Friday, 21  February 2003  
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They exist only in the directory

Turning the pages of the Telephone Directory one would come across under Telecom a long list of names to which are assigned various designations beginning from its chairman, the obvious purpose of which being to enable one to contact whoever one wants as and when required. Unfortunately, however, none of them could ever be contacted, or being there, the 'callpicker' informs, fallaciously perhaps, that he or she is at a meeting. This is not a rare occurrence. Even if one were to telephone every minute for a year, it is the same thing that one will be told.

A few days ago too I tried to contact someone, including the chairman, this time to complain regarding the non-receipt of the Directory for two consecutive years, but again failed in my attempt due to the same reason - "He is not in, he is at a meeting" being the stock-phrase of all the 'pickers' right down the line.

In contrast to this very pathetic, nay, disgusting situation, subscribers could vividly recall that never had they experienced so much difficulty in contacting officials when the telecommunication services were under the government, as they do now!

It is time the management of Telecom realise that this is not the sort of things subscribers expect of them. They should also make it a point to make themselves available more often to the subscribers in particular and the public in general.



Death penalty : Capital punishment

It is generally accepted that the law and order situation of this country has appallingly deteriorated and it is encouraging that John Amaratunga, Minister for Interior has considered reintroducing capital punishment as a step to arrest the dangerous wave of rising rate of crime.

During the two decade period of suspension of capital punishment murder, rape, incest, gang robberies etc had escalated as never before, disproving that capital punishment is not an effective form of punishment.

Today people live in constant fear for their lives and property as armed gangs break into homes and remove everything of value leaving the owners destitute. There are contract killers to be hired to settle old scores with your enemies. The underworld is so powerful that even some politicians keep them on their good side. Heroin smuggling is carried out in a big way and the distribution network is so well-organized that increasing number of youths become drug addicts every day.

Commuting death sentences to life imprisonment is ineffective as by good behaviour prisoners could get their terms considerably reduced. If life sentence is to be of some effect it should not be less than forty years.

Reintroduction of lashes too would be welcome in addition to jail terms according to the crime committed.

The president would it is hoped be in favour of reintroducing capital punishment in today's context.



Death penalty : To hang or not to hang

Murder under any circumstances stems from greed (craving). Death penalty alone will not banish murder from the society. For instance, murder under sudden provocation or for religious reasons will last as long as man craves for social position or divine status.

However, reimposition of death penalty will reduce the ever increasing instances of contract killing. The men with a killer instinct, yet intent on posing a clean sane face will not hesitate to hire a killer to finish someone whom he wants eliminated for reasons better known to him. No 'professional killer' will ever life to be hanged for merely carrying out his "profession". He wants to enjoy the money he so 'earned'.

Presence of possibility of being hanged for murder will certainly act as a deterrent to murder and it will certainly reduce all other grave crimes as well. When somebody knows that even if one is caught and proved guilty of murder, one could come back home with vengeance in mind or to make more money for the loss of time by undertaking more and more contracts for murder which is a 'noble' profession for him to that extent.

A contract killer, for that matter any pre-meditated killer, will not find employment anywhere other than in a 'killing field'. So it is in the best interest of the country to bring back the noose and the hangman.



National Science Foundation - racial or discriminatory?

This is with reference to the letter under the above heading by Jayantha Samarasinghe (Feb. 12). I wish to place the following facts for information of your readers.

The "Graduate Survey" is one of the activities of the S & T Management Information System (STMIS) of the NSF. The STMIS is funded by the Asian Development Bank project on Science & Technology Personnel Development (ADB/STPD). The press notice has been confined to Universities supported by the ADB/STPD project as required by the project.

However, the NSF is conducting a parallel survey, through its own very limited resources to cover graduates from other universities. The Deans of the relevant faculties of these Universities have already extended their cooperation by providing the available addresses of their recent graduates. The NSF is writing to these graduates individually and to date 327 letters have been sent to graduates from universities in the North, East, Wayamba etc.

I hope that this will clarify and any misconceptions created in the mind of Mr. Samarasinghe, and possibly other readers as well.

M. WATSON, Director NSF


A Bhikkhu's attempt to lead nation

Ven. Gangodawila Soma Thera has declared his intentions to become a politician and contest the next presidential election.

I, as a Buddhist, had great respect for the Thera and valued his Dhamma sermons. However, since his overtures to join the political stream, I have been reluctantly compelled to come to the conclusion that the Thera is still in his infancy as a Buddha Putra due to his craving for material benefits and political power which he has to renounce and abhor as a member of the Sangha following the path laid down by The Thathagatha.

Buddhism is a world religion and is not confined to any race, country or community. The Ven. Thera has the right, and should protect Buddhism and the Buddha Sasana but it should be sans racial and communal prejudices.

Otherwise he will not only be harming Buddhism but also will be going against the very principles of the Buddhist philosophy. It cannot be denied that there is no hundred per cent honesty, sincerity and decency in politics. A member of the Sangha taking to active politics will be compelled to put up with and follow such qualities inherent in politics, whatever the Bhikkus who have taken to politics may say in defence. Politics which do not, in any way, help to break away from the Ten Fetters that shackle man to his weaknesses, therefore, is not for the Sangha.

President J.R. Jayewardene attempted to usher in a 'Dharmishta' era under a 'Dharmishta' government. It was a complete failure despite the fact that he had all the power (with over two-thirds majority in Parliament) to do so.

He had to give into power politics with attendant pride and prejudices. That Ven. Soma Thera can be different, is far fetched. He will have to succumb to political pressures to stay in power and continue in politics. He will have to break the Vinaya rules in the process.

I have witnessed political Bhikkhus participating in public demonstrations, carrying posters, attending political meetings and addressing political rallies. Their behaviour falls short of what is expected from the sangha which is injurious to the Buddha Sasana.

The Ven. Thera, in fact, could be of greater service by preaching the Dhamma and uniting the Buddhists to protect the Buddha Sasana from the onslaughts against it.

However, if the Thera is still insistent on taking the plunge into active politics, it is my humble opinion that he should leave the robes to do so. History records instances where the Sangha had left the robes to ascent the throne, enlist in the army or enter the political stream.

Colombo 4.


Now we can call him SHAME WARNE

'His mother's little helper is no shelter'

Mike Selvey

Wednesday February 12, 2003

The Guardian

For a fellow who once boasted more chins than the Beijing telephone directory, Shane Warne is pretty fussy about what goes into his mouth these days. You don't lose two or three stone, as he has managed over the course of the past year, by switching to VB Lite and putting cottage cheese on your burger. It's lettuce and white wine and cut the skin off the chicken.

So it beggars belief that his dear old mum, bless her, gave him, an elite athlete bound by the drug dictates of the International Olympic Committee, a diuretic pill - just the one, mind - and said there you are son, just pop that in your mouth, you'll piss yourself inside out but never mind there will be another couple of kgs off the scales, and without even so much as a glance in the pharmacopoeia he did so.

Warne may have tried to explain away this indiscretion as an unwitting breach of the drug codes but isn't there a smell of rodent about all this? Something, as Colombo might say, doesn't stack up.

Consider this: one-day international cricket is intense, high-octane stuff and, in hot climates, unpleasant to play at times. So why would anyone with sufficient brain cells to elevate himself above the level of an amoeba want to spend the day before such a game in heatwave Melbourne dehydrating himself when others were engaged in doing quite the reverse? If this is what Warne knowingly did, then his IQ must be smaller than the size of his baggy green cap.

This is the information age. Many - and Warne would certainly be among them - have access not only to books but the internet as well. What's this, Mum? Hydrochlorothiazide? Think I'll check that out if you don't mind. Maybe phone the Australian Drugs in Sport hotline on 1800 020506. Worth a minute surely to check out amiloride - not that I don't trust you, Mother. Funnily enough we were warned at the Champions Trophy in Colombo only last September to be on our guard with the Vick and so forth what with the random dope tests the ACB has been conducting since 1998. Hate to balls up my last World Cup, eh?

There is, of course, the horrible possibility that Warne is not being entirely frank. Was it just bad luck that this random test coincided with the only time he had taken the diuretic? Or had he taken them before? If so, from whom did they come - not Mother, surely - and why was he not made aware that as well as their capacity to rid the body of fluid they may be used as a masking agent to hide the taking of steroids?

And had he known, would it even have occurred to him that January day that, in the positive drug test and his miraculous recovery in fewer than six weeks from a shoulder dislocation, there might be those willing to add the two together and arrive at something greater than four? Did vanity play a part?

One assumes that the ACB investigators will poke their noses a little further than simply at Warne. There might even be a lesson for cricket boards everywhere. He may have been no more than hugely stupid, a fellow whose instinct was to swallow the tablet first and wonder later, but questions need to be asked of the medical team. Did they know Warne had taken such drugs? If they did, why did they let him do so? And what steps can they take to ensure that such an embarrassment doesn't happen again?

He may have been a noggin. But he is not the only one caught out by his slips. In 1994 he accepted 3,000 from an Indian bookmaker for supplying information before a one-day match in Sri Lanka. The Australian Cricket Board fined him 4,000.

Made a single-fingered gesture to the crowd at Old Trafford after a Test against England in 1997.

Walked out of a press conference for Madame Tussaud's in 1997 after a reporter suggested that his waxwork model was too slim to be a true representation.

Fined by the International Cricket Council for claiming in an article in the Times in 1999 that the sport would be "better off" without the Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga.

Alleged to have made an obscene gesture to fans taunting him about his weight during Australia's World Cup match against Scotland at Worcester in 1999. Accused of insulting his team-mate Scott Muller during a match against Pakistan later that year. A stump microphone picked up a voice saying that Muller "can't bowl, can't throw". Warne denied it was him; a TV cameraman took the rap.

As a 20-year-old he became the first player to be expelled from the Australian Institute of Sport. He was later reinstated. Photographed smoking on tour in New Zealand after he had taken 80,000 from Nicorette to give up smoking and promote the use of nicotine patches and gum. A policeman intervened when he tried to snatch the camera.

Stripped of the Australian vice-captaincy in 2000 after allegedly pestering a nurse. He claimed she made herself "available" at a Leicester night club and "what developed next was an explicit talk between consenting adults".

She claimed she found him "really unattractive" and his phone messages "the most perverted things I'd heard".

Hong Kong.



It is time to take stock of the improvements in Kandy town introduced by the new Mayor and his administration and to expose those areas which still need urgent attention.

Hats off to the new Mayor for his determined efforts to clean up the Kandy market and its surroundings. The opening of Dalada Veediya once again to vehicular traffic even though within limited hours was another feather in his cap. We are confident with the situation in the country settling down he will eliminate the ugly sight of those huge drab gates and grills from this sacred city and allow free movement to all its citizens at all hours.

There are still a few sore points which need attention but only appear to be receiving lip service and promises. I refer to the need to shift the prison and army unit out of town, so that this valuable area will be released for town planning, improvement and expansion and the provision of other basic facilities required in a modern town bearing in mind it is a sacred city first, and additionally a world heritage site as well.

I am sure the citizens of Kandy would like to know what specific plans are on the drawing boards and within what time frame one could expect results. After all there should be transparency in what they are planning and dialogue with the citizens they represent.

The most urgent and obvious need is a solution to the acute traffic congestion in town. Long-term once the prison and the army unit move out it will considerably ease congestion but there is a long and indefinite waiting period. What can we do short-term and immediately? One hears of plans for a storied car park but no one has seen the blue print; what is the time frame within which we can expect this to be constructed and operational.

For immediate relief can not the entry and parking of heavy vehicles within the town limits and loading and unloading of vehicles be prohibited from 7 am to 7 pm, allowing only the bus traffic to go through town. Cannot alternate diversions be developed for these too?

Walking down Dalada Veediya has now become a pleasant experience as the vendors of garments & trinkets who shouted themselves hoarse and disturbed the town folk have been prohibited from using this pavement for their sales. There still seems to be a few odd vendors at the bottom of Dalada Veediya making a feeble effort to creep in with their wares. These attempt should be nipped in the bud.

What worries the citizens now is the influx of food vendors with all types of food items from patties to string hoppers, the noisy Koththu roti all displayed and exposed to dust, exhaust fumes and grime raised by the constant entry and exit of vehicles at the busiest entrance to town near the George E De Silva park pavement every evening. They block the movement of pedestrians at this point. Does the Municipal authorities aid and abet them in this exposure of food items to the elements before consumption by the unsuspecting public.

Are the PHIs on leave every evening that they don't see this unhealthy exposure of food which will be a forerunner of disease ? Are the kitchens where this food is prepared inspected and passed by the municipal authorities? Will this night bazaar eventually lead to drug trafficking and the worlds oldest vice ? Is this really necessary when Dalada Veediya has so many food outlets which sell food prepared hygienically and served indoors. Has someone got his priorities mixed up ?

Finally what about Kandy's traffic lights system. These unblinking light posts are a grim reminder of someones folly and utter waste of public money. Isn't anyone accountable to the motorists and citizens ? Why aren't they maintained and kept in working order. Their neglect is a reminder of the state of lethargy, neglect and indiscipline we have reached.

Kandy is a sacred city, so let's keep it clean and that way, lets facilitate the movement of people within and without and not turn pavements into eating houses.


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