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Fair play and integrity - essential factors
I am a much travelled Sinhala Buddhistic Senior Citizen,
having, several seasons ago, notched the Psalmist’s span of three score and ten.
Undiluted patriotism prompted the return to my Motherland in the mid-sixties,
after a decade in the west.
Additionally, having won national honours in sports and in administration, on
several occasions, and also being on the verge of celebrating 50-years of
wedlock to a Christian of foreign origin, I deem it sufficient qualification to
pass some critical comments on current affairs in Sri Lanka.
It grieves me, pains me and horrifies me to witness the gradual degradation of a
once resplendent, peaceful and prosperous isle. There appears to be no bright
opening at the end of a near invisible tunnel!
Having sought, fought and gained Independence in 1948, after a bloodless
revolution, with the support of the Tamils, Muslims, Burghers and Malays, the
majority Sinhalese appear to have abandoned their former allies. Consequently,
murder and mayhem by radical elements, have taken centre stage. Sixty years of
impaired Independence have witnessed 25-years of conflict and gory battles.
Reason and fair play must go out and, in keeping with most politicians’
professed partisanship to religion, magnanimity and trust should be extended, in
the search for peace. The country burns and innocent lives are being lost.
I am no scholarly historian, and am venturing out cautiously on the subject.
Claims of a 2500-year old culture, sound irrelevant and hollow, if peaceful
co-existence with fellow beings, is unattainable.
It is an undeniable fact that Tamils such as Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, Sir
Ponnambalam Arunachalam, Sir Kanthiah Vaithianathan, Malays such as T.B. Jayah
and a mass of others from the minority communities, whose names I fail to
recall, were, along with Sir Baron Jayatilleke, E.W. Perera, Anagarika
Dharmapala, F.R. Senanayake, D.S. Senanayake and S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike in the
forefront of the struggle for Independence. That their progeny should be denied
equality in the sun, in subsequent years, is grossly unjust and regrettable.
That politicians, in their greed for power, created the rifts, is an accepted
Despite being a Sinhala Buddhist, I cannot help but concede to the reality that
the farcical “SRI” on vehicles, “Sinhala Only Bill”, in 24-hours, and
innumerable unfulfilled promises given to Tamil leaders, since Independence,
exacerbated, resulting in the catastrophe of July 1983.
Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers and almost every politician have
deceitfully practised the saying in “promises and pie-crust are made to be
broken”! The catalogue of untruths, half-truths and unfulfilled promises are too
numerous to mention. They put to shame Lankan leaders of the past quarter
Having mingled with the reasonably rich and the pauperism populace in our
poverty stricken, war-torn Sri Lanka, it sickens me to continuously witness the
extravagant lifestyles indulged in by those referred to, by a former President,
as “Servants of the People”. Ironically, these “Servants of the People”, garbed
in gaudy silken finery, to cover their perfumed “rhino-hides”, practise
unadulterated hypocrisy, by appealing to the famished families to tighten their
belts, while they loosen theirs!
Sri Lanka’s political elite and their acolytes have promoted and practised
indiscipline over decades, with scant consideration for the Rule of Law,
decency, integrity and punctuality. The vile, vitriolic vocabularies flowing
freely from the foul mouths of these irresponsible legislators, depict a poor
picture of a country known worldwide for its politeness, sportsmanship and
Sri Lanka’s misfortune, since Independence, has been her ability to produce
power-hungry politicians, not Statesmen. A Lankan version of Lee Kwan Yew or
Nelson Mandela or even, a Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez would have done fine. But
alas, lowly Lanka has been plagued by Marcoses and Mugabes. The country is
engulfed in corruption, nepotism and various other ills, which, for obvious
reasons, are glossed over, closeted and ignored. Not surprisingly, the country
bleeds, and appears to have gone beyond redemption.
The flickering embers of democracy and decency are still being gallantly
rekindled and preserved by a Dr. A.C. Visvalingam of the Citizens Movement for
Good Governance (CIMOGG) and the revitalized Organization of Professional
Associations (OPA). Whether the embers could be enlivened or extinguished,
hinges on the civic mindedness of the intelligentsia and moaning masses.
Glittering like a beacon in the dark, fighting lion-heartedly against mighty
odds, is Chairman of COPE, Wijedasa Rajapakse, and his trusted troupe.
Displaying Integrity, with a capital “I”, of high order, they have stood firm by
their convictions and vehemently exposed the latest “Duty Free Vehicle Racket”
and dozens of equally outrageous swindles resorted to by politicians and priests
and their stooges, in recent years. May his tribe increase to save Sri Lanka
from extermination and ruination.
President Rajapaksa’s much proclaimed and acclaimed “Mahinda Chintanaya” has
remained largely dormant of late, despite claims to the contrary. The All Party
Representative Committee (APRC) has shunted to and fro, much like a Yo-Yo, with
indecision the hallmark, despite the tireless efforts of Prof Tissa Vitharana.
The return of ex-President, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, has added to the
incumbent President’s woes. The extremist elements in the parliamentary
coalition, have also heaped more coals into the fire. All-in-all, he wears an
uneasy crown. Few civilians would envy him, as he struts nervously, steeped in
worry, surrounded by his retinue of security personnel.
Sri Lanka’s immediate need is a righteous leader, who will play a straight bat
and act as a Statesman. If President Rajapaksa deems it possible, then he can
still resurrect a dying cause, by granting primacy to the “Rule of Law”, which
is the bedrock of civilized society.
Is rice flour another avenue for quick bucks
Corruption and fraud are treachery, chicanery and above all
embezzlement which holds down the economic advancement of the Country .Many
involved in the wheat flour trade should be reported to COPE or the Bribery and
The practice of importing wheat flour commenced during the reign of foreigners.
Their food specialists and half baked scientists, who were in the pay of
business, propagated the notion that wheat which grew luxuriously in temperate
climes, was superior to rice which was a staple food of those in the tropics. In
reality it was the other way about. The occupying country condemned everything
that was raised in the suppressed country and exported what their homeland
produced, be it wheat or even a nail!. Everything local was condemned as
inferior. Coconut oil received the same treatment and only imported food oils
were approved for use as wholesome. When Ceylon was under the jackboot of
Britain the tea industry was in the hands of the white men.
The Tea Research Institute had an Englishman as head chemist, who after lengthy
and costly investigations made the great discovery that local limestone was
inferior to British limestone though chemically they were the same and any
schoolboy would have made the same pronouncement. In keeping with the chemists
findings a British company operating in Ceylon, made haste to import a branded
product named ‘Limbux’. It was plain and simple chalk, cut down from the
extensive white cliffs of Dover. All White superintendents on tea estates
obediently used ‘Limbux’ after pruning the tea bush. The money went to Britain,
whereas the cheaper local limestone quarry owners who would have otherwise
profited were left in the lurch.
Now locals are gearing themselves to do the same to rice and line their pockets.
With research on rice as a substance to turn out bread, some who care have come
out with a 50 percent rice flour loaf of bread. With much fanfare a machine to
produce rice flour has been turned out, but that limits the use of rice flour to
those who could afford the machine. What about the housewives who presently turn
out wheat flour bred in their homes? The wheat flour comes in packets. If rice
flour too comes in packets with know how and seminars for those interested in
rice flour bread it would be giant step to the elimination of wheat flour
There is a capacious flour milling venture in Trincomalee, which imports wheat
or buys it off the State, and mills it for distribution to users. Import of
wheat results in foreign exchange leaving our shores. To ensure the continued
use of wheat, wheat producing countries, when faced with the disposal of bumper
harvests which threaten a break down of the market, buys it off the farmer at a
fair price, and either sells it abroad cheap or gifts it to a country which may
switch to an alternate source of food; thereby ensuring the continued use of
wheat, buttressing their farmers. It is a subtle device to keep their vulnerable
farmers in affluence and out of threatening penury.
Earlier this year the Government was compelled to export. rice to the Maldives,
faced with a surplus in the country. Building up· a demand for rice in the
international market will be wise step. Above all the country must investigate
how it could use it indigenously. Rice flour bread to replace wheat will reduce
a considerable burden from state coffers. Wheat flour bread is a 100% wheat
flour loaf. Our research community should leave no stone unturned in turning out
a 100% rice flour loaf. Rice unlike wheat is a superior health food and if the
loaf finds its way to the table it can be gulped down with a mug of Goat milk
resulting in a healthy Nation.
To revert to corruption in the opening paragraph the government must ensure that
the receipt of commissions by anyone involved in rice is a non- bailable
offence; and if found guilty will receive a 15 year mandatory jail sentence. Put
democracy on the back burner and let the country make do with a little bit of
Retired senior police officers join
By taking the initiative together with Transparency
International to organise the anticorruption Seminar entitled, “Civil Society
Demands Corruption free Governance”, at the SLIDA Auditorium on 23rd August the
Retired Senior Police Officers Association (RSPOA), has emerged strongly as a
national civil society organisation that can contribute meaningfully to the well
being of the country.
With a history of over thirty years the RSPOA, with the exceptions of a few,
consists of all the retired senior gazetted officers ranging from retired IGP’s
to SP’s and ASP’s resident in the country and even abroad. Each with over 30
years of service, this is a socially and intellectually well-knit group of
mature individuals. As a body the RSPOA is primarily committed to the welfare of
its members and to contribute in every way possible to help uphold the dignity
and honour of the Police Service to which they have dedicated the better part of
The knowledge and experience that these individuals possess are indeed varied
and unique. They have performed duties in almost every conceivable social
environment in the country often under trying circumstances. Even in the
remotest places in the island, they are conversant with the people, their
customs, their manner of livelihood, their behavioral patterns and even their
thinking and attitudes to life in general.
Most of these senior officers have received extensive training not only in
police work as the layman understands; they have been exposed, some even at
University level, to the sociological aspects of crime and violence. They have
proven investigative skills; experience in mediation and the settlement of
disputes, conflict resolution; rehabilitation of criminals, juvenile delinquents
and drug addicts; experience in legal procedures and knowledge of the criminal
law and forensic science.
A good many of them have confronted rebellious situations, student unrest,
industrial unrest and even organised uprisings and insurgencies against the
state. More than a few of this elite body have played responsible roles in the
security of the state, drugs control, administration and highway traffic
administration. Truly, they remain men of standing with unmatchable experience
eminently competent to effectively influence public opinion.
Public perception of police functions is based on the widely visual open basic
activities of law enforcement, and the regulation of non criminal conduct such
as motor traffic control. Little is known about the intense study, discussion
and planning that senior officers toil over for the execution of police tasks-
tasks that affect the day to day lives of all citizens, more than any other
state activity. It is also a little known fact that the reports senior officers
have to write on criminal acts, on public order situations and events of a
threatening nature to the security of the state require extensive knowledge,
skill and analytical thinking. These are subject to scrutiny at the highest
bureaucratic levels of government prior to submission to the Head of State.
What motivated the RSPOA to play a leadership role in the anti-corruption
crusade that is gathering momentum today? It is reasonable to surmise that many
of its members who served the nation with dedication in the days when corruption
was relatively low and service discipline was rigid (even constables leaving on
patrol had to declare the cash they carried, or if a senior officer bought a
land or built a house he had to inform the IGP how the money was obtained),
would have been hurt by the findings of recent surveys of some research
organisations listing the Police Dept as one of the most corrupt.
Be that as it may, the COPE revelations are so shocking and unimaginable where
staggering billions have been artfully swindled by people in national leadership
positions, and spread over such a wide spectrum of state activities impacting
adversely on the quality of life particularly of the ordinary citizens, they
would have even scandalised the most hard hearted bribe taking cop!
It is indeed admirable that the RSPOA, a little publicized civil society
organisation, has come forward to actively support COPE, led by Mr. Wijedasa
Rajapakse, and has, by highlighting the misdeeds of the ‘mighty’, created a
national consciousness to rid this country of the bane of corruption. The
Executive Committee of the RSPOA led by the much respected Retired DIG Anton
Jeyanathan deserves the commendation of all right thinking people for its role
in organising the seminar of August 23.. The keen interest taken by Rtd. SSP’s
Upali Seneviratne and S. B. W. de Silva deserves special mention. Indeed they
have shown that the RSPOA as a civil society organisation can make a noteworthy
contribution to stamp out corruption in the country.
The role played by the media for the successful conclusion of this seminar
cannot be underestimated. The publicity it received before and immediately
after, awakening the conscience of the nation to the gravity and extent of this
alarmingly unprecedented sate of corruption in the country, with Mr. Wijedasa
Rajapakse’s observations making the headlines of virtually every newspaper,
would certainly have been the eleventh hour catalyst for Parliament to make its
momentous decision to unanimously refer the COPE findings to the Bribery
The mood of the nation is such that the approach to and progress of the Bribery
Commission’s investigations will be eagerly followed. With corruption beginning
to seriously eat into the very quality of life, apart from sober intellectual
bodies such as the RSPOA, the more vociferous and volatile organisations at
grass roots level, Trade Unions, Farmer Societies & Student Organisations to
mention a few, are likely to be compelled to be drawn into this growing
anti-corruption crusade. The ball is now in the Bribery Commission’s Court. With
Parliament itself being the complainant, it is reasonable to presume that the
Commission will receive the unstinted support and cooperation of all concerned
particularly the Attorney General’s Dept. and the Police,for the accomplishment
of this task of national importance - perhaps the most challenging
responsibility thrust upon the Commission since its inception.
Plea to amend Widows and Orphans Pension
In a cultured society, special care should be shown towards
elderly people, incurable people, patients, widows etc. Widows are unfortunate
people who have to bear mental agony especially when they are not having
adequate earning capacity and finance. A widow may prefer to remarry due to the
* To continue the pleasant life she enjoyed in the past (why should she waste
her youthfulness when she loses her husband early in life?).
* To have financial and other support to look after her family.
* To take part in social activities without being ignored by society.
* To be taken care of when she is sick and old by her family members
A widow should have the option of re-marriage and it is our duty to encourage
re-marriages. In India Mahatma Gandhi fought for education and re-marriage of
widows and to a certain extent, I feel in India this problem has been solved.
In Sri Lanka, when a widow re-marries, she has to forgo her pension. This is the
main hindrance for her to get married again as she is in fear of financial loss
if her next husband is not financially sound to look after the family. In fact
some years before in the budget proposal it was mentioned that widows could
continue enjoying 50% of the pension after her second marriage. Regrettably no
action has been taken to date to implement this proposal. You have to admit that
in the present war situation, this is a major problem and we should not allow
our unfortunate sisters to suffer mentally.
At present, an unmarried daughter could enjoy the pension only till she is
26 years old. Thereafter unless she is handicapped no financial support is
given. Due to the prevailing situation in Sri Lanka, the ratio of eligible males
is low due to death / leaving the country for employment etc. Even
inter-community marriages are scarce. Therefore, it should-be admitted that all
girls are not blessed with married life and it is the duty of the government to
look after their needs till they get married. There are parents who are highly
worried about the future of their unmarried daughters after their demise. Due to
this problem, I feel several girls are leaving the country on foreign employment
knowing very well , agony they are going to face in the future. Therefore, I
propose that unmarried daughters should continue receiving their father’s
pension until they settle down. If the government feels that material funds are
required, there are several ways of raising funds and patriotic people should be
prepared to assist in solving this problem
I make an appeal to all ministers, members of parliament, charitable
organisations, religious leaders and the media to consider these proposals
seriously and help to wipe off the painful tears of our unfortunate sisters and
S. R. Balachandran