Friday, May 11, 2012

The Tamara Kunanayakam saga – how many more turns before finality?

Ambassador Tamara, who I feel has done a tremendous job against all the odds and interference, has been asked to vacate her post after less than a year on the job, back to her previous post in Cuba. Whilst I am not privy to the backroom intrigue between the Foreign Service and Temple Trees which led to this effective demotion, I believe notwithstanding the appointment of another able Diplomat to replace her, that she has been treated shabbily.

She has just been appointed to some very important committees within the UN diplomatic arms in Geneva, which she will have to vacate, another tragedy for Sri Lanka. I suspect those who made this decision did it more out of envy and spite rather than out of a genuine desire to help SL cause in Geneva.

I rather suspect that after a request to at least send her to begin the new Mission in Caracas, which I believe is of dubious value, she could have been redirected with some dignity instead of the hard to stomach return to Start by sending her back to Cuba. If I was Cuba, I would be offended to be sent a diplomat who had already served there in the same capacity, a fact obviously lost on our Foreign Service.

It is now more than likely that she will tender her resignation, and get a job in the UN in Geneva, a place that is familiar to her. She will then remove all affiliations she had with the Sri Lankan Govt. and go it alone under a new leadership. We would therefore have lost a much needed diplomat, out of insecurity of the Service.

The sort of diplomatic shenanigans that are carried out where we will have the 4th Ambassador in 3 years in Geneva, is an indication of the state of Sri Lanka’s foreign policy or lack of it in direction and consistency.

All I can do is to wish her well in a career she embarks on, and I am sure many of the readers will do to. We can only hope that Ravinatha can do as good or better job in Geneva in light of the threats that Sri Lankans themselves have placed on us.

Being in the Foreign Service in Sri Lanka today, because of lack of transparency in dealing with her own citizens, is a tough assignment in the first place. Those who belittle it are only able to improvise, a third rate reply which will do the country harm. The litany of ills of the service will continue to proliferate until there is a new Govt. which is able to come in on a major platform of reform to undo big time rackets now being carried out. It is important that in the interim, if we could go into the backroom negotiations to confront and debate within the time and resource constraints. It is a credit that our seasoned diplomats can even operate this way.


Jack Point said...

The problem is a conflict between political appointees like Dayan Jayatilaka/Kunanayakam and the career diplomats.

The political appointees believe in "megaphone" diplomacy which plays well to the local constituancy. Unfortunately it does not go down well with the rest of the world.

Almost by definition, diplomacy involves trying to get things done through negotiation.

Engaging in a war of words, a poor relation of a war of bullets, is not the way to go about it.

The sooner the political appointees are removed, the better.

Ratmale,Minneriya,Sri Lanka said...

Thanks Jack I agree with you in one sense, as in the conflict. However in the sense of them all believing in megaphone diplomacy, I am not sure you can generalize based on Tamara/Dayan act, as they are more to the left of possibly you and me.

Interestingly they have both been in Geneva and courted controversy with their statements, however they were personal appointments of the President who backed them with his direct hand, and possibly overruled the better judgement of the foreign ministry.

This said, it seems that the President was persuaded that someone more adept at handling the West would be better for the job. Well that advice is way too late, and should have been thought of years earlier so we do not find ourselves in this impossible mess.

It is the whole shifting sands of foreign policy that I have a problem with ,as it also results in continuous rotation of diplomats, political or career.

This does not help in presenting a sane and stable case for the official view, as only a schizo approach has instead been adopted.

I still do not think we will return to sanity in this administration, whoever they put in whatever diplomatic post.

Jack Point said...

You may find this of interest: