CWC Minister’s statements in SL parliament decried

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 21 December 2004, 00:18 GMT]
Mr. R. P. Kannan, Deputy Secretary and Uva provincial organiser of Workers National Association (WNA), Saturday condemned a statement in Parliament by Minister Muthu Sivalingam of the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) Friday. Mr. Kannan alleged that on the votes of the Ministry of Estate Housing and Infrastructure, the Minister had said that the Plantation Sector people are enjoying all the rights and equal status with others in the country.

Mr. Sivalingam was sworn in as Minister of Community Development by Sri Lanka's President in September following the CWC's cross-over to the government.

Mr. Kannan, speaking at an Organizers' meeting of the WNA in Passara, lamented the statement by the Minister as a “travesty of truth,” saying that Ceylon Workers Congress leaders, each time they join with the Government in power, work for their own betterment.

“Hunger, malnutrition infant/maternity mortality rate are at the highest level in the upcountry. The underlying reason is that the workers’ wages are not commensurate with their work and output. And there is no health care worth its name. The Plantation Sector is still educationally so backward,” said Mr. Kannan. "Mind you, not even 1 per cent of the students could access University education,” which is not the case with other communities, he said.

Mr. Kannan, arguing that Minister Sivalingam’s statements are far removed from the truth, further said: “There are teacher shortages and lack of infrastructure facilities in many Estate schools. For example, there are only 36 science teachers as against the requirement of 134 in the Ambegamuwa zone, similarly, 74 English teachers as against 89 required.

“In the Plantation Sector, 99 per cent of the 450,000 people still live in the self-same line rooms constructed for them by the British colonial rulers. Minister Sivalingam should know this if only he looks closely at his own Nuwara Eliya District. In that District storied houses are found only in 5 Estates, viz., Kaldonea, Vanaraja, Karolina, Mountvenon and Pinoya. Hence it is ridiculous to say that the Estate people live in storied houses.

“What is more, despite the existence of several reservoirs and hydro- power stations in the plantation region, 90 per cent of the people still have to make do with bottle lamps. And thousands of youths who have studied up to the GCE (O/L) are languishing without jobs and thus constitute a burden on their parents.

“In the Central Province alon,e there are 94 schools without any basic facilities. At this rate one doubts very much whether there will be any worthwhile improvement even a quarter century later. A people who have toiled for the country’s economic growth over the last 170 years do not have an inch of land to call it his or her own. And how many of these people who have laid the golden egg enjoy their franchise and real citizenship?”

 

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