Politicians and their lackeys are well known for putting their VIP feet in their big mouths. Some of them try to enhance their performance by putting both feet in their orifices simultaneously. But, the problem with pulling that stunt is that they are left with no foot to stand on. They land on their derriere with a thud. What a pity! Here is an example.
One Mr. Daya Weerasinghe, who describes himself as Media Secretary-Min. of Foreign Affairs has, in a letter to the Daily Mirror Editor, accused this newspaper of having denied the Foreign Ministry of its right of reply presumably as regards our news item, Bogollagama`s security abuse Sethu Project advisors (June 12) and editorial comment, Don`t disturb Kadir in his sleep (June 13). We quote the relevant section of his letter:
`The Executive Director [of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies?LKIIRSS] C. D. Cassiechetty, in his letter to the Editor of The Island dated 13th June 2007, gives the facts that unfolded on the day in question, concerning a preparatory meeting for the Sethu Samudram Canal Project. However, this letter never received any acknowledgement or publicity in the said newspaper. It is unfortunate that certain sections of the media resort to maliciously defaming individuals or institutions without proper redress to the affected party.` (Emphasis added)
Now, according to Mr. Weerasinghe?assuming a junketing ghost writer had no hand in the aforesaid reply?we have violated professional ethics by refusing to publish Mr. Cassiechetty`s reply. But, what really happened?
We received a copy of a letter purportedly signed by Mr. Cassiechetty, by fax, from the Foreign Ministry, followed by a number of calls requesting us to publish it. But, we were wary of complying with the request for two reasons. Firstly, the person who had drawn our flak was not Mr. Cassichetty but Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama and logically it was the latter who should have replied to us and not the former. Secondly, the Foreign Ministry never made available the original letter purportedly signed by Mr. Cassiechetty. We had and still have doubts about the authenticity of the letter in question. We made our position clear to the person who kept calling us but the original document was never sent. These days, as is public knowledge, spin doctors can doctor anything. Some pettifoggers are also notorious for forcibly obtaining signatures of others. Strangely, Mr. Cassiechetty, whose signature was said to be on the letter at issue, never contacted us. However, it is still not too late for the Foreign Ministry to send us the original document in question, though we would rather have a reply from the Foreign Minister himself.
As far as we could remember, that reply?the faxed copy has already faded?was a poor defence. What we can recall is that it claimed the Foreign Minister had, on the day at issue, held a breakfast meeting for Japanese Special Peace Envoy Yasushi Akashi and some others at the LKIIRSS and that was not a private breakfast contrary to what we had said. Yes, the Foreign Minister should have such meetings with foreign dignitaries but the LKIIRSS is the wrong place, especially at a time when a crucial meeting of a group of high officials and academics who had volunteered to defend Sri Lanka`s position on the Sethu Canal Project was scheduled to be held there. Many of them left in a huff in protest against humiliation they were made to suffer at the hands of the Minister`s bovine guards. There are other places for such meetings like hotels. (We don`t want to hear that the LKIIRSS was preferred to a hotel because the Foreign Minister is given to austerity and, therefore, does not want to indulge in the dissipation of public funds!)
Now that Mr. Weerasinghe has stuck his secretarial neck out and is pretending to be au fait with what goes on at the LKIIRSS, we have some queries for him. We remain Argus-eyed and stay focused on that institute because there is said to be a sinister move to strip it of its raison d`etre?functioning as a think tank?and make it an appendage of the Foreign Ministry as a guest house. The eponym of LKIIRSS, Mr. Weerasinghe and his political boss should realise, laid down his life for this country. And that institute is sacred to every right thinking Sri Lankan with an iota of gratitude. The best way to honour Kadir is to run that institute the way he wanted and not as a wayside eatery. Now, the first question for Mr. Weerasinghe: Do you think the LKIIRSS is being run as a think tank?
There is a statue of Kadir waiting to be erected at the institute which is the best place for that purpose. Question No 2: Mr. Weerasinghe, can you tell us whether or not Minister Bogollagama recently objected to its installation there and suggested that it be erected by the roadside and maintained by his family members? Kadir died for us and not for his family, which lost him because of us. The final question: So, isn`t it the duty of the Foreign Ministry, which Kadir adorned, unlike the lesser minions who cannot hold a candle to him at least posthumously, to allow that statue to be erected on the premises of the institute and look after it? These questions, we believe, are not too difficult to answer.
Mr. Weerasinghe has levelled a serious allegation against us, to wit, ? it is unfortunate that certain sections of the media resort to maliciously defaming individuals or institutions without proper redress to the affected party. Now, Mr. Weerasinghe, listen very carefully lest you should miss our message. Nothing could be further from the truth! Why should we waste our time and space to defame individuals who get `slippered` and slapped in public by their near and dear ones for being Lotharios and shamelessly stoop to the level of appointing their filles de joie sans qualifications to high posts a la the World Bank chief who landed himself in the soup recently because of his girl friend?
Those worthies are defaming themselves through their own actions which stink to high heavens, aren`t they? Their propaganda poodles, who always bark up the wrong tree, only make things worse for them!
To them, we say again, don`t disturb Kadir in his sleep!