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Tuesday, 12 February 2013

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G FOR GROUCH

Has been and washed out media pundits have reacted predictably to the lead story in one of our editions last week about Colombo being one of the least expensive cities on a comparative global scale.

One such columnist Gamini Weerakoon writing in a Sunday weekly proved what was apparent all along when he was writing daily commentaries to a newspaper published from a quaintly named street in Colombo 13 -- the gentleman is unable to think straight. Hansi Putuwa therefore is prescribed, on a more permanent basis.

Apparently, our contention that Colombo, on the strength of EIU (Economist Intelligence Unit) statistics is relatively inexpensive – relatively being the operative word here -- for the city resident and the commuter, was a little too much information for this man to process with his unique quantity of grey cells.

That he is weak on logic is made abundantly clear when he quoted verbatim from our editorial in a clear admission that elementary reading comprehension is not his strong suit, but be that as it may, we’d rather get to substance. His grouse is that on Sri Lankan salaries Colombo cannot be easy on the wallet, even though the city may be relatively inexpensive for the tourist or the outsider, as per the survey that was quoted.

That we’ve conceded this too in our editorial is something that’s not divulged in the said comment. The writer would rather that the reader imagine that something as elementary and self evident as this may only occur to him, but do let that pass.

Who or what authority was quoted as saying that Colombo is inexpensive? It was an organization that collated information on cost of living for the benefit of executives in order that they may benefit from the result in order to make informed choices in deciding where expatriate workers employed by them should live and work.

How such a document could be relevant to the local dweller is somehow lost on GW, whose irrelevancy drives him these days to go to extraordinary lengths to please partisan yearnings of the paymasters of the privately kept media. The man has to earn his keep, in other words, but facts, however, are sacred though feces is free.

Expatriate workers are not a breed that fell from heaven to exist on caviar and champagne. The lowliest Sri Lankan housemaid working in the Middle East for instance is considered an expatriate worker, in case the word ‘expat’ carries gravitas that makes anybody -- or GW -- want to buckle at the knees.

Certainly any definition of expatriate workers serving in Sri Lanka would encompass by and large the Chinese workers on various city construction projects, and the Indian workers on technical advisory capacities, for example.

No rocket science is necessary to discern that this vast swathe of expatriate middle class is in many ways comparable in terms of their earning power to sections of the Colombo population, if not in the lower middle, at least in the middle classes.

The problem is the obtuseness which makes the bitter and the borderline grouches want to ignore the facts and the statistics that stare in the face, and believe in their own narratives that are shaped by their rather spent and defeated existences.

Those who spend the bitter, correction, better half of their salaries at a Colombo watering hole would probably not have much to get by even at the best of times, and that’s not necessarily the experience through which an assessment should be made about the relative cost of living in diverse cities.

As was stated in the original editorial on the subject, no modern city is in fact easy on the wallet. Modern life in a metropolis is almost by definition expensive, with utility costs, food prices etc., being prohibitive worldwide particularly due to a global economic downturn at present.

Colombo dwellers -- even those not necessarily wearing clean suits with empty pockets -- may not feel it at gut level therefore, but that does not necessarily mean that on a relative scale, the cost of living in Colombo is prohibitive.

It compares relatively well with other cities, and though the irrationally bitter and crotchety cannot get their heads around it, this reality is more than well reflected in the recent survey done by the Economic Intelligence Unit that gives a good acquittal of Colombo as a city that’s reasonably easy on the purse-strings for all comers.


 

Looking East at Independence

The setting, Trincomalee was symbolic. Around 10 years ago, a fisherman had pointed out to me a leveled strip of Sampur where he said the TNA had declared as the future Parliament of Tamil Eelam. It was here in the LTTE’s Pongu Tamil celebration that Catholic priests were pictured provocatively marking out the future boundaries of Tamil Eelam.

Full Story

POINT OF VIEW

History, harping, and Muslims

Third Response to Shenali Waduge:

This halaal certificate affair keeps coming up in Shenali Waduge’s every argument, despite the fact that I explained this in my very first response. So I am compelled to repeat myself. The halaal issue popped up when non-Muslim restaurants like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and KFC opened shop here.

Full Story

Nineteenth death anniversary:

Justice Rajaratnam great orator and Parliamentarian

The 19th death anniversary of former Supreme Court Judge and SLFP Member of Parliament late Justice T W Rajaratnam was commemorated on January 15, 2013.

Full Story

 

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