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Letters


On the de-merger of the North- East

The Northern Province is populated by Tamils. There was time when Sinhalese and Muslims lived in amity with the Tamils in that province. Then came Prabhakaran. Trained in India on the orders of Indira Ghandi in guerilla warfare. He gave the Sinhala and Muslim people 24 hours notice to quit the province leaving behind their land, houses, furniture and all other belongings and emigrate anywhere else on pain of death for those who stayed behind. Most went East and others South, and were welcome by a humanitarian populace living in those provinces. Pressurised by India in 1987, Rajiv Ghandi, the then Indian prime minister and the then president, J. R. Jayewardene of Sri Lanka, amalgamated the two provinces of the North and East by a simple but illegal device of a gazette notification, which was renewed annually.
The JHU and JVP took the matter of the amalgamation to the Supreme Court and a learned Bench declared it ultra vires, and now the two provinces remain separated.
The authoritarian rule of Prabhakaran over the North and East no longer prevails. The Tamils who mistakenly believe that they could lord over the Muslims and Sinhalese of the East clamour to have the two provinces united. If the Government does that it is likely that supremo Prabhakaran will bide his time and at the opportune moment give his customary 24 hours notice to the Sinhalese and Muslims to leave the East and emigrate to the hills and the rest of the South, while the Government will have a preponderance of refugees on its hands. Wise Muslims agitate for a de-merger of the North from the East for they visualise a sorry plight in the event of a merger. The TNA, a band of terrorists in sheep’s dressing, who vociferously shout in Parliament and outside for amalgamation for Prabahakaran, wars for and wants land. If that happens, which is unlikely, it will be disastrous for the country, the Sinhala and Muslim people. The terrorists will crow!
Rex Abeysekera
Dehiwela

***

Making a mockery of democracy

I am a very senior citizen in this country and am deeply hurt over what is happening in society. The killings, abductions, the political turmoil, crossovers from one side to the other after getting elected, etc.
I would like to raise the issue as to how democratic it is for a person to contest an election on a party ticket, get elected on the party vote and then cross over. People vote for the party symbol.
And then for personal gain or for any other reason without the consent of the voters, the elected representatives cross over to another cause. This abrogates the very basic principle of being elected on a party ticket. It is a mockery of democracy.
I believe, and I think you will agree with me, that to safeguard democracy, the constitution should be so amended to make a person automatically lose his/her seat the moment he or she crosses over.
Mr. Editor you may have different views on this. However, I hope you will carry this letter in your Sunday issue, so that your readership who read this may
think about it and express their views on it though The Nation, which could sometimes result in the politicians too to think about this seriously.
Senior citizen
Colombo

***

Catholic schools concerned over threats

A news item recently published in a daily newspaper prompted me to write this view point. In the article it is stated, “Threatening letters by an anonymous group demanding all Catholic and Christian schools and even private montessoris in and around Colombo to cancel all Christmas programmes have sent shock waves among school authorities.”
Further down in the same article it is stated, “Some schools have reportedly received anonymous calls warning that stern action would be taken against those schools if they went ahead with the Christmas programmes. A private montessori school has cancelled all Christmas programmes”. The last paragraph of the article states, “Rev. Fr. Cyril Gamini Fernando who spoke on behalf of the Catholic Church said forcing people to stop programmes in connection with Christmas was a violation of democratic rights…..”
This news is indeed worrying to many people, more so school authorities who are supposedly the targets. If as the article states, the police have been informed, without any delay the police must get to the bottom of this mischief and punish the perpetrators and also expose in the media the names or name of group that is behind this activity. It will be interesting to find out who possesses the list of Christian schools and montessoris for them to be so thorough in their postings of these threats.
In this small country of ours, we have celebrated Christmas during Christmas week from time immemorial and especially for the kids, it is a special time for fun and games with gifts from Santa Claus who is supposed to reward good children and punish naughty children. Whether the children are good or bad, they all wait for Christmas Day to see what Santa has sent them.
It is, however, rather surprising that this still being the month of October with Christmas being two months away, why a group would begin a programme to instill fear in Christians? We Sri Lankans have been facing lots of religious dissension during the last couple of years due to over zealous groups that are selling their religion even to non-believers. The ‘fundamental rights’ of non-believers have been violated on too many occasions but those believers, do not care about fundamental rights!
The international Christian media has been full of news items of stories about even churches being attacked by what they call ‘extremist groups’ but on investigation into these issues, it was detected that the over zealous Christian groups that are eager to gather more flock were behind these very attacks where they had paid people to do the needful to place the blame on the non-believers! None other than the then Minister of Christian Affairs Mr. John Amaratunga’s statement which appeared in a daily newspaper of January 17, 2004, stated that Evangelists were behind such attacks! This is no doubt sad indeed and this recent news item in the newspaper of October 27, 2006, may be yet another attempt by these groups to build up an environment of religious fear for the eyes and ears of the foreign powers. Let us hope these same groups are not at their game again with their hidden agendas to create dissension in society. Christmas, Easter, Ramazan, Deepavali, Sinhala and Tamil New Year (Vesak is not a celebration but contemplation of the Buddha Dhamma) are all religious and cultural events during which time, the entire country goes into ‘celebration mode’ enjoying shopping and decorations. This must continue because as Rev. Fr. Cyril Gamini Fernando has stated in the above article in the newspaper, this is a ‘fundamental right’ - unfortunately, this ‘right’ seems to be misused by the over zealous, more than others. Everything needs to be taken in their correct perspective and responsible citizens of this country have a duty to ensure that all activities are celebrated within accepted norms of ‘live and let live’ and within the context of the countries concerned. Let us all keep our eyes open to detect who exactly these mischief makers are.
Darmitha
Kotte

***

Pensioners in helpless situation

Pensioners are unable to know the details concerning the amounts they are getting monthly as divisional secretaries do not supply these details unlike earlier. Most of the pensioners are members of PSMPA. Now we are getting pensions without knowing about any deductions. If there is any mistake, we are in a helpless situation. In fact, most pensioners are unable to approach divisional secretaries monthly.
The Government wants to recover postage charges from the pensioner. I do not think they will object.
It will be better and helpful to provide pension details like it was done earlier. I hope this will catch the eyes of the authorities concerned.
M. G. Asoka Karunaratne
Pannipitiya

***

Will there be reform in the U.N?

The United Nations will reach its 61st anniversary with no less a person than Mr. Ban Ki Moon, the Secretary General elect of the UN, expected to take office on January I, 2007. It has been declared that there is a crisis of confidence in the UN and this has in great measure reduced the effectiveness of the world body.
For a long time the majority of the members of the UN have been unhappy over how the body functions. The voice for reform has grown especially since it has now become an organisation that has more than 70,000 peacemakers deployed and also has development and humanitarian programmes all over the world. The system of allocation of veto powers to the US, Britain, France, Russia and China has also come in for severe criticism from the developing countries. Reform is the buzz word now.
Mr. Ban Ki Moon may have all good intentions of implementing effective reform for the world body, but if these reforms affect the patronizing powers of the US and the UK in the UN, one wonders how far Ban Ki Moon will go. Hugo Chavez in his address to the UN on September 20, advocated the subject of reform in his words ‘A renewed United Nations’. He remarked “We want ideas to save our planet from the imperialist threat. And hopefully in this very century, in not too long a time, we will see a new era, and for our children and grandchildren, a world of peace based on the fundamental principles of the United Nations, but a renewed United Nations.”
Speaking further Chavez demanded drastic reform of the UN to reduce the US’s influence, and is reported to have said,” I don’t think anyone in this room could defend the system ... let’s be honest, the UN system born after the Second World War has collapsed, ­it’s worthless.”
At this same Annual General Assembly in September, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad too pointed out a serious flaw in the functioning of the UN in a scathing attack on the US and its allies. He accused the US and Britain of being “prosecutor, judge and jury” whe ever they have differences of opinion with other countries, using their privileged position whenever anyone tried to restrict them. “Which organs of the UN can hold them to account?” he asked rhetorically.
Everyone knows that the real power in the UN rests with the five permanent members of the Security Council, and that the General Assembly has little real power, as reflected by the utter ineffectiveness of its routine resolutions condemning Israel for its policies against the Palestinians.
Apparently the desired reform is to halt US and her allies manipulating the world body to their advantage. Presently American imperialism is now naked, barely disguised and widely recognised. The US has immense influence in the UN because of its military and economic power. John Bolton, the US ambassador in the UN, is noted for his ill mannered behavior, increasing the dislike for his country among the other members. He should have not been chosen to represent the US. The heroes of today are those who are outspoken against the present UN system and who are demanding for reform.
The new Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki Moon, will face both a challenging and daunting task trying to introduce reform in the UN system. It is interesting to note that even the US and its allies want reform. With most of the developing and third world countries also demanding reform, this subject will be very complex as these countries are aware that the US and its allies have and is always, manipulating the UN for direct and indirect economic and military warfare designed to undermine and subvert them and ultimately to force them back into a subservient position within the international order. Details of reform required by the US and its allies have not been made public. All members will be keenly watching Mr. Ban Ki Moon’s efforts to institute reform in the world body in the coming year. If reform of the UN is not implemented the current world disorder will continue bringing more misery to mankind.
Saybhan Samat
Rajagiriya

***

Open letter to the President

Dear Mr. President,
Despite the brutal elimination of many high-ranking individuals and innocent civilians by the LTTE, the peace treaties of the past such as those initiated by President J.R. Jayewardene, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India, President Premadsa and President Chandrika Bandaranaike have not prevailed. How many more lives must be lost before we take a stand?
I sincerely request you to avoid placing yourself, and the island of Sri Lanka in the trap placed by the fanatical terrorist group called the LTTE.
We are all well aware of Mr. Prabhakaran’s modus operandi where he adorns a uniform to commit acts of brutality. This man is responsible for all the atrocities against the Sri Lankan people and he will not hesitate to eliminate his own people who follow the path of democracy. One outstanding example is the brutal shooting of Mr. Amrithalingam, Minister of the Parliament in the mid-eighties.
How can anyone in this world accept the LTTE as a group of freedom fighters? The principles of the LTTE are consistent with the principles of evil-doing which shocked civilised society with the introduction of suicide bombers targeting innocent people on the island. The LTTE’s identity is synonymous with disrespecting basic human rights, that include unfair taxation of their own people, robbing entire villages and killing, kidnapping and extortion. They forcibly recruit young boys and girls from the age of 10 and train them in the art of guerilla warfare. Then they are given weapons of destruction and subsequently sent to the killing fields in Sri Lanka. I feel for these young children who have yet to begin living their lives, while Mr. Prabhakaran protects himself in underground hideaways. 
Furthermore, the LTTE raises money through illegal activities such as drug trafficking, human smuggling, and extortion of Tamil expatriates. How long is this man going to be allowed to continue his destructive agenda? This is the time where the entire world is engaged in a war against terrorism.
At this critical juncture, you have the opportunity to request assistance from the rest of the world to hunt down this man who is responsible for the atrocities Sri Lankans face and let justice prevail.
I sincerely hope that with your exceptional knowledge and experience you will be able to save our island from yet another disaster and protect all the citizens of Sri Lanka.
MG