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Letters to the Editor

2nd March, 1997


Preserve our flora and fauna

A lot has been written in the recent past about the horrendous decimation of our forests and its inhabitants.

Sri Lanka is blessed with a diverse ecology that is dwindling in frightening proportions. Is it right for us, citizens and nature lovers, to sit back and let our elephants and other wildlife be hounded, harassed and killed, all in the name of progress?

Is it not too late to voice our disapproval the way our ecological wealth is being mismanaged? If the Department of Wildlife cannot cope with the situation as it is now, should not another entity be given the sacred duty of protecting our heritage? If we can only take a page out of the book from wildlife management in Kenya, South Africa and other places and see how well organized and effective their conservation programme is, we would be better off. In these countries wildlife parks are managed in such a way that it benefits the people, the government and most important of all, the animals. No one loses here.

We have a wonderful resource in our wildlife parks that, if properly managed, could earn valuable revenue for the government as well as the Department of Wildlife. We are too busy plundering our country in the name of progress with no thought for the future.

I appeal to all jungle and animal lovers to voice your outrage at what is being done to our flora and fauna. Man and beast have survived for centuries together in perfect harmony and can continue to do so if man is willing to give a little.

Remember one thing - one cannot live without the other. By killing our forests and the creatures within, we are effectively killing ourselves. I am reminded of an ancient Cree Indian saying that sums up our future:

"Only when the last tree has died.
And the last river been poisoned...
And the last fish been caught...
Will we realize that we cannot eat money."

Elmer Fernando, ..

Colombo 8.

Who is afraid of traffic lights?

I noted with interest the article in your journal, which highlighted the local production of traffic lights and their proposed installation in and around Colombo. However, I am pessimistic about the success of these lights.

My reason is that I feel the Traffic Police is a major influence in reducing respect for the traffic lights. Any use of the Galle Road within Colombo during peak traffic hours would have had the disquieting experience of traffic policemen stopping traffic when the light was green, and more importantly, waving traffic through the red light. I notice that this happens to me every day at the Wellawatte Traffic Lights. Sometimes, there are near misses when cars in two perpendicular directions move at the same time. It seems that this is official policy now.

My observation is that when policemen are not on duty, drivers and riders take the law into their hands and break the traffic lights causing chaos, and sometimes injury and worse. I have myself been the victim of one such driver about four years ago, when he broke the red light and crashed into my motor cycle which was just starting off after the light in my direction turned green. The inconsistency of attitude of the police towards the lights, I believe, has led to a feeling among motorists that the rules are not hard and fast anymore, and can be observed as one pleases. This is not conducive to improvement of the already unruly road behaviour of our motorists.

The Traffic Police, and, indeed other police officers have to be role models and examples to other road users. However, this is almost never the case. The traffic light scenario is but one of the examples of this deplorable attitude. Police vehicles are often seen parked in 'No Parking' areas, doing illegal U-turns, overtaking on the wrong side of the road or across continuous centre lines, and these actions are often imitated by the ordinary road user when the police are not in evidence. Sometimes, the police are arrogant enough to charge ordinary road users for breaking some road rule which they had just allowed one of their colleagues to break

I wonder whether traffic and other police officers should be retrained in (a) the basics of road rules (and other laws as well) and (b) in the fact that they are not above the law. This goes for members of the armed services, as well.

Dr. D. S. Rajasingham,


Pensioners unite!

Requests are made by different Pensioners' Associations to Government authorities in an adhoc manner without any uniformity.

With an endeavour to collate and submit such requests, Pensioners' Associations should I feel now rally round and form a federation of pensioners' associations when it will be feasible to channel through a single body and build up stronger cases of requests to win demands and such requests. This in fact would even be easy for the authorities to deal with and have dialogues on matters so represented with such a single body.

If it be possible, after consultation and consent this federation could be affiliatted with a public service workers' federation for better co-ordination etc.

A.G. Ranasinghe,


Jaffna schools taught Sinhala even before Independence.

I read with interest the article "Wake-up to Reality S.L." in The Sunday Times of January 26 and Prof. P.A. de Silva's reply in The Sunday Times of February 9. In the penultimate paragraph of Prof. de Silva's letter, I believe, he errs when he says "The Tamils who gladly learned the language of the Englishmen who came from 9000 miles away did not want to learn the language of the Sinhalese who have been here for 2500 years".

According to my own knowledge I believe, long before Independence, many schools in Jaffna taught Sinhala, and in some schools they actually had Buddhist monks who came from the South to teach Sinhala.

This they did because perhaps they realised with independence, whatever the claims made by Tamil politicians, the reality of the situation was that it would be advantageous to know the language of the majority after independence.

In 1982, I was visiting Jaffna, and I met a distinguished and extremely learned Tamil gentleman and I still recollect his words to me on that occasion. "If not for Mr. Bandaranaike we would have been Sinhala scholars". Inspite of the fact that schools in the North no longer teach Sinhala, one will have to admit that more Tamils speak Sinhala than Sinhalese speak Tamil. Almost all my Tamil friends, I know, speak Sinhala but I must confess that I know only a few phrases in Tamil learnt over many years.

Eskith Fernando,


A great loss for Sri Lanka

Ruwan: out without appeal

I was surprised and disappointed to read that Ruwan Kalpage was not included in the Sri Lankan team again. His all round performance cannot be ignored if the recent statistics are taken into account. In the words of the great folk-rock legend Bob Dylan, "how many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn't see"?

I recall a similar incident many years ago involving another cricketer, Bernard Perera (also from the same prestigious school in Kandy), who was denied a position in the Sri Lankan squad, even after he outperformed everyone in the trial games. Ruwan's talent, charisma, and leadership qualities have made him a hero in the eyes of many. Without questioning the integrity of the selectors, would it be wrong for me to ask if the pendulum has swung too far this time?

Dr. Bathiya Kasturiarachi,

North Canton, Ohio, USA.

Private Sector Pension schemes

Many qualified young people prefer to join the Public Sector because they could look forward to a monthly pension once they retire. This is due to the collapsing finance companies and a falling share market. The Provident Fund one gets on retirement cannot be invested in secure investments as bank interest is falling and inflation reduces the value of the return one gets from a fixed deposit in the bank.

There are many public companies and government corporations who are making good profits and wish to provide pension schemes for their employees in addition to the normal provident fund, but are unable to proceed with their plans because of a gazette notification of February 1,1996 by Labour Minister Mahinda Rajapakse which stops new provident funds, new pension funds or any other superannuation fund.

Lionel J. Seneviratne,

Mt Lavinia.

More letters to the editor* Discrimination on age in private hospitals? * The passport to Passport Office * Kos, del and pol: who the hell eats these? * We thank the President

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