Declining quality of Parliament debates: Who’s responsible? The poor quality of our politicians, their arrogance and lack of erudition become evident if one were to watch Parliamentary proceedings.  Whenever an Opposition member raises a question on a matter of import it is treated with derision and instead of answering it for the benefit of the [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Letters to the Editor


Declining quality of Parliament debates: Who’s responsible?

The poor quality of our politicians, their arrogance and lack of erudition become evident if one were to watch Parliamentary proceedings.  Whenever an Opposition member raises a question on a matter of import it is treated with derision and instead of answering it for the benefit of the public, an unnecessary commotion is created making a mockery of Parliamentary debate.

In my schooldays way back in late 1960s, I cherished reading speeches made by the politicians of that era. These speeches not only displayed their genial disposition, erudition, depth of knowledge on the subjects under discussion but also served as scholarly texts for students to follow.

Unfortunately, today’s Parliamentary debates are devoid of such scholarly discourse and the Hansard is not worth the paper on which the speeches are printed. This is the result of the poor quality of politicians who were picked by political parties and eventually elected by voters. Learned men and women have no place in our politics as they do not enjoy the support of the grassroots people. This is unfortunately the sad reality today.

The most recent outburst I watched on TV this week was the Parliamentary debate on the Weliweriya incident. An Opposition member brought to the House a bottle of water and a spent bullet just to add emphasis to his speech that ‘this is what the people asked for and this is what they got’. There was pandemonium in the House as if the Opposition member had brought in a firearm and a cartridge. Even the lady who presided and the Deputy Speaker who subsequently took the chair did not understand what the Opposition member was saying, but were quick to jump to conclusions and order the Sergeant-at-Arms to search him and submit a report.

What the protagonist did not know was that the bullet in question was the projectile propelled from the gun sans explosives. The bullet had been embedded in the wall of the nearby church as a result of the firing by the Army. It was just a piece of metal produced in evidence and was no danger to anyone. Our politicians did not understand it and they became the laughing stock! Mind you, these are being seen by the outside world as well and they form poor opinions about our lawmakers to the detriment of the country.

It is my earnest wish to see our politicians conduct themselves in Parliament befitting the sanctity of that institution and uphold the decorum and noble Parliamentary traditions set by our forefathers.

Nihal Fernando, Moratuwa

Ministers at Mattala?

How many Ministers have made use of the Mattala Airport to leave or arrive in the country?

V.K. Wijeratne

Marine Drive project ends in traffic mess!

It has taken nearly ten years for the Road Development Authority to complete what it thinks are the last few metres of the Marine Drive, connecting it with the new bridge that was lying unused for more than two years.

Although, the project seems to have quietly ended, the extension causes heavy traffic jams along Wasala Avenue and Galle Rd.
Wasala Avenue is a narrow lane not meant for heavy traffic and it was never the intention of planners to terminate the project here. The original plan was to take the road at least up to Station Road, Dehiwala. This would have eased the traffic along the Galle Road stretch between Hospital Road and Hill Street intersections.

Instead of extending the road up to Station Road by demolishing the mostly unauthorised structures, the RDA seems to be happily sitting on this incomplete project, much to the annoyance of Galle Road users and residents.

The RDA should demolish the unauthorised structures that are now holding up the work and extend the Marine Drive at least up to Frazer Avenue beyond which the road is already available.

Alex P. Gunawardena, Via email

Power cuts: We should be informed

Until recently the CEB and the LECO used to announce power cuts for maintenance work well in advance through media advertisements. But of late these power cuts are effected unannounced, causing much inconvenience to the people.

Stopping the advertisements may be a cost-cutting exercise. But the people have a right to know the date of the next power cut so that they could be prepared for it and avoid the resultant losses and hardships.

Premasiri Mahingoda, Kandana

Stop duty concessions on vehicle imports

One cannot understand the logic of giving concessions to import cars as there is already a glut of vehicles on the roads, causing heavy traffic jams and delays. In addition, money is spent on the fuel and vehicle spares (draining valuable foreign exchange). The burden is placed on the poor, while satisfying the needs of a few super-rich people who apparently are funding the politicians.

In other countries, public transport is improved to serve a majority rather than a minority. We are looking at ‘individual’ policies rather than ‘national’ policies in this country.

The Government needs to look at saving every possible dollar going out of this country if it is to avoid getting into further debt and being another ‘failed state’.

Wimal Perera, Piliyandala

Fr. Mathew Peiris: The story behind an overdraft

Glancing through ‘The plot thickens’ in the Plus of August 11, my mind flashed back to an incident that occurred in the 1970s when I was the officer-in-charge of the current accounts division at the Bank of Ceylon, Foreign Department, Colombo.

The duties entrusted to me, inter alia, included authorising payment on cheques which were marginally not covered by sufficient funds in the current accounts. Among other cheques referred to me, on a certain day, was a cheque for Rs. 400 in favour of ‘Elephant House’ drawn by Fr. Mathew Peiris. If payment was authorised, the account would remain overdrawn by about Rs. 150. Reckoning the negligible risk involved and the status of the customer, as per the information sheet, the payment was authorised.

After about two months and just before the end of business hours for the day, Fr. Peiris came into my room, introduced himself and sat on a chair meant for customers. Showing me his monthly bank statement of accounts, he thanked me for the favour done by paying that cheque while he was in America. He further stated that he issued that cheque to ‘Elephant House’ to meet the cost and delivery charges of a birthday cake as a surprise gift to his wife.

He went on to say “these things should be done” with a sarcastic smile which penetrated through his ruffled beard. The implied meaning in retrospect reflects the double standards he adopted in matters connected with his wife.

Not stopping at that he commented on the topic which had absolutely no relevance to the banker-customer relationship. Fr. Pieris narrated a series of events identifying the obstacles he had to face in his endeavour to achieve priesthood.

It is difficult to adduce any reason why he divulged this information to an unknown bank officer, for, nothing he said was relevant to my way of life or my banking career.

S.W. Jayasuriya, Retired Assistant General Manager Bank of Ceylon (Rajagiriya)

Has the Youth Ministry got powers to award degrees?

I would like to make a few comments on a story headlined ‘University Colleges to the rescue of A/L qualified dropouts’ (Education Times, August 25). It appears that the Youth Affairs Ministry has moved away from vocational training and skills development to higher education. Has the Ministry of Youth Affairs got the powers to award degrees – a subject that comes under Ministry of Higher Education — through an Act of Parliament?

The Ministry of Youth Affairs should strengthen the NVQ system, technical colleges and vocational training centres instead of misleading the youth and their parents on routes which are practically impossible at this stage – producing quality graduates.
The impression given that technical education has failed in this country is detrimental to progress as many who have been successful and held responsible posts are now drawing pensions.

All citizens of this country will not expect Sri Lanka to end up like some neighbouring countries which overproduce unemployable graduates. These so-called university colleges will only lead to more insurrections. Perhaps education institutions could conduct such courses and save tax payers’ money.

One wonders whether the learned officials of the World Bank, ADB and the Treasury are in full agreement with Youth Affairs Ministry Secretary K.A. Tillakeratne’s views.

K. Danuwatte, Nugegoda

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