CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Sri Lanka Government Partners with UPF in Leadership Conference
Written by Dr. Robert Kittel & Joy Pople
Monday, August 6, 2007
The theme of this two-day International Leadership Conference held August 5-6, 2007, was "Good Governance for Parliamentarians." The venue was the Sri Lankan Parliament building in the capital Colombo. All 225 Members of Parliament were invited, and they attended sessions as their schedules permitted.
Opening remarks were given by the Sri Lankan Speaker of Parliament, Hon. W.J.M. Lokubandara, who stressed that the life of an MP should be the same in public and private. "MPs need to understand," he told the audience of legislatures, "that they do not have supremacy, but have responsibility."
The next speaker was Hon. M.H. Mohammed, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, who personally invited the Universal Peace Federation to partner with his ministry to hold this conference. The idea for this conference grew out of a meeting between Mr. Mohammed and the Chairman of UPF International, Rev. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak, during a conference on good governance held in Korea earlier this year.
Mr. Mohammed's grandson, Fazal, was a central player in coordinating the planning between the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and UPF. He was so exhausted from the countless details that demanded endless hours of his time that he fell asleep while driving home one evening. The ensuing accident, less than two weeks before the conference, left him hospitalized with his leg broken in two places. Prayers and flowers were sent to his hospital bed.
Ms. Sujata Koirala, the special envoy (and daughter) of Nepal's Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, reminded the mostly male audience of the need for gender balance even in parliament. She described Nepal as a model of transition from crisis to representative democracy and called upon those present to support the forthcoming historic Constitutional Assembly elections in November.
"In many ways," said Dr. Kwak, "good leadership begins in the family, the root of all human life and experience." He underscored the point that, "families form the foundation of the society and the nation, and family breakdown for whatever reason undermines the stability of the society and nation."
"The Sri Lankan speakers provided state-of-the-art content from a political perspective," reported Dr. Walsh. "They shared their expertise in areas such as Sri Lankan peace process, good governance and fiscal responsibility." These speakers included:
Other UPF speakers provided internal, moral content based on universal values, believing that both were needed as the foundation for leadership and good governance. These speakers included: Dr. Christopher Kim, Regional Chair UPF-Asia; Mrs. Ursula McLackland, Secretary General, UPF-Asia; Mr. Ek Nath Dhakal, Secretary General, UPF-Nepal; Mr. R. Thillairajan, Secretary General, UPF-Sri Lanka; and Dr. Robert Kittel, Director, UPF-India.
In summary, the conference provided a unique forum for cooperation between government and civil society. Discussions focused on responsibilities each party must undertake in relation to the future development of the country. In the end, Minister M.H. Mohammed said he was very pleased with the outcome of this maiden venture and hoped that UPF would continue its cooperation with the Sri Lankan government.
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