Thursday, March 24, 2011

who told the President of my blog entry?

It was reported on the front page of the Daily News, the Government owned newspaper on Thursday, March 24th that the President himself personally faced the potential destruction of the drivers of Ministerial Security vehicles. I quote verbatim from the internet edition as follows:

"President Mahinda Rajapaksa without security and backup vehicles was touring the city of Colombo yesterday to monitor the vehicular conduct of VIPs on the road.

While the President was proceeding towards the Parliament Road, a Minister’s security convoy nearly brushed on the President’s vehicle.

The President told another in his car, “I personally came to see the trouble these VIPs are giving the ordinary people on the road. See how that fellow is driving that convoy nearly hitting me.”

President Rajapaksa last week warned Ministers not to cause problems to the public on the road by driving fast as he got many reports on VIP vehicles hitting innocent people on the road.

The President is likely to continue these sudden routine checks on the road to gather first-hand information on VIP vehicular misconduct in public. Lankapuvath"

In the Sinhala, Silumina of the same day also on the front page it said, "Janadhipathi thumage vahanaya anunamayen beruna" roughly translated means, the unmarked vehicle in which the President was travelling was saved by a whisker from considerable damage.

It is therefore now in the open about the potential and actual damage caused to people and property by this kind of act of over 100 convoys plying the roads.

What may I ask has been done to indemnify the affected todate, and what future steps will be taken to allow justice for the aggrieved. That sadly was lacking in any of the reports, as just telling the errant to behave is not enough, there must be penalties for this type of action, as otherwise the same or worse injury and loss of economic benefit and livelihood would continue as a result.

It is not just enough to become aware of the problem, what action one takes to correct the wrongs is what leadership and good governance is about.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

a wake up call in times of hardship, others have it worse

During this very trying period where I have to work to make ends meet, and find myself hopefully temporarily deficit financing, until I am able to get back to normal, this is a human interest segment that I feel I should relate.

I was fortunate enough to get a ride to the farm on Friday, so that I could spend the weekend there for the first time since my accident. I was therefore able to at least sleep on my bed for the first time in nearly two months! The room was slightly gutted off some of the small luxuries, as I had my radio (bought with my first paycheck in 1978) taken to my sister's so I could listen, and my bed side lamp likewise removed, I was still home with smells and sounds of the farm.

My caregiver went home on Saturday morning and returned late on Sunday, so I was all alone in the house, with no music or TV just left to ponder what next! I had a few dogs wondering what had happened to me, and Hugo Rama, ( short for Hugo Parakrama Bahu, the Ridgeback) sleep under my bed and Soma and Megha running around the room for company. I was therefore able to be alone in the house, with the doors open as the dogs were all the security I needed at the time.

The other two dogs, Mala and Bahu the Ridgeback pair were in their kennels as they were too boisterous to be sent up to me, as they would insist on my fawning over them, and I was not in a physically fit state to do so without them trying to push me!

There were some from the neighborhood who dropped into have a chat and esquire after me, and the staff who live in separate quarters saw to my meals, but for the rest of the time it was just me and the dogs.

On Sunday afternoon(March 20th), Soma decided it was time to give birth to her pups, and in a room near the kennels produced 5. Soma is a Dalmatian, and the father was Bahu the ridgeback. The pups (see were all jet black, some with white socks and others with white on their under bellies. This was unexpected as I thought there would be some white and some brown in the mix. Three of the pups have a distinct ridge.

I could not find any instance anywhere on the internet of the Dalmatian Ridgeback mix to make any comparison and if any of the readers can help me there I will be grateful. Remember both these breeds have the same body and bone structure and only the color and markings are different, so this mix can be defined as a new breed if there are distinct markings that stand out. (wishful thinking ha!)

Anyway the real purpose of what I wanted to write about has been missed. After I lost my phone in the accident and more importantly the 700 phone numbers I had in it, which were my real losses, I was able to find some old papers with some phone numbers which I had lost so that I was able to retrieve a few of the lost numbers. I then called a few to inform them of what had happened and to renew our contacts.

One of them, was a chap I have known for about 8 years, and was pretty friendly at one time, having taken him up to Polonnaruwa and traveled around Sri Lanka. He was in the travel trade, and I wanted to show him some of our hidden gems. When he answered the phone he was not his usual ebullient self but sounded subdued. I had not spoken to him in a while, the last time I bumped into him was many months ago near the lift at the WTC where I occasionally work.

He told me what had happened to him as I had no clue, and felt ashamed I had not tried to contact him earlier, though I had sent him the odd text never to get a reply. He had been in a horrific motor bike accident, near his home in Ratnapura, and riding pillion had been injured severely and was now recuperating and undergoing rehab at a specialist government hospital for spinal injuries in Ragama. He in short was paralyzed from the waist down and was learning to use his other limbs to get about, and get some semblance of life back.

This immediately jolted me in realizing how lucky I was, as I could also have had such injuries if I had been hit more severely, and the vehicle not protected me as it did. My breakage seemed small and temporary at that instant, as brain and spinal injuries leave lasting scars and damage.

I wish him well and hope to see him when he gets home, something he has not yet been able to do and not for a very long time, and it was less than two months for me to get back to my room!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

the loss of one's independence

The most striking aspect of that split second when the accident took place and I broke my leg, was the loss of independence I had been used, disappearing in a flash.

Since that moment, I have had to be dependent for almost everything. Without the services and help from others, in the instant of the accident, from complete strangers who came to help, I have had to depend on the goodwill of others.

In a way it is good lesson to learn as hitherto up until that point I had been pretty much in control of what I wanted to do from moment to moment and was answerable to only myself for all my actions. I chose what I ate, when I ate and also how I made simple things like the cup of tea or glass of fresh orange juice. I did all my own laundry and instructed how all my food and beverage was made.

I am now at the mercy of others, and as the room I am in does not have a TV or a bell to call for help, sometimes I have to wait for someone to come in before I can ask for help for simple things. Worse as I am not staying at my place, I am dependent on others for bringing my clothes from my place to wear and also what I put on before going to the office, and have had to put up with crushed clothes and a few more embarrassments to boot in order to get there.

I was one who was used to choosing the amount of food on my plate so I only selected what I could eat, as from the beginning we were instructed to never waste any food which we helped ourselves to. Now I have food served on a plate, and in order not to leave even a grain of salt on the plate, I have had occasion to eat out of habit and not out of need.

I cannot pop out to the store and get myself a sweet fix if i want or fulfill a craving!! These are times for reflection and hope that it will not be too long before I can take some control of my daily activities.

The worst thing at present is my inability to sleep continuously as I had been used to due to the very uncomfortable position I have to get into due to the right leg still being painful and not yet operational without pain. I take a few pain killers prior to bedtime, and it has helped a little.

Most of all I want to get back to my place, my things my surroundings, dogs and fresh milk in the morning!! Tea tastes so much better with fresh milk and spring water! I will not be able to drive a vehicle for another 5 months so until such time I will have to compromise and put up with some discomfort.

I have to make a trip to the Minneriya Police station to make a statement as the statement made at the hospital had not got to them. This is essential both for my insurance payment, as well as the police prosecution of the driver of the vehicle that crashed into me. Until that latter case in the Polonnaruwa courts is completed and Judgement ruled in my favor, I cannot take a private prosecution against the state or ministry to claim some kind of compensation for the pain and suffering as well as economic cost of the incident.

Till then I am batting on hoping the pain in the leg reduces, the problem being that once the numbness after the operation wore off, some pain arising from the surgery raised its ugly head. I see the doc in a few weeks for the follow up and hope by that time it disappears.

Monday, March 7, 2011

return to remunerative employment

Anyone who has followed my blog over a period of time would be clear on one thing. I am running a subsistence agriculture based enterprise purely on my ability to put in the time and effort. Therefore it does not take a brain box to realize the devastating effects my accident would have had on my enterprise.

I have been able to survive purely due to the help I have received from family, as well as the cheque I received from my Colombo employment for the same amount as if I had worked there on the usual days of the week that I am there for the month of February.

It was imperative therefore that in order for me to meet my expenses, I manage to go to the office as early as possible, in order to meet my commitments. I have to depend on a lift to the office in a vehicle as well as the services of an attendant though I can call on the services of a taxi when a vehicle is not available. I am able to fortunately go all the way up to the 32nd floor of the WTC East Tower on the service elevator from the loading dock without having to go to the main entrance as it is on different levels and I cannot use escalators etc.

While it is very tiring to stay in one place, at least being at a desk and being able to work is a huge advantage. I am not able to put my foot down for 3months or drive for six, so I am not able to operate my previous enterprise and therefore take a loss on that, but at least being able to get some partial relief will definitely help at this moment.

I am pleased to report that though I have trouble sleeping due to the inability to turn without pain and awkwardness, the wounds have healed and the operating scar that was over a foot long is barely noticeable now barely 5 weeks on to the operation is an indication of the skill of the surgeon and the person stitching the operating cut.

I know many of my friends all over the world are following my progress through my blogs, and so I know that they will give me license to inform you all this way rather than write individual mails, as it is still a little tiring to sit at the desk and write. So thank you all for the numerous emails, prayers and wishes for a speedy recovery. Thank you

Thursday, March 3, 2011

the state sponsored slaughter of innocents appears to be finally yielding some outrage

If you have been reading the past few blog entries you would have noticed my appeal for right thinking people to protest against the current slaughter on our roads by uninsured vehicles of the state, mostly of the defence forces including the Police of which the Ministerial Security Division is the chief culprit.

These MSD vehicles have the worst record of the slaughter having injured more than 500+ and killed more than 100 since the end of the war, with no recourse to them for compensation. The stories of people who have been thus affected are tragic, with livelihoods lost and average hardworking productive people being reduced to penury and begging with no recourse to the law for redress. ( In a civilized country, if you do not have recourse to the law for redress, it is effectively a Human Rights Violation)

I have appealed to a leading publisher to gather around 100 true stories arising out of these accidents, so that they may be highlighted in the press and the public made aware of the real risk they are in due to this large scale breaking of the norms of decency, while driving at excessive speeds mowing down pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Only a few days ago, a back up police vehicle for the protection of the wife no less of the IGP (Why the wife of the police chief needs an escort is beyond me!!!) killed a motorcyclist near Pelmadulla, which resulted in the city of Pelmadulla ( full praise for people's agitation) rising up in demonstration which forced the police to remand the driver. Otherwise he would have gone free without even a summons!

In my case, the totally unroadworthy police/MSD escort vehicle which was an old Toyota high sided blue 4wd vehicle, which skidded into me was abandoned by the convoy of the Ministry of Justice at the site of my accident, and the occupants were removed in the Minister's other vehicles without giving a police statement. The police had to tow it to the Police Station, and they had the gall to ask me to pay for the tow!! when I only paid to tow my vehicle to the Police Station. That police vehicle after a lapse of over a month is still lying in the Police station in Minneriya, (you can go there and look at it today) unclaimed by the Ministerial Security Division, and the driver has NOT gone to the station to surrender his licence and as he was clearly the offender, not even taken into custody, pending a magisterial enquiry. They are hoping time will allow them to sweep it under the carpet. My license though is with the Minneriya Police for the purpose of their enquiries, what Justice is that?

Is this the Justice we expect in this country from the Minister of Justice? Old Royalists reading this should castigate him for putting their school to shame, as he has not even had the decency to of a phone call to enquire after my health! It goes to show it does not matter what school you went to anymore in SL the morals of the leaders is that of the gutter!

This practice must stop, as all the MSD contingent that give protection to MPs and various forms of Ministers have special radios that start crackling not when there is a threat to the VIP but when there is an accident, which is about 5 times a day. It is now a sport for the MSD security counting the road kill and injured (maybe even placing bets in true SL fashion of the day's tally), as they have nothing to do except travel around with the VIP feeling important, scrounging meals from every host the VIP visits ( I had to feed 10 security once when a VIP visited me!)

This practice must stop immediately. The back up vehicles which are not roadworthy anyway should be withdrawn and each VIP should just be given their standard two security personnel. We can then at a stroke of a pen save innocent lives, with no threat to the VIP security (their un-roadworthy vehicles are a greater threat to their own personal safety anyway)

There was an article in this Sunday's Times which said that moves are afoot to try and get all those hitherto uninsured vehicles of the state into the insurance ambit, so that those injured killed or somehow affected will have some redress and recourse for compensation. Its high time, please enact the appropriate legislation, so that the most important requirement is for all vehicles to follow the road rules and speed requirements, and know that they will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law if they flout it. If they know this, then there will not be this kind of owning the road mentality, driving in a way with no regard to other road users, and they would be more careful knowing they could be imprisoned, and action taken personally against them.

How about taking personal action against the minister as he is vicariously is liable for the actions of those under him. You can bet things will change in a jiffy!