(Text of Editorial appearing in “The Island” of January 10th 2019 under the heading “The hunt begins?)
The JVP has torn into Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Russia Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, who, it says, backed the 26 Oct. government change. It has, however, stopped short of explaining how he did so. Is it referring to his political writings? There is no love lost between the JVP and Dr. Jayatilleka and, we believe, the former has sought to settle old scores.
There has been no formal complaint against Ambassador Jayatilleka as far as we are aware. He is no stranger to controversy and it is up to him to defend himself in case of charges being brought against him. But it is not clear from the allegation at issue against him whether he has done anything so serious as to warrant disciplinary action. However, a person had better prepare himself for serious trouble when the JVP flays him, for its diatribe is a harbinger of the government’s hostile action against him.
We have a government which won’t hesitate to bring back anyone from abroad save Arjuna Mahendran. Let those who are all out to hound Dr. Jayatillake from his job be told that Sri Lanka should have a competent ambassador, acceptable to the Russians, in Moscow, because the UNF government has, in its wisdom, tilted its foreign policy in favour of the West at the expense of the country’s traditional friends.
Meanwhile, time was when the JVP took to the streets in protest against US interference in countries like Chile and Nicaragua. But, today, it is silent on foreign interference in Sri Lanka’s domestic affairs! The aftermath of the 26 Oct. government change saw some Colombo-based foreign envoys overstepping their diplomatic limits to make various statements on the situation here. They also visited Temple Trees and the President’s House, and some of their press releases were, in fact, warnings couched in diplomatese.
No nation can exist in isolation without heeding international opinion. A country should be willing to take the views of other nations on board, especially in respect of issues concerning democracy and human rights. But it should not suffer meddlesome foreign envoys gladly, so to speak, and censuring such grandees who consider themselves viceroys should not be considered a manifestation of the so-called island mentality. It is not difficult to guess what US President Donald Trump’s reaction would be if a foreign diplomat, in Washington, dared tell him how to resolve the ongoing shutdown crisis, which has left about 800,000 American workers unpaid. Will any foreign envoy be allowed to lecture Prime Minister Theresa May on the Brexit issue?
Why hasn’t the JVP called for action against the foreign diplomats who disrespected Parliament by clapping in the Speaker’s gallery, during a controversial voice vote on a no-confidence motion? Will the ordinary people be allowed to do so in the parliamentary galleries?
The JVP’s concern for democracy is to be highly appreciated, and it is right in having condemned the unconstitutional methods the Sirisena-Rajapaksa duo employed to dislodge the UNP-led government, in October. But one is at a loss to understand why it continues to hold a grand annual event to commemorate its founder leader and other slain comrades who staged two violent uprisings in an abortive bid to overthrow governments. It has no qualms about calling those violent elements heroes though they killed political leaders, trade unionists and ordinary people, destroyed public property worth billions of rupees and even carried out a bomb attack on Parliament; President J. R. Jayewardene and Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa had a narrow escape.
Before calling for action against those who allegedly backed what has come to be known as the ‘October constitutional coup’, shouldn’t the JVP stop commemorating the killers responsible for two failed yet bloody attempts to overthrow democratically elected governments?