29th June, 2003 Volume 9, Issue 50
Diesel lobby calling all the shots at the CEB
is going on with the
the UNF government under Ranil Wickremesinghe took over the reins of
government in December 2001, one of the first decisions of the new PM was to
create a new body called the Energy Supply Committee (ESC) to look into all
matters pertaining to the energy sector.
much of the efforts of this new committee were designed to address issues
pertaining to the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), the premier player in
matters relating to power generation. The committee was designed to
eliminate and/ or at a minimum reduce the abuses and excesses in the energy
sector of the previous regime and also to streamline the decision making
process at the CEB with the idea of making the CEB more transparent,
efficient and accountable. It was apparent to many that Wickremesinghe had
given much thought to changing the business as usual practice in the energy
studying the processes in the sector, Wickremesinghe would have realised
that there was an entrenched bureaucracy which would fight tooth and nail to
block any meaningful reforms at the CEB. Since taking over control of the
country's power supply and distribution network, the CEB was in total
control of the whole energy pie and the pie was big enough to feed the
insatiable needs of the greedy bureaucracy.
Prime Minister's close confidant Charitha Ratwatte, considered to be a
rising star in the new administration, was selected as the point man to run
the affairs of this committee. Others like Arjunna Mahendran of the BOI and
Paskaralingham, advisor for policy implementation were also included to add
glitter to the committee.
insiders were quick to praise the new PM's initiative and also were full of
praise for the selection of Ratwatte to head the committee for he was
considered to be a man of impeccable credentials. In addition, Mahendran was
considered to be the investment wiz of the new government and
Paskaralin-gham was known as a man of 'behind the scenes' action. With such
individuals in the midst, how can the ESC go wrong, we ask? Well, 16 months
have gone by and the power crisis goes on unabated. The condition of the
country's power generation can hardly be termed as improved since the ESC
was formulated and came into operation.
only meaningful action taken by the ESC seems to be the authorisation of the
purchase of emergency private sector power by the CEB, at exorbitant rates,
to make up for the deficit in power generation. Thanks mainly to this costly
exercise; the CEB has managed to avoid saddling the general populace with
annoying power cuts. Other than avoiding the unpopular power cuts, the
actions or inactions as the case may be, of the ESB has made hardly any
favourable impact on other key areas.
instance, the processes and the bureaucracy remain the same and the
inefficiency and corruption at the CEB continue to flourish just as before.
At most, another group equally inept at finding solutions to the country's
growing power needs has replaced one inefficient and corrupt group of
bureaucrats at the Ministry of Power & Energy and the CEB. The ESC seems
quite content on letting people like K.K.Y.W. Perera and Chairman, CEB,
Zubair run the affairs of the CEB as they see fit. Which is to say, the
status quo with the diesel lobby occupying the throne is calling all the
shots at the CEB.
'Code of the West'
M.K.R. Ranjith alias Chandi Malli of immense notoriety as someone who
literally "lived by the sword," was shot down and virtually
"died by the sword," there was such a furore that the Interior
Minister ordered the IGP to conduct a major inquiry fearing that the UNF
government would be accused of having masterminded this murder. The
President then thought it fit to order an inquiry into the inquiry, as she
was not satisfied with the first one. Then the opposition made a hue and cry
and organised a protest march and demonstration and turned parliament into a
court of jesters, demanding that the government should find those
responsible for the murder.
with the latest murder of another PA councillor, goodness knows what's going
to happen. Could it be that some other interested party is trying to bring
about dissension between the two major parties? Or is it a home and home
affair? This kind of thing is known to have happened before! So the sooner
these assassins are apprehended, the better it would be all round.
that the murderers were found, what would be the earthly use? Because in any
case, it appears that the President, according to her spokesman, Harim
Peiris, is against the death penalty and so are a number of ministers and
MPs on both sides, going by the statements made by them. So even if those
responsible were caught and proven guilty they still cannot be executed.
They will only languish in jail at the expense of the tax paying public or
occupy themselves, running a mafia within, while corrupting the system as
they only know how, having their enemies, witnesses and anyone else they
wish to eliminate, threatened or even bumped off!
any case the 'do gooders' are there to take up the murderers' cause on
'humanitarian grounds.' To add to the mayhem, some opposition members are
now clamouring to have provincial councilors armed as a result of the M.K.
it means is that though they say the government cannot execute a criminal,
the provincial councillors can be armed and given the licence to execute
others in self defence or even at will. Does it mean that if a doctor or a
lawyer is assassinated all lawyers and doctors should be given arms for
their self defence? If this trend is allowed to continue unabated, soon the
'Code of the West' will apply. That of "Do unto others before they do
these very same ministers, presidents and protesters call for a major
inquiry into the Hokandara massacre? Or scream for the murderers to be
caught? If not for a few 'public spirited' individuals who took the law into
their own hands and meted out 'summary justice' due to the inaction of the
police, these kasippu manufacturers would have gone scot free! Even now one
wonders if those criminals have been apprehended or are back in business
manufacturing the 'brew' in their ill gotten land. Nor did these eminent
people call for major inquiries or massive police action in bringing those
criminals to book, who murdered that innocent girl and her father and
brother in such a horrible manner that stunned the whole nation!
are hundreds of 'innocent' people who are getting mowed down on the roads
every day by errant vehicle drivers, Cannot these 'do gooders' put a stop to
all those innocent victims being killed. Perhaps they can form a human
rights society or patrol the streets to ensure such victims are not put to
death? Why are they only concerned with saving convicted criminals and
murderers? Do they not seem to realise the gravity of the destruction
rampant criminals bring, not only to their innocent, helpless victims of
rape, murder and drugs but also to the good name of the country and to the
majority religion which decries even the killing or torturing of animals,
let alone human beings?
it is obvious that the only way to maintain law and order, even if a code of
ethics is adopted by parliament, is to allow the security forces to enforce
the law unhindered and make sure it is done fairly and sans interference,
political or otherwise, lest the 'Code of the West' begins to apply.
law to halt doctors fleecing patients?
are delighted at the efforts made by Minister Ravi Karunanayake and the
State Trading Corporation to bring down the cost of drugs.
it is distressing to note that Shylock-like doctors continue to fleece
patients who go to them through sheer necessity.
instance, one such doctor could be channelled through a medi centre at
Dharmapala Mawatha, for consultation on Thursdays and Saturdays at a fee of
Rs. 1,150. Of late he has upped the Saturday consultation fee to Rs. 1350.
His fee to visit a patient at a hospital is Rs. 3000. per visit even though
such visit is to discharge a patient. Is there no law against this?
conveniently forget that their education was funded by the public. It will
be interesting to know whether these earnings are investigated by the
Department of Inland Revenue.
negligence at government hospitals
is with great regret I have to state that negligence nowadays appears to be
the order of the day in most government hospitals. This is especially a
common feature in maternity sections of hospitals. For this state of
affairs, I think all staff including doctors should be responsible. In
maternity sections it is very often reported that mothers and babies die not
for valid causes. Such happenings, it has been found are partly due to
negligence of hospital staff.
maternity section of Ragama Hospital (Colombo North) appears to be the
worst. Many unfortunate cases are reported from that hospital but do not
instance I can cite is that on May 16 my daughter was admitted to the
Colombo North hospital for her confinement. It was a normal delivery but the
baby died within two hours. The reason for death after post mortem, was
given as birth asphyxia. To my lay mind I believe this cause could have been
easily avoided if prompt action was taken to save the life of the baby. What
I think about this calamity is that there could not have been a qualified
doctor at the time of delivery. Very often only nurses and midwives attend
to these cases. Needless to say that they are not experienced enough to
handle such cases in the absence of a qualified and experienced doctor.
of the blame for such cases should also go to the government for allowing
doctors to do private practice ad lib. A doctor who has passed out only the
other day is a specialist today. This private practice system has caused
immense hardship to the poor and helpless patients. The doctors are only
interested in running after money, than attending to poor patients.
the circumstances it is time that the government takes immediate action to
abolish or curtail private practice and also takes a special interest to
improve the poor conditions and administration now prevailing at government
hospitals, especially with a view to reducing the unfortunate deaths of
mothers and babies at child birth.
of W & O pensioners
the year 2002, widows entitled to pensions have had to face much harassment
to get it as it is not posted to them monthly as was done up to the end of
January 2002, widows have to trudge to the kachcheri at least three or four
times for the year, just to get their pension forms which are issued by the
Department of Pensions, as it pleases them. They may issue two forms to one,
and three to another, and their excuse is that they have received only a
have already been to the kachcheri thrice, for this year and I will have to
go there again at least three times. I have seen old women come there with
the aid of walking sticks or with the help of someone.
have also to keep guessing when the pension would be paid, as it is not paid
on the same date every month.
all this harassment we have to face is supposed to be to stop the widows who
are re-married, from receiving the W & O pension.
this country, where there is so much corruption and fraud, even if a widow
is re-married, how cannot she get the pension, if she wants to?
in the interest of all poor widows, I appeal to those in authority, to have
some sympathy on them and revert to the old practice of posting the pension
monthly as was done up to the end of 2001.
wait 13 years for their dues
is now more than 13 years since HPT Ltd., collapsed (1989/90). Many
depositors became destitute overnight due to the failure of the Central Bank
to monitor the working of this
a nominee director at HPT Ltd., the Central Bank should have exercised
greater care and protected the interests of depositors who had invested
their savings at the time of retirement in their commuted pensions and
provident fund, expecting a higher income to match the ever escalating cost
January 1995 the depositors were informed by HPT Ltd., that the total
liability was Rs. 138 million. HPT Ltd. had a debt of Rs. 20 million due to
Hatton National Bank. Having settled the debt due to the bank after the sale
of HPT Ltd., head office building for Rs. 95 million, the balance Rs. 75
million was available for distribution among the depositors. However, HPT
Ltd., had in consultation with the Central Bank decided in the first
instance to repay 50% of the liability utilising the sum of Rs. 70.3 million
that was available among the depositors.
April 2000 two depositors filed petitions in courts to liquidate the company
and the liquidators were appointed accordingly.
January 1996 up to the time the liquidators were appointed, HPT Ltd., should
have received Rs. 37 million from their subsidiary companies and in addition
Rs. 5 million lying to the credit from the sale of the head office building.
the above figures one can see that the liquidators should be in a position
to pay the depositors a further 25% as an interim payment on their deposit
or at least 15% immediately. The depositors have suffered too long from 1990
and cannot wait until the final determination of HPT Ltd., funds in the
hands of the liquidators.
depositors have passed the Biblical three score years and ten and with the
ever escalating cost of living and sky rocketing prices of drugs and
vitamins they cannot be expected to live long.
is up to the Central Bank to ascertain from the liquidators of HPT Ltd.,
what progress has been made in the liquidation process from year 2000 to
date and grant an interim payment of the balance due to depositors, and not
wait until the final determination of HPT Ltd., funds which may be too late.
A. Rodrigo Sathianathen
OPERATE a credit card offered by a leading state bank for nearly 10 years.
As provision is available to obtain a supplementary card under the same
limit I have utilised this option for my wife, to be used only in an
emergency. Until very recently all my monthly statements were despatched
promptly in my name correctly as I am the main cardholder.
the last three months suddenly to my surprise, the statements have been
despatched in my wife's name. She had opened these statements without
hesitation and scrutinised them. As credit card dealings are very clearly
indicated in the statements submitted, my confidential credit card dealings
were exposed to her causing much embarrassment to me. I had even to offer
various excuses when questioned about the purchases.
brought it to the notice of the manager of the card centre of the particular
state bank in writing for which I never received a reply. To my annoyance
and anger a statement for the month of May was also sent in my wife's name
simply ignoring my written request. I must confess the centre manager is a
knowledgeable and intelligent banker. This idiotic action may have been the
work of incompetent subordinates working under him. I venture to state here
with a sense of responsibility that the standards of this particular state
bank have come down to deplorably low levels.
finally got confirmation regarding the rectification of this mistake only
when I called the card centre of this bank. I told them point blank what I
had to say about the pathetic state of the present standards of this bank.
Bradby Shield Rugby tussle between Royal and Trinity Colleges is considered
the blue ribbon of rugby football amongst schools here. Just prior to the
first leg in July 2002, the 1948 group of Royal College summoned its members
for a get-together at Dr. H. H. R.Samarasingha's residence.
message reached me on July 1 in the morning mail. That evening, I wanted to
call Kolitha to inquire from him about attending the get-together. However,
I decided otherwise knowing that Kolitha would have just returned from the
temple and put off the call to the following morning.
July 2, my telephone rang ominously at about 6.15 a.m. It was Kolitha's
elder son Kavan's voice. He said something I just failed to grasp. Kavan,
quietly informed me: "Themiya mama, I have some sad news for you.
Thaththi passed away last night." To me, it was so shocking it caused
me to suffer a blackout. The 'flame' it seemed to have been extinguished by
unforeseen forces, robbed before we knew it was happening.
today, it is with great difficulty that I face the truth that my 'Kalyana
Mithra' is no more. The grief of losing him is so intense even today that I
can well imagine what suffering his sudden death would have caused to his
loving wife Chandra and children Kavan, Sagala, Thanuja and the family
passing away was so sudden that it proved to all of us the truth of the
Buddha's teaching once more - that all things come to perish, whether
animate or inanimate.
was in January 1948 that I first met Kolitha at Glendale, Bandarawela, when
19 students met in form IG, with Lennie de Silva as form master and J. T. R.
Perimpanayagam as warden of the hill school branch. Kolitha was a dedicated
student, liked by all his classmates and appreciated by teachers. He
remained a pure vegetarian throughout his life.
who knew Kolitha would certainly agree that he would not have hurt any
being, human or any other during 65 years of exemplary living. He was such a
wonderful human being and I realised his true self - the one that was a
beacon of light to most others as I started learning the finer points in
him I found not just a friend but also much more - a true 'Kalyana Mithra'
or a most beneficial friend. In the 'Buddha Neethi Sangrahaya', a journal of
Buddha's laws authored by Ven. Rerukane Chandawimala Thero, the seven
qualities of a beneficial friend have been clearly spelled out.
it is a person who gives the most valued and precious treasures to a friend
expecting no returns. A beneficial friend is one who does what is most
difficult towards a friend, tolerates harsh words, wrongs and intolerant
deeds of a friend and one who shares innermost secrets to a friend.
it is a person who protects a friend's secrets as one's own, one who will
not isolate or abandon a friend in times of distress and would not look down
upon a friend, even in the event of concealing wealth and assets.
encapsulated all of the above and meant much more than words could describe.
He epitomised the true essence of a most beneficial friend as identified in
has been one year since Kolitha's unannounced departure. And we are still
grieving for the loss of a much-loved friend, counsel and confidant. One may
pass through life and not be lucky to find a friend of Kolitha's calibre.
And that is why those of us who are left to grieve his sudden leave feel his
presence, his fragrance.
first year death anniversary of Kolitha falls on July 1. May he be
remembered by all who knew and loved him for all his unique Buddhist living
with Metta, and convey to him merit for the ultimate achievement - a
peaceful journey through Samsara leading to the blissful state of 'Nibbana.'
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