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Opinion

An appreciation: She lived for a better world for all

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The rising sun on the 5th of November will break open the three hundred and sixtieth day we wake up without the early Morning hustle and bustle of Auntie Manel organising the world around her. On a typical morning the land line will be ringing off the hook; instructions on the day’s meal plan will be rolled out whilst waiting for her mobile to connect to an elusive trader she was tracking down for a charity project, simultaneously signing cheques and letters all at the same time. By the time we woke up she was well into her day that started around 4 am.

To quote my husband, her son “Ammi simply got things done”. She was kind, loyal, generous, compassionate, stubborn, fiery and tenacious. If you were ever in her day’s path, it was like getting caught up in a whirlpool of activity and you will always get roped in to play a part. She was always a woman on a mission and with a deadline.

The world knew her as Lion Lady Mrs. Manel Watawala who spearheaded significant charity projects, but out of the limelight she was far greater in her generosity. She didn’t need to personally know you to turn up at your hospital bedside with a flask of soup, or to call all the doctors in her phone book to get you the best help. She has never turned down a plea for help of any sort.

Her drawer is full of insurance policies taken in all our names, not because we needed the cover, but to help the insurance salesman meet their monthly sales targets.

Auntie Manel was the brightest of stars, who lived her life shining a light on the needs and plight of others. She spent her every waking moment trying to make their world a little bit better. I have spent many quiet moments with her since her diagnosis, yet never once have I heard her feel sorry for herself. Her only concern was for those she would leave behind and the projects she wouldn’t get to finish.

To us, to me she was and always will be “Ammi” and “Achchi”, who left us in no doubt that we were her world in so many ways that words simply cannot describe.

The cruelty of the pandemic kept us apart, and we are all broken that we could not say “Good bye”. We yearn for the day we can return and hug the pillow she slept on, to caress the clothes she wore or to sit in her favourite chair just to feel her loving presence, but we are also terrified of waking up to the stillness of the mornings without her .

Yet, we will face the empty days, we will fill the silence with the memory of your laughter and your voice in our ear urging us of things that need done.

We will live our days celebrating your life with pride and Wonder.

We love you and miss you.

Until we meet again, rest in peace and sleep tight sweet princess.

Nicky Ahamat Watawala



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Opinion

Send them back to school!

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We are not talking about our children going back to school but about the request made by the Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella to allow parliamentarians to enrol in the Sri Lankan Law College, or any other university, to further their studies. How about the basic qualification to enter university? Talking about the basic qualification we remember there was a talk some time ago about some members who have not got through even their GCE (O)Level, a bare minimum qualification, required even for a peon in a recognised organisation or in government services. We request the Chief Opposition Whip to request, on behalf of these members, to allow them to go back to school, no matter how old they are.

We remember one SAARC member country brought in a regulation saying that all those who come forward to contest a seat in the parliament should possess a university degree and at the submission of nomination the officials detected that nearly 20% of the certificates were fake. Anyway, we are proud that such things are extremely rare in our country.

Finally, I urge Kiriella to include schools, too, for MPs, who need the basic qualifications for university admission.

S. H. MOULANA

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Opinion

Compensate victims of gas explosions

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There is no shortage of hot topics for the media these days, the latest being the unusual occurrence of gas related accidents. Any ordinary person would understand that the present series of accidents are certainly due to the release of newly arrived consignment of gas cylinders whose composition ratio of propane and butane has been altered to maximise profits.

The responsible institutions and authorities as well as some ambidextrous politicians are defending the culprits who deny any change in the gas composition. The special committee appointed by the President to investigate into the matter, seem biased. The other day the public saw (through the TV news footages) that these so-called experts were trying to bully the innocent victims of these accidents, accusing them of the use of worn out hoses and regulators as the main reason for the incidents. Why the hell can’t they figure out the fact that these accidents are all due to the use of the newly bought wrongly filled cylinders. A committee of this nature is useless if its aim is to serve the vested interests. Instead of blaming the victims, one compulsory question they should ask is if the cylinder is newly bought or an old one. It is sad that this Kekille committee of experts is also trying to put the blame on the innocent consumer and defend the businessman.

All that the government should do at this critical hour is to introduce a mechanism to collect the data of the victims of these explosions and pay due compensation to them forthwith at the expense of the concerned gas company. The ministry in charge should also issue an urgent order to the company to recall the return of all these defective gas cylinders distributed to all districts and take immediate action for refilling them with the correct prescription of the chemical composition and issue with a new label giving all required instructions. In the meantime, the Consumer Protection Authority must ensure that accessories like the hoses and regulators, conforming to the SLS standards, are available in the market at least from now on for the safety of the consumers.

M. B. Navarathne

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Opinion

Banks make a killing at depositors’ expense

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The motive of the government decision to lower the interest rates of deposits was predominantly to engross the banks to lend at lower interest rates for entrepreneurs to boost the economy of the country which is in dire straits. However, would this proposal prove productive?

Owing to this absurd stunt senior citizens and pensioners have been left high and dry high and dry, resulting in unprecedented agony and anguish. Many victims have highlighted their grievances on behalf of the distraught senior citizens and pensioners. This much spoken of government’s harsh decision to lower interest rates has made the lives of senior citizen’s and pensioners miserable with the escalating high cost of living, skyrocketing cost of medical expenses, etc. It is pertinent to mention that monthly interest rates on fixed deposits, which they mostly rely upon, have been reduced to alarmingly low 4% and 5 % which has added to the woes already the senior citizens face.

All senior citizens who are not receiving or entitled for a pension, depend solely on monthly fixed deposit interest as the regular source of income for their living. As a result of lowering interest rates of deposits, their plans have all been shattered causing them to be wondering how to make ends meet.At this dire juncture, the intervention of the President is needed to revoke this unreasonable decision of lowering the interest rates of deposits.

The only redress the senior folk benefits is by the Central Bank’s special scheme of 15% interest for senior citizens. However, in this too the senior citizens have been slapped and battered with a Rs 1.5 million ceiling.

In comparison to the reduction of interest rates of deposits, if one takes into account the number of loans granted to entrepreneurs at lower interest rates the answer would be very negligible, particularly as the bank’s do not take risks to lend to entrepreneurs whom they believe to have projects not viable. The banks of course, would show enhanced profits at the end of the year as they have paid the depositors lower interest rates which reflects as plus mark for their balance sheets. This is a blessing in disguise for the management of banks at the receiving end of impoverished pensioners and senior citizens.

In the above contest the intervention of the President Gotabaya Rajapakse is most needed to bring about redress to ‘distressed” senior citizens and pensioners

Sunil Thenabadu

Brisbane, Australia

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