Whither our parliamentarians?
shocking news item, which appeared in an English
newspaper of March 23 titled "Parliament: One sitting
costs taxpayers eleven million," and two other news
items under the captions, "Behaviour of parliamentarians
in Sri Lanka," and "A case for full time
parliamentarians," prompted me write this letter.
disheartening to read these newspaper articles because
they make one wonder whether it is really worth
maintaining a mammoth parliament, which is a white
elephant and eats up the poor taxpayers' money. Is it
worth maintaining these worthies spending so much of
money when the taxpayer himself is leading a hand to
the taxpayers are at grips with the escalating cost of
living, parliamentarians, especially the 110 ministers
in the jumbo cabinet enjoy all the perks possible.
ministers get free meals, Rs. 100,000 as house rent per
month - although most of them have houses in
- unlimited free fuel, do not have to pay electricity
bills, water bills and telephone bills, especially bills
for the mobile telephones they use. How fortunate they
receive salaries for being a 'member of parliament' and
also an allowance for attending parliament sessions!
What about the retinue of security personnel? It is the
taxpayer who is unable to afford a square meal for
himself and his family who has to bear the brunt of all
the current unbearable cost of living the taxpayer has
fallen from the frying pan into the fire. While the
citizens are struggling to keep their body and soul
together, the parliamentarians are enjoying life to the
utmost because they themselves are not sure whether they
will be elected to power again. So, they enjoy to the
hilt, making hay while the sun shines.
the public servants, parliamentarians have only a
limited number of days to attend parliament sessions,
and that too a limited number of hours per day. As
highlighted in the print and the electronic media what
took place in parliament on March 6, is deplorable. The
quorum bell had be sounded five times as there weren't
enough members in the chamber during the debate to pass
five tax laws.
public servants had taken that step, i.e. not reporting
to work without notice, what would have happened to
them? Do these politicos deserve all the perks they
enjoy? Government servants toil hard from 8.30 a.m to
4.30 p.m from the day they join service till they are
55, to qualify for retirement. As opposed to this, most
parliamentarians serve only themselves and not the
country. Is this justifiable? Hats off to the JVP
parliamentarian who has suggested that MPs' pensions be
done away with.
Although parliamentarians don't attend parliament
regularly, on the days that parliament sessions are held
the roads leading to parliament are closed for hours in
the morning and in the evening causing a lot
inconvenience to the ordinary people. I am a resident
of Kotte and have suffered terrible inconvenience as a
result. We cannot even walk on the roads. It is true
that the lives of the parliamentarians have to be
protected, but what about us the poor citizens?
Parliament is the law making assembly of a country. It
is up to the parliamentarians to behave properly and
maintain the dignity and decorum of the august assembly.
Since they represent the people, they should set an
example to them. But it is pathetic to see the way they
behave, the way they insult and sling mud at one
another, the derogatory remarks they make and the
unparliamentary language they use. There have been
instances, when the Speaker had found it difficult to
control their unruly behaviour.
has happened to this beautiful island of ours, which was
once called the 'pearl of the Indian Ocean?' Corruption,
violence, bribery, abduction, rape and waste are
rampant. Who should be blamed for this utter chaos? We
should all blame ourselves for electing them.
have the politicians taken the law into their own hands?
Speaking of election violence; election offices of
opposing candidates or sometimes even candidates
belonging to the same party are attacked in the manapey
Finance companies: History repeating
the officials in the Finance Ministry deaf, dumb and
blind? Many letters have appeared in the press about
the atrocities committed by the Kotelawalas under such
headings as "Deal with the Kotelawalas firmly,"
"Remanding the rich and the poor," and "Desperate
investors seek justice," etc. What have been written
therein is true. But why are the authorities silent on
congratulate The Sunday Leader for writing the whole
truth about the swindler Lalith Kotelawala. But he
shamelessly rests in comfort at the Merchant's Ward as
his wife does in a hospital in Singapore. For how long
will she abscond?
Justice is so perverted in this country today.
cares for the poor depositors who invested not millions
but may be a lakh or less in registered finance
companies or Ceylinco, which the Central Bank advertised
as safe heavens for depositors. What do they have to
say now? History has repeated itself. The Central Bank
has created a mess as it did when the HPT failed in
to you Minister of Finance. Where have all our monies
sewer lines around Lorensz Road and Duplication Road,
Bambalapitiya have caved in. The authorities have
diverted the lines to the 100 year old condemned sewer
line which is also blocked and now only the overflow
works. This has been going on for months now.
toilets work.The lines overflow onto the road. School
children from Hindu College, Ramanathan Hindu Ladies
College, Muslim Ladies College and St. Peters College
all walk over this filthy water not knowing that it is
from the sewers.
a major health hazard. Our pleas fall on deaf ears.
When will the relevant authorities finally look into
A Helpless Resident
Arrogance of corporate bosses
congratulate your esteemed newspaper's efforts to
highlight corporate governance issues. Without your
continuing to draw public attention an unsuspecting
investor will be put at risk and the financial
consequences can injure many families.
on-going saga of the Golden Key scandal is a case in
point. Watchdog units including the Central Bank and
other authorities should not have waited for this
tragedy to occur, although those who were greedy to make
quick money - which is never the way the world works -
have rightly been punished. At the end of the day,
however, the corporate bosses will very likely get away.
wait and see the Golden Key matter as it unfolds.
example where the corporate boss got away is the case of
John Keells. The highest court in the country - the
Supreme Court - found that the Secretary of Finance and
the Chairman of JKH had colluded against the public
landmark judgment the Supreme Count ordered the removal
of the Secretary to the Treasury, Dr. P.B. Jayasundera,
the highest ranking civil servant. The President of the
country had no option but to ask him to step down. But,
the Chairman of JKH, who was not only named but also
fined by the court, continues to remain at his job.
is happening in the finance companies combined with the
arrogance of the top bosses of the corporate sector
needs to be exposed so that the public know where to
invest and where not to. I do hope you'll publish this
letter as another step in exposing our careless,
carefreeand arrogant corporate bosses.
Mahinda Rajapakse and his government does not seem to
know anything about planning. They should have studied
how Hitler handled the extermination of Jews.
built thousands of camps with all facilities - shelter,
hygiene, food, and recreation for millions of Jews
before they were taken as prisoners. They were unaware
that they weregoing to die.
it that these facilities cannot be provided to the Tamil
people now streaming in to camps? If the government
asked these people to come out of the LTTE controlled
areas it should have been prepared to accept them.
is no point now in asking ordinary people to send cooked
food and water. This basic fact shows the incompetency
and ignorance of the government on the situation at
Father forgive him for he does not know what he says
the letter written by the Bishop of Ratnapura to The
Sunday Leader and published in its issue of April 19. As
a Catholic I was embarrassed to read that disgusting
letter. The best he could have done was to keep his
mouth shut under these circumstances. If at all he
wished to respond he should have apologetically given an
explanation as to how he acquired that kind of money,
not how he spends the interest accrued from that
substantial deposit. His thinking is warped and he
cannot even write a public letter without making so many
spelling mistakes, so unbecoming of a learned Bishop.
had a Catholic education at St. Joseph's College in the
'50s and '60s under Fr. Peter Pillai and Fr. Don Peter.
During that period Christian values were inculcated in
us that still stand us in good stead. The Bishop's
letter is therefore very unpalatable and unchristian to
say the least. Let me explain in detail.
did he acquire such a large sum from as he says, a poor
come this Church money was deposited in Golden Key at an
above average interest rate? Is it greed? He surely
knows that this kind of interest smacks of something
irregular. Lesser mortals like us put our money in
know that he is evading income tax. Even Jesus Christ
wanted tax paid. ("Give unto Caesar.." etc.)
responds with a threat to both the Leader of Opposition
and the Editor of The Sunday Leader. Jesus Christ said
"If someone slaps you turn the other cheek," but the
Bishop hits back and threatens to hit harder if an
apology is not made!
seems to indulge in politics and threatens his
statements could alter the outcome of the provincial
Bishop should answer the three questions asked by the
Editor of The Sunday Leader and be ashamed of the
unchristian attitude demonstrated by him in public.
Ananda M.N. Perera
Dr. Nalin Rodrigo
was the voice that struck you first.
stentorian, authoritative and, if some students or
underlings were around, laden with expletives. The walls
of the wards or the office shook and reverberated long
before the man himself was visible.
Rotund, stern faced, eagle eyed and immaculately
dressed, he radiated confidence, authority and sheer
intelligence. Nalin himself used to say "We Rodrigos
never won beauty pageants" referring to his complexion.
He was one formidable figure of a man.
took us, his obstetrics students and I, his sole
administrative understudy, years to learn what his
family always knew; that once you come under the
guidance of Dr. Jayatissa Nalin Rodrigo, you had a
mentor, guardian and a friend for life.
was a life lived to the full; of aristocratic origin, an
impeccable academic record, an unblemished professional
life and a successful and complete family. As the doyen
of Sri Lankan obstetrics, his achievements as a doctor
alone would have ensured his legacy. But his legend was
built more on his outlook as a man.
Although he was the scion of one of the most prominent
families in the country, he appreciated values other
than aristocracy in people close to him. "He is from
good stock; his father was a well known poet," he would
say of a now very eminent obstetrician. The fact that my
father was a professor, as was his own, made him look
beyond my own limited academic achievements and groom me
as a medical administrator.
regarded life as a joyous journey where having fun took
pride of place. Ward rounds, lectures, and even
meetings, were regarded as occasions to enjoy rather
than be serious about. When it came to patient care,
however, he was seriousness itself, and everyone from
the highest in the land to the most humble patient at
Castle Street Hospital can testify to his diagnostic
genius and surgical virtuosity.
journey of life, his principal ambition was to clear the
path, so that the journey became easier for those who
followed in his footsteps. The numerous obstetricians
who adorn our country today, will testify to the value
of the Double Sponsorship Programme initiated by him
that enabled them to study abroad and become
that three years have passed since his demise, we take
stock of our own lives and of those who lived in his
shadow. His gracious wife and loving children have
weathered the storm of his passing and have carried on
their own successful lives. The achievements of his
daughter and son in their respective spheres have become
the best testimony to their illustrious father.
students have become eminent professionals and their
pioneering work, as well as their compassionate attitude
to their patients, pays silent tribute to the values
instilled in them by their mentor. All of them not only
take time out of their busy schedules to enjoy the
fruits of life, but clear the path for those who follow
them, by actively engaging in the teaching and grooming
of budding obstetricians working under them. 'Boss'
would have been truly pleased.
three years after his passing, whenever we gather, Dr.
Nalin Rodrigo still forms the centre of conversation
among us. Strangely, we never discuss his passing, the
tribulations of his final illness or the void that he
has left in our lives. What we talk about are the many
anecdotes of his colorful life and the joyous moments
that we spent around him. More often than not, we end up
raising a glass in his memory and saying from the bottom
of our hearts, something that we have said countless
times during his life... "Thank you, Sir!"
Dr. Janaka Weeratunge