a yes man? Ask Ashly Wills
US Ambassador while delivering a regular ambassadorial speech on
'productivity' last week, said he disagrees at home with his wife,
even though he wished she agreed with him on all domestic matters.
"It would increase productivity a lot,'' he said pausing just
that wee bit expecting some laughter at the end of the punch line,
the way speakers pause at an applause line. But no guffaws, just
audible murmurs only. "I would wish that the Prime Minister
Ranil Wickremesinghe and I agree on all proposals that I make to
him, but that doesn't happen either'', he then said, gazing towards
the audience, and hoping for a little bit more appreciation of his
humour. This time he got a guffaw here and there, but not as much
as he would have liked.
have been the reason? Here was a US Ambassador wishing that there
was a Sri Lankan Prime Minister who will agree with him on all matters,
when there was a man called Moragoda waiting in the wings to do
just that. It is basic -- one cannot elicit any humour on an issue
when what's being laughed at is beginning to look closer to the
Was he subtle?
The Prime Minister does not agree with me on everything I
say (particularly when there is another guy out there who will agree
with anything I say even without knowing what I say.)' The part
in brackets was unsaid, but it was the part that killed the Ambassador's
effort at lightening up the stuffy environment of the productivity
issue got some measure of levity from other quarters though, and
a hoarding saying www.SLproductivity.org has been altered to read
www.SLOproductivity.org. That's something that Ashly Wills could
not have thought of -- slow productivity. But the question is whether
he was aware of the subtleties of that quip about the 'PM not agreeing
with me on everything?'
has an avuncular manner about him, but he plays hardball, and it
doesn't show though because he looks a College professor, more than
shrewd diplomat, especially when he is bent over that lectern. Therefore
when he said "I wish the Prime Minister agrees with me on everything''
could he have been setting the tone for the new Ambassador to come?
Was he sounding out the man -- with a maximum of subtlety albeit
-- who said I will do anything the US Ambassador tells me -- no
Maybe it was
different. At least on the eve of his departure, Ashly Wills may
have been mollified that there is someone in Sri Lanka who he can
really identify with, which is perhaps why he chose to mention all
of this at the productivity seminar - - perhaps it was a let-it-all-out
swan song kind of speech that he made, forgetting the diplomatic
straight jacket for the moment.
an American wife, and so does Ashly Wills we presume. Wills says
his wife does not agree with everything that he says - - and Moragodoa's
wife, being American too, probably doesn't agree with everything
that he says. As if other wives will? But Moragoda has Ashly Wills
who agrees with everything he says and Ashly Wills has Moragoda
who agrees with everything he says.
Two very typically
assertive American wives who can't get into the boys club, where
two men perfectly identify with each other and mimic each others
thinking? It is an ennobling picture - - one that may not enhance
productivity the way two people enhance productivity when they usually
get together closer upon Valentine's day -- but nevertheless, a
very productive combination, that needs to be hinted at subtly at