Dilith Jayaweera: Guts and Grit Part-02
Why do you think SEC came out with their message?
First of all, SEC initially didn’t appreciate the spirit in which everything happened. A five rupee share that has remained so for the past thirty years suddenly becomes five hundred rupees. It reflects the expectation of the average Sri Lankans at that time. On that expectation alone people bought shares.
Suddenly the Commission introduced close to twelve different regulations to control this. Finally they themselves removed those regulations. That shows the desire to control. What is there to control except the people’s aspirations and expectations. This got reflected in the share prices and the share market. You don’t look only at past records only when you buy shares. You look at the future potential. In that process there may have been those who tried to manipulate. In any society it happens. In any industry it happens. In order to address that, there is a system. Instead of using the system, they started depending on the media and making statements.
Why are you always portrayed in a negative manner?
Most of the time people want to hear the negative side not the positive. It is in every average human being’s psychology. If you are not doing well, you want to justify why you are not doing well. Then you have to call the person who is doing well a scammer, rogue, drug peddler, market manipulator or a criminal, otherwise how will you justify to your coterie as to why you are not doing well. This is sociology.
Sri Lankan society is a very close and inter-connected one. Therefore your neighbour’s wealth has a major impact on you and the entire neighbourhood. People find the need to justify why one person has money and not the other. The media too will connect to the majority, when in actual fact it is pure economics. In that sense the majority has failed.
If you look at the tourism campaign of Great Britain, where they have taken Great as the keyword, and promote the various features of the UK as great singers, great places, great music and much more. One such poster was great entrepreneurs and they had a photograph of Sir Richard Branson. Will a Sri Lankan ever do that? Will we ever recognise a Sri Lankan as a great entrepreneur? Who were the first and the last entrepreneurs that Sri Lanka recognised? There are none. Everyone has been degraded as either a scammer, rogue, drug peddler or a criminal. There isn’t a single entrepreneurs who has been recognised by Sri Lanka, for their creativity, for their entrepreneurship and their risk taking ability. Countries should celebrate entrepreneurship, countries can only move forward if there is entrepreneurship.
I feel extremely proud when I see the inflight magazine that is now completely produced in Sri Lanka. I remember the struggle where the production and printing of our national carrier’s own magazine was being done by a foreign company. Why is that? Because we are unwilling to give our own people a chance. This country has a sociological issue and it is not just limited to entrepreneurship. It’s called a ‘colonial hangover’.
Let us look at Sri Lankan politicians, we always try to criticize them. I cannot think of any Sri Lankan politician that we have celebrated irrespective of their party. We need to recognise the achievements of others. Just because you couldn’t become one, you should not drag other people down. Why can’t we celebrate our top lawyers, engineers, doctors and other professionals without always looking at the negative aspects?
Dilith Jayaweera’s name goes hand in hand with controversy. Why is that?
I always believe in anticipating and being prepared for the worst case scenario. I lead a very simple life. The reason as to why I lead a simple life is, because I do not want to compromise my beliefs for anything. If I get used to a different lifestyle than what I lead now, I may have to keep certain principles aside to maintain that lifestyle. Therefore I try to be as simple as possible in my life. I should be ready to give up anything and everything at any given point. Why? I have my values and ethics. That is how I have been brought up; thanks to my parents. I will always speak up for what I think is right. It may be seen as controversial. Even in the stock market, I was the last name in a prepared list of all the large stock market transactions. I have not been involved in any malpractice or criminal action. I have not dealt with government funds and I have not dealt with any of those controversial transactions. I have only done some trading, and made medium and long term strategic investments.
However, I thought though I am not involved, my duty is to come out and say what I think is right. This is what everyone is criticizing about. It could be seen as controversial, because – I don’t know whether this is right or wrong – many are timid and do not want to take risks.
Some entrepreneurs, though they are supposed to be taking risks, are not willing to do so. They play safe fearing negative repercussions. Even in this case and may be I should have expected this, people would not come out and say that what he is saying is the truth. I volunteered and I went on my own. I was not representing anyone, or any stock broker, investor, group of investors or any mafia. Because I was the one who opened my mouth and spoke because I felt it was the right thing to do, I became the bad guy. But this is the spirit of our company. Our team supports my decision fully and we are proud of our contribution to this country. That is all that matters in the final equation.