Diplomats promoting their personal views

Dharmasena Liyanage

The articles and letters now appearing in media, almost every week, under the names of Sri Lankan diplomats posted abroad for vital positions are not only misleading the world but degrading the status of the highly respected and valued positions they owed to represent.

An ambassador is a government official or a minister of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government to an international organization to serve as the official representative of his or her own country with plenipotentiary authority to represent their head of state.

In other words what is expressed by such diplomats is considered to be those of the head of the state, in Sri Lanka, the President. The article written by a controversial Ambassador and appeared in The Island and his subsequent replies to the president of Sri Lanka United National Association of Canada [SLUNA], is a case in point.

Since the said Article and subsequent replies were circulated under the letter head of the mission via emails to Sri Lankan expatriate community, the matters expressed therein have been given an official status by the said mission, probably, with the knowledge of the said Ambassador. The circulation of such materials by the said mission could also be considered as a further attempt to humiliate the expatriate Sri Lankan community.

The Ambassador's comments such as "this comes from a man who lives in Canada" and so forth, probably to cover-up his past, are antagonizing the entire expatriate community who work hardly to combat the malicious propaganda machinery and fund raising activities of the LTTE abroad for a long-time without expecting any personal benefits, per haps, while most of our paid diplomats aboard are doing nothing in this direction.

What is the relevance of the fact that President of SLUNA lives in Canada? Is the Ambassador trying to imply that because the President of SLUNA lives in Canada his statements on Sri Lanka should be influenced by Canadian/Quebec politics or that he is ignorant of Sri Lankan politics? It is not where a person resides that matters when expressing a point of view but the content and validity of information. If one is disqualified on expressing views because of where one resides, the LTTE would not be where they are today and much of what we read on Sri Lanka would be classed as irrelevant and incorrect.

On the other hand, what may be relevance when judging a statement of a person is not where he lives but where he was and what he was doing in the past. When responding to an article appeared in The Asian Tribune dated 09/08/2007, the said Ambassador accepted the fact that he and other members of the Vikalpa Kandayama and its allies were indeed indicted on 14 counts under the Prevention of Terrorism Act under the Emergency laws.

The diplomat concerned appears to have not given up his anti-Sinhala, pro-Indian and Federalist stances even after assuming his current role. His worst writings were in the Sunday Observer under the pseudonym Anuruddha Tilakasiri where every week he attacked the Sinhalese community while being a Sinhalese. He, it seems, is now trying to make use of his journalistic experience to promote decade's long failed personal agenda under the cover of his current diplomatic position.
Although those who are aware of the past and what this person has done and written in the last two decades changing his standpoint so often are not taking his writings seriously, what he utters now should be taken seriously by the authorities concerned since such comments comes (almost every week) from a person holding a highly placed position where communicating and implementing the government policies and strategies are of significant issues.
If each and every Ambassador of Sri Lanka serving abroad starts promoting their personal views, via media, instead of those of the government, probably under the guise of freedom of expression or as personal comments, there will be confusion and conflict of interest and the consequence of such acts would be costly.

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