June 2006


PERSONALITIES: It was indeed a great honour and privilege to spare some precious time talking to one of Sri Lanka’s most distinguished diplomatic personalities, a true career Ambassador, Jayantha Dhanapala who has held many prestigious positions in the diplomatic service and the United Nations, now in the ‘run-up’ for the powerful post of UN Secretary-General.

Having been a sportsman, he would take it in his stride to take up any challenges and suitably counter the opposition.

As Jayantha spoke refreshingly, sweet sentiments and memorable moments of exactly fifty years ago, rugby clock and ball ‘rolled-back’ onto the rugby fields of Asgiriya and Bogambara, up in Kandy, where as young students, we would spring into action and take absolute delight in mixing the fun and joy of sports with the seriousness of studies… and participate in any form of sport!

In that period of time, at Trinity College Kandy, it was the school policy that every boy should be encouraged to integrate study with sports, as a part of his education and to build desirable qualities of character and camaraderie.

As a sporting personality, Cricket, Hockey, Boxing and Athletics were the main attractions for participating and building life-long friendships, with goodwill.

In addition, as a brilliant student of Trinity College, Jayantha Dhanapala, nominee of the Sri Lanka Government for the post of UN Secretary – General and currently a Senior Advisor to His Excellency Mahinda Rajapakse, the President of Sri Lanka, could recall his college days in 1956 as a significant year for an ‘Outstanding Personality’!

Jayantha Dhanapala, a true example of a gentleman of high integrity, modesty, sincerity, persevering and peace-loving, won himself the "Ryde Gold Medal" for the Best All-round student at Trinity in 1956, an award which includs performance in studies and sport Jayantha took a keen interest in rugby and played as a wing forward, who could be depended on, whether it be on or off the field.

His advice, encouragement and words of wisdom was communicated to his team-mates and received with delight.

Reminiscing on Trinity Rugby, memories were refreshed of the classy rugby played by Trinity, during a remarkable year of school rugby in 1956, when Trinity won all their school matches, with their goal-line uncrossed – and even registering a couple of good wins in ‘friendly’ games against Up-Country clubs.

This team, considered to be one of the best rugby sides Trinity has ever produced, was captained by David Frank, an outstanding No. 8 forward, backed by ‘flying’ flankers Franklyn Jacob and Wilhelm Balthazaar, second rowers Gamini Weerasinghe and Rodney Frank, props Jinnah Dias de Singhe and Raji de Sylva with mercurial Mike de Alwis as hooker. ‘Safe-Hands’ Nimal Maralanda (fly-half) paired off with Ranjith de Alwis (scrum half), with two versatile, weaving centres, Ken de Joodt and Sena de Sylva, while Public School Athletes Vernon Boteju and Sene Ettipola manned the wings. A bold and courageous M. U. Odayar was the full-back.

Nine members of this team represented the Combined Schools XV and went on to be superb club rugby players, with most of them being picked to play for the country, Nimal Maralanda and Mike de Alwis captained Sri Lanka in 1964 and 1966 respectively.

At the end of 1956, Jayantha gained entry into the University of Peradeniya, along with college mates Sarath Amunugama (present Minister of Public Administration), S. M. L. Marikkar (Foreign Service) and N. G. Perera, (who migrated to Australia).

He chose to concentrate on his studies and then focus on his future career, after obtaining a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree.

Before embarking on a star-studded Diplomatic career, he entered into marriage and subsequently had two children.

In his own words, he described his desire by saying "My twin and life-long interests in literature and diplomacy have led me to a fascination with those in the diplomatic profession who have succeeded in retaining the creative spark under the carapace of protocol…!"

To further his career ambitions he became proficient in speaking both French and Chinese, in addition to his fluency in English and Sinhala.

Since joining the Sri Lanka Diplomatic Service in 1965, his achievements vary from receiving prestigious Awards, to delivering several keynote lectures, numerous Statements and Addresses at major Conferences, plus Publications of many Articles and Books, most importantly as an Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the United States of America, (1995 to ’97) and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva and Austria, (’84 to ’87), then Under-Secretary General, Department for Disarmament Affairs in the United Nations, New York (’98 to 2003) and now as a hopeful prospect for the UN Secretary-General’s prestigious post.

This would be a proud achievement for him as well as the country. May all the blessings of God be bestowed on him for success.

In absolute frankness and honesty, Jayantha Dhanapala has immense experience and expertise to draw from and be able to advise many involved in sports, of their dedication and handling of their specific responsibilities.

Good reasoning, Justice and Fairplay must be considered top priorities, be it the player, the coach or the official at the helm of a sports organization. Victory is the main goal but how it is achieved matters a great deal. Source: ANCL Sri Lanka

[Editor’s Pick of the Month]

Says banning rebel funding right move

OTTAWA—Canada has done the right thing by banning the Tamil Tigers and must follow up by making sure there is no more fundraising, a former Sri Lankan peace negotiator said yesterday.

"The financing must stop," said Jayantha Dhanapala, the former secretary-general of the Sri Lankan peace process that negotiated with the LTTE.

On Monday morning, a suicide bomber in Colombo killed the deputy-chief of the Sri Lankan Army, Maj.-Gen. Parami Kulatunge.

In other violence overnight, four Tamil Tiger rebels were killed in an attack by a breakaway faction in Vakarai in the east and a soldier was shot dead by suspected Tigers in a separate incident in Trincomalee, further north.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa urged calm and said his government would "act with patience" — a sign officials were moving carefully amid fears the island nation was sliding back into all-out war after a four-year lull.

According to human rights officials, 171 politically motivated killings were recorded in Sri Lanka’s north and east in May.

Authorities blamed the Tamil Tiger rebels for yesterday’s attack on Kulatunge — a charge the rebels deny.

An insurgent leader, Seevaratnam Puleedevan, insisted the Tigers were abiding by the 2002 ceasefire and were committed to peace, but the denial was viewed skeptically by many diplomats and analysts.

In Ottawa yesterday, Dhanapala called the killing of Kulatunge an indication the LTTE is taking advantage of the ceasefire to come into the capital and launch suicide attacks that kill innocent civilians.

Despite the violence, he said he is optimistic there can be peace.

"I know that on one side of the conflict there is a genuine desire to solve it, to have a solution, but we need to have that reciprocated."

Dhanapala said expatriate Sri Lankans can help bring an end to the violence.

"I think the expatriates have a profoundly significant role to play," he said. "They have been providing much of the finance for the LTTE to buy arms and bullets which have gone to killing innocent men, women and children, which have gone into arming child soldiers in this horrendous conflict."

He said he appreciated that contributing money to the LTTE is illegal under Canadian law. Canada listed the LTTE as a terrorist group in April.
"There are very able professionals among the expatriate community, not on

ly in Canada but in other countries, who can contribute enormously to the development of Sri Lanka, particularly in areas where the predominant population are Tamils," he said. Dhanapala said there are also lawyers and constitutional experts who could help Sri Lanka achieve what the President calls maximum devolution within a united Sri Lanka.

Dhanapala, who is a candidate to succeed Kofi Annan as secretary-general of the United Nations, was in Ottawa yesterday to meet with Foreign Affairs officials as part of his UN bid.

Identified by the U.S. publication Foreign Policy as a front-runner for the position, Dhanapala was a Sri Lankan diplomat for 30 years, serving in London, Beijing, Washington, New Delhi and Geneva. He speaks Sinhala, English, French and Chinese.  (Toronto Star)

Senior Advisor to President Mahinda Rajapakse and Sri Lanka’s nominee for the post of Secretary General of the United Nations, Jayantha Dhanapala will be chief guest at the Annual General Meetings of the Board of Management of The Management Clubs and the Management Club of Mount Lavinia as well as the inaugural General Meeting of Enabling the Disabled, on June 30 at the upper crystal room of the Taj Samudra, president of the Board of Management of the Management club, Fayaz Saleem said.

Dhanapala will address the members and invitees at the ceremonial sessions due to commence immediately after the conclusion of the AGM of TMC.

A change of leadership and new styles of leadership from the younger managers of corporates are a priority of TMC. The growth and visibility of the Management Clubs has led to the strengthening of its stature and this is evidenced by the increased interest shown by new members.

The ceremonial sessions are open to heads of large corporates, NGOs, INGOs and government institutions among others. By participation at the ceremonial session members would provide vital support for the new leadership and also show solidarity will the chief guest Jayantha Dhanapala, who is vying for the most prestigious office at the United Nations, Saleem concluded. -Island by Brian Tissera

New York, June 8 (IANS) Sri Lanka`s Jayantha Dhanapala is tipped as the man most likely to become the UN`s next secretary-general after Kofi Annan retires this year, while former US president Bill Clinton is seen as the least likely contender.

According to Foreign Policy journal, candidates in the race for the top UN job range from Dhanapala, the Sri Lankan presidential advisor with the most favourable odds of 6 to 1, to Clinton who stands a 1 in 1,000 chance, says the web edition of the prestigious journal.

Other `early leaders` it has named are Ban Ki Moon, South Korea`s minister of foreign affairs and trade, Surakiart Sathirathai, deputy prime minister and former foreign minister of Thailand, Kemal Dervis of Turkey who heads the UN Development Programme, Aleksander Kwasniewski, former president of Poland, and Vaira Vike-Freiberga, president of Latvia.

Dhanapala `is one of three men – all Asian – who have openly thrown their hats into the ring. Traditionally, the post has rotated from region to region, and Asia is next in line. (The last Asian who held the post was U Thant of Burma whose term expired in 1971.)

`Considered by many in the diplomatic community to be the frontrunner, the former under secretary-general for disarmament (Dhanapala) knows how to navigate the UN inside and out,` notes the journal.

However, when the pressing issue facing the world body is reform, being a familiar face at the UN may be a strike against him.

Also, as the former secretary-general of the Sri Lankan peace process, Dhanapala`s chances may be hurt by the rising conflict between the Sinhalese and Tamils in his island nation, according to the journal.

As for Clinton, the journal says: `Everybody loves Bubba. Since leaving office in 2001, the former US president has circumnavigated the globe countless times, spreading goodwill, helping tsunami victims in Asia, raising money to combat AIDS, and glad-handing everyone and everything within sight.

`He loves to talk. He loves to give speeches. He loves to hold court. What wouldn`t he like about the job’

However `He`s American. The UN secretary-general has never come from a permanent member of the Security Council.

`Plus, the current (US) president and (Clinton`s wife) Hillary may not agree about much, but neither wants to see the former president steal their thunder.`

 Source:  Associated Press

NEW DELHI, June 9: Jayantha Dhanapala, the veteran Sri Lankan diplomat and candidate for the United Nations Secretary-General’s post, will visit New Delhi next month to seek India’s support, considered crucial for his success.

Dhanapala will arrive here on July 3 and meet Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran the next day. During his two-day stay here, he is likely to meet Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma and several others in the foreign policy establishment.

The 67-year-old Dhanapala has many friends and well-wishers in the Indian capital eversince he worked here as Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner during 1981-83.

India has not yet decided who it will back for the top job at the UN, which will fall vacant in December this year, when Kofi Annan completes his second five-year term. Last month, visiting Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera informed Anand Sharma about Dhanapala’s candidature and requested for India’s support. The Indian Foreign Office said it has taken note of the matter.

Dhanapala’s upcoming visit here and the meetings being lined up for him will provide him with an opportunity to interact with the Indian policy-makers and to present his case to them.

Traditionally, the UN Secretary-General’s post rotates from region to region. Asia is next in line. Dhanapala has competition from South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki Moon and Thai Deputy Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai.

Others aspiring for the job from other parts of the globe include Turkey’s Kemal Dervis (who heads the UN Development Programme), former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, and Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga.

However, assessing the contenders’ chances, the prestigious New York-based "Foreign Policy" journal has tipped Dhanapala as the man most likely to become the UN’s next Secretary General. He gets the most favourable odds of 6 to 1 as compared to former US President Bill Clinton, who stands a 1 in 1,000 chance.

Should India decide to back Dhanapala’s candidature, his chances of success will be further enhanced.

By S. Venkat Narayan
Island Special Correspondent

By P. Vijian

KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 (Bernama) — Sri Lanka may be a small island state saddled with civil war for the past 23 years where more than 50,000 people have been killed but it harbours a lofty ambition.

It wants to lead the world’s largest decision-making body — the 60-year-old United Nations (UN) — by wresting the secretary-general’s post.

Sri Lanka has nominated its senior diplomat, Jayantha Dhanapala, who has some 36 years experience in international relations, to contest the most coveted and powerful position when it falls vacant after incumbent Kofi Annan completes his second term end of this year.

According to UN convention, it is Asia’s turn to lead the august body and for the moment, Dhanapala is expected to compete against two other Asian rivals — from Thailand and South Korea.

Dhanapala said Asia is capable of producing high calibre diplomats and ought to be given a chance to head the UN, with nearly 200 members.

"If you are looking for the most qualified candidate, then Asia is the most suitable candidate. Asia is rich in human resources because of its 50 per cent global population.

"Lots of ancient cultures have roots in Asia and we can produce as good diplomats as any other region. So it is slightly patronising to say that Asia has no best candidate," the 64-year-old envoy told Bernama on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement Coordinating Bureau Ministerial Meeting in Putrajaya recently.

Despite the prolonged civil war at home, which sickened its once healthy economy, displaced thousands of refugees and put the country under the global microscope, and the likelihood of strong censorship from the international community, Dhanapala is confident that it would not hamper his challenge for the top post.

"Sri Lanka is a country traditionally following a moderate stance in international affairs and has been a consensus builder. Coming from a small country, we think we fit the profile as the UN tradition is to take (the lead) from a small country. Big countries may have their own big agenda," he said.

In fact, the seasoned soft-spoken bespectacled Sri Lankan thinks that the domestic conflict would give him an edge to help handle conflicts, especially terrorism, a raging hot debate now.

"There are many countries which have conflicts affecting them. We have Northern Ireland that is unresolved, we have the Arab-Israeli conflict, which is unresolved, and in Spain we have Basques (separatist) problems.

"That does not disqualify a diplomat from that country from assuming responsibility in international organisations because the experience in dealing with terrorism in your own country gives you the necessary lessons which you can learn from and use for the future in conflict resolutions," he said.

He has a point. The other two Asian candidates too have their own problems at home.

Thailand is still grappling with its economically-deprived Muslim community’s rift in the south, a conflict which burst into violence last year, while South Korea’s candidate comes from a divided country, with nuclear-armed North Korea on the other end.

The contest is about six months away and diplomatic circles feel that it would be tough for Dhanapala to win the post, but he has stacked up his action plan if elected. Surely, reforms and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) top his list.

"There is a need to continue with agenda reforms which Kofi Annan has initiated and are approved by member states. We have to reform the institution to ensure that the Human Rights Council that has just been established is working smoothly, avoiding any pitfalls of the past.

"(We) must ensure that the peace building commission functions efficiently in order for countries saved from conflicts not to go back into conflicts again and that we reinforce the recovery programme by building institutions and giving them economic resources.

"But there must be more reforms within the secretariat itself. I have to ensure there is highest integrity and efficiency so that the UN can be a model for all countries in terms of an international civil service which does not tolerate any kind of dishonesty or inefficiency," he added.

Asked what extra credentials he has compared to the other two Asian rivals, the diplomat said the management experience he gained while working within the UN system would be the most precious asset.

"I have hands-on working experience within the UN system. I come from a small developing country for which MDGs are extremely important. I come from a country which has experience in terrorism so the urgent need for international cooperation to combat terrorism is something I feel deeply important," he said.

When Dhanapala was 17 years old, he penned "The World We Want" for an essay contest which won him a trip to the United States (US) in 1957 where he met US Senator John F. Kennedy and US president Dwight D. Eisenhower.

His distinguished career includes being a national and international diplomat, peace builder, disarmament expert and champion of MDGs.

Currently he is the senior advisor to Sri Lanka’s president and has held several senior positions in the UN, which include Director of the Geneva-based UN Institute of Disarmament Research, and was Sri Lanka’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN. Source: News Tip (IN BOX)