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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.

 

Curbing corruption

The Island newspaper of September 6, carried a front page news item, wherein Vasudeva Nanayakkara calls for “meaningful steps to curb corruption.” The Finance Ministry too appears perturbed that corruption is on the rise. Political parties and labour unions use the prevalence of bribery and corruption as a handle to castigate the incumbent Government. Only a dictatorship may succeed in giving effect to a drive to suppress corruption. Even Hitler had to offer sops to build loyalists around him to help him govern. It was the same with Stalin of the Soviet Union. Bribery and corruption is what moves the world. To live people want money. In ancient times goods were bartered. Whether it was money or goods, the more that was offered greased the path ahead. That is an animal failing. The tiger in the forest will feast on its kill and growl at any animal that approaches. When it has had its fill it leaves the carcass for other flesh eaters. The animal will share only with its young. So also the human animal. First choice is for the young. Society is so corrupt that men and women too are bartered or sold. Amongst people it is mostly for the upkeep of a family, or a purported family. Storing up for future needs! The more one has the more secure one’s life.

Corruption can never be suppressed. It is an integral part of human existence; for the more one has the smoother is life. Religion preaches otherwise but it does so in default, for it is contrary to human nature. Did not someone make money, as a commission, on the fighter planes and bombs that rained over Iraq? ‘Commission’ is a euphemism for corruption in the corporate world, but not so in the market. That is a payment for labour or interest on invested money. Without corruption in the corporate world the economy of a country will grind to a halt. 1 %, 2% or 10% is what greases the capitalist economy. Capitalism has come to stay. No other method could survive. Variants have been tried out, but the bedrock is capitalist, for all humans are naturally acquisitive.
It was that innate instinctive acquisitive behavior that saw the appearance of a Marcos in the Phillipines and his wife Imelda who stacked up shoes in a cubicle, but never wore any. In Bangladesh Khaleda Zia leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League the country’s two biggest political parties, with massive popular support though they and other top leaders are being accused of corruption. The lesson is that corruption is a way of the world, that even the masses do not single it out for criticism.

Labour officers

Labour officers prey on the private employer. A bribe or a payoff gets the private sector moving smoothly. A paid holiday in the salubrious climate of Nuwara Eliya or what is misnamed as an educational tour to some far off land where every known pleasure is paid for surreptitiously, or a lecture tour to the US, the home of the ILO on labour relations in Sri Lanka. The recipient of the ‘all paid’ invitation to lecture, returns a changed man weighted with a ‘better’ understanding of the view point of the Employer, smoothening Employer - Employee relations. No one dare classify it as corruption. The corporate world greases and oils it way through the simple device of corruptive spending. It is a part of the entire capital layout. However the business world periodically draws a smoke screen to cover its tracks. Public lectures on “Transparency in Business,” “Countering Bribery” Building Integrity” to mislead the audience, to believing that the corporate world is untainted. Auditing companies have sprung up, and produce a clean certified balance sheet and the shareholders and the tax department are satisfied that the business house has proceeded smoothly. The balance sheet will show a profit of 5 % but 15% has been stashed away incognito somewhere. It could well be the ‘Cut’ that was split up between the auditor and other in the know of the cover up . Any attempt to unravel the misdemeanour will be time and money wasted, for that is the way of the business world.

Map

Recently a map appeared in a Sunday newspaper displaying corruption in the corporate world. Countries most prone to corruption were depicted on a map. Glancing at the map one sees Switzerland the home of the Swiss Bank appears lily white. American business that functions on ‘commissions’ is off white. Could it be that the cartographer was bribed by an interested party in the corporate sector? Corporate stability will be fostered only if the_ country turns a blind eye. The ‘Mahinda Chinthanaya’ development plan is attracting much money and inflationary trends are visible in the economy. Roads, bridges irrigation tanks and other water ways are being dredged and damages repaired. Foreign companies have undertaken the work, supervised by Locals. Rumour is rife that bribery and corruption is in full sway. Stop it and all development will cease or at best move at a snails space. Even the blood bank has pathetically fallen victim. Where there is money the high flying vultures will swoop down to feed on the cadaver. Top management will not counter corruption, for they are the purveyors of corruption.

Surreptitious

They are the top thinkers who plan out the surreptitious pathway. Cunning and covert manipulation is what characterises the skilled Manager and the CEO. It has been suggested that Companies should place anti bribery policies and processes high on the agenda. That will be a well thought out facade behind which the corporate world could masquerade. Let the country acquiesce to the phenomenon of corruption, for man’s nature will not change, he is acquisitive like all life. The State should not enter the fray to curb corruption, for only corruption will act as a goad and stimulant to keep the economy going on a fast forward mode. Without corruption to grease and oil the Capitalist System there will be no development. The more oil in the palms of Management the faster will engine of growth travel. The MP Somawansa Amerasinghe and those organisations and individuals who pose as thinks tanks had better rethink the nature of the capitalist economy. The tax department too is corrupt. New methods to rake in revenue to the State coffers have to be assiduously brought into operation to finance the development drive the Government is engaged in.
Ivor Samarasinghe
Dehiwela

****

Who is governing the country?

Isn’t it strange that we the countrymen have to undergo the trouble of going to the courts for every single thing the government decides upon? Garbage on the road? Go to the courts. Silisili bag? Go to the courts. Duty on light bulb? Go to the courts.

Surely. Who is making these dumb decisions? Who is the wise man who decided the government should impose duty on the ordinary light bulbs? Did he think money grows on trees? (how we wish it does. It does only for the politicians). If the people had the money for the long life bulbs, of course they will buy it. If they cannot afford it, slap a tax on them!

This is what happens when we have unqualified people trying to run ministries. At least let them ask the ones who know. Isn’t there something called brainstorming and discussions in the ministries? What are the so called advisors and economists and policy planners doing?

The Parliament decisions are becoming a joke now for the common man has to trek to the courts which is no easy task to educate the Ministers, even a simple fact such as putting a price on the silisili bag is only fattening the supermarket’s owners and placing a higher burden on the common man!

So it looks like now the courts do the governing of the country- unfortunately through a long tedious process.
Dr. Mrs. Mareena Thaha Reffai
Dehiwela

****

Love

Love germinates slowly, but steadily
It grows slyly and blooms gradually
Then it flowers healthily and vibrantly
Evoking vivid, resplendent sentiments
To bear fruits of imagination in due course

Once it’s mellowed in one’s heart
Secretly it peeps out from the heart
Aiming to penetrate into another heart
Touching smoothly her or his heart

All at once it paces in the heart
Next moment to lurks in the heart
Surreptitiously to kindles in the heart
Like a tinsel flickering in the heart
Surely warming the inner cockles of the heart

Suddenly it freezes in the heart
Whisking us away from another heart
In a trice it wakes up in the heart
Endearing us to another heart

Now it treads on the outer heart
Titillating the memories in the inner heart
Again it dwells in the niche of the heart
Causing a thorny sensation in the heart

Then it’s incandescent like a beacon in the heart
Fanning beams of passion in the heart
And resembling again a shower in the heart
Dousing the flames of wrath in the heart

Frequently it strolls leisurely in the heart
Internalising lofty ideas into the heart
Transcending parochial emotions in the heart
Adding new dimensions to the human heart

Love fills our heart with sympathy
Love fills our heart with empathy
Love fills our heart with pity
Love fills our heart with compassion
Dispelling ill feelings of hatred and indignation

But, alas! when it drifts away from the heart
It pains and pricks our human heart
Slaying our soul and spirit eternally,
Leaving us alone in tremendous loneliness
Sarath Sandacan
Madapatha

****

Disgraceful behaviour

As a Buddhist myself, I feel ashamed and embarrassed at the statements being made by and the actions of certain of my co-religionists particularly the monks who have now become full-time politicians.
Those who are expected to emulate Lord Buddha in tolerance, humility and loving kindness are today exponents of everything opposite, and what is so sad is that it is the monks in robes that are preaching and practicing what is completely the anti-thesis of Buddhism.

Now they demand higher status, preach intolerance, and even incite attacks on other faiths and their followers, and are seen not only travelling in luxury cars, some even importing, buying and selling such vehicles, opening personal bank accounts etc.
Emulating some of these senior monks the younger ones, particularly in the universities indulge in disorderly behaviour growing their hair so that as soon as they pass out they can discard the robes for shirt and trousers and seek secular jobs.

Its time sincere and genuine Buddhists join to cry halt to these dangerous trends which threaten not only to bring disgrace to our religion but even pose a danger to the faith itself, when we have people in robes behaving like Mervyn Silva and his goons.
S. T. Godakumbura
Talangama.

****

Book Fair: For Whom?

Come September, people of all walks of life look forward to the International Book Fair held at the BMICH. I being one, dutifully started out this morning to visit the Book Fair, browse around and pick some books.

As I turned my car towards the entrance gate of the BMICH, a Policeman stopped me and asked if I had a car pass to which I replied “no” and asked him why I needed one. He replied that the car park was only for the stall holders and that I should go and park behind the BMICH. I then proceeded to drive as directed to find a relatively small parking area already full and cars parked along the road and the sidewalks. I told my wife who was with me that this is ridiculous and went back home.

Look at the irony of the situation; the Fair is held for the public and obviously the parking areas in the BMICH are for the public to conveniently park their vehicles and buy what the vendors have to sell (as was the case in all previous years). But this time the vendors/stall holders have the convenience of parking their vehicles inside the premises and the poor public have to drive around and find a place to park to go and buy the books of the vendors!
I wonder who came up with this bright idea to inconvenience the public.
Oh and by the way, they are also charging an entrance fee this time adding insult to injury.
An avid Reader

****

Time for Ranil to go

 The result in the Central and Sabaraganmwa Provincial Council results show more than a victory for the government, a kind of final “No Confidence” in both the UNP and the JVP. Of course there has been the victory for the government. In the battle against the Tigers and this they have used every way to bring to the notice of the people. Owing to this, all the burdens the Government is now unleashing on the people seems to have forgotten by the people in the North Central and Sabaraganmwa Provincial Councils. This of course is all due to the ineffective campaign that was carried on by both the UNP and the JVP. The result was another walkover for the government. No doubt the Government is screaming that this victory was even a confirmation of the popularity of the government notwithstanding as they say the propaganda by the opposition against it was rejected by the people. It is not that the people do not understand the grave situation now building up in the country by the failure of the Government to arrest the burdens now being heaped on the people. It is purely because both the UNP and the JVP failed to present the wrong doings of the government effectively the people. The right methods were not employed to explain this to the people.

It is due to the lack of leadership in both the UNP and the JVP, the government has been able to romp home once again. The government will no doubt be strengthened by its victory, and this will encourage it to keep on conducting further elections as they certainly feel that the present opposition is no opposition. For the government, today’s opposition is even a blessing.
This is due to government’s inability to make the people understand the grave problems the people in this country and the government’s lack of concern for the people.

Here more than anybody - it is the UNP that should now be openly blamed. ­We can safely write the JVP off – they are just dead. Once again Ranil Wickremeslnghe as Leader has not faired enough to make any impression on the voters. He has now failed for long enough, and if he continues he will have only more defeats in store for him. The UNP today is a national need to restore the rights of the people. It has stood for the people. It is even today recognised as the only demoratic party in the country. Today we see how the hopelessly bad leadership of Ranil Wickremesinghe has failed the UNP. He can see it clearly for himself. Can he ask for anything more for himself? He should now gracefully bow out and make way for another leader before it is too late. In fairness he should without any hesitation now step down and allow somebody else to take over the leadership without any further delay. One hopes the UNP has learnt enough lessons with its continued inability to make any headway. There is no time for dilly dallying - enough has been lost. ­There should be no attempt to appoint Committees to look into what has to be done. It is time the UNP realised how it has failed the country by having Ranil Wickremesinghe as its leader. This is the need of the hour. ­The country and its people are losing everything they have stood for. It is time therefore for the UNP to heed the cry of the people and appoint a new leader. By all means let them thank him for what he has been, but in today’s context he must go.
Maurice Lord
Colombo 13

****

Stop violating pedestrians’ rights

The vast majority of people who use our roads are not vehicle owners. Yet municipal authorities, transport engineers, architects and the police give little attention to the needs of this majority. Cities are planned around cars, not people and their needs. Although more people are killed or injured in road accidents every year than in terrorist bombs, and cars are responsible for so many other calamities, there has been no public discussion on this matter. As in the case of discussion on other common issues, it has been displaced by the overriding concern for “national security.”

Today in Colombo the elderly, the disabled and young children are too frightened to step out of their homes. The space available to them has diminished. Pavements are a rarity, and those that exist are usually broken, increasingly occupied by parked cars or by hoardings and billboards. Walking for many is becoming impossible. It is not uncommon to see pedestrians forced to walk in the middle of the road because the pavement has been taken over by luxury SUVs and the adjoining road area is one huge puddle of stagnant rainwater. As for crossing major roads, this is a nightmare even for able-bodied people. Not only do vehicles never stop at pedestrian crossings, but it never occurs to the Police that they should stop and prosecute drivers who do not respect the rights of pedestrians at such crossings.

Common sense, leave alone human decency and compassion, calls for cities that are not only made safe for vulnerable people but give incentives for such healthy activities as walking or cycling. But these activities have become impossible in a culture where owning a car is a sign of a person’s social importance.

Take the marine drive in Colombo, for instance. It has been in existence for several years now, but not a single stretch of pavement has been built on it or on any of the roads linking it to the Galle Road. The current northern terminus of the marine drive- Glen Aber Place was, until this year, a quiet neighbourhood in which children would play cricket in the evenings and their parents gather outside their doorways to talk with one another. This community life has been destroyed at one stroke. At the height of the morning traffic there is no space for residents to walk up to the Galle Road, and impatient motorists are constantly on their horns as if the road belonged to them. Even some buses have been directed by the Police down this road, creating massive traffic blocks and more noise pollution. Surely the authorities can give more attention to curbing the privatisation of public space by car and bus owners?

But who are the authorities who determine and effect policy in this regard? That seems to be the Number One problem: nobody takes responsibility. Written complaints about this to the UDA, the Colombo Municipality and the Traffic Police have all fallen on deaf ears. In private conversation, everybody “passes the buck” to the other. The lack of transparency in government means that citizens are left wondering to whom they should direct their complaints. I am told that ­the traffic Police congratulate themselves that pedestrian casualties have reduced in the city of Colombo in the past year. The obvious question they fail to ask is: is this reduction due to fewer people getting out on the roads for fear of their lives? If that is indeed the case, then what kind of society are we creating for future generations?

Is it not in our collective interest for the transport engineers, health ministry officials, environmental activists, urban planners and Police to come together to formulate and enforce a common policy that will make our towns and cities safer, cleaner and simply more friendly places for all who live in them?
Dr. Vinoth Ramachandra,
Colombo 03

****

                                                                   Appreciations                                                                  

Kesara Lal Wanigasekara

It is with a deep sense of grief that I write these words of our beloved friend who passed away in September last year. Leaving a whole world of friends in sorrow, he passed away at a private hospital due to a terminal decease which was discovered a couple of years before his death. Anybody who associated Kesara even for a short while will bear testimony to the agony his family and friends are going through and the silent thoughts are engraved in their hearts since his demise.

Though it is said that time is a great healer, I still am wondering whether it is the case here. When the doctors confirmed the death of our beloved friend the shock waves that ran through our hearts made us wordless for a while. Words I know in the language are not enough to describe what his loss means to most of his friends and also to his family. I still wonder whether the huge void created by his death could ever be filled by anybody.

Kesara always had deep sense of humane qualities and never forgot the poor and the underprivileged, and his friends. Kindness was stamped in all the words he spoke.. Sincerity was his theme in life and his clean way of handling matters won the implicit trust of all his friends and associates. The most admirable and endearing feature we all loved to be around him was his sense of humour.

People of noble virtues are hard to find and Kesara was a man of deeds than words. His prime concern and priority were his family and the business and he always had time for any of his friends.
Although it is twelve long months since the demise of our beloved friend our hearts still hurt so much when we go to his office which was once filled with joy, happiness and fun.

All your friends are haunted by those lovely memories and have had to bear the emptiness your demise created. Kesara, have a nice and pleasant journey; we pay our tribute to a truly remarkable friend.
Pushparanjan
Mt. Lavinia

****

Late Mr. Suganadasa Atukorala former principal of Nalanda College

A dedicated educationist with a vision

Eminent educationist Mr. Suganadasa Atukorala passed away on Saturday 18th November 2006. The demise of Mr. Atukorala who rendered yeoman service to the field of education at micro as well as macro levels is a grave loss to the nation.

Late Mr. Atukorala who was born on 12th November 1921 in Matugama, was educated at Ananda College and graduated from the University of Colombo. He joined the noble profession of teaching and commenced his long stay at Ananda Sastralaya Mathugama where he rose to the post of Vice Principal. Subsequently he served as the Principal of St. Mary’s Mathugama and Takshila Horana. He took over Nalanda in 1969 and served there until 1982. Afterwards he was appointed Chairman of the Library Services Board from where he retired after an efficient, effective and productive long innings of almost forty years in public service.

During his fourteen year tenure at Nalanda, Mr. Atukorala did a lot to improve infrastructure facilities, absorbed teachers with skills and competence in to the Staff in order to enhance children’s quality of education, introduced new concepts to improve teacher – student relationship and furthered extra curricular activities.

In 1972 Mr. Atukorala invited Mr. Oruwala Bandu to teach Russian language to the A/L students. This visionary step was the turning point, which paved the way for many Nalandians in that golden era of the Soviet Union to join leading Universities like Moscow, Lulumba and Minsk. Nalanda boys had the distinct advantage over the other aspirants for those scholarships, as they were value added students who were conversant in the Russian language.

He got so engrossed with Nalanda and decided to shift his entire family from Mathugama to a location which was only a step and jump from Nalanda. Later he domiciled in the same locality. His beloved wife who predeceased him, Mrs. Hemalatha Atukorala too joined Nalanda Staff from Ananda Sastralaya Mathugama.

His son Upul who was one class my junior graduated from Peradeniya as a Civil Engineer and later earned his Masters and Doctorate from the British Colombia University, Canada. Daughters Savitri and Gayatri both are Vishakians. Savitri is presently serving as Consultant Pediatrician at the General Hospital Kalutara. Gayatri decided to fellow the footsteps of her parents and currently serving as a Graduate teacher at Nalanda.

Although Mr. Atukorala left Nalanda in 1982, he continued to be our own “Disapamok Acharya Thuma” until he became very feeble a few weeks prior to his demise. Present and past pupils, parents, present and past teachers, past Principals and present Principal; every now and then sought advice from Mr. Atukorala on critical issues. Mr. Atukorala very willingly parted advice through his wisdom and knowledge. Mr. Athukorala attended the felicitation ceremony for him on October 8, 2006 which was his last visit to Nalanda before becoming too ill to be active any further.

I consider myself very privileged to have been a student under his able leadership. He reiterated the criticality of quality reading to acquire knowledge power. Whilst adding value to Nalanda, he never forgot Mathugama. Mr. Atukorala made use of his network of friends and pupils in various key positions in good faith to help people in his native area. He was humble. Simplicity was his hallmark. He followed the Gandhian style of Leadership. He was a beacon to Nalanda and Mathugama. Vicissitudes of nature over took him after a long spell of four scores and five.

His funeral was held on November 22, 2006 amidst a gathering of galaxy of Nalandians, including His Excellency The President of Sri Lanka, World Best Cricket Captain, Best Schoolboy Cricketer of the year and Best in A/L results – 2006; who are all Nalandians.

Third month remembrance bana and dana pinkama was held mid February 2007.
May Mr. Suganadasa Atukorala attain Nibbana!
Madura Wijeyewickrema

****

 

 

 

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