Letters to the Editor


Who pays for the cost of those deaths on our roads?
During the past so many years, the incidence of road accidents and correspondingly, the number who die or are maimed on the roads, have increased continuously. One of the most recent, in Kurunegala, had cost four lives-two schoolgirls, a woman, and the mother of one of the schoolgirls, who, apparently, had died of shock.

What is the cost of such a death? Briefly, the loss of a life; the emotional cost-a 'void' in the family felt by the bereaved for the rest of their lives; a loss by way of foregoing educational opportunities leading to employment, which would have improved family well-being; and the loss of a child who would have helped look after the aged parents, as is our tradition.

Where a woman is concerned, the irreplaceable loss of a wife and mother, and may be even a breadwinner. Apart from these costs to the family, these accidents are also a cost to the community. Police officers have to be deployed to carry out investigations, and hospital resources used for treatment-even for surgery and ICU facilities. Local government authorities provide donations (Rs. 10,000/- each in this case) to the bereaved, from their limited funds. All these are costs to the taxpayers of this poor country.

On the other hand, what is the liability borne by those directly responsible for such accidents-the drivers and the owners of the vehicles? More often than not, the driver would be bailed out by family or vehicle owner, and after prosecution, perhaps go scot-free for lack of evidence.

People are reluctant to come forward as witnesses partly due to the intimidatory tactics adopted by the agents of the drivers/vehicle owners. Witnesses fear, more than danger to self, the victimization of innocent family members, as is the trend nowadays.

It is imperative therefore, to revise the law and enforce a scheme whereby both the driver and the vehicle owner would have to bear liability for such loss of life, by way of a substantial amount of money so as to make them feel the pinch; the one for his recklessness and disregard of road rules, the other for his callousness in entrusting vehicles to persons not properly qualified and experienced.
It would eventually act as a deterrent to such irresponsible behaviour.

R.J. Samaranayake

It's time to net in these barbaric acts
On July 3, about half a dozen CMC dog catchers were in action at the Ward Place end of Borella Junction. This was inspite of the fact that the Mayor had agreed to treat these animals humanely and desist from cruelly gassing them unless absolutely necessary.

It is known that only two cases of rabies have been officially recorded for this year in the city.
The Borella bath kade cum hotel, situated about a 100 yards from Ward Place had a female dog with two bouncing puppies.

These animals used to play in the lane opposite the hotel, and were admired by all in the area.
The dog catchers came and flung the little ones like garbage into the van after which they netted the mother.

Despite protests that they were not strays, they were taken to the gas chambers.
Unable to bear the agony, the hotel owners claimed the mother and pups from the Dog Pound, and were asked to come on July 3.

An advance of Rs. 250 had been charged for food, their food being pieces of throw-aways from the Abattoir .
When they visited the place they were told that the pups had been killed as they were kept with rabid animals, while the mother was in another cage. What brutality?

Shouldn't there be a simple rule that other dogs should not be caged with rabid ones.
I tried my best to get Mohamed Ijas, the Dog Pound Chief, but was told he was on leave.

While people complain regularly about cruelty the Mayor appears to be powerless, or is he aloof? It is time the good Mayor put a stop to this barbaric behaviour.

Tuder Wickremasinghe
Colombo 9

Declining standards and need for deterrents
Since gaining Independence in 1948, Sri Lankans have experienced declining standards in all areas. One has to only read the newspapers to see how serious this problem has become.

Did the leaders who negotiated our Independence from the British imagine that a pitched battle would take place in Parliament and that the mace will disappear even temporarily from the House?

My suggestion is that an IQ test should be made compulsory for all candidates who stand for election. This should be after checking if they have a criminal record.

The idea that crime begets punishment also needs to be revived.

Sudharshan Kumarasinghe

Don’t let students decide when to open university
I read with interest the letter in the national press by a "disgusted parent" regarding the opening of the Jayewardenepura University. A majority of us are not involved in the violence or student unrest. It is only a minority. As usual the militant minority seems to be in control at the expense of the majority.

We students want to finish our examinations on time. Already our batches in other universities have overtaken us. Why do we have to suffer like this? It is frustrating, demotivating and causes economic hardship too.

The university authorities must be more responsible and open the institution for studies immediately. The government, from the President downwards must give priority to education. As a student, I am appealing to them to act soon. As stated by the "disgusted parent" the authorities should not wait for students to decide when to open the university.

An affected student

Remember those who retired in 2002 & 2003
It has been reported that the President has decided to implement the recommendations made by the Tissa Devendra Salaries Commission report soon. Although belated, it is commendable indeed, but one wonders whether the recommendations will be implemented with retrospective effect as the President appointed this salary revision committee in 1999.

An interim report was issued in 2001 and the final report was published In 2002, but the much awaited pay hike was never granted by the then UNP Government, on the flimsy excuse that the committee had recommended to reduce the number of public servants by nearly half, which definitely, it had not. This salary revision report is one of the most comprehensive ones ever issued, giving substantial salary increases to all in the public service.

In this regard, I think it is not unreasonable if due consideration is given to the plight of those public servants who opted to retire during 2002 and 2003 in sheer frustration after desperately waiting for seven years for a salary increase. The recent pension circular is applicable only to those who retired prior to 1997 but for others there is nothing.

As such, it will be appreciated if the recommendations of the Tissa Devendra report are implemented from the date they were issued so that this unfortunate lot can also benefit.

U.N. Nanayakkara

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