Cabinet reshuffle: Another move to hoodwink the already burdened public The most spoken about topic of the day, the Cabinet reshuffle debacle is gaining currency in the country day by day. Yet, the vociferous crusaders of this gigantic political machination are turning a blind eye to the repercussions thinking that their manoeuvre is the panacea [...]


Letters to the Editor


Cabinet reshuffle: Another move to hoodwink the already burdened public

The most spoken about topic of the day, the Cabinet reshuffle debacle is gaining currency in the country day by day. Yet, the vociferous crusaders of this gigantic political machination are turning a blind eye to the repercussions thinking that their manoeuvre is the panacea for the country’s ills. Our present day leaders are hell bent that their word is the last and people who voted them to power ironically should bear the brunt tightlipped. Those days are gone and the people’s voice is paramount in democracy.

The innocent voters cast their valuable vote to have a regime change. They did. Yet, the desired results have been a far cry from what was promised so far. Before and after the election, they promised to deliver on promises. Again they came to the public stage and said it would take hundred days. People waited and waited. Then, another two years were requested to propel the country towards success. Nothing came into being. The next step seems to be going round the world with a begging bowl. No investors are on the horizon.

This melodrama with the Parliamentary interludes of vociferous debates at the expense of the taxpayer has been dragging on for more than two years now. Eventually, from a corner an erudite adviser might have awakened from his or her slumber or else a nightmare might have warned to change the Cabinet.

Without thinking deeply, the relevant political pundits might have effected this untimely Cabinet reshuffle. The whole effect seems to be becoming null and void.
When we go deeper into the Westminster system or other time-tested constitutional reforms, anyone can easily see that a minister is entrusted with a portfolio based on his or her educational qualifications, experiences, proven track records, common sense, patriotism, commitment and other considerations. That is how the Cabinet of ministers in other countries have hauled their electorate out of the treacherous bog of ruin. However the practice in our country has long been favouritism.

In the Westminster system, a member of a shadow Cabinet has to study the workings of a ministry for a long time. He has to attend to the daily routine of all the work categories of that ministry. He has to answer and ask questions in Parliament. He has to gather information and garner a wealth of experience under the able guidance of a farsighted and veteran politician. It is like making a research study for a doctorate.
However here in Sri Lanka many of the Ministers have hardly earned such credentials to convince the nation that they are capable enough to shoulder their entrusted duties. Are we to proceed with this game forever and hurtle into ruin? Where have all the advisers gone? It goes without saying that starting from the very bottom, the member of the Pradeshiya Sabha through to the provincial councils to the Ministers and to the head of state there are advisers. How and why they are appointed is a million dollar question.

The people are mere spectators of the ongoing reshuffle game. No one seems to be able to cleanse the Augean stables in the ministries coming under their purview The constitutional experts have not yet been able to secure job opportunities for the children of the tea pluckers, the farmers who go down waist deep in mud, the West Asian income earners who get the ‘nail treatment’ at the drop of a hat and the simple Simon in the village who voted them to power. Political meddling is rampant everywhere. Can the Cabinet reshuffle find a permanent solution to this burning issue of the country?
What I observe is that the recent Cabinet reshuffle after much hullabaloo was merely an eyewash to distract the public from the burning issues of the country.
Piyadasa Rillagoda
Via email

Where do patients go: Now an all too frequent sight of an empty OPD at the National Hospital during a work stoppage by doctors

Don’t hesitate to take action against striking docs and unruly students
The GMOA has brought the popularity of doctors down to zero.
The government should be more strict with the doctors. They must declare the Medical Service to be an ‘Essential Service’. They must remove all doctors who violate this. Their licence to practise Medicine also should be cancelled. This is necessary to prevent any future ‘political’ actions by the GMOA.
The students who damaged the Health Ministry office also should be sacked from the University. Politicians should not hesitate to take such unpopular decisions as it is essential to prevent such behaviour in the future.
Via email

Cricket meddling in Lanka and disheartened fans worldwide
Lately our cricket team has come into the spotlight for the wrong reasons. We have seen the reaction by many at the team’s failure at the recently concluded Champions Trophy tournament in the UK. What is laughable in the eyes of the sporting world is the confrontational dialogue played out in public and on social media.

We must recognise Sri Lanka is probably one of those countries where politics and sports go hand in hand. It has been muddied since 1977 when a well known Minister entered the cricket board. Sadly this status quo will not change as long as it is legal for the Sports Minister to approve a national team prior to their departure for overseas events.

Our sports administrators in the past have managed their affairs so poorly, I might as well add, some in a corrupt manner, that the government in power has come to do more than the needful, mainly to keep in the limelight to impress voters. The major downside of politicisation is the Sports Minister’s recent public assessment of the fitness of some cricketers creating a furore among some members of the national team. Since the high handedness of the people in power is acceptable to many Sri Lankans, none in our society will stand up to speak alone or collectively to stop this nonsense for fear of being reprimanded.

The road to success in cricket will be in jeopardy unless all concerned take a common sense approach and prepare for the next World Cup. Sri Lankan cricket fans the world over are disheartened by these events happening back at home.
In Australia where I am domiciled it is completely the opposite. The sports administrators develop, manage, train and select the sporting teams from grass root level to the national level while the government (ie. politicians) support the infrastructure, facilitate training and partly fund the sporting bodies to carry out their work. No interference at all. No wonder they are excelling in many sport disciplines at the very highest level in the world.
Ranjith Samaranayake
Sydney, Australia

Why all these personal details?
The Ratmalana Divisional Secretariat has sent out an additional form attached with the election form asking for a lot of personal details for a Ratmalana database. I phoned a friend in the Census and Statistics Department and he said they have nothing to do with it. The Elections Commissioner’s office said they only require their form. I phoned the Ratmalana Divisional Secretariat (011-2736424), and when I asked the officer in charge under what authority are they collecting personal details, he said not to fill the form if I don’t like to.
How can the Ratmalana Divisional Secretariat, collect personal information, while stating on the form (only in Sinhala) that I MUST fill it and sign certifying that what I say is true and accurate without any authority to do so? The form had more questions than the detailed census form with the last questions being how many cattle, chickens, goats and bees I have!

Resident of Mount Lavinia
Via email

Appoint a Special Presidential Commission before the cancer of misunderstanding spreads
The rift in mutual understanding and trust between major communities is on the rise.The eruption of the volcano underneath is looming. Racial elements and opportunists from all sides await the outburst.
The allegations and counter-allegations by and against the communities are threatening the peaceful life and the co-existence of the multi-ethnic and multi- religious communities. The cancer is rapidly but silently spreading.
I am of the opinion that the most effective and efficient prescription for this fatal disease is the appointment of a Special Presidential Commission (SPC) with specific Terms of References to look into the allegations levelled against the minorities such as fundamentalism, destruction of the national forest and archaeological sites and unethical conversion and so on and levelled by the minorities such as destruction of places of worship and businesses, spread of hatred, blasphemy of Gods and so on. The rule of the law should be strictly applied to any lawbreaker irrespective of social, religious and political status.
I am sure the highest authorities concerned can foresee that the fallout of such ethnic unrest would be more disastrous than the Bond scam. Hence, the appointment of an SPC I believe is the need of the hour.
M. Mifly
Via email

Speak out! Let us demand clean politics
Minister John Amaratunge has finally been “hoisted on his own petard’’. His recent thuggish behaviour and making death threats to a journalist have lucidly been exposed both on TV channels and in newspapers. For too long this politician has hoodwinked the public. That the President himself removed the portfolio of lands from Amaratunge has definitely saved the electorate of Wattala and its environs from further loss and destruction of its habitat.

As a long time resident of Wattala I was most disgusted to listen to the prejudiced and blatantly deceptive comments of the Minister aired on TV news of 03.02.2017. Questioned about the recent exposure of illegal soil excavation in Divulapitiya and the illegal filling of the Muthurajawela wetlands with political patronage he had the effrontery to reply that he was unaware of the problem and wanted to know who the political crook involved was. When informed that Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake had made statements regarding this illegal operation, he again denied all knowledge and flippantly replied that he is only aware that there was a protest against Mr. Ramanayake by the officials of the Divulapitiya Secretariat.

We are all custodians of our environment. The Muthurajawela wetland is the overflow valley of a vast irrigation network and acts as the kidneys of the environment. We cannot afford the degradation and destruction of this natural safety-net and anyone culpable of aiding and abetting its destruction is guilty of an unpardonable crime. If the Minister of Lands and MP representing Wattala John Amaratunge claims he is unaware of serious illegal rackets in his own backyard he is guilty of flagrant dereliction of duty and appropriate disciplinary action must be taken.

Minister Amaratunge was seen on TV news being hooted at by residents of Wattala while laying the foundation for a building in a land used as a playground. A Minister of Lands should be actively involved in efforts of environment conservation and protection and deal in lands for the benefit of the state and the welfare of its people.

In March 2014 Hendala went waterless for one week and MPs in the area were conspicuous by their absence. The TV news of 17.03.2017 showed garbage strewn in and along the Hamilton Canal and roads in Wattala. For the past two years we have experienced two 8 hour power cuts every month in Hendala causing inconvenience to the residents. It is in these circumstances that there is a dire need for an MP for Wattala who can address the many grievances faced by long suffering residents.

To be silent in the face of evil is to be an accomplice to it. We must collectively speak out and act for clean politics. Let us not procrastinate any longer and join forces to demand that political parties avoid giving nominations to corrupt individuals. Let us all support the “March 12 Movement” campaign for corruption free politicians. This is the only way forward for Sri Lanka to progress and develop.

D.R.D. Bernard


Educated people committing brutal acts shows need for lessons on compassion
It is shocking, unfathomable and psychologically challenging. When one runs through some of the news and reports in both the print and digital media in Sri Lanka, it is unbelievable to read and see the stories and various reports of cruelty and brutality.

The majority of people believed that by changing the faces of government and authorities, it would reform and transform the incidents of violence. The manner and demeanour of good governance is appropriate for well cultured and well-mannered people but not for the majority of Sri Lankans.

We need a leader like late Lee Kwan Yew who pragmatically established law and order for every single citizen in Singapore. We need a dictator who does not look to make his own family prosperous and wealthy. We need a leader who is impartial and desirous to build a nation.

The Government must completely change the compulsory requirements and basic qualifications for members of Parliament. In the Bhutan constitution, they have included a college degree as a minimum academic qualification and the age should be between 25 and 65. Even the king is subject to impeachment. Bhutan is a Buddhist country and they are proud to say that they have democracy. Testimonies, stories and reports of victims are shocking and heartbreaking. I wonder whether the perpetrators and offenders are humans or beasts. Most of the perpetrators are supposedly educated and holding high qualifications. Most of the victims are children and women.

In many families, males dominate and believe that they are superior but in the Buddha Dhamma such people are shown to be spiritually weak and not capable and able enough to control their anger and ferocious temper.
Once the Buddha kindly reminded thus:

“All tremble at violence, all fear death. Putting oneself in the place of another, one should not kill nor cause another to kill.
“One who, while himself seeking happiness, oppresses with violence other beings who also desire happiness, will not attain happiness hereafter.
“Do not speak harshly to anyone; for those thus spoken to might retort. Indeed, vindictive speech hurts, and retaliation may overtake you.

“When the fool commits evil deeds, he does not realize (their evil nature). The witless (foolish) man is tormented by his own deeds like one burnt by fire.”
One might think that these are only words but my kind request is one must experience the reality that innocent victims undergo and endure with indescribable mental agonies and physical torments.
From our childhood we gradually study and learn various subjects. Some may follow numerous courses to train themselves in certain skills and expertise but most of them have not and do not learn and train themselves on how to be compassionate, kind- hearted, loving, gentle, sympathetic, gracious, mild, humane and benevolent towards their life partner and children.

Most Sinhala Buddhists blow their own trumpets about culture and what the Buddha said. Unfortunately everything is confined to mere words.
They unfortunately accumulate unwholesome karmic energy in every single moment when they associate with anger. Unfortunately even though they are academically and economically well off in their own life, spiritually they are poor and extremely weak.

Patience, tolerance, endurance and many more spiritual qualities must be cultivated and developed to accomplish inner peace and inner happiness. They think that their material acquisitions and paper qualifications will pave the way for happiness but ultimately before their last breath they will experience the same that they gave to their victims.

No one can escape from their own actions. They definitely will meet the consequences and experience what they have viciously done to others.This is the Universal Law of Karma.
“Neither in the sky, nor in mid- ocean, nor by entering into mountain clefts – nowhere in the world is there a place where one may escape from the result of an evil deed.” – (Dhammapada by The Buddha)

Ven. Horowpothane Sathindriya Thera

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