The Govt. must take a stand and not follow dictates of trade unions Who is running this country? Is it the Government or the trade unions? When will the Government appointed by the people make its own decisions and not follow the dictates of trade unions? The doctors of the country are educated with the [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka



The Govt. must take a stand and not follow dictates of trade unions

Who is running this country? Is it the Government or the trade unions?

When will the Government appointed by the people make its own decisions and not follow the dictates of trade unions?

The doctors of the country are educated with the public’s money. They should be a contributory factor to the free medical system serving the people who fund their education.

Yet, we find them doing channelling and private practice, and duping the very people who helped them get educated by charging exorbitant fees. All this, while championing the cause for the free education system.

If a doctor, educated at the public’s expense, decides to make money through the private sector, he or she should pay back all the money expended on their education.

Government doctors shouldn’t be permitted to work in the private sector unless they have been released from public service after having paid back the money expended on their education.

Then we have the Police who it seems are unable to combat crime unless they get a directive from some higher up. There will come a time when a policeman will not arrest a pickpocket or pervert unless he gets the go-ahead from his OIC who in turn will need the go-ahead from the IP who in turn will need it from the IGP who will need it from the PM who will need it from the President. It is not uncommon to read that the President has ordered the IGP to look into some criminal activity.

Anyone who is intelligent knows that people cannot appear all at the same time on the street with painted slogans protesting some issue. Someone has to stir them up, and give instructions on what to paint and when to come out. Ask a few people who came to their home and stirred them to activity. It is never done less thought of doing. It ends up with the destruction of public property and the harassment of general public life.

Extravagant religious tamashas are being held all over the country to fool the world that we have what it takes to ensure social justice and world peace.

The age old adage is appropriate here: ‘Physician heal thyself!’



If ETF Dept. can be so efficient why oh why can’t other Govt. departments?

I would like to commend the service that was provided by the ETF Department at the Labour Secretariat. I had three brilliant interactions with them.  The first was with the counter that handled the “three day service”. The whole process did not take more than one hour and there was I having gone with the expectation of having to hang around for about half day!

The second was when I collected the cheque. Once again, I had not expected it to be ready, but to my surprise, the documents were all done, all I had to do was sign and pick it up.  Whole transaction time: Five minutes only.

The third was when I had to go back with the Direction from the Inland Revenue and collect the balance cheque for the amount that was retained.  Imagine my surprise when she said to give her about 15 to 20 minutes and she would immediately give me the cheque. It was around lunch time that I was there, and the signatories may have gone for lunch. But the lady handling this personally walked around the department to locate a signatory and yes in less than half an hour I had my cheque!!

Congratulations to each and every one in the department for such excellent service.  I’m sorry I don’t have their individual names, but I believe that it is the efficiency and customer service provided by ALL employees of the different departments that contributes to such a superbly run organisation.

As Vince Lombardi said, “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work”. If ETF can do this, why, oh why, can’t our other Government Departments do the same.


Private medical colleges needed to meet growing medical needs of our people

Whom do the sick turn to? Ordinary citizens have simply looked on in shock and amazement at the conduct and attitude of the current leadership of the GMOA

I refer to your news article, ‘Heartache for poor patients’ , in the Sunday Times of May 7. It is not difficult to understand the feelings of these patients who have been subject to so much inconvenience and hardship by our government doctors

Many ordinary citizens of this country have simply looked on in shock and amazement at the conduct and attitude of the current leadership of the GMOA. Are these  really medical doctors, educated by the people of this country? Where are the high principles of service to which they have promised to be faithful; have they upheld the ethical standards of the Hippocratic oath ?

They say they are fighting against attempts to destroy free education in the country. SAITM must be closed down. Whatever their cause, they have been successful in one thing. Today more than ever before the people of this country are convinced that there is definitely a need for private medical colleges. The quality of the doctors produced by the state medical colleges, if we are to judge by the quality of the current leadership of the GMOA, falls far short of the doctors we need to serve the medical needs of our people.

Even when free education was established in this country, in the late 1940s, let us not forget that at the primary and secondary level of education, we had side by side with the state schools, providing free education, assisted schools and private fee levying schools. These private / semi private schools were not reserved for children of the rich. Many poor children went through these schools, thanks to the scholarship schemes in place.

While initially we had only state universities, today there are many degree awarding private institutes / colleges linked/affiliated to reputed universities throughout the world.  These degrees are in many fields/ disciplines to meet the needs of a developing country.

The district quota system of admission to universities was a temporary measure taken by the government in the 70s, to enable students from ‘deprived’ districts, where the facilities for secondary education were poor, to gain admission to our state universities.  Many of us are aware of good students, from what we might call well endowed districts, including some of our own children, who just failed (by a few marks), to gain admission to faculties like the medical faculty. (Those who could afford it, went abroad, while others selected alternative careers). In spite of this, we accepted this situation as one that was fair to those students, from districts where educational facilities were poor, and who wanted to become doctors. Of course as we can now see, this district quota system also opened the doors to our state medical colleges, to students were not fit to be doctors. I will not judge all those in the medical profession by the conduct of the current GMOA leadership, but many who are affected by their so called trade union actions, cannot but help think very poorly of our doctors.

Unfortunately, due to the inadequate allocation of funds for education, the utter inefficiency of successive governments over nearly 40 years, and some will say because we had to fight a war, this temporary measure has become a permanent basis in regard to university admissions.

Private medical colleges must be allowed. Of course there is no question that standards must be maintained and the medical profession must work out the basis for this.

The GMOA has also referred to the fact that some ministers are promoting SAITM because they have personal interest. Involvement of family members etc.? Is this true? If that is so, they must be made to stay out of this dispute and allow others to resolve this matter.

Private medical colleges must be encouraged in order to meet the medical needs of our people.

Eksith Fernando
Via email


 Buddhists must become vegetarians in this month of Vesak

The practice of religion requires effort. It calls for personal sacrifice, self- restraint and discipline. Above all such practice must be overarched by compassion and kindness based on a clear moral footing. Then the practice becomes noble in character.

When we look around our society we see Muslims conduct an annual fast during the month of Ramadan. Not even a drop of water is taken during the time of fasting. The purpose is to simulate the pain and suffering and develop an insight into the plight of the poor who do not have enough food to eat and drink and therefore are forced to go hungry and thirsty regularly. Fasting helps one to better equip himself / herself morally and generate empathy for the disadvantaged.

The celebration of Vesak is not meant to make one indulgent. Vesak  commemorates the themagula – Birth, Enlightenment and Parinirvana of the Buddha. It is a day for observance of Sil (meditation and quiet reflection on a disciplined footing). If Islam can promote empathy for the poor through fasting, likewise Buddhists can show compassion and loving kindness for all those beautiful innocent animals who are slaughtered, by becoming vegetarian at least for the month of May.

The consumption of flesh food invariably results in the slaughter of innocent animals. Buddhists can lessen the number of animals killed by not partaking flesh food at least during the month of Vesak i.e. May. There is enough vegetarian and vegan related food in the market today. No can go hungry by not eating meat.

The First Precept – Reverence for life including that of non- human sentient beings must be inculcated in every child in school. Life is dear to all (Dhammapada). Peace and reconciliation should not be confined to only one (human) species.

M. Weeraratna
Colombo 05

What would be the right decision?

I have a problem and would someone please help me solve it.

I have Rs 15,000 which I want to use for the benefit of others. I have one of two choices.

1. Following the saying “The Gift of Dhamma exceeds all other gifts”, I can use the money for publications concerning Dhamma etc.

2. Following the saying of the Buddha “Those who look after the sick, look after me”, I can use the Rs 15,000, to buy a Cataract Lens to be given to a poor person .

I cannot do both and I have to choose one or the other. So, my problem is what is the right choice and why is it right?

Dr Asoka Thenuwara
Via email

Ask the monks whether sound pollution is a good practice according to the Buddha

I thought of sending my comments after reading the letter ‘No one is against chanting pirith, but no one wants to be disturbed by it either’ by Sumith de Silva (the Sunday Times, April 30).

The noise of loud speakers has become a cause of sound pollution in Sri Lanka even though the Central Environment Authority (CEA) has issued a number of rules and regulations, including the maximum acoustic (sound)  levels that should be maintained by everyone who uses electronic/electrical acoustic wave emitters. Responsible personnel, particularly those in religious institutes, seem very careless in following the circulars issued by CEA or the Environmental Ministry.

With my experiences living both in city and rural areas, out of the many sources of sound pollution (vehicles, sweep ticket sellers, mobile sale vehicles, mosques, musical functions etc), intense sounds used by most temples are significantly harmful to human beings. It has been disclosed that, in addition to the disturbance, there are a number of hygienic hazards, caused by intense sounds (acoustic waves).

Using loud speakers has become the most needed and important item in religious functions without any concern for what the Buddha taught. Most of the temples have fixed loudspeaker systems for use.

Even though the static electric charges were investigated 600 BC, all the electrical/electronic technology and gadgets like dry battery, electricity, hydroelectric power, conduction of electrical power from place to place, Laydon jar, magnetic-electric power generator, microphone, conversion of electric power to acoustic waves, acoustic wave sources like radio, TV and loud speakers, amplifiers, electric condenser etc. have been invented only after the 16th century, 2200 years after Buddha’s birth. Lord Buddha, Ananda Thera and all Buddhist monks in Buddha’s time, and even later, did not use any high sound emitters for chanting pirith or religious discussions for the purpose of making the people, Gods or Brahmas aware of Buddhism. When Lord Buddha visited Nagadeepa, Mahiyangana and Samanalakanda (Adam’s Peak) he did not have loud speakers with him for communication. Mihindu Thera did not have loud speakers with him when he visited Mihintalaya to bring the message of Buddhism.

Using very intense loud speaker sounds for overnight pirith chanting, morning and evening pirith cassettes at many locations including Budhu Kuti installed in all junctions and main cities, Daham school lessons, Dhatu exhibitions and Bodhi Pujas has become a regular practice in our country. But it is really a nuisance that hurts everybody in the vicinity, particularly students and academic staff. Intense sounds are a natural hazard for patients too. As Mr. Silva suggests, those who want to listen to any religious chanting or discussions, can control the sound by tuning the radio, cassette player, TV or the loud speakers so that the noise is limited protecting others from sound pollution.

The CEA, Environment Minister and the President should take firm legal action in this regard.

I should emphasize another point. Every word of Buddha’s teaching has an important meaning and valuable advice. Without understanding the meaning of his teaching (pirith or gatha) there will be no fruitful result to anybody through listening to their sound. The best example is the Maha Mangala Suthra. Is there any use of listening to the chanting of Maha Mangala Suthra if the listener does not know the meaning of the words which are written in Pali?

Let us kindly request the Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka to think wisely whether filling the atmosphere with sound pollution is a good practice according to the Buddha’s teaching.

Via email

We need to know why Laufgs increased price of vehicle gas

The government reduced the price of gas and petrol twice.  Vehicle gas users expected ‘Laufgs Gas’ company to reduce their prices, but they didn’t, and therefore there wasn’t much of a difference in price with the price of petrol.

Now all of a sudden they have increased the price of gas by Rs.10 ( from Rs. 80 to 90).  Has the Finance Minister given permission for this increase?  The company must be making a massive profit.

An explanation regarding this and why they could not reduce the price of vehicle gas should be given to us, vehicle gas users.

A.R. Amirthiah
Via email

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