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Letters


Party Discipline is important - Government must set example

For too long, political parties have ignored discipline within the party for the benefit of their party leaders, who wish to continue holding onto their reins. Indecency and indiscipline, amounting to hooliganism and thuggery, have become the norm in this country! The voters, who bring certain politicians into power, can only watch helplessly and in utter horror, at the manner in which politicians behave, both outside parliament and during parliamentary sittings.
We wonder whether the country will ever improve if we continue to condone the behaviour of politicians, who violate parliamentary privileges and promote indiscipline during sessions, during internal party discussions, during parliamentary debates, as well as in their own electorates. Surrounded by rings of “bouncers” these politicians have become petty war-lords and become a law unto themselves!

This was certainly not the politics our citizens were used to, during “pre-1977” era in this country. “Servants of the people” were given undue ‘perks’ including pensions, after a mere 5-years as a parliamentarian, under the Constitution of the late J. R. Jayewardene, and an outgoing Executive President was to be provided with security, housing, office facilities plus vehicles, for the rest of their lives, after retirement - what luxury for a poor country like Sri Lanka!

Just as much as the governing party, the opposition party is also expected to conduct themselves with decency and decorum - this is not asking too much of politicians, unless they know no better behaviour! During the last 12 years we have seen how parliamentarians create mayhem inside the chambers of the parliament. The first thing they do is run away with the Mace! It is both hilarious, and at the same time horrendous, that parliamentarians should resort to this kind of behaviour. Why is it so difficult for our parliamentarians to conduct debates and discussions in a civilized manner devoid of personal vendettas? Why cannot one politician listen patiently while another speaks in parliament, and wait his turn, to express his/her opinions? Why is it difficult for a politician to use dignified and decent language while speaking during sessions? Why is it difficult for politicians to refrain from physical abuse? After all, it is the august House of Parliament, and not an open-air theatre for conducting wrestling matches!
Party leaders have the onerous task of instilling discipline and also setting the example, for members to follow. Absolute discipline, sincerity, honesty, confidentiality and efficiency in administration must be maintained if we can ever hope to see a Sri Lankan society that respects the law of this land (not the law of thugs).

During the past month, we have seen two government ministers being dismissed from their posts by the leader of the SLFP, who is also the leader of Sri Lanka. Reasons for taking such stringent action must certainly have been justified. Once punishment was meted out, all media channels were giving undue coverage to these two individuals, who certainly exhibited their true calibre of unworthiness to hold ministerial posts. Whatever matters were discussed, at ministerial level during the period a minister holds a portfolio, must not be divulged to the public when a person is out of favour - that is the basics of confidentiality and governance that the public expects.
If one thinks that playing to the “public gallery” and hurling insults at one’s leader is going to bring results or, that filing a Human Rights case either locally or internationally, will show how powerful he or she is, then such persons are behaving in a childish manner and not suited to be parties to governance in this country.

A politician is appointed to a ministerial post, by the leader of the party and the Executive President of this country - not by the Human Rights Court of Law. If such a person fails in his duties and responsibilities, then it is up to the leader of the party and the Executive President, to call for necessary disciplinary action to punish the miscreant. Accordingly, there are decent and accepted ways in which to solve disputes - through negotiations, explanations and impartial enquiries, if necessary must be conducted. No politician should think that he is above the Sri Lankan law, and that he has a free-hand to behave in any way he wishes and get away with it! Ministerial positions for party members must be given purely on a person’s track-record of loyalty to the party, and unbroken party membership - not for personal “connections” or inheritance, as some think is their right. This will show a person’s allegiance during times of prosperity and adversity. “Dogs may bark: But the caravan moves on” - let the caravan move on, and reach the desired destination despite “hiccups and coughs” from disgruntled politicians.
Darmitha -Kotte

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‘Student visa scam’

This letter is written for the benefit of the innocent students who come to England for studies, through some crooks who call themselves Agents.
The latest scam is these crooks advertise on websites, saying that they will issue a college acceptance letter for the students to apply for the visa at British High Commission in Colombo, and it will cost about £ 600. Once this money is paid, there is no guarantee that the students will get the visa. Whatever happens, the Agent keeps the money! Once the student comes to the UK, there is no such school, and the student is stranded!
I met few innocent boys who had come to UK in this manner, and when they went to the address given in the letter, they found nothing but a small office, directing them to go to another private college, which was another ‘thieves den’.

Eventually the student is in the UK, but without a college for his/her studies, having lost around 1000 pounds sterling, and then they have to come back home with nothing!
New British laws have put pressure on employers, not to offer any employment, without checking the applicant’s passport. If you are not a proper student, you will not even receive free medical facilities. I have met so many Sri Lankan boys who have fallen in this trap.

Please do not go to these dodgy crooks who offer letters for student visas. If you really want to study in the UK, go to the British Council and get information about recognised colleges and universities, and enrol through the University and Colleges Central Admission System ( UCAS) Do not go through these crooks, who charge £ 600 or even more! You are warned!
Shehan De Silva
London

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Executions of Sri Lankans in Saudi Arabia opposed to Islamic Sharia

The recent beheading of four Sri Lankans and the display of their bodies in public in Saudi Arabia, has caused immense dismay and infuriated Sri Lankans including Muslims of this island. The authorities in Saudi Arabia and the Western mass media claimed that the executions were carried out in strict terms of the Islamic law or Sharia. This is an absolute travesty of the interpretation of the Divine Sharia law. If the Sharia is truly implemented, it is the rulers, and not the subjects that should be executed, as they have no legal right to rule!

Under the Sharia, Islam does not permit monarchial dynastic rule and all monarchies in the Persian Gulf region, including Saudi Arabia, are illegal under the Sharia. They are in fact usurpers, without any legitimacy to rule over their countries. The system in Saudi Arabia which is being flaunted as the Sharia, is in actual fact, a tribal and traditional system drawing its legitimacy from the pre ­Islamic Jahili system of tribal and clannish rule.

The ruling Saudi regime which follows a heretic sect in Islam, known as, Wabism, got it’s legitimacy with the help of the colonial British as the Saudis helped Britain to destabilize the Ottoman caliphate in the first world war, and bring it down eventually in 1922. For this help, Britain in turn helped the Al - Saudi regime to establish itself in Arabia.
What happened in Iran in this context is relevant. The Islamic people in Iran threw out the monarch shah, as he did not have legitimacy. The people in the Persian Gulf states should also overthrow the monarchs who are sustained by the US, who implement a pseudo version of the Sharia.

Under a genuine Sharia system, like in Iran, the people will choose the best pious man to rule with an Islamic form of government. The Islamic government is duty-bound to provide employment and welfare facilities to its citizens. If a robber is arrested and he/she can prove that the Islamic government has failed in its duty to provide employment and welfare facilities, the robber will be acquitted and the government has to provide him/her with a salary and facilities for him/her and his/her families.

None of the four migrant workers, E. J. Victor Corea, Ranjith de Silva, Sanath Kumara and Shamila Sangeeth murdered anyone; there was no proper inquiry into the circumstances of their robbery. Amnesty International pointed out - “Court proceedings fall far short of international standards for fair trial and take place behind closed doors. Defendants do not have the right to formal representation by a lawyer, and in many cases, are not informed of the progress of legal proceedings against them. They may be convicted solely on the basis of confessions obtained under duress, torture or deception”. The whole so-called Sharia implemented in this case is a travesty of justice, and has fatally victimized our four immigrant workers. It is the duty of the Rajapakse government to pursue justice in this grave matter.
Saybhan Samat,
Rajagiriya.

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Appreciation

Elmo Wickramasinghe

It is not often that appreciations are written on your own close family members. It is not also uncommon to feel the need to write appreciations on those who have had an impact on your life and whom you have admired and respected. In this context, I consider it an obligation to write an appreciation on my beloved nephew, Elmo Wickramasinghe, who passed away very recently.

The youngest son of my eldest sister, Elmo, from his young days, stood out as an obedient god- fearing child with exemplary qualities. His devoutly religious mother, instinctively gentle and unassuming in demeanour, loving, caring and generous, and his father upright, with high ethical values, brought up their children in a conservative, disciplined and religious environment. Elmo inherited the enviable qualities of his parents.
He received his entire education at St Benedict’s College, Colombo. He was proud of his Alma Mater and loved his school dearly. The Catholic environment and his education under the Lasallian brothers, had a great impact on his life.

He had a multifaceted personality. A fine all-round a sportsman, an outstanding cricketer, ruggerite and athlete, he represented the College in these sports and turned out for the Tamil Union in the Premier Cricket Tournaments. He had an absorbing interest in Aircraft and aviation, and with son Achala, he spent much time and money on modeling aircraft. He was an active member of the college Old Boys’ Union. He was actively involved in all its activities and made a significant contribution in the pursuance of various projects, and he was greatly responsible for publishing the ‘Benedictine Passport’ and ‘Benedictine memoirs’.

Leaving school in the late sixties, Elmo pursued courses of study in Management, Production and Marketing. Completing his diploma from the Institute of Management Services, London, in 1983, he joined J.F.& I Printers. The management, recognizing his professional competence, exemplary personal qualities, and his admirable dedication to duty, elevated him to the position of Director Marketing within a relatively short period. He made a significant contribution to the company and earned a reputation as an efficient officer with enviable humane qualities. His integrity was beyond question and he adhered to a code of professional rectitude. He was a respected professional, both in the printing and marketing industry, possessing the steely core of an industry-professional with unwavering commitment to excellence. In view of Elmo’s significant contribution to J.F.& I, the Chairman and management of the company looked after Elmo, providing him all the necessary medical treatment, even after his retirement. The eulogy delivered at the funeral service so eloquently delivered by former D.I.G. Edward Gunawardena, evaluated the significant contribution made to J.F. & I by Elmo.

Elmo was essentially a family man. He was happiest in his home, with wife, Manel, his daughter Lidiya and son Achala, whom he loved so dearly. He was modestly proud of their academic achievements. With Manel, he painstakingly endeavoured to inculcate in them the moral values, more by example than by precept. Their home was an abode of peace, love and tranquillity. Those who visited him at home experienced the family warmth and affection.

During the last few years his health deteriorated and at times he endured acute pain, with stoicism that would have challenged Diogenes. He bore it with remarkable grace. On his 60th birthday, a couple of months ago, when his close friends visited him to wish him, despite his failing health and physical weakness, his endearing smile remained. All he was concerned about was to see that his friends were entertained. During the last few months, even while his health was fast deteriorating he did not sulk. He leaned towards the sunshine, and maintained his characteristic unruffled disposition. No moaning, groaning or complaints, but blessed endurance. The selfless concern he displayed for his family, friends and people at his workplace, was indeed admirable. Elmo was an exemplary Catholic, a gentle, lovable, unassuming individual, never given to ostentatious talk or action. He was a totally sincere man, with deep commitment to relationships and in quieter moments a delightful companion. To him money and material comforts meant little. He was even reluctant to make use of some of the ‘perks’ and facilities made available to him. He led a very simple life, while he gave generously to others. He was reluctant to spend on himself. Throughout his life he epitomized kindness, gentlemanliness and other good traits that are fast disappearing in society.

Elmo leaves behind, his wife Manel, his daughter Lidiya, and son Achala. We can well understand their sense of loss. It may however comfort them to know that we who are bound by family relationships, and others who worked with him, will always remember him for his simplicity and endering personal qualities. I have lost a nephew who is hard to replace. There remains in me an emptiness and a void that I cannot seem can fill.   
I thank God for the gift of Elmo’s relationship. I thank God for his life. I will not say farewell because I know we will meet again.
May the turf lie gently over him, may his soul rest in peace.
Uncle Rex

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