Tilak Marapana
Posted on January 21st, 2019

Asoka Weerasinghe Kings Grove Crescent . Gloucester . Ontario . K1J 6G1 . Canada

20 January 2019

Hon. Tilak Marapana
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Sir Baron Jayathilaka Mawatha
Colombo 1
Sri Lanka

Dear Honourable Minister:

I was intrigued to read the news item Marapana instructs Lankan diplomats to boost image of Sri Lanka overseas” on Monday 14 January, 2019.”

In the body of the news item, it said: Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana has called on Sri Lankan diplomats to boost the image of Sri Lanka overseas through efficient and effective execution of public diplomacy utilising its intrinsic  brands such as Buddhism, gems, tea, spices, high-end export products and the warmth of traditional Sri Lankan Hospitality.”

I understand that all this was said at the certificate awarding ceremony on 11 January to new officers recruited to the Foreign Ministry, after a two week long

Public Diplomacy and Media Relations training program organized by your Ministry.

Let me share my observations with you, Mr. Minister, to be fair to the new recruits who will be handling the Communications country’s image building portfolio which had been tarnished by the Tamil separatist lobby since  June 1983.  And they are still at it, day in and day out.

I am going to be honest and I am going to be blunt and you can take it for whatever it’s worth.  I was invited in 1989 by President Premadasa to help him in these files at the Ottawa High Commission as he realized that it wasn’t adequately accomplishing to his satisfaction by the incumbent officers who play musical chairs coming and going every three years.

I understood well President Premadasa’s concern, as  I as an Ottawan since 1968,  found the performance of the Communication officers at the Mission pathetic.  And we  ‘Sinhalese’ patriots had to fill in the gaps working on our own time, spending our own monies, while most of the Mission’s communication officers were taking the credit riding on our backs, to pick up brownie points to justify their presence at the Mission. There are many incidents that I can quote which I am livid about.

I hasten to add, that I was no friend of President Premadasa, nor a relation of his, nor wanting a job at the Mission to educate my kids in Canada, or earn a wage from thd Sri Lanka Government.  By the time I had that request from President Premadasa, I had never set eyes on him, and was an employee of the  Canadian Federal Government for 20 years as an IS6 grade officer pulling in a decent wage.  He obviously had been briefed by who ever it was, of my aggressive activism as the Chairperson of Project Peace for a United Sri Lanka to guard the good name of my Motherland, Sri Lanka, and went toe-to-toe with the Sri Lanka rubbishing Tamil separatists and the Canadian parliamentarians of the Liberal, Conservative and NDP parties who still  support the cause of a separate Tamil State Eelam.

My partners at Project Peace were two amazing Sinhalese patriots, Asoka Yapa and Harrison Perera, both who were bright clinical debaters, who could articulate well, thread English words into convincing sentences, and both happen to be Christians, who were prepared to hold the hands of a Buddhist, that’s me, to guard the good name of our Motherland, Sri Lanka.  We were brothers-in-arms throughout phone threats by the Tamils to blow us up, and a good section of the Dinner gathering critics of  the Sinhalese community in Ottawa who did not support our stance, but bashed us behind our backs.  There were flies on the walls during these dinner gatherings who sneaked to me later of what went on and what was said,

Like one June 1987 night around 11:00, the phone rings and an agitated female voice said, Asoka, you don’t know me, but  please don’t ask my name but I want to talk to you, or I will not be able to sleep tonight.”

Sorry, Madam, these are not the days for me to talk to phantoms. Please tell me who you are and then we can continue our conversation.”  Finally she obliged.

And she said, I was at a dinner at the home of ?Mr & Mrs. X, and all during the night I saw the dinner party group stabbing you, kicking and quartering you.  The only thing that I didn’t see was them burying you.  All because you are defending Sri Lanka’s good name.   I know you can handle the Tamils, but please be careful of your own people.  They are your enemies.”  That was tough.  I dismissed the crowd at these dinner circles as a bunch of ‘spineless nincompoops who lacked the courage  to confront me face-to face and say to me, Asoka, you are full of shit!”  And I resent intimidation.

After agreeing with the wages, cum housing allowance, cum entertainment allowance, which was still $200 less of the wages I was earning at the federal government, I resigned from the Canadian federal government and reported for duty, on June 1, 1989, at the Mission at 85, Ranged Road in Ottawa  A BIG MISTAKE.  I will come to it later.

And now comes the  appalling, disgusting and shocking state of affairs at the Mission. There were no Benchmarks for me to follow as a Communications Officer to build the image of Sri Lanka. In other words, Mr.Minister, there were sweet ‘F-all’.

No Sri Lankan artifacts, like masks, brass crafts, baticks, 35mm slides, nor a Kodak Carousel to show the slides with a up/down screen, gems, no library, or Sri Lanka flags…..nothing…nothing…nothing, There were sweet buggerall.  I was annoyed since this Mission had been established in 1967, I believe.

My work experience had been in the UK and Canada  and never in Sri Lanka, and I refused to change gears to accommodate the way things were done in Sri Lanka. It certainly didn’t jive with me.  Like playing games of ‘I am a Tin God’, making appointments to meet a client at 9:00 in the morning, and the client happens to be a Torontonian, setting off for the appointment at 4:00 in the morning, to sit on a chair in the reception area at 9:00 in the morning and only to be called to be interviewed at 11:00.  This I thought was not acceptable and unprofessional.

When I was taken to my office which was situated next to the High Commissioner’s Office, I asked the Chief Clerk, Is there a typewriter in the office?”  The answer came back, No, no, Mr. Weerasinghe, you don’t have to type letters, we have a’ Stenographer to type the letters.”   Sorry Karunaratne, I want a typewriter on my desk as that will be my workhorse.  I will type my own letters.”  The following morning there was a brand new electric Brother typewriter on my desk.  And I typed my own letters, 100s and 100s of them every month.

Lucky for President  Premadasa, when he hired me for the job, I came with my personal Museum quality mask collection, puppets, facsimiles of Heritage flags (I am a Museologist, former Head of Thematic Research at the National Museums of Canada: and Head of Exhibits, National  Museum of Natural Sciences in Ottawa), my political library, my 35mm slides of Sri Lanka and organized carousels for my private presentations with my poetry on Sri Lanka, et cetera.  I had little choice but to use my personal Libraries and artifact collections to get on with my work.  President Premadasa trusted me and expected me to produce.  And so I did.

And here  is what I achieved in Communications during my  5 years to promote the Image of Sri Lanka.

Were the Foreign Ministry personnel helpful so that I could get my job done.  There was ZIP support from your Ministry.  Well I was a pariah in away having taken one of their jobs and would do anything to sabotage my work.  Starting with refusing to provide me with a business card,  I refused to pay for it.  It was a fight between HC Walter Rupesinghe and whoever it was at your Foreign Ministry.    I got the message and it was not going to  be a nice five years but it was not going to phase me out either. They got it wrong.  I was a professional in the field of communications.  Just too bad for them.

They prompted Minister C.V. Gunaratna to question my appointment in parliament.

Pity he wasn’t around when I left the Mission in June 1994, as I would have met him and challenged his questioning in parliament as I was no dodo,  That if he can produce a single career diplomat during the past 20 years who had done an equally good job or  better than what I have done for Sri Lanka, that I would be prepared to give back every cent that I was paid in wages to Sri Lanka’s Treasury.  And if he failed that he should arrange with the Sri Lankan Government to pay me  the rent allowance, may be $2000s a month (in fact it was more than that)  for the five years that I was employed by the Foreign Ministry. And that he do the the simple arithmetic – $2000 x 12 x 5,   That is how much I lost in wages having left the Canadian Federal Government to help President Premadasa in a time of crisis  And I had a mortgage to pay.

  1. Between June 1989-May 1994, I had 56 letters out of 64 to Editors on behalf of the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka, all vetted by HC Walter

Rupesinghe and HC Walter Fernando published. I did not go through the Foreign Ministry as I wanted the response to go out within 36 hours.  I did not have the time to fart-around, waiting for approved drafts to come from Colombo.  My drafts edited and approved by the HC’s was good enough for me   I had my strategy how to get our letters published The Letters picked up ink in

The Ottawa Citizen (Ottawa)

The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

The Toronto Star (Toronto)

Surrey North Delta Leader (British Columbia)

The Whig-Standard (Kingston)

Star India Journal (Toronto)

The Island (Sri Lanka)

What was interesting was when the Minister at the Indian High Commission who was responsible for Communications invited me for dinner at the Chateau Laurier one day,  during dinner he asks me, Ashoka, tell me. everytime we open the Ottawa Citizen, letters page, there is a letter from you for the High Commissioner.  We cannot get a single letter published.  How do you do it?”  So I had to tell him and coach him how to go about it.

What was disappointing for me was, since I was not given an entertainment allowance as promised, I couldn’t reciprocate his courtesy.  That Sucked!  So much for being an employee of the Sri Lanka Government.  The worst employer I had in my working career.

  1. Participated in the Community Channel TV Shows to promote Sri

           Lanka’s image.

            I scripted and produced nine (9) ‘’SONGS OF LANKA’ for MacLean-Hunter

Cable TV, Ottawa in their Studios.

Highlighted the following in these half-hour shows:

Dancing – Tea Plucker’s Dance

                             Gajaga Vannama

                             Harvest Dance

             Kavi Maduwa

             Sinhala & Tamil New Year

             Kataragama

             Tea and Tea Gardens

             Gem mining

             Gems and Jewellery (Modelled by Ms. Chitranganee Wagiswara,

then First Secretary at the High Commission)

Kolam and Sanni Masks

             Puppetry

             Elephants and its influence on folk art

             Bharata Natyam

             A Muslim Dance

             Elephant Orphans at Pinnawela

             Wesak

             Interviewing Air Commodore Leonard Birchall

             Poetry on Sri Lanka, reading to Primary School

             Children with 35mm slide images, etc.

The children came in school buses with their teachers

to 85 Range Road.  Since I had No entertainment

allowance as promised (That Sucked), I requested HC Rupesinghe to

provide the children with Orange juice and doughnuts.  He very kindly

obliged.  (And you talked of Sri Lankan hospitality.  Hmmm!   That does not

exist  in an environment of cussedness of Tin Gods and Goddess towards

pariahs outside the Career Diplomatic community. I say, Tough-Tiddy, Mr.

Minister.  I don’t buy that rubbish.)

Note that all the artifacts, film clips and video clips were from my personal rich

Library,  The antique Kandyan silver jewellery were from my wife’s collection,

purchased from Sriya and Daya Curio Shop at 493 Peradeniya Road, Kandy.

AS I TOLD YOU EARLIER, THE HIGH COMMISSION IN OTTAWA HAD SWEET BUGGERALL UNTIL 1994 TO PROMOTE SRI LANKA’S IMAGE.  Perhaps it has changed for the better since then.

After seeing the SONGS OF SRI LANKA  half-hour shows on the Community TV

Channel, the Communications Officer for the Malaysian High Commission invited me for lunch  at Haveli Indian Restaurant in downtown Ottawa.  During our meal he exuded how much he enjoyed our Sri Lanka Image promotional Shows, and asked me to walk him through how I produce such a Show,  So I walked him through the time of my scripting, Studio recording  the segments and I being the MC to editing and up to the airing the Show.,  Wow Man, that is too much for me, and I doubt I could handle it”, and he abandoned producing such TV Shows for the Malaysian High Commision.

You know, Mr.Minister, what sucks me most was the inability to reciprocate  the Malaysian diplomat’s courtesy and invite him for a lunch to discuss matters of mutual interests in Communications to promote our countries, without being given an Entertainment Allowance.

  1. Participating in public exhibitions to promote the image of Sri Lanka and her good name.

  The Art of Healing: Ritual Masks of Sri Lanka (Canadian Museum of  Civilization, Ottawa) with the  Sanni Mask collection of the Museum and my    private collection.  July 1990 – February 1991.

  Festival of Masks: Sri Lankan ritual Masks (Provincial Museum, Quebec, with my private collection.  (August 1993.)

Sri Lankan-Canadian Writers in English (Provincial Museum, Edmonton,

Alberta.)  (August 1993)  The books came from my personal Literature library.

 Focus on Sri Lanka. (Algonquin College, Ottawa, February 1991).

All artifacts and Sri Lankan posters dry-mounted on gatorfoam were from my  private collection.

 Sri Lankan Heritage (facsimiles) flags, puppets and masks were from my  private collection with well researched labels at National Arts Centre,

Ottawa.  (February 1990).

The Canadiana Fund.  Sri Lanka Kolam Masks from my private collection at The National Gallery of Canada,  (October 1993).

Heritage Flags of Sri Lanka (Facsimiles) from my private collection at Heritage Day, Halifax, Nova Scotia.  (April 1992)

(Mr. Minister, here is an ugly fact about one of your Diplomatic passport carrying Minister Counsellors at the Mission, Weragama, apparently who was responsible for Communications angered me so much that I restrained myself from kicking his raw behind. This Diplomat lacked the sophistication to phone me and ask me, Mister Weerasinghe, I understand you always had Sri Lankan masks exhibited at  public evens and I  cannot find them, do you know where they are?”   I could have told him,

       The reason you couldn’t find them was because all of them belonged to me and were from my private collection and they are with me at home.  If  you wish to borrow them for an event you are most welcome to borrow them as long as you will assure me that you will take good care of them  as they are valued Museum quality pieces and I don’t want them to be  damaged.”

        But do you know what, this rascally Diplomat did?  He spread the word  That  I had removed (stolen) the masks from the Mission.  I am still livid and after 24  years I want to get hold of his collars, shake him like a rag doll until his bones rattle and fall at his feet. So much for the diplomats who are sent to the Mission in Ottawa,

         On 14 February 1997, I sent a letter to HIgh Commissioner Ananda  Goonasekera explaining my anger towards  this Diplomat attaching copies of receipts of my purchases of masks in Sri Lanka going back to Did  I get an acknowledgement for my letter from this senior career diplomat?

         Na! Not a whimper. He had decided to ignore my letter there by covering Diplomat Weragama’s arse,  Too bad as it has left a bitter taste in my tongue for this long. So much for Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry diplomatic  administrative etiquette and courtesy.  Doesn’t say much, does it,   Mr. Minister?

    Public Talks:

Sri Lankan Healing Masks: Delicious Nightmares,  Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa.  Exhibited a few Masks from my private collection with explanatory labels.

Claim for a Separate State for Tamils in Sri Lanka: The Eastern Province

Whose Home Land? – at SLUNA, AGM,  Toronto. This was the basis for an

Editorial in The Ottawa Citizen.  It was claimed by the High Commission that

they were the instigators of the Editorial.  I managed to kill that ‘Brownie Point

notion as they were trying to ride on my (expatriate) back.  Minister, that was

Sick and a loud  No…No. I had sent a copy of my SLUNA-talk to the Editorial Board of the Ottawa Citizen the following day.

 Buddhist Spirituality in Meditation at Sai Baba’s 20th Anniversary

celebrations  in Ottawa.

5,    Show and Tell talks on Sri Lanka to Middle School children in Ottawa’s

             National Capital Region.

I introduced myself as the Communications Officer at the SriLanka High

Commission to the Ottawa Board of Education and the Carleton Board of

  Education and that I was available for a Show and Tell talk on Sri Lanka at

any of  their schools  The response was impressive and I ended up

presenting one-hour talks at 13 local schools.

             All what I requested from the Principals were a VHS player and a Globe.

The VHS Player was to play for them a couple of video recordings  of our

panoramic Sri Lanka, and the other of the Pinnawala elephant orphanage,

which was always a hit.  Both VHS recordings were from my private video

Library as the Mission had sweet buggerall in communication props to

promote beautiful Sri Lanka’s images, Gems, tea gardens, etc,

The Globe was to pinpoint where Ottawa is and tell them how far apart we

live.  That when I get on the plane after dinner at home, I will still be

travelling in the plane and have breakfast in the plane before I get

down at England’s London airport to change into another plane to fly to

Sri Lanka’s airport in Colombo.   So I will be having Lunch in the plane,

and Dinner in the plane, and sleep in the plane, and will be woken up by

the Air-hostess to have breakfast and about another almost two hours

flying I will land in Sri Lanka’s airport.  That is how far we are in Ottawa

from Colombo in Sri Lanka.  It is 32 hours of travelling from door to door.

 

I used my artifacts, crafts, masks,  gems and jewellery to show and allow

them to touch them.  They are in awe every time I place a sapphire, a ruby

or a moonstone on their palms.

 

Mr. Minister, I wanted to hand one of our Sri Lanka flags to the Principal of

the school that I gave a talk and requesting the Principal to hang it on

Commonwealth Day.  So I requested the Foreign Ministry to provide me

with a dozen large flags.  My request was ignored. Why should they!   The

exercise for them is to screw Asoka and not help him to be successful in

his assignment.  After all they got Minister C.V, Gunaratne to question my

appointment to the Canadian Mission taking over one of the  career

Diplomat’s jobs.

.

But, Minister, I was asked by President Premadasa to help him in the

Communications portfolio and that is what I was determined to do. And

I was ever so thankful to him for giving me the opportunity to give back

five years of my life to my Motherland who nurtured me for the first 19

years of my life.  I owed it to her.  I just couldn’t turn my back on her,

So I requested my sister to go to Laksala, buy me a dozen large Sri

Lanka  flags and send them over to me.  Thanks to my Sybil akka, she

did,  and they were handed over to Principals at the 13 schools where I

made presentations on Sri Lanka.  The Foreign Ministry’s uncooperative

attitude to sabotage my work, really sucked.  There are many ways to

skin a cat and I wanted to have the last laugh!  It was a mini-war.

 

  1.   Helping Canadian High School Students and one Graduate Student

                   to use SRI LANKA as their country assignments.

 

                  During the Summer when the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa is on

recess the Junior Commonwealth Conference is held in the Parliament

chambers,   and High school Nominees from each province congregate

there.

 

  1. Three High School students from British Columbia had been assigned

Sri Lanka as the Commonwealth country that they should represent.

They had made an appointment with HC Walter Rupesinghe to meet

with him to get some information about Sri Lanka.  After having a chat

HC Rupesinghe passed them on to me to collect some Tourism

brochures etc.

I asked them and their teacher whether they would like me to coach

them. They jumped at the idea, and so I coached them.

They did so well that they went back home carrying the trophy for the

Best  Country Presentation.  And the country was our Sri Lanka.

As a Thank You, they took me together with their teacher to dinner at

the Chateau Laurier,

 

  1.   A British Graduate student at the Patterson School of International

Studies at Carleton University, contacted me wanting some information

on Sri Lanka. We met and I proposed that if she adopts Sri Lanka as her

Subject country of studies that I will provide all the necessary research

Material  and my writings on the subject from my personal political

Library.   She happily agreed.  The High Commission had sweet

buggerall to provide such research material.  So I, on behalf of the Sri

Lanka High Commission collaborated.

 

A highlight of this collaboration was when the Graduate student played

a  recorded voice tape to HC Walter Rupesinghe of her seminar on Sri

Lanka, and after  presented the tape to him.  She started the seminar

by introducing herself as I am Walter Rupesinghe, the High

                    Commissioner for Sri Lanka, and I will be making my presentation

                    for my country on…………..”

High Commissioner Rupesinghe was impressed how exact she were

and how well she presented his case for Sri Lanka.  She was given an

A+ for the seminar.

 

  1.  Working with the Parliamentary Spouses Association to produce

                      a video on Sri Lanka to be distributed throughout  Canada’s

                      parliamentary constituency offices to celebrate the Literacy week. 

 

                      The video was recorded at the High Commision at 85 Range Road

while I  was making a presentation to middle-school children on

Sri Lanka.  The personal letter sent to me by Sue Evans, the

President of the Parliamentary Spouses Association on a paper

with their banner on June 1, 1993, will relate the success of the

effort by the High Commission promoting Sri Lanka’s image. The

letter was hand written.

 

Dear Mr. Weerasinghe:

                        What a delight it was to be at your presentation on Sri Lanka!  I

                        can hardly wait to see the video tape…we expect it next week.

 

                        Thank you so much for your enthusiasm for the Literacy Project

                        and for your willingness to become personally involved. It was

                        a pleasure to meet you and join the children in learning about

                        your country.

 

                        I have always loved poetry – but do not profess the skill to write

  1.   After listening to your poems and those of your wife, I was

                       struck by the intimate details conveyed by just a few words of a

                       Poem….

 

                        On behalf of all our members I want to thank you for supporting

                        this project.

                                                                                   Sgnd. Sue Evans”

  1.  University Thesis Adviser

Was adviser to two Masters students at Carleton University.  One on

Anthropological significance on Sri Lankan Masking

                         ceremonies. 

And the other to an International Political Science student on

 Sri Lanka: Aid and Development in today’s political

                         environment.

 

  1. Provided Research materials and my published essays and

                         critical writings from my personal library, to Ph.D., M.A., and    

                         B.A students for their Theses, and Special Term Papers

                         exposing the perspective of Sri Lanka Government’s position in                   

                         the ethnic  crisis. (The High Commission had sweet buggerall

                         to help these students and that is why I used material from my

                         private Library at home.)

Carleton University (Ottawa); Ottawa University (Ottawa); McMaster

University (Hamilton, Ontario); Brock University (St. Catherines,

Ontario);  Brad College (New York, US); University of Windsor

(Windsor, Ontario);  McGill University (Montreal); Concordia

University (Montreal); Simon Fraser University (Burnaby B.C.)

University of Victoria, (Victoria, B.C,); University of British

Columbia (Vancouver, B.C.) and University of Manitoba (Winnipeg,

Manitoba).

 

  1. Canadian National Museum’s Sri Lankan Artifacts

Adviser on cataloguing Sri Lankan artifacts at the Canadian

Museum of Civilization.

  1.    Press Releases – 223
  2. Sri Lanka News Letters – 53

13,   Information Kits.

When the Foreign Ministry nor the Department of Information

were not providing information kits to be used as tools for

defending Sri Lanka’s good Image, I requested High

Commissioners Walter Rupesinghe and Walter Fernando to find

me funds to produce 100 Information kits ($600 for each title).

I researched, wrote and produced such kits for our

dissemination. among Canadian law-makers and Sri Lanka

watchers who had sold their souls to garner Tamil votes   So

these were Information Kits that I produced for the use by our

High Commissioners  They were professionally produced and

looked attractive with silver coloured information kit folders tied

with green ribbons.

 

 The Information Kits were:

                               Sri Lanka: Human Rights (July 1991);  Sri Lanka: a Mosaic at

                               a  Glance (January 1992) and Sri Lanka: A Hidden Secret –

                               Quick Facts (January 1994)

 

And do you know what,Minister?  The smart  Alec Minister

Counsellor who joined the Mission after I left, tried to claim  that

he authored them. What a way to pick up Brownie points for

survival.  I pointed out that he was a liar.

 

The comment from Mr. Bradman Weerakoon (Adviser on

International Relations to the President), said in a letter to

HE Walter Fernando on 16 March 1994 –    …….. I am sure

                                  Asoka Weerasinghe, your innovative colleague working on

                                  Press relations must have helped in the compilation of

                                  these papers.  They contain authentic, factual matter which

                                  is being used by us at different times. The value of the

                                  information is that it is not long winded, but concise and

                                  focused on the Issues on which people have queries…..”

Minister Marapana, by now you may have realized that requesting the new recruits to the Foreign Ministry to Boost the Image of Sri Lanka overseas through  efficient and effective execution of public diplomacy, utilizing its intrinsic brands such as Buddhism, gems, tea, spices…..” without providing Communication tools,  will go nowhere.  They will be lost.  I have proved to you that communication tools were the reasons for the success in my efforts to Boost the Image of Sri Lanka overseas.” There is no other way unless the career diplomat is innovative and creative.  I challenge anyone to prove at the Foreign Ministry me wrong.

I want you to be fair on these new recruits.They will achieve nothing unless the Government provides them the tools to get on with their jobs  Tourism brochures ain’t enough..

That is  the basic Labour Code.  Give your people the tools and they will get on with their jobs.  I can speak on the pre-1989 Ottawa Mission.  That Mission was a disaster with sweet buggeral to help  a Communications officer to be effective.  I did my job as requested by President Premadasa, as I was willing to make use of my private collection of cultural artifacts and my political and literature libraries and not charge back for the use of my private material and Sri Lanka got a good deal hiring me.  And I believe  I did a fairly reasonable job.   The two High Commissioners, Walter Rupesinghe and Walter Fernando were pleased.

My Political Library and writings were donated, 30 boxes of them, to the Sir John Kotelawala Defence University at Ratmalana, on November 2013.

While I say Boo” to Minister C.V. Gooneratna for questioning my appointment at a senior position at the High Commission in Ottawa, in Parliament and Boo” to those at the Foreign Ministry who prompted him to question my appointment, I am prepared to tell you frankly, that the Sri Lanka Government was the worst employer I worked for.  If I could give a grade between 85 to 95% to all my employers in the UK and Canada, I could only give Sri Lanka measly 35% and nothing more,and that is a failing  Grade.

And Mr. Minister, you could quite happily have a sigh of relief. that  this appointee of President Premadasa’s was a hard worker and that you all got back value from me for every cent you all paid me.  And thank  your God  that I was no thief, a rogue or a pick-pocket picking a poor man’s pocket while doing a job for your Ministry of Foreign Affairs,  as there have been several in your Ministry’s fold.  I am clean.

And before I conclude I want to identify two groups of people to say Thank You for

giving me some faith on Sri Lankan colleagues who I was in contact with while working at the Sri Lanka High Commision in Ottawa, not having worked for a Sri Lankan outfit before.

Firstly, for High Commissioners Walter Rupesinghe and Walter Fernando, who softened my embarrassment for not being provided as promised an entertainment allowance to reciprocate  courtesies of my media and communication contacts and  contacts with diplomats from the Asian Missions like India, Bangladesh and Malaysia who had luncheon and dinner meetings with me and emptied their wallets to pay my bills.

The two High Commissioners  were extremely gracious to invite all my contacts for a dinner at the High Commissioner’s residence, once a year,  and asking me to extend invitations to them for our National Day celebrations.  I am really, really thankful for their sensitivity and sincerity for helping me out.  Two absolute gentlemen that Sri Lanka’s Diplomatic Corp should be proud of.

 

Secondly, I want to identify three persons two from the Foreign Ministry and the third a President’s appointee, who commanded my respect as working colleagues. They may have  had difficulty in accepting my working etiquette dealing with Canadians and Sri Lankan-Canadians who tried to harm my Mother Lanka, but at the end of the day they knew that my heart was where it rightly belonged in an effort to, guard my Mother Lanka.  And that I was on a Mission – no one, absolutely no one harms my Motherland unfairly.  The three are the late Rodney Vandergert, Chitranganee Wagiswara and Bandula Jayasekera,  I doff my hat to all three of them most affectionately and sincerely.

And to conclude this strange experience working for the Sri Lanka Government’s

Foreign Ministry let me tell you that on my return from lunch on 5th February 1993,  and way to my office High Commissioner Walter Rupesinghe called me in and we had a chat.  He was on his way  back home, to Sri Lanka, after the end of his tour of duty.

He said that he was sorry that I was treated badly by the Sri Lanka Government and that I was out of pocket in wages by thousands of dollars, having left the Federal Government, but I hope this will show you my appreciation for helping me  out and for having a good working relationship”, he said, and handed a piece of paper typed on the High Commision letter head.: It  was dated 5th February 1993 and said:

 Mr. Asoka Weerasinghe functioned as my Media and Communications Director during  my term of service in the High Commission.

      Asoka’s passionate love for Sri Lanka and his superb understanding of our political, economic and social problems, made him admirably suited to promote the Image of the country and to counter the adverse publicity generated by elements hostile to our democratic lway of life and the unitary state.  Asoka carried out these arduous and challenging duties with exemplary enthusiasm and finesse.  He is indeed an asset to the Mission.

      Asoka is an artist, poet and a person of several other intellectual pursuits.  The amalgam of all these attributes, not often found in one person, made him a Media and Communications Director par excellence.

       I wish him well in all his future endevours,

                                                                       Sgnd.  Walter Rupesinghe

                                                                        High Commissioner”

 

Sincerely

Asoka Weerasinghe

 

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