Health & Views – September 3nd Issue – by Harold Gunatillake
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Digital Seminar Series – Sri Lanka and Australia Bilateral Trade Opportunities
The SLACC are hosting a series of digital seminars promoting bi-lateral trade between Sri Lanka and Australia and the first such webinar will be showcasing opportunities in Smart Manufacturing and Knowledge Industries. The details of this webinar is given below and a flyer is also attached for your reference. We would appreciate it very much if you could please share these details with anyone who could benefit by joining this session.
Sri Lanka and Australia Chamber of Commerce (SLACC) is a not for profit organization established in 2015, registered under Australia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI). Over the last few years, we have organized events both in Australia and Sri Lanka, to promote bilateral trade.
The technology and business services sector was integral to supporting businesses across the world as they addressed the challenges of adapting to changes caused by COVID-19. Knowledge Services in Sri Lanka demonstrated remarkable agility, commitment and resilience in responding to the crisis; ensuring business continuity for global clients and prioritizing safety of all employees.
Yet another wonderful article to be shared with all of you, who are members of eLanka. This superb building in the very heart of Colombo Fort, holds special memories for “your’s truly”, as well, because it was here that the girl of my dreams worked as a Stenographer in the 1950’s. It was from one of those windows (upstairs), that she first saw the Queen of England, Elizabeth ll, making her way into Queen’s House (where else ?), which was practically opposite the P,M,G’s building. Her Majesty was in a magnificent car of course, with her husband, but they were deliberately being driven very slowly, so the adoring crowds could catch a glimpse of them. Cynthia Georgesz, one of my girlfriends at the time, told me that she was very lucky indeed to be able to see our Monarch quite clearly, adding that Queen Elizabeth was a very pretty woman. That visit coincided with Elizabeth’s 28th birthday on the 21st of April 1954, and because the Queen and her Consort had no reason to use any Postal Services at that particular time, the P.M.G’s Office, Colombo Fort becomes the focus of this story.
The postman’s bell, still a welcome ring – By Dishan Joseph
Today we live in a digitally dominated world. We communicate using various gadjets of technology. Over the past six months, Zoom chats have become vital for corporate executives and schoolchildren. Two hundred years ago, the island of Ceylon was experiencing a new dimension of communication – the use of letters sent and received through postal service.
As children, hearing the postman’s bell was a moment of delight to receive a birthday card or letter, and checking out the new stamps on the envelope. The postman attired in khaki uniform, riding his black Raleigh bicycle was a welcome friend. He was a messenger who delivered good news, and at times, he delivered bad news of someone’s death, often through a telegram. In fact, the ringing of his cycle bell was the same for good or bad news.
During festive occasions the postman would be treated with sweets and tea in appreciation of his service throughout the year. Collecting stamps was a common practice, and some developed this into a serious hobby. The old General Post Office in Fort, adjacent to the opulent President’s House was a magnificent building. It was the heart of our nation’s communication in that era. I remember going to this massive white imposing building with my father. It was always a busy place. Another venue we loved to visit during our school holidays was the small post office in Nuwara Eliya town. A postcard would be dispatched to a friend in Colombo just for fun. This beautiful Tudor-style building with red bricks was apparently built in 1894. It is one of the most beautiful colonial buildings from vintage Ceylon.
Communication has evolved over the centuries. Our ancient kings used horse-mounted riders to deliver messages. These messengers travelled in relays at times, often covering long distances, taking days to reach their destination. They were given an escort depending on the importance of the scroll being taken. Pigeons may also have been used, but there is not much evidence to endorse this method.
The postal service in England can be traced back to 1660.The first established form of postal service in Ceylon could be traced back to 1789 when the Dutch had taken control of our maritime provinces. They set up post offices in Colombo, Galle, Jaffna and Mannar. These were important coastal trading centres and postal stations operated mainly for the expatriate community who received letters via ships.
During this era, bullock carts and horse drawn carts were used to transfer parcels. In 1796, they introduced mail runners. They were robust men who carried letters in leather pouches and went on foot to deliver them. These men were given spears to protect them from the wild animals they would encounter as they passed thickets of forested areas.
Postal records indicate that by 1798, an officer named Captain Kennedy was appointed as a competent postal authority. At this early stage, there were 160 postal deliverymen in active service. By 1815, the British had gained control of Ceylon and began to structure the Postal and Telecommunication service, realizing the value of the postal service for business and the welfare of the people. Mr. E. Bletterman was the first Post Master General of Ceylon.
A significant milestone was achieved in 1832 when Ceylon became the first country in Asia to have special mail carriages. These horse-drawn mail carriages connected various villages. With the advent of the first rail service from Colombo to Ambepussa in 1865, mail could be transported by train which improved delivery time.
By 1914, most mainline trains had a T.P.O. wagon – a travelling post office. Since then Sri Lanka Railways has successfully engaged in carrying parcels and letters across the island, linking railway stations and rural post offices. One of the first mail baskets painted in red, used for the ‘rail-mail’ service is kept on display at the Postal Head Office museum. The night mail trains remain a vital link in the postal spectrum.
Stamps are synonymous with letters. The world’s first postage stamp was created by Sir Roland Hill in May 1840. The stamp depicted an image of Queen Victoria. According to records, the first postage stamp in Ceylon was released on April 1, 1857. The use of stamps saw the use of the postal stampers – wooden stamping instruments, which ‘cancelled’ the new stamps. Wax seals were introduced for larger parcels and official mail.
The first stamp with the word ‘Sri Lanka’ was released in 1972.The year1857 was a year of advancement in terms of connectivity. For the first time, Ceylonese were able to send and receive telegrams. This was a welcome move. The first telegraphic lines were installed from Colombo to Galle and Colombo to Kandy. Young men and women were recruited and trained to learn the codes that were belted out on metal instruments, which in turn were encrypted.
Government notices were printed and sent for display on the bulletin boards at the Post Office. It was perhaps a forerunner to social media, in a community sense. The arrival of steam ships was also duly advertised. The steam ships docked at the Colombo Harbour, and delivered parcels and letters from London and the Netherlands.
Inside the postal museum, I saw an old poster dated 1929, which announced the visit of the steam ship RMS Osterley, which sailed to Melbourne, Sydney and New Zealand from Colombo. The local agents were Whittall & Co. Some of the mail delivery steamships that came to Colombo were from Peninsula & Orient, Rolando Lloyds, British-Indian Navigation and Organdies Line of Japan.
As the British administration realized the growing demand for letters and telegrams, they set up the GPO in 1895. At this stage, there were 50 post offices in Ceylon. Familiar in major cities are the bright red ‘pill boxes’ into which people dropped their letters. These sturdy cast iron boxes have stood for decades and can be spotted across the island, although new ones are also in use. These postal boxes were made in England by two companies – Mc Duvall Steven Ltd and W. T. Allen and Co. I have seen some of these beautiful postal relics in Kandy, Galle and Nuwara Eliya.
Another important postal advancement took place in 1914. The mail delivery service was extended to England via India. Dedicated postal staff would travel from Colombo to Mannar by train. The next phase was travelling from Talai Mannar to Danashkody (India) by connecting train. Letters were given to a collection centre which in turn dispatched them to London by flight. For the first time mail could be sent from Ceylon to London in seven days. December 1936 was a golden day for communication in Ceylon. The first airmail aircraft (a seaplane) of the Indo-Ceylon Flight Service touched down in Colombo, bearing the first airmail letter to one Mr. Ameresinghe of Dehiwela.
In the golden era of telecommunication, it was the Postal Service that introduced telephones to Ceylon. In 1938 undersea telegraph cables were successfully laid (direct lines) from Colombo to the Port of Aden, Seychelles and Penang (Malaysia). The early telephones were given to post offices, hospitals and police stations as a priority. People had to visit the local Post Office and request for a phone call. It was only in 1970 that mechanical auto phone exchanges enhanced our phone networks.
Today there are almost 640 main post offices in Sri Lanka. They sell nearly 300 million stamps annually. Around 400 staff sort our letters at the Central Mail Exchange (CME) in Colombo, working around the clock. Many would think we rely totally on email but postal services are still in demand. A visit to the CME shows how many letters are sorted and dispatched. Over the past few years, there is an increase in foreign parcels coming to the country as Sri Lankans have resorted to online shopping.
Remote islands such as Delft have a post office, where mail is delivered regularly by boat. Another good service is the payment of pensions to retired persons via the post office. During the long Covid-19 quarantine curfew postmen played a vital role in delivering medicine to patients, which is very commendable. Sri Lanka Post has come a long way over the past 200 years.
Local sports clubs and associations across the state are set to receive a $4.65 million funding boost to assist with ongoing participation in sport and active recreation in NSW.
Acting Minister for Sport Geoff Lee said the Local Sport Grant Program is crucial in supporting the NSW Government’s commitment to enhance the quality of life of the people of NSW.
“We know that sport is the lifeblood in some local communities and their volunteers work hard to provide opportunities for their residents to get active and experience some normality during this pandemic,” said Mr Lee.
Australia has provided much needed assistance to migrant returnees in Anuradhapura.
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, vulnerable people across the country have faced multiple challenges, including the loss of income. This has led to a cascading socio-economic impact on communities at the grassroots level in Sri Lanka, upending their daily lives.
Following a request made by the District Secretary in Anuradhapura in the North-Central Province of Sri Lanka, and in line with the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) global mandate to support the better management of migration in Member States, IOM Sri Lanka stepped forward to support the affected population in the district, supported by the Australian Government.
Sri Lanka Cancer Society-Op Shop re-opened after the temporary closure over COVID 19.
Sri Lanka Cancer Society –Op Shop
37/25, Bullers Lane, Colombo 7
Op Shop, an inspired charity venture by Sri Lanka Cancer Society established in September 2017, is operated by dedicated volunteers. Donations are received by the office staff and volunteers will sort, price tag them and make them ready for sale on Fridays. Proceeds will go into supporting those battling cancer.
Sri Lanka Cricket has sounded out BCCI its willingness to host India’s Test series against England scheduled early next year, if the neccesity arises in view of the raging COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report here.
With India’s COVID-19 cases surging, England’s scheduled five-match Test series in India early next year could be in doubt and the SLC is willing to fill in to play host to the contest, according to a report in ‘The Island’.
Aug 15, Colombo: The Department of Defense of Australian Government handed over a stock of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) worth Rs. 23.4 million to Sri Lanka Navy, the Navy Media Unite said.
Defense Adviser of the Australian High Commission in Sri Lanka, Group Captain Sean Unwin symbolically handed over a stock of PPE to Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne during a simple ceremony held at the official residence of the Australian High Commissioner in Colombo Friday (14).
MINISTER FOR POPULATION, CITIES AND URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE
ACTING MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION, CITIZENSHIP, MIGRANT SERVICES AND MULTICULTURAL AFFAIRS
14 August 2020
Citizenship appointments resume
Australian citizenship testing and interviews, which were suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions, have now resumed in Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.
Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alan Tudge, said appointments will be held in line with state and territory restrictions and with the safety of both staff and applicants as the top priority.
“More migrants can now continue to progress towards becoming Australian citizens, joining the record number of people who pledged their allegiance to Australia last year,” Minister Tudge said.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup has been postponed and will now take place from: 16 October – 13 November 2022. This decision comes after the ICC completed a comprehensive contingency planning exercise. Crowds are an important part of any global event, and keeping everyone involved safe and healthy is the number one priority. The postponement will give Australia the best chance to safely host the T20 World Cup with full stadiums. The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in India will take place as scheduled in 2021, and all teams that qualified for the Australia 2020 event will gain entry to the event in India in 2021. A new fixture and qualifying pathway for the postponed event in 2022 will be announced at a later date. All fans who purchased tickets to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2020 will be automatically refunded in full. Further details are available here. We hope that you will join us to see the world’s best cricketers in Australia in 2022.