More should have been done for aged and infirm to vote without hassle Congratulations President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. Ahead is an unenviable task of rebuilding the image of our country and resolving its financial constraints. I am 88. I voted at the Presidential Election even though the polling booth was not [...]


Letters to the Editor


More should have been done for aged and infirm to vote without hassle

Congratulations President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Ahead is an unenviable task of rebuilding the image of our country and resolving its financial constraints.

I am 88. I voted at the Presidential Election even though the polling booth was not a very convenient place. No arrangements had been made for the disabled and the aged. My wife, who is 86, returned without voting as the two steps to the polling booth were so narrow that she could not place her ‘walker’ on them to climb up.

We are aware that the Chariman of the Elections Commission cannot visit all the polling booths. However, these places would have been selected earlier and the respective Presiding Officers should have visited them and ensured that the aged and infirm were suitably accommodated.

With regard to the monumental task of rebuilding the country, I note that the President, though not a seasoned politician, has spelled out practical ideologies and is laying the foundation for a stable country and bringing back our lost integrity and image.

He will have impediments from the average politicians, as they are not accustomed to integrity.

But we hope and pray that he will pursue his vision and leaving behind the dark moments this country has gone through, have the patience to deliver on what he has promised – a country where all citizens are equal.

Walter Fernando   Ratmalana

Water meter fiasco and indifferent and even rude officials

During May/June and June/July this year,  my household consumption of water suddenly increased from the usual of around 17 units to 35 units and 63 units respectively. This was baffling.  Hence, I brought this to the notice of the National Water Supply & Drainage Board (NWSDB) office at Wellawatte. The officers there said they would replace my water meter with a new one and send the old one for “testing”. I agreed and paid the cost of replacement/testing.

When the new meter was installed, the consumption came down to the usual of around 16 units for 28 days. Hypothetically, the Water Board proportioned it for 30 days and billed me for 22 units which was the wrong thing to do. The correct reading should have been 16 units. I brought this to the notice of the Customer Service Division and they accepted my position.

Subsequently, I received a letter dated September 18, stating that my old meter was “properly functioning” and to settle the bill for the excess units in May/June and June/July amounting to about Rs. 10,000. I lodged a protest with the Wellawatte office, but the officers there said that they had no power to withdraw the bill as no fault was indicated in the meter. There was no answer as to why the new meter was showing the usual consumption. They said they were helpless and to report the matter to the Maligakanda office.

I met the manager there who was quite rude and refused to accept my letter of complaint stating that the letter from the Wellawatte office did not indicate any fault in the meter. I tried to explain the disparity shown by the new meter in the units consumed, which was similar to the earlier water consumption pattern.

I also informed the manager that the technical officer who installed the new meter explained to me that the numerals in the meter intermittently go haywire which cannot be identified easily. The manager shouted at me that I was wasting his time and curtly told me to meet the Chairman/Minister or go to court.

As advised, I informed the Chairman by letter – sent under registered post on October 9 – of the situation. But up to date, I have not received a reply from the Chairman. My attempts to meet the Chairman also failed. When I contacted him over the phone, he said that he passed on my letter to the Additional General Manager, for necessary action.

I contacted the Additional  General Manager who had apparently not seen the letter and asked me to explain the problem over the phone. I did so and his reply was that as a “government servant” he could not overlook the report submitted by the technical division and remedy the situation. He could not explain the variation in consumption indicated in the old and new meters, despite the fact that the new meter was indicating the consumption correctly as in the past.

Maybe, the testing machine of the meter needs to be checked as well.

Meanwhile, I paid for the so-called excess consumption, fearing the stoppage of water.

Man vs. Machine or Fact vs. Fiction?

K. Balendra   Via email

Programme that brought back happy memories of the Nightingale of Ceylon

Rukmani Devi was known as the Nightingale of Ceylon. Thanks to Rupavahini, people like us, who were her fans, were taken down memory lane as a programme in her memory was telecast recently.

When we were young, our mothers didn’t encourage us to be fans of film stars! Fortunately, I had brothers who didn’t think badly of film stars and I was able to run to the Negombo beach when we got word that Rukmani Devi had come there.

Rukmani Devi was simple and friendly and did not mind when we ran up to talk to her. She was always well-dressed but not given to flashy jewellery. However, we used to admire the ear-drops she would wear to match her saree.

We were very sad when we heard about the accident and that we had lost her.

Rukmani Devi and Eddie Jayamanne lived in their beautiful home, ‘Jaya-Ruk’, down Temple Road. Her parents Mr. and Mrs. Daniels lived on Main Street. We passed their home on our way to school and pretty Mrs. Daniels would never fail to wave to us.

I am sure that Rukmani Devi must be singing in the heavens above with the angels.

Lakshmie Mawala   Hendala

Don’t senior citizens have a right to live with dignity?

Further to the letter titled, ‘Time to increase the deposit for retired private sector employees’ in the Sunday Times Plus of 29/09/2019, I wish to add the following.

Retired senior citizens are those who have contributed  immensely towards the growth of their motherland. In their senior years they should be sitting back and reaping the benefits of what they sowed! Is this what they are doing? ‘The answer is plainly ‘No’.

Just think what one can do with the monthly interest of mere a 14.06% or Rs 17,575  per month, from a fixed deposit of Rs. 1.5 million permitted to senior citizens under a special  scheme.

Senior citizens are a vulnerable group subject to various ailments such as cardiac and kidney related diseases among others; who pay a massive bill for medicines – this apart from medical consultation bills and bills for obtaining medical lab reports. In such a scenario, how can one meet other monthly bills like urban facilities, subsistence etc.

The population in our country stood at 20.4 million in 2012. Now it must be around 22 million of which at least 20% or 4 million are senior citizens. Are all these people expected to go down as paupers? In other countries  like Canada, the UK, USA and those in Europe, the governments look after their senior citizens. They are given a livable allowance and are entitled to various facilities.

Dear Finance Minister, could you please address this issue and increase the permitted threshold to a minimum of five million per senior citizen and permit these people to live a dignified life?

Basil Paiva   Via email

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