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Morning Spice by Ginger
Jaguar, quality car on the road

I saw an announcement in the papers that the Citroen would be here soon. It was a pretty flashy looking car. I remember with a unique suspension system that did not make you tired at the end of a journey. There were two other very superior makes introduced here and they were the Jaguar and the Audi. But how many of these cars have sold here. They seem to be very popular in other countries. The Jaguar in particular seems to interest the upper layers of American society.

What has the response been here and how good was the follow up salesmanship. Some prestigious product is introduced into the market here and then the momentum in the sales drive ebbs. It is always nice to have more quality cars on the road because they are safer than other cars and since they last very much longer than most other cars. There is less foreign exchange drained out of the country in the final analysis. Good sales strategies always ropes in the marginal buyer if one has the patience.

Home away from Home

I saw another Home-away-from-Home ad for elders being advertised the other day. This indicated that country was taking note of the need for elders to have a place to stay in their old age. However, I feel that most of these elders homes are for those with some means or whose children abroad can send the cash.

How about the pensioners and those who depend on the interest they get from President’s Fund monies and other terminal benefits. Will they find a place to rest their heads in the evening of their lives? Will some N.G.O. who can tap foreign resources step in to help this category of citizens?

Big time robberies

What do all these hijackings of three-wheelers for big time robberies mean? Ginger wanted to book a three-wheeler to go for a function. The three wheeler man flatly refused to take him saying, he was not going anywhere in the night as his friend’s three wheeler had been hijacked at gun point and used for a robbery or been used as the get away vehicle after the robbery.

Ginger forgets which exercise of the two, it was used for, but that is besides the point. The point is that night travelling has become a dangerous business. There seems to be a gang whose modus operandi is to commandeer some elses, vehicle and then carry out their operation. It would be worth putting a special team of sleuths on their heels before they cause more serious damage.

A letter to Shell Gas and the government

May we know from the relevant authorities in Shell Gas the following. What is the percentage of the total requirement, of LPG supplied by the Petroleum Corporation to Shell Gas, I.e. locally produced LPG, this would naturally come ‘cheap’? Is it 5%, 15%, 25%, 35%, 40%, 50%, greater than 50 percent? What is the actual transfer price of THIS LPG gas to Shell Gas? Why is this not shown in the equation in your full page advertisement to ‘ justify ‘ a price hike?

This year, Year 2000, the cost increase of imported LPG is compared with 1999. What was the price in 1999? What was the price in 1998? Is not the comparison with 1999 merely an eye wash, as it was very low compared to 1998 Will these figures justify a price increase, as it has been made out to be? Why was a Rs 400 million subsidy paid to Shell Gas by the Govt. What is the justification? Was any subsidy paid by the Govt to CPC at any time for LPG ? As this was not done and CPC still made profits, does this clearly show inefficiency or skimming of funds?

What is the salary paid to the top five executives of Shell Gas in Sri Lanka, individually? What are the additional allowances paid to each of them? Why was it that CPC which produces approximately 40% of the total requirement not allowed to compete? It would have only been correct by the consumer, and ‘market forces’ would have played its role.

Monopoly for whose benefit? I do hope answers to these questions will be forthcoming. The public have a right to know the full story and will be the wiser. The answers to these will certainly say it all.
H. Fernando

Coal power plant - Go for the second best site

Due to a technical error there had occurred a mix up in this letter yesterday. It is published in full today.
Everyone likes electricity. Therefore the electricity demand is growing very rapidly. However most of the electricity in Sri Lanka is consumed by the commercial and industrial sectors. Statistics show that most of the domestic sector still do not have access to electricity. Unfortunately both these sectors do not use efficient systems. Waste of electricity in Sri Lanka is one of the highest in Asia. Therefore, the present electricity demand is not real. To cater to the boosting energy demand CEB is putting up more and more power plants.

Most recent power plants i.e. KES Kelanitissa, Barge Mounted plant, OECF power plant and power plants in Sapugaskanda commenced without much protest. This may be due to the reason that most of the energy generated in Sri Lanka is consumed by Colombo and suburbs and the public who live around might get the benefits of the electricity generation projects. Also they may be ready to bear the consequences.

However, Upper Kotmale Hydropower project got the political approval in an undemocratic way and the proposed Coal power station at Norochcholai is still under protest for various reasons. The UKHP project destroy seven major waterfalls including Devon and St. Clair. It will create a disaster in Talawakele. People in Norochcholai are against the Coal power plant for possible damages to the environment and society. The attitude and the past record of the CEB has contributed to this situation. It is clear that the CEB is responsible for the damages in Kukule Ganga project site and the road network.

However, all these factors and issues contribute to possible power cuts. This is the only factor which awaken most of the consumers. Most electricity consumers do not care the destruction of nature or the violation of individual rights and the living rights in this game. In other words, electricity consumers do not care the cleanness of the electricity. However , it is very undemocratic and unethical to introduce a surcharge on electrical consumption under the emergency laws.

I do agree that coal is an option available for cheap electricity. Since CEB is very limited in focusing on other options, they believe that coal is the only saviour for them. CEB is putting much emphasis on the proposed coal power plant in Norochcholai. But according to the Electrowatt Study prepared in 1988, Mundel was the best site for this coal plant. For some reason, it was moved to the present site and that created the protest against the same.

They suggested that Colombo was the second best site for a coal power plant station. Since much of the public in the Norochcholai is against the coal power station, it is high time CEB put up a coal power station in Colombo.

Kerawalapitiya end of Muthurajawela marsh is already filled with sea sand and this land may be a very suitable site for a coal power plant. The site is very close to the harbour and coal transportation will not be a problem. The site is more secure than the site in Norochcholai.

Also people in Colombo use much of the electricity. The CEB says that their proposed plant is not damaging the environment and it might be easy to convince people in Colombo of the need to implement the project. Since CEB has already announced possible power cuts.Therefore, why isn’t the power plant located in Colombo?
W. D. H. R. Sisira Kumara

Reduce increasing fatal accidents

It has been reported during the year ’99, there were 2059 fatal accidents. It is the duty of the society to analyse this problem and take steps to reduce it materially.

The important people involved in this problem are drivers, car owners, training schools, government and public at large. Therefore every person should realise his responsibility and make considerable effort to solve this problem.

Drivers should possess a valid licence after undergoing proper training. They must not be allowed to take the car when they are ill and also after consumption of liquor. They should not engage in over speeding, reckless driving, driving with cigarette or celltel in their hand, etc.

It is the duty of the car owners to ensure that the drivers are properly disciplined while on their duty. We could observe normally in the morning express buses always go over speeding. Private buses, which are usually over crowded, follow the same suit. It is the driver’s duty to check whether the car is in a good working condition (break line, oil) and should possess a little knowledge in car mechanism.

It is the duty of the car owners to see that only roadworthy vehicles are put on drive. In India, there is a standard rule that any vehicle after 15 years of service should not be put on road. I doubt whether we could implement the same rule. They also must ensure the drivers are properly allocated for their job. Accidents occur when long distance bus drivers fall asleep due to previous night working.

The owners also must check that their vehicle is not over loaded and also items like flags, poles, etc. are not carried in the vehicle disturbing the public. Our training schools should give proper training to our drivers who will understand the road signals, parking signs, etc. In India, there is a regulation that car trainers should have a minimum qualification of SSLC (similar to our GCE O/L). This is to ensure that trainees are properly educated in the traffic rules and regulations.

It is the duty of our government to implement proper rules pertaining to traffic. They should inform the public about speed limits, oneway regulations, etc.

I am aware when speed limit was reduced from 56 and 72 (within and outside city) to 50 and 70, public were not well informed by the Government. Several drivers, who were caught for over speeding, admitted that they were unaware of the reduced speed limit.

It is the duty of the relevant authority to ensure the proper signs are put when roads are repaired, badly damaged, etc.

Traffic Police should be alert not only in apprehending the offenders, but also in advising the drivers to avoid problems.

It is the duty of the public to co-operate with the vehicular traffic in reducing accidents.

They should walk on the pavement and select right side of the road if there is no pavement.

Cross the road only on the pedestrian crossing.

Take adequate care before crossing the road.

Avoid walking in a disorderly manner.

Avoid throwing stones or crackers on to moving vehicles do not carry sticks/polls that disturb the vision of the vehicle drovers.

Avoid walking along damaged roads, street-lights are not functioning, and also on stormy weather.

In the case of accidents, assist the authorities ensuring prompt and proper action (medicals, police information, etc.).

I presume the well wishers of our society will pay attention to this suggestions.
S. R. Balachandran
Colombo 7

More about gas prices

President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga as Minister of Finance and Planning has in a special statement about the increase in gas prices stated that the world gas prices have gone up-by 152 per cent and this time, she had to cut the subsidy which hitherto kept the prices down. Under the circumstances no one should grumble about the increase as it is, at a time when the government is hard pressed for money to fight the war at this crucial stage having to make inroads on all sectors of the-public even though, it is an unbearable burden for specially the middle and lower classes.

Nevertheless, with the government having a 49 per cent stake in the equity of Shell Gas Company, the government representatives passively accepted this huge 62 per cent increase with serial increases earlier without going into the matter deeper.

They should have borne in mind that this company is a subsidiary of the giant Royal Dutch/Shell Group and was formed to acquire the Colombo Gas Company with its assets and infrastructure at a comparatively low price; that they posted a 118 per cent increase in this first quarters earnings according to the figures given by Rajpal Abeynayake in the Sunday Times of June,4; that they are the third largest traded oil and gas comapny in the world and that the current cost net income " rose by 118 per cent in the quarter ended March 2000"; that they should bear at least a part of the loss.

how could they in the present circumstances honestly justify this massive increase. Of course, it is well known that these multinational companies are solely concerned about profits and give a tinker’s damn about the poor Asian countries where some people are dying of malnutrition and starvation, still less about this country fighting at last ditch war against terrorists.

However, according to the columnist referred to earlier, the Argentina Centre Left Alliance government of president Fernando de La’ Rua "pressed for lower fuel prices, they were cut on Wednesday, March 23rd between 1.5 to 3.00 cents"(for the second time) "to soften the impact on the consumers’ tax hike’’. It is now pertinent to know how the government nominees to the Board of Directors reacted to the decision to increase by 62 per cent and what action they took to look into the matter before bringing this to the notice of the President/Minister of Finance and Planning.

Even at this stage, this should be pursued further. The Fair Trading Commission should not be silent while the majority of the people are burdened beyond endurance by these price hikes. It seems it cannot depend solely on multinational companies to satisfy our present needs of domestic energy at affordable prices.

It shoud immediatley explore other avenues for cheaper energy as a substitute, and put the proposals to the authorites concerned without considering this as an inevitable fate.
Tissa Amarasekera

Public contributions

The government has been compelled to increase the National Security Levy and prices of liquor and cigarettes to meet defence expenditure. That is understandable in the present circumstances.

However, such increases may have not become necessary, if proper financial constraints had been exercised from the beginning. If expenditure on salary increases - sixty to eighty per cent for public servants, ninety per cent for Parliamentarians with two years back wages had not been there, if purchase of luxury vehicles and new vehicles on permits had not been permitted, if the family silver had not been sold to the multinationals through privatisation of our national assets and temporary halt to profits being taken out had been introduced, if expenses on tamashas had been cut, a situation where burdening the people with such increases would have been avoided.
Upali S. Jayasekera

Vying for Goebbel’s award

On the letters page of the ‘The Island’ of June 8 Mr. Tan Han Meng of Malaysia said in his letter that he had heard from some Western Christian missionaries campaigning in Malaysia for the LTTE cause how the "…Sinhalese are killing and torturing the Tamil people and these people are waiting for an opportunity to escape into LTTE controlled areas."

I think Mr. E. A. V. Naganathan, who also wrote to ‘The Island’ on the same day, is the best person to enlighten Mr. Meng on what is happening. He can tell Mr. Meng how anxious he is to go back to the LTTE controlled areas from the concentration camp he is now living in Kirillapona.

It wan’t be long says Mr. Naganathan, dreaming of the future and quoting the founding father of the ‘Tamil homelands’ claim, that the Sinhalese as a last resort will be asking for federalism. I am not sure whether he is a spokesman for the Tamil people. But certainly Prabhakaran would like to use him as one, now that Mr. Naganathan has discovered that "Tamil was the language of all state correspondence from the time of King Vijayabahu I." Mr. Naganathan eminently deserves to win the Goebbel’s Award for making black look like white.
Y. Mithraratna

Ants and poetry

I seek the assistance of your readers on two subjects, far apart in content from each other.

One, regarding ants among the busiest and most active of living things in life. No wonder the sluggards were long ago advised by a biblical bladder to go the ant, to consider her ways and be wise.

One notices that the small red ant is a bit of a cannibal. When they come across a morsel, I observe they promptly cannibalise the thing ‘in situ’ break it up into bits with each ant carrying his little portion to god knows where. On the other hand the little black ant seems to be a carrier or hauler.

These ants promptly haul the morsel away without first cannibalising it. One sees a group of red ants crowded together round a morsel, almost standstill while black ants are seen scurrying away with each one taking away his own loof.

Will any knowledgeable Reader or entomologist kindly confirm or otherwise elucidate as to whether this is so or not. any reasons for this apparently diverse behaviour among essentially the same species of Insect, whether the red ants and the black have an ultimate destination to which they take their morsels, whether ants ever stay stationary, except in the instance of the red ants stripping a morsel as mentioned above (and assuming that observation is correct), whether these two varieties of ants are hostile to each other, their relationship to their bigger red and black variety when and how they ultimately consume these morsels etc.

Double standard on terrorism

Below are two segments of the report in today’s New York times related to an incident in Greece. Most of this report is compiled by Brits.

Britain’s senior military representative in Greece was gunned down here today, just days after a special report prepared for Congress recommended sanctions against Greece, describing it as "disturbingly passive in response to terrorist activities."

Greek police officials said that two gunmen they identified as members of a left-wing terrorist group, shot several times at Brig. Stephen Saunders, 53, the military attachŽ at the British Embassy in Athens.

In a statement that reflected British determination to press the Greek government, Foreign Minister Robin Cook said, "I am in touch with the Greek authorities and am offering them our full cooperation in making sure that whoever perpetrated this brutal attack is brought to justice."

Now pause for a moment. Reflect on the first paragraph I have highlighted.

Without doubt these persons who committed this act were terrorists to these journalists. They were not rebels, not guerillas but Terrorists.

Note the use of the Unequivocal opinion and not fact that it is left-wing terrorist. The ones who killed Minister Gooneratne today were suspected rebels but not the ones who killed the British Military attache in Greece!!

Now read the second paragraph I have higlighted in comments. Read what Robin Cook says. Do you see the irony of Robin Cook’s statements. Is there another word besided hypocrisy that comes to your mind?
Mano Ratwatte
In Cyberspace


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