Re: Nepotism ‘Machang Diplomats’ at Sri Lanka’s Foreign Missions
Posted on December 4th, 2022

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

1 December 2022
Rt. Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe
President of Sri Lanka
Presidential Secretariat
Galle Face Center Road
Colombo 1
Sri Lanka

Dear Rt.Hon. President Ranil Wickremesinghe:

              Re: Nepotism ‘Machang Diplomats’ at Sri Lanka’s Foreign Missions

You have surprised and disappointed me one more time.  I have just taken off my trusted cap-of-diplomacy to deal with the present concern of mine, with a raw non-diplomatic fashion, as facts need not be glazed with window-dressing niceties, even for a President of a sovereign country.

You, having the honour to wear the distinguished crown of the Grandfather of Sri

Lanka’s Mother Institution of Democratic Governance, the Parliament, having been a MP, a Minister, a Prime Minister and a President for 45 years, you have failed miserably again, to clean up the Acts of  Nepotism.  Appointing the sons and daughters, brothers and sisters and the relations of present and past MPs in the government and friends and your ‘Machang-buddies’  to work in Sri Lanka’s High Commissions and Embassies abroad,  which to some  Foreign Ministry diplomats are sanctimonious enclaves and with the Tin-Gods and -Goddesses attitudes that we do not want any outsider” among us.  

I was one who got caught in that vise when  MP, C.V. Gunaratna questioned my appointment as the Deputy in Ottawa’s High Commission, which ended up as – let’s screw Asoka Weerasinghe.  Don’t let him show his competence as a Communications Officer.  Let’s make it difficult for him to show his Made in Canada competence.

This cunning, ignominious, Machang, than hurry naythe.  Dhuwa than Diplomat nay! culture” of Acts of nepotism, should be Stopped immediately for the good of Sri Lanka..  Stop making the Foreign Ministry The Hora Dhansala-Hut of  Short-cut for Refugees and  illegal-Immigrants.

*****I just noted (14 October) that the Minister of Justice, Dr. Wijedasa Rajapaksa had said We will have to confess unwillingly that our foreign service is very weak, instead of experts who should be there in places like High Commissioners and Diplomats, most of them have been appointed due to their political affiliations or their relationships of their political party or leader.  We will have to get rid of that system. We are struggling to do that.”

You can say that again, Minister of Justice.  No doubt you have sipped a strong cup of black coffee to wake you up to reality.  You can say that again Minister!

.

I hasten to point out that I was an ‘outsider’ of this box of the Government’s

Diplomacy, when I was appointed as the Deputy of the High Commission in Ottawa, Canada, in June 1989 on a contract for 5-years by President Premadasa, to take care of the Mission’s Communications portfolio. It needed  help with major surgery to bring it up to par with  International Communications  proficiency, as it was  pathetic.  And you knew it, President Wickremesinghe.  Ask Raj Rasalingham in Ottawa, your friend, he will elaborate more.

Why did President Premadasa  want me to help him, you might wonder?

Because by the summer of 1989, I was a middle Manager of Communications in Canada’s Federal Government for 20 years and enjoying some success and working as a Head of 20 research scientists interpreting the natural and human sciences to the public through popular exhibits at Canada’s National Museum of Natural Sciences and the National Museum of Man, at the Victoria Memorial Museum in the capital of Canada, Ottawa.

______________________________________________

CALLING LANKACOM OTTAWA

DATE: 25-05-89

NO:62

FOR WEERATUNGA       FROM TILAKARATNA

MR. ASOKA WEERASINGHE IS APPOINTED AS DY. HIGH COMMISSIONER IN YOUR MISSION WITH EFFECT FROM 1ST JUNE 1989.  THE LETTER OF APPOINTMENT WILL BE DESPATCHED TO YOU BY BAG.

IN THE MEANTIME GRATEFUL CONTACT HIM AND INFORM OF THE APPOINTMENT.

(ENDS)

21139 FORSEC CE

_______________________________________________________________________

You knew it, Mr. President.  My appointment was questioned by Minister

C.V. Gunaratna in parliament, having been sneaked to him by a member

of the sanctimonious  Diplomats’ enclave, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs..  But I never was a relation of President Premadasa, nor had  I met him, nor spoken to him.  I will tell that story to you later, in this letter to you, so that you know.  It needs elaboration and my creation of Models-of-Excellence in Communications, which never was part of the High Commission in Ottawa since it was established in 1958.  It was…Pathetic!  It was abominable!

President Wickremesinghe, here’s what the problem is in sending nepotism-employees with little or no experience of handling the barrage of Tamil propaganda  which has been aggressive, potent that crippled many areas of activities at the Ottawa High Commission. They were made lame ducks!

And, of course, in Ottawa,  some diplomats rode on my back and other handful of patriotic activists, claiming that what we had done to defend  Sri Lanka’s good name publicly, that it were they, at the High Commission,  who had accomplished it, thus picking up ‘Brownie Points’, to establish their survival as diplomats at Ottawa’s High Commission.

Oh…we worked very hard to get that Editorial in!” the High Commission officers would claim, and I had to correct several times to expatriates who thought that it were really done by the High Commision’ diplomats, when in fact I did or other expatriate activists like Ira de Silva, Mahinda Gunasekera, Asoka Yapa, Daya Hettiarachchi, Malkanthi Perera and a handful of others who did it.

My experience in this context goes back to, since  24 July 1983, when in the mix of nepotism-employees”  at the High Commission you all sent to Ottawa were, Village idiots” and Thieves’.  Almost all being given the short-cut to stay back as refugees or ‘jump-the-queue immigrants.,”  In that process, the Government gifted these appointees special privileges like paid for hours for  which they did not work, as they were using those working hours, to meet with their Immigration lawyers to figure out how to stay back.  No one in the Mission ever had the gumption to question these irregularities which cost the Sri Lankan taxpayers gunny bags full of money.

Minister Counsellor,  Francis Jayagoda together with me (an expatriate), did our juggling acts to see that the thieving Sri Lankan diplomat would not be identified in the Ottawa Citizen subjecting Sri Lanka to a horrendous embarrassment.  We managed to win the day with much difficulty to hush up the news.   The Thieves were a husband and wife team, the husband being the Third Secretary at the Mission, who was sent to find medical treatment for their ailing daughter by the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Herath,   They were caught stealing – the husband some shirts, and the wife some costume jewellery at Sears, a mega-box Department Store at St. Laurent Shopping Center in Ottawa.

Here’s what the recent print media, newspaper, in Colombo told us:

New appointments to foreign service by the Government.

Tourism Minister Prasanna Ranatunga’s daughter, consulate in Sydney.

Namal Rajapaksa’s Ex girlfriend to Melbourne 

Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardena’s  daughter to New York as 3rd Secretary 

State Minister Duminda Dissanayaka’s brother 3rd Secretary to Paris.

Tissa Attanayaka’s daughter to Canberra.

Shiranthi Rajapaksa’s brother as Ambassador to Seychelles .

Daughter of the President’s media Secretary as 3rd Secretary to Vienna.

Nephew of former Navy Chief as 3rd Secretary to Singapore.”

Mr. President Wickremesinghe, Your Foreign Ministry’s disingenuous and corrupt Parliamentarian’s son, daughter, brother, sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, uncle and aunty Intransigent  Foreign Employment Dansala Huts, have to be closed immediately.  No If’s and  But’s.

This was a comment I read  in the print media, Mr.President:

Boot licking Sri Lankan slaves must rise and change this corrupt system. 

Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you, while you just sit and watch. Rise up against the traitors who fill these slots with jokers. Make them accountable to you and  bring in a meritocracy”.

Ummm!

 My first day at work at the Sri Lanka High Commission at 85 Range Road, Suite 104, Ottawa (June 1989).

 I was taken to my office which was next to the High Commissioner’s Office on the first floor of the High rise on Range road by the Chief Clerk, Karunaratna.

The room was clean, empty and sterile. I looked around and did not a see a type-

writer.  There was a metal filing cabinet, a couch, coffee table and two chairs.

I had a six-foot work table and a swivel chair.

Do you have a typewriter for me.”  I asked.

No, no Mr. Weerasinghe,  you don’t need to type as we have a stenographer to type your work and the High Commissioner’s.”

I have no intention to insult the stenographer, but the typewriter is 

my workhorse.  I will do my own typing. Will you please find me one.”

On the second day at work, there was a brand new Brother electric 

typewriter on my desk, with about 250  High Commission letter headed 

typing paper. And an equal number of long envelopes with the Mission’s

address stamped on the left top corner.

By then I was in business as President Premadasa had expected of me.

President Wickremesinghe, you may wonder whether this was all a dishonest show of pretense by me.  Saying that my ‘workhorse’ is the typewriter.. Here were my results and you may want to be Judge and Jury of my performance.

My Communications portfolio required me to handle all correspondence on Human Rights ‘complaints of alleged violations by the Government of Sri Lanka against the Tamils and their brethren ‘Tigers’.

My discipline in responding to correspondence, made me respond to every letter within three days of receiving it.    And these were the results. Here are the numbers:

235 letters (in 1989);  649 (in 1990);  1223 (in 1991); 872 (in 1992); 426 (in 1993) and 257 (in 1994).  My employment at the Sri Lanka High Commision in Ottawa (Canada) was terminated in June 1994.

All these letters were typed by me.  If there was a difficult response, I sought help from Mr. Bradman Weerakoon and not from your Diplomats at the Foreign Ministry who were hell-bent to sabotage my work for having taken one of their jobs, thus depriving their children of being schooled in Canada and some kept back after their tour of duty, as  refugees or potential immigrants.

I telex  the letter that I needed some guidance to respond to Mr. Bradman

Weerakoon, and there  was a response from him the following morning on my desk.  He was extremely generous with his time to guide me.

My question to you is President Ranil Wickremesinghe, and I want you to be honest.  Will any of your Sons, Daughters, Brothers and Sisters Machang Brigade of diplomats perform as good as I did or better than what I did in Communications at the Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa.”

Here’s the  ‘stupid-cussed’Sabotage history that your Diplomats in the Foreign Ministry who tried to cripple my performance in Communications at the High Commission in Ottawa (1989-94)

Case 1. Let’s screw Asoka- to show he is a failure! After President Premadasa invited me to be his Deputy at the Ottawa Mission, Bernard Tilakaratna, Secretary Foreign Affairs refused to provide me with  Business cards which I thought was a valid requirement to perform my duties.,

My response was ‘ Bernard, you are not joking are you? I am certainly not going to pay out of my pocket to get the calling cards to work for the Government of Sri Lanka.  No damn way!  Let’s get President Pemadasa involved in your decision of stupidity.”  With that comment of mine, I was provided with the Business cards without an intervention by President Premadasa; 

Case 2:  Let’s screw Asoka – to show he is a failure!  I wrote to the Ottawa-Carleton School Board, advising  them that I, the Communications Officer of the  Sri Lankan High Commission, is available to deliver a Show and Tell  Class  to Primary and Middle schoolers about Sri Lanka.   There will be Sri Lankan artifacts like gems, and masks,  And videos of the Pinnawala Elephant orphanage, Sri Lankan dancers and scenes,.et cetera,  All what I wanted the school to provide me was a Globe and a VHS Cassette player with a monitor.  The Sri Lankan artifacts and VHS cassettes were from my personal library as the Mission had  sweet buggerallto promote Sri Lanka.  It was embarrassing.

 I had Principal’s of 13 schools in the National Capital Region of Ottawa inviting me to take over a Class in the presence of the Classroom teacher and deliver the Show and Tell talk on Sri Lanka.

Here is a ‘dosey’ Mr. President.  I requested the Foreign Ministry to provide me with 13 large Sri Lankan flags that I could explain the graphic on it, especially the significance of the green and orange stripes dedicated to the Tamil and Muslim, minority communities,  and present it to the Principal of the school to use it on their Commonwealth Day celebrations.  Let’s Screw Asoka” went into full gear and my request was ignored.

I asked my sister Sybil Weerasinghe, a Musaeus College teacher, to do me the favour.  To go to Laksala and buy me 13 large Sri Lanka National flags, parcel them neatly,  address them to me at the Ottawa High Commission with the words URGENT DELIVERY. Take it to the Foreign Ministry to be delivered to me in the Diplomatic Bag.  And if they were reluctant,  to take a Tuk-Tuk with the parcel to the President’s Secretariat and hand it to the receptionist with my personal letter to President Premadasa, to facilitate the delivery of the flags to me as I needed them Urgently.

The Foreign Ministry had obliged and there was no need to ask President Premadasa to  intervene,

Case 2.1Let’s screw Asoka – to show that he is a failure!

Of the 13 schools, two school groups arrived in school buses to the High Commission.  Each group had 30 students plus two teachers.  They were accommodated in our new large Library that I had created, which was furnished by me with a small dining table and four chairs, an area carpet and two tall cloth palm trees. I bought them from Smiley’s on McArthur Road (with my money) and had them delivered on a Saturday morning. I had keys to the building.   The two ebony elephant bookends of mine disappeared three days later.  I had a good suspicion who stole them.  It was an in-house thieving job.

The students sat on the floor, the teachers on chairs and I delivered my talk on Sri Lanka with my poetry, synched with the 35mm slides of Sri Lanka in a

Kodak carousel projected (my property). on to a white screen.

Since I was not given an expense allowance”, I asked HC WalterR to provide me with 35 doughnuts and three large bottles of orange juice, 35 disposable cups and 35 paper serviettes.  He not only accommodated my request but also got his domestic Podi to help me host the event.  It was a huge success.  The student who Thanked” me did it in poetic rhyme. That was beautiful.  

Asoka Weerasinghe, the Communication Officer, whose appointment was questioned in parliament by C.V. Gunaratna, certainly didn’t fail President Premadasa with this exercise of promoting Sri Lanka.   I wish and I wish, and I wish that CVG and the Foreign Affairs Diplomat who sneaked my appointment to the Minister, sat on the floor with the students and took in my presentation. It would have been a lesson for them in Communications.

My question to you Mr. President is, are you confident that your Machang Gang, diplomat brigade” was capable of doing what I did as a Communications Officer? You convince me as I would say No bloody way!”.

Case 3:  Let’s screw Asoka: President Wickremesinghe,  here’s how your Ottawa High Commission operated then.

Since there was no space for a library since 1958, I needed a space so that we could meet visitors and have meetings.

I got permission from HC Walter Rupesinghe to clear a room which was chock-a-block full of  old newspapers going back to about five-years and bundles and bundles of pink passport application forms which went back to a good 15-years.’ All these were stacked from the floor to the ceiling.

I phoned the Director of Immigration in Colombo and asked how far back should the passport application forms be kept?.  Keep the forms up to three years and you should shred the rest,” he said.

High Commissioner Walter R assigned his domestic Podi to help me empty the room. K.B. Fernando, a Senior Diplomat, the First Secretary had come into the room to find out what was going on.  There was a  large 4’x 4’ carton box at a corner of the room collecting dust.  When I asked Podi to get rid of it too, K.B. butted in and told me, No you can’t get rid of it like that Asoka. According to the FR we should take an inventory of its contents that had been sent from Colombo.”

OK, K.B., you may take off your coat,  roll up your shirt sleeves and get on making a note of its contents.”

Chick! I am not going to do it” he remarked.

Podi, how long has that box been there?   He looked at the  box, turned it around and said, Avurudhu  ekkolahak (11 years) Asoka Mahaththaya”

Did you hear that K.B?  So you Diplomats  had come over from the Foreign Ministry and  have played three rounds of  3-year-Musical chairs, and couldn’t care two copper-coated cents to take an inventory in

11-years.  And so you act like a Tin-God and expect me to do it for you guys who was hired to take care of the Communications portfolio.  You must be bloody-joking K.B.”

Podi, oya pettiya arinney nathuwa visikaranda,.”  And thats what happened

President Wickremesinghe.Take note.  K.B. Fernando was a senior Diplomat from Your Foreign Office.

Case 4: Let’s screw Asoka, exercise went on unabated during my five year

employment at the Ottawa High Commission.

After coming to a Gentleman’s Agreement with President Premadasa, the Foreign Ministry decided not to pay me the rental allowance as well as an entertainment allowance bringing down my salary that I was getting as an IS6

Canadian Communications Officer by $2,200, a  month.

Well, President Wickremesinghe, let me be blunt and raw as it could be.  You cannot govern your sovereign island with ‘Machang-nepotism appointees  to diplomatic postings, and the cussed pettiness which not only harmed my progress in Communications to deliver what was expected of me by President Premadasa, but insulted the Sri Lankan Government as well as my  well recognized dedicated and disciplined  professionalism.  Pox on you Foreign Ministry diplomats I said under my breath who tried to sabotage my work.  I didn’t take it kindly and by then the War against them was on….!

4.1 Here’s what happened: When I was appointed to the Mission, I brought with me the use of my complete political library, my  published and unpublished political writings, and Sri Lankan Museum quality artifacts to promote Sri Lanka which the Sri Lanka High Commission  had sweet-nothing. I was a Sri Lanka Heritage buff and a ‘hand-picking’ collector of  Museum-quality artifacts since 1970.

Two of my cultural Ceylon/Sri Lanka artifact collections were acquired by the

Canadian National Museum of Civilization, and another (facsimiles of Heritage flags were acquired) by the University of British Columbia’s Anthropology Museum in Vancouver.  All researched and written by me for use in public exhibitions.

4.2  When the Canadian Intelligence Corp that I had worked with since August 1983 wanted to have regular breakfast meetings with me, I said‘ Sorry, gentlemen, this proposal is not going to work out for me. Although I was promised by the Sri Lanka Government, I am not on an entertainment allowance, thus cannot pick up my breakfast meeting tabs.  It’s hopeless!”

Don’t worry Asoka, we will take care of your breakfast bills. So this Director of Communications for the Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa, who Minister C.V. Gunaratna, questioned in parliament, bummed-begged almost 50 breakfasts  from the Canadian Intelligence Corp.  Sad, and the cussed-pettiness of the Foreign Ministry to let that happen stank to the high heavens. That was tough Mr. President.  That was sick.    But I did what I had to do for my employer, President Premadasa, as expected of me to the best of my ability.   You bet I did,  President Ranil Wickremesinghe, even though I was told by a very senior Diplomat Asoka it’s a pity that you are the most misunderstood expatriate at the Foreign Ministry.  I know why.  Because you not only get things done, but you are also a straight talker and we cannot handle it”.   What childish stupidity!

4.3 One day, Dr. Sharma  (not sure of his Title),  of the Indian High Commission, invited me for lunch at the Chateau Laurier’s Canadian Grill, a sumptuous restaurant.

I wished that C.V.Gunaratna, MP,  and the Foreign Affairs whistleblower diplomat

who questioned my appointment in parliament were two flies on the wall listening to our conversation.

While having lunch Dr. Sharma said: Asoka every time we open the Ottawa Citizen there is a letter from you on behalf of the High Commissioner defending Sri Lanka.  They have been very impressive and to the point.  How do you do it? What is your Mantra?  We find it difficult to get even

one letter in.”

So I walked Dr. Sharma with my disciplined writing to the Editor of letters, of the Ottawa Citizen and got them pick-up ink in two to three days.

I told him that I would send my response no later than 36-hours after Sri Lanka’s news item appeared in the newspaper. . Not three, four or five days later.

Target your context of the response within the first two paragraphs.   And make it succinct and short.

If your letter does not pick up ink in seven days, call the Letters Editor and demand your right-of-reply.   Don’t let the Editor wiggle out of it.  Be firm..

But what was disappointing was my inability to reciprocate that lunch in return to Dr. Sharma, because of the petty cussedness for not providing me with an entertainment allowance as was promised.

Mr. President, I had 56 letters  out of a possible 64, published in the newspapers from the east  coast (Evening Telegram, St. John’s, Newfoundland) to the  west coast of Canada (Surrey/Delta Leader, British Columbia) during my 5-years with the Ottawa High Commission.

Mr. President, what was interesting was when the Senior Diplomat, K.B. Fernando, the First Secretary came to me and said, Asoka, there is no need for you to respond to every news item that appears in The Ottawa Citizen”.

about Sri Lanka.”

What is the problem , K.B?”

There is no need to have a dialogue with the Tamil separatists”.

Ha! What Bull is that K.B!  A dialogue is exactly what I want.  An opening of another  window for me to destroy their propaganda base trying to destroy Sri Lanka and the governance of the incumbent government.  

K.B.  I know the Subject,  I was taught to write a sentence, with six words in Grade 2 at Nalanda, like ‘The cat ran after the mouse”

You are lying to me KB. What bothers you guys at the Foreign Ministry is that you cannot show me seven letters that appeared in the Ottawa Citizen during any one High Commissioner’s incumbency.  Don’t be foolish, K.B!  I am no wimp and I am aggressive.  You have found that out by now, haven’t you?”

Mr. President Ranil Wickremesinghe, take my word.  You filling the empty chairs 

at the High Commission office in Ottawa with your  ‘Machang’s son and daughter gang of nepotism-diplomats’  won’t be a help for yours or my Mother Lanka. STOP this stupidity now, and not in a month or two or in a year’s time.   Yours and My Mother Lanka deserves better!

Case 5: Let’s screw Asoka campaign: Don’t let him show his competence 

in Communications”

Between 1989 and 1994, the Sri Lanka High Commission was the only Foreign Mission that used the ‘Host Country’ Community TV Channel  (Ottawa McLean Hunter Cable TV 22) to promote their country,

I, as the Director of Communications at the High Commission in Ottawa, Story boarded, Scripted, voice recorded,  worked with the Producer (Shahid Khan)  of McLean-Hunter CableTV and edited Nine (9)  half-hour Shows.  Songs of Sri Lanka.

All items and props used in the nine TV shows were from my private collection as Sri Lanka’s High Commission in Ottawa was shockingly empty for such an audio-visual exercise.  It was pathetic , providing the Machang diplomats” abroad, a three-year sabbatical paid  musical chair” holidays, in a way.

In the Songs of Sri Lanka I highlighted the following to promote Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage –

Dancing The Tea Pluckers Dance; Gajaga Vannama; Harvest Dance; Kavi Maduwa; Sinhala & Tamil  New Year celebrations; Kataragama;, Tea, Gems and Jewellery;  Kolam and Sanni Masks and ceremonies; Puppetry; Elephants  and its influence in Folk Art; Bharatha Natyam, Wesak; Interview with Air Commodore Leonard Birchall;  My poetry on Sri Lanka reading to school children accompanied by images on 35mm slides.

Mr. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, all I can say to Minister C.V, Gunaratna and the Foreign Affairs Diplomat who complained about my appointment to the Ottawa High Commission  and questioned it in parliament, is …”Boo!” to both of You and you can now eat your hearts out…you fools!”

Case 5.1:   There were two spin-offs from our Songs of Sri Lanka TV shows.

Mr. Mukundan (not sure of his title) from the High Commission of Malaysia called

inviting me for lunch at Haveli, an Indian Restaurant in Center Town.

During lunch he  tells me, Asoka, I have enjoyed your Songs of Sri Lanka

Television shows, very much.  I’d love to do such a show to highlight Malaysia too.  Tell me, what is involved in producing such a Television Show?”

So I walked Mukundan through the production process – from story-boarding -scripting -marrying images to music, to the script – voice recording in the

Studio and finally editing in the studio.  I got help from the Producer Shahid  Khan at MacLean-Hunter Cable TV, who I can introduce to you.”

After listening to me attentively, his response was – O my God, I am not capable of producing such a Show.  I am not talented like you., Nor do I have the material to produce such a Show.”

Come on Mukundan, you can do it.  I will sit with you for the first production.  Shahid is a great guy.  A helpful producer.  I will introduce him to you.”

Mukundan truly felt that he was not capable of producing such a show and it did not happen.

But it was unfortunate that I was not able to reciprocate his courtesy lunch  as I was not provided with the  Entertainment allowance which was promised. So that’s how the Sri Lanka’s Foreign Affairs  cookie crumbled.

 Mr. President,  it was an ugly, petty response for a guy who gave up a good permanent  20-year career in the Canadian Public Service, to help President Premadasa and  Yours and My Mother Lanka.   Bloody shame, isn’t it?

Case, 5.2:  Sue Evans from the Spouses Parliamentary Association phoned me to find whether the Sri Lanka Mission would like to participate in producing a  video on Sri Lanka for their literacy project with the Frontier College to inform students across Canada about Sri Lanka. 

I agreed and proposed that they should video record my Ottawa Montessori School Show and Tell presentation  of my poetry and slide show on Sri Lanka, Thirty students came to our  High Commission Library on Range Road for the presentation.

The parliamentary video cameras were present to record the presentation.   And the letter received from Sue Evans was the result.  

Let me point out Mr.President  such an event had never happened at the High Commission before.  Done by the expatriate appointed to the Mission questioned  by MP C.V Gunaratne in parliament, prompted by some Diplomat at the Foreign Ministry.  It is all in the Hansard..  Perhaps he thought that this expatriate Communications Officer, Asoka Weerasinghe was a Do- do.  Perhaps, a member of President Premadasa’s Machang Gang of neophyte Diplomats”. Another ‘Village idiot’ that you all send among the mix of your nepotism Machang gang of Son and Daughter Diplomats’.  

So I proved the Foreign Ministry wrong again.

__________________________________________________

parliamentary spouses association    613-9962650/613-995-9917

                                                                                        June 1, 1993

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 joining the children in learning about your

country,’

     I have always loved poetry – but do not possess the skill to write it.  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.

                                                                                 Sincerely,

                                                                                 Sue Evans”

_____________________________________________________________

Case 6:  Let’s screw Asoka campaign: Don’t let him show his competence in Communication skills.

Mr President Ranil Wickremesinghe, so the Foreign Ministry tried hard to hold me back.  After all, I was an outsider who took one of their jobs, thus depriving one of them to educate his or her children in Canada and try to keep them back as immigrants. This mantra has happened umpteen times.

Here’s what I did to establish a Model of Excellence in creating a temporary Institution

of Research to help the academics and the media personnel with truth- material for their special papers and post-secondary/graduate theses on Sri Lanka’s Eelam War,  I said temporary as the Institution would last only while my contract lasts, as the research material came from my private political library (at home), and from my Published and unpublished  political writings. 

 Up to today, since August 1983, there have been over 2000 letters under my authorship, sent out to Editors of newspapers, political journals, Sri Lanka watchers of Human Rights, and soft on Tamil separatist cause Canadian politicians  Just over 500 have picked up ink under my name, Asoka Weerasinghe.

There was no snowball chance in hell for this area of excellence in communications to be carried forward after I left.  And that is exactly what has happened.

Mr. President Ranil Wickremesinghe, here is how this temporary Research Institute worked.

6.1  Two High School students from British Columbia who had been assigned to

represent Sri Lanka at the National Student’s Commonwealth Forum meeting

in Ottawa met with High Commissioner Walter Rupesinghe with their Teacher-coach in the summer of 1991.  

After gathering information,WalterR passed them  over to me to provide them with Sri Lankan Information ‘Tourist’ brochures.  During the conversation I asked the Coach whether he would like me to coach his students.  They accepted my suggestion with glee.

The Result :They took home to British Columbia the Best Country Presentation trophy- on Sri Lanka.

As a Thank You” they took me out to dinner at the Chateau Laurier. And the trophy stood proudly at the center of the dining table during the dinner.

 6.2  A Graduate Student (G.D.),  a Britisher, from The Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University, Ottawa, was meeting with High Commissioner Walter Rupesinghe discussing the possibility of her adopting  Sri Lanka for her country specific Thesis.  After their discussion  WalterR passed her on to me to continue the discussion further and to provide Sri Lankan tourist brochures. 

During the discussion I told her that if she decides to adopt Sri Lanka for her country specific Thesis that I will provide her with my research and writing manuscripts to help her.

All what you have to do is to provide me the Abstracts of every chapter and 

I will feed you with research materials.”   She was extremely happy with this development.  That was exactly what happened.  Eighty percent of the material that she used for each Chapter were from what I had provided her from my personal private library.  The High Commission had sweet-nothing, as such, to help her.

She played to HC Walter Rupesinghe a reel to reel tape recording of her Seminar in which she began by saying’  Good evening to you all…and thank you for being present to hear me speak.    I am Walter Rupesinghe, the High Commissioner for Sri Lanka in Canada.  And this evening I will speak to you truthfully…………..”

High Commissioner  Walter Rupesinghe was surprised and extremely happy with the presentation and he thanked the graduate student profusely.  He asked Asoka, how did you manage to do it?”   G.D. got an A++ for the seminar which was marked by two retired Canadian diplomats who were in attendance at the Seminar.

6.3   My private personal political library was used to help with research material and my published essays and critical writings to B.A. M.A., Ph.D students  and Political Science Professors, at the following academic institutions:

Carleton University (Ottawa); Ottawa University (Ottawa); McMaster University (Hamilton); Brock University (St. Catherines); 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); University of Waterloo (Kitchner); and University of Manitoba (Winnipeg).

So, here is the Communications Director of the Ottawa High Commission whose appointment was questioned in parliament by Minister C.V. Gunaratna, and also  was reneged on the Gentleman’s Agreement to provide an ‘Entertainment Allowance’ that deprived me the diplomatic courtesy to reciprocate courtesies

to my equivalent Diplomat hosts.  That was petty…that was stupid…that was asinine!

In my case as an outsider, pettiness, cussedness and stupidity” by the Foreign Ministry ruled the day.  And as you noticed Mr. President, I didn’t fail my employer President Premadasa, nor my Mother Lanka  that I decided to serve for 5-years on a contract leaving a 20-year career in Communications in Canada’s Federal  Government.

The only time that I picked up the restaurant dinner tabs were when I met my

Parliamentary Mentor,  who enjoyed rice and curry dinners at Indian Restaurants.

And there were times when I cooked him a curry dinner and invited him  home.

I always invited another  two Sinhalese-Canadian couples to join us.

He was Art Hanger, a Conservative Party MP for Calgary Northeast (October 25, 1987 -October 14, 2008). As a mentor, I enjoyed and respected his views and guidance

immensely.  He was who told me when I asked him to present our petition in Parliament against the Canadian Tamil Tigers and  the support they were receiving from his Conservatives,

His response was I will be honoured to do that for you, Asoka!”

Case 7. Let’s screw Asoka  campaign: Don’t let him show his competence in Communications.

 One  mid-morning, High Commissioner Walter  Rupesinghe came to me with two letters.

He gave them to me and said,”Asoka, please see what you could do to solve these problems for me.”

The letters were from lawyers.  Their clients were Tamil pensioners. One, a male in Toronto, and the other a female in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Both letters were demanding that we pay the  pensioners their three months  pension arrears immediately.

This was embarrassing and I was angry as the Chief Clerk, a diplomat, who was looking after the pension files used to come to office almost every weekday after dinner, to work over-time and claim payment for his extra hours at work..  There were only 137 pension files and they were all in arrears of three months.

Mr. President Wickremesinghe, this was not acceptable for me, and I happened to be a staffer outside the box of your Foreign Affairs of diplomats.  And these are the Diplomats who had the gall and temerity to question my appointment to the  Ottawa High Commission in parliament through Minister C.V. Gunaratna.  Shish! What a tardy, We are the Tin-Gods and- Goddesses  at the Foreign Ministry Temple, and You are the intruding dirty rascal, Asoka!

What C.V. Gunaratna and Bernard Thilakaratne, Secretary to the Foreign Ministry was not aware was that I, Asoka Weerasinghe, will not tolerate such deliberate efforts to question my integrity as a Professional” without finding out

Who- the-hell-I-was in the field of Communications in Canada’s Federal Government.  That was a No!…No!!.

This Tamil lady was getting a pension of $94 a month and a Grandmother, and Christmas was approaching fast. I couldn’t forgive ourselves for letting the lawyer claw money for his letter from her meagre pension. I refused to destroy the freedom of this old Grandmother and her pride and dignity as a pensioner. I did not wish to see her buying a $7 box of chocolates when she really wanted to buy a $15 box of chocolates for her granddaughter, wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree.  I resented that the Government of Sri Lanka took away the precious dignity, pride and freedom of a Sri Lankan Grandmother,  and it didn’t matter to me whether she was a Tamil, Sinhalese, Burgher, a Malay or whatever.   To me She was a proud ‘loving’ Grandmother of a loving granddaughter.  And that said it all about my compassion in public relations as a Canadian-trained Communications Officer. 

So I phoned the lawyer in Halifax  and explained the difficulties we had, with the lack of staff, and that I am now being given the responsibility to look after the pension files.  That I will see her pension arrears cheque be sent within the next five working days and he will get a copy of the cheque as proof that it is on its way.

 And I pleaded that he not send her an invoice for payment  for his letter, and claw that fund from her small pension.  But if  he really thought he should be paid, to send me the invoice and that I will pay it out of my pocket to restore the pride, dignity and freedom of this Grandmother.   To please do me that favour, and that I will be eternally grateful to him.

Yes, the lawyer had a heart and he obliged and made it a pro bono Christmas gift to the Tamil grandmother. While the  Tamil Grandmother was happy with the final outcome of this exercise, there was one person who wasn’t happy.  It was the Sinhalese-Diplomat Chief Clerk who turned grumpy for having lost his ‘cash cow’, the 137 pension files.

which he worked on in the evenings after dinner and claimed an overtime wage.

I was  assisted by young Thrishula Karunaratna,  and we cleared the arrears within two months.

From then on, Mr. President,  this guy, Asoka Weerasinghe, the Director of Communications whose appointment was questioned in parliament was also responsible for the Mission’s Trade and Commerce portfolio for 14 months, and the 137 Pension files until the end of his term of duty.

Case 8. Let’s screw Asoka campaign: Don’t let him show his competence in Communications.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, when Minister Ranjan Wijeratne was visiting Ottawa, he made a request to HC Walter Rupesinghe whether he could collect some funds from the expatriate community for his Ministry’s Defence Fund.

 Knowing that the exercise would be difficult as the expatriates, including myself, had difficulty to donate funds to any Ministerial cause, not knowing where the money would end up, as the Sri Lankan parliamentarians unfortunately had collected a reputation of being rogues,thieves, 20% pick-pockets and con-artists.  As you know Mr. President as the saying goes, there won’t be any smoke without a fire.

A meeting was organized in Toronto, and I was sent to speak to the expatriate community for three hours, and  I came back with $4,500 in cash and cheques for the Defence Fund,

8.1  Mr. President Wickremesinghe, I found that the discipline of ‘Time Management’ generally among your diplomats was appalling. A spin-off of their mindset of believing they are ‘Tin Gods and -Goddesses’ and they control power over the expatriates.

 Here is an incident that made my eyes cartwheel with anger spitting dragon breath at your senior diplomat, First Secretary K.B. Fernando who was responsible for Immigration and passports.

A few months later after my Defence Fund raising visit to Toronto, I got a call from

Mr Uyanwatta (not real name).  He said Mr Weerasinghe, I am not sure whether you could put a face to my name.  I was one who wrote a cheque for $100 for the Defence Fund”

My apologies, I don’t think I really can.   Is there anything that I can do for you?”

Yes, Mr. Weerasinghe.  I have got an emergency back at home in Sri Lanka, and I want to return ‘home’ as soon as possible.  My passport has expired and I don’t want to send it by Post in case it gets lost.  If I come over, will you be able to renew it for me over the counter, so to speak.”

I don’t do passports, it’s the First Secretary, Mr. K.B. Fernando.  If you hold on for a few minutes, I will find him and ask whether your request is doable.”

I found K.B. in his office and related the request.  No problem Asoka.  Ask him to come tomorrow and see me at 9 in the  morning with all the papers handy.”  This was a

Monday late morning.

Seeing  a lot of passports on the table I told him: K.B., I see you have quite a number of passports to deal with, why don’t I ask him to see you on Friday at 9?

That will be just fine, Asoka.”  So I asked Mr.Uyanwatta to see K.B .Fernando on Friday at. 9 in the morning with the passport and relevant forms.

Friday arrived and the receptionist called me around 11 in the morning saying that one

Mr.Uyanwatta would like to see me.  Tell  him that I will be down in three minutes.”

I thought he wanted to thank me for facilitating that favour.

How did it go Mr. Uyanwatta?”

Not good Mr. Weerasinghe.”

I drove from Toronto at 3:30 in the morning for the interview at 9.  Mr. Fernando only turned up at 11.  After looking at the passport and forms, he told me that he could only renew it in two weeks,”

I am sorry that you are disappointed, Go and sit down.  Give me the passport. And don’t go away until I see you.”

I was livid by this time.  I went in search of K.B.  Unfortunately for both of us he

was addressing the immigration clerks in the Open-plan office.  I interrupted him and told him.

K.B., refusing to renew Uyanwatta’s passport for two weeks is not acceptable.  You promised it would be done over the counter.  Stop acting like a Tin-God,  You make me look like a liar and a Sri Lankan Village-Idiot.  That is not going to happen.  Here is the passport.  I want it renewed right now.”

He flustered, took the passport and hurried out of the office.  Obviously he went to High Commissioner Walter Rupesinghe.  Walter called me in.  I went in.  He might have felt the heat of my anger spitting dragon breath  all over the senior Diplomat K.B. Fernando.

I related the story to WalterR.  I said, Walter, this is the worst act of Public relations

displayed by a Sri Lankan diplomat  exposing the power of the Foreign Ministry.  That will not phase me out.  Walter, I want this passport renewed right now.  

K.B. will take off in a year to return home, but I will have to live in this community for the rest of my Canadian-life. And you bet Walter, I will not leave this office until I get this passport renewed and I hand it over to Uyanwatta and see him on his way to Toronto.  He has been awake since 3:30 this morning driving for his interview with K.B. at  9 in the morning, which happened only at 11.  Now he has to drive another  5 hours to reach home without his renewed passport in hand.   I damn well want it done, Walter, right now.*

Walter saw my anger and he felt  the heat.  He stretched his hand over the table and told me

Give it to me, Asoka.  I will do it for you.”

The passport was renewed in 45 minutes which K.B. Fernando, the senior Diplomat from the  Foreign Ministry, wanted two weeks to do so.

Damn it, Mr. President. Ranil Wickremesinghe, this was sabotage  to undermine my work, who happened to be an outsider from the box of Sri Lankan diplomats. I was not prepared to change gears to adapt ways that your Foreign Ministry senior Diplomats worked. No Way Jose.   My discipline was, if you promise,  then you perform to meet that public relations commitment, especially having dragged this client from Toronto, 450 km away.  My discipline is when I give an appointment for a meeting at 9:00 in the morning, I don’t appear at 11 in the morning and not even apologize for that untidy insult..

Case 9. Mr. President Ranil Wickremesinghe, let me make this the final  ‘Case’ history out of my extensive catalogue of what I encountered in my 5 years working at the High Commission in Ottawa.  You can study my honest accounts  to glean how the Mission worked with a galaxy of diplomats among them were a few Village idiots” of the  Machang nepotism appointments”  And, of course, a guy like me, who was recruited by President Premadasa.  Let me hasten to add that I was no relation to him, not even remotely. Nor had I spoken to him before nor had I met him.

I had left the Mission by now and its Intelligence Officer phoned me and asked for a favour,. 

Mr. Weerasinghe, can I have a copy of every letter you sent out on the Eelam issue in Sri Lanka?”

What is that for?” I asked.

I want to send them to my Boss, back home” was the answer.

Sorry.  I won’t.  Do you know why?  So you want to ride on my back to get Brownie

Points for your survival.  You want to tell your Boss, I gave all the information  to

Mr. Weerasinghe, and told him what and how to write and also edited the letter before it was sent out.   Right?   I don’t want to be part of that lie.”

Then, if so, can you please give me a hand to write the Intelligence Report?”

That shouldn’t be a problem.  Only if the Report’s cover says that we co-authored the Report,  and my Name will be on the cover with yours.”

Certainly.  It will be fine with me and I will send you a copy of the final Report which will be sent to my Boss.”

 Mr. President Wickremesinghe, one morning a copy of the Final Intelligence Report was brought to me at home by the Mission’s chauffeur, and it looked impressive.  It was 129 pages long.  As agreed, the Cover announced both our names as co-authors. I liked that honesty,

Take note Mr. President, I did not charge the Mission the consulting fee. My fee was $1000 a day.

Around 10:30 in the morning I got a phone call from the Mission’s Minister Counsellor.

He tells me, Asoka, a funny thing happened at the Mission this morning!”

What?” I asked.

I know you were promised by our Intelligence Man that the Final Report would carry Your name as the co-author.  What went out in the Diplomatic bag was the Intelligence Report with a new cover, without your name.  I thought I should inform you what had transpired.  I know you contributed for the major part  of Intelligence for that Report.”

Thanks Pathi..Man-O-Man, I am livid. I am fit to be tied.  So you guys have done it again, riding  on my back to pick up Brownie Points for your survival;.  It’s too bad!

*****So, Mr. President Ranil Wickremesinghe, you have got a glimpse of  how the Foreign Ministry Diplomats  try their utmost to see that a new recruit from  outside their  Diplomat cabal does not perform well to tell President Premadasa ….  See you appointed this guy, Asoka Weerasinghe, as the Deputy High Commissioner and he has produced nothing and he is an abject failure.”

Mr. President Wickremsinghe, I am horribly disappointed that I missed the chance to challenge C.V. Gunaratne  when he said according to the news item in The Island of 11 October 1989, p.3, FOREIGN OFFICE OFFICERS FRUSTRATED – C.V. Gooneratne- There are experienced officers in the Foreign Ministry…The officers are frustrated.”

Really, C.V.!  You can say that again.  If you really think there are, here is my REPORT CARD on Communications for the Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa.,  If you produce one of your Diplomats who has done as good as what I have done or better…not two or three, just one,  I will give back every cent that the Sri Lanka Government paid me in wages in a cheque that you can personally hand  it over  to the Treasury.  And if you can’t, it is only fair that you work out a way to get my promised rent of $2000 a month for the five years, which was the money that I was expecting to pay my mortgage with.   I almost went bankrupt.  Not good and I am livid.  The worst employer that I ever worked for.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, I wish, and I wish..and I wished. I had the opportunity to tell Minister C.V. Gunaratne, I know you questioned my appointment to the High Commission in Ottawa in parliament, here is my Report Card of what I achieved during my tenure of five years looking after the Communications portfolio. Just don’t read it, memorize it as it’s worth it for not to be so stupid again.”

__________________________________

ASOKA WEERASINGHE’S PERFORMANCE HIGHLIGHTS OF COMMUNICATIONS & CULTURAL ACTIVITIES FOR THE SRI LANKA HIGH COMMISSION, CANADA :  JUNE 1989 – MAY 1994

*** Had Letters to the Editors  published defending the incumbent Government policies.

*******56 letters in – The Ottawa Citizen (Ottawa); The Globe & Mail (Toronto);  The Toronto Star (Toronto); The Toronto Sun (Toronto); Surrey/North Delta Leader (B.C.);  The Whig-Standard (Kingston,Ontario); Sri Lanka Abroad (Toronto);’

Star India Journal (Toronto); India Journal, (Los Angeles, US); The Island (Sri Lanka)

*** Letters responding to Amnesty International Lobbyists, (They were all

personal letters, and not form letters, and all typed by me).

235  letters (1989); 649 (1990); 1223 (1991); 872 (1992); 426 (1993); 257 (1994)

*** Produced  Half-hour Community Television Shows, Scripted , recorded and edited nine (9) Songs of Sri Lanka for Maclean-Hunter CableTV, Ottawa.

In them I highlighted, the Tea Pluckers Dance, Gajaga Vannama, Harvest Dance,

Kavi-maduwa, Sinhala & Tamil New Year, Kataragama, Tea, Gems & Jewellery, Kolam and Sanni Masks and ceremonies, Puppetry, Elephants and its influence on Folk

Art, Bharatha Natyam, Wesak, Interview with Air Commodore Leonard Birchall,

My Poetry on Sri Lanka reading synchronized with  35mm slides of Sri Lanka to School Children, etc.  All the music and artifacts were from my personal library  (C.V. The High Commission had sweet buggerall to achieve this model of excellence in Communications.)

***** Exhibition participation. Let’s get this right President Ranil Wickremesinghe

When  President Premadasa wanted me to give him a hand, he nor the Foreign Ministry

Diplomats did not realize that Sri Lanka won a cultural lottery by hiring me when I brought with me not only the working knowledge in Communications but also the use of the wealth of my  private ‘hand-picked-Museum-quality’ collection of Sri Lanka’s cultural artifacts, and the use of my political library.   The artifacts collection began in 1970.

So I was able to participate at cultural exhibitions handsomely when requested through the Mission.  The High Commission was an embarrassment as it had sweet-nothing for

this communications exercise.

I know I may have blindsided the foolish MP,  C.V. Guneratne for challenging in parliament my appointment to the High Commission  in Canada.

These are where I participated on behalf of Sri Lanka, as the Director of Communications

at the Sri Lankan High Commission using my personal private collections.

  1. The Art of Healing: Ritual Healing masks of Sri Lanka (Canadian Museum of Civilization);
  2. Festival of masks: Sri Lankan ritual masks (Museum of Quebec); 
  3. Sri Lankan-Canadian writers (Edmonton, Alberta);
  4. Focus on Sri Lanka (Algonquin College, Ottawa);
  5. Sri Lankan Heritage Flags, puppets and masks (National Arts Center, Ottawa);
  6. Kolam Masks (National Gallery,Ottawa)
  7. Heritage  Flags of Sri Lanka (Halifax, Nova Scotia).

***** ToPromote Sri Lanka I presented the following Public Talks:

  1.  Sri Lankan Healing Masks:The Delicious Nightmares” (Canadian Museum of Civilization);
  2.  Claim for a Separate State in Sri Lanka: the Eastern Province whose Home Land?”  (SLUNA, Toronto). (Note: This talk was released to the Editor of The

Ottawa Citizen which was adapted as an Editorial.  The Sri Lankan High Commission’s Minister Counsellor claimed that he worked very hard to get this Editorial published,  He got caught with his lie as I debunked this ‘Village idiot’s assertion publicly as three of its sentences were lifted from my Talk.  What a Brownie point seeking liar riding on my back.);

  1.  Buddhist spirituality in Meditation” (Sai Baba’s 20th Anniversary, celebrations in Ottawa);
  2. Sri Lankan Masking ceremonies”, Newfoundland.

***** Talks in Schools  I presented 13 Talks on Sri Lanka with Artifacts, slides and 

           video presentation to  Middle  school children in the National Capital Region,

           sometimes through my poetry on Sri Lanka.  ( Note: All artifacts, slides and 

           videos were from my private collection, as the  Sri Lankan High Commission had 

           sweet buggerall.)

***** University Special papers :  Was subject advisor to two students – one on the

           Anthropological significance of Sri Lankan masking ceremonies.  The other

           on Sri Lanka Aid & Development in today’s political environment;

***** Provided research material and my published essays and critical writing

          from my Personal library for undergraduate and graduate students at the 

           following Academic  Institutions, which no one at the Sri Lanka High  

           Commission in Ottawa had done this before. (See 6.3).

          So I created a temporary Research Institution for the High Commission

           at home.  Temporary” because it would last as long as I was employed during 

           my Contract, and my personal library would not be available for the High 

           Commission’s use after I left my employment.

  Mr. President Ranil Wickremesinghe, the news item ‘Foreign Office officers frustrated , C.V. Gunaratne, in the Island of 11 October 1989, page 3, reported what Acting Foreign Affairs Minister and State Minister for Defence, John Amaratunga said in parliament, In fact Mr. Weerasinghe gave up a very lucrative job and offered to handle publicity work at the Embassy…..He should be thanked for that,”

You know what Mr. President, He should be thanked for that” came in the form of,

when I went to the Mission to read the news papers, the clerk Zakaria informed me,

Sorry, Mr. Weerasinghe, we have been ordered by the High Commissioner (Bull Weeratunga) not to open the Library for you to read the papers.”

You know why Mr. President?  The High Commissioner and Staff couldn’t hack it that, I,

Asoka Weerasinghe, appeared on the 6 0’clock  evening TV newscast often, and not the High Commissioner. And several letters that appeared in the Ottawa Citizen were under my name, Asoka Weerasinghe, and not that of the High Commissioner.  I say tough tiddy.  If your Diplomats at the High Commission couldn’t defend the good name of Yours and My Mother Lanka, I did it, for the love of my Mother Lanka who nourished me for the first 19-years of my life.  I had no difficulty standing tall for her against the barrage of Tamil separatists, 50% of the Sinhalese community in Ottawa who shot poison darts at me during their weekend  rice and curry dinner gatherings, and now the  Sri Lanka High Commissioners.  So it was a three-prong attack on me for standing tall for my Mother Lanka’s honour.

That is the very reason at a Sri Lankan gathering to celebrate Sri Lanka’s Independence, when the Mayor of Ottawa Jim Durrell and his wife Sandy, asked the President of CIDA a question on SriLanka, she pointed her finger at me and asked the Mayor Durrell, go and ask Asoka, he is the unofficial High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in Canada.”  Mr. President Wickremesinghe, when there was incompetence at the High Commission in Ottawa, that was how the cookie crumbled.  At least I was present to fill that Official

gap providing the information what the Ottawa’s Mayor Jim Durrell was seeking.

***** The National Student’s Commonwealth Forum;  Coaching the students

Representing Sri Lanka (1990, 91, 92, 94),  The Sri Lanka represented by th High School Students of British Columbia returned home with the Trophy for the Best Country Presentation -Sri Lanka;

***** Sri Lankan artifacts at the Canadian National Museums.  Was advisor on

Cataloguing Sri Lankan artifacts at the Canadian National Museum of Civilization;,

Ottawa. They had a fair collection;

*****  Author of 223 Press Releases, approved by High Commissioners Walter

Rupesinghe and Walter Fernando, since none were coming from the Foreign Ministry in Colombo;.

******* Sri Lanka News as Letters to the Editor in leading newspapers across Canada,( June 1989- May 1994)  56 out of a possible 64;

******* Authored and produced  Information Kits to be presented by the High Commissioners Walter Rupesinghe and Walter Fernando to all Sri Lanka watchers,  politicians, Human Rights Groups,  and whoever.  They were all well received, especially by the Canadian parliamentarians.  One Cabinet Minister told  HC Walter Rupesinghe,

Good, now I got some substance to confront these buggers (FACT), intelligently, when they keep sending me  an information sheet  a day, to state their case for a separate State Eelam.”  He asked his Secretary to bring the  FACT folder to show us what he had to deal with.  It was a thick file with about 200 sheets of printed paper

with a FACT letterhead,

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, since absolutely nothing was coming out from the Foreign Ministry nor from the Information Department, I asked High Commissioners 

Walter Rupesinghe and Walter Fernando  to find me $600, so that I could produce information kits for our use.   So 100 kits for each title  costing $600 were authored (working at home during the weekends) and printed by Glen Cheriton  (Commoners Publishing, the publisher of my poetry collections) and were professionally done.  They 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)

It had to be a hands-on job that I had to be satisfied with.  The 100 silver coloured kit pocket folders were bought at Grand & Toy.  The green ribbon to tie each with was  bought at the Bouclair Fabric Store.  And I put them together with  a lot of

Professional artistic finesse and love.

After I left the Mission, the person who took credit for my hard work, was a nepotistic  Village idiot” who had kept copying and sending them around saying that it was hard work to produce them.

Note:  President Wickremesinghe, the volume of letter writing, information kits etc.,

was only possible since I was able to use the keyboard of a typewriter, rather than

having a second person to take notes of my dictation and then produce on a

 typewriter.

That was a  PLUS  that helped me to establish several modules of Excellence in 

Communications at the  Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa which was  pathetic when I took over in June 1989. 

***************  I was returning to the office after lunch  one February afternoon.   High Commissioner  Walter Rupesinghe called me in and asked me to sit down.  He very appreciatively talked about our partnership, working together with no hiccups at all during the past three years. 

I know, we didn’t treat you well, but this is the most that I can do for you”,  and handed me a sheet of paper and said..”I hope this would compensate you a little bit.”

The 8 1/2”x 11” paper had a  Sri Lanka crest at the top center of the sheet and the words High Commissioner for Sri Lanka, Ottawa, Canada.

The typed words on it said  ________________________________________________

                                                                                                         5th February 1993

     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 way 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 endeavours.

                                                                 (signed) W Rupesinghe

                                                                               Walter Rupesinghe

                                                                                High Commissioner

__________________________________________________________________

        ******Mr. President Ranil Wickremesinghe, the above letter from High Commissioner Walter Rupesinghe, concludes my professional relationship, my

first experience having a Sinhalese  ‘Boss’ in my life.  All my working experience had been in the UK and Canada, 

During these three years I met President Premadasa twice in his Secretariat to discuss my progress helping him. I reported two Ministries and the third being the Foreign Ministry, and the Librarian of the Geology Department at Peradeniya University, 

Minister A.J. Ranasinghe who facilitated the meetings and High Commissioner Walter Rupesinghe were appalled that I wanted to report  Ministries to the President, and I took my working files with me. No..No..Asoka this has never been done before.”  

President Premadasa should hear what I have to say, after all I gave up a 20-year Canadian Federal Government career in Communications, to help him when he asked.”

I asked him to light a stick of dynamite under the chair of one Manager to get him

moving on my request.  He was visibly angry to hear of my complaints, and had Mr. Bradman Weerakoon to look into them and report back to him the following day.

I received three letters of apology from the Heads of Ministries before I left Colombo for Ottawa, and there were three letters waiting for me on my desk  in Ottawa on my return, with apologies.   

******* I  had one  more year left on my Contract and worked with High Commissioner Walter Fernando, my second Sri Lankan ‘Boss’. An excellent Diplomat- administrator.  Another appointment by President Premadasa, a   visionary who coined excellent working partnerships.  We worked together extremely well with no hiccups.     In a letter dated 25 November 1996, he said: 

Dear Asoka:

         We wish to thank you both for coming to the Airport and seeing us off.  We appreciate very much your friendship and cooperation extended to us during our stay in Ottawa, and especially, you were an able Lieutenant in the High Commission and I had no fear when I requested you to do something because I was confident of positive results.  Really you are a man of action.  I know you are an advocate and a canvasser for Sri Lanka and  your contributions in many spheres are appreciated……”

 With warm regards

 Sgd. Walter & Chalini.”

       *****Mr.President Ranil Wickremesinghe I hope and I wish that this letter of mine be of help to produce a Working Manual for Communications at the Sri Lanka High Commission in Ottawa with benchmarks to create Modules of  Excellence.You got a base to work with.   It will certainly help when you all send Machang Diplomats with little or no experience in Communications and  some happen to be village idiots” with no class of diplomatic sophistication and diplomatic courtesies, nor time and records management skills, and office-etiquette like the diplomat who was High Commissioner Ananda Goonasekara’s assistant.  Who went around town telling that I had stolen the masks from the High Commission, when he should have had the sophistication to phone me and ask Mr. Weerasinghe, I understand you always used Sri Lankan masks to decorate  the venues of official events,  Do you know where they are?” 

My response would have been, Yes I do.   Some are hanging on the walls in my home and others are in storage in my basement.  They were all my property as the Mission had sweet buggerall to showcase our culture. I will certainly let you borrow them only if you promise me that you will handle and take care of them, as they are very valuable pieces that I hand picked on my visits to Sri Lanka since 1970.”  

 That didn’t happen, nor a response from HC Ananda Goonasekara for my letter of 14 February 1997, with copies of my Bills-of-purchase  of Sanni and Kolam masks going back to 1970,  from Laksala; Lakpahana;  Lakmini Sevana, Ganetenna, Hingula; Sriya & Daya Curio Shop, 493 Peradeniya Road, KandyKandyan Art Association, Sangarajah Mawatha, Kandy and, more knowing he had a Sri Lankan community member who was damn mad with them.  That is how the cookie crumbled, President,  when you send Machang diplomats’ some who are really ‘village idiots’,lacking the sophistication  of class Diplomats.   This guy was lucky that I did not get hold of him by his collar and shake him with anger, until his bones rattled  and fell onto the ground on a heap of broken bones. He was lucky!  

President Wickremesinghe these are the There are experienced officers in the Foreign Ministry—the Officers are frustrated (The Island, 11 October 1989) said by Minister C.V. Gunaratna, when he questioned my appointment in Parliament.   All I can say is…”Sweet Mother of Jesus, please help my Mother Lanka.  She needs help, and very badly, with foolish MP’s like (the late) C.V. Gunaratna around.”

I only wished that High Commissioner Ananda Goonasekera had made an effort to reclaim the Sri Lankan masks his ‘village idiot’ assistant made him believe that I stole them.  I wish he did President, as I would have shown what Sri Lankan-Canadian fireworks looked like on an indigo night sky over the roof of his official residence at 28 Range Road.  You bet, I would have.  I don’t take such idiocy kindly, which tries to challenge to harm my professionalism and honesty.

Mr. President Ranil Wickremesinghe, I only wish You, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Justice, good luck as you all will need  Good Luck in oodles to get the best out of whoever is appointed, including members of the ‘Machang Diplomats Brigade;  to take care of the Communications portfolio at Ottawa’s High Commission.

 But please don’t send wimps who are scared and cautious of Tamil Snow Tigers as they are still around in the thousands in the Greater Toronto Area; who would take half -a-day to draft a response  to a newspaper, news item on Sri Lanka, when I, the ‘outsider’, knew the subject matter and composed a response in 40-minute on my typewriter, and sent off after the approval by the High Commissioner within 36 hours of the news item appearing in the newspaper and saw it pick up ink in two days.  

…..Minister C.V. Gunaratna, missed poorly on a reality check, which would have told him that, when his  Foreign Ministry Diplomats kept changing their assigned ‘musical chairs’ every three years at the Ottawa Mission, this outsider, Asoka Weerasinghe,  kept on working on this Sri Lanka file as a volunteer from the Canadian trenches which was under much stress and strain in Tamil separatist supporting-Canada, for  almost 5-hours a day,every week including the weekends, since 27 July 1983  And along the way gaining the trust of Canadian media personnel, and that of the  Security personnel, and some Canadian parliamentarians.   That made a helluva difference,

******* Before I conclude, it would be a remiss on my part, as one senior Sri Lanka Diplomat from the Foreign Ministry divulged that It is a pity Asoka, that you are the most misunderstood expatriate at the Foreign Ministry.  I know why, because you are a straight talker and you perform well, and we have difficulty with all that,” that I divulge most sincerely and honestly of three of your diplomats who commanded my respect absolutely.  They were High Commissioners Rodney Vandergert, Chitranganee Wagiswara and Bandula Jayasekera the Counsellor General in Toronto.  I take my hat off to all three of them.  Two are not with us today. May they rest in Peace.

And, of course, three High Commissioners of Christian faith, showed their intellectual smarts that during our Wesak celebrations in Ottawa, they as Chief guests delivered three amazing mini-lay Buddhist sermons.  Sri Lanka should be proud of them. One was an in-house Diplomat, Rodney Vandergert.  And the other two were  outsiders and were excellent Diplomats.  They were Ernest Corea and Walter Rupesinghe .

Another Diplomat who should take a bow for her engagements with the Buddhist community.  The very venerable Bhante Brahmanagama Muditha, the Chief incumbent of the Hilda Jayewardenaramaya in Ottawa told me, Asoka Mahaththaya, no one will ever believe that Chitranganee Nona is a Christian.  Her sense of devotion and Respect in white for the Buddhists at the temple were exemplary.  If Diplomat Chitranganee Wagiswara reads this comment,  Lady please take a bow. You are special as a diplomat.

Mr. President Ranil Wickremesinghe, I hope this essay of what I experienced of  how the Ottawa High Commission functioned between June 1989 to June 1994, gives you  enough reasons to correct what was wrong and lacking to make it a fibrant Sri Lankan  Foreign Mission in Ottawa.

The ball is  in your Court and  it is up to you to make it a Class Act and hit it back with  vigor and business like  over the net to change the shape of the Ball.  Or let your racket of Governance miss the ball and keep it going hobbling to disaster, embarrassment and going nowhere.  Perhaps, it has already met the marks of Modules of Excellence as in Communications, where I was involved promoting Sri Lanka

Make it a start, Mr. President by dismantling the Hora  Nepotism Dhansala Huts  of ‘Machang’ Diplomats, immediately.

Sincerely

Asoka Weerasinghe (Mr.)

cc. Hon.Ali Sabry, PC, MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Hon. Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, PC, Minister of Justice

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