Roads, Sri Lanka’s killing fields In the last few days I have had the misfortune of having to witness on TV, human beings being killed on Sri Lanka’s roads. Yesterday I saw another horrific incident. A baby who came off the clutches of his mum was crushed to death by a truck being driven at [...]


Letters to the Editor


Roads, Sri Lanka’s killing fields
In the last few days I have had the misfortune of having to witness on TV, human beings being killed on Sri Lanka’s roads. Yesterday I saw another horrific incident. A baby who came off the clutches of his mum was crushed to death by a truck being driven at high speed. These reckless drivers seem to get away with murder as these are classed as accidents by the Motor Traffic Act and the Penal Code.

If the powers that be really want to curb this manslaughter they have to be sensitive to the issue and be open minded. Right now I don’t feel anyone in the Government has any interest whatsoever to deal with this issue positively. When they suddenly wake up and realize they should indeed do something about this menace, these points should be taken into account:

  • 1) Rename so-called road accidents, road crashes or incidents rather than accidents. This is what the US and UK have done. The term accident makes the driver feel it is unavoidable whereas the former two phrases drive home the point that these are preventable and for any major damage to human life the driver is solely responsible
  • 2) Killing a pedestrian by running him or her down with a motor vehicle should be considered manslaughter. Necessary legislation will have to be enacted
  • 3) A sentence close to life imprisonment should be imposed for road killings
  • 4) Speed cameras will have to be installed initially at potentially dangerous areas to be rolled out islandwide later
  • 5) Licences should be cancelled for a few years for repeated flouting of speed limits and other important highway rules
  • 6) All heavy vehicle drivers should attend two seminars annually on speed awareness and road safety. The licence of those who do not attend after reminders, should be cancelled.
  • 7) Pedestrians and smaller vehicle users should attend similar seminars once every few years to learn about their own safety.
  • 8) Schools should launch road safety programmes for children which should be repeated every few weeks
  • 9) Electronic and print media should educate the public about their duty in keeping Sri Lanka’s roads safe
  • 10) Any MP or Minister or any other ruling power interfering with the carriage of justice in these cases should be forced to resign, named and shamed.

I sincerely hope the powers-that-be would wake up to the realization that human life on the road does not seem to have any value and this has to change and change immediately. To achieve this end they should do whatever it takes and make Sri Lanka roads safe for all.
Dr. M.M.Janapriya
Via email

Depositors are not paid, and perpetrators are still scot free
At present, ETI depositors are fighting tooth and nail to reclaim their hard earned savings which have been swindled with no effort to repay even though most of the assets have been sold. Various statements are made, names named with the President too making very strong statements, but the depositors are not paid and the perpetrators are still at large. If an ordinary individual, with no connections, defaults on a bank loan,that person is hauled before courts and imprisoned for default, even if the sum is a few thousand rupees.

F&G Property Developers, a part of the Ceylinco Group crashed in December 2008. Since then the depositors have received no interest, but bits and pieces as repayment. I am 77 years old and suffer from various old-age related ailments and have lost the vision in my left eye after cataract surgery in March 2017.With many visits to the Fingara Club, owned by F&G, housing the staff and offices, I was able to elicit 51% of the deposit of one million rupees.My right eye needs urgent surgery and my condition of diabetes, pressure, cholesterol and arthritis need a tidy sum of money.

I have written to the last known chairman of the committee appointed to expedite the repayment process. My letters are not acknowledged or answered. In addition there is also a permanent staff. All these boards and permanent staff have been drawing salaries from the depositors monies from then to now.
I wrote to the Right to Information offices asking for a breakdown of expenses including salaries, logistics etc but have not been provided with any information.
I appeal to the authorities to take action to bring relief to depositors like me.
Sick depositor
Via email

High-rise buildings: Shouldn’t Colombo residents have a say?
Excavations are underway for a massive 60-storey condominium on the seaside of Galle Road in Kollupitya, Colombo 3. This will be the tallest structure in the city, if and when completed.

I wonder if proper safety and environmental impact studies were conducted by the Urban Development Authority (UDA) before giving permission to build? This structure is going to severely affect wind turbulence and perhaps local rainfall in the area, as any stiff breeze can quickly turn into a mini-cyclone in the immediate vicinity. Sunlight to adjoining homes and offices will also be reduced.

Also was the Fire Brigade consulted as to whether it had necessary equipment to fight fires in such high-rise towers?
When I consulted the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), I was told that the CMC was powerless to do anything about this as all such structures were authorized by the UDA. This is indeed a strange situation. We, the residents of Colombo, voted for a new Municipal Council at the February local government elections, on the understanding that they made the decisions that shaped what kind of city we would have. The UDA is a politically unaccountable body.

The UDA should learn from the Grenfell Tower disaster in London last year and appoint a specialist team to examine every proposal to construct high-rise condominiums and hotels in the city. I doubt if the UDA currently has the capacity do such a safety examination, for the latter must involve not only the safety of the structure itself but also the materials used (aluminium cladding, paints, etc.) and take into consideration the concerns of people living in the neighbourhood who will be affected by such a construction.

The UDA should also have- and enforce- strict limits on the height of structures on the sea side of the Galle Road, as reducing the sea breeze will raise the temperature of the city with dire consequences for health (e.g. greater incidence of mosquito-borne diseases such as Dengue).
Do we as socially responsible citizens of Colombo have any say at all in the decisions that are being made about what kind of city we want to live in?
Dr. Vinoth Ramachandra
Colombo 3

Sri Lanka still has no up-to-date register of the Tripitaka
I recently attended a Tripitaka commemoration forum at the London Buddhist Vihara and was surprised to learn that Sri Lanka does not have an up-to-date register of the pre-19th century Tripitaka manuscripts in the country and where they are located. These early texts are what connects us most closely to the teachings of the Lord Buddha and are also of great academic interest.

Furthermore, these manuscripts should be stored in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment to minimise textual deterioration. In 1869 Governor Hercules Robinson asked for a ‘Descriptive Catalogue of the Pali, Sinhalese and Sanskrit manuscripts to be found in the libraries of the pansalas and other places in Sri Lanka’ to be prepared. It is disappointing that 150 years later, the task has still not been completed. I would urge that such a register should be produced and the manuscripts be carefully conserved.
Dr R. P. Fernando
Surrey, UK


Forgotten nuns who did so much for Catholic students
Since 1861 with the arrival of Holy Family nuns to this country, Catholic nuns have played a pivotal role within our community. Nuns belong to different orders, and have specialized vocations such as education, charity, nursing, caring for the poor, the downtrodden, destitute to name a few. Most of the convents or nunneries do not get sufficient finances to meet their routine expenditure but nevertheless make sure whatever they are tasked with is accomplished well. Their passion and commitment in this regard are immeasurable.

Many parents aspire to give a sound education to their daughters and sons at leading Catholic schools, convents and colleges. If one ponders why, the answer is, to give their children a quality education at a very nominal sum. But the enthusiasm, courtesies and passion displayed during pre- admission period sadly but surely fail in most after the admission of the child.

There is yet another group of Catholics who remember the priests and nuns to get their referrals, to have their helpless parents admitted to elders’ homes or convents. Others look for decent accommodation for their daughters at convents. Most of our nuns come from good backgrounds and sacrifice everything to become disciples of God. Service to mankind is their ultimate goal. Almost every Catholic child especially girls, in our country, would have had the privilege of learning under a nun during their scholastic career.

The saddest part of this story is the post-retirement period for nuns. Once retired, they are confined to the convent, and it is seldom someone comes to visit them. Even when they pass away, you will rarely see anyone attending the funeral except for a few nuns and the priest performing the rites. I attended one such funeral of a very famous nun who had taught at one of the most prestigious girls’ schools in Colombo. What has happened to all those Catholic girls, who grew up under the guidance of nuns to become what they are in life today? Have they forgotten their teachers and alma mater?
Ashley Mark
Via email

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