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Monday, 26 April 2010

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President's historic visit to St John's Nugegoda

I read with interest Jagath Savanadasa's article on President Rajapaksa's visit to St John's Nugegoda on March 27 published in your newspaper of April 8 and wish to add the following.

The article includes memorable insights into the institution's history and products. It may be pertinent to mention for the sake of record a few more landmarks.

(a) St John's first began as a Christian missionary school in 1915 at the height of British rule. It was then a mixed school.

(b) In 1935 following the clamour for a separate school for girls the institution was divided and St John's boys school came into existence.

(c) Among the first students of the boys' school were brothers Jungle and Jingle Dissanayake, Dr R Abeyratna the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine. All three of them however completed their school education later at Royal College, Colombo.

(d) Jingle Dissanayake and later Cyril Herath another distinguished Johnian who also completed his education at Royal, became Inspectors General of Police. Cyril Herath also became Defence Secretary culminating an outstanding public service career.

(e) Among the other brilliant students of my time were Niel Bandaranayake who entered the coveted Civil Service and ended his career as a Permanent Secretary, George Candappa, President's Counsel and Even Melder of the World Bank.

This letter is just to supplement the article. It is not intended to take the shine off Jagath Savanadasa's many vital contributions towards documenting the history of this leading school.


General Election ballot paper

The ballot paper designed and printed for the General Election held on April 8 is far from satisfactory. The public has not been adequately educated of the concept of the design and the selection of their optional votes.

The names of the parties contesting look almost identical in print and pronunciation. When there are so many parties with similar names, the voter is in a quandary to find out the name of the candidates of his, her choice. A notice is displayed outside the hall displaying the names of the candidates and the font of the print used cannot be read even with the support of a magnifying glass. To read the full list, you will have to have a support of a sitting chair to stand on or a small ladder as they are hung above the eyes, horizon.

Most of the voters enter the hall with the thinking that the name of their preferential candidate is appearing in the ballot paper and his duty is only to mark a 'X' in front of the name. But, the ballot paper contains only the names of the parties contesting. Of course it is admitted that all the names of the candidates cannot be printed in the ballot paper as they runs to a few hundreds.

In this case, a conspicuous notice should have been displayed at the entrance of the polling booth advising the voters to select the preferential number of their candidate before the receipt of the ballot paper. A list of names in bigger fonts should be displayed in one or two places.

These are only intelligent thinking that the polling staff should have thought of before the conduct of the poll.


UNP now blaming the system!

The Election result of April 2010, clearly is an indictment on the Leader of the UNP, Ranil Wickremesinghe. In 2004 - 3.7 million people cast their vote for the UNP at the General Election. This election the numbers have dropped to 2.2 million, which reflects the disinterest of the UNP voter to cast their vote to their party and instead kept away from exercising his/her franchise.

The UNP is the oldest party and led this country and made many Prime Ministers and Presidents. In the 2010 General Election the UNP Leader shamelessly exited from contesting and backed Sarath Fonseka, knowing very well that he would face defeat and thereby his leadership will be subject to challenge before this Parliamentary Election.

Any self respecting leader would stand down from the leadership as he has to take total responsibility for the defeat and not blame the system, but it is a known fact that Ranil Wickremesinghe will not hand over the leadership and would continue to hold on to the UNP leadership up to the next Presidential Election and even after losing that, he would say that still he is younger than his uncle J R Jayewardene, who became the President at the age of 72 and would want to stand for General Election. This is the apathy of the UNP members and the public who support the UNP which has been their party for decades.

Ranil Wickremesinghe is known to be a very selfish politician. He ruined the Colombo Municipal Council in the year 2002 when he denied Omar Kamil the opportunity of contesting the Council as the Mayoralty candidate. Thereafter in 2006 he was responsible for having manipulated the Nomination List by permitting his close confidante in changing and tepexing names of people who have already signed the nomination list and thereafter the Nomination List itself was rejected by the Elections Commissioner as an invalid list.

At that time he was subject to pressure to step down as he has openly supported Milinda Moragoda and Mohamed Mahroof for the invalidated Nomination List. Although 45 or 50 percent Members of Parliament who have won under the UNP in 2004 defected for his weak leadership, still he refused to stand aside and allow the party to go down while he too was slipping down.

The UNP has no future with Ranil Wickremesinghe and it is very sad that honourable men like Karu Jayasuriya, Rukman Senanayake among others are languishing in the Opposition ranks, while he is still holding the post of Leader of Opposition, continues to enjoy the perks of a Cabinet Minister with over 150 Security Personnel and other facilities that goes with the position. What a shame and why can't UNPers realise that they will get nowhere, with this leader except ending up in the debris of the polls.


English their way

We have already started teaching the public. The credit must go to the Colombo Municipal Council workshop and engineers. For over an year the new 'CMC Engineers English' is displayed to the public. To my knowledge no one has written to the newspaper on this. Is it because we readers have accepted our re-education in English by the CMC? Here are some of the changes in my area:

Street names

In the Wellawatte area alone here are the changes in street names:

Originally Now in CMC English
Canal Road Cannel Road
Hampden Lane Hamden Lane
Pennyquick Lane Penniequick Lane
Grero Place Grairo Place
Pereira Lane Pareira Lane
Peterson road Perterson Road
Here is a change in the huge overhead sign with road directions on W A Silva Mw.

Peterson Road Perterson Road

There are others all over the city. I request other readers to write in and complete the record.

Changing road names. The CMC workshop changed the name. It is not a decision of the Council members.

Flower Road (in Colombo 7) Malpara

Front Street (in Pettah) would it become Issaraha Para

Gasworks Street (in Pettah) would it become Waatha Kammal Para

The CMC does the letter painting at its Maradana workshop. Earlier the road signs were re done on contract with a firm.

What is amazing is why cannot the engineers devise a simple way to prevent these errors. Even if the engineers do not know enough English, surely a copy can be made of the original spelling before it is erased for re painting? Or use one of the many road directories available in bookshops.

Is it the lack of intelligence and commitment to the job by Municipal engineers?


Tribute to Colombo South Teaching Hospital, Kalubowila staff

I was a patient in Ward No. 25 (surgical) and the Intensive Care Unit (Medical) of the above hospital for a about a week in December, 2009 for a major surgery.

This letter is written in appreciation of the services rendered by the doctors as well as nurses and the minor staff to all patients in the Ward and the ICU. They are duty conscious and courteous and always prepared to help the patients irrespective of their status. Further both the Ward and the ICU are well maintained and the toilets kept clean at all times.


Naming of public roads

The road from Colombo to Galle named Galle Road which passes through several towns including Moratuwa, had a new diversion at the Cross Junction in Moratuwa up to Egodauyana (Moratuwa) joining Walana (Panadura) with a new bridge.

This took place in the 1970s during the stewardship of the writer, when he was the MP for Moratuwa from 1970-77. He acceded to the requests of several social service organisations in Moratuwa South and started the project.

It is true however that the proposal could not be concluded during his time and his successor, the late Tyronne Fernando completed the construction whilst Minister Fowzie supplied electricity to the new road.

People correctly called the old Galle Road section from Cross Junction to the Digarolle Bridge, 'Old Galle Road' and the new diversion upto the new bridge (Egodauyana-Walana) 'New Galle Road'. Recently however the City Fathers in Moratuwa have named the old Galle Road section 'W D Amaradeva Mawatha' and the new diversion 'Tyronne Fernando New Galle Road'.

This change is quite uncalled for, since Galle Road should continue to carry this name if at all the Moratuwa City Fathers want to honour W. D. Amaradeva and the late Tyronne Fernando, they could very well name two other roads in the villages of Koralawella and Laxapathiya respectively from where the two respectable Moratuwites hail.

A similar change took place in the past when the then Urban Council changed the name of 'Moratuwa Railways Station Road' to 'E T de Silva Mawatha' and the 'Egodauyana Railway Station Road' to 'T. L. C. Peiris Mawatha'. However people still continue to call the two roads 'Moratuwa Railway Station Road' and 'Egodauyana Railway Station Road'.

Incidentally it might be mentioned that all the above mentioned roads are maintained by the Highways Department, and not by the Moratuwa Municipal Council. Public opinion should be sought and wiser counsel should prevail in changing existing names of roads.

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