“FOLLOWS A SPLENDID DINNER BUFFET”
“…Was it also to score points with the West, just in case?”
A “dinner guest” wrote a rebuttal to a report that appeared in an English-language Sunday newspaper on December 26, which I later quoted. The rebuttal appeared on Sunday, January 22. (President’s dinner for his former comrades – The Island)
The inordinate delay is confusing. One wonders why the Presidential Media Division did not immediately issue a contradiction. One also wonders if the contradiction of the dinner guest has been transmitted to the relevant Sunday newspaper, in the last month or even now. For my part, I still do not know if this contradiction or any contradiction regarding the same event was carried by this Sunday newspaper which published the offensive and allegedly extremely inaccurate report.
Moreover, one wonders why the “dinner guest” did not use his name and rank to refute the story, even belatedly. He displays a lack of guts. Guts on the battlefield does not mean guts in the social and public realm, any more than competence in combat means competence in governance – a distinction amply validated these days.
TALE OF TWO DESCRIPTIONS
He writes that “Sunday Island from December 2, 2021 had an article by Dayan Jayatilleka that was better. As I am not a journalist for the Sunday Island or any other newspaper, there cannot be “a news item from Dayan Jayatilleka”. It was an opinion piece that I write occasionally and irregularly. But that’s a technicality, so let’s move on.
The dinner guest objects to me further misrepresenting the original story, giving the number of guests/guests as 1090, i.e. more than 40, than contained in the original report, i.e. 1050. This was a minor and inadvertent error on my game.
The ‘Dinner Guest’ refers to me as “a former EPRLF minister who was an IPKF stooge who made a unilateral declaration of independence in the late 1990s…” This choice of description is interesting because there is other ways to describe me.
Here is one. In its August 8-14, 2009 issue, the prestigious publication The Economist (UK) referred to “…Dayan Jayatilleka, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to Geneva, who rebuffed the threat of a UN investigation into war crimes in may  …” (‘Sri Lanka after the war: behind the smiles of the Rajapaksa brothers’, p 43).
I was indeed Minister of the North and East Provincial Council, but I resigned within six months of taking office, my letter of resignation being published in all the Sunday newspapers, English and Sinhalese, and only received one month’s salary.
The EPRLF did not “make a unilateral declaration at the end of the 1990s”. First, it was 1990, not the late 1990s. Second, he threatened a unilateral declaration of independence if certain conditions were not met, and gave a deadline, one year I believe . Third, a year before he made the threat in 1990, I had already resigned from my provincial ministry (1989) and was prominently supporting and working with President Premadasa as his candidate for director of studies on conflicts at the Institute of Political Studies. (IPS).
“THE FIRST IN THE HISTORY OF SL”
I was delighted to hear the “dinner guest” description of the event. It confirms several things.
“The only serving officers present were the commanders of the three services. With their spouses, a round figure of 400 guests might have been closer to the truth…”
“It was the first in SL history.” This confirms that it was not a tradition that the President followed, nor did he host this dinner in December 2019, when he had just taken office as the first combat officer to be elected President. from Sri Lanka.
This “first event in SL history” took place in December 2021, i.e. last month. It was a choice made under certain circumstances.
“A splendid buffet dinner followed,” the dinner guest wrote enthusiastically. I am sure that the farmers who daily express their fear on television that they will not even be able to give porridge (‘kanda koppayak’) to their children when the harvest fails due to politics the president’s irrational overnight conversion to organic fertilizer and his ban on weedkillers and pesticides, as well as those many citizens who are struggling to make ends meet and have had to cut from three meals to two or even one alone a day, would love to know. No wonder there were no pictures of the event in the media. I certainly haven’t seen any.
The decision to organize the event, “the first in the history of SL”, at this precise moment (last December) speaks volumes about the social empathy, sensitivity and sense of relevance and timing of our elected president. It also reveals the reality of “One Country”.
“JUST IN CASE” OF WHAT?
The dinner guest writes disapprovingly of “…his [Dayan Jayatilleka’s] final assaults on the whimsical “militarization” of the nation. Was it also to score points with the West, just in case? “Just in case” of what? This is a question I would like to ask my spokesperson.
“Just in case” from a Myanmar or Burkina Faso, and I need a visa for the West? It shouldn’t be difficult as a former UNHRC vice-president, former ILO president and three-time ambassador, including to two P-5 member states of the UN Security Council.
Or “just in case” a Jamal Khashoggi result, and Sanja, my wife, needs to reach out to the West? Given that she is a British citizen (span of decades) I would hardly need to “score with the West” beforehand.