The role astrology plays in our lives
It is during examinations that our astrologers come into their own.
Magazines, newspapers, radio, and TV give them prominence and room for
their predictions, with advice on how to entice fortune’s favour in
Students are asked to perform all sorts of rites and rituals to pass
with ‘flying colours.’ Advice on how to retain what is learnt to come
out bubbling in the examination hall is mostly ignored.
The emphasis is on dependence (this being Sri Lanka) on the Hindu gods,
Ganesh and Parvati to make things right. These two divinities are drawn,
willingly or unwillingly, under the benevolent shade of the Bodhi tree
to stand in line of worship of the devotee, after recital of the
Buddha’s superabundance qualities, for which the bodhi pooja was
invented, with relevant meditation on him now hardly attempted.
Astrologers impose their Hindu influence on all, eagerly lapped up by
our Buddhists, especially parliamentarians, who dare not open or close a
door without the nod of their soothsayer. Every parliament opens to
nekath time and recently one even closed abruptly to the same tune.
Coconuts are dashed defiantly in all kovils island-wide; worship and
placating of gods of every faith happens around the clock in bizarre
fashion, although prohibited by the Buddhist faith, which they profess
to follow; not to mention the periodic dashes across the Palk Straits
for lucky talismans and tips on more blind faith tactics.
This combination of Buddhism which is ‘to see things as they truly are’
and blind faith beliefs can turn deadly, as pointed out by
psychiatrists, dealing with mental patients struggling to blend the two
in their heads. Is it then fair to inflict this predicament on our
The moves to substitute a picture of Sariputta Thera, the Buddha’s chief
disciple, on the students’ desks did not quite succeed, with their
parents superimposing pictures of the favourite Hindu deities up front.
It is of his chief disciple that the Buddha once remarked, “Wise art
thou, Sariputtta, comprehensive and manifold thy wisdom, sharp and
fastidious, joyous and swift!” Coupled with his unique moral stature of
Arahant, the final sanctity, could there be another, more worthy example
for Buddhist children to follow, at examination or any other time?
How do Sri Lankans consume the 160,000 metric
tonnes of imported palm oil?
The Financial Review of The Island of May 26 carried an
interesting boxed news item, ‘Last rites for palm oil imports. Ministry
boosts coconut oil production.’
What struck me most was the information that the current coconut oil
production in the country stands at around 10,000 metric tonnes and
160,000 metric tonnes of palm oil are imported!
What is happening to this vast quantity of palm oil? How do the Sri
Lankans consume this? No ordinary grocery or village boutique sells any
edible oil other than coconut oil – loose or in refined bottled form.
No supermarkets sell edible oils other than bottled olive oil, refined
coconut oil or vegetable oils.
Just to make sure, I made enquiries from many sources. I have, however,
failed to find out whether palm oil is sold, where it is sold and at
what price. Most importantly, I have failed to ascertain for what
purpose Sri Lankans use 160,000 metric tonnes of palm oil per year.
In the absence of this vital information it is reasonable to believe:
a) That what is sold as coconut oil is adulterated with palm oil
b) That palm oil is used in the manufacture of margarines and even the
production of bottled ‘vegetable oils’
c) It is used for the production of soap and even cosmetic creams, or
d) It is used for the manufacture of lubricants for motor vehicles!
Apart from the coconut oil that Sri Lankans are familiar with, there are
many organic oils produced and used widely in the world: olive oil,
peanut oil, com oil, soya oil, sunflower oil, etc. At least the upper
crust of Sri Lankan society has some knowledge of these oils. But how
many know about palm oil?
Long before The Island came out with this report on imports of palm oil,
there was a belief among the people that coconut oil sold in the loose
form was mixed with palm oil. Indeed it is reasonable to believe that
there is some truth in this.
I have still to hear of any state authority testing the coconut sold in
the market for its actual contents.
Not long ago we had a lively debate on coconut oil to which I too made a
minute contribution. It will certainly be interesting to see that
experts particularly physicians and nutritionists have to say about palm
oil and heart disease.
The Consumer Affairs Authority is duty bound to educate consumers on how
palm oil is entering their diets.
Readers should be thankful to The Island and its correspondent for
providing this vital information on the import of palm oil.
Are local inventors left to their own devices?
It goes without saying that the secret of nations that have reached
great economic heights has been the prize inventions and discoveries
made by some of their countrymen. In our country too, the local news
media, time after time, has brought to light many achievements of such
ingenuity by our citizens, especially the young.
Some of these reports have been the electronic wizardry of a student
from Royal College, Polonnaruwa, a flexible artificial leg by A.S.
Samarawickreme, and a portable windmill by Selvaraj.
Unfortunately, it seems, they are handicapped in developing their
inventions into viable commercial products due to the lack of facilities
for further research and development or capital for going ahead with
For instance, Selvaraj seeks a grant or subsidy to help start commercial
production. With the present power crisis the country is facing, an
alternative source such as the portable windmill referred to would be a
great boon to the country’s economy.
It does no justice to these inventors if their inborn talents are not
recognised and harnessed for the country’s benefit. Therefore, it is
time that the government stepped in to help them by setting up a
separate unit under the relevant authority, making facilities available
for further research and development, granting financial assistance by
way of loans, and coordinating with the private and corporate sectors to
commence commercial production.
Of slippers, helmets and MIGs
Sandwiched as we are between various kinds of rhetoric and spin,
ordinary folk, pushed aside to make way for supersonic VVIPs cavalcades
in a hurry, hammered by unending security checks, one can only wonder
how long more all this would have to be endured.
More than two decades have passed and over 70,000 have been killed and
hundreds of thousands have been displaced; brave soldiers when fighting,
now forgotten and left to tackle poverty when injured. Is there any
solution in sight?
We are told to be patient; that in another two-and-a-half years the LTTE
would be vanquished and the country would be a unitary state. All this
is very familiar.
But what is not familiar is that no one has explained why an army, navy
and an air force of 200,000, equipped with steel helmets, supersonic
MIGS and Dvora craft, at a cost of billions of dollars cannot vanquish
the bare-headed, sandal wearing girls and boys of the LTTE numbering
some 20,000 (or is it 30,000 or 100,000?). After all, the LTTE is a baby
brigade. If so, what is the problem?
Can the powers that be, who have promised us a ‘solution’ in
two-and-a-half years please explain and lessen the agony of our wait?
Can a non-citizen of Sri Lanka hold ministerial
Britain being the last colonial rulers of Sri Lanka granted Sri Lanka
independence in 1948, by an Act of Parliament passed in England. This
was after 400 years of foreign domination. After independence, D. S.
Senanayake was elected as the Prime Minister of Ceylon.
Prior to independence the Constitution of 1931 was known as the State
Council where all communities, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher, Malay and Indian
Congress Plantation Workers were represented. The then British interests
present in Ceylon were represented by a board of ministers.
After independence in 1948 Prime Minister D. S. Senanayake passed a Bill
in Parliament – The Indian and Pakistan Registration Act, where Indian
plantation workers were disenfranchised which resulted in the loss of
The Indian workers, who kept afloat the economy of the country, and
still do, had to leave the country under several pacts signed between
the Sri Lankan and Indian Governments.
Since independence in 1948, Sri Lanka had two new Constitutions – in
1972 and 1978, including several amendments to the Constitution in
between and thereafter.
To get to the point of the subject of my letter, I take India as an
example. The Indian National Congress Party under the leadership of
Sonia Gandhi won the last general election in India. After the election
victory a big hue and cry ensued in India about the fact that Sonia
Gandhi was of Italian origin.
Sonia Gandhi responded by honourably standing down from the position of
Prime Minister, which she had rightly inherited by virtue of the
election victory she achieved. Instead she offered the position of prime
minister to Manmohan Singh, the current Prime Minister of India.
Now to the point, the brothers of Mahinda Rajapaksa, the President of
Sri Lanka, together with Dulles Allahapperuma, are American citizens.
However, surprisingly they are holding responsible positions within the
Government of Sri Lanka, even at cabinet level.
In the event of a change of government in Sri Lanka, the aforementioned
non-citizens will undoubtedly be the first to take flight out of the
country – the reason being that they will be held responsible and
answerable to the people of Sri Lanka for the anarchy, havoc and turmoil
that has been taking place, is currently prevalent, and escalating to
unimaginable magnitudes of the kind never seen before.
Will some knowledgeable Constitutional authority or expert kindly
enlighten the people as to whether the action of the President in
appointing non-citizens to senior government and cabinet positions, as I
have highlighted above, is in accordance with the Constitution of Sri
F. A. Rodrigo-Sathianathan Australia
Role of the opposition
In a parliamentary democracy, we find an established and approved
opposition. The government and the opposition are the two wings of the
same entity which gets its power from the people to take the country
flying to Himalayan heights of achievement.
The opposition picks holes in the work of the government to emphasise
its shortcoming and directs it on the correct path, in its forward
journey, carrying the entire country forward to grandeur.
The opposition has to be a close friend, while advising the government.
Publicity for the advisory role that the opposition offers will come
through Parliament and the voting public that will decide whether the
opposition is sincere. When elections come around, the voters will
decide whether it will entrust the country to the erstwhile opposition.
The present Government is in power now only because former President
Chandrika Kumaratunga thought that the UNP government that held sway
from 2002 to 2004 was lackadaisical and corrupt. As a result she wound
up the government and chose to hold elections.
The present opposition is kicking its heels impatiently, and resorting
to various devices to bring down the government It is even plotting to
buy over government parliamentarians using the services of an expatriate
The Opposition Leader, who is fortunately funded by the country, goes
globe-trotting, ungratefully requesting the international loan providers
to desist from financially helping the country’s economic advancement
and plays the role of a traitorous quisling.
The opposition has dispatched an emissary to Japan to canvass the
stoppage of financial help to the country as such monies may be used to
buttress the war effort against the terrorists. It is not by subterfuge
and delaying the economic advancement of the country that the opposition
should seek to come to power, but rather by showing the people that it
could do better by publicly advising the government on how to push
The Opposition should engage in contributing to the economic advancement
of the country, and not its downfall for the selfish motive of grabbing
Surrender your small change!
At present there are many coins in circulation ranging from 5 cents
to Rs. 10. It could be noted that coins of value less than Rs. 1 are not
of much use as the purchasing power is almost nil.
Further, when there is a balance of less than Rs. 1 due on a payment,
even the buyer is not interested in collecting same. Keeping and
accounting small coins is also troublesome and time consuming.
Therefore, I suggest the Central Bank makes a request to the public to
surrender all coins in their custody which are less than Rs. 1 through
banks, post offices, charity boxes, till boxes, etc., and reuse them to
mint coins of higher denominations.
Even pricing structures could be rounded up to the nearest rupee without
cents. This will save a lot of trouble and time to the public at large.
I presume the relevant authorities will take necessary action
S. R. Balachandran