Expat Lankans, like expat Egyptians, should have voting rights
Sri Lanka has long experience in voting. Even under British rule, Sri Lankans enjoyed adult suffrage when they voted to elect members to the State Council in 1931. Ever since, Sri Lankans have used their franchise both for Parliamentary and local government elections.

It is therefore surprising that these facilities are not provided to Sri Lankan living overseas. This is the 21st century – we are in the new millennium of instant communication, thanks to Information Technology (IT).

Egypt will hold its first multi-party election on the 23rd and 24th of this month, and the country has already provided facilities for Egyptian expatriates to vote. Expat Egyptian started voting on May 12, and will continue for a week to vote at their respective embassies and consulates.
Now, is our Parliament going to debate this matter for eternity?

E. A. Vidyasekera

Callous bosses who care naught for their employees
It seems that employers in certain private sector companies, and even certain multinational companies, are taxing their employees to the limit, and beyond.

These poor employees are so loaded with work they can hardly breathe under the pressure. Some private sector organizations, unlike the public sector, do not observe mandated hours of work. They ignore labour laws and regulations. Such employers squeeze the maximum out of their employees, and give them a low salary, with no incentives or allowances.

Certain employers recruit on contractual basis, promising permanent employment, but even after one or two years the employees have still not been made permanent. After working with dedication and putting in long work hours, they feel cheated and consider looking for a job elsewhere. These employees do not know where they stand, and live in fear of being dismissed at short notice.

Some employers get rid of their so-called contractual employees by saying the company is being re-structured, and that such-and-such a department is to be closed. These employees suffer in silence. If they complained of harsh treatment, they will be thrown out of the company. Many employees are forced to take unfinished office work home.

Even after showing so much commitment and dedication, they do not receive a word of appreciation for a well done job. But if they should slip up, or show any shortcomings, their superiors will pounce on them.
Not all private sector employers treat their staff badly. There are humane employers who are genuinely concerned about the safety, health and mental wellbeing of their employees, especially female employees.

But and until these callous employers start treating their employees in a humane way, thousands of staff will go on suffering.

Worried parent

Why shouldn’t Malinga seek greener pastures, just like other Lankan professionals?
The sports pages of your newspaper have run articles directly and indirectly critical of cricketer Lasith Malinga’s move to be a freelancer. Let me relate a true story from a long time ago.

On the day our national side played a one-day game against England, I took a bus from Panadura to go to the SSC Grounds. At Moratuwa, a dark, tall and lanky cricketer, carrying a sports bag, boarded the bus. I tried to identify the player. We both got off at Bambalapitiya, and as we waited for the No 154/104 bus to go to Torrington, I started a conversation with the lad.

I was stunned when he told me who he was. As a member of the cricket squad, he has been named for possible inclusion in the final eleven for the big game. This national cricketer told me he walked one mile from his home to catch the express bus.

It took another 30 minutes to get from Bambalapitiya to the SLBC junction, near Longden Place. We headed out on foot to the sports ground, a walk of a few hundred metres. Neither of us could afford a taxi. As I could not keep up with the young cricketer, I urged him to go ahead. Before we parted, the modest Moratuwa boy told me he went for practice at the Cricket Board nets four days a week, and that he was out of pocket most of the time.

That was the plight of a national player and the economics of cricket once upon a time. The match I refer to took place in 1974, almost four decades ago. It was a one-day, one-off, 45-overs game, against England (MCC). The team, led by Mike Denness (Tony Grieg was a member too), was en route to Australia. I paid Rs. 2 for a place in the covered stands.

The national player I met in the bus that day was the late Sarath Fernando. The Moratuwa pace bowler was one of those special sportsmen whose wealth was their commitment to the game and their sense of country before self. Sarath, who was always financially on a weak footing, passed away in 1990, having battled with cancer for some years.

By refusing to sign with Sri Lanka Cricket and instead accepting an offer from Middlesex, Malinga has only cleared the way for the rest of the team to go over the ropes as well, which they probably will after the IPL.

This is no cause for panic, given the circumstances and trends in an open economy. If it is acceptable for politically backed administrators to invade the SLC and chase away the pre-Test era greats who were doing an honorary job, it should be acceptable, indeed natural, for players to change their priorities. When professionals in other fields go looking for greener pastures, why bash cricketers for doing the same?

The type of administrators we now have are politically backed hangers-on who are both running and ruining the gentlemen’s game, and they have left the SLC, a once economically sound body, in debt to the tune of US$32 million. Remember that Malinga was born in the open-economy, post-Test era.

K. K. S. Perera

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