Dogfight-on-Web over Secretary Columbage’s Interview: Daya vs Chandre

Daya Gamage in Email MEMO entitled “Enlightening Foreign Secretary Colombage & Lobbying from Far-away Lands” …. that is addressed to Mr. Chandre Dharmawardana & Our Friends in the Forum,” **

I’ll take one-by-one what Chandre noted about my submission … endeavoring to give a message to Foreign Secretary Colombage:

  1. THE CLAIMAttacking Mr. Colombage in public and holding him accountable are counterproductive.

This [my memorandum] was not an attack: ‘Holding Accountable’ is what we Sri Lankans – both living in Sri Lanka and expatriates – need to do to bring sense to policymakers in the Sri Lanka government. I have noted, going through the Sri Lankan media – and in open dialogue – no one is engaged in investigative journalism to help policymakers understand many aspects of a single issue that they may have missed. Only Shamindra Ferdinando provides such erudite analyses helping the policymakers to mend their approaches to issues. What I did is exactly that not with any objective in a journalistic writing to score a point or demean Mr. Colombage. I very subtlety told him “Don’t Let the Global Operatives in the Tamil Diaspora Be One Step Ahead”.

  1. Politicians never admit their mistakes. They merely harden their position when confronted in public with direct criticisms.

Mr. Colombage is not a politician: His responsibility as the Foreign Secretary is to (a) Monitor Sri Lanka’s foreign relations with other countries (b) What other countries’ attitude toward Sri Lanka (c) Who are the principal individuals who formulate foreign policy in those countries (d) Know their credentials as the FS at some stage may have to contact/communicate with them (e) based on the all the above to provide advice to the Foreign Minister, and through him to the President who appointed him. For Mr. Colombage to pronounce “Right now, I don’t think any bearing on Sri Lanka” when asked “How do you see the political change in the United States on this matter” is serious statement on behalf of his government, and reflects that his Minister or the President have taken the ‘Enormous Regime Change’ in Washington very lightly. The change in Washington is: From a non-interfering Conservative to interventionist Liberal regime, and Sri Lanka knows what a ‘Liberal Regime’did during and after the Eelam War. Mr. Colombage’s statement itself could be a ‘comfort’ to the operatives within the Global Tamil Diaspora who are well ahead of ‘monitoring’ especially the developments in Washington after Biden took over. It is true that the Ministry Secretary is not the person who formulates policy but he should be in a position to mend/influence policies provided he monitors beyond the Sri Lankan shores. The old saying is  “Foreign Policy is Domestic Policy: Domestic Policy is Foreign Policy”.

  1. Mr. Chandre: You and I, or anyone in this forum has no influence over policymakers in the Presidential Secretariat or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The person who has influence is Mr. Colombage to let his Minister or the President, who was solely responsible in appointing him to that position, to let know what policies need to be mended or formulated. Mr. Chandre is right: Politicians want to hear what they like to hear, and do not want anyone to tell how to do their job (meaning criticism). When Mr. Ravinath Aryasinha was in UNHRC-Geneva at the time the Resolution 30/1 was to be presented by the Yahapalana Government, he vehemently opposed it, (in fact made a public statement) but was silenced by Minister Mangala Samaraweera and, under the pressure of Washington, adopted it to which Sri Lanka is still suffering. When Mr. Colombage initially made a statement Sri Lanka’s foreign policy is “India First”, I gave an analysis in the Asian Tribune“If India First means U.S. First as India had already signed two (at that time and now three) defense/military agreements with Washington, therefore it turns out to be ‘US First too”. I don’t know who showed him my report,  I noticed he later adjusted it to “Sri Lanka First”. That’s how we who have no access to the Presidential Secretariat or Foreign Ministry do to lobby through our writings. I know, as Mr. Chandre infer, the ‘big Shots’ don’t want others to say how to do their job, or do not want to hear what they don’t want to hear. It is ‘criticism’ to some, and should not embarrass doing so. (Who are We)

There’s one person in this Forum, I think, who understands what I say: JANAKA.

Chandre Dharmawardena’s COMMENT — the note that drew Gamage’s Essay

I believe that attacking Mr. Colombage in public and holding him accountable to the foreign policy statements made on behalf of the government  are counterproductive. Politicians never admit their mistakes. They merely harden their position when confronted in public with direct criticisms.

The Ministry secretary is most probably NOT the one who formulates these policies.
 Attacking and killing the messengers do not work.

What is needed at this moment is direct lobbying, in a less  public manner,  with the ministry AS WELL AS  with the presidential secretariat where policy is formulated.  Putting the house right is more important than journalistic objectives.


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4 responses to “Dogfight-on-Web over Secretary Columbage’s Interview: Daya vs Chandre

  1. COMMENT from CHANDRE DHARMAWARDENA, 1 fFeb. 2021: “There has been NO DOG FIGHT, This is utter nonsense. I had stated that we should not rush into the criticism mode and shoot the messenger when a Ministry Secy makes a statement. We should not assume that the messenger is the author of the message.
    The government view is developed by various advisors to the President and the Foreign minister; the Ministry Secy or other spokesman puts out the information.
    That is my view.
    Daya Gamage, based on special information that he may have as to who formulated policy, may hold a different view.

    We see from the Sunday Times political column at least some the details of who formulated the policy, and who advised whom.”

  2. NOTE from Editor, Thuppahi: “Yes it was NOT a “Dogfight” –that metaphor wasmy imposition in order to speark interest ina debate among two concerned SENIOR CITIZENS located in North America” .– a metaphor sparked by the recent flurry of items on the Ceylonese in the rAF duruing World War Two. There is nothing likea SPITFIRE to encourage interest!

  3. EDITTOR THUPPAHI: Another friend toldme that Presdient Gotabaya’s ADVISER are the following.
    Prof. G.L. Peiris, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Sarath Weerasekera, Wimal Weerawansa, Udaya Gammanpila, Mahinda Samarasinghe, Nalaka Godahewa, Prof. Channa Jayasumana, Jayanath Colombage and P.B. Jayasundera

  4. Dr. Jagath P. Senaratne

    6 Feb 2021.

    Dear Prof Mike, your somewhat mischievous ‘encouragement’ of Aerial Dogfights is an intriguing intervention!

    Yes, the Supemarine SPITFIRE was / is one of the most delightful aircraft ever to fly. Its Rolls-Royce MERLIN engine makes a particularly distinctive snarling growl which is easily recognizable anywhere to Aviation Aficionados like myself.

    Somewhat sadly none of the Aircraft in the two Pictures you posted on your Blog are Spitfires! In the first photograph at the top of the Article is yet another really superb aircraft from WW-2, a German Focke-Wulf FW-190. This image is unclear and looks like a Computer Generated Image (CGI), but looks very much like an FW-190. The Photograph at the bottom of your Blog entry is of an American WW-2 fighter aircraft, a Curtiss Company manufactured P-40 Warhawk.

    During the Battle of Britain the Spitfire and the Hawker aircraft company’s Hurricane were the two fighter types that fought the German Aircraft. After the Battle and the end of WW-2 the English public has developed an ever increasing love affair with the Spitfire and a near mythical belief that the Spitfire ‘won’ the Battle of Britain! It has become an icon which symbolizes the Victory of the ‘Battle of Britain’.

    By the way the Battle, although very interesting and militarily reasonably important isn’t all THAT significant as numerous English people, writers and film makers have made it out to be.

    The Royal Air Force owns and maintains a number of Spitfires and Hawker Hurricane aircraft (which, incidentally, also has a Rolls Royce Merlin engine) in what is called the RAF’s ‘Battle of Britain Flight’. These piston engined WW-2 aircraft are now 75+ years old. Only some of the RAF’s most reliable, responsible and capable pilots are allowed by the RAF to fly these aircraft. As the years pass by, the mythical status of the Spitfire seems to grow larger each year! Now, with Brexit and Britain (yet again?!) ‘fighting all alone on the beaches’ it is possible that the Spitfire will increase in symbolic connotation even more in the future.

    Ironically it was the Hawker Hurricane fighter that actually shot down most of the enemy aircraft during the Battle of Britain, and was the most significant RAF fighter during the Battle. But it has been completely overshadowed by the Spitfire and is rarely, if ever, mentioned by English people and commentators alike.

    Dr. Jagath P. Senaratne

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