Wellawatte pavement mortgaged to vendors?

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 doing so.
A.R.S. Mahalingam


Schoolboy villainy

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?
Clifford Lazarus


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.
U.M.G. Goonetilleke


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.
M.A. Mohamed
Colombo 15


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.
Romurlus Silva


Fuel rationing

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 motorist!


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 reasons:
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 boys.
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, with grace.
Upali S. Jayasekera
Colombo 04









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