last night with Kadir
By Ameen Izzadeen
“Today is a great day of joy for me and for the BCIS. A day
of achievement,” Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar told
a distinguished gathering at the launch of an international relations
journal about four hours before he fell victim to the bullet of
a murderous, blood-thirsty, terrorist group.
The 60-odd people who attended the function at the Bandaranaike
Centre for International Studies never would have imagined it was
the last time they were seeing this distinguished Sri Lankan who
always thought he was a Sri Lankan first.
I did not believe in superstitions, it now appears to me in hindsight
that a mishap that happened at the function portended what was to
Soon after his address he was invited to launch the BCIS website
by clicking the remote mouse which was brought to the head table.
Lights were dimmed. The clicking was perfect and the website was
full of colour and animation on the giant screen next to the head
table. But as soon as the website presentation was over, the auditorium
was plunged into darkness. The security officers were helpless as
they appeared to wonder what to do. A quick thinking state-TV cameraman
then flashed his battery operated camera light and kept the hall
lit for few minutes until the fault was detected and attended to.
was there at the function and now regret my decision to avoid the
cocktail Mr. Kadirgamar and the BCIS hosted after the ceremony was
The invitation card said the function would begin at 6 p.m. I was
five minutes late. I was hoping that the function would not begin
on time because I did not want to miss Foreign Minister Lakshman
Kadirgamar’s speech as his speeches are known to be full of
anecdotes and quotable quotes in pristine English. They were indeed
a treat to the ears.
the invitation card that was addressed to The Sunday Times editor,
I approached the security table outside the BCIS auditorium in the
BMICH premises and produced it on demand. I gave a simple explanation
that I was representing my editor. They allowed me in.
years ago this month, when I carried my editor’s invitation
to a BMICH lecture by Mozambique Foreign Minster Leonardo Santos
Simao, who was Mr. Kadirgamar’s special guest, security officers
denied me entry. I understood the security concerns and the need
to protect the Sri Lankan foreign minister who had become a prime
LTTE target for his tireless efforts to get the rebel group declared
as a terrorist organization by foreign governments.
this Friday, they took down my NIC number and allowed me in. The
security officer wearing white gloves at the entrance hesitated
whether to check me. The checking was done on a pick-and-choose
basis. I was subjected to a cursory body-check but I saw some others,
who carried their own invitation cards, were allowed in without
I did not mind the discrimination because assassins could come posing
as journalists – as in the case of the assassination of Afghan
commander Ahmed Shah Masood a day before the 9/11 attacks.
6.20 p.m. the Foreign Minster walked in. Indian High Commissioner
Nirupama Rao, who was the guest of honour at the function, had already
come. It was unusual for the foreign minister, a man of discipline
and principles, to be not punctual.
ceremony to launch the BCIS’ journal International Relations
in a Globalising World (IRGW) — Mr. Kadirgamar’s dream
project — began with the security being stationed right round
journal, the first of such kind in Sri Lanka, filled a lacuna in
Sri Lankan academia. The journal, which caters to both local and
international readers, now assumes added significance because it
would probably be the first and the last which would bear Mr. Kadrigamar’s
name as “Editor-in-Chief’.
Addressing the gathering, Foreign Minister Kadirgamar, who is also
the chairman of the BCIS board, said he was proud of what the BCIS
had done. “It is a great day of joy and achievement.”
said today the discipline of international relations had expanded
to such levels that any conceivable topic had bearing on it. Therefore,
he said the BCIS would not confine its area of work strictly to
international affairs but reach out to other areas such as environment,
medicine and technology. Speaking strictly in his capacity as the
editor-in-chief of the journal and BCIS board chairman, Mr. Kadirgamar
said the institute was expanding its academic courses and outreach
and would launch a youth parliament project next week.
The project, he said would bring youth from all districts, including
Jaffna, Vavuniya and Mullaitivu, to Colombo for residential workshops
where they would discuss issues of national and international importance.
Kadirgamar said the BCIS would also set up an India-studies centre,
which would be named after former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
He said the setting up of the centre was discussed with Sonia Gandhi
when President Kumaratunga was in New Delhi a few months ago.
Kadirgamar said the journal was his dream and he decided to take
a plunge into the deep end when some had raised doubts as to the
viability of the project.
said that when he confessed to Sage Publications, a New-Delhi headquartered
world famous publishers, that his institute had no prior experience
in journal projects, he expected some kind of assistance but he
only received strict guidelines.
guidelines posed a big challenge. Sage was strict that we met their
standards. I told the BCIS team either we produce ‘a journal’
or no journal.
“Producing the journal, the kind of which does not exist in
Sri Lanka, was a harrowing experience,” Mr. Kadirgamar said.
of honour and Indian High Commissioner Nirupama Rao said she was
confident that a journal of such quality would induce fresh impetus
to the learning of international relations and widen the scope for
said international relations were going through a revolution fuelled
by globalization and the explosive growth in communications technology
but stressed on the need to give it an humanitarian facet.
has brought benefits, but it has also unleashed hardships on billions
of poor people in developing countries and dealt a devastating blow
to cottage and village-based industries,” said Ms. Rao who
was presented the first copy of the journal by Mr. Kadirgamar.
Journal’s editor, Tissa Jayathilake, who is the executive
director of the US-Sri Lanka Fulbright Commission said the aim of
the journal was to humanize and reform international relations.
said there existed misconception, mistrust and a big communication
gap between the developed world and developing world and a journal
such as the IRGW could promote understanding between them by means
of dialogue and promote the concept of meaningful globalization
to minimise the gap.
inaugural issue contains articles by eminent Sri Lankan and Indian
academics. Saman Kelegama writes on challenges facing Sri Lanka’s
garment industry; Laksiri Fernando on ethno-nationalsim and the
youth dimension in social conflicts in Sri Lanka; H.L. de Silva
on politico-legal aspects of the separatist war; Dayan Jayatilleke
on the fall of global socialism, S. D. Muni on human rights, state
sovereignty and military intervention; Jasjit Singh on emerging
Asia and its challenges; and Sudharshan Seneviraten on race, language
and deconstructing the Tamil identity.