Who makes these stupid rules anyway?
Posted on February 1st, 2011

By Dr. Mrs. Mareena Thaha Reffai Dehiwela.

It is amazing to say the least that almost 50 applications have been rejected for nominations for the on coming elections based on insignificant matters like spelling mistakes and lack of JP’s signatures. I am made to understand if    a person other than the applicant goes along with him and  just hands over the file, his name is written as the one handing over the application, and  the application is rejected as it  must be handed over by the  applicant himself! Surely!

Makes me wonder are we in an intelligent society or what? What are we testing here? The accuracy of writing skills of these politicians? ( It is a foregone conclusion that many of them even do not know to sign their names on a check book! But that’s besides the point) the applications are being treated like grade five exam papers., If there is mistake the application si rejected and one cannot re apply or even correct the application once it is submitted.

Who made these stupid laws? And even the ruling party abides by this???? Amazing  how the  so called 21at century  society  crashes itself into a non existing hurdle. These are man made rules and we must move onto make better rules when intelligence demands it.

It is true the  leader of the party must check the applications  and make sure they are all correct. But if there is a mistake the clerk who is responsible for  taking them in must check and point them out and they should be made to correct it then and there or take the forms and get them corrected and be allowed to bring them back.

The election is for selection of the pradeshiya saba members not for writing skills of the clerical workers who fill the forms.  Are we so stupid that we cannot differentiate between the two?

I strongly suggest that the rules, which are a mockery to the intelligence of  Srilankans,  are changed immediately and all those who were rejected on flimsy excuses such as these must fight for their rights “”…” even by going to courts.   

 

9 Responses to “Who makes these stupid rules anyway?”

  1. radha Says:

    Reactionary Mrs Reffai at it again, reacting for no valid reason. Submitting nominations is a legal process, and if anyone steps out of the strict process, someone else could legally challenge the validity of what had gone on. The credibility of the system could be jeorpadized, and there is no need to mention the financial implications to all concerned. It is about time this country reverts back to the discipline of higher standards, including correct Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, especially for our politicians at all levels. Keep up the good work, Mr Election Commissioner!

  2. cassandra Says:

    Referring to the politicians involved, the writer says:

    “It is a foregone conclusion that many of them even do not know to sign their names on a check (sic!) book! But that’s besides the point”

    1.My understanding is that even if they cannot sign their names on a cheque book, they are quite able to endorse a cheque or sign a deposit slip!

    2. Inability to sign one’s name is not beside the point. It is very much to it. As Radha has so rightly pointed out, it is time we required a certain level of educational attainment of our politicians.

  3. Rishard Says:

    I agree with Dr. Reffai and I have a suggestion too. The functions of the Elections Department should be handed over to a private company. Charges to the company will be based on the nominations received (piece rate). Hurray, you will not find any rejected nominations. Further incentives will be granted by this company for submitting nominations. Corrections if any will be done then and there and all will be satisfied. The learned judges will have nothing to do with appeals on nominations since the private company will be definitely owned by a politico with the correct connections.

    We did this with the Passport Office and it is functioning very well. There was a time when we had to visit the Passport Office many times before we get our passport. Every time a stupid clerk will point to a silly mistake and make you fill a new form and get attested all over again. Now you hand over the application and within hours you get the passport.

    Same goes for Electricty, Water and Telephone connections. We had to wait years to get a connection. We changed the rules to suit the 21st. century and now we can get connected within a matter of a few days. These were lethargic departments before bound in red tape.

    So, lets do the same with our Elections Department and the nominations process.

    For god sake we have to move on if we are to at least catch up with the other nations.

  4. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    There is a lot of sense reflected in Dr. Mareenas article. It has many interpretations and many assertions. The present day white collar workers, have absolutely no training in decision making and decision taking. Unable to take reasonable decisions is the lack of exposure to proper training of ones profession, thereby displaying an inferiority complex, which then leads to fear of assertion, and then tend to refrain from taking a reasonable decision.

    If there is a spelling mistake, what is the difficulty in requesting the correction, then and there. There is no legality involved at all. If the spelling mistake is bona-fide, all that has to be done is to make the correction, and then place the full signature there. The person accepting the application should make such request, for a correction.

    This happens often when someone writes a Cheque. The amount of the cheque in written sequence, can vary with what is reflected in the numerical box. EG:- One hundred and fifty nine only……….195.00. The teller will then request the customer to correct the mistake and place full signature. Some might even ask to ‘Initial’ it. There is no breach of rules.

    If a JPs signature is mandatory and is missing, The person accepting the application should return it, requesting the applicant to regularise with the JPs signature, before the time frame for final hand over. There is no such rule that once Application has been handed over, it cannot be given back to the Applicant, for an obvious correction. It is the fear and doubt in the mind of the person, accepting the application, that leads to the confusion, because he is scared to take a decision. He has not been trained to take reasonable decisions.

    An Application of such importance, should be first scrutinised for mistakes and ommissions by the Applicant himself. Then it can be given to a Senior to go over it and whet it as final before handing over. This will avoid the confusion and disappointment.

    There is nothing in writing in any legal form to say that an Application has to be rejected period, because there are spelling mistakes or an ommission of a signature. As long as the Applicant files within the time frame after correction, then it should be accepted, period.
    If anyone insists that this cannot be done, then that person has to be scheduled for further training.

    Decision taking, flows from ones confidence in his convictions.

    To cap my response I would like to tell an old story. When I worked for Lever Brothers, presently Unilever, we were given strict instructions not to take any individual in the Company Vehicle, during working hours. Yet, one day, as I entered Kegalle Town, there was this female injured on the road, after a vehicle had knocked her down. People pleaded with me to take the injured to the Hospital. I agreed and took her to the Hospital. In the evening, in my Daily Report, I mentioned this incident, as I technically breached a Company Rule. Few days later, I get a letter from the Marketing Director,C. D. Barber-Lomax, praising me for what I had done, and saying that it was my Scout Experience, that made me take the correct Decision.

  5. Nihal Fernando Says:

    I appreciate Mrs Marina Taha’s views on the subject matter. I have not the foggiest notion in what language they fill in the nomination applications. I assume that they could be filled in Sinhala, Tamil or in English. If it is in English, one ought to be more careful even about the punctuation marks in the right place otherwise it will give entirely a different meaning.

    Spare him no, hang.
    Spare him, no hang.
    A woman, without her man, is nothing.
    A woman! without her, man is nothing.

    However, I do agree many of the politicians who are trying to contest for the PS are not educated enough to fill their applications. I know some bookie-keepers, bar-keepers, thugs are among them to represent us in the PS. As recently Hon. Mr. Dev Gunasekera has mentioned why should anybody wants to be elected as a member of the Pradeshie Sabha after spending a couple of lakhs when he will get paid only an allowance of Rs.5,000.00 a month unless he has the intention of getting in there and stealing the public funds.

  6. radha Says:

    Humans err. No one is perfect. Thus, in society, there should be tolerance to people making mistakes. We can accept and tolerate such inadvertent errors made by our family members, friends and in neighbors, or even in Mrs Reffai’s letters to Lanka Web, with some spelling and syntax errors in them.

    Unfortunately this general rule cannot be applicable to regulated processes that organizations and the society in general adopt for government business and legal proceedings. Election nomination process is just one of those regulated processes that, despite its strict nature, must be accepted as it is by those who wish to make use of this process.

    Rules and regulations cannot be written around individual experience from by-gone days as mentioned by Mr Wijesinghe or Mrs Reffai personally desires. This is because in a regulated process the objectives are accuracy, efficiency, productivity, transparency accountability and legal liability, to mention a few of the “abilities” that a regulated process was intended to meet. Being nice to each other does not come into it. If a candidate wants to get to his objective efficiently, then he must present accurate data to the process.

    In modern IT driven process systems, accuracy of input data is vital. In western countries, which I presume that Mr Rishard was referring to, the accuracy of information presented to the lowest level of functionary is highly critical. Once a regulated process has started, where the citizen meets the official and presents his papers, there is no simple way that errors could be rectified. Lower level officials do not have the authority to make corrections at the nod of a head or say so by the customer, if he had already presented wrong information, but authenticated as accurate and truthful. The higher level officials, even if they had the authority, would not transgress rules because it would create an undesirable precedence that organizations always resist.

    Therefore the solution to Mrs Raffai’s complaint is very clear and simple. Mr Wijesinghe has already stated it and I quote his words, “An Application of such importance, should be first scrutinized for mistakes and omissions by the Applicant himself. Then it can be given to a Senior to go over it and whet it as final before handing over. This will avoid the confusion and disappointment.”

    It is no good an applicant, often in hurry or assuming his importance, taking a document containing mistakes to the head of the queue and expects the process to tolerate his carelessness in dealing with the paperwork. The sort of things that Mrs Raffai complains about or Mr Wijesinghe expects as part of life would have been thrown back in their faces if they live in Western Countries. I bet my bottom dollar, they would meekly accept such rejection and be humble to the lowest level office worker, correct the mistakes and then join the back of the queue to resubmit their corrected papers. An applicant’s ego totally demolished by a western office worker and this is the way it is done in the West; so why can’t the Sri Lankan citizens take it from their own kind?

    What about implications of error? Let me quote one or two examples. In the case of a visa or a citizenship application, a careless error could make the applicant lose their money, because in the UK for example, the process cost of this type of application that failed due to mistakes is non-refundable; we are talking about sums of money of the order of £1,000. This is a good deterrent against people coming with corrupt input data.

    Some simple human errors are even more damaging. Recently, an elderly country Englishman who was on his holiday in a Southern African State was incarcerated by authorities for few weeks despite his pleadings that he had no connection to Al-Qaeda; this had happened because he was mistakenly identified by an FBI agent, several thousands of miles away in the US, through inaccurate computer records.

    That is how critical accuracy in documentation is in western countries nowadays. If you think I am exaggerating, just try to go past immigration control in any country, with an inaccurately filled disembarkation card; that’s a common experience.

    The ruckus created here by Mrs Reffai tantamount to an attitude problem from some middle class people in Sri Lanka, who consider that their ego are so important that officials should bow their heads and be slaves to them. Yes, functionaries are government servants and paid by tax payer; but the same tax payers expect them to serve and do their duty efficiently and accurately. It follows therefore that an individual applicant who presents a corrupt document cannot expect favors from officials when it comes to his or her turn.

    If the poor and the less able people would have their faulty paperwork rejected, then the middle or the upper classes should take the same; if anything, the latter citizens, often a lot more educated and capable, should be more vigilant in going to the head of the queue with accurately prepared paperwork. They must also present the papers themselves, and not through the medium of a servant, if the process calls for the person to be identified as the principal subject. It is the process, and just reconcile with it; that’s the way it is done in the West.

    Returning to the vexed question of nominations, no politicians should complain that they were in a hurry or had no time, especially on a matter that had been published in the Government Gazette so many months in advance. If they are in such a hurry and not caring for the detail, and not taking time to plan and organize their affairs, then how can we trust these people to be our nation’s leaders and guardians. Certainly they should be rejected. In particular the budding or in-house politicians must learn themselves how to set good standards for themselves and in their official dealings, before they could be considered as good citizens that deserve the right to claim that they must lead the local communities and eventually the nation to prosperity.

    One thing, I applaud Mr Reffai for is her bold way in taking on various “bees in her bonnet”. In doing so, I guess she is also learning one or two things about life and gives Lanka Web a chance to educate its readers.

  7. Nanda Says:

    These rule are there in every democracy. May not be there in Middle East where they chop off heads, hands and other organs.

  8. mjaya Says:

    Hi Mareena,

    Back again, with more and more pathos that speaks volumes about your mentality.

    First of all, as some of the people who have commented have highlighted, rules are rules. Certain rules have to be strictly enforced because they are legally abiding. Just think of the implications of a simple spelling mistake on a land deed where somebody writes “Charles Perera” as “Charles Periera”? That is why we have to give everything from full name to NIC number for certain legal documents. It is no mockery of intelligence.

    “I strongly suggest that the rules, which are a mockery to the intelligence of Srilankans, are changed immediately and all those who were rejected on flimsy excuses such as these must fight for their rights – even by going to courts.” Of course its the right thing to do. However you better start off with wrongfully convicted RIZANA NAWFEEK first!

    BTW: If your looking for stupid rules, then go no further http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Saudi-divorces-wife-for-watching-male-TV-host-Report/222620/

  9. Nanda Says:

    Mjaya,
    Yes. I am waiting for this woman to condemn Saudi culture and support Rizana.
    In Saudi it should be called “Dog and Pig Rules” ( with due respect to these two animals) rather than stupid rules which is too good.
    Try getting your passport in any country except Bangladesh, Pakistan,and middle east. You have to be present there personally with all documents. These are human rules.

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