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Saturday, 12 December 2009

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Choosing our President

I thank President Mahinda Rajapaksa for ridding this country of terrorism that plagued us for over three decades. When I see the recurring carnage resulting from terrorism in other parts of the world, I think how fortunate Sri Lanka is to have had a leader who had the courage and the determination to rid the country of this menace.

The pressures to which President Mahinda Rajapaksa was subjected internationally and locally were all surmounted by this valiant and determined leader.

He is one leader who could not be bought. His political leadership is admirably virtuous and steadfast. These are the qualities we should be looking for when we go to the polling booth in January 2010 to select our president.

Let us give this courageous and compassionate man who truly loves this nation a chance to develop the country. It is only fair to elect him again, giving him a chance to develop the country in the post-terrorism backdrop, a scenario that he created.

The capacity of Mahinda Rajapaksa to develop this country is already evident in the huge development drive he has set in motion hot on the trails of completing the offensive against terrorism.

His opponents are driven by personal agendas and are incapable of rising over petty jealousies in the common interest of the country. We cannot indulge in pure party politics anymore.

Sri Lanka would not gain anything by replacing Mahinda Rajapaksa so soon after him liberating this nation of terrorism, without giving him a decent chance to exercise his capacity to develop this country.

Let us not harm the opportunities open to future generations of Sri Lanka and let us not emerge as an ungrateful nation after the January presidential polls. And most importantly let us not hand over our liberated country back to the LTTE on a platter, as was done many a time by previous leaders of this country.


Dearth for translators

The non-availability of translators in most Government Departments, Provincial Councils and other State institutions, has adversely affected the services, especially in instances where there is direct contact with the public. Complications in translated documents are often seen and points to competence in the available translators. Efforts made by the Government to increase the cadres of translators through examinations for new entrants as well as to offer contractual employment to retired persons have not been very successful.

In the meantime, a very few translators are outsourced by some State institutions on the rates of payment allowed by Public Administration Circulars.

Some often think that the work of a translator is like baking hoppers at an evening tea kiosk. It is not so. Retired members of the Public Service who have held very high posts have also condescended to offer their services as translators. However, to be a competent translator knowledge in both languages alone is not sufficient, but would require background knowledge of literature, culture, history etc, in addition to tireless practice.

On the other hand, new recruits do not stick in the posts of translators for many reasons. More often than not they are considered a different inferior species and not provided with a scale of salary commensurate with their work. Besides this, Public Administration Circulars No. 12/2003 and Public Administration Circular No. 20/96 which are not revised for years deal with the payment for translators, whereas, although not directly relevant, the bus fares have been revised eight times. The urgent requirement is therefore to revise the scheme of recruitment and to revise the above Circular to carry a higher payment scheme for translators to get over the problem relating to the use of the official language by the public.


Poya - Holy day or jolly day?

Full Moon Poya was declared a Public and Bank holiday in Sri Lanka with the primary objective of facilitating citizens of the majority religion - Buddhists to engage in religious activities at least once a month on this holy day. However it is very pathetic to see what is going on at present on these 'so-called' Holy Days. It is really disrespect!

I have noticed that 'private tuition' classes are held on Poya holidays. A few months ago, a foremost private Buddhist educational institution organized a netball match with a Catholic educational institution held at the latter's playground at Bambalapitiya.

The Full Moon Poya holiday in October was celebrated as the end of the rainy season and all temples held their Katina Cheevara Poojas thus ending the 'Vas' Pinkamas for the current year. It is a very special occasion for all Buddhists. Was it respected as a 'Holy day' or 'Jolly day' in Colombo? A private tuition institute near the Bambalapitiya Government Flats conducted full day 'revision tuition' classes for December 2009 GCE (OL) students as well as August 2010 GCE (AL) students.

Why is the educational authorities in Sri Lanka turning a 'Blind-eye'?

It is time the Government banned all non-religious activities on Poya holidays. Even the Cricket Board must refrain from scheduling to play international cricket matches in Sri Lanka - on Full Moon Poya holidays! After all, the primary objective of declaring the Full Moon Poya holiday appears to be 'thrown into the dustbin'.


'Please be seated until your number is called'

The above I read at SPC Fort branch when I stepped into buy some drugs on November 11, 2009. No sooner I handed over my prescription one employee gave me a computer printed number indicating the time of accepting the prescription. The counters have been numbered to read as 1, 2 and 3.

When the drugs are ready the number issued to a patient is displayed on a board along with the counter number. Until your number is displayed on the board the patient has to keep an eye on the display board and be seated as no time limit is indicated on the computer printed receipts issued to the patients.

That particular day my number was displayed only after 38 minutes. On that same day there was another patient who was seated with me holding a lesser number than mine and his number was displayed only after one hour and a few minutes.

After waiting for such a long period when he went to the particular counter he was informed that the particular drug was not available with them. To give that information the patient had to be seated for more than an hour, due to the reason that the new system has not been properly organized. He complained to the supervisor and went off.

The new system they have introduced will not serve any purpose unless they serve the patients according to the numerical order on first come first serve basis. Their inside working will have to be adjusted accordingly, otherwise it will be the same old system they had prior to introducing this new system. Only wastage of public funds.


Unsolved pension anomalies

Anomalies in pensions of State pensioners were adjusted up to January 1997 by the present Government. Since then, two salary increases were given to serving officers, if I remember correct. However, our pensions have not been adjusted accordingly, giving rise to the present anomaly. President has given a promise to the pensioners in the 'Mahinda Chinthanaya' in 2005, that the anomalies existing in our pensions would be resolved during his period of Office as President of Sri Lanka.

There was a news item in the Daily News of November 6, under the heading - 'Pensions budget for 2010'. It reported that the Director of Pensions (K.A. Thilakaratne) whilst addressing a news conference organized to explain the present progress of the Pensions Department on the 5th, instant, had stated that the Government has already accepted the proposal of abolishing the 'Pension Anomalies' as a policy even amidst financial difficulties faced. This news report also stated that the estimated budget for pensions for 2010 is Rs.100 billion, while the budget allocation for 2009 was Rs.93 billion.

The pensioners who have been living in hope since the 'Mahinda Chinthanaya' was published in 2005 will be pleased if the President makes an official statement, as he did in the case of the Pubic Officers and the Armed Forces recently and enlighten the anxious pensioners to the effect that money provision has been made through the 'Vote on Account' to rectify the anomaly which has been approved by the Parliament this week. This should be done without delay, so that the pensioners and their dependents will rally round the Government in the forthcoming Elections due in 2010.


Democracy and hypocrisy

Democracy is acknowledged as a viable form of government, by the majority representation with the safeguarded interest of the minority. In a broader sense it remains a pragmatic way of getting things done with the majority consensus. Though well defined by democrats, its contradictory surfaces are posed when democracy is in diversity. Marxist theory is that democracy is merely a thick blanket covered beneath dictatorship. Both views may sound cogent to students of advanced sociology.

Hypocrisy professes standards - norms and beliefs, contradictory to one's real character, it is fake and fiction personified. Both concepts of democracy entail some resemblance. Democracy is hypocritic and hypocrisy democratic! However, hypocrisy is worse. Hierarchy, the affluent business tycoons and politicians have enjoyed and reaped their ill-gotten harvest, by being hypocritic in own fields.

They have thus ransacked the poor and the peasant for well over half a century in this land. Their unkept promises and pledges galore; fiction is a legacy of them; disarray and misdirection their hobby and pretexts and under-cutting their master plans.

When an Ambassador reports to the headquarters that the personal file of a Third Secretary is lost from the Embassy, and the appropriates that the culprit is the same officer, to his own astonishment and dismay, and finally finds the same deposited in Ambassador's drawer and subsequently hands over it to the Attache', is it not hypocrisy? Ambassador's sinister motive was to implicate the innocent Third Secretary! When a Director-General alters Secretary's approval and maintains that he never did so, but the subject clerk is it not hypocrisy? Accused and plaintiff are both briefed surreptitiously by Attorney-at-Law.

What hypocritic actions are these? Millions of deposits and investments are defaulted by errant companies or agencies and culprits enjoy their lives abroad.

Politicians cast lavish but unkept promises to the voter and adopt 'hide and seek' attitude and thus evade the voter, until the next election dawns. Such are the brief traces of hypocritic dealings of our so-called elite. Only a very few of them are exceptions.

Society is sick of wrong democracies and deliberate hypocrisies judiciously nursed and nurtured by our masters, whose credibility is fast defunct. No remedial measures can be taken because law enforcement officers and legislators are the true defaulters and lawbreakers. Legislature, Executive and Judiciary should stage a symmetrical attempt to venture wipe out such anti-social scenery.

Faulty democracy and intense hypocrisy are a curse to our nation. If genuine and urgent steps are not taken or delayed to curb them, masses would have their last sigh, beneath the debris of a fallen society.


Developing agriculture

I refer to the editorial of October 21 under the above caption. Many facts of great importance to develop agriculture and increase production are given therein, which I trust would draw the attention of those in the trade. Accordingly, it is observed that although 1/3 of the total labour force is engaged in agriculture, its contribution to the national economy is only 1/8 of the Gross Domestic Product.

The above position confirms that agriculture in our country at present is not all that healthy hence should be remedied to give the desired results, benefiting the country.

Causes contributing to the above unsatisfactory position vary from agriculture to management of same. We have seen in the recent past of plantations which were performing poorly, suddenly recording tremendous profits after those managements changed hands from private to Government, which should have been vice versa confirming my above position. Furthermore, as an explanter, I am aware of a large coconut plantation of even growth divided by a road, managed by two separate organizations where one section performs extremely well while the other is far behind, solely due to mismanagement of same.

Those engaged in agriculture, similar to any other venture should be thoroughly aware of the particular trade, as well as accounting to be aware of their NSA and COP, including those factors which are responsible for the above, without which the full potential of those ventures could never be achieved.

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