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Monday, 30 April 2012

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Welfare reform for the Blind Community

Some intense government activity is currently focused on reforms of our country's private sector employees' pension scheme. The goal of this activity as expressed by a number of policy makers, is to draft a plan that is comprehensive, and will ensure that the pension scheme is both available and acceptable to all private sector employees.

Since the number of those people who live with vision loss is expected to rise exponentially over the next few years, not to mention our military veterans who have incurred multiple disabilities through their war action, the Blind Citizens' Front has joined with other blindness organizations to call for the inclusion in the welfare programme legislation of provisions that will address the unique needs of people who are blind, and vision impaired, at least to those over 50 years of age, unemployed, and without a monthly income.

BCF specifically, is urging the two-third majority in parliament including the Buddhist clergy to establish an unambiguous policy of welfare reform to cover individuals experiencing vision loss at least to address their healthcare needs. A pension for the blind, and quality and affordable healthcare are two of the most vital elements in living independent, productive lives.

Since 1994 to date, none of these issues has been adequately addressed either by parliament or national regulatory authorities. We believe that the advent of a national discussion on public employees' pension scheme and other issues, has given us a great opportunity to improve and changed this trend for the betterment of the society as a whole.

We need men of intellect and understanding at the highest level, men with the practical will to initiate fair policies to assist the under - privileged to guarantee a decent standard of living, so that they could live useful and happy lives.


Making Sri Lanka a nation united and self sufficient

Certain persons are trying to confer on President Mahinda Rajapaksa various degrees and titles.

Some are even trying to make him look like an Emperor. But the President is wise enough not to be led up the garden path.

Sri Lanka is a very tiny dot in the Indian Ocean. Demonstrations are being held denouncing Sri Lanka in countries whose governments are hostile to us over the LTTE issue.

Earlier TV channels showed war scenes and also clips of the Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe distributing leaflets in the streets and holding demonstrations, followed by clips of Ravi Karunanayake speaking in Parliament espousing the "Alimankada Pamankada" comments.

We have heard the story of 'The Emperor's New Clothes' by Hans Christian Andersen. The emperor in his vanity parades the streets to show his subjects his new clothes. However the President is tough and realistic unlike the emperor who wore no clothes.

The Sinhalese are in the majority only in this country and a minority in all other countries.

The Tamils who are all over the world are a bigger community. Therefore we should treat the Tamils brothers and sisters with respect and give them their due rights as enjoyed by the Sinhalese.

This will soften the attitude towards our people in foreign countries.

Now that the terrorists have been annihilated, we should not hereafter think that all Tamils are terrorists.

Since gaining independence we live as a single nation - Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers.

The one and only ruler President Mahinda Rajapaksa who on arrival from a foreign conference knelt down and worshiped the motherland which sustains us.

Now all including the Leader of the Opposition must give a helping hand irrespective of differences to rebuild the country and make it self-sufficient.


CID Special Unit - Land Cases

The Sri Lanka police recently set up a Special Unit under the Criminal Investigation Dept to investigate into complaints of unlawful or criminal misappropriation of property. On setting up the special unit, wide publicity was given on the scope and functions of this unit. There was a tremendous response from the public and many sought the help of the Special Unit and have obtained relief and advice.

With monotonous regularity, reports and letters are carried in the print media of inefficiency and indifference of some public institutions. While wide publicity is afforded to adverse observations, regrettably appreciation of commendable and exemplary service is rarely conveyed. Recently, experiencing a courteous and efficient service at the new Special Unit, I feel obliged to convey the appreciation of the exemplary service. When I visited the Special Unit to lodge a complaint in respect of a very intricate and complicated fraudulent transaction, I met the Director of the Special Unit. Despite his heavy work schedule and with many persons waiting to meet him, he granted me a patient hearing. After considering the salient aspects with meticulous care he advised us as to the course of action to be pursued.

The manner in which he handled the case was exemplary, and abundantly and manifestly he demonstrated a remarkably high degree of proficiency and commitment. His advice was invaluable and I was impressed by the high sense of dedication to duty and the cordial and friendly manner he demonstrated.

The staff at the Unit despite some constraints of space with the numerous callers, were very courteous and friendly. It is quite evident that this Unit has been well organized and the staff enthused to serve the public in an exemplary manner.

This special unit is a credit to the police force.


Maradana railway station

A few days back, I was standing on platform No. 2 at the Maradana railway station to board the Chilaw express train which leaves at 4.50 pm.

A tourist family (parents with 2 kids) was near me, the father with two empty bottles in hand walking up and down looking for a bin to dump the two empties. He then came to me and said "Is this Sri Lanka? Why do not the government or railways look into these? Where can we throw these? Why is it very dirty in the station?"

I could not answer, just said that these things happen. Further questions he asked were,"What has happened to the roof of the new overhead bridge? Why are they not announcing in English? How can we understand?" Then I showed him the dustbin on platform 4, he put the bottles in the bin and came back to me and said "Thank You".

Since a lot of tourists now travel by train, the Railway administration should look into these matters. I was too ashamed to answer these questions. This for the attention of GM, Railways and the Tourist Board.


Scouting 100 years, where is morse semaphore?

Visual communication by morse and semaphore is not outdated as it is still in use internationally by ships in wide open sea.

Morse and semaphore communication in English introduced to scouts here, smoothy prevailed in use from the very beginning in 1912 to about 1956. Then there was no mobile phone as now. Sadly, visual communication was no more seen as a proud exhibition even at the scout centenary celebrations. A former Scouts Commissioner Camillus Fernando, took initial steps to promote these methods among scouts, but there is no further action after he retired.

There is a Sinhala version book on the semaphore methods published by the Cultural Affairs Department available for sale.

This book has been approved by the Education Publications Commission as a school library book as useful for scouts.

The Ahungalla Rajapaksa College scouts are active with the use of these methods with the help of the above book.


Abandoned pets on road

Some people abandon their pets on roads, and as a result those animals suffer because of human cruelty. In many western countries there are pet rescue centres, where abandoned pets are handled by local authorities with kindness and compassion.

Animal welfare organizations in Sri Lanka, which is a Buddhist country, should take steps to rescue these pets which are abandoned by people without a heart.

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