28 September, 2020

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The Revolting Diplomat

By Sanjana Hattotuwa –

Sanjana Hattotuwa

“You will recall that my instructions were to be in Geneva on time to handle the 18th Session of the Council in September 2011. However, vital information on a US initiative calling for an interactive dialogue on Sri Lanka was withheld from me. It was only fortuitously, and only 5 weeks before the Session opened, that I discovered that this information had been communicated, as early as June 2011, to the private email address of my predecessor in Geneva by the US Ambassador. After that, an email exchange had taken place on the subject, unknown to the Ministry of External Affairs. Had this information remained a secret, we would not have had the time to counter the initiative and a resolution against Sri Lanka would have been inevitable, placing the country on the Council’s agenda for me to deal with, along with its fail out, from almost Day One of my assuming duties in Geneva. In preparation for that 18th Session, no instructions were received by me nor guidelines provided on the strategy to be adopted, and no response was forthcoming on my own proposal. My urgent request for authorization to travel to Colombo for consultations on the matter was first verbally approved by you and then denied by the Ministry of External Affairs, leaving me with no other option but to travel without authorization, given the gravity. The question of strategy, however, remained unanswered and l had to wade my way through that Session. Similar strategies seemed to have been adopted once more at the 19th Session in an attempt to withhold information on crucial matters and to isolate me from my own staff at the Mission…. What was true for the 18th and 19th Sessions of the Council continues to be true for preparations for the forthcoming Session, and Sri Lanka’s UPR in November 2012.” – Excerpts from letter to Sri Lanka’s Minister of External Affairs, G.L. Peiris by Tamara Kunanayakam. Emphasis mine.

The primary reason I picked up LMD every month when in school was to read the Roving Diplomat, a column penned by Deshamanya Vernon Mendis. It is unnecessary to exalt the calibre of Dr. Mendis, who passed away in 2010.  As one of Sri Lanka’s most distinguished living diplomats Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala noted at the Service of Remembrance for Dr. Mendis, he “created traditions which others followed. In 1970 Vernon devised a training programme for the 1970 intake of Foreign Service recruits. It was so comprehensive and thorough that the Commonwealth Secretariat adopted it for implementation throughout the Commonwealth.”

With this in mind, I quoted Ambassador Kunanayakam at length to demonstrate the remarkable degree professionalism in our diplomatic corps has diminished. The most distressing internal incoherence and partisan politicking within the Foreign Ministry are now played out in full public view. Braggadocio and creative mathematics were employed to scoff and underplay the UN resolution in Geneva. Our curious idea of sovereignty today is geared to protect and celebrate rank violence, bigotry and nepotism. Mindlessly railing against the West, and calling for the boycott of all Western products is the natural telos of this asinine patriotism, around which our foreign policy – if it can be called such – revolves.

Imagine a student, at an impressionable age, reading about Sri Lanka’s foreign service today. Who is 2012’s Vernon? Who can speak about the importance of public diplomacy, soft power and a deep appreciation of Western culture that informs a critical appraisal of the West’s own human rights record? If Ambassadors themselves are clueless about foreign policy decisions taken by government, what does this say about Sri Lanka’s ability to constructively engage growing international scrutiny over the crimson stained timbre of governance? This government calls many of us in civil society unpatriotic, servile puppets of the West. But who really are those openly defiling and shaming Sri Lanka? Read the full text of Ambassador Kunanayakam’s letter for a damning critique of the regime, from within it.

From the august and inspirational Dr. Mendis, we now have a foreign minister who doesn’t know the difference between Israel and Palestine, a young man sporting a mullet haircut included in official, high-level delegations and no discernable foreign policy.

The circus is in town, but I sincerely hope, not for long.

Read Sanjana’s writings @ http://sanjanah.wordpress.com

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Latest comments

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    The circus will be in town for a very long time as long as the majority of the voters in this country have their heads up their backsides…

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      Presidunce Bean:
      You are dead right(as usual!)

      However, let me express my own satisfaction with the fact that the biter (Kunanayakam) has been bit and that chickens are coming home to roost!

      This is one of the pleasures of watching this Idiots’ Circus coming to town: the inevitable unravelling of their crooked, cruel and vicious agenda.

    • 0
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      One revolting specimen recognizes another!

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    We are a cursed nation to be ruled by a stupid family dictatorship.
    If the majority of voters are so foolish to believe the manipulating
    family, and prefer to be ruled by this regime despite the hardships
    they are undergoing (and still to undergo), the remaining silent minority has to leave their future in God’s hand.

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    Appointing Tamara Kunanayakam as the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to Geneva was the biggest mistake Sri lankan Government did in the first place. She was a Low grade Clerical Officer at the UN mission for some time and then became the spokesperson for the LTTE as an NGO Leader. Connection to Mahinda elevated her to Ambassadorial position but without any Diplomatic language to hold the position she was appointed to. The Foreign Service is a CIRCUS and all the unemployed daughters and sons and relations of Ministers and the President are now heading the Foreign Ministry Outposts and they have very little knowledge how to deal with TOP diplomats from other countries, who are trained to be Diplomats, not like our “Circus” members of the Sri Lankan foreign service. Tamara was brought to prove to the world that the GOSL is looking after Tamils and to get the Tamil Diaspora help, like keeping KP in luxury, has back fired and the repercussions to come will be great. GLP is not suitable as the Foreign Minister as well as most in that department related to Minsters and President, but unfortunately Sri Lankan population for some time must live with this circus leaders.

  • 0
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    You can fool some of the people all the time
    You can fool all the people all the time
    But, you cannot fool all the people all the time!
    Wait till the majority get their heads out of their back sides!

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    We don’t have a foreign policy at all.with the biggest cabinet for a very small nation,top man is playing hell as we do not have a strong opposition to challenge the idiot rulers. What he want is some “Yes Sir”
    boot lickers in the Cabinet.As long as western countries are foolishly charging the Sri-Lankan goverment for War Crimes thanks to Diaspora Dollars,Mahinda knows very well that Sri-lankan voters are backing him.UN is toothless & not in a position to do any damn thing against us as long as Super Powers-China & Russia- are with Sri-lanka.

    This is the real truth & ground situation in the country.

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    For how long our ignorant masses going to be duped & hoodwinked by this rogue regime.

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    I agree that there is much that is wrong with the system. It is a result of deteriorating standards, both institutional and individual. Many are to blame for the present state of affairs over the decades since independence; and of course, the problem is more serious today. But one would expect a person of your background to present an argument with a sense of balance and rectitude; not in an insolent or derogatory manner. If people like you (who consider themselves civil society intelligentsia)don’t adhere to standards of propriety and decency in public opinion-making, you cannot expect anything better from others, and the quality of public affairs will deteriorate further. Please try to be part of the solution, not the problem.

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    Who is this young man sporting a mullet haircut included in official high level delegation? Was he a former wharf clerk who is maquerading as the Sri Lankan Tallyrand? God forbid

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    Sri Lanka no longer has Diplomats. What they have today are back scratching, apple polishing “DiploMutts.”

    • 0
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      DeepLowMutts….

  • 0
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    @Ashwin
    I guess we know where your loyalties are.

  • 0
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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
    http://colombotelegraph.com/comments-policy/

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    @ PresiDunce Bean

    Thank you for “guessing,” and seemingly getting it right. I believe I could take that as a compliment. In case you need further clarification: my loyalty is to good governance, the rule of law, professionalism and meritocracy, both in a national and international context; certainly not to any political party, group or individual.

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    Many Tamil friends I have spoken to are of the opinion that Tamara Kunanayagam joined the list of Tamils who licked the foot of the rulers of a pariah regime, and she deserves this treatment for the services she rendered by knowingly defending a criminal violator of international and humanitarian laws.Sri Lanka was asked to prove the steps taken by the government at the UNHRC sessions, and even the most articulate Sinhala Buddhist representative wouldn’t be able to score any points by uttering empty slogans to save the country from defeat.

    She made herself a laughing stock even after she was humiliated in an extreme manner. Why she doesn’t want to quit this Mervyn Silva following diplomatic jokers community even after such humiliation, they asked. She has still got time to come clean by speaking her conscience and the diaspora community will look after her well. And she can play a very historically important role to her community, they added.

    This is another proof that the elite classes of Sri Lankans, both Tamils and Sinhalese don’t trust each other any more. The country is already divided psychologically on ethnic lines and it needs enormous amount of money and tactics to keep it geographically together.

  • 0
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    We see in this super nanny a revolutionary woman

    She is a justifier for civilian casualities

    She is a justifier for ” No Fire Zones”

    She is a symbol for war crimes

    She used her “Tamil Triumph” to get her profile and never worked for civilian agony

    She has no profile, sho did political “prostitution” sorry to use this word.

  • 0
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    Would you be able to give a list of the delegation who attended Geneva?

  • 0
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    Mr Hattotuwa is correct and perhaps wise beyond his years. Today’s diplomatic corp, from the foreign minister downwards, blow their own trumpet, and attempt to convince the rest that they are god’s sole gift to Sri Lanka, and they perform better some others who are not as educated as them. However their calibre as expressed in the article, and as per reasons given in the article cannot be matched with diplomats of yester yester year.

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