My Dear Lakshman K, Even though you are in the Land of Never Return, Lakshman K, I thought of writing to you because it has been seven years since you left us never to return and unfortunately we have missed you so much during that time. You may wonder why this is so, especially since [...]

5th Column

Losing diplomacy and gaining lunacy


My Dear Lakshman K,

Even though you are in the Land of Never Return, Lakshman K, I thought of writing to you because it has been seven years since you left us never to return and unfortunately we have missed you so much during that time.

You may wonder why this is so, especially since the war has been won and the Tigers have been defeated. Ironically, that is why we miss your sane counsel and your brilliant contributions as Foreign Minister even more.

Who could forget how witty you were calling Shane Warne a ‘sissy’ when he refused to play in Sri Lanka in the World Cup or how proud you were to be a Sri Lankan, recalling at Oxford that going to Oxford was “the icing on the cake but the cake was baked at home!”

Just to bring you up-to-date Lakshman K, since you left us, we have had quite a few foreign ministers. No one quite reached the sublime standards set by you, but some of them achieved the ridiculous with ease, I believe.And for some strange reason, Lakshman K, they all seemed to have some link with the Greens. Some of them came from the Greens to the Blue camp and others have gone from the Blue camp to join the Greens!

First there was the Crown Prince who succeeded you. He was born great but never achieved the greatness that he aspired to. He would have thought that Mahinda maama was his friend, but Mahinda maama obviously wanted to replace the ‘B’ dynasty in the ‘R’ dynasty.

So, when it came to doling out portfolios, the Crown Prince was first asked to look after tourism instead of foreign affairs. Then, even that was taken away from him and he was asked to mind the museums and the frescoes at Sigiriya and he died a heartbroken man.

Then we had the fashion designer turned foreign minister who was Satellite’s blue-eyed boy. When he succeeded you everyone thought he would be Mahinda maama’s blue-eyed boy as well but that was not to be.

Very soon, he was forced into the Green camp and he remains there still, although he is certainly not the most popular among Greens. It seems as if he is destined to languish there for some time unless he does a ‘SB’ and returns to the fold!
Thereafter we had the high flying chap who did nothing but always talked as if he was outperforming you. He behaved as if he was the foreign minister of a rich country and stayed only at the most expensive hotels-and that was his contribution to our country!

It was only later that we realised that we were footing the bill for the birthday parties of his kith and kin and the mind boggles at this man’s spending habits. Fortunately we are spared of his antics now because he was thrown out of Parliament by the people at the last election.

Last but not least we have the current incumbent who by sheer coincidence happens to be another Lakshman! He too likes to talk big-even if most people find it difficult to understand the convoluted sentences he speaks-but his record speaks for itself.
Under his stewardship, we have had the distinction of having a resolution, sponsored by Uncle Sam, passed against us at the United Nations, with no less a country than our good neighbour India supporting it.

Right now, this resolution has proved to be a huge headache for Mahinda maama and Sri Lanka has become a dirty word in the eyes of the world. Of course, it is not our fault that we won the war in the way we did, but it also seems that we are fast losing the propaganda war!

Unlike you, this Lakshman is an expert at saying something and doing exactly the opposite. When Uncle Sam announced its resolution, he was all fire and brimstone, even declining an invitation from Hillary to visit Washington to sort things out.
After failing to thwart the resolution, he meekly went there, offering ‘action plans’ and ‘road maps’ and whatever else that Hillary asked for. So, it looks like this Lakshman doesn’t know whether he is coming or going-and the country’s reputation is suffering as a result.

Add a set of ambassadors comprising career officers of the Foreign Service who are not given their due place and another group of hangers-on of politicians over whom this Lakshman has no control -and you can imagine the mess our Foreign Service is in.

We do recall that in your day you insisted that career diplomats be given priority and ensured that most if not all of the key postings were reserved for them. Alas, the present Lakshman either doesn’t share that view or if he does, he doesn’t want to stand up for it.

Our Foreign Service is so efficient that Mahinda maama had to cancel engagements in Britain not once but twice, because Tiger supporters threatened to disrupt proceedings-and no one thought it fit to advise him that accepting such assignments would end in embarrassment.

Even on the other side of the political divide, the signs are not encouraging. Their ‘shadow’ Foreign Minister is another Lakshman K, but judging from his past statements, he must be thinking that any bull-in-a-China-shop can become a Foreign Minister!

This is why we miss you, Lakshman K. If you had been with us, I am sure we would have won the propaganda war just as efficiently as we won the war on the ground. That is why we remember you even more affectionately on the seventh anniversary of your passing.

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha

PS-I am not a great fan of Satellite, Lakshman K, but when history judges her contribution to our country it may well decide that her greatest achievement was in introducing you to politics and achieving, through you, a series of endorsements against the Tigers!

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