Pension arrears –waiting till all pensioners die? Consequent to a salary revision for public servants, pensions of pre-2006 pensioners were also revised and payment approved. At a large gathering of pensioners at Temple Trees, the President solemnly pledged to rectify the pension anomaly of the pre-2006 pensioners and they were highly elated thinking that they [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Letters to the Editor


Pension arrears –waiting till all pensioners die?

Consequent to a salary revision for public servants, pensions of pre-2006 pensioners were also revised and payment approved. At a large gathering of pensioners at Temple Trees, the President solemnly pledged to rectify the pension anomaly of the pre-2006 pensioners and they were highly elated thinking that they were in for luck as they had placed absolute trust in him.

Since nothing was forthcoming pensioners started appealing through the press but even after six years their hopes have been in vain. A good number of pensioners would have died in the meantime without getting their dues. Those still living continue to wait for the arrears.

A few months ago, a large number of pensioners held a protest demonstration at the Fort railway station demanding that their arrears be paid. The Director General of Pensions came before them with a message said to be from the powers that be and said that provision would be made in the 2013 budget to pay the arrears. But that also has become another broken promise, another dream.

Sri Lanka has lost billions through hedging by the former CPC chairman, investments in Greek bonds by the Central Bank, oil deals by the CEB, purchase of low quality fuel and many more. Mihin Lanka continues to operate despite huge losses running to billions. Millions are also wasted in the name of development, millions swindled by corrupt politicians and officers and millions wasted on unnecessary foreign jaunts by MPs and PC members. MPs are given duty free car permits which they are now free to sell and make at least a cool million or two- for nothing done. This concession is to be extended to PC members who number above 500 and they will also demand the right to sell the permits. Next in line will be the PS members whose demand the government will not be able to turn down. 

The loss of revenue on duty free car permits alone runs to another few billions. Thus those who squandered government money on dubious deals go scot free and along with politicos live in clover while the pensioners have to beg on their knees for a pittance that has been earned through hard work over a life time.

If the government can bear all these huge losses mentioned and many more that do not come to mind why can’t they pay the arrears of pre 2006 pensioners who are the poorest paid. Some of them are very very old and existing on drugs the prices of which are sky rocketing.

It would be pertinent to mention here that when the salaries of the President and the MPs and ministers were revised a few years ago, they were placed on the new salary and the arrears paid the very next month.

I appeal once again to the President to place the pensioners on the new pension immediately and pay the arrears in not more than two instalments before they die. They are only asking, nay begging, for what is due to them and what has been approved by the government and not for charity.

S. Abeywicrama, Nugegoda

Plaudits for the long-suffering Palestinians

May I congratulate the Palestinian Ambassador in Sri Lanka, Dr. Anwar H. Al Agha, on the progress his people are making towards realising a full Palestinian State.

The Jews of Europe were horribly mistreated by the Nazis and others, and yet in the last 60 years they have been mistreating the Arabs of Palestine through ethnic cleansing, property theft, murder of villagers and the bombing of undefended cities. 

The Zionists must learn to live with a unitary Palestinian state. Negotiation with the Zionists is useless.
As Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister said, “If I were a Palestinian, I would never negotiate with us – we never keep our word.”

W. M. B. Colombo

Crossover MPs forget that voters voted for the Party, not for them

I refer to the news item about UNP Members of Parliament crossing over to the UPFA. The 16 MPs who came to Parliament under the UNP ticket have forgotten that the vote that brought them to Parliament was cast not for them but for the party they represented.

Forget the UNP. How about the voter who is supposed to be supreme? If he voted for the UNP and you got into Parliament because of that vote, has that voter no right to tell you what to do and what not to do? If the voter wanted the 16 to represent them in Parliament as members of the UNP, what right has anyone who got in through the UNP ticket to go against the voters’ wishes?

Talk of violation of MP privileges! What about the privileges and the rights of the voter? You 16 MPs have violated the trust the voters placed in you.

W. R. de Silva, Dehiwala

Two weeks and still no sign of road safety measures

The Sunday Times of December 30 carried a full page detailing measures to “slash” the high accident rate, as envisaged by the Police Traffic Chief. However, serious road accidents have been occurring daily since the start of the year. How many accidents go unreported is anybody’s guess.

The steps proposed by the Police Traffic Chief merit study. They cover all aspects of the problem. If these measures are enforced successfully, it would be a great relief to all citizens.

The main causes for traffic accidents are the flouting of road rules. Speeding, overtaking and drunk driving are the main reasons. Then there are the other causes, like driving without having earned a licence and driving vehicles that are not road-worthy.

A few of the new measures look complicated and difficult to enforce. Under the driver improvement points (DIP) system, a driver who notches more than 24 negative or minus points will have his licence suspended or cancelled.

Points are also given for levels of infringement, such as failing to stop after an accident and failing to wear a seat belt. It is doubtful that even a diligent policeman can follow all these complicated procedures.

As usual, others are also showing concern. The chairman of the National Council for Road Safety has offered financial assistance to buy breathalysers. He has rightly said that careless pedestrians should take the blame for many serious road accidents. 

The chairman of the National Transport Commission has offered to conduct safety programmes for drivers and pedestrians in all districts. He has also suggested a best driver’s prize and a reward to encourage good road conduct. He has offered to provide ear plugs for long-distance drivers so they would not fall asleep at the wheel.

The Health Ministry’s Environment and Occupational Health Director has suggested that electric trains replace diesel vehicles in order to reduce air pollution. The Central Environment Authority too has offered its services to the Police.

All this will amount to mere talk and propaganda if these promises are not honoured. So far, in the first two weeks of 2013, we have not seen any improvement in road safety. Anyway, let us hope for the best.

M. Z. Abdeen, Kandy

Lankans ever-ready to risk their money and their lives

We live in an information age. Our society is well-informed. Each day we become more knowledgeable about politics, the economy, culture, health, and so on. As far as knowledge goes, we are supposed to be a lot more enlightened than our ancestors. However, when you look at the facts and realities around us, you wonder how enlightened we really are.

Despite the many public and private banks we have, and the credibility they have earned from their customers, people go and invest their money with private investors. What do we know about these private investors? Customers have entrusted millions of rupees with private investors, such as Golden Key, risking the loss of their hard-earned money. The reason they took the risk was their craving for high interest rates and lots of money.

For the sake of money, a poor Muslim family sent a daughter to Saudi Arabia, and this woman became the victim of unfortunate circumstances and was executed by the Saudi government. Foreign employment is the No. 1 foreign exchange earner for Sri Lanka, and despite the risks Sri Lankans continue to go to Middle East countries.

Several young people lost their lives when their boat capsized. It was reported that the young men were under the influence of liquor and were unable to help themselves when the accident happened. 

Despite the discipline and education we have, we continue to act foolishly. May wiser counsel prevail among those in the grip of social decadence.

R. Somasiri, Maldeniyawatta, Pannipitiya

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