Can these politicians get away with ‘ignorance is bliss?’ Don Manu in his Sunday Punch (June 10) has given the kind of punch we have all been waiting for someone to give these thick-skinned politicians who are now running the affairs of this country. They do not see right from wrong. The State Minister in [...]


Letters to the Editor


Can these politicians get away with ‘ignorance is bliss?’

Don Manu in his Sunday Punch (June 10) has given the kind of punch we have all been waiting for someone to give these thick-skinned politicians who are now running the affairs of this country. They do not see right from wrong. The State Minister in question has, it would appear, been holding press conference after press conference to justify his innocence.

The State Minister claims that he was unaware that his (election) campaign team had received Rs. 3 Mn. from W.M.Mendis & Co. Ltd owned by Arjun Aloysius. Other politicians who received such funds have made similar claims. It’s the easiest thing to say that they are unaware as to who gave funds and for what such funds were used.

In this particular case these funds have actually been received after the election – long after the campaign.  For what then was such money used? When he was serving on the parliamentary committee, COPE which was going into the “ Bond Scam” in detail, he did not think it necessary to inform the members of that committee that he had received such funds. If the police had not filed the “B” report in court, he would have continued to be silent.

It should not surprise us, that people involved in illegal activities, drugs, alcohol and smuggling etc. are hobnobbing with politicians today and funding them. It would appear that some of these characters are in fact members of  Parliament, Provincial Councils and local councils. The shootings and assaults among those elected that have been reported in the recent weeks, confirm this.

Where are we heading?

The State Minister does not have to be told by anybody, he must resign from his ministerial position now. In fact he must resign as a member of parliament. Our political parties must not give nominations to such characters in future. (Let’s see what happens)

All politicians must declare from where and from whom they received funds to campaign for elections and for any other work they want to do.  They must declare how such monies were spent. Obtaining funds from dubious sources such as those mentioned above and companies like PTC cannot under any circumstances be allowed. Surely they must know that these donations are made so that they will turn a blind eye to the activities and extend favours to such individuals and institutions.

Aren’t there regulations about funding election campaigns etc. already in place? Don’t politicians have to make declarations? Who is the authority that monitors this? Is it the Commissioner of Elections? Is he unable to do this? If that is so, why?

I believe the people of this country want to know the answers.

Eksith Fernando  Dehiwela

A book with a lot of food for thought  

 I have just put down a new book A Tale of Two Countries, written by Ajit Kanagasundram. The author neatly outlines how Sri Lanka has been dragged down to gutter level by sheer incompetence on the part of virtually every ruler since independence from the British. The book compares Singapore and Sri Lanka.

To quote a random passage ‘ a professor Chandare Dharmawardene was appointed the Vice-Chancellor of Vidyodya University in 1976. He proposed a radical solution (perhaps tongue in cheek) to the problem of students obtaining degrees in Pali and Sinhala who find they are virtually unemployable in the outside world. He said – give them their degree on day one, along with Rs. 2 lakhs (which was the amount it was costing the Govt. per student at the time) and send them to the outside world where they could start an enterprise or get themselves a government job (which was all they could get anyway). The good man was hounded out and migrated to Canada where he became an internationally known Physical Chemist.’ This is just one of the many instances of knee-jerk reactions he catalogues, which over the decades has resulted in a serious brain drain from this country.

In contrast, he says, when there was student unrest in a university in an emerging Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew shut it down immediately, sacked the members of the faculty and sent the students home. He followed this up by offering the students a crash course in English and Mathematics with the option of re-joining the University with this qualification. Can we ever imagine a strong leader of this calibre emerging in an endemically corrupt Sri Lanka?

Back to the book itself, should not this book be translated into Sinhala and Tamil and introduced into our school curriculum as a compulsory text? Maybe we can – albeit belatedly – train young minds to think differently and place the welfare of the nation FIRST! Maybe we could find a way to force all representatives of the people (oops, I nearly wrote servants of the people) to read this book first.

Minister of Education, this is for you too!

Ainsley de Silva  Kohuwala.

Impose direct duty on all luxury items

I am amused by some politicians making a big hue and cry over the duty on gold imports on jewellers or traders. As an ordinary citizen I am all for imposition of direct duty on imports of all luxury items whether consumer goods or utility items.

Any earnings for that matter,  be it from professional services or employment in the government or private sector too should be subject to taxes (of course on a reasonable percentage and staggered scale) so that the Treasury can reduce the indirect taxes and duties and relieve the ordinary citizen paying for the luxuries of those who can afford luxuries.

If one looks at the gold chains, rings, bracelets, bangles and carat gold straps on wrist watches they wear, it would give a clue as to why those politicians cry out against the duty on gold imports.

I am only pointing out what is seen by the public when these politicians appear on TV. True or not, there have been instances reported where some well to do people have gold plated toilets or gold fittings on their toilets. On the other hand the ordinary housewife who has nothing to mortgage to get a quick loan when in distress would be happy to hear about the price of gold going up as she can get a bigger loan from the pawn broker with the only gold bangle or chain she has in her possession.

Let the Minister of Finance have the courage to impose duty on all luxury goods- cars, non-consumer luxury goods like fancy electrical items which are not considered essential by the ordinary voter.

The voter public would rejoice if the car permit scheme is abolished totally and a reasonable duty imposed on all vehicle imports on a staggered scale so that those wanting to import luxury vehicles can pay the duty to government rather than paying a middleman getting a permit they do not use.

Lalith Hettiarachchi  Colombo 7

Inefficient Traffic Police and motorists creating traffic chaos in Dehiwala

I wish to bring to your attention a predicament faced by residents of Frazer Avenue, Rathnakara Place, Initium Road, Albert Place and Campbell Place in Dehiwala due to poor traffic management by the Traffic Police and ignorant motorists.

On working days from five until nine in the evening, motorists using the Marine Drive blatantly ignore three road signs saying entrance is “strictly for residents only” and end up on a narrow residential thoroughfare named Ramanadan Avenue which connects the earlier mentioned lanes and the Galle Road. There are no openings on the Galle road to turn towards Dehiwala junction; however, our ignorant motorists use these narrow residential lanes and form disorderly queues to join the uniflow of traffic in the opposite direction to which they were going.

The primary reason they openly disobey the road signs is that the traffic police allows motorists to take “U” turns from Atapattu road adjoining St. Mary’s Church. This leads to an unprecedented number of vehicles plying these narrow lanes and causing much hardship to the residents. The unruly behaviour exhibited by them causes disturbances to the peace of the neighbourhood as well.

The only way to curb this menace is to stop motorists from making  “U” turns from Atapattu road and direct them to the traffic lights at William junction. After all, the arrangement planned by the traffic police is for all motorists to exit from the Marine Drive via Wasula road which has traffic lights and a police officer to streamline traffic. We wish the relevant authorities would look into this matter and stop the harassment faced by residents living in these lanes.

D. Rajapakse  Campbell Place


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