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One of the most preposterous charges laid against Dayan Jayatilleka in the Ceylon Today diatribe is that he writes too much. It is of course understandable that this comes from the Mandarins of the Ministry of External Affairs – I am assuming that Ms Bastians who wrote the article was fed by that Ministry, given that her husband Gehan Indragupta is a member of the fraternity – since their distinguishing feature is that they cannot or do not write at all.

I am assuming that Ms Bastians who wrote the article was fed by that Ministry, given that her husband Gehan Indragupta is a member of the fraternity – since their distinguishing feature is that they cannot or do not write at all.

I was made vividly aware of this when I was in Lebanon, where our ambassador is one of the brightest thinkers in the Ministry, though doubtless looked down upon by the Mandarins as someone who does not write perfect English. I was told by someone in authority that this was one of the problems with many staff, but obviously nothing has been done to improve the situation, if indeed it is a problem (given the general quality of English anyway, and the actual excellent content of those the Mandarins look down on). When indeed the Minister asked me to help draft statements I said I could easily help, but would it not make more sense for me to train people in writing? I heard nothing more, and I suspect the reason the President gave me in his shrewd fashion means that I will not be permitted to assist in that regard, or indeed any other.

To get back to our ambassador in Lebanon, he has edited a collection of essays on directions for Sri Lanka foreign policy, but it seems that the Mandarins had not contributed. He himself had written an essay, and one had been promised by Ravinatha Ariyasinha, our man in Brussels, but apart from those two, I believe that all contributions come from outsiders. In such a context, the Ministry should be delighted that it has at least some people working for it whose writings are highly respected internationally – but instead we are beset by petty jealousies that will strive to destroy one of our few diplomats who is regularly called upon by his peers to speak for them in public forums.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

April 2012
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