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Sunday, 15 January 2012

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"I miss my friend"

I call upon the Hindus and all people to re-kindle their resolve to bring about further social cohesion and unity of all communities co-existing in the new peaceful environment in the country. Let Thai Pongal signify not only the beginning of the month of Thai but also the beginning of a new life of peace and friendship among all peoples."

The demise of a friend creates a void in one's life. These were sentiments expressed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa who reminisced about one of his buddies in politics, whose life was not spared by terrorists. He longed for his friendship as no one could replace him, he said. It was on January 11, that the President gave a surprise call to his late friend's wife.

" Today is Jeyaraj's 59th birthday, isn't it?", the President's call made Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle, who was attending a religious ceremony to invoke merit on her husband, speechless for a few seconds.The late Minister Fernandopulle, who was born in 1953, was killed by an LTTE suicide bomber while he was flagging off a cycle race at the Weliweriya Kanthi stadium as part of a Sinhala New Year sports festival in 2008. She then responded saying they were having religious ceremonies throughout the day to invoke merit on late Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle not to meet with such a tragic and untimely death in his next samsara. "How do you know sir", she expressed her surprise.

"Why... have you forgotten that Jeyaraj was one of my good friends. Though I am the President I remember my friends and those who are close to me. I know there is a void in your family without him. It is felt not only by you, even I realise his value at certain times", Dr. Fernandopulle heard President Rajapaksa taking a deep breath.Recalling some incidents and events in the political fora and also in his life where the two of them acted together, President Rajapaksa said:" In vain these ruthless LTTE terrorists killed my good friend", he said with regret and inquired about the education of the late minister's two children.

GCE (AL) exam

The GCE (Advanced Level) examination 2011, that was mired in controversy had prompted the President to appoint a Committee to look into the issue. The committee, which was headed by the Research and Technology Ministry Secretary Dhara Wijetilleke, comprised Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo Prof Kshanika Hiriburegama, Vice Chancellor of Moratuwa University Prof Ananda Jayawardene, Vice Chancellor of Uva University Prof Ranjith Premalal de Silva and Principal of the Royal College Upali Gunasekera.They were instructed to conduct an investigation into the issue over the district scores of the A/Level examination results, the delay in releasing the results and a host of other issues which surfaced with the release of results.

The Following are findings of the committee, which handed over its report to the President last Friday.

* The error in calculating the district rankings had been caused at the last stage (processing stage), and not at the stage of entering data.

* This processing error had been rectified by the Department of Examinations within a short period of time and the results released thereafter do not contain inaccuracies due to this processing error.

* The officers responsible had not taken adequate steps to avoid the causes that contributed to the error.

* An independent process Audit should be carried out to provide for continuous improvements of the entire examination process. This should ideally be carried out by the Ministry of Education.

* Inquiries conducted regarding the specific appeals made by the candidates in response to the public call by the Committee, have been examined. The Committee has found that there are no processing errors in those results.

* Given the reliance of the UGC on the results of the A/L examination for University admission, the formula to be used in determining the common indicator (the use of the Z score calculation) should be decided by the Commission after careful and wide consultations.

* There is a need to take several steps to enhance the capacity of the department to handle the technology related functions of the department. The Committee has identified what these are, specifically.

* As an immediate measure, the services of a Consultant should be obtained to provide advice on technology related matters.

* Matters relating to software improvements should be examined. In particular, every revision of a computer programme and data processing, should be double checked, verified and validated before implementation.

* Implementation of recommendations of previous Committees as well as this Committee, should be ensured through an Action Plan with time targets for implementation. This should be monitored by the Ministry of Education.

* The cadre and financial provision required by the Department of Examinations should be provided to ensure optimum efficiency.

* Complaints with regard to the 2011 G.C.E A/L examination should be addressed by the department with extra concern and caution to restore the credibility of the department. A special help line should be established to receive all the complaints and these should be responded to.

President Rajapaksa has also ordered the disciplinary committee of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) to resolve the conflict between Kelaniya Pradeshiya Sabha members and SLFP Kelaniya organiser, Public Affairs and Public Relations Minister Mervyn Silva according to the party's code of conduct.When Minister Silva contacted President Mahinda Rajapaksa to present his grievances, according to sources, the President has said he couldn't solve the issue but contact the SLFP General Secretary, Minister Maithripala Sirisena for further action.

Resolve conflict

Meanwhile, President Rajapaksa has issued directives to the members of the SLFP disciplinary committee and directed them to resolve the conflict according to the party's code of conduct and to call both parties for a discussion to reach an amicable settlement before the matter gets out of hand. Meanwhile, at a discussion with trade union leaders of the SLFP held at Temple Trees the President has asked trade union leaders to change their attitudes and shed differences in the best interest of the country. He said public sector employees should consider their responsibilities to the country while enjoying their rights.

Thai Pongal

In his Thai Pongal message, President Rajapaksa called upon the Hindus and all people to re-kindle their resolve to bring about further social cohesion and unity of all communities co-existing in the new peaceful environment in the country.

"On this Thai Pongal Day, the most popular event in the Hindu religious calendar, I wish the Sri Lankan Hindus prosperity, peace and happiness in the coming year and beyond, states President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a Thai Pongal message. The message adds: Traditionally a thanksgiving ceremony of the farming community Hindus offer prayers of gratitude to the Sun God for a bountiful harvest and also pay tribute to the farm animals who helped them in the cultivation.

A feast of freedom, peace, love and compassion it provides new opportunities for family re-union, meeting friends and acquaintances and reconciliation between estranged relatives and friends.

As Sri Lanka is advancing towards prosperity and betterment of the lives of its people. I call upon the Hindus and all people to re-kindle their resolve to bring about further social cohesion and unity of all communities co-existing in the new peaceful environment in the country.

Let Thai Pongal signify not only the beginning of the month of Thai but also the beginning of a new life of peace and friendship among all peoples.", he said.

 

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