|Monday, 2 September 2002|
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A letter from the President promising not to dissolve Parliament, compromising her own constitutional position, except with the majority in the House requesting her to do so, is itself demeaning, specially so when the Parliament does not need her word. The constitution is above both President and Parliament.
'Letters' of this nature, on the President being ill-advised, only lowers the dignity of the office of Presidency. Impermanence is the soul and substance of all life and everything. The Constitution that worked well for two decades, now finds itself an instrument of irritation.
As early as 1996, the President herself found that the Executive Presidency is not suitable for our country, and in fact she sought a mandate for its abolition. The time is ripe for reconsideration of the validity of the Constitution specially in the light of rapid changes in the political scene. Anyway, the Constitution which appears to be stumbling block today, is an invention of a former UNP regime. The Government with the concurrence of the Opposition should at least take measures to remove the obnoxious clauses which hamper peace, progress and stability of the country.
E. M. G. EDIRISINGHE - Dehiwala
In his letter to your paper of 26.8.2002, the writer Goonetilleke has highlighted what is of much concern to those obliged to travel in three wheelers because there is no rational basis on which fares are charged. It depends entirely on the whims of the driver with whom a commuter has to bargain about the fare.
In most instances when a commuter bargains for a lower fare, the response often is far from civil and also embarrassing if it happened to be a lady. People have to put up with this rude attitude because this is the only other mode of transport to the middle classes and those living in distant parts of the country to take a patient to a hospital.
Even to those who have their own vehicles, this is handy because they cannot easily find parking places. The answer obviously is to make it legally compulsory, like in India that these vehicles should have fare meters.
This will indeed be a blessing if the authorities concerned could implement this. This will benefit even the drivers as there will be discipline among themselves.
TISSA AMARASEKERA - Kandy
It is repugnant to note a well orchestrated attempt made by certain vested interests to belittle the successfully concluded Asian Athletic Championships held in Sri Lanka. These persons' vicious ploy was to exaggerate a minor lapse at the meet and blow it out of proportion. Whatever their motives, these critics were relegated when two internationally renowned athletic officials congratulated the Sri Lankan authorities for the meticulous organisation of the meet. Bjorn Wangerman, Director IAAF and Maurice Nicholas Secretary General, Asian Athletics Body asserted that the Asian Athletic Championships held in Sri Lanka exceeded the required standards set by the world body.
I enjoyed watching this international meet on TV and this grand spectacle made small Sri Lanka proud. My interest was further enhanced by the brilliant performances of our Susanthika Jayasinghe, Sriyani Kulawansa, Sugath Tillekeratne and the relay team. Although there were some lapses prevalent at the meet, overall its organisation was superb. The massive crowds that thronged the Sugathadasa Stadium to witness this event vindicate its success. No international sports event is bereft of shortcomings.
A. GOONERATNE - Dehiwela
Peace is most essential in us and in the world over. The only solution is prayer which is more powerful than any weapons or bombs. I therefore appeal to all whether they are Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims or Christians to observe prayers daily as proscribed in their religions, for a lasting Peace and hope this will be a good advice at this crucial predicament.
A. R. M. SIDDIQUE - Dematagoda
It is not justified to impose an Insurance Tax on foreign job seekers. What does it benefit these employees? Some of our own Embassies ignore these workers when they're faced with some difficulty. They are treated with much indignity. The fact that the FEB is collecting insurance money must entitle our employees abroad to proper treatment and benefits.
After all employees having NRFC Accounts with a credit balance of US#1000 are automatically covered by insurance. The government must encourage all those working abroad to open NRFC Accounts and maintain a credit balance of US$ 1000.
This will ensure a good saving by the employee, dollar remittance to the country and automatic insurance coverage.
The authorities must find ways and means of encouraging foreign employment and see that these men and women are not harassed and discouraged when they are about to leave their homeland and loved ones and are proceeding to a strange destination. What is the purpose of this payment? If the government thinks that the country's overseas workers should be taxed I am sure it can think of some better way to do it?
To make the overseas workers feel better this is unjustified. We must encourage foreign job seekers by providing them with good facilities, make them feel that they are being looked after and not being fleeced and treated like criminals.
BRIAN HINGERT - Riyadh
The civil war in Sri Lanka which has plagued this nation, seems to be coming to an end. The prospects for peace seem very bright and I personally feel peace is possible, only if all citizens of Sri Lanka practice what has been preached.
All religions teach the good side and the bad side to all believers and followers. Too much of blood has been shed in the past twenty years, and the side effects of the war is evident. There has been too much preaching and if someone points his finger at another, he or she doesn't understand that there are three (3) more fingers pointed against him. Bygones are bygones this is the time to reconcile and a time where we should put to practice what has been preached or else we will be the world's best preachers.
"Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender hearted forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:31-32)
Let us all live in peace, joy and in harmony.
LI KUANG SHU - Kandy
The Colombo-Hatton highway at Yatiyantota is now almost impassable, because on both sides of the highway near the bus stand, pavement hawkers have put up sheds encroaching on to the main road. The worst thing is, the buyers freely move from one side to the other of the road without realising they are on a highway.
Every vehicle has to stop and ask for room to move forward. And you can't see the vehicles coming from the opposite direction due to the crowd on the road. Authorities please take early corrective action.
K. U. PUSHPAKUMARA - Pitakotte
Whatever the PA may say we are living in peace for the past nine months.
How many Sinhala and Tamil youths' lives have been saved? Do we want to sacrifice all this? Peace talks to be held in Thailand will, I am sure, flourish and the whole island will enjoy peace and happiness after decades. Sinhalese and Tamils will be able to live amicably as they did during the time the British ruled Sri Lanka.
We had Tamils as school teachers and classmates during that time. Tamils lived peacefully down south as far as Matara and Hambantota and Sinhalese lived just as peacefully in Jaffna and the North. We enjoyed holidays in Jaffna with Tamil families.
Prabhakaran has realised his folly in trying to wage war against the lawful inhabitants of Sri Lanka and now wants peace. So let there be peace, happiness and prosperity in a Free Sri Lanka.
P. M. GUNASEKERA - Matara
It was reported in the media recently that the Prime Minister has appointed a Committee to prepare a new Electoral system. When the existing Election Laws are revised, action should also be taken to make it mandatory for all the voters to produce their National Identity Cards at the Polling Station before a Ballot paper is issued to a voter. This will prevent impersonation which has become a common feature at most of the Polling stations.
Since the outbreak of the ethnic war, every individual has taken note to have National Identity Card or a valid official Identity Card, such as a Driving Licence or a Passport or some such other document issued by a Government authority.
We are aware that we have to produce a valid identity card before entering a Government or private institution or to transact business in a Bank or Post Office. Even students sitting for the Public examinations below the age of 18 years are now issued N.I.C.C. by the Commissioner of Registration of Persons.
The Electoral Lists are revised annually by the Elections Department, and the Grama Niladaris distribute the Householders lists at the beginning of June each year, when each chief occupant of every household is required to enter the names of all those who are over 18 years at his residence. One of the columns in the electoral list has provision to enter the N.I.C. number. Therefore, the National Identity Card number could be included in the voters' Lists at the time of printing the revised Electoral lists without any problem.
L. LEKAMWASAM LEANAGE - Ambalangoda
Come to any government office, including Ministries, at 9.30 a.m., that is, half hour after starting time, and what will you see.
Employees (some in the canteen) in various stages with their breakfast and/or leafing through the news papers. First the breakfast, and then work.
Peons and office labourers are supposed to clock in at 8.30 a.m. (some arrive after 9 am) to open the offices and clean them up, for which, ironically enough, they also have private janitorial services engaged. The rationale is not understood.
A clerk considers it infra dig to carry a file to the boss. It must be done by the Peon. Yet carrying a file does not require any professional skills.
The word discipline is alien to the public servant, and why not - if politicians can run riot in the Parliament, have truck with hoodlums and killer squads to intimidate their political opponents, a little indiscipline should be tolerable. It is not customary to reply Letters/inquiries from the public promptly and accurately.
The public servants are more wage-oriented than service-oriented.
The popular motto seems to be 'ask what more the government can do for me'. With all these, they tell us they have legitimate grievances and demand salary increases to the total exclusion of the vast majority of countrymen, who have no regular income or the thousands of educated youth without jobs or the under-employed.
The remedy - debar all public servants from engaging in politics by making it a serious offence. Politics is the bane of the public service.
Whatever the government, the employees should always remain as faithful servants of the public not politicians.
B.S. - Kandy
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