By D.B.S. Jeyaraj
In an unprecedented and controversial move Sri Lanka ’s Ministry of External Affairs has threatened to charge the country’s Ambassador to France Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka under the Penal code!
It is learnt that the External ministry’s overseas administration division Acting Director General Mr. W.G.S.Prasanna has sent a lengthy five page letter to Dr.Jayatilleka outlining certain charges relating to alleged “wrongdoing ” by Dr.Jayatilleka in the conduct of the affairs of the Embassy in Paris.
The letter calls for an explanation by the envoy regarding the charges and also asks the ambassador to show cause as to why he should not be charged under the Country’s penal code.
According to informed sources in Colombo the official missive though signed by the Acting Director –General of Overseas Administration was sent at the behest of a powerful cabal that controls the External affairs ministry now.
It is learnt that Mr.Prasanna had been “ordered” to send the letter to Dr.Jayatilleka by two influential members of this cabal.
The letter is seen as a preliminary strike aimed at paving the way for Dr.Jayatilleka’s removal from Paris and constitutes part of an overall conspiracy targeting Professor Gamini Lakshman Peiris the minister of External affairs.
Among the charges in the letter is one which queries the ambassador about re-painting and whitewashing the Embassy and Ambassadorial residence buildings prior to the visit of External affairs minister Prof GL Peiris.
Another charge relates to the accommodation of a first secretary who had taken up duties in Paris at a Hotel until he was able to find a suitable house.
Informed sources in Colombo said that Mr.Prasanna was very unhappy at sending the letter with these flimsy charges to the ambassador, but had no choice as the powerful cabal virtually ran the ministry despite Prof Peiris being the minister.
According to sources in Colombo a second secretary stationed in Paris had been summoned to Sri Lanka by high ranking officials in Colombo as a prelude to the strike against Ambassador Jayatilleka.
This officer is regarded as a stooge of former Foreign affairs minister Rohitha Bogollagama and is suspected of collaborating with the cabal to target Minster GL Peiris and Secretary Mr.Karunatilaka Amunugama.
The letter purportedly signed by Mr.Prasanna and sent to Ambassador Jayatilleka was “cooked” up in Colombo with input from this officer it is learnt.
According to informed sources in Colombo the charges outlined against Dr.Jayatilleka are frivolously flimsy and have no merit. It is patently clear that they have been leveled in a clumsy attempt to frame Dr. Jayatilleka said the sources
“The implied threat to charge him under the Penal code is downright laughable “ they said.
The letter sent to Ambassador Jayatilleka threatening him with charges under the Penal code is viewed by knowledgeable observers as being the cutting edge of a simmering tensions in the Foreign ministry corridors of power
It is open knowledge now that the External affairs ministry has become an Augean stables in recent times with an alternate power centre controlling the day to day administration of the ministry despite Prof GL Peiris being the minister and Mr.Karunatilaka Amunugama being the secretary.
This power centre is none other than Galle district MP Sajin de Vass Gunawardena who has been appointed by President Rajapaksa as supervisory MP to monitor activities of the External ministry.
Mr.Gunawardena using his close links to President Rajapaksa and Defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has established himself in authoritative control of the ministry in recent times
Exploiting the “gentlemanly” GL Peiris’s reluctance to confront ,the assertive Gunawardena has formed a cabal around him and exceeds his mandate by exercising unlimited authority in running the ministry.
It is said jocularly that Prof Peiris cannot transfer even a peon in the ministry without Vass Gunawardena;s approval.
In recent times the cabal has been joined by Kshenuka Seneviratne the Additional Secretary
The cabal has reportedly been “fixing and moving” matters in recent times at the ministry and has a long term plan to get Prof Peiris removed from External ministerial office.
It is suspected that the strike against Dr.Jayatilleka is an opening gambit in the envisaged campaign against Prof.Peiris. Dr. Jayatillekas appointment to Paris was very much due to Prof Peiris and both are said to have close personal rapport.
There are many elements opposed to Dr.Jayatilleka within and outside the foreign ministry establishment due to his outspoken views on crucial issues and also due to his somewhat unorthodox independent style of functioning.
It may be recalled that Dr.Jayatilleka was the architecht of Sri Lanka’s remarkable diplomatic victory in Geneva during May 2009 when the Country staved off a resolution against it by the west and instead turned the tables by getting a counter resolution passed in Sri Lankas favour with 29 votes to 12 at the UN Human Rights Council of 47 members.
Instead of being rewarded for this diplomatic triumph Dr.Jayatilleka was recalled to Colombo from Colombo although his term had been extended by a year earlier.
He was later appointed to France as Ambassador.Since he is not a career diplomat his term is due to end in January next year.
There has been a systematic campaign against Dr. Jayatilleka by Sinhala ultra –nationalists and hardliners on account of his moderate views on the Ethnic question , India ’s importance,LLRC report and Devolution.His open independent views have proved controversial to some.
It is understood that many of his critics and enemies seized on his recent interview to the BBC Sinhala service to portray Dr.Jayatilleka as an “enemy of Sri Lanka ”.
Here is the excerpt of the BBC news item-
Sri Lanka could learn from Myanmar which has radically changed bringing democratic reforms in the country says Sri Lanka Ambassador to France, Dr.Dayan Jathilleka.
He told Sandeshaya that in 2009, Myanmar came under vigorous international pressure over its human rights record and Myanmar was defeated in a vote brought in the UN Human Right Council.
“A few weeks after Sri Lanka won our battle in Geneva in May 2009, Myanmar lost in the same forum. It had the votes of India, Russia and China,” said Dr.Jayathilleka.
But, he said, today there is nothing levelled against that country because it is changing.
With defeat in UN Human Rights Council, Myanmar rallied round its neighbours particularly Association of Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN) and worked towards improving its human rights record.
Since then, he said, Myanmar has been achieving tremendous and incredible progress towards establishing democratic reforms.
“It became a more liberal country and even took steps to release the Burmese opposition politician and the leader of the National League for Democracy, Aung San Suuki”, he said.
Dr.Jayathilleka said that it was how Myanmar had wisely got out of the trap of the powerful countries.
“Its success has even led Myanmar to become the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Countries ( ASEAN) next year”, he said.
Ambassador Jayathillka said that Sri Lanka should take the resolution passed by UNHRC seriously because that would not be the end and those countries which brought it may push it through in the future.
He said it would have long term effects on Sri Lanka as those powerful countries and organisations will use it as a tool and act accordingly.
While there was nothing against the Govt or Country in the views stated by Dr.Jayatilleka and the sentiments expressed by him have only the best interests of Sri Lanka at heart , some of his detractors have exploited this BBC interview to depict him as a “traitor” and “anti-national” to the powers that be
In a climate where jingoistic stupidity uttered in the name of patriotism seems to be desired by the ruling Rajapaksa regime it has been easy for sycophants to label sensible moderate pronouncements as being “treacherous”.
It appears that the cabal has succeeded in convincing “Temple Trees” that action needs to be taken against Dr. Jayatilleka on account of the BBC interview.
Since there are no valid grounds to take disciplinary action against Dr.Jayatilleka on the basis of this interview the conspiratorial cabal has devised the scheme of targeting the Ambassador on issues of alleged misconduct and impropriety. it is felt.
The objective seems to be that of sullying Dr.Jayatilleka’s reputation and integrity before penalizing him.
This action if successful is likely to be the precursor to more calculated action against Prof. GL Peiris. Already inspired leaks are appearing in sections of the media alleging that Prof Peiris was responsible for the Geneva defeat.
Attempts are also underway by members of the cabal to “scapegoat” Sri Lankas permanent representative to the UN in Geneva Ms.Tamara Kunanayakam for the Geneva debacle.
Unconfirmed news reports state that the monitoring MP Sajin de Vass Gunawardena had summoned a meeting at the External affairs ministry to discuss the “Dayan” matter. Apparently neither the minister Peiris nor the Secretary Amunugama were aware of this
It is said that Gunawardena had bitterly criticized Dr.Jayatilleka at that meeting saying his comments to the media had undermined the Govt
He had then asked Addl Secy Kshenuka Seneviratne to draft a letter seeking an explanation from the Ambassador to France about the media comments.
Instead of however sending a letter on those lines another letter of a different type has now been sent.
It is inferred that the plan now is to “fix” Dr.Jayatilleka on the charges of “misconduct” rather than “comment”
It is not known whether the letter seeking an explanation also would be sent to Ambassador Jayatilleka following the letter signed by Mr.Prasanna and attempts would be made to “fix” Dr.Jayatilleka on different fronts as in the case of General Sarath Fonseka.
Unconfirmed reports also say that Dr.Jayatilleka would be “urgently” recalled to Colombo soon.
It is anticipated that Tamara Kunanayakam would be targeted after Dr.Jayatilleka’s “removal”.
Recent happenings in Geneva where the permanent representative Tamara Kunanayakam was sidelined by a caucus from Colombo , the systematic media campaign against Prof GL Peiris and now the letter threatening action against Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka are all perceived as part of a conspiracy by the powerful cabal in the External ministry