Daily Archives: October 16, 2006

Ceylinco streamlines better education in tie-up with Monash University

By Yohan Perera

Australian National College (ANC) a member of the Ceylinco Consolidated together with Monash University opened a new chapter in education in Sri Lanka through the launching of Monash College Sri Lanka recently.

Monash University is a member of the prestigious “Group of 8” Australia’s leading universities. The College offers Monash Programs, where students are guaranteed entry to the second year of Monash University for more than 50 destination degrees at the three main Monash campuses in Australia, Malaysia and South Africa.

Students also have the option of transferring to other top universities in Australia or around the world. Sri Lankan students, after 0/Levels or A/Levels, can start Engineering, Business, IT, Arts (Communication and Human Behaviour) and Health Science programs, with this world class Australian education option.

At Monash College Sri Lanka, lectures will be delivered by internationally recognized, PhD qualified, Monash approved faculty with academic standards identical to those at Monash Australia. Monash academic programs are positioned as the “Number One” Australian university programs in Sri Lanka.

Ceylinco Consolidated Deputy Chairman Jagath Alwis said a large number of Sri Lankan students go to Australia for their tertiary education. Australia being a popular destination for Sri Lankan nationals most students finds it difficult to secure employment or meet present day job requirement without a recognized qualification at the tertiary. He explained that the objective of establishing Monash is to overcome this issue.

Monash University Vice Chancellor and CEO Monash Professor Graham Webb said Monash is one of the most recognized groups of universities in Australia. “We have identified Ceylinco Consolidated as one of the top most innovative and enterprising companies in Sri Lanka with a credible track record in providing tertiary education,” he said. He was confident that Monash College Sri Lanka will be come an education hub in the Asian region.

Ceylinco Consolidated Chairman Dr. Lalith Kotelawala said. NAC was established few years ago with the intention of transforming the tertiary education sector in Sri Lanka education sector in Sri Lanka.

Four years after, as a responsible corporate citizen Ceylinco Consolidated feels it is its obligation and duty to elevate the academia of this nation to higher echelon; thus the establishment of Monash College Sri lanka.

He firmly believed that this country’s future depends on well educated young people who also have the right attitude and a proper value system. with the establishment of Monash College, this is exactly what we are planning to do” he added.

ANC Executive Director Monash College Sri Lanka Dr. Punarjeewa Karunanayake said the philosophy behind Monash College Sri Lanka is planning for a life time by educating people. “We are committed to provide an exceptional education opportunity to our future generations intertwined with skills development which is also focused with character formation. We are strongly convinced that a superior quality education is the gateway to a brighter, safer and a prosperous Sri Lanka” he added. -Financial Times

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Engaging the LTTE, Engaging the Tamils

The Sinhalese polity, it would now seem, is moving away from the days of ‘Sinhala Only’ to ‘Sri Lanka First’. Going by their own admission that they would not want the island-nation sliced away, for the LTTE to form a separate ‘Tamil Eelam’, the onus is also now on them, to offer the Tamils what forced them to consider cession so very actively and defend it so very militarily. In a way, the ‘Sinhalese polity’ is under test all over again, and they cannot afford to fail Sri Lanka. In turn, the Tamil community needs to remember that this is a new generation of leadership of the SLFP and the UNP, and that they should be given their chance to prove the ‘Sinhalese sincerity’ – rather than branding them with an old brush.

By N. Sathiya Moorthy

Not all is lost on the peace front as yet, despite the resumption of war between the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) and the LTTE last week, first in the North and later in the East, as well. If anything, the reverses suffered by the SLA for the first time since the virtual collapse of the cease-fire agreement (CFA) between the two should sober the former, and boost the morale of the latter, for both of them to be able to appreciate the even greater urgency for resuming the peace negotiations. In spite of the LTTE’s repeated caution against pulling out of the proposed talks later this month if the SLA attacks continued, all has not been lost on the peace front, either. The SLA charged the LTTE with ‘provocation’ in the North, but obviously would like to bottle up the latter, with full realisation that any meaningful resumption of talks was a time-consuming process. Having got used to returning to the negotiations table from a position of relative military strength, the LTTE would like to assert itself once since SLA launched the blitzkrieg that has handed down military reverses, instead. The civilian population is the ultimate victim, now as it was at Muttur and Maavilaru earlier, and across the Tamil areas and the rest of Sri Lanka all along.

What should make the talks between the Government and the LTTE different this time is the pre-negotiations patch-up between the two ‘Sinhala majors’ for evolving a ‘southern consensus’, which alone could ensure meaningful passage of any legislation for power-devolution, and its implementation by the Colombo Government, now and later. The Government for its part set out a seven-point agenda, which it said should form the ‘core issues’ that need to be addressed at the negotiations with the LTTE. In the same spirit, it also set a pre-condition that the talks, wherever held, should not deviate from the ‘core issues’, to involve charges and counter-charges relating to cease-fire violations and the like, as they have the tendency to derail the substantive issues of power-devolution.

There can be no two opinions about the upcoming focus exclusively on the ‘substantive issues’, but then opinion may differ as to what constituted the same. If ‘ceasefire violations’, which the LTTE had cited in the past to walk out of the peace talks, do not form part of the ‘core issues’, then the issue of ‘child soldiers’ too should not be made one. The larger question of human rights violations, on which both the Government and the LTTE have been charging each other with equal vehemence, too deserve to be kept outside the purview of the negotiations on ‘core issues’. In a way, even questions pertaining to democracy and a multi-party political system (obviously relating to the ‘Tamil areas’ and the larger ‘Tamil communities’) should be treated likewise. These incidentally are among the seven points that the Government has laid down for the resumption of talks on power-devolution.

All this does not mean that these issues are non-existent or irrelevant. It is also nobody’s case that they should not be agitated, discussed, or taken up at the institutional-level for redress. These are issues that are as important as the ‘core issues’. Often, these are cause for greater concern than the ‘core issues’, which in turn are at times the products of such concern. The idea is only to separate them from any negotiations on ‘core issues’, if only to ensure that they do not derail such discussions – whose success alone could ensure return of permanent peace to the Tamil areas as also to the rest of Sri Lanka. Instead, a separate forum(s) could be considered with possible international supervision, not only to address these issues, but even the ceasefire violations by both sides. In a way, moratorium for a year or two on violence and war, internationally supervised, if not necessarily enforced, should be an option – until the power-devolution talks are completed, without let or hindrance of any kind.

That way, the present situation, in which the LTTE has emerged, or forged far ahead as the dominant voice of the Tamil community, is part of a societal aberration in Sri Lanka, another aspect of which the Tamil polity as a whole and the Tamil militancy in particular have been seeking to rectify. As and when the larger issues had been addressed, there should be reasonable expectation of a level-playing field for every political and societal player in the enlarged space. The emergence of the ‘Karuna faction’ as a socio-political entity of whatever credibility and going beyond the military aspect of the LTTE split of 2003 should be an eye-opener. So should be the emerging role and say that the ‘Muslim community’ seems to be seeking for itself in an enlarged polity.

All this does not mean that the ‘Eastern Problem’ does not exist. If anything, it is very much there, and needs to be addressed in a very substantial way, if permanent peace, followed by prosperity, were to re-visit the region in particular and all of Sri Lanka in general. The LTTE, it should be recalled, has expressed no reservations in sharing a seat with the Muslims when their representation in a new politico-administrative set-up is to be discussed, debated and decided upon. There reservations continued to be about having a Muslim representation at the head-table when overall issues are discussed. With a clear-cut division over discussion on ‘substantive issues’ and ‘collateral issues’, if that were the term, the Muslim representation could be present in the former, and not necessarily in the latter.

It is only with the ‘Karuna faction’ that the LTTE may have a problem. That is understandable, too. Anyway, the power-devolution package that is being discussed as a permanent solution to the political problem facing the nation should provide electoral space for anyone wanting to contest polls in a democratic polity. If constituents wanted the ‘Karruna faction’ in one form or the other, so be it. If the mainline Vanni faction, or any other section of the Tamil political opinion is preferred, here, there or anywhere, then again, the political solution cannot be thrown out of the window. The ‘Karuna faction’, or none other should not protest, either. Not at this late hour in Sri Lanka’s bloodied contemporary history, and of the bloodier Tamil militancy. What however may be required an electoral mechanism guaranteed and conducted under international supervision, and security, where required.

Talking of substantive issues, the ‘First Chandrika Package’ on the one hand, and the ‘ISGA Proposals’ of the LTTE on the other have between them enough material to provide the basis for focussed discussions, leading to power-devolution and permanent peace. The Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987 too has aspects of a framework and processes that can be considered / reconsidered. What is needed now, as always, is the political will to take the peace process forward, to culminate in a power-devolution package acceptable to a majority in the nation – and of the Sinhala and the Tamil communities, separately, given that it is the ‘southern majoritarianism’ that has been at the bottom of the ethnic war.

Having said that, the larger Tamil community in general, and the LTTE in particular, should not let go off the present opportunity, wherein international pressure is mounting, not only on the Sri Lankan Government, but also on the Sinhalese polity as a whole – for evolving a power-devolution package that really addresses the concerns of the minority community. The Tamil demands have remained static from the days of the first national convention of the Federal Party at Trincomallee in 1951. The seven resolutions passed then are as relevant today as it was then. The intransigence of the Sinhalese polity, combined with a succession of anti-Tamil pogroms of a smaller or a larger variety, was in a way the sole contributor to the peaceful Tamil protests for equity and equality giving way to demands for a separate State, and to Tamil militancy of the LTTE kind.

The Sinhalese polity, it would now seem, is moving away from the days of ‘Sinhala Only’ to ‘Sri Lanka First’. Going by their own admission that they would not want the island-nation sliced away, for the LTTE to form a separate ‘Tamil Eelam’, the onus is also now on them, to offer the Tamils what forced them to consider cession so very actively and defend it so very militarily. In a way, the ‘Sinhalese polity’ is under test all over again, and they cannot afford to fail Sri Lanka. In turn, the Tamil community needs to remember that this is a new generation of leadership of the SLFP and the UNP, and that they should be given their chance to prove the ‘Sinhalese sincerity’ – rather than branding them with an old brush.

The Tamil community cannot afford to fail itself, at least speaking in a tactical sense. It cannot expect the ‘Sinhalese polity’ to undergo the trial by fire without taking the first step forward. Worse still, any perceived attempt for back-footing on the talks by the Tamils ( read: LTTE) would only lead to a situation where the rest of the world would refuse to sympathise with the community any more, they having understood and accepted the justification of their original case all along. -Daily Mirror

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