Monday, November 4, 2013

Our Jokers behind the scenes organizing all aspects of the CHOGM

Quite apart from GL Peries who is the Foreign Minister (remember SL will be the Chair of the CHOGM till the next Junket wherever that will be held in 2 years) there is a whole army of people in the newly named Ministry of External Affairs trying to make head or tails of what it is they are supposed to do.

With an appallingly low quality of career diplomats, as few of any stature have even applied to join the Ministry as young recruits into the Diplomatic Service owing to nepotism and family bandyism, is it a wonder that the back office is in a mess with few who know how to handle the protocol and diplomatic niceties.

Karunatilleka Amunugama, a Secretary there, whilst being tall and should be up to the job, is still not up to snuff in tackling his counterparts, partly due to his poor command of the English language making it difficult to communicate exactly what he must. It is not accent, simply inability to make himself understood!

Then there is the old hand Shenuka Seneviratne who was one time High Commissioner in London one of the few Career diplomats to hold the job, and is used to iron out the raw recruits. She is stretched far too thin and likes too much networking to actually working. Likes to go to parties more than do any serious planning and implementation.

Ironically Mrs Bandaranayake in 1976 had a very able manager of the whole scene, and that was the suave and polished Vernon Mendis who managed beautifully to ensure that all the diverse personalities from the newly couped Colonel Ghadaffi to the royals like King Hussein were kept comfortable. Vernon we miss you at this time. Don’t forget that it was a far more difficult feat to manage the vastly bigger Non Aligned Conference of the Castros, Ghandis and Titos than the current tin pot cast of unheard of Characters.

I am willing to bet that NOT ONE not even GL knew who managed the 1976 NA Conference so well, so there you have it. A bunch of real jokers who are supporting MR. It is MR’s fault for not organizing the most important Ministry properly so that our diplomats represent the interests of Sri Lanka. We must have a clear foreign policy that is unambiguous and a career ladder that is clear of favorites that demoralize dynamic and visionary recruits who would do us proud.

Remember we have the talent, they just don’t want to work for the Sajins and bootlickers of that ilk to be noticed. They want to be noticed for sheer ability!! 
How about Jayantha Dhanapala? He is the first person who comes to my mind, as he I believe played a minor role in 1976 as well due to his fluency in Mandarin, and Chou En lai was also a delegate. Hard to believe that the People’s Republic ofChina  was also in that league as Taiwan had the UN permanent seat that China now occupies!

Whilst Jayantha would be the ideal person at the back to guide our young ones, even if he does not play a role in the forefront, I doubt he will be even asked. The reason being that he is in the Friday Forum of armchair critics of the Government’s lack of Good Governance and at present is pressing the Govt. to come clean on the needless and merciless prison massacre recently where the Govt. is wholly complicit, and the report is not in public circulation, due to some hard hitting facts on was responsible.

The Friday Forum is pressing for publication of the Committee report on the Prison Massacre and is being stonewalled unsurprisingly by a stony silence from the complicit Government.

Internationally then we will end up getting an unfair complaint of our lack of professionalism in the foreign service, due to the inadequacy of the administration to address the real drawbacks in our staff not sufficiently well versed in the art of diplomacy. Of course those at whom the criticism is leveled will take umbrage in it by pointing out to the few successes like Kheliya’s daughter in some committee and others in the UN office in another and Kohona in something else. These are normal part of the UN spread of posts amongst all diplomats and nothing really special. After the UN Geneva Ambassadoe Kunakanayagam even held some Chair in some very high powered committee even though she was unceremoniously dumped by the Ministry for little cause, but more internal politics of not playing ball with the Colombo requirements and orders.

When it all boils down, Sri Lanka’s foreign policy should only address its genuine sovereign interests and not that of any other. However this is done in diplomatic speak without upsetting our friends and neighbors. We seem to however behave like a bull in the China Shop and all the China has now been broken with little else to salvage, and the bulls still snorting and not snuffed out.

It is not too late, let us quietly dispose of the jokers in the pack like GL, Sajin and Amunugama and clean the decks and start a fresh, with a good course in SL foreign policy for the period up to 2025 clearly stating the objectives and tying it up to our trade in goods, services and human beings. Not just dictators of a kind!       

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