During the AmCham CXO Forum, United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Julie J Chung, emphasized the crucial need for transparent communication regarding legislative reforms, citing the recent passage of the Online Safety Bill as a pertinent example.
Ambassador Chung underscored the significance of the Sri Lankan government not only implementing reforms but also ensuring that they are clearly explained to the public. She acknowledged that such an approach might slow down the legislative process but asserted that it leads to more informed and effective reforms.
Highlighting concerns surrounding the Online Safety Bill, Ambassador Chung referred to a recent poll by the Centre for Policy Alternatives, revealing that over 70 percent of Sri Lankans were unaware of the bill before its passage. She expressed apprehension about the lack of public awareness, stressing that clear communication is essential for the success of any reform initiative.
The Ambassador drew attention to the criticism from major global tech companies, characterizing the Online Safety Bill as “unworkable” and as a hindrance to innovation and democracy. Ambassador Chung voiced her concern, stating that such negative feedback sends a discouraging signal regarding Sri Lanka’s commitment to reform and recovery, especially when the primary goal should be addressing online crimes.
Drawing a comparison with past legislation, Ambassador Chung mentioned the Personal Data Protection Act, which, despite taking longer to craft, successfully incorporated stakeholder feedback. She urged the Sri Lankan government to adopt a similar approach for future reforms, emphasizing the importance of inclusivity in the legislative process.