|Thursday, 23 October 2003|
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With peace in progress, many are eager to have a piece of the pie.
The manner in which the government is steering the peace process is commendable, giving the peaceful atmosphere most people are longing for, thereby bringing peace and prosperity to the entire country.
Which do we need first, after more than twenty years of war and destruction?
Where were those who are marching about now, at the hight of war? It is obvious for people to show their guts, when there is no war. Let us hope they do the same in war, which they are trying to kindle to sacrifice others.
Defenders who ask for protection, should not be considered as fighters, hence should not be relied upon to defend others, leave aside the country.
With a salary conversion in the offing, which is expected to grant a substantial salary increase to the much-maligned public servants, one is tended to hope that the authorities have taken into consideration the plight of the government servants who opted to retire during the last two years. There were some officers who retired in frustration after desperately waiting seven long years for a salary increase.
The Tissa Devendra salary review committee was appointed towards the latter part of 1999 by the then government and they gave an interim report during 2001 and the final report in the middle of 2002, but its recommendations were never implemented. This was one of the most comprehensive reports that was ever issued, which had touched every sphere of the public service, giving reasonable salary increases to all, taking into consideration their respective grades, without giving way to salary anomalies resulting in ad hoc granting of allowances, but alas, the report has gone into limbo of forgotten things.
In the past it has been the practice of granting salary conversions to the public servants every 4-5 years after reviewing the prevailing cost of living etc. If I remember right there was a salary conversion in 1968, and since then even after a lapse of nearly 7 years no such thing was implemented, apart from granting allowances here and there providing anomalies galore.
There were some officers who reached retiring age during 2002 and 2003, and also there were others who waited for so long in anticipation of an increase but later opted to retire, before reaching 60 years in frustration and it is to the plight of these unfortunate people that the Government should pay heed to. There is so much talk of a salary increase going on, it is nothing but right that then it's recommendations are implemented, due consideration is given to those who retired in 2002 and 2003.
If it is too much, then at least those officers who retired after 01.01.2003 should be considered, as they are struggling for survival with a meagre pension. There is no need to pay arrears of salary, but make the effective date of the impending salary conversion January 2003 and let those poor people too enjoy its benefits like others.
During the recent clashes at the Sri Jayawardanapura University several parties including the Vice Chancellor of the university made allegations that the student Buddhist priests were thickly involved in this commotion.
Further it was reported that some of these so called priests used razors and knives carried hidden under the robes as weapons against their opponents. If these allegations are true we have to accept them as true as the Vice Chancellor himself made these allegations openly in his statement to the media-obviously, people who carry such weapons hidden under their clothes, whatever the situations is, cannot be Buddhist priests but only imposters. Public must take necessary steps to expose such swindlers by forcibly desorbing them and making them to walk on the highway for the public to know who they are.
Our past governments made a big mistake by opening the doors of universities meant for lay students to priests.
Those men in robes who enter these universities do so with the sole intention of getting well employed after obtaining their degrees, naturally for financial gain. It is no secret that a fair number of these robed men give up robes after the graduation. They grow hair to keep themselves ready for the necessary overnight change. These robed men hoodwink those who help them with their studies respecting the priesthood. Further they deny the chance for some intelligent lay students to enter the universities. Government should take immediate steps to close the gates of universities meant for lay students to priests.
Entry of priests to universities should be rigidly restricted only to institutions where religion is taught at higher levels.
The education in these institutions should be meant for the purpose of propagating Dhamma and not for securing well paid jobs. If these institutions do not have the proper facilities they can agitate for the improvement of these institutions.
The high priests of all sectors should join hands and come forward to request the authorities to stop this nonsense immediately.
Reading a recent letter protesting a fashion design depicting a "Dagaba" at a Colombo fashion show leads me to make this observation and pose a question. Reading the letter, which quotes the script describing the designer's perception shows that the designer by no means disrespected Buddhism.
Instead, it clearly states that the designer drew inspiration from 'Buddhist Philosophy - the path to higher mental and intellectual attainment'.
The designers themselves are described in his letter, as students, therefore I assume most are young people, yet to encounter the sometimes devious and treacherous interpretations that unfortunately life offers in maturity.
In my opinion the designer's inspirational introduction of projecting a Dagaba - a structure venerated and held holy by all Lankans including myself in purely an art form in "dress fashion" appears to give respect and rise to Buddhism.
So, why not we learn to lighten up... let's give some space to the young to develop and express themselves with freedom, than throw brickbats when they show no intent of vile or malice?
The front page news item in the Daily News of 17.10.'03 titled "Sinha says no threat to Indian installation in Trincomalee" gives great relief to us here in Jaffna.
A leading lawyer, has been engaged by the opposition to create problems and put a spoke always in Ranil's progress in the current peace effort.
His recent warning to India that the LTTE was planning to damage Indian installations in Trincomalee has been put to naught by this statement of the Indian Foreign Minister.
Your leader too on October 17th pin points this opposition tactics to hit below the belt using this adviser.
He had earlier done enough damage to Sri Lankan Tamil community in the guise of attacking the LTTE all over the world when the present opposition was in power.
The speech of TULF MP, R. Sampanthan on the floor of the House on 8.10.'03 given wide coverage in the Daily News of 15.10.'03 is a clear indication of what the LTTE actually wants.
Far from doing any damage to these installations the LTTE will protect them India.
P. C. P.GNANADURAI,
With further reference to this matter raised in my letter of 8.10.2003 concerning the utter inappropriateness of corporate fiscal practice that is routinely certified by local auditors who are of the same professional fraternity as the company accountants who are in charge, I am now sending herewith an original set of published accounts to 31.3.2003 (and named Annual Report 2002/2003) of a well-known medium-sized finance company.
You will note that:
(1) On page 13, that it has sustained a current loss of Rs. 10,658,341 whilst there was a 'profit' in the year previous; but no tax was paid in both years suggesting losses in the previous year too;
(2) On page 21, the Note 6 - Taxation states that the tax loss carried forward is Rs. 109 million; whilst the loss on leasing business (carried forward) is Rs. 97 million. This means there are several areas of loss but the Inland Revenue regulations have allowed for some advantageous loss adjustments; bearing in mind that nobody wants to manifest overall losses in a Quoted Company. The overall loss is Rs. 10,658,341. Tax losses are worked to show a 'better outcome' essentially. (3) Page 32 reveals that:
(a) there is no dividend for the first time in the year 2002/03 (current)
(b) that no taxes have been paid since 1995 (seven years) obviously due to so-called 'tax loss' but that a dividend was always paid even thereafter in the context of workings that manifested 'profits' in the years 1995-2002 despite this annual loss situation being never re-couped! It's obvious that the dividend payment took precedence over placing money in Reserves.
(c) on page 12 the auditors have made no strictures on this procedure; thereby leaving a public impression that this is a regular dividend declaring company" (that runs at a profit) in conformity with the regulations of the Stock Exchange. How is the public investor to become aware of the actual financial state? Even as it was in the accumulated previous years? As stated by Louis Roberts on 29.9.03, there is conflict of interest.
(d) on page 10 it is seen that 39.6% of the shares are with another finance company of the same group among whose subsidiaries are the Secretaries here; what is the situation there owing to this close managerial tie-up? Why is everybody waiting for a
collapse? (e) when five shareholders have 57 per cent of the total capital as shown on page 9, is this a traditional ownership structure of a public company at all; or is it a make-believe public entity held privately by a small group of business interests? This is actually a private company!
Then, what indeed is actually a public company by definition of the Securities and Exchange Commission (CSE); unless it is a place where nobody (either individually or together) holds more than ten per cent - as a safety measure for the investor?
At a TV panel discussion recently, Kalutara Dist. JVP Member of Parliament whilst commenting on reasons of unrest and the grievances of the Tamil community in the North which led to the civil war, stated that the UNP was instrumental in the burning of the Jaffna Public Library in 1981. Even earlier some years back, I have read in the media, statements by Opposition MPP of the PA to the effect that the UNP hoodlums set fire to the Jaffna Library, and had even gone to the extent of dragging in the name of Late Gamini Dissanayake who had been in charge of the DDC Elections in Jaffna during that time. Many of the listeners who followed the ITN programme on the 08th night may be under the impression that the UNP was behind this criminal act.
For the information of the listeners of this programme and the public in general, I wish to quote an extract from a media news item out of the "Presidential Truth Commission" on ethnic Violence (1981-1984) - "Ten days prior to the polls, S. Thiagarajah, the UNP no. one candidate for DDC in Jaffna was shot dead by a lone gunman.
At the TULF rally held a few days later at Nachchimar Kovil, three policemen were shot at, and two died. Following this, a large group of policemen went berserk and set fire to Jaffna's educational monument the Jaffna Public Library. The commission records that the act was committed by some policemen deployed in Jaffna from other areas, for intensified security operations after the killing of Thiagarajah. The commission has not received any report of any inquiry by the State into the incident and perceive this indifference to have aggrieved the people."
To quote another extract from a daily paper: (Daily News) - "It is in evidence that on the night of 31st May, 1981, following the killing of Police Sgt. Punchi Banda, a large group of policemen went berserk, setting fire to Jaffna's educational monument, the Jaffna Public Library, several shops in town, including the office of Jaffna's only daily "Elanadu" published in Tamil, and the house of V. Yogeswaran, MP for Jaffna (para 61).
We can conclude that on the evidence placed before us, the burning of the library was a wanton criminal act committed by a contigent of policemen who had been in Jaffna in connection with the DDC elections (para 70).
Produced by Lake House