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Gross interference in Sri Lanka's internal affairs

THE British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Dominic John Chilcott is reported to have made comments which range from inaccurate representations of history to gross interference in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka by supporting the separatists terrorist's ideology in an interview with a Sunday newspaper.

He states that "When the British came to Ceylon in 1796, there were three distinct kingdoms. The British made it one country for purposes of administrative convenience."

This is a grossly inaccurate statement given that when the British arrived in Sri Lanka. There was only the Sinhala Kingdom in the Hill country while the Dutch East India Company controlled the coastal areas.

We can only speculate at the intention of making such an inaccurate statement and hope that it was not done to further the terrorist LTTE's claim for an independent Tamil homeland.

He has gone on to accuse successive Sri Lankan Governments of not safeguarding the rights of minorities, particularly of the Tamils, but has played down the role of the British colonial policy of 'divide and rule' as a pre-condition to the terrorism facing Sri Lanka today.

This is an inaccurate, harsh and unjust indictment of Sri Lanka Governments since independence.

Sri Lanka is a multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-ethnic country and Sri Lankan constitutions that followed the Soulbury Commission have by and large reflected that and have not caused grievances that are different to those that are faced by minorities in the UK and in other so-called developed countries.

He has gone on to state that the current political system has to change and that they would like to see a federal system within a united Sri Lanka implemented.

This is a blatant interference in the internal affairs of Sri Lanka as the type of solution must be determined by the people of Sri Lanka taking into account the national interests of Sri Lanka.

Perhaps Mr. Chilcott needs reminding that he is merely the High Commissioner of the UK in Sri Lanka and is not a viceroy.

His comment that the terrorist LTTE's chief negotiator and political strategist Anton Balasingham, is free to live in London as he is a citizen of the UK despite the LTTE being a banned organisation in the UK, leaves us astounded and smacks of double standards.

We wonder what the purpose of the UK's ban on the LTTE is, when the ban isn't enforced against a known member of the LTTE who is openly espousing and strategising terrorism and death to members of the legitimate government of Sri Lanka from London.

We would be extremely surprised if a strategist of the Al-Qaeda would be allowed to operate in the same manner as the LTTE's Anton Balasingham does in London.

We request the UK Government and its representatives in Sri Lanka not to make pronouncements that justify and legitimise the LTTE's terrorism and to allow Sri Lankans to work out the best solution by themselves.

If the UK wishes to genuinely be of assistance to a fellow democracy and a fellow member of the Commonwealth, it needs to stop or minimise the LTTE's fund raising and propaganda activities in the UK and to provide military, economic and political assistance to Sri Lanka in its legitimate fight against the cruel separatist terrorism of the LTTE.

In view of the above, we request the Government of Sri Lanka to reject the High Commissioner's statements and to impress upon the High Commissioner that such statements are not acceptable and are unbecoming of his position.

MALIN ABEYATUNGE, Secretary (SPUR Vic) - Australia

Prescribed tests in different private hospitals

THE Colombo National Hospital informs the patients to get their prescribed tests from the branch of Durdans Hospital which is at a stone's throw. Even during midnight its services are offered which is a great consolation to the desperate kith and kin of the suffering patients.

But the Lady Ridgeway - the childrens' hospital, requires their tests done at Asiri Hospital, Narahenpita, which has a travelling of more than 10 bus halts.

Why cannot the Lady Ridgeway also make it to the Durdans which is only one halt and that could save the precious time of the parents concerned.

Therefore, the health authorities should insist the Lady Ridgeway to get their tests done at Durdans.

However, the authorities is still unable to provide the poor people their required tests done free in the hospitals itself.

As it seems the authorities should see that the poor is completely treated free. The maintenance of the hospitals are very much improved and the care and treatment of the doctors, nurses and other staff are commendable.

The non-availability of medicines is a matter to feel sad.

Health is wealth and for those poor people to possess' that wealth' the authorities should provide all the necessities that are required to such hospitals, specially the essential equipments and other life saving machineries.

NAZLY CASSIM - Colombo 13

Learning from others

I was in Thailand recently and what struck me most was how this country has made advances in tourism. What I refer here should serve as food for thought for our tourist authorities.

Thailand has laid stress on thematic tourism. Attractions are galore. Elephant shows, cobra shows, crocodile farms etc. are cases in point. In this regard my mind goes to our Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. We too should think of showing more on our elephant life through this orphanage.

Shopping by the side of canals more popularly known as 'floating markets' has attracted many tourists. We too should be innovative and exploit the waterways around the City of Colombo such as the Hamilton Canal for this purpose. All Thai fruits are on display in these floating markets. even packeted riped jak (waraka) is sold.

Hotels in Thailand provide a top quality service and are comparatively cheaper than those in Sri Lanka. I think this is the major reason why there is a glut of tourists in Thailand. They are looked after well from the arrival to their final departure.

Buddhist shrines in Thailand draw many visitors. They are well maintained and visiting them is not a hassle. I wish to refer here to the trials and tribulations faced by the pilgrims at our shrines at Anuradhapura.

Ayutthia in Thailand can be compared to our Polonnaruwa since the shrines there had been subject to attack by a foreign invader. As far as maintenance is concerned Polonnaruwa is I should say far behind Ayutthia.

In Thailand I met tourists from far flung places in the world - from Mexico to New Zealand. I interviewed several who told me that they have avoided Sri Lanka because of adverse publicity.

They are concerned with the on going war here. I allayed their fears but this is a matter in the hands of the top hierarchy. A vigorous publicity campaign becomes a sine qua non here. It should be a promotional drive assuring and reassuring that tourists are safe here.

Highways in Thailand are excellent specially in Bangkok. There are enough super highways and flyovers. There are no potholes to make driving a nightmare. There is a lot of traffic and jams are cleared sans any delays.

What is admirable in Thailand are the plans and devices made to prevent pollution. Piles of garbage are not seen along the roadways. Many mini food outlets are found on the pavements of busy roads and we do not see any food leftovers thrown away indiscriminately.

I think we should not consider it infra dig to take a cue from Thailand in developing our tourism. The need of the hour is to build up our parlous economy and in doing so let us learn from others.

D. P. GANKANDA - Polgasowita

Workshops - new locations

THE well recognized Mercantile establishments in Colombo which imported motor vehicles into Sri Lanka, had their workshops and service stations along with their establishments.

These workshops which were in Colombo were all shifted away from the city for environmental reasons. Now the workshops of those companies are established out of the City limits but the authorities of the CMC and the CEA had allowed unauthorized workshops and garages to operate on the pavements of the City of Colombo depriving the public of the pavement of a safe walk.

Are these illegal workshops not posing health risks or not harmful to the environment? From recently Motor Cycle workshops have sprung up along most of the pavements and some stooges of politicians and henchmen of the underworld characters charge a monthly rental by leasing suchplaces to these servicemen.

Why should the authorities allow these types of activities in their areas which are a threat to the nation as well as being illegal?

A. R. P. - Colombo



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