‘President caused best benefits of ICT to reach all’
Text of the speech by Secretary to
the President Lalith Weeratunga titled ‘Internet for all’ at the
inauguration of the INET Colombo 2011 on May 23.
Continued from last Saturday. (28)
“However, the rate of electronic waste growing in Sri Lanka and
throughout the world is alarming to say the least.
“As a member of the ever-growing internet users’ family, it is your
duty to make sure that you are not wasting or misusing server spaces and
network bandwidth. Like spectrum we use for radio, TV and telecom
signals, these are invisible resources that can be used for the
advancement of mankind and not destruction.
Secretary to the President
Lalith Weeratunga delivering his address
at the inauguration of INET Colombo 2011
Self-discipline rather than control “Interestingly, some countries
have started strict measures on both hosting websites and accessing the
internet. However, as a public servant of a democratic country, a
democratic government I always advocate self-discipline rather than
controlling. If we control, we also control creativity and innovation
which is a must for the advancement of a nation.
Form of ‘village well clubs’
“Another interesting aspect of the internet is that a sociologist
will see internet from different angles. We have now passed the era of
I am sure, some of us would have had pen-friends. I had four or five
waiting eagerly to see an airmail letter. Today we have come to an era
of cyber-friends through social networking backed by new technologies.
Internet’s role as a medium for social networking is now, in my
understanding, a debated topic. There are many complaints about ‘fake
books’ among genuine face-books.
My opinion is that all social networking tools are an advanced mode
of village ladies’ clubs - This is quite relevant in this part of the
world - near the common well, that is built by the government at times,
where all sort of gossips are exchanged. It is the ‘trust’ factor that
makes someone’s contribution acceptable or not.
“Cyber crimes and other malpractices are also mushrooming at an
alarming speed. Sri Lanka has introduced legislation to combat such
criminals. I thank professionals in the field; legal, technical,
managerial, all who are interested in a safe society are now actively
working on public complaints about breaching privacy and other unlawful
or unethical activities using the internet. The Minister of Telecom and
IT, Ranjith Siyambalapitiya is keen on this area of his responsibility.
Though he is not here, I must thank him for that.
Value of bandwidth
“Sri Lanka is connected with the global internet by a very thin
fiber-optic cable of SEA-ME-WE network which helps us to download and
upload data of various forms. The volume of content generated locally is
also on the increase. Every time I see someone approaching the Sri
Lankan government to develop IT cities, IT parks etc., the question that
they ask me is ‘how is the bandwidth?’ Here we have, well, although I am
the chairman I have the CEO of the Telecom Regulatory Commission who is
doing his best to improve this area without which we will not be able to
go far. This is important because we need to get the maximum benefit out
of this reservoir of knowledge and other benefits without spending much
“We already have established a National Broadband Consultative
Committee (NBCC) which is co-chaired by me and the Secretary of the
Ministry of Defence, to develop a national broadband policy for Sri
Lanka and to make sure the internet service providers (ISPs) give access
and at an affordable rate and cover even marginalised communities. This
is extremely important in the context of taking ICT to villages and in
the context of internet for all.
Technology and culture
“Now, the region’s best telecom and internet technologies enter our
country, thanks to the heroic persons who have ensured that we no longer
suffer the scourge of terrorism. We observe that the competition among
ISPs have given only few benefits to the users - I am sorry to say this
- but we expect these providers to be more generous. Or else, regulatory
measures, which I hate to take, will have to be taken based on the
figures of broadband monitoring system of TRCSL. Therefore, I invite
ISPs to make internet more accessible and affordable to all communities
throughout the country. I also invite ISOC’s Sri Lanka chapter to help
the NBCC’s consultative process, through meaningful inputs, for a final
“I expect that internet societies will emerge at all levels and on
all regions of the country to guide its members to harness the best out
of the internet and associated resources as well as to develop a
disciplined internet community in keeping with our value systems. We
will not compromise our values, nor our culture, even to have the best
technologies in this country that is sacred and sacrosanct. That is
probably the theme of the government’s development strategy.
Sharing of expertise
“Let me also I invite ISOC to hold hands firmly with Sri Lanka for
mutual advancement. We are ready to share our experiences as we have
done so far.
The government of India wanted to learn the way we operate the
government “Information Centre, the GIC, popularly known as 1919, also
the citizen’s helpdesk to obtain information on public services, which
also, incidentally has won a large number of global awards. Recently,
the government of Pakistan requested us to give our expert knowledge on
rural telecentre network, the Nenasalas. Of course Sri Lanka is the main
technology partner for the telecentre.org - the forum for the global
“I am aware of the role played by ICTA, together with TRCSL, the
Telecom Regulatory Commission and the LK Domain Registry (LKNIC), in the
creation of the ISOC (Sri Lanka Chapter). I must thank them for their
contribution to make this a success.”