Monday, 10 June 2002  
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Neglected war wounded

A small group of us wishing to donate something to the Army Hospital in memory of a friend, made inquiries as to what the hospital needed. We are told that the paralyzed wounded were suffering from bed sores for want of water mattresses. We were able to donate just one. They cost rupees eight thousand five hundred (Rs. 8,500). Many other items are needed.

If this is the way we treat our war wounded, is it any surprise that the army recruitment drive brings a poor response.

Can't the luxury vehicles and office equipment recently highlighted in the media be auctioned, and the proceeds used to alleviate the suffering of these men to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.

DR. (Mrs.) SWARNA NADARAJA - Colombo 7.


Cycle races on public highways

The ever increasing dangers with the ever increasing cycle races all over the island have to be carefully considered, in order to minimise road accidents.

Unlike in races organised by motor sports club and cycling clubs, it is nobody's responsibility to prohibit using liquor and narcotics in most of the cycle racing competitions which are spreading fast from towns to villages.

The authorities therefore have to adhere to strict implementation of rules and regulations pertaining to the use of liquor and narcotics in these cycle races not only by the competitors but also by their supporters.

Banning all cycle races on the highways and allowing them on special tracks, would be a suitable idea to consider.



Pavements neglected after excavation

Sri Lanka Telecom Ltd when there is a need to lay underground cables, is seen to be stripping the well-constructed pavement or the road edge to a width of about one to two feet with depth and length depending on the need. Worker gangs deployed on the job work very fast giving the road users the good impression that once cables are buried that they would restore the pavement or the road edge to its original position.

But this never happens judging by the large number of instances of neglected patches after excavation. These instances are very common in the urban areas and it is a pity that elected members of local bodies do not monitor these places with a view to pressing the authorities to set matters right in the interest of the public at large.

One such glaring instance is the pavement stretch commencing from assessment No 205 to 209 on the Anagarika Dharmapala Mawata, Dehiwala. This excavation about two hundred feet in lengths was started somewhere in mid March 1999 and since that time onwards the earth filled cavity had widened due to heavy rain and in some places the width is nearly three feet. During a heavy shower the excavated stretch turns into a virtual waterway drain and in the hot weather it is a virtual dusty stretch of annoyance to the road user. Fortunately or unfortunately this pavement stretch is used on Sundays to house the Karagampitya Fair and the inconvenience caused to the trading community and the customers could easily be imagined.

S.H. Siripala - Dehiwala


The word "aspiration" is a much used word in present day ethnic conflict. According to the dictionary the meaning of the word is something like "wish" or "expectations" (both according to British and American usage). But it appears that gradually some additional meaning has developed around it giving it a sociological connotation, without people getting aware of the subtle distinction of the two types of the meaning of the word.

When English is used as a second language, the meaning of some English words gets slightly transformed according to the culture and the grammar of the mother tongue of the user. Also some words acquires new meanings due to the passage of time. Sometimes these facts must have influenced the meaning of the word "aspirations" if it had acquired a new meaning.

In the context of ethnic conflict, this word has also been translated into Sinhala as "apeksha" and "Abhilashaya". These Sinhala words may be correct according to the dictionary meaning of the original English word. But it is highly probable that it will give a misleading picture of the problem. The word "aspiration" has become a sort of a mantram or a jugglery word. People who wants to represent their grievances and problems should explain it using words which have a clear meaning.

I have observed that there is more vague and abstract meaning in this word when it is used in Indian and allied types of English than when it is used in British or American English.

It is advisable for parties concerned to get the meaning of this controversial word clarified.

L.B. TENNAKOON - Pitakotte.


Why burn money and welcome death?

From an economic point of view, smoking is nothing but wasteful expenditure leading to health hazards. On the other hand, it is a severe blow to the poor man's purse who has become addicted to the evil. Today, a cigarette costs Rs. 7.50 and he who smokes one packet (10) a day, has to spend Rs. 2250.00 in a month, or Rs. 27,000 in a year, or Rs. 135,000 in five years. What a colossal waste of money for no substantial gain?

With this money, he could easily put up a small house to shelter his family, if he has no house of his own, or lives in a rented house at the mercy of the landlord. On the other hand, if this money is saved in a Bank, he could earn interest on the deposit, which itself is an income.

The Tobacco Companies, throughout the world, make substantial profits at the risk of the smoker. How many people die annually, having developed cancer of the lungs, due to heavy smoking, leaving their beloved wives and children to lead miserable lives, perhaps, at the expense of others?

This deadly merchandise (tobacco) was recognised a health hazard by Dr. Raymond Reid in 1938. The toxic properties found in tobacco are Hydrogen Cyanide and Formaldehyde which are carcinogenic substances. Every habitual smoker must realise the dangers of the lethal fume and try his best to give up the habit. If he wishes to live long and share the pleasures of family life, without dying an untimely death.

Every packet of cigarettes contain the warning that smoking is injurious to health. Knowing it to be so, why such lethal merchandise is manufactured for sale? When Tobacco Companies earn money by the sale of cigarettes, the Government spends money to treat those who are hospitalised due to smoking. Can we call it indirect homicide?

According to a World Bank study, "tobacco use causes a net global loss of US $ 200 billion per year, and half of those losses occur in developing countries," to which Sri Lanka is no exception.



Dhamma schools should concentrate on moral uplift

The recent murder of a school girl by a school boy, well-publicized in the press and on TV, the first of its kind in a school gives much food for thought. It is clear that the murderer was driven by rage like the incredible Hulk in the popular TV program? The rage was caused by his rejection by the girl. The earliest such murder that I can recall is the murder of "his" girl by Eric Batcho.

This too was caused by rage arising out of rejection. There have been similar murders both here and abroad. The crown prince of Nepal killed his father and mother because they stood in the way of his marrying a particular girl.

None of the above murders were caused by sexual frustration. The crown prince of Nepal, for instance, had enough girlfriends. Sexual frustration may lead to rape, incest and sexual misdemeanours like indecent exposure but in all these cases there is no fixation on a particular girl.

This fixation is caused by an intense wish born of strong attachment in a previous birth which causes a man to crave for a continuation of the relationship with his wife in the afterlife. This could lead to dangerous consequences such as murder, the breakup of marriages and the loss of honour, wealth, status or life in a subsequent birth.

Examples abound and can be found even in England's royal family. On no account, therefore, should such wishes be made in respect of anybody be it wife,husband,mother or father. Moreover it does not accord with the spirit of Buddhism to make such wishes.

Be happy that you have got a good wife, husband, mother or father in this life and leave it at that.

The school boy that murdered the girl is said to have attended Dhamma school. Such schools should concentrate on emotional maturity and mental control. Instead of concentrating on the moral uplift of the individual through the teaching of the doctrine and meditation they hold various competitions, contests and examinations and teach things that are totally useless to counter thoughts that lead to crime and irresponsible behaviour in society and to tread the path.

The section on Abhidhamma should be exercised. It was preached by the Buddha not to man but to the gods and that too seven years after his enlightenment and is way above the heads of even most adults.



Looting of archaeological treasure from the sea

We read with interest the letter from Prince Casinader about the sunken British aircraft carrier HMS Hermes lying off Batticoloa and how human skulls and anchors are being recovered in the Galle Harbour by archaeological experts.

While this is to be commended it should be brought to the notice of the relevant authorities that there has been some large scale looting of undersea treasures in the Galle area, at the antique shops. There are full of items which the proprietors say were recovered from old shipwrecks in the area.

It is common knowledge of the local fishermen that a Dutch yacht using a suction device overboard cleaned out thousands of valuable treasure such as pots and jars, and that they return every year for more looting together with their local partners under the cover of doing archaeology survey in the sea.

As long time residents of Galle we are shocked at these going ons and wish to bring to the notice of archaeology officials as to what is happening here.



Katunayake - Colombo expressway

I read with dismay the news that the work on the Katunayaka-Colombo expressway, first thought of many decades ago and begun after several years of indecision and postponement, has come to a standstill owing to cost escalations and the Government being hard put to finding the necessary funds to cover such costs.

Reportedly the Government has already spent close upon four billion rupees so far on this project. The Minister of Transport stated over a TV channel the other day that the authorities are looking out for partners to take over the project on BOO/BOT basis. If these efforts do succeed it would mean that the project partners would have to recover their investment by way of tolls levied on vehicular traffic on this road over a certain period.

I am afraid it would not be an easy task to find BOO/BOT partners for highway projects in Sri Lanka because the volume of traffic on our roads at present or that to be expected in the foreseeable future may not be sufficient enough to recover the huge project costs involved within a reasonable period of time, through tolls.

For instance even if four thousand vehicles were to use the KTN expressway daily paying a toll of Rs. 100.00 each, it would earn an income of only Rs. 144 million for the operators annually. At that rate it would take 83 years to recover the estimated cost of twelve billion. No investor is likely to wait that long to recover his money let alone making a profit. In the volatile political atmosphere of Sri Lanka it is very unfair to expect foreign investors to take a longer term view than five years.

Highway development projects in Sri Lanka will have to be undertaken by the state whatever their costs. They are an integral part of infrastructure development indispensable for the fast economic development of a country. Roads are not built to make profits but to provide the necessary framework for the development.

Gains for the country by this kind of projects would be invisible but enormous by way of reduced accident rates, faster movement of goods and traffic, less wear and tear on motor vehicles and what is more, will attract foreign investors into other areas of activity in hinterland areas of the country. As such it is hoped that the Government will somehow find the necessary funds and go ahead with the KTN expressway project without waiting for foreigners to come and take over.

Sooner we finish it the better for the country; delays would result in further escalation of costs. Now that the war has stopped it would be possible to divert a part of the war savings to this all important project and expedite it. If we cannot carry forward a project already begun it is useless talking about other mega projects like Southern Expressway, Hambantota harbour and the like.

P.G.A. Henry - Matara.


HNB-Pathum Udanaya2002

Sampath Bank

Crescat Development Ltd.

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