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DateLine Tuesday, 1 January 2008

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Justice for mourning mother

It is a mixture of admiration and sadness that one feels when one reads the story of the little girl allegedly raped and killed by a monk. (Weekend newspaper December 2) Admiration for this institute for persisting in its duty in spite of obvious opposition and succeeding in obtaining justice for a mourning mother who can at least rest now knowing her daughter's murder is avenged.

Not an easy rest though, when one imagines what sadness she would be feeling when she thinks that the very people who should have protected her child - the owner of the Child Care Center and the guardian of the religion she belongs to - had been the cause of her littel girl's death.

Worse is the fact that the police officers who should have acted on the available evidence, which is said to be compelling, had dragged their feet.

This mother needs to be applauded for taking up the cause when many others would have simply given up thinking what purpose does it serve now that the child is dead. But what this mother did by taking to protest by street demonstration, which seems to be the only weapon the poor have nowadays to obtain justice, she prevented many more little girls being raped and killed and also as a warning to other culprits. Hope that gives solace for her ailing soul. We salute you Mother!

Not only the culprits should be punished, but also the law officers who failed to act, should be asked to account for their inaction. If not, this sort of high handedness would keep recurring more frequently. Then only can we be rest assured that this little girl's death has not been in vain.

DR. MAREENA THAHA REFFAI,
Dehiwela

Teaching manners to our children

Many people abroad of Sri Lankan origin who have travelled to Sri Lanka on holidays, have stated to me the lack of manners they encounter on a daily basis from ordinary citizens, particularly the employees of some State sectors.

They say that employees in the Private Sector are definitely more polite and helpful. I think that this long-standing problem can be remedied if properly focused on.

The Department of Education has to be made aware of the problem. Educators must write books on the subject, as the future of each child, the potential to be a happy and useful citizen depends heavily on what is taught in the State run schools.

I believe the private schools are more aware of the importance of manners. It is not a difficult task to translate into Sinhala and Tamil some of the books written in English on the matter of manners.

Children should be taught manners from as early as three years of age. They will gain self confidence when taught proper manners. After a time, good manners will be second nature to them and Sri Lanka will be a better place to live for all its citizens.

Surely there will be less violence and more self control and discipline among our citizens. It will also erase the artificial class structures that are built up through ignorance.

A child from a poor home will be treated with respect if the child learns self respect through good manners.

Classes on good manners and etiquette should be made available to adults via the medium of TV as well as through books. The benefit adults gain from such learning are numerous.

Needless to say, there are a number of articles on this subject on the Google website. Educators can draw heavily from such articles.

'MISS MANNERS'

State banks: Pensioners on a remunerative structure

I refer to the above article written by a People's Bank pensioner to a daily newspaper of December 8 regarding the pensions of State banks. The writer has pointed out the injustices caused to previously retired pensioners in the People's Bank and requests implementing favourable salary adjustment package to the pensioners especially, for those who retired before 1990.

I wish to express my personal views in this regard and would like to add more on this subject for the benefit of both present and future pensioners of State banks. Even though, three premier State banks (BoC, PB and NSB) directly come under the preview of one-Ministry, disparities could be seen between the BoC and PB pensioners. There is no discernible disparity in the entitlements to current staff in relevant banks.

They enjoy the same salary structure. CoL and even the bonus as far as emoluments are concerned. As for other fringe benefits, the entitlements are almost identical. Disparity is very much obvious only when it comes to the pensioners.

The areas are: 1. The Peoples' Bank pays 90 per cent of the gross salary as full pension. Those who have completed 30 years of service in the bank are entitled to receive full pension in the PB. But in the case of BoC, it pays 85 per cent of the gross salary as full pension.

The most important thing is that the BoC does not recognise the service of its members even if the member has retired earlier due to ill health after serving the bank more than 30 years.

2. Peoples' Bank does not deduct contribution to the W&OP Fund from pensioners. But BoC continues this deduction until pensioner reaches 60 years.

3. In the case of commuted pension, PB has given a non-deductible commuted pension for those with over 30 years service (applicable to those who retired in 1977) while the BoC maintains deductible commuted pension, which is recovered, by the bank within ten years.

4. Bank of Ceylon pays CoL to the pensioners but PB does not pay CoL.

When comparing the medical scheme in both banks PB pensioner his/her spouse is entitled to the once and for all' facility of Rs 400,000 (once a life time for critical illness like bypass operation, kidney transplant etc.) This privilege too has been deprived to BoC pensioners where even the member is not entitled for this facility.

It is true that these three State banks were established by a different Act of Parliament and they are being managed by separate Boards of Directors appointed by the Government.

But it is not a difficult task to address the above disparities since the pensioners were earlier members of the Ceylon Bank Employee' Union which is the only union established for State bank employees. Unfortunately, it appears to have neglected its previous members who always lined up with the union to win the demands of bank employees.

I appeal from the authorities concerned to consider the above-mentioned difference of both pension funds of the BoC and PB when restructuring.

W. G. CHANDRAPALA,
Ex-Bank pensioner

Native edible yams

What has happened to our native edible yams - manioc, sweet potatoes, arrowroots, desa ala, vel ala, raja ala, inni ala, buthsarana ala, ardichock and many others.

Well to be genuine and putting the record straight, they were blown with 1977 whirlwind, storm, hurricane, cyclone and flooded into the seas unknown and unseen. Let by-gones be by-gones.

Let's forget about the past. A few decades ago they were grown in every home garden irrespective of the extent, size or the area. They were freely available in fairs - rural and urban alike but not so in the present day.

These types of yams were taken as staple food as well as for preparing curries. But today they were replaced by wheat flour-based fast food. If you want to see these invaluable yams, go to Wagolla or Peradeniya agricultural farms. Why not give a new boost, when the food prices are going up.

D. M. P. B. DISSANAYAKE,
Kegalle

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