Restoring sight for many in Mannar

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) together with the Lions Club of Mannar conducted an eye camp at the Mannar General Hospital from August 28 - 31.
During the eye camp specialised doctors and other medical personnel provided treatment free-of-charge to over 150 patients. Most of them were internally displaced and refugee returnees from India and presently living in rural villages in the Mannar District.
The project was funded by AUSAID and implemented at the request of the Regional Director of Health Service (RDHS) of Mannar.


Hilton is to turn 21

General Manager Hilton Colombo, William Costley and the veteran drummer, Jananath Warakagoda, at the launch of the agenda for the commemoration of the Hotel’s 21st year in Sri Lanka to the rhythm of 21 Sri Lankan drums, at the Grand Ballroom, Hilton Colombo, on August 29.


Win with BC at CIBF

Visit British Council at the Colombo International Book Fair (CIBF), at the BMICH from September 8 – 18 and be a winner!


Sahurda Satahan to be launched

Sahurda Satahan, the latest piece of creative work by Buddhadasa Galappatty will be launched on September 4, at 4 p.m. at Sri Lanka Foundation Institute Auditorium, Independence Square, Colombo 07.


Sarath de Silva felicitated

President, Film Goers’ Association, Sarath de Silva receiving a certificate of appreciation from Anula Karunathileke for his contribution to the Society, at the Sehiwala Purana Viharaya, recently.


ICT4Peace inventory Wiki launched

The ICT4Peace Foundation launched its ICT4Peace Inventory Wiki (accessible immediately from http://www.ict4peace.org/inventory-1.html) recently.
The ICT4Peace inventory Wiki is one of three key foci of the ICT4Peace Foundation. It will be updated regularly and highlight emerging best practices from the field, significant research initiatives and well-grounded examples of ICT4Peace as defined in the Foundation’s mandate.
This will include cataloguing at least 100 existing ICT tools and mechanisms - operational, legal and conceptual - geared towards conflict mitigation. The inventorisation will include initiatives identified in the report on ICT4Peace by the ICT4Peace Foundation published in 2005, along with more recent examples from around the world in the use of ICT for conflict mitigation using PCs, mobile phones, the Web and the Internet.


Pakistan trade exhibition

Organised by the Pakistan High Commission, a mini-exhibition displaying the products of the Pakistani trade and manufacturing delegation that is to visit Sri Lanka from September 3 – 6, will be held at the Salon Anthurium, Galadari Hotel, on September 4, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.


Grandparent’s Day

Grandparent’s Day celebrations will be held at Galadhari Hotel from September 8 – 10.


Garment workers trapped in poverty

Women workers in Sri Lanka’s garment factories producing school uniforms for UK retailer Marks and Spencer are struggling to survive on their monthly wages, according to a new report published by ActionAid UK.
Garment workers interviewed for Who Pays? The Real Cost of Cheap School Uniforms receive just 2% of the retail cost of a £6 school dress sold in Marks and Spencer.

Anishka Ratwatte, a 25 year old factory worker who makes school dresses for Marks and Spencer, said: “Almost daily our living costs are increasing and our wages are not good enough for us to have a decent life. We work all week and yet we cannot afford the basic things we need on our salaries.”

According to ActionAid UK, pressure from Marks and Spencer on its suppliers in Sri Lanka helps to drive down pay and conditions for workers in the factories there.
Dominic Eagleton, Policy Officer from ActionAid UK, said, “Pressure from big retailers is squeezing suppliers the world over. We want investment in Sri Lanka, but it must be good for the people here, not just make big profits for foreign companies.”
ActionAid UK also highlights the discrimination faced by many women working in garment factories. Over 60% of women garment workers in Sri Lanka are under 25 and the majority migrate from rural villages to find work and earn money for their families.

Padmini Weerasuriya, an ex-garment worker who now runs the NGO Women’s Centre, told ActionAid, “Garment workers get called ‘Juki badu’ meaning they are slaves to the sewing machines.”
ActionAid UK is calling for:
• The UK government to establish an independent regulator to keep UK supermarkets buying practices in check
• UK supermarkets to acknowledge and tackle the harmful impacts of their buying practices on workers and suppliers
• The Sri Lankan government to enshrine the rights of workers in law, and extend legal protection to include temporary and informal workers


Digital hearing aids to School for the Deaf

The Sri Lanka Ikebana Association in partnership with Dialog Telekom, Sri Lanka’s flagship telecommunications service provider, gifted digital hearing aids to the Ceylon School for the Deaf in Ratmalana recently. The project was funded by the proceeds from the annual exhibition of the Ikebana Association and was facilitated by the Corporate Responsibility arm of Dialog Telekom.


Vel perahera

Western Provincial Councillor and Founder of the Pragna Pradeepa concept, Dr Jayantha de Silva, was the Chief Guest on the occasion of the Annual Vel perahera ceremony, held recently at Badra Kali Kovil in Rajagiriya.


Lankan wins OMC Asia Cup

The Sri Lanka Association of Hairdressers and Beauticians [SLHAB] congratulates K D Iranganie Pinto who represented Sri Lanka at the OMC Asia Cup Open 2007, held in Beijing, China. Iranganie was adjudged the first runner-up in the ‘Ladies Fashion Hair Style’ category, and was awarded the Silver medal. She was also presented with a special award by the China Hair and Beauty Association [CHBA].


Old Anandians Mass Media Web launch

The official Website of the Old Anandians Mass Media circle affiliated to the Old Boys Association of Ananda College, Colombo is to be ceremonially launched on Saturday September 8, at 7 p.m. at the National Council for Folk Art Centre Complex, Sri Jayewardenepura, Battaramulla. This ceremony is sponsored by the Sri Lanka Telecom-Mobitel and the National Council for Folk Art Centre.


Seminar on pre 8th ICAAP on HIV \ AIDS Policy

The special seminar on pre 8th ICAAP on HIV \ AIDS Policy was held at the Trans Asia Hotel Colombo under the auspices of Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickremenayake. Minister of Health, Nimal Siripala de Silva and several foreign representatives also participated on the occasion.
The seminar was organised by Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) and Ministry of Health supported by UNAIDS, UNDP, WHO, UNFPA, and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Co-support was given by the Governments of Sweden and Denmark.


Ferntea celebrates 30 years

Ferntea Ltd, a company listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange celebrated its 30 years of operation in Sri Lanka recently. To mark this important milestone, a Holy Mass was observed at their Head Office in Vauxhall Street. Fr. Neil Karunaratne of St. Theresa’s Church officiated at the Mass. Chairman Ferntea Ltd, Anura Fernando and members of the staff of Ferntea and its associate companies participated in this mass.


Feast of Corpus Christi

The feast of Corpus Christi was celebrated in the parish of Moratuwa on August 19, presented by Rev. Fr. Merl Mendis O.M.I. The chariot carrying the Blesses Sacrament was beautifully designed by Sumith Rodrigo.


Family Lunch

We all lead busy lives…. but family comes first! Hilton Colombo has something new for the entire family. Every first Sunday of the month is Family Lunch at its poolside. Make September 2 a day of fun and entertainment with puppet and magic shows, face painting, cartoon characters and a special play area for kids and use of the pool area for both kids and adults.



M. A. Bakeer Markar

Almost 40 years ago I first met Marhoom M. A. Bakeer Markar in the Parliament lobby when I was covering the parliamentary proceedings for the now defunct Independent Group of Newspapers which once thrived by fanning communalism before biting the dust. Within minutes he made me feel as if he knew me since my childhood.
His simplicity and unassuming nature contributed a great deal in reaching the pinnacle of his political career when he assumed office as Speaker of the Parliament.

My first question to him was “Sir, Beruwela has an important place in the history of the island’s Muslims as early Arab traders landed there. Even today Muslims live there and it is not a Muslim majority electorate. How did you manage to get yourself elected by a majority of Sinhalese votes to represent the Beruwala electorate in the parliament?”

Pausing for a moment and looking at the sea he said with a smile, “This demonstrates clearly that a majority of Sinhalese are a compassionate, generous and friendly lot with whom we have lived for centuries with complete freedom. They voted for me because I earned their trust and respect only through my attitude towards them. As one among them I deal with them far away from religious, cultural, linguistic or racial barriers. Of course as always there were a few rabble rousers, but I ignore them and dealt with a majority who believed in peace and harmony within communities.”

This rich legacy of unity, understanding and harmony, now being carried out by his equally unassuming and friendly son, Imthiaz Bakeer Markar, is the need of the hour to save this country.
He always described communal harmony “the essential ingredient for the country to move ahead.”
When he was the Speaker of the Parliament, once there were reports of some communal outburst in Galle. Tension was also reported to be on the rise. Marhoom Bakeer didn’t waste time. He rushed to the scene together with former Bank of Ceylon Chairman Jehan Cassim. I too accompanied him.

He first went to the police station at Galle Fort, introduced himself and started discussing the situation in his usually friendly manner with the police officer who said “We will keep our people under control and you people should get your people not to instigate.”
I saw for the first time Bakeer Markar losing his temper when he told the police officer bluntly, “Look, young man, there is nothing called your people and our people. We are all one and treat everyone alike and try to bring the situation under control, restore normalcy and establish peace. This is the duty of the police and just because you happened to be a Sinhalese you can’t claim ownership for the Sinhalese community here. Muslims are also your responsibility. The police have a duty, be strict and bring the culprits to book, be they Sinhalese or Muslims.”

The police officer was stunned
When Marhoom Bakeer got up to leave he told the police officer, “Remember son, it is with communal harmony and peace we all can prosper. And you can play a very good role in this regard.” Then he left and the police officer who followed him told me “We need people like him to build this nation.”
This was his political philosophy till his death.
Tracing his ancestry to Sheikh Jamaluddeen-Al Maghdoomi, an early Arab who settled down in Beruwala, Bakeer Markar who hails from a family of physicians was chosen as early as 1947 to organise the parliamentary election campaign. Three years later in 1950 he passed out as a proctor and entered local politics in the same year when he was elected uncontested first as a member and then as Chairman of the Beruwala Urban Council.

He was elected to represent the newly carved out Beruwala electorate in the House of Representatives in 1960. In 1977 he was elected Deputy Speaker of the National State Assembly before reaching the pinnacle of his political career when he was made the Speaker of Parliament. Incidentally he was the last Speaker of the last Parliament and the first Speaker of the New Parliament under the 1978 Constitution.

He also worked as Cabinet Minister and Governor before leaving the scene on September 1997. In parliament he was paid tribute for his services, qualities and values.
Describing him as one of the founder members of the United National Party, then Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremasinghe said that Bakeer, loved by his people, was dedicated to the UNP and some of the progress that the UNP made in the south would have not been possible without him. Earning a name for himself as a very honourable man, Bakeer represented the poorest of the poor and his heart was always in serving his people.

Bakeer may be dead. But his son Imthiaz is keeping his father alive by carrying on his values and principles which made even hard-line Sinhalese politicians to state in television discussions recently that they would prefer to vote for Imthiaz in a presidential election contested by former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Opposition Leader Ranil Wickreamsinghe and former Minister Imthiaz Bakeer Markar.
Latheef Farook


Dr. A.C.S. Hameed

Dr. A.C. Shahul Hameed was first elected to the Sri Lankan Legislature, in March 1960. Since then, he had returned consecutively, in seven elections and counted 39 years in Parliament. This was one of the longest unbroken parliament records in the legislature of Sri Lanka.

Dr. Hameed was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1977 and in 1989, having served as Foreign Minister for twelve years. He was appointed Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology. Subsequently, he was assigned the portfolio of Minister of Justice and Higher Education. In 1993 he was re-appointed as the Minister of Foreign Affairs for a second term until 1994.He sat as a Member of Parliament in the opposition, until 3rd September 1999 (Date of demise).

Dr. Hameed was the Chairman of the NAM Ministerial Conference (1977-1979). His forte was trouble shooting. He had been associated with many difficult and delicate negotiations, especially during Sri Lanka’s stewardship of the Non-Aligned Movement. On the domestic scene, he engaged in negotiations with the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for 14 months, during which period Sri Lanka enjoyed relative peace and stability.

My late uncle’s 8th death anniversary falls on the 3rd of September. I thought it would be fitting to include one poem, from his last book titled, “SPRING OF LOVE AND MERCY”.

Oh Allah!
You made us from dust;
We filled us with lust;
Lust for power and purse;
That is our curse
Thou filled us with reason
Equipped us
With intellect
Knowledge and Will
Introduced us to wisdom
Taught us to prepare
And be aware
Of the day of Aakhira
But we are vain
Seeking gain
And incur pain
We are guests
And we should leave
This planet
When the sun sets
Oh Lord! Let me always be
Conscious of Thy certainty
To Eternity
“We pray that, Allah will grant him paradise”
Dr. Afraz Ghafoor



September 4 & 5
Le Destin (1997, 135 minutes) in French with English subtitles, at the Alliance Francaise, Colombo, - 3 p.m./6:30 p.m.


September 7
Palinka In Concert, organised by Alliance Française, at Hotel Taj Samudra, at 7 p.m.

September 8
Celebrating 5 decades of German Culture in Sri Lanka a gala concert with Ramon Jaffe from Germany (cello), Ramya Perera (piano), Pradeep Ratnayake (sitar) and his drummers, at Colombo International School Auditorium, at 7 p.m.


From September 3
An exhibition of photographs by Alexander Kveladze, at the Alliance Française auditorium, 11, Barnes Place, Colombo 7.

Until September 9
An exhibition of paintings by Vajira Gunawardene, at the Barefoot Gallery, Colombo 3.

September 8 – 14
AYA 2007, an exhibition of paintings, at the Alliance Française de Kandy, 642, Peradeniya Road, Kandy, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.


September 7
Rugby World Cup France 2007 opening match, at the Alliance Française Auditorium, after midnight (12:30).


The appreciations published in The Nation Diary last week under the headlines ‘Leslie Dahanayake’ and ‘Lucien Weeramantry were inadvertently switched in the body text. We sincerely regret the error.








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