|Letters to the Editor
12th July 1998
The President, at the AGM of the Sri Lanka Administrative Services Association, had stated that Sri Lanka pays the highest i.e., 90% compared to 40% by developed countries, by way of pensions. She had also stated that there was a possibility of reducing the percentage in future.
In developed countries government servants are paid high salaries and also inflation is very low compared to Sri Lanka. Pensioners in Sri Lanka lead a hand to mouth existence, five years after retirement, due to high inflation.
I suggest that all future recruits to government service be provided with a contributory pension scheme similar to the state banks. Corporation and university, employees could also join this scheme if they so wish to. Then government expenditure on pensions would be reduced and pensioners would receive higher pensions.
A hard working and contented public service is vital for the development of Sri Lanka.
Lionel. J. Seneviratne,
A taxi is a poor man's vehicle, and it is the poor man that the taxi drivers fleece. These drivers have no fixed or standard rates and they charge any amount they like.
Will the authorities concerned bring forth legislation to make it compulsory for taxi drivers to have meters ?
The government's attempts to expose investigate and (hopefully) severely punish certain members of the Opposition may or may not be politically motivated.
The present day exposures are only the tip of a massive iceberg. Hence if the government now feels it has done its duty in bringing the culprits to book, we, the general public of a highly literate country are unimpressed.
The plunder that took place in that once fertile Dumbara valley in the '80s affected the honest and hard working people of that area. Their houses and lands were acquired by the then government for the Victoria project. Victims was also to be provided with a small 20 to 30 perches of land for relocation purposes (without any restrictions imposed on them). This is where things started to go wrong.
A number of strangers to the area who happened to be staff of the arrogant Mahaweli Authority and other political stooges and their masters all laid false claims to the lands that were to be distributed among the genuine losers thereby effectively diluting the rightful claims.
The majority of the genuine victims are still struggling to get on their feet after the devastating blow of being rendered homeless with their valuable lands turned to parched up cracked wasteland thanks to some fundamental errors made by the 'experts' of that project.
We were all witnesses to the massive land grab that reduced the pioneers of that area to pariahs overnight - all that made possible by some bull headed politicians and some corrupt government officials. My parents and siblings lost our precious parental home which was situated in a scenic location overlooking a once majestic Mahaweli Ganga and another about 150 perches of scenic land; in return we received just 20 perches of bare sandy land. Numerous appeals made to the previous government and twice to the PA government so far has not brought in any consolation either.
So far the culprits have been able to escape any kind of punishment thereby giving the wrong message to the general public that Crime Pays.
We the victims would like to request the government to investigate and confiscate (or made to pay back) for these crimes and thereafter suitably compensate the victims.
Such action would give us the chance to apply for housing loans and thereby get back on our own feet once again.
The World Bank and our own Central Bank seem to be greatly concerned over the future Transfer Payments as Pensions to the retired Public Servants. But it is a great pity to note that both those institutions and our own administrative authorities are not at all concerned over the colossal amount of money the Government coffers have got merely because of accumulation of W. & O.P. contributions not paid back to the beneficiaries. The reasons being that the wives of the retired persons have predeceased them or that their children have passed 18 years.
The pensioners of the days of yore get a meagre allowance as pension, because their pensions have been calculated on the earlier scales. It is therefore nothing but correct that the Govt.. seriously thinks of returning to the pensioners such money remaining unpaid, because it is the hard earned money of the Public Servants and not something that the government gives 'Gratis". If the present laws do not permit such a step, authorities should step in to bring about legislation to bring relief. After all, the left oriented politicos as well as the champions of democracy of the opposition and the government politicians yearning for a chance to serve the down trodden have a opportunity to serve them.
The picture of Anura and Sai Baba in a photo embrace that appeared in several newspapers and the "confessions" he has made to your correspondent (Sunday Times 28.06.1998) makes many of us cast doubts about Anura's make up.
People who are prone to sectarian beliefs and people who suspend rational thinking cannot be acceptable to the majority of people who expect leaders to think rationally. If a leader tends to believe in the esoteric it should be a highly individual (and confidential) matter. Even President Premadasa was highly superstitious. He is supposed to have sprinkled pig-fat on the seats of parliamentarians and got himself bathed by seven virgins. But unlike Anura he did not recommend it to others.
lndia as we know is the breeding ground of God-men. At any given point of time there are thousands of them. They are all self-proclaimed men. Some, like Sai Baba have succeeded and reached stardom while others have passed into oblivion. Much depends on personal charisma and public relations. Putting a couple of politicians into the basket would be a prime catch. Anura is indeed one of those prime catches. It is doubtful whether Anura can impress Sri Lankans by the type of confessions he has made in the press which brings also his mother into the picture.
If Sai Baba can produce heavy gold chains just by swiping the ground to present them to him and his mother then why cannot this miracle-maker wipe out the grinding poverty, need and want of the millions of Indians suffering and not knowing how the next meal is to be "materialised" (to speak in spiritual terms).
Sai Baba can provide these facilities only to those in wealth and power. Of what use is such miracles to the ordinary man? Sai Baba's arch rival Neelakanta Baba goes further than Sai in the performance of "miracles". The list of his "miracles" include
1) A Siva picture shedding tears whenever this Baba sheds tears for some cause.
2) Restoring the eyesight of a blind boy with holy ash.
3) Separating the waters of a river so that the car in which the Baba was travelling could cross over.
4) The Baba materialising himself in several places simultaneously. 5) Driving a car without petrol for 25 miles.
6) Materialising a Sivalingam from the Baba's stomach
7) Baba materialising himself in a London clinic where an Indian provincial Governor was being operated, similar to the case of Anura Bandaranaike.
8) Materialising a lingam for Srimathi Indira Gandhi. (This was officially denied by the former Prime Minister).
The spectre of Sai Baba has now been haunting us for several decades. He has not been able to help either Anura or Ms. Bandaranaike or as a matter of fact anybody in the world in the basic problems of life.
Considering her age and her state of health it is best not to say anything of Ms Bandaranaike. But Anura has a grouse. The crown that would have rightly befallen him has eluded him. This should not be a reason to allow himself to be used as a propaganda tool to an Indian God-man. It is little known in this country that Sai Baba was once invited by a committee of lecturers from the University of Bangalore to perform his "miracles" under fraud-proof conditions. But, as is to be expected he has failed to appear. Right at our door there are persons who are either possessed by God or who render the same services as the Babas. Be patriotic and patronise them.
To Sir Arthur C. Clarke
A son of the West, you came to our land
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