|Thursday, 5 June 2003|
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The 74th Km of Galle-Deniyaya road has almost being wiped out by landslides. Of the 12 culverts in this Kilometer, majority have been washed away by earthslips. A major reason for landslides is the lack of proper surface drainage for the flow of rainwater falling on earth.
Most National Highways in Deniyaya electorate are devoid of surface drains. Even the culverts are clogged and don't convey the rainwater across the road. When rainwater stagnates upstream of the culvert the whole mass of earth is most likely to slip.
There was a "Road Week" held in Deniyaya electorate just prior to the heavy rains which lashed the area recently. The RDA staff were engaged in cutting village roads selected by the politicians of the area during the "Road Week". Hosts of earthmoving machinery were employed in this vote catching exercise and the National Highways were completely neglected during this period. Had these machinery being used in the 74th Km of Galle-Deniyaya road, for clearing side drains to facilitate the smooth flow of rainwater away from the road, the earthslips which devastated the road could have been avoided.
The RDA Provincial management should be concerned about the road users.
J. WANNIARACHCHI, Matara
Sri Lanka has fallen from one crisis to another worst crisis. When Sri Lanka was just recovering from the disaster and economic crisis caused by the twenty years of war with the LTTE, the unexpected worst disaster in the history of Sri Lanka caused by the recent floods and earthslips in the five districts of Sri Lanka is unbearable to Sri Lankans.
Unless all the Sri Lankans get together and work hard as one family it will be difficult to get out of this situation. As a citizen who does not like to see the Sri Lankans suffering like people in Ethiopia, I request all the political parties in Sri Lanka to get united and form a National Government for two years on a common agenda. All the controversial issues should be postponed to two years.
Now it is the duty of the President to discuss this situation with all the political parties in Sri Lanka and form an all-parties National Government for two years. The Parliament should divide into 25 Ministerial Committees by the Speaker where the Minister is the Chairman of the respective committee and the Parliamentary Secretary is the Secretary of the Committee. All the Cabinet Papers should be discussed and agree upon at the respective committees before submitting them to the Cabinet for approval.
The selection of the 25 Cabinet Ministers should be from all the political parties represented in Parliament in proportion to the number of votes received by each party.
A.L.J. RANASOORIYA, Nugegoda.
The latest ghastly, tragic and gruesome murder of a father, daughter and son (the Harmers of Dehiwala), being hacked to death by an unidentified killer/killers shows that even those, who go to bed behind closed doors, are not certain to wake up alive the following day.
Reader R. M. Ekanayake Banda of Kandy, who has written about the rape and murder of a girl of 15 years, Janaki Kumari of Polonnaruwa after killing her protectors - the mother, the aunt and the uncle - asks what shall we do with these barbarians? My answer is punishment for such beastshould be given in public.
None is so blind as those who refuse to see. Why cannot the advocates of the abolition of the death penalty open their eyes to see such gruesome murders? Perhaps they will revise their opinion when their kith and kin or they themselves are subject to these horrors.
They speak of human rights as if the victims have no human rights!
Our kings of old controlled crime by "ulathiyanawa" (spike), getting an elephant to trample the criminal or trying his legs to two trees, which are then cut tearing the body into two.
Very stringent laws have been enacted to deal with criminals in other countries. In Saudi Arabia, the hand is cut off for theft.
In Northern Iceland, Canada, Australia, Singapore and India owing to such stringent laws the crime rate compared to Sri Lanka is very low as our laws are very lenient.
For instance in Singapore, the punishment for persons who possess ganja is death.
In Malaysia, anyone having a gun without a licence would be sentenced to death, but in Sri Lanka such a person would escape with a small fine.
What is more, in Sri Lanka an assassin may kill two or three persons and even more, and the reward (?) he gets is board and lodging and clothes and other necessities throughout his life in the Queen's Free Boarding House!
C.P., Mt. Lavinia.
I write with reference to the article on the above subject by Jhon W. Hardene of Colombo 3 (DN, May 1).
I must state that everybody will appreciate the efforts taken by Jhon W. Hardene by explaining the negative contribution of the commercial banks of this country towards the development of its economy. It is very much clear that all the business community in Sri Lanka is labouring and toiling for the banks.
Bank employees are the most fortunate and the blessed sector of employment category in this country, specially in the State-owned banks. They get very high salaries which have no relevance to their qualifications and experience. The employees of State-owned banks from the peon up to the managers are entitled to various types of perks, including loans up to Rs. 1 million and at a special rate of interest less than 6 per cent per annum. The period allowed for repayment of these facilities extend to long periods some time up to retirement. Employees of other Commercial Banks are no less better.
Unskilled labour such as peons of these banks draw salaries higher than learned academics and professionals such as engineers who toiled through universities and institutes for years with sleepless nights to pass their examinations.
The commercial banks of the country, should charge similar or near low rates of interest from their clients as they levy from their employees, particularly in these present and difficult circumstances. Then there will be no need for foreclosures and auctions to seize the properties of unfortunate clients who are victims of circumstances beyond their control.
Another unacceptable and very unfair practice on the part of the commercial banks in this country is the cruel exploitation of the NRFC/RFC depositors, both fixed deposit and savings. These people are beguiled and induced to tender their hard earned savings to commercial banks in this country by stating they are free from income tax and that they would be paid interest at 5.5 per cent per annum or a near rate.
Then they are also told that they could obtain advances against their deposits at 1 per cent above the interest they get. But as a matter of fact once they start borrowing against their deposits and they fall into the pit and these banks start charging 13 per cent to 17 per cent interest from them. At present and for sometime the commercial banks have been paying only 1.65 per cent to 1.75 per cent on US $ and 3 per cent interest for UK (Sterling) for their foreign currency deposits while they have been charging interest at 13 percent to 16 per cent on rupee advances they have obtained from the banks against their foreign currency deposits.
The beggars are then trapped and are captive because they cannot pay back the advances they have borrowed from the Commercial Banks and quit out of the country and go for better rates elsewhere.
When asked why the interest on foreign currency deposits are less they say it is the decision of the Central Bank and the international interest rates are less etc. The commercial banks presently charge 13 per cent on rupee advances. But the London Market Rate (LIBO) is only 3.7 per cent.
The proportionality between the rate (1.75 per cent) they receive for their foreign currency and the rate they pay the commercial banks for the money they got from them now (13 per cent) is a very wide gap and a world of difference. This is a real plunder and an act of highway robbery decently arranged to rob the NRFC/RFC holders. The Government and the Financial Authorities are looking away while this unacceptable robbery is going on. Those poor workers who had toiled in the Middle East and white collar workers who had also worked abroad and brought their money to this country thinking it is their home are suffering by this legally committed robbery.
The responsible authorities are appealed to consider this matter earnestly. They should take steps to stop this robbery and arrange with the country's banking system a reasonable and equitable arrangement to charge a reasonable interest rate on the rupee advances - the spread not to increase 1 per cent or 1.5 per cent above the rate the commercial banks pay the NRFC/RFC holders. Such relief is necessary for people who bring home this money which they could hold elsewhere with profitability.
The authorities and the commercial banks are also sincerely requested to consider the consequences if no relief is given to this all important group which may result in the NRFC/RFC holders taking away their deposits elsewhere or in other appropriate organised retaliation by them.
K. LIYANAGE, Colombo 5
It is very sad that human rights activists do not talk about the human rights of those murdered in cold blood. In our country young school girls are dragged into shrubs and raped and murdered.
Nobody talks of the human rights of the poor helpless victims or their parents who have brought them up and who suffer in silence till death.
In fact sometime back I said that our district court system should be scrapped as it only gives employment to lawyers and judges.
I filed a land case to evict a trespasser and won the DC case and the Appeal as well. But the tragedy is that I have to use the fiscal and thugs and the Police to throw the occupier out of the premises. On the other hand the occupier had vowed to murder me if I came there with the fiscal.
It is only from him that I learnt that if he murders me, he will be in remand jail only for three months and thereafter would be bailed out. So he can have the house forever and my family will lose me.
This is the end result of the existing colonial justice system in Sri Lanka.
District judge has no powers to tell the occupier to hand over the house to me and get out. I feel that like in Saudi Arabia, we should mete out the capital punishment in public in the Galle Face green.
The Bribery Commission must be activated and the politicians should take their hands off Police promotions, appointments and transfers.
Police cannot perform their duties because some at the top are corrupt. You can see officers in-charge carrying the shopping bags of boot leggers, heroin dealers and smugglers. For instance there are Kassippu dens around almost every police station in Colombo. The bribes are divided among the top brass as well. I can see daily how the traffic police is collecting spot fines into their pockets as they have to keep to a target. When children are admitted to grade one of popular or big schools in Colombo, there is a two-mile radius rule. But children within even a quarter mile are not admitted.
No sooner the schools reopen, you find school vans and buses coming from Negombo, Nittambuwa, Panadura, Ehaliyagoda etc. to Colombo. Who is cheating whom? Recently the police were trying to discipline these school van drivers. Isn't this a big fraud?
GAMINI SIRIWARDENA, Colombo 8.
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