United we must Rise
New Year greetings and resolutions to business sector leaders
On that fateful Boxing Day morning, the Wise Old Owl opened the in box of the e-mails to find an X'Mas wish sent in the previous day by the former Sunday FT columnist Random Access Memory (RAM) reading thus, and this in return is the sincere New Year wish to all business leaders for 2005

"My dear Friends,
This is Christmas morning and you are very much in our thoughts.
We want to share what we wish for you and your loved ones, for us and the many millions of our fellow beings for this season of cheer and for the New Year that will dawn soon.

May our world be one of peace where hatred is replaced with love.
May we see reason and work well together as one, to seek solutions to the many problems we have.

May we do better than we do now, in caring for others and all beings that form our ecosystem. May we all be blessed with the best of health and happiness.

May we be all joyful, enjoy what we do and be content. If there is anything we can do to support you this season and in the next year please feel free to call. We want you to know that we are there for you."

An hour later this nation's darkest hour dawned whilst the business leaders were yet in slumber land and on holiday, as many parts of the island was struck by the deadly Tsunami waves. The days following have meant different things to different people.

The grief from the dead and missing dear and near, loss and damage to property, sadness and emotions in seeing the scenes around the island and the region vividly captured on the small screen, panic and helplessness in dealing with issues. The caring for and sharing with the victims personal resources, providing relief and emergency treatment, clearing the debris and looking for survivors and the dead. Some have looked for opportunity for profit and some have even engaged in cutting parts of dead bodies whilst robbing and looting.

Some were mere bystanders merely watching and some even engaged in sightseeing the disaster areas and victims. A few engaged even in the usual fun and frolic totally uncaring for the suffering and misery around. Some were planning the next steps of re-building and some taking leadership without thought or a plan. Advertising opportunities and ego trips were the aim of some, whilst silent service and dedicated commitment of energy and resources were unselfishly given by some. Some have seen that only doom, gloom and bare survival may be the future unless the political, social and economic environment changes from the past.

That was all the parts of a bad dream and is now past all political, business, government and civil society leaders. The time is now to wake up to the challenges ahead, to plan with a vision and the long term in mind, to implement with professionalism managing resources with efficiency, economy and effectiveness. The leaders must now recognize that they have been amongst the fortunate only by fate of circumstances and have been spared of the worst and the misery whilst being yet endowed with life and resources.

It is with a purpose that you have been so spared, and that is only to a part of the leadership effort to accept the challenges ahead with responsibility, to rebuild this nation and the private sector and of course to exercise more than ever before your corporate social responsibility.

The challenge ahead is a lost cause unless the first steps are taken with precision, determination, focus, unselfishly forgetting differences from the past, and committing to unity, bi- partisan action sans religious, race, status and language barriers.

Therefore the first task of the business and civil society leaders is to support and actively canvass to ensure the nation’s leaders take a path echoed by a civil society leader as "The Only Way Forward for Sri Lanka is A Single Minded National Vision and United Action by All Segments of Society Under Statesmanship Oriented Leadership Action by All Leaders. Signaling the beginning of this way forward could the leaders agree to work together for a specified period harnessing expertise and networks of each other and having the national interest in focus?"

The New Year resolution is thus clear and business leaders must resolve to put the nation and its people first, business sector second, the private sector taken as a whole third whilst targeting to operate their own businesses with optimum efficiency, effectiveness and economy within the overall national vision and united action committed to, achieving competitiveness and quality bench marked to the best in Asia Pacific.

(The writer, a respected business leader, could be reached at - wo_owl@yahoo.co.uk).

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