The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

‘Mahadanamutta’ politicians will not give up their perks


We applaud Dr. A. C. Viswalingam for his comments on abuses in the Sri Lankan polity in a recent letter that appeared in a daily paper.
I have a correction to make regarding credit given to our leaders for defeating terrorism. The President certainly deserves much credit. But what he has done is only to pull the nation out of the mess created by the SLFP government of Mr. S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, which denied Tamils a human right – the right to use their language in their own region.

The kind of governance we have now can best be described as the “Mahadanumutta” kind. The exhortations of the likes of CIMOG and the Friday Forum and other individuals have fallen like water on a duck’s back. Those Mahadanumutta politicians in the government cannot be expected to rebel or resign like the former minister Gamini Jayasuriya and Presidential Adviser Hema Nanayakkara. The Mahadanumutta politicians enjoy perks and privileges and Army escort three years after the defeat of terrorists. These are too attractive for them to give up.

There is a requirement in the government’s financial regulations and in agreements made with aid donors that capital projects must be subjected to feasibility studies and cost benefit/effectiveness analysis. Such donor-funded projects are approved by the Cabinet only if there is a positive return.

It appears that Chinese government-aided projects have not been screened with the same rigorous criteria. Many of the projects being implemented in the South with Chinese aid, at abnormally high interest rates, are economically unproductive, inefficient, and of a dubious nature. If the Treasury Chief can recover money wasted by Mihin Air, and the colossal amounts wasted on sports complexes and other unproductive projects, he will be able to pay the university teachers their salaries ten times over and be left with savings, and he will be able reduce the indirect taxes we all pay.

It is up to the public-spirited senior public servants to sound the alarm. They will not be asked to resign if they only raise objections whenever spurious loan-dependent capital projects are conceived/approved/launched. Politicians have never punished public servants by depriving them of their pensions, perhaps because they enjoy pensions only after five years.

Leo Fernando, London

We are badly in need of a People’s Ombudsman

On presenting letters of appointment to 16 new Secretaries to Ministries, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said, among other things, that “Ministry Secretaries should have a proper understanding of the grievances of the people.”

When President Rajapaksa took his oaths in his first term, in 2005, the Secretary to the President conveyed the following President’s message to government officials: “Since His Excellency has emphasised the need for looking at the requests of the people from a humanitarian point of view with a genuine wish to help them, priority attention to accord to this request will be highly appreciated. … I shall be thankful if you will inform the writer of the action you contemplate taking and intimate to me too about same to enable me to inform His Excellency the President.”
Are certain Ministerial Secretaries exempt from following this request? What is going on is not what the President expects. After the above direction, the relevant Ministry Secretary failed to grant the redress sought, and did not care to advise the Secretary to the President of the fact, as requested. Many pleas made to the latter fell on deaf ears.

My earnest appeal to the President is to consider appointing a People’s Ombudsman to look into the genuine grievances of those who have failed to get relief from the lower rungs of the State, because the present mode is only cosmetic.

A victim

The Sri Lankan ministering angel of flight SQ222

It was a desperate announcement by the Singapore Airline Cabin crew that brought a handful of passengers from fore and aft of the aircraft to the main deck of the Singapore bound flight SQ222  from Sydney last Tuesday.

A passenger had fallen ill and all efforts of the cabin crew were unsuccessful in stabilizing his condition. It was their call for assistance from among the passengers which drew forth a few people with medical knowledge. All of them were willing to help but appeared hesitant.
It was then she appeared, a small made, confident dusky young woman with short curly hair who pushed herself past the few gathered near the ill passenger.

“I am a doctor. How can I help?” The accent was undeniably Sri Lankan.Apprised of the situation, she knelt beside the ill passenger and checked his pulse and pressure. The contents of the aircraft’s first aid kit were put to good use. After some time, confirming that the ill passenger’s condition has stabilized, with a smile and a confident pat on his shoulder, she left for her seat.

We saw her again in the coach transferring passengers between terminals at the Changi Airport.
She is a consultant medical officer at a Sydney Hospital, she said briefly, explaining her ability to take stock of the situation.The ill passenger we saw was not her only impromptu patient in the air that day. There had been another from the front of the main deck. In one instance she had had to administer an injection.

Reluctantly she said that she feared for one of them when the blood pressure had kept dropping even though he had taken his medication.
“I feared he may suffer a heart attack,” she said.

It seemed as if an expected uneventful long journey to see her mother in Colombo had started with a bang.”Anyway, it took the boredom out of the long flight,” she said with understatement.The grateful airline crew had upgraded her ticket.

Dr. Madhavi, you made us proud to be Sri Lankan that day and we are sure that your family, friends and alma mater, Devi Balika Vidyalaya, Borella would be just as proud.

Panduka Senanayake  via email

In defence of the death penalty

The death penalty is a controversial issue. To hang or not to hang is the thought and question on the minds of the people. I am sure that if we have a referendum or survey on this issue, the majority will vote for capital punishment.

Our crime rate is rising on par with the rising accident rate and ever-soaring cost of living. Heinous crimes are committed. Families are butchered. There is daily rape and abuse of minors. Victims and their families are often forgotten after the criminal acts are committed. Not a day passes that we do not hear or read of such crimes. Our prisons are bursting at the seams.
Let me quote from the Reader’s Digest of October 1989:

“A modern society that outlaws the death penalty does not send a message of reverence for life, but a message of moral confusion. When we outlaw the death penalty, we tell the murderer that, no matter what he may do to innocent people, his most treasured possession, his life, is secure. We guarantee it in advance. A society that does not put to death the worst of its criminals will find itself at the mercy of criminals who have no qualms about killing.”

Valerie Y. Davidson, Mount Lavinia

Share This Post

comments powered by Disqus

Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.