Open letter to the President FCID and BC: Do the right thing Dear Mr. President, Your outburst a few days ago targeting the CID, FCID (Financial Crimes Investigation Division) and the Bribery Commission (BC), came as a deep disappointment to those of us who have continued to place their trust in you, in spite of [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka



Open letter to the President

FCID and BC: Do the right thing

Dear Mr. President,

Your outburst a few days ago targeting the CID, FCID (Financial Crimes Investigation Division) and the Bribery Commission (BC), came as a deep disappointment to those of us who have continued to place their trust in you, in spite of the very slow progress we have seen, in the action taken to eradicate bribery and corruption and bring the offenders who have fleeced the country and enriched themselves, to book.

These institutions, particularly the FCID and the BC, were given the authority by the United National Front(UNF) government to act independently, without fear or favour and free from political interference. Similarly I believe the CID was given the required authority to act.

Indeed you are right when you say that those investigating institutions must never work to a political agenda. If they were doing that, that should have been put right, but not with a very uncharacteristic outburst as you did.

You will agree that that there was much corruption during the 10 years of the previous regime. This was evident to even ordinary people of this country. Many of us decided to support you when you decided break away from that regime and start a process to end the endemic corruption that was dragging our country down. In any process of investigation and bringing the culprits to book, it was widely and realistically expected that those who held top positions in the previous regime and were close to the leadership of the last regime will be among the first to pay the price for what they had done. When indeed this started happening, however slowly, this should not have come as a surprise to you.

It is relevant for me to state here that many of us were disappointed that in forming this government that you had to invite to the government some of these despicable characters of the previous regime, to support you, (and some of them had been rejected by the people at the general elections). You did this in spite of the voices that were raised by civil society groups, urging you not to do so.

Mr President, what you have done now is to undermine the authority of those heading and giving leadership to the CID, FCID and the BC. We have all been disappointed by the extremely slow progress of these investigations and as an individual I like to think that this was because there was no political agenda. After what you have said, it is unlikely that any individual with self respect will want to head these organizations. ( Even as I write this I have just received a message that the Head of the BC has tendered her resignation.)

Mr President, cleaning up the corruption that was rampant in this country was one of the primary tasks entrusted to you. Do not fail the people who have put their trust in you.

Eksith Fernando
Via email

More on HMS Trincomalee

I am glad that in his letter of October 16, 2016, Sri Lanka’s historical maritime researcher Somasiri Devendra provides some additional information regarding my article “The voyage of HMS Trincomalee through the ages” published in the Sunday Times Plus of October 2. Concerning his reference to Dr. John Stokoe, surgeon to Napoleon during his exile in St Helena, and query as to Stokoe’s  travels to and from the island, I would like to provide some details.

‘With Napoleon at St Helena: being the memoirs of Dr John Stokoe, naval surgeon’ (1902) is a marvellous  account of British colonial intrigue, the suppression of Napoleon, and how Stokoe fell foul of this subjugation by treating his patient without the Governor’s permission. Stokoe, Naval Surgeon aboard HMS Conqueror, arrived on St Helena in June 1817.  After becoming Napoleon’s doctor – there are fascinating descriptions of Napoleon – and then falling from grace, “I was ordered on board HMS Trincomalee, to proceed to England” on January 30, 1819. However, soon after arriving at Portsmouth on Trincomalee in April he was ordered to return to St Helena to face a court martial held between August 30 and September 2. Despite the fabricated charges, Stokoe was “dumbfounded” to hear himself dismissed from His Majesty’s service and left St Helena for good the same month.

It’s a powerful story and a culturally important book: as a former film producer I am surprised it has not been discovered.

Richard Boyle
Via email

Apitath Puluwani concert taught me three lessons

I watched the awe-inspiring concert titled Apitath Puluwani (We can do it too) conducted by the children with special needs attending the Senehasa Children’s Resource Centre which was held at the Bishops College Auditorium two months ago. I thought it would be prudent to highlight and share three noteworthy lessons I learnt on that day.

1) As the organisers emphasised (see Sunday Times, August 21, 2016) it was to be a display of art, talent, commitment and resilience of the performers, and spectators were expected to watch it for their enjoyment and not for charity or out of sympathy. The participants did justice to their organisers’ claim as evidenced by the roaring applause they received at the end of each item. In most instances the announcers had to chip in to discontinue the never ending applause. Not having any promotional brands of super rich mercantile establishments as promotional propaganda was clear evidence of the steadfastness of the organisers.

2)Active participation of the parents (especially mothers) who look after these children with special needs on a 24/7 basis, elevated the standards of the show to an unprecedented height. It is the care giver mothers who know best to get the maximum out of these children and adolescents and I feel this is an important lesson that should be borne in mind by all stakeholders who are involved in looking after children with special needs. This includes medical personnel who assess and then guide these children and their parents to optimise their health and life skills. This untapped pool of resources should be utilised to the maximum and these experienced parents should be given an opportunity to present and discuss their experiences and learning points at scientific fora and workshops organised by both medical and non-medical organisations. Their practical experience can never be matched by the theoretical knowledge gathered by piles of books!

3)Society should look at these brave parents not with lackadaisical sympathy but with great respect as they are a group of people who have been blessed with an opportunity to help someone in genuine need when compared to the ordinary populace who do not have such an inspirational opportunity thrust upon them. This paradigm shift in our attitudes is the need of the hour to uplift the care given to the differently-abled members of the Sri Lankan society. The grit and determination of the organisers of the Apitath Puluwani concert and the students of the Senehasa Children’s Resource Centre, Galle have shown us the way forward.

Dr. Anuruddha Abeygunasekera

Let us enjoy Hendala beach 

Hendala’s beach is ample, enjoyable and homey. One can see the towers in The Fort – as in close proximity-from the Hendala Beach.

No one needs grudge anyone having a good time on this beach on holidays or poya days. But as liquor and full-moon poya do not mix in Sri Lanka, no section of the populace should be allowed to enjoy alcoholic binges in makeshift sheds and in public on such a day.

That was exactly the unsightly scene witnessed on the Hendala beach on Binara Full Moon poya day.

It was quite baffling why the Police, Excise and other relevant authorities do not take any action to curb the activities on the Hendala Beach.

Bandula Jayaratne

Try the special horns to keep jumbos off the tracks

The death of elephants, due to collision with long distance trains in this country is shocking.

However in the past, if I remember correctly, this situation was arrested up to some extent, using a special type of horns operated by engine drivers. Animals are sensitive to certain range of sound frequencies and elephants in particular find certain frequencies offensive ( high pitch ) and it was this phenomenon used to chase them away. As elephants are a national asset, the Railway authorities, and the Wild Life Department together with the public should take early action to protect them. I believe, the Faculty of Veterinary Science of Peradeniya University could undertake some research on this subject and contribute to this national need of the hour.

Kithsiri Wickramasinghe

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