It was a busy day not so long ago, when I met President John Thamber
and Committee members of the NGO Forum on Ageing, at a meeting in
Colombo South. Venetia Gamage, past President and co-ordinator of this
project, had arranged with an officer from the Elderâs Secretariat, G.
Karunaratne, to issue the vital card to persons who were eligible.
The Forum has performed this service on previous occasions, at
various Centres in Colombo, recognizing the fact that Sri Lanka is one
of the fastest ageing countries and the reason why the NFOA was launched
in 1999, the Year of the Older Person. At the meeting, over 200 persons
were waiting to be issued with a Senior Citizenâs Card.
It was an important day for the elderly. They were looking forward to
possessing this card, and relieved, that at last the authorities had
decided to recognize the hopeless situation of the elderly. How many
others, over the age of 65 years, are aware that they are entitled to a
Senior Citizenâs Card and its facilities, we wondered?
I decided to question an elderly woman at a shopping mall on the
subject. I asked her âhave you heard of the Senior Citizenâs Card?â With
a look of surprise, she replied, âwhat card and, where and who issues
it?â, she inquired. Obviously, this information had not reached the
elderly in her neighbourhood. I filled her in briefly, and informed her
about the meeting to be held.
The same day, I met a retired teacher, who was already in possession
of this card. To my question, âhas this card helped you in any way?â Her
reply was curt. âPretty little! Most pharmacies, banks, hospitals,
clinics and similar establishments, are clueless about the card and its
benefits. So, what is the point in having this card?â
There is a severe lack of awareness by the Government authorities, on
what should be the purpose of and the facilities afforded by the Senior
Citizenâs Card. To whom should it be issued? What benefit would the
The private sector is also guilty! Very few offer this information to
their staff. So, in the end, it is the voluntary, social and welfare
organisations, which take up causes such as this. They try in a small
way to reach the elderly, performing this service free of charge, and,
with little or no funding to back them!
How should an elder setabout obtaining a card? Perhaps, the
appropriate Government authorities at the Eldersâ Secretariat could
circulate this information through Associations, clubs, offices,
supermarkets, banks, media etc., alerting persons reaching the age of
retirement, the procedure to obtain this card. Correct and useful
information, to be attached with the card.
The public must be made aware of the benefit the elderly could count
on, when the card is produced. A well-known Government organisation
offers a discount to the elderly, on medicines purchased.
The National Identity Card is required. Surely, a Senior Citizenâs
Card could also identify an elder? All Government and private
establishments could make it known that the elderly are offered
discounts on purchases and services.
Derana television, who were present at the meeting, in their Sinhala
programme, inquired from some of those present, about the aspirations
and hopes, once they were issued with this Card.
They said, âany help would be great! Our needs are little, our purses
empty, but our hopes are high!â Actually, much more can be offered by
the card and what is offered must be stated in it with greater clarity.
Would you wish to join this Forum on Ageing, as a volunteer member? A
contributor? A well-wisher? To help this worthwhile cause? Please
contact Chandrika Fonseka, Secretary, Tel No: 2584315, or Estelle
Joachim Tel No: 2581315. You can be assured, that any free time you give
the Forum, would be time well spent.
We are amazed and worried to read your speech published in a daily
newspaper of May 19, 2007, on the topic âTroops unwilling to take Karunaâ.
In your speech made at a reception held at the British Council the main
points referred to are as follows:
1. Sri Lankan troops are unwilling to take on Karuna
2. The fighting between LTTE and Karuna fraction is not doing any
3. Government intervention to stop this infighting is insufficient
4. The Governmentâs recognition of the services rendered by non
Governmental organisations is insufficient.
With great respect I bring to your notice of Article 3 of Vienna
Convention adopted on April 16, 1961 in which your duties and
obligations as the Head of the Mission are given in detail.
It reiterates that it is the duty of the Head of the Mission not to
interfere on internal matters as pronounced in detail in the Preamble of
the instrument, and throughout the meaning and spirit of the Convention
which is more fully described in Article 3 as follows:
The functions of a diplomatic mission consist inter alia are:
1. represent the sending State in the receiving State
2. Protect the interest of the receiving State and the interests of
the sending State and of its nationals, within the limits permitted by
3. negotiating with the Government of the receiving State
4. ascertaining by all lawful means conditions and developments in
the receiving State, and reporting thereon to the Government of the
5. Promoting friendly relations between the sending State and the
receiving State, and developing their economic, cultural and scientific
It is sorry to note that you are acting outside your powers and
obligations by making very sensitive remarks when the Nation is going
through a difficult and decisive period. Our Missions abroad strictly
abide by the Convention and accepted norms and obligations required by
International Law and International Relations.
All our previous attempts to communicate with you on similar matters
of mutual interest have not been successful. The Officer in Charge of
the Reception receives our messages but no appointment was given nor
written to us on various subjects that we have tried to communicate you
While bringing this matter at our serious nature to you and to the
British Government, we wish to continue to communicate with you to seek
an appointment to meet you discuss this and many other issues which are
of mutual interest and grave need relating to international law and
Committee for International law and International Relations
It is an unbelievable occurrence and would never have happened at the
hands of a professionally skilled doctor that led to the tragic death of
a mother of two. None could discard this incident that took place at the
above hospital as an unavoidable one. The wide media coverage leading to
the tragic death of this mother bears ample testimony to medical
The husband of the deceased who spoke to the media stated that his
wife was admitted to the hospital much before the due time for
The reason for this, according to him, is that she has conceived
after a lapse of 10 years! As a layman, he himself was of the opinion
that there can be physical variations due to the prolonged period of
infertility. Under such circumstances, clinical examinations would have
given indications or clues which could raise doubts for a normal
On the other hand, the mother had continuously complained to her
relations and attending nurses of experiencing severe complications.
This condition calls for the attending doctors to at least have a second
opinion or to seek the advice of their seniors? But the doctors still
maintained that it will be a normal delivery.
Eventually, the mode of confinement confirmed by the professional
doctor did not take place; instead the infant was saved after a
Caesarean operation at the cost of the motherâs life.
With the facility of having most modern medical equipment which could
peep into every organs of a human being, this innocent mother laid down
her life leaving motherless infant.
Why few doctors in the name of medical ethics neglect the duties of
this highly humane vocation ? In conclusion I would like to quote here a
small part of the Hippocratic Oath taken by the doctors: âI shall pay
utmost respect to human life from the moment of its inceptionâ.
M. R. A. L. Gunasinghe
My congratulations and appreciation to Dr Keerthi Jayasekera for his
excellent article (Reference DN May 14).
I have studied the subject deeply, myself, and am fully committed to
putting it into practice. Funeral all paid for (as just an immediate
garbage disposal job!) and all preparations for ensuring that I am no
burden to any-one else (least of all to my family) if ever I cannot take
care of myself.
Like Dr. Keerthi, I do not blame Karma and well appreciate that at
83, I can be thankful to have lived over-long beyond by âallottedâ
So try to live as usefully to others as I can for as long as I can.
And when I cannot, that will be time for the final exit.
Dr. Keerthi writes well and thinks lucidly and rationally.