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Letters


Hosannas to the new Minister of Public Administration Karu Jayasuriya

I seldom indulge in praises, hosannas and hallelujahs for politicians as I have been apolitical through out. Today, I hasten to congratulate the newly appointed Minister of Public Administration.
Dear Sir, you have earned the admiration of the masses with your gentle elegance, intellectual brilliance, sincerity of purpose laced with unshakeable commitment to a cause, and absolute integrity devoid of even a trace of sophistry. Above all I admire your sober mode of speech as against frequent vitriolic and vituperative diatribe of your fraternity which the commoners detest and loathe. I consider you as the beacon of hope for us at this juncture, and venture to pay homage to His Excellency for the adroit move in appointing you to the much coveted position. I hope and pray that your good self will grant redress to the hapless pensioners exuding political maturity and common sense.
I shall not dwell at length but try to be concise and precise as much as possible. Dear Sir, we poor pensioners are experiencing the worst ever epoch in the annals as the monthly issue of the pension receipt was discontinued sans any plausible reason. (Perhaps your good self would have come across the numerous letters in the print media) It was the sad creation of your erstwhile colleague and the whole caboodle of ignominious ignoramus in the Public Administration Ministry and the Pensions Department in cahoots. The Director of Pensions graciously fulfilled his own aspiration for upward mobility and ended up as Director-General (No qualms!) probably at our expense, without realising that his institution stands discredited for having ignored the gravity and the magnitude of the problem created in having the indispensable pension receipt withdrawn on the flimsy excuse of saving funds. It was a shattering blow to poor pensioners and has evoked widespread public revulsion, thereby dissipating the popularity of your Government. The decision to do away with the pension receipt is so daft that it is reckoned by the discerning as an infringement of one’s human rights. The pension receipt consisted of eleven columns. It furnished the pension, various allowances and above all deductions - the most important item. Some pensioners obtain loans from various beneficiary organisations which are being recovered in monthly installments. For e.g. the Government Officers’ Benefit Association and the Public Servants Mutual Provident Association. The absolute need for a statement of payments and deductions has become elusive in the farrago of official chicanery. It is a parlous state of affairs dominated by inaction and insouciance. The potty potentates perversely persist in the error even though the lapse is plain enough and glaring. They have been deaf, blind and mute about the travesty of justice so blatantly sprung on the pensioners. Only your good self could extricate them from the spiders’ web they have fallen into by their own stupidity. Up to now they have behaved in a manner suggestive of hubris and chutzpah. Let them realise their folly and eat humble pie. Under your benevolent stewardship, please give us the indispensable pension receipt. You may even recover its cost and postage.
Nanda Nanayakkara
Panadura

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Have school plays and musicals become commercialised?

This is the poser that troubles the mind of parents whose children are attending a leading private school in the city.
In December last year, as an end of the year event, the school held a drama performance participated in by its Primary Graders, with the patronage of the parents by paying for costumes, buying tickets for the show, as well as a lottery held.

Be that as it may, when the school reopened for the New Year the expectations of the students and the parents would have been proceeded with the academic studies with new teachers, lessons, class-rooms, friends etc. However, to the surprise and displeasure of all, the school management has chosen to stage a musical drama with the participation of almost all the students of the primary section numbering over three hundred. They had to start practicing for a play instead of academic studies.

Each student was asked to pay Rs. 4000 for costumes and the hall rental. They had to be transported back and forth for two weeks, for practicing. While the tickets for students had been priced at Rs. 50/- it was between Rs. 300/- and 1750/- for parents and outsiders. A souvenir, with advertisements from companies, was sold for Rs. 100/- in addition, photographs and video-tapes were made available for sale. The show was staged for several days with a large attendance.

The show could have been a commercial success. But it has cost the students one full month’s academic studies and the parents, expenses too much to bear. The extra-curricular activities such as plays and musical events are a part of the education system and should be encouraged, for they inculcate aesthetic values in children. But, they should be organised with the least inconvenience to the students as well as the parents.
A concerned citizen
Colombo

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Traitors

Funnily enough I was relieved when the UNP dissidents finally betrayed the party when they crossed over to the government ranks. At last, weeks of speculation of this and that came to an end when the foul deed was done. But I must confess I was rather sad and hurt to see my erstwhile dentist Dr. Rajitha Senaratne and ‘My own Mustapha’ within the ranks of the traitors. They might call themselves by any name they wish, but in my book they will always be traitors!

In the light of this it would be interesting to know the contents of documents that Tiran Alles has in his possession according to recent media reports as they allegedly expose the events and agreements that are connected with the presidential elections.

Be that as it may, I was distressed when the UNP traitors went to the sacred Buddhist places to get blessings from the deities. They had betrayed not only their party, which besides politically nourishing them had given them so many opportunities to serve the nation. And here they were seeking blessings for their treachery!
What would they say to their children when a question of honour, honesty, loyalty or morality is put to them? Would they say such things don’t exist? Decent citizens will have to teach their children not to regard these traitors as role models. And what was the message the leading Mahnayakes were conveying to children and the world at large when they accepted gifts from these traitors and then gave them their blessings? That it’s fine to be dishonourable, dishonest and disloyal. And a traitor to one’s party?

We are indeed living in strange times where wrong is right and right is wrong. Tempora O Mores! God please save Sri Lanka from these traitors who come to us claiming they want to serve the country but actually have taken to politics for their personal gains.
Yunoos Ismail
Dehiwala.

****

Government should review SLIC deal

 A lot of publicity was created when the COPE investigation unearthed a great deal of misdeeds surrounding privatisation of Government-owned organisations. Most damaging revelations came to light in the events leading up to the privatisation of the asset-rich Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation (SLIC), a true jewel in Sri Lanka’s crown. COPE investigations show how certain Politicians and top Treasury Officials acted in collusion with the business magnate purchaser, Mr. Harry Jayawardene to defraud this country of over Rs. 4 billion on this deal alone.

The financial loss to the country is truly staggering, and there is absolutely no reason why the ordinary public who are already suffering under the high cost of living, should ultimately face this type of loss. Even the Financial Consultants Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) and Ernst & Young (E & Y) who were hired by the Government to advise on the best price to be obtained, have, according to the evidence, got together with the ultimate buyer in a price-fixing scandal, resulting in very low values being quoted. Everything had been so well manipulated that finally only Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka and DFCC were in the fray. With all the parties being controlled by Mr. Jayawardena, actually there would have been no competitive bidding whatsoever. If at all, only friendly banter and behind-the-scene deals!

Even after charging very high consultancy fees, instead of looking after the interests of the Government, the Consultants have sided with the buyer letting down the government. Mr. Wijedasa Rajapakse has unearthed the scandal involved, and it is now up to all law abiding parliamentarians to support him to bring those responsible - the buyers, corrupt Treasury Officials and Financial Consultants to justice!

As done in most countries, Government should simultaneously claim the loss from the Financial Consultants PWC and E& Y as it was done in the case of such incidents in foreign countries. This happened in the case of Enron and Worldcom in USA and Pamalat in Europe where Auditors/Financial Consul1ants were ordered to meet a greater part of the loss that fell on shareholders. We do not see why the same Audit Firms should not be held accountable when it happens in Sri Lanka, where the main shareholders (every member of the public) has suffered a loss estimated at over Rs. 4.0 billion.

If the loss cannot be recovered, the other option would be to cancel the privatization as provided for in the Privatization Agreement, and call for fresh bids. This was done in UK when the government re-nationalized the train service provider, Rai1track when the latter did not maintain agreed safety standards leading to frequent accidents. If it can be done in capitalist Britain, why not in socialist Sri Lanka?

Jehan Samarasekera
Ragama

****

Noise Pollution

Firstly, may I congratulate Hon. Pathali Champika Ranawake on his appointment as the Minister of Environment. As a man supported by, and emerging from a Buddhist political party, he will have the strength of not only the clergy, but also of the Buddhist precepts to back him. This should give him the courage to act with justice.
May I have the honour to inquire from him, how he proposes to stop the illegal noise that pervade the air, right through the day and night, - with the use of loudspeakers, not only at very high noise-pollution levels, but also in blatant violation of nuisance and other civil laws?

May I humbly appeal to him to restore the serenity, tranquility and peacefulness associated with Buddhist practices, and the social justice that follows with implementation of noise pollution laws.
May the blessings of the triple gem be upon him.

D M Balasuriya
Koralawella, Moratuwa

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