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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.

 Note to readers                                                                                                                                  

All contributions to the Letters Page should be limited to 500 words. Letters exceeding 500 words will not be published.

 

Is JVP same as UNP?

Wimal Weerawansa made an emotional speech at the Parliament revealing that he has been discriminated against by the party. JVP (former) Propaganda Secretary in a press conference said that the JVP has fallen to forces of imperialism. Meanwhile,. eleven MPs led by Kalutara District MP Piyasiri Wijenayake, called a news conference in support of the statement made by Weerawansa earlier in the day in Parliament. They too endorsed Weerawansa’s statement that its members had fallen prey to imperialistic and external forces, which were threatening to divide a party which had championed the cause of the common man under trying conditions since its inception

However, addressing a press conference at the Sri Lanka Library Services Board, JVP Chief Somawansa Amarasinghe emphasised that Weerawansa should respect the opinion of the majority. “We’ll not tolerate dissenting views in public. Once a decision is taken on any issue, it will stand,” he said.

In this case majority means the majority in the party, and not the public which represents the country, he pointed out. This tendency can be seen in other political parties also. There is a huge gap between the aspirations of the people in the country vs. so called “majority members” in the party. If some one in the party decides to go with the public, then they should face conspiracy charges and expect problems in the party. Because this majority members always try to see the problems in the country only through the specs of their own colours.This is an issue of myopia in political sense

I want to draw a parallel between this recent issue with what has happened with UNP last year. The move by former Deputy Leader of the UNP, Karu Jayasuriya and others, who felt that the UNP as a party, was deteriorating day by day since its leader was fast losing grip over the affairs of the party, the reformist group led by Karu Jayasuriya alleged that the party’s activities are conducted like an exclusive club in Colombo 7 which they have tolerated for some time hoping for better times.

This was clearly seen as erosion in the grand old party not only by political analysts but by the Leader himself. UNP especially gives a very large share of powers to the leadership. There is no room for dissent. In that case also Karu and the people come out because of the discrimination of party leadership. In the present context there is no space within the parties to push for reforms, because there is no freedom. Most significant thing was these two parties UNP and JVP, always try to accuse each other for certain things. At least now we can see one similarity in JVP and UNP. Democracy within the party!

Nalin Abeysekera

Panadura

****

Generics - Polemics, Semantics and Rhetoric!

As a layman I have tried to assimilate the contents of the fast raging debate on Brands Vs Generics and it is my considered view that most writers have missed the bus and even the footboard!

Despite highly educated Physiologists, Pharmacologists, Dermatologists, Cardiologists, Industrialists and even Civil Servants who have joined the fray, the line of discussion has been mostly confined to ideology, losing sight of the much needed pragmatism in tackling an issue which involves the speedy curing of patients.

An important question upon this subject is - “are all generics equally effective or do they render identical therapeutic benefits to all patients?” To my mind it is most unlikely, not only due to compelling scientific reasons such as dissolution, additives, packaging etc but also due to the bio-chemistry of individuals varying in consequence to a variety of reasons.

On the other hand, would not the psychological acceptance/rejection also vary? I am thoroughly aware that many people prefer capsules to tablets and yet others prefer multiple dosing of a larger quantum of tablets to single or lesser doses. For example 3 of my acquaintances - the lawyer wife of an International Civil Servant, a classmate who is an Engineer cum Civil Servant and the wife of yet another friend, are all on a prescribed medicine called Levothyroxine. However, all 3 of them did not respond well to a generic of that medicine manufactured in Sri Lanka (cost of only 0.25 cts per tab, but they are doing well with a generic manufactured by a company in the UK. Clear proof that all generics are not equal.

Another important aspect to consider is the dispensing of prescriptions by semi or unqualified pharmacists employed by most pharmacies in the country. Some of these individuals who can barely communicate in English, could very well mis­read prescriptions unwittingly endangering unsuspecting patients. Given this scenario, should it not be the primary concern of the Ideologists and Social Engineers to lobby for an effective method to have all medicines dispensed only by qualified Pharmacists?

As a patient myself, I seek the advice of a Physician at considerable cost and inconvenience, only due to my desire to obtain a quick and safe recovery. It is also my contention that I contract the doctor, through payment, towards curing my sickness swiftly. Therefore, the task of making decisions for me upon the requisite medicines should solely lie on the Physician of my choice and certainly not on a Pharmacy Worker of questionable competence.

Reducing the number of pharmaceutical brands available for doctors and patients as recently as suggested by so called experts and debated in the media would be short-sighted in the extreme.

When it comes to healthcare, the country and its citizens should be afforded the widest possible choice. It is interesting to note that inquiries made by me from well informed friends, indicate that countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and also England, Australia, France, Singapore and Malaysia have a plethora of brands, even of a single entity, available for sale in the private market. Why then should Sri Lanka be any different? Limiting numbers apart form creating unhealthy business practices such as cartels, smuggling and price-rigging would also compel patients to procure their medicines of choice from foreign climes at much higher costs and through avoidable inconvenience. Should we permit the creation of such a climate?

Please Mr. Minister, as a PATIENT willing to buy my medicines, about which I know nothing, I would not want restriction on choice. The prevailing system has been successful, so why make radical changes? Incidentally, even though every conceivable item has gone up in price, prices of medicine have remained stable.

As an adolescent in the 70’s, I had acne on my face for which I was prescribed a drug called Doxycycline. In the 70’s the drug cost Rs. 5 per capsule and being a chronic sufferer from the ailment all my life I still have to buy this drug from time to time. How stable pharmaceutical prices have been is proven by the fact that today I pay only Rs. 6 for the same Doxycycline - just a rupee more than I paid 38 years ago goes to show what a great system we have in place in our country.

We could ill-afford to experiment with health and it is my fervent hope that the decision makers will see through the Polemics, Semantics and Rhetoric of the interested parties (especially with an intelligent and clever Minister such as the Hon. Nimal Siripala de Silva, in the saddle) and opt to define and implement a pragmatic Medicines Policy sans the imposition of ideological theories. Health is wealth and health needs to be addressed in a healthy way! Who will disagree?
A concerned patient

****

Re schedule time of SLBC’s Tamil broadcasts in Kandy

Last week it was reported that the Tamil beam of the Kandy service of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) known as the Malayaga Sevai was to be stopped forthwith. It is said that this is done in accordance with the structural changes effected in the regional services of the SLBC. Accordingly the Sinhala beam in the regional services have been curtailed from morning to 2.00 p.m. each day. With this arrangements the Tamil beam broadcasting from 6.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m. was also to be stopped. This matter was immediately brought to the notice of the relevant authorities by the Parliamentary representatives and Non Government Organisations, and now it has been decided to restore the service with the change of time from 5.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m. instead of 6.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.

While thanking the authorities for having revised the earlier decision, it is expected that the authorities would take into consideration the implications of changing the present time schedule. The majority who are benefited by the Tamil beam broadcast are the women, youth and children in plantation sector in the upcountry .Plantation women come home after work only after 5.30 p.m., and the suitable time for youth and children who are engaged in sports and otherwise is after 5.30 p.m. In this backdrop, broadcasts from 5.00 p.m. to 7.00 p.m. may not benefit many and would also lead to disinterest among the listeners. A drop in the number of listeners, and airtime business may eventually lead to a decision to once again interfere with the broadcast on the ground of losses. This situation has to be foreseen and preventive action taken. Further the only Community radio available to the upcountry plantation Tamil people is the Kandy service, and the time of broadcasting should facilitate the listeners. Therefore the attention of the relevant authorities especially those in the SLBC, is hereby drawn to reschedule the broadcasting time from 6.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.

It also must be pointed out that at a time the Government is doing everything possible to win over the minority communities, decisions like this which would seriously jeopardise the efforts of the government should be avoided, and due consideration given to the aspirations of the minority communities before such decisions are taken.
We hope the authorities will heed to voice of the public.

S.K.Chandrasegaran

Bogawantalawa.

****

Tribute to late President Ranasinghe Premadasa

Leader, unique, laudable projects, lost to much wanted nation
Achieved quantitative, qualitative advancements for ailing nation
Tremendous original thinking won global recognition in dignity
Excellence, perfection, punctuality in whatever he did, sense of purity.

Politico rare preached, what he genuinely practiced
Renovated Tower Hall, Elphinston, artists pension scheme emphasised
Encyclopedia walking, Good Samaritan, multifaceted
Saviour of down trodden, poorest of poor, amidst many a barrier.
Infrastructure strategically implemented, yeomen service
Developed urban, numerous village reawakening programmes, Sucharita movement.
Established Buddha Sasana Ministry, to propagate Dhamma
Nation’s heartfelt tributes always with you in sansara
To thousands, miracle man, a deity lost to Sri Lanka

Restored Mirisawetiya Dagaba, vigilant guidance at Anuradhapura
Avalokitheswara Bodhisatva statue at Moneragala
No one can deface outstanding feats, untiring labour
Ability to identify needs of needy underpriviledged rare calibre
Symbol of discipline and commitment super integrity
Illustrious leader of our time inspired by Ghandian philosophy.
Never a minute wasted, believed targets taken, kept seriously.
Great builder in modem times of this humble country
Had faith, no force on earth can equal power of humanity
Each passing day we miss you, a man of principles, in deep sincerity.

President Premadasa remarkable charismatic personality,
Rare quality, restored glory at ancient statue at Maligawila, in sanctity
Extempore eloquence, versatile orator, rhetoric terms, ready wit
Marvelled audience in verse ‘n prose, colleagues outwit
Around Jayasiri Maha Bodhi in India, golden railing in Dalada Maligawa
Dazzling golden canopy Vajrasana in sacred Buddha Gaya
Mobile services, immensely helped humanity
Selfless leader, self-made man uncountable projects to eradicate poverty
Architect floodlit Premadasa International Cricket Stadium.
May You Attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana
Kumari Kamarasingha Tennakoon

****

The boy who went whistling away - July 1996

You were wearing a checked blue shirt,
My gift on your birthday
Just turned twenty five
When you hugged me and left,
Whistling with joy,
Turning back to wave.
You were off to meet her,
That special girl you hoped
Would soon become your bride.
And I stood watching
Proud of you, my handsome child.

I remember that day.
It still comes back to haunt me.
Walking hours and dreams waking
So many years after
A heedless bomb ripped through
The train that carried you,
And they brought you in
Burnt, boot – brow, wrinkled,
A ghastly caricature in death
Of the handsome happy boy
Who went whistling joyfully
Up the road.

Time passes.
Trains run unconcerned
But can a mother’s heart
Ever forget?
Oh! My son.

This is not a personal experience, but it embodies the stories of many young people, full of their hopes and dreams who rode that fateful train, and the loved ones still mourning their loss.

26.5.2008 Post script
Another train: another blast death and destruction: grief and loss. All life is precious; it matters not on which side of the ethnic divide. When will this carnage cease!

Wishwaranee Nagahawatte
Pita Kotte

****

‘On the spot’ traffic fines – Only a name

The traffic police imposeon the spot fines for road traffic offences. Although these are called on the spot fines, the fine is not paid on the spot. The motorists have to surrender their licenses to the traffic policeman on duty who issues a receipt. This receipt has to be taken to the area police station during working hours and a fine sheet has to be obtained which has to be taken to a post office to pay the fine. After payment one has to return to the police station and submit the payment receipt to obtain the license. This process takes several hours and an employed person usually has to obtain leave from work to go through this process. If the offence was committed in an area far away from the usual residence of the motorist, even if it is 100 kms away, the license owner or his/her representative has to visit the area police station to do this process which may even take a whole day or more.

 This cumbersome procedure is often exploited by many corrupt traffic police officers. Knowing very well that the harassment motorists have to undergo for this process, they often book motorists for minor and trivial traffic infringements. Many motorists often unwillingly bribe the police officer to avoid the cumbersome fine payment procedure.

 The Government should without delay implement a procedure where motorist can make cash payment for the fine on the spot and obtain a receipt for it. This is the only way that bribery and corruption can be stopped in traffic police and lessen the harassment motorists have to undergo.

K.G.E

Nugegoda

****

                                                                                        Appreciations                                                                                   

Engineering profession has lost an icon

Dr. S.M.A. Perera

The engineering fraternity in Sri Lanka heard of the shocking news of the death of one its distinguished members, Dr. S.M.A. Perera, on February 11. A few colleagues of his who had seen him at the hospital the previous week thought he was recovering from his ailment but, alas, it was not to be.

Melva was born to a very respectable family which originally resided at Colpetty but later shifted to Ratmalana. His brother is a Catholic priest and of his four sisters, two married eminent engineers.

Melva, as he was known to us, was in the second intake of students to the newly-formed Faculty of Engineering of the University of Ceylon in 1951. It was then housed in Colombo. Melva was an extremely popular, gregarious personality but with all his fun and games, he finished with a First Class Honours Degree in Civil Engineering.

After university he wanted to see the world as well as gain international experience. On completion of one year as an instructor at the faculty, he took the slow boat to England. Life was easy in 1956. When Melva entered UK, the Immigration officials looked at his passport and waved him in. There wasn’t even a stamp on his passport.

In England he was able within a week of his arrival to get a job with a leading UK consultant, Sir Freeman Fox & Partners, and was able to work on several prestigous projects. In fact, Melva’s career would cause envy amongst recent graduates.

He was able to work on the world’s largest pumped storage project at that time (FFESTINOG) in Wales, London Airport Extension Scheme and also as a site engineer at the Oldbury Nuclear Power Plant. He was, whilst in London, the unexpected recipient of a government scholarship and after entering Imperial College completed his D.I.C. and later was awarded a Ph. D. in Fluid Mechanics in 1962.

Whilst he was at the university, his roving eye had spotted the charming Nimali de Silva, whom he later married in 1961. They have one son, Malik, who is an executive in a mercantile firm. Nimali and Malik have been a source of strength to Melva throughout.

After seven years he decided to return home. He was not interested in a soft job in government service but joined a consultant engineering firm and was posted as resident engineer in the Castlereigh tunnel for one year.
At this time the Engineering Faculty was able to persuade him to join the university staff, where he served as a Grade I lecturer in fluid mechanics for three years.

The lure of construction drew him out again from the monotonous life at the university and he found himself attached to Ceylon Development Engineering Company (CDE), which was the pioneer and also leading engineering contracting firm in Sri Lanka at that time.

He was with CDE for a period of 22 years beginning with an assignment as project manager for the Mousakelle Dam. The CDE was formed by the well known sportsman and bold entrepreneur Pin Fernando, with the mercurial M.S.M. de Silva as the general manager at the start.

Several pioneering engineering methodologies were tried out by this firm such as large scale use of ammonium nitrate for rock blasting at the Mousakelle Dam quarry, usage of Bentonite for piling works, etc.

In 1978 Melva was appointed Joint Managing Director of CDE but shortly afterwards in 1981 he was appointed Managing Director. Being the only firm engaged in complex engineering works such as dams, tunnels, etc., Melva had to provide leadership to the CDE staff apprehensive about tackling new assignments. But he was equal to the task.

He got down experts from Sweden to train CDE Staff in their first tunnelling job. Sri Lankans gained valuable experience on jumbo drills, controlled rock blasting etc and became skilled tunnellers.

However, the firm had difficulties in winning projects financed by international funding institutions due to various rules of these agencies, which sometimes seem to be unfair to a fledgling company trying to establish itself in the South Asian region.
After he left CDE, he set himself up as a private engineering consultant. Although he was devoted to constructing for the major portion of his career, he did not ignore the broader aspects of the profession.

He was an active member of the Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka (IESL) and was its President in 1982. He was also a member of the University Grants Commission for several years and contributed much to the furtherance of engineering education in Sri Lanka.

He has submitted several well prepared papers to the IESL journal. He also delivered the Wimalasurendra Commemoration Lecture at the IESL in 1990. Latterly he had mastered the techniques of arbitration and was a much sought after arbitrator in the resolution of construction contract disputes. He participated and made valuable contribution to educate engineers at several seminars conducted by the IESL and ICTAD on arbitration.

I am aware that during the last two decades he was a prominent member of several committees appointed by the government or various departments and corporations to find out what went wrong somewhere and how to put it right. I need not emphasise that he was held in very high esteem in the engineering circles of Sri Lanka.

I have been writing so far only about his outstanding career. He was always dedicated not only in his work but also in numerous other activities he partook. He was an excellent companion, good mixer, tolerant of others of lesser intellect and possessed of unobtrusive ways.

He had an excellent voice and was a much sought after singer at the many occasions he spent with his friends. One feature of his life was that he never talked about his many achievements to others even when pried to do so. In that respect he was a gentle giant.

The engineering profession in Sri Lanka has lost an icon. But he will be remembered for a very long time. May his soul rest in peace.

M. Goonaratne,

Colombo 5.

****

Farewell to a treasured teacher

Chitra Arundathi Ranawake

My Dear Teacher,
It was in 1956, I think, that you joined the tutorial staff of Anula Vidyalaya Nugegoda as a young and talented Assistant Teacher, just out of the University of Peradeniya. Miss Chitra Malalasekera, daughter of that illustrious father, Dr. G.P. Malalasekera, made an impression on the girls from day one.

You were my English language and literature teacher in the then SSC and HSC classes, and it is not an exaggeration when I say that your teaching inspired me so much, to do the subject well at the final examination at University.

I remember the preparations for your wedding and the beautiful bride you were, carrying your bouquet of araliya flowers. I remember the birth of your children, particularly of your daughter in 1960, because I had qualified for university at that time and you wanted me to take your classes at school, during your maternity leave.

I remember the house you moved into at Rukmale in Pannipitiya because some of us girls helped put your house in order since it was soon after the birth of your first son. Every time I came home on vacation, I never failed to come to school and see my beloved teachers who made my university education a reality. Even after you left Anula I kept in touch and I knew of the many ups and downs in your life. When I once visited you at Nawala, you were in such high spirits that I was really happy for you.

Many times I saw you at the Mallika Home, still beautiful, still gracious, despite advancing years. Whenever I worshipped and hugged you before leaving, you always gave me the gentle religious blessing, which I valued so much.

Dear Miss, we know that our great Buddha came to this world to show us the impermanence and inevitability of life. You too have succumbed to that reality. Along with all your worldly versatile accomplishments, you knew the Dhamma well, which I am sure stood you in good stead, especially during the latter part of your life.

On behalf of the student body of Anula Vidyalaya of the mid 50s and 60s, all of whom will be with me in this prayer, we hope and pray that your journey in Sanara will be short and ever pleasant.
Goodbye Miss!

Sujatha Dharmasiri
(de Zoysa)
Nugegoda

****

Accept my deepest sympathy

My dear friend,

The vital air of your cousin has robbed for ever
By the brutal unpleasant thunder of ‘Tiger’
Oh! I couldn’t be a lightning conductor
Now I’ll share your sorrow, as a part owner

I felt the beat of your heart
But your friends didn’t
I heard the lamentation of your soul
But they didn’t
I saw the drops of tears corner of your eyes
But they didn’t
Nothing to do,
When ‘Humanity dies’ among them
I hung a mourning banner
Inside my mind
It gave a respectful tribute
To your beloved
You’re faced with a distasteful tragedy
I lived in mind – in this tragedy
But didn’t show my tears to anybody
How did you bear – this disaster calamity

Life is a thing that we borrow
It’s full of sad, grief and sorrow
If their visual angles are narrow
Let’s pray for a fearless tomorrow

We’ll do meritorious deeds in every way
They he’ll reach – to “Suwargam” without delay!
My sorrow is boundless and measureless
Your intimate friend

G. Sriyanganie (Nursing Officer)
N.H.S.L. (OPD)
Colombo 10.

****

 

 

 

 

 

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