Monthly Archives: September 2006

Brandix unveils its Indian investment plan

By Ayesha Zuhair

Apparel giant Brandix Lanka Limited yesterday publicly announced that the company is in the process of setting up a state-of-the-art integrated apparel supply chain city in India. The ‘Brandix India Apparel City’ (BIAC) is being constructed in a 1,000 acre plot of land, which is 47 km from Visakhapatnam, in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

Brandix CEO Ashroff Omar (second from right) at the media briefing yesterday. Others from left are Dr. Peter Y. T. Sun, CEO, BIAC; Udena Wickremesooriya, Director, Brandix Lanka; and Ajit Johnpillai, Director, Brandix Lanka. Pic by K. Dayawansa Nanneththi

With the lease agreement for the block of land having been signed in June this year, the large manufacturing base will enjoy all the benefits of operating in one of India’s Special Economic Zones. Training of workers is already underway, with the assistance of Sri Lankan expertise. Brandix expects the consolidated annual turnover of US$ 280 million to swell to US$ 500 million within the next two to three years as a result of this investment.

According to the company, the potential of India – one of the fastest growing economies of the world, its ability to offer scale advantages and other strong business fundamentals makes it an ideal platform to leverage Brandix capabilities. This, the company notes, will make Sri Lanka the hub for all front-end and product development activities, while exploiting the scale advantages that India offers.

Dismissing claims that the aim behind the investment was due to a lack of confidence in the local economy, Ashroff Omar, CEO, Brandix Lanka said, “We are looking to be a regional player, if not a global player so we have to think in terms of large-scale operations. Undertaking overseas ventures is not new to us; we have done it before in the Maldives and Madagascar. But the apparel city in India will certainly not come at the cost of growth in Sri Lanka. The Indian operation would in fact complement Sri Lanka.”

Omar said that the company will be making an initial investment of US$ 35 million for the start up of an underwear manufacturing unit and a fabric plant but the investment is expected to rise substantially over a period of five to seven years, possibly reaching the US$ 1 billion figure. He disclosed that they have already received firm commitments from Pioneer Elastics (Hong Kong), Quantum Clothing (UK), CMT (Mauritius) and Brandot (US).
Contd on B2

Brandix plans to create a self-sufficient apparel city with a ‘fibre to store’ concept providing speed and flexibility. As a vertically integrated operation it is envisaged that investors will benefit from being able to rely on global expertise to fulfil its designing, manufacturing, sourcing, logistics, technology and training requirements, all under one roof.

Dr. Peter Y. T. Sun, CEO, BIAC, said, “We are moving to a new frontier in order to meet Brandix’s vision of providing inspired solutions for branded clothing but our commitment to Sri Lanka remains unflagging,” He noted that the company’s investment in Sri Lanka has increased over seven-fold from 2003 to 2006, with as much as US$ 30 million invested in Sri Lankan facilities for the current year.

Pointing out that the move to India was also a result of a push by customers with buyers such as JCP expected to source between US$ 200 – 800 mn of apparel. “Our strategy, therefore, is to use Sri Lanka as a regional hub and use India as a production base owing to the fundamentals of scale and cost. Sri Lanka still offers an attractive destination for EU countries, whereas India is more attractive for the US,” he said. He also added that India had the second largest spinning capacity and the third largest cotton capacity in the world.

Dr. Sun further revealed that the two fabric mills in the site will have a capacity of producing 15,000 metric tonnes of fabric per month and 280-300 million garments per annum. It will require a staggering 60 mn litres of water per day.

Brandix is Sri Lanka’s largest exporter with an annual consolidated group turnover of over USD 280 million. The Group’s command of its supply chain in both woven and knits is its key strength. -Daily Mirror

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On International Day of the Child

Children a critical area of concern

By Indrani Iryagolle

The objective of this article is to examine, review and present recommendations to improve further the lives of children, especially those in vulnerable sectors. Special reference is made to the large numbers of Internally Displaced Children, Refugee Children and the Tsunami affected children of Sri Lanka. This article is heavily condensed to save newspaper space.

In general the progress of a nation is linked to the advancement of women and men, the promotion of Human Rights and the improvement of conditions for social justice. But many overlook the fact that the impact and significance of these same factors relate to the advancement and development of children too. The child who is born with the right to live and a legacy of other rights – including the right to development both physical and intellectual is unfailingly caught up in either the web of poverty or world of affluence. Observation and research reveal that a child who is born healthy, well cared for and stimulated in the first 5 Years usually gets a head start in life. By this measurement “vulnerable” children “of Sri Lanka are positively a disadvantaged lot.

Since 1980 the writer has visited and seen at first hand women, children and other inmates living in conditions of squalor and misery caused by armed conflict. Children in camps, Internally Displaced person’s camps, (later known as welfare camps) IDP s in Temple shelters and others living with family relatives. They have been comforted, and helped to “Mind Mend” children and mothers.

In general the caring role of parents towards their children and other’s children is a great boon we enjoy in our country. Both religion and traditions have cemented this relationship between parent and child. Although it is argued that over protectiveness is disadvantageous to the child, that it restricts mobility and social relationships in reality both parent and guardians need to see the child grow within the proper context and be empowered before he/she is seen in liberation. Both parents and society contribute to enhance children’s status in society, and provide the security she/he needs as a child. It is this aspect that gets totally neglected in the case of refugee children, IDP’s children, and others vulnerable whether it be in armed conflict situations or by tsunami destruction. to mend minds or build new bridges for reconstruction and rehabilitation the basic principle of awareness raising on the existence of child laws or child related laws in the country and the prevalence of international covenant and standards need to be understood by those in the role of child protection and law enforcement.

The UN Declaration of Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the child 1989, International Covenants on civil and political rights covenant on economic and social rights set out the basic principles. Such covenants do not impose compulsion, these instruments set standards and guidelines to aspire towards quality standards, to promote balanced child development. Reform of laws, enhanced penalties, new offences, fresh interpretations, of concepts etc. are radical changes brought in with the Penal Code Amendments 1995. Community attitudes could be changed with more understanding and awareness of such laws and rights. This is a neglected area in Sri Lanka, despite the good work done.

The following basic principles are covered by conventions, laws, and the constitution of Sri Lanka. Read the rest of this entry

Civil society can play a constructive role

By Ayesha Zuhair

“My opinion as an outside observer is that civil society should play a much stronger role in order to rectify the potentially dangerous situation that is now evolving in Sri Lanka. I firmly believe that the majority of Sri Lankans yearn for peace and peace-loving citizens should work tirelessly to promote the ideals of a peaceful society. That includes promoting the use of non-violent methods to achieve society’s goals.”

Eliana Carvalho Mukherjee was responding to my question on what could be done to reverse the downward spiral of Sri Lanka’s peace process with the Ceasefire Agreement which came into effect in February 2002 confined to paper in the midst of open warfare in the country’s North and East.

Democracy and Public Participation

According to Mukherjee, a feature of vibrant democracies is the participation of civil society in matters of national interest. “This form of democratisation should not be postponed until the post-conflict phase. It is the participation of civil society in peacemaking which nurtures the democratic processes and opens up channels for consultation and decision-making at the societal level,” she pointed out.

“There will, of course, still be a need for negotiations between the protagonists on ceasefires and terms for a final settlement and the sensitive nature of this process may require some discussions outside public scrutiny. But this should not be used as an excuse for the public to be excluded from issues of broader consideration,” Mukherjee said.

So we agree that there is a need for the public to be seriously involved in peacemaking efforts. But what can they do in real terms to advance the cause of peace? “People themselves should create spaces for discussion and build consensus among a broad range of stakeholders. The peace process should build on these foundations, not ignore them,” came the response.

“It is important for peace groups to actively lobby to apply pressure on the conflicting parties, to respect the terms of the Ceasefire Agreement and to compromise in order to reach a solution which will be acceptable to all those concerned. Even if peace support groups feel alienated in the process, they have to persist because peace is a long-term mission,” she opined.

In her view (and the view of many peace educators), it was a strong civil society movement that lead to the anti-apartheid strikes in South Africa.

Peace as an all-inclusive process

“Peace is indeed a process, not a static goal. It is a dynamic, complex and difficult process. Therefore, those who work in conflict resolution and transformation have to work hard over a period of time to attain their objectives,” the Assistant Professor noted. Asked if spoilers should be included when attempting to work out a solution, she said, “Absolutely. All the stakeholders have to be involved and that includes even the spoilers. It is true that spoilers seek to deliberately obstruct the process but they must be managed effectively. It is useful to try to understand what factors have made these individuals or groups spoilers and manage them in view of that. Continuing contact with all parties is critical in this regard,” she commented.

Peace Education

She went on to explain that peace education is a powerful tool in transforming the mindset of individuals. “I believe that peace education should start at a very young age. One of the first messages that children should be taught are that we are all part of the human family. By including peace-related themes into the existing curriculum, children could be taught that, despite their differences, they are – above all – human beings. That should be the first step,” she stated. Mukherjee then broached the subject of Sri Lanka’s language policy. In 1956, the passage of the Sinhala Only Act in Parliament heightened tensions between the Tamil and Sinhala communities leading to ethnic riots that year and more serious riots later on. The 1978 Constitution gave parity of status to both Sinhala and Tamil. “I must congratulate Sri Lanka on the language policy, which was originally one of the sources of conflict. Now I also noticed that government websites have information in all three languages – Sinhala, Tamil and English. That is certainly a positive development for reconciliation in Sri Lanka,” she said.

International Trends

Questioned on international developments and whether she thought that the statement made by Pope Benedict XVI and the reactions it drew worldwide was confirmation that a ‘Clash of Civilisations’ does truly exist, she asserted that such a clash does not exist, but equated it to a profound misunderstanding between the Western and Islamic worlds.

“Many in the West view Muslims with a great deal of suspicion and that is primarily due to the misperceptions perpetrated by the media. They have hijacked the notion of jihad, which to my understanding is actually one’s personal struggle. Although there are strict conditions under which war can be waged, the media has portrayed jihad as a quest by Muslims fight non-Muslims no matter the cost. That shows a profound lack of education and understanding,” she proclaimed.

So is she optimistic in the face of rising confrontations? “Optimistic? I would not be in peace education if I wasn’t optimistic! Despite all the disparaging developments, I have so much faith in people and I see that faith in students of all our programmes at UPEACE.

Maybe it’s just my utopian thinking, but my faith in humanity tells me that people can learn to live together. Human beings, in my view, are inherently good and it is their environment which propels them to conflict. To co-existent, people must embrace the culture of peace and confront the culture of war. Peace, therefore, is possible!” she smiled.

via… Daily Mirror

SLT tie up with Huawei to expand Broadband Internet coverage

Country’s premier telecommunications provider, Sri Lanka Telecom partners with Global giant Huawei Technologies in an exciting new project that will enable its customers to enjoy Broadband facilities at an affordable price. The tie up will enable SLT customers to enjoy a host of value added services such as high speed Broadband internet, VoIP services, IPTV, Video on demand (VoD), e-Learning and Gaming, ushering in a new era in communications technology in Sri Lanka.

"Till recently, services such as video conferencing and IP telephony have been limited to top Corporates who benefit from being connected to high bandwidth virtual private networks, while domestic customers are also demanding for the high speed internet, video conferencing and so on" says Mr Shuhei Anan CEO, SLT. The new 100,000 ADSL project launched by Sri Lanka Telecom, will allow more customers to go online with DSL [Digital Subscriber Line] services and also facilitate high bandwidth triple play services for all Sri Lanka’s technology buffs. The project which will use the SLT’s existing copper wire line network will enable SLT to provide standard DSL connectivity to many suburban and rural parts of Sri Lanka currently not enjoying DSL coverage, thus creating a significant impact on the economy.

Broadband services on ADSL [Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line] are a fast growing product offering with 100% growth per annum over the last two years. Broadband access has seen tremendous growth globally with over 500% growth reported from 2003 to 2005. ADSL is no longer a service limited to business and is now emerging as a valuable tool for households across the Island, for students and for small scale entrepreneurs who have learnt to harness the tremendous potential of communications technology.

This exiting new initiative from Sri Lanka Telecom which is powered by Huawei Technologies a global giant in the telecommunications sector will help SLT partner with the national mega ICT projects like SchoolNet, Nenasala and e-government to provide connectivity to many schools, education institutes and homes across rural and urban Sri Lanka thus helping the government and ICTA achieve the objectives of creating "e-citizens" by giving people access to information through the internet at affordable prices. Huawei Technologies is a world leader in providing next generation communications solutions and have partnered with 28 of the world’s top 50 communications providers thus touching the lives of over one billion customers worldwide.

Together with new technology SLT is the rolling out training for customer care agents based in regional customer service centres, to help build up the knowledge and the skills required to support regional users with any support calls.

"We can provide DSL to every building where the demand exists, even to locations where fibre connectivity is not practical. I am happy to say that we are ready to introduce VDSL [Very High Bit Rate Digital Subscriber Line] service to our valuable customers in the very near future with the completion of this project. We can provide very high bandwidth like up to 52Mbps connectivity via a VDSL connection" says Mr Priyanka Undugodage, General Manager (IP & BB Network)/ SLT

The 100000 project is proof of SLT’s commitment to provide the Sri Lankan public with the best available technology at affordable prices thus stimulating the development and growth of the national economy and helping Sri Lanka bridge the Digital Divide.

Sri Lanka Telecom ( http://www.slt.lk) is one of the country’s most valuable blue chip companies with an annual turnover in excess of US $ 300.0 million. NTT Communications Corporation of Japan owns a 35.2% stake in Sri Lanka Telecom Limited (SLT) while 49.2% is owned by the Government of Sri Lanka and 15.3% is listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange.

The Company’s customer base is over 1.5 million including multinational corporations, large and small corporate, retail and domestic customers. Today with NTT of Japan as a strategic partner, SLT provides facilities and services to its customers, which are unmatched in scope. These services range from domestic and international voice, communication to advanced data transmission services which include internet services on leased lines, broadband [on ADSL] and dial up, data circuits, frame relay solutions to IP based services such as IP-VPN, total corporate solutions, satellite uplink services and mobile telephony through the fully owned subsidiary Mobitel. With a view to making Sri Lanka a broadband island, SLT is in the process of introducing the necessary infrastructure in the form of NGN networks using a fibre backbone and broadband services such as IMS, IPTV etc. SLT also provides high speed global connectivity to countries in the South Asian Region through its investments in international submarine cables such as SMW3, SMW4 and the India/Sri Lanka Bharat Lanka cable. The proposed submarine link between SLT and Dhirragu will also extend cable connectivity to the Maldive Islands.

The company has been awarded an AAA (sri) rating by Fitch Ratings Lanka followed by a BB- international rating by Fitch International and Standard & Poor’s.

Huawei Technologies is a leader in providing next generation telecommunications networks, and serves 28 of the world’s top 50 operators, as well as over one billion users worldwide. The company is committed to providing innovative and customized products, services and solutions to create long-term value and potential growth for its customers.

Huawei’s products and solutions include wireless products, core network products, network products, applications and software, as well as terminals. Major products are based on Huawei’s self-designed ASIC chips and shared platforms to provide high-quality and cost-effective products and solutions with quick response.

Huawei has over 44,000 employees, of whom 48% are dedicated to R&D. Huawei’s global R&D centers are located in Bangalore in India, Silicon Valley and Dallas in USA, Stockholm in Sweden and Moscow in Russia in addition to those in Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Chengdu in China.

via… Financial Times

CNCI wants Budget boost for industries

By Sunimalee Dias

Ceylon National Chamber of Industries (CNCI) Chairman A.K. Ratnarajah addressing journalists yesterday at the CNCI board room. Others present (from left): CNCI Past Chairman Nimal Perera and CNCI Secretary General/CEO Upali Samarasinghe . Pic. by Daminda Harsha Perera.

The Ceylon National Chamber of Industries (CNCI), the country’s premier industries chamber is urging the government to come up with progressive measures in its second budget to make the industrial sector globally competitive.

The chamber outlined the key areas that needed to be dealt with such as: competitiveness, productivity, power generation, port and customs facilities, taxes and levies, under invoicing, Research and Development and the Textile and Apparel sector.

With global trade based on competitive pricing, the Sri Lankan industries have to be competitive to survive, CNCI Chairman A.K. Ratnarajah told journalists yesterday.

It was noted that the signing of FTAs with other countries alone was not sufficient for a win-win situation for Sri Lankan businesses unless the necessary macro and other policy decisions were also put in place.

The chamber expressed dismay that the country had not and did not appear to focus on the urgent need to become a productive and competitive nation.

“This has to be a national priority and cannot be ignored any longer as the nation is paying a high price due to uncompetitiveness arising out of inaction,” he said.

In addition, it was pointed out that power generation was one of the biggest problems only second to the problem of peace in the country.

CNCI demanded urgent action be initiated by the government in this respect, and said that the government had to take this matter very seriously.

They requested for a reduction in the cost of electricity, and noted that the urgent need also arose because, despite government allaying fears of fuel costs with the establishment of a coal power plant in three years’ time, manufacturers need to survive to see this date.

Meanwhile, for the improvement of the road network they called on the government to explore all possibilities of obtaining foreign aid and land acquisition for road development.

It was noted that the government does not possess adequate resources to revamp the much needed railway network, as such urgent restructuring and improvements to make it a viable system was required.

Concerns were expressed regarding the Port and customs charges which they noted was imperative that the4se be compared with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Singapore as these were the prime areas with which we have to compete.

Under invoicing of goods was highlighted to be taking place at an alarming proportion, denying the state of its legitimate dues by way of taxes and on the other hand affecting competition of the local industries.

Therefore it is reiterated that wherever possible the maximum retail price (MRP) should be market by the manufacturer of the product before shipping it to Sri Lanka.

They also expressed concerns over the multitutde of taxes and levies by Sri Lanka Customs which make things difficult to the respective authorities, the impo0rters/exporters and business community as a whole.

The enormous paper work, wasted man-hours on collection and monitoring of administrative expenditure could easily be minimized by proper planning, it was said.

“One of the major causes hampering the development of the industrial sector is the insufficient investment on R&D by the government and the private enterprises themselves,” Ratnarajah said.

It was advocated that industries be encouraged to invest on R&D by making the import of equipment duty and VAT free and allowing twice the cost of equipment to be claimed as capital allowance for tax purposes.

In addition it was pointed out that the GSP+ scheme was not possible to gain on by all in the garment industry as the establishment of a finishing plant was costing investors heavily.

CNCI also noted that frequent changes in policy were a major contributor for the collapse of certain industries. And the sudden changes in policy without studying the implications on the industry in consultation with the stakeholders, resulted in either their collapse or relatively sick industries at great cost to the economic and to the stake holders.

via… Financial Times

Cisco to tap Sri Lanka’s IT potential

By Sanjeevi Jayasuriya

In a bid to penetrate the untapped potential in the Sri Lanka’s information technology industry, Cisco Systems Inc., the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet, has expanded its operations strengthening its workforce.

"We recruited more staff bringing the number to eight members to enable us to facilitate the future growth of the company operation, thenewly appointed Country Manager of Sri Lanka, Rajkumar Natarajan, said.

Cisco Systems, which recorded 28.5 million dollar revenue for the last year, is considered as one of the top 15 most valuable companies globally.

The South Asian region has emerged as a growth engine in IT sector, and Sri Lanka has been a significant contributor. The company invested substantially in our operations as we see immense potential in this country, he said. "We intend increasing the usage by widening the penetration", he added.

"There has been a remarkable growth in the service provider, banking and small medium business in the recent past. The key reason for this growth can be attributed to global ambition. We consider it is important to enhance our presence to effectively tap and manage our business", Cisco’s Senior Vice President Enterprise, Jangoo Dalal said.

"Our key areas of attention would be the customer satisfaction, adoption of technology in the country and developing partner skills", he said. "In this phase of unprecedented growth of local IT industry Cisco’s endeavour is to enable customers to make prudent decisions on IT infrastructure investment to achieve productivity gains, cost reductions and global competitive advantage by offering state of the art networking solutions. We look forward to a fruitful venture catering to the growing customer base", he said.

Cisco Systems has been in operation for the past 22 years and has added over 18 partners in the process. -The Island

The agony of Mutur: Fasting in fear

Easwaran Rutnam reporting from Mutur

Despite the government attempting to display pictures of smiling families returning to Mutur a majority of the people say they continue to live a difficult and fearful life which could only get better if the town was considered a war-free zone by the government and the LTTE under United Nations supervision.

"How can we break fast with peace of mind when we are forced to do it at somebody else’s house or in our shattered homes? We will not be able to celebrate Ramazan with genuine happiness," S. Satheekeen, a father of three said in anguish and desperation.

Mr. Sathikeen was among those rounded up by the LTTE at the time it invaded Mutur and was held captive at an unknown spot till the army shelling hit this very spot giving them the chance to flee.

Some 36 families whose homes were either fully damaged by the attack on Mutur or were now occupied by the military were observing the Muslim holy month in a makeshift refugee camp at the Al-Hilal Muslim College while several others have sought shelter at the homes of relatives and friends.

"The school principal is asking us to vacate the place so that school activities can go on as usual although Muslim schools are now on vacation. Where can we go? What is the government doing? They make people believe alls well in Mutur but that’s not true," a Muslim refugee said.

He said so far they have received little or no aid and the little they received was inadequate to serve the needs of the displaced families in the camp.

The refugee said if not for the NGOs and aid groups like the World Food Program (WFP) the children in the camp would be starving by now.

WFP supplies rice, sugar, dhal, oil and other essential food items to the Mutur co-operatives store which in turn distributes it to the families under a ration card system much similar to the procedure adopted for tsunami displaced people.
"The Mutur Muslims are like a sharp blade in between two forces (government and the LTTE). We can’t go forward. Neither can we go back. Either way we will cut someone for which we have to pay the price,” Mutur Pradeshiya Sabah Vice Chairman Jamil Kapoor told the Daily Mirror.

He said security in the town was tight but some people panicked unnecessarily when leaflets purported to be from the LTTE surfaced last Friday warning of an imminent attack on the town and warning people to leave the area.

"People need to realize the LTTE threat to Mutur does not exist after Sampur was captured. We can’t explain these things point by point," Mr. Kapoor said while admitting that the battle scars suffered from last month’s LTTE attack on Mutur was still haunting most locals.

M.S. Jainulabdeen, a father of three young children, was among those who is literally scarred and fears for the future of his family. He felt the LTTE threat still remained especially since they continued to operate from Ralkuli an area between Kinniya and Mutur.

"The situation here is not as good as it is pictured to be. The LTTE can still come from Ralkuli. Until that threat is removed we will continue to live in fear, Mr. Jainulabdeen said.

With people still determined to leave Mutur and the army allegedly blocking such attempts the grand mosque in the battered town has put forward eight demands which should be met for normalcy and the people who have fled to return.

Among the demands are assurances that there will be no threats from the LTTE by making Mutur a war- free zone, lifting of fishing restrictions and the resettlement of Tamils together with the Muslims who fled as a result of the fighting.

Most Tamils are yet to return to Mutur and Muslims fear this creates an opportunity for the LTTE to strike at any given time considering the fact that Tamils will not have to face the consequences.

The local economy has also taken a beating with several shops still remaining closed and others including fish and meat vendors moving out from the main market and attempting to sell their products at road side stalls as a result of a drop in the town’s population.

Mr. Kapoor said those who still remained in Mutur will have to hold on to the only thing they could trust their faith and hope for the best with the assurance that Almighty Allah will somehow take all their troubles away.

via… Daily Mirror

High Achiever

By Kumala Wijeratne

How do you begin to describe a lady who has achieved so much? Sicille Kotelawala,

holds many designations and posts too innumerable to mention.

Apart from being the Deputy Chairperson of Ceylinco Consolidated, one of Sri Lanka’s largest conglomerates, she is also involved in Ceylinco’s Diamond and jewellery activities. She opened her own International Jewellery Salon, ‘Cecile’ a boutique with a unique concept manufacturing and selling exclusive jewellery from Sri Lanka, Italy, USA, Malaysia, Pakistan and India. One of Sicille’s signature designs is the highly acclaimed diamond-cut ‘Papillion’ ring. The latest addition to the collection is the combined Opals of Australia with Fior Drissage suspended setting, designed in the shape of a Sri Lankan map which will be available in her salon in the near future.

The lady who heads many missions and businesses in Sri Lanka, was invited to join the Women’s Leadership Board at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University , Boston, U.S.A; an external group that advises the Dean and supports women’s initiatives at the School, including the Women’s Public Policy Programme.

Sicille P.C.Kotelawala is currently the Honorary Consul General for the Republic of Cyprus in Sri Lanka and the Counselor for International Trade for the Kingdom of Belgium. The latter office she holds is by Decree of His Majesty Albert ii, King of the Belgians, while she was in the Royal Delegation of Crown Prince Phillipe during his visit to New York. In March 2005 she was invited to attend the Gala Evening in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Belgo-Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in New Delhi, India She was also the sole representative from Sri Lanka to attend the 7th World Congress of Consuls in Athens, Greece.

Besides this, Sicille is the representative of Asia Society NY, in Sri Lanka and a Member of its International Council for over a decade. She was amongst the panelists who participated at the Asia Society’s 15th Corporate Conference held in Bangkok, Thailand, in June 2005 which was graced by Heads of State, Government Officials and Business Leaders from around the world.

Fresh from her recent visit to Asia Society, New York , Sicille Kotelawala had the distinguished privilege of giving the vote of thanks at this historical occasion which was a very well attended event.

Sicille was the only woman from Sri Lanka, among 13 other women from around the world, selected to receive a world renowned award, ‘Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World 2005’ by Star Group, U.S.A. and received this award at their 9th Gala and Celebratory Event held in Vancouver, Canada in May 2005 .

Her husband Deshamanya Dr. Lalith Kotelawala lovingly refers to her as ‘the wind beneath my wings’. Partners in life behind the Ceylinco Conglomerate, they have immensely supported the poor and helpless. Recently they opened the Tsunami Hope Foundation – a shelter for children affected by the Tsunami, fulfilling a dream she had, to open a home for destitute children.

In her younger days, Sicille was a great dancer. In fact she authored a book called ‘Classical Dance of Sri Lanka" which was well received. She also contributed five articles covering all aspects of Kandyan Dance with six photographs to the International Encyclopeadia of Dance (six volumes). Her tour of the USA with Heen Baba – her Guru were presented in their authenticity from excerpts from the Kohomba Kankaria and Vannam were produced on stage for the first time. The Heen Baba Troupe and the Southern Province Dance troupe were both sponsored in the 1970’s by the performing Arts Programme of Asia Society NY. In 1974 Asia Society also published her monograph on the ‘Classical Dance of Sri Lanka – Kandyan Dance’ which was circulated to universities and libraries in the USA. Sicille later elaborated this into a beautiful coffee table book. ‘Classical Dance of Sri Lanka – Kandyan Dance’ in English is now in it’s 3rd edition and circulated in many countries.

Her solo performance and lecture demonstrations in this form of art received standing ovations at Carnegie Hall, Smithsonian Institute and UCLA and in 22 cities in the U.S.A.

They had wonderful reviews in the New York Times by the famous art critic, Anna Kisselgorge, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and many more. The theatre and stage performances that she participated in were many. She played the main role in many English plays such as Chekhov’s Seagull, Shakespearean – Othello, Eugene O neil’s ‘Marco Millions’, the controversial modernized play of ‘Rama and Sita’ by Kuru Gunawardena in which she played the role of Sita and the ballet "Kuveni’ was one of the main roles she enacted in, a much talked about event. "Kandyan dancing was my main forte, my Guru the late Heen Baba and the troupe performances in several countries overseas showed our rich heritage and cultural aspects of Sri Lanka."

Sicille personally attends to all her commitments, acknowledging all that she has undertaken, constantly traveling around the globe. She believes that the four main religions in Sri Lanka and their vibes have saved us from many a calamity and it is a blessing.

The recent sightings of aliens are another form of interest to her as she has always been enamored by the ancient civilization of the Aztecs, Incas, Mayans and Pharaohs of Egypt. In the 1970’s she visited Machapichchu . The sunrise over this magnificent Golden City of the Inca gods, forever etched in her memory. "The recent citing of the space craft and aliens should be taken seriously and not as a myth. Every position and direction of our Dagobas has a bearing to the planets just as much as the Pyramids."

via… Mirror Life

New SLMM Chief hits out at Govt. – LTTE

  • Nature of violence by all parties is shocking, no will to limit it
  • International community losing it’s patience

By Simon Gardner

Sri Lanka’s new Nordic peace monitor has been in the job for less than a month and already he is shocked and disappointed at what he sees.

Since taking over as head of the unarmed Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission this month after his predecessor was forced out by a rebel ultimatum, Lars Johan Solvberg has had to deal with a military offensive and a civilian massacre.“The nature of the violence by all parties in this conflict is shocking. I’m disappointed to see no real sign of will to limit this violence,” Maj. Gen. Solvberg told Reuters yesterday in his first interview at the mission’s new office in a leafy residential quarter of Colombo.

“I am also disappointed that the government side is not doing a wholehearted approach to investigate these brutal incidents, which elsewhere in the world would be a major case for the authorities,” Maj. Gen. Solvberg said.

Hundreds of civilians, troops and Tamil Tiger rebels have been killed since late July in the worst violence since a 2002 truce gave way to renewed civil war.

The monitors have blamed both sides for a series of gross violations of the terms of the truce, and pinned the execution-style killings of 17 local staff of aid group Action Contre La Faim in August on the security forces.

“I think it’s unwise by the government, because the international community is losing its patience and the credibility of the government in the face of international opinion is severely hampered by the fact that they are not pursuing these incidents,” Maj. Gen. Solvberg said. “If you see the violations in general, numbers and gravity put together, my birds eye view on this is that there is no significant difference in the gravity of the violations (by either side),” he added. “That’s a totally unacceptable situation if one should commit oneself to the ceasefire agreement.”

The government and the LTTE accuse each other of being behind abuses and of starting confrontations.

Each side argues that they still honour the truce, and that their foe is trying to force a full-blown return to a war. Thousands of displaced civilians caught in the middle continue to pay a heavy price — particularly in the besieged army-held Jaffna peninsula in the island’s far north, which is cut off from the rest of the island by rebel lines and where emergency food supplies must be shipped in and are insufficient.

“The situation in Jaffna is very alarming. It’s a ship that is barely floating,” Maj. Gen. Solvberg said. “Most of the mechanisms of the society are about to collapse.”

via… Daily Morror

Wijeya takes newspaper business to new dimension with SLT

SLT Chief Marketing Officer Kapila Chandrasena (left) shakes hands with Wijeya Newspapers Director Sujan Wijewardena.

Signs up for Intelligent Solutions from telecom giant

Wijeya Newspapers, most innovative print media in Sri Lanka signed up with SLT for state of the art communication solutions that will gear them for the next level of servicing. The ceremony was held at the Sri Lanka Telecom office. The agreement was signed between Kapila Chandrasena, Chief Marketing Officer, SLT and Sujan Wijewardena, Director Production of Wijeya Group.

Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. Director Sujan Wijewardena said: We are a progressive newspaper group and glad to partner with Sri Lanka Telecom which reflect the same character. The total integrated solutions from SLT will help improve seamless internal as well as external communication for Wijeya thereby help the Group newspapers to enhance its value to the growing readership.

Speaking at this occasion SLT Chief Marketing Officer Kapila Chandrasena said: “We are very happy to see Wijeya Group, one of our valuable partners expanding their communication needs to facilitate the recent expansions of their business opportunities in Sri Lanka and we are very pleased to play a role in their business expansions. In order to support Sri Lankan businesses we have invested very heavily in submarine cable systems to expand Sri Lanka’s global connectivity and also we are expanding our domestic network using state of the art technology, in order to facilitate multi service; voice, data, internet and content services.”

“We always think that our customers need to run their own multi application, transfer high speed data, access broadband internet in one single secured private network. According to those requirements SLT has already transformed our total network into a Next Generation Network (NGN).” Mr. Kapila Chandrasena further added that they are very thankful to Wijeya for their loyalty to SLT throughout.

SLT will facilitate Wijeya Group in providing Voice/PABX for voice communication, IP-VPN (Internet Protocol Virtual Private Network) for network solution, Internet and iDC/Hosting services. These will deliver network cost savings through enhanced interna communication making operation much smoother. This will also enable Wijeya to offer more products and services to their customers.

Powered by SLT’s state-of-the-art communication services all branches of the Wijeya Group that are spread around the Island will be connected through one network.

Wijeya Newspapers Limited formerly known as Wijeya Publications Limited was incorporated in 1979 with the primary object of printing and publishing newspapers and periodicals. Mr. Ranjit Sujiva Wijewardene, the Chairman of the Company, founded the Company. It commenced its operations by publishing three weekly tabloids. The project was intended to provide high quality reading material at affordable prices to the readers of Sri Lanka, a nation with the highest literacy rate of 86% amongst its South Asian neighbours. The Company commissioned Sri Lanka’s first Web fed offset printing plant for high quality colour printing. Today the Company has a very strong market share in newspaper sales and making efforts to increase its share in the sale of advertising space.

Sri Lanka Telecom is one of the country’s most vital utility companies with an annual turnover in excess of Rs.30 billion. The group company has a customer base of over one million including multinational corporations, large and small corporates, retail and domestic customers. Today with NTT of Japan as a strategic partner, SLT provides facilities and services to its customers, which are unmatched in scope. These services range from domestic and international voice, advance data transmission services which include internet services on leased lines, broadband [on ADSL] and dial up, data circuits, frame relay solutions, to IP based services such as IP-VPN, total solutions of combination of multiple services, satellite uplink services and mobile telephony through its fully owned subsidiary Mobitel .The company was also awarded a AAA (sri) rating by Fitch Ratings Lanka followed by a BB- international rating by Fitch International and Stancard & Poor’s.

via… Daily Mirror

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