Monday, October 30, 2017

There is no one in Government who understands the PROPOSED LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTION FORMAT

Let’s have a simple local government election system so that at least all the electors understand it PLEASE, as it is crazy to force a system no one really comprehends.

The essence of Democracy is true “people’s representation in how their affairs are managed for the greater public good.” Being simple must be part of it too.

This is especially so, where people in a local area, wish to have a say and then determine how their local affairs are run and managed. The proposed system that has passed in parliament, is anything BUT!

If no one understands the Act that has been passed, it is a direct indictment against all in parliament. The system is flawed and we must all resist its implementation at ALL COSTS.

That is because we have VESTED political interests who don’t wish to see people’s representation because their very permanent existence and justification for their continuance is THREATENED. Put simply they don’t want new comers, and fresh faces with new ideas to upset their established modus operandi, that has NOT resulted in any positive change for the better.

The simple truth is that ALL political parties have determined that individuals who are community leaders CANNOT seek election as independents in the areas they live. They are people of stature and integrity. Why shouldn’t these individuals who along with the majority of the people of this Country have forsaken political parties, be allowed to contest on their own, even if it means a high forfeitable deposit of even Rs100,000?

The simple answer is that if this is permitted, then NO ONE from an established political party will be elected, as people are fed up of the current bunch of free loaders and would prefer to elect an independent person of repute who would not sully him or herself by joining with one of the established political parties. Surely you the reader accepts that point.

If that is so, Why can’t we go back to basics and at least ensure that for Local Government representation, we can stick to this principle of democracy I have referred to above, and so be the envy of the world JUST FOR ONCE!

What more reason do you want to change the system? Let us all as citizens attempt the impossible, by demanding OUR SAY FOR ONCE and say NO to vested interests in how our local affairs, at least, are handled. Once this system is proven, taking it nationwide and changing the political culture would be a doddle!

After all everyone in Sri Lanka agrees that changing the system is what is needed. No one now is happy with the state of affairs and the consensus is that we MUST get rid of the present system. However the average JOE is hamstrung, NOT knowing how to go about exercising his franchise when no one he likes is seeking election. They simply resort to the lesser of two evils! They vote for a party they dislike just so that the party they dislike even more, is not given a chance. How simply warped can that thinking be?

We should therefore agitate for local individuals to singly seek election (not put a whole slate of candidates for whom they will not only have to pay their deposits, but also be choked by organizational nightmares in fielding numerous candidates.)


So what do I propose as an amendment, as we are unable to completely throw the recently passed ACT out of the window? Simply to permit a person, if he or she wishes, to seek election, only from the local area in which he or she LIVES.

It is then up to the public to either vote for this ONE person or others representing political parties (many independent people can put their hat in the ring, and like I said earlier, a deposit of Rs100,000 will deter time wasters)

Let us just see what the outcome is. If the political parties’ representatives win, then their fear in preventing this opportunity was mis-understood. If only independent candidates are in the majority, it will be a timely warning that politics as we know it, is HISTORY and a more reliable and democratic outcome has replaced it, and we must bow to the public demands and revert to a non-party stance.

In this set up it would be advisable to also add that one can only be elected once, so not only will it give other suitable candidates a stab at representing their constituents, but politics will not turn into a career. It is only practical for one to serve  their community for one term, a sea change from the present. Further it will attract professionals of the highest caliber knowing their maximum commitment to their fellow citizens is just for  5 years.

It is the duty of the citizen to agitate for this change, galvanizing the public to pressurize the lawmakers, to change the law to reflect this more democratic alternative.

Surprisingly, the biggest reason given by naysayers is that “no one will be able to put a council together of independents, as no one will have a majority in the Council”, will be proved wrong, as the proposed system too does not guarantee ANY party to have a majority and would lead to bribery to join the largest party in order to govern. It is therefore easier for a council full of individual worthies and altruists to govern in the public good, by consensus.

I welcome my readers to offer alternatives as we need to begin a debate to settle on some core requirements which we can pressure the Government with.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Sri Lankan village children of the past century had the best education in the world, now we have even forgotten why it was so cool to boot!

Oh ye who have short memories, understand that a pre-schooler’s place is NOT in a classroom, but in the great outdoors from where the poor child was yanked by the parent and thrown into a pre-school, with an untrained teacher, who just has decided to have a day care center, to earn some money at her home and call it a pre-school.

The link below which is to the pre-school which won UK’s pre-school of the year encourages the children to play outside in ALL WEATHER and in England it is COLD, and by this they both improve their immune systems that will help them for a lifetime and also as they make their own toys, they become creative at an early age, in an era we are desperately searching for means to make our kids more creative.

We have obviously forgotten our basics, when we had NO toys to play and made all our toys from whatever we could grab from outside, from shells, to seeds to anything that looked interesting that we found or picked up on our daily outings with our elder, usually sisters, keepers, or nannies or mothers, depending on your caregivers. No wonder then that large families have tended to perform better despite all the odds than small ones in becoming successful by their own efforts.

Don’t we ever learn? It is not too late to start again, to remind ourselves that we can learn from the past and also from practices of the past. This link above is a very important eye opener to the doubters, that the systems we had in the past were actually quite state of the art and contemporary. It makes a lot of sense. Today, all creativity has been removed from all types of schools.

How easy is it to encourage people to go outside. It costs less, it makes it easier and when the children who are children after all enjoy playing in the rain, the hot sun, in all weathers, we only have to do what is needed to make sure they don’t get hurt badly, as getting hurt is also part of toughening up.

Do remember that pre-school education is more important that University Education and it encompasses all kids not just the bright and the fortunate. It is time our leaders and educators understand it, (or go back to school to learn it is so) and take action to beef up the quality of the teachers by taking those who are genuinely interested in teaching kids, and giving them a million dollar training on all aspects as well as using creative toy building from the great outdoors. Of course the best pre-school teacher is worth their weight in Gold so they must also be properly compensated and appreciated within the community.

They will then return a billion dollar dividend by laying the ground work for the future of our Country, namely today’s children to actually find their niche and contribute to society without delay.

Trust me if resources are channeled here, we will in 20 years be bringing the most valuable resources of our country, our well educated youth, into the work force to contribute to the economy in ways that we could have only dreamed of before.

The solutions are there, it just has to be implemented. Now Minister of Education and leaders of our tiny Island the ball is in your court.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

What is a fairer and more appropriate electoral system for Local Bodies?

While I have never been a fan of this tier and layer of public representation (I prefer the village council for each village on an equitable basis instead), if we must have this tier of elected officials, whose job surely is to satisfy LOCAL needs of people who live in their areas, and NOT DEFENCE OR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, or even NATIONAL HEALTH, EDUCATION OR TRANSPORT POLICY, then why do we need political parties at this tier of government?

They merely mimic, copy, and fool the people into believing “A political party is right for them to choose and they will always make the right decisions, and so at all tiers of elections, it is to that party they should show allegiance and therefore give their vote.” THAT IS SIMPLY UTTER RUBBISH

Village politics is dominated by life in the village, by what is right and wrong in the village, and of those who have taken advantage of their wealth, using the political power, and state officials in their palm, to break the rules, if not laws, which in turn harm the rest of the village, and in turn harm the community which transfers finally into harming the Country.

This could mean in the areas of Environmental Degradation, which usually directly affects local people, who have to live with that tragedy even before it takes a legal course that could last years for justice, if that ever happens.

This means then that it is better for about 4 to 5 GN divisions, to elect a representative for that area ONLY, who the voters believe will satisfy their immediate needs. Anyone could seek election, from the richest to the poorest, but to make it practical, a refundable deposit of Rs50,000 should be placed, (refundable if the votes received exceed say, 15% of the votes cast) so that only those serious about having a chance will put their hat in the ring.

With 15,000 GN divisions, we will have 3,000 elected representatives in Local Government, still too much, but at least manageable, with a people’s representative for each area, whose task it is to represent their interests as the basic requirement.

In this system it is likely that despite the requirement that the principle abode of the candidate MUST be within their electoral area, a wealthy person could throw money around to buy votes. However, he or she should understand that it is an onerous task, as he is responsible for all the people, those who voted for him and those who did not. So unless money is thrown for personal glory, it still has to follow that people will vote for a plan that is being proposed by that local worthy, that is better than the other candidates, if he wins by receiving the most votes.

Remember there are NO preference votes, so under the present system you are voting for the party nominee. So you don’t have ANY say on the individual. In my proposal it is the INDIVIDUAL you are voting for, no one else, NOT party, he may or may not belong to a party, which is NOT relevant in this case. So there is more trust in the person, something which is more important in local government politics, which even present politicians would attest to than the proposed system of lists and names, none of whom are assured of being liked by the people who elect them. This is a fundamental flaw in the proposed system, which my proposal will definitely overrule, being an improvement.

So effectively we will have a Local Authority made up exclusively of independent candidates. One may say that is IMPOSSIBLE to govern, and favors will have to be traded to ensure some form of compromise. Well that is true and SO IT SHOULD. Just think about it horse-trading happens even now in all forms of government and especially local government.

In fact horse trading by independent elected representatives is BETTER because they are trading needs for their community with needs of others, SO I will vote for you to have public toilets in your town, if you allow me to approve a road cleaning plan for mine. In this way there will be NO political infighting and each elected representative can go back home and tell his people he was able to gain this for them. We merely have to equitably distribute limited resources of our community.

After all politics is in any way about compromise, in this case it is compromise on behalf of electors, and AT PRESENT it is about compromise, to get contracts for oneself, while allowing your colleagues the same as long as you both shut up about it, and don’t make a stink about it! WHAT IS BETTER, I ASK YOU THE READER?

It is clearly obvious, that in the spirit of LG Elections, my proposal will ensure, MORE equity for the voter, have fewer local representatives, have a chance of implementation, less chance of corrupt practices, as there will likely be village elders who have a standing in the community being elected, over merely the wealthy, and the wealthy will only join the fray as an altruist rather than a rogue.

I welcome comments from readers, as to why they think it is worse than what is proposed. If there is on balance a consensus that this is a better method, we can immediately replace this Act with my Act as the public will scream for it, and the elected politicians who are still legitimate, that is only Parliament, will have to listen to the people for once. THAT WOULD BE A CHANGE.

For self-interested, Politicians who see their advantage weakened by this proposal, it is ONLY massive public demand that can change their mind. They don’t understand anything complex anyway, this simple system is easy to communicate both to the voter and to the Members of Parliament, who are intellectually highly challenged. SURELY THIS IS THE BEST FOR THE COUNTRY!

Scrap the Local Government Elections Act - It is better NOT to have this election, than make a mockery of it

Lecture at the OPA (Organization of Professional Associations of Sri Lanka) on the “Proposed Electoral System of Upcoming Local Government Election & the Role of Citizen/Professional”

Presented by Mr Rohana Hettiarachchi – Executive Director of – PAFFREL @ OPA Auditorium on 17th October 2017 @ 6pm

MY CONCLUSION – (these are my personal conclusions as a result of grasping the finer points of how the system is set up and how I believe it will operate in practice from my experience of the political animal in Sri Lanka)

At most only 5 MPs in Parliament (out of 225) will pass a simple test on how this system operates. Less than 1% of the public will ever be able to even grasp the basics of how it works, let alone determine if it is appropriate and hardly comes even close to improving on a bad system that it replaces. It is too complicated, and the independent observer would argue it is meant to confuse, so no one will challenge it. Any system must be SIMPLE to understand to get the maximum out of it. THIS FAILS BADLY.

I would go so far as to state that this new Act that has been passed SHOULD NOT BE implemented, it is a disgrace, and a further burden on the public, which results in almost a doubling of the Local Government Representation, which will inevitably create more problems when you have twice as many politicians than at present. There are 337 local bodies that will have to hold these elections. Imagine the increasing level of corruption with twice as many people indulging it!

It should be axed forthwith, none of the people who I know who wish to be elected under this system even understand the system, and they sincerely believe they do not even need to understand it to be elected from it as all they are seeking is the ticket which is effectively in the palm of the organizer! NEED I SAY MORE THAN THAT?

Which begs the question, SHOULD YOU EVEN CAST YOUR VOTE FOR THIS SHAMBOLIC SYSTEM? The Simple answer is NO, and if most of the public who are sick and tired of the political culture in Sri Lanka and which this system does not change at all, the only answer available to them is go to the polls and SPOIL YOUR VOTE, which effectively registers your disgust, NOT your complacency.

I will in future Blog posts when time permits go into individual aspects of why it is bad, and why even the good points are not redeemed, due to the massive increase in representation in a country boiling over with unproductive politicians.

IMPORTANT POINT TO NOTE that has been proved by this ACT. We have left the drafting of this new system to the MPs in Parliament who have a vested interest in the current political culture for their survival and prosperity. A rational human being is unlikely to jeopardize their status, unnecessarily, therefore it is asking too much for the MPs we have elected to effectively reform themselves, starting with the Local Government System, where all their band of sycophants have to be paid off by being given the ticket by that political party, and most often than not all these MPs are the organizers of the electorates that determine who should be on either or BOTH of the lists, of ward candidates, or those who come from the PR list. We started with the WRONG foundation, it has already COLLAPSED! 

Watch this blog for the analysis, and most importantly the simple system that should replace it to have effective local government with local people having a real say on the decisions taken in their community for their community, which is all that Local Government means. Sadly that fact is NOT understood by any member in Parliament.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Human Satisfaction – The importance of place as opposed to ‘things’

It is important to place some faith in the latest report with evidence that, "in measuring human satisfaction, which should be surely what we all should be aspiring to in this world, until we eventually give up the ghost and die, that to ask ourselves what is it that gives us a satisfying life?" This is supposedly better achieved from places rather than things.

Does that explain the fixation of our citizenry in going to places like Kataragama as a place of pilgrimage to pay homage, so that in that place they get a level of contentment from the surroundings, or doing the obligatory religious observances there. I don’t know the answer, but it sure seems that they get more fulfillment from that than from other material items in their possession. Of course I then presume that different people have a particular place that gives them this desire or contentment.

It is important to understand human feelings, needs, aspirations, and mood that one is in and how does one get a better sense of worth, of contentment and of fulfillment?

This report seems to place importance on places, that possibly give you happiness and therefore it is rational that we all gravitate to places where this is optimal to us within the constraints of our lives. If we are not wealthy enough to go overseas, we may get more satisfaction from visiting a place in our own country and relaxing there if we find that place relaxing, soothing or whatever feeling we are after. In short the feel good factor

This finding proves a point and further reinforces even the Buddhist philosophy that material possessions don’t necessarily give us what we are looking for, instead the location we find ourselves in may be just as if not more important than the things we possess.

I am still unsure that when they say places, if we are truly happy in a place, a location or even the home we are living in, then one could argue that nothing else will give you as much pleasure, so we don’t have to pursue this dream of pleasure when  in reality we already have it where we are.

Just think about it. It means that once we find a place we are truly contented in, then we are able to forego some other material items which pale in need, and want, in favor of the location we find ourselves in. It sure is a philosophical question and answer session, that should focus us to achieve our personal desires that may not require a huge investment of money. 

Merely the art of managing on what we currently have to suit the moment, especially if we have no guarantee that our locational experience that gives our happiness, is in fact not permanent and only fleeting! This is further evidence of the importance of choice to make us feel good.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Austria’s new head of Government (Chancellor) Sabastian Kurz is just 31!

Foreign Minister at 27, now the new Chancellor elected yesterday, is proof that youth can turn the tables on old style politics and bring about change. After all most people who voted for him were older than him, and trusted in his ability to run his country.

Even the Guardian link above,  alludes to the reluctant respect of his audacious gamble that paid off. We need a person in Sri Lanka who is willing to take an audacious gamble. Any takers?

So how about it Sri Lanka? Wouldn’t it be a REAL breadth of fresh air to have a PM in Sri Lanka who is under 30? After all William Pitt the younger was the Prime Minister of Great Britain at age 24 in 1783 and served for nearly 19 years as PM.

Unfortunately in Sri Lanka – Those who are even 45 are considered young by our establishment. So old geysers are sent to The World Festival of Youth and Students held in Sochi, Russia, between 14th October and 22nd October as a testament to that point, that we have NO ONE under 21 in this delegation. After all students should at least be under 21, considering I graduated from University when I had just become 21.

It begs a few questions! Is the time ripe to introduce new ideas of statesmanship in Sri Lanka that has failed with experienced Politicians? YES

Should be look for a potential leader from Under 30s? YES

Is there an obvious candidate for that slot at present? NO

Can we find someone who can take up this mantle within 5 years? YES

Then what are we waiting for? We can now look for a talent pool of 10,000 young people between the ages 16 and 25, and train them in what it takes to create a youth leader who could lead us in 2025, needing the popularity, charisma, intelligence, utter confidence of his or her incorruptibility, and one who is a visionary who puts Country first, in preference to Race, Caste, Religion and Self.

Sri Lankans are extremely talented people, whose talents are usually only exposed, harnessed, encouraged, and developed by the Private Education Establishment. These brilliant youth, do not currently see opportunities available to them in Sri Lanka and so leave to make their fortune or their mark in foreign countries because the establishment is archaic, promoting mediocrity instead of meritocracy. We can reverse that trend by ensuring that the elite National schools develop well rounded youth with an overall interest in obtaining the skills to be pragmatic and practical and a vision for a goal to achieve, so they can then be armed with the needful to achieve that goal for the Country. This is NOT pie in the sky. All we have to do is be the enablers to permit them to achieve those ambitions and goals without delay. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Bullying of local businesses by powerful foreign owned entities in large state contracts in order to make super profits.

I am referring to the previous issue in a general sense, to highlight a very real problem in small countries, that have monopoly suppliers, for state contracts. These monopoly suppliers, that have set up business entities in developing countries, have the resources to do so, knowing that as a monopoly, they can exploit that position in monopoly pricing, as there are NO other suppliers.

In sophisticated contracts where alternative suppliers are not available, such as in the supply of highly specialized gases for the health sector of a Country, the state has NO option but to accept the only supplier’s price. It is therefore possible that even if the price is high when comparison with foreign competitors supplying in other countries, there is NO choice but to accept that tender price. The only alternative to the state is to set up their own company in competition, and if they are able to manufacture and sell at a lower price, then so much the better.

It is unlikely that the state is able to grow a business of this nature, and should instead encourage the Private Sector to create a competitor, in the hope of reducing the price of their purchases. Of course NO private sector manufacturer will want to set up a company to manufacture, unless they have reasonable assurance that the hospital sector will purchase their output. Gas for Hospital Patients MUST be of a higher quality than the same gas for say an Acetylene Torch, as one deals with human lives and the other is used for welding purposes only!

This creation of competition should be built into public policy, where there is NO competition. One then begs the question, that is ONE company was promised business, in order to create competition,  then with regard to pricing, should there be upper limits on pricing, irrespective of what the previous supplier was charging. What then if the previous supplier decides to under bid on the order at a lower price? should the tender be awarded to the lower bidder, as they want to loss lead this year, to ensure the competitor does not come on the scene?  later they will be able increase their charges to a much higher level, safely knowing that there is NO competition.

What happens when the new company and the old company join hands in pricing and decide not to compete on certain contracts, so the other gets the contract at a higher price? This is called price rigging.  Withholding from the tender, to benefit each other, is a practice common in the Sri Lankan business space, that often the Government has had to pay a huge price for their essential requirements at higher than necessary prices.

It is common in Construction Contracts, that the approved contractors DIVI-UP the contracts (by not competing, or putting a high price) quoting high prices, and sharing the loot amongst themselves, which then means the Government pays a much higher than needed price and the public lose out on this transaction.

WHAT MECHANISMS ARE IN PLACE to ensure equity in pricing?

The main point to note is that the procurement committees of large state contracts, must be aware of prevailing prices of these essential supplies, so that there is NO obvious collusion between suppliers to fleece the Government by agreeing on bidding strategies that end up costing the state the more than is necessary.

Otherwise collusion can result in paying over the odds for such supplies. Even if there are outwardly two independent bidders for a contract, it is difficult to prove or disprove collusion. Further if there is NO collusion, but one supplier believes the only option would be to purchase the competitor, giving an instant monopoly pricing advantage, what does the state do in this regard?

Both the above practices are common in Sri Lanka and the State in fact pays a huge premium over and above what they should have in fact agreed to. There is often corruption involved in bribing procurement committee, or other officials to sweep these situations under the cover, so it does not get picked up by media and blown up into an embarrassment of allegations.

It looks like the Government must establish, technical evaluation committees of qualified and skilled people in their fields to independently comment on these prices quoted to ensure they are NOT fleeced, in the way that the history of Sri Lanka is replete(filled) with such incidences cropping up every day.

In order to encourage healthy competition, in some instances because the barriers to entry are extremely costly, there may have to be some private public partnership, or threat thereof to call monopolistic companies to heal!

In an economy with Economic Freedom, independent competitors can enter into the market if they believe their pickings in a situation of monopolistic pricing, can be had, by them being able to bid lower to gain the business. However in instances such as this in Sri Lanka, it is a known fact that when these threats emerge, the Monopoly Supplier, purposely under bids at a much lower price, to drive this new entrant out of the market forever. Unilever with their immense reserves and marketing and branding power have been known to always resort to these practices, when they believe competitors are about to emerge, and there are many startups that have gone under due to this.

The answer in this case is Consumer Rights Laws, to encourage competition, and state intervention to enforce fair completion with a view to abandoning monopolistic pricing, as the likelihood of collusion when few players are present is very high, and without good technical evaluation of costs, fair prices are not obtained on state contracts. 

One must always be cognizant that in small markets, economies of scale and good pricing can only be achieved by monopolies. Therefore the integrity of the technical evaluation committees, and their knowledge on pricing issues, and assistance from UNITED NATIONS agencies to assist the smaller countries, in getting a fairer deal is necessary if the public are to be served better, at reasonable costs, without being fleeced. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Nudge Theory wins the Nobel Prize for Economics - It is time to use this theory to usher in a new era

– so how will we use Nudge to Nudge out the old and replace with the new?

Professor Richard Thaler now ageed 72, at the University of Chicago has been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for Economics for his theory behind, Nudge the best-selling book he co-wrote. The citation says for, “a more realistic analysis of how people think and behave when making economic decisions”

“Nudging stems from the field of behavioural economics, examining how gut instincts can often overrule rational choices, in which Thaler is regarded as a pioneer”

Here are some links for those interested in reading a little bit more about this theory which is truly fascinating and wait for it, and my hypothesis as to how we in Sri Lanka can “irrationally” use it to our advantage!

I will not go into the minutiae of this theory, except to say that if this is true in how we elect our leaders, then it surely is an irrational choice and we have to be nudged away from our selections WHICH WE KNOW IS WRONG and we keep saying it is the lesser of two evils and we therefore perpetuate an order that we despise, complain about and in the end SHRUG our shoulders saying we can do nothing about it.

NO LONGER my dear friends. We MUST use this theory to learn how we change the status quo, which we must. If there are like-minded people who want to give it a shot, let’s try and put it into practice to nudge our docile electorate into believing they can actually make a change in this democracy by making an attempt first at discovering the alternative to the present predicament and then doing something about establishing this alternative in our country, so we can all feel better about ourselves that we in this era managed to do what for 70 years has eluded us! 

How can we forgive ourselves for perpetuating a culture of corruption and greed of the few, ruling over the many in a shameless game of musical chairs, where the same set of drifters have banded together in the so called Parliamentary Democracy of ours to slowly but surely squeeze the life blood of the nation. Not any longer, and NUDGE is the word to nudge in the new, by placing a clever agenda to the people. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

I spent a week at home, without going anywhere – Time still flew by

For a whole host of reasons, including the fact that my driver was sent back to the office, leaving the car here, I was stranded at home in Ratmale for a whole week. It turned out to be Serendipitous no less!

I had purchased all the supplies needed for food, and kerosene for the lamps at night, and so was not at all worried. I had a list of things to get done, and so was not short of a to do list nor short of reading matter if I had time for that. I was also armed with my Butterfly Bible, another for the birds, and a further one for the reptiles and such like. I already have my heavy book on Mammals of Sri Lanka that is kept here, so apart from my book in amphibians and one of dragon flies I had not acquired I had what I needed in case unusual creatures decided to visit me.

There was the added bonus of fishing in the pond at my home in case I was short of my supper, but I did not need that, and instead the fish was salted and dried to be taken back to eat!

The first week of October is one of the driest periods in the area, the elephants come in the evening to bathe and drink water in the lake next to the property, and it is quite hot. Mercifully the wind was still fair for it not to feel stifling, and cool enough in the evenings and nights to require to be covered by a sheet when in bed under a mosquito net.

With no electricity, and hence no fridge or fans that people in these areas take for granted, anyone not used to this climate may think I am a sucker for hardship, when in fact it was anything but. Ironically, me who is unable to live without a fan in the western province for even a moment, quite happily and without complaint, manages to survive in this extreme heat without it, as it is dry heat and with the shade and wind blowing constantly, gives me a breeze that is pleasant.

SO when various visitors dropped in unannounced they were quite pleasantly surprised how I managed to live with all my windows and door open, with no cupboard even shut, as due to various wood expansions, I am even unable to do the basic shutting of some of them, and so without any concerns.

We in Sri Lanka even in the villages are afraid of our neighbors let alone strangers. So everyone sleeps in their homes at night, locking all their doors and windows, in suffocating conditions, under asbestos sheeting in mini ovens, envying my open lifestyle as I hardly go into any of the two rooms I have in the house, but spend my time in the verandah of my home, with anyone passing by able to see me asleep or awake or eating or any of the activities I engage in the course of the day.

Today, I had Mr Galappaththi, who dropped in his bike, on his way back after inspecting the site, he hopes to rent out to MAGA to take soil for their construction on which he hopes to profit by the difference between what he charges MAGA and what he has agreed with the property owner he would pay for a cube of soil extracted. His task in all this is to arrange the necessary permits from the relevant Government departments to have the soil extracted and to get the customers contract signed off to extract soil, and ensure that they keep their side of the bargain.

Then I had another visitor, Ushan Herath the son of one of my neighbors, who after graduating from the University of Visual & Performing Arts, many years ago, has finally landed a job with the Western Provincial Education Department, in a school in Wattala to teach ART from Grades 6 through to 13.

We spoke about the waste of years for the job, where the Government was NOT able to all this time fit into a school, while the requirements were there and shortages were apparent, purely because of bureaucracy and inertia of state employees in NOT ensuring their jobs are done in a manner that assists the community.

This brings to the fore the critical weakness in the state sector who don’t know what their responsibilities really are, and that as a result, they don’t go about fulfilling their responsibilities and so the public to whom they are responsible pay the price for their incompetence and no one pulls them up, nor have for so long, so it is a case of doing as least as possible for them to survive, not understanding that it is simply treason, for which they must be held accountable. As most state employees engage in this wholesale deception, no one is pulled up, and about 1M people will have to fired for incompetence if the Public Sector is run efficiently.

We discussed a new strategy for him to teach his students, that will make ART interesting to the student in a way that will make him or her excel in his chosen field by doing what they like and at the same time showing them what is possible with their skills in the world out there, in order for them to earn a living, in creative arts, rather than merely being enslaved by a syllabus that is no longer relevant to them despite the veneer created by the state that they have now begun to change the curriculum to one that is towards employment and vocations rather than theoretical applications that have no meaning in reality. It is quite obvious how the people are still being misled by rhetoric, when reality is STILL far removed from what is being pontificated upon in platforms and reported verbatim by a slavish media who are unable to accurately evaluate the truth from fiction.

The realization that in every corner of our land BIODIVERSITY is unmatched in scale and variety. This was the lesson to me in this week’s sojourn.

My FB page is testament to the surprises of the week, and shared with all
I suppose when one is forced to spend some time fixed in one place, one gets into a routine and is able too appreciate one’s surroundings like no other. Further as I effectively live in a verandah open to the elements and to the world of forest, and animals therein in front of my eyes. I more clearly than at any other time am aware of all that happens around me. Fortunately the noise pollution form the local temple with of key loudspeaker that comes out at 4.50am every day, was not functioning this time and so the birds and animals as well as yours truly were blessed without that noise pollution that such peaceful surroundings should not have to contend with.

I hope the local priest has finally seen the light and error of his ways, that he cannot subjugate all living things to his will, unwillingly.

The butterfly species this week were unmatched, I had not noticed so many varieties before. I don’t know if it time of year or the fact that certain flowers are in bloom, that attract them. Then for the first time I saw the swamp hen chicks, that I had not known existed before. I have not seen any photos of them before, and those little black fellows that emerged in a row was a once off luxury that did not return. Perhaps it is a rare sight, and I don’t know where the parents are hiding them as I cant even find the adults who were around a few days ago.

The monkeys, giant squirrels and water and land monitors were active as they usually are always, with no surprise.

Of course this time for the first time I saw a green common katussa that turned color three times in a space of about ten minutes which I managed to photograph, and upload on FB to show my friends what it is like, and how extreme they are change their colors to suit their surroundings.

With the reference books to hand with me it made it more easy, and the boys who were staying here were finally reminded of what they had taken for granted, that when you least expect it, there are surprises and they have names and value and interest in the FB world from people from all walks of life.

They were more interested in catching fish for their supper, a not unusual pursuit of teens and twenty somethings!

The real piece de resistance was the arrival of a lovely Green Emperor Pigeon who came close to be photographed in all its mottled green glory of various shades that did justice to the whole trip. 

In fact it confirmed that even the published works don’t have as much detail as I was able capture and share with the outside world. I know professional photographers, would stamp their photos with their names and take ownership of their brands. I am pleased if someone uses them, except for Getty Images who steal and sell them, and illegally charge others for my photos.!!!  

Thursday, October 5, 2017

I was thinking as I always do when I wake up between 4am and 5am each morning!

I posted on FB a link to an article by a University Professor that eating once a day is perfectly acceptable, and could aid in weight loss more than all the fad diets. So on my post with the link, I did say that I practice this once a day formula, but I have not been able to lose weight, but at least hold my weight steady, and as I do little exercise, partly due to my difficulty in walking, this is the way I know to keep from ballooning, as with age I am sure one’s metabolism slows down markedly.

In the same vein, in the post I alluded to the fact that I wish I had 48hours in a day to get through what I set myself to do for the day, and eating once a day saves at least an hour or two’s down time. With my intense energy, more mental rather than physical at this age, I am as a result, able to get more done. Further, I did say I get my regular dose of sleep, as I don’t wish to compromise on that, a minimum of 7 hours and sometimes 8, depending on how early I get to sleep. This allows me to function all day on top gear and manage on one meal to boot, usually dinner.

The other secret to success if that is what you wish to call it, is that when you begin work and you keep the pace all day, you just don’t have time to eat, let alone have a cup of tea, as the staff in my office will say, whenever they come into my office with a cup of tea, the earlier cup is not even touched, and I am so busy with something I even fail to notice them, and am concentrating on that task. I can keep up at that level for 12 hours non-stop, when I finally succumb to exhaustion and need sleep more than food to re-charge my batteries for the next day.

Ironically, with years of experience in many fields of work and interest, I believe I am at my peak of work performance as much of my writing on different topics would attest, more so than when I should have been at my peak in my early 20’s having just qualified as a Chartered Accountant in England!

Sadly though, my competency, knowledge and experience is NOT valued by anyone, and I am not in a position to begin a new venture of my own, like a money spinning business, as I don’t have the mental capacity now to stay the course on ONE subject as my interests lie in many areas ALL AT ONCE!

In short I am an ideas man brimming with new ideas from which others, honest people that is can make billions, and though some may sound of the charts, they are actually well intentioned, with a purpose with the long term in mind and not the short term a businessman would look at to get a return on his investment. It is therefore best to use it for policy planning for a country’s future course and with mentally bankrupt, opportunists calling themselves politicians who litter our landscape, it is beyond their comprehension. One IMPORTANT example of that is the need for a new capital city, a 20 year plan, at least 200km from Colombo!

This is not for the lack of connections, and the number of people in high places that I know, and who know of my diverse interests. It is the fact that everyone is trying to leverage their own personal agendas to get what they want, and so as I am lumped in the same mentality, it is a dog eat dog situation, where I need to fight with others.

Others on the other hand see their bread and butter at stake, and to that I am a threat, as many of my ideas, are of long term sustainability of a nation and don't care a rats ass to anyone'e personal wealth creation. It is therefore almost impossible to parley a good idea to people that matter as those who supposedly matter, are only interested in the matter they can get from any concept, as opposed to the general well being of a nation that I fear NO ONE I know really cares about.

I will continue to fight this battle in my blog, for posterity to judge my true intention, as that is all I can really do at this stage.

Those who know me personally, know I am one of a kind, nothing to be proud of in my book, as I am trying to merely see the benefit of every action on how it affects the general good and I am pretty clear of what that is, as it is simply for people, all people that is to attain a level of satisfaction of life that is higher than that of today's. Often it cannot be measured in rupees and cents, or GNP growth and even in the happiness indexes, as happiness and contentment is a very personal thing and each person must be educated in carrying out their lives to ensure they obtain a level of mental satiation that makes life worth living. 

Of course not at other people's expense where they are then unhappy! It is subjective though as avaricious people are difficult to satisfy, no matter how much wealth they may have or increase. So their means of real satisfaction may come from them realizing they have more than they need for a lifetime, and more, and they may actually find happiness and contentment by distributing their wealth in a manner that gives them more satisfaction than acquiring it.

We should always be only too aware of our instant mortality and live our lives so that we can try to be as content as practical under our own unique circumstances that no other person can truly understand, other than self.

A little philosophizing I know but positive thinking I hope!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

SURAKSHA – just one of many misconceptions before it even starts!

Suraksha was launched at Temple Trees yesterday, amidst 5,000+ students who have been bused in from schools, as fodder, to whom we are further burdening an already heavy legacy for their future. That is a criminal act.

After reading this below if anyone thinks otherwise, then I am afraid they are unfit.

This is clearly a case of leaders who will no doubt discover that they have shot themselves in the foot without realizing it. A case of votes for today, and country’s misery tomorrow! Also known as predictable government policy whoever governs.

This scheme launched by the Education Ministry, using coverage exclusively provided by Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, as NO OTHER insurance company on earth would even bid for such a scheme, is estimated to cost Rs3Billion in premiums for the Government via the Education Ministry. This cost will rise and not fall adding to the already overburdened tax payer who had NO say in this matter, of whether the government should get involved in such a hairbrained scheme.

Don’t ever forget that anything that is free provided by the Government is at a huge cost to the Tax Payer and if our history is anything to go by at a considerably lower return on investment than private funding.

Just taking ONE example to make a point and in time I will provide more in this blog, for the reader to appreciate the level of unabashed deception, I will use the case of a parent to rushes his child to a private hospital in an emergency, passing the fully staffed government accident unit along the way! Because the Child has Rs200K hospital coverage under the child’s Suraksha insurance card/plan.

The bill presented by the Private Hospital is Rs200,000 and the parent believes it is covered, not understanding, not receiving and not bothering to check the fine print of the coverage provided. The insurance company says that they can pay on Rs50,000 as there are certain items on the bill that this policy does not cover, and stating the reasons, pointing to the fine print, perhaps giving very reasonable explanations thereon, that will stand in a court of law.

So the Rs150,000 will have to paid by him, and he is now extremely agitated about how he is to find that money to pay the hospital bill. Now had he gone to the Government Hospital and had his child treated free, the most he would have been asked to pay would be some medications that he had to get from outside, perhaps some tests, and channeling the same doctor privately outside the hospital. The total he may have to pay will amount to about Rs30,000 including an attendant to stay overnight in the ward for a few nights.

Judge for yourself how true this case is and comment if you feel you have a point to elaborate in this debate. After all remember this plan has been launched without any consultation and what if this is a scheme to give some back door money to the GMOA to further their private wealth at the expense of the government, you and I know nothing about? It is called a transfer of resources from the public sector to the private sector, STEALTHILY!

It is sad we live in a Country with few who have perceptive skills to explain what our elected representatives get up to in the name of good governance or marapalanaya, or any other name for that matter as they are all at it, by our foolishness in giving them the tools to pull the rug from under us without us even knowing.

So let us remove ourselves from this false sense of security that this BOGUS insurance scheme offers and turns this parent into GRIEF, an innocent victim, and the Govt. will then ultimately lose credibility, unless they expand coverage at a further ruinous cost to the Treasury just to save face from their incompetent scheme.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Another tragedy of our times, cloaked in sweeteners to fool the public with headlines – SURAKSHA insurance for School Children

Surely, one can only be assured that when the Education Ministry gets involved in doing ANYTHING other than truly preparing our intelligent, courageous, brilliant youth, to face the challenges of living in the period 2025 to 2075, there is a SCAM!

Sri Lanka Insurance Corporations (a state entity) has been FORCED to provide cover NOT knowing the true actuarial cost. (calculation of potential claims of a hitherto untested product) What is certain as a result of this scheme is that more of the public who would NOT use private health services, will now do so, effectively increasing the claims, resulting in future premium increases, which will be passed on to the policy holder the Ministry of Education and in turn the tax payer of Sri Lanka! The current estimate is that the cost will be about Rs3B per annum.

This scheme is therefore very foolish, no doubt dreamt up by uneducated politicians to foo the uneducated public in the continuance of their political agenda.

Where are the journalists? There is no one to educate the people and the politicians of this folly, I suppose they have to be aware of the con first beforehand and there is no one to do that either.

Think about it, if this money is allocated by the Education Ministry, to be spent on a WELLNESS program that is practiced in other countries, though it may not win votes as it would be improve the health of the said School Age Students, it will provide returns 10 X times or more than the cost. Wellness means improvements in hygiene, nutrition, exercise and sports for physical health, behavior modification and training in handling stress and unexpected life situations. (will also reduce the high suicide rates of teens in Sri Lanka)

The proposed Insurance scheme will inevitably increase in cost, as the benefits that are believed to be available will not be on offer if one reads the fine print of the policy, and so in order to pacify an increasingly belligerent public who have been conned, the Govt. will demand more leeway and benefits, for political expediency, (votes) which will drive up the costs further.

Was this the thinking of those who designed this scheme to benefit their longevity? If this was done at the expense of the nation it is called Treachery and the sentence is death. So why are they being lauded by the people, press and patriots?

This is a case of the blind leading the blind, where the blind, deaf and senile rule! Time to restore sense back into public policy where none exists.