Monday, March 30, 2015

There is a crisis in the Diplomatic Service – a temporary solution must be found!

With the recall of the friends and family syndrome of the past Regime, where over 50 heads and deputy heads of mission have been recalled, there is a huge vacuum within the Country’s foreign missions of vacancies that currently do not even have temporary staffers filling in the roles. This has created a serious problem in our handling of important Diplomatic Issues as it relates to the Country, in a period of critical need for notifying our friendly Countries as to what is going on within this political process in Sri Lanka.

For example a Leader of a Country or his Foreign Minister may have read in the news about this National Govt. consisting of Governing and Opposition Members, in Sri Lanka and require some explanation as to what is going on, and how they can understand the new structures.

You can bet your bottom dollar that the current incumbents in the missions at Counsellor level have NO CLUE as to how to explain the recent events. A senior diplomat in the form of an Ambassador or his deputy would be sufficiently well versed in the political upheavals to explain to them how this unique system of Govt. has come about after the earth shattering changes that took place after the 8th January Presidential Elections, when a sudden seismic shift or irruption for the better, quite unprecedented in democratic governance, took place.

I am certain that many Countries would wish Sri Lanka to go on this new route to democracy, but due to the inability of our foreign service to engage in an analysis and explanation, they have not been able to give our new democratic order the needful encouragement and support.

These things happen just once in a lifetime, and if we miss the bus, there is no method of recouping the lost time. It is therefore essential that the External Affairs Ministry NOT DILLY DALLY, but pick on a list of capable people with a clear and unblemished track record, even from Industry or respected people to fill these roles, until the Foreign Service can train and have sufficient capable people to fill these positions in the longer term.

It would take the Foreign Service a minimum of 5 years to train and get the right carder to the level of competence needed for these positions and posts, so it is necessary to pick on respectable leaders, preferably not from the Services or Tri forces to lead this charge on behalf of the new Government. Please be on notice that for the sake of Good Governance family members of serving Ministers and MPs must at all costs be excluded.

I am not sure if the Ministers at this level, are waiting for the Elections to be done and dusted to fill these positions, as that would be too late, as time really is of the essence. Some say recalling all these Ambassadors at once created the problem in the first place, but I defer, as that was a necessary evil.

Sri Lanka is NOT short of intellectuals and people of stature that could fill these roles, until career diplomats can be trained to the level necessary. They are just waiting for the call to serve their country, and I am sure that any criticisms can be avoided, if the basic checks of people’s reputation and credibility and family connections can be are done first. I realize that with the free press we now enjoy, it is difficult for even the new Govt. to realize that they must be on notice for any potential conflict, whether real or imagined, but the risk is necessary!

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