EDITORIAL - Vase does not an altar make

24 August 2014 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The grave extent of the breakdown in the Rule of Law, administrative and financial regulations and the checks and balances in the Constitution are seen by the way a powerful Member of Parliament and the Central Bank are continuing political publicity stunts in the United States.

According to revelations made by the political editor of the Sunday Times yesterday, the External Affairs Ministry monitoring parliamentarian Sajin Vas Gunawrdena has signed another huge deal with a U.S. public relations or lobbying firm  for work which he claims may help to heal and improve strained ties with Sri Lanka.
The price he is paying from public funds is staggering  -- US$ 5,000 a month for a six-month contract.

Although VIPs in the Rajapaksa government do not appear to be bothered about what is clearly a squandering of public funds, our sister newspaper says  the US Justice Department Unit handling issues relating to the Foreign Agencies Registration Act  (FARA) is reviewing these contracts.
One major reason may be the false address given by the monitoring MP.

The address, 9/2, Dudley Senanayake Mawatha, Colombo 8 is now occupied by a South Korean International Corporation.
The Daily Mirror also has repeatedly highlighted the dangerously deplorable state of Sri Lanka’s foreign policy and diplomatic service at a time when the country is facing its worst ever international crises.  

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake revealed in Parliament this month that as many as 35 of the 49 top diplomatic posts in important countries were held by relatives, financiers or cronies of VIPs in the government.

But the VIPs apparently don’t seem to care because recently another relative, the niece of a VIP was appointed to a top post in Washington DC.
Whatever the attitude of the VIPs, the country is suffering and may even face sanctions, which are widely seen as the most powerful weapons of war.
The lack of professionalism and consistency in foreign policy has also prevented the Sri Lankan government from consolidating ties with the newly elected Narendra Modi administration in India.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa was invited for Mr. Modi’s swearing in ceremony in May and held wide ranging talks with him. But the External Affairs Ministry bluffed and blundered again when it gave incorrect or exaggerated information at a news conference, provoking India’s External Affairs Ministry to hit back.
After the Indo-Lanka Summit in May no high level meetings were held with Mr. Modi and this has led to a new disturbing situation where a five-member Tamil National Alliance delegation went to New Delhi last Thursday and held talks with Mr. Modi on Saturday.

The Sunday Times reported that the President was angry and disturbed over this development because the high level TNA delegation had been invited and went to India without informing him.

TNA leader R. Sampanthan who led the delegation said he was not obliged to inform or obtain permission from the President for the visit to India.
The more serious feature is that even Mr. Modi did not officially inform the government and the visit of the TNA delegation was kept virtually secret till last Thursday.
This happened while the government is playing something like book cricket with the ruling BJP’s Subramaniam Swamy who claims he was a top leader but apparently did not know about the TNA delegation’s visit.

This and other flaws and muddles in our ties with India and Western countries are largely due to incompetence in the diplomatic service which opposition critics say is today more like a branch of the ruling SLFP.

The time has come to stop or recall the diplo-muts and invite skilled professional to revive Sri Lanka’s diplomatic service before it is too late and Sri Lanka is categorised not among the miracles but more among the failed states.

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