8 December, 2021

Blog


Why Daham Sirisena At UN Is A Big Deal

By Nalaka Gunawardene

Nalaka Gunawardene

Nalaka Gunawardene

When the first signs appeared of the new Yahapalana (=well-ruled) government going astray some months ago, I tweeted: “Good governance must not only be done, but also be SEEN as done”.

Optics or appearances do matter. They are especially important in this social media age when every action of the government and its top leadership is closely monitored and commented upon by many citizens.

For reasons of governance and optics, President Maithripala Sirisena taking his son Daham Sirisena to UN General Assembly in New York is wrong. We presume that the young man’s travel and accommodation was paid for with public funds. Yet he has holds no public office; it was completely out of his league to be seated with the president, ministers and diplomats who had official reasons to be there.

It was not good that the officially released photos showed an all-male, mostly Sinhalese delegation seated at the main UN assembly hall.

It did not help matters when the President’s media director tried to explain that the son was a “member of the president’s personal staff”.

And it certainly was not helpful when Daham himself offered a feeble defence on his Facebook page (and giving us definitions of nepotism in the process).

As far as I know – and I have studied how the UN works – the UN Secretariat does not invite individuals to attend the General Assembly. It is the right of member states (which Sri Lanka has been since 1955) to determine who will be on its official delegation. This decision is typically made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in consultation with the President’s office.

And if the Sri Lanka delegation needed youth representation, there should have been an open process to select one or more suitable young men and women. There are very capable young people in Sri Lanka some of who have been participating in UN youth engagement activities locally and globally.

We have nothing against the eager young man (we wish Daham well). It is just that images of him at the UN remind us of the former regime taking planeloads of assorted supporters to New York ostensibly for official business. We are only belatedly finding out how they squandered public funds. We are reacting sharply because we don’t want even a teeny weeny repetition of that.

We are still recovering from what I call Sri Lanka’s Decade of Darkness (2005-2014) during which nepotism and cronyism were nauseatingly high. We voted for President Sirisena as Common Opposition Candidate to end that decadence and megalomania — and not to continue it in any reduced or milder form.

Yes, in the bigger scheme of things, a presidential brat tagging along to New York may not be such a big deal. But the optics of it can be quite damaging: it is as if the Yahapalana President is beginning to go down the same slippery slope.

The Daham@UN episode has shown up our mainstream media as well. None of them had the courage to comment on this matter, or at least report the widespread social media condemnation of it. For some, the first time they ever mentioned it was when they carried Daham’s ‘explanation’ on Facebook.

Is it because our media has been suppressed for too long that, even now, they cover the President, his family and other political leaders with too much deference? Why do most of our media treat the head of state as a feudal lord — when the incumbent has said he does not wish to be treated as such?

Is it that parrots who have been caged for a decade do not want to fly away when released, so they just hover around repeating what the former master/captor taught?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 9
    0

    Mr. Nalaka Gunawardane: You said: ” Yes, in the bigger scheme of things a President brat tagging along to New York may not be a big deal”. Why do you have to say it is “Not a Big Deal”. For us it is a Very Big Deal. This practice of tagging along the members of the family by our Executive was a very much big deal and we opposed it vehemently. Do you remember when ex President presented his son Yoshitha Rajapakse at the official meeting with the Prime Minister of India – Mr. Modi in Kathmandu? What did we say and decide to do? In this present case, what was this “Brat’s Official capacity to participate at a all leaders gathering at UNO? Did he represent anyone or on what reasons the Foreign Ministry decided to give him that status as a “Member of the Delegation” to represent Sri Lanka? Was he an SPECIALIST on world politics or even Sri Lanka politics? Why we tax payers bear his expenses in this whole trip to accompany his father? Although the world leaders who were introduced to him “Shake Hands” with a smile, what poor opinion they would be forming in their minds of our Leadership and the country? This becoming a “cancer” in our body politics. Earlier in another event the President’s daughter overstepped her line of responsible behavior when she got a team of Government Officials and Police to visit the villages of her birth place. Did our President learn anything from that exposure? In this second instance he did it in much a bigger scale and showed that he is no second to our ex President. We call a spade a spade. No matter who betray us, we call them “Humbugs”.

  • 13
    0

    Whoever approved Daham’s inclusion in the delegation should be fired immediately.

    • 7
      2

      The president can not be fired. He can be impeached.

      • 2
        1

        Patriot

        Obviously the President requested. But who was responsible for implementing it? My point is, if the officer concerned carried out the request contrary to accepted protocols without lodging any protest, then he should be fired. This would be the best deterrent for future, if you want to salvage Yahapalanaya before it is run into the ground.

  • 10
    0

    Nalaka,

    You say, “it is as if the Yahapalana President is beginning to go down the same slippery slope.”

    For your information Nalaka the rot has already set in – not ‘as if’.

    Have a look at all those known unrepresentative criminals appointed to the ‘Yahapalanaya’ cabinet. How can you expect ‘yahapalanaya’ with a cabinet full of rogues, thieves and thugs? It is but natural that other corrupt practices such as nepotism will follow.

    By the way your analogy about ‘caged parrots’ when it comes to the reticence of the media to criticise the present incumbent is quite apt – good one.

  • 15
    0

    There is nothing to stop the President taking any member of his family with him. However, if they are not part of the official contingent their place would in the visitor’s gallery. Similarly they should make themselves scarce when the President engages with other leaders on matters of state.

    As for Daham Sirisena, he is a callow young man with a haughty and arrogant sense of entitlement, and prone to violent outbursts, usually when backed up by his security detail. He has an unreconstructed character, and has not been held to account for violent incidents in which he played a leading part. In these times we live in a global village and his sullied reputation has spread far and wide. Contacts have told me that there were guffaws behind the hands that he shook. This would have been a distraction, and an undermining of the President.

    Daham would be best advised to retreat and clear his name. With sincere humility there is much that he can do, hands on, to show that he is not in the mould of the other brats who have plagued our country with bad behaviour and cheesy smiles. We are a forgiving lot, and we do recognise the power of genuine atonement. Then, he may have a future to be truly proud of.

    I can think of at least a dozen or more decent young people, infinitely more qualified and capable of representing our country, and who would project an altogether far more favourable impression of our young people. They should been part of the contingent to the youth conference.

    The mainstream media has adopted a ‘what’s happening?’attitude reminiscent of the infamous New York Slapping incident. Mr Gunawardena is probably correct when he writes of the reasons for their restraint.

    I commend all those who have taken time to comment. Not to do so would be to accept that ‘everything is fine and dandy’ and that would only lead others to think that this is perfectly acceptable behaviour. It is not.

    Entitlement leads to impunity and impunity may well lead to another diplomat getting a slapping, or worse. That is the last thing we want for Sri Lanka.

  • 0
    13

    This article has been written to give the impression that the media has NOT taken this matter seriously-well obviously its NOT a big issue-His father is the President of the country-decides to take his son with the hope on his return he would certainly be of service to the nation in some measure! This is perfectly in line- there is NO nepotism in it-except one tries to make an issue of it to say thie regime is repeating-I think there is a level of tolerance-the way certain things were done in the previous regime was just that it reflected on the family as it were-MRs regime would NOT have had such an impact over a son getting any opportunities-IF NOT FOR ALL THE MISUSE_ABUSE_FRAUD and so many allegations against the entrie family-

  • 13
    0

    Couldn’t agree more with the author.

    The reality is President Maithripala is held to a much higher standard than any previous Sri Lankan president. This is as it should be. The mandate the people gave him was NOT to be the previous regime. Even if he acted in good faith in taking his son to the UN, or asking his daughter to visit communities in Polonnaruwa, this is against people’s expectations of him. It brings back too many bad memories of the children of the previous regime and betrays the trust people have placed in him as their leader. It is time for the President to act for the good of the country and place the feelings and aspirations of his people above his family’s. If this means keeping his children out of the limelight, so be it. If this young man and lady want to genuinely take part in public life, let them do so under their own steam, without abusing their position as two lucky sperm.

    If the President allows the status quo, the tragic end result will be his children turning out to be like a majority of Sri Lankan political offspring – a nuisance to the public and a drain on the State’s resources.

  • 14
    0

    Any type of nepotism has to be nipped in the bud as it could grow like cancer!
    Sengodan. M

  • 1
    10

    People like you are making it a big deal. Daham is keen in doing something for his father, may want to take to Civil Administration, may take to politics but obviously, he is a gutty young man who stood with his father for several weeks before 8th Jan. 2015. Is he the only off-spring of a politician who follows an elder? What about Dudley, what about CBK etc? Lets not talk of Namal, Yoshitha and the other boy. You forget that My3 did not cart a plane load of his goons and catchers to watch porn, booze violate the common laws etc. I have a feeling that My3’s son and daughter merely want to be a help and monitor for their father.

  • 4
    0

    NG is right but he could have said it all in half the number of words.
    But yes, it was very unwise of President Sirisena in the post January 8 context to have taken his son to the UN and allowed such high profile media exposure. I hope father and son will not make such slips again.

  • 11
    0

    This young man should never have been seen posturing in front of the Sri Lanka delegation to the U.N General Assembly.This fellow has not been elected nor has any official position to be there.His only qualification is that he is the Presidents son.The real fact is this fellow has a bad record of thuggery,and posing with his fellow thug friends in Night clubs and of course the notorious incident where on Pasikuda beach exposed himself to young Lady who happened to be the wife of a D.I.G. son, this caused a real fight which was suppressed by his fathers influence. This fellow is a bad egg and it is an insult to our youth to be represented by punks like this. Hope the gutless Sri Lankan press tells the true story of the Yapalana Nepotism. Iamm no Mahinda fan and his stiking crooked regime. WE never expected Simple Sira to fall into this trap. Guys in the ministry of foreign affairs where is your chief of protocol?was this officer sleeping, or was he or she another “Pambaya”Mangala and Wijedasa should know better than giving into this sort of crap from the Gamarala . Yapalana my foot.

  • 4
    1

    Don’t pick fights openly. White Vans might reappear. This young lad has a lot to learn. There was reason he was exiled abroad immediately after his Father won the election on Jan 8th. Please be careful.

  • 10
    0

    The worst thing is that MS does not care what we think about him. No explanations. No or apologies. To be ignored like that is worse than being contradicted.

    Perhaps the logic is “This is my first and last term as President. So f…. you all. I will do what I want and if you don’t like it go jump in the nearest lake”.

    • 5
      0

      Everybody has the same sentiment. People are helpless.

  • 8
    0

    Nalaka has hit the nail on the head. Our mainstream media are still subservient no matter who comes to Power. President Sirisena may declare that he is a simple man, and does not want to be called ‘Athigaru Janathipathithuma’ etc. But the media doesn’t want to do their job honestly and impartially. With this type of media, how can we expect our politicians do the right thing? All their writings about equality, justice and fair play become a joke if they continue to do their reporting discriminately.

  • 3
    4

    Nalaka Gunawardene

    RE: Why Daham Sirisena At UN Is A Big Deal

    Earlier a lot of people did not know that the President had a son Daham. Now we know. Is the Pope Catholic, I mean is Daham Para-Sinhala?

    “It was not good that the officially released photos showed an all-male, mostly Sinhalese delegation seated at the main UN assembly hall.”

    All Male-Para Sinhala delegation ftom the Land of Native Veddah SAethho.

    “For reasons of governance and optics, President Maithripala Sirisena taking his son Daham Sirisena to UN General Assembly in New York is wrong. We presume that the young man’s travel and accommodation was paid for with public funds. Yet he has holds no public office; it was completely out of his league to be seated with the president, ministers and diplomats who had official reasons to be there.

    President Obama took his wife and children. Bill gates took his wife and daughter. Of course they were not Yaha-Palanaya.

    The Yaha Palanaya Leaders had to be Chase than Cease’s wife!

    Looks like they are not!

    true, one could have found a promising Sri Lankan Foreign Service person with a high enough IQ who could have replaced Daham. Anyway, that is NOT what the customer, President Sirisena wanted. He wanted his son.

    Look at the trips President Obama took with his wife and daughters.

    • 2
      1

      You don’t need to look at Obama and his family, when you have MR and his MULTITUDE.

  • 2
    4

    Sir,you mentioned that the period between 2005 to 2014 is the period of darkness but sir,are you saying civil war period was not a period of darkness??

    • 3
      1

      H.A.D AKILA DULSHAN

      “are you saying civil war period was not a period of darkness?? “

      No it was a period of lightening and thunder.

  • 3
    6

    Daham’s appearance at the UN is not right but to have the son by his side
    would have made DAD feel good in that situation.

  • 5
    0

    Maithriepalanaya at its worse following very closely on the footsteps of M R. A repition of this form of corruption is bound to backlash on the New Govt.

  • 0
    0

    ‘Escaping the grip of big business a challenge for media’

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/n-rams-address-on-media-freedom-in-colombo/article7703219.ece

    (this applies to our Sri Lankan Mainstream Media too.)

    N. Ram urges news organisations to introduce codes of values and good practices.

    The real challenge for the Indian news media now is to find economically sustainable and politically astute ways and means to loosen and eventually to break the stranglehold being established by big business to the detriment of free and independent journalism in a seemingly irreversible historical process, N. Ram, Chairman of Kasturi and Sons Limited and former Editor in Chief of The Hindu group of publications, said on Tuesday.

    Delivering a talk on media freedom at an event organised in memory of Esmond Wickremesinghe, a doyen of Sri Lanka’s print journalism, Mr. Ram referred to trends such as manipulation of news, analysis and comment to suit the owners’ financial or political interests; hyper-commercialisation; price wars; and aggressive practices in the home bases of other newspapers.

    He urged media organisations to introduce codes of values and codes of good practice binding journalists and the media industry, and instituting self-regulation mechanisms such as independent news ombudsmen within major news organisations.

    • 0
      0

      You go and worship your conceited `Ram` the slippery slitherer who wildly follows Rupert Murdoch

      When we are healthy, we all have advice for those who are sick.

      .
      Ram is just south block `think tank`(goofy journalist) tweets and its connections.
      Just because he calls his paper the Hindu it is not the Hindustani newspaper. Even CNN learnt that it can never go alone and are lagging behind to the Desi version with Bihar transmissions to the nation.

      You are piece meal anti west when it suits you. You need western self regulation then you need to rehabilitate and that wont come naturally.Indians don’t like questions being asked even at campus because they are wrapped up in several human downgrading issues.

      All politicians, film-stars, sportsmen love the press(communication skills) because it is the single mode that promotes them to dizzy heights of celebrity status.
      So these lucky ones must be prepared for the law nature.

      Criticism – One corrects customs by laughing at them.

  • 4
    1

    It would seem clear now that 2 major incorrect assumptions were made by the people when they voted my3 into power.

    1. That he will clean up politics
    2. That he can lead

    A ‘common liar’ is more suitable.

    The public have beed duped once again. At least we can collectively read about how upset we are about it.

  • 0
    5

    Nalaka Putha is right! Our dear President & Master Sirisena,
    I want to add as a Senior in our society, there is much you must learn from persons like Nalaka.

    As a person who likes to enlighten individuals like Our President , Dham and any other I want to give you my humble advice. IT IS POSSIBLE THAT MANGALA & MAHINDA S. AND WIJEDASA wanted to bring Pres. Sirisena to ridicule and disrepute in this instance, while waiting as sincere saints. Remember, they have UNP blood vis a vis SLFP/UPLF & JVP BLOOD with our PRESIDENT.

    Dear President,
    As a sincere observer of your deeds, please consult individuals like Dr Palitha Kohona or Mr Tilak Ranaviraja former Minister oif the SL Embassy in Washington D.C. and SLAS Retd , whether what you do is right. They will never ever let you down. Do not trust other advisers of yours as they laugh behind your back, as you are not from St Benedict’s College and Trinity College and as you are a Buddhist! Consult learned individuals also in the Foreign Ministry or Prof. G. Lakshman Pieris(Not the Minister or former Minister Bogollagama )as Diplomacy, names of food for DPL purposes and etiquette were formally introduced to the world during the reign of King Louis XIV of France by his Minister of the Economie, COLBERT. Those practices of the French Court were admired, accepted and followed by DPL Corps of all countries. When the French Ambassador Sieur de la Nerolle and ADC Pedro Gascoigne (Gascon) came to S.L. in 1672(?) the court in Kandy did not have modern plumbing and upholstered furniture; those were introduced to the world by the French in the 17th Century.

  • 5
    1

    Spot on Nalaka G. Finally somebody writes an article and puts it within its true perspective. As a Jaffna Tamil even I did not realise that it was an all Sinhala delegation as you point out. Given the issues the country is facing we would have made a powerful statement to have multi ethnic representation at the UN. On the other hand even if the country had to put an all contingent Sinhalese delegation forward, frankly I wouldn’t have minded it as long as they were all capable to give U.S. Sri Lankans our lost reputation back. Sri Lanka means everything to me and I just cannot bear it any longer to see people like MR, Wimal and he clan squander our hopes internationally. I hope Sirisena does not go down that path. Despite these set -backs we see I still feel we are much better off today. One year ago you wouldn’t have been able to put your name on this article and for that we must be thankful.

  • 4
    1

    Daham’s appearing at the UN Assembly is because he is the Dad’s son and not other criteria. Daham claims he made it because Mum couldn’t make the trip. The invitation is for the Presidents & wives and not for any amount of children, grand-children, in-laws, babies & illegal-kepts etc. Even if the partners are invited, they don’t sit down at the Assembly instead, participate in leisure programs arranged for socializing and drinking tea.
    If a young representative is needed for the Assembly, there should be a process to find the suitable. Therefore, Sirisena has bypassed the Yahapalanaya and cheated the nation. This offense is serious because he got the votes to come to power on his trade mark principle of “I’ll stop family favoritism”.
    Now that the Lokka has shitted, the shit & the smell goes down the wire sliding the country along a slippery down-slope. Ministers also give recognition & positions to family & extended family but the damage to the country is not seen immediately, instead takes years to see. An example is Ambassadors were selected on Daham-type connections in the past who didn’t have the vision and intellectuality against LTTE propaganda carving a poor name for the SL. Imagine if the National Cricket captaincy given to a Daham-type connection followed by other 10 players from Minister’s sons too. Then the results would be seen immediately in the world cup, the First round OUT! Now you see how the SIRISENA-TYPE cheating affects the whole country in long-term!
    Is Daham the first back-door entry to the Assembly ever?
    WE SHOULD CHANGE THE FIVE PRECEPTS INTO SIX IMMEDIATELY, “CHEATING VERAMANI SIKKA PADAN SAMA-DIYAMI.
    When Lokka eats shit for persona gain, where would the country go? Any difference to Rajapaksa, Premadasa, JR, Chandrika, Srima…SWRD, Dudly, DS….? Disgusting!!! Brina a Sudda to govern the country!

  • 4
    1

    Well Said Nalaka.

  • 4
    1

    Like the president and PM talk of a new political culture the media also must look inwards and change their servile attitude and culture to the incumbent PM, govt and the president. Change this attitude and culture of not directly criticizing. When criticizing these two they must be harsh and direct with no holds barred. Patronizing culture will not help yahapalanaya. Make use of this so called new media freedom for the benefit of good governance and the people.

  • 3
    2

    Former president lost his kingdom due to his sons and brothers and this president will also lose due to son and daughter. Not sure why Maithree continues to act as the fool of the century in all respect. Cabinet is the same, nepotism is the same, quality of politicians are the same, corruptions are the same why not Rajapakse come back…

  • 2
    3

    MERIT, meaning achievement, qualifications, skills, honesty, integrity and demonstrated potential for LEADERSHIP by a person should be the basis for selection to attend such meetings as the Youth Summit of the UN. Also, young women should be given preference because they tend to be marginalized in such selections.

    MERIT based promotions and selection to all government posts should be the operative word for.
    Unfortunately the word merit in Sri Lanka has a different connotation because of the Buddhist discourse. In Sinhala society merit is all about feeding Buddhist monks (Dhana) to gain (pin) or merit for the next life. This is not the meaning of the word merit in English used to differentiate between those who ACHIEVE high position in society because of intelligence and hard work, rather than those who INHERIT positions.
    Sri Lanka is a feudal society and politics and political culture is the most feudal segment of Sri Lankan society – where MP positions are passed from father to son regardless of whether the son has any qualifications or a criminal record. Look at Sajith Premadasa who lied about getting a degree from the London School of Economics who thinks that he is born to be UNP leader and PM and President of Sri Lanka just because he is the son of President R. Premadasa who achieved his position?! Within one generation the transformation has been made. Or look as Dimu Jayatne’s son who is implicated in drugs smuggling…

    This article should be translated to educate the Sinhala public who vote in corrupt politicians, rather than for those who are educated and honest.

  • 2
    1

    As I memntioned under another thread, Australian Foriegn Minister has been heavily questioned about taking her partner to the floor of the General Assenbly to sit with her during the sessions. It is not a good look, Mr. President. Also, advise the youngman not to jump in with a reponse in the social media as if nothing happened.

  • 3
    1

    Great article.

    On another note but related to the same incident. The President and his son think they have mastered their PR management in the era of social media. Sadly they and many others in politics are being cut -open by social media and the inner workings of their mentality are being exposed by the minute.

    A lot of politicians in the west and in the Far East have mastered the technique of managing their social profiles and they still do make the occasional mistake and the price they pay is by offering their resignation. Here in SL the public is still forgiving and tolerant in comparison to many other social media capitals of the world. But make no mistake that the all powerful MR regime were fully exposed and literally chopped out of power. When the people of SL think enough is enough they will not hesitate to express their anger neither will they not hesitate to excercise their right when it comes to an election and this will happen despite politicians claiming to be nationalistic or having won world war 3 for SL to safe guard the country.

    I still have confidence in MS and RW despite their shortcomings but they must learn to adapt to this new era. No sooner loon is made possible every Sri Lankan will have greater access to information and will scrutinise every move of the politicians and make them accountable. The Dham incident is a good eye opener and if the government fails to take the cue now their chances of failure will be massive in time to come. Don’t touch social media if you don’t know to deal with it. Dham’s post on FB displays his immaturity and his lack of knowledge on how to deal with it. Obviously Sirisena does not understand the impact of this post and won’t be able to teach him either.

  • 5
    1

    Well said Nalaka!

    We don’t want even a whiff of what occurred during the past Decade of Decadence.

    How disingenuous of Daham to claim he was officially invited. Pray, who sent him that invitation and at whose behest?

    And Daham, please note that nepotism is not confined only to giving jobs to one’s favourites! Come, come, young man! Don’t “play the fool” with the citizens of this country and squander their hard earned money on junkets abroad with papa’s blessings.

    As we all know History repeats, so watch out!

    PS: We also hear about another “healthy” ministerial brat playing ducks and drakes with vehicles belonging to his dad’s Ministry.

    As Nalaka says “Yahaplana” must not only be done, but also appear to be done.

    When will we ever learn!

  • 1
    2

    Well,Daham is not alone here.Julie Bishop (Australian Foreign Minister) too been accused of allowing her Beau to attend the UN session with her though he had no official status.At least in this case the Airfare claimed to have been paid out of his personal funds.

    Nevertheless,Two wrongs do not make a Right

    • 6
      2

      You can’t compare that which is moral when your culture is different according to you the citizen.Even though you wear the western trousers you never resign when guilty its the culture of -shape shape shape.
      However the world has always been ruled by passion never rational which is not human but a term meant for ants.

      If cricket was the only sport I would puke.
      so we have winter sports and summer sports- variety the very stuff of life.
      while you want only sinhala buddhist donkey do.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.