Thursday, 8 May 2003  
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UNF May Day rally

The Govt. celebrated May Day in a unique manner, which was something new to our nation. The normal routine on May Day has been to have a rally and go in procession with placards criticizing opponents and shouting slogans some of which were very crude. all participants gather at some venue and it is a case of shouting and criticizing the opposition by speaker after speaker. Is this May Day? May Day is a workers day and it should be a day where workers gather and enjoy themselves.

This Govt. under the guidance of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, changed this concept and had a shopping mall at Town Hall and down Green Path, Hawker Street was opened where food from reputed hotels and restaurants were available at very reasonable prices.

At the shopping mall clothing were sold at rock bottom prices and this gave the opportunity for many people to purchase clothes for their families which they would never have been able to afford under normal circumstances.

Hawker Street gave the common man the opportunity to taste food prepared by chefs of star class hotels, which most people have never tasted. It was evident from the vast gathering that visited these places that they enjoyed May Day with their families rather than go in a procession shouting slogans, which would have been of no benefit to anybody.

However, it was very disgusting to hear the opposition speaking very low of this new concept and making remarks very unbecoming of a parliamentarian. It was stated at the news conference that the UNF had nothing to offer to the masses and hence organized this for the people and members of the Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya were seen selling shoes and ladies underskirts at this shopping mall.

So what is wrong with that? After all they were serving the people. These are normal outburst from disgruntled politicians and we should not take these seriously. These should go down into the limbo of forgotten things.

Anyway, the common man had a very happy and contented May Day this time thanks to the UNF. Let us continue on this road of progress and ignore non-productive obstacles, which will be put on the road of progress by disgruntled individuals.

Colombo 4

The death penalty

Most of the letters from the general public that are published in the newspapers recommend the re-introduction of the death penalty, due to the escalation of crimes, rapes, robberies, contract killings and the destruction of entire families which remain unsolved. There are thousands of families living in deep sorrow who do not wish to write letters to newspapers which will serve no purpose as their loved ones have been lost forever.

Members of Parliament and other high officials are not concerned because they are provided with ample security, and so are the affluent families who maintain their own private security personnel.

Religion should not be a criteria for not enforcing the death penalty which has been in existence from time immemorial. Even during the reign of Sinhala Kings wrongdoers were given the worst form of punishment that one could ever visualize, which enabled people to live without any fear. It is recorded that those days even a woman could go about in the dead of night without facing any harassment.

The Government should therefore consider the appeal of the suffering masses and re-introduce the death penalty without delay. Every foul deed is committed with the use of hands. As an interim measure legislation should be imposed to have the hands of those found guilty of crime chopped off from the elbow.

This will minimise the increasing crimes that are escalating in our beloved land and pave the way for the suffering masses to live without fear and atrocious deaths.

J. Newton Fernando,

Alternative to capital punishment

Although the death sentence is pronounced in court against a person convicted of murder, he walks out of jail as a free man after having served only a period of about 10 to 12 years which brings even the efforts of courts and the prosecuting officers to ridicule.

The convict, after having been fed at state expense and having had the opportunity of meeting those of his breed comes out stronger and more knowledgeable to resume his activities perhaps with a coterie of supporters who were his close associates in prison.

The criminal comes out like a virus that has received only partial treatment which condition we know is dangerous. Escalation of crime appears to be due to the wide disparity that exists between the punishment the convict deserves and what he really gets.

It is suggested that those convicted of murder, rape, repeated housebreak, abduction etc., be sentenced to serve a prison term until they reach the age of 70 years with a minimum period of 15 years, as a sympathetic alternative to the death sentence. Remissions should not apply to those convicted of the above mentioned crimes.

D. C. Sosa,

Prof. Fonseka on Malani Fonseka

These days, the country's newspapers are full of actress Malani Fonseka, but to my mind, none has captured popular interest and imagination as the piece written by Prof. Carlo Fonseka ('Daily News': 25.4.03): Lucky's Malani, one might say, on reading the Professor's fulsome praise for Ms. Fonseka, in whose good fortune this country rejoices today; she deserves every bit of this celebrations, it may the best thing that has happened to her in these 40 years! Prof. Fonseka himself deserves to be congratulated for his excellent piece of writing, comprehensive, far - ranging and felicitous, so much, so that at the end of it, a reader might be rather confused as to which Fonseka stands more enhanced the Actress or the Writer!


The SLFP-JVP alliance : are they of the same ilk?

"We should form alliances only with people who have votes. We have the votes and they (JVP) have the organizing skills.

"When these two come together, our victory is definite" do these words of Anura Bandaranaike make sense? It is an open secret that at the last two hustings the JVP had increased their electoral mandate at the expense of a declining voter base of the SLFP. They (SLFP) are in for quite some more shocks when they conclude their much debated MoU by mid May.

What better timing than in celebration of the Month of the Worker! And what strange bedfellows does (political) ambition create! The PA/JVP alliance is currently being scrutinized by the high priests, of the SLFP at a holiday resort called "IF" down south at Talpe. This was the culmination of their series of "road shows" starting from Anuradhapura, Chilaw, Polonnaruwa, Matara, Galle, Matale, Mirigama, Tangalle and Warakapola.

It is also not so much a secret that CBK has approached the LTTE through Sampanthan of the TULF, to woo them with a even greater share of the 'cake'.

The LTTE would have nothing of it and had sternly warned their comrade in arms, against doing any shuttle diplomacy.

This makes the setting for an even stranger scenario. Beset with the infractions created recently in the North and East, the Alliance is expected to exert its position in opposition to the UNF Government.

It is here the PA will run into difficulties.

The PA is committed to the peace process, which is amply demonstrated by CBK's recent "backdoor" diplomacy and therefore may not want to come out with extreme chauvinistic views, which the Sinhala voter may expect from such an alliance.

While Leninist ideologues in the JVP have had no compunction in making such statements.

Consider what Tilvin Silva had said last month. "Within the 20 year period of governance of the UNP and 7 year period of PA, the imperialists created people whom they wanted" therefore with the passage of time the alliance will if forged, lead to conflict and discord between the two parties SLFP and JVP.

This constraint in not being able to make pronouncements to build a formidable counterweight to the Government is bound to erode PA's public image as the peoples front.

On the other hand the adoption of a strong extreme position may antagonize the LTTE and other Tamil groups at a time when the PA is endeavouring to build rapproachment with the LTTE, as a broader strategy of winning a section of the minority voter base within the SLMC and the Tamil groups.

It is reported that CBK has asked for a common action plan for the "Post UNP" government and the JVP had replied that they have already handed over a draft proposal on a common work programme.

Are we not seeing already the discomfort of these strange bedfellows sharing as it were a single bed?


Chicken prices

This clarification is in response to your news item "Rising Chicken Prices worry consumers" (DN 29th April).

The price of dressed chicken is still in the region of Rs. 140 to Rs. 150 especially in the outstations. I am aware that unscrupulous traders in the main cities had sold chicken at high prices during the festive season as there was an unprecedented demand for chicken. The contention of the President of the Manning Market Poultry Traders' Association that "the decrease in sales had forced Traders in Pettah to put up shutters" is untenable.

On a visit to Manning Market where the Poultry Traders are in business I found none had put up shutters.

The price of day old broiler chicks ex-hatcheries are in the region of Rs. 30 to Rs. 35 and not Rs. 42 as stated therein. Seeking permission to import broiler chicks from India will kill the Local Poultry Industry where more than 50,000 families in Wayamba alone are engaged in rearing broiler and layer poultry.

We are proud that poultry in Sri Lanka re devoid of the major diseases prevalent in other South Asian countries due to the stringent laws and careful monitoring by the Dept. of Animal Production and Health Peradeniya, in both Breeder Farms and Commercial Farms.

A work study to find out the demands and consumption during festive seasons like the Sinhala-Tamil New Year, Christmas and Ramazan will be useful to determine and plan for a contingency at these festive times.


Jobs on merit and competence

While appreciating your Editorial on the above (April 26) may I venture to state the following.

It must be remembered that all Job Net Centres have to live and work in the Sri Lanka of today.

There used to be a story of a top Ranking Police Officer in the years gone by who at an interview to recruit Police Officers when given a letter from a politician had asked the candidate to be interviewed to put the letter that he had brought on the floor and stand on it, when this candidate's height was measured. I don't think that era when our public service was free of party politics will ever return.

Today we have a system which is a product of party politicians seeking the vote of the people, promising the moon, and using job opportunities as gifts for working and being with the political party. Today we belong to the era when nothing can be done in this country without people turning to politicians, for help. Therefore, I cannot see Sri Lanka today offering jobs entirely on merit and competence.

However, I don't think that the picture is dark as I have painted it. There are still some silver linings. The 17th Amendment and the resultant Commissions may redeem our nation. However, it is left to be seen. This will depend entirely, on the integrity of those chosen to form these commissions.

Colombo 7


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