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Letters


Does your paediatrician know your child’s name?

All parents go through a search to find the perfect paediatrician. That search is often not as simple as parents would like it to be. The recommendations of friends are often the basis of first time visits to any paediatrician.
Common to most parents is the agony hours spent seated with a sick child waiting for the good doctor to arrive. Parents often come with the hope of getting answers to various questions from the doctor. However, no sooner the doctor arrives often past the time he/she should arrive and one’s number is eventually called, parents often end up coming out of the doctor’s room with only a list of medication to buy. The doctor had no time to answer any of the questions. He had to see the next patient. Does this scenario sound familiar?
Having visited all the hospitals in Colombo and on recommendations of friends who channeled some of the best paediatricians in town, a colleague directed me to a doctor who measures up to all the expectations that a paediatrician should be.
My children are blessed to have a doctor who remembers each and every child’s name. No sooner any child walks through the door not only does the good doctor call him/her by name but also refers to something the child had done on a previous visit – sometimes even though months had gone by since the last visit. This is indeed a remarkable service and often half of the child’s ailments are cured by the friendliness of the doctor. He has also departed from the files given to parents and instead keeps a file of each child in his possession and also records every medicine he prescribes. A simple carbon paper does a tremendous role and he knows the exact history of the child.
Isn’t this what all parents would aspire for from their own doctors? I hope that other paediatricians would take a cue from this and also aim to be like my children’s doctor who belongs to the category of extraordinary doctors in Sri Lanka.
Shenali Waduge

***

The UNP malady

From 1994, the United National Party has been suffering from DSS (Deep Slumber Syndrome) under the stewardship of Ranil Wickremesinghe. Ranil, it is claimed, is an honest politician with a vision for the country. But, whether he will ever win an election for the party is the big question. He does not have the common touch to appeal to the rural masses and he has an arrogance stemming from an inferiority complex, which even his close friends will confirm.
Although dress and mannerisms should not really count, it is a sad fact that in this country, they go to make a “people friendly” politician. Because of his innate lack of self-confidence, he cannot mix informally with the common man, unlike Chandrika and Mahinda, who have outwitted him at every turn. Ranil also tends to hang around with members of his exclusive club of loyalists like Malik Samarawickrama, Tissa Attanayake, Milinda Moragoda (now in his bad books!), Weragoda etc., on whom he depends for advice and support to maintain his position in the party. This has upset and angered other senior party members. Ranil seems to enjoy his position as permanent leader of the Opposition, travelling the globe with not a care in the world, while his motherland is in flames.
Ranil also relies heavily on the party constitution, which the astute J.R. Jayewardene introduced after his landslide victory in 1977, and which gives the party leader virtually unlimited powers to run party affairs. Perhaps it was necessary at the time, but not any longer.
This is why Ranil has been constantly putting off party reforms, intended to bring in more democracy and power-sharing, within the party citing conventions and party traditions. He is, in fact, been carrying on a charade for nearly a year now, quite often running away abroad whenever, the issue comes up. The constitution has to be changed if the Party is to progress.
Now some cosmetic reforms have been done, bringing in Rukman Senanayake as the Chairman (non-executive) and a Ranil loyalist, Tissa Attanayake as the General Secretary. They were not chosen by popular vote but appointed by Ranil “according to convention” in his words.
A vicious campaign is now being carried on in the pro-Ranil media against those clamouring for reforms like Karu Jayasuriya, Rajitha Senaratne, Prof. G.L. Peiris, Bandula Gunawardane, Hemakumara Nanayakkara and some others.
The SLFP-UNP talks have come as godsend to Ranil giving him an excuse to put off reforms. The SLFP would like nothing better than to keep Ranil as UNP leader, as this virtually guarantees them victory at elections.
I am a senior citizen and have observed with dismay the tragedy that has befallen this country ever since independence at which point we were the richest country in S.E. Asia. Now we are a “failed state.”
These are hard facts the UNP has to accept if it is ever going to win an election again. Any sane person with a modicum of intelligence will accept that the UNP is the only party that could lead the country out of the mess that it is in.
I was shocked to see that Ranil has surreptitiously introduced the names of Malik Samarawickrema (hasn’t he retired as party chairman?) and Milinda Moragoda into the seven-member UNP team to negotiate with the SLFP. It was Malik Samarawickrema who signed the MOU with the SLFP! Milinda Moragoda is a shrewd and ambitious politician who works behind the scenes currying favour with both sides. It was he who together with Maharoof, sneaked in the senile and over­rated Sirisena Cooray as the party’s mayoral candidate in the CMC elections, which eventually ended in a fiasco. But then Ranil keeps protecting them.
This is a wake-up call to the UNP - REFORM OR PERISH!
A Senior Citizen

***

MP’s murder: Fingerprints look like Tiger paws

The pro-LTTE lobby as usual is gearing itself to pin the blame on the Government for Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian, Nadaraja Raviraj’s, assassination. True to form they will condemn the killing and accuse the Army or the paramilitaries of the crime.
Assuming (for argument’s sake) that some people in Sri Lanka’s ruling circles wanted to kill Raviraj, would they be so stupid to commit the crime on a main public highway in the heart of Colombo in day light on a busy working day and make it so obvious to the whole world that they did it? Those who peddle this theory should realise that no one with common sense will `buy’ such nonsense.
Tiger sympathisers are, however, asking the question why the Wanni Tigers should kill a supporter of theirs. Perhaps the answer could be the following comments that the slain MP reportedly made on Tamil children in the North a few days before his untimely death.
“Children are the worst affected. Apart from the shortage of food, they are unable to even go to school, because in a desperate search for food, parents send their children to stand in long queues to try and get even a loaf of bread for their survival. This is the sad plight that has befallen thousands of children living in the country’s north, while children of bigwigs live a plush comfortable life on foreign soil, including the children of LTTE leader Prabhakaran.”
Allegations have been made that a rival Tamil militant group called Seerum Padai had done the killing and threatened other TNA politicians with death unless they cease to support the Wanni Tigers. Another Tamil group issued a similar threat against the TNA after the MP Joseph Pararajasingham’s assassination in December last year. Neither of these claims has so far been fully substantiated, although we cannot entirely rule out such a possibility.
The first question we ought to ask ourselves is who really stands to lose from this assassination? Clearly it is the Government, especially in view of unproved accusations that vested interests are already making against it over (1) the many abductions and disappearances in the South (2) the civilian deaths in Vakarai (3) the killing of NGO aid workers and (4) other unsolved tragedies and crimes in Tamil speaking areas. So this latest killing of a Tamil politician would automatically amount to a case of the government falling from the frying pan to the fire.
The second question is who stands to gain much from this assassination? Obviously it is the LTTE because their sympathizers can always cite this killing as ``strong proof’’ that no peace is possible with a government that does not tolerate democratically elected Tamil politicians who share the Tiger’s solution to the current conflict. Through this murder the LTTE can also rouse public resentment in Jaffna against the government and boost Tamil separatism.
There have also been reports of the late Raviraj building close connections with the JVP. If that were true it certainly would not have been to the liking of the `Sun God.’ May be Raviraj forgot to satisfactorily play the role that the Wanni Tigers gave him.
In light of these developments all indications are that the crime is the handiwork of the LTTE. Perhaps Prabhakaran wants Raviraj to do for them in death what he could not achieve in life.
So as one political observer noted, we can be fairly sure as to who is behind the assassination. The Sri Lankan Police would be searching for the murderer in vain, just like their search for Kadirgamer’s killer. By this time, the killer would be in a territory which is beyond the reach of even the long arm of Sri Lanka’s law.
Janaka Perera

***

A case of missed targets

MTV’s prime time news should refrain from repeating word for word the commentary they receive from TV channels that back the Israelis no matter what crimes they commit.
To cite a case in point, their foreign news segment on Sunday November 5, 2006 mentioned that an Israeli sniper had killed a little girl while targeting a ‘Palestinian Gunman’. The spin on this bit of ‘news’ suggests the good Israeli murderer had killed the child only accidentally. It also implies the ‘Palestinian Gunman’ was using the poor thing as a human shield.
A sniper is a well-trained murderer. There is no way he could miss a target as big as a ‘Palestinian Gunman’ and, in the process, ‘accidentally’ kill a little girl who would be much smaller in size than his original target.
Anyway it is well known that the Israeli’s kill Arab children as a matter of policy. The well­-televised murder of Muhammad al-Dana some years ago, the savagery of Israel’s bombing on civilian target in the recent Lebanese conflict and the current assault on civilians in Occupied Palestine serve as constant reminders of Israel’s ‘kill the Arabs’ policy enunciated by its founding fathers.
The word ‘gunman’ is associated with underworld killers. And so this tagging of the Palestinian resistance movement as ‘gunmen’ is intended to ‘guide’ the ‘news consumer’ to think of the Palestinians as a bunch of thugs similar to underworld outfits like the mafia and other such nefarious organisations. This brainwashing technique is called ‘Thought Control’, and it was formulated by no less a person than Josef Goebells, Hitler’s propaganda chief. What the Western media deliberately keeps out is the Geneva Convention which gives the Palestinians the right to fight Israel which is occupying their’ country the same way the US and Britain are occupying Iraq and Afghanistan.
There is no reason why prestigious TV channels like MTV should allow themselves to be used as pawns to further Israel and the West’s imperialist designs on Palestine and other ‘third world’ countries.
So look out, MTV! Don’t fall victim to the wiles of the West’s corporate media! After all you too are being watched!
Hameed Abdul Karim
Vice-president
Sri Lanka Committee for Solidarity with Palestine