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Letters


Readers please note it is essential that all Letters to the Editor carry the full name and address of the writer, even if it has to appear under a pseudonym. This applies to all email letters as well.

 

A dove or a hawk?

In the wake of the Air Force attack that targeted a LTTE leader hideout in Kilinochchi on Friday morning causing the deaths of the LTTE “Political Leader” Thamilselvan and his top aides, the several pseudo intellectuals, self styled peace activists and of course the LTTE proxy TNA, have attempted to win the sympathy of the international community, by airing the ludicrous view that any future peace move has been dealt a fatal blow by the Sri Lanka government.

However, they have failed to point out any positive and meaningful move made by Thamilselvan, towards the success of negotiations was in the abortive peace talks held in Geneva, where he played a key role. On the contrary what observers of the talks noticed, was flagrant violation of basic principles of diplomacy and the placing of hurdles to obstruct the attainment of peace through meaningful negotiations.

The division of the organization into “political” and “military” wings is purely misleading. That is to show that the former is genuinely interested in peace and the latter acts independently. In reality the political wing and the military wings are inseparable, in that, the latter operates at the command of the former. In fact the so-called political leader is the master mind of all military operations responsible for the assassinations of Sri Lankans of the highest calibre, including Tamil intellectuals and leaders like Amirthalingam, Lakshsman Kadirgramar and Dr. Neelan Thiruchelwam. The fact that a mediocre person like Thamilselvan was appointed as the political leader proves that the LTTE and its supremo were not keen on a political solution.

The statements to portray Thamilselvan as a’ peace dove’ and a great political leader and to say that his death was a blow to the peace process, are vain attempts to absolve the terrorist leader of crimes committed against Sri Lankans including distinguished members of the Tamil community. The case of Thamilselvan permits us to imagine the calibre of the political leaders under a LTTE regime in a separate state. The conscription of Tamil children on the order of the “political leaders” has effectively closed any avenue for Tamil youth to enter the political arena and guide the Tamil community as their leaders, on the path to a vibrant democracy.
C. A. Lenin Divakara

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Business Today rewards corrupt

In any country, one important objective of recognising and rewarding a leading individual or institution, should be to publicise its qualities, achievements and traits, enabling others to emulate and achieve similar heights. The fundamental purpose of the Nobel Prize is just that, motivate and encourage others to achieve greatness in the likeness of the winners.

But, sadly, in Sri Lanka, as in most happenings here, things happen in the reverse. A classic example is the recent nominations of Business Today (BT) Top 10 winners.

What is significant here is that, of the Top 10, three are involved in the business of Alcohol and Tobacco, whose products have actually become major social problems in our country, being root causes of many suicides, family breakups and anti social behaviour in people. On the one hand, Government is bringing in legislation to control smoking and alcoholism, because of the extremely harmful effects and, on the other hand, leading business magazines are heralding them as corporate leaders to be followed by others.

In addition to the harmful and anti social side, two of the companies are accused of having defrauded this country billions through exercise duty scans, fraudulent and corrupt activities involving transfer of government owned lands.

The inquiries are proceeding with the companies involved not uttering a word denying anything. If BT were to do its rankings in this manner, totally disregarding the ethics of carrying out the business, it is only a matter of time before their honours become reviled or ridiculed, than respected. It is rumored that already some major corporates have politely declined to be honoured in this manner. The sooner BT changes their rating criteria, the better for everybody.
D. N. L. Philips
Mount Lavinia

****

Do TV commercials on national cricketers do justice to their image?

If there is any single category of Sri Lankans which has brought fame and honour to the country, it is our national cricket team. By being selected for the ICC award, for the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ they have earned international recognition, not only for their cricketing prowess, but more importantly, for their outstanding conduct on and off the field.

This special recognition alone truly demonstrates, that they as a team, have been worthy ambassadors even contributing immeasurably to diminish the adverse effects of the well orchestrated propaganda aimed at tarnishing the image of the country. Indeed the nation is much indebted to these few talented gentlemen.

As far as the youth are concerned, the senior cricketers, particularly those who have performed admirably for many years, have become role models. They are even idolized. Their success brings joy to millions; failure often leads to consternation, despair and shock. They are specially honoured in their villages and home towns. They attract the attention of all, wherever they go and whatever they do.

This wonderful image and reputation that they have built with so much toil, discipline and sacrifice also needs immense strength of character to be preserved and sustained, particularly with the pecuniary attractions dangled before them. One unsuspecting, innocent slip could seriously dilute this hard earned status. Often have we seen celebrities in world sport fade away ignominiously for this reason..

As an ardent follower of the game, and as a sincere admirer of our cricketers, it is in the backdrop of the above mentioned statement, that I have begun to wonder how prudent some of them have been, in permitting their honoured national image status to be exploited by advertisers in T.V. commercials. Crudely produced ‘spots’ portraying even the much respected Captain and Vice-Captain as immature kids, being repeatedly bludgeoned into the ears and eyes of viewers is to say the least irksome, irritating, and vulgar. How silly indeed, it is to be compelled to see over and over again the captain and vice captain,. hurriedly and gleefully delving their hands into a basketful of ice to grab a crown cork that flies off a bottle top!.

Advertisers, if they are true professionals, should have created a ‘spot’ incorporating the dignity and decorum these two have come to personify in the world of sport; and not make them look like two frolicsome monkeys.
Edward Gunawardena
Battaramulla

****

Make way for thugs on the highways!

I frequently drive on the Colombo Kandy Road, and have noticed that many of the buses, lorries, vans, three wheelers and motorcyclists that ply on this road, are a law to themselves. What I cannot understand is, that these drivers have obtained their driving licenses after passing a theoretical examination conducted by the government, as well as a practical test in driving. The examination is mainly focused on how to drive and obey traffic rules and signs, and how best they should follow the rules and regulations when using a public highway.

In spite of these requirements, most drivers after obtaining their license, conveniently disobey all road rules when they are driving. It is very regrettable that these rules are being blatantly abused by these drivers before the very eyes of the police officers who turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to such abuses. Occasionally two policemen who stand by the wayside, nabs an errant driver, but others follow with the same mistake without being nabbed.

My suggestion is that Traffic Police should perform their duties of ensuring that no one disrespects the law, and caution the road user, rather than nab a stray offender wasting time making notes and issuing him with a fine notice, while the other drivers guilty of the same error go scot free while he is busy taking down notes.

Once a license is obtained they are called competent drivers and should obey and adhere to all road rules when they are driving on public highways or by ways. I believe that the majority of drivers who drive buses, lorries and three wheelers, are school dropouts and comes from undisciplined environments. That is why most of these bus drivers exhibit their ignorance and behave like thugs on public roads. The easiest way to get a job for these school dropouts is to get a driving license through a driving school. If one is to trace the background of those drivers who meet with such accidents as reported in the media daily, it would prove that they are mostly school dropouts or persons with a background of bad moral values.

I am aware that there are drivers who cannot read or write, but posses a driving license. When such persons are entrusted with a vehicle to drive they cares very little for other road users. It has become a common sight at road junctions to see three wheelers parked blocking access to by lanes and roads. This is often done in the presence of the police. They do not care for the pedestrians and other road users and are a law to themselves.

I have frequently noticed that the bus drivers who ply along Kandy road are the most indisciplined. They toot the horn for no valid reason, drive in the most dangerous way and are a source of danger to other road users. They also harass the lady drivers by unnecessarily flashing the hazard lights, thus creating unwanted panic for other road users, overtake other vehicles by going on the wrong side of the road, and then veers the bus back to the extreme left, to pick passengers, obstructing on coming traffic.

That is the reason for frequent head on crashes of vehicles driven by these uneducated thug drivers. They not only behave like thugs but create unwanted traffic jams too.

It is time that we formulate a system to have a set of disciplined drivers who obey the law of the land in respect of road rules and regulations, respect other road users in driving and parking and ensure the safety of the public who are at the mercy of motorists..
Lenin Jayasinghe
Kolonnawa

****

Over-zealous PPAs exploiting students and parents

In the recent past there have been many protests by parents of school children, about teachers and past pupil associations in schools, which compel parents of students to purchase entire books of tickets for various so called fund raising projects in the school

It is true that School Development Societies and PPA’s of schools need funds to develop the infrastructure of the school. But they should not try to be over enthusiastic and try to do many things at the same time.

A popular girls’ school in Bambalapitiya, has just commenced the construction of a swimming pool. Well and good. But under the guise of raising funds for it, the OGA of the school organise various fund raising events virtually one, every month or more.

Now, they have organised a variety entertainment called ‘Sisu Rengum’. The idea behind it was that it should be a forum to bring out the talents of the very young kids. The .organisers have arranged for shows on three consecutive evenings, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The little children have to be brought to school by the parents around 4 or 4.30 p.m. and they have to be in their costumes until the end of the show. The show usually ends well past 9 p.m., which is well past the bedtime of these five and six year olds. The parents are also virtually forced to purchase tickets, sell banners, advertisements etc.for these shows.,

Doesn’t the Education Ministry keep a tab on these so called fund raising projects?.
I suggest the Ministry issues a circular limiting the number of such events/projects per year.
Ms. U. P. Fernando
Dehiwala

****

RIGHT OF REPLY
Article on Vivienne Goonewardena

I draw your attention to the short article on Vivienne Goonewardena as part of the feature on ‘Women in Governance’ on page 7 of The Nation Eye supplement of Sunday October 14 2007 (http://www.nation.lk/2007/10/14/eyefea7.htm)

I was surprised to read that the above article appearing under the byline of staff journalist Ayesha Wijeratne is a condensed verbatim reproduction of an appreciation that I wrote in 1996 (http://www.rootsweb.com/~lkawgw/vivienneg.htm) and that was uploaded with my permission on the Sri Lanka Genealogical Website which presumably is your journalist’s source.

You may compare both items to verify for yourself that the wording and construction of narrative is identical but has been edited for length in the version published in your newspaper.

While I have no objection to material made freely available on the internet being reproduced in your pages without prior permission, I do take exception to it being passed off as someone else’s work, without due acknowledgement to the author and the original source.

I am sure you will agree with me that the professional integrity of both newspaper and journalist are unneccesarily impugned through lazy journalism and poor respect for journalistic standards such as in this instance. As a regular reader of your paper and sympathiser of its editorial perspectives I am doubly offended.

Sir, I kindly request that your newspaper discusses the seriousness of plagiarism and respect for author and reader alike with your staff writer, and that a suitable clarification appear on the same page in the next issue of the paper crediting the source and the author for that particular item.

Perhaps the Press Complaints Commission Code of Conduct ought to be amended to set our procedures on use of material downloaded from the internet in light of recent unhappiness over the Sunday Lakbima News pillaging of blogs for feature stories as well as my own experience?

B. Skanthakumar
Reporters note: We wish to inform Mr. Skanthakumar that the byline of the journalist concerned was published inadvertently on the relevant page. It was not a deliberate attempt to take credit for another’s work and merely a typographical oversight. We sincerely apologise to the author and regret any pain of mind caused as a result of our error.

****

If VIPs are in danger, stay at home

In the present context, heavily guarded politicians are in no way a national asset. If they are in so much danger, that they cannot move around in public places, without being accompanied by 10 to 15 guards each and so many pilot and escort vehicles, then it is better they stayed at home. Just imagine the amount of money spent on these servants of ours. They beg for our valuable votes and come to power, to serve us but, once elected, they loose their thick skulls and serve themselves, and also their kith and kin.
 
These politicians hugely inconvenience the public. They also are a threat, because most of their security guards carry automatic weapons pointed at the poor citizens.

These politicians should not come out, as their presence in public places itself threatens the ordinary citizens. It has become a matter of prestige for these ‘servants’ of ours to move with 10 to 15 uniformed security personnel carrying automatic weapons.
If these politicians feel so threatened they should not come out in public places... It has become a status symbol for them, as some of them were just riff raff, before being voted into power. The more security personnel around them, the more prestigious they feel. It is obnoxious, that ordinary people are forced to stay on the sidelines and are prevented from walking on even the payments, when these ‘servants’ of ours pass by.

The other problem is that roads are completely closed and even pedestrians are not allowed to stay on the roads, as they are pushed into by-lanes, when the more powerful ones are moving. What a mess? Even HE the President should not come out to cut ribbons and lay foundation stones, inconveniencing the public. If he really has to come out, better to use a helicopter, after all he is the President!

These security personnel are more required in operational areas than guarding our politicians here. And even the vehicles these security personnel travel, could be put into better use in operational areas.

The bottom line is that if our politicians are so scared, they should stay at home, without inconveniencing the general public. HE the President should set the example. The ordinary citizen curses these politicians everytime the roads are closed for them to move round.
Brig. (Retd.) Neville Fernando

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