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Sri Lankan professional honoured by Rotary International

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Sri Lankan business personality, Dr. Rohantha Athukorala has been honored among the six members across the world as ‘People of Action: Champions of Health by Rotary International’.

The award was in recognition of their proactive behaviour demonstrated to improve the foundation of good health at home and across the globe.

The work of these members proved especially challenging due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which tested their ‘service above self’ ethos, a communique from Rotary Head Quarters in Chicago, United States, said.

They will be recognized at the 2021 Global Convention for their outstanding contribution.

Commenting on the award Athukorala said: “Rotary is undoubtedly one of the strongest service organizations in Sri Lanka for project management. This includes interactors who work at the school end and Rotaractors in the University end of the postgraduate segments of Sri Lanka. This award is a win for Rotary/Rotaract and Interactors of Sri Lanka”.

Dr. Athukorala, a marketing professional, who has had a 17-year career with top British and American multinational, was also the Chairman of Sri Lanka Export Development Board and Sri Lanka Tourism which gave him the experience to conceptualize the project ‘Stop the Spread’ that was picked as a national project for the year 2020/21 by the Governor of Rotary Sri Lanka and Maldives, Ajith Weerasinghe.

The innovative project brought together 6,200 Interactors, 7,800 Rotaractors and 2,000 Rotarians under one theme driving multiple initiatives from attitude change communication to economic development projects during the pandemic. It was a unique project in our ecosystem that helped fight the Covid-19 deadly virus, Governor Weerasinghe said.

‘Stop the Spread’ used a two step communication model driven by the Interactors using the voice of 280 South Asian, Commonwealth, Asian and Olympic Games medallions in partnership with the National Olympic Committee in the first stage of the roll out. The campaign created awareness on the new normal behaviour required like wearing a mask, keeping social distance, body temperate watch and washing one’s hands in a somewhat controlled ecosystem, which supported the government’s efforts on how to contain the Covid-19 virus.

At present, more than 100,000 people have fallen prey to the virus with 625 deaths in Sri Lanka. The advocacy model must be taken to the next level in Sri Lanka and also extended to the global stage in the partnership with the respective sports bodies of their home country, says Weerasinghe, the Director/CEO of CIC, a a blue chip company in Sri Lanka.

Concurrent to the ‘Stop the Spread’ attitude changing concept, Rotary Sri Lanka mooted the idea of a certification program for businesses to bring to the DNA the new health protocols required in an organization.

The Sri Lanka Standards Institute (SLSI) developed the standards that led to the first-ever Certification protocols for Covid protection being launched in country. Rotary then diffused the idea and Certified almost 300 entities including schools, supermarkets, hotels, and top tea brands, global health and nutrition companies, International rubber organizations, the apparel sector and hotels which quantified the contribution of Rotary during the pandemic commented, Dr. Athukorala noted.

The award winning Sri Lankan professional has also served the United Nations (UNOPS) in his illustrious multinational career. He now heads a leading Artificial Intelligence (AI) company for the South Asian Region.

“The Covid-19 spike in Sri Lanka is very worrying given the new strand we see in countries like India. We cannot afford another lockdown like last year. We have to stop the spread by regulating our behavior”, he stressed.



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Information Dept. media release: EC Chief asks public not to be misled

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by Priyan de Silva

Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka, Nimal Punchihewa, asked to comment on a special news release, purportedly issued by the Director General of the Department of Government Information, on Sunday (29), told  The Island  that preparations for the 09 March local government elections were going ahead, as planned, and that the media statement at issue was misleading.

The media statement says: “The gazette notice with signatures of the Chairman and other members of the Election Commission required for the commencement of the Local Government election process has not been sent to the Government Press for printing.”

Punchihewa requested the public not to be misled by any misinformation being spread in an attempt to create doubts in their minds.He also  reiterated that the EC would not be deterred by any acts of intimidation.

Three of the EC members have been threatened with death by an unidentified caller to resign from their posts. They are S. B. Divaratne, M. M. Mohamed and K. P. P. Pathirana. The Opposition has accused the government of trying to sabotage the LG polls.

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Cardinal urges Catholics to fight for justice

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 By Norman Palihawadane

Today’s Church does not need ‘sacristy Catholics’ but a laity who fight for justice, says Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith.

Addressing a gathering at a ceremony to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Deva Dharma Nikethanaya, at Archbishop’s House auditorium, at Borella, last week, the Cardinal said that turning every layperson into a mature Christian, fit for leadership, should be the foremost duty of the Catholic Church. “Once the Catholic Church functioned as a Bishop-priest centered church and did only what the Bishop of the priest would say. We have to change the outlook of the Church. Today, we no longer need such sacristy Catholics. We need a laity who are ready to get down to the streets and fight for justice and do what is right for society,” the Cardinal said.

“The Church needs Christians who will commit themselves for Christ and follow his example. We do not need spoon-fed babies,” he said.

He said that the Bishops and Priests should not be afraid of handing over the responsibilities to the laity. “We should share our responsibilities with joy. The Church cannot continue otherwise. Understanding this situation, Pope Francis wants to change the priest-centres position that has become a theoretical doctrine in the church and to study how the church should change in a way that suits the present world.”

Apostolic Nuncio to Sri Lanka Rev Dr Brian Udaigwe and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference President Rt Rev Dr Harold Anthony Perera also addressed the gathering.

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Protests against 13A used to arouse communal feelings – SJB

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Protests against the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution are being used to arouse communal feelings among people ahead of an election, says the main Opposition SJB.

Addressing the media on Saturday, at the Opposition Leader’s Office in Colombo, Chief Opposition Whip, SJB Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella, said:

“This country has witnessed many instances in the past. This time, too, the same old slogan of the country being divided is heard again.

“The 13th Amendment is part of the Constitution. All parties have contested elections under the 13th Amendment. The UNP, SLFP, SLPP and JVP have contested provincial council elections. It shows that they have accepted the 13th Amendment. Those in such parties now opposing the 13th Amendment must first explain how they oppose it directly while accepting the same indirectly by sending their members to the provincial councils set up under the 13th Amendment,” Kiriella said.

“The claim of the country being divided by the 13th amendment is made to arouse the communal feelings.

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