General Elections 2004 - RESULTS
Friday, 9 April 2004  
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The electoral system

After yet another election held under the proportional representation system, we cannot fail to realise that this system has caused nothing but problems to all concerned.

While it is true that parties obtain seats in proportion to the votes they receive, it is also true that the iniquitous preferential voting system has resulted only in fierce, even bloody competition, wastage of millions of rupees, and the defacing of public and private property with posters. We have thugs in the employ of one candidate attack those in the employ of another, sometimes belonging to the same party.

An outstanding drawback of the PR system is that no constituency has a particular MP who can be held accountable for the work of that constituency. We also find that we may vote for a party simply due to the virtues of a particular candidate, and while our votes swell the party's seat entitlement our preferred candidate, while qualifying in a particular constituency, may not qualify for a seat since his votes will be diluted by those in the entire district.

It is time we returned to a modified version of the direct system, based on constituencies.

An argument against this system has been that even those who poll less than 50 per cent of the votes may get elected. The solution is to introduce the preference marking that is used in the Presidential Election. This way the electors may vote for the candidate of their choice, and also mark a second preference in case there is no clear majority. Thus, each electorate will have their known representative in Parliament. Large electorates with mixed populations can be multimember constituencies.

If it is still felt that some sort of protection be given to parties with a substantial vote bank who do not get seats in Parliament, let there be a small district list. The entitlement of each party on the basis of the number of votes received can be calculated, and the number of seats already won through the direct system be deducted from that entitlement. The balance seats can then be distributed. Bonus seats should not be given.

The National List should be restricted to not more than 10, and should have strict rules as to who is eligible for election on this list. Political refugees, defeated candidates, habitual pole-vaulters from party to party, and relatives of party leaders should not be accommodated.

R. FRANKLIN - via email.

Survival in Space

I was very interested in your article on Survival in Space in April 6th issue.

I showed this happening in my movie 2001: A Space Odyssey back in 1968 and was much criticized for it! However, I have now been vindicated - the US Air Force subjected monkeys and dogs to such tests, and found that they could survive up to 4 minutes. Although I deplore such experiments (being fond of both species) I can see their necessity.

In his book "A Garden on the Moon" the French writer Pierre Boulle had someone exploding when exposed to the vacum of space! I wrote to him pointing out this was nonsense and received a witty reply saying that it didn't really happen but his character only thought it would!

SIR ARTHUR C CLARKE - Colombo 7.

Heavy rains - be prepared!

It has been forecast that heavy rains are expected by mid-April or thereabouts. There has been a severe drought in almost all parts of the island with hardly any rain during the past 4 to 6 months.

This has resulted in warnings of power cuts and water cuts. Farmers are lamenting that their crops are devastated. Therefore everyone is anxiously waiting for the rains to come, but are we prepared for it?

I fear we will have to engage in flood relief work no sooner the rains arrive. Most of the drains in Colombo, its suburbs and almost everywhere are overgrown with shrubs. Shopping bags, polythene wrappers and disposable empty bottles that have been accumulating in the drains lie unattended.

Therefore this appeal is to all local government institutions and other relevant authorities to give priority to cleaning the drains and allow for the easy flow of rain water.

If not, the resulting floods will prove more catastrophic than the drought itself. Let us not be caught unawares!

RANJITH G. PERERA - Panadura.

Election results a revelation

Never before in the annals of Sri Lanka's history was an election so peaceful and relatively calm and curfew-free.

The credit and public plaudits go to the IGP, police, army and in a special way to the Polls Commissioner who performed magnificently. The election result goes to further prove beyond an iota of doubt that this tiny country will never be allowed to be dismembered or divided.

CARL NANAYAKKARA - Kalutara.

Source of Mahaweli

I write in reference to the article by Andrew Scott with the headline Tiny trickle from the Sri Pada range that become Mahaweli, published in DN March 25. This gives credence to a misconception.

The source of rivers Kelani, Walawe and Kalu are from the peak wilderness of which Sri Pada is one of the peaks. Mahaweli actually commences with the joining of the two tributaries Korawakka Oya and Kotmale Oya at Ulapane. The Korawakka Oya starts from Hatton. In fact, the waters of Hatton on the Eastern side flow into Kelani and the Western to Mahaweli via Korawakka Oya.

The range of mountain that runs through Abotsleigh, Lethenty, Shannon, Velioya and Carolina Estates divide the waters between the two rivers of Kelani and Mahaweli.

The water from the Mousakelle, Castlereigh, Norton, reservoirs all flow into the Kelani and the tributary of the Mahaweli is on the other side of the range of mountains mentioned above and away from these reservoirs. Mousakelle is the one, which holds the water from the Sri Pada.

In fact, at Ginigathena the water from the Kelani flows well over 300 feet below the Korawakka Oya. It is said that, some dye that was introduced into the Korawakka Oya as an experiment at Ginigathena, was seen in the Kelani giving speculation that some day the waters of the Oya may join Kelani river.

Hope for Colombo residents to solve the water problem!

GAMINI WEERASINGHE - via email.

Tax Amnesty Act - 2003

Now that the Supreme Court has decided that this Act is against the Constitution of Sri Lanka, I wish to raise a few points as a non-lawyer.

I am a tax payer. When I submit my Tax Return the Assessor, after cutting and chopping it, decides what my tax liability is. I have no voice in this exercise. If I do not agree with the tax liability decided by the assessor my only remedy is to appeal against it. That is the law as it is, for honest tax payers.

But under the Tax Amnesty Act the defaulter (better call him a thief/rogue) is given the right to decide his tax liability. The Assessor has no voice in it. He must accept it.

In the case of the honest tax payer, the role is reversed.

Leaving aside hair splitting legal arguments, is this not a discrimination against the honest tax payer? Does it not violate the principles of "equal treatment" guaranteed under our constitution? It does not require a profound knowledge of law to give the answer as "Yes". A modicum of common sense is sufficient.

According to a newspaper report someone had told the five judges who heard the case, that on account of this amnesty, the defaulting tax payers will start paying tax in the future. Here I have to recollect a proverb, taught by my English teacher (an Honours Classics Graduates from Oxford University). He gave us this proverb.

"Once a thief, always a thief".

Now we should change it to.

"Once a dishonest tax evader, always a dishonest tax evader".

The new government must give priority to repealing this mischievous Act as early as possible and take all possible measures to recover this Rs. 10,230 million which these thieves have stolen from the people of this country. The people have given it a mandate to do so.

FRED DE COSTA - Ratmalana.

Forthright commentating?

Much has been written on the now famous (or infamous) Langer incident in the recently concluded Australian tour. But something which has been not exposed is a remark one of our own TV commentators made during the happening.

After all the hullabaloo and stoppage of play for replays to ascertain what really happened and when it became clear Justin Langer had been the culprit, 'our own' stated something to the effect that it is in vain to have stopped play for this 'simple incident'.

Isn't this a clear case of bootlicking?

Of course, if when Ponting and the clan appealed for hit wicket, Langer admitted to have flicked the ball for the fun of it or whatever it could have been considered somewhat simple.

But knowing the Aussie as the cricket world knows who will resort to any antic in the name of strategy or psyching, it could be presumed deliberate. But whether, Langer was suffering from a disease causing involuntary movements our man should have the guts to speak for the nation.

Just toeing the white colleagues comments and adding spice to same is not commentating. Being gentlemen is one thing but when commentating to international audience one must be forthright: of course within reasonable limits.

Nihal Amarasekera - Maharagama.

Illhealth for sale

Many food items injurious to health especially to children are widely displayed in the open market. The children are lured by eye catching rubber and small plastic toys and various other forms promising everything on earth thereby cheating the young mind to appetite their sales target.

Most of these food items are packed in attractive aluminium foils which itself is a threat to health, I suppose. The health authorities are turning a blind eye for reasons best known to them.

It is time all parents stopped giving these food items to their loved ones and encourage more nutritious food and fruits for the future well being of healthy citizens.

M. I. M. MUDASSIR - Colombo 10.

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