|Tuesday, 16 March 2004|
Please forward your letters to email@example.com in plain text format within the e-mail message, since as a policy we do not open any attachments.
Recent political developments in the Eastern Province could very well be a silver lining in the very dark clouds that have been building up over the Eastern Province over the years.
One of the darkest clouds was the inability of successive governments to conduct the referendum in the Eastern Province on the subject of the temporary merger of the North and East due to those wanting the merger being armed and therefore had the ability to disrupt any referendum on the issue.
The recent developments would no doubt help foster greater trust and cooperation between the Sinhalese, Muslim and Tamil communities in the East and could even help develop a common position on the merger referendum.
There is no doubt that the country in general and the people in the Eastern Province in particular would benefit considerably if a referendum is held early since there is no doubt that such a referendum would undoubtedly produce a result favouring a de-merger.
The easiest and least disruptive method of holding the referendum is to hold it concurrently with the general elections since very little extra time and effort would be required to make preparations for such a referendum even at this stage.
BERNARD WIJEDORU - Mount Lavinia.
While not detracting plans afoot to construct additional sea ports in Sri Lanka, it would be desirable to consider the former Kalkudah Port on the East Coast being resuscitated.
There was a time before the advent of the Railway to East, when a number of ships, most of them named after the wives of former colonial Governors - 'Lady Blake', 'Lady Havelock', 'Lady Gordon' etc. ran right round our nation, carrying goods and passengers from the ports all.
Kalkudah and the Batticaloa Bar (where re the latter, there still stands the ancient Light House), to Colombo, Jaffna, Point Pedro, Trincomalee and other such places. Deteriorating daily, on the Kalkudah beach, remains the big boiler of the ship Lady Havelock, which at the height of the 1907 cyclone, was run ashore by its English captain, Captian Whitely, during the cyclone blast, saving all members of the crew and the passengers who were abroad.
The remnant of the Kalkudah jetty is still there and the name of one of its engineers who supervised the building of the jetty, are still engraved - the engineer being H. F. Tomalin who was also involved in the building of some major buildings in Colombo.
Steamers from Tuticorin, Nagercoils from South India used to regularly call here, bringing much cargo such as the then famous Mangalore tiles and other goods and taking back loads of copra from the large acreage of coconut plantations here, at Kalkudah.
PRINCE CASINADER - Batticaloa.
Politicians have learnt 'polytricks' for their own survival than serving the masses and developing the country. Amongst them, a few politicians who could be termed as 'thugs' entered the Parliament and spoilt the sanctity of it. Their 'thuggerism' in most cases were worst than the activities of criminals.
It has reached such a proportion that politicians now enter police stations to show their political powers by attacking the officers on duty. Their leaders so as to defend their third class politicians compare the incidents to that of their opponents and indirectly encourage such actions.
A politician recently created havoc entering the Welikada police station and had threatened the officer-in-charge too. It was an act not only to be severely condemned but also requires disciplinary action by the party apart from police legal action.
If politicians and their henchmen continue to storm into police stations and dictate terms to the OICs, very soon we shall witness law and order becoming low and odour.
Politicians should realise that OICs carry out instructions issued by their superiors and therefore it is not wise to attack the policemen on duty.
No citizen has the right of interfering at the execution of duties by the police and should there be partiality in performing their duties a complain could be made at the Police Headquarters.
Attempting to attack an OIC is only a foolish act which will finally end up in grievous consequences.
NAZLY CASSIM - Colombo 13.
I had the belief that the Passport office is one of those which was efficient in carrying out its work. May be it is comparatively efficient, but still there is room for improvement.
If one considers the environment outside as well as inside, and the panic that is prevailing, it is apparent that things are not running smooth and hence the staff is pressurized.
I cannot understand why such a commotion to get an application form in the first place. Cannot this be decentralized, to make life easy for the applicants. After all, why should one travel to that office just to get an application form. Is it an expensive exercise to have these at main post offices.
In UK not only they give that in the Post office, but they accept them back as well, with the payment and check it before sending it to passport office. That may be asking too much, in Sri Lanka. With the prevalent of such frauds, concerning passports.
The applicants should be discouraged to ask for urgent passports, unless there is a valid emergency. The present high demand for that may be a sign of discontent with the normal issues, and may be trying to get everything done on the same day. Even if it costs double.
Therefore the increased price is not the solution. After all this is not a business concern. The space and furniture could be better utilised and the arrangements in a much more sensible way.
There is no need to have the size of tables in relation to the post one is holding. Why should a chief clerk's table be much bigger than an ordinary staff member.
Why a chief clerk when an Assistant Controller is doing all the work. Why cannot the responsibilities delegated more to the respective divisions. This will avoid lot of delays. Why cannot the postal division take the responsibility of issuing the passport in person, without an order from Assistant Controller.
After all, it is ready to be posted. There is no system at all in issuing these in that division. Even failed to put up a board to indicate that it is the postal division.
The door itself is fitted with an irrelevant sign (upside down). People are directed to a room number, but that number is non-existent.
I met many applicants who had waited for many days, and have come to enquire, and only then they are told that some additional information is required. Why cannot they inform the applicant through post such things. In fact that happened to me as well. Fortunately, I was following the progress and therefore I was successful. But ordinary people expect things to happen without there interference or following up.
I saw many had to go from desk to desk in search of information, including me. The indifference is written all over the face of some staff members. I was overly polite right through, and that I believe helped me to get through successfully.
It may be that the staff are under pressure and may have their own grievances. After all that is a common factor for all of us. That should not affect the public spiritedness.
Just imagine the congestion created outside and inside due to these lapses. Of course there may be crowds just loitering, and this should be discouraged.
This is not a complaint but food for thought in improving the services rendered by any department dealing with the public.
D. P .Y. ABEYWARDHANA - London.
The choice before the voters is obvious - to elect individuals of unimpeachable character, honesty and integrity irrespective of the political party they belong to.
Principles and policies of political parties do not seem to matter much these days since immediately after election the members of Parliament tend to forget their commitments to the party policies and also to the electorate and embark on projects of their own whim and fancy with callous disregard to the public concern or welfare, aimed solely at image building and/or personal gain. Instances abound everywhere even in Matara town.
It is hoped that the people will at this election use their votes with judgement and selection and return as their representative persons who can be relied on not to be susceptible to bribery and corruption.
The political parties too must ensure that only such honest and upright persons are given nomination.
P. G. A. HENRY - Matara.
I am talking of a bank that considers itself reputable. I was persuaded to obtain a debit card from an employee of this bank.
To my astonishment, it was brought to my notice that the employee herself, who suggested my securing this facility which offers the security of a photograph on its card as well as signature for identification of the purchaser of goods has apparently been hoodwinked by an employee of the same bank, and got away with separate purchases from DSI, Cargills and KFC.
How come all three establishments failed to identify the signature or the photograph on the card? I might understand one establishment having failed in the identification, but all three? This is why I suspect the bank employee who stole this card is in cahoots with the employees of these establishments who are entrusted with accepting debit cards? These conclusions are based on the following facts:
The handbag of the bank employee was stolen at the annual get-together exclusively for the bank employees held at a reputed hotel in Colombo, on a recent Saturday night (this is why a bank employee is suspected). An announcement at the get-together failed to secure the lost hand bag.
The bank employee who lost her bag had waited until Monday in the presumption that the hand bag had been mistakenly taken by another employee of the bank and would be returned, but it had not happened. The purchases had been made the next day, Sunday.
However that may be, I fail to see how all three establishments that claim a good reputation, failed to identify the imposter who would naturally have been a woman.
Although a complaint was lodged with the police, there is doubt that the matter would be pursued as a mere couple of thousand rupees are involved.
This letter is intended to warn others who believe that debit cards issued by banks with photographs and signatures with high sounding words such as 'electronic' on it are not foolproof and recovery seems impossible, and arrest of the thief is not considered worthwhile, permitting such thieves to continue!
Establishments accepting debit cards and such must have honest, responsible, and reliable members of the staff engaged for the purpose, because if the photograph and signature is not identified with caution, the reputation of those accepting such cards are lost as it is possible those accepting these cards work hand-in-glove with such thieves.
D. Q. FERNANDO - Colombo 5.
There is an anomaly in the pension. Many politicians have promised many times in many platforms that they would rectify the anomaly. So far it has not been done.
Can they unveil the plan to the pensioners as to how they are going to rectify the anomaly before the election day. This will give some confidence to the pensioners nearly 4 1/2 lakhs to vote for the party that is going to implement the structure that they have worked out before the voting date.
S. A. MASILAMANY - Colombo 10.
Produced by Lake House