Letters to the Editor

2nd December 2001

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We are the losers

They preach and preach!
We listen and listen!
To their endless tales
To their endless promises 
With great expectations
Of a fairyland,
But in the end....
Only we realize....
They are the winners!
We are the losers!
We have got caught 
In their wait,
This endless cycle will go on
Till we reach our world beyond!

Malini. H

Cast your vote wisely

A few days back, the Tamil Alliance put forward their manifesto and the main demands could be summarized as a recognition of a Tamil homeland and guarantee of territorial integrity; the right to self-determination of the Tamil nation and an independent Tamil state.

Many of us Tamils live happily among the Sinhalese in the south. We own property and houses, and have good business, with much freedom. We live among friends. What is the position in the north and parts of the east? There are no Sinhalese. They left long ago because of LTTE threats. Even those Sinhalese living in the border villages fear that they may be chased from their homes. The threat from the LTTE is real.

If the demands of the Tamil Alliance are met and maybe more Tamils with such strong views are elected to Parliament, will it not lead to the complete separation of the Tamil and Sinhalese communities? Will it not lead to a similar demand by the Sinhalese, so that the Tamils, who are now enjoying the freedom of business and ownership of property, will be asked to go to their homeland in the north? There will be a great exodus either way, with much violence and loss of life of innocent people. We must remember what happened when Pakistan and India were divided.

This is an appeal to my Tamil brethren. Cast your vote wisely.

Dr. P.T. Selvaraja

Points to ponder before elections day

As the December 5 parliamentary election draws near, I would like to make the following appeals to the President, incoming government, party leaders and voters.

To the President and incoming government: 

* Appoint no more than 15 Cabinet Ministers and 20 Deputy Ministers.

* Do not appoint a medical doctor as Health Minister and a military person as Defence Minister for they cannot see the other side of the coin.

* Consider the introduction of a second legislature comprising elected, appointed and ex-officio members.

* Do not transfer or victimise any government official for supporting an opposition party.

* The Secretaries of Ministries should be made Permanent Secretaries and appointed from among senior members of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service. They should be loyal to the government of the day and implement government policies not party policies.

* Do not appoint personnel whose integrity and honesty are in doubt to high office.

* Retired personnel should not be reappointed except as consultants. The current practice denies an opportunity to the younger generations. This should apply strictly to top military personnel.

* All ministers, deputy ministers, Members of Parliament, top military and police personnel, permanent secretaries and heads of government departments and corporations should declare their income and expenditure to a Parliamentary Select Committee annually and this should be published in concise form. Failure to do so or falsifying claims should carry heavy penalties.

* Do not intervene in strategy and logistics of the war. Once a political decision is taken, implementation should be left to military personnel as they are best qualified and trained to do so.

To party leaders

* Work with the government for the good of the country in a national crisis.

* Opposition parties should not always oppose all government policies. They should support reasonable proposals.

* Consider the introduction of a shadow Cabinet like in the UK.

* Consider the introduction of a free voting system in Parliament.

* Do not promise high office to defectors from other parties. Do welcome defectors but make sure they start from a junior position.

* Any opposition leader who cannot form a government after several attempts should resign from the party leadership.

To voters: In the past few years, Sri Lankan voters have seen three types of politicians - the genuine ones, opportunists who do not want to lose power and opportunists who want to gain power. The second and third types should be rejected at the general election.

P.B. Dissanayake

It's a she, it's a he: You make the choice

Computer humour forwarded by a Sunday Times reader to lighten the tension-filled days leading to the general election:

During a French lesson a puzzled student had asked the teacher, "What gender is the computer?" 

The teacher did not know the answer as it wasn't in her French dictionary. So she divided the class into two groups appropriately by gender and asked them to decide whether "computer" should be a masculine or feminine noun. Both groups were asked to give four reasons for their recommendation. 

The men's group decided that computers should definitely be of the feminine gender ("la computer"), because:

1. No one but their creator understood their internal logic.

2.The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else.

3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for possible later retrieval.

4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your pay cheque on accessories for it.

The women's group, however, concluded that computers should be masculine ("le computer"), because:

1. In order to get their attention, you have to turn them on.

2. They have a lot of data but they are still clueless.

3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they are the problem.

4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you'd waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

We need constitution with checks and balances 

Hats off to the thought-provoking letter by K. Dharmalingam which appeared in The Sunday Times of November 11.

There are certain irreconcilable features in the 1978 Constitution's Chapter III on Fundamental Rights 12 (1) and Article 35 (1). It is clear that the UNP Ministers and MPs did not bother to point out the seeds of authoritarianism patently inherent in Article 35 (1) because they were scared stiff of the wily old fox, who was itching to be an absolute ruler. The other factor was that he had in his possession undated letters of resignation of MPs. One could observe during that time how shabbily President J.R. Jayewardene treated Dr. Neville Fernando for being critical in another context and the way he regretted his inability to change a man to a woman and vice versa.

Impeaching the President can hardly be regarded as an effective check and balance because it is a long drawn out process, which can turn out to be futile if the embattled President succeeds in cajoling and bribing MPs.

Contrast this inability to see beyond their noses on the part of those UNP MPs and ministers with the careful and farseeing action taken nearly 300 years ago by American Congressmen in drafting an American Constitution with effective checks and balances. 

Those UNP MPs and ministers of 1978 because they valued their seats more than democratic principles and become of their pusillanimity to stand up to the threats of JR have tragically paved the way for misrepresentation by the PA and death and destruction for UNP supporters in the run-up to the general elections.

F.W. Henry

With gratitude and love

I remember,
with pride the values you lived by
with gratitude for bringing up our family
with respect for the happiness and sorrow we shared
with passion for the love we cherished
I know you are in heaven
Watching over us with a smile on your face
Missing you very much,

- Lourdslin Benedict 

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