Is High Commission in London against Sri Lankan traditions and customs?

In Sri Lanka we give pride and place to our religions. In Sri Lanka when we go into a new building or a house the first function we have is a religious function to bless the building and those who will occupy. If it is government building we have a multi religious function. But it looks like the Sri Lankan High Commission in London and the Minister of the High Commission who is currently the Acting High Commissioner P.R.S.S. Gunaratna or Pahala Rallage Sanathana Sugeeshwara Gunaratna is shy to follow Sri Lankan traditions and customs.

The government after spending millions of sterling pounds has put up a magnificent building to be used as the High commissioners residence at 35, Avenue Road in St. Johns Wood area which is one of the most exclusive areas in the city. Although the building is completed it has not yet being officially occupied. But Gunaratna after becoming the Acting High Commissioner decided to have an Independence Day function at this building. In London for the Independence Day celebrations there are two functions arranged by the High Commission.

In the morning there is a multi-religious function with the traditional kiribath and sweetmeats where Sri Lankan expatriates will be present and messages by the President, Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister will be read out. In the evening there is a reception hosted for the diplomatic community and the representatives of the Sri Lankan community. Over the years these events were held at the High Commission building.

Inquiries reveal that Gunaratna who assumed duties only in November did not listen to other officers who have served in London for a longer time and insisted on hosting the evening reception at the Avenue Road building. He has been expecting to occupy the house hoping a High Commissioner will not be appointed for some time. But after the Government appointed a High Commissioner to London Gunaratna at least wanted to go on record of having the first function in the building. If he really wanted this record then he should have had the morning event with the multi religious blessings, kiribath and the Sri Lankans living in UK. He wanted to have only the evening reception with liquor, meats and only the diplomatic community and his chosen friends.

The Sri Lankan Diaspora in UK is very disappointed by the anti-Sri Lankan attitude of Gunaratna. A long standing Sri Lankan community member told Lanka News Web ‘the first thing Goonaratns did when he came was to run to the London Buddhist Vihara with Warnapala for a photo opportunity. But now we can see his true colours. Government should not send this type of Kalu Suddas to represent Sri Lanka in the UK.’ Another community source said ‘this is a deliberate attempt to embarrass the Prime Minister as the new High Commissioner is a relative of the Prime Minister.’

The correct thing for Gunratna to do would have been to allow the new High Commissioner to decide on a time and date to have a function or occupy the building. Even it is a Government property it is for the exclusive use of the High Commissioner and not to be used as a reception hall. A Sri Lankan diplomat should think like a Sri Lankan and should be proud to be a Sri Lankan. They are paid by the tax payers’ money. Lanka News Web has exposed Gunaratna in the past.

This is yet another blunder by Foreign Secretary Chitrangani Wagiswara who seems to be very good at appointing incompetent favourites to top positions. Wagiswara who herself is well known to be very incompetent is only interested in going on posting to spend her retirement in cool climes of Europe. Foreign Minister mangala Samaraweera seems to be unconcerned by the blunders made by his officers. It is sad that President and Prime Minister have not yet taken steps to weed out the anti-Sri Lankan elements from the diplomatic service.

Related posts