Letters to the Editor

10th December 2000

Pension dates 2001

The People's Forum last year published the pension dates for 2000, which was a great help for us pensioners. Please do the same for 2001 too.

T.M.V.R. Cooray

The pension dates for 2001 are as follows.

January - Thursday, the 11th
February - Friday, the 9th
March - Thursday, the 8th
April - Tuesday, the 10th
May - Thursday, the 10th
June - Thursday, the 07th
July - Tuesday, the 10th
August - Thursday, the 9th
September - Tuesday, the 11th
October - Thursday, the 04th
November - Thursday, the 8th
December - Tuesday, the 11th


The Sacred Bodhi

Twenty centuries three hundred and seven years ago
There arose an anxiety among Lanka's women of yore;
Sought they the entry into Bhikkhuni ordination.
Anula, a lady of royal clan led the delegation.

At this spake Mahinda Thera of great renown
"Oh! King, let my sister Sangamitta Therinee
Be invited for the task of women's liberation,
Thus may they too attain supreme emancipation."

And so it was; she arrived hither, a fair isle then
Ruled by worthy kings, graced by virtuous men,
To accompany her were ten Bhikkhunis of vision
Well accomplished they were for such a lofty mission.

With them was a sapling of Gaya's Bodhi tree
Under which the Master sat in solace, meditative free,
To attain the most Noble Path of purity.
On Unduvap poya day the sapling so well planted
Stands to this day, spread out in all splendour,
Venerated by millions laying their sins asunder,
To them, nay to all, it bestows peace, tranquillity,
Therein it's a human binding - a mighty tenacity.

D.P.B. Ellepola
Colombo 2

They talk a lot except this

The news item in The Sunday Times (November 26) that Parliament has not debated the Auditor General's report for 12 consecutive years although presented to the House comes as no surprise. 

Twenty reports, each containing 25-35 audit reports on government departments that should be essentially discussed by the Public Accounts Committee have also not been taken up for discussion despite only four members being required to form a quorum.

Members from whichever side of the House are all the same, only self-seeking. Of 14 members of the Public Accounts Committee there would certainly have been more than four from the opposition. Leavning government members aside, if opposition MPs were concerned about the country, the public, or the waste of money, they would certainly have had the meeting, discussed the report and taken further action. 

They have not done that for 12 long years, neither the government MPs when they were in the opposition nor the present opposition MPs.

No side wants to expose the wrong doings of the other. 

We the public are fooled by politicians with their gimmicks, rhetoric and tantrums in Parliament and outside.

Sri Lanka might prove beyond doubt the saying of Johnson that politics is the refuge of scoundrels.

Colombo 13

Crisis: The remedy is in our hands

The genuine expression of many about a national government is basically for a government of consensus as against confrontation. 

There are several matters such as arresting the rising cost of living, improving the economy, reducing bribery and corruption, enforcing law and order, controlling the ever-rising challenge of the powerful underworld, attending to the needs of the public, which could be accomplished by political consensus.

Both the PA and UNP have in their fold, representatives, of all racial, religious and linguistic groups. The UNP has expressed co-operation with the government and their bona fides have to be tested. Co-operation does not mean holding ministerial portfolios. 

The best way for the government to respond and equally show their sincerity is to drastically cut the number of ministers and deputies. UNP and PA co-operation and due respect and consideration to views of political groups representing minority and other interests are what the common man understands by a national government.

Opposition to such a move will naturally come from greedy, selfish politicians and their henchmen, whose survival depends on creating as much dissension and chaos where law and order is thrown to the gutter. Arguments that the present Constitution does not provide for a national government are not tenable. The Constitution does not preclude the co-operation of different political parties.

Even in the matter of holding peace talks, there is much disagreement. Whether it is a military solution or a political one, with or without third party mediation, the first and foremost requirement is a climate of trust, a give and take policy. 

A national government supported by leaders of different religious groups should be able to bring about a stable situation and ultimately peace and harmony. 

If this can happen and there is no reason why it should not or cannot then there would be no need for third party mediation.

Sri Lankans have the remedy in their hand. Wily politicians should no longer misguide them. Public opinion must override narrow party politics and political expedience.

S. Thambyrajah, 
Colombo 3

Price hike a must? Really!

A Fuel price hike will put more burdens on already over-burdened consumers.

The recent price hikes can be attributed to the unprecedented expenditure on projects undertaken by the government. One such project is the formation of a jumbo cabinet of ministers and the appointment of a large number of deputy ministers. A considerable quantum of Sri Lanka's revenue would be channelled to maintain them. The hard-earned income could otherwise be used for development.

In other countries even small changes in the prices of commodities become a major issue. But we don't protest when the government increases prices.

These price increases will affect millions of fixed income earners. There is speculation that the price of gas is also to be increased. Most people will barely be able to make ends meet.

Just before elections, most politicians stressed the importance of taking action to control the mounting cost of living, but what have they done? Now they tell us that price hikes are a must.

A. Alikhan, 

Demolition: Appoint a commission

An incident on Union Place recently shocked most passers-by. 

The police, the municipal authorities and the urban development officials were busy demolishing everything on the pavements.

Later Ministers A.H.M. Fowzie and Alavi Mowlana expressed dismay over the incident. 

The irony is that these two ministers who represent this electorate were not aware of the action of the authorities.

The action of the Urban Development Authority brings up several questions.

* Why was this particular location selected?

* Why weren't the elected representatives of the area consulted?

We see unauthorised structures everywhere in Colombo. Many suburbs of Colombo and other cities are dotted with shanties and encroachments on side-walks and public areas. 

Not only Colombo but also every city and town should be cleared of unauthorised structures and eyesores. 

But how and when? 

Can years of neglect and political patronage be undone in a matter of days? Humanitarian considerations and the sufferings of the poor have been overlooked in this instance.

Not only those actually carrying out the demolition but also everyone involved behind the scenes are accountable and guilty for this high-handed act. 

If similar incidents are to be prevented an independent commission should be appointed to investigate it.

M. Fuard

Sinhala, Hindi, Urdu it's all Greek 

Today it is difficult to read material on cricket that does not touch on match-fixing and Carlton Samarajiwa's "Sinhala at Lords" (The Sunday Times, November 5) was a welcome relief. He recounts cheerful things and that tempts one to join in the fun. 

When our cricketers communicate with one another in Sinhala the world becomes aware of a mother tongue spoken by a mere 15 million people. The credit must go to our cricketers and the game of cricket - a most unlikely vehicle for a former colony to hitch-hike on. 

In addition to bemusing the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, Sinhala can create amusing situations - provided, of course, others do not learn the language. For instance, we can sledge (a routine occurrence nowadays) or respond to sledging without getting caught - it will be all Greek to others. Though it will not affect the targeted opponent, it can help by restoring your confidence. Not to be understood by others should be the general strategy. 

Others too can copy. South Africans can use Afrikaans to baffle everyone. For us (and for them too) it will be a case of Greek meeting Greek. 

If the Indians try this they will end up in a real hotch-potch. If a Tamilnadu player decides to speak in Tamil, he might not be understood by a Hindi-speaker from Bombay, or Bengali speaker from Calcutta. Then it will be a veritable babel. 

Not a sound strategy always, though English (the language of cricket as CS says) is always there to bail anyone out. 

We are somewhat lucky that when Kalu calls out the strategy for the next ball, Murali never asks for a translation. 

To turn to the more serious aspect that CS mentions - the use of English-Indian and Pakistani players are more fluent in the language than ours. We should not delve into the causes now, as it will raise a hornet's nest. The sensible thing is to 'light a lamp instead of blaming the darkness'. 

Nor do we need to despair. I have seen and heard instances on TV where the lack of competence in English is just taken in stride. Inzamam ul Haq prefers to speak in Urdu whenever interviewed. In answer to a question by Sunil Gavaskar, Geoff Boycott replied that he cannot speak with Inzamam because he does not speak much English. 

On another occasion, a commentator said that he remembered Wasim Akram when he first played county cricket and did not know much English. These remarks offended no one. This could apply equally to many Englishmen as well. So our preoccupation with this Swabhasha versus English attitudes is unwarranted. 

Incidentally Mr. Samarajiwa has somehow missed Kumar Sangakkara's fluency in English. After entertaining the viewers with his bat on his debut, he proceeded to impress listeners at the interview. Not just the language, but the substance of his replies too was classy. 

A Harsha Bogle in the making ? 

M.Z. Abdeen 


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