(Excerpt From “Talk At The Cafe Spectator”Column in “Sunday Times”)
Malaysia insisted on meeting with Wigneswaran despite objections by officials
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Abdul Razak’s two day visit to Sri Lanka was not without controversy.
One incident came at a scheduled meeting Premier Razak had lined up with Northern Province Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) was infuriated that none of its leaders had been chosen for the meeting. One of them raised issue with Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The Prime Minister’s Office in Colombo made known its displeasure to the Foreign Ministry in Colombo. The Sunday Times learnt that Foreign Ministry officials made several unsuccessful efforts to have the meeting cancelled on the grounds that the Government of Sri Lanka does not approve of it. However, top Malaysian officials accompanying Premier Razak stayed put insisting that the meeting had been sought by their leader and would not be cancelled. One official insisted that their Prime Minister had, in fact, planned earlier also to visit Jaffna during his visit to Sri Lanka. “Our Prime Minister’s talks with Mr Wigneswaran were successful and he (Premier Razak) was very impressed,” he declared to a local friend.
Taking part in the talks between Premier Razak and Chief Minister Wigneswaran was Dr Subramaniam Sathasivam, the Malaysian Health Minister. He is the leader of the Malaysian Indian Congress. He is a leading Malaysian politician of Indian Tamil origin. This might explain the visiting PM’s desire to reach out to the Tamil politicians in the North of Sri Lanka.
Another incident came when Government officials were forced this week to take off from the agenda three different foreign investment projects totalling US$ 350 million (over Rs 5.3 billion) from Malaysia. The Foreign Ministry in Colombo and its counterparts in Kuala Lumpur had worked assiduously in the past many weeks and listed them on the agenda for talks between President Sirisena and Malaysian Prime Minister Razak, as exclusively revealed in the Sunday Times (Political Commentary) last week.