By Karu Jayasuriya –
The physical assault by Sajin Vass Gunawardena, MP is a clear reflection on the country’s tragic situation. This is the first ever time since Independence that a parliamentarian has resorted to such demeaning behaviour- attacking a diplomat who was on a State-related visit to another country. The matter is even worse in that, the attacker happens to be the Monitoring MP of the Ministry of External Affairs.
Sri Lanka inaugurated her foreign service on October 1, 1949. Although there have been many criticisms and fault-finding with our Foreign Service and those who handle it, never was theresuch a blatantly despicable incident. This is total collapse of our Foreign Service and its handlers. Out of 49 diplomatic positions created by this regime no less than 35 have been filled up by stooges of the regime who have chosen to treat Foreign Service like a tool for own social and financial advancement. The only credential that is required is blind loyalty to those who govern.
Even the victim in this particular incident happens to be a political appointee. Even though we might have very legitimate and credible misgivings about Chris Nonis, we believe that he made an attempt to advance the cause of Sri Lanka as a diplomat. Although it looked utterlypolitically-motivated, Nonis could be classified as a person who tried to ‘do his job’. ‘The Diplomat’ magazine once named Chris Nonis as the ‘diplomat of the year’. He was capable of achieving that singular honor from amongst 164 diplomats in Great Britain. It is indeed a rare honour for a Sri Lankan. It is such a person that has fallen prey to his own indecent political masters.
What is even more humorous is the way in which the masters of Nonis reacted to this tragic incident. Instead of holding an impartial inquiry about an incident in which a loyal supporter ofthe Government was manhandled in a foreign land, the regime has decided to investigate some unfounded allegations made by the Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs. As in all otherinstances, the accuser has ended up being the victim and convicted.
Our emphatic appeal the Government is to hold an impartial inquiry into this shameful incident that has brought utter disgrace to our Foreign Service. The incident had taken place where there were well-known witnesses present. That alone should enable the Government to hold a clear and impartial investigation. But the question is whether the President of the land is willing and able to hold such an impartial inquiry at all.
There have been many reports in the media about Sajin Vass Gunawardena, whose name has been involved in this dishonorable episode. The media has exposed the way in which Gunawardena has squandered millions of rupees under the pretext of uplifting the country’s image in the international marketplace. But no investigation has been held nor have any questions been raised by the governing quarters. It is well known that, although there is alegitimate Minster of External Affairs, it is Sajin Vass who controls the Ministry and its mechanics. While taking the controlling switch into his grasp, this person has been behaving as if the Ministry of External Affairs is his personal heritage. If this is the way this Government is treating our Foreign Service, then God save our Foreign Service!
When I heard about this incident, I was immediately reminded of a stage play that is currently being enacted on city stages- “Bound for assault” (Guti Kemata niyamithai) It is quite apt to saythat the entire country is on the verge of an assault by the Government. Sajin Vass has given advance publicity to that ominous prediction.
*Karu Jayasuriya, Chairman of the Leadership Council, United National Party