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The country is bleeding to death
The founding Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew, has
admitted that the choosing of English in preference to Chinese or Malay made
Singapore what it is today. This is in comparison to the failed states that
adopted the language of the majority to please the majority community just to
grab power, thereby earning the wrath of the remainder.
This revelation of a stark truth by the head of a highly successful state leaves
ample evidence for the now failed states to ponder into their past misdeeds in
the name of nationalism. Sri Lanka, nay known as Ceylon then, has been cited as
a failed state with racial, language, strife and religious conflict due to its
romantic ideas to revive a mythical past of greatness and culture.
Be that as it may, the wrongs committed thus far by the state under the two
major political parties at regular intervals taking turns whenever they come to
power by every means possible brought this land to the edge of disaster without
ever regretting their unpardonable sins and follies committed in the name of one
nation, one language, one race and one religion merely to achieve and hold on to
However in this context the rare unprecedented apology tendered by the Prime
Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake on behalf of the government for evicting
Tamils from the lodges of Colombo on June 7 deserves the highest of praise from
every Tamil in Colombo and more so from the victims of this dastardly inhuman
Retired Major General Lalin Fernando while writing on the subject to the press a
few dates later showered bountiful praises on the Premier for his frank and
sincere apology for the unwarranted incident and went on to add a soul stirring
confession on the atrocities committed in the past on the Tamil community.
This is the best time as any for every Sinhalese politician to apologise in a
similar manner for all the wrongs done to the Tamils since independence when
they pandered to the majority to capture power. The wrongs include the violence
in the racial riots of 1956, 1958, 1977, 1981 and 1983, the opposition to pacts
which would have resolved the differences that kept the Tamils from sharing
state power such as the B-C and the D-C pacts, the declaration of ‘war’ on the
Tamils in 1977, the burning of the Public Library in Jaffna in 1981 and finally
the excesses in the ongoing 25-year-old conflict which have largely gone
unpunished and unacknowledged by the state, resulting in institutionalising
abuse of power including murder, rape and abductions.
Had only the late S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike implemented a language policy similar to
that of Premier Lee Kwan Yew, the destiny of this little isle would have been a
different kettle of fish. The country would have prospered without bleeding to
death, as it is today.
A. R. S. Mahalingam
Pensioners’ fervent appeal to the Public Administration
The poor and middle class segments of the population,
battered by an unprecedented and galloping cost of living, would no doubt
hopefully look forward to the forthcoming Budget proposals for some measure of
relief. Among such hopefuls, pensioners, the large majority of whom are
dependent solely on their pension for survival, appear to be a forgotten section
of the community who has to endure silently many a health problem and domestic
Inarticulate as they are, they can wield no clout with the authorities in the
same manner vociferous others in the service and elsewhere are prone to act to
win their demands. Pensioners, being a category of senior citizens, now in the
evening of their life, feeble with age, who have given of their best in the
service of the motherland throughout the better part of their life, deserve
recognition and better treatment.
Anomalous situations in the calculation of pensions do still prevail despite
certain ad hoc steps taken from time to time by successive governments to
rectify some anomalies. But no government has so far been able to go the whole
hog to evolve a realistic and reasonable scheme of pensions in accord with the
present situation and current needs despite promises. Appeals to the authorities
in this regard by pensioners appear frequently in the print media. But these
appeals have been of no avail.
With the assumption of office of the present Public Administration Minister,
however, pensioners heaved a sigh of relief hoping that the reasonable and
rational proposal, to which he himself was a party in the not too distant past –
that is the revision initially of all pensions via the relevant salary scales
prevalent in 2004 and thereafter the updating of pensions with every subsequent
increase of salary in the Public Service, based on the revised scales – would at
long last materialise. But these hopes too have been shattered.
With Budget time approaching, this fervent appeal is directed to the genial
Minister requesting him, as a matter of priority, to discuss with the President,
who is also the Finance Minister, the plight of the pensioners and the necessity
of implementing the above proposals to which the Minister himself sincerely
contributed. Pensioners, I believe, can rest assured that the President who is
known to give ear to genuine grievances from whichever quarter they emanate,
would no doubt comprehend the plight of the pensioners and agree to this
reasonable scheme if the Minister earnestly takes up the issue with him.
The Treasury is likely to oppose the move adducing the paucity of funds as the
reason. But the fact remains that pensioners are a fast diminishing group. Death
beckons them sooner than later. Moreover, the extra expenditure involved in
giving the desired relief would be comparatively negligible weighed against
billions spent on other pursuits and the enormous amount of public funds lost
through rampant wastage, neglect and corruption as recent revelations
Further, the economy is reported to be resilient and performing well despite the
heavy expenditure on the anti-terrorist front. So why grudge relief to a small
group of hapless and needy elders most of whom are silently trying hard to eke
out an existence?
Ban the loudspeakers
As a resident of Koralawella, Moratuwa, who has to put up with the
indiscriminate use of loudspeakers at all hours of the day and regularly at
around 4:30 a.m. I will be profoundly grateful to any government that completely
bans the use of loudspeakers in the open.
I am not sure why this public menace continues unabated; it is a sad reflection
on our society which has no respect for the comfort of others and the law.
Nuisance values have no place in religion. Continued exposure to these
loudspeakers is a sure path to deafness.
The only way in which to avoid these loud noises is to completely insulate
oneself, which means air conditioning, which is expensive, not available to all,
and environmentally damaging.
If our neighbouring countries have had the courage to ban the use of
loudspeakers, why can’t we? May I exhort the government to take immediate
measures to afford the general public relief by banning such noise levels and
removing these offensive and damaging pieces of equipment from our society?
D. M. Balasuriya
As a rate payer of the city of Colombo, I was amazed to read in the
newspapers that the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) is to be suspended on
September 20 and the present Municipal Commissioner to be vested with the powers
of the mayor and the Council as a special commissioner.
During the past one and a half years an incompetent group was vested with the
affairs of the council on account of the UNP misleading the voters of Colombo to
cast their valuable vote to the spectacle group as the UNP was disqualified by
the Election Commissioner for having presented an incomplete nomination list.
Your newspaper has time and again pointed out the wrong doings of the council
and the Municipal Commissioner for violating laid down procedures.
Vasudeva Nanayakkara protested against such misdeeds and wrong doings and
complained to the Western Province Chief Minister, the Governor and even to the
President and finally a one man Commission of Inquiry was appointed to inquire
into the financial irregularities and the misuse and abuse of power.
As the commission is expected to complete the inquiry and submit the report
within 90 days, there is no reason to suspend the Council and vest the powers
with the incumbent Municipal Commissioner, who also contributed towards messing
up affairs at the CMC.
In this context, in the best interest of the citizens and the rate payers of
Colombo, the President should await the report of the Commission before taking
any action in this regard, such as suspension of the Council and appointing
ministerial subcommittees as it would not have any impact in the short term.
On the findings and the report of the commission, the Governor and the Chief
Minister could advise the President to take the best possible action to bring
about progress and good governance for the City of Colombo.
J. M. Farook
Pervez Musharraf in danger
As the time for president and parliamentary elections draws nearer, the
situation in Pakistan is very explosive. The latest explosion in Rawalpindi on
September 4 killed 24 people and injured 68. General Pervez Musharraf after
ordering the massacre at the Lal Masjid in Islamabad on July 10 and 11 believed
that the whole affair could be swept under the carpet and forgotten.
The assault on the Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa by Pervez Musharraf’s commandos
left hundreds dead, most of them women and children. Not to be outdone,
pro-Taliban elements who supported Moulanas Abdul Aziz and Abdul Rashid Gazi of
the Lal Masjid retaliated, promising to make Pakistan worse than Iraq.
In the two weeks following the Lal Masjid assault, hundreds of soldiers and
paramilitary personal have been killed in such places as Swat, Dera Ismail Khan,
Miran Shah, Kohat, Hangu and Hub in the far south of the country. There was also
a bomb explosion at a lawyers’ rally in Islamabad on July 17, killing 19 people
and injuring 50 others. Chief Justice Iftikar Muhammed Chaudry who was supposed
to speak at the rally was apparently the intended target, but had not arrived at
the rally when the bomb went off.
Like US President George W. Bush, Musharraf is committing heinous crimes in the
name of fighting terrorism. Like the US he has tried to frame the struggle in
Pakistan as being between the ‘moderates’ – meaning people like himself – and
the ‘extremists,’ by which he means anybody who opposes him. His ‘enlightened
moderation’ includes the disappearance of hundreds of people suspected of
political activities against him and the cold blooded murder of thousands of
civilians in military actions against the so-called terrorists in remote areas
of the N.W.F.P and Baluchistan, long before the assault of the Lal Masjid in
The recent September 4 attack proved that the pro-Taliban elements are a force
to reckon with and they will continue their attacks on Musharraf. Although
Musharraf has the support of the US, it is likely that these determined
pro-Taliban elements using suicide bombers may assassinate Musharraf, who has
survived three earlier attempts on his life.
A report released by the US Intelligence Chief on July 17 said that the fight
against “terrorism” in Pakistan was going badly and that both al-Qaeda and the
Taliban had regrouped and are now more effective in carrying out attacks. It
appears there is an ominous creeping danger enveloping President Pervez
Musharraf that may be his nemesis sooner than later.
Corruption in Colombo’s Central Mail Exchange
The Central Mail Exchange in Colombo is not only the nerve
centre of the mail services – it is also the nerve centre of corruption in the
In the past when the employees were disciplined and honest and the officers
handling the administration were competent and knew rules and procedure,
overtime quotas and limits were approved annually. But since 1995, that has not
been done. The workload has come down and the staff requirements are much less
now, but overtime is incurred as prior to 1990 without the approval of the
higher authorities. This is robbery.
Employees do not report for work on Saturdays. Their absence is not felt as
there is no work. The staff is listed as a matter of routine. Though they do not
report for work on Saturdays, their presence is marked on Mondays and the
Saturday allowance is claimed. This has the backing of these who deal with the
attendance registers, for which they are looked after. The superiors are
compelled to turn a blind eye to such dishonesty as even the Ministry does not
act against the employees.
A large number of employees claim overtime without being at work. Employees on
rotational duties leave three to four hours early before their duties end,
pending the arrival of the successor. The result is that the work is affected.
The monthly overtime expenditure in the Central Mail Exchange is about Rs. 15 to
Rs. 16 million a month when the amount can be reduced by 50%.
In addition, losses and pilfering of mail are going on unabated. The Department
claims that the services are run at a loss. Postage is increased to cover up
unwarranted expenditure. The malpractices should be stopped without increasing
Retired Postal Employee
W. K. Gunawilrdena