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Tuesday, 3 April 2012

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Wake up USA! wake up to the reality

The so-called US resolution on the supposed human rights violations during the final phase of the LTTE debacle in Sri Lanka seems to have stirred up a bit of a hornet's nest. It is timely that everyone concerned takes a good look at the US's own human rights record in the context that it is trying to impose uncalled for restrictions on other sovereign nations according to dictates of certain vested interests.

Let's first look at what happened as recently as July 16th, 2009 to Professor Henry Louis Gates, the respected Afro-American Professor of the famed Harvard University, while he was trying to open the front door of his own home. As the door lock was jammed he entered the house through a back door and was in the process of forcing open the front door with his driver, another Afro-American. A white American cop entered the Gates’ house, handcuffed Gates and took him to the police station, despite identification provided to confirm that he was the rightful occupant of the house. This was purely on a phone tip-off of a possible house break-in.

President Obama rightly reacted to the incident by saying that the police had acted foolishly and that he was more fortunate himself that there was no need for him to open any doors of the White House. Obama went on to say that he would have been shot in similar circumstances of his trying to open a White House door. He however had to retract his original statement later under pressure, and instead invite both the cop and the professor for beer at the White House.

Many us know there was racial segregation even in public transport in many states of the USA, the today's self proclaimed world champion of human rights and democracy. But we can never forget the real American champions of basic human rights like Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the two Afro-Americans who won the gold and bronze medal respectively at the 200 metres at the 1968 Olympics.

Both raised their black-gloved fists at the medal awards ceremony in protest against the social injustice and segregation prevailing in their country at the cost of losing the hard won medals immediately afterwards. Similar examples are too many to be detailed here. We should all be thankful to the silver medalist of the event Australian Peter Norman, a white, who too took the opportunity to wear a human rights badge at the podium in protest against the 'White Australia Policy'. Norman proved to the world that all whites are neither racists nor ‘anti-human rightists'.

They are the true heroes of human rights, unlike the ‘pseudo-heroines’ of the likes of Hillary's. Just last week, I was watching a CNN TV programme where a prospective republican candidate for the forthcoming US Presidential Election was being interviewed. He was asked how he felt about the burning of the Quran at a US army camp in Afghanistan. His response was to ask the interviewer to think of the frame of mind the soldiers would have been in under such dangerous circumstances as in Afghanistan. The implication was that for a soldier to change his mind frame according to the situation he is in, he has to be from the Uncle Sam first and a white next.

That is how the American leaders try to twist situations to their own advantages.

Now, turning to our own situation here in Sri Lanka, let us see what happened during the last few days when the LTTE leaders were cornered by the Sri Lankan forces. Let us finally not forget that the Americans betrayed almost all the Vietnamese who faithfully served them till the very last moment in the so-called largest ever helicopter evacuation, rescuing only the Americans in possibly the worst betrayal ever recorded.


A hundred rupees will not be a hundred!

Is there a shortage of the one rupee coin or is it that the rupee coin has become very insignificant? I am compelled to ask this question as nine times out of ten, I do not seem to get my due balance of a rupee. The worst offenders are bus conductors. When I tender a ten rupee note to travel a nine rupee distance, I never seem to receive the one rupee balance.

The nickle plated one rupee that was in circulation was of acceptable size, but the copper coin introduced is just the size of the 25 cents which has now gone out of circulation. That children collect coins in their tills is true, but if this has led to a shortage of the coin, it is time the Central Bank released a stock to meet the shortage. After all, a hundred rupees will not be a hundred, if it is short by a rupee.


Open letter to Petroleum Minister

Toilet facilities for females at petrol stations:

On behalf of the female population of this country who undergo much hardship when travelling and the need to use a toilet arises, I make this humble suggestion and request.

Please make it essential for all petrol sheds all over the country to have clean, decent, usable toilets with water for the use of female travellers/motorists.

In all foreign countries every petrol shed has clean toilets and a small grocery outlet. Why not we also have this in our very own Sri Lanka? We should begin someday. A nominal charge of Rs. 20 could be levied from the user to prevent unwanted persons using this facility, and to cover cost of maintenance. Every shed needs a toilet for their staff and also someone has to clean it.

Why not improve the facility, and make it available for travellers and motorists also?


Run for their lives

Lazarus Perinpanayagam a parishioner of St. Jude's Church, Mattegoda, an ex-planter and now a British Council qualified lecturer in IELTS aged 74, was the oldest runner in the 5.5 km run organised by the Rotaractors of Colombo Uptown in aid of the Cancer Institute, Maharagama. He was an all-round sportsman at St. Patrick's College, Jaffna and St. Joseph's College, Colombo. He captained the athletic team at St. Patrick's College in 1954 and later at St. Joseph's College which he represented in athletics and basketball, and won soccer colours in 1957. After leaving school he captained the All Jaffna soccer team in 1961 and played rugger and soccer for the Uva Province in 1963. He played veterans' soccer for the Old Josephian Sports Club until 1990 and since then he has been taking part in almost all the veterans' running and walking competitions. His grandson Ravin Antonio aged 13, an outstanding athlete and under 13 rugger captain of St. Joseph's College, Colombo also completed the run.

‘Soccer Peri’ as he is popularly known keeps fit by daily exercise, jogging and walking. A Rotarian for 30 years, past Assistant Governor District 3220 and a great social worker, he believes in the Rotary Motto "Service above Self"


Vehicles run on pavements

I wish to bring to the kind notice of the traffic department of the Colombo Municipal Council that along the one-way road at Dematagoda where some international schools are situated, the narrow pavement and the road are of the same level from assessment number 139 onwards. Motor bikes and three wheelers are very often found to be ridden and driven on this narrow pavement in spite of it being a traffic offence. As a daily traveller to this area I see pedestrians, especially school children not only being inconveniently forced to walk on the road but also running a risk and facing danger to their lives, because of vehicles running on the pavement.

It is kindly requested to build the pavements to avoid such vehicles running over them upto the colour light area that joins Baseline Road.

The opposite side pavements also require repairs. Early action by the CMC will be greatly appreciated as the road without a pavement is a hazard to human life.

 

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