Friday, July 04, 2014

Sri Lanka's corporate sector: Is ignorance bliss?

“Eternal vigilance is not only the price of liberty; eternal vigilance is the price of human decency.”Aldous Huxley 

A question that came up amongst friends concerning the resignation of Jayantha Dhanapala from the board of Dialog Axiata. It is widely presumed to be a result of the conflict of interests between Dialog's policy of blocking websites (at the behest of the state) and Dhanapala's advocacy of transparency and governance through the Friday Forum.

Dhanapala's position was taken by Mahesh Amalean, a founder of MAS and a widely respected businessman.

The question that was raised was: Why did Amalean take up the position that was vacated in such controversial or at least dubious circumstances? Does Amalean not support transparency and good governance?

My hypothesis is that in all probability Amalean was never aware of the controversy in the first place. Why?  Are the vast majority of people, including those in the upper echelons of the private sector, ignorant of the larger issues of governance?

In my limited experience (for one does not broach such controversial subjects in the  corporate world) only a tiny minority are aware:

a. of the deplorable state of of the local media, including the nominally independent media, which is reluctant to highlight real issues or direct substantial criticism  towards the government,

b. of alternative news sources, on the web or on social media.

While mainstream print media do carry some columns or occasional pieces that are critical, these are tucked away in the inner pages, relegated to the features section which are seldom, if ever, read. Only the retired and the young have the time to delve through long features, busy executives tend to focus on headlines and a few summaries.

Corporate executives obtain most of their information from the mainstream media. That too mainly from the news and business sections which carefully steer clear of any controversy. People's opinions are views are shaped by the information they receive, the bland diet fed by the mainstream will only lull the mind to state of dangerous complacency.

If so, then the vast majority of the educated, literate and largely well-meaning people who occupy positions in the corporate sector are blissfully ignorant of the massive problems of governance that plague the nation and threaten its very existence.

They are aware of individual cases of corruption, of the difficulties in dealing with the state and its agencies, of abrupt changes in policy or process but they cannot connect the dots and the see the bigger picture.

Is it possible for someone to conduct a survey of the private/corporate sector to ascertain:

1. Their main sources of news.
2. Their awareness of alternative media.
3. If they are aware of alternative media, the frequency with which they access such sources.

What do you think? Are our corporate executives and leaders aware and informed? Or happy and ignorant?  Do you fall into the category of a happy hamster?

All you beasts of the field, All you beasts in the forest, Come to eat. His watchmen are blind, All of them know nothing. All of them are mute dogs unable to bark, Dreamers lying down, who love to slumber;  (Isaiah 56:10) 

Pieter Bruegel, The Blind Leading the Blind (1568)


Maleficent said...

this would be a super survey if someone would/could do it! my belief is that the corporate sector is not interested in governance as long as doesn't affect them; and that even though most people, especially in the middle and upper echelons of it, may be avidly in social media, they do not really want to read "politics". So basically, i am saying what you are saying :)

Jack Point said...

Thanks for the comment Maleficient.