As 2018 dawns, remember that a weak  administration could destroy democracy The proverb says, “The wise man builds his house on rock, while the foolish man builds his house on sand”. How true, not only in terms of construction but also in terms of stability of life and even institutions. Come January 2018, the present regime [...]


Letters to the Editor


As 2018 dawns, remember that a weak  administration could destroy democracy

The proverb says, “The wise man builds his house on rock, while the foolish man builds his house on sand”. How true, not only in terms of construction but also in terms of stability of life and even institutions.

Come January 2018, the present regime will be completing three years in their term of office. They would be wise if in all humility and truthfulness, they look back on the past three years and examine their conscience. See whether they have fulfilled and achieved the promises made to a gullible electorate and where they have failed to accomplish their election manifesto of 2014 and the cause for such failure. They owe it to the people of this country who voted for their success, in the fervent belief, hope and expectation of helping them to accomplish their task of good governance. The people believed all accusations levelled against a previous regime. However, very much remains to be seen and time is running out.

The enemy is sowing the seeds of dissension in the night and therefore, it is time that the President and Prime Minister took heed. The Prime Minister keeps harping on the economic stability of the country as a step towards progress. Mr Prime Minister,it would do well to remember that administrative stability is equally important. Economic stability in the face of administrative disability is a fallacy, for the simple reason that abuse in the administration erodes, whatever   financial resources gained.

Lethargy and inefficiency continue in the same vein as before, if not to a higher degree. Rules and regulations are brought into play as and when it suits those workers of the various government departments, because the administration is weak and those guilty are not brought to book.

The following will elucidate the point in question.  I applied for renewal of my National Identity Card (371940790V) with all relevant documents, through the Grama Niladari (181-B Tewatta Ragama) in July 2017. Sad to say I still await the issue of my identity card. The Grama Niladhari seems helpless once he has forwarded the relevant application to theJa-Ela Provincial Secretariat for onward processing at the Department of Registration of Persons. Some helpless victims of this process are waiting for over six or even seven months! Could it be an act of sabotage to prevent the future voter or is it inefficiency and lethargy or frustration of the worker or still more, is it another ruse to fill the coffers? It would be foolish for the applicant to pay Rs 1,000 now, after a lapse of six or seven months for a one-day service, which is availed of by the affluent and energetic who can travel to Colombo. Also, what is the position of the person who can ill afford a thousand rupees in the light of the present day cost of living?

The manifesto did speak of bringing down the cost of living. True, the government has introduced ‘Price Control’, for essential commodities, but then are the price control officers doing their duty by the public or is there an abuse of their responsibility? So long as the responsible officers evade their responsibility, the private sector traders will rule the roost and passing of even hundred bills in Parliament is of no avail. That is why the Administration must do what is right by the people. A weak administration becomes the root cause for the erosion of the foundation and finally the building will  cease to exist and Democracy could collapse.

Mr President, the Adminis-tration needs to be swept clean of corrupt, inefficient administrators who have been or presently ‘yes’ men. Fear of repercussion can have no place in such a clean-up operation. Favourites, henchmen and relatives have no place in a good civil administration or for that matter even if a Cabinet Minister is incapable of performing his duties by the people, he should be only a backbencher with no authority whatsoever.

The political parties that come forward are filled with incompetent, corrupt, lethargic bullies and thugs, who do not have a suitable qualification to be in Parliament. They are brought into Parliament by rich merchants, so that once in power, due to an incompetent administration they can rob the country of its resources.

In a scene such as this the public are left with no choice but either to spoil their vote which is the only democratic right they have, or choose between the devil and the deep blue sea. The justice system together with the Elections Commissioner needs to bring in stronger legislation for a candidate to be nominated. As in other countries there should be a minimum qualification to contest a seat in Parliament, such as financial stability of the individual made available to the Inland Revenue Department and Elections Commissioner, and basic educational qualification required to take oaths as a Member of Parliament or Provincial Council. Education in this country is free and therefore there is no reason why the candidate could not achieve a basic education unless he was involved in thuggery and intimidation, while receiving higher education.

It is a fervent hope, that wrong doers will be brought to justice and the country move forward in peace, unity and stability.

 George Abeywickreme   Via email

The importance of establishing an emergency pool of workers 


In our country, the poor and the middle class are the worst affected and exploited lot who have been constantly penalised with strikes and other service interruptions. In the recent past we were  confronted by strikes by doctors where hospitals were paralysed for several days in many months due to the  SAITM issue.

During the recent fuel scarcity middle class people were compelled to wait in long queues to buy petrol at petrol sheds. It was revealed by a committee appointed by the President that the sole cause for the shortage was the negligible and irresponsible act of the CPC employees.

The other was the strike of the Railway engine drivers which lasted for more than six days. Most of the commuters were state employees who use the train service as daily transport. The railway workers were demanding that salary anomalies be rectified with little thought for the train traveller.

The Transport Ministry waited seven days without solving the problem and finally the President intervened and appointed a subcommittee to look into the matter. The matter is now temporarily solved with the  workers returning to work.

These types of strikes create not only inconvenience to  the public but also massive loss to  the country’s economy.

The Govt. also loses its image and reputation as it highlights its inability to avert such a situation. Further, salary anomalies prevail not only for the railway employees but for the other employees too. When the Government rectifies only the salaries of the Railway employees, other govt.employees too would postulate to do the same.

Their request seem justifiable as in some cases their salaries are below the rail workers, eg. teachers, clerical staff in Govt. Departments draw meagre salaries compared to the Railway and Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) employees.

Since this Government came to power to establish reasonable governance to all citizens, it has failed to serve everyone equally. In the case of Government servants, the Govt. has a responsibility to look into the grievances of all equally and restructure the salary scale in a manner acceptable to all considering the national importance of each sector.

If it is carefully and justifiably done there will be no necessity for strikes in the country.

Further, it is imperative for the Govt. to declare national transport, health, defence, electricity, petroleum and water as essential  and emergency services in the country  and if  a strike is organised  by any of the above trade unions, the perpetrators should be arrested  and  penalised immediately and their membership in the union should be cancelled or the unions be made defunct.

I suggest that the Government create an emergency pool of workers in the essential service sectors to use their services at a time of a crisis in the country.

Z.A.M.Shukoor  Aranayaka

Slip-shod work over sludge removal

Collecting sludge from road-side drains and leaving it by the road-side until the next shower of rain re-carries it back into the drain is a common sight here. It is also not a practice only confined to Colombo. I have witnessed this type of activity by the Kandy Municipal workers assigned to road cleaning.

Now I see the half-done – half-undone activity by the Western Province Municipal workers. I know that there is division of labour when it comes to roadside drain cleaning – (1) a couple of workers to gather and shove the sludge at the road’s edge, (2) another set to heap up the dried sludge (earth) and load the stuff onto a vehicle (tractor-trailer). There is perhaps  no coordination between the two sets of these workers. Also, there is failure on the part of the ‘overseer’, if there is such a category. Further, we Lankans are good at giving reasons to ‘delay or not to do it at all’: “Soon after removal from the drain, sludge is too soggy to be loaded and transported and ought to remain until dry- Api passe enawa ne”. But, before the workmen return, the rain lashes down (making a mess of the walkway, a hazard to people on foot and carrying the sludge back into the drain blocking the drain, thereby causing water-logging of the area!

Are we a nation endowed with slip-shod work etiquette?  I have also noticed that people here always blame politicians for all ills paying little heed to fulfilling their own part as responsible citizens of Sri Lanka.

Dr. Susil W. Gunasekera  Via email


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