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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.

 

Power and Energy Ministry in safe hands!

As one who had worked in the Ministry for Power and Energy for nearly two decades, interested in this sector and also as a consumer, I am indeed happy that Patali Champika Ranawaka has been entrusted and assigned the portfolio of Power and Energy. He, being a qualified Electrical Engineer, could understand the language of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) engineers and also technical, engineering aspects to avoid conflicts which the CEB faced. As readers will remember, there had been several instances where the Minister had forced and interfered with the CEB’s planning. There had been the controversy where the CEB had refused to pay Rs. 850 million to the management of West Coast Power, owners of Kerawalapitiya Combine Cycle Plant for idle hours; proposal to include plants much against the wishes of the CEB and also pressurising the CEB to fianalise agreements with technically unqualified companies to produce wind power.
Readers will remember, I had frequently written to the press requesting President Mahinda Rajapaksa to intervene and settle these conflicts as such conflicts affect the consumers by way of introducing high cost generation plants to the system.

A recent news report says that the proposed Coal Power Plant at Sampur will be further delayed due to the Indian company not finalising certain issues. Here I would wish to state that if this plant is delayed, we would face another power crisis as experienced in 2002. It is suggested that the government negotiate with other lending agencies to finance this project. It should be recalled that the Japanese government was prepared to finance the Norochcholai Coal Power Project but due to unreasonable objections from the then Bishop of Chilaw, they withdrew because they could not hold back the assigned funds any longer. It is therefore possible for the new minister to approach the Japanese government once again to fund the Sampur Coal Power Project or approach the Chinese government who are presently constructing the Norochcholai Coal Power Plant as they are already established here they may come forward to fund.

Knowing the excellent and dedicated work done as Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, we the consumers could place full confidence in Ranawaka to work amicably with the CEB and produce results as no outside influence could be brought on him.
It is hoped that the CEB will give him all support to steer this sick institute, which is vital for economic and social development of our dear country.
Our best wishes to Minister for Power and Energy Patali Champaka Ranawaka.

G. A. D. Sirimal
Former Assistant Secretary SLAS, Ministry for Power and Energy

 

Omission of Vaas from World Cup Twenty/20 squad

All cricket lovers in this country, particularly those who watched the live action in the recently concluded Indian Premier League would not have the slightest hesitation in agreeing totally as to why our premier left arm swing bowler Chaminda Vaas’ omission from the Sri Lanka’s Twenty/20 World Cup squad is considered as totally unjustifiable.

His past track record is more than a proven fact that he had been a true servant of our National team in the longer and the shorter versions of the game for nearly two decades having been a regular member, as an opening left arm medium pace swing bowler as well as a genuine all-rounder. He had been chiefly instrumental in many famous victories we had gained over more fancied Test playing nations and in tri-nation tournaments. He holds several world records and is ranked high in the ratings of all-rounders among all time greats.

Vaas holds the record for taking four wickets in four balls in a World Cup encounter against Zimbabwe, that too in the first four balls of an ODI which is a world record that cannot be easily beaten. It is a well known fact that he is one exceptional bowler who has consistently captured a wicket in the very first over of many ODIs. If the writer is correct, in addition to many records this legendary cricketer holds, is the record of the best bowling analysis of 8/19 in all One Day internationals since its inception in the year 1975.

I firmly believe it is the fault of our selection committee for overlooking him. What our former skipper Marvan Atapattu said publicly is definitely true, ‘a set of Muppets’ headed by a chief selector - a ‘joker’ is what are selection committee consists of There is little doubt if the selectors had watched the recently concluded IPL matches to gauge his fitness, recognition, the manner he excelled with several marvelous performances.
He was playing for Deccan Chargers skippered by Adam Gilchrist who has had a lot of confidence in him by giving the last over for Vaas to bowl when the opposition Delhi Dare Devils needed just 14 runs to score to enter the semi-finals of this big league. At that moment England skipper Paul Collingwood was unbeaten on 50 odd. But our Vaas with his enormous experience bowled a few yorkers aimed on the leg stump which prevented any possibility for the batsmen at the wickets to score boundaries. His last over which was so crucial was hailed and applauded by the commentators as it was restricted only to a few singles.

There is much more to be said about this great immortal bowler and all-rounder. It is very unfortunate about his omission from the squad especially as he was in very good nick and trim as the IPL was concluded only a few days ago.
I am quite sure that knowledgeable skipper Kumar Sangakkara and experienced Mahela Jayawardene both would really repent for his exclusion. Followers of this great game will ponder whether politics has had the final say. It is a pity that he was not in the good books of our politicians.

Sunil Thenabadu
Mt Lavinia

 

Tuk tuk overloaded with school kids

On my way to drop my son, Tameem to Zahira College one morning, I saw a trishaw plying on Maradana Road, not overtly the jam-packed as such, nevertheless,it had too many school children. Do you know how this particular trishaw was able to accommodate relatively more kids than the others? In this three-wheeler, I noticed that modifications have been carried out with regard to the seats – an extra seat has been fixed behind the back of the driver, so that the children were seated face to face and some kids were even on the laps of others. I wonder whether this sort of makeshift extra seats could be put up in addition to the existing one – Is it allowed as per rules and regulations of the Department of Motor Traffic?
A more important issue, which should be of concern to all of us, in the event of say, an accident, I dread to think, is there cover for compensation for all the passengers/kids – be it the conventional Insurance or the Islamic Insurance, Takaful?

Mohamed Zahran
Colombo 3

 

Changing US foreign policy on the Middle-East

The firm decision of the US administration to condemn the building of more settlements in East Jerusalem by the Israelis has been welcomed by the whole world. The US is aware that there will be no headway to the US initiated peace process unless Israel halts the building of new settlements. The hawkish Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, piqued by the US decision is expressing all sorts of empty objections to this landmark decision of Barack Obama’s administration.

Why the arrogant US officials chose this time to object to the Israel policy of building new settlements is on account of the dire straits that the US has precipitated itself. History is both a teacher and a mirror. It teaches those prepared to learn lessons and exposes those that harbour illusions of grandeur. Who would have imagined barely 10 years ago that a self-proclaimed super-power and pretender to global leadership would be in such dire straits on the economic, political and military fronts?

The two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with a third just beginning in Pakistan with involvement in Somalia and Yemen - all Muslim countries have bankrupted the US. The total cost will exceed $3 trillion, according to Harvard Economist, Joseph Stiglitz. US external debt stands at $38 trillion. The bursting of various bubbles - dotcom, housing and derivatives, Ponzi schemes - was so frequent that they have come to symbolise the US economy more than manufacturing. In fact, there is little manufacturing left in the US, decimated by outsourcing tsunami in the relentless drive to maximise corporate and shareholder profit.

There is now the grim reality of people losing jobs, business shut-downs and losing homes because of their inability to make mortgage payments. For the first time in US history, millions of people are forced to live in tents, under bridges; an estimated 45 million people do not have medical insurance and 40 million children live in poverty. It appears that the uni-polar world is dying. US bluster, braggadocio and bravura is disappearing.
It is because of this depressing scenario that US policy will be compelled to change. It is a matter of time that an exit strategy will have to be worked out in Afghanistan, Iraq and even in Pakistan. The US also is aware that no peace in Palestine means no peace in the world. The US will also have to rescind its demand for crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran. Anyway at present sanctions are not effective at all and Iran knows how to make sanctions ineffective.

If the US does not face the new realities wisely, it will be on the path to self-destruction. After all, the Soviet Union was also a super-power armed with nuclear weapons and had the largest air-force in the world when it invaded Afghanistan on December 27, 1979. Today, there is no Soviet Union on the world map. This fate may well happen to the US itself and even to Israel.

Saybhan Samat
Rajagiriya

 

That ordeal haunts me night and day

I wouldn’t want to go through such an experience again. Neither would I want any other helpless lady in my neighbourhood, to suffer this same fate, therefore, warning to all.
Returning home from my workplace, I was at my gate, unlocking and unlatching it, when I felt something scratching and scraping at my neck, pulling me back and almost throttling me. At first, I thought it was a monkey or squirrel from the cadju tree that had jumped on me. By the time I realised it was a snatch-thief grabbing at my gold chain, it was too late. The two culprits had got away with what they wanted and I only saw their backs disappearing on their motorbike.

I was too stunned even to call out for help - I simply stood there, my mouth agape and too shocked even to move. I did shout then, but by that time they would have been a mile or so away.
It was not so much the loss of my chain, but the trauma and shock which still haunts me night and day. I had been warned several times not to wear valuables, especially at the hour I usually return home - around 3 p.m. or so - when our road, Dharmaratne Avenue, with its many turns and twists is so lonely and deserted and the ideal hunting-ground for this kind of thief. But, not being young enough to wear all the fancy jewellery that young misses adorn themselves with these days, I was in the habit of wearing this chain.

So, ladies, please be warned. Don’t wear expensive jewellery. See that your purses and handbags are held securely. The next thing you’ll hear of could be ear-lobes cut off for ear-studs or fingers chopped off for wedding rings. I still suffer from nightmares when I recall the incident. Walking along the road now I even dread the sound of a footfall behind me or motorbikes coming towards me.
I sincerely hope none of you will ever go through this sort of trauma.

Antoinette Ferdinand
Moratuwa

 

Admission of under-age children to Sasanaya

I came across a photograph published on the front page of a national daily wherein two children aged 3 and 4 years, who had been ordained as Samaneras were seen playing with two toy cars at the New Year celebrations.
The Buddha suggested that no child be ordained as Samanera without the consent of the child’s parents, after the issue arose as a result of King Suddodhana’s protest over Prince Rahula being admitted to the Sasanaya.

In the case of the two children in the photograph, their father had handed them over to be ordained as Samaneras as the mother had gone to the Middle East seeking employment. The mother apparently sought employment abroad to bring up the children and have them educated. Hence, whether the mother’s approval had been obtained to enter the two children to the Sasanaya is doubtful. The father will now be free to go his own way even using the remittances from the mother.

Then again children under 10 years cannot make decisions on their own as they have no ability to properly understand issues. It is, therefore, not proper to admit such under-age children to Bhikkhuhood. The fact that the two Samaneras were seen playing with toy cars prove the point that they are still not fit to be Samaneras. Even in other religions such under-age children are not forced into priesthood.

In the past, there was a process of admitting a boy of 10 to 15 years to a Buddhist Temple as an “Abiththaya”, a trainee for Bhikkhuhood, to learn the basics for entering the Sasanaya and after a few years ordain the “Abiththaya” as a Samanera if he agrees to be in robes. The continuation of such procedure seems salutary.

On the other hand, whether there is no illegality in the ordination of the two under-age children needs examination. The Sanaga Nayakes, Buddhist organisations and child protection societies should step in to sort out the issue.

Upali S. Jayasekera
Bambalapitiya

 

Senior citizens in for a bit of luck

The Government of Sri Lanka has decided to pay a bonus of 20% on interest received on savings and fixed deposits pertaining to rupees deposits of senior citizens with licensed banks with effect from January 1, 2010.
The much aged senior citizens who are sexagenarians, septuagenarians, octogenarians and some centenarian require extra nourishment, unlike others to revive their weary bodies after having toiled for the country in their long career, some having worked even for over 40 years. Forty years in the life expectancy of an individual is a considerable length of time. After retirement some are not fit to do any other job.
For their nourishment they have to purchase foods like butter, milk foods, Marmite, Nestomalt, Horlicks, soups, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
They always get about in three wheelers as they cannot walk long distances and neither travel by bus, as they are so feeble and require extra assistance for walking.
Their medical bills are considerable and consultation fees for doctors cost them a tidy sum. I spend by way of consultation fees Rs.1,200 per consultation. I am expected to see the doctor every month. The medical bills to purchase prescribed medicine too are considerable. I am prescribed Madoper. I require one tablet a day which was earlier Rs.45.25 and now it is Rs.48.75. With other medicines, costs are about Rs.7,000 for medicine and doctors fees per month.
The pittance of a pension the senior citizens get is not enough for their other bills, water, electricity etc. This extra payment by the governments is most welcome. Hope it will not be an election gimmick and continue even after elections.

V. K. B. Ramanayake
Maharagama

 

JICA assists reconstruction of Northern Province

Three new projects to contribute to effective and sustainable reconstruction of the Northern Province have recently commenced through grant assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The total grant amount is approximately 1,619 million Japanese Yen (approx. 2 billion rupees).
JICA in a news release said that the project for digital topographic mapping of the Northern Province will assist the Survey Department to update and prepare topographic maps with GIS up to the national standards, using aerial photography. The available maps for the Northern Province are decades old, and could not be updated due to security conditions during the conflict.

Aerial photography will facilitate the maps to be prepared to the highest quality and with all key details including topographical features, land use and altitude contours. These detailed maps will enable governmental organisations and other development partners to efficiently plan and design the reconstruction and development activities in the province.

The project for development planning for the rapid promotion of reconstruction and development in Jaffna District and the project for development planning for the urgent rehabilitation of the resettlement community in Mannar District will be implemented in close collaboration with the Jaffna and Mannar District Secretariats respectively. The Ministry of Economic Development, which takes over the functions of the Ministry of Nation Building and Estate Infrastructure Development, is the lead counterpart for the projects.

The projects aim to map out effective and sustainable development plans for Jaffna and Mannar Districts with focus on strengthening community-based organisations and engaging local communities in rehabilitation and maintenance of rural infrastructure. Community Action Planning (CAP) methodology will be used to ensure engagement of the stakeholders from the initial stages. Several pilot projects will be carried out to rehabilitate rural infrastructure for revival of livelihoods and socio-economic activities of the resettled people of the two districts. These pilot projects will cover various key livelihood generation sectors, and will take into account demographic composition and socio-economic characteristics typical to the region. The good practices and lessons learnt from these pilot projects will be incorporated into the development plans. While providing essential rural infrastructure in the interim, the development plans produced as the end output will facilitate JICA as well as other development partners to select candidate projects for assistance.

 

Appreciation

A goodbye of a different kind

As I stood over her lifeless body, a thousand other thoughts clouded my mind; I felt so many feelings altogether. I had no inkling as to what I should have done as I continued to stay grounded in place. I wondered what I would do when one of my parents would pass away, and how it would make me feel; I couldn’t imagine what I would be going through at a time like that, but I could see myself being completely hopeless and helpless, unknowing what to do, what to say and how to be.

It’s strange how and why I began thinking of things like that at my own aunt’s funeral, but I simply got carried away, and could not come back down to earth from those thoughts. I was tormenting myself, in fact, freaking myself out with these predictions and my vivid imagination, but I felt like I should know how it would be like, in order to be prepared for something as sudden and inevitable as death.

I couldn’t quite grasp the fact that I would someday have to stand at the lifeless body of my parents; I couldn’t quite understand how I would be able to face such a situation. As I stood over the body that belonged to my aunt, I watched carefully to see if there was the slightest hint of breath, and I became nauseous as I realised she wasn’t going to take another breath at all. It scared to me to think that the body in front of me was simply just a body and had no life or soul inside any longer. It depressed to me to think that that is how we all would someday end up being; we would depart from our human form and leave behind only the trail of a body and all the memories shared, nothing more.

Strange, all these thoughts took hold of me that day. It was just an ordinary day, and I was as always minding my own business. It was to be a good day. But then fate, destiny, karma took over.
I had never been to a family funeral before, and I had no idea how I was supposed to react or behave or do anything in the least. I didn’t know what to wear, so I garbed myself in a pale coloured shalwar and went over to the funeral house.

I had never seen my mother look that way before. The way she stared at the lifeless body that lay in front of her was scary and painful to see. She was like in a trance, and I stood by the doorway for a minute or two, watching my sisters try to soothe and calm her down. She was crying non-stop. There was a look of disbelief in her eyes, like as if she couldn’t believe her own sister had passed away; she couldn’t believe that she was seated here at her own sister’s funeral. I couldn’t quite believe it myself.
I know how people say it’s better for the dead this way; there is no more suffering, no more pain and hurt and no more worries. But it is only the beginning of all that for the family that has lost this person – for them, death brings suffering, pain, hurt and worries.

It is ironical in that manner how we tend grieve for those we have lost to death, how painful it seems to live our lives, but yet, live it nevertheless. We think we won’t be able to survive another day without them, but we do. Every little thing we do, say and see reminds us of the ones we have lost and yet, we continue to live. We continue to breathe and we continue to carry on. Sometimes, we grow stronger as the days and months and years go by, and sometimes, it just wears us out and makes us hope for a similar simple ending. At least that’s what I hoped for.

My aunt passed away with very much of a warning; she was hospitalised a few weeks before her death, due to a blood clot in her brain that initially caused her to lose consciousness. I remember walking into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and seeing her covered in tubes. But underneath it all, she was the same. She was my aunt, my mother’s sister and my cousin’s mother. That hadn’t changed, it still hasn’t.
I wanted to hold her hand as I prayed silently by her side, but I was afraid to. I had never seen anyone in her state before, and neither had I been to visit a sick person before. She was sick – well, unwell would be the right word. Her body wasn’t functioning without the machines in the ICU. She showed movement in her hand one day, and my whole family was hopeful, but unfortunately, that was the last movement she ever made.
It’s been nine years since she passed away and I still remember the way she would dress – with the sari end draped across her head – and her bubbly laugh. She had light eyes and a cheerful smile. She was like a breath of freshness whenever she walked into a room. She had a very feminine touch to her movements; she never walked fast or was in a hurry. She would glide across any room that she lit up with her chirpiness and wide grin. Like me, she would, although, scream the house down whenever she saw an insect or bug, but was always tender and loving to anyone close to her.

So I stood over her body, I don’t know for how long exactly, on the day of her death, not knowing what to do. We were allowed to walk around the body one last time, before the men would come and take the body to be buried. Looking at her body for the last time was one of the most painful things I’ve had to do, and I can imagine that pain must have been 10 times over for my cousins, her husband and my mother.
I touched her hand for a moment this time as I bid her goodbye. I prayed silently for a good life in the Hereafter, and the tears began to fall. Nine years down the line, I’m wiping tears once again.
She will never be forgotten. She will always remain a very important part of our lives.
Inna lillahi Wa inna ilaihi Rajioon

Shabna Cader
 

 

 

 

 

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