The Sunday Times on the Web Letters to the Editor

28th February 1999

Kandy gets water shock treatment

In the last week of January, the residents of Kandy received a rude shock when they received their water bill. The Municipality had decided to increase the water tariff by more than 45 percent. This increase comes just one year after the previous increase which was effected on 1st January 1998.

The charge for 30 units which was Rs. 83/50 in 1998 has now been increased to Rs. 122/50 (an increase of 47%). Similarly, the charge for 50 units which was Rs. 267/50 in 1999 has now been increased to Rs. 473/50 (an increase of 77%)!

The notice sent by the Kandy Municipal Commissioner dated 11th December 1998 was sent to consumers only during the last week of January 1999 along with the January bill. In this notice, the Commissioner states:

"We have been reluctantly compelled to revise the water rates from the 01st of January 1999, as the electricity charges for pumping, cost of purification and distribution of water and the expenses for the purchase of chemicals and goods have been increased by about Rs. 15 million annually due to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) payable from 01st April 1998."

Thus, according to the Municipal Commissioner, it is the GST that has caused this massive increase. What confuses us is that whilst the maximum amount charged under the GST is only 12.5%, the increases in the tariff ranges from 36.4% to 111.8%!!!

There is absolutely no point in taking up this matter with the Kandy MC. The President, the Minister of Local Govt. and the Deputy Minister of Finance should look into this matter and instruct the Kandy MC to reduce the tariff increase to 12.5% which is the maximum amount charged under the GST.

The Kandy MC must try to eliminate wasteful expenditure rather than try to impose massive tariff increases on the helpless consumers using the GST as an excuse.


Death by hanging

In a predominantly Buddhist country such as ours it is absolutely horrifying that human beings can be so callous as to commit premeditated mass murder on fellow human beings by hacking them to death.

From the recent Hokandara murder of an entire family, the degeneration of moral values in present day Lanka is pretty evident.

How any person or persons could axe a man to death then rape his daughter and inflict the same gruesome punishment on her and await the return of the rest of the family members, is beyond any sane human being's comprehension.

The real life drama assumes even more grisly proportions when they too are hacked to death.

What can be the reason/s for such a dismal state of life in this country? I feel it is the lack of discipline in every sphere of public activity and political interference in law enforcement activities.

How many criminals have got away scot free, because of political interference? Another reason is the repealing of the death sentence.

Ever since the death sentence was revoked, violence and crime have escalated to such an alarming degree that one is forced to turn a blind eye to all sorts of atrocities happening around.

In the case of the Hokandara carnage, the perpetrators of this horrible crime must be punished with nothing less than death by hanging.

Geeta W. Bibile

Look at the mess

Let me comment on a passage in Richard Boyle's commentary on the book 'Dangerous inheritance' which was serialised in The Sunday Times. There the Burgher inspector explains the riotous situation thus: "The Sinhalese want the whole country for themselves; and when they get it, God only knows what an unholy mess they'll make of it." The story was set in the late 1950s.

The President in her Independence Day address said that real independence was won only in1956. Students of recent history know that that was the era where the "Common Man" was recognized for what he was. The Parliament was stormed and one of them even sat on the Speaker's chair!

The behaviour in Parliament borders that of an x-rated movie and the dialogue is anybody's guess. A simple PC election is more violent than a war movie. And almost all the heroes are post 1956 'common men'.

Were those words of that inspector prophetic? Or are we still the greatest race with unlimited freedom and the noblest country where anything goes?

Tissa de Abrew

What a sad show of Lankan memories!

What a poor show it was - just about forty photographs by about four Sri Lankan born photographers to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Sri Lankan independence! The show organized by the sponsors - International Centre for Ethnic Studies had been poorly planned and executed. In the first place, the venue did not look at all a suitable place for a photo exhibition of this nature.

The exhibition should have been held at the Lionel Wendt Art Gallery which is so easily accessible to those interested. It would have been an indirect tribute to that great artiste - photographer the late Lionel Wendt.

Though some of the pictures were truly magnificent, a few could have been taken anywhere in the world. These did not portray either the Sri Lankan landscape or its people or even its culture and traditions - even though the catalogue printed for the occasion titled the exhibition as "Sri Lankan Memories".

Since independence Sri Lanka has produced some of the finest photographers comparable to any anywhere in the world. These include such celebrities as P.J.C. Durrant, Joe Ebert, Joe Perera, B.P. Weerawardena, S.R. Kottegoda, D.C.L. Amarasinghe, M.S. Weerakoon, T.S.U. de Zylva, Wilson Hegoda, Pat Deckker, Palitha Rajapakse, Henry Rajakaruna and Sena Kotalawala. Every one of them has obtained international recognition by the display of their creativity in pictorial photography. No doubt some of them are not living now, but efforts could have been made to obtain some of their work which this writer is aware is still available.

It would have been not only a fitting tribute to these photographers themselves, but also would have depicted the development of photographic art over the years in the country since independence.

Efforts could also have been made to obtain pictures from the two premier photographic societies in the country The Photographic Society of Sri Lanka and The National Photographic Art Society of Sri Lanka. It is sad to observe that no such efforts had been made.

L.H.R. Wijetunga
Colombo 4

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