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Cost of Living

People are unable to make ends meet with the income generated, as the buying power of the income is depreciated by the price escalation of essential items required for existence.

Therefore, the request for higher wages is to provide for the drastically reduced buying power of the income to ward off poverty. Therefore, there is a gap created by the static value of income received, which does not meet the escalation of prices, will expedite malnutrition of a large majority.

The demands now made are only way to meet the essential requirement. There is no other way other than starvation, as the most vital essential of life goes out of reach which now include the daily bread.

The opportunities are not available to obtain additional income by additional part time employment, by working extra hours, as the demand for additional personnel for part time employment does not exist. The cost of labour cannot be accommodated, as the price margins have been curtailed to capture the restricted buying power of a small percentage of people, while the large majority will have to continue without the basic essentials, as it is not within their reach any more. This is the sad plight of the fixed wage earner who is now exposing his sad plight, so that timely action would be made available for peaceful existence.
Esmat Gauz


An appeal from residents of Iswary Road

We are residents of Iswary Road, Colombo 06. This is the only road that connects the Pamankade and Havelock Road, and starts from just opposite the IAS Institute for accounting studies and continues till it reaches Havelock Road.

I wish to bring the attention of the responsible officers concerned that this is an approximately 30 ft wide road which has been illegally taken over by some unauthorised people, who have built a hut as a car repairing garage which is causing a great deal of inconvenience to the people in this area..

This particular road is a highly residential area and a Government V.I.P Minister is also residing in this area. The unauthorised garage has thus also given rise to concerns over his security as well.
In addition to this, the road has no drainage system, and is always flooded during the rainy season, and is very dusty and polluted on other days. There are plenty of children living in this area who are exposed to the risk of getting dengue due to the unclean water remaining stagnant during the rainy season, and on other days to diseases like Asthma from the dust..

To make matters worse, the paint and use of chemical oil etc, by the unauthorised garage causes heavy air pollution. .
During school days we often see small children along this road which is dangerous due to the congested traffic, whereas from 7.30 am to 9.00 am the Main Pamankade Road is closed as one way. As this is the only connecting two way road to Pamankade main road and Havelock road, we see hundreds of vehicle passing by during heavy traffic times.

As this garage has several unidentified vehicles parked outside it including three wheelers, and people also making use of this deserted road for illegal activities, I wish to draw attention to the lack of security. There are no proper street lights fitted in this road and after 6.30 pm anybody can use this road and this garage premises for any illegal or even terrorist activities.
We the residents of Iswary Road therefore appeal to the authorities concerned as peace loving citizens, to take immediate arrangements to remove these unauthorised premises and protect our security as well as ensure us a healthy life.
- Residents of Iswary Road, Colombo 6


Call to reduce govt. expenditure: President must set example first

While the LSSP has often been identified as a party that did not fail to criticise government wastage, it was surprising to read former LSSPer Minister Athauda Seneviratne being criticized – quite rightly I think - for taking a large retinue for what appears to be a conference of insignificance, in expensive Europe. The Minister’s delegation was said to include his son as well – a strange disease that seems to be spreading uncontrollably among politicians with a hold on the government.

The public has been against such massive wastages of public spending. This, after all, has to be paid by you and me through highly inflated fuel, electricity bills and water bills etc. The public are now used to hearing VVIP’s, just to be on the record and on the side of the people, now and then making suspect statements that there should be discipline in matters concerning the extravagant expenditure of Ministers and their staff.

I wish to recall some measures in austerity practiced by earlier leaders and the system so that the present lot will also fall in line.
There seems little purpose in our maintaining diplomatic missions in different corners of the world at very high cost to the public including far-away Brazil with which we do not seem to have much commercial, political or cultural commonalities. Until about the mid-1980’s our diplomatic missions were run economically and efficiently by career diplomats of integrity and standing. Most of the Missions had Political, Cultural and Economic Counsellors who diligently advanced the interest of the country. This can be still done. There is no need for ministers, their sons and daughters together with a whole bunch of “delegations” to go on these wasteful jaunts. Our competent diplomats can do this all too well – as they did from 1948. Only when important Summit and other global Conferences of international importance where the presence of Minister is absolutely necessary this may be allowed..
Whereas it is now the habit of ministers and their inflated retinue to fly only 1st-Class and Business Class – at unbearable cost to the public - let us recall how our leaders earlier conducted themselves. I remember being on a flight with Dr. N.M. Perera, Minister of Finance in 1970-1976 government going to Paris for an Aid Consortium meeting travelling on economy class with a few officials. I noticed throughout the flight they were studying their files and working. I was told that gracious lady Mrs. Bandaranaike as Prime Minister travelled economy class ,strictly observing austerity which they also asked the people to follow. If President Rajapaksa is sincere in his advice to his cabinet and other political colleagues, these fine examples of their earlier leaders should be followed.

There is another story in the press where the Courts have recommended the provision of armoured jeeps and various other security detailed to a somewhat minor opposition MP for “considerations of his safety”. Now the jumbo cabinet and deputy ministers, MP’s etc all have huge security men “protecting them” Wives and children too benefit going to the market, shows etc., Protection from whom? This must number well over 5,000 at a very conservative estimate - without taking into account the very substantial security details of the President and the Prime Minister. Even if these security officers are paid an average monthly sum of Rs.30,000 each their salary alone imposes a heavy burden of over Rs.150 million monthly. Fuel and vehicle maintenance will come to an equal sum.

When an attempt was made on President Chandrika Kumaratunge at the Town Hall, it was reported she had over 2,500 personnel on her security staff. The Prime Minister has at least half this number. So if on a monthly salary of Rs,30,000 for per monthly the salary bill will come to over Rs.900 million. Deputy ministers, State ministers, MPs, PC ministers all impose an unbearable burden on the country’s meager finances. One way much of this expenditure can be saved, will be to bring in laws making it punishable by death for anyone possessing unauthorised arms and weapons. I believe, a lukewarm effort in this regard was tried a few years ago. The operations failed because the government adopted a totally unfocussed attitude.

Let us recall that Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have this rule in force (as you see in the prominent notices when you arrive at their points of entry) and apparently have been successful in their sustained campaigns. Of course, in our case there will be resistance to this idea with the usual story of “LTTE threat” on each and everyone in the government. If the government is serious in the matter and strictly enforces the rule, no citizen of this country and living in the country cannot possess arms and weapons at the pain of death, you will have a serious problem - that brought this country to her knees - out of your hands. But for a government - a number of whose ministers widely believed to be and in tow with the armed underworld – this is a proposal that will not be viewed with enthusiasm. It is relevant here to recall a recent observation by an Indian Supreme Court Judge in a similar matter “Why do so-called political leaders, brought into power by the popular goodwill and support of the people – need deadly weapons, and a large security detail to go into their electorates to conduct legitimate business on behalf of their own people? Who are they afraid of? If they are asking Court to provide them with weapons and security men to be protected from their own supporters in the fear they have lost their goodwill, then it is time these men stay in the safe confines of their homes”
K. Arvind


Jeyaraj Fernandopulle-
We will not forget you

Words cannot state the sorrow
When we learned the tragedy of your demise
Which was felt not only by your loved ones
But for the country as a whole

A loving father, friend and mentor were you
Best compared to a beautiful flower
Which blossomed in the mud of corruption
A vast library of knowledge were you
With God’s grace used it in words
And so powerful were your words
That none stood a chance to oppose

If you grieved, you did so in seeing the plight of the needy
And help the needy you did
Often people would come to you with their misfortunes
And you would always help them, turning their misfortune into fortune
A jovial individual were you
Bearing a great sense of humour
But never in spite
Did you utter a word

You were taken away from us
Because of the mindset of a heartless villain
But your memory will forever linger
In our hearts which you truly touched
Rest in Peace Dear “JAJE”
We will forget you not

Nilupul Fernandopulle
On Behalf of your daughter, son, nieces and nephews (The cousins)


Horse named “Buddhist Monk”

News is that, a racehorse has been named “Budd Monk”, invariably, by those with ‘blinkers’ on.
It is always the uncultured, the uneducated religious extremists, who engage in the usages of such terms and insults. Even here, you find some people, whose Karma has brought them misery, ridiculing religions and religious practices. We should empathise with them.

On the other hand, it is not correct to refer to the Buddhist Clergy - the Sangha, as monks, as they do not take vows before a deity or saint. It is the ignorance of Buddhism that invariably has led to the use of the term ‘monk’ in relation to Buddhism. The correct term is ‘Bhikkhu’.

Or, is it that, someone has used the term on a horse thinking of those who relish materialistic honour related to the colonial past? If so, it is, no doubt, good satire.

Upali S. Jayasekera

Colombo 4


The boast! (2008)

Introducing ‘My Daughter, the Terrorist’
A film festival of fantasies.
How does your garden grow?
With a suicide belle
amid cartridge-shells,
All... in death row.

Irene de Silva
Colombo 5


Remembering the symptoms of Chikungunya

The traumatic experience I had in counselling and treating patients suffering from the Chikungunya fever is gradually receding. Less we forget the experience, let me recollect.
The epidemic started in March 2008. It started with the typical signs and symptoms of common virus fever, but devastatingly exaggerated: High fever, excruciating headache and severe pain and swelling of mainly ankle joints.

As the disease progressed, the immunological body reaction to the alpha virus in different individuals was as follows: Repeat episodes of fever, headache and arthralgia; Appearance of a maculo-papulo rash, sometimes itchy with pustules which mimicked chicken pox; swelling of one or both cheeks and ear discharge suggestive of mumps; ear infection; swelling of scrotum and enlarged lymph nodes.

The most frightening episode was the passing of tar black stools in some patients, several times a day, long after the first bout of fever which was suggestive of stress peptic ulcer.

A mother of 50 years saw her blood sugar rising several times more than the normal rate after contracting this fever. Her brother too was found to be diabetic after this fever. Patients are still seen limping about with swollen ankles and knees. Assurance, individual counselling and symptomatic treatment were necessary.

The reported deaths, particularly of the elderly, may have been due to shock and stress.
Unfortunately, the most neglected part involving the patient’s family and the physician was the preventive measures that could have been taken to control daytime mosquitoes. Abandoned gem pits, coconut shells in rubber plantation now filled with rain water instead of the rubber latex.
Dr. N.G.D. Karandana
- Dehiwala


The anti national cacophony

Sri Lanka has been fortunate that despite neglect by the politician and the Government Servant, it has experienced some economic growth annually, chiefly due to the village farmer and private entrepreneur. They had little assistance from the Government servant and the politician, only promises. The Western Province accounted for most of the growth recorded by the statistician, as the most number of Government establishments and the educated persons were cluttered in the West. The cry of Colombata kiri, and Gamata kekiri was a reality, and not some inept idle slogan. It was to make growth more equitable, that the ‘Mahinda Chintanaya’ was devised .The ideas and plans encased in that document are being plagiarized and used by the President’s opponents and pro opposition scribes as if the ideas originated in their shrunken skulls.

Poverty reduction and development of the rural hinterland is the central theme of the Chintanaya. Uneven growth was to be rectified. To do this, both the... state and private sectors had to be awakened .To develop the rural human capital, education had to penetrate the village. The bottle lamp that lighted up the huts had to be replaced by electricity to take television and radio to the village for its rapid cultural advancement .The disparity of the educated ramming into cities ,had to be rectified .To do that the village too had to carry the amenities that the city offered .Even the meagre economic growth recorded annually, tended to increase the wants of the citizenry ,and coupled with the greater longevity that good health offered ,the produce of the country was insufficient to equitably go around, thereby pushing the prices of what was available upwards.

The Chintana economic policies sagaciously avoided skimming the surface of the problem but delved deep, and devised the plan named the ‘Mahinda Chintanaya’. It called for mountains of money, but the Government rightly avoided the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund that lend money at low interest, but slams conditions that cater to the needs of the Western Countries that control those institutions.

The bewildered political opposition ,that never envisaged the dawn of such a Chintanaya, that embraced the all round development of the economy, boycotts everything connected with the Chintanaya, to give the public the impression that it could do better. The opposition politicians have successfully fixed the NP trade union to agitate for salary increase of Rs. 5000/- , which if granted will eat into the sum total of the money set aside to subdue the insurgency, and simultaneously develop the economy on the lines laid out in the Chintanaya. The President invited the political Opposition to join the Government to develop the Motherland, and simultaneously put paid to the insurgency ,but the request fell on deaf ears. The only political parties that see the danger to the country and offer cooperation to the Government are the upcountry Indian Tamils, the JHU, the EPDP, the traditional Left and the newly formed NFF. The UNP led by the Leader of the Opposition is disintegrating because of its ‘dog in the manger’ outlook and is unwittingly swelling the ranks of the government, that is wholeheartedly working to uplift the economy to its pristine glory.

Ranil Wickremasinghe in 2002 signed a Cease Fire-Agreement with Velupillai Prabahkaran whereby he gifted northern land for an Eelam for the Tamils Sinhalese and the Muslims. He had no chintanaya to develop the economy..
Inviting him at this stage, to join the Government, is futile and a waste of time and energy of those who attempt. Still some journalists and scribes and the well intentioned suggest restarting Peace Talks. That was resorted to by the Mahinda Government but was of no avail. Subduing the Tiger militarily is both the short and the long road to the economic development of this island nation. Those who suggest political solutions, should look back to the last thirty years of North South relations. No pressure is required on Mahinda as some scribes innocently suggest, to develop the Motherland.
Ivor Samarasinghe

- Dehiwela


CoL and the price control panacea

I read with interest, the thought provoking letter of Upali S. Jayasekera in these columns on June 15.
He advocates the ‘price control’ panacea to stem the escalating CoL and frowns on the open economy and the free market.
The type of controls reminiscent of the Sirimavo Bandaranaike regime of the early 1970s, panic the surviving senior citizens of the country, who witnessed the untold sufferings of the masses in that dark era.

May be, the reader is having in mind more liberal controls. He further admonishes the opposition parties, to cooperate with the Government, in the implementation of positive alternatives and also, to come up with viable suggestions.
However, we, as voters, can help the Government with some pragmatic short-term solutions, which would alleviate the sufferings of the downtrodden masses, at least, to a certain extent.

The so-called people-friendly Mahinda Rajapaksa Government can very easily cut down unnecessary expenses and stem the utter waste of public funds by doing away with “thamashas” and the like, and by minimizing, if not eradicating, corruption rampant in the Government ranks in particular. The President himself can set an example by minimizing foreign travel, which eats up a big slice of our foreign exchange earnings.
For instance, the ‘Giant’ size Cabinet of Ministers can be pruned very easily to about 30 members, from the present high figure of 109.

Cannot the Government refrain from premature dissolution of Provincial Councils and avoid unnecessary and uncalled for expenditure on elections, at a time the skyrocketing CoL is battering the poor in particular.
Public funds saved through such conservation measures could easily be diverted to grant relief to the consumer.

The’ financial wizard Minister Bandula Gunawardena may be having more fruitful suggestions up his sleeve, who knows.
We remember how, he emphatically argued that war expenditure should not be an excuse to burden the consumer and the tax payer. That was when he was in the Opposition benches. His contention was that every Government the world over, sets apart a certain percentage from the annual Budget, under the Defence vote, even during times of peace and there was no necessity to increase it either. He has not deviated from that stand, we hope.

J. Abeygunawardhana

Homagama Voter


Deceit in the high places

I am writing this letter to show as to what levels the so-called educated high society has fallen into today.
A Friendship Society connected to a far eastern country held its Annual General Meeting recently to elect office bearers for the next year. Nominations for posts in the Executive Committee were called. A certain lady (outwardly religious minded) and moving in social circles in Colombo volunteered to nominate (signing as the proposer) a senior member for the post of President. Came the closing date for nominations. One hour before the nominations closed she informed the Secretary and the member who was nominated by her for the post of President, in writing that she was withdrawing her signature from the nomination paper, and thereafter she handed over her nomination for the post of President. The deceit was perpetrated for the purpose of getting elected as President uncontested.

The senior member who has visualised such an eventuality was ready with a second nomination paper which he handed over at the last moment. There was a contest between the senior member and the lady. The deceitful strategy did not bear fruit and she failed to get elected. She lost the election.

However what was surprising was that she did receive a sizeable vote despite her deceitful action being well known to the members. In decent and respectable society such deception should have received a rebuff and she should have been considered as one not deserving a vote.

Is this another sign of alarmingly nose-diving moral standards? Or is it the type of moral standards prevailing in high society? and such persons also exist.
A. Ganeshan - Colombo 6







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