Letters to the Editor


Organising the public sector to resuscitate economy
Our public service is the government's huge and widespread establishment which all persons in every town and village have to interact. So it is important that the authority at the apex of public administration ensures that the public service is streamlined for optimum performance. However, my letter is a sequel to many instances of a lackadaisical approach, perfunctory and step-motherly treatment meted out in certain offices of the public service.

Public servants are entitled to substantial salaries and other emoluments and pensions for life, all of which are paid from the taxes levied from the public. They are generally expected to work eight hours a day with 2 or 1 1/2 days off on weekends and also days off on full moon days and other public holidays. In addition they are entitled to substantial leave for private purposes.

In comparison with the lot of the masses of this country, the middle and upper grades of public servants are economically much better off. Public servants in those grades should undergo some form of sacrifice to overcome the perilous state of the economy of the country.

It has to be realised that in the face of the rights of public servants, their responsibilities are definitely onerous. Therefore, to meet the current challenges confronting society, it is the obligation of every middle and higher-grade public servant to render unstinted service to rescue our society from the economic and moral depths it is in. In the process, the noble principle of rendering enthusiastically, services worth more than the quantum of pay received, should be adopted and adhered to.

On that basis it is submitted that public servants should be called upon to undergo voluntarily certain sacrifices, some of which are set out below. The shining examples of the raising of the economies of Japan and Singapore in recent history are suggested for emulation in organising the human resources in our public sector.

As interim measures for trial in the next two years, the following guidelines are recommended: (1) Avail of leave only for absolutely necessary private purposes with no monetary entitlement to be claimed for foregoing the remainder of the quota of leave. (2) Work at least two days in every other weekend and every other public holiday with no extra payment. (3) Organise the homefront by imposing thrifty lifestyles on oneself and by persuading the spouse and dependent children to follow suit. (4) Display on the upper front part of your dress the identification badge indicating name and designation. (5) Tactfully disregard undue political interference: e.g., telephone calls and chits emanating from "big shots" and their assistants. (6) If your work allocation is over or low, discuss matters with the superior: give the impression that no job is too big or too small to be undertaken. (7) Exercise courtesy with a genuine smile; tolerate opinions even when you do not agree with them: give patient hearing to grievances and adopt a positive approach to solve them if necessary, with the help of superiors. (8) Transcend deleterious ethnic, religious, caste and gender influences by giving pride of place to humanism. (9) Don't do private work or engage in gossip during office time. (10) Give silent service and keep at arm's length any sycophants.

If the measures indicated above are implemented by our public servants of the middle and higher grades the country would be well on the road to success. May our broadminded public servants take up the challenge before the nation!

D. Kuruneru

Conversion controversy: Is it in the best interest of country or for political mileage?
Thanks to our media we are able to follow the ongoing debate on conversions. The recent testimonies in one of the papers, one by a convert to Christianity and the other by a convert to Buddhism, and also the statement signed by the mainline churches have prompted me to enter this controversial debate.

I will begin with two stories to make my initial point. Both stories come from India. The first one concerns Vallabhai Sardar Patel, Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru's Home Minister in the first cabinet. Patel taking part in a debate on the new Indian constitution concerning the freedom to practise one's religion in a secular state, speaking from the floor of the house of the Constituent Assembly said, that his reading of the gospels was such that no Christian could be a disciple without sharing with others the gospel message. Patel was a Hindu.

The second story concerns Bishop Lessley Newbegin, one-time Bishop of the Church of South India. Newbegin after a visit to the former Soviet Union said the church was alive in Russia despite the prohibition to preach.

Both these stories make the point that the task of conversion belongs to God. God picks and chooses his instruments. Therefore, I will not panic about the proposed bill on the subject of conversions, nor will the government's attitude upset me because those in Parliament are trying to gain political mileage using this subject.

However, it is sad that what began with former Minister Maheswaran trying to do in Sri Lanka what Chief Minister Jayalalitha had achieved in Tamil Nadu is now being taken over by the JHU and the PA government. In fact, recently, Tamil Nadu has withdrawn the law.

Although we live in a global village, we in Sri Lanka are a broken community and this legislation will divide us more and earn a bad name for us in the midst of global realities. We have more important economic and political problems to handle. I do not think conversions are a problem for most of our people.

As a Christian I am also sad that the recent statement made public had been signed only by the leaders of the Roman Catholic, Church of Ceylon and NCC Churches. There are others outside these structures. Why haven't they signed these documents, especially the organized Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka?
I hope and pray that my intervention through this letter will enlighten the on-going debate.

Sydney Knight

PC polls: Understanding the logic behind the verdict
The Provincial Council elections are over and I find strange analyses from various factions using them to their own political advantage. The people in the six provinces have given a clear preference to the UPFA. However, the UPFA government should not overestimate the people’s mandate due to the following reasons.

Only 44% of registered voters have voted and about 6% have spoilt their votes. The traditional UNP and SLFP voters have not been interested in voting but the JVPers have voted wholeheartedly.

This resulted in their nominees winning the first three positions on preferential votes in most of the districts .Most of them are strangers to the political field. The provincial leaders of the SLFP were pushed down the ladder or lost. With 71 out of 73 candidates winning and not accepting any ministerial portfolios, the JVP’s course of action is very clear. It will say goodbye to the UPFA government at an appropriate time and will be a major force to be reckoned with at the next general election if not the major opposition to the UNP.

The SLFP will be a spent force in the near future, if the present leadership does not understand this simple logic and act upon it.

Professor Rohan

Unfair request!
Retired teachers are asked to forward their educational and professional certificates, to adjust their pension anomalies. From where are they to forward these certificates now?

Those who retired in the early 1980s, had to submit these certificates to the Ministry of Education, unlike in later years.

Even salary details were not given to them, at the time of retirement. Many of them have now passed their 80th mile-post in life.
Is this how, the 'elders' or the so-called 'senior citizens' are treated?

Pay up soon
It is learnt that there will be a long delay in the payment of revised pensions.
May I suggest that the Director of Pensions take action to instruct all divisional secretaries to get their staff to calculate these pensions after office hours at a payment of Rs. 100 a file and to get these amounts deducted from the relevant pensioners.

P.B. Ratnayake

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