News bulletins over the radio and items in the press have revealed that stringent measures are to be taken against paedophiles in Belgium. An all-out effort to eradicate the menace which is a slur on their culture and has brought the country into disrepute worldwide, has been launched by the Belgians who are not sparing even their 'high ups' who are suspected of paedophilic activity.
Why cannot Sri Lanka which has the same problem follow suit?
In our case, it is mainly foreigners who are the bane and that is all the more reason why our country should go all out to prevent its culture and budding citizens from being morally devastated by sex-hungry cads from abroad. Sri Lanka is being held to ransom by affluent foreign sex perverts who are getting more than their monies worth at the expense of our future generations.
This humiliation will be a punishment to fit the crime in the case of foreigners who should then be declared 'persona non grata' and unceremoniously thrown out.
A fine or a suspended jail sentence will not deter these foreign perverts who have the brass to declare their immunity 'because they contribute so much to the economic stability of the country and Sri Lanka will never dare to lose them'.
It is upto the government to either accept or disprove this by either publicly admitting that it is so or by going all out to put an end to this blot and expose this boast as moonshine!
There should be no fears of scaring away all foreigners. On the contrary, the genuine, morally sound of them will welcome the move because as things are, they cannot be differentiated from the scum on appearance alone and therefore move about with some trepidation.
In an interview with 'The Sunday Times' the Governor of the Central Bank, A.S. Jayawardena has scoffed at a prevalent economic crisis emphasising that the economy is on a smooth course and there is nothing to panic about. Although we are not economic pundits, but ordinary citizens who know a little arithmetic, we think otherwise. We are more than surprised at the governor's statement. It is more a statement coming from a politician rather than an economist or a responsible official.
As far as we are aware, and from all the speeches at the recent budget debate even from government benches all indications point to the fact the growth rate this year will settle below the three percent mark as things are now. Inflation is high, unemployment is ballooning to unmanageable proportions, cost-of-living is escalating every day, with no control in sight. It is easy for anybody to blame the weather.
I challenge the governor that the prices never dropped, other than for a few items of vegetables on and off, but certainly not for long spells.
It is also easy to lay the blame on the civil war or the terrorist menace that has engulfed the entire island. Although I am no UNP sympathiser, one must concede that during the UNP regime especially since 1983 to 1994, despite this war, the economy kept growing and the country's money market was active.
It was clearly seen from the stock market figures then and now. There is hardly any money movement in the system today.
Politicians promise various things - sometimes even the sun and the moon. They have been repeatedly hoodwinking the masses by saying that the war will end in six months time, in one year's time or in the next year etc. Similarly, they have been promising to solve the unemployment problem in one year's time, in two year's time, next year etc. They have been promising to bring the cost of living down tomorrow, next month or the next year.
What has really happened? The so-called tomorrow, next month, next year, have never dawned both during the UNP time and now with the PA regime.
I am an ordinary citizen. I am prepared to take a bet with the governor that next year the growth will not go over 4.5% as things are today though he guarantees a 6% growth. We are practical and hence we can guess somewhat accurately than the CB.
To find if the country's economy is in tatters or not, just speak to any businessman - big, medium or small and you'll get the right answer. That is why everybody is in panic.
It is sad to note that the Central Bank figures appear to be fudged and interfered with by certain unscrupulous politically aligned officials. We remember the era when a former governor who had bought 500 grams of brinjals for Rs. 6 at Hunnasgiriya once made a big hue and cry about the low cost of living.
The general public of this country and the business community have no faith in the Central Bank figures or the officials. And neither in the politicians.
Pealing of church and temple bells heralded the dawn of another year of grace 1997 and as usual we receive and return the cheery good wishes for another 365 days. It is laden with sincere wishes for a bright and prosperous New Year.
As we cross the threshold of the New Year, it is customary to take a look at the year that is just over, at the year that has been dotted with joys and sorrows, at the year that has seen triumphs and disasters.
We should not brood over our past failures and unhappiness which avail nothing but, bitter memories of grief.
If we have any good intentions, we ought to begin today to put them into effect. Let us wish, that men of all races be united and live in peace and harmony, as one large family.
Let us wish, nothing that will make the world poorer, nothing that will bring pain of privation to our fellowmen.
Let us also nurture the ideas of equality and brotherhood and provide the opportunities of life for all.
Let us value and protect the rights of individuals and lift up the unfortunate and down trodden.
Let us grant justice to all regardless of caste, creed and ethnicity.
Let us not forget the fact that we journey through this life only once. Hence any kind deed that we can do, must be done now, without putting off for tomorrow for we shall not pass this way again.
"Tourism may be affected. International outcry over Ahungalla zoo."
So said a news item.
Yes, when the white skinned people who come to Sri Lanka as tourists and visit these animals and go back to London and complain it becomes a big issue, an international outcry, but when we dark skinned local animal lovers made a national outcry it was ignored. We are branded as anti-social and all other kinds of anti this and that. Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake who is in charge of The Wildlife Conservation Department should have a heart to heart chat with his affablle colleague in charge of Tourism Dharmasiri Senanayake even at this late stage and cancel the permit issued to continue with this zoo!
It appears that the Ahungalle Private Zoo is more popular among tourists than the Dehiwela National Zoo which was at one time called the best zoo in South East Asia. I hope it is still the best in this part of the world and if not, I am sure it will be in the near future under the guidance of Lyn de Alwis who is in the process of transforming it to be a wonderful zoo.
So I urge Minister Wickremanayake to make use of the enormous income the Dehiwela Zoo generates to market the national zoo more effectively both locally and internationally to attract more and more tourists to drop by at Dehiwela rather than by-pass Dehiwela and proceed all the way to Ahungalla and get disillusioned.
I saw with concern a full page advertisement calling for proposals to turn the South East of our land into a project for sugar cultivation. This plan is fraught with danger.
The area demarcated for this project runs right in the heart of elephant country and would impede some existing elephant corridors. I do not know when the Southern Development Authority team last visited this area but the area abutting Handapanagala and the other areas highlighted in the map given on the project proposal, is an area populated by wild elephants. I am sure you remember the man-elephant conflict of Handapanagala. Although the elephants of Handapanagala were driven out, approximately one third of them have returned to their old feeding grounds of Pelwatte.
I wonder what the objective behind this project is? If it is to provide employment, I am sure in the collective wisdom of the Southern Development Authority you can find an alternative. Some African nations have made wildlife a big business. They have trained the population around the wildlife parks to learn to manage the wild life and have got them involved in developing the infrastructure to preserve wildlife, thus, creating employment and generating wealth for the people of the area and the nation as a whole. A visit to a wildlife park in Africa is marketed and packaged in such a manner that the tourists/clients consider it great value for money experience, and it is not cheap. In contrast, our management, preservation, packaging and marketing of wildlife and the whole gambit of things associated with it, does not add one cent of value to the experience of a visit with nature.
This project drives another nail in the coffin of the Sri Lankan elephant and our wildlife. Sugar is a commodity that is presently purchased cheaply from overseas perhaps because of the efficiency of production overseas. The Sri Lankan elephant cannot be purchased as it is beyond value and once gone will never be replaced like the now extinct Dodo.
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