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DateLine Friday, 16 January 2009

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Defeat of terrorism

What a journey it has been. The country no doubt owes a great gratitude and respect to President Rajapaksa and the Forces for their relentless efforts in saving our country from terrorist brutality.

The greatest victory however is for the President who was focused and was able to hold up against internal and external forces that were hell bent in destabilizing the country for political opportunism and personal gain. Most of the foreign elements, be they the NGOs, Human Rights Organizations or other so called charities have been directly or indirectly supportive of the exaggerated claims of the LTTE. They were either uninformed, misinformed or were beneficiaries of the billions of dollars collected from dubious business activities and contributions from the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora.

The local elements on the other hand are only focused on the winning the next election. I am a firm believer of a strong opposition for a healthy democracy. The opposition however needs to be principled enough to be supportive, in the least, of matters pertaining to 'national interest' and the 'sovereignty of the land and its culture'. It is sad the current opposition is bereft of any of these virtues. They are ready to align with any source, the terrorists or any other group to gain a petty political advantage. This in deed is a shame for the country. We need to look around and take a leaf from our neighbours such as Australia, where the opposition is very vocal and on the ball but they adopt a bi-partisan approach when it comes to issues of 'National Interest'. I hope the opposition of our country will have the right leadership and 'grow up' to earn the trust of our people.

Unprotected level crossing

The railway level crossing at the northern end of the platform at the Wadduwa Railway Station is not protected with a barrier or lights. There are four tracks crisscrossing the level crossing. Due to my presence of mind we avoided a nasty accident.

Minister of Transport Dullas Alahapperuma, the ball is now in your court, please take some action to protect human lives.

Be the king of the road

Are you a frustrated at driving along the busy city roads? Then follow these simple steps to be a king on the streets of Sri Lanka.

Remember the last time you were given way by another motorist? It was totally unexpected, the streets were packed with vehicles and nobody seemed to care about your need to move in to a vehicle queue that was miles in length. Then suddenly a very kind person appeared from no where and gave way, despite protests from the other drivers. You were deeply moved, felt honoured and very grateful to that driver, but did you ever consider 'passing it on' to another person? If you gave way to several other motorists, motor bikes or three-wheelers, that would have surprised them and given them a thought to ponder. If everybody passed this 'good deed' on, our streets will be very pleasant places to drive. So next time when someone gives way, pass it on, and watch the smile on the people at the receiving end.

People use the horn for various reasons, but that person might be in a genuine emergency. Roads are no places to teach others 'good lessons'. You are no teacher and the other motorists, three-wheeler drivers, bikers might not fancy the idea of being your students. So don't obstruct the lane of people who are horning, but give way. Feel delighted that you helped that driver to ease his tension and agony. Feel happy and enjoy the ride.

Yellow lines are made for pedestrians to cross. Always slow down several meters ahead of a crossing. And keep your vehicle in a halt even when the person has moved in front of your vehicle. Respect pedestrians who use yellow line crossings. They respect road rules and so should you.

Don't let anger control your steering wheel. If motor bike riders try to overtake, do give way. If anger provokes drivers to obstruct bikes, and if there is an impact between vehicles, the injuries might be fatal. I have seen young motor bike riders who were 'taught lessons' by other motorists, coming with fatal head injuries or massive crush injuries to limbs. One second is enough to end a person's life, especially when you are driving a large vehicle. Remember a large vehicle is deadly than a T56 weapon. Road traffic accidents are the main killer in Sri Lanka, not the 30 year-old conflict.

The slow you are driving the less an impact would be. Hitting a person with a metal load thousand kilo's in weight 80 km per hour is not like bumping in to a person. Always remember that the energy you use to push the accelerator is multiplied a million times inside the engine of your vehicle.

Practice anger management when you are driving. I believe that the best place to practice 'Maithree Bhawana' is not at a peaceful tempel but on the busy street roads of Sri Lanka.

Follow at least one of the above mentioned steps daily while you are on the drive. Be happy that you are not just driving yourself to work. You are helping others and helping yourself to gain more control over mind. Feel like the king of the road on streets of Sri Lanka.

More women drinking beer

Having lived for the past seven years in a remote (no tarred road as yet) village located on the banks of the Ma Oya at the edge of the Gampaha District, I fully concur with the findings of the researchers' published in the DN of Jan. 7th.

No event, be it a celebration for a girl attaining puberty, a wedding, a funeral or even a Pirith ceremony or almsgiving is 'complete' without liquor being served. Rumour has it that the undertakers provide a free can (20 liter) of Kasippu along with the carrom board and pack of cards to a village funeral house. Free liquor and food guarantee a crowd at the funeral house especially at night. Kasippu is so freely available and alcohol consumption so pervasive that one finds it hard to get the services of a labourer, cook or driver who does not take liquor. Some villagers even come for a meeting at the village temple under the influence of liquor.

If one were to take a ride down the Ma Oya at night say from Giriulla to Kochchikade, one could I am sure see many fires from mini Kasippu distilleries located along the banks. Mobile phones and corrupt policemen who serve to warn of impending raids have made it easy for these distillers. In the old days if liquor was served at a function it would be done very discreetly out of the view of the women and children, quite the contrary today where we see women drinking at the same table as men.

The question is what is being done about it? At the village level very little. I am totally unaware of any seminars, workshops or the like having been held in our area. I hope Prof. de Silva, Dr. Fernando and others will provide guidelines for alleviating the problem. The Department of Health Services and the Social Services Department should take the lead in this. This is probably why in many countries these two departments come under one Ministry.


Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
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