Open letter to the President and the Prime Minister: We the people have been stabbed in the back! I wish I could have written a letter giving you praise and thanks, however I pen these sad sentiments with grief. On January 8, a majority of us were so elated that at least someone who can [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka



Open letter to the President and the Prime Minister:

We the people have been stabbed in the back!

I wish I could have written a letter giving you praise and thanks, however I pen these sad sentiments with grief. On January 8, a majority of us were so elated that at least someone who can be trusted to govern for the betterment of the country had taken over the reins of government.

We were so thankful that the corrupt ones would be penalised and justice would prevail. We were so thankful that an equal opportunity for the middle and poor classes of society to live a cleaner and better life would prevail. At this point of time I do recall a period in Roman history.

In Roman history we read that Brutus was a trusted friend of Julius Caesar the Roman emperor. Brutus was a friend along with Mark Anthony, who helped Caesar to great heights by conquering a good part of Europe.

However, for whatever reason, Brutus betrayed the trust of Caesar and unknown to Mark Anthony killed Caesar before the council meeting that would give him wider powers.

We the people of Sri Lanka, believed and trusted in both of you Mr. President and Mr. Prime Minister; we hoped and therefore voted you into power; with the hope and confidence that you would provide better governance than the previous one.

We hoped not for the poor to become poorer and for the rich to become richer but for a just and righteous society.Everyone hoped and asked not for the death penalty, but that those who wronged the nation would be brought to justice and penalised and not continue in the same vein.

However, for some reason justice seems to have taken a devious path, and those who were responsible for the corruption and ruination of a just society still remain in the seats of power to continue the old game of deceit.

Eloquent words flow from those in power with promises of a better tomorrow. This was the scene last year too and it continues in the same vein today.

But the scenario is laid for the rich to become richer with opportunities for investments and the poor to become poorer with nothing but an empty bag. The stage is set for more suicidal deaths than ever before.

This is really a stab in the back with no hope of the country redeeming itself from bad governance. Caesar was killed by his trusted friend, and today a majority of our people have been betrayed by their trusted politicians.

The people have learnt the bitter lesson of ‘never trust a politician’. The writing on the wall is clear, let not a bloodless revolution of January 2015 lead to a bloody one.

George Abeyewickreme
Via email

Physician, heal thy tax file

The issue of vehicle permits to our doctors has become a contentious matter. Why is one of the most educated fraternities of our society refusing to share the tax burden of our nation just like everyone else?

A blatant example of civic irresponsibility is displayed by a certain GP. He is a full-time government servant working for the National Hospital, Colombo which is about a two-hour drive from where his locum is established.

Yet he sees over a hundred patients from 7 a.m. till 9.30 a.m. each morning and from 5.30 p.m. onwards. His minimum charge is about Rs. 1,000 with Rs. 100 worth of medicines issued by a nurse who is the sole part-time employee who runs the establishment.

Multiply that by 20 working days and we arrive at Rs. 2,000,000 turnover per month. These figures are only rough estimates.

It could be less. Even if he treated just 50 patients each day, he still makes about a Rs. 1,000,000 rupees each month – turnover tax free.

I am a retired tax payer. Any straight thinking tax man can compute the revenue lost to the Exchequer from this one non-taxpaying source.

He is just one example of a member of the union that is raising hell and threatening to take strike action because they are at loggerheads with the government over the vehicle permit issue.

Our nation salutes the majority of our diligent tax-paying doctors, but who will deal with the non-tax paying medicos?

Said Dias
Via email

Getting out of this traffic mess

Whether one is at a social event, supermarket or workplace, the subject on everyone’s lips is the impossibility of the traffic on city roads.

This situation has been going from bad to worse on a daily basis for quite some time now. Pretty soon it will result in gridlock if corrective measures are not taken as a matter of urgency.

It is encouraging that the Police are aware of the problem and are even experimenting with such measures as one-way systems etc.

They are also promising to instil lane discipline as a first step. It is obvious that the average motorist is hopelessly ill-trained, indisciplined, and downright discourteous behind the wheel. The Police themselves are badly trained and hopelessly understaffed.

In the short term, I would suggest the following:

1. Ban all parking (except in designated parking bays) on all main roads and restrict loading/unloading activities outside business establishments along main roads.

2. Discourage (with heavy fines) buses trawling for passengers/picking up passengers just about anywhere they please, and racing with each other at breakneck speed. Put an immediate stop to buses idling at bus stops (this leads to fuel wastage, adds to wear and tear, and most importantly, wastes passengers’ valuable time).

3. A serious impediment to smooth traffic flow is the incorrect use of filter lanes. Some motorists deliberately use these lanes to get one or two cars ahead and cut back in, causing unnecessary obstruction to the other lane users.

In addition, this must be the only country that allows u-turns at traffic lights/intersections. Heavy penalties would definitely reduce these practices.

4. The particular problem outside school gates (often using up two or three lanes hindering smooth traffic flow) should be looked into urgently.

This particular issue is a major contributory factor in the disruption of traffic flow. Car-pooling/discouraging single user vehicles can be looked into.

5. Enforce lane discipline vigorously. In particular, motorbikes and three wheelers that are a law unto themselves. Often, traffic speed is governed by three wheelers.

6. Educate the motorist via all modes of the media – short video clips on all TV channels and cinemas, instructive cartoon strips in all newspapers, audio clips on all radio channels, etc. can be effective. This has to be a sustained effort and not just for a week or two.

With regard to long-term measures, the general public widely recognises the urgent need for an efficient public transport system – buses and trains in particular.

A marked improvement in this sector must inevitably lead to a corresponding reduction in the number of private vehicles on our roads.

Such an upgrade must take into account such things as vehicle roadworthiness, cleanliness, and comfort. Weeding out of rude and obnoxious operators should also go in tandem with the above. Maybe the setting-up of an efficient Transport Police arm would help.

There is frequent talk of tightening-up of driving licence issuing procedures but action, sadly, is lacking. It is apparent that a majority of drivers on our roads are self-taught – often progressing from moped-riding, three wheel driving, tractor operating, etc. onto driving cars, vans, buses, etc..

Maybe there is a strong case for a long-term compulsory re-training/testing scheme for all drivers (along with a suitable levy that drivers must pay). This would enable the grossly incompetent ones to be weeded out/further trained.

There is a need to deter multiple-vehicle ownership – maybe surcharges for a second and third vehicle, and so on.

Local authority approval of planning permission for future schools, hospitals, businesses, tutories, etc must take traffic/parking into consideration. How this has been allowed in the past defies belief.

For example, has anyone missed seeing the chaos that an international school adjoining the Kohuwala police station is causing on a daily basis?

In addition, a serious effort has to be made to cut down noise pollution in the city by curbing the unnecessary use of vehicle horns. The cacophony cannot be allowed to continue.

Ainsley de Silva

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