REVAMP FOREIGN MISSIONS FOR
By A.A.M.NIZAM, MATARA.
Our Overseas Missions critically need efficient loyal diplomats at
time Sri Lanka is facing numerous problems. The previous government
reduced the status of overseas missions to mere avenues of conferring
compliments for political patronage. Accordingly the able diplomats
who were rendering immense service, particularly to diffuse anti-Sri
Lankan propaganda by the terrorists, enlighten the international
community on the threats faced by Sri Lanka to its unity and
sovereignty, encourage the foreign governments to enforce suitable
measures to prevent flow of funds through various front-line terrorist
organizations in addition to explore the ways and means to get
assistance for the economic development of Sri Lanka, were recalled
and instead political sycophants were posted to these Missions.
These political appointments drastically reduced the number of our
career diplomats serving overseas from over 70% down to about 30%.
The political stooges posted to Foreign Missions included relatives
Ministers M.H.Mohamed, Kabir Hashim, Mahinda Wijesekera, Son-in-Law
Navaloka Mudalali, UNP politicians A.R.M. Mansoor, Omar Kamil, Ariya
B. Rekawa, U.B.Wijekoon, Rupa Karunatilleke, Charlie Mahendran,.
C.K.Wanigaseker, and Rosy Senanayake were some of them. Further as
additional rewards for crossing over from the PA to UNP along with
Peiris-Dissanayake clan, former turncoat PA MPs Chula Bandara, Dixon
Perera and Ananda Moonesinghe were also posted to Foreign Missions.
In major western countries these political flatterers were mere
figureheads and retired diplomats were hired on contract basis to
carry out the functions wasting enormous sums of public funds.
In addition to this, political stooges were sent to replace the
locally recruited support staff attached to Foreign Missions incurring
huge additional cost for provision of salaries and other perks to
these persons. Some of these individuals sent as drivers had never
touched the steering wheel of a vehicle and a traffic accident caused
by one such driver sent to the Mission in London incurred a colossal
cost for the government.
All Missions in the Middle East were full of these political
sycophants from top to bottom and most of the Sri Lankans employed
these countries point out that during the last two years of our dark
history, these Missions in the Middle East did not carry out any work
beneficial to Sri Lankans resident in these countries or Sri Lanka
economically other than holding political tamashas, arranging
politically motivated visits of clergy and other groups who patronized
the so-called peace-faÃ§ade.
Sri Lankans in the Middle East also complain that these Heads of
Missions, and other politically appointed officials, as much as
possible evaded their responsibility of helping the Sri Lankans in
their employment problems and showed scant attention to getting jailed
Sri Lankans released, repatriating the dead bodies and so on, but
only concerned about developing their family businesses and amassing
other benefits. They also assert that certain political appointees
have claimed that change of government will not in any way affect
them. During the time of the April election all these Missions have
virtually operated as political offices of the previous government
since the installation of the new government they have ceased to carry
out their duties other than attending to routine unavoidable tasks.
It is encouraging to note that Foreign Minister Mr. Kadiragamar is
making arrangements to appoint career diplomats to our Foreign
Missions and increase the percentage of career diplomats serving the
country. Already 11 such diplomats have been earmarked for this
purpose. The Missions in the Middle East, other than attending to
needs of Sri Lankans employed in these countries, could accomplish
great task to help the government in its development march to
emancipate Sri Lanka from its present predicament.
Negotiating concessionary and long term facilities to cushion our
fertilizer and cement import bills, the main commodities Sri Lanka
purchases from this region and that greatly affect our cost of living,
enlightening the industrialists in the region on investment facilities
available in Sri Lanka, to promote exports of our tea, garment,
precious stones, jewelry, cut-flowers, food items, vegetables, and
handicraft, taking steps to aggressively promote our tourist
potentials as there is huge outflow of tourists from this region,
particularly during the summer season, and finding new avenues of
employment for skilled and professional Sri Lankans in addition to
current market for domestic and unskilled categories are some of the
resources available in this region.
In order to get the maximum benefit out of this region, at a time
country need them most, the Minister should take immediate action
revamp these Missions and appoint energetic diplomats who could devote
their experience and knowledge for the benefit of our country.