UK: Daily Mail praises Lib Dem councillor ’s day jo b policy against non-English speakers

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Thu Mar 19 17:30:53 UTC 2009

Daily Mail praises Lib Dem councillor’s day job policy against
non-English speakers

Written by Richard Huzzey on 18th March 2009 – 9:11 pm

The Daily Mail rarely devotes its columns to the praise of Liberal
Democrat councillors. Deva Kumarasiri is an exception. The newspaper
approvingly reports on a policy he has introduced in the Post Office
he manages: Mr. Kumarasiri will not serve people who don’t speak
English because, he believes, they ought to learn it, as he has since
emigrating to Britain 17 years ago. The paper says,  If his customers
can’t be bothered to learn English, he tells them, they must go away
and learn it before he serves them.

His bold stand against non-integration has sent a shudder of political
correctness down whatever spine the post office has these days, and
infuriated some local do-gooders who accused him of inciting division
among the community. This is clearly an action Cllr. Kumarsiri is
taking in his day job as a postmaster, rather than in his capacity as
an elected representative of the party on Gedling Borough Council. Yet
I think it is of interest to Lib Dem Voice readers, as an issue in
itself and one that the public will find it hard to separate from his
role as a local politician.

For what it’s worth, I’m with the “local do-gooders” rather than
Kumarasiri and The Mail. Refusing service to people who cannot speak
English is mean-spirited, intolerant and counter-productive. It is
important to assist immigrants in learning English, which will allow
them to participate fully in the economic, political and social life
of their community. A shared language is also crucial to an integrated
and engaged local community. Yet I am sure you will help far more
people access help in learning English as a second language by serving
them at a Post Office counter than turning them away. I am amazed if
the Post Office’s regulations allow individual branches to deny some
people access to their services. As local Post Offices become hubs for
access to government services, it is even more important that all
members of a community can use them. Why not provide leaflets on local
classes in English, instead of banning people?

All of that aside, I’d have thought post offices could do with all the
customers they can get. I’m very much in favour of keeping them in
business, as well as treating immigrants with courtesy and respect.
Update: The Liberal Democrats have asked us to note that Mr.
Kumarasiri is not a member of the party and is currently suspended
from the Lib Dem group on his council.

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