Post of High Commissioner in London
By Mario Perera
Just a few days ago, speaking at the farewell offered to you on the cricket field, H.E. The President, made to you a generous offer, being the post of High Commissioner in London.
You are totally capable of functioning in that post with dignity and honour, having all the trappings to emerge as an outstanding diplomat. That is not the issue. What is in issue is the price you will have to pay for it. To my mind, should you take that post you will be confronted with situations compelling you to renounce to the noble ideals profoundly embedded in the unique declarations you made during the ‘2011 MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture’:
In our cricket we display a unique spirit, a spirit enriched by lessons learned from a history spanning over two-and-a-half millennia. In our cricket you see the character of our people, our history, culture and tradition, our laughter, our joy, our tears and regrets. It is rich in emotion and talent…My loyalty will be to the ordinary Sri Lankan fan, their 20 million hearts beating collectively as one to our island rhythm and filled with an undying and ever-loyal love for this our game…. With me are all my people. I am Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim and Burgher. I am a Buddhist, a Hindu, a follower of Islam and Christianity. I am today, and always, proudly Sri Lankan.
Ou foreign service has long lost its luster and a few sparrows cannot cause a diplomatic spring. It is a refuge for everyone other than quality individuals. The highly publicized brawl in London where our top man was slapped and kicked speaks volumes of the regard the State has for its ambassadors. Even amorous relationships with higher echelon politicos were deemed sufficient ground for such appointments.
The word ‘High Commissioner or Ambassador’ would set many a mind awhirl, especially that of being Sri Lanka’s representative to the Court of St. James. Yet a country cannot become bigger than what it is through its extensions in foreign capitals. What radiation does the Sri Lanka ‘sun’ have? This lack of importance, significance and relevancy affects the morale and the working of all our embassies, and naturally our ambassadors. The basic sentiments that assail one and all are neglect and boredom. They meet that menace each his own way: some do sight-seeing and tourism; other feather their nests in every conceivable way. One very famous ambassador to a country among the top four had a table tennis set up installed in a public place of the Embassy, and spent his time playing pim-pom. Given the dimensions of our embassy buildings, please get rid of any nascent idea of constructing a cricket pitch for your pass-time activities. I do not think you intend going there “to bowl a maiden over!”
Entering diplomacy is entering politics. Make no mistake about it. You will be compelled to take sides and very soon be submerged in race and religion controversies. Over there you will be batting against and battling vicious even murderous spin especially the illegal deliveries of the ‘diaspora’. You will be forced to hear as Kipling once wrote, the truth you have spoken, twisted by knaves to be a trap for fools. Do not put yourself in a position where you will have to watch the things you gave your life to, broken, and stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools. Once that happens, there is no escape, no redemption. They will leave indelible marks on your character and personality. Do not forget that it is the evil that men do that lives after them.
Sanga, your star is on the rise. Do not turn yourself into a falling star by accepting this post.