|Sunday, 17 March 2002|
My wife and I have worked and lived in your lovely country for 5 1/2 years. We are so pleased to see that the ceasefire is on-going, and so peace will prevail for the sake of the country and we would like to take this opportunity to say to Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe, the PM for a job very well done and also we must not forget the LTTE for also taking part in this historic event.
We, the labour community - in Maldives are suffering from various inhuman treatments.
Our Independence Day was celebrated in Maldives on February 4, 2002. Independence is very dear to every Sri Lankan citizen. High Commission in Maldives hosted a dinner in Male, the capital of Maldives.
All the high ranking officers and employees were invited to the party. Accountants, Bank of Ceylon Manager, AirLanka Manager and so-called close ones to the High Commission were the main attraction of the party.
Most of the senior Sri Lankan expatriates like teachers who work here for more than 15 years were ignored. Members of the labour community were not invited to the party; masons, carpenters, municipality workers we are also Sri Lankan citizens. We love our country. We also send our earnings to Sri Lanka.
We don't know why our High Commission treats us like unwanted people.
We are today on the threshold of another election - the Local Government Elections scheduled to be held during March this year. During the past 54 years since independence, the voters of this country have had witnessed and experienced how elections have been conducted on the norms of democracy, and the significant degeneracy of the process since 1977, leaving a trail of terror and violence, both before and after elections.
We have also heard and seen how certain political parties had celebrated their election victories terrorising their vanquished political rivals and their coterie into permanent submission in a planned effort, more than mere revenge. Yet, the irony is that, prior to every election, leaders of all political parties and their front-liners though often vociferous on public platforms with their pledge for a "new political culture" free of violence and thuggery forget such pledges before the nominations are over.
This regrettable situation in the political arena is due to the inconsistency of the 1978 Constitution and its electoral system, which warrants immediate amendment. Here, I wish to quote the very words of late Dr. N.M. Perera in his booklet "A critical analysis of the new constitution of Sri Lanka" after the promulgation of the Parliament in 1979, "I have no doubt that in the years to come, many students of constitutions, will quote the example of the 1978 Sri Lanka Constitution, as one which carries the notoriety of what a constitution should never be".
In this light, all peace-loving citizens of this land should be able to rest assured that the freedom of the franchise and the right to political opposition and those essential features of the democratic process would be safeguarded under the leadership of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with the mutual understanding of all other political leaders, with integrity and independence of discernment and devotion to truth, strictly adhering to all the laws and rules with regard to the conduct of elections on the norms of both democracy and human decency.
Otherwise, it would be mob-rule after such elections, if unscrupulous politicians are elected in a manner contravening election laws.
Don Sarath Abeysekera,
Divulapitiya Divisional Secretariat by its letter dated 26.03.01 informed the pensioners that the monthly pensions and W & OP payments have to be paid by the Divisional Secretariat of the locality in which the pensioner resides with effect from 01.06.2001 and the relevant files will be transferred accordingly but they can continue to draw their pensions from the financial institute of their choice.
However this change has caused inordinate delays in the payment of pensions to those who reside in the area which comes under the purview of Minuwangoda D.S. but continue to draw their pensions from Bank of Ceylon at Divulapitiya, which is in close proximity to their homes. Within a matter of eight months, on three occasions, they did not receive their pensions on the due date. They did not receive the August 2001 pension receipt in time due to trade union action instituted by postal employees. The November 2001 documents of the Minuwangoda D.S. were received by the bank only at 1130 hrs. on the pension day when most of the disappointed pensioners awaiting payments since early morning had left.
Again the February 2002 pension payment documents from the same D.S. were received by the bank on the 13th whilst the pensions were to be paid on the 12th of February. Never before did these pensioners experience such delays.
This change has not reduced the quantum of work of the pension unit of the D.S. either. Earlier it had to prepare schedules and write cheques in favour of paying institutions functioning in its locality only whereas in addition to this, it is now required to prepare paying documents for institutions located in the neighbouring D.S. areas as well. When public holidays intervene or due to unforseen circumstances, work pertaining to pensions cannot be completed within the normal time frame, the pensions unit made special arrangements to deliver the documents to paying institutions by hand in order that the pensions are paid on the due date. This is not possible in respect of paying institutions functioning in the neighbouring D.S. areas and hence they have no alternative but to post them.
Though we are in the e-mail age, our local mail is still adopting the system and procedures introduced by the colonial masters. For instance, a letter which is to be delivered to an address just on the opposite side of the road served by another post office has to travel the whole distance to Colombo to get sorted may be 50 km. or more depending on the location and come back to the post office which serves the particular address, on the following day or some times on the third day for delivery to take place.
It is like carrying Dunagaha cinnamon to Balagalle (an old adage popular amongst people in this area used to express the futility of transporting some thing by a round about route).
On the other hand the paying institutions, especially the two state commercial banks too, are experiencing hardships as a result of this change. When the paying documents from one or two Divisional Secretariats are not received in time for payments, they have to stagger the payment of pensions. Staggered payment means unnecessary over crowding at the bank for one or two days more. These banks very often say that they provide this facility more or less on gratis.
Changes should not be made for the sake of changing. Changes need be introduced only if they accrue further benefits to all but not any cost, at the expense of some others. The innumerous woes of pensioners are every so often enumerated in this column and elsewhere but scant attention is paid by the authorities to ameliorate them. Hence these adversely affected pensioners are hopeful that the new minister will review this policy and do the needful to facilitate the payment of pensions right on the due date.
S.T. Ranasinghe ,
The above publication in your journal of February 24th, 2002 is meaningless. That Egyptian Belly dancers and other performers have sex with horses, camels and donkeys etc. was a known fact even in the early 1940s during World War II, when the then Ceylonese Servicemen returnees from Egypt after completion of their term there, mentioned these facts, and is nothing to express surprise at, and there is no lesson to be learnt from the publication.
In Bosnia, where the term 'Ethnic Cleansing' had been coined to mean Islamic Genocide and how our Muslim brothers and sisters had been butchered in the name of God.
In Palestine, we see how the Jews are murdering Muslims in broad daylight and robbing them of their land as the world stares in silence; probably too afraid to protest against it.
Islam never allows terrorism in any form. But unfortunately, innocent civilians are being killed in the name of 'War against terror'. A nation is destroyed under the same banner. In India, Muslim mobs set fire to a train and burnt Hindus alive. In reply, Muslims are being murdered in large numbers. Is it Jihad by the Muslims? Never. The establishment of peace and maintenance of security must be the constant objective of all Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Every pursuit and activity which disturbs peace is severely condemned in Islam. We find specific injunctions in the Holy Quran. It says: "And create not disorder in the earth". (7:56) Commit not iniquity in the earth causing disorder" (11:86, 29:37).
Mischief and wickedness are condemned in several other verses and Muslims are commanded to work wholly for peace.
So, my dear brothers, let us change the destiny of mankind as if we do not do it no one else will.
Mr. A. Abdul Aziz of Negombo, in his letter to the press dated 3.3 2002 captioned "Pilgraimage (Hajj) the fifth pillar of Islam" states that Muslims sacrifice a lamb or other animal during the festival of Eid-Ul-Asha to commemorate Prophet Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son Ismail at Allah's request, and that it is not a blood offering, which means that there is blood and burnt offerings too.
Long before Christianity and Islam religion came into being the Jewish religion or Judeaism was in existence according to the Old Testament and other chronicles wherein it is stated that the jewish God or Jehovah in order to test the obedience of Abraham ordered him to sacrifice his only son Isaac as an offering. Abraham loved his son very much as he was born when Abraham and his wife Sarah were both very old. It is also mentioned that Abraham circumcised Issac when he was eight days old according to the law of Moses.
Even to date the Jew who profess Judaism sacrifice animals, on this day in remembrance of Abraham's obedience. Jews also practice circumcision and refrain from eating the flesh of certain animals, birds and fish according to the Mosaic law. Jesus who was born centuries after Moses, Abraham and other prophets preached an entirely different philosophy, and Christianity came into being many years after the death of Jesus.
Considering the above and many other customs and beliefs one will note that there is a lot of similarity in the writings of the Old Testament and the Koran, though there are slight differences in the names.
Noel Joseph -
The Big match season is around the corner. For some schools in the city, this is the greatest sporting event of the year, when the big and small school children participate with equal enthusiasm and vigour. For students and parents alike here is something for you to think about during this season and take action in the coming weeks.
In our youth, health is taken for granted and we think we are immune to abuse illness and diseases. But social forces surrounding us and our own lifestyle pushes us insidiously towards ill health and abuse. For example adolescence is a risk taking period where children are easily moved to experimentation with drugs, liquor and smoking under given unfavourable social circumstances. This experimentation is facilitated by pressure from peers to start smoking. This pressure as well as the fear of being ostracised from the 'click' will induce children to start smoking or drinking liquor. Also, to show others that they are adults, teenagers take to abusing these. They also tend to boast about their capacity to hold drinks to show that they are more adventurous more macho or tough.
There is an incorrect notion among some parents that drinking beer occasionally or at a party is all right for the youth. But this is the first step towards experimentation with stronger versions of liquor. In any case, beer contains alcohol too. Sports events are well known venues for advertising campaigns, directed on youth. This is done in a very informal manner so as not to attract undue publicity. World Health Organisation indicates that the present adult smokers are those who have been motivated to smoke before they reached 19 years.
The younger the person it is easier to get them addicted to any substance. Hence to have a successful business these companies need to attract more and more teenagers.We need to counteract the promotional campaigns of those companies, which target youth.
We can do this by building a supportive environment so as to motivate youth not to start experimenting with cigarettes, beer or any other abusing substance. So let us see what we can do during the coming big match season.
A very large majority of students are tee totallers and they do realise that many of these 'acceptable' drugs are also addictive and potentially dangerous. Hence, through student groups and associations pressurise the administrative staff and organisers to prohibit smoking and alcohol/beer consumption and sales within the premises the big matches are conducted. Don't forget; a large majority does not want to engage in these unhealthy behaviours.
Smoking cigarettes and taking beer or alcohol are considered to be socially acceptable for adults. A double standard operates in many parents' minds about drugs. You need to put your ownself in order before you expect your children to listen to your advice about not smoking or taking beer and alcohol with any degree of attention or respect.
Through parent-teacher associations and Old Boy's Associations prohibit smoking, consumption of beer and alcohol and the sale of these within the premises where the big matches are held. Initiate your children to enjoy life without a cigarette and a glass of alcohol. As this is essentially a schoolchildrens' event, let them enjoy the occasion in a smoke free, clean and safe environment.
The overall guiding principle for the world and community alike is to take care of each other, our communities, our children and our natural environment. We need to create a supportive environment as adults, so that our kids will have an easier choice to make in adopting health enhancing behaviour by not smoking or taking beer.
Youth is a period where risk taking a experimenting is a natural phenomenon or behaviour. By making the environment supportive to health, we can prevent students from engaging in risk taking behaviour that can endanger their life specially after taking beer or alcohol. Similarly for the large majority of youth who do not smoke, they have a right to breath in clean air without harming their health.
Hence help the students to "make the healthier choice the easier choice" by prohibiting these activities during the time the big match is played.
DR. S. N. DAMBORAGAMA,
Produced by Lake House