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Letters


 

The Postal strike and the issues involved

The postal trade unions went on strike demanding the removal of the PMG and a SLAS Officer being appointed as PMG.
The trade unions concerned were unaware of the true facts regarding the issues they thought fit to make representations against the PMG. The facts have been distorted to meet the requirements of an official of the Postal Ministry, who is answerable for the postal mess.

Replacement of the PMG
There is no justification for replacement of the PMG or any other officer, unless found guilty of irregularities committed by them. Otherwise it is an infringement of a fundamental right. Up to date the PMG has not been found guilty of any irregularity.
The demand of the unions to replace the PMG with an SLAS officer is absurd and foolish. If the PMG is found guilty of any serious irregularity that justifies his removal, he should be replaced by another departmental officer and not by an outsider.

The post is a specialised department and a closed one at that. Hence the department has to be headed by a departmental officer who has knowledge of postal operations, whilst the Postal Ministry needs to be headed by someone with experience in administration. Unfortunately, the set up is such, that the Postal Ministry has a retired officer (on extension) as the Secretary, whilst the Postal Department has a non-permanent Postmaster General. What is necessary is to replace the retiree by a serving officer and make the PMG permanent.
The allegations against the PMG

Business Mail
The trade union disputed ‘Business Mail,’ was mooted by Mr. W.M. Piyasena, as the Postmaster General in 2002. He is the present Secretary of the Postal Ministry, of course retired and on service extension. Piyasena, as the then PMG forwarded a proposal to the Postal Ministry detailing the introduction of the Business mail under his own signature.

The then Postal Ministry Secretary Kumar Abeysinghe, with the agreement of the then senior asst. secretary, approved the new service in January 2003. The present PMG had no hand in it.

The allegation of the union that a rebate of 50 cts. per letter had been given to a private organisation is a misunderstanding. No such rebate had been given. When the postage for a letter was Rs. 3.50 an open letter was Rs. 3.00. When the postage for a letter was increased to Rs. 5.00 an open letter was Rs. 4.50.

The responsibility over the introduction of the new Business Mail lies on the Postal Ministry and the ministry secretary.

Purchase of call metering units
Call metering units were purchased at the time of Hon. D.M. Jayaratna, as Minster of Posts with Cabinet approval and with the concurrence of the Posts Ministry as sanctioned by the posts ministry tender board. The issue of meters to certain sub-post offices has been delayed due to non-availability of electricity connections. The present PMG cannot be held responsible for that. The trade union leaders need to face the truth and reality.

Purchase of computers and accessories
93 computers, 93 printers and 53 scanners were purchased on the approval of the ministry tender board of which W. M. Piyasena, the Secretary, as the chief accounting officer, was a member. It is the normal practice to forward the schedule wherein the manufacturer and manufacturing country are mentioned. In this instance too, that procedure should have been followed as otherwise the ministry tender board would not have approved the purchase. Accordingly the secretary and the ministry are solely responsible for the purchase procedure. Perhaps the Unions are unaware of this tender procedure.

Purchase of push bicycles
The decision to purchase 10,000 push bicycles was taken when Hon. D.M. Jayaratna was Minister of Posts. Since there was insufficient financial provision to purchase 10,000 bicycles only 4500 were ordered. Once again the purchase was approved by the postal ministry tender board. The official tender board decision was sent only in the latter part of January. In spite of the wanton delay, 3000 bicycles assembled and 1500 unassembled bicycles minus dynamos were obtained. The dynamos were later delivered. This was done to beat the deadline. The PMG or any other postal department official is not guilty of any irregularity in that regard. Perhaps the Auditor General could investigate the deal.

The Ministry wanted a supplement published in the Daily News to mark the issue of the push bicycles to the staff. The ministry secretary and the minister issued messages to be published in the supplement. The Postal Department used it’s UPU Day Fund, to pay the Associated Newspapers which amount was later collected from the supplier in full.

This whole procedure had the concurrence of the Ministry Secretary, W. M. Piyasena. Citing the paper advertisement against the postal department is absurd and baseless. There has been no misuse of funds in that regard.

UPU day expenditure
The UPU day expenditure was met from the funds collected for the purpose and no departmental funds were utilised as in the past.

The Ministry of Posts should have informed the trade unions regarding the correct position of the issue.
Revision of the Scheme of Recruitment

The PMG has been accused of having the scheme of recruitment surreptitiously revised with the connivance of a former Deputy Postmaster General (Administration). The scheme of recruitment has to be in accordance with the 17th Amendment and should have the PSC approval. No such revision has been done by the PMG and the allegation is apparently due to ignorance on the part of the union leaders in regard to administrative procedure and failure on the part of the ministry secretary to inform the Unions of the true position

Service Minute
The preparation of the Service Minute was the responsibility of the ministry secretary. This was delayed at the Ministry.
Salary anomalies
The financial provision for adjustment of salary anomalies has to be obtained by the ministry. If there has been any delay, the ministry secretary is responsible.

Promotions
Promotions have been held up for years for various reasons and failure by the Ministry Secretary to sort out problems. Promotions are now being granted in stages.
Failure to fill vacancies
The PMG has been accused of failing to fill vacancies in the department. 50% of the vacancies have to be recruited from the department and the balance from outside. Filling of vacancies has to be approved by the Management Services Department of the Treasury. No approval has been given by the Management Services Department, whilst the Treasury has not granted financial provision for the purpose. The PMG is not responsible for that situation. Trade unions have not been apprised of the correct position by the ministry secretary causing a decision to go on strike.

Corruption
It is amusing to note that the trade union official who has been giving statements to the press, sometime back that there had a stamp shortage of Rs. 45,000/- by selling stamps in Colombo to an agency post office in Jaffna. Official documents have gone missing and the case is still hanging fire.
I made a complaint against the ministry secretary. The letter I sent by ordinary post was not received in the ministry. Again I sent a copy under registered cover. There has been no response to that either. Perhaps the registered letter too has not reached the Postal Ministry.
The complaint was in connection with the wrong award of a tender, in regard to which the Supreme Court also gave a decision against the department. The Department had to pay Rs. 15 lakhs as compensation. The payment was made from departmental funds, which is improper.
All that happened when Piyasena was the PMG. It is a case that should be referred to the Bribery Commission.
I stand by what I have stated above and I challenge any departmental or ministry official to disprove them.

Upali S. Jayasekera

****

Dictator monk terrorises devotees

This is about a severe inconvenience caused to me at an ashram of a young Buddhist priest who hails from the south. He is a very famous priest who often appears on electronic media and is supposed to be very virtuous, kind and educated. This ashram is at Bellanthara junction.

I visited this ashram on December 26, 2007 accompanied by my parents and sister. The purpose of this visit was to obtain consultancy service from the priest.

The registration time to meet this priest is between 4:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. Therefore, I went there at 4:00 a.m. and got No. 3. As the temple gate was closed at that time, I returned at 5:45 a.m.

At about 6:30 a.m. a youth of about 22 years provided an empty file cover for Rs. 10 and a horoscope marking paper and inquired the reason to meet the priest, in front of all the gathering. When my turn came, I replied that I could write it in a paper.
 
The files were returned at about 6:15 a.m. and at that time my father was not with me. He is 80 years old. I wanted to bring him to the temple at the appointed time. Although I told the youth that my father would arrive at the proper time, he expressed his displeasure.

Again another youth came and inquired the reason for the appointment. Then I replied that we wanted to find out whether the father was affected by an evil influence. This transpired before the entire gathering, against my wishes. I wanted to discuss the personal and confidential matters only with the priest. When I expressed my wishes, he got angry and said, “We’ll see what would happen when you go inside.”

As I was confident that the priest would ensure justice, I replied, “You may tell the priest.”
When our turn came, the four of us tried to enter the room. Then the young man stopped my mother and sister. My mother said, “Only to worship the priest.” Then the priest very roughly shouted at my mother, “Duwapan geniye eliyata (Woman, get out). My old mother got frightened and left the room.

Then the youth pointed at me and said, “She didn’t want to reply personal questions.” Then the priest looked at me and said very angrily, “Duvapiye eliyata. Methana weda karana kramayak thiyenawa. Enawa methana nadagam natanna” (Get out. There is a way of working here. You are trying to create tamasha here).

Then the priest said, “I will take you last, as punishment.” Then my 80-year-old father, who walks with the help a walking stick, and I came out of the room to leave the ashram.

My 70-year-old mother who is a retired teacher and had much veneration for this priest was terribly agonised. The behaviour of the Buddhist monk, which was similar to a dictator, was simply disgraceful.

Is it justifiable for a Buddhist priest to treat my old parents in such cruel manner? What is his education and virtue?
There was another retired teacher who too had the same experience with the priest.
This is a true story. For further inquiries write to – Wadduwa Madya Maha Vidyalaya, Wadduwa. Telephone 0602172101 or 0723407066.

I am a consultant to students at Wadduwa Madya Maha Vidyalaya and hold a Degree in Applied Mathematics and Post Graduate Diploma in Education and Vocational Consultancy.

T.D.A. Weerasekera
Wadduwa

****

60th National Day - Whispering thoughts

The dawn of another momentous significant 4th February
We recall with nostalgia bloodless encounter sans any cursory
After more than four centuries of heartless foreign domination
Leaders of all communities struggled for emancipation.

Without loosing a single life very little they had to undergo
Adhered to principles with strong faith to goal, sixty years ago
Picturesque scenery of our tear drop exotic bumble isle
Now tarnished with bitter barbarous dire ravages vile.

We threw away the yoke of long imperialism
Didn’t we freeze with love, tolerance ‘n patriotism?
Let’s reflect on the concept that wasn’t a revolution
To make better quality of life for our future generation.

With active presence, world’s four religions so great
Aren’t we armed with basic apparatus so smart?
Transformation, responsibility, civility ‘n unity
Let’s strike the note of togetherness to herald our destiny.

Conflicting ideas oneness shaken unity shattered.
Destroying peace serene tranquility serenity battered
Let’s bid goodbye to greed, hate unending rivalry
To let our future generation live ‘n let live happily.

Forgiveness, Togetherness should root in every heart
Not allow wounds to fester or stealthily root
Let’s end fuelling revenge remove every debacle
To achieve Peace ‘n Harmony not by a mere miracle.

Refurbish thoughts on peace with brotherhood honour
An year of peace, prosperity, progress no tremor
Togetherness soaring in every human heart
Let’s feel children of Mother Lanka never never to part.

Kumari Kumarasinghe Tennakoon

****

Once again, fools rush in where angels fear to tread! – Mervyn Silva

It was a most disgraceful news item on SBS TV (Australia), shown a few days ago, to free the Labour Minister Mervyn Silva, who allegedly stormed the Rupavahini studio with his bodyguards, attacked the unarmed journalists and the news director and caused damage to the SLRC.

He was held for more than 2 ½ hours and had to be rescued by the police, anti-riot squads and army commandos.
Mervyn Silva contested the last General Election in 2004 Colombo District as an SLFP candidate, polling the lowest number of votes and was not elected to Parliament, but was later nominated to Parliament under the SLFP National List.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa is fully responsible for appointing Mervyn Silva and all the actions and dirty work he is doing with his son. This action of President Rajapaksa goes against everything that stands in the name of Democracy.

This is a good lesson for all political parties not to appoint any defeated candidates to Parliament under the National List. National List members appointed to Parliament are for those professionals in several fields such as intellectual scientists, engineers etc. for the future development of the country.

The people of the country will salute the workers, of Rupavahini TV and the mass media for their guts, determination and their courageous behaviour, as it is a victory for Democracy.

This would be a good lesson to all politicians, who were once nobody, becoming somebody, and their sons, henchmen acting as demi-gods, taking the law into their hands and assaulting innocent people. The people have no confidence in the police, the custodians of law and order in the country, who act according to the dictates of the politicians.

As there is a limit to tolerance, now that the Rupavahini (SLRC) workers have given a lead to stand for their rights, from now onwards the trade unions and other organisations should build a ‘Peoples Power.’ It is time the public woke up to reality and reacted to pressure from those in high authority to curb this thuggery, as no one is above the rule of law. Their civic duty must not end with the casting of the vote.

F. A. Rodrigo Sathianathen
Melbourne,
Australia.

****

Conserving electricity – Government should set an example

Power and Energy Minister W.D.J. Seneviratne has appealed to the general public, industrialists and commercial establishments to cut down on electricity consumption to save six million units per day.
This appeal has been made for the umpteenth time by successive ministers. Politicians don’t seem to realise that household consumers don’t keep a single bulb burning unnecessarily because they have to pay through their noses.
Nor can industrialists cut down on consumption without adversely affecting production, which will lead to losses. It is the politicians who waste electricity and everything else, for that matter. And it is dilly-dallying, by successive governments, that has led to the power crisis.

Isn’t every minister’s, deputy minister’s, secretary’s and senior officer’s room air-conditioned? Has the Minister not seen how hundreds of bulbs, two bulbs working with one switch, keep burning from morning until evening in some government offices where large, solar paper-covered windows are kept closed and lights and fans are switched on the whole day?

Throw open those large windows and switch off all the fans and lights – let every minister, deputy minister, secretary and high official switch off their air-conditioners for at least a few hours every day and the saving will be tremendous.

The Minister knows that the President’s appeal one year ago to heads of local bodies to conserve power has fallen on deaf ears. He himself would have seen how hundreds of street lights keep burning during the day, sometimes 24 hours of the day. What action has the government taken against the local bodies that have not cooperated?

If the power and energy situation is so bad, how has the CEB approved air-conditioning for hundreds of new buildings constructed within the past several years and those under construction?

Politicians are adept in sermonising and asking the poor masses to make sacrifices, but they never set the example. Charity, they say, begins at home. So, will the Power and Energy Minister first set the example by switching off his air-conditioners and ask his colleagues and senior officers to follow suit instead of asking the people to save power all the time? Nation building has to be a collective affair and an example must be set at the top.

S. Abeywickrama
Nugegoda

****

 

 

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