|Thursday, 4 December 2003|
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It is meritorious that the commissioner of prisons have invited a scheme for the citizens to pay the fine for the prisoners. But wouldn't it be more prudent of the prisoners are made to pay albeit by physical work and then let off.
Obviously the cost of keeping the prisoners exceed fine. Most of the times since one cannot just release the prisoners, which will defeat the purpose of taking them in the first place, why not employ them for some labour to pay for their fines? If they can be made to work say at a construction site, or some production line, it will be doubly rewarding the work will be done in the prisons would have paid for their crime.
The work should be decided carefully, in proportion to the fine are as well as hard enough to be different in future law offenders. Hope Commissioner of Prisons will come up with an appropriate plan.
DR. MAREENA REFFAI, Dehiwela
I would like to set the record straight on behalf of all my fellow Christian brothers out there in regard to this unfair accusation that Christian groups are using good deeds as a means to bribe people to convert to their religion.
Christian people do good works of charity merely because they have been commanded by Jesus to do so in scripture. The apostle James who was the earthly brother of Jesus in his letter in the Bible said "faith that does nothing is worth nothing". Our whole life as a Christian is about living to benefit someone else as Jesus did.
The worldly man will never understand this as the Apostle Paul had said because man is self-centred by nature and when he sees someone else performing good works he assumes that person does it for self gain or for political motives.
Why not look at the change that has come about in the lives of those who have recently converted to Christianity? So many have turned away from a self-centred lifestyle of vices and corruption to being responsible people after they started to follow the ways of Christ.
Most religions today have confused their followers rather than indoctrinate them for the better.
People today are looking for simple clear answers to their life's problems and most religions don't give them that, instead they give their followers heavy burdensome rules and rituals to observe.
I strongly believe that those who have converted to Christianity have done so because they have seen the difference. No one can forcibly convert another, that is a silly statement because everyone has his freedom of choice and at the end of the day, even if he received some help from a Christian, he could have taken the help and still remained in his old faith.
I believe since the Christian Church has been lately accumulating large numbers of citizens who have converted by their own choice to the Christian faith and the church has been experiencing tremendous growth, some other dominant religious groups feel their livelihood is threatened.
Recently they have acted with force to try and stop the growth providing even more to the people that following those religious leaders who act with violence is like following a blind man and expecting him to lead the way.
It is interesting to note that none of the Christians who were attacked reciprocated with violence, instead they exercised tolerance in every case. Let those who have eyes see and understand what is the truth.
Is there something to get angry about because someone helped someone else and his life has taken a turn for the better? How much more then should we get angry with the various organisations who wrongly promote tobacco, alcohol and gambling in the country which has brought disease and destruction to many.
Let us get ourselves in the correct focus. Our society is riddled with violence, corruption and vices and the Christian people are ever so busy helping society to turn from all of that. Shouldn't all these other so called religious leaders be doing the same?
Brother AC Foenander, Via E-mail
While it is very heartening to note that a Trust Fund for pensioners has been launched in the Matara area, and likewise other areas too are in need of this yeoman service. Therefore, it should be launched in other areas too, as soon as possible with all the packages involved for the benefit of the poor pensioners.
In addition to this, it will be a great relief is so-called pensioners are covered with a medical reimbursement insurance scheme with a nominal charge.
It is a well-known fact that most of the pensioners are over 60 and there are some over 80. These feeble and helpless people are very often not able to get absorbed themselves in most of the medical schemes due to their age factor. Therefore they have to bear the exorbitant medical costs they incur very often for their various ailments.
Some are solely depending on their monthly pension (Rs. 3,000 to 4,500 - drawn by pensioners who have retired previous to 1983) Most of them have to pay this amount for their meals and accommodation when they stay with their kith and kin or with their own children due to the high Cost of Living. So when they fall sick they become an additional burden to them and they are unable to get proper treatment because nowadays they have no access to prompt and proper medical treatment. Suppose if a pensioner has to undergo a cataract operation, he has to spend nearly Rs. 15,000 to 30,000. Who will bear all these costs?
Even when they pass away, they become a big liability because the funeral expense is also borne by either their children or kith and kin. In this case, the Government can launch a Death Donation Fund for these pensioners and a nominal sum can be deducted from their pension.
PUVANA P., Wattala
No Budget bliss for senior pensioners
The Budget has brought some relief and bliss to the public servants and recently retired pensioners but the senior pensioners have been forgotten. I believe that there are only a few elder pensioners alive now but successive Government keep forgetting them and so they find it difficult to make ends meet.
I am retired special class station master with 33 years service in the railway and five years service in the army during the second world war. My pension is a mearly Rs. 5314 while my son-in-law a teacher draws a pension three times higher than me.
All Governments forget the senior pensioners but we expected this Government at least to remedy this anomaly but they too have forgotten us. They should differentiate between the senior pensioners and those who have retired recently. Senior pensioners should be given not 10 per cent increase but 25 per cent increase as there is only a handful of them and so would not drain the Government coffers.
It is not too late to rectify this anomaly and so we hope the Minister of Finance would consider our plight.
The Great Health Robbery
We were not surprised to see in at least two Sunday newspapers the scathing remarks made by the GMOA on the latest Health Plan prepared by JICA with assistance from the Health Ministry.
We were however surprised to see that abortions were one of the most important causes of ill health in Sri Lanka. With the aborted new health plan one need not wonder how abortions have taken pride of place in Sri Lnaka. Or, do the Japanese want to dump all their condoms in this country?
However our main concern is how the Rs. 256 million was spent. As several studies were carried out and their results would have led to various recommendations the GMOA should request for copies of these studies and the amounts paid to individual organisations.
It is usual for Health Ministry officials to go along with donors who come here with an already prepared plan because otherwise they may lose the perks.
Pensioners fooled again
I agree with the views by Sebastian N. (Nov. 24). The Minister of Public Administration, Management and Reforms who has been present and addressed meetings of Pensioners' Associations held at Galle, Ratnapura and Gampaha prior to the Budget of November 19, kept on mentioning that grievances of pensioners will be addressed once and for all in the forthcoming Budget.
He did say that the increase will be 70 per cent for one category and 75 per cent for others. The Director of Pensions who has been present at some of the meetings referred to above mentioned that all anomalies will be rectified by end December. Who are they trying to fool? I am a pensioner whose pension was calculated on a non-existent substantive salary whereas salaries of public servants were consolidated about the year 1970. This meant that all allowances and salary were combined.
Those who retired after 1.1.1978 had their pensions calculated on their consolidated. This is not an anomaly but discrimination among members of one service. The so-called substantive pension increase of 10 per cent will be less than Rs. 500 in most cases.
It is high time that the Ministry of Finance is taken over by the President as we, pensioners received arrears of the Rs. 260 allowance withheld for many years and the Rs. 750 increase in pension when the President was the Minister of Finance.
Hopes heartlessly devastated
The poor and the long suffering pensioners waited with a great anxiety in the hope of receiving a realistic increase in the Budget. Alas! our hopes have been unimaginably shattered. The 10 percent increase is not at all sensible when compared to the living index gone to dizzy heights. Very many of us are with one leg on the land and the other in the grave struggling to exist with great difficulty.
Ministers were talking of four figure rise and they also promised to remove the anomalous situation in the case of those who retired in the early part of 1987.
But this Budget does not say anything regarding this. The government has simply ignored the pensioners as a dead thing just because it is armed with 129 signatures.
However it has miserably failed to realise that in this 129 there are rats that jumped of the sinking ship. Therefore there is no guarantee that these and those of their ilk will not resort to this shameless act again when the present 'ship' shows signs of sinking.
Anyway it will not be too long for this to happen if "Mahesan fever" infects the other M.PP who keep gazing the lucrative capacity on the other side of the devide. It is the pensioners who are deprived of reasonable increase of the pension but on the contrary Ministers and those who are not Ministers are engaged in a spending spree on luxury vehicles, jaunts abroad etc.
The government should take note of the fact that however feeble we may be, we still have the strength to scrawl on the ballot paper to register our vehement protest.
Therefore I appeal to my fellow pensioners to rally round and agitate against this gross injustice meted to us.
K. Abeysinghe, Moratuwa
Produced by Lake House