An absorbingly educational evening

Doug Jones

The Ceylon Society of Australia held its third public meeting for 2018 in the presence of 72 members and guests on a nippy Sunday night on August 26 at the Community Centre hall in Pennant Hills.

Our speaker was Dr Palitha Kohona. He hails from Matale and had his early education at St Thomas College, Mount Lavinia. Thereafter, he obtained his LLB (Hons) at the University of Sri Lanka, a Masters in Law from the Australian National University and a Doctorate from Cambridge University in the UK. He is an Attorney-at-Law, Supreme Court of Sri Lanka and is Honorary Professor at Utah Valley University, USA.

Dr Kohona is a citizen of both Sri Lanka and Australia and has served both countries as a diplomat, as well as serving as an international Civil Servant at the United Nations. He has written extensively on a wide range of subjects.

Sitting in the middle of the Indian Ocean at the southern tip of India, and at the cross roads of the monsoons, Dr Kohona said commencing his talk, Sri Lanka occupies an enviable strategic position. This geographically unique location has attracted numerous sailors, traders, holy men and even invaders in the country’s past.

The Chinese were well represented among them for over two millennia as evidenced by the wrecks of the large number of Chinese vessels off the coast of Sri Lanka and the hordes of Chinese origin porcelain and coins being discovered regularly. “At times, we elegantly parried these varied attentions and benefited from them.

At other times we faltered and suffered.”  Dr Kohona continued; “now, we are facing another opportunity/challenge with China giving high priority to its well-funded Belt and Road Initiative.”

“Today an additional factor must enter our considerations,” the speaker pointed out. “We possess a 200-mile exclusive economic zone and possibly a vast area of sea bed to which we have lodged a claim since 2009. The wealth of this area, both in the water column and trappedin the sea bed, could make Sri Lanka a prosperous nation with careful management”.

An absorbing question time followed by the usual social.



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