OPA at your service
Science and Technology in Sri Lanka
Continued from last week
(iii) Collective decision of Boards must await approval of a single
ministry official, the Secretary more significantly, the Ministry
sometimes overrides unanimous collective Board decisions on personnel
management matters without even discussion with the Boards or seeking
clarification from them.
This is because political influences allow personal considerations to
supersede the public interest and benefit. There is a total absence of
transparency, and no recognition of the importance of dialogue in
(iv) Boards of management carry the responsibility and authority for
the proper management (including staff appointments) of their institutes
with integrity and due regard to ethical standards and fundamental human
It is the Boards, and not the Ministries, which are liable to face
litigation if they act incorrect. Boards tend to follow ministry
instructions, even if they consider the instructions to be logically,
technically, ethically and legally wrong.
The reasons for this are the two insidious and iniquitous provisions
in the Statutory Acts enabling the Minister to -
(a) Give specific instructions to the Board, and (b) dismiss any
Board Member, and Chairman without assigning any reasons. It should be
mentioned that in the last 15 years five senior scientists, members of
the National Academy of Sciences of Sri Lanka, have been were summarily
dismissed from the Boards of Statutory Scientific Institutions.
Three were presidents of both the NASSL and SLAAS and Chairmen of
their respective boards and two were members of the Council of the NASSL.
Recently a senior scientist who was a director of a statutory
scientific institute was dismissed for vacation of post and held on
remand on his return from a very fruitful official visit abroad because
he had not obtained the ministry’s approval for the travel which had
been approved by the Board. Although he was subsequently reinstated by
the President he resigned because of the indignity he had been subjected
(v) Such ad-hoc and mala-fide decisions may be successfully contested
under Fundamental Rights actions in a court of law as illustrated by the
landmark judgement (in 2001) by the Supreme Court on a Fundamental
Rights petition successfully filed by a senior scientist against his
arbitrary dismissal by the Minister without assigning. Despite the
judgement, no action has been taken yet to delete those insidious and
iniquitous provisions in Statutory Acts.
(vi) How can senior scientists in managerial positions guide and set
an example to younger scientists on the importance of ensuring human
rights, human dignity, ethical conduct and integrity when they
themselves may succumb to committing improper and unethical actions by
being ‘yes men’ to their superiors in order to keep their jobs through
fear of those insidious and iniquitous provisions in S&T Acts referred
How can young scientists be expected to develop an inquiring mind and
openly discuss with their superiors any doubts they may have on
scientific theories and practices of their seniors? (To be continued
Questions and Answers
How to obtain Patent Rights for handicrafts
Question: My cousin in Kandy makes mirrors and other household
items studded with Sri Lankan Spices which is unique to Sri Lanka. When
I saw these items I asked him why he does not advertise on the Web with
pictures, then he said he wants to do it after he obtains Patent Rights
or else will be copied by others.
Would appreciate if you could kindly advise me on the following
A. Should the finished goods be shown?
B. If so where
C. Would Photographs of the finished goods be accepted?
D. Any amount to be paid for obtaining the Patent Rights
E. Time duration to obtain.
F. Any other requirements.
- Mohamed Ramzeel email@example.com
Answer: Patent Rights, Intellectual Property Protection etc.
are now handled by “The National Intellectual Property Office” situated
at No. 400, D.R. Wijewardene Mawatha, Colombo 10 on the 3rd floor of
Samagam Medura. You can call over or write to them and request for an
In the Intellectual Property, categories yours come under “Design” as
a subject dealt with by a separate section. In the forms you can sketch
your design. Photographs may be also helpful but no need for the goods
to be shown.
They will publish in the Newspaper the particular design to see if
there are any objections from others who may have this same design After
which they will register you design provided, there are no objections.
You have to pay a very nominal amount and the process could take about
Conducting business enterprise in residential area
Question: I am a resident of Evergreen Park (off Dabare
Mawatha) Colombo 5, which has been classified by the UDA as “Primarily a
residential area”. Notwithstanding this my immediate neighbour has
commenced a stationery business in his garage.
From the early hours of the morning till late at night, we are
subject to a great deal of noise and inconvenience because of the
business, as the place is a live of activity. (Workers making a huge
din, trishaws constantly going to/from etc).
They also park their vehicles outside our premises, thereby blocking
our entrance/exit. I have gone out of my way to be neighbourly and
spoken to them-but to no avail.
I have also written to the UDA and he Police, but no action has ben
taken. I have an elderly mother who is not in the best of health and she
finds it difficult to get even a few hours of sleep, with all that going
For your information, our road is a private road 18 feet in width,
and each resident has tarred the road in front of his premises, Please
advise me as to what I should do as I am at my wit’s end.
- W.M. Pereira-Colombo 5
Answer: The UDA claims to have delegated the planning and
enforcement power to the respective Municipal Councils. Therefore you
have to make a written complaint to the Director City Planning of the
Colombo Municipal Council. If the Director City planning does not take
any action, then you can report to the UDA who will ensure that the
Director-City Planning values the necessary action.
Unfortunately, there is a dispute between the UDA and the CMC as to
who has the power to take action on such cases referred to as “Change of
Use” that is a residential home being changed into a manufacturing or
business premises. We suggest that apart from a written compliant you
also meet the Director in person or the Commissioner.
About the Internet Service
Question: With advancement of Science and Technology an
Internet service has been created. As a perfect ignorant of this subject
I would be glad if you enlighten me on the operation of this technology
1. Who or what country initiated this project
2. How is it operated? How does it absorb all the data to its
3. Does the Websites that are opened now and then provide or feed it
with all date or particulars pertaining to it?
4. How does it operate? i.e Radio waves or Radar equipment etc?
5. I find for every Project a Website is opened with a numerology or
code. It benefits only the consumers with computer equipment. How can
others benefit from it?
- W.W. Amaratunga, Kelaniya
Answer: Whilst there are several definitions, one such is
“Internet is a tool to create critical Mass of Intellectual Resource”.
The Internet was started by the Americans as Advance Research Project
Agency network referred to as “ARAPANET”.
When Russia (Soviet Union) launched the Sputnik in 1957, it was the
American response in Advanced Research and Net working that lead to the
Internet which is also referred to as the Information Superhighway
Telecommunication. This is an advance form of two way visual and audio
communication similar to the television which is one way communication.
The Internet works through telecommunication cable and satellite
transmission and received through computers.
Websites are maintained by companies, individuals, organisations etc.
who keep updating all information they wish to communicate to the public
at large. They maintain it themselves or through service providers. Yes
it is not everyone who can afford a computer just yet but in time to
come it will be the same as TV’s and the radios available in households.
Those who do not have a computer or internet connection, can go to
“Internet Cafes” which provides the facility to the public on payment.
There are several websites available if you wish to know more about
internet such as www.livinginternet.com or www.computerhistory.org/internethistory
Please send in your questions
The Organisation of Professional Associations of Sri Lanka (OPA) will
cover questions in all professions and subjects of common interest to
the public in the ‘Daily News OPA at Your Service’ page every Thursday.
Please make your question brief. Questions can be directed to the OPA on
e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Fax:
2559770 or write to the Professional Centre, 275/75, Prof. Stanley
Wijesundera Mawatha, off Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7.