28 June, 2022


Are Business Leaders Blindfolded Puppets On A String?

By Chandra Jayaratne

Chandra Jayaratne

Chandra Jayaratne

Business leaders filled the ballroom of a star class hotel to attend a leading business club’s luncheon meeting. This was one of the largest gatherings in the Club’s history. It was reported that over thirty participants were left out, from a waiting list as well. However, several of the Chamber big wigs were amongst the conspicuous absentees! Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka was the star presenter on the theme, “The forthcoming Geneva UNHCR Session-the process to be followed, legal and economic implications for Sri Lanka”.

The speaker was clinical, strategic, analytical and precise in his approach to establish his point of view from a political scientist’s perspective. He outlined the past, omissions and commissions and the sketched the likely future political landscape connected to the forthcoming Geneva UNHCR Session. He presented information that the audience had not heard of before and filled in several gaps in the jigsaw puzzle. He did not beat about the bush, when being critical of those who in his opinion were at the base of the current challenges. He laid it thick, to establish his hypothesis, likely events to come and the possible outcomes. He was, however, possibly due to lack of time, quite vague on the likely impact on business and the economy and did not adequately deal with the potential business risks and essential risk mitigation actions.

Business leaders were pleased with the value for money serving from the meeting, appeared to have thoroughly enjoyed the presentation and the hard hitting statements, the jovial expressions and the cleaver pun. However, how many of those present, went out of the meeting ,determined to get back to their desks and use the core messages of the presenter for an inward business focused search light, cognizant of potential challenges ahead, and to initiate a business risk analysis and develop risk mitigation plans, is any body’s guess.

For instance, how many business leaders would have recognized the possible interpretations of the core messages, by turning the search inwards, that,

  • right persons, with the necessary competences, values, attitudes and skills,
  •  being engaged in the right jobs ,
  • doing the right things at the most opportune time, without procrastination, and
  • following realistic, unbiased and scientific situation analysis,
  •  with strategic positioning actions, duly recognizing challenges, competing forces and risks, and
  • Engaging in effective team work ,
  • with genuine commitment ,honesty, integrity, independence and openness ,and
  • leveraging effective communications , both internationally and internally , and
  • displaying leadership excellence, with courage to be different , being candid, taking hard decisions, with convictions to stand on principles and core values,
  • must at all times be committed to serve the interests of all stakeholders and not only some of them and ten only can they deliver positive, sustainable outcomes, benefiting all stakeholders of society.

How many of these leaders in attendance, on their own, did what the business chambers should have openly facilitated, in the form of a well thought out risk assessment and risk mitigation strategy development, are the critical questions to ponder over. Will the end result of the meeting be only limited to cocktail circuit small talk and concentration on the pun and inside stories?

Would these business leaders have realized at the end of the meeting that the business environment in the short term, linked to

  • Provincial Council elections,
  • Continuing open unlawful and uncontrolled actions of extremist forces,
  • Uncontrolled rhetoric and hate speech of leaders in politics and executive,
  • Anti-western fires let alight by leaders,
  • The breakdown in rule of law and justice systems,
  • Self censorship by media, and
  • Especially ,the stony silence of business and civil society leaders, significantly enhances the risks faced by particular segments of business.

Have these leaders realized that chaotic situation that copuld emerge within the country following a UNHRC resolution as articulated by the Secretary to the President can lead to foreign owned or foreign linked business ( American, British, European, Indian, Middle Eastern) and businesses of minority Sri Lankans, especially those  who are descendents from persons of other foreign nationalities of origin, being targeted.

Are these business leaders merely relying on the assurances of our Political Leaders and the Executive, and findings of opinion polls that no negative issues will arise post the Geneva meeting, irrespective of any egoistic, unprofessional and international relations unfriendly ,stances taken prior to and post the UN HRC meeting.

The business leaders, should approach a risk analysis, looking at the worst case scenario in the short to medium term, and then moderate it down to realistic and particular business specific risks; thereafter prepare mitigation action plans.

Should not a worst case scenario review include, the sector and business specific risk assessments, addressing the under noted questions and potential risks;

  1. Is the expressed opinion of the Secretary to the President, of a likely chaotic situation emerging in Sri Lanka following the resolution being passed calling for an international inquiry, likely to crystallize?
  2. Is there any validity in the warnings and sentiments recently expressed by political and civil society leaders of the Northern Province, of the likely response actions of northern citizens and any remaining extremists in the wake of their rights and aspirations being ignored in the long term?
  3. How will the extremist forces of the south react, in the immediate aftermath of a provincial council election victory and a possible resolution in UNHRC, especially in the event of a possible resolution calling for an international inquiry? And, if they negatively react, will in such a context the rule of law, law enforcement and justice systems effectively prevail?
  4. Will there be calls by extremists for boycott of exports and imports from nations voting for a resolution against Sri Lanka or even a refusal to service facilitate such imports and exports?
  5. What International Relations and Diplomacy policy stances will be adopted by Sri Lanka against nations moving and voting for a resolution against Sri Lanka and vise versa?
  6. Will foreign owned and associated businesses and those businesses belonging to or managed by persons with non Sri Lankan nationalities of origin, be targeted for boycott, physical harassment and even attack?
  7. Will local and foreign NGO’s purported to be supportive of movers of the resolutions be targeted for boycott, physical harassment and even attack?
  8. What stand will the state media and independent media take in the immediate aftermath of the provincial council election victory and a possible resolution in UNHRC?
  9. What will be the stand and strategy of the Diaspora groups, post a resolution being passed calling for an international inquiry? And, how will the local extremist forces react to such moves by the Diaspora?
  10. Will there be calls by Diaspora and International organizations for a boycott of Sri Lanka exported products and services, following the passing of a resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC?
  11. Will there be calls by Diaspora and International organizations for a boycott of Sri Lankan expatriate workers engaged overseas? And could this lead to a significant impact on our inward foreign currency remittances?
  12. Will there be a call by Diaspora and International organizations for avoidance of Sri Lanka as a Tourism destination?
  13. Will there be a call by Diaspora and International organizations to limit the access by Sri Lanka and its business entities, of strategic technology and business knowhow of vital importance?
  14. Could there be a down grading of Sri Lanka business and financial risk indices?
  15. Could the present international risk ratings of Sri Lanka by Rating Agencies be downgraded? And, what impact will it have on Foreign Direct Investments and foreign short term bond and Treasury bill investments? Will such capital outflows result in a short term balance of payment challenges? Will international trade credit terms be negatively impacted and will there be calls for all letters of credit to be counter guaranteed by first class overseas banks?
  16. Will Sri Lanka /Ceylon International Brand Values and International Brand Values of Sri Lankan business and their products and services be negatively impacted?
  17. Could extremists and nationalists convert a disturbed or chaotic situation to set off a wave of destruction led on ethnic/religious and class grounds?
  18. What impact will all of above have on local inflation, interest rates and exchange rate?
  19. Will local bank credit ratings and solvency be challenged and if so will there be negative impacts on short term funding available to business sector and private sector credit growth?
  20. What will be the likely net impact on national budget and balance of payments?
  21. How will growth and profitability of the business sector and market capitalization be impacted in the medium to longer term?

The choice is with the business leaders; whether to remain with blind folded, gagged and ears plugged or to act with openness, professionalism with courage to be different, as visionaries caring for all stakeholders.

Trust that business Leaders will recollect the quotation from Martin Niemöller (1892-1984):

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

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Latest comments

  • 3

    All blue chip Companies have been delivered a circular by PB Jayasundara Sec. Treasury to forward the forecast turnover for the year 2014. for advance payment of Taxes for the year. This is the level of desperation of the MR govt for cash need. Typical killing of the bird that lays golden eggs.

    After all what can one expect from a Tsunami Fund Embezzler, a Murderer and a Liar who has re-employed PBJ who was a convict of FRAUD disqualifying him from holding Public Office and fined half a million rupees?

  • 2

    I wonder how many business leaders are concerned about their own workers and staff leave alone the country. Many are ensconced in their ivory towers with five figure salaries, perks and other benefits. They descend to the floor like gods once in a blue moon.

    They have a close relationship with the powers that be and other people of the same class in order to improve their business interests. It is the poor workers and staff who have to toil and earn the bucks for them to enjoy life.

    • 0

      it’s called CAPITALISM my friend !

  • 1

    Did these business hobnobs get enough bang for their buck from Dayan

    Why would anyone bother lighting fires when a poster with the three faces, Cameron Pillai and Harper tells the story and makes , the inhabitants angry.

    These inhabitants, the great majority of the Lankan population know that these three ,are the Grim Reapers who act as agents of the Tamil Diaspora.

    Their main aim is to destabilize the country.

    Install their stooges lead by Ranil and his Christian Faction in Govt.

    Clear the path for the Diaspora to do what ever they want in the North with the Vellalas.

    Surely these hobnobs can’t be that darf not to realize the aim of the Diaspora,Harper, Cameron ,& Pillai agenda, although Dayan didn’t mention it.

    And it should have been the most important item for the hobnobs to keep in mind if they don’t want their businesses to become “Syrian type” enterprises.

    BTW wonder how much they paid and was it a degustation menu?..

    • 1

      You are right, you say what MR and the puppet want to say, Real patriot… STUPIDITY HAS NO LIMIT

  • 4

    Glad that the businessmen of Colombo was sufficiently entertained by Dayan.He is good at that. But he is better at Gymnastics.

    He entrained Vardaraja Perumal for a while, then Premadasa, then Mahinda and most certainly the readership of Colombo Telegraph. I am glad to hear that he is able to do the same with the Business Community.

    The only sector he is unable to entertain so far is the International Community. MR is able to provide them much better entrainment and has no need for fallen trapeze artists now reduced to giving unpaid advise.

    Hope you guys paid him.

  • 2

    Most of The Business leaders are men of straw, take the example SLT empire, you have Nimal Welgama the chairman also runs Upali newspapers and great affinity to the center, appointed Kapila as CEO for Mobitel , who currently runs the loss making Sri Lankan airlines , where shashindra rajapakse sits on both boards …… and basically pulls the strings..the perera empire which has invisible tentacles in every business,no manager will ever stand up in any way in both these companies…….perera puuls the strings… more to come

  • 0

    Yes, “puppets on a purse string” ! They have no principles and no ethics, otherwise would they hold onto office for long ?

    Just see how many of the leaders you refer to are over the age of 55 ? By staying in office beyond the retirement age they have denied a successor a job haven’t they ?

    What can you expect from people like this ? Good governance ? My foot !

  • 0

    There was a prediction of chaos by none other than a Civil Servant who
    was directly involved in the “Tsunami Funds” fraud that CJ S.Silva
    pardoned. DJ would not have commented on this matter of a similar ruler?


  • 0

    The few comments that have been posted to the article published on the 5th March is an indication that the CT readers have no interest or have no hope in the business community doing anything in national interest other than making use of the time to amass wealth. They would not have any interest to listen to DJ or to be seen in that audience in the fear that they will play foul with the power that be. The author had taken pains to articulate and encourage the business community to play a role but his efforts seems to be in vain. We wish his strength to pursue his vision.
    It would be good for the author who was the former head of the Ceylon Cha,mber of Commerce to start from there. The present President o this Chamber is a head of a liquor company and busy with buying up outstation licenses to open new “Machang” outlets to pick the hard earned money of the youth. This is when the government is on “mathaka Thitha”. I can rest my case here. James Packer can easily fast track to become the President of this Chamber quite fast. This is the reality of the business community and the sooner the author realizes the better. The CT readers have understood it well.

  • 0

    Having written the above posting it would be the sincere hope of the CT readers that the Business Community will sooner or later realize that they are a part of the national platform and have a role to play.
    Are they waiting for business to be affected and run down arising from out actions to open their eyes?
    Probably that must hit them hard as a wake up call.

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