One could be forgiven for thinking that Mahinda Rajapaksa and co. had got wind of a government decision to grant voting rights to expatriate Lankans. If not he and his acolytes would not have conducted themselves the way they did in South Korea. True, the political animal that he is, the former President would not have given a tuppence for propriety and decorum while being an official guest of a foreign government. Here was Rajapaksa and his merry band undertaking what the Joint Opposition called an “official” visit to South Korea. One would have thought an official visit denoted adherence to due protocol, and what is more, a sober dignified presence one expects from a politician who after all was President of this country twice over.
But what did the Sri Lankan public see on television? A raving and ranting Pro-Rajapaksa clique addressing a group of Sri Lankan workers in South Korea and a scattering of some Korean nationals in a replay of the cantankerous, vituperative political rallies held by the Joint Opposition in Sri Lanka. What political benefit did this accrue to the Joint Opposition other than a possible knowledge that voting rights to expat Lankans were in the pipeline and preparing themselves for an early advantage?
Or is this first of a series of political rallies planned by the JO abroad to vilify and cast aspersions on a legitimate government with a view to sully its image and possibly deter investors from coming to this country. Rajapaksa, in his address did not fail to mention that South Korea was a great friend of Sri Lanka. Why then has the Korean government allow a group of Opposition politicians of a friendly country to hold political meetings on its soil to attack a friend. India too is a great friend of Sri Lanka. What would be the position if the Sri Lankan government allows Sonia Gandhi to come here, erect a stage and start lambasting Prime Minister Narendra Modi? This is the first occasion, perhaps anywhere, where an Opposition group was allowed to attack its government openly and in public on foreign soil while the host country government stood by watching. This no doubt is an unprecedented situation and calls for serious thought by the government.
(Cartoon from Daily FT)
The Sri Lankan expat workers in South Korea who cheered lustily to the mariya kade lingo of the likes of Mahindananda Aluthgamage and Dullas Alahapperuma should be told that they are where they are today due to the efforts of all Sri Lankan Governments including the present one, which initiated special courses, skills development programmes and Korean language proficiency training for them. They may have their own political affiliations, but when in a foreign country their loyalty should always be towards the elected government in power. Conducting themselves the way they did cheering wildly at the uncouth speeches of a group of Opposition politicians bent on toppling the government is not the best way to demonstrate one’s patriotism.
True, very often the official Opposition in a country make complaints to governments abroad against the conduct of their own governments in order to apprise them of the worrying developments. But these are done through the appropriate channels and abiding by protocol. Not by erecting platforms at some venue and making vituperative outbursts against the government. What is worse the Rajapaksa led group is not even the official Opposition but a part of the government though it had parted ways and is conducting an agitation of its own to stage a comeback to power.
The government should take up this matter with the Korean government. No foreign soil should be made use of to stage attacks against a legitimate government with impunity as in this instance. Had it been some other country the matter would have led to a diplomatic row with even the envoy recalled. The Foreign Ministry should be alert to the kind of campaigns the Joint Opposition plan in other countries. Mahinda Rajapaksa after all still enjoys VIP status granted by the Sri Lankan government. He should not abuse this facility to heap calumny on the government on foreign soil and by extension bring disrepute on the country.
Rajapaksa after all never fails to profess his love for the country. But this is not the first occasion he had acted against the interest of the country. Many recall how as an Opposition politician he went to Geneva and called for aid to be stopped to Sri Lanka over its alleged human rights record. Rajapaksa it appears is now attempting to transport his Mahinda Sulanga to alien territory after the project had lost steam on home soil. In doing so he has not only demeaned his status as a former Head of State showing him to be another garden politician but also is damaging the image of his own country. Former External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris who was a member of the Korean nadey should have taken upon himself the task of informing his boss of the impropriety of the whole affair.
Daily News Editorial
Cartoon googled by TW for entertainment