Give due regard to democratic norms and
This is with reference to Sirisena Coorary’s
interview, reported in The Nation, April 7, 2007:
In his interview Cooray states, “One important thing is to give self government
to the people elected in the north and east. For instance, take the de-merger. I
think that was a wrong move. Even our constitution says that provincial councils
can be brought together. I think it is high time that we think practically.”
It is one thing to look for practical solutions, but in doing so, to disregard
basic democratic processes is to veer away from the principles that he himself
seems to advocate.
The merger was brought about without the consent of the people. No referendum
was carried out as was the legal requirement as well as that of the Indo-Lanka
Accord. Therefore, to say that the de-merger was a wrong move is to support the
merger that has denied equal protection under the law for the people of the
The Supreme Court did the right thing by declaring the merger invalid. It is up
to Parliament to go ahead with any new proposals for the Eastern Province, but
to do so giving due regard to democratic norms and practices.
Dr. Mahes Ladduwahetty
Liquor – Bane of the nation
The crime rate is rising rapidly. Most murders
or crimes are connected in some manner to consumption of liquor. Both illicit
liquor as well as licensed liquor is playing havoc in the country as if in
competition to determine which could bring about more deaths.
Recently a man under the influence of liquor killed his wife for having
accidentally broken his bottle of arrack. Are we waiting until the crime rate
rises sky-high for the authorities to wake up to take punitive and preventive
action to curb and control consumption of liquor?
Since the majority of the Sri Lankan people are Buddhists, it is pertinent to
start with what the Buddha taught about the consumption of alcoholic drinks.
According to the Singgalovada Sutta, the ill-effect of taking suramera
(fermented and distilled), which the Buddha calls an apunnayathana (institute
for sins), is as follows: loss of wealth, loss of health, becoming quarrelsome,
loss of honour, loss of decency and weakening of the ability to think (wisdom).
A large percentage of indoor patients in government hospitals are either
suffering from illnesses caused by consumption of liquor of due to liquor
What had happened to Sri Lankans, who had no culture of drinking? A survey
conducted in the Gokarella area in the Kurunegala District revealed that around
34,700 people spend about Rs. 3.8 million a month on liquor alone. If this money
were diverted towards their food, clothing, housing and children’s education,
how pleasant and healthy would their lives be?
Many hard drinker are no doubt unable to pay off loans, they place the blame on
the government and on others, and sometimes even commit suicide. At national
level, 30% of the population (that is 60% of all males) are addicted to alcohol.
In Anuradhapura, 70% of those who commit suicide are alcoholics.
Some time back in Kalutara, a 30-year-old man raped his own mother under the
influence of liquor in the presence of his children. Aren’t such incidences
sufficient for the nation to sit up and take remedial measures?
Liquor is threatening the very fabric of our society with moral and spiritual
values being cast aside. Why can’t the moralists, law enforcement authorities,
human rights activists, peace and health workers, religious leaders and
omnipresent NGOs view this problem in its right perspective and warn the
government before it gets out of control?
For the last 25 years, successive governments encouraged the consumption of
liquor because it brought money in billions to the Treasury. The effect it had
on the people, especially those who were poverty stricken, did not seem to be of
A war on illicit liquor alone would not help to overcome this national peril.
What is equally important is a clear cut national policy on the production, sale
and consumption of liquor.
For most Sri Lankans, any place is appropriate to take a drink. Be it a
religious ceremony or a funeral, both are equally good occasions to booze.
Anti-social, criminal and immoral acts invariably go hand in hand with liquor.
It is time that our politicians and religious leaders, the Buddhist monks in
particular, instead of fighting other crimes and terrorists, first fight the
mother of all evils, the institute for all sins. Otherwise, the country will
soon be morally, spiritually and economically depraved.
One should have watched the Children’s Drama Festival and the International
Women’s Day Festival at which the stage plays presented with a rural background
in general displayed how families are ruined and peace shattered due to
drunkenness of men in the family.
Why are we blind to this reality? Is money in the national coffers more
important than happiness in homes?
Total elimination of liquor may not be possible. Even in certain Islamic
countries where liquor is strictly prohibited, if one so wishes he can obtain
the prohibited brew without much difficulty. However, there are no brawls, no
liquor related crimes, no drunken driving or domestic quarrels due to
alcoholism. That is what we want; not to make life miserable with state
The people, the women and children should organise themselves to eschew and
resist the advance of the habit of drinking. Many cannot afford to lose man
hours and domestic harmony. If not for our women, families would have collapsed
and the children would have lost their future.
In the present social context, most of a man’s salary, overtime pay and other
allowances is spent on drinking, gambling and smoking. The more money they earn,
the more they spend on immoral and illegal activities. If one is addicted to
liquor, it is his or her family that suffers the most.
Revenue that goes to the Treasury through the manufacture and sale of liquor
whether licensed or not is soaked in woes, worries and tears of families and
that money could bring misery and mayhem.
Remove free access to liquor and the social status attached to it. Wipe off the
illicit brew that kills the spirit of the poor while enriching the dealers and
their political accolades. Then the hospital beds will be almost empty of
patients, the crime rate will drop, corruption will reduce, election violence
will vanish leading to clean elections, and as a result, the men will be sober,
energetic and healthy, spending their earnings wisely.
Moreover, people will be spiritually and morally stronger and the essence of
human life will be within their reach. If we fail to realise this and act fast,
the lion in us will be in ruins.
E. M. G. Edirisinghe
State sponsored colonisation in the east
The feature article appearing in your esteemed
newspaper The Nation dated April 8 under the title “Eastern Muslims face threat
of colonisation” has caused much concern to the authorities, at a time when the
government is embarking on large scale development programmes with the improved
security situation in the Eastern Province.
The aforesaid article allege that the government is actively engaged in grabbing
every inch of unutilised land in the Ampara District and adjoining areas to
ensure occupation of Sinhalese population from the south. It is also mentioned
that state aided colonisation is fast progressing in Pottuvil, Deegavapiya,
Norachcholal and Akkaraipattu. The depiction of two government parliamentarians,
Petroleum Minister A. H. M. Fowzie and Deputy Minister Hasan Ali with their
comments add credence to the article which has caused the Governor, Eastern
Province to probe into the mater.
District secretaries of Ampara, Battlcaloa and Trincomalee Districts in the
Eastern Province under whose purview the divisional secretaries, grama niladaris
and other government officials who directly control the affairs of the
population emphatically denied any knowledge of the alleged colonisation process
presently conducted or planned by the government for the future. Please find
attached photocopies of letter addressed to the Governor by the respective
district secretaries which are self explanatory.
On Minister Fowzie, the Governor had been informed minister got this information
from some persons but he had not ascertained the veracity, and was contemplating
on broaching this subject with the President. Minister Hasan Ali, while
confirming that there is no government sponsored colonisation has informed the
Governor that there is some rift between the pradeshiya sabhas of Pottuvil and
Lahugala which needs to be resolved.
Under the circumstances, it would appear that some interested parties with an
ulterior motive to disrupt the development programmes envisaged in the Eastern
Province in order to uplift the economy and livelihood of all tree major
communities are spreading false information.
I am directed by the Governor to request to kindly initiate corrective measures
to eradicate any misconception the aforesaid article may have caused.
S.H. Mohamed (Media Coordinator to the
Eastern Province Governor)
Social responsibilities: Be responsible
I believe that it is the duty of the government
to maintain law and order. However, people also should cooperate and extend
their support in this regard. I quote below the following:
Whenever accidents occur, people take the law into their hands and assault the
driver of the vehicle. This is wrong. The correct measure would be to inform the
police and make arrangements for medical relief. Due to this fear of
manhandling, most drivers vanish from the spot to avoid identification.
People have the right to protest against the government or institutions showing
their dissatisfaction. However, they should refrain from damaging properties.
For e.g., burning/stoning motor vehicles, buildings, etc. We should realise that
whether it is a private or public property, it is our money which will be used
for repairing the damages caused and by this foolish act, the money which could
have been used for development will be wasted.
(3) National flag
The national flag and the national anthem are very important and must be
respected by all citizens. But we must bear in mind that national flags and
national anthems of other countries too should be respected. Our dignity could
be maintained only if we respect other people’s feelings. On several occasions I
have seen the national flags of other countries being destroyed at various
I consider it necessary to mention here an incident when India gained
independence on August 15, 1947. A question arose as to who would lower the
British flag and Mahatma Gandhi, categorically stated it should be done by the
Viceroy of India and nobody else. This suggestion was highly appreciated by all
concerned and was followed.
(4) Security measure
It is a difficult task for the armed forces to maintain law and order as any
lapse could result in disaster. Some people amuse themselves by giving bogus
information which creates panic amongst the general public, and also misleads
the forces. There have been many instances where flights were stopped due to
bomb scares, and there was an incident in Sri Lanka where a female passenger
died of shock.
I suggest that the people should realise the gravity of the situation, and not
encourage or entertain anybody giving false calls to the security forces and
others. All citizens should cooperate in this regard.
(5) Statutory dues
It is the paramount duty of the public to settle their statutory dues. Employers
should pay provident fund, trust fund, retiring gratuity, etc., to their
employees on time. Taxpayers should settle their dues on time.
It could be observed that our budgetary expenditure depends heavily on income
from taxes, and therefore, all should cooperate in settling their tax dues on
time. You should be proud to be an honest taxpayer.
I hope the public at large will take note of the above, and act as responsible
S. R. Balachandran