We are a group of Engineers who passed out from the Engineering
Faculty of the Peradeniya University in 1999. We wish to, through the
Citizens’ Mail column, draw the attention of the relevant authorities to
an unsafe footbridge located opposite the Talawakelle Urban Council
building. One of our members happened to spot this unsafe bridge, took
photographs of it and discussed it within our group. The common census
was that it is unsafe for the following reasons :
1. There is an unusual sag in the bridge close to the right bank.
Under normal circumstances when there is no load on the bridge there
should be a small sag, due to the self-weight of the bridge. We are
concerned that the sag in the bridge occurs close to the right bank
rather than the middle and that it is in excessive.
2. The joints between the ties seem to be spaced too close together.
3. The upper and the lower joints are not staggered adequately.
What we recommend is a thorough inspection to determine the cause of
this unusual sag and whether it is safe or in excess of the design
standards. If the sag is deemed to be in excess of design standards, it
can be corrected by jacking the bridge at appropriate locations and
affixing one or more ties at the point of the sag.
We trust that action will be taken without delay by the relevant
authorities to inspect this bridge and make it safe for public use.
It was with great sadness that I watched the news telecast on the
death of a little girl in the Narahenpita canal some days back.
What she suffered prior to death cannot be imagined. Surely, death
would have been merciful to her. What is so disturbing is that the crime
was committed by teenagers.
In an address by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, at the St. Joseph's
College prize giving, he said, “A student should be morally formed and
spiritually nourished”. How relevant it is in today's society! There is
no lack of Dhamma schools (Christian, Buddhist etc.) in our country. So
where does the fault of children going astray lie? Schools apart, a
child's formation begins at home. And if that home is not a fortress for
a child he is apt to go astray.
It is also time that mother's realized the dangers a girl-child faces
daily be where they are on the roads, in school vans, and even at home.
They are never too young to be cautioned as to what could happen to
them, even from their own kith and kin. School education also must
highlight this factor (boy's schools too - 'respect womanhood'). Surely
the active human rights organization in Sri Lanka can move in this
Attacks on females (just another news item) seem to be the order of
the day. Now, are we going to add another “first” to our record of
“firsts”? Its time all women, mothers especially, raised their voices in
Protect the girl-child.
The Time Magazine of July 2 carried a brief article on Oliver
Wainwright British architecture critic harshly criticizing the new
Arcelor Mittal Orbit tower at the Olympic Park in London. This perhaps
is an inauspicious omen to the London-based Indian industrialist,
Lakshmi Mittal, President of the Global Arcelor Mittal, the world's
biggest steelmaker. Mittal has so much at stake in the London games –
the realisation of an eight year dream.
India, the second most popular country has an extremely poor record
in the Olympic Games. It took them 56 years to win an individual gold
medal and also to break the jinx of not winning more than one medal in
the Olympics. This was at the 2008 China Games. Soon after India's
miserable show at the Athens Games in 2004, Lakshmi Mittal set up the
Mittal Championship Trust with an initial pledge of 10 million dollars
to ensure that India won medals in 2012 in London – vigorous,
multi-layered training programme for all sports except cricket, which
anyway is not an Olympic event. It was argued that “to make India a
greater sporting nation cricket was not the best thing to get involved
Four years later similar sentiments were echoed by an irate New Delhi
resident, U.K. Sadhoo in a damning letter to TIME, which the magazine
captioned ‘National Terror.’ He wrote: “Cricket is an 800 pound gorilla
that has smothered all other sports in India. It hogs the media, sponges
all the sponsorship and makes idols of mediocre, inconsistent and
narcissistic athletes.....” He went on to propose a ten year moratorium
on cricket, diverting all resources to other hopelessly funded sports in
India concluding”.... and watching the cricketers earn a living like us
Fortunately it is not so bad here in Sri Lanka but we have had the
odd ominous rumblings. I think it was in 2008 that Hyacinth Wijesinghe,
the national netball coach resigned bemoaning the poor patronage
accorded to the sport. She said, “Apart from cricket there is hardly any
recognition for coaches handling other sports.”
Anyway with the Olympics only a few days away, millions of Indians
the world over and of course Mittal are keeping their fingers crossed in
nervous excitement to see how successful the enormous work of the trust
would be – least in creating a small miracle.
The number of bus travellers being pick-pocketed in the Colombo area
is ever increasing. Recently, a lady in a Kalubowila to Dehiwala bus
lost her purse which was in her hand bag. She almost cried and told the
conductor that her purse was pick-pocketed with Rs 600. I was in the
same bus and over heard the conductor yelling at her saying that he is
helpless and that it is duty of bus travellers to look after their
In another incident the purse of a lady travelling in the 101 route
bus from Dehiwala was picked while she was getting down at Wellawatte.
Her purse contained Rs. 3600, some Canadian dollars, her NIC, Canadian
citizen card, health card and a Canadian credit card.
These crimes happen in crowded buses daily and especially women are
targeted. I suggest that the Police deploy some plain clothesmen to
arrest this ever increasing menace. Unless stern action is taken, it is
going to end up as an incurable island wide disease sickening to bus
I write this letter with reference to the recent news items about the
snobbish behaviour of a principal of a national school who refused to
issue the school leaving certificate to a student, on the flimsy grounds
of the student's inability to replace a book he had borrowed from the
school library. It seems to me that principals of some national schools
have become dictators of sort, even refusing to listen to higher
They have built empires of their own, dispensing their authority
arbitrarily, which has led to several injustices in certain cases.
Favoritism, corruption and malpractices have swallowed the school
The majority of the teachers remain silent over these issues for fear
of reprisals. Most principals have created circles and networks
consisting of deputies, clerks and others for the purpose of carrying on
their activities under cover.
School admissions have become a lucrative business for some
principals. In many cases, however the go scot free as it is often done
through brokers. Some principals show reluctance to take in children of
staff members as this does not bring them the money.
It is indeed disheartening to see how the laudable policies of free
education are being violated by these ‘licensed criminals’.
Some principals of popular schools have become so swollen-headed that
they have become jokers in the eyes of teachers and parents.
For example, the principal of a leading boys' school in Kandy has
introduced a teacher assessment scheme through which 10 selected
teachers are given a foreign tour.
Apart from the demoralising effect this has on the other teachers,
the very process of evaluation is seriously flawed.
For example, a sectional head or a principal grade officer with a
smattering of English is appointed to evaluate the lessons of an English
teacher with a Master’s qualification.
It is time the educational authorities exercised a check on the
utopian plans of principals who run schools according to their whims and
fancies violating the national educational policies which are the very
pillars of our education system.
The Hirigalgodella Kanista Vidyalaya which is in a remote corner in
the Beruwala electorate severely lacks accommodation for its students.
The school building was built on a hillock in the late nineteen
sixties as a primary school for a few students. But since then, the
number of students has increased every year, with the result that there
is congestion is the classes today. This has greatly affected the day to
day activities including the studies of the children.
The Zonal Education Office in Kalutara had approved the construction
of a new building for this junior school a few years ago, after the blue
prints had been readied.
But sadly, even the foundation stone of the proposed building has not
been laid as yet.
Parents of students of the school state that their children suffer
immensely owing to the lack of space for their educational activities.
If the Education Department initiate the new building without further
delay, it would be of much service for the future generation of this
I enjoyed reading your article in the Daily News on the above
subject. I am a living truth to his simplicity and humanism. You are
right in calling him an epitome of simplicity and humanism.
I was a Supreme Court stenographer and had the privilege of taking
down in shorthand, many of this Crown Counsel's learned arguments from
1955 to 1962. Later I was privileged to work under him as a Hansard
reporter both at the Senate and the House of Representatives.
I resigned from Parliament service in December 1980 upon being
appointed as a Secretary at Gray Mackenzie (International) Ltd., in
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
In keeping with protocol, I applied for a year's no pay leave to the
Hansard editor. He was unwilling to release me.
He wrote to Sam Wijesinha setting out various insurmountable
difficulties, chief of which was the difficulty to recruit good
shorthand writers for the job.
I was unaware of this note. Unexpectedly, I got a call from Sam
Wijesinha asking me to see him in his office. He showed me this note and
also his remark at the bottom of it in red: ‘Tell me how I can stop him
All he said to me was, “I am releasing you. Get ready to travel and
all the best to you.” Following this, I had to go to him once more to
ask him for a testimonial to be submitted to the new company. Simple as
he is, he told me, “You write what you think of yourself and I will
approve it”. I wrote a suitable character certificate and took it to
Being a man who is experienced in men and matters, he read through
it, agreed with me and signed it without any alternation. That is the
type of the simple and human and genial boss I remember today and p[ay
I am now 80 years. I have achieved quite a lot thanks to his humanity
In our belief, it is said if you are not thankful to a fellow human
being, then you will be considered not thankful to your creator. I seek
this opportunity through the Citizens' Mail column to place on record
his humanism to a humble and helpless soul.
He has turned 91 years now. I wish him good health and God's
blessings for many more years to come. May the Good Lord guard and guide