There is a disease affecting envoys from small nations serving in big countries. It is called the Ambassadorial Syndrome, which means they begin to speak more for their hosts than for their own countries. Inferiority complex and self-advancement are said to be the causes of that diplomatic malady. The most pronounced symptom of the disease is that the infected launch vitriolic attacks on the non-infected.
The latest victims of those sick Sri Lankan diplomats are Sri Lanka s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke and Head of the Secretariat for Co-operating the Peace Process Pro. Rajiv Wijesingha two intellectuals with the pluck to stand up to foreign pressure and defend the national interest. They are not obviously deriving some sadistic pleasure from their iconoclastic propaganda onslaughts on defied foreign dignitaries who are holy to the whole caboodle of castrated Sri Lankan envoys posted abroad, armchair commentators on foreign affairs and some media pundits hooked to licking boots of western diplomats. Instead, they are trying to do something for the country.
A recent article Dayan wrote to The Island criticising British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has reportedly irked Sri Lankan High Commissioner in London Kshenuka Senewiratne. His article has, according to an anonymous Foreign Ministry official quoted in a newspaper report yesterday, embarrassed Sri Lanka! Ambassador Senewiratne is reported to have sent a note to Colombo to that effect.
Our considered opinion is Miliband asked for it and someone had to react. Dayan did. Whether he overstepped his diplomatic limits in the process is another matter. If he had done so, all that the Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama or Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona should have done was to call him and ask him to act with restraint, without firing circulars to all Sri Lankan missions.
Truth hurts and it is understandable how hurtful Dayan s article has been to the British government. But, the British government must learn to take as much as it gives. Strangely, it cannot stomach a factually backed intelligent defence by a Sri Lankan diplomat of his country but it has no qualms about supporting separatist terrorism against Sri Lanka, a member state of the Commonwealth. The LTTE has been using the British soil to co-ordinate its war against Sri Lanka. Its spokesman Anton Balasingham operated from London until his demise. Its fund raising continues despite a ban. Some British politicians are openly advocating LTTE terrorism. A British minister once visited the East without permission from the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry. Former British High Commissioner Dominick Chilcott made numerous statements critical of Sri Lanka. Britain s policy towards Sri Lanka has not only been embarrassing but also detrimental to the latter s national security interests. So, what moral right does the British government have to object to an article critical of some of its members by a Sri Lankan diplomat?
Aggressive diplomacy is, no doubt, a luxury that a small country like Sri Lanka cannot afford. That is the only basis on which Dayan and Rajiva should be asked to act with restraint, if at all. (Have we ever heard either the US or the UK or the EU or India warning their diplomats to desist from criticising Sri Lanka?)
If we had a Foreign Minister of Kadir s calibre to defend this country single-handed, there would be no need for Dayan et al to dance down the track or opt for diplomatic reverse sweeps in the national interest. Sri Lanka is in a desperate situation with some foreign powers and their fronts trying to take the LTTE off the hook at this crucial juncture. Desperation of Dayan and Rajiv to counter their campaign through unorthodox methods is understandable. Their effort must be appreciated. If they are at fault, as was said earlier, let them be cautioned in private.
Meanwhile, we tell Dayan: `Tread cautiously, for the Foreign Ministry is full of jealous rattle snakes under the grass!`