All's well that ends well | Page 2 | Daily News

All's well that ends well

President Maithripala Sirisena acted prudently by rescinding the decision taken by the Foreign Ministry to suspend the services of Brigadier Priyankara Fernando from his post of Minister Councillor (Defence), attached to the Sri Lanka High Commissioner in London, after a video circulating on social media showed the latter making threatening gestures to a group of pro-LTTE protesters opposite the High Commission, on Independence Day. The group, calling itself Tamil Solidarity, had complained to the UK government, calling for the expulsion from Britain of Brigadier Fernando for his alleged uncalled for conduct. According to reports, the President has reacted angrily at the Foreign Ministry decision made without consulting him. It is the President who sanctions all diplomatic appointments and the FM decision should have been communicated to him so that he could have weighed the pros and cons of the decision, especially during an election time. In any event, the Brigadier's so called threatening gesture, was quite innocuous that did not warrant punitive action, going by the video footage shown on TV. He was later seen interacting with protesters in a friendly manner, though, was at the receiving end of some angry outbursts.

Of course, the Foreign Ministry decision may have been based on protocol. Diplomatic staff are supposed to conduct themselves according to laid down guidelines, dictated by the nature of the office they hold. Any departure from this carries with it certain consequences. It is difficult to say if the Brigadier's conduct conformed to the niceties expected of a member of diplomatic staff. Obviously, the Foreign Ministry decided otherwise. This is all the more reason that such posts should be manned by professionals. A member of the diplomatic staff should not let his/her emotions get the better of him/her.

This was not the first time that pro-LTTE protesters have held demos opposite the Sri Lanka High Commission, in London, all of which ended without incident. Not just the HC, even Lankan leaders who visited Britain were not spared. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was given a torrid time during one of his visits, which culminated in a schedule lecture, at the prestigious Oxford Union, having to be cancelled at the eleventh hour, after Tiger elements in London staged a massive protest against the visit. Hence, it is a fact that Sri Lankan leaders and envoys in Britain, and, elsewhere in Europe, too, will have to live with this reality, where they will be in for hostile receptions from Tamil diaspora groups, which have a significant presence in the west.

Be that as it may, the Joint Opposition lost no time in seizing upon the London incident, in order to make political capital, while the country was on the cusp of an important election. Perhaps, in a last fling of the dice, JO worthies paraded a group of disabled soldiers on the street to take issue against the shabby treatment of one of their erstwhile colleague by the Yahapalanaya government. Acting with lightening speed, to beat the deadline set for electioneering, the JO also organised a press conference, lining up all tried and tested individuals, who are masters in the art of bellowing nationalist rhetoric, only to be made to eat humble pie, in the middle of the grand show, when it was announced that the decision to suspend Brigadier Fernando had already been rescinded by the President. According to the JO, this was yet another example of insulting the ranaviruvas. Mahinda Rajapaksa too joined the party, making the most of the incident, at an election rally.

In their eagerness to shamelessly pounce on this morsel to garner votes in the south, the JO worthies had completely blinded themselves to the fact that it was Mahinda Rajapaksa who committed the worst insult to the security forces by throwing behind bars the war winning army commander. Not only that, a hunt was launched on those ranaviruvas who were suspected allies of Sarath Fonseka, forcing them to flee the country, one of them being the present army commander.

Thankfully, election activity is put on hold, preventing the pro-Rajapaksa saffron brigade taking to the streets, to weep buckets for the victimized Brigadier, who, like all other members of the security forces, could do no wrong , and, should not be taken before the law, at least in their book.

Arthika Gathakaya

Auditor General Gamini Wijesinghe has said the main reason for the breakdown in fiscal discipline in the past was due to the President taking over the Finance Ministry. He was, of course, referring to Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was Finance Minster during his entire ten year term as President. Going further, the AG said this (Rajapaksa being President cum Finance Minister) caused the Finance Ministry Secretary to lose his head, where fiscal regulations were treated in cavalier fashion. Not only that, he (Secretary) did not give a damn for any minister (in the Rajapaksa Cabinet). Perhaps, this may be the reason for Wimal Weerawasnsa to call the then Finance Ministry Secretary arthika gathakaya (assassin of the economy). But, Rajapaksa cared not a whit. Even when Sarath Silva passed strictures that he (Secretary) should not be placed in positions of responsibility.


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