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DateLine Monday, 12 March 2007

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Response to Wickramabahu’s clarification

In his clarification Dr Karunarathne has mentioned that acadamics of the universities of Peradeniya and Cambridge who gave him certificates of distinctions must also be loones (reference DN March 10).

Yes, there is some truth in it. Let me clarify this. In Sri Lankan society, people generally respect and recognize titles or letter added before or after the name like Dr, Proc, Prof, or BA, MA, B.Sc, M.SC, P.hD, D.Sc, etc., because, majority of the Sri Lankans are still respect the academic achievements and consider those titles or labels added to the name as a measure of the integrity, honesty, decency and trustworthiness of the individual.

I came across Dr. Karunarathne in 1970s when he was a member of the academic staff of the Faculty of Engineering in Peradeniya University and I was also a student in the same faculty.

He was supposed to teach mathematics to the engineering students. But he never did his job right.

Instead, he abused his position and freedom as a lecturer in the faculty of engineering which is considered a very respectable position among the student community as well as in general public to confuse people by spreading false and harmful political ideologies to gain cheap popularity specially among young people.

He encouraged students to fight with the university administration for student’s demands promoting violence, sabotage and vandalism.

He acted as an important catalyst in instigating student unrest by student union creating strikes and unwanted disruptions to the peaceful academic life in the campus.

He did not know or deliberately ignored to recognise that the university is another place for learning and not to govern the country.

He was a real headache and a troublemaker for the peaceful existence of the entire Peradeniya Campus at that time. He still try to abuse his titles and the names of the academic institutions for his advantage to achieve his cheap political objectives. I do not know how many decent Sri Lankans will listen to this man to day.

He is a real danger to the entire nation and a disgrace to the academic institutions that he claimed to have obtained distinctions.

Ariyadasa Yapa - Canada - Via email


Electricity consumers cheated

The Ceylon Electricity Board is cheating the helpless consumers by adding 15 per cent VAT on to every bill, which was withdrawn at the last year’s budget proposals by the President, Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Finance Minister.

The Parliament approved the withdrawal of this tax from January 2007, but in the bill for January too, 15 per cent VAT has been added, causing a heavy burden to the consumers already gripping with a high Cost of Living.

The electricity rates were also increased last October increasing the unit charge and the fixed charges making electricity a luxury, although it is an essential commodity in civilized countries.

The fixed charge was increased from Rs. 50 to Rs. 240 for those consuming more than 300 units.

With modern cooking methods 300 units is a basic for middle-class householders.

Further, the 15 per cent fuel surcharge imposed when fuel prices increased last year has not been removed although the authorities undertook to do so.

When inquired from the Area Electricity Engineer he informed that he has hitherto not been instructed to waive off the 15 per cent VAT charge by the General Manager of the Board.

This is an unethical, arbitrary and a fraudulent charge on about 8 million consumers in the country.

The Board has failed to collect revenue from consumers in the North and East although they are going to give more connections. The LTTE terrorists are collecting all the Board Bills. The GM should be jailed for these frauds. The Consumer Affairs Authority should look into this.

There is massive corruption in the Board employees earning treble their pay through overtime and there is no discipline.

The GM was given Rs. 25,000 per month as additional allowance and the employees are asking for more hikes in their wages.

The Minister described the Board employees as a set of lotus eaters.

The Minister of Power and Energy should muscle his energy and stop the fraudulent charges and refund the excess levied on each bill.

DR. A. ARUMUGAM - Colombo 5


Medical negligence or one’s destiny?

I write with deep sadness following the death of a dear friend on January 17, 2007 who had a caesarean operation at a private maternity hospital.

She had a healthy pregnancy and a very cautious nine months. Only burden was a growth in the womb, commonly known as ‘fibroid’, and which is not uncommon amongst pregnant women but not considered a threat to life (I am assuming that the diagnosis and judgment was correct).

The baby and the fibroid were removed in a single operation on an epidural. Thereafter, the mother and the baby were united during which moment God had granted her the blessing to caress, cuddle and feed her son she had proudly nurtured for nine months.

The doctors may have done their best; but what did go wrong that took away the life of a young and healthy woman who enjoyed motherhood for a very brief period and was pronounced dead approximately five hours after the delivery of a healthy baby?

What is the medical opinion in such a case?

Should the medical profession be silent on this case or act in the interests of society?

What has the hospital, doctors and the team who performed the operation got to say?

Was the hospital equipped to handle this case?

Was the epidural administered in the correct dosage and in the right place?

Was there an omission on the part of the team to detect any internal damage to the patient?

Is there an authority empowered to facilitate an inquiry and take appropriate action or should we put it down to fate and act of God?

How can we find out the verdict of the JMO, whose report is usually not made public. There is so much secrecy surrounding the inquiry that even family members are kept in the dark.

The police are legally bound to prevent such information being released even to the kith and kin.

This quietness was well observed when the hospital could not release the patient’s record even after days following the incident.

The reply from the hospital staff was that the records were removed by the doctor, presumably from the premises. What is the moral/ethical implication of this act?

The deceased’s family has a legitimate right in knowing the sequence of events that led to her death, and I hope the management of the institute will act responsibly and come forward with a detail and accurate statement, at least to ease the pain and anxiety borne by the family of the deceased.

S. P. - Kottawa


Visa travails

I read the letter by R. Perera of Kelaniya (DN Feb. 27) and totally agree with its contents. I had a similar unpleasant experience at the Indian High Commission a few years ago which I reported to the Daily News. At that instance I had no alternative other than giving up my trip to India.

The most funny thing is, Indian travellers who visit Sri Lanka are granted visa on their arrival at the B.I.A. (or any other port of call) but Sri Lankan visitors are not given that opportunity vice versa.

Sri Lanka and India had been tied up with strong bilateral relationships for many years and even are leading members of the SAARC organisation.

Singapore is a country where they grant a visa for Sri Lankans on their arrival and I read in the Daily News that Malaysia is also going to adopt the same procedure.

B. G. – Nugegoda


Meat consumption

I refer to the recent articles by Dr. Mareena Thaha Reffai on the subjects on meat consumption and pre-marital sex. (Reference DN March 02) I disagree with her thoughts on these subjects.

I am not a Buddhist, but Sri Lanka is a predominantly a Buddhist country. Therefore, we need to respect the sensivities of the majority population.

As most Buddhists do not consume meat, even legislation to ban meat consumption should be considered. Buddhism teaches kindness to all beings including animals.

As regards to pre-marital sex, I feel if a man can marry only one wife and remain faithful to her it is important. Whether there has been pre-marital sex is of less importance.

Dr. Ajith Tissera - UK - via email

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