Sri Lanka has a new Viceroy
Posted on March 12th, 2016

By Rajeewa Jayaweera Courtesy Sinhalanet

According to recent news reports, the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka addressing the workshop on ‘non-tariff measures increasing awareness on Indian standards and regulations under Indo – Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement ISFTA’, has criticized the Joint Opposition for their opposition to the proposed ETCA.

He has also stated former External Affairs Minister Prof. GL Peiris should have stuck to law and not gone into politics” and criticized him for changing his stance on bi-lateral partnerships having previously supported such arrangements, while regularly seeking spiritual sustenance in India”.

Continuing his onslaught, the High Commissioner has stated he felt constrained to join the debate because I do not think we should let naysayers take all the public space on this issue without anyone else trying to put the facts”.

In a democracy, the Opposition has a crucial role to play. Democracy requires all voices to be heard. Similarly, it is the right of every citizen in a country to enter politics if he / she so desires. It is not the remit of foreign diplomats to criticize the Opposition in the country of accreditation or to comment on the suitability of any citizen to enter politics. Whereas the High Commissioner has every right to point out the positive elements of the ETCA or any such other joint venture, he has no business to decide if ‘naysayers’ should occupy public space or not on such issues. Combining Prof.Peiris’ opposition to ETCA with his need for spiritual sustenance in India, to say the least, is of extremely poor taste and poor statesmanship.

In this instance, the High Commissioner has discarded all diplomatic practices and niceties. He has exceeded his limits. His conduct is incompatible with the status of a Head of Mission accredited to a sovereign country. His conduct is what could be expected of an Imperial Viceroy, appointed to a colony. Sri Lanka had a similar experience with a former Indian envoy in the mid 1980s.

In March 2012, India took exception to comments by our then High Commissioner to India, alleging ties between some MPs of the AIADMK, DMK and MDMK and the LTTE and the need to investigate such ties, resulting in an apology by our then High Commissioner, despite the fact many Tamil Nadu MLAs, successive Chief Ministers and at least two Indian Prime Ministers at different times have had ties with the LTTE. In April 2013, MDMK leader Vaiko complained of an attempt by our then High Commissioner to instigate North Indians against the people of Tamil Nadu”. He had supposedly stated Sinhalese have their origins in most of the Northern states of India”. The then Union Minister of State in the PMO, V Narayanasamy, stated the High Commissioner of Sri Lankan has exceeded his limits” and he should confine himself to diplomatic work”. In August 2014, AIADMK members in the Rajya Sabha disrupted proceedings in both Houses in protest at a derogatory article mentioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on Sri Lanka’s defence ministry web site. Both Houses witnessed repeated adjournments over the issue, until Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj told the House, the government has strongly condemned the development. We will certainly summon the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka and convey this to him”.

It is imperative that GoSL shed partisan politics and adopt a bi-partisan stand on this issue. Our Foreign Ministry should take a lesson on how to manage foreign envoys from the Indian External Affairs Ministry. The Indian High Commissioner need be summoned by our Foreign Ministry and requested to explain his statements, as done by the Indians in instances they did not approve of statements made by one of our former High Commissioners.

As for the new Viceroy, who holds a post-graduate degree in History and feels Prof. Peiris should have stuck to law and not gone into politics, he should have stuck to History and not gone into diplomacy!

3 Responses to “Sri Lanka has a new Viceroy”

  1. mario_perera Says:

    “The Indian High Commissioner need be summoned by our Foreign Ministry and requested to explain his statements, as done by the Indians in instances they did not approve of statements made by one of our former High Commissioners.- Rajeewa Jayaweera

    This is like asking a door-mat to call a foot to task for treading on it.

    Mario Perera

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    INDIA has already shown to LANKA how INDIA operates when threat was perceived via the ultra west JRJ govt in the 1980s.

    *. INDIA trained the LTTE in Tamil Nadu in the 1980s.

    – The LTTE ran amok in Lanka killing at will and destroying property for nearly 30 yrs. It was left to Sri Lanka MR govt to have an armed conflict with the LTTE to remove them, and still paying dearly for doing

    *. INDIAN Envoy, J.N. Dixit, a Chennai born Catholic person, and possibly a religious body in Lanka, pushed the JR govt into the 1983 Riots.

    – These trumped up Riots resulted in a near million strong Tamil Diaspora (made possible Refugees to the west), which has created enormously adverse conditions for Lanka, loss of international reputation, false war crimes charges, retardation in Development and all other positive issues, and having to deal with endless other incidents of lies, cheat and deceit.

    *. INDIA imposed under Duress the 13-A on the JRJ govt in 1987.

    – Lanka is still stuck with the 13-A, which virtually gives a separate state to Tamil Separatists.

    As for the ECTA : More of the same as above, is inevitable, isn’t it ? What can Lanka achieve through the ECTA – it is INDIA’s gain and Lanka’s loss here, isn’t it ? Please correct me if I am wrong here.

    Interaction with INDIA ought to be for cultural purposes mainly. It appears that Less is better re other matters.

    It appears that the Yahap govt is messing up Lanka further ….

  3. Fran Diaz Says:

    The last time the UNP was in full power was during JRJs time. That was Cold War times. INDIA felt insecure and did all those acts against Lanka.

    Now the UNP is once more in full power, by stealth this time, through Exec PM RW (‘the west wants it so’, said Pres MS). Now how is INDIA reacting to this new UNP in full power under Ranil ?

    *. INDIA wants the ECTA
    *. INDIA seems to want the Ranil’s Chunnel to Tamil Nadu

    These two items will finish off Lanka as a Nation.

    Just like under JRJ times, isn’t it ?

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