Such a pleasant surprise to see  smooth operation at Passport Office I had a very uplifting experience at the Passport Office Battaramulla on September 22 which I thought I should share. Even though in present times a passport does not serve a great purpose, I was nervous about hanging onto one about to expire and [...]


Letters to the Editor


Such a pleasant surprise to see  smooth operation at Passport Office

I had a very uplifting experience at the Passport Office Battaramulla on September 22 which I thought I should share. Even though in present times a passport does not serve a great purpose, I was nervous about hanging onto one about to expire and decided to follow the renewal process. A travel agent friend insisted that the process was simple but I had my reservations based on experiences of old.

I was surely in for a surprise. I entered the Passport Office building at 8 a.m. and was back in my vehicle by 8.30 a.m. with a new passport collection receipt in hand. Of course due to the present day clamp on overseas travel, the demand for new passports has obviously declined. However, the overall efficiency and level of customer service demonstrated by the Passport Office team right through the process was commendable.

A fully automated tracking system takes the customer through a seamless process even though you have to present yourself at about three counters. I am a strong believer that the technology and the processes linked to good working conditions stimulate and facilitate higher productivity and enhance customer service as well. The Passport issue operation is absolute proof of this theory. The only point at which I experienced any kind of negativity was at the token issue counter, when I overheard the staffer talking down to a customer. If not for this incident you were directed and helped all the way. Maybe management should improve on attitudes of the custodian of the tokens, especially when helping simple folk who are not so conversant with such procedures.

Perhaps the present lesser work load helps overall, but to see this level of efficiency at a government department gives us Sri Lankans a breath of fresh air. The icing on the cake was when I returned to my home in Kotte and was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from the Passport Office at 10 a.m. to say that my new passport was ready for collection. As a person with wide training and experience in the art of delivering high global customer service standards in my working life, I was truly impressed. The Controller, his senior staffers and the front line staff at the Passport Office ought to be very proud of what they do, and must keep striving for improvement.  I can only say ‘well done!’ to the team.

I hope people who matter in the Government machinery including our Executive President Gotabaya Rajapaksa are privy to this letter, and that all government departments are encouraged to emulate the high standards maintained by the Passport Office. The other hidden benefit is that when the organisation machinery runs this smoothly there is hardly any room or need for malpractices such as petty bribes etc. We Sri Lankans are normally inclined more to complain and find fault than encourage good practice  and I hope my good experience becomes the norm and not the exception. Hope all other government departments take a cue from the Passport Office team.

The only negative aspect of the entire exercise was the traffic snarl in the Battaramulla area. It took me about the time taken to get a new passport application processed, to travel back about two kilometres to Kotte!

Lasantha R. Siriwardene   Kotte

Ensuring the safety and security of  our senior citizens

Five years ago my mother faced a tragic event that partially burnt her house and somewhat injured her. Four days later, she died in hospital of a cardiac arrest. It devastated us. Everything we did to keep her safe came to nothing.

My mother, a retired teacher, had an independent spirit. In her five children’s absence she carried on her day-to-day life with the greatest spirit. For her company and protection, we hired the services of carers from a known company which provided male carers to both my late father and father-in-law. At that time, I was in Sri Lanka for a longer stay and my younger brother too was in the country, and together we monitored the process.

But our situation changed, and I came back to Australia. Having her five children in Australia (although she was able to visit us and our wish was to take her here permanently), she was all by herself, so we hired the carers. The company always sent someone when the need occurred. However, many of them did not meet the requirement. A few actually cared, but they had constant issues with their families which made them visit homes frequently. The rest were returnees from West Asian countries and some according to the Sinhala expression were, “Loke Kala Wathura Beela.”

My observation was that most carers were not trained to manage the duties of the old people in their care, and on how to be vigilant or how to act in an emergency.

We have many unanswered questions, but I have heard of worse stories of how our senior citizens, who have sacrificed their lives for their families and the country, are taken advantage of.

Many aged and vulnerable citizens undergo hardships. Some are abandoned, some are placed in homes, and some suffer abuse in their own houses. No doubt there are reputable places. But it is high time that all the places and the people who are entrusted with caring for our senior citizens come under scrutiny.

The government must look into this matter and start aged care services as an accredited occupation, so that people with knowledge, character and proper training could be employed. Without going to West Asia, many could be locally occupied with dignity.

Having a National Council/Secretariat for Elders or having savings schemes, insurance policies, mobile packages for retirees is not enough. They need tender, loving care in their last years.

Savithri Jayasinghe Cooray   Via email

Is this how a senior citizen should be treated at a leading state institute? 

 My EPF monies were due to me from a court case I had filed around two or three years ago – the Labour Tribunal awarded that I should be paid all my dues.

I checked subsequently with the Central Bank and my monies were duly credited to my account.

Unfortunately I lost my wallet whilst travelling in the bus on the Dehiwela/Maharagama route last week, along with it my National Identity card and driver’s licence.

Since I did not have a Grama Sevaka attestation on my K Form for the claim, I obtained an affidavit from a JP and visited the 3rd floor to meet the Commissioner General. It was a Monday (Public Day) at 8.30 a.m. No one else was there.

A gentleman in tie came out and very politely asked how he could help me. I told him the story. I was in slippers with a wound on my toe. He said he would call the Commissioner EPF who was on the 8th floor.

But when I went to meet him, the first question was ‘Who told you to go to the 3rd floor?’ He did not even want to listen to my story. He told me to go and bring my ID. I said I had only a Police report as I had lost it. He said he was not interested. I said I have a copy of the ID. He then said ‘Bring your Passport.’ When I replied that it had expired last month, he said ‘Then you renew it and come.’ I was dumbfounded. He said ‘Next time you come to me with your new ID.’

He also commented, ‘How come you were not paid EPF since you were  GM.’That was not his business.

He did not respect my age leave alone treat me with any courtesy. With disappointment I walked out and went back to the 3rd floor and asked the clerk who the gentleman who had spoken to me very kindly was. He said he was the Additional Commissioner General. He was not in.

I called him subsequently and related the story. He said ‘Don’t worry, fax me your ID copy – I will get it approved by the Commissioner General.’

Subsequently I handed the copy to him and he called me two days later and asked me to bring a copy of my birth certificate.

I was very disturbed as to how I as a senior citizen was treated.

Senior citizen   Via email

Public way too lax about  COVID-health precautions

Looking around, one gets the impression that there is no threat from the Corona virus in Sri Lanka. We see a vast number of people these days moving around without face masks and not adhering to the prescribed precautionary measures.

There are many mass gatherings, organised functions and meetings where people are in close proximity to each other without face masks.

I feel the guidelines set by the health authorities should still be followed until such time as we know Sri Lanka is safe.

Wearing the face mask should be mandatory in public for instance when using public transport. Other measures should also be strictly followed.

People seem to be taking things way too easy and the gradual relaxation of all the health measures against the virus is a dangerous trend.

B. Joseph   Wattala

Sequel to Dadayama movie: How the true story ended

In response to the article in the Sunday Times of 7/6/2020 regarding the sequel to Dadayama, the movie based on a true story, I congratulate the producers on winning awards, and mostly Swarna Mallawarachchi for her astounding performance. You will be interested in the true ending to this story.

The Police should be commended on their superlative work considering their limited resources at that time, and finding the car abandoned which had a hair of Adeline’s on the tyre.

My father Attorney and Judge Corbet Jayewardene was a friend of Lord Devlin, a superior Judge of the British High Court. This was around the end of the 1950s.

Lord Devlin came on a holiday to Sri Lanka and my father took him on a trip to Anuradhapura and Wilpattu. Whilst passing the very lonely spot where Adeline was murdered, my father explained the case to Lord Devlin and told him how it was appealed in UK.

Lord Devlin said “I know the case – I was one of the judges on the Privy Council, who heard the appeal, which was taken to the UK. It was an unanimous judgment and the fiancé was given a death sentence”.

 Amitha Jayewardene   Via email



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