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Letters


God’s saving grace

I read with interest the letter of Mr. Johannes Tirimanne, wherein he attributes the safety of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to the intervention of God “who in his wisdom and mercy saved him.” He quite correctly poses the question as to why the same God did not save Rajiv Gandhi and others, placing Gotabhaya Rajapaksa above all of them by saying, “The Almighty knows that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa more than anyone else”. What poor understanding of the values of such eminent men of the calibre of Lakshman Kadirgamar, Denzil Kobbekaduwa, Ranjan Wijeratne?

It is my view that when Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said, “God saved me”, what he meant, as a Buddhist is ‘Deviyo’ the equivalent in English which is ‘God’. Deviyo to Buddhists is a guardian, who awaits offering of merit ‘pin’ by humans to be born on this earth as human beings and continue life in this Sansara, till hey attain Nibbana.

On the other hand does Mr. Tirimanne believe that God is safeguarding and also guiding Velupillai Prabhakaran to carry out his murderous mission - -killing innocent, men, women, children and babies?

Speaking of God, I came across in the Bible – Old Testament, Genesis 1-26 “And God said, let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness..” Please note the words “US” and “OUR” which would mean that there were at least two Gods. One I presume is the merciful God and the other the Distructive God. It may be that the merciful God saved Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, while the other God is forcing, guiding and supporting Prabhakaran to achieve his ends.
- G. A. D. Sirimal
   Boralesgamuwa

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Buddhism and the gods

Reading the issue of ‘The Nation’ dated October 14, I thought of writing this letter on where ‘God’ or ‘gods’ stand in the life of a Buddhist.

Buddhism tells us that man is potentially above all gods. A good Buddhist who follows the five precepts and leads a life of Sathara Brahma Viharana (four-fold noble life of a righteous person) commands the respect and protection of all gods who require no prayers from such righteous persons.

Those who fail to lead a righteous life are compelled to go on their knees before gods, begging for their favours and protection from enemies. “One who lives according to the Dhamma is protected by the Dhamma”.
- E.M.G. Edirisinghe
   Dehiwala

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Polythene menace still remains

The penalty for using polythene fines and a jail term made everybody think that the government had at last reached a solution on something! But alas! The remedy to use thicker polythene instead means that the menace remains. From all accounts, the thicker poly­thene degrades, but only after it has done all the mischief of the thinner variety. It will continue to cause damage and there will be animals running around with bits of it peeking out from their behinds, if it does not kill them before reaching that far.

After a good dose of polythene, elephants are known to have crumpled up, never to get up. - All this, while our smart artisans are raring to start producing eco­-friendly substitutes from banana, paper, coconut, palmyrah, cotton, cane, rattan, etc. So why does not the government help them to do so? Surely, the taxpayer will be happy that his contribution is being put to good use of his country. The polythene problems cannot solve itself. Our clever manufacturer of elephant-dung paper recently won the first prize for his product, beating contestants worldwide.

Is it not the duty of any government to give incentive and support to those having remedies to the country’s hazards and to improve existing conditions? With the added advantage of their solution proving a hit export wise, too.
- Prema Ranawaka-Das
  Moratuwa

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Traffic dilemma in the city

I am addressing this letter to you with grave concern over the decision to make certain roads (including the Galle Road between Bambalapitiya and Kollupitya) one-way for vehicular traffic.

In addition to the deteriorating security situation in the country, and the cost of living which has soared ‘sky high’, this new traffic scheme is causing untold hardships and inconvenience to the general public, apart from the pandemonium and utter chaos.

Take for example a motorist plying along Duplication Road who has, by accident, past his/her destination, having to go a full round upto the Galle Road and return via either the Kollupitiya junction or a by-road!
It has also been observed that buses plying on the 177 route (Kaduwela - Kollupitiya) have to now travel along R.A.de Mel Mawatha (Duplication Road) upto Bauddhaloka Mawatha and return to Kollupitiya along the Galle Road.
The result is a wastage of fuel, time and energy!

Furthermore, the new traffic scheme has been implemented without any proper planning, and without taking into consideration the pedestrians who now take a minimum of 10 minutes to cross from one side of the road to the other, due to the heavy flow of vehicles.

For regular bus commuters like myself, the new scheme is a nightmare. Standing at the bus halt near the Caravan sales outlet at Duplication Road one finds buses on the following route numbers stopping at this halt, thereby creating a dilemma, not giving the commuter a chance to board a bus:

Route Nos. 100, 101 (Pettah / Moratuwa I Panadura);
Route Nos. 102, 112 (Kotahena / Maharagama);
Route No. 154 (Mt. Lavinia / Kiribathgoda)
Route No. 104 (Bambalapitiya / Wattala)
Route No. 155 (Ratmalana / Mattakkuliya)

In view of the above, I am certain that hundreds, if not thousands, will join me in stating that this is ridiculous and the height of absurdity!

I am therefore making an earnest appeal to you, Sir, to repeal this ridiculous traffic system and revert to the old system which is familiar to ‘all and sundry’.
- Bryan Nicholas
   Colombo

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Visa terror

The media has informed us that any Sri Lankan who wishes to get a travel visa to some countries in the West will have to go through the humiliating process of being finger printed in addition to being harassed by a local employee of the Embassy. One would have expected that issuing a visa would have been in the hands of the nationals of the Embassy because of the importance they themselves attach to it. Why then do they employ locals for the purpose? It may be that their reasoning is primarily based in their belief that the percentage of criminals among people who are not white is much higher than those of white nations and that a local man who knows their crooked ways is a more efficient person to screen out the criminals. To stamp on the passport that the visa has been refused is a sadistic perversion.

We cannot and will not adopt reciprocal measures against such countries because it has never been in the culture and heritage of our 2500 year long Buddhist civilisation to react to humanity in that way. Also we are not that foolish to antagonise the well wishing tourists who contribute to our economy the same as the most powerful economies in the world, the only difference being that what the tourists contribute to our economy is far more significant to us than to the rich countries. Even the rich countries that can afford to treat the rest of the world with contempt will not like to lose what they get from foreign visitors including those whom they have finger printed.
The teachings of the Buddha have shown us that all humanity is linked together and that nobody or no self or no soul exists separate from the rest of humanity. Everything we see is a part of ourselves because without that one of our vital faculties namely vision would not exist. The same applies to everything we hear etc. Since others also see the very same things that we see they are also a part of what we are a part of. That is how all humanity is linked together including animals who have the same faculties within a common range. While the intelligence of animals is incomparably inferior to that of humans some have faculties in sight, sound and smell that the humans do not have.

Let me ask two simple questions. When a person from Europe applies for a visa to travel to the United States or a person from the USA applies for a travel visa to go to the EU countries are they finger printed and in addition subjected to the same humiliations that we are subjected to? Also if it is assumed that Asians are inferior to the white man because of the colour of their skin that many white women would like to acquire for definite valid reasons then how can those who determine that Asians are inferior explain that at the leading American universities there is a very significant proportion of yellow and brown faces especially in the faculties of science, engineering and medicine? In the UK the brown faces dominated the yellow the days I was in touch with them.

No one can deny that South Asia is the most fertile brain producing region in the world. It all goes back to the genes and the cultural heritage of thousands of years. Any student who obtains near full marks at the “A” level examination in science subjects is assured of a scholarship at the top level universities of the United States. These scholarships include all expenses and more. Such students never return and they contribute to the American economy. People say that America creams the rest of the world but I do not blame them because America makes no distinction between race and colour when it comes to employment whereas in Britain it is most certainly not so. Condoloza Rice may with luck have got an appointment as a professor at a British university but it is very doubtful that she would have been employed in the Prime Ministers office even as a clerk handling national security.
- L. Jayasooriya

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Wise action by the President

I would like to thank President Rajapaksa for banning smoking in public places.
We should have done this many years ago. The Scottish Parliament banned smoking in public places two years ago while in England smoking has already been banned in many public places and a total ban is to be imposed in hotels and restaurants from July 1 this year. In the UK it is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under 18 and alcohol to anyone under 21.

In Sri Lanka we don’t have such laws to ban the selling of tobacco products to children and as a result parents send children to shops to buy cigarettes. Sri Lanka should impose heavy penalties to shop keepers who sell cigarettes to children under 18 years and this will discourage children buying cigarettes and getting addicted to smoke before they reach the legal age. The government spends so much money for alcohol and smoke related diseases in Sri Lanka and this money could well be spent to save any other diseases rather than smoking and alcohol related diseases. It has been proved that the main cause for lung cancer is smoking and kidney and liver failures due to alcohol.

There is also a great need for rehabilitation centres to be set up in this country for those willing to give up smoking and drinking habits. Scientists have proved that passive smoking is also detrimental to health having the same effect as a person who smokes.

I am so happy hear that the duty free shops at the Katunayake International Airport have stopped selling tobacco products to locals and the government should also introduce a total ban on smoking in all restaurants and hotels islandwide. I saw a letter from another reader complaining about people who smoke inside trains. Passengers should be encouraged to stand up against these law breakers.

Mr. President I salute you for taking this very important decision for the sake of our health and hope you will give support more and more to build a healthy nation.
- Sisira Chandrasekara
   London

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Crossovers: Ranil’s Trojan Horse?

As an overseas Sri Lankan and also an avid reader of various newspapers including your own, I really did feel the need to use your ‘Letters’ column as the most suitable channel of communication to alert His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka to the dangers of the ‘crossover’. Be watchful Mr President, remember the Trojan Horse of Greek mythology, Ranil Wickremesinghe is not a dullard that people think him to be! To underestimate Ranil would be a strategically a costly exercise and Mr. President, you could find your cabinet in a suddenly disharmonious, acrimonious situation, all quietly, deviously manipulated by RW himself! In politics nothing is what it appears to be, least of all the Machiavellian rehearsals of Sri Kotha. Use the tools of your authority and ask your agencies to discreetly monitor, for a while, the activities, movements and private activities of the ‘crossovers’ and you may just hit the jackpot!

Listen to the voice of your ‘country’ wisdom, the instinct of survival that the southerners of Sri Lanka have long depended upon as their fortress of security, remember, if a man can harbour thoughts of betrayal once, then it is easier the second time around!

With best regards and good wishes, Mr. President
- Jeshri Uduman,
  Security Manager, ACCOR Hotels Dubai, UAE

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