Letters to the Editor22nd July 2001
From the people's point of view, here are a few major issues the country needs to look at:
-The continuing waste of public funds through poorly administered, poorly managed state corporations and institutions such as the Ceylon Electricity Board, Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, CWE, Transport, etc.
-The management and political leadership seems to be totally unaccountable, unanswerable and deaf to criticism in such institutions.
-Total disregard for law and authority and widespread indiscipline consequent to the politicisation of law enforcement authorities and the absence of independent authorities to administer the Police, Elections Department, Judiciary, Public Service etc. Politicians are instigating the public to encroach on private land and demonstrate against private establishments. Rape of forests and natural resources, increasing incidence of contract killings, plans to destroy our heritage and environment are a direct result of the lack of independent, accountable and non-manipulative authorities to manage these important arms of the public service.
-The totally selfish and unpatriotic manner in which the politicians conduct their affairs, placing party and self before country and aggravating the economic and financial burdens on the public.
-The containment of terrorism in the north-east and the search for a political solution acceptable to a majority of Sri Lankans.
All these issues except the last one do not need the support of the opposition. The inability of this government to address these burning problems is a clear indictment of their inefficiency, incapability and insatiable desire for power.
With regard to the last issue, the government should have the sense to let the army win the hearts and minds of the public and conduct the war using its military strategies and professionalism. The government should not give politically motivated directions or try to undermine the authority of efficient and capable officers. The co-operation of the opposition for a political solution will be forthcoming only if it appears to be acceptable to a majority of Sri Lankans in this country.
During colonial times, no animal was seen on the roads as seizers appointed by the local authority would round up stray animals and also fine the owners. Why can't the same action be taken today?
The insurgent leaders of 1971 are today ministers in the People's Alliance Government. Politicians who did not have a bicycle in the early 1990s are running about in Pajeros with bodyguards at their command.
Politics has become a business today and the public are paying for the sins of the politicians.
Sri Lankan politicians of all hues should ponder on the wise words of another statesman on the other side of the Atlantic during the same period. He was none other than America's war-time President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who said, "No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it. There can be no appeasement with ruthlessness. There can be no reasoning with an incendiary bomb".
Finally, Hitler with his crack divisions, powerful Air Force and mighty navy met his Waterloo.
Much lesser, self-styled supremos, equally ruthless and barbaric are destined to bite the dust. That is the lesson of history.
Another dimension is that the government is already hard pressed to find employment for the yearly output of medical graduates and very soon unemployed medical graduates will be a reality.
A shortsighted political leadership flanked by sycophants who pass off for economic and planning wizards, equates development of the country's human resources with trading in items like B'onions and potatoes, which are imported whenever there is a shortage. Going for foreign nurses to meet the shortage, ignoring the large educated local labour force only exposes the limitations of our policy-makers.
Quick-fix solutions are often disadvantageous in the long term. A case in point is the hundreds of thousands of housemaids abroad who work under great hardship. They bring the much needed foreign exchange to the empty coffers. Some of them could have been trained to serve the sick in our hospitals. India in contrast, has banned women from going abroad as housemaids.
Meanwhile, in his skewed perception, the Prime Minster has blamed family planning for the dearth of soldiers and clergy.
The current shortage of nurses too, he could well argue, would emanate from the same hypothesis. I am sure the public will not be unduly surprised if the PM's bumper cabinet suggests that under the open economy Sri Lanka should import ministering angels from the land of beauty queens!
I am of the opinion that those responsible for advising on the subject are looking at only one aspect of prevention - so-called "safe sex". My question is: "How safe is safe sex?"
Surfing the Internet the other day I found this: "In a European study, less than 2% of partners of people who had AIDS, contracted the disease when the couple used condoms regularly and correctly." If this information is correct, aren't those who advocate safe sex exposing at least some people to the deadly disease?
The advice of specialists some years back was quite different. A virologist from the MRI said, "In keeping with our religious and traditional values always stick to one sexual partner. Use protective measures if this is inevitable." Unfortunately, this kind of advice is not heard anymore. Now it is: "Run to the nearest drugstore and get a condom."
The final question: "Is a condom 100% safe?
People we divide
Race, colour and creed
Are the factors that decide
United we stand
Divided we fall
We have to face the truth
Without hiding our heads in the sand
Ask not who, but what is correct
For some people tend to be idiosyncratic
Let us work together for the settlement of all
And serve the people who are in need as well
Differences we should forget about
For the sands of time are running out
The commonest sins of omission and commission on the part of state officers are:
-Ignoring the three-day rule of replying letters or at least sending an acknowledgement.
-Law enforcement officials turning a Nelsonian eye on the unscrupulous elements who obstruct pavements.
With regard to the first, the Minister of Public Administration should issue a circular to all state officers that severe disciplinary action would be taken if they do not comply with the three-day rule. Meanwhile, the courageous Minister of Urban Development has already taken action to demolish unauthorised buildings on pavements without fear or favour. This would help settle the second problem.
Pro Bono Publico
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