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Opinion

Keep alive Sri Lanka-Pakistan Brotherhood  

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By Dr. PRASANNA COORAY 
Democratic Social Alliance 

The lynching of a Sri Lankan citizen in Sialkot in Pakistan sent shock waves across Pakistan as much as in Sri Lanka. Undoubtedly, it was a ghastly act of unimaginable proportions. However, the prompt action of the government of Pakistan and the public against the crime has to be welcomed by the Sri Lankan public.

Prime Minister Imran Khan himself tendered an apology on behalf of his country to the family of the deceased and the Sri Lankan public. Further to that, sections of the Pakistani citizenry took to the streets to express their grief and to condemn this brutal act. It is known through media that within a short time most of the culprits were arrested, bringing some hope to the public of Sri Lanka that justice will be served in the near future.

The dear and near friendship between Sri Lanka and Pakistan is longstanding and should not dent in anyway. Pakistan being a country that came into existence lately (in 1947) was one of the earliest to establish diplomatic relations with the newly independent Ceylon in 1948.

During the East Pakistan war (in 1971) when India refused landing of Pakistani fighter jets on their soil, Sri Lanka promptly came to Pakistan’s help by providing them with fuelling facilities in Colombo, enroute to Dhaka.

The friendship between Sri Lanka and Pakistan is very strong in the sports field, and especially in cricket. Since the early seventies, Sri Lanka has been knocking on the ICC’s door for full membership. By then the country had a very good cricket team that performed remarkably well in spite of its limited exposure to foreign teams. In 1974, when Sri Lanka made an application to the ICC for full membership, only Pakistan supported it. Again in 1996, when Sri Lanka was one of the hosts of the cricket World Cup (the year it won the event) some countries were protesting over the security situation in the country. Pakistan cricket team (together with India) visited Sri Lanka to play friendly matches to show the world that the country was safe to travel. Also, it should not be forgotten how the Pakistanis who came in numbers supported the Lankan team in the finals played in Lahore.

In return, when Pakistan was sidelined by the other cricket playing countries as an unsafe place, after the shooting incident targeting the Sri Lankan cricketers that took place in 2009, it was Sri Lanka that again visited them in 2017, as the second country after Zimbabwe to do so.

The Lanka-Pakistan relations are most far reaching in the field of national security. It helped Sri Lanka in its war efforts against the LTTE throughout, and that includes many assistance from manpower training to provision of weapons ,including heavy weapons. Since the pullout of the IPKF in 1990, India refrained from giving military assistance to Sri Lanka. Pakistan was to fill the void, especially at a time when any foreign military assistance ,was not forthcoming, as the LTTE lobbyists were campaigning against Sri Lanka around the world. Even at some most trying situations for the Sri Lankan military (example in Elephant Pass) Pakistan was prompt to come to the assistance of Sri Lanka with weaponry. This even incurred the wrath of the LTTE, which tried to assassinate the Pakistani High Commissioner in Sri Lanka in August 2006, in a claymore mine attack. Although the High Commissioner escaped unhurt, seven soldiers lost their lives.

On the economic front, among the SAARC countries, Pakistan is Sri Lanka’s second largest trading partner next to India. In 2016 Sri Lanka’s exports to Pakistan amounted to USD 66.3 million.

Pakistan is also a provider of undergraduate scholarships to Sri Lanka. It offers scholarships to Sri Lankan students for medicine, dentistry, pharmacy education and engineering on a regular basis.

In 2011 Pakistan handed over to Sri Lanka some invaluable ancient Buddha relics.

Among the other notable donations by Pakistan to Sri Lanka include the Zia-ul-Haq hospital in Akurana and a school building in Gampola.

The brotherhood between Sri Lanka and Pakistan is so strong and precious and no fanatic hooligan should be allowed to make inroads into it.



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Opinion

Priority need to focus on Controlling Serious Economic Crimes

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Open letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa

The Ministry of Defence has advertised five vacancies for the “Recruitment as Reserve Assistant Superintendents of Police to the Ministry of Defence, affiliated to the Sri Lanka Police, skilled professionals to become proud members of the Ministry of Defence, dedicated to the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka as well as to public safety and to play a superior role for the nation. These recruits will function as Cyber and Forensic Analyst, Geo-Political and Strategic Analyst, Counter Terrorism and Violent Extremism Analyst, Economic Analyst and Statistical Analyst (the last two covering security perspectives regarding national security)”. Any justified decision to strengthen the knowledge and skills based professional capability of existing human resource of the state is a welcome move, so long as the recruits have in addition to the specified qualifications, requisite commitments to best practice professional standards, ethics, correct attitudes and values.

The caring civil society fervently hopes, in accord with your stated commitments in the manifesto and the several public pronouncements that followed your election as the President, that you, with the support of your Cabinet colleagues and the top officials of the executive, will similarly focus on the essential priority need to focus on controlling serious economic crimes, which can easily debilitate the financial integrity, fiscal and monetary stability and solvency of Sri Lanka; and if allowed unabated will destabilise the economy and prevent the realisation of the goals of splendour and prosperity.

The optimum operational environment to assure financial integrity minimizing serious economic crimes is by having effective laws, regulations, policies, systems, procedures, practices and controls, with efficient and effective independent oversight mechanisms, enforcements, investigations and prosecutions, followed by independent justice systems with penal sanctions and recovery of proceeds of crime. The critical drivers of such a system are independence, capability and professionalism of supporting human resources in the entire chain. It is however quite evident from many case studies that the systems controlling financial integrity of Sri Lanka fails to meet required standards of effectiveness, due mainly to the lack of competent and committed professionals in the chain engaged in independent oversight mechanisms, enforcements, investigations and prosecutions. Due to this incapacity the independent oversight control, enforcement, investigation, prosecution and punishment of offenders of money laundering, transfer pricing, securities offenses, bribery, corruption, financial fraud, organised crimes, drug trafficking, smuggling, and avoidance of taxes/ excise and customs duties are ineffective; and more importantly the recovery of proceeds of these crimes eventually fail and are thus unable to restore the state revenues leaked and state assets stolen or defrauded.

Civil society looks to you as the President, to take early action to strengthen the structures, systems, laws and regulations along with the capacity of the resource persons engaged in the independent oversight control and enforcement of mechanisms; and thereby minimise serious economic crimes system wide and facilitate successful recovery of proceeds of crime. In the above context it is suggested that you pursue the undernoted strategic action steps under your direct leadership supervision:

* Seek Cabinet approval to set up an Enforcement Directorate similar to that of India under the supervision of the Inspector General of Police, reporting to an Independent Public Commission made up of three members, comprising of a high integrity competent retired Appellate Court Judge, a retired Senior Officer of the Auditor General’s Department and a retired Senior Officer of the Central Bank.

* Enforcement Directorate to be entrusted with the mission of minimizing the identified serious economic crimes systems wide; enhancing oversight mechanism and controls system wide and where suspected that any such crimes having taken place professionally investigating and prosecuting, optimizing recovery of proceeds of crime

* Seek technical support in setting up the Enforcement Directorate from the Financial Integrity Unit of the World Bank and its affiliates Financial Action Task Force, UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative with extended human resource training and development support from bi lateral supporting countries and other specialized agencies

* Recruit competent and highly professional staff for the Directorate, similar to the staff recruited to the Defence Ministry; and support them with requisite resources, knowledge, skills, systems, data bases, best practices and technical and investigation assistance linkages

* Enact essential legal and regulatory reforms, commencing with the early enactment of the Proceeds of Crime Act draft sent to the previous regime for cabinet endorsement

* Enhance the capability of the prosecutors of the Directorate to successfully prosecute serious economic crimes and judges to effectively support the judicial processes connected therewith

* Make it a compulsory requirement of all state remunerated persons to adopt the ethical standard to report to the Directorate any known or suspected non compliances with laws and regulations

Trust you and your advisory team will give due consideration to this submission

Chandra Jayaratne

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Opinion

S.Thomas’ Class of 62 and O/L 70 Group celebrates 60 years Nexus

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By Rohan Mathes

Once again the old boys of the Class of 62 and O/L 70 Group fraternity of S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia gathered last Saturday (22nd), under one banner to celebrate their 60 th anniversary of their association and loyalties with their prestigious Alma Mater, long way down from 1962, whence they were admitted to the school by the sea.

This rendezvous was of paramount importance to the membership near and far, inclusive of those domiciled overseas, who had turned up in their numbers to enjoy the long-awaited fellowship, with their comrades, despite the prevailing Covid pandemic restrictions. Nevertheless, those who could not make it, had been amply served by the provision of a Zoom link. Kudos to the organisers who had painstakingly and meticulously planned all the nitty-gritties of this epoch-making celebrations, however with less pomp and pageantry, compared to their fiftieth anniversary celebrations in 2012.

Following the service at the Chapel of the Transfiguration, the Thomians spend the day within the precincts of this hallowed institution which had undoubtedly imparted a unique, state-of the-art and wholesome education to them. They took this rather rare opportunity to joyfully tour around their old school, of course reminiscing their nostalgic memories of their childhood. They were simply overjoyed by viewing the latest developments and modifications done by the school authorities, utilising the charitable donations and contributions made by the old boys, parents and well-wishers of the school, in numerous ways, throughout the years gone by.

At this event, the Group also assisted the college in their project to install “Smart Boards to every class room”, by handing over a cheque to the Sub Warden Asanka Perera, to the value of Rs.400,000, collected from its membership. Esto Perpetua!

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Opinion

Why cry for Djokovic – a reply

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I strongly object to the remark Dr Upul Wijayawardhana (Dr U W) made in the first paragraph of his Opinion, in The Island of Saturday 22 January, titled  ’Why Cry for Djokovic?’ critiquing Cassandra in her Friday 21 Cassandra Cry.

Dr U W writes: “Cassandra uses her column liberally to criticise our politicians for giving special treatment to their kith and kin.” I, Cassandra, have two reasons to object to this damning statement. I have never criticised politicians for “giving special treatment to their kith and kin”. I have criticised politicians on various other issues such as what they have done, but not on this particular accusation. Hence Dr UW deliberately, or carried away by his writing eloquence, placed me in danger of reprisal. Such is not done.

Please read me in Cassandra Cry on Friday January 28, where this matter, and some others  the doctor has written regards Cassandra will be refuted,

CASSANDRA

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