British Lock Horns with Foreign Ministry
President Maithripala Sirisena became Sri Lanka’s 6th Executive Present with the promise ‘not to breach the trust’ placed in him. True to his words, he has been working untiringly to bring coherence with the SLFP to develop the Country with his new concept of a mixed government of all parties, which is a very rare occurrence.
Expressing his genuine feelings the President has been quoted once saying, “The agenda of the country is more important than any political agenda.” Revoking of lands in Sampur, which had been allocated for the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka to commence investment projects, for the resettlement of displaced Tamil civilians in the area, he has been identified as a rare politician who keeps to his word!
On moral values, the President constantly maintains the way to achieve goals is through Buddhist philosophy with the promise of future programmes of implementing a universal programme to impart a far-reaching knowledge of Buddhism to the people, especially the younger generation to mould their behavioral patterns. This he wants along with the development of technology and economy.
Despite all such plus points, the President seems to be either distracted, handicapped or has been compulsorily side tracked with certain uninvited, superfluous problems. This very reason has given the opportunity for critics to point an accusing finger at the President for using the word yahapalanaya to its antonym meaning.
In this melodrama, some of his Ministers should bear the responsibility as statements contradictory to the President’s ideas have embarrassed him so far, and many Ministers having used their VIP privileges to gallivant overseas at the cost of the public purse. The President has already taken preventative measures against such waste recently to put a clamp down on all foreign visits to Ministers with new criteria.
The recent incident of an alleged ‘ hit and run case’ by a senior minister, while the authorities drag their feet, has blown the issue out of proportion giving ammunition to the general public and the opposition to make a meal out of it due to the inordinate delay in resolving the problem. This has so far brought so much of embarrassment and adverse publicity to President Sirisena, who appears to be working hard for his people but embroiled in massive political and administrative current.
On top of all such glitches, the recent news about his son getting involved in a visa application to visit the UK, with three of his friends, was highlighted in the world wide web (including Lankaweb on 22nd March 2016, under Sri Lanka Diplomatic news.
In this day and age, with the change of attitudes of the human kind nothing is safe, concealed or can be treated as confidential as everything gets leaked out to the electronic media and social media within seconds.
Headline news item under the caption “UK strongly snubs Sri Lanka Over Visa Requests for Daham Sirisena whilst President Orders news blackout’ went viral in the electronic media. According to the news item ‘Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry has demanded an explanation from the United Kingdom government as to why the request of President Maithripala Sirisena’s son Daham and his three friends to travel to UK had been subjected to long delays? Apparently such remonstration had met with a ‘right royal snub’ from UK authorities, which of course is not surprising due to the criteria in the British Civil Service where all Government Servants should abide by the laid down rules, irrespective of their positions or status.
The news also alleged President Sirisena attempting ‘to black out the leakage of this news to the public by apparently telephoning the newspaper editors and proprietors requesting them to refrain from giving publicity to his son’s debacle’. The original web article blamed the President for amplifying in his own words at a recent meeting of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress in Kalmunai where he bragged about the media freedom in Sri Lanka and stating the “media could report anything without fear or favour”.
Monkey Pranks of the Young
Of course, people have to go by the President’s assertion that he was completely ignorant of what had happened about his son’s actions until it was disclosed to him after the incident. Sri Lanka has a track record in the past where not only the President’s sons but even Ministers’ sons behaving at times like incorrigible grammar school boys by taking the law unto themselves. Some young breed belonging to the uppermost echelons have been up to all kinds of monkey pranks inside star hotels, nightclubs and on open beaches. They have stooped to such low levels of ruffians and gangsters just by using their fathers’ might and power!
According to the news report what takes the cake is how the Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoning the Deputy British High Commissioner to her office and apparently and reproaching the diplomat in stronger terms for treating a request from the Foreign Ministry in a ‘shabby manner’! According to the same news source, however, the Deputy High Commissioner refuting Sri Lanka Government’s claim had intimated to the Foreign Secretary about the simple procedure to follow on visa applications, and in the case of Daham Sirisena with three others laid down procedures had not been followed.
Administrative Cock -up
The root of the problem appears to be that the Chief Protocol Officer had submitted the visa application of Daham Sirisena with three of his friends’ only a with ‘Request Note.’ Naturally the British Officials had to ask for the requisite documentation prior to issuing of any entry visas to the UK. After the documents had been presented to the British High Commission Daham Sirisena’s visa had been issued, but something that shocked the British authorities appeared to be that “one of the applicants out of the trio had been debarred from entering the UK five years ago for reasons of submitting fabricated documentation”!
The news report further added that the British High Commission had categorically advised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that it was ‘not honorable for the Ministry to demand visas for third parties without proper documentation in keeping with UK laws,’ as the issuance of visas was at the sole discretion of the UK government.