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World Affairs







 This is Paradise


Diplomatic dung and dirt bags

The internet and electronic mail are great inventions. Tens of thousand, if not millions, would surely like to shake the hands of the people who made this possible and say a big thank you.

On the negative side, these innovations have opened up vistas for worldwide communication as never before. Millions of emails criss-cross the globe in milliseconds and the art of letter writing has been discarded for a new argot that would take a cipher expert to unravel. It is no surprise that many people can no longer communicate in language that is not only intelligible but grammatically and syntactically correct.

The anonymous kind

Into this world of cyberspace has crept in the anonymous writers, those who hide their identities behind fictitious names and place names hoping that mud they throw will not splatter them too. These emails find their way even to persons and organisations the writers do not know, simply on the premise that the wider the audience the more widely the mud would be spread and so better the result.

Cyber space is crawling with these smut-rakers who are aided and abetted in their pursuits by others who not only instigate the wallowing in the sewers but also provide more muck to fling at the targets while remaining carefully hidden from public view.

So like all good things, these inventions that have led to all kinds of websites and blogs are being used by sewer rats to engage in what they know best. Sri Lanka has never been short of anonymous letter writers. They have thrived on making allegations against others often for very private, personal and generally vindictive reasons.

A blessing

If they wanted wider audiences they had to pay, for letters had to be sent by post.

Electronic mail has come as a blessing for the new breed of anonymous writers who can now reach hundreds of addresses at the push of button instead of licking two dozen postage stamps.

It was always expected that cyber space would be invaded by the anonymous brigades that seem to have little that is productive and useful to offer.

The result is that such anonymous missiles are bombarding not just cyberspace but media offices and media persons.

It does not matter where you are, where the writers come from or where the rot originates. Nothing matters any more.

It was no surprise therefore when one of those anonymous missiles landed in this office. It seems that this anonymous letter writing (and now email writing) has engulfed out diplomatic service too.

The pity of it all, as Shakespeare said. It is bad enough when all sorts of odd-bods are being foisted on the foreign service in the name of diplomacy and posted near and afar. It is surely intolerable when it becomes the arena for slanging matches and scurrilous writings egged by those here in Colombo who provide some of the raw material to those that revel in this sort of pastime.

Whistle blowers

The public knows well enough how stories concerning the foreign minister were planted in the media by neatly spun tip-offs from within his own ministry and other places. The same whistle blowers planted stories about themselves as the greatest gift to diplomacy since Bismarck and Metternich.

Such egoists who survive by setting one against the other and the poisoning of minds could not continue long without being found out. They have, but they still continue to try and create problems within the current crop of diplomats by trying to set the career diplomats against those appointed by the political leadership.

The latest such attempt is an article we received called "Jackals Hounding Sri Lanka's High Commissioner To London."

This piece is said to have been written by a person called Deepak Sharma and has a New Delhi dateline. It is supposedly a defence of Sri Lanka's high commissioner in London and an attack on our ambassador in Geneva and other appointees.

An idiot

Given a population of one billion, there would no doubt be a Deepak Sharma somewhere in India and perhaps many more by the same name. Whether there is one in New Delhi I don't know.

But if the idiot who wrote this had a semblance of journalistic sense he would have asked himself an elementary question before pinning a New Delhi dateline.

Why would anybody in New Delhi bother if our high commissioner purchased a motor car or rented property or our residence in London was collapsing? Is there not enough happening in New Delhi and the rest of India to attract the attention of this so-called Deepak Sharma without his having to drag the sewers of London, Geneva and Colombo though I dare say there are some who have been imported to Colombo in recent years who do stink to high heaven.

There are several things in that article which would be known to a very few people. For instance it says that Colombo was bombarded with complaints against our ambassador to Geneva over an article published in a local newspaper.

In the know

This is not to defend our ambassador there. He is quite capable of doing so himself without any promptings by me. The question is how did this so-called Sharma, supposedly based in New Delhi, know about the complaints which would only have been available to the Foreign Ministry and how would he know that the Israelis also protested?

Does our Foreign Ministry in Colombo leak so badly that it is felt in New Delhi? Or are there really some RAW agents planted there in our Colombo office who all receive copies of transmissions from other countries?

If this was meant to be a defence of our high commissioner in London it has done her a disservice by resurrecting allegations written by so-called journalists that should remain buried forever.

But then who knows, the intention of this article might be much more insidious than it first appears. Perhaps the real intention was to create friction in London and between and among persons now serving in our missions abroad.

The devil does create work for idle hands. Those mediocrities parading as intellectuals temporarily ensconced in positions in Colombo and sidelined after their incompetence and invidiousness were discovered, are trying to create splits. All because their writ has ceased to run beyond the toilet!

Little to do

They have little to do but renew relations with so-called journalists who also parade as experts on terrorism. Those who previously claimed that they had single-handedly vanquished the LTTE in the UK, had the pro-Tiger TRO banned and a host of other acts of derring-do are now ready to share the kudos with career diplomats. My, my, how badly modesty sits on this man who was heard in Colombo during a visit there claiming to be consulted on terrorism by several diplomatic missions in the UK.

What readers would like to know is the real author of this piece that has done more damage to our high commissioner in London and our diplomatic missions elsewhere than the LTTE could have done in a hundred years.

Reading this it would seem as though some of this material was leaked from London. How is it that some unknown Indian in New Delhi knows that the high commissioner's husband has threatened to file action against an editor of a newspaper in Colombo and a journalist in London over allegations of trying to make commissions on property transactions? Who but the London High Commission and the Foreign Ministry would know intimate details about the extensions given to some London-based diplomats?

The plan

Yet the man in New Delhi does. Is it not an attempt to show that the London High Commission has leaked the information and so discredit officials there while attacking the ambassador in Geneva to create dissension?

While the leaks were intended to sow dissension and animosity in the Sri Lankan diaspora in the UK and among diplomatic officials, we might have been spared such garbage if some pretenders to journalism had not written in the Sinhala press in Colombo even more nonsensical stuff to settle personal scores as it appears to us here.

There is a Sinhala saying "yana yaka koraha bindegena yanne." Maybe the man was doing a hatchet job for that Foreign Ministry chap who is desperately looking for a diplomatic appointment. Some say they are relatives and that is why such glorified reports were first written by this person who thinks he is a journalist because he strings a couple of sentences together.

The actual writer's name begins with a 'D' but it is not Deepak. No, no it is not Donkey though if he is mistaken for one it would be fitting.

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