|Thursday, 26 June 2003|
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It was pleasant news to read in the Daily News a few days ago that firearms issued to politicians will be withdrawn and the politicians will be instructed to obtain police protection when necessary. However this too has been another "NATO' stunt. (No Action Talk Only).
Further time lapse in executing this action will provide convincing opportunities for the holders - few of them, of course; to come up with stories prepared to suit the occasion, such as lost, misplaced, etc, etc. and there will be no action against the defaulters in case this withdrawals take place sooner or later.
Up to now since the firearms were issued to politicians we have never heard or seen a politician using such weapons to wade off an attack against him. But we have come to know few of them being gunned down recently and in the not so distant past.
It is difficult to understand how these politicians could use a revolver/pistol in an emergency or in a situation where notice is not given early. They will of course know how to insert the live rounds into the weapon and pull the trigger. But that is not all about a weapon. My little knowledge about firearms tells me that it is more dangerous to be armed when one's enemies are aware of that fact. Because an enemy knowing one carrying a weapon - will not give even half a chance to escape.
Going back to the era when firearms came to be issued to Members of Parliament - it was initiated by late W. Dahanayake when he succeeded late S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, as Prime Minister of Ceylon. That situation was continued up to about April 1971 when the JVP launched the first ever insurrection and the politicians got issued with firearms, and bodyguards too.
Wijeweera's JVP struck again in 1988 and that was many, many times worse than the 1971 attack which made the then President, late J. R. Jayewardene to issue firearms to all contestants at the provincial council elections. It is believed that there are no records indicating the surrender of firearms of those who lost the elections and of those who are dead by now.
What is more sometimes it is not the politico who has the firearm issued but one of his close associates. What is there to prevent such weapons falling into wrong hands and getting misused, without any detection. Can any government facing a situation like this, control crime?
Opposition parties at any time wait for a crime to take place and exploit that to gain sympathy. In 1988/89 at the height of JVP insurrection SLFP shed crocodile tears for some people who are killed. But they did not condemn the JVP killings.
Therefore it is not surprising that the same SLFP is aligning themselves with the JVP of today to fight against the UNP government. SLFP led PA is reminding the people that in 1988/89 UNP killed people in the same manner as happening today. They have conveniently forgotten/forgiven the JVP killing and cannibalising the dead.
They have also forgotten that curfew days, closing of schools, burning of CTB buses, killing of policemen and UNP leaders. Ultimately when everything happened and finished Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe left with only the name board at Siri Kotha and from there he has brought up the party systematically to this proud standing today. As for the SLFP the leadership is still in Bandaranaike family.
Marxist giants like Ms. Wickramasinghe, N. M. Perera, Philip Gunawardena, Keunaman, Colvin R. de Silva and few others were highly educated and were top professionals in their selected fields. When they all failed and lost, will it be possible for brats or (if I may use a national word) podiyans to fight the UNP giants.
I read with interest the above titled letter to the "Daily News" of 9.6.2003.
The proposed Coal Power plant and oil refinery at Hambantota is said to be an ecological write off.
Modern coal power plants are clean and even Singapore and Hong Kong which are cities have coal power plants. As regards the refinery, the present refinery is at Sapugaskanda which is close to Colombo and has been operating for a number of years without causing any problems to Colombo.
We have exhausted all our hydro power resources and Diesel power is too expensive, hence coal power is the only alternative.
The only solution to our transport problem is to electrify our railway. To provide power for the railway we should build two more coal power plants, one at Mawella and one at Trinco.
I appreciate Tissa Jayaweera's letter (3-06) with regards to five telephone posts in the middle of Cotta Road leading to Boralla junction.
Unfortunately we do not have such people with that vision in CMC, SLT or Ministry of Highways to act promptly when there is anything to endanger the public.
It is also sad to state that politicians everyday passing these telephone posts with honour and glory while turning a blind eye to the menace. This is to remind all responsible officials who are in CMC, SLT and Ministry of Highways to act for the sake of public and taxpayers and to take necessary steps worthwhile to remove these dangerous telephone posts from the centre of the road before it becomes too late or regretting later by removing them.
K. A. DAYARATNE,
Floods came and receded yielding the riverian dwellers of Ratnapura, Deniyaya, Galle and Matara disposed and displaced. Accountability and disaster management are now in the hands of many government agencies and the disbursement of aid for reconstruction and rehabilitation will be after inspections and protracted correspondence.
The recent havoc was caused by the denudation of forests in the upper regions of hills of Ratnapura, Rakwana, and Deniyaya. The subterranean waters gushed out causing earthslips in these hilly ranges and this vast volume of water came from gaping mouths of hills and was not from incessant rains. However, I leave it to the geographers and geologists to resolve it with their surmises and analytical theories. But the forest conservator should take a very serious view of the devastation caused by wanton destruction of forest ranges.
He should explain how 22% of the forest belt got reduced to 18% by 2003 and what re-forestation he has to expedite, planning and organising, to avoid such major disasters in future.
Let timber be imported but not a tree cut in the future in Sri Lanka.
L. G. ANDERSON,
There is overwhelming evidence gathered by State and non-State agencies during the last decade that smoking is specifically linked to lung cancer. These researches were mostly conducted in Western countries. Tobacco industry used various methods to belittle these studies. Not only that Tobacco Industry concealed their own researches until U.S. Senate compelled them to reveal them. Thereafter some of those smokers suffering from lung cancer filed action against Tobacco manufacturers and won the cases and have been awarded compensation by U.S. Courts.
Kirk Douglas Jr. Oscar nominate actor, was to appear in a film for the first time. The director wanted him to smoke a cigarette in a scene. He declined stating he did not smoke. The director, however, insisted that he smoke. He acceded but at the end of the scene he rushed to the toilet and threw out feeling giddy. Subsequently he mastered the habit of smoking and went on smoking until the death of his father from lung cancer. Then and there he decided to give up smoking, and succeeded. The method he adopted is as follows.
He bought a packet of cegarrets, took one and placed it in his breast pocket and threw the packet into a dust bin. Thereafter whenever he got the temptation to smoke, he removed the cigarette from his pocket looked hard at it and asked" Who is the master? you or me". He replied "I am the master" and replaced the cigarette in his pocket.
IVAN M. FERNANDO,
Undesirable social habits acquired by individuals in their formative years have a bearing on their driving standards in later life. That was disclosed by a guest speaker, Professor Praneeth Abeyesundera, at a workshop organized by the Ceylon Society for the Prevention of Accidents (CeSPA) recently, at the Sravasti Auditorium, for Instructors of Driving Schools of the Western Province, comprising Gampaha, Colombo, Panadura and Kalutara. The pronouncement made by the learned professor would have certainly, rung a bell for all those present.
Anticipation, Concentration and Consideration have been identified as the three ingredients that go to make a competent driver. Of those, consideration (for other road users) would be important only to one who has such a social habit, along with others, of a desirable nature, of course; and it is hardly possible for a driving instructor to change a habit of a learner under his charge overnight.
The examiners who would eventually test such candidates for their driving licence would not be able to detect such habits, even if they had the knowledge to do so. Habits, particularly the undesirable ones - are said to be difficult to overcome: If the first part of a HABIT is removed, ABIT will remain, if a further portion is removed this BIT will remain, and if yet another portion is removed, IT will still remain!
Drivers may acquire driving skills at the hands of their instructors, but they do not always turn out to be competent, if they have the wrong social attitudes.
In recent times, in Sri Lanka, the spate of accidents in which drivers of public transport buses have been involved, is alarming. It has been attributed by the Transport Medical Council, to which all drivers involved in serious accidents have to be referred, that in most, if not all cases, the accidents have resulted from driver fatigue, due to overwork, forced on them by the bus owners.
The bus magnates are concerned only about the maximum revenue they can derive in order to meet their commitments to the financial institutions that have financed their vehicles. It is unfortunate that the responsibility for accidents caused in such cases is placed squarely on the shoulders of the driver; the employer who compels drivers to overwork, goes scot-free. It seems time, therefore, that where an accident is due to driver - fatigue, the employer too should be taken to task.
There are also the cases where drivers are detected to be under the influence of liquor. In such cases, it has been found that consumption of liquor by the driver too is intended to counteract fatigue, and the cure proving to be worse than the disease!
Incidentally it may be recalled that some time ago, during the CTB days, the CeSPA was invited to address owners of the Board. When the matter of fatigue was taken up, one of the drivers present wished to know how to counteract sleepiness at the wheel, particularly when one was driving solo, and had to continue non-stop.
One recommendation inter alia was that he should sing aloud while driving. There had been a press representative in the audience, and the following weekend the "Sunday Observer" carried a cartoon titled CeSPA's advice to lone drivers." It depicted a driver happily driving himself, singing "Sumihiri paane padamata gahala!" It was a popular hit at the time.
C. S. A. FERNANDO,
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