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Remembering Jennings

Having entered the University of Ceylon Peradeniya in 1953, it is with a deep sense of nostalgia that I recall the frail but dignified figure of the Vice-Chancellor of the time. His evening walks on the cinder track and his walks from the Lodge to the Arts Theatre, to deliver his weekly lecture on constitutional law, on which he was a world renowned authority, are deeply etched in my memory.

Undoubtedly, Jennings was the driving force behind the emergence of Peradeniya as a university of world standing in less than a decade. The late Lakshman Kadirgamar, perhaps the most distinguished alumnus of Peradeniya, in an address at the BMICH to the Alumni of Peradeniya, an year before his cruel assassination, confessed from his heart that the character moulding and academic finish he had obtained, which helped him so much to achieve success in life, were from Peradeniya and not Oxford. Kadirgamar was immensely proud of the fact that he was a product of Peradeniya.

Jennings left Sri Lanka fifty four years ago to become the Master of Cambridge University. By that time, he had achieved world fame as an academic and university administrator. His works on constitutional law that, were widely read at the time; continue to adorn the shelves of libraries the world over; and his memory lingers in the hearts of thousands of Sri Lankans even today.

No name board to a hall of residence, and that too more than half a century after his departure, can do justice to his memory. The present university administration committed a terrible mistake, which only led to the desecration of his name, by a few politically misled students, grossly ignorant of the history and traditions of the very institution to which they belong.

If Jennings is to be honoured, the university has to be resurrected to take the special place it deserves among the country’s many universities. The ‘Ashwa Vidyala’ mentality it has developed over the past two decades must go. The ‘Ivor Jennings University,’ Peradeniya could even be upgraded into a highly specialised centre of learning on the lines of John Hopkins University of Baltimore. It could be a centre for advanced research and post-graduate studies, attracting scholars from abroad too.

In the alternative, the hub of the university complex, the area comprising the Arts Theatre, the Administration Block, Library and Senate Building could be referred to and remembered as the ‘Jennings Square.’

No name boards are required to identify great institutions or places. Tradition and usage make name boards superfluous. Name boards, statues etc may be destroyed by hoodlums, but memories of great men will live on.
Edward Gunawardena


Muslim lawyers’ misrepresentation on noise pollution!

The media has reported the convening of a meeting by ‘Muslim’ lawyers, on the decision of the Supreme Court with regard to the new noise pollution regulations and to ‘permit’ the call for prayers in mosques. I was indeed dumbfounded.

Then, it dawned on me – what could you expect of lawyers, who do nothing but rely purely on contortions and twisting of facts to win their law cases?! Here too, they have been bending and distorting the facts, trying their best, to fan fiercer emotions among the Muslim community so as to achieve some personal gain – no doubt, and that too, by misrepresentation.

The Supreme Court never, ever did mention anything connected with the Muslim call for prayers, for them to demand the ‘allowing’ of the call for prayer. Here enters the lawyer with the convoluted mind to boast of his twisted ‘legal’ prowess.

The decision taken by the Supreme Court speaks purely only of reducing noise levels causing pollution – I wonder, what right, a handful of lawyers have, to stage a protest against such a rule, which is totally in line with our Shari’ah laws. I also wonder as to who gave them permission to represent our Muslim community?

Just as an example, please permit me to quote Our Holy Prophet who placed strong emphasis on how a Muslim should be concerned about the sentiments, feelings and emotions of his neighbour. He said:

“If your neighbour has only one-side access to light and air and you are planning to put up a wall on that particular side – even if your neighbour grants you permission, you are totally prohibited and forbidden to raise that wall.” The hadith also mentions the severe punishment the person will face, both here and in the hereafter, for violation of such neighbour’s rights – whoever he may be, whatever his religion may be or whatever his nationality may be.

We are quite certain that this totally insignificant, minority group of so-called ‘muslim’ lawyers, are neither aware of anything Islamic nor do they seem to be worried, not only about human sentiments, but also the religious rulings which abhors, loathes, and execrates insensitivity and callousness. Islam also finds hardness and hard-heartedness repugnant, repulsive and obscene.

Our beautiful country is already groaning under the viciousness of a war which is destroying priceless innocent lives, permanently disfiguring and mutilating innocent men, women and children, the destruction of valuable property and not forgetting to mention of course, our economy, which is being decimated. Are these insensitive minority lawyer groups trying to open up another front?

This is the moment that petty issues and issues that have a contemptible narrow outlook should be got rid of totally and everybody should join hands for building a united Sri Lanka where all communities and all religions could live in peace, harmony and tranquility.

I am quite certain that a majority of the good thinking lawyers, educated, civilised and cultivated people, including the scholars, both religious and secular, would agree and support this move and unite permanently to put an end to this bickering over insignificant trivialities.

M.Z.M. Nazim
Colombo 06.


VIPs in danger? Let them stay at home

Recently the former President of Sri Lanka, Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunga complained to Courts on the reduction of her security staff. There had been numerous requests from various members of parliament for additional security staff inclusive of vehicles. It will be interesting for the Judiciary and President Mahinda Rajapaksa to know the observations made by the Delhi High Court. This will have significant financial saving besides enabling the staff and vehicles to be used for defence and civil rule.

The most important impact, if this judgment is implemented, is that our politicians will become honest, truthful and keep the promises made at the time of general elections. If they do so, there will be no need to have any fear of the public – the voter. It will also prevent them from hiring personal thugs to threaten the voter, which leads to less crime in this country.

It has been said that behind every criminal there in this country, there is a politician. The end result is that the politicians will serve the people rather than serve themselves. There will peace and harmony in this blessed Isle,
G.A.D. Sirima





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