Mar 10 2020. view 1946
Today on the Buzz, I speak to one of the new members who have made it their mission to serve the country. It’s always amazing to see qualified individuals moving from the private sector into the government sector to do what they can to bring in more regulations and systems.
I have known Janaka since I was 17, and his very collected personality has worked to his advantage in bringing some good news into the Lanka sugar company in a short time after his posting. He is one of the reasons why I did my Masters; he always told me the importance of getting your paper work done and having young educated champs like this in the sector is our way forward.
Today I speak to him beyond politics or government on the Buzz.
Full Name – Janaka Nimalachandra
Status - Married
Passions – Cricket, current affairs and politics
Favourite Colours - Black & White
Hobbies – Travelling and movies
Favourite countries – England, Canada, Greece
You were recently appointed as the chairman of Lanka Sugar Company. What are your goals and what do you intend to achieve in your new role?
My single biggest goal and challenge is making the company profitable (last year alone the loss was 1500 million rupees) and through that to uplift the lives of nearly hundred thousand families who are directly and indirectly involved in the sugar industry. Once this is achieved, I want to make Lanka Sugar success story a model or a case study for all state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to follow.
Lately there has been some good news for the workers and farmers in Sevanagala and Pelwatta, could you please elaborate?
Yes, we were able to do a number of things. The most important of them is, we offered permanent appointments to nearly 2000 workers. Most of these employees have worked at Lanka Sugar for 10-15 years on contract or casual basis and that’s not a situation anyone wants to be in, I wanted to change that so we took this decision. We also added a part of the ‘’cost of living’’ allowance which was introduced by President Mahinda Rajapaksa back in 2014 but not paid by the previous administration to their salaries. Also, we managed to give festival bonus for both the employees and farmers. Not only that we increased the price we pay to our farmers for their sugar cane supplies by Rs. 500/- per metric ton.
From a corporate world to a shift into the government sector, how have you managed the change?
It was quite challenging I must say but wasn’t something I was not expecting. I believe as long as one can give the right kind of leadership it doesn’t matter whether it’s the government or private sector, things automatically fall into place.
What has been the biggest challenge for your current posting?
Unions and local council members in the area.
Do you feel some of the positions given are political favours and political postings?
I like it when you ask me “some of the positions...” (smiles) because until President Gotabaya Rajapaksa introduced this new system of appointing Directors and Chairpersons to SOEs it used to be all political appointees, most of them were uneducated and not qualified for the job. I’m happy with the change.
What would you say is the best age for a politician to retire and would you like to see an age system brought into Power?
I personally don’t think there should be an age limit. In 2018 Mahathir Mohamad became the Prime Minister of Malaysia at the age of 92. Rather, I would like to see the voters using their vote wisely and reject politicians who don’t contribute irrespective of their age.
How do you see our local products doing internationally?
Sri Lanka has immense potential to create global brands but unfortunately no one has really done anything in that area. However, recently I’ve seen a few companies and entrepreneurs pushing their case in the international arena and hopefully soon we’ll see that change.
Who are you inspired by? My parents.
Who has been your biggest support in your life in making your life today a reality? My parents and now my wife Liza.
How has the journey been so far? It’s been a pretty rough ride but I’ve enjoyed every second of it.
Tell me about your school life? Simply put, I learnt more about life than individual subjects in school
What educational qualifications do you have? I have a PGD in Marketing, MBA from UK and I’ve completed another PGD in International Relations.
How would you describe your personal Fashion statement? Brands don’t make you look good but your taste in fashion does.
Favourite outfit? T-shirt, shorts and slippers / Suits.
What would you say is the biggest advantage / disadvantage the youth face today in your opinion? Technology.
Do you feel that the future of politics is in safe hands? Politics is never in safe hands (laughs)
What are your thoughts on the upcoming election?
Every time an election happens it’s an opportunity to select people’s representatives to the parliament. And I think the voters are now more educated and rational in the choices they make, hopefully they will use their vote wisely and reject the politicians we all know are corrupt and unworthy.
Would you encourage more youngsters to enter politics or working for the government sectors? Yes, the young, educated and those who truly love this country should come into politics. Similarly, educated and passionate young people must get into the government sector, not those who want an easy job and a pension. If these two doesn’t happen this country will never progress.
If you could be a top tier professional athlete in any sport, what sport would you play and why? I would become a cricketer, because cricket is not just a game, it’s a religion. However, if I wasn’t a Sri Lankan, I would become a footballer because it’s the greatest sport ever played.
If you started an activist group, what would it fight for and what would it be called? There are enough activist groups who talk and fight about ‘rights’ but none who talks about ‘duties’ so if I ever start an activist group it will be to fill that gap. Name can wait
If you could body swap with any person for 24 hours, who would you choose? Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa or Vladimir Putin
If you could make one thing that is now legal, illegal, and one thing that is illegal, legal, what laws would change? I will introduce the animal welfare bill, amend the laws on protection of children and women, introduce new laws to protect the environment and climate change and finally impose severe punishments to those who don’t abide by them.
How much of sugar do you eat for a day? The truth is I’m not a sugar person at all. And honestly I don’t think I can be any sweeter (laughs).
What is your favorite junk food? Burgers.
Who is the messiest person that you know? My wife, Liza.
Who is the cutest person that you know? My daughter, Ceylon.
That’s an interesting name. Who named her Ceylon and why? Well, her full name is Alaia Ceylon. Alaia (means happiness) was given by her mother and I named her Ceylon. I love the name Ceylon because it represents Sri Lanka and I love this country that much I decided to name our daughter Ceylon.
Are you good at keeping secrets? The best.
What is a perfect workout song? Something that pumps you up and keeps you focused (I prefer rap music).
What phobia do you have? Stage.
What was your worst date ever? Never had a bad date, I always make them good :P
What would you never do? I will never change who I am.