Correspondent for Times of India and has contributed to Wall Street Journal where she was on work experience from The Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley, California. Currently residing in UK she is also co-founder of EJN (Exiled Journalists Network) UK in 2005 the membership of which is 200 from 40 countries. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)