|Wednesday, 26 February 2003|
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We have now entered the 21st century. New human rights are surfacing for instance, right to peace, both at national and international level, right to pollution-free environment, right to development and right to be dealt as human beings.
Tracing the history of human rights, we find that human rights as a concept, a philosophy, germinated due to frustration as a result of exploitation of the poor and helpless. Even though it surfaced in the shape of UN's declaration in 1948 as a result of 2nd World War, which threatened to annihilate mankind by barbaric use of lethal weapons, it existed as a natural right. In fact, human rights is a 20th century name for what has been traditionally known as natural rights of man.
In society, we have two sections: the strong and the weak. The weak comprises children, women, minority and the poor. Since long the strong have been exploiting the weak. Now, to stop this exploitation and to bring the reforms, Acts are made by the legislature. But it requires political and administrative will to enforce the laws. For any reform to be successful, three conditions are vital. Firstly, a broad spectrum of public support, secondly, organizational framework to galvanize a movement and to sustain people's hopes and thirdly, existence of requisite political and administrative will. Without even one of these three conditions, the reform is bound to fail.
Violence has come to be accepted as a legitimate means to achieving one's ends in today's world. We consider violence, bribery and corruption a necessity to solve problems at every level - from beating of the children to discipline them, to get something done in public offices and to wage war in the national interest. The result is that we live in a society where more and more people are ready to violate human rights at the slightest pretex.
Judiciary has a very important role in protecting and enforcing human rights. There is unanimity among the scholars, philosophers, moralists and jurists that every human being is entitled to certain fundamental rights.
But our judiciary also needs reforms. Due to inadequate strength of judges our working judges are heavily burdened. We often say "justice delayed is justice denied". But it is also true that Justice stayed is Justice denied?
A musing column cartoonist once drew a picture of a stray cattle cosily settled on a busy road in a city and a police constable tells another "We cannot remove them as they have got a stay order from court. Our vision goes futuristic: We see Muthiah Muralitharan about to bowl the fifth ball of his over, in which he had already taken two wickets when suddenly a man waving a white paper rushes into the grounds.
Stopped by officialdom, he says that the bowler cannot complete his over, since the court of law, High or Supreme has stayed the proceedings of the match for six weeks. This may be musing but an example to show violation of human rights at all levels.
Fear or punishment scares one away from truth. The conditions prevalent in the jails, the method adopted by the investigating officials and all the legal process are such that one gets easily scared. Just the mention of the possibility of a jail-term to an offender gives him a feeling do depression or tension and takes him into deep negative moods. He feels a lot of humiliation.
What his friends and relatives will think about him, makes him feel exhausted and dizzy. He will think that he is entering a dark and suffering, suffocating tunnel and deprived all his freedom. Therefore, generally think of going in for appeal to a higher court in order to retrieve one's prestige and save one's honour without considering the financial aspect of such an action.
The people of each profession must observe ethical code in their dealings. We must recognise the great importance of DHARMA of doing one's duty without fear or favour as the guiding principle. We need traders who will create wealth through trading but who will not forget the importance of values of honesty and integrity in commercial transactions. In this lies the importance of "Dharma" or devotion to one's duty without hurting others' feelings. It is Gita, which tells along with other religious Dharma that with rights, there are duties and obligations.
So every human being can protect his own rights and the rights of others by observing divine laws and imbibing moral and human values in his life.
B. WICKY, Kaluwanchikudi.
My father died at the ripe old age of 88 years on the 8th day of the 8th month (August) in the year 88.
The death occurred neither in a hospital bed nor after much illness but immediately after a long journey of about 88 kilometres whereby he intended to visit one of his daughters.
He had his own notions of food and food habits.
He had not been exposed to innumerable advertisements that are constantly presented to us today by the television and the print media regarding this vitamin or that or calcium, bone enhancers and what not.
My children, on the contrary, have been made very conscious about vitamins A, Bco, D, calcium, proteins, etc. by these advertisements. The so-called medical men and nutritionists keep on advising us endlessly as to what food we should take how often, in what proportion and whole host of other things such as how to bite your food in a scientific manner, how to chew it and how to swallow, etc.
So, I wish to tell all discerning men, women and particularly youngsters that you should ignore all this advertising propaganda through the media and the Internet.
Please develop strength of character to withstand them and not fall victim to them though difficult it may be.
The commercialised world is there ready to entice you all the while in quite a subtle manner. Be cautious.
What you should eat and your eating habits should be governed by your own instincts and needs and not by such advice.
It is best if you could adopt a vegetarian food pattern. Even the so-called medical men and nutritionists who pontificate on us must not be taken too seriously. Please take what they say with a pinch of salt.
Note that my father lived such a successful and long life owing to non-exposure to this kind of propaganda.
DHARMPALA SENARATNE, Gothatuwa New Town
Apart from Colombo general hospital, the only well-equipped urology unit is placed in Kandy. I happened to be warded in Kandy Hospital for an urgent surgery (prostate gland) recently. In my period of stay I had the opportunity of coming to know the excellent services it renders, which is quite uncommon in other hospitals.
In many hospitals patients are addressed by their mere name as Ariyadasa, Somapala etc. In this unit, all patients are given due respect. They are addressed as Mr./Mrs./Miss and so on. This is done irrespective of the socio-economic status of a particular person. All the medical nursing and minor staff too adhere to the same practice.
Kandy Urology caters not only to CP, but, NEP, NCP, Uva, Sabaragamuwa and Wayamba too.
As things are such, there is a long queue of patients in the waiting list awaiting their chance. If by any chance a vacancy exist suddenly, the next in the list will be offered that chance by telegram or by telephone.
This is adopted in order to serve the maximum number of patients who long to be admitted. This action is a good example in judging the strong community relations the Unit has developed.
Majority of the staff, doctors, nurses and the minor supportive staff are kind and generous. All the wards are clean and tidy.
All work as a team understanding their duty and responsibility. But, it is unfortunate that the Unit does not have adequate toilet facilities, which is beyond the control of the staff.
The Chief Male Nurse of the unit and his staff have identified the necessity of a computer data base in keeping records. Many patients inspired by the services in the unit have volunteered to raise a fund in support of this.
Kandy Urology unit is a good example and a model to all others who serve in the daily deteriorating Government medical services. This effort has to be commended not only by the patients but also by the authorities concerned.
HARRY ABEYSEKERA, Kundasale.
It is very sad to inform that Prof. Dr. Osmund Jayaratne Bsc. MSc. Dsc. Phd (Physics), very outstanding lecturer of Physics for over 45 years in Pembroke Academy, Colombo 7, University of Ceylon, Colombo 3, University of Peradeniya and University of Colombo. over 1,00,000 students were benefited and shining in various vocations, Research Institutes in Sri Lanka, USA, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan, South Africa, is suffering from total blindness without proper cure for him in this country.
As such it is the Duty of his students, well-wishers, friends associates, Lions International in Sri Lanka, Rotary Clubs International to come forward for his rescue and send him abroad to a hospital to cure his total blindness as he is an asset to the country rendered a great service to science student community in colleges, academies and universities of Ceylon, for over 45 years.
It is imperative that funds should be released for his recovery from total blindness.
L. B. Lanka Jayaratne
I have to agree with N. Scott (Jan. 20) regarding the discrepancy in charges tourists are required to pay as against the locals when entering Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura and other places of touristic interest. As a matter of interest, I was required to pay Rs. 1,440 to visit Sigiriya a fortnight ago, when my Sri Lankan friend was charged Rs. 20.
When I visited the Louvre in Paris not long ago, I paid the same amount of francs as the Frenchman ahead of me. Italians paid no less liras than I did at the Coliseum in Rome. But it seems to me that only in Sri Lanka and India that tourists are treated differently in this regard.
Don't get me wrong. I am Sri Lankan-born, living overseas for more than 32 years and I visit the Motherland from time to time and when there, I speak Sinhala as fluently as the best of them. I have absolutely no problems with having to pay more than the locals (even if seemingly exhorbitant) to revisit places of interest.
My grouse, however, is this, If you charge tourists differently, you must provide them at these sites with the basic needs of clean toilets and washing facilities that work properly. This is the very minimum they can expect. My experience during visits at various times is, regrettably, the toilets and other facilities, where provided, were unclean and in total disrepair. If you are to attract more and more tourists - especially families with children - then there is no gainsaying, this aspect is vital.
My wife and I spent a wonderful holiday-again - and we feel that peace is there to stay.
DOUGLAS JONES, Australia
In "Check these exploiters", editorial, DN, 21/01, mainly, refers to a complaint made by a British tourist, on two types of prices, as entrance fees to Sigiriya and Horton Plains (World's End) - one for the foreign tourists: the other for the locals and...., the visitor complains, that what he had to pay Rs. 1500/=, at Sigiriya, was excessive? Also, according to his letter 20/01, the British tourist feels "we had been ripped off", as the locals paid a far lesser amount in entrance fees.
Rs.1500/= as a fee, the sterling equivalent, is a normal middle end price of a ticket one would pay for any form of entertainment in Europe. ( Rs.155/= for o 1 ). In Europe too, there are entry fee differences at certain times of the day and for certain sections of the community, i.e. pensioners, children etc. local visitors paying a lower price to visit Sigiriya and other places is understandable, bearing in mind the difference in incomes, compared to that of the West.
Many of them, including school children could ill afford these entrance fees. It is well known, the number of local visitors to such places exceeds foreign tourists and tourism is all year around for the locals. They also had no reason to wait for peace to arrive, to visit these places.
Charter and package tourists do not complain and their package tour price includes these entrance fees. If the British tourist had arrived on a package tour, perhaps, it would have been far expensive for him but a less problem for the authorities in tourism in Sri Lanka.
The majority "internet traveller", who wanders round looking for something cheap, have no reason to complain either, where the vast difference in salaries exist but the kindness and smile of such people, cannot be valued in sterling, dollars or any other...! On the other hand, there are cheaper "round tour tickets", visits to the cultural triangle and other places of interest, which could be bought in Sri Lanka itself, at relevant authorities and agents.
On the other hand, income to the State from entrance fees (direct income) is vital, owing to the vast depreciation value of the local currency over the years as well. In 1987, foreigners and tourists paid Rs 75/= to climb Sigiriya. The enhanced difference is a "drop in the ocean" to any foreigner.
With tourism on the move again, I would prefer to suggest, in order to avoid overlapping, as the numbers of locals far exceeds, that a "curfew of days" imposed. That is to say: certain days of the week for local visitors - i.e. Saturdays, Sundays and another day; and other days for the foreigners etc.
Vast movements of people needs classification, thereby, causing responsibilities and accountability on the tourist administrators. It will also enhance the planning out of disbursements of incomes from such places in the area/region or even allocating such funds for the development of infrastructure and "top class" facilities for both - locals and foreigners.
LAL KEERTHIE FERNANDA, Denmark.
According to a news report (DN, Feb. 15) all trains running on the Main Line are to terminate at Bandarawela, on the findings of the Institute of Engineers of Sri Lanka, because "the tracks have shifted out of their proper alignment between Bandarawela and Badulla (33 km), and there is the great danger of a train going down the precipice causing tragic results".
The railway up to Bandarawela was completed in 1894, but the extension to Badulla was completed in 1924 (after 30 years). This extension followed and generally conformed to the trace prepared by the surveyor W.G. Ferrar and was ceremonially opened for traffic by the Governor Sir William manning (1918-1925, on Feb. 5, 1924.
In view of the topography of the terrain with steep descent, the construction of the 33 km tract was delayed, partly due to economic depression in Europe, due to World War I (1914-1918), and partly due to other reasons in the construction of the Demodara Loop (where the Demodara station now stands), the raising of high embankments and the nine-arch viaduct between Ella and Demodara.
With the construction of the extension to Badulla, the dawn of light and civilisation, crossed the dividing range of the hills at Pattipola and the smoke of the first engine was seen all over the bleak and barren plains, of the once desolate Uva. The firm Craig and Cockshott under the engineer F. Oliver, worked on the Bandarawela extension at a rapid rate. The firm Hampton and Mayes, the two surveyors, assisted in the construction of the extension to Badulla.
There is also the news that the Minister Tilak Marapana has made arrangements for funds to overcome the financial hardships now encountered by the Railway. It is a good move but what the results would be is another matter, concerned with wasteful expenditure, indiscipline and lethargy, which dominate the Public Service. However, better hope for the best.
ARYADASA RATNASINGHE, Mattegoda.
The Ceylon Medical Council is responsible for conducting the External Pharmacists examination which is held annually. Each year thousands of candidates prepare for this examination with a view to pursue a career in this field in the government and private sectors. A lot of effort and sacrifice are made by each candidate when preparing for this competitive examination.
In addition to spending money for the preparation exercise a sum of Rs. 1,500 approximately has to be paid as examination fees by mainly poor students. It is reliably learnt that the last examination was held in June 2002 and the results were out only after a lapse of nearly 7 months.
The successful candidates are then called for an oral examination. Here the results are delayed. These undue delays have obviously caused frustration and anxiety among students. Constant representations made to the Registrar of Ceylon Medical Council have fallen on deaf ears. Our country at present is confronted with a severe dearth of pharmacists, and hence emergence of keen, enthusiastic candidates should be encouraged to be groomed as qualified pharmacists to fill the existing vacancies that exist. It is recommended that this examination is held at least twice a year.
The related authorities and the Ministry of health should intervene and explore the possibility of rectifying this existing delay to give redress to especially the poor students.
SUNIL THENABADU, Mount Lavinia.
Produced by Lake House