Welcome address by the Director General at INSSSL office opening.
"Most venerable Mahasanga, Our Chairman of INSSSL Eng. Karunasena Hettiarachchi, Commanders of the armed forces, chief of staff of the military, distinguished military officers, Your Excellency’s the Ambassadors, distinguished scholars, journalists and ladies and gentleman.
It is with great pleasure I welcome all our distinguished guests on behalf of the INSSSL the premier national security think tank of Sri Lanka. A warm welcome to our chief guest who is our Chairman Eng.Karunasena Hettiarachchi and all of our board members.
During one of my first interviews after joining government ten years ago I said about Frank O’Connor the Irish writer who tells in one of his books “an only child” it’s about how he and his friends would make their way across the countryside and when they came to an orchard wall that seemed too high and too doubtful to try and too difficult to permit their voyage to continue they took off their hats and tossed them over the wall and then they had no choice but to follow them. Today our nation has tossed its cap over the wall of research in security and we have no choice but to follow it.
Today is a memorable day as we open our research office and launch the institute’s first research journal “INSSSL Defence Review” with contributions from local and international eminent scholars. Our contributors who are also part of our distinguished resource pool of the institute has come out with excellent research papers covering many parts of the world with critical issues that we face today. Some very important policy recommendations are also in this journal. To give you one example Dr.Nagao suggest “Japan can be an important stabilizer for cordial Sri Lanka-India relations and establishment of a Japan - Sri Lanka - India strategic dialogue”. I am not going to read from others since we need to sell the book. I thank all the contributors.
I would like to thank HE the President who is also the President of our institute for all his support and also our Chairman Eng.Karunasena Hettiarachchi and everyone else who has supported us since the inception.
The Institute was established to conduct national security research for the Ministry of Defence. By understanding the security environment of the country to work with government to craft evidence based policy options and strategies for debate and discussion to ensure national security which is its primary task. For this we need to conduct high quality research on national and international trends. The institute will also serve as a platform for government, private sector, and civil society to collaborate debate and discuss issues affecting Sri Lanka’s security and stability to synergize and draw from a spectrum of thinkers and planners.
Today we have kept a small step but it will create a huge impact in the near future with much benefits for the security research of our nation. The importance of a security think tank to a nation I don't need to explain in today’s global volatile security environment, as we hear almost every day of violent attacks killing innocent civilians. Last year we have spent much more than 14 trillion which was spent in 2015 on international conflicts, this is 13% of the global GDP.
We can’t isolate incidents and find solutions today, we need to work as one human community to find solutions in collaboration. Yesterday’s security threat in one particular nation could be in another nation in a different part of the world. In this equation value of a think tank will be of immense value.
Think Tank is a place where those who hate ignorance may strive to know, where those who perceive truth may strive to make others see and clearly point the direction from valuable research produced by a scientific methodology. A national think tank is clearly a place owned by the public and INSSSL belongs to the people of Sri Lanka. The institute doors are open from today for scholars, intellectuals, young researchers and those who wish to learn and contribute to develop our nation. Most newspaper headlines and television screens usually give us a short view. Short view gives us the impression as a nation of being hurried everywhere on the defensive. We require the long term view. For this, a think tank is the most important instrument that could develop foresight analysis to steer a nation to the future.
There is not a single country in this planet who has achieved greatness without investment in research. There was an article recently published by Prof.Ajith de Alwis that we spend more on elephants than research. It was a Sri Lankan scholar Kumarathunga Munidasa in 1920’s who clearly stated “A nation not innovative cannot prosper”, to be innovative we need to invest in research. As a nation we have failed in this, during the past after independence.
We have started something new which eventually will be of enormous benefit to our nation. The institute will be developed not only from this administration but many administrations to come in the future. I am certain the researchers at INSSSL who carry the honour of working in this institute will continue to give from their lives, from their talents a high measure of public service.
At this moment I am reminded of the story of the great French Marshal who once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow-growing and would not reach maturity for many years. The Marshal replied in that case, there is no time to lose, plant it this afternoon. The success of our initiatives may be years away but we have no time to lose and that’s why we have planted this tree today, this afternoon, to succeed and for our future generations to be proud of the highest quality research that will come out from this institute.
I wish you all a prosperous and happy new year!