Restore the status of Translators! | Daily News

Restore the status of Translators!

International Translation Day falls today:

The United Nations Organization, at its 71st Session held on May 24, has declared 30th September as the International Translation Day recognizing the invaluable service Translators are rendering in bringing about inter-ethnic harmony and national reconciliation. In that resolution, the UNO “affirms that professional translation, as a trade and an art, plays an important role in upholding the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, bringing nations together, facilitating dialogue, understanding and cooperation, contributing to development and strengthening world peace and security”. The resolution also states as its purpose the need to recognize Translator service in terms of the role it performs in bridging the communication gap between different communities, in particular in post-conflict contexts in countries which have suffered long drawn out inter-ethnic disharmonies.

It is in this backdrop that the declaration of International Translation Day matters so much to Sri Lankans and Sri Lanka, in particular as a country which suffered for three decades a bloody war caused, for the most part, by a language issue, resulting in loss of hundreds of thousands of valuable lives. Further, we gather that a function has been organised to celebrate this day headed by Minister Mano Ganesan who has shown much interest in bringing about national reconciliation. However, the true situation of Government Translators’ Service in Sri Lanka is a story of disappointment where these professionals are suffering endless degradations and step-motherly treatments at the hand of certain authorities never giving them their due status and recognition in spite of re-iterations even by the Cabinet of Ministers by the Official Languages Policy passed in year 2013 that immediate measures have to be adopted to address the present issue of qualified translators leaving the service and skilled personnel being not interested in entering this Service.

Government Translators are graduates who enter the service by passing a highly competitive examination conducted to test their inter-lingual competence. Upto year 2006 the Graduate Recruitment Class (Class I) of the service had been placed at a status parallel to that of an Administrative Officer in a Department while its Promotion Class (Special Class) had been placed in Executive level.

However, with introduction of Public Administration Circular 06/2006, both Classes of the Service were placed at a level much below the level of Administrative Officer and Special Class was made deprived of its Executive Status. Accordingly, from year 2006 onwards, utterly frustrated of the downright degradation of their status, many qualified translators vacated their post while other qualified personnel outside the service who were desirous of joining this service were discouraged to enter it. Many parliamentarians of the present government, as members of the Opposition under the previous regime, pointed out this deplorable situation in Parliament and, as a result, the Cabinet of Ministers, by the above said Language Policy Decision, recognized the need to restore Translators the status stripped off them.

Keeping to the pledges made, and in response to the persistent explanations by Translators Service Union, the Present Government took steps to restore the status Translators lost with effect from year 2006 and even a Cabinet Memorandum was submitted twice under the signature of the Minister Karu Jayasuriya and thereafter Ranjith Maddumabandara who, in turn, were entrusted with the subject of Public Administration. However, now it transpires that due to strong objections and counter-recommendations of the same category of high ranking officers who initially downgraded this Service in year 2006, the Ministry of Public Administration has submitted a Note to the Cabinet proposing to further downgrade recruitment level of Graduate Translators in 11 salary steps while even not restoring the Executive level its Special Class lost in year 2006.

Against this backdrop, we urge the Minister of Official Languages who seems to be genuinely interested in bringing about national reconciliation, to celebrate International Translation Day on September 30 with a strong determination to fight for the rights of Translators in the Cabinet and celebrate the same Day next year at least by restoring the status Translators enjoyed upto year 2006. We trust you and are positive that soon you will usher in the spring season for Government Translators and thereby for the movement of national reconciliation, not by offering any extra privilege, but only by restoring the status Translators enjoyed upto year 2006 and then were made deprived of. Then, and only then, will the nation be able to meaningfully celebrate the International Translation Day in year 2018 as a member state of the UNO. 


There are 18 Comments

Very true! This is a serious issue of present day bureaucracy in Sri Lanka. Not only Translators, but all other services also are suffering injustices of these high ranking authorities who use the spoon only to serve themselves.

Agree. This Ministry is only representing the grievances of Sri Lanka Administrative Service. All other Services are downgraded to the level of servants of this high ranking service. If this is situation is not rectified, again the International Community will have to intervene to solve the problems deliberately created in Public Service.

Yes. I know that the category of officials who are entrusted with rectifying the anomalies in public service are creating unnecessary problems in every other trade except SLAS.

Thanks Daily News for presenting the really true sad side of Public Service suffering so much suppression and oppression at the hand of present day bureaucracy lead by Sri Lanka Administrative Service.

A separate Committee must be appointed to look into the real festering issues of all Public Servants in other categories that are unlikely to be solved under the present day authorities entrusted with these responsibilities such as the Director Generals of Establishments and Combined Services, Salaries Commission and Director General of Management Services, all monopolized by Sri Lanka Administrative Service which is reluctant to give any opportunity to any other service except their own.

Yes. The country should seriously re-consider a revision of the present system of bureaucracy in Public Service which is monopolized by a team of officers who create problems in public service ultimately distancing the Public Service from the Government because the oppressed categories think that it is the government that takes their rights off. Therefore, I also think it time for the government to appoint panels of independent persons to look into the grievances of public servants. Any way a big "Thank You" to the Daily News for uncovering this sad truth. I commend you Daily News!

I agree and disagree. Agree first because I know that this country which has suffered so much by a long-drawn-out bloody war should no doubt give due recognition to these professionals who play an invaluable role in bringing about national reconciliation. Disagree because even the public servants are responsible partly for their sufferings for the reason that they, rather than remaining idle only complaining, should get together and raise their voice strongly against the unjust authorities who create unnecessary problems in their trades. I also join those who thank the Daily News for publishing this article.

Very true. So, it is high time now for the GOSL to take stern action against this bureaucracy that strongly stands against its national policy of bringing about reconciliation before International Community intervenes to solve it.

I also join those who propose to appoint a panel of independent scholars or officers replacing the present monopoly of Sri Lanka Administrative Service to look into issues in Public Service. Otherwise, they will never be solved under the present bureaucracy. Thank you Daily News for raising this issue reflecting a very common and timely issue of the Public Service.

I have only one thing to say. This bureaucracy is the foremost reason behind the downfall of Public Service which has become a burden to the general public in Sri Lanka. I know in many fields a situation has been created where qualified and talented persons are discouraged to enter these services thereby lowering the quality of such services. Thank you Daily News for your timely intervention to enlighten the authorities of this sad truth.

Daily News, I must say you are GREAT! This is the most timely problem that you have presented through the grievances of Translators. Thousand times thank you for your bold action to open the eyes of politicians to the unnecessary problems created by a handful of SLAS officers in high ranks.

This service is in an unbelievably pathetic situation. Not only the Executive level has been taken off them, but also the only available promotion examination in the service has not been held for 18 years after 1999 which has resulted in the service having no single Special Class Translator at the moment. The worst of all is that the responsible authorities seem to pay no heed whatsoever to these grievances. Daily News deserves also a word of thanks from me for bringing to light these issues of public servants.

I also join with those who condone translators because this is perhaps the only one service at present struggling for restoration of their earlier position when all other services are struggling for better salaries and status etc. This situation is not at all good for the reconciliation movement of the present government and the issue therefore should be immediately resolved. My gratitude also should be extended to Daily News for raising this very important and timely issue for public discussion.

I have 30 years of experience in Public Service and witnessed many a times that certain segments of the Sri Lanka Administrative are the source of frustration and dissatisfaction to many other services. Therefore, government should take this as a serious issue blocking progress in public service.

I'll tell you one thing to see the extent of injustice in Public Service. The Sri Lanka Administrative Service officers are double promoted to Class I after 10 years of their recruitment to Service. But, as for Translators, the final Promotion Examination for the only available promotional opportunity in service was held 18 years ago in 1999. Even to that only officers with a minimum of 08 years' service could apply. Which, in short, means No promotion whatsoever has been granted to any Translator who joined the service since 1992. The history of deprivation of promotional prospect alone up-to-date is 25 years. This is only one point of a host of injustices this service is suffering today. Where is the justice in Public Service?

I agree. But I wonder why the successive government have not yet identified these miscreants holding high authorities in Public Service who are continuing to create unnecessary problems and anomalies in public service thus gradually distancing each government in power from people. Thank you Daily News for opening the eyes of politicians to this sad, but never discussed, timely issue in Public Service.

This letter opens our eyes to a serious issue in Sri Lanka as a country with dire need for a reconciliation movement. A handful of SLAS officers are dragging this movement back and can the government remain idle any longer without taking stern action to rectify these issues deliberately created by a handful of high level officers? This is the question that should be answered by the Government which took power with reconciliation pledges. Thank you Daily News for opening public discussion on this matter.

This letter is a very timely eye-opener to the entire public service administration under Sri Lanka Administrative Service. If these administrators have not seen the collapse of Translators' Service which has grown to such a level that almost all qualified persons are leaving the service, and the administration has failed to grant promotions to translators for over 18 years making the entire Special Grade of the Service vacant by now, government should seriously re-consider the present system of administration in Public Service and I agree with the above comment that an independent panel of experts in relevant fields should be appointed to look into these deliberately created issues in public service. Thank you Daily News for bringing this matter forward to public judgement.


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