Letters to the Editor22nd April 2001
The politicians of today see no purpose in catering to the needs of the electorate until the elections draw near. At this stage people receive an abundance of alluring promises and pledges pointing to a glorious dawn.
In this manner the People's Alliance government has beguiled the masses and hoodwinked them yet again to wrest power from the UNP.
The results of the 1994 and 2000 elections show that neither the politicians nor the voters seem to care whether election pledges are kept or disregarded. We still have the Executive Presidency with a palace looming large ahead of us. We now have 46 cabinet ministers with thousands of duty-free vehicles at their beck and call, hundreds of official and unofficial residences, hundreds of thousands of "security personnel" both official and unofficial for which a grateful public uncomplainingly foots the bill.
On the other hand, contrasting with promises that were recklessly broken, many unpromised 'benefits' have also been generously showered on the undeserving masses. This paradox of promising one thing and doing something else is another cultural aberration of Sri Lankan politics.
The value of the rupee has declined since 1995 from 50 per dollar to 86. This phenomenon has been window-dressed as financial wizardry by a certain minister from the hills. It is also touted as a boon to exporters of goods and services, especially migrant workers selling themselves cheap to the Arab world. The petitions and pleas of the import dependent consumer and small businessmen fall on deaf ears, the farmers and peasants no longer count as the country is gearing up to be a leader in the industrial world discarding its traditional role as an agro-based economy.
The one most crucial area that concerns not only the hungry but also the well-fed is that of the north-east war. Promise after promise has been made by the Minister of Defence and her deputy while a retinue of beribboned and medal-bedecked Generals and lesser functionaries have strutted with utter futility in the arena of war.
All this as the war chest (euphemistically called the defence budget) keeps burgeoning. We are told that victory is round the corner, but the corner seems to be rounder and rounder. In fact it is more like a circle, which is ever expanding.
Buddhists should not judge Islam on the actions of misguided zealots. Islam does not encourage such acts of vandalism.
Though tolerance is preached by all religious leaders, it is not practised by all the faithful.
However, these MPs may later lose their positions due to the dissolution of Parliament, death or on an election petition. But they or their next of kin will retain all accoutrement. Is it surprising then that the state banks are having liquidity problems?
Therefore, the public would be grateful if a list of politicians and government bigwigs who have taken loans under the "auspices" of the state since 1977, and which were subsequently written-off, would be published. This would placate the hoi polloi because when they apply for a small loan of even Rs. 10,000 they are subjected to many conditions and legal requirements.
The first term and also the tests are over and of the 37 students in the class only 11 have the reader.
Could the ministry look into this problem and provide the books soon?
The students are tired and under great strain due to the expansion of syllabuses and home work given in bulk. A great educationist once said that children should be given the chance to link with nature because it builds up their feeling of harmony and compassion towards nature and their fellowmen.
The reforms focusing on activity-based education may be more effective than the earlier system. But if children are not given the chance to experience real life, these reforms would be in vain.
This year schools closed on April 10 and boarders went home on the eve of the New Year. They didn't have the chance to participate in the preparations for the New Year.
There are many lessons on rituals and customs in textbooks, but the best lesson for the children would be to participate in them.
A.K. Lalith Kumara
Appellants seek redress by appealing to the Board and it is a matter of concern that its vacancies have not been filled. The Board should be reconstituted with a full quorum as soon as possible.
Appellants are inconvenienced, as the compensation granted by the Valuation Department is far too low, when compared with land values at the time of acquisition.
While the masses are undergoing a struggle for survival, President Chandrika Kumaratunga plans to put up a luxury palace for herself in Kotte.
When the public is burdened with price hikes, electricity, telephone and water charge increases, Ms. Kumaratunga has also appointed more than 85 ministers and deputy ministers, allocating millions of rupees monthly for them.
Today the country's tea industry is facing a critical situation.
Immigrant workers are harassed at the airport and forced to pay the Employment Bureau fee. The immigrant workers who help our country with large sums of foreign currency are not even given duty-free permits to buy vehicles.
The government should take action to ease the burden on the masses.
K. Uthuman Lebbai
It is a popular ploy to highlight the benefit of free education received by the medical profession, when criticising doctors. Education is provided free of charge to all Sri Lankans from primary through secondary and right up to tertiary level, provided they are able to compete successfully for the available places. This privilege is available to students in any field. From the top executive down to the labourer, all are educated with the taxpayers' money.
Thus, all Sri Lankans who have benefited from free education are equally duty-bound to serve their fellowmen.
Thus it is unfair to make special reference to the benefits of free education that doctors have enjoyed.
We, doctors have done our best for our countrymen with limited resources. Ours is not merely a duty, but a responsibility as well. Our health statistics are comparable to statistics of developed European countries. Can the writer of the letter state any other field, which is thus developed?
Therefore, is it not unjust to criticise the medical profession, which has probably been the only one to repay its debt to the country, with interest?
Special mention has been made of the requirement to serve the public day and night if the necessity arises. This is valid only if the patient visits a government hospital for treatment.
What a doctor does during his free time is his business. While a doctor is duty-bound to serve his hospital patients, the selection of patients during private practice is left to his discretion.
When the writer's child fell ill suddenly, he/she should have taken the child to the 'emergency department' of a hospital.
Drugs and equipment required to manage an acutely ill child are not kept in consultation rooms. Only the emergency department is geared to handle that. People consult consultants or 'professors' to obtain expert advice. Attending to an emergency in a channelling room is impossible even for a consultant.
A consultant should not be the first contact doctor. A qualified medical officer should make referrals to the relevant consultant after assessing the patient, like in all developed countries.
Unlike a known patient, assessment of a new patient demands more concentration and judgment. This may not be possible when the number of patients is excessive.
The writer's ignorance of such facts was demonstrated when he/she rushed the acutely ill child to a channelling room instead of an emergency department. The time lost in negotiating the lengthy queue should actually have been spent at the emergency department. The writer is indeed fortunate that it did not cause irreparable harm to the child.
Dr. M.I.M Rayes
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