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A clear case of incomprehension

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Wednesday, 18 July 2018 00:00


  • Dinesh Perera’s remarks on my reference to Ambassador Tissa Wijeyeratne

By Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

A little learning is indeed a dangerous thing and Dinesh Perera obviously has a problem of comprehension and he extrapolates on the basis of such incomprehension. 

Where on earth did I say, indicate or imply that Tissa Wijeyeratne is an “authority figure” on whom my “Smart Patriotism protocol” is based? Certainly D.S. Senanayake, Ranasinghe Premadasa and Lakshman Kadirgamar would be such figures, and I have said so in other places, but I have never cited Ambassador Wijeyeratne either as an “authority figure” of or an example of ‘Smart Patriotism’ himself – though, come to think of it, he would quite definitely fit the category as would have Prof. Senaka Bandaranaike and most decidedly, Ambassador Neville Kanakaratne.

Neither Mr. Perera nor I can know what Tissa Wijeyeratne would have said about the issue currently at hand. I made no such claim of knowledge. All I know is what I saw him do and not do, as Ambassador to France. 

I said this in my farewell speech as Ambassador to France in November 2012:

“…And just this evening, I happened to show some friends here, Ramani Eriyagama and a few others, some very old photographs because I found this among my parents’ belonging after they have passed away. These are old photographs and I remembered that these were taken in Paris, rue Perronet, in the summer of 1973. So I was pretty sure that Ramani was on one of those in the photographs and today she confirmed it…I am not new to Paris because my first visits were as a boy in the 1960s and then again as a teenager in the ’70s–some of you might remember when Mr. Balasubramanian was Deputy Head of Mission here, and then as I said in ’73 when Ambassador Tissa Wijeratne served here. By the way, one of the people in that photograph I have is Mr. Omar Nawaz. So I know how the Embassy and the Sri Lankan community have evolved. 

I also have friends here who have served as Ambassadors such as Prof. Senaka Bandaranayake, whom I first met when he was a student in London. So as I said, I am not a stranger to the Sri Lankan community, the Embassy and their interactions…” (https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/i-have-stood-for-the-idea-that-the-main-duty-of-a-sri-lankan-ambassador/)

Mr. Perera claims to have known Ambassador Wijeyeratne well and goes on to interpret his ideas, values and commitment. 

He quite obviously does not know that Uncle Tissa was, at the university and for quite a few years after that, a convinced and highly literate Communist, a member of the Communist Party and a public lecturer and debater on the university circuit, on Communist theory, strategy. Certainly he evolved well beyond that, but he was steeped in his intimate knowledge of the history of world communism and made recourse to that knowledge for decades after. 

I recall a well-attended meeting in the early-mid 1970s at the BMICH (at which I was present as a teenager) organised by the Ceylon Institute of World Affairs of which Maj-Gen Anton Muttukumaru was the Chairman and my father Mervyn de Silva was the Secretary General. 

The guest lecturer was a West German authority on the world communist movement, Prof Jürgen Domes and the lecture was on the Sino-Soviet dispute. Uncle Tissa raised a very intricate question about the correspondence between Alexandra Kollontai, Mikhail Borodin and MN Roy. 

I daresay Mr. Perera wouldn’t have heard a single one of those names.


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