|Tuesday, 9 March 2004|
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Now that Parliament has been dissolved, we all look forward for a new government that will look into the grievances of the people, not by mere promises but by action. The politicians are in their rat race to secure a seat in Parliament, and with this end in view, they even resort to thuggery and corruption to achieve their ambitious ends. They go to the voters with smiling faces, but once elected, they cannot be approached to get any help done.
A generation ago there were politicians who were not only statesmen, who contested elections for name and fame, and not for financial and other benefits at the expense of the state, but also men who felt for the masses. eg, D. S. Senanayaka, Sir John Kotalawala, Dudley Senanayaka, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam, G. G. Ponnambalam, S. J. V. Chelvanayagam, H. W. Amarasuriya, W. Dahanayaka etc., who devoted their lives for the country and the people.
They were not entitled to pension rights as the present day politicians.
Whatever government comes into power after April 2, it is expected that the politicians will change their policy of self-interestedness, and exercise their offices for the welfare of the people, specially to bring down the cost of living, now risen sky high.
ARYADASA RATNASINGHE, Mattegoda
Western Music is one of the combination subjects in the Arts stream for entrance to Sri Lanka University, according to the booklet issued by the University Grants Commission 'for admission of students to undergraduate courses of the Universities of Sri Lanka'.
Unfortunately Western Music is taught in schools only up to the GCE (OL) examination and even if the student gets 'A' grade at this examination he/she cannot continue it as a subject at the GCE (AL) examination.
Why is this lack of opportunity for a student who is excellent and interested in a subject, unable to pursue with it when the University has opened doors for it. If it is stated as an accepted subject in the UGC booklet, why aren't schools teaching it?
I telephoned some offices of several leading schools in Colombo to find out whether they teach Western Music at the GCE (AL) Class, but the answer I received was in the negative. In this circumstances, is it possible for a student to follow a combination of any three subjects in the Arts stream at the Advanced Level Examination and apply for the Western Music Paper as a private candidate since the student is not able to apply for it from school.
Will a pass obtained in such a manner be recognized at the University entrance admission stage since the same student will bear two index numbers?
I would be thankful to anyone who would enlighten me through this journal, how a student could face a situation like this. If Western Music is not taught in a school at Advanced Level stage, but is interested in sitting the State Examination, how could a student apply for the GCE (AL) Examination, since it is accepted at University level?
FRANCIS DE SILVA, Raddolugama
After so much agitation over the past 20 years to remove the glaring anomalies in pensions to retirees in the Public, Local Government and allied services, at long last there appears to be a positive studied response.
Officials of pensioners organisations, who were invited at very short notice, filled the Auditorium of the Public Administration in Independence Square on March 2. Circular No 06/2004, which appears to have been prepared after a lot of hard work containing in minor detail the proposals of increase were distributed.
After careful study of this circular, it would appear that there is a reasonable chance of the anomalies being rectified. It is noteworthy that the manner of rectification is based in keeping with the recommendations of the Administrative Reforms Committee - No 4 - Sri Lanka Sessional Papers 1987 (Wanasinghe Committee) that there should be period revisions of pensions coterminus with public service salary revisions.
It is also in keeping with the spirit of Supreme Court decision of India AIR 1983 Supreme Court 130 - 1983 Lab. I.C.I which ruled that (a) pensioners are a homogenous group (b) introducing an arbitrary eligibility criteria of being in service before or after a specified date is a violation of the fundamental rights and therefore (c) all living pensioners should be treated alike, the date of retirement being immaterial.
Thus according to the proposals as explained by the Director of Pensions (D.P.) and examples given by a representative of the Auditor-General's Department, a pensioner, irrespective of the date he retired, would receive a pension on 31.12.1996, which would be the equivalent of what a retiree from that grade and post on 31.12.96 would receive. But payment of arrears would be from January 1, 2004 only.
It was stated by the D.P. that the conversion is time consuming as it has to be worked out for each individual pensioner after studying the file relating to such pensioner.
However since there is always the possibility that the matter can go by default, judging from past experience, there was a clamour by all who were present that at least about 200 pensioners, picked out at random, in the difference districts, in the different services, public, local government, teachers, uniformed and allied services, be immediately paid the arrears before the end of March. This was agreed to and a rally of pensioners had been fixed for March 15, at the Sugathadasa Stadium, at which cheques relating to the arrears will be ceremonially handed over.
All pensioners will welcome and await this event. While those in service indulged in go slow, strikes, demonstrations to forcibly obtain increases, promotions etc., the only powerful weapon pensioners had was agitation through the press. The media has been supportive by publishing regularly the woes of pensioners for which a grateful thank you.
S. THAMBYRAJAH, Colombo 4
I read with alarm an article in a Sunday newspaper that drag racing has become a regular Saturday night feature among the rich, young and reckless. As it is, we are nauseated by reading and listening to the horrendous and daily accidents taking place, especially involving speeding busses.
Unfortunately, we Sri Lankans are ever eager to follow foreign ways of life, regardless of the consequences. Is Green Path, a public road, a suitable venue for drag racing? How can the participants be sure that there will be no other traffic on this quiet road at night? We all know the reckless behaviour of today's youth, especially with plenty of money, cars, liquor and in some cases VIP protection. We have read enough about the rowdy behaviour of the sons of politicians, and nothing happens to them. The helpless victim of their crude and vulgar rowdy behaviour have to accept in silence and frustration that nothing will happen to the miscreants.
If the Police permit drag racing to continue, we are waiting for some serious accident to happen. Very often these reckless youth have been to some night spot and consumed hard liquor and just rearing to show off to their peers and girl friends, who are so easily impressed. Green Path is not secured for drag racing. There are no safety barriers, no protection for viewers. If the driver of a vehicle, driven at very high speed, loses control and veers into the crowd, can you imagine the carnage?
If the young people want to indulge in this sport, then they must go to a race track. I appeal to the Police and to all sensible people in this country to protest at this new menace. After all, it may be your own family member who could be killed or maimed, remember that.
S. R PERERA, Dehiwela
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