31st August, 2003 Volume 10, Issue 7
Stop this police terror
These criminal elements
in the police force escape effortlessly by manipulating the evidence with
the patronage of their unscrupulous superiors and corrupt politicians.
Is civil society going to tolerate this
sordid situation anymore? It is incumbent upon right thinking professionals,
trade union leaders, clergymen and social service workers to form an
effective coalition to combat police terror and safeguard human rights.
In this particular case the government
should take immediate steps to exhume the body of this hapless victim and
conduct a fresh post mortem independently to determine whether death was due
to police assault. Meanwhile the police officers responsible for Sunil's
death should be interdicted or sent on compulsory leave forthwith, so that
no threats could be held out to witnesses. If the government is sincere in
safeguarding the public interest, it should pursue this case vigorously to
ascertain whether the police caused the death of Sunil Hemachandra. If so,
deterrent punishment should be meted out to those guilty.
I believe never before have human rights
been violated as at the present time. In order to eliminate this trend, I
suggest that the following measures be implemented with immediate effect.
1 Instant dismissal of police officers
found guilty by a court of law for violating human rights, irrespective of
2 Jail terms in addition to fines be
imposed on cops guilty of trampling on human rights.
3 Appoint independent tribunals in every
province comprising retired judges, public servants, lawyers, doctors, etc,
to investigate complaints by the public against police atrocities. It serves
no purpose whatsoever in entrusting this job, as at present, to police
superiors, as they sweep under the carpet the misdemeanours of their
of the law
Then a minister in the up-country walked
into the police station armed with a revolver and abused the police officer
to his maximum satisfaction. Subsequently the same parliamentarian went to
the Borella police station, sat on the chair meant for the OIC and refused
to leave the station untill his supporter who was to be charged with a
traffic offence was sent out scot free.
Recently a minister's son who was writing
obscenities on a convent wall assaulted a police officer who went to stop
The latest incident is a minister's
son-in-law had kicked a police sergeant following a road accident in the
heart of Colombo.
Complaints with regard to these incidents
are reported to have been inquired into by the police in detail. I am
confident the IGP would have protested against these acts on the part of the
The Prime Minister has enough and more
work. It is the duty of the disciplinary committee to take action against
errant politicians and their henchmen.
The rule of the law must be allowed to
prevail at any cost.
PM told to pull up his
socks before it is too late
It is said that Nero fiddled his violin
while Rome was burning. It appears to us that the government headed by Prime
Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is fiddling with the peace process while our
beloved land is heading for ruin.
Newspapers have highlighted the alleged
misdeeds of cabinet ministers such as the likes of Wijesekera, J.J., and we
are told even Rajitha Senaratne has some dirty linen to wash.
The police either will not, or cannot do
their job due to blatant thuggery by government party supporters who have
the brass to assault police officers who will not do their bidding. A
minister has turned thug by threatening to murder newsmen who are exposing
his corrupt activities.
Has the PM no guts to get rid of these
undesirables? Is he more interested in remaining as prime minister for fear
of any disciplinary action which may make him lose his majority?
We see the police occasionally arresting
so-called underworld gangs while murder, robbery, rape and other serious
crimes continue to escalate. We also see large numbers of police officers on
our roads, checking on speeding vehicles. That appears to be all they know
of traffic/motoring offences.
Buses which are a serious hazard due to
their condition and which are obvious to any idiot are freely being used on
our roads. They often have no brake lights or signals and the drivers ignore
all road rules. Vehicles often ignore traffic lights. The list is endless
and the police are uninterested in bringing a sense of road discipline to
bear on errant motorists. They appear to be interested only in catching
speeding vehicles, may be because there is said to be money in it!
Then the medical sector is very corrupt
where shady activities have even crept into the channelling system for
The country has steadily gone down in
virtually all aspects of life as far as the common man is concerned although
ministers haughtily talk of balance of payments, the country's financial
position etc. What the ordinary man is interested in is a life within their
means free of fear from politicos who have proved they are no more than
common thugs (some ministers included) and where they can transact business
with government agencies without having to bribe their way to get their
needs attended to.
Amidst all these urgent and important
problems, we are told that the Prime Minister is pre-occupied with the peace
process! The way things are going we ordinary folk believe that he does not
have the foggiest idea of what we consider to be priorities. The average
villager gives more importance to the price of onions and potatoes etc. and
the freedom to live without fear. He is less interested in the so-called
progress the government is making with the peace process.
Anyone who knows the work of the
Norwegians will say they have been very partial to the Tigers and more
interested in doing them favours than to the government. The Norwegians are
there for what they can and will get out of it, no doubt at the expense of
the Sinhala south.
We have voted for the UNP from about 1950.
But now, we doubt we will continue to support the party. We would suggest
that the PM pulls up his socks and gets the country out of the present mess
or retire gracefully before he gets thrown out at the next elections.
- serious consequences
I almost choked on my breakfast rotti when
I saw the headline in a recent daily, 'Army to de-list 50,000 deserters.'
Most people are of the opinion that the top brass of the army should show
greater dedication and commitment, but this new development only serves to
create the impression that they may have taken complete leave of their
One wonders whether this has the blessings
of the Minister of Defence and the whole cabinet. If so, one can only form
the conclusion that lunacy has pervaded the upper echelons of power.
Has anyone given serious thought to the
repercussions of this seemingly asinine and totally irresponsible decision?
Our crime rate is at an all time high
because the army has unleashed over 50,000 fugitives from justice, who are
trained in the art of warfare and killing, on the rest of our society. The
figure is actually closer to 60,000 than 50,000. It is also learned that
these deserters have decamped with their weapons. Reliable information also
has it that there are over 35,000 T56 rifles in circulation, not counting
How come there are so many deserters?
There may be several reasons: lack of morale; lack of leadership; poor
example from the top; poor recruitment policy; inadequate training;
generally bad administration; difficult living conditions etc. Nevertheless,
desertion is a criminal offence and deserters should be apprehended and
brought to justice, in this case, court martial. The very fact that the
number of deserters has increased to 50,000 can only be reasonably construed
as negligence and apathy at the top.
What effect will this have on the morale
of the rest of the army; the vast majority of servicemen who have complied
with army regulations and served the army and the country faithfully one
does not have to elaborate. The repercussions are quite obvious.
Legitimising desertion will result in
serious consequences to the whole country. Is there some irresistible
political pressure being imposed on the army to whitewash these criminal
elements that are terrorising and plundering society with impunity?
Desertion is viewed so leniently in the
army that the only antidote proposed is a massive recruitment drive! Can
anything be more ridiculous? Military administration is obviously in dire
straits and the oft-quoted military axiom would apply admirably in our
situation - "There are no bad soldiers; only bad officers."
Disregard for accountability in people in
positions of power has now become a national trait, and there is not the
slightest indication that this government intends to change that. It does
appear that those in high ranks are absolved from accountability by
The attitude of calmly accepting and
reporting this preposterous decision of the army only indicates that even
the watch dogs of the nation have fallen asleep or perhaps it is easier to
look the other way, ignore the unpleasant, toe the party line. To whom then
can we appeal to put a stop to this lunacy and restore a semblance of sanity
to the proceedings?
Disciplining over 50,000 deserters is a
monumental task, no doubt, but taking the easy way out and legalising
desertion will only compound the errors already made. Deserters must be
relentlessly pursued and brought to book. They must face trial and pay for
their transgressions against the army and against the people. However, when
passing judgement, administrative shortcomings must be taken into
consideration as mitigating factors.
Fresh recruitment must only be undertaken
with a view to containing this monster created by the army. To do anything
else is to perpetrate an even greater calamity on our peoples.
John W. Hardene
Phone calls: pinching
the poor to pay for the rich
Now Sri LankaTelecom informs customers
that they are to get 200 units free but at a higher rental of Rs. 450. Sri
Lankans are suckers for sale gimmicks - and this really takes the cake.
What in effect is happening, considering
the increase of Rs. 250 in the rental, is that all are paying for 80 units
at the rate of Rs. 3 per call. There are many lower middle class people who
are very careful of their calls, who may not be using the phone even this
much usually. But now what will happen is that they will take calls because
it's free up to 200 units. On the other hand, those who won't be using that
much also will be paying unnecessarily.
The poor should be able to have at least
the telephone facilities at a lower rate. The new system is helping to pinch
the poor to pay for the rich - rather it should be the other way about. Let
the rental be Rs. 200 as it is, but if SLT needs money, let them charge an
increasing rate for the users of more units, as it happens in water. Let the
first 200 units be at Rs. 3 and second block at higher rate - this way those
who use the phone more will pay more, the less privileged will be able to
manage within their income. This way, all will be careful.
Dr. Mareena Reffai
Where is the
It is unbelievable that the Finance
Ministry was not aware of a shortfall in VAT collections to the tune of Rs.
20 billion until the end of the fiscal year. VAT is collected from the
taxpayer either on a quarterly or monthly basis. Either there is no
accountability at the Inland Revenue or the Finance Ministry officials are
too lazy to look at reports sent by Inland Revenue.
It should be made mandatory for all
revenue collection institutions of the government to display to the public
at their premises, a comparison of their budgeted collection targets with
actual collections on a quarterly basis. The public cannot then be
hoodwinked to believe every Finance Ministry statement and besides, the
public would be in a position to advise the government on corrective action.
The government should have realised the
latter from the numerous letters to the newspapers regarding the shortfall
in VAT collections. It is unfortunate that the Finance Ministry or for that
matter any government department ever responds to criticism levelled against
them through these letters. Retired consultants who can only find employment
in government ministries can only give useful advice, seems to be the belief
of many ministers.
Furthermore, if there is a genuine desire
to be transparent and accountable the annual financial statements of all
statutory bodies/government institutions should be published in newspapers,
thereby giving the public the opportunity to comment on them. Invariably
this would help the Auditor General with his audits of these institutions in
subsequent years. May be the Auditor General's Department would care to
Two months have passed since the tragic
event that claimed five innocent lives.
Inna Lillahi Wainna Ilaihi Rajioon
(We came from Him and unto Him we return)
The grieving hearts of the parents of
these five young men that constantly bled were incessantly stanched not by
balm but by the tears streaming down their cheeks. Thus the anguish and
trauma suffered by them is immense and infinite.
All five young lives were smothered out of
existence in a tragic moment. Reflecting on the events of the last 60 days
we are consoled by the fact that many things are wrought by prayer than this
world dreams of.
Shafraz performed Umrah with his parents
in 1994. Being widely travelled from a young age, his knowledge of the world
All those whom he came into contact widely
acclaimed his intellect, foresight and vision. His willingness to respect
elders, his initiative and enterprise, his gentle and affable manners, his
courage of conviction, his friendly disposition and willingness to help the
needy, endeared him to one and all.
The letters from Middlesex University
conveying their condolences had also mentioned therein that he had done
exceptionally well in the first part of his final BIT course. Mention was
also made that "he achieved very high marks in all his
Before he left for the UK, he was a
student at APITT where he made numerous friends. Its monthly magazine sings
his praises and showers him with laurels.
Tributes were also paid to him at several
important fora where he frequently mixed with other members freely - Sri
Lanka - Indonesia Friendship Association, Prisoners Welfare Association,
Welikada, All Ceylon Moors Association, Sri Lanka-Pakistan Friendship
Association and Friends of the Accident Service are some of the several
organisations that observed two minutes silence in his memory.
His kindness and friendly feeling for
others won the hearts of many as witnessed by the massive crowds at his
funeral. The three institutions of learning, Royal College, Wycherly
International School and APIIT where he studied were well represented by a
cross section of teachers, students and parents.
Had Providence given him the chance as was
expected, he would have gone back to the UK in August and bagged the BIT
degree, thus completing his final in December 2003 coming out with flying
colours. But fate decreed otherwise. In the midst of life we are in death.
His parents who fulfilled his every wish
had a great sense of satisfaction in that he stood up to more than their
His altruistic spirit was his noble
quality that was in-built and embedded in him. He epitomised all that was
good kind, sincere, friendly, honest, just and gentlemanly.
May Allah grant to him and to his four
other friends Jennothul Firdows as they were together in life and so were
they in death.
All praise to Allah, the Lord who knows
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