Letters to the Editor


Wake up! Stop squabbling and start working
In this embarrassing nation that we live in maybe it's time once again to wake up or rather shake the government into wakefulness. The events preceding the elections of April 2, 2004 indicated little hope for the future of Sri Lanka despite the usual pledges. But never mind the pledges, can we just get past all this political rigmarole and get down to the issues that really matter?

The government and the opposition continue to be obsessed with political manoeuvres, thinking little of the impact of this on the country's economy. According to the Central Bank's latest indicators, the rupee has depreciated to new lows but the obsession with power seems to only increase.

This week's events in Parliament which received international coverage are an embarrassment to the nation. But the people’s representatives do not seem to care. Where is the responsibility that comes with representation? Their inaction in situations where action is required and their action in circumstances which do not require it at all is leading Mother Lanka to further impoverishment and shame.

Isn't it time that the President, her government as well as opposition parties took a good look at themselves and determined what they are about. Are you here for the money? Or are you really interested in doing your best to improve this country?

H. Jayasundere
Via email

Uni. admissions and the never-ending wait
The statement that there is a three-year waiting period for university admission might bring forth several indignant protests from those fortunate enough to be admitted before this period, and also from some university authorities, but this is indeed the unhappy truth.

Most people are blissfully ignorant of this fact, and ironically some of the university staff are quite euphoric about clearing the backlog of admissions. However, little do they know or care that there are some students who have sat for the Advanced Level in April 2002 being selected for admission to the University of Colombo, Arts Faculty, and are still waiting to be taken in. It is indeed gross discrimination that the students who sat at the same time, and were selected for courses such as Medicine, Law, Management, and Science at the same university, and also those students who opted for other universities to follow the same course of study, have already completed over one year of work.

Under this scenario, it was indeed heartening to read that the powers that be in the education field, had recognized several shortcomings in the university administrative system, and are reportedly taking steps to provide solutions to these problems. We, therefore, quite logically assumed that the problem of delayed admissions would have taken a high priority in their proposed plan of action.

However, much to our consternation, when inquiring from the UGC, we were airily informed that in all probability, those who were selected for admission on the 2002 Advanced Level examination results to the Arts Faculty of the University of Colombo, would only be admitted in 2005. This makes it three whole years, as in 2002, the examination was brought forward from August to April, with the rather optimistic intention to admit the students during the same year as in yesteryear. This same view was echoed by the present administration.

This is an urgent plea to the Ministry of Education to treat this problem as a high priority in their deliberations.

A Concerned Parent

Galle fort hijacked by colonial disease!
Much has been reported recently about the purchase of southern beach properties and houses within the Dutch Fort (a military garrison during the colonial era) by foreigners. Ten years ago there were only two foreign-owned houses in Galle Fort, now there are 68 belonging to foreigners, and most of the southern coastline is dotted with bungalows built by foreigners.

Firstly, how did foreigners on tourist visas set about buying such properties? They are allowed visas to tour the island, not conduct business. If they have been entering into profitable real estate business on tourist visas, simply confiscate those properties. Levying high taxes on those properties will not solve anything. We will simply be legitimizing possible illegal transactions.

Even though FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) was permitted by the previous regime, did it include such transactions by tourists? Furthermore, an investigation should be carried out as to the exact details of finances involved in those purchases-how much was brought in cash and how much was remitted?

We all know that these tourists of dubious backgrounds are now selling off our lands on the Internet etc., quoting prices in US dollars. How did this come about? Is there money-laundering involved and do we conduct an Interpol check on them? Background checks are an immediate necessity.

I know for certain that those properties are rented out at US dollar rates mostly to foreign tourists when not used by their owners. This has been going on for years unchecked. The tourist businessman earns dollars while Sri Lankan owned tourist villas and resort hotels lose business and pay taxes on whatever they earn.

I believe liquor outlets have been opened in the Galle Fort. Why were liquor licences issued in such a residential area which also has at least one church, a mosque and a Buddhist temple?

If we are to stop this island becoming a paradise for paedophiles and sex perverts, our foreign missions should only issue visas to those who wish to visit Sri Lanka after thorough checks. Don't we get the runaround when we want to visit western countries? We are treated like criminals whilst we offer them sycophancy and servility - the colonial diseases.

Linda van Schagen
Mt. Lavinia

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