Our salute goes to Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), the oldest business chamber in the country for intervening and being proactive to bring about a consensus to the gratuitously bloated Halal issue by extremist groups with other business chambers in the country.
It won’t be an exaggeration to say that this could have been cited as the most progressive premier business chamber had ever been in the recent past given the lukewarm responses it made in other key political-economic issues that came up lately.
CCC’s standard procedure in making its stance on a certain issue was to issue a very carefully worded, brief press release—making an extra effort not to upset the establishment—and wash its hands.
This was quite evident when the government brought in a draconian law to expropriate businesses that are on government land on the basis under performance and under utilisation. The brief press statement issued by the business chambers, led by CCC prompted the business desk of our paper to put a headline to their story as ‘Gutless Chambers’!
Then, following the torrent of criticism from media and public, the business chambers again led by the CCC made an about-turn and rushed a new press statement asking the government to differ the proposed bill, a stance that was not even insinuated in the earlier press release.
It was no big secret that the business chambers made only a half-hearted call against the recent impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, even knowing that the negative economic consequences that could arise from such an incident.
Every time an international research body or a rating agency writes a report about Sri Lankan economy, the impeachment of the Chief Justice is brought as an example to talk about the governance and accountability issues the country is going through.
The benighted and the shortsightedness of CCC was also very much in display when its management took a decision to grant the reporting rights of an international event that was organised by the chamber only to two newspapers and one TV channel for reasons best known to them. The final result was that nobody even knew such an important forum took place in Sri Lanka as a result of the lack of publicity it received.
With an appalling track record like this, what CCC did with regard to the Halal issue is truly commendable.
A special credit should go to CCC President and John Keells Group Chairman Susantha Ratnayake for the professional way he conducted the press conference with the support of the highly respected Buddhist clergy and the clerics of All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama. Following the press conference the contentious Halaal issue was officially over though certain extremist parties are still trying to drag it to fulfil their own personal agendas.
Therefore we urge the CCC and other business chambers to get proactively involved with future key issues in the economic, political and social spheres and use their influence in business and monetary might to defeat extremism and corruption and to enhance good governance and accountability.