|Tuesday, 30 November 2004|
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Many people will have a sigh of relief at the news that the death penalty is to be implemented. India, too, like Sri Lanka, did not implement the death penalty for a long time but it was reported recently that they hanged a man who had raped and killed a 14-year-old girl. If the murder of High Court Judge Sarath Ambepitiya triggered the decision to implement the death penalty it can be said that he did not die in vain.
The implementation of the death penalty will ease the congestion in prisons and reduce the burden of upkeep of prisoners. However I consider hanging to be old-fashioned, expensive, cumbersome, theatrical and time-consuming. A better method such as the lethal injection or the firing squad should be used. This change is all the more necessary as the present hangman has made the demand that he be provided with 24 hour security. If he insists on it, change to a better method - of which there are many - should be made.
There is also one aspect that should not be lost sight of. And that is that the bodyguard was not on the alert. A bodyguard should not engage in any other function but should be ever suspicious and eternally vigilant in guarding the person whom he is guarding.
In one instance, a bodyguard assigned to a high Kremlin official jumped on an object that had fallen from a person going before and covered it with his chest. Had it been a grenade he would have taken the full force of the blast. The Kremlin official was so impressed that he removed his wristwatch then and there and presented it to the bodyguard.
The death penalty existed during the time of the Buddha and he did not ask for its abolition though he had influence over kings. The death penalty was also chosen by God as the instrument by which mankind could be redeemed through the blood of Christ. We can therefore conclude that God did not disapprove of it. Neither does Allah because the death penalty is operative in Muslim countries.
C. MAHINDA, Makola
An upright judge, a patriotic judicial officer with high integrity, was gunned down in a vicious and ruthless manner with the aim of either sending shockwaves to the Judiciary or probably with vindictive intentions.
At this moment of sorrow, we shall commend the President, Chief Justice, Attorney General/Solicitor General, Associations of High Court Judges/Lawyers, Minister and Secretary to the Ministry of Public Security, IGP and many others for the following .
1) Reintroduction of the death sentence even at a very late stage. This bold decision safeguards the Human Rights (right to live) of the vast majority of innocent people of this country though as few persons allege for reasons best known to them, it deprives the human rights of criminals convicted for murder, drug offences and rape. - Vox populi vox dei
2) Enhance security of Judges with a special police unit for this purpose
3) Special compensation to the bereaved family. We are sure that this will be a substantial compensation.
4) Re-organisation of the Police Crime Prevention Unit
5) Proposal to introduce amendments to the Criminal Law in addition to adopting regulations, systems and procedures to minimize laws delays within four weeks
6) IGP to personally supervise the investigations with the assistance of DIG Crimes, Criminal Intelligence and Narcotics and DIG Colombo. The security of these officers and the others of their units too shall be enhanced, particularly PNB, CID and Crimes.
7) Reiteration by the CJ and High Court Judges and other judges very courageously that they will not be deterred from performing their duties by these insidious threats to the judiciary.
In addition to the above measures if meaningful steps can be taken to mitigate the hardships caused to the honest dynamic law enforcement officers by FR actions, anticipatory bail actions and other demoralizing actions, of course with utmost concern for the freedom of the innocent public and to stop unholy interference with the law enforcement authorities.
The people's representatives must help the country to get rid of corrupt law enforcement officers and it shall be the sublime duty by the nation for the VIPP of all political parties to be above board and check corruption at all levels by giving good examples.
Now that one of our heroic judges have created a void, let us hope at least the sad demise of our beloved Judge will be the turning point in the semi anarchical country. Better late than never.
A hostel in the University of Peradeniya and a street in Colombo were named after a similar upright judge - Justice Akbar.
We shall pay our tribute to him in a similar fashion or in a better way as he meted out justice and discharged his duties without any fear or favour, in a much deteriorated or devastated stage in this former resplendent island.
PIYASIRI SAMARASOORIYA, Colombo 6
The letter titled 'Sahasak Maha Wev Project and Youth Employment' by Mahinda Weerakoon (Aug. 16) is very pertinent.
The principal thrust of the Government's educational reforms is to make job creators out of students rather than reduce them to mere job seekers. This is a most visionary and innovative thinking of the Education Ministry Secretary, which has a relevance to job creation among school leavers and job seeking youngsters.
The school leavers and the young job aspirants with creativity industriousness and innovativeness are motivated, they would do well to explore the possibilities of creating livelihoods for themselves by forming small village construction companies in the village itself, with the help of the Government.
The national level planners need a complete new pipeline to reach the youth for their own progress and make them handle their village level construction companies with dignity and honour.
The Government should assist and monitor these companies with other development programmes like, Sanwardana Sangramaya, Sahasak Jana Pubuduwa, Gam Pubuduwa, Jana Pubuduwa and Samurdhi Programmes to create employment for youth as the above-mentioned letter stated in creating Village Construction Companies (VCCs). Correct guidance and motivation with financial assistance and managerial training should be channelled to these Village Construction Companies at the very start. Jana Pubuduwa has targeted 30,000 income generating projects. Gam Pubuduwa has earmarked the development of the infrastructure facilities of 13,223 identified villages. Samurdi programme will assist 30000 Samurdi families to form small groups for self-employment.
Sri Lanka Samurdi Authority will invest Rs. 264 million, the tank rehabilitation project spending about 500 million rupees. annually Rs. 24 billion is spent by Government to give subsidies to the poor, but some years only Rs. 5 million to alleviate poverty. Therefore, large amount of money has been allocated on subsidies rather than to implement poverty alleviation programmes. This method should be changed.
This is a need of a national level programme to genuinely overcome poverty among the poor, like Village Construction Company formation, so that the development work takes precedence related to drinking water, community water schemes, rural roadways, culverts, small bridges, waterways, irrigation canals, small tank rehabilitation and environmental conservation.
R. A. B. THIBBOTUWAWA, Kandy
There are a number of plus points in the budget. There are several praiseworthy aspects and one such is the increase in the penalty fine imposed on certain crimes. The Minister of Finance has thought of facts in the right direction.
Penalty imposed on derivers causing accidents and loss of lives is raised to Rs.50,000. This is very good. This could be construed as consisting of two favourable factors, that is, it not only increases the revenue for the Government, but also, at the same time minimises road accidents. It makes the driver think twice before driving recklessly. He would be extra careful and he would have second thoughts due to imposing of the heavy penalty, especially when he comes near the pedestrian crossings.
These days accidents are very frequent especially at pedestrian crossings. Pedestrians are not safe even at the pedestrian crossings. Even the traffic police is not safe. Once at Borella a traffic policeman may be on duty was thrown off by an on coming vehicle and then rushed to death by the same vehicle. The public feels that heavy penalty would serve as a suitable deterrent.
S. SABA SUBRAMANIAM
In the name of liberalisation of the economy since 1977, Sri Lanka has been the dumping ground for more sub-standard goods and much needed foreign exchange is wasted and sent down the drain. A case in point is the import of old newspapers from Singapore and other places.
Today one cannot sell old newspapers even for Rs. 6 per kilo to the bottleman. This has deprived the poor housewife to earn a few extra rupees. We are a literate country in South East Asia, thanks to the free education. The reading public is presently deprived of buying daily newspapers. Time and again the price of daily newspapers are escalating, as the print media states, due to the ever rising prices in the world market. It has now reached beyond the purchasing power of the reading middle class and lower middle class people of the country.
We should explore the possibility of exporting old newspapers for the overseas market and bring in more foreign exchange, similar to the export of scrap iron, and totally ban the import of old newspapers to the country.
F. A. RODRIGO SATHIANATHEN, Kelaniya
We were amazed to hear about the murder of Sarath Ambepitiya, who was a learned High Court Judge. And we highly commend the President, our dear mother of Lanka, for her diligence, in so promptly bringing back the noose or death sentence to bring justice against the ruthless acts of these unscrupulous elements.
We would like to see them punished, as an example to all, so that if they were to do this sort of wrong, the same fate will await them too. so that no one will ever resort to doing such horrible, gruesome, abominable murders, ever again in future.
Let this be the very last murder of its kind, ever to take place in our peaceful homeland. We, all good citizens of Sri Lanka, detest murder, rape, drug abuse and narcotics etc., and would like to see an end to all this as early as possible.
We Sri Lankans, are supposed to be a very peace loving people and we hate to even hear of this sort of thing. We must put a stop to this, at all costs. Otherwise, no one will be able to live safely and happily, in this country.
C. M. DE MEL, Moratuwa
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