Stop these protests that disrupt daily life It is a disgrace that our people get on the roads for various demands and waste time shouting slogans, carrying placards and posters and even burning effigies. They not only waste their time and energy but also cause utmost inconvenience to others – the motorists, school children and [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka



Stop these protests that disrupt daily life

It is a disgrace that our people get on the roads for various demands and waste time shouting slogans, carrying placards and posters and even burning effigies. They not only waste their time and energy but also cause utmost inconvenience to others – the motorists, school children and staff, office workers, travellers and consumers – in fact to the entire society.

On one hand it would be prudent to do a study to find out whether such protests have ever brought about any results at all. I think the results will be nil – correct me if I am wrong. To add insult to injury nowadays even the prevailing government faction also has taken to this stupid action as shown by a recent protest meeting by the UNP. The previous government did this to the amusement of the citizens and it is amazing that the UNP also had a “protest” requesting to carry on the present governance. Whose bright idea was this?

All these protests are disrupting normal routine work of society. As it is we are “overburdened” (a term used tongue in cheek) with unnecessary holidays and traffic jams add to the misery; we don’t need hours of frustration added to these blocks on the road not to mention the loss of man hours.

The government must totally ban protest marches on the main roads, that inconvenience the common man who often has nothing to do with the protestors’ demand. It is unfair, say just because one faction of society has a grievance that the rest of the people have to suffer; why should they? in addition there is loss to the country’s’ productivity – both of the protestors and the others inconvenienced. If they want to vent their fury let them gather in a park or a stadium without obstructing the roads.

On the other hand, why not the government elect a committee (the PM is electing committees at the drop of a hat for all sorts of things) or even a Ministry to look into the grievances of these people?  Instead of resorting to protest marches why not have dialogue with relevant authorities? Is that such an impossible task to set up a system to promote this? We are not cave men to resort to unruly and boisterous behaviour – surely there are better methods to resolve our problems. Hope saner counsel will prevail in future.

Dr. Mareena Thaha Reffai

The lament of Lanka: The absence of a proper system of governance

With reference to Lt.Col.(Retd) Anil Amarasekara’s article, “Decentralizing and devolving power: the difference”, the dutiful officer correctly points out the difference. The fact is that there is misuse of ‘power’, even today not only by the Central Government, but also by provincial governments, districts, local government bodies. This is because the term “power” is not clearly defined. In general terms “power” is the ability to do or act. Since there are four organisations to govern the country, power is being misused because each one of them is not aware how each one can act or what is their duty or responsibility.

Numerous examples of incidents faced by the writer indicate the problems and difficulties faced by a “state officer” in carrying out his official duties. This is because the ‘Responsibility’, ‘Role’ and ‘Duty’ of each of the four levels of governing bodies are not defined or clearly demarcated. It appears that at one time even the ‘Head of State’ did not know the responsibility and the duty. When the LTTE was removing the rail track to Jaffna, the former Head of State did not do anything. When your house is being attacked, who will keep quiet? Such acts by the Heads of State show the weakness of our system of governance. The basic fault is the absence of a proper system of governance.

As Lt.Col.Amarasekara very well knows, 60 years ago we did not have problems. At that time the government was run by a Prime Minister and the state was under the guardianship of the Governor General. Also there was the Senate to advise the state Governor General while the Parliament and the Cabinet of Ministers supported the P.M in running the government. The military was directly under the G.G. Also there was the Ceylon Civil Service to look after district administration. Problems of the people and the state were looked into by the Police Department who did not fight people with guns, but only with ‘batons’.

This situation changed after the government got involved in Higher Education by removing the Vice Chancellor of the University, because the students burnt the ‘lodge’ of the V.C (probably supported by some Dons). This was followed by the 1970 insurrection of educated youth. The government tampered with the system of governance by doing away with the Civil Service and the Senate and made the Governor General a President (ceremonial). No one knew what his duty and role was. Subsequently an almighty President came in spoiling the governance of the entire country.

Chethiya Fernando
Via email

Howzat! Ruling out umpires from cricket

It is now time to reconsider the role of umpires in cricket. In the recent twenty 20 tournament, there were several atrocious, erroneous decisions by the umpires. These were not marginal errors of human judgments, but ludicrously bad decisions. One LBW decision was not given out when the replay showed that it was plum in front of the middle stump, whilst the other was given out when it clearly missed the leg stump. Even a no ball decision was wrong that cannot normally go wrong. These kinds of poor decisions could well alter the result of a game which is no longer a weekend sport played for fun.

Judging by the DRS system that was in place in many matches in the recent past, many wrong decisions were corrected. This is despite the fact that there is in place an ‘umpires call’ system. This means in effect if the decision was wrong marginally, the umpire’s decision prevails. This is no longer acceptable in today’s highly competitive cricket, that involves vast emotional crowds, money etc. It is frustrating to stomach these poor umpiring decisions and the players cannot even raise an eyebrow, lest they be subject to disciplinary action.

One way to obviate this undesirable system is to dump the umpires from the game of cricket. All decisions hitherto decided by umpires should be directed to the third umpire (or umpires) consequent to an appeal. In this manner the margin of error will be negligible. Alternatively the umpires on the field will only decide on no balls, or wickets with clean bowled or unquestionable catches, but will have no authority to rule on LBW’s, stumping, run outs etc.

I know there are traditions to maintain. But this is an ever-changing world and change we must if we are to progress in any field today. We also must make use of the highly developed electronic systems and do away with human limitations in situations such as these. In any event it is not possible for a human being to concentrate totally for hours on end to ensure that there is no error of judgment.

The umpires did a great job in the past when cricket was a gentleman’s game played in the local park on Sundays, with the spectators watching with cakes and tea in their hands. It is now time to give way like the jobs of the lamp lighter, the bread man and the milk man etc. They were essential in the past, but not anymore.

Ananda M. N. Perera 


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