National Chamber of Exporters condemns MP Jeevan Thondaman’s actions

Saturday, 15 June 2024 01:15 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The National Chamber of Exporters of Sri Lanka (NCE) has called for a thorough investigation into the incident involving MP Jeevan Thondaman and his associates at Pedro Estate on 30 May, 2024. The NCE expressed deep concern over reports and social media videos showing unlawful and aggressive behaviour by MP Thondaman’s group.

The footage, which has sparked widespread outrage, depicts a group forcibly entering the estate and engaging in acts of intimidation and arrogance. The NCE emphasised that such conduct is unacceptable and must be addressed by the President and other national leaders. The chamber stressed that trespassing on private property and using force is illegal, warranting immediate legal action.

Members of Parliament are entrusted with responsibilities and are expected to uphold the highest standards of conduct. As elected representatives, MPs should embody the principles of leadership, integrity, and professionalism. Their actions are closely observed by the public, and any deviation from expected behaviour can erode trust in democratic institutions. When MPs engage in unlawful or unethical activities, it not only tarnishes their own reputation but also reflects poorly on the governance system as a whole.

In this context, it is crucial for MPs to resolve disputes and handle issues, such as those seen at Pedro Estate, with professionalism and respect for the law. By doing so, they set a positive example for the community, demonstrating that issues can be addressed through dialogue, negotiation, and adherence to legal processes. This approach reinforces public confidence in their leaders and in the democratic processes of the country.

The recent incident involving MP Thondaman highlights the need for a professional approach to conflict resolution, particularly in sectors already facing challenges, such as the tea industry. The NCE pointed out that the tea sector is struggling, and plantation workers are enduring difficult conditions. The involvement of MPs in conflicts should focus on finding constructive solutions rather than exacerbating tensions through aggressive or unlawful actions.

Amid the current struggles of the tea sector and the difficult conditions faced by plantation workers, the NCE argued that a more professional approach is needed in addressing contract disputes. The recent incident only adds to the sector’s existing challenges, making it imperative to handle such matters with greater care and consideration.

The NCE urged all stakeholders to work collaboratively to resolve the ongoing issues concerning plantation workers’ wages. The Government, they argued, should avoid imposing salary increases on the private sector without proper consultation and a thorough understanding of the industry’s specific constraints. Given the tea industry’s fragile state, such unilateral decisions could exacerbate its difficulties.

The NCE has urged the authorities to investigate the incident at Pedro Estate urgently and take necessary action against those involved. This call to action is essential for several reasons.

Firstly, upholding the rule of law is paramount. Prompt investigation and legal action reinforce the principle that no one is above the law, including elected officials. It sends a clear message that unlawful behaviour will be met with appropriate consequences, regardless of the individual’s status or position.

Secondly, maintaining public trust is crucial. The public’s confidence in their leaders and in the fairness of the legal system can be significantly undermined if incidents of misconduct go unaddressed. Ensuring accountability helps restore and maintain trust in the political systems.

Moreover, protecting the private sector is essential for economic stability. For the private sector to thrive, there must be a predictable and secure legal environment. The NCE emphasised that unchecked aggression and illegal actions can deter investment and harm business confidence, particularly in industries like tea that are already under strain. Ensuring that private properties are respected and that business operations are not disrupted by unlawful acts is crucial.

Additionally, such actions could disrupt the tea plantation sector and jeopardise the Ceylon Tea brand’s esteemed reputation. Renowned globally for its quality, Ceylon Tea’s standing in the international market must be protected. Preserving this reputation is crucial for the industry’s sustainability and the economic well-being of Sri Lanka.

Finally, setting a precedent is necessary to prevent future occurrences. Addressing this incident effectively will establish a standard of accountability that can deter other officials from engaging in or condoning such actions, promoting a culture of respect for the law and ethical behaviour among leaders.

The NCE called on the authorities to investigate these incidents urgently and take appropriate action. The chamber stressed the importance of maintaining private sector confidence by ensuring that such breaches of conduct are not tolerated. Setting a clear precedent is crucial to prevent future occurrences and uphold the rule of law.