Monday, 5 May 2003  
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Work to rule, at last!

What a blessing! The Health Clerks' United Front launched a work to rule campaign. At last, we have a group of workers who have the public at heart to justify the receipt of the salary paid by the public whom they serve.

For example, to give one instance of work to rule is that when a clerk submits a file to a superior officer it is taken the latter by a KKS. If one is not working according to rule, the clerk himself takes the file to the superior officer for instructions. So, these clerks who have launched a work to rule campaign should canvass the support of the workers in other grades as well in sympathy for their cause and get them also to work to rule. It is an ideal situation to get the sympathy of the other Unions too.

With that arranged, now we see the clerks who work to rule are at their desks sharp at 8 a.m. and leave office sharp at 4.30 p.m. Then they follow the roster during the lunch-break and for example, the clerk who leaves the desk for lunch at 12 noon is back at his desk sharp at 12.30 p.m.

The letters they get on their table should receive prompt attention the same day and its receipt acknowledged within three days. Moreover, those who sign to act for the officers on leave too should attend to the work of those officers on leave as well.

The 'poor public can now witness a welcome change in office with brisk workers attending to the needs of the public without taking time off to chat, stitch, smoke, read papers or play carrom. The public for the first time see an efficient duty-conscious public service, thanks to the Union decision to work to rule. Let every other trade union copy.

E. M. G. EDIRISINGHE - Dehiwala

Train delays

A large number of passengers who regularly travel in the Aluthgama-bound train (No. 774) scheduled to leave Colombo Fort at 6.34 p.m. are made to undergo untold hardships due to the fact that this train departs about 20 minutes behind schedule every day.

Although the train arrives at Colombo Fort from Maradana on time from, it never leaves the Fort railway station on time owing to excessive loading of goods, which usually takes more than 20 minutes.

Passengers are at a loss to understand as to why Railway Department is not concerned or bothered about the sad plight of passengers who want to return home as early as possible after day's hard work, and give priority to transport of goods in rush hours.

Obliviously, this delay can be avoided, if a parcel carrying train is arranged to run from Colombo to Aluthgama on peak hours, in order that the train No. 774 may exclusively be meant for passenger transport.

Owing to late arrival at their respective destinations, passengers travelling beyond Panadura often fail to catch buses from Kalutara, and Aluthgama to reach home, thus making them to spend an unaffordable amount of money from their pockets for three wheelers, or whatever conveyance.

In view of the above, I would like to appeal to the Minister of Transport and General Manager of SLGR to take immediate steps to relieve the inconvenience and agony caused to the passengers travelling in this crawling train.

Is it reasonable to increase train fares, without providing a satisfactory service for the public?

R. D. P. GUNAWARDENA, Kalutara.

Railway Management Council

I was shocked to read the comment by S. Amarasuriya, Ex-GMR (DN, Apr. 3), "that there is a serious lack of confidence in the General Manager to manage the railway, and the Secretary to the Ministry to investigate into prevailing irregularities...." Mr. Amarasuriya, being an ex-employee of the railway, must be knowing better than us, as to what is boiling in the administrative pot.

The appointment of railway officials who are serving in subordinate capacities to the GMR but vested with implicit powers to direct the GMR is something ridiculous because it is similar to "putting the cart before the horse". Unless the council is empowered to overrule the GMR on any controversial issue nothing will work out as planned. This is simple logic.

For example, if any decision taken by the council is vetoed by the GMR what is the next step?

To overcome the problem, in my view, the council should be vested with super power, even with the right of question the GMR or any other officer of equal rank, if the intention is to develop and improve the railway, now running panting for breath.

During the past few years, so many railway accidents took place but the GMR has never relieved to the public, the reason for such mishaps, its outcome after enquiry, and the total loss of the railway, which mean waste of public funds, perhaps, for the negligence of others.


Driving licences for the Sangha

I agree entirely with the contents of the letter under the caption "Driving licences for the Sangha" by Upali S. Jayasekera. (DN - 04/04)

I too would request the Buddhists in this country to show their opposition to such practices.

May I also urge all politicians in this country to immediately refrain from encouraging Buddhist priests from participating at political meetings and gatherings.

The Buddhist priests too should not invite politicians for their functions.

Thus the Buddhist clergy would be left with the propagation of the Dhamma in this country and they help to reduce the increasing crimes in Sri Lanka.


Referendum for peace

It was revealed in the papers that the government is considering a referendum to get the peoples consent for the on going peace process as suggested by some prominent personnel in the country. We were at war for twenty years of which out of the fifty five of independence, we had only thirty five years of peaceful life in Sri Lanka.

I feel even that period would have been quite sufficient to give a better quality of life to the majority of the people in the country.

However it was history now. From 1994 up to now both government and opposition took an initiative genuinely to settle the ethnic issue and the present government has taken forward the previous government attempt in negotiating with the LTTE with Norwegians as facilitators. So now the international support is forthcoming and LTTE too has come forward for negotiations.

Therefore I think that the mandate has been already given to this government by the majority of people of this country to bring in a peaceful situation in solving this ethnic problem and I do not see any reason for the government to get another mandate from the people for the peace process.

We all should understand the present situation of the country, where we face a grave economic situation and the government is trying to take corrective measures to accelerate the growth during the last fourteen months of its existence.

Therefore now what the government should do is to come to the core issues of the peace process and go for a referendum after arriving at a reasonable solution to the satisfaction of all ethnic groups and then go for a referendum.

For this the opposition views and support is very essential and the Hon. Prime Minister can invite Hon. President to participate in the final sessions of the peace negotiations.

By doing this the people of this country and infact the whole world will assess the situation independently and come to a conclusion about the genuineness of the government in tackling this longstanding problem, if in case the opposition support is not forthcoming. In that case government is in a better position even to go for a snap election and seek the mandate from the people.

Asoka Navaratne - Kandy

The evolution of Sinhala music

When I read R. Wickramasinghe's letter - Grandeur of Indian Music - in the "Daily News" of the 11th of April, I was really sad and surprised.

There are many people in Sri Lanka who appreciate Indian Music but there are, and were only a handful who saw or see the beauty of our Sinhala music in its evolutionary stage. Very few appreciate the music of Suriya Shanker Molligoda, Ananda Samarakoon, Makuloluwa and Sunil Santha. These musicians having learnt classical North Indian Music attempted to give birth to a music that we could call our own.

Sunil Santha who died 22 years ago pecially made a unique effort to start a music that had our culture as its base.

He was successful to a great degree but a couple of our men who had been in powerful places planned successfully and pushed out Sunil Santha from the Sinhala music firmament to perish in poverty and sorrow.

I am one who had heard Makuloluwa and Sunil Santha play the Sitar so well that they were not second to Ravi Shanker.

Makuloluwa taught the Sitar at Santhinikethan and Sunil had passed B. Music (Instrumental - First Class in the First Division) from Bahathkande Music University. That was not all. Sunil also passed the Sangeetha Visaradha Degree (Vocal) too, First Class in the First Division.

This was a feat that has not been surpassed by anyone at Bahathkande. Sunil Santha was the only musician who set to music and sang successfully a piece of graffiti from a wall at Sigiriya! Those who heard him sing "My love is like a rose" in a Sinhala film wondered how successful he would have been if he sang English songs like Jim Reeves.

Anyone who had listened to Sunil Santha sing "Havilla" or "May Ho Palu Wanaye" would have wondered to what heights of lilting beauty a natural Sinhala voice can rise. The Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation does not play Sunil Santha's songs now. Why? They who gave 15 minutes a week to the songs of Jim Reeves had completely forgotten our own maestro.

We hope that the Minister in charge of the SLBC will instruct the officials to play 15 minutes of Sunil Santha's songs at least once a week.


Issue of school uniforms

The current system of issuing uniform material for schoolchildren has not met with success, without criticism. It has only caused great inconvenience to parents in getting them in time. Although the intention seems to be good, the method adopted is not that good. The earlier method of issuing uniform material to students, through schools, seems to have been suspended to prevent dishonesty and corruption. So I heard.

Under the present system, first the parents have to submit an application for cloths to the appropriate District Councils and, thereafter, they have to run after Gramasevaka Niladaris of the appropriate areas. Finally, they have to make a bee-line to the Co-operative Stores to draw the material.

The difficulties encountered by parents have been overlooked. This has proved to be a difficult task for parents to get what is given free, without wasting their valuable time. Sometimes, they have to stand in long queues for hours. It is really an ordeal most confounded. In principle, whatever is given free must be without strings, and causing no inconvenience.

The reason for all this change in the old system seems to be a bona fide move to prevent corruption. Is this the only system open to such corruption? Sri Lanka is a den for bribery and corruption, from top to bottom, despite the long arms of the law.

I feel that if the present system is reversed to the old system, in the issue of school uniforms, it will be a boon and not bane.

Harassing parents, to prevent corruption, is not the proper solution. What is needed is to operate the administrative machinery in full throttle, and bring the culprits to book, instead of making parents to run form pillar to post, wasting their time and money, for no fault of their own.

I think the Hon. Minister will reconsider the issue and revert to the old system of issuing uniform material through the schools.



Bravo Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs for offering wide opportunities for consumers to shop at ease and purchase variety of items at CWE outlets, at reasonable prices.

Food hampers could be introduced at a reasonable price, consisting Rice/ Flour/ Sugar/ Dhal/ Coconut/ Dired Chiles/ Milk Powder/ Onions etc. quantity of the above items, should be based sufficient enough for a family of five per week, which should be named as "Sathosa Economy Pack".

"Sathosa" should encourage Sri Lankan entrepreneurs to market their products which covers a wide range, instead of promoting much expensive imported biscuits, chocolates, sauces, canned items, Basmati rice, cordials etc. Which are far beyond the reach of less affluent consumers.

Also once a month, "Sathosa" must introduce mobile sales in State and private sector work places, for employees to purchase essential items at their doorsteps, where there is a large concentration of them.

Further, it will be most helpful if "Sathosa" would open sales outlets of drugs and pharmaceutical for a start at every General Hospital premises serving 'in and outdoor patients' 24 hours a day, for this is bound to minimize exploitation by others.

George Rupersinghe - Malabe


Spring Time 

Ten years in the desert; with no clear sign
marking spring
Back in Sri Lanka a decade later,
I experience the season that
Brings back many a memory of
childhood of April-May.

A time when the cuckoo shouts; shouts early morning
Shouts late evening from high tree near and far.
In the city and in the village, I hear its shrill voice
The male and the female in competition, engaged
In a show rising call and response
ending in a crescendo.

Heralding to the nation a time of renewal;
a time of building
A time of planting, a God ordered time of joy to all
A time of buds and first flowers; offered
in temples and kovils
A time to remember all that Almighty
has done to manifest Himself
To man. A time of Hope; a time of newness;
a time of caring is Spring
To all birds and beasts and plants and
me and everyman in the land.

- Shirley W. Somanader, Nugegoda


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