Is foreign policy handled by foreigners?
By Sugeeswara Senadhira
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Vasantha Senanayaka recently said he has reasons to believe that the Sri Lanka's foreign policy is decided upon externally by foreign powers. The country now wonders if last week's decision to recall Minister Counsellor, Brigadier Priyanka Fernando attached to the Sri Lanka High Commission in London was taken due to foreign pressure. The Minister Counsellor (Defence) was recalled following the allegation that he had acted in a threatening manner during a protest staged by some pro-LTTE groups outside the Sri Lankan High Commission in London on Sri Lanka's Independence Day.
"The officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have a pro-West slave mentality and it is pathetic that they have fallen to the lowest ebb by serving the interests of not only the West, but the Diaspora's," lamented former Justice Minister Wijayadasa Rajapakshe. In a letter to the President Maithripala Sirisena to thank him for revoking the Foreign Ministry's decision, to suspend and recall Minister Counsellor Brigadier Priyanka Fernando, Rajapakshe described the arbitrary act of the Foreign Secretary Prasad Kariyawasam was 'traitorous".
Several Ministers, including senior-most leaders, Susil Premajayantha, Anura Priyadarshana Yapa and Mahinda Samarasinghe vehemently criticized the ill-advised act of the Foreign Ministry.
In a swift damage control act, President Maithripala Sirisena had revoked the Foreign Ministry decision to suspend Brigadier Fernando. An irate President Sirisena had lambasted the Foreign Ministry officials for suspending the officer without inquiring into the matter. The President had pointed out that he should have been consulted before deciding on the removal of the Minister Counsellor from the post.
Even after the President had revoked the suspension order, some of the officials tried to ignore his directive. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mahishini Colonne told State-newspapers that she had not received any information regarding the reinstatement order by President Sirisena. This was stated by Colonne more than 10 hours after all the websites had reported about the Presidential order to revoke the suspension of Brig.Fernando. Then, the question arises, if such an ignoramus is suitable to be the spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry, which in fact is the mouth of Sri Lanka to the rest of the world.
If she had made a false statement deliberately, the Government should look into this seriously as it could be a deliberate attempt to tarnish the image of the President.
Furthermore, there were severe criticisms about some decisions taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the recent past. There were accusations that customarily, Sri Lanka's casting of votes in the United Nations and other world bodies were based on pressure from powerful Western countries, especially the United States, and the decisions on voting were not taken in the interest of Sri Lanka. President Sirisena as well as Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had blasted the bunglings made by the Foreign Ministry officials on several occasions, before. Once, Wickremesinghe said that he would introduce a new Foreign Service in the country as he believes that there is 'no Foreign Ministry in Sri Lanka.' New State Minister of Foreign Affairs Vasantha Senanayaka too criticized the arbitrary acts of the ministry officials.
There is no question whatsoever; the action of Brig. Fernando was absolutely unacceptable. As a diplomat, one should not indulge in such behaviour. However, before taking any action which is to recall him immediately, there should have been an inquiry.
Furthermore, the provocations made by the LTTE separatists must also be taken into consideration before punishing the official.
The protest was organized by a group called Tamil Solidarity in the UK, which is an arm of the LTTE. The protesters have displayed flags of the banned terrorist group and shouted slogans to glorify the LTTE and its late leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. They also had committed sacrilege by burning the Sri Lankan flag.
In the aforementioned circumstance, the military officer had gesticulated that Sri Lanka Army has succeeded in eliminating the LTTE, further he had made that most debated gesture only to show the supremacy of the Security Forces over the terrorists, therefore that should not be interpreted as an anti Tamil gesture.
Last week, a resident of Jaffna, Ravi Kumar said that he did not see any wrong in the action of Brig. Fernando as the demonstrators were terrorist supporters and their strategy is to disrupt communal harmony prevailing in Sri Lanka. "These separatists never come to Jaffna, but they shout slogans to raise funds for their ill-conceived separatist agenda," he said.
While Ravi Kumar clearly showed that he could understand the Sri Lankan ethos, some of the Foreign Ministry officials are blind to the sentiments and sensitivities of their countrymen. The Foreign Ministry officials may be well aware of Western diplomacy, but they do not understand socio-political issues of Sri Lanka. If they had even little knowledge about political sensitivities, they would not have issued such a recalling order to a highly regarded Military Officer on the eve of an important election in Sri Lanka.
However, one should not jump to the conclusion that all in the Foreign Service are misfits. This service has produced such greats like Jayantha Dhanapala, Vernon Mendis, Bernard Tilakaratna, H. M. G. S. Palihakkara, Rodney Vanderghert and many others ,also there is no doubt, there are bright young SLOS officers who would rise to such eminence in the years to come.
What is essential to restructure the Foreign Ministry is, to get rid of deadwood as well as the officers who are puppets in the Western hands and give opportunities to those who are not only efficient and skilled, but also who know the country and its people.
- UNP vows to protect President won’t let jo own him
- UNPers to stand by Ranil
- Range Bandara quits as UNP Anamaduwa Organizer
- Appointment of 25% women to LG bodies Decision today Polls Chief
- Southeast Asia’s shifting sands of terrorism
- Katchatheevu Church Feast Sinhala mass for the first time 13,000 to land on island
- No-Faith against Ranil not needed – Gammanpila
- Civil society orgs demand referendum Want Executive Presidency abolished
- Kandiah Neelakandan no more
- Donation of necklace to Temple of the Tooth Principal warned CP Edu Minister
- Army recruits 50 Tamil youths Rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadres too
- Kalmunai Beach Mosque 196th Flag hoisting ceremony held
- NPC Women’s Affairs meeting
- Trump’s Immigration Plan: Sound Start for Compromise
- Congo justifies oil exploration in national parks
- To discuss premiership issue PM and Speaker meet Prez UNP claims problem solved
- City Coroner complains to Fort Magistrate Call to probe death of Bellanwila Thera Monk was moved from CSGTH against medical advice
- Will Transitional Justice wither? Int’l community in quandary over LG polls results
- INTERPOL REFUSES TO DELIVER SUMMONS TO MAHENDRAN ARREST WARRANT TO BE SOUGHT AFTER MARCH 8 IF…
- Govt now trying to postpone PC polls
- President has not consulted me yet – AG
- Govt brought in 19A to block Rajapaksas We also can change 19A – Basil
- November 2012 Welikada Prison Massacre Second eyewitness ready to come forward
- President pressed to find suitable PM Political crisis continues
- South China Sea Unmanned vessels and future operations
- Federer on top of the world
- Man Utd into Cup quarters
- Cavani, Neymar key as PSG rebound from Madrid gloom
- Barca grind out victory before Chelsea trip
- Kvitova powers through to Qatar final
- ISAC 2018 23 schools will participate
- ‘Singer Cup’ Under-19 Schools Cricket Sumanasinghe scores second ton
- Packeer Ali to be appointed Head Coach
- England win but Munro ensures New Zealand in final
- Premier League Super 8 round NCC and Ports Authority CC win
- Sri Lankans win singles and doubles titles
- National Cross Country Championship 2018 Samantha and Nilani win Both athletes had to go through ridiculous bureaucratic red tape after returning to SL with Gold medals Officials show their vested interests instead of flexibility for International medal winners
- Premier League Club Cricket Tier ‘A’ Chilaw Marians CC emerge champions
- ‘Singer Cup’ Under-19 Schools Cricket Kamindu Mendis scores fourth ton
- Unified Korean team lose again despite goalie heroics
- Loyola - Christ King Inaugural ‘Battle of Friends’ Big match ends in a draw
- Smith looks forward to pace challenge
- Mendis powers Sri Lanka to 210-4
- Mendis drives Sri Lanka to T20 series sweep
- Premier League ‘Tier ‘B’ Negombo CC emerge champions
- Global Independent Audit Regulators meet in Colombo
- Shares end the week positive
- Thailand to seek approval for FTA with Sri Lanka
- Rupee stabilizes despite political instability
- SL to purchase 12 train engines for upcountry line
- UK retail sales show weak growth despite gym wear boost
- Royal Mint gets first woman boss in 1,100 years
- CBSL prints Rs 606M
- Stocks closed mixed on the day Sharply higher for the week
- Allowing Financial Technology Will Reduce Borrowing Costs
- CSSL offers support for tech startups
- Ceylinco General Insurance records excellent results in 2017
- CA Sri Lanka Business Plan Competition 2018 kicks off this month
- HNB Grameen Finance Limited signs MoU with DIMO
- Raigam launches ‘DeveniBatha – Bundi Full’ instant rice noodle
- SL - high potential market for Database Security: Oracle
- Jack Ma’s secrets, hiring women for the profits and rising early
- Trumps Solutions brings the digital force to advertising with VLT
- Inaugural leadership programme conducted for students of Olcott Schools
- Fashion Bug bags Gold Award for Best Key Account Partner from Triumph
- Subramanian Swamy’s love-hate relationship with Sri Lanka
- Tea, haircuts and fish bones Letting the light into Pakistan
- REVISITING SRI LANKA’S FOREIGN POLICY
- Howlers that wreck language
- Pursuing Peace The UN’s lack of accountability
- Give women more time to give birth, make choices - WHO
- Ask “Dr. Love”: mobile app teaches Congolese youth about safe sex
- Bulgaria rejects treaty to combat violence against women
- Progress on global goals ‘unacceptably slow’ for women, says UN
- The Great American Buddhist Leader
- President and PM are responsible for the election results
- Basil says…Await the return of ‘Spiritual Leader’ MR
- Rajapaksas’ Presidential hopeful is Gota
- Sins of the past Govt cannot be forgotten- Anura Kumara
- Law and order is quite weak
- Accomplice to the crime Our own indifference
- UK flower farm suspected of enslaving migrants
- Costly Renovation
- REV. PROF BELLANWILA WIMALARATANA THERA
- Why Masses Brought Victory to Past President
- White Sapphire absorbs the power of Venus
- Partial eclipse that occurred on Feb 16
- Effects of Sun in Aquarius
- Some recent impressions
- Bandula Nanayakkarawasam: From Galle to the world
- Pauline Kael: The critic wore cowboy boots
- Pauline Kael: The critic wore cow boy boots
- “Hail, Caesar!” Silliness as a virtue
- Notes on history: The thinkers and the doers
- Reflections on a nation of non-readers
- The Disaster Artist: The (un)making of a movie
- Kite Surfing Lanka Kalpitiya An experience of a lifetime
- Ella and mini Adam’s Peak
- A cave of history -Ravana Cave
- Never say never to anything!
- What’s In My Bag I want to carry my dog Ricky Ruchira
- Indian Elegance Raaya Clothing & Accessories
- Election promises that took people for a ride
- 7 killed in Florida school shooting by former student: sheriff
- Man with moustache who went to Rajarata a thousand times in a ramshackle Jeep