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Letters


Mr. President restore our right

After nearly two decades, the Nugegoda pavements were cleared of hawkers in June 2006 by the Kotte Mayor, enabling pedestrians to use them freely. This was a very welcome step, because hawkers were creating problems for pedestrians all along and there was a large number of complaints.
But the hawkers returned to their usual haunts about three months ago, this time, reportedly, with the blessings of none other than your honoured self. It is rumoured that the hawkers, claiming to be members of a union of self-employed, appealed to you and they were permitted to return to the pavements, on condition that there should be no obstruction whatever to the pedestrians and the place kept clean. However, now they occupy both sides of the narrow pavement, leaving only a little space in the middle, which is blocked by bargain hunters, leaving no room for pedestrians. In addition, they have also put up shades overhead to protect themselves and their wares from sun and rain, which prevents anyone from walking with an open umbrella. Though they had agreed to keep the place clean, it is now observed in the breach. Thus, you see that the hawkers whom you trusted, have misled you, abused your kindness, thrown the conditions into the winds and created problems for pedestrians. In short, they have taken the upper hand, because permission was granted by you, the highest in the land.
According to a letter in the Daily Mirror of June 5, by a supporter of the ‘Chintanaya’, you yourself have ordered the clearing of all pavements in the Colombo city of all obstructions. If this is true, you have adopted a different standard for Nugegoda. Is it because Colombo’s resident pedestrians are more equal than those of Nugegoda?
Unlike your predecessors, you gave the forces’ commanders a free hand to prosecute the war and they delivered the goods. But, in this trivial matter, which should be dealt with by officials at local level, you have interfered with the functions of the Kotte Mayor and recreated a problem which she solved after so many years.
You are a Human Rights champion; we are only asking for our inalienable right and not a favour like the hawkers. Please restore our right to use the pavements without obstruction by anyone at all.
Another supporter of the Chintanaya,
Nugegoda.

***

Karuna’s party debarred from contesting polls

TMVP is totally committed to democracy and placed its full confidence in it to win the justifiable rights and political aspirations of our people through democratic means. We are also for a political settlement to establish permanent peace in our country and are committed to create a new chapter in our history where all communities Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim could co-exist. The liberation of the east is a breakthrough in this regard.
Although local government elections are to be held in the Eastern province, the elections department has postponed the elections in the Tamil areas of Batticaloa until February 29, 2008.
The North and East was de-merged by a Supreme Court decision last year. Presently, the Eastern province functions separately.
The High Courts verdict that fresh nominations could be called, while doing away with the old, facilitates fresh Local Government elections in the Eastern Province, particularly, in the Tamil areas. The verdict had cited the following reasons for rejecting the old nominations.
1. Shifting of candidates
2. Migration of candidates
3. Death of candidates

When fresh nominations are called, the TMVP too, will submit its nominations at the Batticaloa elections office. We will apply for the registration of our party when fresh elections are called.
TMVP will submit its nominations to contest as an Independent Group if the party is not registered.
There is no doubt that we would contest in all the elections in the eastern province, as we are strongly positioned.
Your news release said that it was a severe blow to our party, since it is not registered. Even Prabha’s group too took it for granted to carry out its false propaganda against us.
Our political journey is advancing rapidly. The confidence of our people and our brethren is being established while our political activities are widespread.
We request the media to act in a more responsible manner when reporting, since such reporting encourages terrorism at a time when LTTE terrorism is being eliminated.
K. Maresh
TMVP

****

Norse Code

The Norwegian Ambassador, on the eve of relinquishing his duties in Sri Lanka, is purported to have said that unpopularity is a small price to pay for Norway’s involvement in Sri Lanka and that Norway’s interest is to see that all communities live in peace, within a united Sri Lanka.
“Unpopular” is to put it mildly Mr. Brattskar… very mildly. If there was a reversal of roles, how you, as a Norwegian, would react to the antics of do-gooder Sri Lanka defies conjecture, given your current stance of blatant insincerity.
The discrepancy between your professed concern for Sri Lanka’s wellbeing and your contrary actions, which reveal your dubious intentions, is so obvious, that it is not only an insult to the intelligence of Sri Lankans but, a manifestation of your scant regard for the sentiments of the latter. Even if you speak in Norse Mr. Brattskar, no translation into Sinhala, Tamil or English is required to understand your true intentions. I wonder whether the Vikings of yore, on their missions of plunder and destruction, justified their actions on the grounds of their hapless victims’ wellbeing? If so, your” actions would” then acquire meaning as kindred genes manifesting themselves after transmission down the ages.
The despicable acts of the Norwegians, inimical to Sri Lanka, in the guise of “facilitating”, are far too numerous and well - known to warrant repetition.
The former President Chandrika and the Tiger terrorists requesting Norway to facilitate the “peace process”, and the current President repeating the request is flaunted by you, Mr. Brattskar, as the overwhelming reason for Norway to enter the Sri Lankan scene. How heartless of you to have forgotten former Prime Minister Ranil, Mr. Brattskar. The Tigers wanting their patron by their side is only natural. That Chandrika and Ranil competing for international accolades in pursuit of their personal agendas, find the Norwegian passport invaluable to gain ‘international community” acceptance, is an open secret. President Mahinda is unenviably placed in having to reap what Chandrika and Ranil have sown and his is merely an acquiescence in a situation sans options, where prudence and diplomacy is of the essence. Therefore, your excuses for getting on the Sri Lankan bandwagon, would find greater acceptance amongst the proverbial marines.
The fundamental flaw in your homily, Mr. Brattskar, stems from your equating the Norwegian Government to the Norwegian people (who are at sea, as far as their Government’s Sri Lanka agenda is concerned) and a handful of self-seeking Sri Lankan leaders with hidden agendas to the Sri Lanka people.
As facilitator par excellence Erik Solheim would, no doubt, reassure you Mr. Brattskar, unpopularity is indeed a small price to pay for the coveted “Prabha Piece Prize”!!
Lakshman Dissanayake
Colombo 2

****

Mervyn Silva pleads guilty to cheque fraud

I refer to the news item in the Daily Mirror of July 25 and was astounded to read of the punishment meted for the offence committed by Mervyn Silva. I wonder whether Appuhamy would have got off that lightly, had he committed fraud and misappropriation, and whether the Penal Code did not apply to politicians.
The Dictionary defines Fraud as Deceit or Trickery deliberately practised in order to gain some advantage dishonestly. It also says that a person who makes deceitful pretenses is a Humbug and an Imposter.
Misappropriation is defined as Dishonestly or unfairly taken for one’s use.
I could safely conclude that the Penal Code clearly spells out the nature of the offence and the punishment that should go with it, for all citizens. The State always proclaims that all its subjects are equal before the law. The most recent instance was over the Rizana case, where the Cabinet spokesman vowed that action would be taken in keeping with procedure.
I am certain that that there is no ambiguity in the law and also no provision for anyone to be treated differently, be it Appuhamy or Mervyn Silva, sorry Dr Mervyn Silva. I think it is relevant to inquire from the State Attorneys, whether they could justify this action, where charges were allegedly tailored to be helpful to the accused. Is this not an instance where the judicial process has been tinkered with, and with far reaching implications.
I earnestly request the Bar Association and the OPA not to accept this kid glove treatment to an individual and ensure that justice is done. The social impact of such special treatment will be disastrous as citizen ‘Perera’ could not have got off by paying Rs 2,500 as State costs. If this episode is swept under the carpet, could the State indict another citizen for fraud. If so, would it not be a violation of his Fundamental Rights.
An ex peon of the CWE, he gets emboldened because of his political clout and goes from one alleged crime to another in confidence. I have no doubt that the press would relentlessly pursue this matter
It is not who is involved but, to ensure that the law takes its course, irrespective of personalities.
Dr Mervyn admitted to a lesser charge of committing criminal misappropriation with a dishonoured cheque, using a false signature. On his own admission could he remain a Minster of State or, a Member of Parliament, even though not an elected representative. If Parliament, the supreme legislature, permits a man, who pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of cheque fraud, continue as a Member, then, it goes without saying that the entire legislature condones fraud and misappropriation..
I trust that the Justices of the Supreme Court will ensure that the rule of law, irrespective of the person/s involved, is enforced and punishment befitting the crime, meted out, so that, society could rest assured, as to what is in store, for transgressing the law.
The country is aware of the manner in which the Supreme Court responded to a big mouthed politico and the price he paid for being outspoken. Their Lordships, justifiably, took a serious view of what they considered to be an affront to their decision. In my view this is an offence that is as serious if not more so and that society must not get a wrong signal of approval of fraud and criminal misappropriation.
I trust that this matter will not be swept under the carpet. Needless to say that law abiding citizens watch with avid interest, how the laws of the land will be applied and what place fraud and misappropriation will occupy in society.
A law abiding citizen

****

Open letter to the Minister of Public Administration

It was heartening and encouraging to read in the implementation of the Citizens Charter that senior citizens would be treated with due respect, and pensioners given due attention.
Against this background, may I quote the serenity prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous.
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Mr Minister, we don’t doubt your wisdom to know the difference between what can and what cannot be changed, nor do we have the slightest doubt about your courage to change what you can.
This is an open letter to bring to your kind notice once again that in spite of our repeated appeals neither the Ministry of Public Administration nor the Department of Pensions has reacted logically regarding the inclusion of pensionable allowances received during the service tenure of regular Medical and Dental officers of the Army and the Air Force in calculating their pensions
By statute every service Medical and Dental officer is entitled to receive all other allowances as are payable to officers in terms of and conditions laid down in the Army Pay Code and to have their rates of pay and allowances revised to equate them to those recommended and accepted at any future date for Medical Officers in the Department of Health.
De jure the service officers are not public servants, though de facto, from the time of retirement till they die, they are treated like retired public servants. The 1961 Gazette advocates the applying of the Minutes of Pension of the Department of Health, to retiring Medical men of the Armed Forces, at a time when there was a significant difference in the salary scales of the medical professionals and mainstream officers and when there were no pensionable allowances for army personnel.
Neither of the pension minutes refer to any allowance qualitatively or quantitatively, nor to a procedure to be adopted with regard to the calculation of pensions of medical men who are serving outside the Department of Health.
It is pertinent to reiterate that pensions are calculated on a percentage basis, to enable a person to live comfortably in his retirement, within reasonable limits. In the process of deciding the pension of retiring Regular Armed Forces Medical and Dental officers, three parties are involved viz the particular force, the Department of Pensions and the Divisional Secretariat.
The particular force provides the basis on which the pension is calculated, the Pension Department authorizes the basis and the Divisional Secretariat makes the payment. The Navy had been doing the correct thing from the inception and has included the Ration Allowance and the Qualification pay, being pensionable allowances, in the pensions of their retiring Medical and Dental Officers with the Pensions Department paying them for over 20 years. This was after formal approval by the relevant authorities. This process is correct.
Today, the same Pensions Department is putting forward theories and counter theories. Ministry officials are asking for recommendations and reports, as to why these allowances should be included in the pensions of retiring Army and Air Force Medical men, ironically, whilst continuing to pay pensions, including these allowances, to our Navy colleagues.
We have brought this to the notice of His Excellency the President, directly and through the media. We have personally spoken to you not once but thrice, over the phone. We have met with you in person, privately and in public. Your secretary, verbally and in writing, gave instructions to a Deputy Director in the Pensions Department in yours and our presence, to include these allowances in the pensions of the retiring medical and dental officers, almost four months ago, to no avail.
To be in receipt of the only terminal benefit we have accrued for giving our entire professional life to the Armed Forces, we would sincerely appreciate your intervention.
Major General (Dr.) Tilak Jayaweera (Rtd)

****

Dear Ladymoon Happy Feast!

She is our mother who lovingly cares for us at our divine abode-Holy Cross College (HCC); She is our best friend who helps us in all our needs: She is our guardian angle who protects us from bad; she is our guide who leads us “Per crucem-Ad Lucem” – Through the cross to the light; Above all, she is our dear Sister Principal, Rev. Sister Deepani Ac, who reigns over our paradise, HCC.
Dear Sister, as you come out of the convent and walk down to the School, like the morning sun rising above a greeny hill, felicity is immensely scattered in our verdant vale. Your golden smile and silvery grace compose hymns of confidence in our tender hearts, as we feel as if our mother is with us.
Thus, we make your Feast day and Birthday (August 21) a great opportunity to thank you for your incomparable service rendered towards HCC with much love and dedication. What we feel for you is much more than we express. May you be granted with good health and satisfaction in everything you do, may good luck attend you all the time. HCC is always with you, for we know that though we search the whole world over, until our lives are through, we’ll never find another one quite like you.

“May mother Mary shower her quiet graces on you
In each moment I remember you
May the Good Lord grant his blessing on you
In each moment I pray for you……….”
Mandulee Mendis
11F, Holy Cross College, Gampaha.

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