|Thursday, 11 March 2004|
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I read with much interest the media hype in conjuction with the opening of the Handicraft village at Janakala Kendraya, Battaramulla. I made a visit to the site after the day of opening expecting to see a host of craftsmen at work, a cultural performance and to also to buy some handicrafts. It is sad to describe what I have experienced on that day.
Almost all the shops were closed except for one. After a brief discussion with the owners I realised they also got a raw deal.
I remember reading similar sentiments from craftsmen at Sigiriya Village recently.
The place was deserted and no cultural performance was scheduled on that day as promised.
There were few other visitors who made a hasty exit after realising nothing worthwhile to hang around. So my humble wish to the authorities is to address the shortcomings before opening the remaining seven villages.
WIMAL THENUWARA, via email
Again, it is an all-too-familiar spectacle that unfolds before our eyes at the approach of a general election. Long time friends turn into pitiless foes overnight. Bitter rivals kiss and make up. Rebels once demonised are welcomed as prodigals. Past betrayals are forgiven. Individuals decried for their shenanigans until the other day are projected as paragons of virtue.
The parting of ways or the coming together of parties has little to do with ideology or any lofty moral purpose. This is a good enough reason for observers steeped in cynicism to vent their annoyance. Today, more than ever before, they feel free to paint the entire political class with the same brush. The parties are accused of falling prey to expediency and opportunism.
Their craven subservience to the corporate world, and personal greed, the cynics further allege, does not permit them to pay much heed to millions of citizens mired in misery.
To argue in this vein, however, is to stretch the limits of cynicism. The unprincipled alliances or parting of ways can and do provoke much righteous indignation. But whomsoever, cares to look below the ripples will have to acknowledge that a bulk of contributors' opinions on a large number of issues of critical importance to Sri Lanka's impassioned plea for the return of a multi ethnic peace and compatibility in our pluralist society.
The world has moved into the 21st century, traditional boundaries once separating people from one another have rapidly disappeared. From the micro-level, we increasingly interact with others whose cultural and sub cultural backgrounds differ from our own, to the macro-level.
We witness, most impressive expansions of multinational organisations, corporations, agencies and alliances that have already standardised the way most of us behave, believe and even dream. Humanity has gone a long way in the process of its endeavour to create a much confused and undefined worldwide social system, thanks to the development and innovations in transportation and communication technologies.
This process, often referred to as globalisation, dramatically reflected and continues to do so in the geopolitical events of the globe. Social relations everywhere are being transformed in response to movements promoting equality among ethnic groups. The concept of exotic has become all but obsolete. The question then is where do we Sri Lankans stand in all this?"
M. N. DEAN, Canada
Once again, the general public is being tricked by false statements made by people in authority! First, SLT raises its telephone charges and rent with a bogus claim of giving 200 units free. Now the bogus claim of increasing the teledensity in the country by introducing the CPP system and the 'FREE 200 units fly into thin air - only after a couple of months after it being introduced! But the increased rent stays! All this with the blessings of the so called intellectuals and experts at the TRC. Were they ignorant of this fact?
Many advertisements inserted by the TRC (obviously at great expense) appeared in the Daily News explaining the 'so called' benefits of the CPP system. But the bottom line is that the Fixed line subscribers have to pay greatly inflated telephone rates and loose the 'FREE' 200 units. Even the Government departments are incurring an additional expense. Is the telephone a super luxury item in Sri Lanka? How many people could afford a monthly bill of around Rs. 1,000 minimum?
Any individual who purchase a mobile phone knows very well in advance the call rates that apply to his individual phone. So how is it that the TRC experts say that the mobile phone user has to pay for incoming calls that he is not responsible for? Isn't this a statement that belittles the mobile phone users intelligence? Would a person who uses a Cadillac limousine complain that the maintenance cost is high?
On the other hand, the SLT is twisting the arms of the mobile phone/other operators and their customers by limiting drastically the interconnecting lines, thereby making it impossible or very frustrating to call a mobile or non-SLT phone from an SLT phone at certain times. The current SLT phone directory being distributed is absolutely insufficient for the user. For some areas, it is a small yellow pages, for others Rainbow pages etc. The most useless telephone bill sent by SLT-infact, they should send an itemised bill free of charge to all customers. What is the TRC doing about this or at least is the DG of the TRC aware of these facts?
Increasing the teledensity in the country is useless if they cannot communicate among themselves. Please Mr. Experts at the TRC, do not fleece the general public to enable greater profits to unscrupulous business magnates. You must set your priorities right. The telephone system needs improvement, but CPP is not the way or the crying need right now - scrap it now!
It seems that the TRC has achieved its vision, but failed dismally in its Mission!
TERRENCE PEREIRA, Mount Lavinia
The objective of some media sycophants and the NGO ruffians is to prevent the patriotic forces gaining power. As already predicted in many opinion polls, the signs are clear that all patriotic forces are gathering under the leadership of the Freedom Alliance as this is the most crucial and decisive election in our history. The only way to prevent a sizeable lead for the Alliance is to split the votes of the Sinhala Buddhists and deny a few bonus seats to the Alliance.
This is an election, contrary to the desire of the NGO ruffians, separatists, pro-federalists, and anti-national elements, will offer the last chance to uphold the unitary status of our nation and defeat all separatists moves and reverse the damage that has been caused to the sovereignty of this nation during the last two years.
The division in the patriotic forces will not only undermine the aspirations of the general masses it would also strengthen the enemy's potency. It is the opportune time to shed our petty differences for the sake of the country and rally against the UNP-LTTE-NGO Coalition.
It is still not too late for all the patriotic masses to march forward as one grand alliance against the common enemy UNP-LTTE-NGO Coalition. Let us save the country first and then address the other burning issues.
A. A. M. NIZAM, Matara
Even before our Minister for Consumer Affairs declared to reduce some of the essential items after the reduction of VAT, the cleverest 'gangs of quick money makers' have now 'taken over' the Sri Lanka Customs and have managed to bring large quantities of goods such as cigarettes, shoes, shirts, baby apparel, toilet soaps, joss-sticks, umbrellas and disposable gas lighters and have distributed at unbelievable prices islandwide.
All these items are now collected from Dubai which is famous for the cheapest Chinese and Indonesian goods. Some of them are shop soiled and discarded ones too!
As referred to in the letter (DN March 5) by D. J. Bulathsinhala, these corrupt practices are actively carried out with the connivance of certain customs officials as the authorities concerned are least worried and the politicians are hell bent on winning elections only.
Until these 'duty free' articles are stopped, prospective investors who may wish to set up industries to produce consumer goods may now retreat for good, disregarding the 'dead ropes' given by politicians to create employment opportunities for political purposes!
B. KALUWITHARANA, Hendessa
In the Daily News March first a letter ends with the comment "but we all know who politicians are". In the context in which the comment appears it is a very succinct exposition of the feelings of the people of this country.
Gone are the days of the great men of this country, men such as Don Stephen, Dudley, Chelvanayakam, NM, SWRD, Colvin, Philip, Peter and the host of others who even did not fear to "declare their assets" before and after they became politicians; men who had but one thought in mind namely develop the country so that the people may have a better life.
Whether for proof or not, these men did nothing to attract to their names allegations of corruption and unjust enrichment. If at all, they only attracted criticisms of their political philosophies.
Are there in this country today politicians who believe in "declarations of assets?"
DENROY, Etul Kotte
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