Building credible mechanisms for domestic accountability and transitional justice: Truth-telling initiatives

Published : 12:04 am  March 19, 2015  |  Category: Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  467 views  |  
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The last month has seen a spurt of activity and discussions around transitional justice in Sri Lanka. (Transitional justice refers to the sets of approaches that societies undertake to reckon with the past period of violent repression or mass atrocities and typically refers to criminal prosecutions, truth seeking measures including truth commissions, reparations, memorialisation and guarantees of non-recurrence.) Likewise, the coming months will witness efforts by the Sri Lankan Government to devise transitional justice mechanisms with input from the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on Transitional Justice Pablo de Grieff. Further, High Commissioner Zeidis expected... 

1815 and 2015

Published : 12:05 am  March 18, 2015  |  Category: Columnists  |  1 Comment  |  756 views  |  
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One must always say what one sees. But especially – and this is the hard part – one must always see what one sees – Charles Péguyi Paranoids live in their own world, uncluttered by facts and unrestrained by reality. In the paranoid’s world nothing is impossible. Robert H. Welch Jr, retired-candy manufacturer-turned-politician, believed that John Foster Dulles and Dwight Eisenhower were dedicated communist agentsii. His psycho-ideological heirs accuse President Obama of being a closet-Muslim and the Affordable Health Care Act of enabling the mass-euthanising of the aged. In Sri Lanka diehard Rajapaksa-supporters see 2015 as 1815. In their paranoid eyes, what happened on 8 January was... 

It is the way we look at

Published : 12:00 am  March 18, 2015  |  Category: Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  277 views  |  
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The Q Drum     In the last few years, having worked closely with inventors, I gained some insights into their approach and discovered many lessons we can learn from them as business executives. They observe what happens just the way artists do. All of us spend at least a few minutes looking at our faces every day. Yet only a very few can draw our own faces. Why? Because there is a difference in the way we observe and the way artistes observe. In the past there had been travel documents describing the features of the face in a manner that can help the border security to recognise a person by following these observations. Even now face recognition technology uses certain algorithms to... 

Prof. Lalith Samarakoon: As US interest rates rise, no space for Sri Lanka to wait and see

Published : 1:07 am  March 16, 2015  |  Category: Columnists, W. A. Wijewardena  |  2 Comments  |  6,278 views  |  
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Two contrasting developments associated with USA and EU Two contrasting developments are now taking place in the global monetary arrangements. On one side, US Federal Reserve, known as the Fed, which had introduced an unconventional monetary stimulus called quantitative easing or QE from around end-2008 is planning to gradually withdraw it from June 2015. On the other side, European Central Bank or ECB, in desperation of the failure to arrest slow economic growth and rising unemployment, has introduced QE in the Euro area. These two regions account for nearly a half of the global output and are well connected to each other as well as to the rest of the world through trade, finance and exchange... 

Halos and horns in Lankan workplaces

Published : 12:28 am  March 16, 2015  |  Category: Ajantha Dharmasiri, Columnists  |  Leave a Comment  |  368 views  |  
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Performance has always been a buzz word in business circles. This time of the year is the typical time for a wave of performance appraisals, particularly in organisations where the appraisals are linked to the financial year. There is a strong link between performance and perceptions. Today’s column will discuss the what, how and why of it.               Performance matters What is performance? The dictionary meaning is that it is the execution or accomplishment of work. Moving beyond, it can also be regarded as achieving a planned set of objectives utilising the available resources in an efficient and effective manner. Performance can happen at three levels... 

The Modi visit: Modifying devolution?

Published : 12:00 am  March 14, 2015  |  Category: Columnists  |  3 Comments  |  778 views  |  
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modiarriving in Sri Lanka last morning – Pic by Romesh Danushka Silva From Prime Minister Modi through Secretary of State Kerry to Prime Minister Cameron—in that order of significance—the emphasis with regard to Sri Lanka is the need for ethnic reconciliation. The search for a solution must be preceded by the identification of the problem or problems. Currently the effort at ethnic reconciliation runs up against the following problems. Firstly, unrealistic expectations and lack of consensus about the contours of the solution. While hardly any serious Sinhala politicians expect to roll-back the 13th Amendment, their Tamil counterparts expect to go beyond it. The... 

Colombo Port City: The cost of the political fallout

Published : 2:13 am  March 13, 2015  |  Category: Columnists  |  3 Comments  |  823 views  |  
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China’s President Xi Jinping (2nd L) and President Mahinda Rajapaksa (R) unveil a plaque during the launch ceremony of a $ 1.5 billion project to build a port city on reclaimed land in the capital Colombo 17 September – Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte/Files   The political system of China is a far cry from the way how Sri Lanka is governed. We have a unique Constitution; a hybrid type of constitution with transplants from US British and French constitutions, whereas the Chinese system of governance is based on socialist principles but run by a single party – the Communist Party of China. There is absolutely no transparency under the Chinese system of governance and dissent is never tolerated... 

Avoiding bleeding of forex market

Published : 1:44 am  March 13, 2015  |  Category: Columnists  |  1 Comment  |  860 views  |  
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There were two shocking items in the Sri Lankan media during the past few days that caught the attention of the observers which focuses on Sri Lankan policy issues: First, is that the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) has sold over $ 700 million during the five-month period from the end of August 2014 to January 2015 to defend the exchange rate; this has prevented the exchange rate from depreciating more than 2.5% against the USD during the same period. With political imperatives taking precedence over the economic issues, this has continued after January too. Chart 1 shows that we have stabilised the exchange rate in the month of February 2015, by containing the possibility of depreciation through... 

Private sector and State sector must work together to build future-ready workforce

Published : 1:28 am  March 13, 2015  |  Category: Columnists, Dinesh Weerakkody  |  2 Comments  |  328 views  |  
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The new Government recently proposed that the spend on education would be increased from 1.3% to 6% in the future. This move is certainly good for the country given that the World Bank South Asia recently reported that the poor quality of education is holding back South Asia. No doubt, Sri Lanka needs a well-educated workforce if we are to sustain long periods of growth. Therefore, the secondary schools would need to turn out graduates with the hard (specific teachable abilities) and the soft skills (personal attributes) employers want. To do this, all our key institutions have an obligation to work together to ramp up the skills of our nation’s talent pool and to that they need to engage with... 

When CSR reporting becomes a nation statistic

Published : 1:27 am  March 13, 2015  |  Category: Columnists, Tyron Devotta  |  Leave a Comment  |  342 views  |  
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Still on the subject of CSR, one begins to wonder if in order to be a socially responsible entity; you should be judged by what you do or who you really are. Of course action speaks louder than words so it is easier to be identified by what you do or in this case by what projects you do. CSR in Sri Lanka is by and large, judged by what activity you are in rather than what you are in order to be that socially responsible corporate citizen. Of course when it comes to measuring your corporate citizenship and as to how well you have performed as opposed to others; it is better to have something to show for, so that one could win awards and benchmark one’s self amongst peers. As I said in my previous... 

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