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Citizens' Mail

Need for new contemporary thinking

Now, we have a strict disciplinarian as our President. It is unlikely that the Presidential form of Government would be abolished, and also set up an Upper House to prevent or delay hasty legislation. Nor are we going to have a restricted number of Ministers.

Cabinet of Ministers are welcome, but non-cabinet ministers are very important that specialises particular fields of engagement.

We could have 25 such Junior Ministers with lesser salaries, thus saving a lot of expenses. Only hardworking, educated in contemporary new thinking, and professionally efficient people be appointed as such ministers and junior ministers.

The elected Prime Minister plans and executes the legislature and advises the President in helping out the deliberations. Cabinet secrecy and responsibilities of all ministers and junior ministers should function in unison.

Duly elected Members of Parliament both from the Ruling Party and the Opposition should be virtuous men and women who have contemporary global knowledge. They should be trilingual or at least bilingual. The perks and privileges should be minimized to save money we need to settle the heavy debts we have subjected to.

It is the President who has powers, but the supremacy of the House of Representatives is paramount because of the people at large elect such members. The President too is elected by people’s power, but to carry out the visionary plans, he could be a benevolent despot with the consultation of all the members of the Parliament.

For any government to rule to the satisfaction of all the people, we need a vibrant Opposition that merely opposes anything that the government proposes. The Opposition is a shadow Cabinet and should point out rationally and in practical terms what if the government goes wrong and support everything beneficial to all people of the country. The people are intelligent and politically conscious. But most of them are not knowledgeable in many fields. They should be educated in the right way to understand the changes all around the world.

Our little island has people of various origins and we have minute differences in overall culture.

They are dubbed as the majority community and minority communities only by taking the numerical strength. But we are all human beings.

It is an accident of birth that we are born in a particular community. Since Independence and even before the colonial times we have learnt to be parochial.

We have never thought to be citizens of one Nation as Sri Lankans.

There are several reasons for this. One reason some of the people are concentrated in particular geographical locations and therefore distanced from the others.

The majority of the people at present happen to be the worshippers of the Buddha after the visit of the son of the Emperor Asoka, Mahinda and his sister Sanghamitta during the reign of a king named Devanampiyatissa.

The Buddhist philosophy born out of Northern Indian form of Hinduism. In Lanka, it is Savaism that is practised by the majority Tamils.

So we have a Sinhala Buddhist country with a quite number of people who are neither Sinhalese nor Buddhists who are citizens of the country.

They should be treated well if we are following the wisdom of Siddhartha, the noble philosopher. Then we are all citizens and integrated members of one Nation.

The ethnic policy of the government should not be narrowed down. After all, diversity is always good rather than alienation of such people with different make up.

KS Sivakumaran


Experts to head State-owned enterprises

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has got off to a flying start with good ideas to run his government in an efficient manner to bring peace and prosperity to this country, plagued with lawlessness, corruption and other ills. Towards this end it is praiseworthy to learn that he has appointed a Selection Board to select experts to head State Owned Enterprises running at a colossal loss.

Hope the Selection Board is trustworthy to carry out this most important task. Not only the head of an organisation be an honest expert but also Board Members who should not be political appointees as done now.

It would be added advantage for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to know world lending bodies -especially the World Bank - have time and again called for privatization of these state-owned institutions, as they found there were political interferences, specially over staffing and manipulation of tenders. This is quite evident when seeing the perilous state, the Ceylon Electricity Board has fallen to. I am proud to say, the CEB ran as a profitable State Business venture up to 1988. This was possible as the Secretaries to the Ministry and the Chairmen were implacably honest and hardworking, along with dedicated duty conscious staff both in the Ministry and the CEB. It is rumoured (subject to verification) when the last Yahapalanaya came to power in 2015 the labour strength was 14,000 and has now risen to 20,150. Next is the award of a tender for the construction of Kerawalapitiya LNG plant to a Chinese firm whose tender was higher than the tender of a local firm.

This matter is before courts and what is reported in the press gives a clear picture of political interference, leading to corruption. International lending agencies such as World Bank, (WB) International Monetary Fund (IMF), Asian Development Board (ADB). Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) sees to financial viability of a project when approached for loans and sometimes, recommend certain conditions before agreeing to grant the loan. One such case, I am aware of is when the Ministry for Power and Energy, during the time of Minister D. B. Wijethunga, who initiated the Rural Electrification Project, ADB insisted that only financially viable village schemes should be undertaken and on agreement the loan was granted. This project attracted politicians and certain financial adjustments were made to accommodate some projects.

This requirement of financial viability is not considered by some countries which come forward to assist, hence most of the projects undertaken have become white elephants. Here it should be mentioned, President Gotabaya and his ministers should be careful in handling loans from some countries as they are ever prepared to fund such projects and later when the country fails to repay the loan with interest, invariably the project is taken over by them or allowed to operate as a Build-Operate and Own (BOO) project, thus interfering in local administration. This is exactly what has happened to Kenya and Zambia where Kenya has lost Mombasa Port and Zambia its Air Port as reported.

In our country Sri Lanka, there was another ruse to take over the operation of Norochcholai Coal Power Station, as there were frequent breakdowns. Fortunately, the then Minister for Power and Energy Patali Champika Ranawaka never gave in. These countries are never losers of granting loans, as when these projects are undertaken, they engage their own labour, other staff, materials and machinery. In short, they pay themselves the loan, providing employment to their own men, manufacture of machinery etc. What is left is, we have to pay the loan which they themselves had devoured. Hence, it is suggested that when government to government loans are negotiated, open worldwide tenders should be called, and the donor country too could bid.

It is hoped, at the next general elections, leaders of political parties will nominate honest candidates for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to usher in a clean government for peace and prosperity of the country.

G. A. D. Sirimal


SMART plan to save elephants

Now that the deeply harrowing story of the emaciated and ill-treated 70-year-old elephant, Tikiri has been highlighted in the media, all animal lovers worldwide have a great opportunity to start ROTEIAS (Resettlement Of Temple Elephants Into Animal Sanctuaries) to motivate themselves in earnest without procrastination.

I wish to set out a care plan which has SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-related) objectives for those keen to join in a well co-ordinated peaceful campaign to get the message across to the Chief Incumbents of Kandy Temple and all other High Priests up and down the country, the President, Prime Minister and the rest of the Cabinet as well as the general public: keeping elephants in captivity in temples of all places is wholly unacceptable and must be stopped.

Given the anticipated objections and obstructions from monks, politicians and misguided laypeople on the pretexts of all manner of “reasoned and hallowed”, “cultural practices” etc. that any attempt to break away to secure victory for the elephants in captivity could be dismissed or even outlawed at the stroke of a pen by the powers that be.

Let’s be very mindful and strong-willed to pursue to its noble end!

What everyone should bear in mind is that elephants are a National treasure, more important than the institutions. Their prestige, glory, status and self-importance supersede the fundamental teachings of the Buddha. They thrive on it, it “blesses” them with luxury living, wealth and power!

We could collectively or individually liaise with any of the following organisations to get professional advice on how to mount and spearhead an efficient non-violent campaign to achieve our noble ambitions:

1. Boycott all religious institutions that keep elephants in captivity.

2. Boycott processions that parade elephants.

3. Organise yourselves into non-violent action groups to spread the message loud and clear.

4. Choose Poya days to hold placards outside temples where elephants are kept instead of observing “atasil”.

Also, please do consider initiating an online petition.

May all elephants live peacefully in their natural habitat with active support and compassion from animal lovers the world over freed from the throes of temples and those with vested interests who together have formed themselves into an institution more powerful and stronger than elephants themselves.

Sunil Dharmabandhu


Traffic congestion

In the evenings after 5 pm there is a massive traffic build-up in between Wellawatta and beginning of Dehiwela up to the former William Grinding Mill, now Dhammika Motors Junction. This is due to traffic coming from Kalubowila to Galle Road and Marine Drive traffic coming into Galle Road. Even the Kalubowila Road ending at Galle Road and the Marine Drive approach to Galle Road have long line of traffic build-ups.

Vehicles passing this junction are stuck for nearly half an hour in the traffic wasting much valuable fuel and costing the economy as well. We wish relevant authorities take action in reliving the commuters of this misery.

Edmund Ockersz


Response to Nimesh Dissanayake: Discriminatory statement

In the article on ‘Crusader for rights of Buddhists’ published on Daily News recently, Nimesh Dissanayake states the following as regards the achievements of Colonel Olcott:

“When we remember the fact that great schools of learning such as Ananda, Nalanda and Dharmaraja produced national leaders and others who did a lot for their country and also when we remember that colleges for ladies like Musaeus and Visakha produced heroic mothers for the country...”

I strongly object to the assumption in this paragraph that, unlike in the case of men who went on to become national leaders etc. through their education in leading Buddhist schools, women's main contribution as a result of their education in Buddhist schools was predominantly as ‘mothers’ of the next generation, and thereby their contribution as individuals in their own right is not recognised at all.

This is a highly discriminatory assumption that negates the considerable and equal achievements of men and women of this country historically and in present times, and in all sorts of ways and at all levels in society. It mars what is otherwise an interesting article on Colonel Olcott's contribution to the revival of Buddhist education in the colonial era.

Dr. Hiranthi Jayaweera

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