Major General! Foreign Minister! Let a thousand flowers bloom



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I wonder why we can’t have real democracy today. There could be an exchange of words as long as there is no exchange of fire between two citizens of Sri Lanka holding important positions. Is there anything wrong in having a military representative included in the Task Force appointed by the Government to enforce provisions of the Geneva resolution? Though Mangala is our Foreign Minister, he thinks out of the box. I remember Managala saying a long ago, at a press conference, that he would ideally like to sip a glass of red wine by a French lake and relax rather than battling in this ‘man bite man’ political system of ours.


Major General Chagi Gallage is in the news these days. Many will say it’s for the right reason and a small group will say for the wrong reason. However, Chagi is in the news. Chagi I know is a down to earth army officer who played an important role in the country’s war to end terrorism. He is also a no nonsense and well disciplined Army officer. Though I had met Chagi before, I got to know him very well when he served as the Head of Security to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He respected his seniors, in the same way he didn't take any nonsense though they were seniors. I have seen how closely he worked with Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police S. M Wickremasinghe, who headed the former President’s Security and how he gave him his due respect. Wicky is also the head of Security of President Maithripala Sirisena.


I am sure the likes of former Chief of Protocol, Majintha Jayasinghe, would vouch for the honour and dignity of Chagi, on how he operated during advance visits to many countries and during many state visits of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. As the Major General in charge of President’s Security , Chagi, could have given orders, and at times could even have been seated close to the Head of State. He never did that. It was the same with Senior DIG Wickremasinghe. I have seen Chagi and Wicky seated outside in some corners, even during winters, allowing even so-called self important minions to get closer to the Head of State during official functions. I would say they gave their seats to others. I had joined them several times and it was wonderful to see them laughing but, keeping alert. Both Chagi and Wicky had difficult tasks which they accomplished with ease. I also remember how Chagi got angry when the former first lady’s security personnel tried to get too smart. It is difficult for me not to mention Wicky’s name when I write about Chagi here. Because both of them are simple and humble officers I have met in my life..


Chagi is an Officer and gentleman. No sooner had former President Rajapaksa been defeated than he handed over his responsibilities, served a short period in Colombo and then moved to Jaffna as the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Army’s 51 Division. He extended his kind hospitality to me during one of my visits to Jaffna later. He remained the same old no nonsense, simple Army Officer I had known earlier. I have read reports of a clash or let me say an exchange of words, heated or otherwise, between Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Chagi. The result according to the reports is the transfer of Chagi to Colombo as the Director General of Infantry at the Army Head Quarters. From what I know Chagi and Mangala are known to each other, even before Mangala entered politics.


I wonder why we can’t have real democracy today. There could be an exchange of words as long as there is no exchange of fire between two citizens of Sri Lanka holding important positions. Is there anything wrong in having a military representative included in the Task Force appointed by the Government to enforce provisions of the Geneva resolution? Though Mangala is our Foreign Minister, he thinks out of the box. I remember Managala saying a long ago, at a press conference, that he would ideally like to sip a glass of red wine by a French lake and relax rather than battling in this ‘man bite man’ political system of ours.


I think Mangala is the ideal man to have a casual chat with anyone in this country and get his/her ideas even if it is opposed to his own views. We need to change the fighting and acrimonious culture of ours and accept constructive criticism and other viewpoints. Let bygones be bygones! I have much respect for both Mangala and Chagi. They may not be equal in positions. But, we all are fellow human beings. We are fellow Sri Lankans. None of these positions remain for ever. No one should get hurt though all of us have our own concerns and we have our own battles.


A honest Major General of the Sri Lanka Army who served the country well should not be hurt. I am sure the down-to-earth Foreign Minister can use his charming diplomacy.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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