Wednesday 4 January 2017

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam
04 January 2017

Pilots, Academics & Frivolous Laws

Until I joined the University of NSW, I did not know how weak Academics were in Administration. Democracy, due to the facility to produce our own independent outcomes within our position portfolios,  helps us to cease ‘cooperating’ to uphold lies at the top. Those who practice Truth – would be most orderly. Hence Gandhi’s Non-violent Non-cooperation which is based on Truth discovered. One who operates within the boundaries of her/his own Truth will always be orderly. It’s this Truth that shows up the disorder of irrelevant laws. Irrelevant laws promote ego problems.

The first Public organization I worked at is Air Lanka/Sri Lankan Airlines. It was however a commercial operation. Hence it felt like a large private organization. I was recruited by the Singapore Airlines team – into the Commercial Division – the only female executive in that division at that time. The decision was made by Mr. Collin Martinus – the best Commercial Administrator known to me. It was my first exposure to commercial side of operations. I learnt that business and administration need to merge at Equal level in a Public organization as well as a large private organization. Likewise Policy and Economic progress of a nation. If Business is about cleverness, policy is about sharing that cleverness with all stakeholders.

As per the Colombo Telegraph article ‘SriLankan Airlines: CEO Capt. Ratwatte Bungles PIA Wet Lease Deal And Now Wants To Fly As A Pilot’, the following description has been published about the predecessor of Capt. Ratwatte:

‘CEO and Board Director Rakhitha Jayawardena was making steady progress running the airline with the hope of turning its profits from red to black. It was an arduous task. But there was some progress being made. After all Rakhitha Jayawardena is a businessman and it is disappointed he was not given a chance to showcase his skills on behalf of the airline.’

Sri Lankan airlines has the capacity to make business. But what is missing is the ability to share that economic prosperity in an orderly manner with all stakeholders – each group as per their earnings. If Mr. Jayawardena had the business skills – the parallel of that with Capt. Ratwatte was his piloting

Mr. Rauff Reffai wrote in his analysis ‘Should the Sri Lankan government be in the business of running an airline? – A complement’ – published by the Daily Morror:

‘Lee Kuan Yew in his autobiography wrote: “When I requested President J.R. Jayawardena how Singapore can help Sri Lanka, one of his requests was to release Capt. Rakhita Wickramanayake from Singapore Airlines to head Air Lanka (predecessor to SriLankan) operations. I was surprised that he was appointing an airline pilot to head a commercial enterprise.”

Air Lanka’s success is not through mere economic returns but also through the mind that the National Carrier developed – which mind lives on after rebirth as Sri Lankan Airlines and Mihin Air. As an insider, I attribute this continuity to the team back then – which was well structured with each one working within their own portfolios. They did not ‘interfere’ with others portfolios and hence there was good order.  That training continues to support me under similar circumstances.

Where the Government intervenes on behalf of shareholders – the Sri Lankan Public – the level of self-governance needs to be at the lower level – so each unit can produce its own independent outcome. The viability of  that unit – would be measured independently and this promotes transparency and prevents interference by those in higher positions – especially those with political influence.

My expertise in this was appreciated here in Australia and I continued to attribute credit to Air Lanka – especially through those who valued my work. Once the internal cohesion  of Sri Lankan Airlines is strengthened the rest will happen naturally. At the University of NSW – part of my role happened to be to become the opposition of the oldies who were against Democracy and who were comfortable with carrying as if they were dependent organization and not the independent organization that a University needs to be. Any University that is low on Research –  but spreads laterally to recruit more and more fee-paying students – would lose its connections to the root purposes of a University – to discover Truth and share it through Teaching. Likewise any commercially oriented public organization. Eventually such spread leads to disorder and the organization dismantles itself.

The internal opposition within Sri Lankan Airlines needs to be developed towards surfacing problems that can be resolved by the employees. Then there would be natural merger of minds needed for the National Carrier to be Independent and therefore Global. Excessive Laws lead to frivolity and abuse of power. Likewise excessive authority without ‘showing’ performance. The first enemy of  a business venture is authority without show of outcomes/transparency. Likewise the first enemy of Public service is production of early outcomes including premature internal judgment.

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