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Sunday, 16 January 2005  
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A comparison

In America which is large in size and population and solid in wealth and mighty in strength there are only about ten public holidays, whereas in our country which is small in size and population, wealth and strength there are about twenty five public holidays, besides a vast number of leaves for public and private sector employees.

How can we ever hope to progress in the world.

Colombo 13.

Let us spare our time

There are two long weekends in January and long weekends continue every month right throughout June 2005.

I appeal to those who can afford it to spend some of this time to help the tsunami victims rebuild their shattered homes.

Let us all contribute whatever we can, specially sacrificing short term enjoyment and show the world that Sri Lankans have reformed and have become a better breed than we all have been in the past.

Mohamed N. Samoon, 

The state of our nation

Former Supreme Court Judge, Justice Kulatunge, in an interview with Asian Tribune has said that the 1978 Constitution is clear that sovereignty resides in the people of Sri Lanka.

We seem to have surrendered our "inalienable right" to party politicians, he has observed. He has said "Sri Lanka has reached the climax of 57 years of politicisation and abuse of power at the highest levels. This is the point of no return".

In the contest of this reality and brokenness with the proposed 19th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution before the Supreme Court, what, may I ask, has really happened to the 17th Amendment?

Is the Police Commission functioning properly? What about the other Commissions? Have we allowed law to become dead so soon!

We must go back to the pre-1978 era of having ceremonial heads of State. Historically, it was the Governor-General of 1958 who provided a sense of leadership and sanity to a nation in the midst of the Race Riots of that year.

Unfortunately, media tends to report only the bad news. The thinking of persons like Justice Kulatunge does not catch the public eye. We must be thankful to the Kulatunges.

Also, we must not panic. We are in crisis, but it is not the end of the road. We have resources in the land, despite the bad party politics, to recover from this crisis.

Sydney Knight.

A suggestion: postage stamps

I would suggest that the Sri Lanka Postal Authorities oblige to revalidate for issue one or two withdrawn stocks of postage stamps at the overprinted rate of Rs. 2 for the name 'Relief and rehabilitation fund'.

Besides, being a source of voluntary contributions, additionally affixed to postal matter, the income from foreign agencies and philatelists will bring in a large sum for rehabilitation work.

An initial quantity of ten million stamps will be sufficient to judge the response.

Frederick Mendis, Past President, 
Philatelic society of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is still a treasure

The beach is not everything in Sri Lankan tourism and all is not lost. Not even the beaches. There's the hill country, the cultural triangle, wild life and so many other attractions. The hotels and the entire tourism infrastructure in these areas are very much in tact.

We now have all the international camera crews here. The Government must invite these journalists and show them the parts of the Island that have not been hit. Let them experience the best rooms of the most beautiful hotels, and get a first hand experience of what Sri Lankan hospitality has to offer.

Tell the journalists it would be a great help to Sri Lanka if they would show the world that the Island is still beautiful and interesting. You can still have a wonderful holiday in Sri Lanka without being confronted with the misery of the disaster.

Five minutes of television with a small message 'Help Sri Lanka, come to Sri Lanka' would be more effective than millions of dollars through relief funds.

K. Gamage.

How tobacco affects children

The largest ever study made to look into the effects of environmental tobacco smoke on children's health, reveals that exposure even at extremely low levels would decrease certain cognitive skills as well as reading, mathematics, logic and reasoning in children and adolescents.

The researcher of this study in Cincinnati, USA, Professor, Kimberly Yolton, says that they have observed children in the US who have got exposed to such consistent smoke are suffering adverse effects.

The study findings show a three point decline in a standardised reading test, nearly a two point decline in a standardised mathematics test and 55 decline in block design scores at a modest increase in exposure.

Though these declines may not be clinically meaningful for an individual child, they have huge implications for a society as millions of children are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke in the present day.

Over to you readers please.

Manjari Peiris, 

Governance by T.V. stations

There is a Committee for Human Disaster Management in the Presidential Secretariat. As this body appears to be dormant, various TV operators are seen usurping the Committee's legitimate functions.

No doubt TV networks have to report fresh news to the people of the ravages caused by the tsunami tidal waves, but over-stepping their assigned realm and engaging their news-readers and reporters in an unfamiliar field of disaster management, handling collection and distribution of relief donations, is beyond their competence.

TV stations' appeal to bring the donations to their doorstep located around Colombo is absurd whereas they could persuade the donors to deliver the relief materials to respective Divisional Secretariats in their own areas which would maximise the collection process.

W. Samaranayaka, 

Prisoners are humans

We were shocked to read Luciean Rajakarunanayake's article entitled "Light Refractions" in the Sunday Observer where he says it is a pity the tsunami did not strike the Welikada Prison where S. B. Dissanayake is held.

We are not fans of S.B. but we still think of him as a human being. What of the other prisoner in this jail? Are they not human beings?

P. Weeraratne, 
Colombo 7.

Ensuring safe railway tracks

According to geologists, Sri Lanka is in close proximity to the newly created earthquake zone. So, Sri Lanka is prone to future sea surges and earthquakes. Moreover, coastal railways may face huge losses in future too.

Due to the global warming sea level will also rise to 3-4 metres within the few decades to come. The government may have to abandon coastal railway altogether in the near future.

If coastal railway exists any more, it will put railway passengers in danger once again. The government should build railway tracks at least 15 km away from the sea, inside the country starting from Colombo and going up to Hambantota.

Vijitha Dias.

Development of Coastal Reservation Zone

The UDA has decided to guide and regulate the development activities within the coastal reservation zone. Imagine, if people lived 1 km away from sea border, the death toll of this human catastrophe would have been per se negligible.

There are plans to restore the existing coastal railway line which goes counter to UDA decision to maintain an uninhabited coastal zone.

Tourist industry has come to stay permanently in our economy. Southern beach is of special attraction to tourists from the West for sunbathing. A beach bordering an unpopulated reservation zone would be of special interest to tourists desiring privacy.

But it may become necessary to provide at specific points within the reservation zone accommodation for safe-keeping of fishing-gear of fishermen engaged in their lawful occupations.

Planners should lay a new rail track more towards inland connecting major towns.

W. Samaranayake, 

Secure the rights of unborn

Many are rightly shocked by the recent tsunami disaster in which thousands of innocent people have been killed. A movement of solidarity has developed everywhere in the world to supply relief for those hit by the horrible tragedy in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

Few, however, seem concerned that millions more - the most innocent of innocents - are being lawfully killed each day through abortion in ordinary hospitals and clinics around the globe - and in the most gruesome manner.

Given such a grave situation, we need now more than ever to have the courage to look the truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception.

As members of the human family we have a duty to uphold the rights of the unborn who are just as deserving of care and attention as those in Asia. May the same global outpouring of love be extended to them.

Paul Kokoski, 
by email.

Tsunami precautions

Scrutinising the land areas devastated by the massive tsunami waves. I observed that most of the coconut, Pandanus and other palm trees which have been directly exposed to the force of the raging waters from the sea have managed to survive with minimal damage compared to the surrounding structures in fickle sandy soil.

Is it due to the root system of the coconut tree? or the shape of its trunk? Root system of the coconut tree is definitely shorter in height than the combined height of the trunk and the foliage. Is it an escape phenomenon of flow dynamics due to the shape of its trunk which has "slipped" the force of water around its trunk to and fro?

Since I am not an expert in the field, I would like the eminent Engineers and Architects to consider this phenomenon and make suitable alterations to the new constructions to withstand possible future onslaughts of this nature by the sea.

There should be alarm sirens (which has a different pitch than hospital ambulances), in places of constant 24 hour vigil like Police Stations, Army Camps and responsible Hotel Security Coast Guards, etc.

Dr. (Mrs) Y.A. 

Why the discrimination

How can your front page headline say all round praise for Sri Lanka, when BBC and CNN news say UN officials on humanitarian mission were not given permission to visit tsunami affected districts in Sri Lanka.

They had been striving to convince the Sri Lankan government but to no avail. It is a relief visit by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and his team. Past Prime Minister late Srimavo Bandaranaike would have permitted the team to visit all districts similar to Indonesia which had worse internal problems.

There must be some secret that the Sri Lankan Government officials want to hide had prompted them to stop the UN team from visiting all districts. Government should know that the entire world had come to know this through world news.

Nagarajah Manoharan, President, 
UNANZ, New Zealand.

Put differences aside

It is with continuing heartfelt grief that Sri Lankan Americans observe each day the rising death toll from the devastating tsunami. Each day there are stories of great loss & through the ashes, glimpses of heroism through humanity.

This letter is directed mainly to use this horrifying experience to put our differences behind us for good & use that energy to develop Mother Lanka with one united mindset. We have to set aside all political differences & all racial differences, because there is a much bigger picture than these petty differences that keep pinning us back.

I only hope for once Sri Lanka will truly stand up united as one nation & like the lava from a volcano that nourishes the soil, Sri Lanka will gain unity from the tsunami.

Ryan by email from California.

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