Communication, coordination and cooperation were the themes at the forefront during the South Asia Sasakawa Fellows’ Network meeting, held in Colombo from 19 to 22 January 2010. The meeting brought together 14 Fellows from Bangladesh, India, Japan, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka attended, along with Mr Eisuke Kudo, Mr Eiji Sakai and Mr Shinichi Ichikawa from the OPRF.
The meting was organised to strengthen Fellows’ network activity across and between the South Asian nations, and to emphasise the importance of sharing information and expertise between Fellows. It reunited WMU graduates from across the generations – the most senior being Mr Iqbal Karim of Bangladesh (TMS 1992) and the most junior Mr Shantanu Paul of India (SM 2009).
On the first full day of the meeting, Wednesday, 20 January, the meeting was opened by the hosts, Mr Tilak Deepthi Jayasinghe and Mr Sarath Kumara Mathurana Gedara. The first speaker was Mr Masazumi Nagamitsu, the Executive Director of The Nippon Foundation, who welcomed all the participants and guests, and stressed the importance of the individual and collective roles of the Sasakawa Fellows in the maritime development of the region. He was followed by Mr G A Talagala, who, on behalf of the Sri Lankan Fellows, welcomed all the participants and organisers to the meeting.
The participants were then delighted to welcome three eminent special guests, who gave the keynote lectures for the meeting. Mr Upul Jayathissa (PM 1997), the Deputy Chief Manager of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority delivered a fascinating account of the Port of Colombo, its current expansion plans and the Hambantota Port development project. The Ports Authority aims to make Sri Lanka the logistic hub for the region, and the ambitious development scheme is already well on its way to realisation. The second keynote lecture was delivered by Dr Satoshi Inoue, the Secretary-General Emeritus of the International Association of Ports and Harbors, who spoke of the challenges facing ports today: the ending of the global recession, the effects of climate change and the new security measures that are being implemented. The third keynote lecture was given by Captain Nalaka Jayakody (MET 2001), Dean of the Faculty of Commercial Sciences at the Colombo International Nautical & Engineering College. Captain Jayakody analysed the problems that exist at the interface of the seafarer and maritime technology, and offered some possible novel solutions that could enhance navigation safety.
The meeting moved on to consider presentations on the current maritime scene in each country, dealing with issues as varied as ship-breaking, coastal trade, and seafarer recruitment. There were also fascinating over-views of the maritime sector in each state, which identified both common areas of interest and specific national differences. The first day finished with a reception to which many guests from the maritime sector were welcomed.
The second day concentrated on the four national Fellows’ networks represented at the meeting. Fellows gave presentations on recent activities in each country, the situation and provision of facilities in each country for electronic communications, and using and expanding the Friends of WMU, Japan newsletter. Finally, there was an interesting session where ideas of expanding the Fellows’ network activities were debated. Groups of fellows were assigned to collate reports on each of these themes, and on the final day, each group presented its report. “These reports lay a firm foundation for the future development of the national networks and the regional network,” said Mr Eisuke Kudo. “I am very pleased that we have held such a productive meeting, which has also clearly helped to give new impetus to the Fellows’ network.”
The final session of the meeting considered a resolution concerning the future networking activities in the South Asia region, and unanimously adopted an action plan for its future development. The Fellows identified both the website and the Newsletter of the Friends of WMU, Japan, as crucial to the development and coherence of the national and regional networks, and felt that each Fellow was responsible for ensuring that the contact list was kept up-to-date, not only for their own details but for those of their colleagues. Professional co-operation was also seen as fruitful ground for enhancing the activities of the networks.
After the formal sessions of the meeting had concluded, the participants enjoyed a very interesting visit to the Port of Colombo, organised by the Sri Lankan Fellows. The Fellows later celebrated the success of the meeting and the strengthening of the networks at the farewell reception on the evening of 22 January.