5 December, 2020

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We Must Realize The Importance Of Developing Coherent Policies

By Rajiva Wijesinha

Dr. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

I had been asked to speak on the votes of the Ministry of External Affairs during the Committee Stage of the Budget Debate, but was subsequently told that there was no time for this. Since I had prepared a text, which I felt discussed urgent issues in the current context, I thought it would be useful to make this available instead of forgetting about the points raised.

In the current context, Mr. Speaker, it is an urgent necessity to register the importance of budgetary provision for our Ministry of External Affairs, and I am honored to have been asked to speak on this subject. I should add that I am surprised that the Opposition has not taken the opportunity of proposing an amendment to increase the amount we should be spending. The General Secretary of the main opposition party noted recently that the failure of the government to rebut formally many allegations made against this country, as well as against the UN officials who helped the Sri Lankan people while we were struggling against terrorism. While his criticism was misplaced, he certainly had a point in that we should be doing better in presenting internationally the actual situation in this country. But instead of engaging in blind condemnation he should help, as some members of his party have done, in subscribing to the excellent memorandum prepared by young Members of Parliament of all parties, to develop a more constructive policy.

The key to such a policy, Mr. Speaker, is training, as the President made clear in many parts of his budget presentation. Though specific mention was not made of the need for better training within the Ministry of External Affairs, we must realize the importance of developing coherent policies and youngsters able not only to implement them, but also to explain them. As it is, we seem to be torn between conflicting predilections, as was graphically illustrated when the most successful diplomat of recent years, Dr Dayan Jayatilleka, was attacked in the media after the debacle in Geneva in March this year. The claim then was that the conservative elements in the Ministry of External Affairs were now able to reassert themselves, and carry out the policies of President J R Jayewardene, as against the traditional policies of the party of the current popularly elected President of the country.

What is that traditional policy, and how do we make it clear, not only to the world, but also to officials of the Ministry who are still stuck in the mindset of 1987, that this is what must be promoted? At a recent seminar on Indo-Sri Lankan relations, for which the Adviser to the President on the subject had nominated me, we were reminded by a distinguished Indian scholar of how some Sri Lankans were still obsessed by resentments against India born of the events of 1987, just as there had been Indian bureaucrats obsessed by resentments against China because of the events of 1982. Thus, after the debacle in Geneva, we had attacks on India, with those elements in the Ministry of External Affairs who still hanker after the antics of the eighties trying to prejudice the country against India.

On the contrary, Mr. Speaker, we must go back to the days of successful Sri Lankan foreign policy, when we had close relations with India, whilst also maintaining positive links with all other Asian nations. This does not of course mean that we should quarrel with the West, but fortunately the West is now more enlightened than it was in the eighties, when it had a polarizing view of the world in which India was in the opposite camp. Now, on the contrary, we can revert to the old policies of friendship with all, without worrying about adverse Western reactions to such inclusivity. And we can be confident that Asian countries, which always had broader perspectives, will feel no resentment provided we make it clear that we are happy to work together with all of them.

But, at the same time, we must understand that the West is constrained at present by pressures which we must help them to resist. Whilst we should not compromise at all with regard to false allegations, we can certainly do better in affirming our commitment to pluralism and human rights. This was what the Neanderthal elements in the Ministry of External Affairs did not understand when they attacked Dr Jayatilleka, and had Ambassador Kunanayagam transferred from Geneva. While there may have been old style Cold Warriors in the West, who resented the commitment of these two bright diplomats to Non-Alignment, more enlightened elements, amongst our Non-Aligned friends as well as in the West, appreciated their deep commitment to equity and democracy and Human Rights within Sri Lanka.

In that respect, Mr. Speaker, we have to recognize that External Relations also involves input into domestic matters. Thus the very successful efforts of the Minister for Human Rights, when in accordance with the strategies laid down by Dr Jayatilleka in Geneva, he defended Sri Lanka against false allegations, also depended on coordination with UN mechanisms. The visits we arranged at the time for Special Rapporteurs on subjects such as Torture and the Displaced contributed to better understanding, and it is a great pity that we stopped engaging with such helpful individuals after the Ministry of Human Rights was abolished.

At the time I thought the Ministry of External Affairs could handle the subject, but the Secretary to that Ministry soon made it clear that this was not possible. Given that we have since failed to make our position clear, whilst also ensuring not only that we improve matters, but also that we convey this message to the world, I believe it is important that we once again have a dedicated mechanism to ensure better Rights for our people. Despite the excellent cooperation I have received from so many officials, I am increasingly finding my task of convening the Task Force on expediting implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan difficult, because coordinated action is nigh impossible with so many Ministries responsible for similar matters. The recent tragedy at Welikada is ample evidence, given the insightful recommendations of the President in the budget speech last year, that action must be expedited, and not left to individual agencies that feel no sense of urgency. I believe therefore that the special envoy of the President with regard to Human Rights should also have executive responsibilities in this regard, so that we can ensure implementation of commitments we make.

But for this purpose we must also develop a more coherent approach to Rights, and to their role in international relations. I have long advocated the establishment of training programmes in this regard, and development of institutional mechanisms for this purpose. Whereas the Ministry of Defense for instance is producing better officers with wider perspectives, the Ministry of External Relations, which should take the lead in such matters, lags behind. Perhaps this is because it needs more resources, so that institutions such as the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute and the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies can develop into think tanks on a par with those we find in India and China. With Dr Jayatilleka about to return, after two years in Paris which saw a much more enlightened approach to Sri Lanka than we suffered from earlier, it would make sense to use his services to develop diplomats who can serve their country more effectively.

I have no doubt that the brilliant intellectual leadership the Ministry of External Affairs now enjoys will understand this point, and make much better use of Dr Jayatilleka. I hope too that the Minister will ensure that the efforts of the President to make better use of internationally admired figures like Ms Kunanayagam will not run into the blocks that have been thrown up, that nearly prevented her delivering in Geneva and New York the report of the Working Group on the Right to Development.

While Dr Jayatilleka served in Geneva Sri Lankan achievements were seen as a model and, in the short time she was in Geneva, Ms Kunanayagam was able to restore something of that reputation. We must aim to have more people like that, who can restore the reputation of our diplomats, as established by brilliant thinkers like Shirley Amerasinghe and Neville Kanakaratne. Those of us who saw them in action may seem old fashioned in hankering after such genius, given that our education system has declined since the days in which it could produce such brilliant communicators easily. But we must strive for at least something of those days, and I hope the Ministry will make use of its brightest stars of recent years to give new ideals at which a younger generation should aim.

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Latest comments

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    Now whats up Man! Any more killings to be justified with boru english?

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    Crocodile tears for Dayan. Hehe. Is this to figure out what is to be the great intellectual’s NEXT great contribution to Sri Lankan foreign relations? Someone at the ministry used their noodle and prevented this joker from speaking.
    Tamara Kunanayakam successful? According to WHICH book on diplomacy, pray? If so successful, why did your dear HE send her packing?
    this guy needs a lobotomy.

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    Sri Lankan foreign policy is a joke. But what else shound one expect, when the government is run by those with village-level credentials? One has only to see the remarks made by Basil Rajapakse, in regards to the recent budget. The village clowns will take the country to rock bottom, but maybe that is what is needed to awaken the slumbering masses.

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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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    Dr. Rajiva Wijesinghe:

    Israel, even though it is heavily protected by the USA, has so many troubles in the foreign community and even then Israel is continuing to live the way they want. If you were happened to work for the Israel foreign ministry would you hand and commit suicide because of the humiliation you feel ?

    I think it is better your article was not given any space during the reading time. further, I think, you don’t have any idea about Sri Lanka.

    Dr. Jayathilake is a capable diplomat. But, his socialist ideology makes him unsuitable sometimes.

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    Sri Lankan foreign policy is just a scrap paper.. How they appoint ambassadors for countries? All military juntas. What they know abt foreign policy?… Also think abt legislators what we got..Dr. M. Silva top class goon. Weerawansha who introduce T-56 culture. Do U expect any more in policy making?

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    Usually a diplomat assignment is for 3 years,

    Do you know why Dr Dayan Jayatilleka is returning within 2 years.

    There is a fear that Jayatilleka may be arrested by the French authority.

    Impunity doesnt work for any criminal activities, especially assassination of someone.

    Return of Jayatilleka proves the SL embassy involvement in an assassination in Paris that took place on 8th November.

    What we read in the Colombo Telegraph is all becoming true.

    It is true that Jayatilleka went for legal consultation soon after it was published in the French news paper that one of the suspects have told that a person close to the SL embassy in Paris has offered him 50,0000 euros and a SL passport.

    As Kirubakaran said in his article, there is no doubt that SL state terrorism has spread to France.

    Good luck Jayatillkea.

    What is your next destination for your multiple task?

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      “This ignorant writer does not know that the term of office for a non-career ambassador is two, not three years. It is customary for such ambassadors to request a third year’s extension but I chose not to do so, and gave notice to the Ministry in writing last October of the impending conclusion of my contractual term three months hence and of my decision to return to Sri Lanka at the earliest, upon completion of my term.

      Far from facing the slightest difficulty with the French authorities, law enforcement or otherwise, I must state that French law enforcement has not sought to question any employee of the Sri Lankan Embassy even once, in pursuit of its investigation into the murder of the gentleman nicknamed Paridi (alias ‘Col Reagan of the LTTE’ according to the banners at his funeral).

      My schedule of farewell calls also include the highest ranks of the French diplomatic apparatus.

      I must state in conclusion that I have never sought a meeting with a lawyer during my entire stay here.

      In short, this writer has lied repeatedly in this communication and has attempted to mislead your readers, but this is hardly surprising because such falsehood is a characteristic of the neofascist separatist movement that was decisively defeated by Sri Lanka in May 2009, that he/she is clearly sympathetic to.

      Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to France & Permanent Delegate to UNESCO

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        Dayan do not rush into conclusions. French Police is careful in dealing with people working in Srilankan embassy as they have some diplomatic immunity. They have not closed this case as one that took place as a result of intra-faction rivalry, but are continuing their investigations. You have not denied the fact that you went for legal consultation after the allegation of one of the arrested implicating your embassy staff. If Srilankan embassy is not guilty why did you do that. Tamils in western countries are well aware that Srilankan military intelligence have recruited Tamils and sent them to these countries to carry out hits, similar to what Russians and Israelis have done. So please be quiet and watch the outcome without trying to mislead the world.

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        Lets wait and see who is a lier.

        When you are so popular among the diplomats in France, why you are leaving, especially when there is an accusation on your embassy.

        You agree that so far, French law enforcement has not sought to question any employee of the SL embassy. But don’t run away.

        Why you are running in a hurry? Have you got any other assignment?

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        You waste your breath speaking to hyenas! They do not have the capacity to understand. Sri Lanka will never rise above 3rd world. Now, how did that saying go “Sinhalaya modaya…?”

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    Prof

    Why you are still wasting time with this government, after all they never allowed you to speak in the parliament.

    Cant you join Ranil on a demand that you will be appointed as a Minister in the future UNP government.

    Bad comes to worse you are qualify to join JVP. I dont think there is a huge different between your racial statement and the JVP.

    Dont forget the story about the Blue eye Tamil children in IDP camps.

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    The education provide good people. But they are trapped by corrupt politicians. You yourself is a well illustration for the situation.

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    We had a very good set, well educated and well qualified professionals at Ministry of External Affairs. They were well respected, and maintained trust and had very good reputation among the international community.

    But since the end of the LTTE war many of them lost their credibility, prestige trust and reputation in the international Arena.

    I witnessed and watched many of their interviewes both with foreign media and with the international representatives.
    The most important thing I noticed with interviews was almost all of them either trying to dodge the question, or completely lying or telling something as true which they are not sure about…and finally giving wrong information which later they got caught red handed.

    I don’t have much time to write them individually nor I don’t want to write in this open blog, but what I want to tell is due to these unfortunate incidients…..They…the SL representatives lost their credibility and reputation in the International arena and I know the cause for all of these were due to MR’s narrow minded , misleading and untruthful instructions given to them to follow.

    I can still see some of the MR interviews with foreign media in Utube ….which are quite amusing.

    At the last commonwealth summit in Tehran….when a reporter asked about the success of the NA conference….MR’s answer was …relevant…relevant…relevant what?

    How cay you improve relations with others with these type of misleading answers…

    Also at one of the international conferences….the govt. rep could not talk english at all and my friend had to introduce her to the secretary general of the conference as the Sri Lankan rep….in English.

    I think the bottom line with Prof.Rajiva Wijesinse was, that he could not bare telling anymore lies nor could not hide the truth, where he got caught at all the corners and had to say enough is enough.

    It’s good for him at least to keep his reputation and leave the post honourably, atleast agreeing to his own conscious.

    I wish him well.

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    Looks like Rajiva could finally see the writing on the wall and is attempting ‘damage control’ to the best of his ability before MR’s shit hits his fan(ny).

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    “We Must Realize The Importance Of Developing Coherent Policies”

    You don’t say! What took you so long to arrive at that conclusion? After all the defending of the policies why the sudden turn-around?

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    No time given for the liberal doctor. Wonder who spoke on external affairs? Maybe Modawansa.

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    This article by Rajiva Wijesinha was written with a purpose.

    It is an utter lie that there were no time for this speech during the budget speech.

    This article is mainly to inform the readers that Dr Dayan Jayatilleka was called back to Colombo.

    No need for Jayatilleka to explain us how long a career and non diplomat can work. What he says applies to countries which respect rule of law and good governance.

    Execution President Mahinda Rajapaksa has done many things without repecting any protocol. Giving extension to Jayatilleka is not a big deal for him.

    From enemies and friens of Jayatilleka we are aware of everything in detail. Not only Jayatilleka, even the military attachment to this embassy during the assassination in Paris faces the same fate.

    Do wait for few weeks or months. French investigators may be watching every move.

    Rajiva Wijesinha, this is not a Blue eye story. This is a criminal act where immunity doesnt work.

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    If you were not given an opportunity to speak on the External Affairs Ministry (EAM) during the committee stage of the budget debate and considering the critical comments you have made on this Ministry in the speech which you were not allowed to make, why on earth are you hanging on to a Govt run by such a motley crew? C’mon Dr. Wijesinghe, be frank. You are not one of their kind. If you have an ounce of decency you should promptly step down without becoming a part of a circus which is full of clowns than acrobats!

    Nihal R

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