Fire on New Diamond crude oil tanker:
BY Dulip Jayawardena
A Very Large Crude Career (VLCC) double hull tanker under the flagship of Panama was built by Mitsui Ichihara Engineering and Shipbuilding, Ichihara, Japan, in 2000 and has a gross tonnage of 160 079, with a dead weight of 299986 tons (DWT). The former names were Diamond Warrior (2013 Panama) and Ikomasan (2013 United Kingdom). It was reported that this tanker carried over 270 000 metric tons of crude oil above the gross tonnage.
The length of the tanker is 333 meres and breadth 60 metres. The present owner and manager are from New Shipping Company Athens, Greece. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Registration No. 9191424 Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) is 351247000 for this tanker.
According to Ekathirinorini.com an Athens-based business site, the VLCC Panamanian tanker has been owned by Porto Emporios Shipping Inc., since 2013. The vessel’s commercial and safety manager is Greece-based New Shipping Ltd., which has a fleet of 32 oil tankers and bulk carriers under its care.
THE SEA ROUTE OF VLCC
This VLCC set off from Mina Al Ahmadi Port, in Kuwait, to the Paradeip Port, in the east coast of India, with 270 000 tons of crude oil. There were 23 crew members, comprising of five Greek and 18 from the Philippines. The position of the VLCC by the Automatic Identification System (AIS) was at the Persian Gulf (co-ordinates 26.32473 N/53.7858 E) on 23 August 2020 and was scheduled to reach the Port of Paradip Garh, on the east coast of India, on 5 September 2020, at 10.00 am. However, a fire erupted due to an explosion of a boiler in the main engine room on 3 September 2020 at 8.00 am, Sri Lanka time, when sailing 38 nautical miles off Sangamankanda Point off the eastern coast of Sri Lanka, according to the Sri Lanka Navy.
The VLCC, that left the Persian Gulf on 23 August 2020, reached the location of the explosion on 3 September 2020 after 11 days, travelling a distance of 2153 nautical miles at 195 nautical miles per day. It was scheduled to reach the port of Pradeep Garh on 5 September 2020 at 10 am travelling a distance of about 750 nautical miles at over 10 knots or 240 nautical miles per day. It is evident that the VLCC was to increase its speed while travelling from the south of Sri Lanka to the Port of Destination and it should be ascertained whether this caused a boiler in the engine room to explode.
PRESENT STATUS OF THE FIRE ON VLCC NEW DIAMOND AND SALVAGE OPERATIONS
According to News First, a Sri Lankan media, the VLCC, as of 6 September 2020 at 7.58 am, is 40 nautical miles away from land and there is a continuous effort to spray cooling agents to cool the oil storage section of the tanker.
As mentioned earlier, the vessel’s commercial outfit, New Shipping Ltd., of Athens, Greece, has appointed SMIT Singapore Pvt Ltd., as a salvage group for future operations and has one tug boat at site with the salvage chief who deals with such disasters. Two more large tug boats that can handle oil tankers of this size are expected. Further, 10 British and Dutch professionals with expertise in rescue operations, disaster evaluation and legal consultations have arrived in Sri Lanka and are expected to make recommendations on the future course of action.
It was reported that the fire erupted again on 8 September 2020 and was brought under control by the Disaster Management Team on the morning of 9 September 2020. A Dornier aircraft of the Indian Coast Guard air dropped diesel dispersant as there was a leak of diesel from the engine room. Further a research vessel from NARA has been dispatched to collect sea waters around the distressed tanker.
LEGAL IMPLICATIONS UNDEER
The legal issues under international law are complicated as there are responsibilities under the three major entities involved, namely the Panamanian flag state, the owners Porto Emporios Shipping Inc and New Shipping Ltd of Athens, Greece.
The fire on board VLCC New Diamond as reported by the Sri Lanka Navy has occurred 38 nautical miles on 3 September 2020. Since this point is not within the territorial sea of 12 nautical miles and also is away from the contiguous zone of 24 nautical miles, it is within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) which is over 200 nautical miles.
UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON
THE LAW OF THE SEA (UNCLOS)
It is now evident that since the fire occurred within our EEZ, the vessel had the freedom of navigation under UNCLOS.
Sri Lanka ratified UNCLOS on 16 November 1994 the day that the Convention entered into force and therefore has the rights and obligations under international law.
NATIONALITY OF SHIPS AND FLAG STATE DUTIES UNDER ARTICLES 91 AND 94 OF UNCLOS 1982
Article 91 states that every State identify conditions for the grant of its nationality for registration of ships in its territory and the right to fly the flag and has a genuine link between the State and the ship. According to the Lloyds Register, there are 10 Flag State countries with the ships flying their flags. These are Panama (9367 ) Singapore (4962) China (4881) Marshall Islands (4163) Liberia ( 4027) Japan (3846) Hong Kong (3707) Malta (2637) Greece (1545) and Bahamas (1512).
Freedom of navigation and the right of flag State to sail ships on the high seas are included under customary law and codified under 1958 High Seas Convention and subsequently under Article 87 and 91 of UNCLOS 1982.
Freedom of Navigation as referred to in Article 87 of UNCLOS (Freedom of High Seas) also applies to EEZs.
Under Article 94 (1) (2) (3) and (4) of UNCLOS the flag State is responsible for duties related to effective jurisdiction and effective control over administrative technical matters on their ships on the High Seas or EEZs
Article 94 section 6 of UNCLOS refers to “A State which has clear grounds to believe that proper jurisdiction and control with respect to a ship have not being exercised may report the facts to the flag State. Upon receiving such a report, the flag State shall investigate into the matter and, if appropriate take any action to remedy the situation.”
In the case of VLCC New Diamond the flag State is Panama and the appropriate authorities should initiate action, if not done so, inform Panama about this fire.
Attention is also drawn to Article 217 of UNCLOS highlighting the responsibility of the flag State to strictly take appropriate measures and adopt laws and regulations to prevent, reduce and control of pollution and ensure the compliance of those vessels flying its flag with international marine pollution laws. It must also be stressed that the flag State is bound to investigate any case where any ship registered under its flag violates any international anti–pollution laws.
However, the implementation of duties of flag States termed open registers or flags of convenience do not follow the obligations under UNCLOS and other relevant maritime Conventions under the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The IMO Conventions are divided into (1) Maritime Safety – 11 Conventions (2) Marine Pollution – 7 Conventions (3) Liability and Compensation – 7 Conventions and (4) Other Subjects – 4 Conventions.
Some of the important Conventions relevant to the fire on board of New Diamond are International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) -1974 and International Convention on Maritime Search Rescue (SAR), 1979 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973 as modified by the protocol of 1978 relating thereto (MARPOL73/78),Convention on Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (LDC) 1972, and International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness , Response and Cooperation (OPRC) 1990 .
As related to claiming of compensation and liability the applicable convention is the international Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC) 1969 and the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage (FUND) 1971, and International Convention of Salvage (SALVAGE) 1989.
It is customary to delegate responsibilities of Flagship States to Ship Classification Organizations (SCO) which are private institutions who are delegated to establish and maintain standards for the construction, maintenance and classification of ships including tankers.
The major problem is that majority of flag States are delegating most of their duties to SCOs and it has been noted that the SCOs lower their standards due to competition and attract more clients.
Sri Lanka is a member of International Maritime Organization (IMO) since 1972.
IMO has formulated the International Safety Management Code (ISM) which applies to the safe operation and management of the vessels and also for prevention of environment pollution. As a member of the IMO Sri Lanka should take action to report if the VLCC New Diamond has violated the applicable conventions indicated earlier.
PROCTED WATERS OF SRI LANKA
An excellent article by Howard Martenstyn (https://www.slam.lk/protected-waters..) Have listed Marine National Parks and Marine and Associated Sanctuaries.
The fire on VLCC New Diamond if resulted to oil spills would have severely polluted the Yala and Kumana National Parks, Pigeon Island near Trincomalee The other Marine Sanctuaries such as Godayaya , Kalametiya Lagoon (Hambantota), Little Sober Island, Great Sober Island (Trincomalee), Kokilai lagoon would have also been subjected to severe oil pollution. The rare fauna and flora in these areas would have been subject to extinction, including the rare species of Omura Whales.
SUGGESTED FUTURE PLANS FOR PROTECTION OF THE SEA AREA OF THE EEZ ON THE EAST COAST
The Marine Environment Protection Authority (MEPA) is the main body established by the Government of Sri Lanka under the marine Pollution Prevention Act No 36 of 2008 with the full responsibilities for preventing control and manage the pollution of Sri Lanka’s marine environment. The fire on VLCC New Diamond was within the EEZ of Sri Lanka and it is queried whether customary laws have been formulated and enacted in conformity with the international laws conventions and treaties covering our EEZ.
It is also reported that there is no effective modalities to ascertain that flag States set their own individual standards for registration of ships including tankers and to identify and implement protocols to effect conditions covering all flag States have failed. (Refer 1986 UN Convention on Conditions for Ship Registration).
Accordingly, the legal framework in place for monitoring and implementing effective flag State is not complete. It is also noted that most flagship States do not give much importance to identification of ownership of ships and accountability of ship owners and most of these States register ships without the requirement of the identification of owners. Accordingly, such incorporation is secretive and will normally cover all the related jurisdictions.
It has been reported that the Attorney General has ordered that VLCC New Diamond to be towed out of our EEZ which is identified as 200 nautical miles from the high water mark on the coastline.
Sri Lanka is now in the process of claiming an extended see area of 1, 400,000 sq. kilometers on the eastern Indian Ocean which is over 24 times the land area of 650 612 Km 2 under Article 76 of UNCLOS Annex 11 UN Commission on the limits of the Continental Shelf. With this development Sri Lanka will have a major task to control maritime pollution in such a vast sea area apart from the security and exploitation of off shore non living and living resources.
As a researcher at United Nations ESCAP I was involved in covering marine affairs under UNCLOS for over 13 years.
I would recommend the following for future course of action related to the VLCC New Diamond.
(1) The Treaties Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should get actively involved in filing claims related to marine pollution of the eastern seas of Sri Lanka together with the MEPA, NARA, Environment Ministry, Environment Protection Authority, Department of Maritime Shipping and other prevalent agencies.
(2) The Government must work out a new sea route for all VLCC tankers to avoid Sri Lankan waters and navigate south of Sri Lanka to the new sea port now operating at Port Blair on the Andaman Islands. From Port Blair the path of the VLCC tankers should go north to the Indian coast avoiding Sri Lanka’s EEZ at present and also the extended sea area after the finalization of the of the extended sea area by the UN Commission on the Continental Shelf. Bi lateral talks should be initiated with India and Bangladesh regarding this matter. India imported 2.724 million metric tons for its refineries on the eastern seaboard of India. Accordingly, Bangladesh imported 1.4 million tons of crude oil from the Middle East in 2020. Most of these tankers were of the VLCC class. It is also reported that Sri Lanka also imports crude oil from India and to maintain our clean seas programme should also recommend avoiding our sea area defined as our EEZ.
(3) All VLCC tankers bound to the Chinese coast and Japan avoids Sri Lanka’s waters and navigates on a sea route to the Malacca Straits. The Chinese government as an integral part of the Belt and Road Project has initiated talks with Thailand to construct the Kara Channel, a 1220 kilometer Thai Channel . However the project is still on hold by Thailand and when this project is completed our southern sea waters will be safe from any oil spills from VLCC tankers and any ships carrying dangerous chemicals.
(1) A Critical Analysis of Flag State Duties as Laid Down Under Article 94 of UNCLOS – Nivedita M. Hosanee – The United Nations – Nippon Foundation Fellowship Programme 2009 -2010.
(2) The International Law of the Sea by Yoshifumi Tanaka University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Law Cambridge university Press 2012
(3) Maritime Security and the Law of the Sea by Natalie Klein Oxford Monograph in International Law 2011.
(4) Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation – The Application and future development of IMOs Particularly Sea Area Concept by Julian Roberts 2010 Springer Publication.
(5) The Law of the Sea United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea with Index and Final Act of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea United Nations New York, 1983
(The author is a Retired United Nations ESCAP Economic Affairs Officer and also worked as a Senior Research Officer at NARA from 1986 -1989 and a World Bank Consultant to the Ministry of Industries in early 1990 and can be reached at email@example.com)
Viewing 20A through governance prisms
By Austin Fernando
(Former Secretary to the President)
Twentieth Amendment (20A) is reviewed by commentators from political, legal, journalistic, and religious angles. Not belonging to any such group, I do not venture to cover the multitude of discussions on 20A. My focus is to view 20A to understand how it affects governance and causes political contradictions.
In democratic good governance, there are essential elements, such as the rule of law, transparency, responsiveness, consensual oriented action, equity and inclusivity, accountability, and participation. Irrespectively, it is surprising to observe public administrators/their associations (except Auditors) in stoic silence on the 20A, though they will implement and experience fallouts of the 20A.
Ministerial Review Committee
The 20A created contradictory opinions even among the government ranks. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed a Committee of Ministers to review 20A. When this Committee Report was handed over, the public expected a review by the Cabinet. But it did not happen. Responsiveness, inclusivity, and participation have been lost even before 20A is passed, with a presidential directive to discuss the revisions of the Ministerial Committee at the Committee Stage. Such directives are common in Executive Presidency though one may question the applicability of Article 42(2) – “collective responsibility.” Anyway, the revisions will hence lack prior legal or public scrutiny.
Drafting crucial law
Probably, the Minister of Justice, who coordinated abolishing 19A, would have ordered the drafters to revert to 18A. Due to the critical nature, the Legal Draftsman would have officially conveyed the Cabinet of the implications of the amendments. It would have been opportune if that had happened, and their views shared, least as an Annex to the Cabinet Memorandum, especially for the Cabinet to observe the weaknesses/adversities of 20A, independently. Let me view 20A to observe the effects on good governance in this scenario.
Post-conflict issues and President’s duty
One sensitive amendment is the deletion of Article 33(1)(b) “Promote national reconciliation and integration.” It entered the 19A from post-conflict demands and tagged as a presidential ‘duty.’ Not much to exceptionally disturb the President through this ‘duty’ happened during the last five years. Hence, this deletion wrongly orchestrates negativism that he may be averse to ‘reconciliation and integration.’ It is unfair by him and hence deserves review.
Constitutional Council vs Parliamentary Council
Chapter VIIA – The Executive, matters to good governance. The first important issue is the erasure of the Constitutional Council (CC) and replacement by the Parliamentary Council (PC). The membership of the PC is political, and the proposed processes in application are subjected to presidential whim, especially by the power to supersede PC’s observations. These dilute PC’s independence and restricts inclusive participation.
Audit and Procurement Commissions
Under the 19A, nine Commissions were established out of which 20A has deleted the Audit Services Commission and National Procurement Commission (NPC). Erasing the Audit Services Commission does not reflect well for good governance.
Worst is to selectively leave-out audit of the Presidential Secretariat and the Prime Minister’s Office by constitutional fiat [Article 154(1)- 20A]. The primary objective of auditing is to examine the accuracy of accounts and express opinions on financial statements. The secondary objective is to detect and prevent frauds, misuses, misappropriations, etc.
Preventing auditing cheekily endorses the reluctance to be transparent and accountable; and could motivate officers to deliberately committing errors, frauds, and corruption. More important is the impact on parliamentary control of state finances (Article 148). The President, PM, and their officials, immune to parliamentary financial control, predict an accountability disaster. This also ridicules the government’s “One Country, One Law” rhetoric because other Ministers and officials have no such immunity.
In the private sector, the shareholders decide who the Auditors are, to audit the Board, Chief Executive (CEO), and all transactions. The 20A wants everyone to be audited, but not Sri Lanka’s CEO and his deputy. If 20A equivalent had happened in the private sector, shareholders would have revolted, but 20A is Amurtha (elixir) for government supporters.
Article 156C directs the National Procurement Commission (NPC) to formulate fair, transparent, competitive, and cost-effective procedures and guidelines for government procurements. These are extremely positive objectives. It is surprising for 20A to push them aside because we hear of wrongdoings, worth millions of rupees, happening even while the 19A is operative, as alleged by government spokespersons. What can we predict without an NPC? If the NPC is slow performing, corrections should be followed, rather than to abolish it.
According to the 19A, members of the Commissions were appointed by the President. (Article 41B and 41C). There had been very few disagreements on appointments between the CC and the Executive, which had been sorted out proving the ability to cohabit.
Special concerns on the CC are projected regarding higher judicial appointments. We sometimes hear the complaint of the President’s inability to get judges appointed at will. These are probably related to the CC’s unanimous rejections of two judicial appointment recommendations. Nevertheless, these decisions were made with the participation of the representatives of the then Opposition and civil society. Thus, 20A will ignore the latter arrangements negating an existing democratic process. Under 20A, a President’s recommendations, though wrong, may stay on, irrespective of negative observations of the PC. Article 41C blocked this happening, post-19A. Therefore, are the 20A provisions democratic and hail good governance?
Proposed Article 111D permits the President to appoint two members of his wish to the Judicial Services Commission. When such open-ended appointments are possible it gives hope to the judiciary that they could manipulate their personal gains.
Therefore, reviewing these appointments by the CC will do justice to the judiciary.
Though the incumbent President, with a strong Parliament, and personality, may not sometimes succumb to such influencing, but a weaker President certainly will, to sustain power. Constitutions must be drafted with appropriate controls applicable to any President, and not person-centric to the incumbent. This mistake has been repeated by us and should end.
Even the Public Service Commission (PSC) is appointed by the President after receiving PC observations. Again, overruling these observations, like in other instances, could make the PSC also toothless.
The effects will be observed in the short, medium, and long terms in recruitment, promotion, discipline, transfers, etc. The future of public administration may effectively face dismal problems.
We hear from the Minister of Justice of the constraints to appointment an IGP. He castigated the “purpose” or “use” of a National Police Commission (NPC) based on this. But such an appointment is prohibited by Article 155G. The increased numbers of criminal incidents were referred to prove the ineffectiveness of the NPoC. He ignored that the NPoC does not have the power to fight criminality. (Article 155G)
Removal of Officers (Procedure) Act No. 5 of 2002 clearly states that IGP’s removal is possible only under specified circumstances, such as insolvency, ill health, ceasing to be a citizen, etc. None of these sins were proved and the incumbent government retired him with all attached perks. Factually, there was no vacancy until he formally retired to appoint a new IGP. But when such irresponsible criticisms happen others hang on to such arguments. Therefore, they also pray for NPoC’s demise!
By deleting Article 91 (d) (xiii), 20A permits dual citizen’s appointment as parliamentarians. The need to use this amendment will be at the next general election, after five years. But the government is in a mighty hurry. Urgent implementation will be required if the National List is to be tampered for special political gain. Some ministers stated that 19A – 91(d)(xii) should be repealed because it was incorporated by person-centric lawmaking and thus wrong. The irony is that the 19A deletion also appears to accommodate person-centricity.
The keen advocates of this amendment are those who argued against Singapore-rooted Arjuna Mahendran. They forget that the difficulties with Mahendran would arise with dual citizen politicians sinning after 20A. Politicians sin whichever the party they belong!
When a clerk, a Grama Sevaka, IGP or a Secretary must be a citizen, but not parliamentarians, Ministers, PMs, or Presidents, it is a joke. Since the President has shown how to solve the dual citizenship problem, individually, why mess with the Constitution without following the Leader?
Another important reason is that this amendment will apply to any other dual citizens while being members of international terror groups (e.g. ISIS) or Tiger remnants. This situation is worsened by repealing the administering of the Official Oath (Article 53) in Schedule 7 of the Constitution. We are assured that the President will not do underhand deals with LTTE remnants or the Islamic terror groups. But this amendment affecting security governance could be used by another President or Minister, supported by extremists, by being inactive, permitting “support, espouse, promote, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate state.”
This freedom to engage in separatist agendas may motivate helpful activities for separatism and it will be the base for another conflict that has to be fought. Such motivators are mentioned of previous regimes and cannot it repeat with the current and future regimes? This country has suffered enough and hence this amendment needs erasure or at least modifying.
Election promises and constitutional amendments
That the incumbent President received nearly seven million votes at the presidential election and a 2/3 majority at the general election is used to validate the 20A. But were the electors told that these questionable changes (e. g. abolition of dual citizenship, Audit and Procurement Commissions, Article 53, immunity, and castrating the independence of the CC/Commissions, etc.) would follow? No!
We must also remember that these amendments cannot be repealed conveniently. A President in power with a lean margin or performing with a weak parliamentary alliance can use these amendments to the detriment of democratic governance/country, even militarily. Canvassers may emerge inviting political leaders to be autocrats using some of these amended powers. In such circumstances, what is the guarantee that an Idi Amin or Robert Mugabe will not emerge from among our politicians?
President must be the Minister of Defence
The 20A corrects a prohibition in the 19A. The incumbent President, while possessing the power to declare war and peace and appoint the three Services Chiefs, is disabled to be the Minister of Defence because he is not a parliamentarian. I reason to differ from 19A, without being person-centric on the incumbent President’s professional suitability to be the Minister of Defence.
To wit, Article 4 (b) of our Constitution stipulates that the “executive power of the people, including the defence of Sri Lanka,” must be exercised by the President. Only “defence” is specially chosen here, not Agriculture, industry, etc. Under Article 33A, (which will be deleted by 20A, included in Article 42), the President is accountable for “his powers” to the Parliament on laws applicable to public security. Public security always combines with defence.
At present, there is no Minister of Defence and there is a Secretary Defence. According to Article 52(1): “There shall be a Secretary for every Ministry of a Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers.” By Article 52(2) the Secretary shall act “subject to the directions and control of his Minister…’’ It is the Cabinet Minister of Defence and not the State Minister. This status is thus challengeable legally.
When these situations are bagged together, the Ministry of Defence/relevant institutions should come under the President. However, 20A permits him to hold even any other Ministry [reintroduced Article 44(2)] and sadly this “residual power” deviates from democratic governance elements.
The 20A has revisited the issue. Taking into consideration the above-mentioned reasons only the Ministry of Defence should be handled by the President.
President the Messiah
There is a school of thought that considers the incumbent President as the Messiah who has proven prowess to accelerate action and therefore wants to “strengthen his hands,” to bring in political stability and economic revival. The successful manner the President managed the COVID-19 issues showed that for him the 19A was not a hindrance to perform efficiently and effectively.
However, considering the challenges ahead, the President requiring concentrated power is not surprising. Evening TV news everyday shows that he is attempting it. Concurrently, it is a fact that pre-2015 when Presidents had these executive powers there was an ongoing 25-year conflict. Equal development outputs were not observed during the tenures of some Presidents. Exceptional performances were based on individualistic strengths. Hence, to tag the Executive Presidency as a panacea for stability and development is a misnomer.
Emerging political contradictions
There seem to be six major political contradictions that affect political governance.
One is how the incumbent PM would bear the amendments reducing his powers substantially. Tisaranee Gunasekara has explained this, as quoted below. Agreement or not is your choice.
“Rendering the post of PM powerless is a measure of protection, in case the family is compelled by circumstances to bestow the premiership on an outsider, as a stop-gap measure. If the 20th Amendment becomes law, such a premier will be a mere cipher and will not have the power or the authority to challenge Rajapaksa primacy in any serious sense. His role will be to warm that seat until the next Rajapaksa is ready to step in.”
If true, brilliant manoeuvrering!
The second contradiction is the stance of the United National Party and break away Samagi Janabalavegaya. For them to oppose the 20A is a cautious ride. It is because the 20A basics evolved from their original Jayewardene Constitution, tinkered with by others later.
The third political contradiction is from the politicians who now venerate 20A – the by-product of the Jayewardene Constitution – the “Bahubootha vyavasthaava” (Mayhem Constitution)
The fourth extremely embarrassing political contradiction is for President Sirisena to vote for 20A, having praised 19A as the apex of democratic governance. He was the major force behind its approval in 2015. He may vote for the 20A, but his conscience will bleed until his last breath.
The fifth contradiction will arise from the expectations of the Tamil political parties who will see 20A to be the majoritarian political steamroller.
The last contradiction emerges with the speculation that the Sri Lankan Muslim Congress may support the 20A, as they did in 2010, and the sufferings Muslims experienced. Maybe, for the SLMC governance is reborn!
A historical opportunity has been given to consider solutions for the contradictions through constitutional amendments with a 2/3 majority in the Parliament. The country wishes the government will give priority to the country’s needs over personal or political group needs. It is a difficult proposition, but the government was given the unusual power to face and overcome even worse difficulties.
A short article cannot discuss the vast array of issues arising out of the abolition of the 19A. Hence, issues such as the presidential immunity, appointment and removal of Ministers and the PM, dissolution of parliament, etc., are not dealt with here though those issues certainly affect good democratic governance extensively.
There are deep ramifications of issues arising from the proposed constitutional amendments. The President must first protect himself, politically. As a democratically elected person he need not camouflage himself with an anti-democratic cloak because he has a massive vantage value unlike anyone else in his government, to take correct steps. Hence, his actions need not be at the expense of democratic governance. Regrettably, the published amendments do not show such. The sacred principles of good governance will safeguard him, us and the country.
The right groove…for local DJs
Some of the big names in the DJ industry at the ceremony
We do have a few associations, around, that work for the benefit of those involved in the entertainment field.
Yes, there’s an association for oriental artistes and also one, catering to the needs of the local Western musicians.
In fact, I believe the second AGM 2020 of the Western Musicians’ Association was held just recently, in Colombo.
Well not to be outdone, an association, for local deejays, has become a reality. And, that’s encouraging news, indeed!
The Ceylon Disc Jockeys’ Association (CDJA) was incorporated on July 5th, 2020, and the inaugural forum, involving the disc spinners, as well as the big names of the past, took place at the Movenpick Hotel, on Sunday, September 5th.
Several well-known personalities, in the entertainment field, were seen at the forum.
The CDIA will certainly be a boon to the local DJ industry.
The lighting of the traditional oil lamp at the inauguration ceremony
The Vice-President of the Association, Romesh Fernando, said that connecting both the present and past DJs, within an industry with a rich history of over 45 years, is the cornerstone of the CDJA.
The forming of an Association for DJs was an idea in the making for many years, but never became a reality. However, with the entertainment scene changing drastically, due to the Coronavirus pandemic that has affected the whole world, and the hardships faced by many DJs, in recent times, the need for a Single, Unified Voice for all Disc Jockeys, in Sri Lanka, became an absolute necessity – thus, the Ceylon Disc Jockey’s Association was born.
The Board of Management consists of some of the pioneering DJs, who have made a mark as business leaders and entrepreneurs in the country’s DJ and Entertainment Circuits.
The Office-Bearers are: Gerry Jayasinghe (Chairman and President), Romesh Fernando (Vice President), Kosala Sureshchandra (Secretary), and Kapila Peiris (Treasurer).
The Committee Members are: Bonnie Perera, Niranjan Wanigasuriya (Asst. Secretary), Chamila Perera (Asst. Treasurer), Thanujika Perera, Serul Wimalasena and Amal Fernando.
The Advisory Council consists of Harpo Goonaratne and Roshan Wijeyaratne, while the Legal and Compliance Officer is Tareeq Musafer.
“Our Mission is to be committed towards improving the career opportunities, skill levels and performance capabilities of our members, and gathering DJs from all around Sri Lanka, under a single Organization. Our Vision is to gain the professional recognition that talented and good DJs truly deserve,” said a spokesman for the Association.
The Constitution of the Ceylon Disc Jockeys’ Association (CDJA) is focused on three main principles. As an industry, to develop, improve and advance the Art and Science of the DJ, to advance Public Education and Understanding of the art and science of the DJ, and improving the Professional standing of the DJ.
The Association offers three types of Memberships – Full Time, Part Time and Student Memberships. It also has a category of Honorary Memberships presented to senior DJs who have significantly added value and changed the landscape of Sri Lanka’s DJ Industry.
Members will also receive many benefits from Insurance schemes, Healthcare privileges, Membership Recognition, Legal advice and Discounts from Equipment retailers. Above all, the CDJA offers a sense of Community and Oneness, as an Industry, and shall uphold its members at all times.
The Ceylon Disc Jockey’s Association (CDJA) has a very strong mandate towards Education. To that end, it will offer Soft skills Development in Communication Skills, Email Etiquette and Writing Skills, as well, and Basic Compering, etc., which are added proficiencies, required by DJs to better their business scope.
The Association has also planned for Seminars and Workshops on Small Business Development, Legal Compliance, Taxation, SME Policy Frameworks and Start up Training, conducted by Sector Professionals. Apart from Academic programmes, the CDJA will implement initiatives to inculcate Creativity and Originality in DJs.
Through these initiatives, the CDJA hopes to create a new landscape in the Mobile, Producer and Event DJ Circuits of Sri Lanka.
“Especially in these difficult times, a New Outlook and a Commitment to Excel, is what our Association hopes to promote and develop,” the spokesman added.
Invitees and celebrities taking in the scene at the Movenpick Hotel
China Cultural Centre – Sixth Anniversary celebrations !
By Chamara Ranmandala
Consultant – local Affairs
China Cultural Centre in Sri Lanka
(Based on an interview with
Liwen Yue, Director
China Cultural Centre in Sri Lanka
The China Cultural Centre (CCC) in Sri Lanka is celebrating its 6th year anniversary of its establishment as the official organization for cultural exchange in Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lanka CCC is the 16th overseas China Cultural Centre established globally under the patronage of China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which was inaugurated on 16th September 2014 by his Excellency the Chinese President Xi Jinping and then Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The preparations and establishment of the CCC was carried out by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Sri Lanka, and it is run and operated by a working team from China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
This article attempts to highlight the significance of this cultural relationship, and the establishment of a path for cultural exchange between the peoples of China and Sri Lanka.
A 1000-year-old friendship refreshed
Although the formal bilateral relationship between Sri Lanka and China was established only 63 years ago, the history of the friendship between the two countries dates back far beyond. The recorded history origins from the times of Jin Dynasty of China, where such information is found in the written stories of famous Chinese buddhist monk Faxian, who travelled to Sri Lanka between 410 – 415. Sri Lanka has been a very important partner during the ancient times where significant trade was carried out through the maritime silk route, used as a gateway to bridge East Asia and South Asia. The archaeological findings in Sri Lanka are evident to this trade and exchange of cultural values taking place between Sri Lanka and China.
The establishment of the China Cultural Centre in the year 2014 has significantly brought the bilateral cultural exchange to a totally different level. Across the world, the Chinese Cultural Centres have contributed immensely to establish the meaning and significance of authentic cultural values of China, which is often misinterpreted by many. It is evident that the world has not enough chances to experience the traditional culture and values of China. Hence the 60+ cultural centres established in various countries have attempted to bridge this gap of understanding the real cultural values of China without infiltrating to the local culture but supporting and thriving together with the customs of respective ways and norms.
As the 16th overseas China Cultural Centre amongst the 60+ other centres across the world, and as the first center inaugurated by the two presidents of the respective countries, the CCC in Sri Lanka highlights its importance and the value placed on the friendship of the two countries, which was created many centuries ago between China and Sri Lanka.
Cultural exchange – continued effort with variation
The China Cultural Centre has now become a fully functional apparatus that enables cultural exchange through many different facets and complementing programs. The CCC is in a constant drive to educate the society at large how cultural exchange helps to bridge the gaps and bring the peoples of the countries much closer to each other.
During the past six years, the Sri Lankan culture-loving society was exposed to some of the unique experiences of traditional Chinese art, music and dancing, calligraphy, cinema, drama, authentic Chinese cuisine, photography and intangible cultural heritage through the commitment of China Cultural Centre in Sri Lanka.
The events carried out by the CCC are aligned to the diverse cultural heritage of many different parts of China, and many of them are held in the form of “Cultural Week”, planned by the CCC and organised together with some local partners, including scholars, artists, painters, photographers and journalists who have travelled across China. The “cultural weeks” reflect many aspects of Chinese cultural heritage from different areas. Based on the need, the CCC sponsors and brings down the respective professional artists who are highly regarded as unique contributors of nurturing and preserving the authentic cultural heritage of China. The CCC also accommodates Chinese scholars, journalists and media personnel to be a part of these “cultural weeks”, thus enabling the knowledge sharing amongst different audiences.
The cultural footprint of China is not only limited to events of cultural exchange, but also is extended to long standing relationships through memorandums of understanding (MOU) with many local institutions such as libraries, museums and various friendship associations. The contribution through the Confucius institutions established at various universities in Sri Lanka, such as the University of Kelaniya, is another approach adopted by the CCC to provide greater access to resources and scholarships for the students who pursue higher studies in Chinese language, literature and culture.
Appreciation of the communities
across Sri Lanka
The educational knowledge and unique experience achieved from those programs and events organized by the CCC can meet various appetites of a wider spectrum of the society and intellects. Moreover, the officials of the CCC have made every attempt to reach out to most remote communities in Sri Lanka creating value for all age groups who witness and engage with the programs. This is highly commendable since most international cultural programs are being focused only on a limited crowd in a major city in Sri Lanka. The CCC has done the opposite way and concentrated on both urban and rural areas, which benefited more people here.
At present, the CCC has carried out over 100 programmes, including more than 300 various types of activities and events (including performances, exhibitions, lectures, workshops, teaching programmes, and etc.). More than half of Chinese provinces (Jiangsu, Hubei, Canton, Jiangxi, Shanxi, Yunnan…and etc.), provincial-level autonomous regions (such as Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Xinjiang, and Ningxia), provincial-level municipalities (Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin) , and Chinese SAR Hong Kong have been invited by the CCC to conduct different cultural exchange programmes in Sri Lanka.
On the other hand, the events organized by the CCC have reached people in all 9 provinces of Sri Lanka as well, where specially skilled artists are not hesitant to delight an audience of students or parents at a Sunday school, a university, a school in a remote part of a district, government institutions, and even a military camp. All events of cultural heritage are held with complete sponsorship of the CCC, thus enabling all Sri Lankans to experience most of these high-level events free of charge.
These events are a first to many where most Sri Lankans are amused and appreciative of the skill and professionalism of the artists and performers, who participate in these events and create positive vibes about China and its friendly people.
The efforts of the CCC are also extended to enable and strengthen the ties between the media and journalist forums of Sri Lanka and China. The cordial sponsorship of professional programmes conducted for the benefit of the Sri Lanka journalists in China is such an instance that the CCC extends their hand to build friendship and confidence among all stakeholders.
The future of the friendship
It is obvious that the expectation of the CCC is to build a cultural relationship amongst the peoples of both countries. The CCC has successfully created an atmosphere of understanding the true nature of authentic Chinese culture whilst respecting and appreciating the Sri Lankan values and traditions.
With the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI), which attempts to bring economic and cultural prosperity to all the nations from far East to Africa and Europe, there is no doubt that the China Cultural Centres will go on playing a vital role in defusing the misconceptions level against the great efforts of the People’s Republic of China. Sri Lanka, being part of the BRI through the maritime silk route and having a better understanding of China and its people, will also play an important role in bridging the gaps between the countries of the BRI.
The future road will probably be a challenging one! However, as proven in the past, the sincere friendship between the two countries and the mutual respect to each other’s culture and value will be the north star for both of our nations to follow during challenging and dark times. With the efforts of past six years, the China Cultural Centre has contributed much more to Sri Lanka and its people, and surely enough, it will continue to do so, nurturing the friendship which China and Sri Lanka value so dearly.
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