Wednesday, December 7, 2016

US State Department – Don’t build your Sri Lanka Embassy Complex in front of Temple Trees!

I have already written 3 blog entries in this regard in JULY 2016, so my blog here is in connection with the attached report that Groundbreaking on this project to build the huge embassy complex has just started!

Ironically it is called an enduring symbol of friendship, which any person with half a brain will have a wry smile, knowing it is the easiest method of eves dropping on every sick joke made at Temple Trees from now on.

So  let us revisit my original appeal to the US NOT to build this Embassy here.

This was written 5 months ago, with the intention of avoiding a National Crisis in 4 years when the elections are in full swing and the Embassy is up and operational so that their presence then will NOT cause undue influence over the fickle Sri Lankan voter whose mind can be manipulated against the US with the Embassy at the doorstep of Sri Lankan power.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE if you understand the Sri Lankan psyche, it takes a long time to wake-up from their slumber, but once it has woken up, it can be deadly, and people's worst fears can easily be aroused irrationally, and your Embassy there is a RED RAG TO A BULL. 

In any case the current Ambassador will not even be around when the new complex is ready for occupation and William Moser is just a bureacrat doing his job, and it does not matter either way to him. So it is for the sake of the US interests in Sri Lanka that I am making this appeal for common sense and once you have read my three previous blog entries you wil be better off being granted 100 acres along the Mahaweli Bank to develop the most beatiful US Embassy in the World, where even a future President can just Copter in from the largest Aircraft Carrier in the US Navy safely in the Trincomalee harbor.

As for pushing the procrastinating SL Govt. to move the Capital a gentle nudge and the promise of a US$1B grant for that purpose in Polonnaruwa will do the trick. At least we can have that ready in 10 years instead of 20, when it will cost twice as much!

Of course my point can only be understood by people who actually have a vision of the future and likely outcomes, so I do not believe any in Govtnone of whom are visionary will even understand what I am about to say, but here I am appealing not to Sri Lanka but to the US State Department NOT to be foolish and act in the interest of the US Public by donating this land for a much needed park complex in Colombo, as the City will be suffocating in a few years with nowhere to breathe.

Of course the foul air will in any case prevent any US staffer worth their breadth, wanting to serve in Colombo, so in the all round interests, plan on Building the US Embassy as the first building in the new Capital City Complex of Sri Lanka which I guess to be on the banks of the Mahaweli in Manampitiya!

The links to my other two entries relating to this are also shown below to complete the trilogy I wrote over 5 months previously, which no doubt the US Govt. have not cared a damn about, but don’t say I did not say so later on.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

If COLOMBO Gridlock of week ending December 2nd 2016 is anything to go by, then we may as well GIVE UP and move out

The only appeal I will make to the strikers is to completely isolate ALL Parliamentarians within the Diyawanna Island and DO NOT ALLOW THEM OUT for 48+ hours. Finally they will probably understand the plight of the rest of us. Let them debate from today and allow them out on Monday morning.

Lets use jamming technology so that they can then NOT get any of their mobile phones working and also use wi-fi jamming so that they cannot use the internet either. Parliamentarians are notorious for being glued to their smart phones.

When people who live even near the Parliament have now decided to move back into central Colombo, because even they cannot stand the commute into Colombo, it says a lot about the choices people make, and ONLY those with the wherewithal are fortunate, leaving 99% of the others to suffer in silence, until some serious alternative is INACTED.


1                   Do something immediately about the traffic gridlock
2                   Prevent any protest that takes over public road for one year until some alternative means of protest is found
3                   Immediately impose a Rs100 a day on cars and three wheelers entering Colombo.
4                   Make it mandatory for MPs to use public transport one day a week say on Friday, so they can see for themselves how the majority of the people commute, otherwise NO immediate action will not be taken.
5                   Remove ALL back up vehicles of ALL ministers so no one other than the President and PM have back up vehicles in Sri Lanka. Judges still permitted to have their motorcycle escorts to and from work.
6                   All school vans can only come to a central exchange point at entry into the Colombo, where designated buses for schools will take them from that point. This will stop vans coming into Colombo and taking parking space for the whole day, until school is over.
7                   Immediately asses how the Government servants come to work within Colombo city limits and except for designated persons, they must use public transport to get to their place of work. Each head of department must consider the productivity of the member of staff who works within Colombo city limits, and seriously look into transferring him or her to another area.

8                   Build an alternative capital city far away, as it will be needed sooner rather than later!

Friday, December 2, 2016

How to make sense of the Richmond Park – by election? UK 1st Dec.’16

Zac Goldsmith, referred to as a billionaire thanks to his late father, the mercurial Sir James Goldsmith, and brother of Jemima Khan, the ex wife of Imran Khan, spectacularly lost the by election held yesterday, 1st December 2016 by less than 2,000 votes, contesting as an Independent candidate, to his Liberal Democratic rival, whilst the Labor Party candidate lost his deposit.

In the 2015 General election when David Cameron created an upset by not just beating the fancied Labor Party, but also obtained sufficient seats to form a majority Government without the previous coalition partner the Liberal Democrats, goes to show how much can change in such a short time in politics, and this certainly is time we in Sri Lanka understand how whimsical the electorate in a democracy can be over the slightest change in temperament!

No wonder the dictators and one party rulers are having a field day lately with Putin the undisputed leader, who can, not just face his detractors at home, but all comers overseas, despite a FAILING economy, and Russians starving in the streets! But have the gall to carry out indiscriminate bombings in Aleppo.

Getting back to yesterdays upheaval, let us be reminded of a few facts. The Liberal Democratic Party was decimated at the last General Election, and to turn a 20,000 + Tory majority, into 2,000 for them is also mind numbing, but expressive of by-election tactical voting! Then Goldsmith promised to leave the Tories if the 3rd Runway in Heathrow was approved, and that is why his resignation and contesting as an Independent (there was NO Conservative Party candidate yesterday vying to be humiliated, or split the vote!) resulted in this.

Then we have Zac who was a Brexiteer in a constituency which voted 70% to stay in the European Community, playing a part, and his Liberal Democrat rival was pro Europe too. So it is a wake-up call to Theresa May that there is a significant voice to soft Brexit or no Brexit in the UK, reflecting the polarized nature of the Country and competitive democracy at work, where people are almost evenly divided on many issue with NO middle ground to reach consensus.

In my opinion the wealthy constituents who probably pop over the continent for a drive if they so wish, now find their pound sterling worth so much less, and voted their disgust at that too, as they don’t have to compete for housing with immigrants, as no one can afford to live there, and immigrants just man the Gas Stations and are the maids in most of the households of Richmond Park. 

So the demographic reflected their views, and the 3rd Runway at Heathrow and the resultant noise pollution was a moot point with people there, who have heavy double glazing to keep out both the noise of the planes, but also the cold from their homes, and have an alternative weekend home to escape to as well. Don’t forget there are deer roaming in Richmond Park, and the mix of the outdoors with good access to the City of London for the stockbroker and banker types is a completely different class of Briton from the rural and industrial North.

While this by election is NOT AT ALL representative of the people of the UK as a whole, it is clearly an indication how people can change on a dime anywhere if their personal interests are threatened IN ANY WAY, and so the longer TM(PM) dilly dallies without going for a general election to tighten her grip on power, and hopefully sweep the board in the absence of a credible opposition, this MUST have given the Liberal Democrats false hope that they are in fact the de facto opposition to the Conservatives in the UK. FAT HOPES, but then pigs can fly!

As we saw with the Donald in the US

Who said we live in interesting times? The popularity of a Governing Party plummets almost as soon as they are elected. Let us see how long after the inauguration the Donald Trump’s approval ratings will last. In a funny irony, he is appointing so many far fetched unfathomable people into his cabinet, with news being issued of a new face every day, that in itself will probably carry his star a little longer as it takes to figure out one billionaire from another.

The “bodylicious” appointment of the ex-marine Janes Mattis is causing more of a stir outside the shores of the US, no doubt making the Donald give himself a pat for his audaciousness, as the General will have to change the rules to pass Congress, as one has to have retired 7 years from the forces to be considered for Secretary of Defense, he being out of uniform for barely 4.

Like everything Trump does, he is turning all the rules on its head and this is yet another instance, and the Serving Generals must be cock a hoop on this appointment that NO Democrat dare challenge!

I can’t remember having lived through such an interesting few months beginning with the Brexit vote, and ending with the by Election yesterday, but with the main event being the Donald’s overthrow of the shoe-in Hilary who must still be shoe-less! Of course with Modi and his demonetization at our doorstep causing palpitations over the pond in big old cash crazy India, no one knows what to expect as each day goes by.

As for Sri Lanka, let us just hope that the Government does NOTHING for a while, as we cannot take any more schizophrenic policy turnarounds on a daily basis causing too much grief all around especially to the man in the street!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Time the Govt. stops wasting Rs5B a year printing school books

Just think about it for a moment!

From Grades 1 to 13 we have got our school age youth used to receiving FREE text books for ALL their subjects. That is SIMPLY crazy! Yes the schools usually insist that the books are covered with brown paper to protect the covers etc. but that is done more as a practice rather than the kids been taught why!

Only when a child before he or she enters grade 1, is taught at pre-school or at home, to look after their things, be they school books, pens pencils, uniform and anything that belongs to them, will they learn how to take care of the school books.

The schools are encouraged to ensure that the books are in a quality where they can be used for over 4 years, but most books are unusable after one year with just one student! Why? There is NO ONE willing to take responsibility to ensure that state property is well maintained, as there is NO incentive given. The schools merely list the number of copies of each book that they require for the next year and submit it to the Education Ministry, on which it determines how many books their printers need to print, and often further reprints are called for from the printers when they get their estimates wrong.

This whole process is completely unacceptable, BUT NO ONE IN AUTHORITY has raised this waste of public resources at ANY LEVEL!

So how about financially incentivizing the children by giving them 30 rupees a book that is returned in re-usable quality. This on average is about 25% of the cost of the reprinting of that book and is bound to save the state money. Of course one has to have faith in the individual school to administer this process fairly. Further, prizes of monetary value can be given to schools based on how much they save the Education Ministry in terms of text books, by NOT ordering for the following year, because they have the needed quality for the next year’s students. This will ensure that both the school and the students using the books collectively make every effort at maintaining the quality of the book and prevent it from being disfigured.

In my opinion, the ideal will be for the school to sell all the text books to the students at the beginning of the school year, and buy them back at the end, at a lower price. Second hand books can be sold at half the price of the new ones, so kids can choose depending on their financial  circumstances, how they wish to purchase. Roughly 5 million students at Rs 1000 per student is how the Rs 5B is arrived at in my calculation in case someone was wandering where I got that!
In case the reader doubts the ability of parents to pay for the books, I maintain that considering how much money is spent on children’s pocket money, when they come to school, the monthly payment for the school van or bus to take them to school, the cost of private tuition classes, because the school does not give them adequate teaching to pass exams, and funding for other school activities, this is minuscule, about Rs1,000 per year!

Now ALL books are printed from discs and can therefore be all UPLOADED to the website, which I understand is what the Education Department is about to do to have all books on line for anyone to access! That is a great idea, further preventing the need for the giving of free books, when all the information is freely available on line.

Of course it is a matter of time when students will use TABLETS instead of school books, and if already this information is online, those students who choose to down load their text book to their tablet SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED to do so, with additional helpful teaching and learning guides added for each subject at each grade as an incentive for the students to actually obtain a tablet, just because it will be MORE HELPFUL for their studies than the mere text book they are given or later asked to purchase.

In this way within 5 years ALL students will avail themselves of TABLETS. I have a perfectly good tablet purchased from Dialog for Rs15,000 and that should easily fit the student’s requirement rather than the Govt. which has estimated to spend Rs25,000 per tablet, which I naturally assume to be more than Rs15,000 as a commission to the people pushing the TABLET on the PM who has NO clue that Amazon will actually give him 200,000 tablets FREE as a pilot project as long as they are able to use the publicity of this gift to the GOSL.

The problem is that a commission agent who is the PMs gate keeper is preventing anyone from Amazon from approaching the PM to offer this, as his gravy train is affected, and so the PM is ignorant of this wonderful opportunity.

I would like my readers to think very carefully of my suggestions which are timely and can save the Country Rs5B a year, and perhaps be used to improve the quality of education further by brining the curricula to 2016 and training teachers properly to teach relevant subject to students rather than only offering subjects at schools which will ensure that the student can never get a good job!

The previous blog entry alluded to a classic scandal to override even tender procedures to provide a useless product, at great expense to the Country, all these need to be stopped and better concepts given a hearing.