Plus - Letters to the editor

What happened to the Silent Zones?

There has been a lot of noise in recent weeks about vehicle horns and sound pollution. The authorities are cracking down on excess noise caused by cars and vehicles. It would be a good idea for the Traffic Police to stop vehicles and monitor the sound their vehicle horns emit. Someone could make good money importing sound monitoring equipment for the Police Department.

What is easier – to prosecute drivers who toot horns unnecessarily or check the noisy horns installed in vehicles? Bus drivers are the biggest offenders when it comes to making noise on the roads. This may be the only country in the world where the drivers are so impatient that they toot their horns to put pressure on the motorists in front when the red light turns to amber.

In the past, when we had intelligent persons manning the Municipalities, the Local Authorities, the Road Authority and the Police Department, there were many silence zones around the city. Hospitals, courts and schools were among the designated silent zones. Has the Paradise of Asia dropped Silence Zone signs from its Highway Code?

Let’s see our Ministers, Municipalities, Local Authorities, Road Development Authority doing something about this.

Tissa Jayaweera, Chairman, International Chamber of Commerce

Scrabble and the scramble for absurd ‘words’

Scrabble is a fascinating mind game. It enhances our vocabulary and aids us in spelling. Today, however, the game has become a highly competitive exercise among schools and clubs. They use the (very expensive) Collins Scrabble dictionary. Children are thrilled when they score high marks, beating their opponents from rival schools. They also bring credit to their schools by way of trophies, certificates and even cash prizes.

The “in” thing in Scrabble today is the use of two-, three- and four-letter words. To be good at the game, they say, one must know these words. Many of these words look and sound absurd, for e.g. CH, XI, QI, CAA, MHO (to name a few), but we are told that all these words have dictionary definitions.

I have nothing against Modern Scrabble, but I encourage beginners to start the game using the Oxford Dictionary, which will help them to spell, pronounce and use of words in context. Many children do not know how to use a dictionary, and as a result they are poor at spelling. I am told that the Chambers Dictionary is “obsolete.”

Thankfully, the Annual Senior Citizens Scrabble Tournament allows words found only in the Oxford Dictionary, but the Collins Scrabble Dictionary may also be used. I prefer the former.

Valerie Y. Davidson

Sri Lanka, Asia’s great wonder – or blunder?











The cost-of-living burden grows heavier and heavier–
The common man’s life becomes harder and harder–
Travelling becomes costlier and costlier –
Corruption spreads wider and wider –
The rich become richer and richer –
The poor become poorer and poorer –
Law and order slides deeper and deeper –
Good governance recedes further and further –
Will Sri Lanka be Asia’s Great Wonder –
Or Asia’s Biggest Blunder?

Mohamed Nazim, Viharagoda, Badulla

Please re-open Frazer paying wards at Kandy Hospital for sake of middle-class patients

The Frazer Memorial Ward, a paying ward, at the Kandy Hospital, has been closed down for administrative reasons. This beautiful, well-planned two-storey building served the middle-class paying patients of the Central Province.

I am a retired nurse, and I have wonderful memories of this ward, where I served for many years. The Frazer Memorial Ward had a beautiful setting, a little away from the other wards. The upper storey was for the upper middle class. It had 16 airy rooms and each room had its own bathroom and toilet.

The rooms were well equipped. The pantry was spotless, and food was served in sparkling cutlery and crockery on a covered tray. A nurse was assigned to the pantry and she was responsible for the patients’ food. The little sitting area was for convalescents. We nurses would write a note to the kitchen stewardess, giving details of what food to serve our patients, and how the food should be prepared. Fish was served three days a week, chicken on two days, and beef on two days.

The nurses’ duty room was the very centre of the unit, and the nurses were in easy reach of the patients. The patients only had to press a button, and a nurse would appear. Sometimes patients would alert us just for the fun of it, or to have someone to talk to. We enjoyed the fun. It was a welcome break when you had a hard day’s work.

The ground floor was for the lower middle class. It had 36 adult beds and six large cots with iron railings for children under 12 years. There was a well-equipped labour room, and a living area for convalescents and obstetric patients.

Highly qualified medical, nursing and auxiliary staff worked round the clock. All these services were for a very moderate fee. I write this letter on behalf of the middle class patients of the Central Province who cannot afford a nursing home when they fall sick.

I appeal to the Minister of Health, whose permanent residence is in the North Central Province, to re-open the Frazer Memorial paying wards in the Kandy Hospital, the island’s second biggest hospital.

Mrs. A. I. Marikar

Public officer of quality

I interviewed the Additional Divisional Secretary, whose office is on the second floor of the Divisional Secretariat, Thimbirigasyaya, on Elvitigala Mawatha, Narahenpita.

I explained to her that I had moved to Wellawatte only a few weeks ago, and that I was told that there were two Grama Niladaris for the area. However, no one was able to positively direct me to the Grama Niladari who covers the lane where I have taken up residence. I have had a difficult time trying to locate the person concerned.

The Additional Divisional Secretary perused my pension slip. She then asked for my NIC, and loudly read out my year of birth, 1924. She asked me to sign the form and certified it and franked it with her seal. This was a great relief for me, and this letter to the editor is to pay a tribute to a public officer of quality and initiative.

The Grama Niladari has the monopoly of certifying the “living certificate.” There is a tendency for some Grama Niladaris to abuse their powers. I am aware of this problem. The Director of Pensions should review the requirements and ease regulations in consideration of persons of advanced age.

We could be given a choice of Grama Niladaris; government officials; bank officials; doctors; JPs.

S. Thambyrajah, Colombo 6

Pay the Somali ransom and get our 10 fishermen back: Lessons from Dudley

The story goes that when the late Prime Minister, Mr. Dudley Senanayake, visited a certain institution, he noticed a hullabaloo among the staff. When he asked what had happened, he was told that a labourer who had met with an accident was taken to hospital in a vehicle not meant for the purpose.

“It is perfectly alright to break rules or regulations in order to save a life,” Mr. Senanayake had said.
The authorities should heed the great man’s advice and borrow the necessary money to pay the ransom demanded by the Somali sea pirates and save the lives of 10 captured Sri Lankans who are in grave danger.

These men went out to sea and risked their lives in order to bring back fish to feed us. They were not travelling on a pleasure trip.

P.A. Binduhewa, Panadura

How to attract the up-market tourist

Tourism is booming, thanks to the government that brought peace to the country. Places like the Maldives, Mauritius and Bali focus on rich tourists who will spend between US$500 and US$1,000 dollars a night for accommodation.

To attract rich tourists, we have to build luxury hotels and establish a safe and peaceful ambience where the tourists can move about freely without being harassed by beach boys, conmen and hooligans.

I run a restaurant in Switzerland, where I meet many people who have visited Sri Lanka. They all have the same complaint – that they are harassed and cheated by beach boys and conmen. And the stray dog menace makes the beach a hell in paradise.

I have been harassed many times when travelling with my Swiss wife in Sri Lanka. In some areas, such as Beruwela, the hotel staff and the police are intimidated by beach boy rowdies. Officials of the Ministry of Tourism should take a walk along the Beruwela beach to see the situation for themselves.

Unless fast and drastic measures are taken, Sri Lanka will never attract up-market tourists.

R. Dias, Switzerland

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