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Letters


 

Corruption on a Bulk Basis

This refers to the article in The Island of May 16th, ‘Engineers Demand Chairman’s Blood’ and the article in The Island 29th April 29th, ‘Lightning striking cause of blackout.’

It is time for President Mahinda Rajapaksa to take decisive action with regard to CEB. According to Dr. Sarath Amunugama, the CEB is one of the economic monsters that suck the blood of the nation. CEB’s daily losses could help build a modern hospital! Under the CEB Act of 1969, the Chairman has absolute powers and he is only responsible to the President and only H.E. can remove him. Unfortunately, the Chairman is not using powers vested in the Act of 1969.

At present, the CEB is dictated to by the union and the ‘Mafia gang’ of 5 members. In October 2005, they forced the Chairman Mr. Ananda Gunasekara and Mr. Chula De Silva the Vice Chairman to resign from the Board.

The Chairman of the CEB cannot be dictated to by anybody. Why did the Chairman give in to orders of the Secretary of the Power and Energy Ministry to stop the inquiry against the G.M. for allegedly receiving allowance in the year 2006? What action has the Chairman taken against the officers of ordering eight crane trucks using Tsunami Funds? One-hundred and seventy million Tsunami funds given to upgrade the telephone network of the CEB was utilised for activities including overseas visits, and part of the 170 million was used to purchase two luxury cars.

On April 29, the CEB engineers’ union president said that most of the engineers were leaving the country and that two high-voltage engineers had already left. These engineers did not leave the CEB, but they were granted leave by the G.M. The President of the engineers’ union is very boastful of connections he has with a VVIP at President’s House, as he claims that he was a batch mate when they did their MBA in Sri Lanka.

Recently, Dr. Sarath Amunugama in his address on institutionalising for development said the following “Somebody else says we are going to set up a power line from South India; various ideas were put forward, but nobody has done feasibility studies! So we don’t know whether it is worthwhile or not. Can we negotiate like this? When I go to the World Bank or IMF or ADB for aid negotiations, can I say we are quite sure about this project?

Here are some of the headlines that appeared in the daily papers, which are self-explanatory ‘Purchase of Chinese Meters would cost a loss to Govt.- Experts.’ ‘CEB meter cause concern - someone making a killing on meters.’ – ‘Wind-fall for some, massive burden for others - Kerawalapitiya Power Plant.’ ‘Rejected tender approved by cabinet – 50 MW Kalpitiya Fisheries wind-power deal reaches new heights’ - duped cabinet power corrupts, and CEB power corrupts absolutely.’ ‘Govt. reluctant to stop PAYE scam.’

‘Power shock at Kerawalapitiya predicted loss of Rs. 77 million a day CEB losses due unfavourable contacts’ – ‘Central Bank. CEB, Trade Unions cry foul in awarding of tender, VVIP’s daughter is married to one of the directors of the Company.’ – ‘CEB Chairman who is a qualified accountant wants to prune employee benefits.’ – ‘The engineers get a salary increase of 23% there is no agreement or written document to prove it.’ The Chairman and the Board should run the CEB and not the engineers. The Chairman’s job is to arrest mismanagement and to see that the bottom line is not red. It’s the hen that lays the egg and a person with average intelligence should be able to differentiate a good egg and a bad egg.

The CEB is plagued with corruption, the Minister, his questionable Secretary and a leading member of the UNP from Down South are involved in business deals with the CEB, hence the reason why the Engineers are having a field day. At present, corruption is on a bulk basis.

A concerned CEB Employee

Rajagiriya

****

Railways’ Chief makes case for fare hike

Reference the news item in The Island journal (front page) of 26.05.08, under the above caption, I would like to make some comments with regard to the increase of Rail fares, the General Manager, Railways, has advocated. He suggests that the increase of rail fares be made in keeping with the cost of running the railway, so as to offset the massive losses it incurs at present.
He further states that train fares should reflect the actual cost in running the railway.

Ceylon Govt. Railway (CGR) – which is nearing 150 years, has always been run as a public utility service and subsidized by the Treasury, like health, public, transport and post.

Transport is the most important aspect of development of a country and, that is why the British’s built a network of roads and railways, mainly to transport tea, spices, etc.

Sri Lanka Railway is lined to all development work by way of transporting the countries plantation products, passengers, other goods, vehicles, oil and so forth; for which the actual cost involved is not paid; as the railway is integral to social life and development of a country.

Therefore, profit should not be the motive to earn the actual cost involved in running the railway.
During the diversion of the Mahaweli Ganga, wagon loads of cement and even special trains were run. The percentage of material transported by road, during that period, was negligible. Then, when their was a food shortage, when people were asked to eat Ala, Batala and lick the palm to drink tea, the railway…. transported rice, flour and sugar and other goods in wagon loads; this was the time when food, such as, rice, flour, sugar, Maldive fish etc, were rationed and issued on rice ration books, once a week. It carried such wagon loads to different parts of the country and special trains. This was an era of starvation and the beggars were eating from garbage bins.

Therefore, profit or balancing the budget should not be the motive in running the present railway; for railway has and will be always be performing this service by the nation. It is the hub in the wheel to support the spokes and bars connecting the wheel to run.

Coming to the point of profit, the railway earned a profit only during the Second World War form 1938 – 42 and that by transporting military personnel and other equipment (camp).

As a school boy, I vividly remember the Matara Uyanwatta Eplanade full of soldiers, such as Gurkhas, Indian, Pakistani, African and British Empire military personnel. Similarly, they were stationed in all parts of the country.

The headquarters of the allied forces of Lord Louis Mountbatten was at Polgolla; the barracks at Kundasale and his bungalow at the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. Each barrack consisted of thousands of military personal. By transporting these soldiers and other equipment that the railway earned a profit.

The GMR should stop corruption in the departments and thereby, much money needed to run the railway could be found. The late B.D. Rampala, the most efficient GMR we have had, could not even make the railway viable but, he ran the railway, in a manner no other GMR has so far done. To show his efficiency, I would like to just quote two instances.

The Udarata Menike was running late almost daily. One day, he got into the train at Fort Railway Station and traveled in the Engine of the Udarata Menike and got down at the next stop, informing the engine driver that he would be traveling in the head guard’s van up to Badulla. Then, he got down at the next stop, warning the head guard not to inform the engine driver. That day, the train reached Badulla on schedule.

At the request of then Transport Minister the late Anil Munasinghe, the compartments of the Samudra Devi Galle-Colombo Express office train was increased, even though Rampala informed him of its consequences. That day, the train was about an hour late into Colombo Fort.

The office workers stormed the GMR’s Office. With his sarcastic smile, he asked them to go and see the Minister. The Minister was nonplussed and apologised to Rampala over the phone. Thereafter, no minister dare interfere with Rampala’s administration. The writer worked as a station master attached to the Operations Branch of the GMR’s office and could vouch for the accuracy of the facts stated above.

In conclusion, this is a Public Utility Department which helps other departments earn. It is not a revenue earning source. Therefore, it is wise to think twice before increasing train fares, which will only burden the already burdened poor and middle class, comprising mostly of office workers.

V.K.B. Ramanayake

Maharagama

****

Brutal torture to Keith Noyahr

We were badly shaken up over the photograph on the front page of your paper on Saturday, May 24, of the abduction and brutal seven-hour torture of widely respected journalist Keith Noyahr.

We are totally against such high handed acts of underworld gangs operating all over Sri Lanka, causing immense hardships to respected individuals. We extend our sympathies to Keith Noyahr and his family and pray that the Almighty be merciful on him for a speedy recovery and to go on his normal journalistic journey in the future without any fear.
May Almighty God ever bless and give him courage to write more in the future.

With kind regards,
Yours -in-Service,
A. A. Mohammed Nagoorpichchai

(Life General Secretary)

****

Electricity and Water Tariffs

The new electricity tariff structure is based on a method that is irrational and unfair. Different usage bands have incremental unit costs but in calculating the final amount, the highest unit cost is applied to all units from unit 1 itself. Consider the following examples for domestic consumers.

60 units cost Rs.330 while 61 units cost Rs.425 - one unit difference costs Rs.95 more
90 units cost Rs.585 while 91 units cost Rs.1273 - one unit difference costs Rs.688 more
180 units cost Rs.2664 while 181 units cost Rs.3620 - one unit difference costs Rs.956 more
240 units cost Rs.4770 while 241 units cost Rs.5730 - one unit difference costs Rs.960 more
600 units cost Rs.16470 while 601 units cost Rs.22532 - one unit difference costs Rs.6072 more
(Above calculations include the fixed service charge. For units above 90, an additional 30% fuel adjustment charge is also applied).

Considering the high oil prices, it is understandable that higher amount of usage should have higher unit costs depending on the charge band. Applying the higher unit cost from the first unit itself is totally unfair to the consumer. Depending on the time of the day, a meter reader reads the meter, the difference of one unit can make a significant difference to the bill.
Water service charges are also calculated on the same unfair method for those who use above 20 units. The Government should, without delay, discontinue this tariff structure and implement a fair charging mechanism.

K.G.E
Nugegoda

****

A Doctor with a Hippocrates Touch

I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to a truly dedicated humanitarian doctor. Doctor Kanishka Karunaratne, head of the Cancer Hospital, Maharagama, and known throughout Asia as a number-one surgeon. The wonderful way he treated me when I was a cancer patient; his dedicated care and commitment helped in a big way towards a speedy recovery. He helped through many anxious moments on my way to reaching a stable condition. His kindness and gentleness towards patients helped the patient to entrust oneself entirely to his hands. He would visit the patients morning, noon and night and see that all medicines administered after surgery had the right effect.

I was also able to observe his selfless service to all patients, arriving hours before his appointment times, to serve patients arriving from far away places. I am sure doctors like him are a great asset to our country and to humanity may the good Lord Bless him and give him healing hands today, and for many more years to come.

Mrs. Thilakshi Munasinghe
Colombo 10

****

                                                                                        Appreciations                                                                                  

The deadly Pacemaker

We all called her ‘Aunty Siri.’ Her full name was Constance Ellen Serenie Rupesinghe. She was a very beautiful lady with a unique and shapely figure. On one occasion, much against her wishes, she was selected as the Beauty Queen at a largely attended social event in Kandy. That meant very little to her because she shunned publicity, preferring to lead her simple life of domestic bliss. She was a natural beauty and she needed no make up or facials to enhance God’s unique-gift to her. She was a very warm and charming person with an unforgettable smile which made all of us so happy in her company. We learnt a lot from her on how to lead a life of sweet contentment.

She was immensely talented. She was a wonderful musician, a brilliant cook, a fantastic gardener, a great entertainer and a passionate artist with brush, oil and canvas. Her paintings adorn the sitting rooms of her many friends and relatives in several parts of the world. She had a voice which was out of this world. When she played the organ or the piano these instruments came to life and we felt that they were swaying with her as her strong wrists and playful fingers rolled out the music with solemnity or joy as the occasion demanded. We could have listened to her all day marvelling at her boundless energy.

Her garden was a sheer delight, a riot of colour. During her travels with her husband she was always on the look out for new plants to add to her varied collection. She propagated them and gifted them to all who were interested.

The food that she personally prepared for us when we gathered at her home was outstandingly delicious. She had her own collection of recipes. Nothing gave her greater joy than to see us enjoying her preparations.

She loved to share everything she had with others. Little wonder then that she was so happy.
She sewed her own clothes, read a great deal and loved to retreat into her studio to attend to her many other preoccupations. She was deeply religious but her spirituality was never on show.

As the wife of the Sri Lanka High Commissioner in Canada she was an outstanding success but she never boasted about it.
All in all, she was a joyous personality who made a lasting impression on everyone who was privileged to meet her.
How fortunate her husband and children were to have a person like Aunty Siri to brighten their lives.

Her rich and colourful life came to an end when tragedy stuck with dramatic suddenness. She complained of some difficulty in breathing. The Cardiologist, a family friend recommended a pacemaker. The task of installing the pacemaker was entrusted to a specialist in that field. When she was taken to the theatre at a leading private hospital in Colombo, she was in high spirits talking of the unfinished work she would attend to when she returned home. Sadly that was not to be. There was an unforgivable mess up in the theatre. She had stopped breathing, her brain was damaged and she was paralysed. She was brought out of the theatre almost dead. After fifteen terrible days in the Coronary Care Unit struggling for breath she passed away on April 10, 2008. It was a case of sheer carelessness and negligence on the part of the doctors, which cost the life of this very beautiful and talented lady.

Her birthday falls on June 22. Thanks to the uncaring doctors who attended on her, what a day of tears and sorrow it will be for all of us.
Our beloved Aunty Siri is gone but her fragrant memory will live with us for the rest of our lives.

Swarna Goonetilleke

Kotte

****

A voice that now sings in paradise Sister Marie-Cecile A.C.

My concept of heaven, where we will all meet our Creator one day, is a place echoing with celestial music and song. To me, it was no wonder then, when the Almighty summoned our dear, dear, Sister Marie-Cecile to join the choir of His glorious orchestra. True, it was a terrible shock to me at first, to hear that she had taken ill so suddenly and unexpectedly, for, until almost the day she was stricken with illness, she had been so active and energetic, conducting her music classes, encouraging her pupils to do their best and patiently and painstakingly preparing them for their exams.

From the day she joined All Saints’ Balika Maha Vidyalaya, Borella, she and I took to each other, and she was among one of the best friends I had at ASBV. She had many other interests apart from her ‘forte’ music and singing. She was full of humour, ready to laugh, and we often shared a joke, especially ones about our hypocritical local politicians. We argued, we discussed various newspaper articles and views expressed by our so called ‘leaders: I worked with her closely, training our students for Inter-School and Inter-District singing and drama contests, for radio programmes etc ... She was a perfectionist and always demanded the best from the students. Even after she retired from active teaching, ASBV still depended on her for help. She offered it ungrudgingly. Not only will the students at All Saints’ but even Holy Cross College Gampaha, St. Anthony’s Dematagoda, and all other AC Convents miss her now.

The many tributes paid to her at her obsequies by grateful pupils, (who are now teachers of music themselves), by others who knew and loved her and whose lives she has touched for the better, were proof enough of what a dedicated and devoted teacher and friend she was. She was not one of those stiff and rigid personalities that one generally comes across in the profession, but a person that exuded generosity, geniality and good humour. Wherever she was, she shed that divine kindness which always brought a ray of sunshine into the lives of all whom she met.

I know almost nothing of her life or family before she offered her services to God. All I know is that she was not a Sri Lankan by birth. Still, she loved this land of ours, always praying for peace in Sri Lanka, for harmony and goodwill among our people and unhesitatingly offering her care, love and service to all, no matter what colour or creed they were.

Rest in Peace now, dear Sister Marie-Cecile is my fervent prayer today. And when I, too, am called by our Maker to join those gone before us to the land beyond, may she be there to welcome me, seated at her piano and raising her lovely voice in praise of the Lord.

God Rest Her Soul!

Antoinette Ferdinand (Ferdie)

****

A Doctor worth a million dollars! - Dr. B.D.J. De Silva

Dr. B.D.J. De Silva, passed away on June 9, 2007. His first death anniversary fell last month.
He was uncrowned king of Maharagama. He rendered yeoman service to the entire area for more than five decades. It is my duty and privilege to put on record some facts of him.

He led a very simple lifestyle and did tremendous service with enthusiasm. He was a principled doctor par excellence in diagnostic straightforwardness.

He was involved in all aspects of social life. He played many roles in his carrier. He was a good doctor, teacher, artist, photographer, electrician and carpenter. An all-rounder. He studied at St. Thomas’s College, Mount Lavinia. After having completed the London Matriculation in 1941 and a premedical course and joined the Medical College. He passed out with a 2nd Class at the finals of the M.B.B.S., with Distinctions in Forensic Medicine. He had an opportunity to join the Faculty Staff, but joined the government service because he liked family medicine.

In 1952, he resigned from government service to start a private practice, as his forte was Family Medicine. He started his practice at Maharagama Junction and later, shifted to his own premises. It was called Central Dispensary & Surgery.

When he started the practice, Maharagama was a remote village. There was no electricity and no proper roads. He treated patients from the surrounding areas. His patients came from distant places. He attended to them day and night. Even at night, patients were able to visit him. He treated four to five generations of patients from the same family. He was the only family physician in the entire Maharagama area. There isn’t a family not treated by him. His patients could be found anywhere in Sri Lanka or in the world.

His charges was minimal, most often he didn’t charge poor patients. He treated the clergy of any religion, free of charge. He was a doctor who gave very little medicine. He never prescribed expensive drugs. He followed the method of Rational Prescribing taught by Dr. D.J.T. Liyanage of General Hospital, Colombo.

Patients were convinced that, he was a doctor who could cure by just attending to them. It was believed that, even if he prescribed a bottle of water, it would cure the patients. An indication of how the doctor-patient relationship prevailed. Most often he refrained from giving medicine and asked them to take Kothamalli instead, and didn’t charge. Even if he did prescribe, it was only a few medicines and mixtures. he had his own concoctions of mixtures and creams. Throughout his career, he was engaged in all types of social activities, with clubs, societies and organizations.

He was a founder member of Sri Vajiragnana Temple - Dharmayatanaya, Maharagama. At the onset, he was involved with the Dharmayatanaya and as a resident of Maharagama, he helped build the temple. He was the Senior Vice President of Sasana Sevaka Society, till his demise. He was a doctor to the Dharmayatanaya and looked after the health of the priests. In 2003, He was bestowed a lifetime award in recognition of his services to the Sri Vajiragnana Temple at Viduranena Pranama Ceremony. He was a close associate of Late Ven. Madihe Pannaseeha and Ampitiye Rahula Thero.

He was a founder member of the College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka and was elected to the Council of the College at the inception, and later became its President. In his inaugural speech, he spoke on his pet subject- Rational Prescribing, where he mentioned, with thanks to his teacher Dr. D.J.T. Liyanage that, 80% or more of the illnesses are SLD. (Self Limiting Diseases) and the treatment for which was ADT (Any Damn Thing) it was appreciated by people of all walks of life..

In 2003, Dr. B.D.J. De Silva was the first doctor to receive an award in recognition of his services, from the College of General Practitioners, Sri Lanka. Between 1961 and 1975, he was Vice President and later became the President of the Independent Medical Practitioners Association of Sri Lanka. During his tenure of office, he founded the IMPA drug centre which was a great boon to the GP’s, because of a shortage of drugs during that period.

He was the council member of the Sri Lanka Medical Association and Member of Health Council. In 1972, then Minister of Health appointed Dr. Silva to inquire into the workings of Nursing Homes and later he was appointed to the Nursing Homes Advisory Body.

From 1974-1977, he was a member of the Tender Board of the State Pharmaceutical Corporation. He was a Senate member of the Board of Management of Sri Jayawardenapura University. He was also a member of the Board of Management of North Colombo Medical College. He was a teacher to the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes of the college. He presented many research papers at the scientific sessions of the College. In 1989, he won the Dr. A.M. Fernando award for the best research paper submitted at the Annual Session of the College.

He was Past President of the Lions Club of Maharagama and did yeoman service to the community.
We must not forget his wife Doreen for being beside him and giving him the strength to achieve all what he did. Like the saying “Behind every successful man is his wife”.

Finally, Thank you very much Doctor for your dedicated service of over 50 years to the nation, with strict adherence to the Hippocratic oath.

May he attain Nibbana.

A close associate

****

In memory of Late President Ranasinghe Premadasa’s 84th Birth Anniversary

AN ODE
Glorious leader, remarkable unique politico
Powerful magnate among politicians
Noble qualities fiercely independent, great courageous
Politician worthy of emulation
Unquestionable integrity, inspired by Buddhist principles
Endowed with rare creative abilities.
Yeomen service, persevering, outstanding
Punctuality, perfection, admirable qualities
Sterling qualities yielding to reach desired heights
Adorable multifaceted exemplary career.
Symbol of commitment created prestigious global history
Reached great heights amidst barriers.
Embarked on many gorgeous ideas, spectacular contribution
Hero of a nation, god gifted brilliance.
A legend in you life time earned a memorable name
Demeanor virtuous, attitudes par excellence
Virile tone in verse ‘n prose, rhetoric terms, extempore eloquence
Audience marveled in pleasure
Your untimely sojourn great loss to much wanted nation
Each passing day we miss you beyond measure.
May you be born once more among our future generations
To make a peaceful united Sri Lanka
By virtue of myriad meritorious deeds performed in Sansara
May You Attain Supreme bliss of Nirvana

- Kumari Kumarasinghe Tennakoon

****

 

 

 

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