Is he not aware that the per capita income in the UK is
US$ 30,000 while it is US$ 1,200 in Sri Lanka? Hence if petrol sells at Rs. 232
in the UK, the equivalent price should be Rs. 9 in Sri Lanka. If petrol sells at
Rs. 120 in Sri Lanka then the UK price should be Rs. 3000 per litre.
Does Minister Bandula Gunawardena actually believe that
petrol is cheaper in Sri Lanka than in the UK, or is he simply trying to fool
the masses? If it is the former then God save us from these "economists."
He finds fault with the UNP government in which he held
a very responsible post for including a clause in the Consumer Affairs Act where
Prima can raise the price of flour. Was he not aware of this clause when he was
in the UNP cabinet? Does he not study cabinet papers?
Where in the world can one prevent a party from raising
prices when world market prices go up? Isn’t this what is happening to oil? He
justifies the local fuel price hikes by saying that the world prices have gone
up. Fair enough although he does not mention that the price of a litre of petrol
includes Rs. 58 in taxes.
Then shouldn’t the price of flour also go up? What
convoluted logic is this when he justifies increases in the price of one
commodity and challenges the price increase of another?
It is high time he realises that his audience
includes educated people who may not have his qualifications in economics, but
are qualified in other fields and have more common sense and practical
experience in commerce and industry. You cannot run a modern economy in the 21st
century by referring to text books.
The most annoying sight on TV these days is to see him
with his asinine grin trying to convince people to accept his theories.
Parliamentary committees a waste of time, let
We have been informed that another of the infamous
Select Committees has been appointed to look into deals with the LTTE going as
far back as 1989.
A very interesting feature of these Select Committees
is not only do they compromise parliamentarians representing all political
parties in parliament, but each of them are likely to have been party to the
allegations that are to be investigated. The public cannot place which Member of
Parliament was with which party at any given time because of the crossovers
which have become part and parcel of Sri Lanka’s democratic system.
With such a cocktail of political parties in parliament
it becomes a farcical venture to hand them the job of finding the culprit or
culprits in any of the allegations being investigated.
Having said that the present select committee tasked to
investigate deals with the LTTE — and go as far back as 1989 indirectly
insinuates the former leaders of the various governments.
Judging by the record of most of our parliamentarians
one can safely deduce that these probes are very likely to end in a stalemate.
It is like asking a thief to point out another thief.
The furore for a select committee probe has been based
on the allegations of Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi who claim
that the LTTE was paid to bring Mahinda to the presidential throne. If President
Mahinda is guilty of striking a deal with the LTTE then Mangala Samaraweera is
also guilty of having been instrumental in setting the grounds for such a deal —
he was after all very much a part of the presidential campaign having defected
from the arms of the outgoing President Kumaratunga.
Wasn’t Mangala holding important portfolios in the
Mahinda Rajapakse government and wasting away the state’s wealth for
refurbishments and foreign trips with the very knowledge that the LTTE helped to
bring the President to power? Why the crocodile tears now?
While parliamentarians will continue to amuse the
public with their Parliamentary theatricals what remains true to reason is that
the public will continue to pay for their own mistakes of voting them into power
as their representatives in parliament. So long as personal gains, parampara
allegiance and blind faith triggers the voting system of Sri Lanka there is
likely to be more of what we have now for generations to come.
Despite the failure of the Executive and the
Legislature there still remains some saving grace in the country’s judiciary —
perhaps the judiciary should take over these investigations?
What remains to be said is that so long as the people
are at fault for voting the parliamentarians into power we cannot wash our hands
by only blaming the parliamentarians — the fault after all lies with us for
voting them into power.
Herd mentality of Sri Lankans
Have you noticed that we Sri Lankans have this unusual
Recently a patient was telling me how a man suddenly
crossed in front of his vehicle and got knocked down, but was hardly hurt. The
crowd that gathered, even without finding out what really happened, beat up my
patient out of shape causing serious damage to his eye. According to my patient
it was not his fault at all.
We would have witnessed similar incidents in our daily
life when one person starts hammering, everybody joins in. It is surprising that
in a country like ours where most people are usually helpful and friendly, some
act like beasts when their herd mentality takes over.
Look at what happens in parliament. When a member uses
abusive or obscene language how come the others just sit there and tolerate it?
What stops them from protesting? May be it is the fear to be the ‘lonely voice.’
Do not these honourable gentlemen know that parliament is an august body and
that its members should behave with dignity and decorum?
Perhaps they do not realise that the voters who sent
them to parliament expect them to be on their best behaviour in and outside
parliament? Instead when there is an exchange of words between the opposition
and the government, members from both sides yell at each other and step into the
well of the House to engage in a free-for-all.
How is it that not a single decent person tries to stop
the milieu and bring the situation under control? If a single parliamentarian
has the guts to stand up and call a stop to the tomfoolery surely there will be
many more to join him to force the dueling parties to behave like human beings.
Look at the number of persons who took a ride with the
President on his visit to the UN General Assembly in New York at the expense of
the people. Many of them were people who had no ability to contribute to the
proceedings in any way but joined the bandwagon purely to enjoy at the expense
of the poor people of the country.
Have you noticed that all the stray dogs on the street
join in when one dog starts to bark? They have absolutely no idea as to why they
are barking, but they do. Man has been endowed with the power to think and
reason out matters. But it appears that somewhere along the way we Sri Lankans
have lost that faculty and also our conscience. We are like a pack of wolves
waiting to join in and get the best of the share possible whether we are
entitled to it or not.
What a shame!
The Quran says" Let there arise out of you, a
group of people, who will call the people to do good, enjoin them to do the
right and forbid them from doing evil; they are the ones who will attain
success." Will there be anyone? That is the question.
Dr. Mareena Thaha Reffai
Are we law-abiding citizens?
Law is a system of rules usually enforced through a set
of institutions. The law of a country ensures the smooth functioning of society,
and its citizens are obliged to obey these laws.
Law is a product of civilisation and becomes a tool to
ensure that human beings march forward in this continuing process of
Given the escalating incidents of crime, violence,
disappearances, and subversion of laws by the powerful and politically
connected, one wonders whether the laws of our country are as sacred to us as it
It seems that human lives are of little value these
days. When we are confronted by an opponent, our first reaction seems to be to
eliminate him. When we are faced with a law that obstructs us from doing what we
think is best for our own personal gain, we try to circumvent the law by bribing
the authorities even though such violations are bound to weaken civilisation.
I wonder if someone can enlighten us on how much of
public funds are used by the government to maintain the state. It serves no
purpose if these institutions are dysfunctional.
Therefore, there seems to be an urgent need for us to
stop and think before it is too late. We need to respect the law in the first
place, while law enforcement authorities need to enforce the law without fear or
favour and desist from casting a Nelsonian eye on law breakers, even when they
are politically well connected so that we may gain the fullest benefit.
Recent events have proved that ‘law-makers are the
law-breakers’ and their unruly sons are no better. Law enforcement authorities
are often obstructed by political interference in their line of duty or are
compelled to toe the line of the ruling powers. Here lies the seed of anarchy
and the road to a ‘failed state.’
Perhaps we need to revise the laws of our country to
suit modern times. Our law is full of loopholes and these loopholes need to be
plugged in order to stop us from regressing from civilisation. But the million
dollar question is ‘Who will bell the cat?’
A Concerned Citizen
Hubert Ignatius Fernando
Somewhere around the late ’80s I read an article in a
local paper about a scientist who hailed from my hometown Moratuwa who had
invented a par-boiling rice machine that worked on paddy husk. From that day
onwards I was eagerly looking forward to meeting this genius since I was a
‘science buff,’ and admired inventors and treated them as demi-gods. Little did
I know at that time that I would one day get married to his niece and become a
‘nephew-in-law’ to him.
This genius was Hubert Ignatius Fernando who left us in
January this year creating a hiatus in the world of science. Had he lived, he
would have celebrated his 71st birthday on
Hubert Fernando is an unsung hero. He had the talents
and brains that only a handful of Sri Lankans ever had. Although he has many
inventions to his credit, his biggest patented invention is the Single Pass Husk
Fired Paddy Par Boiler Drier that was patented in 18 countries. This machine is
capable of par-boiling and drying paddy simultaneously. The uniqueness of this
machine is that it works on paddy husk fuel. This machine is most appropriate
for Third World countries because of the low cost and self-sustaining mechanism.
This machine reduces wastage of rice which occurs when
paddy is milled using conventional methods and increases the amount of milled
rice while increasing the nutritional value of the rice.
This invention received the wholehearted approval in
the Inventors’ Bulletin of the U.S. Department of Commerce and 18
countries granted him patents including United Kingdom, Singapore, India,
France, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka.
To honour this invention and the inventor, the
University of Moratuwa conferred on him the Degree of Master of Science (Honoris
Causa) in l984.
Hubert Ignatius Fernando was born on September 11, 1936
to Remical and Evelyn Catherine. He had his entire education at St. Sebastian’s
College, Moratuwa. He was a good orator at school, winning the Jubilee Medal for
oratory, which was presented by the Governor General of then Ceylon Lord
Soulbury, at the Silver Jubilee Celebrations of St. Sebastian’s College. He also
won the E.P.A Fernando Gold Medal for inter-school oratory, amongst others.
In school, he showed his imaginative and inventive
skills during school science exhibitions. He got his very first patent while in
school for his invention of the wired flower that never fades.
In 1955, he joined the School of Agriculture in
Peradeniya. While at the School of Agriculture, Fernando came to the forefront
by inventing an automatic egg recorder which he displayed at the Royal Food and
Agricultural Exhibition held in Colombo in March 1956. This machine, which was
designed and built by Fernando, set the prelude to his future inventions like
the Single Pass Husk Fired Paddy Par Boiler Drier.
In 1964, he married Hyacinth Mendis, a teacher at Our
Lady of Victories Convent, Moratuwa, who stood behind him like a pillar
throughout his entire career.
At the time of his death he was working on a paddy
de-husking and rice polishing machine. Like most of the great inventors, Hubert
Fernando died on January 30 leaving behind an unfinished new invention.
Although he strolled among scholars, there was one
quality that stood out in him — that was he never forgot Almighty God. He was a
devout Catholic who never questioned the doctrine, and his faith never went into
a crisis. Many were the products he invented — many were the services he
rendered to science. But he always gave first priority to religion.
He started his day with holy mass receiving Holy
Communion — a habit that had been instilled into him by his mother. This
quality, I believe, will ensure him a place beside the Almighty God and Jesus
Christ in heaven and also will perpetuate his memory in the hearts of all his
loved ones on this earth.
May his soul rest in peace.
Dr. Thushara Senanayake