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17th December, 2006  Volume 13, Issue 23

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    

Letters

Appeals to higher authorities

The first thing that anyone who is dissatisfied with a decision of a government Department/Authority should do is to appeal to a higher authority for redress. The higher authority in this instance would be the secretary to the ministry in charge of the department/authority concerned or the minister in charge.

When an appeal is received from the public on any matter, the only thing that the secretary or the minister does is to refer the appeal to the head of the department handling the matter. The letter forwarding the appeal to the relevant head of department would say ‘forwarded for information and necessary action.’

I would like to ask whether this procedure is correct. The public appeals to a ‘higher authority’ because a proper decision has not been taken by the relevant head of department, or because there has been no reply from him inspite of several reminders.

The proper thing for the secretary or the minister to do would be to ask the particular head of department to send him a report on the matters mentioned in the appeal, examine such report, and then send a reply to the writer. If some injustice had been caused to the writer they could order the head of department to correct the injustice.

But many ministers and ministry secretaries, as a mater of routine dispose of all petitions and appeals received from the public by forwarding them to the head of department who caused the injustice or delayed or failed to take action on the request made to them by the public. How reasonable is this action?

There are many cases of pensions and W&O.P payments not being finalised for many years in spite of the fact that all relevant documentation have been forwarded to them either by the applicants or by their sub-offices.

Will the relevant authorities please take note.

G.S. de Silva
Ambalangoda


What is MR’s problem with the Bandaranaikes?

The Sri Lankan press has gone ballistic! It say s that President Rajapakse was irked by CBK addressing the SLFP organisations at Horagolla.

What is wrong with that? In case he has amnesia, her family has represented Attanagalla for 70 years undefeated, unlike the Rajapakses. She is the only patron of the SLFP. She has won 12 of the 13 elections held under her! She was elected president in 1994 by 62% of the voters, unlike MR who scraped through by 1.8% — thanks to Pirapaharan!

Now the man wants Anura Bandaranaike to resign as Minister of Tourism, as there is no tourism in the country.

In his Chinthana MR promised to bring peace in six months. What is that peace? Recently, his brother the Defence Secretary was nearly blown up at 10 a.m. in the heart of Colombo. There is also a never- ending war in the north and east.

Colombo is under siege. Every time the President travels by road all the roads are closed. Women die of their bladders bursting and men die of heart-attacks. And the President has the gumption to say that Anura should resign if he can’t get tourists because of terrorism.

Five European nations have given strict travel advisories not to travel to Sri Lanka at all.

SriLankan Airlines has offered Colombo-London-Colombo at Rs.27,000 and the planes are half empty. Sajin Vass is starting another airline to carry dogs and cats.

Why should AB resign? Tourists are not coming because bombs are exploding all over.

Before he resigns the President should resign for not ending the war in six months as promised in his Chinthana.

It will be historic to see a Rajapakse following a Bandaranaike, like in 1951.

An admirer and a hater


Missed opportunities to settle the conflict

We have been fighting the LTTE for more than 20 years without any success. The destructive war waged for such a long time has brought in its trail misery, hardship and heartburn for the citizens of this country.

People of all communities have suffered and become refugees in their own country without any permanent rehabilitation and hope of a better future. We are living in a state of insecurity due to the rampant human rights violations in the country and cannot hope for economic and political stability. Crime, corruption and favouritism are the order of the day and the country has been dubbed as one of the most corrupt and now a failed state

As long as this destructive war continues, we cannot expect a promising future for our younger generation. We must either win the war by military means or come to an amicable political settlement acceptable to all communities.

Winning the war by ourselves is not easy due to various reasons. However, there is international pressure for a peaceful settlement to the ethnic problem. All the powerful countries insist on a political settlement through negotiation, because war affects everyone and leads to the downfall of the country socially, politically and economically. Bitterness, revenge and poverty would be the outcome. Majority of the countries in the world like Ireland, South Africa and recently Nepal solved their long standing problems through negotiations.

We missed two golden opportunities to overcome this menace and make our country a peaceful and prosperous one as it was in the early ’50s. The former PM of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yu, then described Sri Lanka as a model to be followed by other countries in Asia.

Today. It is pathetic to see that countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Japan have forged ahead leaving us to lag behind. We have become poorer by this destructive war and the politicians as well as those who elected them should share the responsibility for this.

The first opportunity to overcome this situation came during the rule of President J.R. Jayewardene. Through the Indo-Lanka Accord, he created an atmosphere of quiet until the peace keeping forces from India had to leave as a result of demonstrations by the JVP.

The second opportunity came during the time of Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister. He negotiated with the LTTE and stopped the destructive war and allowed the people to breathe the fresh air of peace and non-violence. This peaceful environment slowly and steadily contributed to economic stability. All unnecessary check points were cleared and people began to move freely without any anxiety or fear. The opening of the A9 road facilitated easy movement of people and goods between the north and the south.

Some extremists argue that the LTTE became militarily powerful during this period. But what they forget is that the LTTE was more powerful and effective before Ranil became PM. Sri Lanka lost strategically located camps in the north including Elephant Pass, and thousands of our valiant soldiers perished. The eastern part of Sri Lanka that was under government control was also lost to the LTTE during this period.

The intervention of the regional superpower India is necessary if the ethnic problem is to be resolved satisfactorily. Ranil during his time had sought the assistance of the European Union, Japan and Scandinavian countries with the objective of bringing in economic salvation to the suffering masses of this country.

It is unfortunate that the Tamil people of this country failed to support Ranil at the last presidential election. Surely the country would have prospered if he had been elected president.

A majority of Sri Lankans are not politically farsighted and could be misled by cheap and false propaganda dished out by the extremist forces; and today we have neither peace nor war. We are also economically unstable although the government claims it is otherwise.

To solve the ethnic problem the A9 road must be opened permanently — of course with conditions — to ease the hardships of the northern Tamils and a political package offered to the people of the north and east, which would preserve democracy, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. Thereafter the LTTE could be invited to the negotiating table with the support of India, US and EU. If this is done the whole world would look at us with sympathy and admiration.

Concerned Citizen
Matara


Bank statement

I have an account at a state bank in Dehiwela, and was surprised to receive the bank statement for November well before the expiry of the month. The statement reached me on November 29 which goes to prove that the bank has taken into consideration only the transactions done up to November 27. I say this because the statement could have taken one day to reach me by post.

I also have an account in another branch of this particular state bank and can vouch for the fact that this is the very first time that I received a bank statement for a particular month, before the expiry of that month.

Normally a reconciliation statement is prepared taking into consideration all the transactions done during the whole month (unless under special circumstances). This innovation being the first of its kind as far as I am aware, I would like to know whether this is an accepted procedure in the banking sector.

I am also beginning to wonder whether the bank in question ran is infatuated with a sense of inappropriate over-zealousness.

L. Somadasa
Dehiwela


Death penalty and the criminal elements

Before long the government will have to face serious repercussions if the death penalty is not implemented immediately.

Feeding and maintaining a set of underworld criminals at the expense of the tax payer, and not implementing a judicial order to hang these criminals is a violation of the fundamental rights of the citizen.

The underworld has already taken control of the entire prison so much so the criminals within the four walls of Welikada and Bogambara are more powerful than the criminals at large.

Officials in service as well as those living in retirement are simply bumped off as they have earned the displeasure of these criminal elements just because of what they did or failed to do in their official course of business.

This is a challenge to every citizen in this country including the judiciary.

It is high time the President gave his assent toimplement the death penalty.

H.G.P. Jayasekera
Ampitiya


Appreciation

Stanley Senanayake 

Patriot and reformer

I consider it singularly fortunate to have known Stanley Senanayake. He was one of the most humane and understanding gentlemen to have donned the uniform of the Inspector-General of Police since independence.

His period of stewardship marks a significant watershed in the contemporary history of the Sri Lanka Police. It marks the end of the era that slavishly followed the norms set by the colonial police administrators and the beginning of a new cultural reformation consequent to the sweeping socio-political changes of 1956. As the Inspector-General of Police he had to countenance the radical changes of the time, the impact of which necessarily had implications of varying ramifications in the police.

Having come to know him in 1958, the year I joined the police, when he was the Director of Training and having been closely associated with him particularly at Police Headquarters when he was the Inspector-General, I believe I have a fairly intimate knowledge of the man, his life and work to attempt an assessment of his contribution to the Sri Lanka Police and the country in the backdrop of the momentous changes that took place during the first three decades since gaining independence. This was a period in which Senanayake held several important positions culminating in his appointment as the head of the police in 1970.

Stanley Senanayake had been initiated to the Ceylon Police when it was a strong bastion of the colonial ethos, with its administration, drills and commands and more importantly the social behavioral patterns no different from those of the British Constabulary. H. L.Dowbiggin, the tyrannical IGP of the ’20s was the role model of a Gazetted officer. The police band had only Western marches in its repertoire and‘Roast Beef of Old England’ was the officers’ dinner call!

Senanayake’s superiors as well as his equals in rank were all officers who had risen in this mould. Burghers and Christians were dominant. These officers comprised a closely knit brotherhood and were virtually entangled in a web of loyalty to one another. Senanayake though a Buddhist belonged to this brotherhood under compelling circumstances.

He was an exceptionally handsome and dashing young officer passionately fond of tennis, swimming and equestrian sports. At that massive extravaganza ‘The Pageant of Lanka’ which culminated the Independence celebrations of 1948, he had been specially selected to play the role of Dutugemunu. But behind this facade was a man with a burning sense of patriotism.

Senanayake was the beneficiary of this remarkable, unenviable experience when he assumed duties as the Inspector-General in 1970. Many of the reforms that he brought about reflect the love and understanding he had towards fellow human beings. He will be remembered as the IGP who dismantled the colonial ethic of police administration, eradicating tyrannical attitudes and creating avenues for the small man to be heard and taken notice of. He believed that education, training and exemplary leadership were paramount for discipline and efficiency and not punishment and coercion.

The Police Families Welfare Association which he pioneered, ably headed by Maya Senanayake was indeed a giant step forward in the extension of police welfare activities. It was a novel concept at the time and could justifiably be labeled the forerunner of the Seva Vanitha Movement.

Senanayake’s desire to give a hearing to the rank and file of the police in all matters of administration that affected them resulted in the Central Welfare Council and the Inspectors’ Association becoming meaningful advisory bodies.

The Inspectors’ Association should be eternally grateful to Senanayake for the courageous stand he took when the association complained to him that junior officers of the armed services refused to admit them to their messes that were set up during the 1971 JVP uprising. Stanley Senanayake personally met Gen. Attygalle and the Cabinet Secretary G. V. P. Samarasinghe and convinced them that the inspectorate was in no way inferior to the command ranks of the armed services. It was as a direct result that he decided to rename the Inspectors’ Mess as the Officers Mess. Taking a step further he re-named the Sergeants and PCs’ Mess as the Junior Officers’Mess.

He was also intensely committed to the improvement of the standards of policing, increasing the establishment and the development of sports. Better training was a subject close to his heart. Apart from setting up the Police Higher Training Institute, he encouraged regular seminars and workshops with inputs from outside the police. A police journal of a professional nature was commenced albeit without success. He made several attempts to get membership for the police in the Organisation of Professional Associations (OPA).

Criminal investigation was a subject close to his heart. But he fervently disapproved of torture or inhuman methods to obtain results. The Colombo Detective Bureau (CDB) which he started was developed into an exemplary detective unit under the able stewardship of R. Sundaralingam, a gentleman of the highest order who went on to achieve international fame in the police profession.

Senanayake maintained cordial relations with the media. He invited crime reporters to freely meet the police and daily crime reports to police headquarters were made available to them. He even gave journalists access to the Record Room enabling them to write feature articles based on past crimes. Many of these reporters reached the top of their profession even becoming newspaper editors of international repute.

The resounding success of the police operations connected with the Non-Aligned Summit Conference of 1976 will remain an unforgettable achievement of his regime. Never had so many heads of state met in an Asian capital. The complexity of the task demanded an organisational effort of the highest magnitude. The trust and confidence that he had in his senior officers was such that he fearlessly delegated this huge responsibility to a man who could not have faltered, Rudra Rajasingham.

Dr. Vernon Mendis who was in overall charge of the conference arrangements in a congratulatory message to the IGP described the police operations as a‘superhuman effort.’ Stanley Senanayake in his report to the prime minister magnanimously gave all credit to Rajasingham and his team.

Stanley Senanayake was indeed a rare human being. He will have a place in history as a man who courageously stood by the country when democracy was in peril and as an Inspector-General of Police who cared for the well being of the lower ranks.

Edward Gunawardena


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