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Thursday, 20 August 2009

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A song for those who stayed

Let us sing a song of praise for those could have deserted Sri Lanka at any time in the past thirty three years for more salubrious climes but chose to remain in their Motherland and face the grey-dark times we have endured.

Let us sing our song primarily for our soldiers, sailors and airmen who faced the terror let loose upon them and fought bravely, desperately what was once considered an unwinnable war against the world’s most vicious terrorist outfit, led by the arch-friend, now annihilated. And for the officers who led from the front, many of whom died like heroes in that cruel conflict.

Let us sing for the doctors, nurses, teachers, all professionals who faithfully practised their disciplines, fearless in the face of terror unparalled the world over. Who did not flee to greener pastures and sell themselves for money and safety of a sort.

Let us sing anthems of praise for the religious dignitaries who lived their missions in spite of threat of death and branding as traitors by some; whose duty was to save all souls, howsoever depraved and sinful.

Let us hail those who endeavoured to make peace in our resplendent land of Lanka, bring warring people together and set hearts and minds attune to eradicate hatred, jealousy and meanness from our souls. Blessed indeed are the peacemakers.

Let us take pride in those farmers and cultivators in the Northern and Eastern climes who continued to sow and reap their crops even on blood spattered fields, providing food for the masses.

Let us praise those ‘ordinary’ families who lived under the harsh heel of terror, saw their loved ones killed, their young son spirited away to replenish the forces of vituperative hatred against the people of Lanka, of whatever ethnic persuasion, who resisted the terror unleashed upon them. The people who, brick by brick, had built over countless generations two of the most splendid and magnificent cultures in human history; now our priceless Sri Lankan heritage.

Let us praise all those politicians of any party, elected by the people, who attempted to talk peace, to make peace with a foe who had long lost the spark of humanity, who aimed to crush their opponents under his brutal heel.

Let us praise the man who was elected by the majority of our people as President of this island with its rich and unique tapestry of history, who when his overtures for a peaceful and just settlement of dark rebel demands were rejected, did not hesitate to go to war to vanquish Sri Lanka’s enemies in her own borders - and won. He did what was his prime duty, without fear or favour and carved his name with pride in ages to come.

We who love our Motherland and stayed with her in her years of grief and sorrow will not be forgotten when these days are sung of in the sagas of bards who will rise in the future to recall these historic times.


Stop drinking liquor in estates

I was surprised to read the front page news item ‘Crack down on Babul sellers in estate sector’ (July 30) because there is no reformative measure by any authority or the religious mission to put an end to daily liquor drinking habit of the estate workers.

How can we stop children of estate workers taking drugs while the latter keep consuming liquor in front of their children ? Naturally, these children take to liquor and other drugs - babul etc. without any restraint by their elders. Therefore, something must be done to reform the parents of the estate children and prevent them from consuming liquor.

Babul sellers are businessmen without any ethics and they are hell bent on making as much money as possible by selling anything that attracts the customers. What is now needed is the restraint on drug taking by both parents and children. May I suggest to the religious mission to go to the misguided estate workers’ residences and persuade them to follow better habits and to keep away from evil habits like liquor consumption.

Even the Police in collaboration with social reformers should launch educative awareness programs in the schools and the religious centres of the estates to put an end to threat posted to the child population by drug traffickers.

M. Y. M. MEEADH - Kandy

Save the savers

Your reader’s letter titled ‘Ombudsman for Financial Institutions’ (July 14) seems very timely in the context of the almost irretrievable situation in the country resulting from much more than deposit mismanagement by non-bank financial institutions. While the three-mega financial institutions mentioned there, Golden Key, Sakvithi and Okanda have been making sensational news, particularly the first institution under the celebrated Ceylinco Consolidated banner, there are lesser organizations causing more misery to the helpless non-affluent depositors.

When the Ceylinco Golden Key case was being examined by the Courts it sensed the Ceylinco cancer had spread over a score of other institutions of the group whose assets could be manipulated by the Golden Key management and the Courts almost banned their activities. There have been other institutions where innocent depositors like pensioners not aspiring to double their money overnight, had deposited their gratuities etc, to get a little better interest, often for their escalating daily expenses and medical bills etc.

One such institution, again using the magic word Ceylinco is the Ceylinco Investment and Realty Ltd (CIR), which though may not be connected with the Golden Key scam itself, but still becoming an asset to the Ceylinco Consolidated, is now a liability to the innocent depositors and has been put under the control of Lankaputra Development Bank by the Central Bank.

What Lankaputra has come out with the paltry amounts to be doled out to the depositors to, someday in the future, pay back the deposits. Most of the elderly depositors may not live to get their money due to the long time they have to wait to get back the capital and the interest they have virtually lost, or finding difficult to exist or face health deterioration due to the lack of the money for nutrition, medication etc, or simple stress and heart attack from this shock.

Some decisions taken by Lankaputra is shown to have been after discussion at a meeting with representatives of the depositors, but no individual depositors in general, even those with seven figure depositors of their life’s savings have been informed of such meetings. However, these terms of measly refunding etc, said to be on agreed decision in absentia made at such meetings have been sent to the victims asking them to comply with dangerous terms to obtain the dolings.

Whether the Central Bank had approved these shocking solutions is doubtful again. For this danger to emerge from a Central Bank registered institution, one wonders whether this registration with the Central Bank is only eyewash. From the insignificant figures of refund the Lankaputra is announcing one cannot believe how a Central Bank registered financial institution went to squander depositors’ money so blatantly under the nose of the CB.

The Golden Key etc, dodged the CB regarding registration etc, but not the CIR. Not only for the investors of Golden Key etc, but also, and more, of Ceylinco Investment and Realty, and may be other less unscrupulous financial institutions, the CB should be held responsible, for quite frequently the CB has been publicizing names of Financial Institutions that are safe for depositors (not speculators), which included CIR. The said mega scams became public many months ago, but news of further scandals are still appearing regularly in the media, putting the population in fright of a terrorism of a different nature.

The big investors like of the GK (apparently not complying with Monetary Board requirements) could take the CB to courts, but most simple depositors like in the CIR, if they go to courts many have to foot the bills and starve to death. In such situations whether even a Super Ombudsman referred to in your reader’s letter can help is a big question. Perhaps all that machinery is not necessary, if the CB had (or will have in future) one top executive to continuously carry out a strategic monitoring function dedicated and personally, using modern techniques.

Unless the CB accepts the liability and first meets at least half of the depositors’ money that has come under the magic wand of the different financial frauds and take more concrete and responsible action to recover its share and the balance half of the victims, the CB and the Government cannot extricate themselves from their indirect contribution to this non-isolated financial criminal activity.

Such thoughtful measures will not only redress a party indirectly led into the investment dangers by the CB, but also give confidence to the public that would otherwise not part with their savings for circulation for the country’s economic activity and prosperity for the future.

The President has very commendably started ridding the country of several socio-economic vices. Apparently this financial mafia still has to receive his attention. In some of the said mega scams names of political, commercial and even philanthropic individuals have been shown to be victims, but they were affluent citizens.

The innocent victims of institutions like the CIR are largely helpless sufferers. It appears only the President, as the country’s Minister of Finance, with the CB under that ministerial purview can help these helpless victims partly of Central Banks doings or misdoings.

Arya Subasinghe - Buthpitiya



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