The Paisley affair | Daily News

The Paisley affair

Former Minister and pohottuwa chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris has defended the Rajapaksa government for inviting British parliamentarian Ian Paisley for holidaying in Sri Lanka at tax payers’ money. He says that Paisley's invitation was in the context of the campaign carried out by the Tamil diaspora against the country and its use of British politicians in this exercise. Paisley was invited so that he could see for himself the real picture and lobby the British government against supporting the UNHRC resolution that was pending in Geneva.

Peiris also recalled the visits of former British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner in April 2009 to force President Mahinda Rajapaksa to halt the war when the security forces were closing in on Prabhakaran, to illustrate the influence exerted on British politicians by the Tamil diaspora to act against the interests of Sri Lanka. The invitation to Paisley came against this backdrop, so that he could form his own judgement on the ground situation in the country, according to Peiris.

Well, the Miliband - Kouchner visit came in 2009 and the invitation to Paisley was made in 2013, a good four years apart. The Rajapaksa government could certainly have done better to get down top British politicians in the intervening period and certainly MPs who carried clout with the British Government, instead of an ordinary back bencher like the DUP MP, to lobby Sri Lanka's case.

The fact remained that few, if any, foreign dignitaries of note visited the country at the time due to the government's dismal human rights record, with the murder and abduction of journalists making international news and the government was only too eager to rid itself of this embarrassment. Hence, all comers were welcome to the country, never mind what it cost the Sri Lankan tax payer.

Not that the tax payers’ money was of any concern to Mahinda Rajapaksa. Several millions of rupees of tax payers’ money was busted on a futile trip to the Caribean by a jumbo delegation headed by the former Central Bank Governor and that which included Rajapaksa progeny, film actresses and ex-cricketers, to bid for Hambantota as the venue for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Not only that. Tax payers’ money running into hundreds of millions of rupees was spent on PR firms in the US to lobby Sri Lanka's interests with the State Department at a time the country was ostracized by the international community, while we had a paid ambassador (a Rajapaksa relative) to perform this task.

That Rajapaksa was liberal with tax payers’ money of the ordinary citizens of this country was amply demonstrate by the sil redi case and other freebies dished out during his third bid for the presidency.

Be that as it may, the Paisley affair, which has now being internationalized, no doubt, will put Sri Lanka in the spotlight again and not for the right reasons. Any future attempt to engage foreign dignitaries to advance the cause of this country is bound to be viewed with suspicion. Sri Lanka will be treated as a country which bribes politicians to be treated with favour. The Paisely affair could just be the tip of the iceberg. There is no knowing to how many visiting politicians of insignificance had the Rajapaksas bribed in this fashion, with tax payers’ money, to “boost” the image of the country.

Peiris also recalls an instance when Anton Balasingham, a British citizen, and LTTE's ideologue, was provided an opportunity to meet Norwegian politicians in the UK in the aftermath of the assassination of former Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, thus betraying a sense of revulsion.

This was the self same individual, who, as the head of the government delegation for the peace talks held in world capitals, thought nothing of sitting at the same table not only to negotiate peace but also to sup with the Tiger delegation led by the self same Anton Balasingham.

This was, no doubt, with the full knowledge that the LTTE was responsible for the massacre of 600 policemen, the hacking to death of 18 samaneras in Aranthalawa and the bombing of the Sri Dalada Maligawa, the citadel of Buddhist worship.

Peiris, who is today accusing the government of pandering to the Tamil diaspora and taking the country to federal rule, it was, who, in cahoots with the likes of Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam carved out a draft constitution (pakejaya) that was meant to divide the country into federal units. The attempt was thwarted, with the UNP making a bonfire of the draft document, in parliament.

The former law professor, who, today, in holier than thou vein is accusing the government of betraying the country, maintained a deafening silence when the LTTE set up their heavy guns directed at Manirasakulam, in Trincomalee and kept mum when the Long Rangers’ safe house at the Millinium City was compromised, resulting in the killing of several intelligence sleuths, by the LTTE.

The ‘patriotism’ in Peiris surfaced only after he, together with 18 other UNPers, joined the Rajapaksa government, in 2008, to strengthen the hands deth shakthimath karanda, of the former President.


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