Plus - Letters to the Editor

Politicians on sale: Time to bring in legislation to curb the rot

Recently I was travelling from Kandy to Gampaha when a trade advertisement inscribed on a plastic plate fitted to the rear or BMW car bearing number 300 - 0906, caught my attention. The inscription read:

“Invest well,
Buy a politician”

This speaks volumes about the sad plight that we Sri Lankans are faced with. The concept of ‘buying’ a politician implies profoundly the filthy lucre that politicians are associated with. It also opens widespread ramifications that the people of this country are either grappling to cope with or are enjoying the ‘carnival’. Similar to cricketers being auctioned for IPL – T20 games in India, our politicians too are bought by the highest bidders.

Let us consider who those are, who can make the highest bids to buy politicians whose game is far from ‘cricket’. In today’s context the highest paying trades are :- terrorism, thuggery, narcotics and illicit liquor peddling, corruption in multimillion contracts and deals, misuse of public resources, crossing from opposition to the government side and obtaining cabinet portfolios that enable one to do the grand, tax dodging and non declaration of assets, white van culture etc. All this is happening within an authoritarian governance that lacks transparency.

The leftovers remaining in the opposition are making some noise about the levels and quantum of corruption and waste, and grand promises are being made to bring the culpable politicians to justice, confiscate their ill gotten gains and stem the rot. But what is the hold the people have over these promises? Our experience has been to see how promises made by politicians when in opposition are forgotten no sooner they come to power. What is required is legal provision to make election promises justiciable.

Unless there is legislation in this regard, the people will continue to be hoodwinked by the unprincipled low strata of society riding high over them. It would be an interesting exercise to propose such legislation and see how many politicians will support the blocking of their avenues for this mass scale corruption.

Now is the time for it.

Tassie Seneviratne, Via e mail

Here and across the Palk Straits

Scenario 1

Corruption is rife in India

Anna Hazare, activist has decided to launch a hunger strike as a protest against corruption and the inadequacy of the Anti-Corruption Bill now before the Lok Sabha. On the eve of his fast he is taken into custody, initially for a period of seven days, but is released after one day. Mr Hazare refuses to leave prison, until he is permitted to continue his fast in JP Park. Whilst in prison, he continues to fast.

Thousands of people have turned out to support him in all parts of India; professionals, students, ordinary folk. To quote a doctor in the crowd, “We are doing this for the sake of future generations”. They are not dispersed by the police using tear gas and resorting to violence.

Scenario 2

Corruption is rife in Sri Lanka

A senior minister comments in public regarding the corruption in road construction. In our context, this bold act is equivalent to that of Mr.Hazare’s. Thousands of people gather in small groups over coffee, over drinks, over a smoke – cigarette or beedi, in cafes, in kades, in middle class and rural homes, and discuss corruption in high places. “Has Mr. 10 percent graduated to Mr. 20 per cent?”

Supporters of Indian social activist Anna Hazare hold torches and candles as they shout slogans against corruption during a demonstration in Kolkata on August 18. AFP

It is a conversation filler, an incentive to righteous indignation. In the meantime, prime state land continues to be disposed of to foreigners in Colombo in dubious deals [it matters little whether this is an outright sale or a 99 year lease] for the construction of hotels.

A large extent of land opposite the Beira Lake once belonging to a thriving industrial concern is to be the site of yet another hotel. Are we to be forever circumscribed by corruption, dependent on a culture of call-girls and casinos for our income? It is high time we act as responsible citizens, and take a leaf from the book of our neighbour.

Disgusted Citizen (As this edition went to print Mr. Hazare left prison to begin a 15-day hunger strike in New Delhi.)

Language for all: Why are the authorities playing hide and seek?

The official Language Commission states that citizens of Sri Lanka have the right to read and understand documents/notices and other printed materials without any difficulty in accordance with their language and knowledge. Government departments and other institutions serving the public, have a duty and responsibility to ensure and protect the rights of every citizen of this country.

In the recent past the Language Commission has implemented a new ruling which makes it imperative that government departments and other enterprises print documents in all three languages i.e., Sinhala, Tamil and English, so that all the three communities living in Sri Lanka can read and understand the position and act accordingly in the interest and welfare of the nation, without any misunderstandings among the others.

Failure in following or adhering to this ruling will result in the issuing of a Rs. 1,000 fine or three months imprisonment.If the ruling of the Language Commission is followed or adhered to in all government departments none will agitate for a separate state within Sri Lanka.

Why are the authorities responsible for the implementation of this commission playing hide and seek?

D. Sivarajah, Badulla

Pali stanzas are universal

I wish to add some more facts to the response by J. Abeygunawardhana to Dr. Malwatte Mohotti's letter (The Sunday Times August 14). It is absurd to change a 2600-year-old tradition. When we visit Buddhagaya to pay homage, we can observe how Buddhists from all over the world recite Pali stanzas at this sacred place.

As far as I know, Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal and other Buddhist countries also follow the same practice.

As Pali stanzas are universal I don’t belive any change is necessary. A true Buddhist should be able to understand the meaning of the Pali stanzas recited regularly.

Related Articles Why pray in Pali? | By Dr. D. Malwatte Mohotti on July 31, 2011
  Pali stanzas are universal | By J. Abeyguna on August 14, 2011

A.B. Gamage, Pitakotte

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