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Sri Lanka has enormous potential to develop rapidly

A Sri Lankan expatriate, Senior Research Scientist and Professor of Swinburne University Dr Roshan T. A. Mayadunne was in Sri Lanka on a private visit for the second time since the war has ended. I had a moment to chat with him to get his views on how Sri Lanka has progressed over the past few years and what we should be doing to develop the country.


Dr Roshan T. A. Mayadunne

As a person living overseas for almost 25 years he believes, the political leadership has done extremely well to eliminate terror from the country, which no leader has been successful in achieving for the past three decades.

The country is safe and anyone irrespective of race religion or colour can travel to any corner of the country without any hindrance what so ever and that in itself in his opinion is the greatest achievement since independence.

Now that terrorism has been eliminated from the country, Sri Lanka has enormous potential to develop very rapidly on par with many developed countries such as Singapore. All that is needed is the right political leadership to shape the attitudes of people to do a little bit more for Sri Lanka.

He also said “we have a very high literacy rate, easily the best in the Asian region, have great talent in the youth who are highly educated and have great wisdom, and most of all located in the best position in the Indian Ocean. On many occasions we have seen our people go overseas and do extremely well in their careers much better than the natives.” He raises the question So why can’t we (Sri Lanka) do it?” The answer he believes lies in the leader of this country who can give unwavering leadership to the people, which can make people love this country to make this country the best country of all countries.

Professor Mayadunne strongly believes that past four years Sri Lanka has seen a great leader, who has given unwavering leadership, particularly when the Western countries were on our back. The way President Rajapaksa stood his ground, for the country was a great pride to all Sri Lankans, and for those Sri Lankans living abroad, who still have their heart and soul in this country despite living abroad.

He was of the opinion that the country is in a get set position to ‘go’ along the track towards development goal immediate aftermath of defeating the most ruthless outfit of this world under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The elation of the victory over the terrorism was felt by all the Sri Lankan expatriates living far away from the country and the nationalistic feeling he got with the message of victory was so great that he was proud to be a Sri Lankan. It was felt by all of expatriates and they celebrated the victory in Australia. Victory was sweet and said that all citizens of Sri Lanka should be indebted for the great political leadership given by the President, without which we would never have won the war.

Referring to the hostilities by the LTTE in Australia before the terrorism was eliminated he said there were few of his friends in Australia whose shops were broken in by the LTTE but the situation has changed after the defeat of the LTTE.

The LTTE barricaded the development of this country, he said. The LTTE that caused fear for life in the people and the development stagnating due to a major proportion of the budget was allocated for defense of the country cutting down immeasurable number of opportunities for educated people, was one main reason for the brain drain.

He says he was heartened by the call by Hon President Mahinda Rajapaksa inviting Sri Lankan expatriates to come back to develop the nation in the immediate aftermath of defeating terrorism and believes there are many who wants to come back. He says Never in the history has this happened in Sri Lanka but much needs to be done and President Rajapaksa needs to be given a fair chance to continue and implement his vision for Sri Lanka.

Professor Mayadunne is attached to the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia as a senior research scientist inventing new technologies in the polymer field. CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world with more than 50 sites throughout Australia and overseas with over 5000 scientists and graduates.

He says he believes that our science agencies, the people, and the facilities can be developed to function like CSIRO because we have a pool of great intellects passing out from our universities every year, have a great cost advantage where we can support many researchers for each researcher in a first world country.

Further, most importantly create an excellent environment for our young people to get trained, do their higher studies (post graduate) here in Sri Lanka and an opportunity to excel in their respective areas, the benefits of which will come as novel discoveries for Sri Lanka, which can be readily licensed to major overseas companies.

He believes the effort will bring in massive benefits in terms of revenue and most of all pride and prestige for Sri Lanka.

All what he sees is the need for a positive change of attitude of people for development. He said that Sri Lanka has the potential to develop the country in par with the developed countries soon if the country was steered in the right way and stated that the people were in a decisive juncture to decide the direction of the country.

Professor Mayadunne said that when driving our motherland towards development it is better to put a little effort in the field of conducting researches in inventing new technologies in the field of polymer as well as in other fields as it has a remarkable demand in the outer world and already we have almost all the resources.

Only thing that we needed is to take initiative measures with little funding and create intellectual stimulation to invent new technology.

Finally I asked Professor Mayadunne “Do you think Sri Lanka can make it?” and his reply was “absolutely, no doubt what so ever....” Professor Roshan Mayadunne is an expert in the fields of Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine, Nanomaterials for Medical Delivery, Polymer technology, Biomedical materials and Organic chemistry. His website is www.r-maya.com Professor Mayadunne also holds an honourary adjunct position at Swinburne University in Melbourne and has a group of PhD students doing research under him.

He is keen to attract more students from Sri Lanka either permanent PhD students or as exchange students.

Professor Mayadunne has bagged the CSIRO Medal in 2005 for Research Achievement for the invention and development of Novosorb, a biodegradable polymeric platform technology, now commercialised through an ASX listed company Polynovo Biomaterials.

He also received the CSIRO Medal in 2003 for Research Achievement for the invention and development of RAFT Polymerisation, now the leading radical polymerisation technique in the world. He also was the nominee of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of ANU for the 1997 Cornforth Medal in 1998, awarded by RACI for the best PhD thesis in Chemistry from an Australian University. He was also awarded with the ANU Postgraduate Research Award in 1992.

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