I was lying in bed in the emergency ward of the Batticaloa Teaching Hospital when I saw a scene that was deeply heartening. Four stretcher bearers were struggling to carry a heavily built patient. They put him in a vacant bed next to mine. To me, the patient looked dead.
A medical team led by a lady doctor arrived and they immediately set about giving the elderly patient a heart massage. I heard both Tamil and Sinhala spoken. The hospital had recently taken in a number of Sinhala-speaking doctors and nurses.
The seconds ticked on. The team struggled to resuscitate the elderly patient.
The nurses were briskly busy, while a male nurse kept running back and forth, bringing life-saving equipment.
One of the nurses shook off her shoes and climbed on to the bed in her socks so she could better massage the patient. The team was sweating away as they took turns massaging the patient’s chest.
Their gaze was fixed on the monitoring panel, to look for any sign of life returning. After an hour of sustained physical effort, the team resigned itself to the fact that the patient was beyond resuscitation. There was a look of great sadness in their eyes.
In his poem titled “Death”, the great Metaphysical poet John Donne refers to the church bells that announce a death: “Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Proposal for a new Constitution
As a citizen of this country, I have taken the trouble to study all the Sri Lanka Constitutions, starting with the first, introduced on February 4, 1948.
May I therefore be permitted to present to the President my idea of the kind of Constitution this country needs.
We need a two-chamber Parliament, with Upper and Lower Houses.
The Upper House should comprise 225 Elected Members, of whom six may be nominated by the incumbent President to represent Britishers, Burghers, Indians, Colombo Chetties, Chinese and Malays.
Let us do away altogether with the existing Political Party System and have a Board of Ministers, as in the old Legislative Council days. This means there will be no division of country and people.
Of course, the best solution is to do away altogether with the present Political Party System. Please consider holding the old C.C.S. Examination to select the best men to govern our country as Permanent Secretaries.
The Board of Ministers should comprise 47 Elected Members of Parliament. The members elected should be under 75 years.
As in the old colonial days, let us have: 1.) a Chief Secretary; 2) a Financial Secretary; and 3) a Legal Secretary to supervise the administration of all Ministries.
These people should be placed on a salary scale higher than the others.
Our proposed New Constitution should clearly state that elected or nominated MPs are not entitled to a monthly pension.
If a new Constitution is introduced, all our schools and colleges should be converted to Senior Secondary and Junior Secondary Schools, as in the UK and Australia.
L. M. Fernando,
Killers on the road go unchecked
Not long ago, a letter titled “Murderers on our roads” appeared in the media, but the authorities have not done much about this, because the “murders” – deaths caused by carelessness on the roads – continue.
We also read about what goes on in and around the roads leading to Parliament, with youngsters riding trailer motorbikes on one wheel – a highly dangerous practice that puts all using those roads at risk.
A speeding car killed a woman who was selling “saruwath”. The driver did not have a valid driving licence, proof of motorists’ disregard for the Police. Deaths caused by road accidents are a daily occurrence.
Meanwhile, Tata private buses continue their races from Battaramulla junction to Athurugiriya. The drivers break basic road rules. They overtake at bends, and drive on the wrong side of the road. After 10 a.m., you hardly ever see a policeman on the stretch of road between Battaramulla junction and Athurugiriya, even though the Talangama Police Station is a virtual stone’s throw away.
Over to you, Mr. IGP. Or are you waiting to pass this police responsibility too on to the Secretary of Defence?
Mosquito coils: Excellent advice and a good night’s sleep
I read with interest the article “Coil-culture spreads as dengue rages” (August 7, 2011).
I have suffered from a wheeze for many years. I have been treated by a succession of specialists, but I still have the wheeze. Only recently did I realise that the mosquito coils I light every night might have something to do with my chest condition.
In the meantime, to get a decent night’s sleep, I follow the Health Ministry’s advice: Burn a mosquito coil for half an hour with doors and windows closed; then open the windows for five minutes and let the smoke out.
Not a single mosquito has bothered me since I started to follow this excellent advice.
Reader in Negombo
Sinhala only forms for all Kandy pensioners
Is it still “Sinhala only”? A reader raised this question recently. I wish to bring to the notice of the authorities another example of “Sinhala only.”
All pensioners are expected to provide “life certificates” every six months, and they are sent a form for this purpose. The Kandy District Secretariat sends Sinhala-only forms to Kandy pensioners. Non-Sinhala pensioners have find translators to help them fill the form. They are subject to this insult every six months.
What happened to the “One Nation, One Country” concept?