Plus - Letters to the Editor

A united UNP and an intelligent Opposition – The need of the hour

Messrs Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sajith Premadasa are at each other’s throats, which is most unfortunate for their Party. And why do they hold separate press conferences and meetings whenever new members join the United National Party? What is going on?

The public is confused, and soon this confusion will turn into indifference for the Party, or even contempt. Then where will Mr. Wickremesinghe and Mr. Premadasa be?

It is no wonder that Mr. Wickremesinghe is losing elections, when his own party people are turning against him. But he is a mature politician, while Mr. Premadasa is a relative newcomer to politics, and has not even been a Cabinet Minister.

Mr. Premadasa’s close associates – Dayasiri Jayasekera, Thalatha Athukorala, Rosie Senanayake and Sujeewa Senasinghe, to name a few – should be careful not to propel this young politician into a position of leadership too soon. He has to learn the ropes first. He should have patience, just as his father, the late Ranasinghe Premadasa, waited patiently for his turn while serving under Mr. J. R. Jayawardene.

At the same time, Mr. Wickremesinghe should listen to the others. He should cultivate young Mr. Premadasa by taking him under his wing. He should give him some powers and make him his mouthpiece.

This is the last chance for the UNP to get its act together. If the Party fails to seize this opportunity, it will lose at the next election too. Not that we need a change of government at this stage, but we do need a strong opposition, or the country will suffer.

This should not be an Opposition that feels it must oppose every move of the current regime, but an Opposition that is represented by a group of intelligent people who can guide the government.

So, for the love of our country and our people, will the UNP please work in unity and harmony. Let the Party start holding one press conference, not two. Will Messrs. Wickremesinghe and Premadasa start sitting side by side and work together, in harmony, before it is too late?

Sunil R. Wickremaratne, Mathugama

Where will the donkeys go?

Seventy three acres have been purchased in Kalpitiya for the development of a waterfront hotel.

So what happens to the donkeys that roam around the area, cause no trouble to anyone, and exist by chewing on a bit of grass that grows there?

Sixty three acres of forest cover was destroyed to create the Dambulla cricket stadium, which is hardly used. Sixty three hectares from our little island was swallowed by the sea for the Hambantota harbour at what cost to the environment and wildlife?

So I suppose donkeys that have lived in Kalpitiya for centuries can be sacrificed in the name of "development".

C.B. Perera, Colombo 4.

Golden Key depositors still waiting, two years on

The Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabral seems to have forgotten the plight of the depositors who placed money with the Golden Key Credit Card Company. Two years later, these people are still waiting for a refund of their deposits. They have made repeated requests to the authorities, but nothing has happened to date.

Would it be too much to ask President Mahinda Rajapaksa to step in and urge the relevant authorities to make these payments as soon as possible, so the depositors can begin the New Year on a positive note?

L. Fernando

Increment goes to the wrong people

This letter is about the 25 per cent salary increment for the privileged. Last year too these people enjoyed a massive increment, and this year they get 25 per cent, while the poor voters get nothing. The ordinary clerical staff are overlooked while these privileged people are put on a pedestal.

It is the doctors and engineers who should be looked after. The so-called “scientists” who do no research at all benefit by this government. These so-called scientists are science graduates who happen to be attached to government offices.

This 25 per cent increase must be the bright idea of Professor Tissa Vitharana.

Public sector member

Time we angry senior citizens spelt out the Director of Pensions’ obligations

How long will it be before someone finally acts on the dozens of letters sent in by frustrated and unhappy pensioners who have been cheated of their pension rights and deceived by false promises?
I am in the same boat as the angry pensioner who wrote last month about the paltry sum he is forced to live on (“Pittance for pensioners”, Sunday Times, December 26).

I retired in 1982, almost 30 years ago, and every year I keep waiting in the hope that at least the pension anomalies relating to those who retired from government service before 1985 would be rectified, and that their pensions would be aligned with the 2006 Public Service salary scale.

I recall reading a reply to a similar pension query from a former Director of Pensions, who said rectifying the anomalies would “involve lot of work.” But isn’t that the Director of Pensions’ job – to get the job done, whether or not it involves a “lot of work”? How could he justify his post as Director of Pensions if he is not doing his job?

Is it not the Director of Pensions’ job to make sure there are no pension anomalies in the first place?
Is it not the Director of Pensions’ job to get his staff to speedily work out the overdue arrears and find the funds to pay off these arrears to the pre-1985 pensioners – senior citizens who are now in their Eighties, and who cannot be kept waiting any longer?

Is it not the Director of Pensions’ job to bring pension anomalies to the notice of his Secretary, his Minister, and to the Head of the Treasury? If the Director of Pensions fails on all these counts, he has failed the country and cheated a whole generation of pensioners.

Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga also made pre-election promises to the pensioners – not once but twice, and what did she get done? Meanwhile, pensioners have to grapple with the rising cost of living, and increasingly heavy utilities bills to pay. The 2011 increase on electricity charges works out to almost 100 per cent of the present rates.

The pensioners in this country have reached a point of utter despair. Don’t our politicians have aged parents and relatives who are pensioners? The sheer callous indifference of the authorities to the plight of the desperate pensioner is absolutely beyond belief.

Dr. P. H. D. H. de Silva, Rajagiriya

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