|Wednesday, 19 February 2003|
Please forward your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org in plain text format within the e-mail message, since as a policy we do not open any attachments.
Personally, I have always had reservations about getting domestics from agencies and we only contacted one when we were absolutely desperate. This was in October 2002. The mother of the woman we had fell ill and she was unable to return to us. We had to find someone quickly so that the girl we had could go home for Deepavali which was a week away. So we contacted this agency from Nugegoda.
The first recruit was soft spoken and humble but except for cooking a simple curry lunch didn't know much else. Her only other plus point was that she could use a sewing machine but she grumbled and grumbled about the mosquitoes which were prevalent everywhere during that time due to the wet weather. She also announced to us that she was going to 'madams' on Christmas Day completely forgetting that she was employed and paid by us! No consideration that we were Christians and that we would require her services on Christmas Day. But she fell sick with malaria and went off in a month.
The other woman sent us as a replacement (this is done within a period of three months) just lasted two hours as she was not prepared to cook on a kerosene cooker, only on gas.
I thought we would be third time lucky but one from Kohalana, Kalutara was the most cunning of them all. She arrived on a Friday and asked for a call on Saturday evening to inform her husband as to where she is. I knew that sooner or later we would get a call about some emergency! I took the precaution of making a note of the number.
On Tuesday evening she got the call (a bogus one as we have now discovered) to say that rogues had broken into her home in Kalutara. She shed a few crocodile tears and said that she will go home on Wednesday and come back on Thursday. Under normal circumstances we would not have paid her in full but we thought that she may have to urgently purchase cooking utensils etc. so we paid her up to the day she worked for us. I only told her to please let us know if she is not coming back the next day as we cannot wait indefinitely.
Now if she wasn't coming back I would not have cared less but she took with her the girl who had worked for us for 3 1/2 years. A 20 year old girl who completely trusted this woman who had been with us for 4 1/2 days! Rani sneaked out thru my aunt's nextdoor leaving a note for me that Kanthi was not coming back and that she cannot stay alone because of 'holman'.
Now only Kanthi was responsible for all this 'holman' talk, completely frightening her to act the way she did. If she wasn't coming back she only had to tell us, not Rani. We later learned that Kanthi had taken Rani to her home in Kalutara and then left for Talawakelle the next morning. We were thankful that she had not been taken to a brothel!
I feel it is my duty to warn the public of our experience. We were left high and dry without any help and it is no fun when your parents are old and completely dependent and at the mercy of these domestics.
Domestic agencies do not screen their applicants and ask for any letters of recommendation from previous employers. All they are bothered about is their commission and these women just turn out in droves at these agencies and it is a ONE BIG RACKET. The commissions they earn are all undisclosed income.
It is time the Government registered all these domestic agencies and insisted that all those registered under them had registration books like they used to have on the estates.
This would be some hold on these unscrupulous women who crimp and recruit foolish and gullible ones.
I am shocked to learn that there is a proposal to allow public servants to undertake private work for monetary gain. This is adding insult to injury. Does this mean that tax officers could have their own private clients?
Architects in the UDA can undertake Building Plans for private customers. State Counsels in the Attorney General's Department could appear for private litigants. Valuation Officers could do valuations for claimants and loan applicants from State and private Banks and so on.
Today's public servant is arrogant, proud and ignorant of their duties. They cannot take decisions and lay by every controversial file. They are no more "Your obedient servant", but they are the bosses of the public.
The proposal affects many departments and it is not for the Minister of Public Administration to take a decision without consulting all departments and the Organisation of Professional Associations. There is so much unemployment in the country and to allow public servants to eat into the private sector is the unkindest cut of all. Today's public servant is not that poor public servant of yesteryear.
They are drawing higher salaries. They are well to do judging by the luxury residences they build all over the country. I hope this proposal will be removed. Once opened no future Government will be able to close this sluice. It will completely destroy the public service.
"Eight persons died at unprotected level crossings...." Daily News, Thursday December 12, 2002, p.3.
People get injured or killed and expensive materials get damaged or smashed by collisions between rail vehicles and road vehicles on Rail Level Crossings.
I postulate to safeguard all rail vehicles with the same far reaching horn as that of the 50 years old American/Canadian M2 Class locos, which serves the purpose to inform the road traffic about approaching trains.
This horn can be identified by drivers and pedestrians over miles as that of an approaching train. Some rail cars and the recently imported French M9 Class Locos have only a short distance covering high tone whistle.
This warning sound gets easily absorbed by the surrounding.
The answer from the Railway Department is always the same: "The treasury is not allocating enough funds to safeguard all Locos and Commuter Trains with the same far reaching warning horn as in other countries like China, India, America etc."
The Buddhist path to Enlightment tells us, that IGNORANCE is the primary cause for FALSE VIEWS leading to SUFFERING. The public must be therefore prepared to face more train collisions to come on level crossings.
DR. FRANK WINGLER,
More and more people are attracted by trains due to cheap fares and safety of travelling. Safety depends on many factors. The condition of brake power, coaches, tracks and bridges are to name a few.
But very little concern about tracks and bridges which are equally indispensable as well as rolling stock. Alas, no sufficient funds allocated to maintain this vital section of railway tracks and bridges instead speed restrictions being imposed according to railway sources.
Deterioration of tracks and bridges cannot be observed all of a sudden. Those who perform the work could only realise the panic situation likely to form up as a result of non maintenance.
In the history of Sri Lankan Railway no collapses of bridges reported as they have been inspected and maintained in a considerable manner. But maintenance of bridges has become almost standstill due to lack of funds. Anyhow this is not a healthy situation regarding safe traffic. The prevailing restrictions of funds will make more bridges classified under replacement.
Trains will be delayed owing to speed restrictions. government servants travel by trains may be allowed to report their duties late. Private sector employees will be compelled to find their own mode of transport. Other train commuters also may be fed up with travelling by trains when they fail to reach their destinations in time daily.
Train travelling may become precarious and with utmost discontent commuters are compelled to travel by buses paying more than double of train fares for the same journey. It is not so late if the Government wishes to restructure the train service essential and important.
After all I wish to remind the well-known proverb "prevention is better than cure" under the government, authority or private sector administration.
I. L. M.,
I should like to add something to what Piyasinghe Wijewicrkema has written on the slaughter of cattle for beef (DN, Dec 11).
The habit of eating beef was introduced to the island by the Portuguese, when they first arrived in 1505. They relished eating beef, and cattle belonging to the villagers were taken and killed to procure meat, perhaps, in keeping with the biblical saying "The father hath killed the fatted calf" (St. Luke 15:27).
What a pity that these satient animals die at the hands of the wicked butchers and sacrifice their flesh to fill the bellies of men, women and children, as tombs, undergoing severe pain and suffering, as they bleed to death. Sometime back, such killing was shown on the TV, and those who had seen it, would have felt pity in the way they are killed, with no milk of human kindness.
In certain developed countries, machinery are used to kill large heads of cattle with minimum pain.
Sometimes, the animals are stunned with a sledge-hammer to make them unconscious, so as not to feel the pain, as in the case where the neck is severed from the body with a sharp instrument. In general practice, the head is cut off as in crude butchery.
Buddhists in Sri Lanka, before the arrival of the Portuguese, did not eat beef, as they abhorred such meat, probably influenced by Hindu custom, which considered the animals as sacred. For one thing, that the 'vahana' (divine vehicle) of god Siva is a bull called 'Nandi'. The religious rift between Hindustan and Pakistan is based on the slaughter of cattle, which still exists as a religious dividing line between the two nations, which can never compromised.
Just imagine the horrors of the abattoirs, horrors of the mode of transport of the animals, starvation, thirst and the prolonged misery and fear, which these unfortunate creatures have to undergo for the gratification of the appetite of man who yearn to eat their flesh. Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) once said "The greatness of man and his moral progress can be judged by the way he treats the animals selected for food".
Cow protection is a norm of faith in Hinduism. The concept of 'the sacred cow' is a integral part of Indian culture that has a long history. The ancient text Arthasastra, written about 2400 years ago, refers to the slaughter of cattle as a crime punishable with death. In modern India, as a matter of state policy preserving and improving livestock of all breeds, including the slaughter of cows and calves and draught animals, is an offence. In almost all hotels and restaurants in India, 'No Beef' signs adorn the walls.
In Sri Lanka, beef, in the colloquial language, is known as 'geri-mas' to undermine the type of meat. Today, in most Buddhist homes, beef is not cooked for the table, except Muslim and Christian homes that eat it with relish. I think it is time to impose ban on beef eating in Sri Lanka too, which is predominantly a Buddhist country, in keeping with the Indian policy.
Farms can be opened to procure fresh milk, instead of buying imported powdered milk, by improving the breed of milch cows. Powdered milk is costly and a 500 g. packet costs about 127 rupees. On the other hand, fresh milk is more nutritive than the powdered stuff.
People who have a taste for meat, can eat pork, mutton, venison, chicken etc., without running for beef. I am not touching on sin, but only say to save our livestock and make them more useful than supplying meat.
I am sure, if not all, most students of the history of our island home will agree with me, when I say that one of the primary causes for the state of our nation is party politics.
In other words, the manner in which the men and women chosen by the sovereign will of the people of our country have misused the delegated political will of the Sri Lankan Electorate.
The sky I believe is the limit for the examples one can offer for this dirty game which has been played perhaps, since 1931 when Britain gave the people of this country Universal Adult Franchise, only three years, after women in Britain were given the right to vote.
Please permit me to give a few examples for contemporary Sri Lanka to make my point.
Dr. Tara de Mel writing in one of the dailies on the subject of Education in Sri Lanka, says the following: "Indeed the task of reforming education is not a task for the weak and the uninitiated.
Nor is it a task for those with vested interests and other agendas.
It is a task for persons of high calibre who will work with dedication and dynamism, and with true passion for the cause".
It seems to be the order of the day, at least historically that every Government brings out a White Paper on Education and there is no continuity.
What happened to the draft bill which envisaged changes to the Education Ordinance of 1939? Also what happened to the "Amity Schools"? These Schools were to be created so that segregation on a racial basis could be done away with.
Let me give another current example, today, one of the popular political terms, at least in the English Medium Mass Media is the word Federalism.
Most people seem to be supporting this. The other day, State Media reported that a group of MPs, strange bedfellows indeed, if one can go by the animosity between/amongst political parties, are touring the world to study Federalism!!!
I know that we are all very human. I also know that because of the 11th of September, 2001 and the lack of funds and people to continue with the war, we are now keen to offer Federalism as a model to settle the Sri Lankan national problem.
Isn't it true that if not for Party Politics and the greed to get to Parliament, by hook or crook and hold on to a seat even using unethical methods, we have refused to accept Federalism for many decades.
Of course one must grant that the psychology of the human, in some Sri Lankans, is the fear that the Federal State could be the foundation for the beginning of a Tamil Empire including South India and other places. We Sri Lankans are not computers and machines, although we use them.
We are primarily human. Therefore, we have genuine fears, fair enough.
But this refusal to accept Federalism, of course coupled with other factors has cost the Sri Lankan People valuable lives and the wastage of money on a No Win War.
I wonder whether party politicians are aware that as the Visiting British Minister of State Foreign/Commonwealth Office Mike O Brien stated at a public meting at the BMICH recently that the whole world is watching us because of our Peace Process.
Not only the world, but, also the Sri Lankan electorate.
We are in a sense, looking the other side, when the cost of living is going up, in the context of the ceasefire, violence is rampant, all types of abuse of power is taking place because we want the Government of Sri Lanka to succeed in solving our national problem.
May the above be food for thought for all those who have chosen to be involved in the Sri Lankan party politics.
THE VERY REV. FR. SYDNEY KNIGHT,
Suddenly somebody writes about meat eating to the press, it appears in print, people read it and immediately they forget it. But the slaughter of satient animals for food goes on unabated, similar to the saving "Dogs bark but the caravan goes on". No action is being taken by the government, nor the Buddhist clergy, to put an end to it, because as long as there is demand for meat, it will continue.
On the other hand, there is no legal prohibition for killing animals other than those protected by law. Meat eating does not confine to beef alone. Fish is also meat from a biological point of view. However, the general cry is over beef and the functioning of abattoirs. The kinds of meat generally eaten by people are beef, mutton, pork, venison, chicken, flesh of the wild boar and elk. Some also eat the flesh of iguanas, tortoises, tigers and even dogs with much relish.
Medical opinion is that eating meat and meat products is injurious to health unlike vegetation diet. But such warning has not changed the appetite of man from eating meat. Similar to drinking and smoking, eating meat also continues to reduce the life span of those who indulge in it, or, at least, make them unhealthy.
A dead cow lying in a pasture is recognised as a carrion. The same sort of carcass dressed and hung up in a butcher's stall, passes as food. Careful microscopic examination may show little or no difference between the fence corner carcass and the butcher's shop carcass. Both are swarming with colon germs and redolent with putrefaction. That is why we must think twice before we buy beef from a stall.
Produced by Lake House