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DateLine Saturday, 20 October 2007

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Susanthika our sole Olympic hope

THE comments made by Nadira Goonetilleke, on Susanthika Jayasinghe, in the Social dialogue column of the Daily News of September 13 are apt and timely.

She is probably the only Sri lankan athlete at present, who has a good chance of winning a Gold medal in the 2008 Olympics, good health permitting. Why is she in particular, as well as other promising athletes and sportsmen and women from other sports except cricket given so little support?

Nadira has hit the nail on the head, when she attributes such indifference to in built prejudices among our people and the attitudes fostered by the die hard colonial mentalities, which even after almost 60 years of Independence, has still not died in Sri Lankan society.

In any other country these very factors, would have given her added stature, especially the fact that she was able to almost single handedly overcome almost insurmountable odds to reach her present global status.

The support she needed should have been extended to her from the very beginning, when her potential began to manifest itself. Apart from the financial help, even coping with the stress which the fame her athletic prowess brought her and her close-knit family should have been extended to her and to those she cared for.

How could she train and run with a carefree mind if she felt her parents and immediate family were in dire need?

Officials in the Sports Ministry should have made it their prime concern to set aside their petty one upmanship and trivial rivalries to extend their full support to foster Susanthika’s unique talent.

The Corporate Sector too, who are quick to get on the band-wagon when a game like cricket is concerned and shower them with more ‘goodies’ than they can even begin to cope with. While those in other fields of sports have to be content with meagre handouts.

Of course, it is a different story, when a sportswoman like Susanthika, makes it at International levels, then everyone wants to bask in her reflected glory and sponsor her.

The unpalatable truth is that she and other potential athletes of her calibre need support and encouragement, from the very start...when they are not sure from where their next proper meal is coming from and when they do not have even proper running shoes to run a race.

RITA PERERA


Illicit tobacco trade, a burning problem

I WISH to commend you on your editorial of October 12 on ‘Eliminating smuggling’ of cigarettes as it drew the attention of the readers to a ‘burning’ question. Illicit tobacco trade is a global problem needing a global solution.

It is estimated that the loss to Government revenue is $US 40 to 50 billion annually. It also undermines public health policy and is a recognised source of revenue to criminality and terrorism because smuggling of tobacco is found to be inextricably linked to criminal networks.

In a report commissioned by the World Bank, it was estimated that in the year 2000 between 6 per cent and 8.5 per cent of global cigarette consumption, which is nearly 7 trillion sticks, was smuggled. The 6 per cent estimate was based on import and export statistics and was mainly an estimate for large-scale smuggling.

The 8.5 per cent estimate was based on estimates of smuggling (bootlegging and large-scale smuggling) as a percentage of 1995 domestic sales by using different sources.

Article 15 of the WHO framework convention on tobacco control, the first public health treaty of which Sri Lanka is a signatory, provides general obligations on parties to combat the problem such as developing a tracking and tracing regime, licensing, counterfeiting, monitoring and collecting data on cross-border trade in tobacco products etc.

At the recently concluded conference of parties held in Bangkok there was unanimous agreement to negotiate a protocol and Sri Lanka should be playing a major role in developing an effective protocol to combat this menace.

The negotiations under the auspices of the World Health Organisation will commence in the early part of 2008.

OLCOTT GUNASEKERA –
President, Sri Lanka National Federation on Smoking or Health


Shortage of cement

IT IS heartening to read a news item appearing in the Daily News of the 13th instant giving an assurance by the Minister Senaratne that there won’t be any shortage of cement in the near future and that the price would remain at the existing level.

Contrary to this assuarance the talk of the town is that the prices would sharply increase by the end of this year. Already some traders charge more than Rs. 700 per bag. We would like to know what action would be taken to nab the culprits and keep the prices at the approved rates.

AD -
Kotte


Government pharmacists - 50 years old

Congratulations to the Society of Government Pharmacists’ executive officials in Sri Lanka for their mounting efforts to raise the curtain on the 50th anniversary celebrations of Government Pharmacists Service in Sri Lanka and on their paramount efforts to bring down the curtain to a successful conclusion recently at the postal auditorium.

It became a very significant episode where the old and the young pharmacists met and shared their thoughts on the advancement and strengthening of pharmacy service in the health sectors, both in Government and private.

The young executive officials of the Society of Government Pharmacists were on their toes to extend hospitality to their seniors and retired Government pharmacists who graced the occasion in large numbers as special invitees.

Memory lanes were very active among the older generation of the pharmacists’ service who had contributed immensely to the profession from its inception in 1957.

The legendary, first Government pharmacist on Sri Lankan soil S. Kandasamy was bestowed with a special award by the Minister of Health and Nutrition.

It was a heartening moment when he was honoured on the stage in front of a spellbound capacity crowd filled in the auditorium.

A host of other retired members (pharmacists) who served the society of Government pharmacists too were honoured with special medals in recognition of their immense services to the sick population and to the society of government pharmacists.

A. SIVASANTHIRAN, (Ex-Secretary SGP) -
Colombo 6


Highway robbery

Attention of Police Headquarters has been drawn to the letter of W.P.H. Kollupitiya (DN Sep. 27) who believes that he had been wrongfully booked for speeding on the Galle Road, Colombo in January this year.

We thank him for the information provided. This is the first time that this Headquarters is made aware of the complaint and we will be going into it even though it relates to an incident eight months ago.

Motorists are welcome to clarify any matter with the Traffic Administration and Road Safety Division of the Police Headquarters at 2nd floor, Mihindu Mawatha, Colombo 12. They can also be contacted on telephone numbers 011-2324984, 011-2421111 Ex-237 or 011-2431718.

Thank you for the support you give for making our roads safer.

LUCKY PEIRIS - Senior Supdt. of Police, Director/Traffic Admin. & Road Safety

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