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Rolling out holistic solution to perennial problem of laws’ delays

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Speech delivered by

M.U.M. Ali Sabry, PC 

Minister of Justice

at the 47th Annual Convocation of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka on the 27t March 2021 at the BMICH.

Your Lordship the Chief Justice, Hon. Attorney General, Your Lordships the judges of the superior courts, the President of the Bar Association and outgoing President, Committee members and my learned friends.

It is a pleasure to be here today, amongst the familiar faces I am used to seeing across the bar table for many years.

Firstly, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to Mr. Saliya Peiris, President’s Counsel who won the election as well as the newly appointed members of the Exco. The bar has chosen you as its leader, and I wish you the strength and the determination in performing this important task. You carry on your shoulders the responsibility of guiding this noble profession in the years to come, and I have no doubt that you will continue to maintain the traditions of the bar whilst ensuring that the bar remains apolitical and stands up for the rule of law without fear or favour.

The last year has been a tough one, to say the least, and it is commendable that the BASL throughout this period was actively involved in finding solutions to ongoing problems, and was supportive of its members, the judicial administrative staff and litigants. You have done a great job, and I hope to see the good work continue.

The legal profession is one which has no equal. I say this because, there rests on the profession and with it the Bar Association a heavy responsibility to the citizens of this country, and to the country itself. It has a vital role in protecting the rule of law, maintaining the independence of the judiciary and protecting the sovereignty of the country. This responsibility is not a passive one, it is a positive one where there is a need for the legal profession to be at the forefront of positive social change.

To put this in context, as Judge Sanji Monageng, the First Vice-President of the International Criminal Court, in a speech delivered at the The Hague, on 20 November 2012 stated that:

“…the rule of law and the proper administration of justice, of which an independent judiciary and legal profession are prerequisites, play a central role in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

This role has been universally recognized even by the United Nations as enunciated in Principle 16 of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

Lawyers therefore form a core part of the judicial arm of the state. It would be easy to assume by its very wording that the judicial arm consists of judges and courts, but that assumption would be far from the truth. After all, what would be the use of the biggest courthouses or the best judges if the parties can’t be heard? Lawyers are by their very nature officers of court and on many levels the gatekeepers to justice.

The journal article titled “ABA Canons of Professional Ethics” published by the American Bar Association, addressed this very important point. It stated that:

“the stability of Courts and of all departments of government rests upon the approval of the people, it is peculiarly essential that the system for establishing and dispensing Justice be developed to a high point of efficiency and so maintained that the public shall have absolute confidence in the integrity and impartiality of its administration. The future of the Republic, to a great extent, depends upon our maintenance of Justice pure and unsullied.

Thus, the role of a lawyer is not merely one of representing or advising clients for payment. It comes with a high level of responsibility, an overriding need for ethical behaviour, a sense of justice and a national duty. There is an overarching need for the public to have confidence and trust that justice is dispensed from the justice system. In this context, the legal profession has a duty of instilling and maintaining this public confidence and trust in the system.

Looking at the rich history of the legal profession in Sri Lanka, we can be proud of its independence, its contribution to legal jurisprudence and the persons who have come from it over the decades. We have produced world-class lawyers, jurists and judges and have contributed at a disproportionately high level to international law considering the size of our profession.

It would be easy to rest on these laurels and reminisce, and also to be content with the legal profession and the justice administration system as it currently stands, but I believe we need to have a serious reality check. I wasn’t certain that today would be the most suitable place to bring this up, but this is the first opportunity I am getting to talk to my colleagues, the representatives of the judiciary and the official and unofficial bar at the same forum. Therefore, I did not want to miss this opportunity to discuss what, in my opinion, should be front and centre of our journey over the next few years.

As I have mentioned before,

-the average time to enforce a contract in Sri Lanka is 1318 days

-We have been ranked 161 out of 189 countries for the enforcement of contracts

-Our legal system is ranked 5th out of 8 in South Asia.

-Land, Partition and Testamentary cases on average take a generation to be settled.

-A criminal trial takes on average 9 ½ years to conclude in the High Court.

-A criminal matter on average will take a year to be fixed for appeal and 3-4 years for the said appeal to be completed.

We are all very aware that the underlying issues in delay, amongst other matters, is the sheer number of cases before court, and the massive backlog which in turn has resulted in litigation stagnating.

At the end of 2019, there were a total of 766,784 cases pending in our courts, and we had approximately 350 judges to hear these cases. Let us ask ourselves the obvious question – how on earth is an individual judge supposed to manage such a caseload? Even if they were to work 16 hours a day, 7 days a week there would be no logical way to get through this backlog within any reasonable period of time. The outdated laws and the lack of appetite for innovative steps and technological advancement has only served to make matters worse.

This overburdening of judges is reflected in our score on the ‘judges per 1 million population’ index. Countries such as Russia have 242 judges per 1 million population, Germany has 230 and Thailand has 68. India which has been relentlessly criticized for its low number of judges has 20 per million. And our number? 15. Just 15 judges per million population. A reflection of how much of a monumental and humanly impossible task we are expecting our current judiciary to achieve.

These indicators are not just an academic exercise – they reflect the ground reality of the current state of the administration of justice in our country. On a domestic level, the results are quite obvious – how many times have we advised clients at consultations that they need to be ready for a ‘long-haul’ case, and in response to the question ‘how long?’ we have replied ‘years.’ We have been within this system for as long as we can remember, the fact that a case takes years, or the fact that the dates between two trial dates is months does not seem the least bit abnormal to us. We have become desensitized to the plight of our litigants and we do not feel the sting unless it’s one of our own personal cases.

 

This level of delay and inefficiency are not only inconvenient and unfair to the citizens, they have far reaching implications for the future of this Country. Investors are apprehensive about trusting their money in a place with high risk of loss in case of a dispute. Market research of the region prior to any investment would result in investors flocking to the countries high on these indexes, thus we are losing in the long term and we are losing big. Our neighbours understood this early on and started their own competitive drive to rank higher on these indexes and bring the issue of delay and inefficiency of the justice system under control. Take Pakistan for example – in 2018, they were ranked 147 in the ease of doing business index. By 2019, they managed to get to 136. However, from 2019 to 2020 they jumped a staggering 28 places and were ranked 108. This is a clear display of how commitment, focus and drive towards fixing the legal system can result in unthinkable results within a short period of time.

India too has been taking some dynamic strides in its modernization drive. It adopted e-filing earlier on during the pandemic and has commenced a push for digitization of its judicial administration system. In terms of corporate or connected litigation, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has digitized its entire process and database to the extent that certified copies of Company documents can be obtained through an online process which is admissible evidence in Court.

The United Kingdom is establishing Online Courts which initially was due to the pandemic but will most certainly continue to develop and grow. They also started night sessions for Court hearings to clear the backlog.

In the last few years, Chinese courts have seen rapid developments in online dispute resolution platforms, specialized Internet courts, and the wide use of Artificial Intelligence across the case management and adjudication process in civil and criminal proceedings. They have also adopted other new technologies such as distributed ledgers, blockchain and smart contracts solutions which have been developed and rolled out in specialized courts.

Over the course of 2019, the Estonian Ministry of Justice developed and piloted an artificial intelligence software to hear and decide on small claims disputes less than €7,000.

This is the rapid level at which the other countries have progressed whilst we are still at a stage where cases in the District Court get postponed on multiple occasions, sometimes over a year because summons had not been served on the Post Office so that an employee can give evidence on one postal article receipt to establish that the letter of demand had been sent. Is that not, for lack of a better word, absurd?

Ever since I have taken over the office of the Minister of Justice one common issue is that most of who I meet, across the social and economic spectrum has a complaint about a case which has been pending for years. The Ministry is inundated almost every day with letters by litigants from all over the country complaining about laws’ delays.

We have been comfortable with the status quo for decades, and it’s time we realized that the status quo is just not working. Not only is it not giving any positive results, its actually dragging us backwards by destroying the public trust and confidence that is a pre-requisite for the judicial administration system of the country to function.

We must find a way out of this. It is time that we in Sri Lanka take a page out the books of these countries. It is encouraging that over the last few months we have taken steps towards achieving this. The E-hearing rules issued by the Supreme Court, the provisions made for E-filing as well as the adoption of giving bail online by the Magistrate’s Court are important steps in the right direction. This, however, is not going to be enough. It is vital that we look at a complete structural change from end to end and roll it out in a targeted and efficient way. We have to stop looking at the legal profession as one which exists solely for the sustenance of its members, but as one which plays a much more important role as a public centric body which is driving the justice system forward – one which is ready to innovate, to evolve and to take the right decisions at the right time to create a paradigm shift in the administration of justice. This shift should not be merely one which is a marginal improvement of numbers and statistics – it should be a shift which is felt at the ground level. One where litigants feel that litigation will bring them justice, and it will bring it to them faster than before.

Hence, it is a priority of the government to roll out a holistic solution to this perennial problem of laws’ delays and to resolve this issue.

One which would be a game-changer is to put in motion a practical strategy to take a massive leap in the efficiency of hearing cases. Sri Lanka has close to 800,000 pending cases at the moment and there is no strategy for them in terms of time to conclude. We have to bring in a practical timeline for a disposal of a case and work backwards and put the pieces of the puzzle together to achieve that goal. The future of litigation is in smaller smart courts which can parallelly hear a multitude of cases in a single location, whilst also allocating specific time slots for cases to avoid unnecessary delay to the litigant and lawyer.

In pursuance of this, we are determined to double the number of judges within the next 5 years. As you are aware, the House of Justice project was launched a few weeks ago, and we hope to have the first tower constructed within a short period of time. Pre-trial procedure is to be streamlined and revamped so that it would serve a key factor in cutting down litigation time. The establishment of a ‘Small Claims Court’ is being planned and Debt Conciliation and mediation are being considered as mainstream solutions working in tandem with the courts. One of the vital reforms that are coming in is Digitization and Court automation which is currently at the procurement stage.

There has also been key progress made over the last few months. The increase of Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judges was the first such increase in over 40 years. Justice sector reform has been allocated a record 20 billion from the budget which reflects the largest ever commitment by a government towards the reform of the justice sector. Just earlier this week I was informed by the Government Analyst’s Department that the backlog of outstanding reports numbering approximately 8000 had been cleared in the four months even in the midst of the pandemic due to a multi-pronged approach which we have introduced since then. The measures taken include increasing the cadre, working on two shifts, digitizing the expertise from other institutions and dedicated supervision by a sector specialist.

What this shows is that with commitment, a steel will and the ability to get out of your comfort zone unthinkable results can be achieved within very short periods of time. We should no longer think of fixing this system as a long drawn out, arduous process for our successors to deal with – we have to think of it as something we are capable of doing here and now.

It’s time we looked at moving away from our all too familiar 9.30 or 10.00 am start in Court where everyone sits around waiting for the case to be taken up. This is just not sustainable anymore, and it seriously cuts into the lawyers’ and litigants’ productivity. We should not be afraid to innovate and think out-of-the-box in terms of how we can solve the issues that are being faced – its time we look at case management and allocation of time slots for hearings. Its time we that we hear cases online and embrace technology to shorten delays in matters such as serving of summons and the proving of documents. We must think about reforming our legal system as a whole to be more technological – from sharing calendars to determine the dates of a hearing to the maintenance of records, we need to reduce the dependency on manual processes. Its time we adopted procedures and techniques such as skeleton arguments to cut down the time taken for a hearing. These are all steps that other countries have taken, for which they have been rewarded with judicial administration systems that have pushed their countries forward. My question to you is, If Singapore, Malaysia, Korea and so many others can reinvent themselves, why can’t we?

These reforms will be far reaching, and if they are seen through will permanently change the landscape of the profession and this country. We need to make this happen, and for that we need to work together towards this common goal. The process may not be a walk in the park, and it would certainly have some initial creases that to be ironed out, but if we can commit to what is needed to be done, I am certain we can pull this off. I am aware that the best of ideas and progress can fall to abeyance if you have to swim against the tide, which is why I hope that the bar and its members will cooperate with us to achieve this.

The road to make these changes may test our will, may require us to get out of our comfort zone, to go that extra mile and to commit to breaking the status quo.

Let us be remembered as the generation of lawyers and judges that took this country to the next level and the ones that put our justice system on the map. We have the opportunity to make the paradigm shift, and we must go for it with our heart and soul.

Let’s get this done.



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Features

Port City Bill Requires Referendum

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by Dr Jayampathy Wickramaratne,PC

The Colombo Port Economic Commission Bill was presented in Parliament on 08 April 2021, while the country was getting ready to celebrate the traditional New Year. With the intervening weekend and public holidays, citizens had just two working days to retain lawyers, many of whom were on vacation, and file applications challenging the constitutionality of the Bill in the Supreme Court within the one-week period stipulated in the Constitution. One wonders whether the timing was deliberate.

Special economic zones are common. They are created mainly to attract foreign investments. In return, investors are offered various concessions so that their products are competitive in the global market. Several negative effects of such zones have also been highlighted. The sole purpose of this article, however, is a discussion on the constitutionality of the Bill.

The Bill seeks to establish a high-powered Commission entrusted with the administration, regulation and control of all matters connected with businesses and other operations in and from the Colombo Port City. It may lease land situated in the Colombo Port City area and even transfer freehold ownership of condominium parcels. It operates as a Single Window Investment Facilitator for proposed investments into the Port City. It would exercise the powers and functions of any applicable regulatory authority under any written law and obtain the concurrence of the relevant regulatory authority, which shall, as a matter of priority, provide such concurrence to the Commission. The discretion and powers of such other authorities under the various laws shall thus stand removed.

The Commission consists of five members who need not be Sri Lankan citizens, quite unlike the Urban Development Authority, the Board of Management of which must comprise Sri Lankan citizens only. One issue that arises is that the vesting of such powers upon persons with loyalties to other countries, especially superpowers, would undermine the free, sovereign, and independent status of Sri Lanka guaranteed by Article 1 of our Constitution. It would also impinge on the sovereignty of the People of Sri Lanka guaranteed by Article 3 read with Article 4.

The removal of the discretionary powers of the various regulatory authorities is arbitrary and violative of the right to equal protection of the law guaranteed by Article 12 (1).

Under Clause 25, only persons authorized by the Commission can engage in business in the Port City. Clause 27 requires that all investments be in foreign currency only. What is worse is that even foreign currency deposited in an account in a Sri Lankan bank cannot be used for investment. Thus, Sri Lankans cannot invest in the Port City using Sri Lankan rupees; neither can they use foreign currency that they legally have in Sri Lanka. The above provisions are clearly arbitrary and discriminatory of Sri Lankans and violate equality and non-discrimination guaranteed by Article 12. They also violate the fundamental right to engage in business guaranteed by Article 14 (1) (g).

Under clause 35, any person, whether a resident or a non-resident, may be employed within the Port City and such employee shall be remunerated in a designated foreign currency, other than in Sri Lanka rupees. Such employment income shall be exempt from income tax. Clause 36 provides that Sri Lankan rupees accepted within the Port City can be converted to foreign currency. Under clause 40, Sri Lankans may pay for goods, services, and facilities in Sri Lankan rupees but would be required to pay a levy for goods taken out of the Port City, as if s/he were returning from another country! The mere repetition of phrases such as ‘in the interests of the national economy’ throughout the Bill like a ‘mantra’ does not bring such restrictions within permissible restrictions set out in Article 15.

Clause 62 requires that all disputes involving the Commission be resolved through arbitration. The jurisdiction of Sri Lankan courts is thus ousted.

In any legal proceedings instituted on civil and commercial matters, where the cause of action has arisen within the Port City or in relation to any business carried on in or from the Port City, Clause 63 requires Sri Lankan courts to give such cases priority and hear them speedily on a day-to-day basis to ensure their expeditious disposal.

The inability of an Attorney-at-Law to appear before the court even for personal reasons, such as sickness, shall not be a ground for postponement. These provisions are arbitrary and violate Article 12.

Clause 73 provides that several Sri Lankan laws listed in Schedule III would have no application within the Port City. Such laws include the Urban Development Authority Act, Municipal Councils Ordinance, and the Town and Country Planning Ordinance. Under Clauses 52 and 53, exemptions may be granted by the Commission from several laws of Sri Lanka, including the Inland Revenue Act, Betting and Gaming Levy Act, Foreign Exchange Act, and the Customs Ordinance.

The Commission being empowered to grant exemptions from Sri Lankan laws undermines the legislative power of the People and of Parliament and violates Articles 3 and Article 4 (c) of the Constitution.

Several matters dealt with by the Bill come under the Provincial Councils List. They include local government, physical planning, and betting and gaming. Article 154G (3) requires that such a Bill be referred to Provincial Councils for their views. As Provincial Councils are not currently constituted, passage by a two-thirds majority will be necessary in the absence of the consent of the Provincial Councils.

The exclusion of the Municipal Councils Ordinance from the Port City area is not possible under the Constitution. When the Greater Colombo Economic Commission was sought to be established in 1978 under the 1972 Constitution, a similar exclusion was held by the Constitutional Court not to be arbitrary. Since then, under the Thirteenth Amendment under the 1978 Constitution, local government has been given constitutional recognition and included under the Provincial Council List. Under the present constitutional provisions, therefore, the Port City cannot be excluded from laws on local government.

The writer submits that in the above circumstances, the Colombo Port Economic Commission Bill requires to be passed by a two-thirds majority in Parliament and approved by the People at a Referendum. Quite apart from the constitutional issues that arise, such an important piece of proposed legislation needs to be widely discussed. It is best that the Bill is referred to a Parliamentary Committee before which the public, as well as citizens’ organizations and experts in the related fields, could make their submissions.

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Features

Investigative Journalism?

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I usually end up totally exhausted when I finish reading the local newspapers from the Pearl. There are so many burning questions and so much is written about them but there are no conclusions and definitely no answers. For example, we seem to have three burning issues right now and this is not in order of importance.

We have a lengthy report that has been published on the Easter Sunday carnage. Everybody knows what I am talking about. However, no one, be it an editor, a paid journalist or a single one of the many amateurs who write to the papers, has reached a conclusion or even expressed an opinion as to who was responsible. At least not a believable one! Surely there are energetic and committed young people in the field of journalism today who, if asked, or directed properly will go out and find a source that would give them at least a credible hypothesis? Or do conclusions exist and has no one the courage to publish them?

At least interview the authors or should I use the word perpetrators of that report. If they refuse to be interviewed ask them why and publish an item every day asking them why! Once you get a hold of them, cross-examine them, trap them into admissions and have no mercy. It is usually geriatrics who write these reports in the Pearl and surely a bright young journalist can catch them out with a smart question or two, or at least show us that they tried? The future of the country depends on it!

We have allegations of contaminated coconut oil been imported. These are very serious allegations and could lead to much harm to the general populace. Do you really believe that no one can find out who the importers are and what brands they sell their products under? In this the Pearl, where everyone has a price, you mean to say that if a keen young journalist was given the correct ammunition (and I don’t mean 45 calibres) and sent out on a specific message, he or she couldn’t get the information required?

We are told that a massive amount of money has been printed over the last few months. There is only speculation as to the sums involved and even more speculation as to what this means to the people of the Pearl. Surely, there are records, probably guarded by extremely lowly paid government servants. I am not condoning bribery but there is nothing left to condone, is there? There are peons in government ministries who will gladly slip you the details if you are committed enough and if you are sent there to get it by a boss who will stand by you and refuse to disclose his sources.

I put it to you, dear readers, that we do not have enough professional, committed and adequately funded news organisations in the country. We can straightaway discount the government-owned joints. We can also largely discount those being run by magnates for personal gain and on personal agendas. As far as the Internet goes, we can forget about those that specialise in speculative and sensationalist untruths, what are we left with O denizens of the Pearl? Are there enough sources of news that you would consider willing to investigate a matter and risk of life and limb and expose the culprits for the greater good of society? Can they be counted even on the fingers of one hand?

In this era when we have useless political leaders, when law and order are non-existent when the police force is a joke, it is time the fourth estate stepped up to the mark! I am sure we have the personnel; it is the commitment from the top and by this, I mean funding and the willingness to risk life and limb, that we lack. Governments over the last few decades have done their best to intimidate the press and systematically destroy any news outlet that tried to buck the usual sycophantic behaviour that is expected from them by those holding absolute power.

Do you think Richard Nixon would ever have been impeached if not for the Watergate reporting? Donald Trump partially owes his defeat to the unrelenting campaign carried out against him by the “fake news” outlets that he tried to denigrate. Trump took on too much. The fourth estate of America is too strong and too powerful to destroy in a head-to-head battle and even the most powerful man in the world, lost. Let’s not go into the merits and demerits of the victor as this is open to debate.

Now, do we have anything like that in the Pearl? Surely, with 20 million-plus “literate” people, we should? We should have over 70 years of independence built up the Fourth Estate to be proud of. One that would, if it stood strong and didn’t waver and collapse under pressure from the rulers, have ensured a better situation for our land. Here is Aotearoa with just five million people, we have journalists who keep holding the government to account. They are well-funded by newspapers and TV networks with audiences that are only a fraction of what is available in the Pearl. Some of the matters they highlight often bring a smirk of derision to my face for such matters wouldn’t even warrant one single line of newsprint, should they happen in the Pearl.

Talking of intimidation from the rulers, most of us are familiar with the nationalisation of the press, the murder and torture of journalists, the burning of presses to insidious laws been passed to curtail the activities of Journalism. These things have happened in other countries, too, but the people and press have been stronger, and they have prevailed. We are at a watershed, an absolutely crucial time. It is now that our last few credible news sources should lift their game. Give us carefully researched and accurate reports with specific conclusions, not generalisations. Refuse to disclose your sources as is your right, especially now that the myopic eye of the UNHCR is turned in our direction.

All other ways and means of saving our beloved motherland, be it government, religion, sources of law and order and even civil society leadership seems to have lapsed into the realm of theory and rhetoric. Our last chance lies with the Fourth Esate and all it stands for. I call for, nay BEG for, a favourable reaction from those decision-makers in that field, who have enough credibility left in society, DON’T LET US DOWN NOW!

 

 

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Features

The world sees ugly side of our beauty pageants

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Yes, it’s still the talk-of-the-town…not only here, but the world over – the fracas that took place at a recently held beauty pageant, in Colombo.

It’s not surprising that the local beauty scene has hit a new low because, in the past, there have been many unpleasant happenings taking place at these so-called beauty pageants.

On several occasions I have, in my articles, mentioned that the state, or some responsible authority, should step in and monitor these events – lay down rules and guidelines, and make sure that everything is above board.

My suggestions, obviously, have fallen on deaf ears, and this is the end result – our beauty pageants have become the laughing stock the world over; talk show hosts are creating scenes, connected with the recent incidents, to amuse their audience.

Australians had the opportunity of enjoying this scenario, so did folks in Canada – via talk show hosts, discussing our issue, and bringing a lot of fun, and laughter, into their discussions!

Many believe that some of these pageants are put together, by individuals…solely to project their image, or to make money, or to have fun with the participants.

And, there are also pageants, I’m told, where the winner is picked in advance…for various reasons, and the finals are just a camouflage. Yes, and rigging, too, takes place.

I was witnessed to one such incident where I was invited to be a judge for the Talent section of a beauty contest.

There were three judges, including me, and while we were engrossed in what we were assigned to do, I suddenly realised that one of the contestants was known to me…as a good dancer.

But, here’s the catch! Her number didn’t tally with the name on the scoresheet, given to the judges.

When I brought this to the notice of the organiser, her sheepish reply was that these contestants would have switched numbers in the dressing room.

Come on, they are no babes!

On another occasion, an organiser collected money from the mother of a contestant, promising to send her daughter for the finals, in the Philippines.

It never happened and she had lots of excuses not to return the money, until a police entry was made.

Still another episode occurred, at one of these so-called pageants, where the organiser promised to make a certain contestant the winner…for obvious reasons.

The judges smelt something fishy and made certain that their scoresheets were not tampered with, and their choice was crowned the winner.

The contestant, who was promised the crown, went onto a frenzy, with the organiser being manhandled.

I’m also told there are organisers who promise contestants the crown if they could part with a very high fee (Rs.500,000 and above!), and also pay for their air ticket.

Some even ask would-be contestants to check out sponsors, on behalf of the organisers. One wonders what that would entail!

Right now, in spite of the pandemic, that is crippling the whole world, we are going ahead with beauty pageants…for whose benefit!

Are the organisers adhering to the Covid-19 health guidelines? No way. Every rule is disregarded.

The recently-held contest saw the contestants, on the move, for workshops, etc., with no face masks, and no social distancing.

They were even seen in an open double-decker bus, checking out the city of Colombo…with NO FACE MASKS.

Perhaps, the instructions given by Police Spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana, and Army Commander, General Shavendra Silva, mean nothing to the organisers of these beauty pageants…in this pandemic setting.

My sincere advice to those who are keen to participate in such events is to check, and double check. Or else, you will end up being deceived…wasting your money, time, and energy.

For the record, when it comes to international beauty pageants for women, Miss World, Miss Universe, Miss Earth and Miss International are the four titles which reign supreme.

In pageantry, these competitions are referred to as the ‘Big Four.’

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