An urgent plea on behalf of cancer patients

The premier Cancer Treatment Hospital is situated at Maharagama. Many cancer striken patients from far flung places including tsunami ravaged areas in Sri Lanka flock to Maharagama, many for only O.P.D. treatment or investigations, for which they have to spend an entire day in the vicinity of the hospital.

A very compassionate Bikkhu who had his temple in close proximity to the hospital had graciously given his small temple hall to house poor cancer patients and those who accompany them. With the daily increasing influx of patients the tcmple hall also was found to be insufficient. Recently, this noble bikkhu passed away..

A group of very senior citizens in Maharagama banded themselves to form the Maharagama Buddhist Society to resolve some of the urgent cultural and social needs of the residents at Maharagama. The main focus of the Buddhist Society was to address itself the problem of the transit cancer patients. Obtaining suitable premises proved to be futile especially with the financial constraints besetting the society membership. The government in recognition of the various social programmes already completed by the Society, allotted a small block of land adjacent to the premises, where the government was constructing a large administrative block at Maharagama. The Society wishes to place on record its sincere appreciation of the untiring effort made by the Minister, Dinesh Gunawardena to obtain this land to the society.

Plans for a storeyed building with suitable residential facilities for the cancer patients and those accompanying them have been approved and the construction work on the foundation already commenced. The estimated cost is in the region of about 30 million. The Buddhist society has no assets. It depends solely on public support which had so far, been generously extended. But this has been found to be inadequate.

The Association is striving to complete at least an essential part of the building in order to relieve the dire needs of the desperate cancer patients. Hence it was decided to launch out on a world wide fund raising campaign.

Following are some possible modes of contributions:
1. A lump sum payment.
2. An installment system spread over a period of time. These could be:
a monthly contribution (of whatever magnitude) directly to the bank, issue of a series of monthly dated cheques sent to the treasurer to be deposited in the bank each month.
3. Provision in the last will or otherwise to transfer some assets to the Society
4. Contributing a part of the massive collections made to stage various ostentatious public functions, towards a charitable cause
5.Giving material support such as cement sand, iron etc
All monetary contribution can be sent to the account No. 101360000436 at the Sampath Bank, Maharagama, Sri Lanka. Please include the necessary information so that the Society can make an acknowledgement. The cheques to be drawn in favour of the “Maharagama Young Mens’ Buddhist Association”.
The Society has already been incorporated as a Charitable Organisation by an Act of Parliament (No. 1299 in April 1993) and also listed for tax concessions by the Ministry of Finance.
All further enquiries re- to financial matters could be directed to the treasurer, Mr. Gunadasa Aluthge 10/1, Vipassiyarama Road, Maharagama Tel: 2850773.
Our e-mail contact is @ymbamaharagama org.
The web site, www .ymbamaragama.org -
Asoka Devendra


After LTTE what next ?

The government of Mahinda Rajapaksa is riding high on the success of our gallant, valiant soldiers and the fierce onslaught, indicates a sure defeat of the LTTE. But will terrorism in this country ever stop? Mahinda Rajapaksa will have to face another form of severe terrorism after LTTE terror is over by his own political thugs and their goons and those politicians who have been charged for criminal offences, if he deals with them, accommodates them, or carry on a government of lawlessness by thuggary. In that event, the people will axe them at the general elections by using their valuable vote, which will then result in a blood bath, as maximum thuggery will be used to come back to power. It is therefore prudent for Mahinda Rajapakse to take immediate action now, repeat now. rather than shield them as in the case of Dr. Mervyn Silva, M.P. Deputy Minister, the two Western Provincial Ministers, reported by name in the news papers, Gamini Tilakasiri, Bethmage, and those who have been named by COPE for corruption. Timely action now will deprive them of being nominated to stand as candidates for the next general elections, for which the two main political party leaders, Ranil Wickremesinghe and Mahinda Rajapaksa have a duty by the country, if they are sincere in having an honourable set of MPs in parliament. This also goes for those who sang a different song while they were in the opposition, proving that they are self-seekers.

Towards this end, the Police, the judiciary and most importantly the media should work relentlessly. The Police without delaying filing action, the judiciary, by imposing the severest punishment and not being lenient as in the case of Dr. Mervyn Silva’s fraud case, the media should keep on reminding the people by publishing the progress made at the findings, even facing death threats etc..

Let not Mahinda Rajapaksa betray the people who had placed implicit faith on the ‘Mahinda Chinthanaya’ and the heartfelt prayers of the clergy, Pirith by Buddhist monks, mass by Christian prelates, poojas by the Hindus and prayers by Islamic ulemas can save this nation from a dire future.
“Raja Bhawatu Dhammiko”


 Galle Fort the 38th World Heritage Site

Although many letters to the Editor and articles have been written on the problems Galle Fort the 38th Heritage site is facing, no meaningful steps have so far been taken to put an end to the destruction and deterioration that is taking place. At least Mr. Mubarak’s recent letter should jolt the authorities and the people from the slumber and apathy that we have evidenced.

The need of the hour is to put an immediate end to foreign purchase of the prime property that Galle Fort is. It is akin to selling family silver for a short-sighted monetary gain.

Can a small country like Sri Lanka afford to alienate land, for that matter, an invaluable portion of it to foreigners?
A critical analysis of the foreign purchase of land and property in this cherished monument reveals that it has not brought any significant benefits in its wake either to the people or the country.

As we learnt, hardly any purchase has been subjected to the 100 per cent levy. Moreover, the foreign run hotels and motels do not benefit the country by way of foreign exchange, as we understand that they are invoiced overseas by the owners or their agents.

Most of the foreigners who have purchased properties do not live in the Fort permanently, nor have they made any noteworthy contribution to the social or cultural welfare of the locals. The few who live there lead an exclusive and detached life from the rest of the society. Some of the properties bought by the foreigners have been put up for re-sale. Such buying and re-sale induce suspicions of money laundering. Some houses are inhabited by only males and this creates doubts amongst locals about gay activities.

Most hotels, motels and bars have sprung up in highly residential parts of the Fort. In some cases, they have been opened in close proximity to places of worship and schools.

Renovations and reconstructions of buildings are carried out with scant respect for neighbours rights and privacy. As Mr. Mubarak rightly alleges, the Galle Fort is gradually losing its old world charm in the midst of the hustle and bustle.

I conclude with the fervent hope that this and the previous letters highlighting the problem of this world renowned monument do not go unnoticed by the authorities. Lets save the only world heritage site in Southern Sri Lanka from being converted into an exclusive foreign enclave.
Riaz Ismail


Declare Colombo a ‘noiseless city’

The using of horns on motor vehicles of any type is banned in most big cities in the world. Even big Indian cities are ‘noiseless cities’. This is because noise pollution has become serious health hazard in crowded cities. In spite of this, Colombo continues to be one of the noisiest places in the world and this is no exaggeration. It is those of us who live by main roads who suffer the most. It is the responsibility of the young and energetic Minister of Environment to take the initiative to have Colombo declared a ‘noiseless city’.

The Supreme Court and the new champion of citizen’s rights ourrespected Chief Justice, has ruled against noise pollution caused by the abuse of loudspeakers.. He must now step in and ban the use of car horns and exhaust pipes. Believe it or not some buses are using alarms used on trains. This too must be stopped. The Police will act only if the Supreme Court gives a ruling.

As we unfortunately live close to a mosque and two Buddhist temples, we cannot express our gratitude to the Chief Justice for the peace we enjoy now thanks to his ruling on the use of loudspeakers. As a result, we are now not awakened at 5.00 am nor do we have to suffer all night chanting. I say this even though I am a Buddhist, because disturbing a neighbourhood does not help us acquire any merit) It is time our Buddhists understood that Buddhism is ‘Sila’ (morality), ‘Samadhi’ (meditation) and ‘Bhavana me Pangna’ (achieving enlightenment though meditation). The discourses of the Buddha should
perhaps be recited in Sinhala for the people to understand and practice, not merely chanted in a ancient foreign tongue: there is no room for mantra in Buddhism.

This letter is to please request the authorities to put an end to the air horn menace. If you are unfortunate to live alongside a bus route in the city you will be subject to incessant
loud ear splitting horning which has caused many of us senior citizens
to fall ill. So the air horn must be banned.

The next curse if one might call it that, are the exhausts of busses and lorries. There are no silencers anymore. Surely vehicles were fitted with silencers to ensure less sound. Vehicle owners now seek to emit maximum sound by removing the silencers and fitting some other gadget.
We appeal to the President to put an end to this infernal menace, by declaring Colombo a ‘NOISELESS CITY’ like the other big cities of the world.

Charles Wijetunge


“Minister asks WHO to intervene to stop brain drain” -a response

An article in the English newspapers of 28th January 2008 with the captioned subject has triggered this response from the writer. To give an idea to the reader on the subject matter the first two paragraphs of the article are stated as reference (quote): “The World Health Organisation (WHO) and countries to which doctors from third world countries go for training, must ensure that the doctors return to their homeland, Healthcare and Nutrition Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva said. Speaking at the seventh Executive Committee Meeting on Budget and Administration being held in Geneva, Switzerland, de Silva said doctors from third world countries go abroad for training and never return after completing the training.” (end quote)

It is true that Sri Lanka has invested an enormous amount of finances on free education through which the vast number of our qualified engineers, doctors, nurses, lawyers and others holding high posts in the administrative sector have benefited. Therefore, it is a great loss to a nation, if qualified medical officers were to find “greener pastures” simultaneously while obtaining further training overseas. This is a prerogative of the individual alone and fences cannot be put in place to prevent such things happening. In today’s commercialised and materialistic world, the natural human instinct would be to look for better opportunities both financially and technically as and when the opportunities do arise. The concerns voiced by Minister Siripala de Silva are naturally a cause for concern.

The “intellectual treasures” we have in Sri Lanka in the form of experienced and highly respected medical officers both young and old, need to be treated with the utmost respect and dignity. Needless to say that this dignity and respect, must also be shown towards all specialized personnel in the sciences (both medical and engineering), arts and culture, history and legal professions. The wealth of a nation is not judged only by the financial resources that we have as reserves, but mostly by the educated experienced intellectuals we have who are involved in all aspects of “nation building”, who voluntarily and with conviction will give of their best towards the upliftment of their motherland.

The medical profession is an extremely important field in any country no matter whether it be rich or poor. Those who enter the medical profession do so for a number of reasons. Sri Lanka is very fortunate to possess a vast wealth of experienced, highly qualified and reputed Medical Officers who are equal to any qualified officers in their own fields of specialisation from any part of the world. Their dedication is highly commendable.

Having said that, we must also see why countries like Sri Lanka have a problem of “Brain Drain”? Most Sri Lankan professional including Medical Officers have a genuine love for the profession and the service they are rendering to our society. Whose responsibility is it then, to ensure that our professionals do not leave their motherland and move on to “greener pastures”? The answer of course, is the state, which holds the prime responsibility.

Where has the state faltered? The truth is that political interference and unprofessional handling of administrative situations within the field, have created many divisions within the profession to facilitate the exit of the much needed “brains” which can be utilised towards servicing our nation. Unfortunately for our nation during the past 30 years, just as much as we have seen a so called “open economic policy” where open competition is given a lot of encouragement, political interference into the administrative affairs of the public sector has become so rampant that it has left a large number of public servants including Medical Officers frustrated. It is this reason that leads to an exodus of professionals out of this country. If our leaders know how to respect professionals then there will be no need for ministers like Nimal Siripala de Silva to appeal to world bodies like the WHO to help stop “brain drain” from our country! Politicians are not gods; they are human beings with lots of shortcomings. Therefore, leave professionals to do their work without hindrance, but offer the maximum opportunities for them to do research and development in their own fields. They will then remain in this country and serve Sri Lanka with pride!
Ramani D. Wickramaratne







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