VVIPs go a-visiting and a judgement is passed on us
Cats usually spit venom and human felines make catty remarks. This
Sunday this cat is sitting pretty and purring as she has a couple of
bouquets to hand out.
She listened to the address by Minister of External Affairs, Mangala
Samaraweera at the UN Office in Geneva at the sittings of the UNHRC last
week. She was proud of what he said and how he said what had to be said.
There was a total absence of bumptious cocking a snook (it has been
done that way before) and obsequious asking for pardon. He stated facts
and that this government at least is ready to contract business with the
UNHRC. No more postponements, useless gerrymandering and avoiding
We ordinary folk who watch eagle-eyed, were in agreement with his
statement. So there goes Menika’s first bouquet. The second is to Ranil
Wickremesinghe and wife Maithri.
In a foreign country, a visiting dignitary, particularly from a small
country like ours has to cut a figure. There is no denying the fact that
seen impressions are very important. If I may be personal, our Prime
Minister always looks very good in his western suits.
Thank goodness he does not don the national costume just to please
people! Now there is an air of distinction about him with the lines on
his face (probably some worry) and his hair pepper and salt. He always
carries himself with dignity. This our people comment adversely on as
aloofness in our milieu.
But on a State visit, that stance is necessary.
Our PM is clever, honed on political maneouvering and suave in
political discourse. His discussions Menika is not competent to comment
on. Professor Maithri Wickremesinghe complements him well. They are a
couple who are good to see and good to talk to, even to do business
with, Menika supposes.
The Indians particularly are very conscious of educational
advancement so a professor accompanying the PM was wonderful. She looks
dignified and gracious in her mostly white clothes and landing in New
Delhi, TV pictures showed an elegant flow of shawl and long shirt and
This leads Menika to tell a tale. She received by email the fact that
Prof Maithri Wickremasinghe had attended a launch of a book or some such
event at the BMICH. Arriving late, she and the friend she was with,
opted to take seats in the balcony for fear their late entry would
disturb and distract. On gathering for tea, the chief guest approaching
her said he had not seen her. Then her explanation and perhaps an
apology for arriving late. A rose to you, Professor, for your quiet
dignity and going against the recent tide of proud VVIP behaviour, which
we hope is permanently stemmed.
Which reminded Menika of an incident an year or so ago when the
Symphony Orchestra conducted by a foreign artiste put on the boards part
of an opera. (Names and titles do not matter in this narration). The
conductor or director explained the scenes as they were musically
presented by the orchestra. So he said the next scene would be music
played when a couple of horsemen would ride in. And sure enough when the
drums and such like were in predominance, human hoof beats were heard.
First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa came in escorted by two women security
persons and four booted male escorts. They marched right to the front,
deposited her in the front row, and the males marched back.
Menika, forgetting her genteel upbringing and laying aside her finer
feelings hissed loud and clear: what is this? A latecomer is not allowed
to slip into even a last row seat at a symphony orchestra performance,
but needs to wait for an interval.
Maybe the lady VVIP was not aware of the commotion she would cause
but surely the security personnel should have (rightly) assured
themselves that no bomb or stab in the ample back would be attempted in
the Ladies’ College auditorium with a distinguished audience present,
not one of them knowing that her Ladyship was to attend the performance.
Coming late was bad enough, making all that din was unforgiveable.
Fortuitously, the barging in was at the correct moment when the music
played was to herald the arrival of horses. And mares, let’s add.
See the difference. Menika is sure it won’t change as regards the
simpler, sincerer and more educated personage centre-staged in the
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al
Hussein, metaphorically threw a bomb at our government and thus at us,
all Sri Lankans. In his report he said the SL judiciary lacks capacity
to undertake a probe into war crimes and human rights violations
The judiciary is much improved from the time a judge favoured by the
Rajapaksas was installed, the 43rd Chief Justice unfairly impeached. But
it seems to be deemed wanting still. There have been in-country
complaints about the Attorney General and his department. The UNHRC
states the security sector needs urgent reforms.
Menika makes no comment. Thirdly, an enhanced UNHRC presence is
proposed with a special hybrid court set in place. Not good, not good at
all. But inevitable. What skirmishes the previous government indulged
in, what vacillation. An ordinary cat like yours truly cannot help but
say, speaking from gut reaction, which often is correct, that some of
our actions invited such stern measures. Even a personal insult carries
weight in the end since it is human beings, however objective and fair
they may be, that the country deals with.
We hung our heads in abject shame when Mervyn Silva, then a favourite
jester cum Man Friday in the court of the Rajapaksa’s, proposed marriage
to Ms Navi Pillai when she arrived here on a fact-finding or
feeler-extending visit. She was UNHRC High Commissioner then. You don’t
make grossly vulgar statements like this, which to some in this country
was a huge joke.There was also too much rhetoric from the previous
government. And this sentence passed on us is the result. It is
fervently hoped that our new government will cooperate fully with the
UNHRC. It is not a come down, but a necessity to extract the real truth
from what has been dug up and to exonerate the government of gross
violations unlike the LTTE who were into every crime in the book.