What politicians in this land have done it in the past are repeating the same at present, and they will continue to do the same in the future too! There have been a lot of hue and cry about the presence of foreign workers in Sri Lanka, in connection with Chinese projects that are taking place in this country, from road building to harbour development et al.
Recently a batch of school children on an educational tour, accompanied by their teaching staff, to Magampura Airport, was denied entry by the current Chinese Management, who have taken over the airport on a lease from the Yahapalanaya regime. This appeared to be one of the most recent, disgusting and despicable scenes Sri Lankan TV viewers had to stomach, when the security guard was seen lamenting to the TV cameraman saying: ‘what can we do, we have to follow orders from the Chinese’!
Prior to this incident too, a hullabaloo erupted when the Chinese declined to hoist the Sri Lankan National flag, or rather removed it after hoisting the National flag, after the inauguration ceremony of the Chinese-built port terminal during the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime, leaving only the Chinese flag to fly.
Why are foreigners allowed to dictate terms to the natives of this land, especially to a batch of school children, as mentioned above, accompanied by the teaching staff on an educational tour? The public naturally will point an accusing finger at the idiotic politicians in this land, who had taken brainless and spineless decisions and acting the fool all the time.
Authorities in this country say the influx of foreign manual workers swamping this little island is due to acute shortage of labour in Sri Lanka! In April 2017, Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka was quoted as saying, “200,000 foreigners were working in Sri Lanka with or without work permits” – from India, Bangladesh, Maldives and China. Although the Minister suggested that the Government should adopt sterner immigration regulations to curb the invasion of such foreign workers, it appears, like anything else, that the grandiloquence has been confined to meaningless waffling only by the politicians. The Board of Investment statistics have placed the figure of 8000 applications seeking work permits (visas). Press reports revealed that some of these manual workers, who were already in this country had to put up with extremely rough working conditions and also having to work on long 12-hour shifts, on a compulsory seven days a week, without any leave sanctions whatsoever.
Naturally any immigrant worker would be eager to earn to capacity. Towards this end, he will tolerate any arduous working condition to satisfy his employer and to earn his money. It is the same with Sri Lankan workers working abroad who have to stoop to menial levels and persecution, especially the housemaids who work hard for both tears and sweat for their mere survival in order to remit money to their families at home. Foreign worker contribution in terms of foreign exchange to the country have reached a prime peak currently, equivalent to commodities such as tea, rubber and coconut that were the chief commodities once before, that earned the foreign exchange.
The labour shortage, as some government ministers portray, is due to the non existence of a proper labour policy. This has given rise to the ‘three wheeler culture’ where anyone, who is able to obtain a driving licence by hook or by crook, is tempted to buy a three wheeler on a lease to earn his living. Recently State Minister Palitha Range Bandara disclosed about a plan to be introduced where minimum age level for driving a three- wheelers would be mature drivers of 40 year of age. This is due to the fact that millions of three wheelers in this country contribute towards a larger percentage of road accidents and deaths!
Three wheeler drivers are quite complacent with their income where they could service their lease installments out of their income, while enjoying the freedom to work at their own thrall. Had there been an effective labour policy, then, there would not have been so many road accidents and deaths involving three wheelers, as we read on newspapers on a daily basis, instead government could have created many technicians and craftsmen out of accelerated youth training programs, which would automatically have curbed foreigners swamping the country and Sri Lankan mothers seeking menial jobs in foreign countries for their family’s sheer survival. The horror struck quite recently about a Sri Lankan mother being shot to death by a Saudi Arabian employer’s son. This incident like any other, appears to have forgotten by everyone, except the bereaved family, like any other trivial incident in life! Many mothers do leave their families and seek foreign jobs, with perhaps the know of what lies ahead of them, but purely as no other alternative to support their families financially and the fact that they cannot find suitable comparative employment with tractive salaries. This is the price many mothers of Sri Lanka having to pay doing ‘ slavery’ to foreigners, thanks to our ingenuous political leaders.
Foreign Staff at Apollo Hospital
When a world famous Indian group of hospitals opened their branch in Colombo, during Rajapaksa regime, it was evidently clear that the Government only concentrated on the foreign investment factor, otherwise would any sensible Minister of Health have sanctioned to employ 200 Indian nurses, who were unable to communicate with the local patients, either in Sinhala or English? The motivation behind employing all Indian nurses, according an Indian Director and Cardiologist at the time, was that they could not find a single Sri Lankan nurse, but all the applicants were retired nurses from government hospitals.
Surely, shouldn’t the retired nurses from government hospitals, with bags of experience, better than any Indians, who could not converse in English or Sinhala? Neville Fernando teaching hospital, prior to its take over by the ‘government,’ did not make any discrimination on that basis and absorbed a lot of retired nurses from government hospitals. Obviously, their policy worked to the hospital’s advantage; regrettably, many had to leave their jobs when it became government controlled hospital with the government’s retirement policy affecting them to the disadvantage of the suffering patients!
The Indian private hospital hoped to set up their own training courses for nurses at a charge of Rs. 10,000 per annum, whereas the Sri Lankan Government Institute provided free training. When their exorbitant hospital charges were criticised, an Indian director was quoted as saying that it was akin to ‘Chennai charges’! A pandemonium erupted after three by-pass patients died out of the first 100 operations, when 30 Indian specialists worked at this hospital initially. The Hospital became subjected to further criticism when a gall-bladder patient was operated for appendectomy! Excuses given by the Indians at the time was, that their CEO was Indian, and even after thrice advertising in the local press to appoint a local medical director was unsuccessful
Outsourcing Laundry Service to Indians
The latest move by the Yahapalanaya Administration is said to be to outsource the laundry service of local hospitals to an Indian company for a sum of US$7.5 million, denying the job opportunities for hundreds of Sri Lankans, even prior to the signing of the ETCA agreement. However, according to the Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, ‘the project for laundering the clothes were based on modern technology to kill germs in discarded clothes by patients and the staff during surgical procedures in Western Province hospitals. He was quoted as saying that the latest project bore no relevance at all to the proposed Economic and technology Partnership Agreement (ETCA) with India’.
The crux of the matter is that we live in a world of modern technology where Sri Lankans have proven their mettle and ability stand equal to any international genii. The two Sri Lankan inventors who developed the path breaking remotely operated underwater vehicle, along with the high pixel video camera fixed to the ROV that relayed continuous video to the ground, exposed in a Sunday National paper, clearly proves Sri Lankans talent and ability without having to depend on foreign brains. After all, how did the Western province hospitals manage to kill germs in discarded clothes by patients and the staff during surgical procedures all these years. What a load of codswallop?
(pic credit: (Automated Hospital Laundry)
Ceylon Today Newspapers Ltd)