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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
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
- Residents of Iswary Road, Colombo 6
Call to reduce govt. expenditure: President must set example
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
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”
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
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
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
The boast! (2008)
Introducing ‘My Daughter, the Terrorist’
A film festival of fantasies.
How does your garden grow?
With a suicide belle
All... in death row.
Irene de Silva
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
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
The reported deaths, particularly of the elderly, may have been due to shock and
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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