Tamil Sri Lankan Airlines

I was asked many times to boycott Sri Lankan Airlines. I said NO. They are family – and there are no rights and wrongs with family. With family – it is about loyalty. Others in the family are entitled to naturally share my status and I theirs.
by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam

(August 11, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I respond to the article ‘Depart paradise through hell’ by Mr. Tissa Jayaweera, Chairman, International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka. The article was published in Sri Lanka Guardian.

The above article came with a picture of Sri Lankan Airlines plane and I immediately felt upset. I felt upset because ‘I am Sri Lankan’. Mr. Tissa Jayaweera – Chairman, International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka is NOT Sri Lankan. Another way of saying it is: - through the eyes of others – i.e. - as we and therefore our institutions are seen by others. Since I am seen as Tamil Sri Lankan Airlines is Tamil. So Mr. Jayaweera, please use merit basis when measuring our Tamil Sri Lankan Airlines!

There are three levels of measure:

(1) Primary – through likes and dislikes (as in children)
(2) Secondary – through Common Principles (High School)
(3) Tertiary – through Truth (University)

When we combine (3) & (1) – we see the path / our conduct. The law that is closest to this is our law. Through that law, our work / life will merge with society.

Recently, in relation to a Vattukkottai family – I said that the estate of the person who passed away – should go to a particular male in the family who elevated the status of the whole family through his own status, to earn which he and his wife worked very hard. The law that came closest to this was Thesawalamai (Customary Laws of Northern Sri Lankan Tamils). The eldest member is a female and was driven by her likes and dislikes. This would have meant that the property would have gone into practitioners of Primary level (1) above. One who worked for the family in common is in Tertiary level (3) above and therefore would dislike this female. He does. When the two (his dislike and his Truth which is the Truth of the highest contributor) are connected – the closest common law we get is Theswalamai and NOT Roman Dutch Law – as the female desired. When we are driven by Truth – we are independent. This is why those who invest in Truth of the whole family/institution are called Governors. The institution is given their Surname/Looks. Given that I have invested in Sri Lankan Airlines as a whole – since its inception (we gave birth to Airlanka) and feel I am Sri Lankan Airlines – and I am seen as a Tamil – I conclude that Sri Lankan Airlines is Tamil.

Like with the above Vattukkottai family, during the 25th Anniversary celebrations of Airlanka in 2004, I insisted on paying tribute to our elders – those who were NOT with us on this earth any more. Following is an excerpt of my response to Justice C. G. Weeramantry, former Vice President of the International Court of Justice, when he spoke about the Relevance of Ahimsa on World Peace Day :

‘Reality is that majority Sri Lankans do not 'intellectually' learn religion, but follow their parents and elders, mostly intuitively. Where rulers/governments had/have direct involvement in religious activities, there was material value in learning religion top-down. 
To that extent, the value of religions needs to be realistically and practically assessed through visible objective measures. Otherwise, we risk further loss of value of our respective religions.

I asked Gamage, the driver who took me to Galadari Hotel from Katunayake, on my recent visit to Colombo, as to how he practised Buddhism. Gamage said that he went to the Temple on Sundays with his family. He highly recommended the temple near my hotel. I asked him about Kalutara Bohdi Temple and he did not seem to know much about it. 
I asked in particular about Kalutara Bodhi because of my plans to visit Kalutara with the SriLankan Airlines team, for its Commercial Conference. I remembered with appreciation, Sir Cyril De Soysa, for whom I worked many years ago and who I understand established the Kalutara Bohdi Temple.

Yet, Gamage did not know about this even though he is educated up to G.C.E (Ordinary Level).

Likewise the new graduates joining SriLankan Airlines did not know about Captain Rakitha Wickremenayake the founding chairman of Air Lanka when it was formed 25 years ago, Mr. Kula Kulesekaram the founding General Manager and Mr. Colin Martinus the founding Commercial Manager.’

I connect the above Truth I feel about Airlanka / Sri Lankan Airlines with my own current experiences with our National Carrier. I feel happy – as if I am with family. In addition, I meet up with staff and share their problems and see whether I could help them find a solution from within. That sharing of experiences is the real value I feel from Sri Lankan Airlines.

If therefore, we take the opinions expressed by Mr. Tissa Jayaweera, Chairman, International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka and we travel up the same road – we would find that Mr. Tissa Jayaweera is NOT and owner of Sri Lankan Airlines and therefore of Sri Lanka itself. If Mr. Jayaweera had consciously used common international principles – he would not have traveled far – because of the current environment in Sri Lanka. His statements are therefore below the line of intellectual discriminatory thinking (of rights and wrongs) – a mistake make by majority forces when they get into positions of power.

The reason as per my analysis is that Mr. Tissa Jayaweera is using his ‘western theory’ to directly ‘judge’ Sri Lankan Airlines which is NOT a private sector organization. Based on Asiantribune – Mr. Jayaweera’s American experience is nowhere near his current status. These are the reasons why the Government of President Rajapakse is facing turmoil at the international level.
When the country is in trouble – it naturally affects all public service organizations. Private sector could be balanced using objective outcomes – especially money outcomes. Not so Public Service.

I was asked many times to boycott Sri Lankan Airlines. I said NO. They are family – and there are no rights and wrongs with family. With family – it is about loyalty. Others in the family are entitled to naturally share my status and I theirs. Mr. Tissa Jayaweera lacks loyalty and yet he was president of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) . I recall applying for a lesser position at the Chamber of Commerce, a few years back and there was no response. That is our reality. Those driven by votes – likes and dislikes would not really govern and v.v. Hence the war in Sri Lanka when governed by the likes of Mr. Tissa Jayaweera.

Mr. Tissa Jayaweera who is reported to have been has been elected to the Advisory Committee of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) about business development in Sri Lanka’s North and East :

‘The liberation and reconstruction of North and East would give a stimulus to the Sri Lankan economy. As such the Central Bank has reported, “If financing is available, growth is forecasted to rebound to 6% in 2009/2010”. This indicates the important measure required for the economic recovery of Sri Lanka, “making available adequate finance”. One way of achieving this is by creating awareness of the business opportunities available in North and East for investors to achieve a competitive and comparative advantage for their products and services’

My conclusion is that if the likes of Mr. Tissa Jayaweera were to lead business development in Sri Lanka’s North and East where they lack ‘ownership’ – the ratings would be worse than the ones shown above about Sri Lankan Airlines. We need to first consolidate our cultural values and identify the path best suited for our development through appropriate laws such as Thesawalamai. Until then – we the real owners will enjoy the travel – because we are Tamils and we are Sri Lankans. Others may observe in silence until they can produce at least Equal to us.

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