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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.

 

Police Force admired for courteous service

It was a rainy day in November and I had the luxury of a late morning wake up. After a hurried morning tea, I picked up two newspapers on my way and was at the nearby super-market to buy some items including the morning bread. Carrying the parcels, my papers and the umbrella battered by a relentless downpour I hurried home. After entering and turned back to close the gate, here I am facing a smiling ‘cop’ who is trying to hand me over some thing concealed under his rain coat. It immediately crossed my mind of the traffic lights I flouted yesterday evening amidst torrential rain, that I believed I escaped the attention of the traffic Police and was cursing me for that unnecessary urge to beat the traffic signals, apparently for no compelling reason. But the smiling cop politely handed me over one of the news papers I seemed to have dropped on my way home and remarked, “You did not hear my calls and I followed you”. It was such a pleasant surprise and by the time I got the presence of mind to invite him in, he was on his way.

Often we talk about our Police Force for all the wrong reasons but when you think carefully I feel we do not offer due credit and respect for this vital institution and its officers that form the backbone of our safety network. Of course, there are many exceptions to any such an assertion, nevertheless we need to carefully consider the constraints and difficulties confronted by officers that comprise the Police Force and are mindful of these difficulties.

For example, as law abiding citizens a police station, is certainly a place that we like to keep at bay as far as possible and will avoid a visit unless it’s a real necessity. Losing my license I was compelled to lodge an entry in a Colombo police station and whilst waiting for my turn I was amazed to see the familiarity of several people who seem to visit the station to register complaints that appear to be for somewhat frivolous reasons, yet the complaints were registered in the same manner and in detail like any other complaint and it occurred to me that Police officers often carry a work load we seldom appreciate and even cognizant of. When my turn came, I made an academic enquiry about this fact that confirmed my thinking that any complaint will receive methodical attention and also need to be investigated and dealt with.

Another area of heavy “complaint traffic” is in relation to white collar crime that appears to be rampart such as returned checks/non-payment of debts etc, that I witnessed when trying to register such an incident. The documentation and procedures involved are so voluminous and complex, yet receive meticulous attention from the officers concerned that I am sure must be taking such an amount of time and effort that we often fail to realise and empathise. In most such instances, I realised that incomplete documentation on the part of the plaintiff causes the resultant delays but the blames of delay often attributed to the investigating Police. The administrative difficulties that arise due to sheer largeness of this gigantic social institution may be another reason that contributes to its managerial complexity.

Hence, I feel that most of us who do scathing criticism of this force/institution mostly do so rather impulsively or without really appreciating the difficult circumstances under which most of such officers function and at times even driven by perceptual biases. Certainly we need to make objective critique of the wrongdoings of any officer yet my point is let’s be very objective in doing so and also without painting the entire force with the same brush because of an individual unpleasant experience of some one known to us. My belief is creating a positive attitude of our Police Force will only enhance their esteem, motivate and empower them for better service to our nation.
Also let’s not forget the inherent and deterrent effect of Police presence, often under hazardous conditions of inclement weather and at late hours in the day. Areas such as of traffic control and traffic lights and in the case of driving under the influence of alcohol have immeasurable preventive value testifying the wisdom of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. It is also noted with great satisfaction and deep gratitude the recent initiatives of our IGP against such menacing social disasters such as drug usage and other harmful addictions that, no doubt, will write an indelible chapter in the golden era that dawned after peace reaching our nation.
Finally, I wish to conclude with a remark made by one of my dear friends “Can you imagine the chaos if Police do not function for a day?” With a force numbering nearly 60,000 officers this is certainly worth taking a note of.

Chamindra De Silva

 

Correct path to real happiness

It is my personal experience in living that I go through a great deal of physical suffering in the midst of occasional joys and pleasures in my relationship with people, things and events. I realise that we need to be constantly aware of the impermanence of things and unsatisfactory nature of life we live in, suffering exists in reality. Worry is suffering, agitation, aversion, frustration and disappointment is suffering and is an inseparable part in life. But naturally desire of all living beings is to be happy and free from suffering. We simply don’t know where to find true happiness.

Lord Buddha teaches that our minds are clouded with ignorance, greed, jealously, hatred, delusion and we seek happiness in the wrong place. The key to real happiness lies in understanding and mastering the mind. Cultivation of the mind is the key to happiness. The pure mind is motivated by loving kindness, generosity, and wisdom. We are governed by and dominated by self-destructive forces and greed within our mind. They cause suffering, dissatisfaction, frustration and pain – here and now in this present life, as well as in the lives that lie in the future.
As long as we have a reasonable degree of freedom from sickness and poverty, we can be happy to a certain extent under almost any condition. In modern life, mind is constantly subjected to defilements and delusion.

Nothing is permanent and for that matter, death is certain - disease, decay precedes death. Mind departs and body remains. Suffering springs from a worried and unhappy mind. Most of the diseases are psychosomatic.
Concentration of the mind, mindfulness, mental and emotional balance in this chaotic, neurotic and ill balanced world is the solution. Virtue, concentration and wisdom cultivated in one’s self leads to peace, tranquil and happiness. Generosity, detachment, contentment, loving kindness, compassion, patience, forgiving, non-delusion should be replaced with wisdom, insight and understanding and see thing in the real perspective.
With the blessings of the triple gem may you all be well and happy!

Gordon Gunasekera

 

Ex-MPs enjoy special pension privileges

A government servant has to work for ten years to qualify for a pension, but has to wait till after the completion of the age of 55 years to draw the pension.
An MP, on the other hand, is eligible for a pension after just five years of being an MP and can draw the pension immediately after that period i.e., he need not wait till he is 55 year of age to draw the pension. While being a pensioner, he can contest once again and come back as an MP and enjoy all the perks enjoyed by an MP. He is also entitled to a parallel increase in the pension every time the sitting MPs get salary increases where as government pensioners get no parallel increase in the pensions when government servants are granted salary increases. Very often they don’t get even what is due to them.
All this creates a big anomaly and discriminates against government pensioners who are thus denied equal rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Will the Pensioners’ Associations or some other public interest group such as an NGO step into seek legal redress?

A. S. Abeywickrama

 

Crime on the march as never before

When you open the pages of the daily papers, you read horrendous stories of gruesome murder, horrible tales of rape of young girls, married women and sometimes elderly females; confidence tricksters playing their dirty games, well-planned highway and bank robberies in broad daylight and abductions of high and low profile individuals for ransom money.
The rate of crime has increased by leaps and bounds in recent times. This is a slur on a Buddhist country where the majority is peace-loving. I believe the country enjoys the second highest rate in crime in the world. This is indeed a sad state of affairs in a small country which has recently emerged victorious after three-decades of LTTE terrorism.
If little Sri Lanka can conquer the world’s most brutal and barbaric terror group, I do not think it is a formidable task to tame the criminals who are at large all over the country, roaming and terrorising the defenceless people, and committing heinous crimes for variety of reasons. These criminal elements know that they can get away from capital punishment because it is a dead letter although exists in the statute book. Non enforcement of the law has given the criminal elements an upper hand to commit sordid crimes at the expense of the innocents.
It is very unfortunate that successive governments have not taken the initiative to enforce the death penalty. As a result, hardcore murderers, their acolytes, aided and abetted by army deserters are having a field day. They are aware that they can go scot-free after accomplishing their murderous mission. How many of them are spending their lives as guests, some as ‘special guests’ in state prisons?
There are, of course, individuals facing various terms of imprisonment for committing minor offences. They should be shown leniency and brought under a programme of reform and rehabilitation to play a useful role in society. On the other hand, those criminals, who plan and execute cold-blood murders, sometimes even with the connivance of the law enforcement officers, should face the music. The murderers of Sarath Ambepitiya are ‘guests’ of the government.
It is my humble opinion that the leniency of the law in our judicial system is a contributory factor for the escalation of crime in the country. The death penalty was suspended by successive regimes for reasons best known to them. This lacuna has paved the way for the notorious characters to go on the rampage and perpetrate criminal deeds on the innocent members of the public with reckless abandon.
All the past years, we witnessed the blood-curdling deeds of the heartless terrorists. Today, there are no such horror stories thanks to our President and the heroic forces under the brave commanders. There is a great sigh of relief among the people everywhere in the country for this unique achievement.
Now is the opportune moment to nip in the bud the escalating crime rate. Peace loving people earnestly look forward to the president and his government to show the political will and the courage to bring the hangman to the picture, and relieve the citizens from reading nauseating crime stories reported in the media daily from every corner in the country. It is this regime that has the wherewithal to beard the lion of crime mafia.
M. Azhar Dawood

 

Half-hearted attempts to curb vices

Some of the so called learned people make some comments which, to say the least, are hilarious.
Recently one university don wanted to test the girls for their virginity. He did not know whether there is such a test in the first place. Thank god, common sense prevailed among the doctors, but imagine, if some nincompoop has come forward to test them and give verdicts what catastrophic results would have followed. The girls, for no fault of their own, would have been branded for life!
If the vice chancellor wanted to impose decency and chastity among the university students, this is not the way to go about. Let him educate the students and inculcate in them a sense of responsibility for their lives.
Then there was this declaration that those who are afflicted with diseases related to alcohol drinking will not be given free treatment in the hospitals – as if drinking alcohol is the one and only crime. What about the HIV due to promiscuousness, how about venereal diseases due to prostitution, what about the drug addiction related diseases? The list is endless. And to top it all, it is the government which gives the permit for the taverns. So, on the one hand, they are given permission to drink and on the other hand, they are punished for drinking.
And how are they going to determine the disease is related to alcohol drinking? One can get the same disease – say cirrhosis by having had hepatitis. Or addiction by taking drugs. Even an expert can never say with certainty what is due to what.
The same goes for the effort to block out the scenes on the TV when someone picks up a drink to drink – irrespective of whether it is alcoholic or not, the irritating boxes come up. All other sins, such as obscene language, killing, stealing, adultery etc. etc. are allowed to be watched. As if stopping alcohol will make our society squeaky clean.
Somewhere in the hierarchy there is concern about the alcohol habit of our country but all these efforts are half-hearted attempts to curb this menace. If they are really serious about abolishing the habit for once and all, totally abolish alcohol from the society. We certainly will be a richer society by money, health and most of all morals if only someone has the guts to do it.
Sometimes back there was news that wearing the seat belt was to be strictly enforced. But that was the end of it. Then there was the effort to stop jay walking – a few were taken into task and then promptly it was forgotten. Well, if there was genuine concern for the society these would have been followed up. But then who cares anyway? This is Sri Lanka.
Dr Mrs Mareena Thaha Reffai

 

Credit card merchants flout the basics

It was only just over three decades ago that our state-owned banks commenced the credit card facility to their constituents. However, the constituents of globally-renowned banks and reputed financial organisations were able to use this product for their convenience for quite sometime. At present, the usage of the credit is very common, primarily, for their benefit of not taking the risk of carrying physical cash and secondarily for convenience in purchasing a high valued commodity. It all depends on the cardholder’s option. All credit cards at the time they are handed over or taken possession of have to be compulsorily signed on the reverse with the cardholder’s usual signature on the white strip allocated.
All credit card merchants have been properly educated and instructed by the related bank officials and those officials in the respective credit card institutions the correct manner in which to accept credit cards from clients for purchases at Super Markets, Sathosa Outlets, SLT Regional Centres and various other organisations where payments could be effected for various other services as well.
However, despite educating these merchants with all the necessary advice and precautionary measures to be taken, all of them totally flout the instructions by not adhering to the basic rules as instructed by the related banks/institutions. They never verify the signature the client places with that on the reverse of the card. I am aware of so many who entrust a third party to purchase their needs from a super market by giving their credit cards which are strictly non-transferable.
I am an ex-banker and transact almost all my dealings via my prestigious credit cards. At all places where I transact business with my credit card to date no merchant has dared to verify my signature placed on the bill with that appearing on the reverse of my card. However, there is just one exception. The teller ladies who accept our cards for payment of bills at the Regional Telecommunication Office Ratmalana make a thorough scrutiny to verify the identity of the cardholder before the payment is accepted. All other credit card merchants should be educated and follow suit.
On the contrary, when a genuine cardholder makes an inquiry to find out the balance or any other information about his/her card over the phone several questions are posed requesting for vital information such as NIC number, billing address, last deposit made, the present credit limit, mother’s maiden name, the profession etc. After a lot of harassment only clearance for the query is answered. In the event a client fails to deposit the minimum payment on the due date, reminders via telephone calls are given and the cards are kept on hold until the minimum payment is made.
It is my fervent hope that immediate precautionary action would be taken by the related bank personnel and other officials in financial institutions to advise the credit card merchants not to flout the basics, but to adhere strictly to the instructions furnished when a credit card payment is accepted and more particularly to be more lenient when inquiries are made by genuine cardholders as they have to hang on to their mobile/land phones for a fairly long length of time to obtain the necessary information. When this serious discrepancy was brought to the notice of the credit card institutions, the answer given was that the merchants have been properly educated in this regard a typical Sri Lanka answer to a grave matter of large magnitude.
Sunil Thenabadu

 

Dangerous sea bathing

One night when I took my family and my nephews / nieces to the Galle Face Green, I did see small children bathing by sitting on the beach, maybe on the presumption that they will not get drifted away into the sea when they are in the seated position, and enjoying getting washed by the waves. I told my wife and the others who were with me that in the event of a sudden powerful wave striking these children, the tragedy these children have to face.
When I just looked around, there were no coast guards in this particular area which was also gloomy - it is where a bridge has been put up very recently. All I saw was a notice board to warn that bathing between 6.00 am to 6.00 pm is prohibited. I suggest that an additional notice be put up warning small children not to risk their lives by sitting on the beach and bathing. I also recommend that coast guards should be present and also be on alert even when small children go to wash their feet, to carry out rescue operations in the event of any tragic circumstances.
Mohamed Zahran

 

Commemoration

Nine decades ‘n three years well past biblical span
Performed seven stages fruitful, a perfect smooth plan.
Admirable sterling qualities, rare calibre nonagenarian.
Indomitable spirit par excellence, yeomen service, humanitarian.

Seventy-five steady years in fathomless field of education
Adorned, moulded, elaborated many a grateful generation
A popular name from eighteen to ninety-three no serious lamentation
Dedicated, veteran, pedagogue, disciplinarian, personality worthy of emulation.

A legend in your time versatile in Latin, French, German, English, Mathematics ‘n more
Old Richmondite under Rev Small illustrious career, never known a foe.
Your legacy of spirituality ‘ll live forever encased in our aching hearts
Countless warm memories wrapped in filial love’ll never ever part.

Until your peaceful departure ten of us flocked together, like birds of a feather
We’re today how you nurtured us to be caring, sharing, respecting each other
I recall down memory lane, you a polymath, a guiding star indeed,
For many young ‘n old, lost their way, gone a stray, desperately in need.

Two days prior to your serene demise, to blissful eternity
I sat beside you feeding, something you relished with ample sincerity
Like a deity in disguise overflowing in immense adoration
I recollect your heavenly blessings still guiding me amidst relaxation.

Reputed teacher at Ananda, Nalanda Colombo, Trinity in Kandy, Principal Kosgama MV decades ago.
Responsible devoted profession, vital personal matters purposely had to undergo
I offer this humble tribute at thy sacred feet with immense fortitude
On your 116th birth anniversary in profound obeisance, a huge debt of gratitude.

To be your eldest daughter in Sansara, in my solitude my only wish
I consider it a divine blessing in Sansara, a unique solemn bliss.
By virtue of myriad meritorious performances in Sansara.
May you my loving father attain Supreme bliss of noble nirvana!

Kumari Kumarasinghe Tennakoon

 

What the beggar taught me

The year was 1958. I was a final year medical student; the value of one cent was respectable then compared to its value today.
A beggar squatting on a pavement begged of me for some money. I gave him one cent! This is what he told me. “Mister, plug your back with this coin, then you can save all what you eat too! “
That day, I learnt a great lesson in life. If you gift or give, for God’s sake give properly and adequately or do not give or desist from giving at all.
Dr W. B. Wijekoon

 

Power-sharing a way forward to development

The Archbishop of Colombo should be congratulated for his thought-provoking convocation address at the Graduation Ceremony at the Aquinas Catholic University. He in no uncertain terms has critiqued the 1978 Constitution and the very strong shift to centralisation.
Reading between the lines one could hear the Archbishop say very strongly that the sharing of power is perhaps one of the ways of healing wounded Mother Lanka. Although a weekly writer in one of our popular papers has gone public by stating that the 13th Amendment is the problem and not the 18th Amendment. People who make opinion in this country must come clean and accept the need for decentralisation of power.
Dr Shelton Wanasinghe, a very well accepted public servant speaking at a public meeting several years ago said that sharing of power is vital to develop Sri Lanka.
The fear that a Northern Province with a legal position to share power can turn to India is only a pie in the sky for New Delhi will never ever support any movement towards separation. So, it is necessary for the Sri Lankan electorate to put this thought behind us and learn to share power with the province so that the country could be developed. This can be done in such a way that we remain a united land. Over to all who want a united Sri Lanka and development in all the provinces.
Sydney Knight

 

 

 

 

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