Perahera: Hotel woes mar the spectacle There was much excitement when we decided to go up to Kandy to view the Kandy Perahera. We thought we were fortunate to get a room in a landmark hotel in Kandy to watch the glorious final night. Being senior citizens, in spite of exorbitant rates, we decided to [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

Letters to the Editor


Perahera: Hotel woes mar the spectacle
There was much excitement when we decided to go up to Kandy to view the Kandy Perahera. We thought we were fortunate to get a room in a landmark hotel in Kandy to watch the glorious final night. Being senior citizens, in spite of exorbitant rates, we decided to stay overnight in the historic hotel due to our inability to get to the seats wading through huge crowds and due to the restricted traffic movements within the city.

On receipt of confirmation of a triple-room, the payment was made five weeks ahead. An assurance was given that three seats would be made available in close proximity to the rooms since two of the guests were senior citizens. On arrival around 1.30 p.m. at the hotel, we were shown our seats placed alongside a window in the lobby. We made a request to label them with our names which the officer we had been in contact with for the past five weeks, assured would be done.

When we however, got there to take our seats around 5 p.m. we found others occupying them and we were shown chairs placed on the rear of a high wooden structure to which we had to be helped to be seated. With no barrier behind, a sudden jolt could have toppled us over. So much for our efforts!

And, it may be that the antique lift, which serves just one floor, maintains the colonial character of the Hotel.But due to its cumbersome functioning, many were seen hesitating to use it. As a result, with our room, which was a double-room and not a triple room as was made out, and located on the second floor in the furthest end of the Hotel, climbing two flights of staircases, having to walk along long winding corridors were not exactly what we anticipated.

A modern lift to reach the second floor, evenly-surfaced wooden floors, washrooms minus water-leaks and a helpful staff could help the hotel to restore its reputation.

Rajitha Weerakoon
Via email

We all have a bigger challenge to help the President and the Premier to bring about Yahapalanaya
At the recent elections a broad alliance of people along with the media carried out an unprecedented campaign to defeat the then regime by convincing people of the necessity to elect competent, decent and committed politicians.

This is a new development in the political history of Sri Lanka. During the campaign a point forcefully brought out was that politicians and officials of the regime had hijacked the people’s agenda and instead had abused their position to enjoy luxuries including very expensive duty free vehicles, luxurious working conditions, subsidized living and opportunities to amass wealth. It was stated that the regime instead of being accountable to people and meeting the societal needs continued to create an institutional culture more conducive to the needs of a privileged few.

According to its proponents, the aim of Yahapalanaya is to bring about a change of political culture by taking right decisions and creating a conducive environment for the public representatives and officials to work in a technically, morally and a legally justifiable manner with the focus on people and the society. In order to implement Yahapalanaya the need to reform the functioning of major state and other institutions including the Parliament, Judiciary, Media , Ministries, Military and the other constitutional bodies were contemplated.

It is universally accepted that all elected and selected people holding high positions need to be accountable to the legal and moral framework within which they work and finally to the people through the Parliament. The approaches to public accountability and the extent of the effectiveness of these approaches vary.

Modern societies’ expectation is that the government’s major responsibility is to provide people opportunities and access to acquire skills, competencies, capabilities and services to learn, live and flourish in a pluralistic world facing enormous changes due to globalization, demographic changes, technological innovations, climatic changes, inequities, ever increasing needs and new expectations. In this respect it is up to the government to give leadership and provide a conducive climate through public and other institutions to provide opportunities, which would meet the needs and expectations of people in an equitable manner.

Many would share the view of the new regime that the behaviour of the politicians has largely influenced the decay of major public institutions resulting in malfunctioning with loss of independence, freedom, thinking, creativity and effectiveness after years of being slaves to their political masters. On a more positive note many would agree that there is a significant proportion of decent, honourable, competent, intelligent and committed people who could adorn important positions they have been elected or selected to. It is claimed that such people are silent or not given an opportunity by the vociferous few with psychopathic tendencies who work towards a personal agenda instead of serving the institution and the nation they represent. We all agree that the nation needs people with integrity and not mediocre self-serving sycophants.

The President and the Prime Minister, who have been given the mandate to clean up politics and initiate a series of reforms, have a gigantic challenge created by the developments since the end of last year. Both of them along with the support of some senior politicians and bureaucrats need to work very hard and creatively to overcome this complex situation to make use of this golden opportunity to provide an environment for the people to meet their aspirations.

One of the universally accepted ways of ensuring accountability is for the public to undertake the scrutiny of the activities of the system not only at the elections but more importantly in between elections so that the behaviour of politicians and officials are subjected to legal, moral and technical standards. Therefore now this broad alliance, media and the concerned public have an even bigger challenge to help the President and the Prime Minister to implement the promises of Yahapalanaya by monitoring the progress of public activities to recognize any irregularities or devious manoeuvering which are likely to derail the expectations of individuals and the community.

Making the existing mechanisms for accountability including televising the proceedings of the Parliament, ensuring the availability of public reports for scrutiny and providing access to public information, more effective and efficient is vital. To make the Yahapalanaya more effective and to realize its aims, the President and the Prime Minister need to be responsive and sensitive to their inner voice, the needs of the people and the community rather than the requirements of vested interests, archaic institutions and the privileged few.

Appointment of people with competence, integrity and commitment in addition to strengthening the vital institutions is key to Yahapalanaya and through it the realization of accountability. Changes and reforms of individuals and institutions are slow as these involve transforming deeply held values, attitudes, practices, relationships by those with vested interests.
Nevertheless the fruits of Yahapalanaya to the individuals and society will far outweigh any sacrifices made by the political leadership, and Sri Lanka could be proud of empowering its people and society to enhance their wellbeing by realizing their innate potential!

Nalaka Mendis
Via email

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