at Colombo Museum
destroying historic artefacts?
New brooms sweep clean, they say. So,
with the coming of the Sandanaya government and with a JVP
minister of cultural affairs we observe the uprooting of all
the stone sculptures - the moonstone, the balustrades, the
Gajaba Brahmi slab inscription, the Mahameru etc., from the
main galleries of the Colombo Museum. These are now dumped on
the corridors of the museum, leaving three galleries bare.
Not satisfied with this vandalism, now
the teak paneling and showcases in the 'Polonnaruwa Period'
galleries are being removed behind closed doors. Eventually
the entire ground floor of the main building will be closed to
the public including foreign visitors who pay a higher
admission fee to view a museum without exhibits. This is at
the premier national museum of the country.
The title of this exercise is 'Reorganisation
of the Exhibition Galleries of the Colombo National Museum.'
Recently, a sum of Rs. 5 million has
been donated by a leading private bank to meet these expenses.
Now, some 'cronies' who have no clue about the workings of a
museum have teamed up to 'vulturise' this five million.
Is there no expertise available within
the Department of National Museums who could undertake this
reorganisation step, by step exercising the due care necessary
when dealing with what is left of our irreplaceable national
Is this another of the soda bottle
techniques of the JVP ministers famous for 'big shows' which
will end up in both waste of money and loss/damage to our
Museum Lover Rajagiriya
must pay tax as per earnings
sector skinned while govt. sector is now well off
I fully endorse the sentiments
expressed by R. Kehelpannala in your issue of October 3, about
taxpayers and non-taxpayers, government officials and
politicians being exempted from tax. It is not fair as every
citizen has to contribute his mite to the government to run
the show and help provide the needs of the nation.
The notion that government servants and
politicians are poorly paid is a lot of hogwash because gone
are the days when it was actually so. In contrast now, their
salaries are well compensated with allowances and other perks
and they are the lot we should call as enjoying both worlds,
i.e. they don't pay tax but at the same time enjoy all that
the taxpayers pay for. Feathering their own nest and that of
their siblings as well, is what they are in office to do.
Besides we all know how duty conscious
most government employees are. They put in less hours of work
compared with their counterparts in the private sector. Even
whilst on duty it is hard to find a government employee at his
desk for long periods. The canteen or sports room would be the
most likely place he would be in. Politicians shout themselves
hoarse about serving the public but no sooner they assume
office, they hasten to embrace all they can for themselves and
their generations. They never miss a trick in the book, most
even place their own family members in their ministries as
secretaries etc., so that the income is hedged in. So, it is
only fair that all citizens be asked to pay income/Paye tax as
Whatever public facility that is
maintained with the taxpayers' money is also used by these two
categories as well. So why should they be tax free whilst
another section of the community is asked to pay? From the way
I see it the government is not only skinning the private
sector employers but also taking them to the cleaners, so to
In the private sector only you find the
honest citizen who has PAYE recovered from his salary and has
to pay VAT and tax on everything purchased. Inland Revenue
Dept. officials are busy finding ways and means to squeeze
rupees out of the private sector. Instead, it is time they
looked at some means of extracting some much deserved money
out of the government sector, even under a separate tax table.
fuel for super rich!
Petrol and to a higher extent diesel is
said to be subsidised by the government. But there is blatant
waste of fuel by owners of air-conditioned vehicles. It is a
common sight in front of supermarkets and other places where
owners remain inside parked vehicles with the engine running
and the air conditioner on. Give them a hard look and they
will stare back at you as if to ask 'So what? My money
, my petrol, so what do you care.' Owners of jeeps are the
biggest culprits. Invariably the drivers employed by the super
rich do the same. Sri Lanka must be the only country providing
subsidised products to the super rich.
Although there are no laws to prevent
burning of fuel in this manner, civic-minded citizens should
be bold enough to walk up to these vehicle owners and remind
them that fuel is subsidised. Policemen on duty should be
asked to do the same. Like my neighbours, there are people who
keep the vehicle air-conditioner running even while parked in
front of their house, just because the fuel bill is paid by
Civic Minded Citizen
the tax net wider to catch high income earners
The worst fears the middle, lower
middle and working classes had about a PA/JVP coalition have
been confirmed by the recent Income/PAYE Tax circular sent by
the Department of Inland Revenue. This 'party of the working
classes' has been even better than the capitalist UNP in
wringing out whatever remaining strength of the office and
Their new directive has stiffened the
UNP proposals while at the same time increasing the rates of
taxation. Another totally unacceptable feature is the
retrospective provisions permitting the taxes to be backdated
to April 1 meaning that taxes uncollected due to
administrative delays can be collected from future salaries.
No previous regime has ever imposed such grossly unreasonable
tax rules and once implemented, there will be no take home
salaries for a few months for most of us.
The new rules smack of vindictiveness.
It is only the PAYE taxpayers who honestly pay tax because it
is taken out of the salary and remitted to Inland Revenue
Department. There are hundreds of thousands of businessmen and
landowners who earn several times more but do not pay a cent
as taxes because there is no one to monitor their income. They
often file tax returns showing bogus charges and losses, and
thereby pay very little or no taxes at all. Inland Revenue
Department assessors are well looked after by these
businessmen through financial gratifications and favours such
as employment for their children. We poor salary earners who
are not in a position to offer such favours are taxed directly
through PAYE and also indirectly through Withholding Tax and
VAT. And where we pay excess, getting a refund takes years.
This is highly unfair and the so called
workers party of PA/JVP should correct the anomalies created
and instead spread the tax net wider to catch those high
income earners who habitually avoid taxes, hoard their wealth
and finally take cover under tax amnesties. The PA/JVP
alliance will have to undo this damage in the next budget, if
they are truly a party of the working class.
one audits the auditor
The photogenic chief of Chartered
Accountants, has agreed that "more needs to be done to
effectively enforce accounting and auditing standards for
which the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICASL) is
responsible." Facing a googly bowled at him at a recent
news conference, he has not offered any stroke at all.
I beg to disagree with Indrajith
Fernando. With regard to monitoring of accounting standards
all what is required had been done. The Sri Lanka Accounting
& Auditing Standards Monitoring Board (SLAASMB) funded by
the taxpayer (not by ICASL) is effectively monitoring
compliance with accounting standards. However, there is
absolutely no interest shown by any authority to monitor
compliance with auditing standards and laws are unlikely to be
introduced in this regard, whilst ICASL considers itself
responsible for it.
The statutory name of SLAASMB itself
implies it was intended that, this regulatory body should
monitor the auditors. But probably due to conflict of interest
this role is conveniently dodged by SLAASMB. Will the chiefs
of Chartered Accountants and SLAASMB care to enlighten the
investing public please?
Hopefully the depositors of Pramuka
Bank will sue the auditors in the interest of the investing
public. Such action will create public awareness on a topic
which does not receive due attention of the authorities
concerned. Had the auditors been sued for negligence instead
of being warned, when several finance companies of Sri Lanka
collapsed some time back, it would have gone a long way to
improve auditing skills and also to set up a mechanism to
audit the auditor.
Death is certain, and the curtain fell
on Eddie Gray (as he was popularly known) in Melbourne, Australia on
Tuesday, September 21 after four score and five years. It is with
gratitude and affection that I pen this message as a tribute and
testimony to my colleague, friend and compassionate human being.
Historically, Eddie will be remembered
eternally for the role he was involved in when Sri Lanka's first
Prime Minister, D.S. Senanayake, fell off the horse he was riding at
Galle Face Green on that fateful morning. Eddie who was the late
Premier's bodyguard, clasped him in his arms in the last moments of
his life before succumbing to injuries in hospital.
On reflection, both Eddie having
retired from the Police as O.I.C. for Mounted Division and I
straight from college were employed at Colombo Assurance Ltd. in
1956 and worked under the late Mr. F.C. (Fritz) Scharenguivel who
had just retired from the police force in the capacity of DIG and
also head of the M.I.S. Division of the police during the
premiership of Sir John Kotelawala. During our stewardship at his
organisation, I realised Eddie's multifaceted talent not only as a
sportsman but also as a professional, which qualities he amply
displayed with zeal, determination, courage and conviction. To
further realise and substantiate this statement, it is worthy of
mention that 'great achievement required great perseverance', and
Colombo Assurance Ltd had been most fortunate to have on its staff
this gentleman par excellence, whose contribution to the
organisation was immense and fruitful.
Another salient feature which comes to
mind was the selection of the captain of the Colombo Assurance Ltd
cricket team for the mercantile tournament. The obvious choice for
the job was Eddie, considering his seniority and fine leadership
qualities. However, he declined the offer in my favour as he
believed in grooming youth for the future. Although I was bestowed
with the honour of skippering and leading the team, it was
conspicuous to note Eddie's humility - a distinguishing
characteristic of an unselfish and honourable man.
Eddie was an officer and a gentleman in
every sense of the word. He was meticulously clad at all times, a
discipline he professed, and insisted on the need to be punctual in
life, to all and sundry, as these positives are means to be
successful in any endeavour. I could state unhesitatingly, with
utmost sincerity and without an iota of doubt that Eddie, through
his impeccable disposition had, throughout his life time respected
the state of feelings, passions and affections of those who
associated with him, be they students, sportsmen or professionals.
His journey through life encompassed two facets: the dignity and
regal bearing of a noble person combined with the love and affection
he had for ordinary folk.
Perfection is something hard to
accomplish on earth. Absolute honesty and worshipful idols are rare,
however much one may endeavour to search, but this officer and
gentleman had stuck to his ideas, set high standards and performed
his onerous tasks with distinction and great aplomb through
dedication, courage, commitment and selflessness, hallmarks of his
success. In addition he was a gifted all-round sportsman.
Eddie migrated to Melbourne in
Australia nearly three decades ago not by wish or desire, but simply
to unite with family. Yet, he never distanced himself from his Sri
Lankan identity, but continually remembered his country of birth
nostalgically. Being characteristically a famed sportsman and lover
of sport, distance or time did not prevent him travelling to Sri
Lanka to witness the 125th Royal-Thomian cricket match this year.
Eddie was a righteous man and a devout
Christian. I quote below the words of the late Bishop Horsley,
Bishop of Colombo in paying a tribute to this exceptional and
"I expect to pass through this
world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness
that I can show to any fellow creature let me do it now. Let me not
defer or neglect it for I shall not pass through this way
On our visit to Australia a few years
ago, my wife and I were fortunate to visit and dine with Eddie and
his charming lady, Yvonne, at their home in Melbourne. He had
reserved a room of the house specially for photographs portraying
his captaincy of the Royal College teams of boxing, athletics and
rugby: ground photographs as head prefect of Royal College and
Ceylon Olympic Team in which he was a member led by our famed Duncan
One of the photographs that caught my
eye was the one portraying Duncan White leading in the hurdles
event, and looking back almost on the 'finish line' which incident
cost him the gold medal at the Olympics that
year. The impression the room designed by him created within
me was that of a man who cherished sport beyond measure: during and
even after college upto Olympic level.
To Eddie - a legend in his time;
"Farewell, my colleague and friend
Memoirs of you and all you meant to me will live forever
Your void will never be filled
God Bless You"
It is with a deep sense of loss that we
pay this tribute to Blossom who passed away just a month ago. It is
also fitting, we believe, that this In Memoriam is a celebration of
an unflawed, enduring friendship of well nigh 70 years, shared by
herself and Nannette and me. It was a friendship pertinent to the
lives of all three of us as there was, throughout these years,
constant dialogue and almost on every occasion, a meeting of minds.
Sadly we realise that human life must come to an end, but it is also
comforting to know that in the conduct of her life Blossom has
earned for herself heaven of endless peace and rest.
Born of virtuous parents, she lived a
life attuned to Christian values and ideals - a disciplined life
'far from the madding crowd.'
Graduating from university, she did a
stint of teaching. Then came marriage and motherhood in the most
fulfilling segment of her life. As the wife of a senior civil
servant she performed all the social obligations required of her but
never did she fit into the elitist class. Elitism was not in her
vocabulary. She was a very 'private person', simple, but very
dignified. Remaining in the background, she cared for and supported
her husband through his official career, whilst at the same time
nurturing and bringing her unerring sense of judgement to bear on
the upbringing of her two sons, and in the shaping of their lives.
Apart from all this she shared time and
thought for her intimate friends. Sober and restrained as she was
she also loved to unwind and share with us our youthful
reminiscences. These indeed were joyous occasions but also very
meaningful, for, though young at heart, we were advanced in years
and able to review our lives, for our selves in restrospect, and
profit by our shared experience. We were invariably edified by
Blossom's frankness and guilelessness and her deep abiding faith in
We must not, however fail to menton
that she had much to suffer. Frequent bouts of illness and
hospitalisation disturbed the even tenor of her life. On all these
instances her sons Navam and Joe and their families repaid their
debt of gratitude to her by their unflinching loyalty and devotion.
Although worthy of emulation, Blossom's
sterling qualities were unknown to many outside her family. Gray's
Elegy comes to mind -
"Full many a flower is born to
and waste its fragrance..."
But in truth, in tribute to Blossom -
in tribute to friendship we have imbibed and will continue to imbibe
Renee and Nannette