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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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I was delighted to have also been attacked in an article in ‘Ceylon Today’ that basically attempted to say that what it termed the monumental loss at Geneva was largely due to Dayan Jayatilleka (and, in parenthesis as it were, to me). It is suggested that what the writer, Ms Bastians, calls a Rottweiller approach, alienated the West, and that is why we have been persecuted by the US and other countries. But, since much of the article is a personal attack on Dr Jayatilleka, building up the case that was set in motion with a missive from the Ministry of External Affairs alleging corruption etc, it is obvious that this is part of the brilliant technique of the fellow travelers in the Ministry to ignore the real problems about Geneva and get on with their task of getting rid of all our able emissaries.

Ms Bastians, I gather, is the wife of Gehan Indragupta who is in the Ministry, in Colombo at present, a batchmate of George Cooke, one of the principal plotters against Dr Jayatilleka.

Ms Bastians, I gather, is the wife of Gehan Indragupta who is in the Ministry, in Colombo at present, a batchmate of George Cooke, one of the principal plotters against Dr Jayatilleka. George, who is unmarried, was permitted to move into an unfurnished apartment at a monthly rental of Euro 3280/-. One of the charges against Dayan is that he permitted Mr Razee, also a Second Secretary at the Mission like George, to stay for a long time in a hotel. The reason for this is that he was given a much lower rent ceiling and, even when this was subsequently increased to Euro 2500/-, finding a furnished apartment, which was specified, was not easy.

George however is a lucky soul, one of those plump Burgher boys whom motherly teachers at nursery school adored. Though not very bright, they would win prizes for elocution, and I recall George acting as Master of Ceremonies at various functions during Mr Bogollagama’s tenure. I suspect he was the person who advised Mr Bogollagama that the G15 was not of the slightest importance, for when the President was offered the Chairmanship of this body, he said that the Foreign Minister had told him not to take it up because it did not contain countries of importance. I should note though that, when I told the Foreign Minister that it included countries such as India and Brazil, he ignored the advice of the Ministry professionals and persuaded the President to take up the position. That it was not made use of subsequently is well known by diplomats in Geneva, and also the reasons for this – as one Indian journalist told me, the problem was that, after Dayan left, instead of asking friends for advice and assistance, we would only ask them for their votes.

So much for the professionalism of the Foreign Office. That, doubtless, is why they – as exemplified by Ms Bastians – are also attacking Tamara Kunanayagam, who was grossly ill-treated in Geneva. I was asked why this was so by two Westerners, who appreciated the forthrightness with which she spoke, and her sheer professionalism. They could not understand why she had been sidelined, but the mandarins who ill-treated her will claim to the President that it was all her fault.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

August 2019
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