Revamp the Sri Lankan Ministry of External Affairs
Posted on April 3rd, 2013

Shenali Waduge

The UNHRC has concluded. 2 Resolutions have been passed both sponsored by US and backed by India. Many continue to ask what went wrong. Many wonder inspite of defeating a terrorist organization why the nation has been turned into and treated as a pariah state. Never has Sri Lanka had to suffer such humiliation despite being the only nation to have defeated terrorism. Our lessons are clear. We have failed to tackle the world and that failure lies at the doorstep of the Ministry of External Affairs tasked to make the world informed of Sri Lanka’s progress.

 The resolution once again affords us an ideal occasion to ask where we went wrong and what we need to do to not make the same mistakes. A proper vision and strategy entails a need for the President to take stock of the outcome of the UNHRC. Opening up missions in every corner of the world and filling them with political appointees will not do any service for the nation as we have seen.

 Our external affairs has been handed over to a person whose record of tackling foreign issues has little to show for itself given that he has held on to the portfolio inspite of deserting camp. Debacle after debacle is what has been a hallmark of an individual whose handling of this portfolio has given little or no assurance of security to the nation. Is this not why the President has to even appoint a monitor for that Ministry. Will he also have to appoint a monitor for the monitors!

 The ceasefire agreement is the best example of how the present external affairs minister not only agreed but praised an agreement that gave a terrorist organization official territory in Sri Lanka in addition to the humiliations suffered by the military. The list of gullible officials who sacrificed the nation for their personal glory are many.

 Personal affiliations to liberal theories and associated entities of secularism, devolution, federalism etc are a dangerous chemistry for someone tasked to maintain the unitary status of the nation. There are several other such public officials towing this line of thinking.

 It is these personal weaknesses and affiliated thinking that ends up bartering the unitary nature of the country and has led to these very people championing agreements such as the 2002 ceasefire, ISGA, PTOMs, Equal Opportunities Act (that would have denied the place of Buddhism violating the Constitution)  

 It is ridiculous to think that the entire world is against Sri Lanka. Every negative must be approached with a positive counter agenda and what has the external affairs minister devised to counter these? We know that Tamil Nadu’s angst with Sri Lanka has a background there are other ground realities as well, we are aware that Sonia Gandhi prefers power to avenging her husband’s death “”…” so many other dynamics are at play.

 But what about the other states of India? Why has the ministry not taken any lengths to secure ties with these other states given that many of them have Buddhist populations? They could have together easily nullified the Tamil-Nadu Sonia alliance. By building relationships with these states some as powerful as Gujarat where India is likely to see their new pro-Hindu PM should have been explored as a strategy with a Buddhist desk opened in the ministry. Just because the minister is a “bayagulla” not wishing to give the place due to Buddhism simply because he prefers to keep company with only the English speaking elitist pro-West group it does not mean the entire country has to tow that line.

 The Sinhalese Buddhist kings never faced the humiliations that our present leadership and entire country is having to face. Every citizen of Sri Lanka has to be given rights and freedoms but these are all within the provisions of the Constitution. Why has the external affairs ministry not circulated to all missions overseas that they must describe Sri Lanka as a nation belonging to all citizens but predominantly Buddhist because that aspect is clearly given in the constitution and no public official can decide to omit Article 9 because of his personal dislike to mention Buddhism. There appears to be several other heads of state in missions overseas who are not allowing the national anthem to be sung and dissuading foreign investors to invest in Sri Lanka. All these need to be seriously investigated and heads of these missions must be recalled.

 The foreign ministry cannot be run as a one-man show where even competent personnel are shoved into the background and only the favored elite Colombians end up calling the shots. People who are in the service and competent must be given chances irrespective of favoritism. There are enough talented individuals in the external affairs ministry who are not getting the chance they deserve. It is unfair to sideline them and not use their talents.  

 There are unfortunately many in the ministry who prefer only Western appointments because they serve personal purposes. Nevertheless if the ministry is to function with the nations best interest at heart what the policy makers need to realize is that with China rising the invariably reality is Asian nations will rise with it. We see how India is “looking East” and India is tapping the Buddhist past and we question when we have a far greater right having preserved Buddhism, why we are not pursuing Buddhist diplomacy amongst the Asian nations majority of whom are Buddhists and rising. It is a great opportunity for Sri Lanka to initiate an International Conference on Buddhist Nations bringing all the Buddhist world together at a diplomatic level. These are all natural historical allies and these ties would keep Sri Lanka secure at all times.

 At the same time we have to accept that our heads in the Missions have not regularly kept nations informed and engaged in the truth “”…” have they explained and put into perspective how LTTE started, the Indian role as a foreign state sponsoring terror way back in the 1980s, have these missions been told about the Diaspora, their ties to the LTTE, the rackets they are involved in fleecing their own natives”¦.do these missions keep updated statistics and use them? Where there is a will there is no limit to what could have been done to put the story straight given that we had all the facts in our favor but we did not use them.

 These actions are all tantamount to betraying the brave deeds of our soldiers. Most of whom sacrificed their lives to save ours. The Ministry has to accept their folly in not taking up the challenge at a diplomatic level similar to the enthusiasm and commitment shown by the armed forces when they went to war with the LTTE in 2009. It is a pity that these laid back approaches has given the dividends that we are now left to feel sorry about.

 We cannot be in mourning forever. The best way going forward is to reshape the Ministry with proper guidelines, suitable strategy and action plans that need consistent monitoring. Simply going round the world attending conferences, diplomatic events or delivering eloquent speeches has not given the nation any dividends. Every opportunity given on the international arena have been approached with the sole policy of appeasing the West and not wanting to defend the nation.

 Revamping the ministry giving opportunity to those that can deliver is a good way to go forward. There are plenty of suitable individuals in the missions all they would need is the guidelines in order to function.

13 Responses to “Revamp the Sri Lankan Ministry of External Affairs”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    More important to have PROPER FOREIGN POLICY that recognises Endia (Hindustan) as our enemy UNLESS it stops doing everything Tamil Madu demands and stops dividing SL.

    If we continue the SAME FOREIGN POLICY with different faces, it will be the same soup.

    Our foreign policy should correctly identify WHO IS FRIEND and WHO IS ENEMY. Mixing the two is a disaster.

    Now the foreign policy is LOVE ENEMIES, HATE FRIENDS.

  2. herman Says:

    SL foreign policies needs to seriously consider engaging the various lobby groups at the UN & USA, currently and all previous goverments in SL were very weak in this arena.

  3. Sunil Vijayapala Says:

    if we had a wise leader we would be on a better footing than now. our man is a hero at home but not tough enough with foreigners. added to that he is guided by people like glp, a backboneless man, and a set of unwise advisors. he has no conscience or intelligence to think and act and guide others to come up with a solution to overcome the mess we are in today. thanks to tiger saks we lost stalwarts like lalith and kadir, who could have stood up to foreigners and give a good hiding. their english was good(not that i give a damn about this stupid langauage) and eloquent. our man cannot even do well in an interview by an english speaking reporter. the root cause of the problem is lack of leadership. this leader can be swayed by every tom, dick and harry. he did a good job when he was the prime minister but lacks the leadership to be a president to tackle foreigners and other countries. he might think that he is defeated if chogm is moved to another country hence must be fighting to keep this going on our soil. a humilation to all our ancestors who sacrificed their lives on their fight against the british.

  4. Sarath W Says:

    Is Mahinda Rajapaksa playing a dangerous game to win support at home by sacrificing the image of the country abroad? Is he trying to boost his image at home by telling “the whole world is against him for eliminating the Tigers” ? Why does he still suck up to India when Indian government is doing it’s best to destabilize Sri Lanka? Is that why he has appointed a man without a back bone as the foreign minister?

    All the patriotic Sri Lankans are ever grateful for Rajapaksas for defeating terrorism and the rapid deelopment projects that is taking place. But if the Rajapaksas think they will be power for ever and take a long vacation, they should start thinking again.

  5. Voice123 Says:

    Shenali has Buddhist myopia. Buddhism is not a passionate issue in East Asia. For instance, Chinese recognise their culture is built on 3 pillars, Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. Buddhism is regarded as an imported philosophy and one of 3. Likewise Japan has Shintoism as their locally derived religion and Buddhism as the imported philosophy. Burma, Thailand etc are relatively small countries. It is ONLY in Sri Lanka that Buddhism is associated with an ethnic group, nationalism and anti-colonialism. I suggest Shenali does a bit more research. Get to know East Asian people and talk to them about forming a global power block based on Buddhism. They are too polite to laugh at you openly.

    Perhaps what you are really griping about is white aggression and global hegemony. This can indeed be countered by a pan-Asian block promoting indigenous cultural values. Buddhism can bind SOME members based on a shared indigenous phiosophy. To be truly effective, such a block could include Africa and Latin America. Any anti-Christian rhetoric will alienate many people here. Stay clear of religion, focus on third world solidarity, publicising the need for reparations for colonial massacres and war crimes, indigenous culture, alternative views of human rights, self respect, and fighting white hegemony worldwide. These problems are recognised in much of the world. Although play down the fighting white hegemony aspect if you want to attract East Asians, as many of them worship everything white. Focus on assertiveness among Asians to wean them away from this thinking.

  6. S.Gonsalkorale Says:

    Sarath W,
    You quetioned, “Why does he still suck up to India when Indian government is doing it’s best to destabilize Sri Lanka?”.
    Only reason we can think of is, Endia has some string attached to him and he cannot break it. If he is clean, by this time he must have stopped “ENDIA IS OUR OLD FRIEND” nonsence.

  7. Mahinda Wickramarathne Says:

    political appointments are a failure. must appoint able, visionary, good English speaking ones not political as ambassadors

  8. S de Silva Says:

    Thank you Shenali for writing on a topic that I have been banging on for quite some time. There has to be immediately a thorough Post-Mortem on our performance in Geneva. As a British citizen I have been involved with Sri Lankan matters since the 1983 riots when all hell broke loose here in the UK and the Tamil propaganda machine went into overdrive!. And at the time we had no defence. The Tamil High Commissioner here, A T Moorthy, was virtually useless on performing on the subject before the media, to be replaced in 1984 by Chandra Monerawala, a slight improvement. While I fully understand that competent persons educated in the Sinhala medium have to be given opportunities for appointments abroad, the ability to perform fluently in English in front of intrusive media Like BBC / CH4 in a few embassies in the West like US, UK etc is an absolute must if we are to counter allegations. The present incumbent appears to be a lot better but the one before was pathetic! Also, anyone fronted for a media appearance should know to instantly throw back the ‘dirty linen’ on history of British atrocities in SL and the rest of the World and should also know the current UK history like the British troops are still in Northern Ireland when we are being asked to remove troops from Jaffna! What I have included here is just a drop in the ocean of actions remaining to be done by the GoSL to get over the debacle in Geneva recently. To overcome the comprehensive incompetence we need to include a thorough Post-Mortem. I must pick up one positive sentence in the concluding statement by Mahinda Samarasinghe that “We categorically rejected the resolution on a matter of principle”. We should repeatedly quote this back when challenged to comply with the resolution. But in the “rejection of the allegations against Sri Lanka” a few more critical words that should have gone into the record at Geneva still went missing. Vitally the word Collateral – ie unintended damage admissible in War to parties in and outside the combatants, liberally used by the US to defend itself throughout the illegal military escapades of the US was missing. And a serious objection to Unilateral Accountability also went missing . We should have rejected the resolution on this ground alone. Accountability MUST apply equally to all. We should have held India, LTTE and its financial backers equally accountable. The reasoning that LTTE is no more in existence to be held accountable should be rejected outright as an irrelevant excuse. Their ’successors’ are quite alive and kicking in the West! These omissions indicate our utter incompetence to perform on the international stage and it is time we took upon us to rectify our own deficiencies to have any chance of moving forward with success – S de Silva – London

  9. helaya Says:

    Senali,
    You are right on Our foreign minister. He can speak good english but he can not understand what Sri Lanka need. All of our missions has incompetent ambassodrs (most of them realtives or firends of MR). None of them have even college degrees. Unfortunate situation.

  10. Fran Diaz Says:

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has to switch from war times mode to image/economy building mode for Sri Lanka. GoSL & the President is paying heavily for mistakes of past GoSLs.

  11. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Sri Lankan embassies in countries like Canada, UK, Germany, France, etc should remind these rampaging diasporas that PRESIDENT RAJAPAKSHA SAVED THEIR RACE FROM EXTINCTION back home. Another 30 years of war would have wiped out almost all the Tamil population from North and the East. We all know, including ungrateful diasporas, not many children were born in those areas during the war against the terrorists. While their population plumetted the muslims multiplied (quadrupled infact) and took their place.

    Today the Tamils in the North and East have normal lives. No fear of losing their children to Hitler Prabakaran, no bombs going off. Thanks to who? TNA? Diaspora? Where is the gratitude to the President? Instead, they run to these vote-greedy MPs in those countries to punish him. Our embassies in these countries should remind these to the ungrateful diasporas who are hellbent on revenge. They can also mention about one other thing. The FREE education, FREE medicine these ungrateful diasporas received from poor Mother Lanka to become doctors, engineers, lawyers, accountants, etc. etc. Taking some adverts to show how ungrateful this lot are, in the national presses in those countries will be money well spent.

  12. Senevirath Says:

    G.L. PEIRIS ONLY GOOD IN ENGLISH. HE has been always aganist”’jathika chintanaya” . Everybody knows that he was a main supporter of federalism.He is with mahinda just for power. if u.n.p. comes to power he will join it.

  13. Ratanapala Says:

    The best position for this lily livered backbone-less person and colourless personality, is as a translator at the Sri Lanka Foreign Affairs Ministry. It is far better to have a proper Sinhala speaking Minister who is well versed in the subject in the absence of a person who can speak English. In the minimum it is sufficient if the person can understand English. Then all what we need is a good interpreter.

    Above all our Foreign Affairs should have a clear cut policy in regard to the issues at hand. All our missions should advance that policy as one team wherever they are in the world. We cannot have hip shooting envoys making impromptu statements when handling Foreign Affairs. These needs to be well thought out and reflect clearly Sri Lanka’s policy on the issue at hand. It seems that there is a need to appoint the likes of a political commisar to keep the envoys in tow with the declared policy as well as our positioning with respect to issues that crop up in consultation with the home office if need be. The need of a powerful Defence Attache’ well versed in country’s strategic needs too is something that should be considered in the earnest.

    The current Alpa Dayanna has outlived his uselessness and must be replaced. Like Dayan Jayatilleke he too is a devolutionist a separatist and a fence jumper. In this hour of need Sri Lanka cannot try out known Devolutionists – same as Shirani Bandaranayaka. We sincerely hope that saner counsel will prevail at the Foreign Affairs Ministry and with the President.

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