Monday, 9 February 2004  
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The Mahanayakes said it

As reported in the Daily News Jan. 23, when Minister Ravi Karunanayake paid a courtesy call on the Mahanayakes of both Malwatte and Asgiriya chapters, both prelates hit the nail on the head and said a mouthful when they made the bold and unprejudiced statement that 'the present Constitution is the cause of all the existing ills, let us revert to the old system of elections'.

Nothing is closer to the truth than these valuable words uttered by two of the most respected and hallowed personalities of Sri Lanka which convey the opinion of all unbiased people who are not influenced by personal or political gain.

Yet the doubt remains whether those who have enjoyed the taste of the forbidden fruit but suffered no ill effects, will opt or support any move to change this 'bahubootha constitution'. Power corrupts and absolute power has corrupted absolutely.

In such a context, anyone who openly campaigns for the introduction of a Constitution that will effectively halt or curb corruption and all underworld nefarious activities, may receive the bullet as a reward.

In the not too distant glorious past, the motto of the elected representatives of the people was 'selfless service with humility, honour and dignity'. They came, they served and retired penniless. The modus operandi today is an open secret.

The Mahanayakes also request that we revert to the old system of elections which hardly left any room for corrupt practices.

The Urban Councils, Village Councils and other local bodies of yore with a little supervision could have fulfilled their duties admirably and save the country of the uncalled for expenditure involved in maintaining Provincial Councils and other bodies formed mainly for the purpose of increasing the number of mercenary political supporters and providing them employment at public expense.

Will an era ever dawn when like in the past when honourable ministers will dictate the policies and the departments concerned will be administered by able, disciplined and honourable men whose integrity is unquestionable like the Civil Servants of the past. Let us live in Hope.

G. D. PERERA - Dehiwala.

Child soldier banks

The LTTE's latest game is releasing the children in their custody in one area and forcibly taking in another lot from another area. They make a big show at these releasing-out ceremonies and many gullible ones would be there to praise them for the deed.

This is a good tactic. After sometime all the children will be under their doctrine and be ready to carry out their orders at any time while they do not have to have space, camps or other resources to maintain the child brigades.

DESHAPRIYA RAJAPAKSHA - Colombo 6.

A need of ministerial professionals!

Your front page on Feb. 3, which is a litany of political woes is reflective of the final predicament of Sri Lanka after 50 years of Independence.

This so-called "independence" is only a political one whilst the politicians have inexorably driven the country into a state of Total Dependence upon the international community for its survival and for ideas on every vital resolution.

We are now in a state where foreign facilitation would be necessary to even maintain negotiations between the President and the Prime Minister! Quite clearly, the factor of civilized politicking can never be had in Sri Lanka.

The nation of resolution by means of elections could never be obtained unless the President and the Prime Minister are of the same political hue.

I have already maintained that even a 2/3rd majority at General Elections of the UNF does not necessarily signify peaceful accommodation with the President.

It is therefore unlikely that the only way out of this morass is the introduction at every Ministry of a team of experienced and fully qualified professional persons who will objectively analyse all propositions and thereafter neutralize the hairbrained notions whilst focusing on successful outcomes only.

They will ensure the maximum honest utilization of all funds, in particular the Aid allocations (it was quite absurd to hear a report that the Finance Minister had claimed only 70 per cent utilisation of World Bank Aid was provable).

If the political sector has repeatedly proved to be unprofessional what other course is open to the citizenry? It is essential to make this legal provision for the introduction of professional expertise at Ministries. It must become a principal election issue!

ROHAN JAYAWARDANE - Dehiwela.

VAT shock from Vegetarian hotel

Those who undergo suffering from hunger would know very well its repercussions. The transformation of GST to VAT (goods and services tax to value added tax) has made chaos among the innocent laymen which has resulted in the increase of prices of essential items to unprecedented and alarming heights.

No redress at all has been offered to the non-affluent. While they are aspiring about ways and means of finding at least one square meal a day sons of unscrupulous elements hailing from villages enjoy at five star hotels in the city indulging in various types of entertainment. For a middle class layman, to visit a five star hotel could only termed as a dream.

The main person instrumental, mathematician and great preacher the Deputy Minister of Finance who does the functions of his superior too has got his theories confined to, figures only, when his preaching cannot be put into practice.

According to this great statistician who had confessed that with the introduction of VAT, the prices of essential commodities like rice, vegetables, spices etc., would be devoid of the value added tax and that prices would remain static.

Then how it is that the price of a vegetarian lunch from a purely vegetarian hotel in Colombo has increased appreciably. The writer who is just one individual among the suffering masses who is compelled to think several times carefully before spending as our incomes are limited.

Thinking that the price of a rice meal at this particular vegetarian hotel would be a nominal sum, after ordering a set menu without any extras the bill that was brought amounted to Rs. 101 was indeed shocking, as it was never expected.

Could the biased preaching of the great statistician put into practice? The answer is definitely no. This is a typical example of the ugly political game, which is rampant currently.

It's time the innocent laymen are compelled to tighten their belts while the affluent are bloating from the time the UNF regime commenced its term. Before the bloating politicians explode it's a matter of time before the masses exhaust their patience and erupt to create a chaos situation.

SUNIL THENABADU - Mt. Lavinia.

JVP Ministers!

Majority of people endorsed President's take over of Ministries according to published surveys. This indicates everybody likes to see some more problem ministries be taken over by the President. Then she needs able MPs to help her run those.

JVP is gaining popularity at a rate now. It started with two lakh votes, then to five and last time it was eight. Definitely they will cross one million next time. It means they deserve to run ministries for people to become more confident, they will like to see how JVP runs ministries before elections as well.

It's more appropriate to give JVP an opportunity to show their ability to run ministries for people to take firm decisions.

K. U. PUSHPAKUMARA - Pitakotte.

Balanced views

Consequent to the taking over of the Ministry of Mass Communications by the President I wish to point out that there is a greater degree of balance in the views aired through the morning Subharathie programme in the SLBC.

Prior to her taking over this portfolio, this programme was dominated by persons who were fully supportive of the UNF government's peace process.

Now this programme airs divergent views on many debatable topics including the peace process. Recently the programme on the hardships caused to ordinary people as a result of the imposition of the VAT was an excellent one.

It gave a cross-section of the views of many who did not agree with the arguments adduced by Deputy Finance Minister Bandula Gunawardana in support of the VAT. Glad to say that this is the way programmes of this nature should be conducted.

V. K. WIJERATNA - Panadura.

Spitting students in Nugegoda

Down Wickramasinghe Avenue in Nugegoda is situated a nursing home and adjacent to it a tutory which hosts a variety of classes mainly for O'level and A'level students. Amongst this, there is also an "international" school.

The road leading to this conglomeration is also a common road to various residences and a leading girls school in Nugegoda.

Sadly for those residents, although it is a private road they have great difficulty in using it as the small road is monopolized by human traffic which forms an unending stream from the Tuition hall. Nursing home and international school during daylight and twilight hours.

The road is often scattered with leaflets which are given to students and is an eyesore to the area in addition to it being a colossal waste of paper. Personal pleadings have fallen on deaf ears.

Recently when my mother-in-law was driving home she was unable to proceed up the road as there was an unending stream of students walking 8-10 people abreast.

As they were streaming down the road like a proverbial herd of cattle and she was stationary for at least 15 minutes in desperation she had asked some of the students walking past if they were never taught road etiquette (walking in a single file down a narrow road) the response had been for one of the passing students to spit at my mother-in-law.

My mother-in-law was in shock and with the saliva dripping from her cheek had somehow made her way to the tuition hall owner's office but no one had come out. By this time my mother in law was livid but managed to go home and wash off the offending spittle.

What makes this incident so unpalatable is the fact that this was perpetrated by students who are trying to educate themselves to be learned members of our society. However this is a pointless task as they do not have the basic elementary manners required to live in Society.

Spitting at each other is relegated to the world of the primates or even lizards some of whom conduct their social activities by spitting at each other.

One would think that young men and women attired in their school uniforms, going for tuition classes should be above have passed the spitting phases in their lives. Obviously not.

There should be some responsible body that investigates these tuition halls, the suitability of their locations and above all the qualification of the teachers. It is also paramount that the buildings are checked for health and safety reasons especially fire escapes.

TINA EDWARD GUNAWARDHANA - UK.

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