Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor


Mudalalis make a killing with lab and X-ray business

A lucrative medical business is being practised all over the island. This is the Medical-Lab and X-ray lab business.
Unlike in the past, medical lab tests are now done by automatic machines. These machines are imported from Singapore by a few Colombo businessmen. The businessmen invest between two and three million rupees in these machines and employ young women to feed the machines with blood and urine samples.

No one knows anything about the quality of the tests. The automatic machines must be in perfect order to give accurate blood test readings.The businessmen import the machines, regardless of quality. They are not concerned about what they get from the foreign supplier. For all we know, they may be receiving discarded machines.

The medical lab owners are not doctors or professionally qualified people. They are mudalalis. They buy the services of qualified lab technologists. The lab technologists do not handle the machinery. They are employed to provide legal cover.
There are other dangers when laymen run medical labs.

There is cutthroat competition to attract patients for blood tests. If doctors in the area do not send in requests for blood tests, they become the enemies of the lab owners. Dr. Jayasinghe of Karandeniya was murdered for openly obstructing unauthorised medical lab businesses.

The health authorities seem not to be aware of the dangers. I hope the President will take heed of this letter and save us from dubious medicos.

Dr. L.S. De Silva, Retired M.O.H., Mt. Lavinia

One cause for US hostility

I wish to correct a factual error in an article by Latheef Farook (Sunday Times, June 10, 2012). He says “Muslim countries on the other hand are the only friends of Sri Lanka as proved time and again and even during the final stage of the war against the LTTE.”  But what about China and Cuba? They are friends and these are not Muslim countries.

On the contrary, Sri Lanka’s courageous and fair transparent policy of friendship with all countries, the pancha sila, including Muslim entities such as Palestine and Iran, is one cause for US hostility. Sri Lanka is one of a handful of countries that have eschewed real politics for justice in international affairs, at great cost.

I agree with Mr. Farook about Israeli activities in Sri Lanka. Israel has a powerful Mossad undercover operation that Sri Lanka does not have the resources or technology to monitor.

Patrick Jayasuriya, Maharagama

Sri Lankan or not? We are Sri Lankans as much as Americans are Americans

Professor Jinadasa, writing in your Letters column on June 17 from Massachusetts, USA, claims that “the greatest democracy on Earth” confers citizenship to any illegal migrant’s child when they are born on US soil. He was attempting to contrast the privileges there with those of Indian Tamils in the Estate sector in Sri Lanka who were denied their rights to citizenship.

I would like to remind the good Professor that in 1942, more than a hundred thousand Americans of Japanese ancestry were simply rounded up and nearly two thirds of them were interned in “War Relocation Camps”. Many of these US citizens lived in the states of Hawaii, California, Arizona and Oregon. After the war, the US Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the forced incarceration on the grounds of “a state of war”. US citizens of German descent only fared slightly better.

A decade after the September 11th attacks, US citizens who happen to be Muslim are increasingly discriminated against, at work places, schools, hospitals and public utilities. They are heavily scrutinised, interrogated, body-searched and often humiliated by airport security, and often denied transport, simply due to their names being “Islamic”. This is despite their black president’s middle name being Hussein.

I do not wish to deny that Sri Lanka has a staggering amount to learn (if ever it happens) from progressive nations elsewhere, on how to treat its citizens better. While US citizens may all call themselves “Americans” by name, it is altogether a separate issue if the term can be meaningful and genuinely describes acceptance, inclusivity and belonging by the more ‘entitled’ Americans.
Sri Lankans cannot yet honestly accept a Christian or Catholic president, let alone a Tamil or Malay one. However, the “jaathiya” is not what matters, but a common identity that Prof. Jinasena cannot successfully define in drawing analogies with his adopted country’s citizenship policy.

Dr. Lasantha Pethiyagoda, Melbourne

Merit should be the only measure for choosing our politicians

Cecil Dharmasena’s letter, “Yes, we can call ourselves Sri Lankans” (Sunday Times, June 10, 2012), is well written, but the letter’s contents are remote from ground realities.

The writer believes that any Sri Lanka citizen, including a Tamil, who is not a Sinhala Buddhist, can become a Prime Minister or President of this country. This is an “Alice in Wonderland” perception. And he has very generously exonerated the Sinhala Buddhists and the Administration from responsibility for the ills that have befallen modern Sri Lanka. Mr. Dharmasena is, we understand, a happily retired government servant who is convinced of the soundness of his evaluations.
I disagree with his assumptions.

The same clans, perpetrators of today’s calamities, have wielded power since Independence in 1948. They represent the Sinhala Buddhists who have administered this country for 64 years. These same Sinhala Buddhists, representing 71 per cent of the population, have abdicated their responsibilities by handing over the reins of power to members of their own caste and creed.
Mr. Dharmasena talks of Tamara Kunanayagam, Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. He says this excellent (Tamil) officer “was asked to go to Cuba, not due to Sinhala chauvinism but the ‘political chauvinism’ of some politicians.”
Who are these politicians? Who elected them?

They are the very Sinhala Buddhist politicians we referred to above. Sri Lanka needs to come up with a new political culture, free of religious and language issues. Religion is essentially a personal matter, a matter of conscience. The State should have no role to play in the religious beliefs or practices of its citizens.

If Sri Lanka acknowledges the need for all three languages, then the State must formulate a tri-lingual policy once and for all and carry it out.

The day Sri Lanka decides that merit should be the only criterion in political decision-making will mark the beginning of total emancipation from the country’s problems.

Walter Fernando 

Karate for the kids, please

The authorities should make Karate a compulsory subject at government schools. Every day we hear about young girls becoming rape victims and being murdered. If our young people are trained in karate, they will be able to defend themselves from thieves, rapists and murderers.

Dr. D. Malwatte Mohotti, Bandaragama

Sounds of a city waking up

I read with interest Mahendra Samarasinghe’s letter on birdsongs in the city (Sunday Times, June 24, 2012).
The various birdcalls we hear early in the morning are soothing to the mind. But how many of us stop to enjoy those wonderful sounds?

Early in the mornings the city air is full of sounds, besides bird song. There are the manmade sounds of vendors shouting “Malu, Malu, Elavalu, Thambili, Pol”, and so on. Then there is the chanting of pirith from the local temple, bells being rung in Hindu temples, and the sound of horns blaring from vehicles.

Instead of complaining about noise, let us appreciate the variety of sounds we hear every day.

Kanagar Raveendiran, Wellawatte

Food for thought about our economy

The front page photo of the Sunday Times (June 24, 2012) under the caption ‘She sticks to one carrot’ brings into sharp focus the poverty and affluence prevailing side by side in our society today.

The wizened old lady in the foreground while stepping out from a grocery is seen counting the balance in hand after purchasing a bundle of green leaves and a carrot, perhaps to see if there is enough money left to buy a few toffees for her grandchildren at home. Contrast this with the brand new luxury car behind her. The photo speaks volumes about the plight of the downtrodden of this country.

Whatever statistics trotted out by the authorities may claim, the fact is that the people find it extremely difficult to make both ends meet. On the other hand  a privileged few live in the lap of luxury. Our national debt has increased by leaps and bounds in recent years but the Government goes on borrowing regardless of consequences  to finance its pet projects.

Do we really need towers with restaurants and swimming pools high up in the sky when millions of people are groaning under the burden of the cost of living?

We have a jumbo cabinet and pool of senior ministers but no fulltime Finance Minister answerable to Parliament. It is high time the government took stock of the prevailing situation with a view to minimize wasteful expenditure and give the people some relief by reducing taxes imposed on essential goods.

G. Liyanagama, Matara

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