By Dayan Jayatilleka –
Uvindu Kurukulasuriya (whom I regard as a friend, though less so now) has posted on his Facebook, and subsequently posted on his website Colombo Telegraph, a scanned or photocopied printout of a private email sent by me. I am not questioning the authenticity of the email and its contents, of which I am indeed the author, in my private capacity.
I say “private email” because I have (a) used my long-standing private email address (b) not addressed the new Prime Minister, former President Rajapaksa officially in the body of the email or (c) signed even my surname let alone my designation. For these reasons I regard the posting/publication of this email, or otherwise releasing it to the public domain, as unethical.
As a citizen of Sri Lanka deeply concerned about national and public events, I have every right to communicate with whosoever I choose to, and strive to provide inputs I regard as in the national and public interest, thereby influencing outcomes in a direction I think best, so long as I do so privately– and I have every right to expect my right to privacy to be respected. As such it was sent as a private email to a person I regard as a political leader of long acquaintance, and certainly not as part of an official communique from an Ambassador to the Prime Minister appointed by the Head of State, who is my appointing authority.
As a public intellectual I have given political advice freely in the public domain since the 1980s, i.e. for over 30 years. For the last 5 and half years before this appointment, I have done this in my fortnightly political analysis program on national television, as the Sri Lankan public is well aware. The attempt to portray the suggestion of a name for Foreign Minister as some privilege accorded to me is ludicrous.
Now that my private email is in the public domain, I think it best to reproduce the full text, so it can be read clearly rather than speculated upon. It was as follows, and I quote:
1. The initiative should never be allowed to see-saw. The offensive momentum should be seized and maintained by the new Government.
2. The reactionary forces should never be allowed to consolidate and sustain a parallel power center/command center at Temple Trees.
3. The US State Department statement is a blatant interference in our sovereignty and should be replied to.
4. The counterrevolution is mobilizing internationally and the US embassy in Colombo, which has four officers posted from the Ukraine, will attempt to destabilize the new Government.
5. The struggle will be fought out on the global arena. We must have a very able, senior, experienced, politically mature, ideologically clear and consciously anti-imperialist Foreign Minister. I suggest Dinesh Gunawardena.
6. There must be a massive mass mobilization– as big or bigger than Galle Face 2017– to demoralize the rightwing reactionary forces.
7. In the battle of arguments, ideas, and ideology, the Enemy is on the offensive and we are on the defensive!
I stand firmly by every single word I have said—except that a post script is required on a single matter. At the time of emailing (sent on Oct 29th 2018 at 3:18 pm), I did not know that the Cabinet had been appointed and Dr. Amunugama, whose name I had advocated as Foreign Minister for years in the mass media (including on CT), had been appointed to the post. He had never been given the chance and I thought he may have lost interest and may not be in the running or even on the shortlist. After Mangala Samaraweera was removed and before Tilak Marapona was appointed, I strongly urged ex-President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga across the table at the Pakistani National Day reception, that she intervene to secure the appointment of Dr. Sarath Amunugama, whose ample suitability for the post she well knew. She did not disagree but said “they don’t always do what I say, but I’ll try”. I was delighted by the choice of Dr Amunugama and have applaued his appointment publicly.