Relocating the monkeys of Kandy

A few days ago, I read a news item in an English daily that the monkeys in Kandy are to be captured and released into the wild.

I believe that this is an exercise that should not be carried out in a hurry, without adequate consideration. Monkeys, although belonging to the animal kingdom, virtually exist in social groups. It is not difficult to identify, ‘urban’ monkeys, ‘rural’ monkeys and the ones that belong to intermediate groups. ‘Urban’ monkeys, in large groups, are found close to places of worship, frequented by large numbers of pilgrims. The ‘rural’ monkeys exist particularly, in the wilds, where fruits, berries and tender leaves are plentiful.

The ‘urban’ monkey that has become a problem in Kandy, exists in many parts of the world. I have seen monkeys around Buddhist temples and Hindu kovils, particularly, in India and Nepal; even atop minarets of mosques. In the revered Hanuman Temple of Katmandu, monkeys, are considered sacred. Monkeys gathering at places of worship has been happening for centuries.

Taking the Kandy monkeys out of the habitat that they have got accustomed to, and forcing them to live in an environment unfamiliar to them, is to take them to slaughter. The ‘rural’ monkeys of the wild, that jealously guard their own territory, would attack them with fury. Wounded and maimed, they would suffer painful deaths. A cruel way of dealing with the problem, indeed.
Monkeys are interesting, harmless creatures. To learn to live with them is human. People have observed and enjoyed ‘monkey tricks’ from time immemorial.

When I was stationed in Trincomalee, three decades ago, my residence was on Orr’s Hill. Superintendent of Excise, Caedmon Weber was my neighbour. It was common for monkeys to invade our homes. Many a time, even my refrigerator was opened. One evening, Weber related an interesting story. He had seen several monkeys swaying and staggering on his roof, making strange noises. After they had left, on investigating, he found that the monkeys had consumed two bottles of sherry, which he had reserved for an occasion. His stock of arrack had not been disturbed! Weber was not angry. He was highly amused.

In the sixties, I was a witness in an Assizes trial in Kandy. The court house was the historic Assembly Hall and the witnesses were housed outside in a summer house-like structure.
Before Justice T. S. Fernando came on the bench, the court staff had put his ceremonial cloak and wig out in the sun. Lo and behold, a monkey ran away with the wig! What a hue and cry it was before a relieved court ‘arachchi’ recovered the wig, minutes before the judge arrived.
Today, whenever a parliamentarian runs away with the Mace, I am reminded of this incident.
Sometimes there is little to choose between human behaviour and monkey behaviour. So let’s pity the Kandy monkeys.
Edward Gunawardena


Publication of misleading information

I wish to draw your attention to a news article which appeared in The Nation newspaper of May 20, 2007.
The article entitled Letter of Demand on Playwright Manoratne is based on wrong information, and I therefore request you to please publish the following explanation in your newspaper.
I did not produce the play entitled “Lokayama Eka Yayak” nor did I receive a Letter of Demand from the Peradeniya University Alumni Association Colombo Branch, as reported in your newspaper article.

There is no agreement between the Peradeniya University Alumni Association Colombo Branch and myself to pay back Rs.25,000 per performance, nor is there any stipulation that I pay back the amount during the year 2006. In view of the above, the question of non-payment of the promised amount does not arise! Further, the President of the Peradeniya University Alumni Association Colombo Branch states that he did not give such a news item to the nation newspaper!

Therefore your news items has been based on totally wrong information, and could be viewed as an attempt to damage the good relationship between me and the Peradeniya University Alumni Association Colombo Branch. It could also be an attempt by some unknown person to cast a slur on the association, and me.
If there was a need to send me a letter of demand, the correct procedure would be to send it direct to me, rather than to the media.

For over 40 years I have been associated with Sinhala drama, making it popular both here and abroad. My contribution to this field has enriched Sinhala drama, and I have devoted my life to it. This is the first time that a slur of this nature has been levelled against me, which I fear could have a bad impact on my future stage productions as well as on my personal life, not to mention the pain of mind that it has caused me!
Jayalath Manoratne


Wanted – Statue at Danture to honour Konoppu Bandara

There was an attempt by the Portuguese invaders to get Dona Catherina, a convert Christian, connected to the Kotte Royal family and married to a Portuguese army officer aristocrat who was waiting for her in Kandy.
Konoppu Bandara, who had military training in Goa, realised the danger threa­tening the country if the marriage took place. Determined to stop the marriage, he led a band of men, met the Portuguese soldiers taking Dona Catherina in a palanquin in battle at Danture, defeated them and captured Dona Catherina.

The battle at Danture in 1593 not only negated the marriage, but also prevented the Portuguese from legitimising their claim to rule Sri Lanka. Konoppu Bandara later married his prized catch, Dona Catherina and was crowned as King Vijaya Dharma Suriya I.

There is no doubt that Konoppu Bandara’s victory in the battle of Danture, a village off Kadugannawa, is an important event in our history and Konoppu Bandara’s bravery has to be remembered. Towards that end, a statue of Konoppu Bandara should be erected in Danture. I hope that this will receive the attention of the Cultural Affairs Minister, the officials of the Cultural Department and the Kadugannawa Town Council.
Upali S. Jayasekera,
Colombo 4


Allocate more land for animals

I read in the newspapers recently that families displaced due to development work are to be settled near the Wasgamuwa Sanctuary. Is there no other place in Sri Lanka, where people could be given land?
Do we have to take land that belongs to the wild animals, to settle the people? People were given land for chena cultivation. They cleared the forest and cultivated ganja (the easy way out) saying there was no water, killed deer, jungle fowl, wild boar, etc., when they could.

Consequently, we lost forest land and wildlife. We must allocate more land for animals, not deprive them of their right to roam about freely. We have people in the Wildlife Department who want only money – they watch cricket matches even when they are informed about elephants that are trapped and dying.
When my husband was the Moneragala GA, he and his team went through a lot of trouble to save elephants which had fallen into gem pits, etc. I have articles about many elephants that were saved thanks to the dedicated officers during that time.

Now we don’t have officers who really love for their job – from the tracker to the top, all are bent on making money. With so many people being murdered in cold blood, how can we expect people to show loving kindness to animals?
In May 1966 an elephant had fallen into a well. On the instruction of my husband as Moneragala GA, the late Wimal Amarasekara, the villagers dug a deep trench and saved the elephant. I was present when the elephant was saved and it gave me great satisfaction to see the elephant trumpet loudly and return to the jungle. These memories are still very precious because we valued the life of the elephant and the people too showed love and compassion for animals.
C. R. Amarasekara
Colombo 3


Begging: Another kind of child abuse

There is a kind of child abuse that is going on with the consent of parents and right in front of all of us everyday. That is ‘child beggars.’ Daily one can see happy children, going begging from car to car, while their parents – often a mother – sits a distance away and watches them. They may not even be their own mothers.

I ask them whether they do not go to school. They avoid answering this question and only intent on getting some coins. My heart shudders to think what future these children have? They will be beggars for life. 
As much as it hurts me, I have stopped giving these children money. I tell them I will call the police and they run away – only as far as the next car. They are often happy to receive a Rs. 2 coin.

Where are the police who recently took a mother into custody for beating her child? Which is worse – beating her own child to teach the child a lesson or teaching them begging? But then, nobody cares. They have parents, yet they are orphans.
Isn’t there a law against child beggars in our country? If there is, where are the law enforcing officers?
Dr. Mrs. Mareena Thaha Reffai,


Not done sir!

The UNP mouthpiece, self-made journalist and financial analyst, Dinesh Weerakkody had written (not in The Nation) very strongly about the COPE findings and the wrong doers.
Incidentally, he had by omission, or very likely by design, left out the SLIC deal, which is one of the most corrupt deals highlighted in the COPE Report.

Is it because of the parties involved in that stinking deal? First, the UNP’s legal eagle convert Finance Minister (former), K.N. Choksy, and secondly, Harry Jayawardene, his boss who nominated him as nominee director to DFCC and Commercial Bank.
If these articles are to discredit the government while pleasing his own Party Leader, mind you, your slip is showing mister.

Instead, why not write about the atrocities of corruption of the ministers in the previous UNP government whose names are appearing in the COPE Report and also the likes of John Amaratunga who with his arrogant (or was it intentional and well-designed?) decision to go public with the famous Athurugiriya Safe House affair, with all the security secrets including the list of names of operatives, thereby getting them eliminated at the hands of the LTTE?
D. S. P. de Silva,


All Party Conference (APC)

Further to my letter to you on June 1, 2007, on Caution – All Party Conference, I wish to bring to your notice the following on behalf of the Patriotic National Front
I have enlightened you on the gravity of the Devolution to be effected in Sri Lanka, by my article on Devolution – Pros and Cons, Merits and Demerits of May 7, 2007, sent to you and the relevant authorities.

II. Even prior to that on, February 5, 2007, itself, by sending you a copy of my publication namely, North East conflict in Sri Lanka, I have drawn your attention to the origin of the problem from colonial times and its progress through successive governments, the consequences and the final solutions to the problem.

III The publication also provides evidence of how, at the last Presidential election on November 17, 2005, people elected the incumbent President, to preserve the unitary character of the Island, against Ranil Wickremesinghe, who campaigned for a united version of the same.

IV. In spite of the fact, that the people have not given a mandate to the President, at the above Presidential election, not only to deviate from the unitary character but also, to adhere to ‘Mahinda Chinthanaya’, which was supported whole heartedly, paving the way for victory of the President. A main political party, the JVP, which was responsible, and without whose support the President could not have won the election, has, however, been betrayed.

The JVP has withdrawn from the deliberations of the APC and has not submitted any Devolution proposals to end the non existent ethnic problem (which we firmly believe is a
Terrorist problem) which itself indicates your inability to handle the APC as its chairperson.
On analysis of the foregoing particulars it is possible to arrive at the following conclusions.
The APC’S final proposals could be detrimental to the sovereignty, unitary character, and the territorial integrity of the country.

You have no authority whatsoever, to draft and propose the final proposals determining the future of an age old generation of this noble country.
You also have no legitimate moral or logistical right as Chairman, APC as per media reports of your capabilities and performances during the past few months.
Therefore, we fear that your future attempts regarding the same, would be a waste of time and public funds in this context.

Finally, we feel that all our efforts should be focused and directed at the Armed Forces who are fighting day and night without a break, sacrificing their lives to safeguard out Territorial Integrity. If we can’t destroy the LTTE, our motherland will become a living hell which we would bequeath to our future generations,
Can we do this???
S.A.P. Subasinghe



World Bank clarifies

Please note that one of the front page articles in “The Nation” (July 1, 2007) gives erroneous reference to the World Bank. We would be grateful for an immediate correction in the next edition of your newspaper, giving the same prominence in the Front Page.

This is also to confirm that none of our current mission members had formal or “informal” meetings with the Opposition Leader Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday, June 29, 2007. We are aware, from our sources that a delegation from IMF met the Opposition Leader last Friday. We also confirmed with the Opposition Leader’s office that no one from the World Bank met the Opposition Leader last Friday, as mentioned in your article.

In future please do check with us on the accuracy of any reference made to World Bank in Sri Lanka before publishing any such article.
I trust as a senior journalist you would indeed value the importance of maintaining the credibility of your media house by thoroughly checking on facts.

Naoko Ishii
Country Director


REPORTER’S NOTE: Information used in the news story was provided to The Nation by the UNP’s Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ravi Karunanayake who said that it was a World Bank delegation that had visited the Opposition Leader last Friday (29). However, upon receiving the World Bank’s clarification, The Nation made further inquiries and learned that it was not a WB delegation but a group from the local IMF Mission that paid the visit. We sincerely regret the error.









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