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Lanka should be ready for Cyber-Warfare – Subramanian Swamy

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Lanka may be a small island compared to China, Russia, the US or India, yet if Sri Lanka develops expertise, the country would be equal to all other countries when it comes to cyber-warfare, said Eminent scholar and Member of Indian Parliament, Dr Subramanian Swamy.

Speaking at the Security Salon on “National Security in the 21st Century” conducted by the Institute of National Security Studies (INSS) at the Nandimithra Auditorium of the Ministry of Defence, in Colombo on Wednesday Dr Swamy said: “National Security in the 21st century is not about advancing armies or aeroplanes flying above… and no country is big or small. All countries are superpowers or nothing, according to their preparation to meet cyberwarfare,” he stated, underscoring the need for countries to work out their objectives, priorities, strategy, and resource mobilisation that he termed the “four pillars” of national security.

There is no such thing called a ‘Big Country’ or a ‘Small Country’ in the new domain & new structure of national security, especially when it comes to cyber-warfare, he said.

He said if Sri Lanka takes on the determination to be a cyberwar capable country in the next 15 years, Sir Lanka will become one of the world powers.

‘The problem with cyber warfare is, you just don’t know where they are. Today, if a rocket is fired you can track it. But, in cyber warfare you have absolutely no idea until someone claims responsibility for it,” said the BJP MP adding there is no longer a frontline or captured territory in cyber-warfare.

Sri Lanka must have an objective to develop cyber tools and use it for its defence, he said.

Dr Swamy said that China was responsible for the March 2021, two-hour blackout in Bombay (Mumbai).

“Don’t push us too hard, or the lights will go out again, was the Chinese announcement,” said Dr Swamy.

As a priority, Sri Lanka must have cyber security, with its new area on currency as well, as currency like Bitcoin have made governments irrelevant, he said.

“When it comes to cyber currency, there is no way that a government can control it. Yet, people have already started making billions from it. That capacity of its misuse is enormous,” he added noting that it is the same with cyber technology, where if it falls into the hands of a terrorist, there will be no way of knowing where they are attacking from.

The education you get should be more oriented toward learning about cyber warfare, said Dr Swamy.

“We need to give up the concept of Big-Strong nations, Global Powers, and so on. These wars may be bilateral. But multilateral wars with cyber-warfare will mean the end of the earth,” he added, noting there will be no way to save the earth, though we survived during World War I and II.

“World War III will be the last war we will ever be fighting if it happens,” he warned.

Countries must get together and pool resources to develop each other’s cyber warfare capabilities or intelligence capability including education, he added.

“A Prime Minister should not be a person who does not understand cyber warfare. He needs to be well aware,” he said commenting on global leadership, adding future politicians must also be aware.

Dr Subramanian Swamy, an economist, said if Sri Lanka makes the correct economic policies, the resources will not be a problem.

Sri Lanka must be cyber technology savvy to survive as a nation, or you will be at the mercy of those who are, said the BJP Strongman.

“I don’t think the 21st Century Security should worry you. We are potentially able to develop a system that is superior to everybody else,” he remarked.

“I think the civil society needs to be educated in the essentials of the army,” he noted while adding that the present-day military has also become cyber dependent.

The Security Saloon was chaired by Defence Secretary Gen. Kamal Gunaratne and moderated by Prof. Rohan Gunaratna, Director General, INSS.



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Countrywide power outage act of sabotage, claim TU, officials

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Unions suspect sinister attempt to call in military

Engineers say technical fault caused power failure

CEBEU suspends work-to-rule protest

By Ifham Nizam

The government was trying to pin the blame for yesterday’s countrywide power outage on the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) trade unions in a bid to call in the military, Joint Trade Union Alliance Convener Ranjan Jayalal said yesterday.

Jayalal told The Island the government’s attempt would tarnish the image of the military and that of the country, but such intimidatory tactics would not deter the CEB unions from continuing with their action against the questionable agreement between the government and the US energy firm, New Fortress, which has been allowed to acquire a 40% stake in the Yugadanavi power plant. “The government is trying to derail our trade union action, scheduled for December 08. Definitely the power outage was an act of sabotage. Two units of the Norochcholai coal-fired power plant and the one at Sapugaskanda had failed,” he added, insisting that the trade unions had nothing do with the power outage. He said union activists had sprung into action to restore power despite their work-to-rule, for the sake of the country and its people.

A senior independent electrical engineer said the power failure was an act of sabotage or attempt at sabotage. “It could have been a rehearsal that misfired,” he added.

Electricity supply in several areas in Colombo and its suburbs were restored around 2.00 p.m. Subsequently, the power supply on Anuradhapura-Habarana, Laxapana-Athurugiriya and Kotmale-Biyagama transmission lines was restored. However, even at 5.30 p.m. most parts of the Gamapaha District experiencing power failures.

CEB General Manager, Eng. M R Ranatunga sand disruptions to the power supply could be considered sabotage. He said CEBEU activists had been dragging their feet on power restoration.

State Minister of National Security & Disaster Management Chamal Rajapaksa said necessary action would be taken against the CEB engineers if it was revealed that the power outage was an act of sabotage.

Major disruptions to the electricity supply were reported across the country around 11.30 a.m. yesterday owing to a breakdown in transmission lines.

The National Water Supply and Drainage Board (NWS&DB) said the water supply in several areas of Colombo and suburbs had been disrupted due to the breakdown in the power supply as the NWS&D is dependent on the national grid for pumping purposes.

The Ceylon Electricity Board Engineers Union (CEBEU) last night said it had received a favourable response from the government to its demands and therefore decided to suspend its work-to-rule campaign.

The Island learns that President’s Secretary Dr. P. B. Jayasundara will meet a CEBEU delegation, next week.

A senior electrical engineer expressed concern about CEB General Manager’s statement that the power outage was an act of sabotage by the engineers’ union. He denied as baseless the official’s claim.

CEBEU Secretary Dhammike Wimalarathne confirmed that his union had decided to suspend trade union action following an undertaking given by the government to have talks with them.

Meanwhile, CEBEU President Saumya Kumarawadu, addressing the media, yesterday, insisted that the power outage had been due to a technical problem.

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Chamal tells Parliament if power failure is due to sabotage, culprits will be dealt with severely

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By Saman Indrajith

Minister of Irrigation and State Minister of Internal Security, Home Affairs and Disaster Management, Chamal Rajapaksa told Parliament yesterday that the government was investigating the causes of yesterday’s countrywide power outage and if it was due to sabotage those responsible would be severely dealt with.

Responding to a question by Anuradhapura District SJB MP Rohana Bandara Dissanayake during the third reading stage debate on Budget 2022 under the expenditure heads of the Ministry of Defence, the Minister said that the government would not tolerate sabotage.

MP Rohana Bandara Dissanayake said that while the national security was being debated in Parliament the entire country was experiencing a power outage which could be considered a serious threat to national security.

He said all reservoirs were brimful and there was sufficient water to generate hydro power.

Colombo District SJB MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said that the entire country was in dark and Parliament was sitting thanks to power supplied by generators.

Minister Rajapaksa said that the government had already called for an investigation and it would not hesitate to take necessary action on the findings of the probe.

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Committee on Public Finance meeting: one-third drop in next Yala harvest predicted

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Members of the Committee on Public Finance recently recommended that if the import ban on rice, which was imposed last April, is to be lifted, it should be done only after a proper forecast of the coming Yala harvest.

The Chairman of the Committee on Finance Anura Priyadharshana Yapa pointed out that under the prevailing circumstances, the interest of the paddy farmers and consumers had to be taken into consideration.

In response to MP Yapa’s comment, the Imports and Exports Controller General revealed that, according to the available data, the expected Yala harvest is likely to be only 2/3 as compared to last year.

MP Nalin Fernando pointed out that if businessmen were allowed to import rice freely, the business community would be tempted to import more rice than necessary, driving the paddy prices down and affecting the farming community badly. Hence, the Ministry of Finance should intervene to prevent the local farmer from facing difficulties. MP Fernando also pointed out to the officials of the Ministry of Finance that it was important to make rice freely available at reasonable prices. Sri Lankans did not like rice imported from neighbouring countries, he said.

The Committee on Public Finance was urged to obtain approval for an Extraordinary Gazette Notification permitting the importation of Kekulu, Nadu, Samba and other types of rice as per the order of the Minister of Finance. MP Dr. Harsha de Silva said officials had to investigate the macro economic impact of such orders given without a proper procedural or logical assessment.

The committee members inquired from the officials of the Ministry of Finance who were present at the Committee meeting whether the 2021 Budget forecasts could be fulfilled. According to the statistics and data submitted by the officials of the Ministry of Finance, the committee observed that if only local funds were used to repay all debts, there would be an increase in interest rates in the near future and that would adversely affect the local private sector, (Dr.) Harsha de Silva said.

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