Wellawatte pavement mortgaged to
The normally alert law enforcing officers of the Wellawatte Police turning a
blind eye to the completely encroached pavement by vendors, extending from
Manning Place to Rudra Mawatha, under their very nose, opposite their well
fortified station, is indeed a mystery most confounding.
The total deprival of the pedestrians of three-fourth or more of their pavement
by vendors of virtually everything and anything, tantamount to a breach of
legitimate fundamental right of free movement of pedestrians, forcing them off
the pavement and onto the road. Added to these hazardous inconvenience, there
are two bus halts, one for distant destinations and the other for short distance
passengers, within a space of 50 yards of each other, on the aforesaid stretch
of pavement the structures of which fully encompasses the entire width of the
pavement. To add insult to injury, there are two fruit stalls within one and
vegetables spread behind the other, with little or no room for anyone even to
squeeze through. It is more like a crowded market square, than a pavement or a
bus halt, though many buses do stop. During rush hour absolute chaos reigns.
Does not the prevention of these impediments, fall under the purview of these
law enforcing officers located a stone’s throw away or, is it the responsibility
of any other local bodies or authorities begs the question.
Be that as it may, to make matters worse, there are elderly pensioners stopping
to inquire into the health of one another very leisurely, elderly ladies sharing
their traumatic experiences in obtaining visas to join their loved ones
overseas, occupying what little space is available. However these additional
‘occupational hazards’ are a daily feature on any busy pavement and would go
unnoticed if the pavement belongs to the rightful occupants, the pedestrians.
As things are, one begins to wonder as to who has the right of way on this
overcrowded Wellawatte pavement. Pedestrians, irrespective of the purpose for
which they need to make use of the purpose, continue to suffer in silence, while
The following incident cannot be put down to schoolboy pranks but villainy.
Some A/L students from a leading girls’ school were on their way to tuition near
Havelock Park, when they were confronted by a group of boys, identified as
students of a nearby school of rugby fame. In passing, the boys sprayed some
liquid with what looked like diluted condis crystals. The result – not only did
the girls suffer purple stained uniforms but, one of them took ill. Upon
examination of the affected student, the physician revealed that the condis was
laced with a proportion of acid. In this instance, the girls escaped serious
injury. Can the authorities please take note of this harassment and task
plainclothes policemen to safeguard our future generation?
Local inventors left to their own devices?
Needless to say that nations which have reached great economic heights, have
had prized inventions and discoveries made by some of their countrymen. In our
country too, the local news media, time and again, in the public interest,
brought to light many achievements of such ingenuity by our citizens,
especially, the young. Examples such as the electronic wizardry of a student
from Royal College, Polonnaruwa, Flexible Artificial Leg by A.S. Samarawickrame,
and Portable Wind Mill by Selvaraj.
Unfortunately, it seems that they are handicapped in developing their inventions
into viable commercial products, due to lack of facilities for further research
and development or, capital for production. For instance, Mr. Selvaraj seeks a
grant or subsidy to help start commercial production. With the present power
crisis that the country is faced with, an alternative source such as the
Portable Wind Mill referred to, would be a great boon to the country’s economy.
It does no justice to these inventors, if their inborn talents are not
recognized and harnessed for the country’s benefit. Therefore, it is time that
the Government stepped in to help them by setting up a separate unit under the
relevant authority, making resources available for further research and
development; granting financial assistance; and coordinating with the private
and corporate sectors to commence commercial production.
Hoardings in Colombo
The city of Colombo, recently, is being desecrated with large advertising
hoardings coming up at every intersection and along street bends, without any
consideration to the· beauty of the city. We all know that advertising hoardings
is a money spinner to advertising companies who have a special relationship with
the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC). Although Lakhs of Rupees are charged by
advertising agents, from their clients, only a paltry sum is paid to the CMC,
while some officers share the spoils with the advertising agents.
The ‘buzz’ within the CMC is that the Municipal Commissioner has approved 530
new hoardings to come up in the City, for the benefit of politicians.
Despite many protestations to the authorities concerned, the approvals are given
by an individual who disbanded the earlier Advertising Committee. With the
security threat hanging over the heads of many VIPs, Police should not permit
these hoardings to be installed close to junctions or by the kerb, as terrorists
could fit remote controlled devices to the back of the hoardings.
Police and the relevant authorities should stop these hoardings being installed
at random. Are we waiting for a disaster before action is taken.
Dubious doctorates and tricks of the ‘trade’
A Doctorate, prefixing “Dr.” to ones name, is a sign of scholarship, earned
after about three years of diligent research and conferred by a University.
However, there is now a proliferation of Doctorates, bought from degree mills,
dubious organisations offering ‘research’ (including martial arts!) and Honorary
Doctorates conferred by Universities, which recipients pass it off as a genuine
one. The dubious category could be easily spotted: the users of the title,
seldom mention the University conferring it. For example, it is simply “PhD”,
or, “PhD Sri Lanka” or, “PhD USA” (as if Sri Lanka or USA are Universities!).
The Public need to be careful in recognizing such charlatans and affording them
the respect which a genuine PhD holder deserves. I was recently misled and
discovered the ruse, after asking which University and the title of the
research, when a non existent University was mentioned! Genuine PhD holders
would always state the University within parenthesis, after the PhD, and be able
to describe their research.
The trick is the use of PhD and the University name after the PhD by Honorary
Doctorate holders, without the use of the words “Honoris Causa” or at least
“h.c” after the PhD and the University name. There is one business magnate, sans
the G.C.E. Ord. Level, who uses the honorary PhD conferred on him, without
indicating the honorary status, thus representing dishonorably, that he is a
true scholar, who earned the PhD through study. I have heard of a writer
“conferred” of a “Doctorate” by a martial arts institution, who regularly calls
up the press and upbraids them when he is not addressed as “Dr.”
In a country gone crazy over awards, with awards for almost everything and
everybody, it is hoped that those who use the PhD title, which is a respected
indicator of scholarship and contribution to knowledge, do so in a way to
preserve that respect, by indicating the true nature of the doctorate, along
with the University which granted it.
If fuel rationing is being contemplated, it is best to go about it
thoughtfully. Some years back, petrol rationing was instituted, only to spawn
corruption! Rationing is manned by Government servants, who wait like crows, to
barter a petrol ration card for a ‘santhosam. When the country has to do its
utmost to eliminate corruption, rationing would spark a spate of corrupt
practices. Motorists will waste time in queues. Brokers offer to buy fuel
coupons, which are sold to the highest bidder .What the State may do is to add
another 10 to 20% to the price and sell freely to the consumer. That will curb
frivolous travel by motorists. No concessions need be extended to trishaws. Let
them charge a higher fare from the commuter. The same for the omnibus, the lorry
and the private van. Money will swell in the State coffers, which may be used to
invest in developing the country. Under the Mahinda Chintanaya, projects such as
Gama neguma, Maga neguma , Palan neguma , Wev neguma, and similar development
projects may be financed. Fuel will be the goose that layed the golden egg to
assist in rapid development of the country. Let the country fatten, not the
CBK’s re-entry into active politics not a possibility
There is talk about former President Chandrika Kumaratunge re-entering the
political arena. However, I am certain that she will not, due to the following
Bandaranaikes are suspected of having worked against the SLFP nominee for
Presidency in the past. It is, therefore, unlikely, that she will trust those
who worked for the victory of the SLFP nominee at the last Presidential election
and join them in political activities.
Her brother referred to her in disparaging terms, after he opted for greener
pastures in politics and opposed her in the run-up to the throne. It is the same
brother who went against the matriarch and even went to courts. It is also
doubtful that she could join her brother in the quest for political power.
She, baselessly, accused a certain green politico of having come thrice with
firearms to kill her. She had a lingering fear that she would be handed over to
the LTTE supremo. The green leader, after he secured political power (though
limited), ‘forgot’ that she was the President and Head of State, and signed an
agreement with the government’s arch foe, without even consulting her and did
everything to undermine her. She retaliated by clipping his wings and turned to
the people to send the greens packing. Hence, with those unsavoury experiences
fresh in her mind, it is unlikely that she will join the greens to help them out
of the blues they are in.
She accused certain persons of attempting to bribe her. She may not want to face
such situations by returning to active politics.
She once quoted her daughter saying that the daughter does not want her to
return to this country of ‘no goods’. The daughter will now be joined by her
hubby to prevent Ammi from returning to engage in active politics.
Her not standing by an undertaking given in writing to the JVP (as claimed by
the JVP) to abolish the Presidency, may still be haunting her, while not wanting
to gamble by joining or opposing the JVP at future hustings, for fear of the
For 11 long uneventful years, she led the country without any tangible results.
Hence, she may not want to plead for votes once again, knowing very well that
the voters would not want her back at the helm.
Though the craving for political power may still be there, she will still would
want to maintain the tradition of her predecessors by retiring from politics,
Upali S. Jayasekera