Monday, February 29, 2016

Free Education only up O levels (grade 11) – Must Pay after that

It is clear that the adage, “good things not cheap, cheap things not good!” applies to education also.

My previous blog entry, was clear that Students had forsaken school for Tuition, because the quality of the Teachers at schools is found wanting. Then I propose that free secondary education stops at Grade 11, and those who get a minimum of 4 A’s at O level are given a full scholarship for studying at A levels.

In this way two immediate benefits will occur. The state will be able to release funds to train Pre-School teachers, who will then be employed at a minimum of Rs50K a month to teach that most critical age. Further, by charging Rs 5000/- a month for A level students, all teachers can be further trained, and paid a minimum Rs100,000 a month, to get the best teachers, especially   in rural areas, so that those who pay, (and scholars) will get a quality education, enabling them to sit their A levels. These teachers would further be prevented from giving paid tuition, a common activity, that makes them truant from normal work!

There are a few more added benefits, namely, as soon as the students sit for their O level exams in December, they should enter the A level of their choice, before results, as they are willing to pay, so they must have a chance of pursuing whatever A level they WANT. It is only the A level exam that will sort the good from bad, not O level results and will help the late bloomers, of which there are many, especially in our society, where due to the 2 children syndrome, too much home spoiling delays maturity!

To round off this idea, school must begin in January for the A level class, as it is both paid, and is given on an as requested basis, and A level exams must be held in January, and not August, so students can enter University in October of the same year, saving them a whole year that is currently wasted, and are likely to be detrimental to the smooth flow of study.

Further this will allow students to compete with private University students, who have an edge as they graduate much earlier, not being held to ransom, like now which badly handicaps their progress.

I am absolutely sure that this will improve the overall education of our youth preparing them earlier to go to University, or a vocation training Institute, and surely that is the whole purpose of Education, to prepare them as early as possible for the rigors of the working world, something that the population pyramid mandates as being necessary!

There are no students in Grade 13 in State Schools this morning! They are those who will sit their A levels in August 2016

Where is the Media? They must inform the Public and the Govt. of the facts!

All schools following the A level curriculum of the Dept. of Examinations, have an obligation to ensure that their students attend a minimum of 80% classes in school, before they are eligible to sit the Exams.

As of March 1st, the paperwork would have been submitted to the Dept. of Exams, on the list of the students, the subjects they will be offering for the August Exams.

Therefore students know that if they do not attend any class from today, the school is unlikely to stop the student from sitting the exam. So what do the students do? They are busy attending Tuition Crammers on their four subjects for the next 5 months!

To cut to the chase go to any Grade 13 class this morning, start with the supposed TOP schools in Colombo and Gampaha District that account for 25% of the students enrolled to sit this years A levels, YOU WILL BE IN FOR A SURPRISE!

There are NO students. GO to Royal and Visakha for starters. This is scandalous! What are the teachers doing about it? What is the Principal doing about it? Nothing. They dare not open their mouth. The teachers get a salary, and don’t have to earn it by teaching, and the Public, you and me are paying for this Education, or more like LACK OF EDUCATION!

The kids are at Tuition classes for part of the day, paid for by their parents. Parents spend an average of Rs5,000 a month, paying for Tuition Fees, Transport, and Food, and hope to God that their kids will get a decent grade at A levels. (so much for the myth of free Education) Under this practice, isn’t it better to send the offspring to Private Schools, knowing your children are at school, and not playing hooky, and not in for a nasty surprise later that your money went elsewhere?

Yes it is true that all schools do not have good teachers, so parents who can afford, send their kids to well-known Masters who spend a million a month just advertising their classes, some in different Cities. As for the much heralded Technology Stream at A levels, which is supposed to send 2,000 students each year to State Universities, there are NO teachers, and so all the Students go to the Masters who teach these subjects, as the ONLY hope of passing! CHECK FACTS!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Public Servants – Secretaries to Ministries – Don’t know their subject

The Sri Lanka Administrative Service higher grades are a small club of Gossiping men and women, who generally know each other well, and who work in all the Ministries in that capacity. Actually they are effectively the CEO of that Ministry, and run it on behalf of the Minister, advising the Minister in matters of procedure and system in order to ensure the smooth running of the Ministry.

When it comes to red tape, and bureaucracy, they are past masters at running rings round their Ministers on delaying and using procedural niceties to delay matters citing that all the paperwork is not in order.

Their most egregious sin is not that. It is simply ignorance of the subject matter. It is most unfortunate that they go on conferences overseas representing their Country and in this instance take the International Environmental Conference in Paris recently, or referred to as the Climate Change COP21, had a delegation of Public Servants. What do these public servants know about Climate Change?

It is a very specialized topic which our Country should have been represented by knowledgeable people on the subject. I commend the Government in sending the Ven. Rathana Thero MP to the conference as he has been an ardent campaigner to rid Sri Lanka of Pesticides that are harming the food chain and ruining the Environment both at the same time, and is one who is very knowledgeable (more than any of the Public Servants who represented Sri Lanka)

He has returned with vigor convicted that there is MORE to do in this area in Sri Lanka, and instead of joisting for prominence is quietly working through the corridors of knowledge enhancing his knowledge on the subject and preparing concrete proposals on what Sri Lanka can do to abide by the Country promises with regard to Climate Change.

The public servants not to be outdone, are doing what they are used to. They are simply wasting public money on a show of meetings and setting up conferences on this topic without engaging any experts in the field, as they know they will be outclassed. Shame when those in power, suppress those with knowledge, because of their insecurity with regard to the lack of their knowledge.

It is important for the public servant to know his limitations and call upon the expert, when needed, rather than keeping the expert out of the loop, as they fear that their ignorance will exposed for all to see. Yes they are ignorant, as it is NOT their field. They are pawns moved from one place to another. That is all.

I believe the top of our Tourist Trade don’t peruse articles on Sri Lanka

Actually this is more about disposing garbage, but it is also relevant as one of the most important steps in making Sri Lanka a top tourism destination in high-end Tourism.

It is most important that our Tourism development professionals always keep up to date with every bit of international news on Sri Lanka, especially travel write-ups, so they know what is being written and why.

A potential tourist reads these, books on line, after reviewing comments about places they intend visiting etc. IT is an eye opener, about what others think of our Country. It is also extremely important to learn from their comments and do what which is necessary to ENHANCE this product.

I believe above all we must concentrate on making this Country clean. It is currently a garbage dump wherever you go, and many tourists excuse us for our shoddy habits, as they don’t like to label us litter bugs, but it is high time as a rule for our hygiene, well being, discipline and beauty that we put this number one on our list, and take steps immediately to correct this huge problem.

What is the point of going on a Pilgrimage to Sri Pada, if the result of the months of pilgrimage season is 100 tonnes of garbage, that voluntary organizations get involved in cleaning up, after you. Let us train people there about garbage disposal, and get people to bring back their garbage down to the bottom!

This attached article is merely one of many that I am referring to and lately there have been a profusion of articles and I suggest our Top Dogs in Tourism have a department just to down load, read comment and suggest improvement so that we are on the ball with latest in tourism trends.

I am convinced that GARBAGE eradication, is made a priority many other developments will take place that will improve the quality of life of the citizens. It is amazing how the consciousness of the nation will rise, and people who habitually throw away “things” from their bus window will think twice.

In a country where there are hardly any receptacles for garbage, we sometimes don’t have any option, but this habit of wrapping our lunch in plastic, must stop, as that is the non degradable part, that animals eat, and suffer terribly, which in a Country that is talking about animal welfare acts etc, has don’t nothing in the draft of this bill, to explain and prevent this ghastly and horribly painful death that animals, pets and wild animals constantly suffer from owing to the means of disposing of food, even from rotting Economic Center excesses.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Demonstration Dairy Farm – A political gimmick to fool the gullible!

Just look at the recent articles just in the FT, not necessarily in the Milk Business, to show the interest in Dairy in Sri Lanka. I hope the reader gets the picture of the publicity each of these organizations appear to want in this industry.

The NZ PM, Fonterra’s Chairman and the Wildlife Minister Gamini Jayawickrema Perera, opened the 30 acre demonstration farm in Pannala on Tuesday, 24th February, 2016.

Why is this worthy of such a show? It is PR on the part of NZ and also of the Multinational Fonterra to show their contribution to Sri Lanka and in this instance for Dairy Production.

It is a purely business opportunity, to train farmers, and get them to send their milk to Fonterra who are masters at value addition in this Industry. Every rupee that the farmer is paid is turned into 5 rupees of finished product, and that is what value addition is. It is a good thing, but a profit venture, in the interests of a well run, PR conscious, Organization, owned by the Farmers of New Zealand to be able to market its milk products worldwide with Sri Lanka being probably their third biggest international market.

If Sri Lanka was self sufficient in Milk, this import would not arise, and you can only ask any doctor, worth their profession, what he thinks about the powdered milk that we import, and its true value for nourishment for those who consume it.

Further there was a full page ad in yesterday's FT by Cargills on the virtues of their program, "to empower Sri Lanka farmers to become dairy entrepreneurs" IRONICALLY on the opposite page of Fonterra's model farm opening! Was it a purposely put sock to Fonterra for not putting a full page ad there, and Cargills steals the Thunder, mistaking the reader that it is their handiwork. It is for you to decide.

I am sure the Fonterra PR team must be fretting with fury that Cargills stole the SHOW.

By the way, how many Dairy Farmers read the FT. If you read the FT see below you may think it is Dairy Farmers who are the main business owners in Sri Lanka!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Constitutional Assembly – debate in Parliament Tomorrow (25th Feb)

I am sure the observer of Politics in Sri Lanka is never surprised when the denizens who rule this Country engage in some of the most ridiculous decisions, ostensibly as elected representatives of this Country.

Before I go on, I must remind the reader that it is we the general public who have voted all these 225 (except the 29 on the National List who are indirectly appointed by those whom we voted for) who continue to make decisions on our behalf, and in that same vein, there is a debate in Parliament about the same 225 being referred to as the Constitutional Assembly being tasked to present a new Constitution to the people to approve at a Referendum.

Let us ask the first of many questions, but this is enough for this essay. How many if any are actually conversant on what a New Constitution really is? Do they know for approximately what period it would be relevant, especially as getting a 2/3 majority is needed for future amendments or even a proposal for a referendum, then it maybe unlikely to achieve one in the future! (or so JR thought!)

Then does anyone realize that but for about 20 in the current parliament everyone else would have expired within 20 years, and so they are actually proposing it for people who will be alive after they have departed!!!!!

Has anyone even thought to consult those who will be alive during the best part of the New Constitution to determine if that is what they want? Further, even ask what it is they want from a new Constitution? I rather think not!

So what is the debate all about? About mistakes of the past and NOT of the basic foundations needed for a Country in order to achieve the objectives that the PM has set for our future growth and direction! This means that the whole day tomorrow by these show offs, is all going to be a waste of time, as they have NO clue as to what it is that is expected. Can anyone have the presence of mind at least to set the agenda of the day, so that productivity prevails and NO grandstanding for the gallery results.

As an aside, but as further proof of how absurd our decision makers are, it is noted in today’s media, that FM Sarath Fonseka is to be appointed a Cabinet Minister for the development of Central, North Central and Uva Provinces!  ARE YOU SERIOUS? Why is this insult to our intelligence not firmly criticized? If this is the step-motherly treatment that these people are meted, how can they have any belief that the Govt. is serious about sustainable development and balanced growth. DS must be rolling in his grave!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What a dumb thing to do? Just shows you have more money than sense!

I don’t know if they paid for it, or got it free, but the Sunday Lankadeepa had a half page ad taken out by the Board of Trustees of the Kalutara Bodhi Trust, pleading that they use all the millions put into the ‘Pin Kataya’ by the superstitious and faithful for purposes beyond reproach! BTW the ad would not have been noticed by 99% of readers.

I believe this was as a result of an allegation in a news item, that the money of the faithful have gone to fund the personal fortunes of the Trustees, just as much of the funds that are put into all sorts of places, like Kovils etc, are purloined by the Kapurala or some such person, and NOT used for either helping the upkeep of the religious site or for charitable purposes.

The reality in Sri Lanka is that there simply must be a law that says that if funds are collected in this manner from the thousands of these offerings, that there is a official plaque saying they are regulated by the state, where the takings are reported and their use clearly shown, and the state then puts this on line, so that any potential donor sees what is being done with this money. It is quite a simple thing really to put this on line so quarterly returns are filed and uploaded.

I am not asking for them to be audited, as that would be a boon for auditors, but let the donating public know how much these places collect and how it is spent. Mark you, the fact that the trustees have the power over their spending makes them very powerful people in their own right, so they have a duty to the public to account.

I note that the AD did not give ANY idea of what the takings were, and how it was spent, except saying that all collections are carefully counted and banked. Hell that is NO guarantee of how it is spent. It is just a ruse to fool the people.

I am not accusing the trustees of wrong doing, but I am accusing them of spending 500,000 thousand of their own money to show nothing and justifying their behavior! That is simply not acceptable, and a complete waste of space. Unless they disclosed the accounts for the past year for all to see, this is just a smoke and mirrors job that is simply disingenuous

No point mentioning what pillars of society the trustees are, as that does not mean anything in this context of trust, and truthfulness. I am simply astounded that such high society, resorted to such low balling statements to try and answer the allegation, which actually shows that they have something to hide! Don’t be embarrassed to show how many millions you collect a month, just do it!

Monday, February 22, 2016

The recent death of Harper Lee (female) at age 89 – a time to remember

Harper Lee’s famous novel, “To kill a mockingbird” with the now famous saying,

“…if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view -”
“Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

This famous passage/saying the cornerstone of racial tolerance must be learned by rote by everyone and practiced before we make any statement derogatory of another.

The book a current (since 1962) a must read in all American schools, turned a bitterly racially segregated USA in a more tolerant country, that has finally seen its first Black President. There is still a long way to go, with US jails filled disproportionately with African Americans, but nevertheless making small improvements in time.

This must also remind those who are impatient to see immediate change, that change sometimes occurs slowly and to speed things up, intelligent means must be found to provide compromise for the sake of racial tolerance where the majority community go out of their way as an act of good faith to make concessions above and beyond the needed to show they really mean well.

The link above is a really good analysis of the issue, and how it also applies to the Sri Lankan context. I would recommend you read it in its entirety understand how what was true in 1962 USA can be applied in 2016 Sri Lanka.

It is best to remember how some of the issues that affect human beings cut across nations and are commonplace everywhere, and all we can do is to understand if there is a problem and try to find a solution on similar lines, using this book and its lessons as just one of the tools in the armory of peace and reconciliation.   

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The bumptious blaggard – New Zealand Prime Minister – John Key

Coming from a Country with more sheep than brains! John Key’s article in the Daily Mirror on his impending arrival is frankly insulting!

Of course he has every right to say what he wants, and it is totally OK to publish it in the newspapers. In a Country that does not have the critical intelligence to analyze writings due to a warped education system, and a totally subservient public who have been led my unscrupulous media personnel though out its independence, (pre independence journalist was far more balanced and unbiased that it is today) his statements may just be innocuous, but hidden in what is written is patronizing from a Country that has had more aid from SL than that ever received from NZ. Further Fonterra, the farmers cooperative that exports tones of by-product milk powder, effectively the offal of the cow’s milk to put a word for it, is not really doing this country much good.

I have nothing against New Zealanders or their beautiful country. I just take umbrage at the pomposity of the PMs limited intelligence being expounded as something gargantuan.

He talks about giving aid to Sri Lanka, just hot air! Every Doctor that has migrated to NZ has a value of US$3M as value to the host country. Count the number and you have just one idea of their value to NZ. Every chartered Accountant as a value of US$1M and you can do the sums on that value.

NZ is still gladly taking the best of the best from Sri Lanka and the total value of this AID to NZ is approximately US$3Billion since independence and so the tag line should read, NZ appreciates the years of AID it has given it, and the NZ PM has come to thank the people of Sri Lanka for suffering hardship to educate professionals at the State’s expense to AID the NZ economy come to its current level of development.

Mark you I have NO problem giving aid to these much needed aid recipients like Australia, NZ, USA, Canada, and the UK to refer to the main aid recipients with NZ. However it MUST be the turn of the leaders of this Country appreciating this, acknowledging its value, and doing something to compensate for this huge AID imbalance!!  

I am afraid most Sri Lankans don’t understand what I am saying here, as FREE EDUCATION in Sri Lanka is NOT appreciated because it is free, and the value of a productive person and only productive people are accepted by the NZ government, not servants without O levels. YOU GET THE POINT! 

As for the Fonterra farm in Pannala and the PR, Political and Economic Implications, I reserve judgement for a future time. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Contrasting cacophony on the right of the UNHRC stance in Sri Lanka

In the Interview published in last Sunday’s Observer, it was quite clear and unequivocal, that if Sri Lanka is part of the UN there are certain rights we surrender in order to be part of that club!

It is very clear therefore that those who accuse the UN of interference in Sri Lanka, they are doing it as a right, and no matter what BULL the Rajapakse’s use to insight divide and rule politics, they are well within their rights.

It is also quite apparent that in some instances, Justice has to be compromised for the purpose of Peace and Reconciliation, and we don’t have the Peace we want both due to the politics of the TNA and the Rajapakse’s being traitors to the UNITY of the nation.

It is therefore clear that with people who hold the opinion of Neville Laduwahetty in the Island today (18th February 2016) we will never grow up to balance both extremes and compromise our principles for the greater good of the Nation. 

Actually the problem lies not in the International Agencies, but in our internal politics that we are still struggling to formerly settle this dogmatic split which the people seem to have already put behind them, but a bunch of political jokers wish to keep alive PURELY FOR THEIR POLITICAL SURVIVAL and the irresponsible media HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO educate our public of the truth in this, and the harm this divided opinion has doe to the Country, and to its prestige, in not been able to clear the air once and for all and LET BYGONES BE BYGONES.

We should avoid the whole Diaspora pressure as “much ado about nothing” and come to a home-grown solution, so that we do not have foreign interference just due to local LEGAL POMPOSITY!

Laduwahetty’s tirade using copious references to the Constitution, can be summed up in one word, “IRRELEVANT” to the current argument. It is because we have such pompous arrogant ignoramuses, that this Country is still imposing miserable lives on simple ordinary people who don’t even understand what this argument these supposedly educated people are engaged in merely due to their better education level, and that’s all.

Time to a return to basics, first find out what happened to each missing person and close this chapter once and for all before we prosecute the criminals

Thursday, February 18, 2016

It is time we actually accept that we are UNEDUCATED!!

I get very frustrated when people are constantly telling me that we have a highly educated workforce, and we must therefore encourage inward investment in industries to utilize this talent pool as otherwise they go overseas and many do not return, with Sri Lanka losing a hugely valuable, resource that has been developed internally and given free of charge to the Country this person goes to work in, especially if migration there is the ultimate result.

The truth is far different. Broadly speaking our level of education is grossly inadequate, where the 250,000 current vacancies cannot be filled from, and in low skills, the person’s self worth is such that they would rather stay at home doing nothing rather than take the job, that he is capable of doing, because he thinks he is worth MORE!!!!

If this person realizes that he is really unemployable, rather than worth more than he is offered then there is a likelihood that he may take up the job, one that will help the economy grow.

Economists educated in the traditional way cannot understand the economic cost of the number of people who will NOT work until they get the wage, location and position they want, and are willing to die waiting for that before they take something they see as of lower worth! Along with this is the concept of price at which they will enter the labor force. That is higher than the employer is willing to offer. These two points mean that we have a huge mismatch, where there is both unemployment and a huge number of vacancies.

In this argument we must not forget that there are huge numbers of workers that are being recruited from overseas. The latest being the 800+ building industry workers from Vietnam being hired to work on the Cinnamon Life construction contract, as there are not sufficient local workers that fit the desire of the main contractor, willing to work under the conditions laid down. It is no surprise that there are people from Countries that have acute unemployment who are willing to work for less and who are more productive and in the long run, are MORE cost effective to the employer than local staff.

It therefore begs the question that we are concentrating on the wrong priorities, when the PM has promised to provide 1M jobs, when there will no one willing to take them, which changes the inward investment model drastically. We must try to change the mentality of the worker first to choose work over inactivity!    

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I am going to advise the country’s 50th in A levels NOT to go to State University

I meeting a girl from a middle class family in Gampaha, who has 4 A’s in last August, A level examination. She wants advise on what to do, hence and her first choice is to go to University in Sri Lanka, as she can get into all courses that are relevant to the subjects that she took. The As are in English, French, Greeko Roman Civilization and Political Science. Her parents are not that well educated and so are not in a position to advise her on what to do.

I DON’T WANT HER TO TURN INTO AN UNEMPLOYED GRADUATE as in my previous blog entry, God forbid!

She can speak Italian and has lived in Italy, and Switzerland. Her father had got some work in both those countries and is self made, travelling there on a business venture. She got all A’s in O levels in a small local school in Mahara. I believe it is the Foreign Service that she would like to enter eventually.

If she applies to get into University, she will not start till early next year. She would complete her first degree if all goes according to schedule without interruption, something that is uncertain in 2020 at the earliest, and convocation in 2021. In addition, the course syllabus would NOT have been updated for a couple of decades, making most of her instruction of no current practical use. The availability of periodicals in the library or access to journals on line from international sources will also be limited in this situation.

 I am suggesting she does a degree in International Relations at a University in the USA, firstly by following 2 years here in Sri Lanka through an affiliated Private College such as ANC and then finish her degree in the US. She can, if she does well, get a full scholarship to do her Masters at a prestigious US institution, so that by 2021, she will be able to join the Sri Lanka Foreign Service, if she still feels that is what she wants to do by then, and not been bagged by some better offer in the USA!

She is handicapped in that she does not have a social background like I have in being able to meet with current serving and retired diplomats and Ministers in the Foreign Ministry, to guide her in the best choice she should make, on mapping her potential to suit Sri Lanka, to develop, foreign service officers of caliber to represent Sri Lanka around the world, a DIRE DIRE need of the hour and I do not believe is being done even today, to train our future foreign service carder. I will try and arrange for her to meet some of our past stars of the FS.

I am open to offers from my international readers to present me your opinion. 

Imprison the 25,000 Unemployed Graduates within 30days!

The Unemployed Graduates Federation has said that there are 25,000 State Educated Graduates who are currently unemployed. (Info graphic in ADA paper front top left hand side 17th Feb 2016) They agitated yesterday, and many days previously, holding the travelling public in Colombo to ransom, demanding that the state employ them.

In the same paper, their Organizer, Dhammika Munasinghe, stated that it is unfair that foreigners are given jobs when they are unemployed! Actually the public MUST agitate to put them in jail for such treacherous statements! If prison is the alternative, I can guarantee that 50% will find jobs, just to avoid jail, such are the “lilly livered” (cowards) nature of this animal who needs to be weaned from drinking mother’s milk.

Does that Munasinghe realize that it is because these lazy wailing mamatities, don’t want to work, that we have to import 850 industrious Vietnamese to work in the new Cinnamon Life project as construction workers! There are 250,000 vacancies in Sri Lanka, needing desperately to be filled, and no takers.

It is the height of cheek that someone who receives a free education at University, turns round and demands a job! Are they that mentally deficient? Don’t they understand that the state university degree sometimes, actually makes them more unemployable? If they only had O levels and left school, ALL of the 25,000 will be earning well by now as it would be over 15 years since leaving school and they would have learned a highly lucrative trade by then!

It is because they have NOT been educated that they are unemployed. Don’t blame the system, they should have changed the system while in University to force the state to give them an education, a course that is relevant to a vocation. IUSF agitate for things ‘political’ and NOT ‘practical’.

The Govt. also must grow some balls! They MUST PROCLAIM that these 25,000 people have cost the state, Rs25B and this was paid for by the poor farmers in Sri Lanka, and now they have to repay that debt by going and working free of charge with the farmers who are short of farm workers, to pay off their debt to them! Now wouldn’t that be a wake up call to these lazy louts.

I agree this boils down to churning out uneducated Graduates, and to this the state MUST share the blame. Making them pay for some part of their education, especially the Courses that cost a lot, will make sure they will choose the Courses they do wisely, and THEY WILL LOOK and CHOOSE courses from which they can be assured of employment soon after Graduation.    

Attorney General – A change in status needed with new powers and responsibilities clearly defined in the new Constitution.

Actually the argument SHOULD NOT be who should or should not be the AG it is more of what the AG acting independently should or should not do! In this regard real clarity is needed.

Firstly there is the AGs department which came under the President under the MR Govt. and Suhada Gamlath as the Secretary to the Minister of Justice, or was it additional secretary played a dual or at least not altogether independent role, which obviously completely made him eligible for the post of AG.

I also believe he had already compromised his position, so that he should not have even been appointed the Solicitor General, so this problem does not arise here, but then the personality that is Suhada Gamlath a competent but not an independent man, does not see it that way. That is why he is sulking at present. He has both refused a position at the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy there, and has also refused a possible diplomatic posting presumably remaining as the SG or a troublesome pain in the butt in the AGs department.

Let the current AG sort that out. The AG is the Government’s legal adviser, and has to advise the Govt. in cases of interpretation of the Constitution, especially when the Govt. is being prosecuted under some statute or another.

Further the AG has to defend the Govt. also when the Govt. is taken to task, especially in a place like the UNHRC, which is a completely different task, and therefore there must be a different department to advise on that kind of score.

It was obvious there were two failures on the part of the State, firstly, in not making a seamless transition from one AG to another, and the delay created more than its fair share of criticism. Secondly, the President should have only asked for a recommendation, and then he would have either approved or not, and requested another name, instead of the three sent to him, creating added confusion, and the gall the joint opposition had in giving their choice which was not even something they had any right to do in the first place!

We hope in future, the AGs appointment is clear, his responsibilities are clearer, and his independence beyond reproach, where he follows the law of the land, and not act as a mouthpiece of the Current Govt. but is above the fray.         

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The South Asian Games – Swimming medals the Glory, mostly privately financed!

Sports and national participation are part and parcel of both the credibility of a Country’s diversity, disparate skills and a means where talent is exposed and rewarded, when performance is excellent.

It therefore  is the duty of a Government to have a coherent sports policy, and along with it a program that is publicly funded to carry out that policy. It is impossible to fund all sports, and so certain decisions have to be taken on how the available funds are divided, representing the broad interests of the people who are participating as part of the goal that the nation sets for itself.

This policy needs to be reviewed from time to time, and updated because new sports and facilities can add to the existing mix of sports that Sri Lankans participate in.

It is therefore extremely regretful that when 20 of the 25 Golds that were won were for Swimming with hardly a penny spent by the Government, it is simply the dedication of the Coaches, the Athletes, and their parents who MUST bear all the costs of training and where available certain scholarships provided by overseas institutions and Universities that are keen to have proficient sportsmen and women in their Academies to boost their reputation.

I have NOT heard a word uttered by the Minister of Sports on this matter, or to even promise that our swimming talent will be recognized and rewarded in future, especially bearing in mind that with the increase in provision of swimming pools in the provinces, their swimming talent along with the whole paraphernalia of this sport can be developed, further encouraging participation, thereby not restricting it to a few families who are so dedicated with a passion to the sport that they live and breathe that sport and turn out a family of swimmers!

Sri Lanka excelled in the recently concluded South Asian Games, as compared with their neighbors, but there is still much room for improvement, as there is talent that must be harnessed and exploited to the fullest, as the athletes themselves commit a lot of time to their sport, and with the Olympics this year, we would like to see some medal winners too, not just restricted to sending a shooting team from the Forces! I trust that the authorities have taken note of their responsibilities and are able to fulfill them to bring fame to the Country.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The JUNKET to Germany and Austria – IS it with a goal in mind?

Aren’t we glad that our President does not hijack a plane from the National Airline and take a troupe of time wasters for a jaunt? At least now it is a relatively small delegation that is going to Germany today, and later on to Austria, even though it was a hurried change in plan to extend the journey to far afield too.

Having said that, is the agenda a clear one? Is the whole delegation necessary to meet with the Chancellor, as it should ONLY be the President and the FM for example, and the SL ambassador to Berlin. These are things that have to be reviewed at a meeting that is held by the Secretary to the President to make sure that the trip results in optimum benefit to Sri Lanka.

As is usual, they throw the whole kitchen sink into these trips, and I understand they are going to talk about tourism into Sri Lanka. That is a wholly unnecessary exercise, for a Presidential visit, especially when the Country does not have a proper Tourism policy. What are they going to talk about? I know it is a tendency of the leader to allow a pushy minister to come, jut to keep him quiet, lest he makes a nuisance. That is NOT the way to deal with them by taking them for a ride! They should be given clear work to do, and be judged on it, and if found wanting been given a pasting. Only the PM and Pres can do that, and that they MUST. It will prevent further abuse by others later, once the gossip of this gets around. Simple way to control your ministers who are behaving out of line, so just use it.

In any case that is not a topic for discussion with the Chancellor as there are more important matters for us to discuss, that should NOT be distracted by topics that are NOT relevant.

That is what I mean by a proper pre-brief of the visit, and then shortly after the visit a good debrief, under the Chairmanship of the President who can then asses if the jokers that joined him on the trip actually did anything useful for Sri Lanka, or if they only joined in as joy riders.

The link alluded to the fact that the Presidential delegation comprised of 25 members, which for anyone’s criteria is about 10 TOO MANY and a pre-brief meeting would have pointed this out without any ambivalence.

There is a huge amount of work to be done in Sri Lanka by those elected and their various Ministries. If time is taken on jaunts without much to say for themselves, then someone MUST point this out to the PM who never wastes Sri Lanka resources unnecessarily, though his sycophants are past masters at taking the Country for a ride.

The BUCK STOPS with the President and the PM, and it is their duty, via their Secretaries that the tight ship is sailing close to the wind and NOT drifting far out from the correct route, as it will waste time, money, and create uncertainty.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

IUSF – The curse of Student Politics of the State University System

It is no surprise that the Private Sector in general do not wish to employ Graduates from State University, because of the attitude they have acquired!

Why? The JVP, which has a completely outmoded and bankrupt philosophy is only kept alive by the indoctrination of a few impressionable youth by disaffected and envious people. These youth RAG the entrants to subjugate their minds into a class ridden society to help control their minds from then on.

This logic completely kills creativity, turning out graduates from the state system, believing private education is elitist and should be banned and that they (the crème de la crème) the best and brightest should automatically be given, high paying jobs with a desk and computer, neither of which these graduates even know how to use.

Unless this vicious cycle is neutralized with an optimistic can do philosophy, that youth who naturally start from left ideals, and work their way right! There is no future for Sri Lanka.

The MR government thought the compulsory three week training at camps, would do the trick and many parents bought into that ideal to counter the JVP disruptive influence. The reality was that this using the family rule of the MR govt. as the norm and preferred solution, tried to correct a wrong with another wrong and so it was bound to fail, to achieve the objective.

The real solution is to have a 3 week course preferably residential for ALL school leavers, NOT just university entrants, in empowerment, psychology of behavior, life skills and career path, with plenty of audio visual help, to give for the future, and foundation of the state, education and health care, has been built with their future in mind, and not that of the elders out to squeeze every ounce of life from them.

The reality/practicality of life, marriage, tragedy, probability of certain occurrences, must be made clear. Only then will rational choices me made.

The level of youth ignorance despite the era of technology is staggering. And the ability of a few deranged people able to influence, these impressionable men and women well into their 40s, the age when they finally realize that they have been taken for an almighty ride, by which time it is too late to reverse life’s mistakes, as their kids also grow up with the wrong ideals, unless the proposed pre-school plan in the previous blog entry is put into immediate action. Then we have one chance only of reversing decades of stagnation, back into light!   

Youth – I despair for them – how can we make the required SEA CHANGE?

The unprecedented generation gap, made worse by the technological age, has alienated youth to a degree the adults just don’t seem to understand. I think this is NOT unique to Sri Lanka, it is everywhere, and this clash is the topic here.

The most important aspect is that with small families, parents have gone out of their way to give not love, but material things as a way of placating desire and keeping up with the Jones of smart phones and motorbikes. We have created a generation without responsibility or a care in the world as parents continue to subsidize the child’s every need and desire, resulting in a complete breakdown in the social order.

Parents in short have reneged on their basic parental responsibilities without realizing their great error of omission. Who can take their place? It is simply too late to get parents to reform, so it is down to pre-school, age 3, 4 and 5 to do the needful, from being socially responsible, community spirited, sharing, loving respectful, disciplined work ethic, and above all know what is RIGHT AND WRONG, GOOD AND BAD.

This is the most urgent need of the hour before any other, even a new Constitution, which seems to be the flavor of the year. How do you go about this?
1                   Use abandoned school buildings of about 4,000 schools that will be closed in the next few years with pupils currently under 100.
2                   Train 5,000 Montessori teachers in 2 year intensive which cost them Rs50,000 for a course that costs the Govt. Rs1M, so there is a commitment on the part of the Student Teacher!
3                   Promise a total package of Rs100K monthly, for first class diploma holder, Rs75K for second class and Rs50K for those who pass.
4                   There are existing teacher training schools, that can be used around the Island, and provide accommodation by building hostels if necessary.
5                   English is a basic for Tamil and Sinhala teachers, and IT with the use of Smart phones, and I pads provided to all, to know how to access data and subject matter on which they will be tested.
6                   Pass a law where kids attending recognized pre-schools will be taught free and mothers will also be given classes in child psychology, so that the goals can be clearly explained and all stakeholders bought into the concept.
This fairly simple solution that ca n easily be funded, will pay dividends in 20 years, but it is more sure than just hoping for the best. Unless there is a concrete plan to raise this country to the next level, like in Korea, we will never succeed

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The struggle to get a point across when your audience is blinkered!

In the last two blog entries, I expressed my considered opinion on a matter, which was in Colombo Telegraph, and so I copied my post into that CT comment piece and looked at the liked and dislikes on it, to ascertain, how much people with agree with you or disagree with you.

In this case the disagreed number far outnumbered those who agreed. How does one interpret that. Would someone who agrees with you be less likely to put a like click and one who disagrees, more likely to put a wrong click? That could be the case.

Then when the comments still harp on the Nepotism as the main issue, one wonders whether the reader actually read the fact that this position had been vacant for so long, that unless anybody willing to take it was found, we would have our most important diplomatic posting unfilled. So here nepotism DOES NOT EVEN COUNT! If for example she was chosen within weeks of the previous incumbents departure, then even I would question the speed.

Having gone this long with over 50 people been considered and dropped as unsuitable, it certainly is not nepotism that is key here, as it should almost be out of the window by this time, and pray anyone will take up the post. I know in practice to be able to carry out your duties, you would have to spend at least 100,000 pounds sterling a year, and I am sure finding a suitable candidate willing to do this brings the choice down to a few fingers in one hand!

Therefore the article is mischievous as it only counts a second cousin as nepotism and does not consider all the other aspects of what is needed in this post by going through line by line and ticking the points. As the readership is incapable of seeing the big picture, only evaluating on one issue, namely nepotism, you have a problem in explaining your rationale of suitability. Further the meaning of nepotism is also called into question. In my case, I may have 150 second cousins and I probably at most see about 10 of them in any one year, and to exclude anyone of them on this count is frankly ridiculous to say the least, and how they could compare this relationship with Gota, who was MR’s brother is beyond the pale of our ignorant finger pointers!

This will be the last of the posts on this matter, but I had to get it off my chest, as I find most of the comments in the Colombo Telegraph relating to this matter quite prejudiced and distasteful. I agree one must respect others opinions, but when you can see despite your efforts at clarity, they don’t get the point that no matter how you explain it the point is not taken! Time to change tack and come up with some more worthy and constructive topics to take the country forward.    

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The vituperative language and vitriol of our commentators shows how prejudiced and divided our people are on political lines!

In my earlier blog entry, I alluded to the fact that after an 18 month hiatus, where Sri Lanka had failed to appoint a High Commissioner to London, we finally had a candidate who thankfully was not even in the running until the announcement. Since then the comments of those who are looking at means to attack the ‘yahapalanaya’ administration on this appointment has overwhelmingly been vitriolic. Read the comments in this link below:

This appointment has traditionally been a political one, where people close to the leader are usually appointed to this plum (as in prestigious) but extremely expensive. I have personal knowledge having been a family member of a previous High Commissioner and having visited the residence many times, though never stayed over, as I had my own place in Central London.

It all boils down to simple prejudice! One measures the suitability based on one’s own knowledge and experience, and it seems there is NO understanding of how ruinous it is on one’s own finances, if one is to do the job properly.

It was said that when Joe Kennedy was the Ambassador to the Court of St James, under President Roosevelt, he had to spend a big whack of his fortune to maintain the status, due to inadequate funding from the US Govt., you can imagine how much that has gone up now with the cost of living and entertaining in London these days. No wonder than the hugely wealthy Kumar Sangakkara not to mention the less affluent Rosy Senanayake actually refused this offer, not out of modesty, but simply out of selfishness!

I say suggest the alternatives and find anyone of them who is willing and able to take on the job. I know Faiz Mustapha personally when he was HC there, and he was saying how much he had suffered financially as a leading lawyer in Colombo, in coming and serving his country. No wonder that another person supposedly offered was Romesh de Silva who also felt he would lose out of his multi-million income in Colombo as a successful lawyer if he took on the job.

There is no doubt that Amari Wijewardene will also have to sacrifice her day to day management of her business to go to London, as whoever she delegates will not be a patch on her ability to run this, though her critics think it is easy!!

I wonder if she may change her mind due to the criticism. it certainly will be Sri Lanka's loss, the bigoted's gain, and Amari's bemusement on the fact that she has never been a fan of Ranil Wickremasinghe, despite the relationship, and none of the hate speech hoi palloi even know that fact, and would amuse the PM no end, as he will not tell the public that!

In truth someone would have suggested her name, and he would have resisted, and just to shut the eager beaver's imploring, may have reluctantly agreed, knowing of all those names presented, she would actually do the best job! Now take that for a fact!

Its time the readership realizes this blog has more real news of value than any of the other sources of news!


I have NO inside knowledge of how her name was proposed, or who proposed it, but after an 18 month absence and a search high and low, where all those who were asked refused the position, I am told that the Chairperson of Swadeshi Industrial Works, a successful FMCG manufacturer of the popular Kohomba Soap and Rani Sandalwood Soap (my choices) amongst other brands, namely Ms Amari Wijewardene has been proposed as the SL HC to London.

Amari is one of the most successful women entrepreneurs, Sri Lanka has produced, who has grown her father’s business into what it is today, in a highly competitive field, where the Unilever Brands with the huge advertising and marketing budgets dominate the space. I was therefore not amused at the sort of uneducated comments from the Colombo Telegraph cacophony of parrots, which you can read from the link below, that accused the PM of nepotism!

I know the information below is of no relevance except in informing the public of who she really is! Her Great Grand Parents  on her Mothers, and Fathers side were Tudugalle Mohandiram Don Philip Wijewardene, a descendent of King Parakrama Bahu VI of Kotte, and Helena Wijewardene, born a Christian (an arrack renter’s daughter) who reconstructed the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihare.

A little known fact is that she is currently the Chief Dayakaya(f. dayikawa) of the Kelani Temple. Ranil Wickremasinghe is the Chief of the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihare Dayake Sabha and Dammika Atygalle, the Basnayake Nilame of the same. Her both grandfathers being brothers, and the two eldest sons of Helena, means she has more Wijewardene inheritance than most, and she reverted to her maiden name after marriage.

All devout Buddhists know that Swadeshi sponsors MORE Aloka Poojas at Temples than most other institutions, be they Wijeya who does, Tantirimale, Upali Group does Sithulpahuwa, Lake House who does, Mihintale, Swadeshi does Kelaniya, Devundera Shri Vishnu Devale, Dambedeniya Raja Maha Vihare, Sabaragamuwa Maha Saman Devale in Ratnapura, Kiri Vehera in Kataragama amongst others.

The article above gets their facts completely wrong in true Sri Lanka journalistic traditions, as she is NO aunt of Ranil or Ruwan. He mother Ira and her father Donald are first Cousins of Ranil’s mother and Ruwan’s father, which makes her second cousins of both of the above. SO when it comes to family bandism or nepotism if we stretch it to that level, in a small island of Sri Lanka, looking for those capable and willing to do the job, outside the circle is sometimes hard to find, and I challenge someone to suggest someone better who will take the job, as it involves spending one’s own money, if one is to make the most of the connections in London, and does the required PR job to the extent necessary in the current Honeymoon period that Sri Lanka is going through with the British Establishment.

Frankly NO career diplomat can do this particular job, and it always has been a political appointment just as it is for the UNITED STATES too! The Ambassadors sent to London especially from the Commonwealth from all parts must be able to communicate with one another, to make the posting a successful one. It is important for Sri Lanka foreign policy to have a Businesswoman, representing her.

Critics said how Nonis marketed his Mackwoods Tea while in London, and that Amari will try to do the same! If you take that tack I would tell her to go to Unilever and fight their unfair trade practices at the heart of the Unilever Offices to show them that using their predatory pricing to kill home grown outfits like Swadeshi and the new products and perfumes they are bringing on, and battle head on with the deep pockets of Unilever is a David and Golliath battle. She has battled Unilever in Sri Lanka, she deserves to go to London and fight them there too! What Aloka pooja has Unilever sponsored? Time they sponsor the lot Amari!

Hey Media cut her some slack please and give her a good write - up as I am the only fair and unbiased write up I have so far seen to date on the matter of her appointment.

WE MUST BE PROUD that we are sending a successful Businesswoman to London, and we can cut the critics in the media in one swoop with her pluses that outnumber her minuses. So stop your broken record of Nepotism and judge your criticism fairly.

Yes she travels to London at least twice a year, yes she is rich and Colombo 7, yes she is from a famous family, and yes she is part of the Laity of the Buddhist heritage. So what is wrong? 

She has the courage to take this thankless task of a London posting that few really have the CHUTZPAH to carry out successfully. I just hope the Foreign Ministry increases the paltry entertainment allowance of their London diplomats so that they are able to show off the Country, and who better than always ELEGANT Amari Wijewardene, the best dressed diplomat!