Will ‘Negenahira Navodaya’ become another gravy train?
Having cleared the east of LTTE terrorists, the government has embarked on an
ambitious development plan in the district, euphemistically called ‘Negenahira
Navodaya,’ to be completed within six months. The destruction caused is most
extensive and rebuilding will cost several billions of rupees. The government
has appealed to friendly nations for funds and some have already responded
People have seen how politicians, their henchmen and even certain government
officials have embezzled funds voted for development. They don’t spare even
money received as loans. Quite a lot of such monies have been spent on foreign
jaunts, new vehicles, etc. The tsunami aid and what happened to it is the most
conspicuous case in point, where even well-known NGOs and INGOs were involved.
Those used to embezzling state funds will find ‘Negenahira Navodaya’ a huge
gravy train and will, like vultures waiting to feed on any carrion, be waiting
impatiently until the project takes off, to line their pockets.
Unless there is close monitoring and supervision, large amounts of the funds
will find their way into the pockets of these crooks. Rebuilding a whole
district within six months is a Herculean task and care must be taken not to
sacrifice quality of work for speed. Hence the President must put in place a
fool-proof mechanism to ensure that these vultures get no opportunity to
embezzle a red cent of the funds because not only those who play out such funds
but those who leave room for them to do so are equally guilty of an unpardonable
crime against the state.
Incidentally the WSDB Employees Union General Secretary Upali Ratnayaka has
revealed that not only has the new minister created 96 new top level posts, but
the Water Board has also approved tenders for Rs. 17 billion, Rs. 6 billion and
Rs. 4 billion for projects that were estimated to cost only Rs. 8 billion, Rs. 4
billion and Rs. 2.6 billion respectively.
This is most atrocious and astonishing and shows the magnitude of corruption in
government institutions today and how ministers take undue advantage of their
positions to help their henchmen, compelling the Water Board to raise its rates
and place additional burdens on consumers.
A challenge to the JHU Leader
In an interview with The Nation on July 2, JHU Leader Ven. Ellawala
Medhananda Thera has stated as follows: “It is tit for tat. If they come with
swords, we answer with swords. If they come with kindness we answer with
kindness. Otherwise, you cannot live in this world. Even Lord Buddha approved of
this and said that you should not remain silent in the face of provocation. The
proper response should be given when the situation demands it.”
I challenge this Thera to let the world know where it is said that Buddha has
approved of ‘tit for tat’ and ‘if they come with swords, answer with swords.’
This Thera has now given us the answer as to why Sri Lanka has become notorious
for killings, rape, bribery and corruption, violence, riots, abductions, etc. on
a daily basis.
The answer is simple. It’s because of the likes of the JHU Leader and his
colleagues in his party in yellow robes who advocate ‘tit for tat’ – in short
‘kill if you must.’ Parents please take note and beware of Buddhist priests of
the calibre of the JHU Leader and his colleagues in his party. To prevent our
children from being drawn astray, please do not allow them to listen to the
sermons of or associate with the likes of the JHU Leader and the JHU members.
Ranil Wickremesinghe did say it right. He never insulted Buddhism, nor did he
ridicule the Maha Sangha but meant what he said with regard monks of the types
of the JHU Leader and his colleagues in yellow robes in his party and I am sure
the true Buddhists agree with Wickremesinghe.
Under the very noses of these Buddhist priests, killings, rape, bribery and
corruption, violence, riots, abductions, etc. are taking place in the south on a
daily basis. What are they doing about it? Not a word is spoken against such
atrocities. They too are busy filling their pockets by selling their duty free
vehicles, etc., and engaging in planning and plotting ‘tit for tat’ and ‘how to
kill’ and have resorted to telling lies to cover up everything whilst
contradicting each other within their own party.
I had to put my head down in shame when my non Buddhist friends asked me whether
this is what Lord Buddha advocated. As Anura Bandaranaike says, the Buddhist
priests should be in the temples and not in parliament. But I think, the
right-thinking Buddhists would go further than that. Buddhist priests of the
calibre of the JHU Leader and his colleagues should not be in the temples
either. They are better off sent to the north east to fight the war.
The luxury Benz kennel
In answering a question in an interview published in The Nation of July 22,
Ven. Ellawela Medhananda Thero, whilst denying selling the JHU’s duty free
vehicle permits, attempted to disassociate himself from all the legal and
illegal involvements by stating that all matters with regard to his permit were
handled by Udaya Gammampila.
He averred that he was unaware of even the model or colour of this controversial
Benz and had not seen or used it. He added that he was unaware of what the other
monks did with their permits, and stated that the three monks in the JHU had
“taken” the permits as “Sangeeka property.”
He has also said that he has no bank account or income except his salary as an
MP, most of which he has donated to renovating temples in the north and east.
When questioned about the Benz given for his personal use, he avoided a direct
reply and said that he travels about in a run-down car and denied buying a Benz
for his use. In justifying the legal action to claim Rs. 2.5 billion as damages,
he said it was tit for tat, noting “if they come by the sword, we answer with
the sword,” which he averred was justified by Lord Buddha. Last week Ven.
Medhananda went public and told the media after visiting the Malwatta Prelate
that he was forced by the JHU party decision to apply for a permit, but had
never seen or used the vehicle, as these matters were handled by Gammampila. He
alleged that Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was now keeping and using
this vehicle as Wickremesinghe has an insatiable greed and lust for such
luxuries and that Wickremesinghe could use it for as long as this lust lasts,
after which he could return the vehicle to the Thero’s temple. Then, Ven.
Medhananda said, he would open its doors to enable two stray puppies who loiter
in the temple premises to use it as a kennel. This is what is to happen to the
‘Sangeeka’ vehicle permit!
Dan de Silva
APRC proposals on devolution and thereafter
We are eagerly awaiting the APRC proposals on devolution to be presented by
Prof. Tissa Vitarana, who has been committed to deliberations nearing a year in
order to bring forward a lasting solution to the so-called ethnic problem of Sri
The proposals appear to be based in such a way to please the international
community and to satisfy the Tamils, who are said to be confronted with special
problems. Once the proposals are presented, naturally they will be open to
criticism from various communities and the public before steps are taken for
implementation and made law through the legislature.
But one thing is certain. Today we know that the Eastern Province has been
cleared from the clutches of the LTTE, and the government is in a process of
building up the province, relocating the internally displaced persons and
providing facilities for a comfortable life for those who have undergone a lot
of hardship during the past 20 years or so by improving the basic needs of the
ill fated province, with the aid of NGOs and aid donors.
At the same time, plans are ahead for local government elections too to be held
in the future. This in fact is the real situation with respect to the east.
However, what our learned Professor does not understand is that defeating
terrorism in the Northern Province too is a pre-requisite before offering any
solution to the Tamil community in the north. It is crystal clear that the
devolution proposals can be implemented only after combating terrorism and
establishing democracy or removing the northern Tamils too from the clutches of
the LTTE. The fetter to conducting civilian life and maintaining the day to day
activities of Tamils is Prabhakaran’s terrorism, denying them the basic
essentials of life – to live without fear and intimidation, freedom of free
movement and expression and the like, so that normalcy is established through
the length and breadth of the north, facilitating life without fear for our
In the case of the government of Sri Lanka fearing the imposing of embargos,
suspension of aid and foreign intervention, the only alternative is to appoint
Prabhakaran, Tamilselvam or one of their representatives as the governor of the
Northern Province for a limited time frame. This post has been vacant since the
de-merger of the North East Province for over 10 months after the Supreme Court
This will no doubt pave the way for a successful joint-venture of the LTTE and
the present government. Let us hope that it will help to avoid or stop war
completely with the LTTE and also satisfy the international community. Then the
APRC could be proud of its achievements, without jeopardising the whole nation.
Vasudeva Nanayakkara, who has proven his ability at negotiation, will be able to
persuade Prabhakaran in this regard on behalf of the government.
A senior citizen,
S. A. P. Subasinghe
South African politicos are not different from ours
The Republic of South Africa is perhaps the richest state in the African
Continent with a solid foundation of national stability laid by that admirable
statesman Nelson Mandela.
But the headline in The Island’s World View of August 21, ‘South African MP’s
liver transplant scandal,’ shows that South Africa’s political culture is not
vastly different from our own.
Jumping the queue to get a liver transplant, Health Minister Manto Tshalabala
had contravened medical guidelines. This does not sound too bad. But the South
African Sunday Times has called this Health Minister a ‘drunk and a thief’. The
paper has alleged that she is an alcoholic who continues to consume alcohol even
after the transplant.
It has been further alleged that whilst working as a doctor in Botswana in the
’70s, she had been convicted of stealing a watch from a patient under
anesthetic. An employee of this hospital has commented, “Everyone here thinks
it’s hilarious that she is today a Health Minister in South Africa.”
Many will agree with me that we in Sri Lanka have cause for greater hilarity
with so many of our politicians comfortably surpassing Manto’s record. We can
find solace too in that our counterparts in Mandela’s land are no different!