Wednesday, 31 December 2003  
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Protect your dogs from the New Year burst

With the New Year just round the corner we wish once again to remind dog owners of the need to protect their pets and watch dogs, from the frightening sound of firecrackers at this time. We stress the need to protect your dog from the trauma and distress it is subjected to when endless rounds of crackers explode thunderously from before the dawn of the New Year, and continue for many hours. Some suggestions for the protection of your dog:

Don't keep your dog alone out in the garden, whether tied or untied. It will most likely get into such frenzy from the thunderous sound of crackers that it will try, and possibly succeed, in getting out of your premises. If your garden has no wall all round, but only a fence, make sure it is not possible for the dog to flee through it.

Try to keep your dog somewhere inside the house or at least at a verandah rather than expose it fully to the crackers and the sky rockets that are often thrown into peoples' gardens.

It is best to have someone staying to look after the house and the dog, keeping it company and calming it down. This would be in the best interest of the safety of your house too, because it must be acknowledged that it is expecting too much of your loyal pet to guard your house at a time it is when subjected to the severe stress of explosions all round.

We are aware of many dogs that are lost as they flee from their homes for fear of the burst of crackers, and are either killed by vehicles on the roads, or become victims of dog thieves, awaiting such opportunities.

Protect your dog properly this New Year's eve and avoid stress, trauma and tragedy for your dog, and regret for yourself.

SAGARICA RAJAKARUNANAYAKE, 
Sathva Mithra

Upper Kotmale hydro project

I am a Sri Lankan domiciled in Australia and here on holiday. Those who object do not seem to know that when the reservoir is filled, the climatic conditions will change and the cool winds blowing will help luxurious growth of apple trees.

The whole area could be cultivated with apples similar to Australian orchards. Saplings could be imported from Australia. This will save a sizeable foreign exchange as Sri Lanka now imports apples.

Perhaps the Minister and the Member of Parliament representing this area may have this idea or take this proposal seriously.

D. NAVARASA, 
Talawakele

Catholic Bishops on unethical conversions

The DN, Dec. 19 reports on a statement by the Catholic Bishops Conference in Sri Lanka on Unethical Conversions. While we appreciate the Catholic Bishops' concern for the social unrest caused by certain activities of Christian Fundamentalist Sects and the assurance that the Catholic Church does not support or has no part in or is not in connivance with any unlawful activities, there are at least two questions that arise from their statement.

Firstly the Church's condemnation is of 'illegal acts alleged to be perpetrated by fundamentalist sects'. There appears to be some reluctance on the part of the church to more positively condemn the well known illegal or unethical acts of these sects despite the church being aware of such acts through reports and the participation of their members in demonstrations by Buddhists against fundamentalist sects operating in some towns, e.g. Hingurakgoda, Ganemulla, Minneriya, Yattovita.

Secondly the church makes a clear statement that they are not 'bent' on getting people of other religions converted by wrongful and illegimate means. To our mind this conveys the idea that if an opportunity comes their way without much effort, they do convert others.

This raises the immediate question whether conversion of persons even without any offer, inducement or threat, amounts to impringing on a person's right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It is not our intention to debate the later issue here but the church's interpretation of what they mean by "wrongful and illegitimate means" would make more clear their stand on unethical conversions, which they have attempted to express in their statement.

In our view (and this view I am aware is shared by many Buddhist organisations) unethical acts relating to conversion, in addition to the generally accepted concepts of alluring persons by gifts, material or other benefits, threat or coercion or promise of curing illnesses, must include any form of direct or indirect attempt by persuasion, accosting or other means, to intrude on the religious belief of a person with intend to undermine such belief, by taking advantage of a person's inexperience, trust, need, low intellect, naivety or state of distress or by threat of divine displeasure or misrepresentation. It may be noted that these acts have been mentioned as unethical acts in one or other existing anti-conversion laws that operate in other countries.

The laws containing these provisions have been upheld by the highest Human Rights or other Courts of Law as being necessary to protect the freedom of thought, conscience and religion of persons in the respective countries.

If the Catholic Church will express in some detail the acts which in their view are unethical, we may disagree, but the public would be able to better understand the mission of the Catholic Church in this regard and to refer any matter to the relevant authority as suggested in the statement.

Gamini Perera, 
President, SUCCESS, Colombo

Unreasonable surcharges

Whenever I receive my water, electricity, telephone bills I draw a cheque and give it to my landlady to pay such bills with her bills.

Recently my electricity bill for the month of October was received and the total amount was rupees one thousand six hundred and cents twenty four. I drew a cheque for a sum of rupees one thousand six hundred being a round figure and gave it as usual to my landlady. When she had presented the cheque at a famous bank at Rawatawatte along with the bill the bank official had refused to accept the cheque stating that it is an underpayment and the cheque cannot be accepted.

However I drew a fresh cheque for a sum of rupees one thousand six hundred and one and when cheque was presented the bank has refused to accept same informing that it is a overpayment. The bank has rejected this payment too and had requested a cheque drawn for the exact amount. The practice in the past was to draw a cheque to the nearest rupee of the bill and settle same and thereafter any difference to be adjusted in the following month. No business organisation will reject a payment which would be over and above the bill.

The delayed payment of bills obviously surcharges the customer and therefore the payment being rejected will delay the settlement of the bill and the customer would have to bear the surcharges which is unreasonable.

M. T. A. P. FERNANDO, 
Rawatawatta

Cricket ground facilities

Many of the facilities and services provided at Galle Cricket venue were of very low standard. The main ones where improvements must be made are:

Toilets: Disgustingly unhygienic, inconvenient and inadequate by any measure.

Public address system: Virtually non existent throughout the match. I was only aware of two announcements, one on the second day to advise that a credit card had been found, and at the end on the final day when Michael Holding announced details of the awards. Nothing during the rest of the time to keep customers informed of starting times, reasons for delays, inspections that would take place, bowlers names, catchers names etc.

Catering: Limited and unimaginative. All that spectators could buy to drink was beer, Coca Cola, Dilmah Tea and mineral water. Food was also very limited in range, badly served and of poor quality.

You lost and will continue to lose the goodwill of customers and lots of opportunity to make money from people who have plenty to spend. Local hotels and shops benefit hugely from the inadequacies within the ground. To give up such a captive spectator market is inexcusable.

Can I suggest that you produce a market research document for distributing to the English - and possibly Sri Lankan - supporters at future Tests so that you can collect lots of positive ideas from them and so help you to achieve the success you deserve in staging all aspects of Test matches to compliment the world class team you are fortunate to possess. Alternatively my friends and I have some ideas that we would be happy to offer for your consideration.

DAVID COX, 
England

Might is right?

Saddam is under arrest. Iraq is under occupation. Where is the chemical weapons? Who ignored the UN (the world body?) Unilateral action by the bilateral combination of Bush, Blair has resulted in the bloodshed of Iraq people. Who gave the authority to occupy Iraq? What is the UN doing when the people of Iraq are shedding blood and sacrificing their lives to free their country from the foreign occupiers? (the state terrorist). Who are the terrorists? Who are the freedom fighters?

Not only are the people of Iraq rebelling, there are millions of Arabs and Muslims ready to shed their blood and sacrifice their lives to free their brothers from state terrorist, the world Policeman. Iraq is made a mass burial ground by the sophisticated weapons used by the aggressors. Saddam obeyed the UN resolutions and allowed the UN Inspectors but they found no chemical weapons. But the aggressors bullied and ignored the UN resolution. what action has the UN taken against the bullys? Why try Saddam? Why not the aggressors? Are they unquestionable or not answerable? Mighty kings or dictators or state terrorist?

Saddam was a leader of a country, which is a member state of the UN. His country is occupied by the aggressors. His people are rebelling against them. They are being shot at by the aggressor. There is a blood bath in this country. What are the world leaders doing when a member state of the UN body is being occupied by force. Who is bullying whom? Why are the Arab and Muslim leaders silent? Is it because "Might is Right"?

D. MOHAMED, 
Matale

Tax on Interest income

What happened for the year of assessment 2002/2003 regarding the taxation of interest income from Fixed Deposits was so full of contradictions that it was almost a joke and it was indeed a very poor reflection on the Secretary to the Treasury and the Ministry of Finance who must take the full blame for that fiasco.

We cannot blame the Department of Inland Revenue if the legislation that was passed was quite different from the Budget proposals of March 2002 and November 2002 - as the department is bound by the legislation. We taxpayers can only hope that the same farce will not be enacted again for the Year of Assessment 2003/2004.

The Budget speech of November 19, 2003 has proposed a new tax regime for Fixed Deposit interest with effect from January 2004 and in order to prevent any repetition of the confusion and contradictions for the poor taxpayer that occurred last year, it is time that the Secretary to the Treasury, Ministry of Finance, issued a notice in the press, in clear and unambiguous terms on how interest on Fixed Deposits will be taxed as from January 2004.

This will help both the tax payers and the finance companies/banks to do the correct thing.

C.T., 
Colombo 7

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