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Loudspeakers and Muslims
I read with much concern that Muslim MPs have all come together to demand that
the government brings legislation to overturn the Supreme Court ruling on noise
pollution. As a long suffering resident close to a Mosque and two Buddhist
temples, I wish to state that this practice of a loud call to prayer through
amplifiers and Pirith through the night broadcast to one and all, is a violation
of my right to peace and quiet.
I am a student of the preaching of the Prophet; though not a Muslim, I am an
admirer of those who practice Islam. I am also at one with the Muslims who
confess directly to God without intermediaries (Mullahs or Imams only lead the
communal prayers). Islam prescribes attitude of mind and specific duties, most
important is the acceptance of the uniqueness, the power and authority of
almighty God. Islam’s fundamental duties, practices and beliefs are: the
profession of faith, daily prayer (six times a day), Zakat or the giving of a
portion of ones earnings to the poor, fasting to realise what starvation the
poor go through (it is also a great self-discipline) and finally, the pilgrimage
to Mecca to strengthen their faith.
The religion is essentially practical and is indeed its strong point. The dead
are buried within 24 hours before putrification sets in, though some believers
attribute another reason based on the concept of ascension. Even the concept of
Halal can be understood in the context that the Prophet did not wish people to
eat the flesh of dead animals – just as the eating of pig meat is forbidden.
Alcohol is prohibited for obvious reasons; commerce is advocated and encouraged,
though I do wish there were drugs in those times and involvement in any form
with such substances was also prohibited.
To the all important matter of prayer; could one think of a better way to come
within one’s self than to pray? Prayer in any form is also a meditation and
cleanses one’s self --- and praying six times cannot surely be a bad thing. A
Muslim does not need a particular place to pray but mosques have been erected
because it affords a place for communal prayers. Now to the summoning to prayer;
at the time of the prophet there would not have been clocks and it was necessary
to remind the faithful that it was time to pray; hence minarets were erected
from where the human voice carried to the village and called the faithful to
come to the Mosque or pray where ever they may be at that particular time.
Minarets certainly had a useful purpose in those medieval times, but do Muslims
of the 21st century need to be reminded to pray or to come to the Mosque,
through a powerful public address system? No, I do not think so; devout Muslims
know their obligations to themselves and to God. The believer knows when the
hour of prayer is; he can recite the Shahada and say Allahu Akbar ‘God is great’
without any prompting or reminding through a loudspeaker. He could praise Allah,
pledge obedience to Him, the supreme one, the only deity to be worshipped, pray
and recall His glory and seek his protection. Yes, he should be able to
discharge his principal obligation without disturbing any one. I am certain that
Allah would not wish the old, the sick and feeble, also infants and children to
be disturbed by a loud call to prayer of another religion. We do hope that our
Muslims brothers will understand that in the name of the compassionate and
merciful Allah they should not disturb other citizens.
After LTTE what next?
The above letter by “Raja Bhawatu Dhammiko” of 17.02.08 in all newspapers is a
forewarning, if Mahinda Rajapaksa has read it and taken action, before it is too
In the letter, the writer speaks of the behaviour of Dr. Mervyn Silva, Deputy
Minister. Due to the pressure brought by the journalists and the most respected
Buddhist monks, Ven. Dr. Bellanwila Wimalarathana, Ven. Sobitha Thero of Kotte
Rajamaha Vihara and the Congress of Religions, Minister Silva has been asked to
The next “Raja Bhawatu Dhammiko” mentions is the two Western Province Council
Ministers whose inquiry over fraud, forgery, embezzlement had been completed by
the committee appointed by the SLFP, held by Minister W. V. J. Seneviratne and
handed over as far back as 13th January, 2007 to Minister Maithripala Sirisena,
Secretary of the SLFP.. Since then no action has been taken as alleged by party
members of the SLFP in the Western Province Council – refer Sunday Times of
07.10.07 titled “Disgruntled SLFPers seek Justice”.
Will the General Secretary of SLFP, Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, MP and Minister,
keep the voters informed of the present position, although over a year has
passed. Or is it his ploy to sweep this case under the carpet to safeguard these
culprits? If that is the attitude taken by the party hierarchy on complaints
made by its own party members, what can we voters expect?
It is hoped that journalists, the Congress of Religions, the Venerable monks,
those who seek peace, justice and disciplined politicians, would pressurize,
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, to expedite action against the culprits. If not,
who will be held responsible for his promises made at the Presidential Elections
for a disciplined society. As readers we would like to remind him that voters
had implicit faith in him when they voted for him. Let him not betray that
Violation of fundamental ‘humane’ rights
Being a citizen of Sri Lanka resident in Maharagama and following the Buddhist
faith, I was driving along Rajakeeya Mawatha around 11 a.m., with lunch
‘almsgiving’ to Buddhist Monks resident at a temple attached to Maharagama
Dharmayatanaya and situated in Colombo 7. I was signalled to ‘Stop’ opposite the
‘Boake Gates’ of Royal College. Although I braked instantaneously, thus damaging
the flask containing the soup, I may have travelled about two meters prior to
the car coming to a halt owing to the time-lag of my reflex action. The armed
guards insisted that I take my car back. In my anxiety, I reversed into the car
behind me. The Traffic Police personnel at the venue found fault with that car
too for having come forward so much. Mind you, the guards were at the end
closest to Reid Avenue on the triangular island at the Reid Avenue/Rajakeeya
Mawatha Junction. However, I settled the issue by paying the cost of damage
caused to the brand new Tata car.
The time was 11.15 a.m., and I tried turning the car and taking another route to
try reaching my destination in time for the almsgiving as the monks attached to
this temple strictly follow/observe ‘Vinaya’ Rules of Discipline similar to
monks in monasteries and do NOT partake of any food after 12 noon. If not
informed of an almsgiving in advance, these monks would go on ‘Pindapatha’(begging
for food) with the alms-bowl. In this instance, we had informed the temple that
this almsgiving was in memory of my parents on the death anniversary of my
beloved father. Whilst I was turning the car the other vehicles in the traffic
jam including a motorcyclist moved their vehicles to help me to turn. At this
moment, the Traffic Police officer came running to my car and I indicated to him
that I am carrying food for an almsgiving to monks and that I am in a hurry. He
said “You can’t go; it is one-way”. Now, I said it was ‘not - one way’ but ‘no
way,’ as I was neither allowed to go forward nor turn back. I consider this
action as a gross violation of my Fundamental Human Rights to ‘Freedom of
Movement’ enshrined in the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of
Sri Lanka. Being a vegetarian Sinhala Buddhist, I hereby claim that these Police
officials acted in contravention of the Constitution of Sri Lanka by deprivation
of a Fundamental Right of the majority race and religion of the island which
regained independence from colonial rule sixty years ago.
To add insult to injury, whilst I was waiting in my car opposite the ‘Boake
Gates’of Royal College, I saw a convoy of vehicles ‘whizzing’ past along Reid
Avenue in the direction of Independence Square Junction from Bambalapitiya which
appears to be another violation! It is in the opposite direction on this
‘ONE-WAY’ Reid Avenue. I presume the occupants of these vehicles were citizens
of Sri Lanka, and, according to the Constitution of Sri Lanka, all citizens
should have equal Rights!! Thereafter, the road was reopened for normal traffic
and having had to drive within the stipulated 30 km/h speed limit on this
so-called ‘one-way’ road I failed to reach my destination on time to serve alms
before 12 noon. In view of the foregoing circumstances, it was disheartening to
note that these aged monks, one of whom is over four score years of age and
another over 75 years of age and on a ‘pace-maker’ after a recent by-pass heart
surgery had to be ‘starving’ till ‘heel-dana’ or morning meal the next day.
I wonder whether our elected representatives or Human Rights activists either
here or abroad would take this episode seriously. Even the Jathika Hela Urumaya
MPs should voice their protest and NOT ‘turn-a-blind-eye’ just because they
enjoy sumptuous meals in Parliament at the expense of the Sri Lankan Tax Payer!!
Electrocuting the people!
The people are most despondently and despairingly awaiting the electrifying news
from the C. E. B. Probably in no country in the world, unless under the rule of
a despot are the people so assailed from all sides. One is reminded of the
Sinhala adage, “water always flows down the to the lowest point” The ordinary
people are at the highest point only prior to an election. Thereafter they are
pushed down by the very Parliamentarians they elected.
It is a fact that electricity gives only one shock. But the government on the
same issue is delivering at least three shocks:.
1. The people pay huge salaries, innumerable perks, pensions, etc to ministers
with the fervent expectation that they will organise the institutions under them
to be efficient cost effective and people friendly. The C.E.B. certainly does
not live upto this expectations. Instead they force their customers to undergo
2. The employees in the C.E.B. have publicly defrauded and spirited away
colossal sums of money collected from the people. But they carry on regardless.
The people thus have to undergo this shock as well, while the minister concerned
is either ignorant or indifferent.
3. The Board members , inspite of the fact that they claims to be in the red,.
continues to add to their cadre, indulge in purchasing luxury vehicles, tolerate
wanton waste and corruption and help themselves to untold privileges.
So this is another shock that people have to undergo.
The question on every one’s lips is what exactly the Minister is doing. Surely
he must be at least now aware of the state of the C. E. B. after the scathing
report on the C.E.B. The whole country is waiting with bated breath for some
kind of reaction from the government, since any positive action would certainly
bring some relief to the burdened people. But just as most other similar
institutions,. Will this long wait of the people bring futile results?
The Minister of Power and Energy does make his appearance before the mass media
with forebodings and warnings, almost implying that it is the people who are
responsible for this pitiful situation, and that he is helpless. He also offers
false concessions to fool the people. The people are certainly more
knowledgeable than that.
In this context, following are some of the questions that demand a direct and
truthful answer from the Minister:
1. Have any new appointments been made to the Board. which allegedly is running
at a loss, thus heaping further burdens on the people?
2 Has the Minister taken any steps to recover the people’ s monies fraudulently
taken from the C.E.B., in order to improve its financial status? Or is the
Minister trying to offset these losses by taking more money from the people?.
3 Is the Minister still permitting the payment or bonuses. purchasing or luxury
vehicles and ostentatious public shows etc to continue as before, while doling
out dark and dismal stories to the people?
If the Minister can come before the people and truthfully admit that he has
taken every possible step to conserve expenditure in the C E. B., and there is
still a shortfall, the . people will no doubt rally round him and ungrudgingly
try to help him.. But in the present situation the people will certainly feel
they are cheated, exploited and robbed due to Ministerial interference. The
people are called on to switch off lights while the road lights keep burning..
The price structure proposed is blatantly unjustified irrational and definitely
callous. The Postal Department has evolved a system where one pays a lump sum
for a certain number or words and thereafter only a unit payment for each extra
The CE.B. should also adopt a similar structure which will certainly be
acceptable to be people. The rate per unit may be increased appropriately
between the slabs. For example if a stipulated slab is 90 units and if a person
uses 1’01’ (for example 05 units) he should pay only the original amount for the
first 90 units together with 5 x (unit cost above 90) and so on. The present
system is certainly a burden on the people and can in no way be accepted. The
present unconscionable and punitive increases imposed on a user as he crosses a
slab is most heartless and even vindictive. We make this recommendation to the
direct attention of the Minister and particularly’ to the President, who is
stridently claiming that this government is fully focussed in alleviating the
burdens on the people. The people should certainly not be called upon to pay for
the fun and frolic or the CE.B. The people are already making huge sacrifices
and also suffering grievously both physically and mentally from the effects of
the on-going war.
Vigilance committees and lethargic police
The news-item of Friday, 30th November, captioned “IGP orders probe into
Kohuwela Police inaction” states as follows; “The IGP has ordered an inquiry
into why Police failed to respond when informed of a suspicious parcel” and
“Kohuwela Police refuted the charges and said they rushed to the place on
hearing the explosion”, Well said!!! This clearly shows that the officers of the
Kohuwela Police Station do not understand “Emergencies” and Priorities”! They
wait for the explosion to occur before acting on information they have
The IGP should NOT be surprised. This is the usual practice at the Kollupitiya
Police Station too! There have been similar instances of “inaction” which I have
experienced within the High Security Zone of Colombo. Disabled three-wheelers
have been pushed into “No Parking” Zones clearly indicated by “No Parking” sign
boards and yellow markings. When Police personnel attached to the Terrorism
Investigation Division were informed they turned “a blind eye. There response
was “It is not our duty; Inform Traffic Police”. When we telephone “Police
Emergency” they do not turn-up “in an emergency”, if any fatal incident has not
We are not living in Paradise Isle Sri Lanka but in Sri Lanka which is a “FOOLS’
Organising Vigilance Committees alone cannot solve problems unless Police
personnel are trained in “COMMON SENSE” and also instructed to respond
immediately to calls from the public, although most of which may end up without
any positive dangerous incident!
The electric shock-The new killer
Further to the proposed new rates for Electricity as published in the Ceylon
Daily News of the 21st February (Page 20), copy of which is attached herewith,
even those who consume a minimum of 30 units( the poorest of the poor) will also
have to pay Rs.48/- more and from 31 units, the additional amount would rise to
Rs.91/30. It would be 50% more.
From this point, the new rates continue soaring. For a consumption of 60 units,
the increase is Rs. 129/- and at 61 units, the increase amounts to Rs. 280/-,
which is an increase of almost 80%. For a consumption of 90 units, the increase
is Rs.270/- an increase of almost 80%.
Then at 180 units, the increase is Rs.only 443/- or just 20% but at 181 units,
the increase is Rs. 1454.44/-, an increase of over 60%. Then at 360 units, the
increase is Rs. 1290/- or 20%, but at 361 units, the increase soars to
Rs.7786.20 . It is a 140% increase.
Then at a consumption of 600 units, the increase is Rs.9,411.60, an increase of
over 75%- The cost of a unit here is Rs.20.46 per unit, and then comes the
killer for 601 units, it is Rs.31, 840.00, an increase of 150% or Rs.52.99
rounded per Rs.53/- per unit.
God save those who consume over 601 Units , as the charge will certainly be a
staggering one or a knockout blow to those who consume over 600Units. The charge
here could be Rs.50, 000/- or even more. Whilst, it may be said that those in
this category should pay more for a greater consumption., the Department has to
ask for this killer increase from this group. Is this the average charge for
electricity in other parts of the world? According to these rates, our charges
for large consumptions of electricity are unconscionable and disastrous, and
probably the highest in the world.
These new rates will not only be applicable to private users , but will also be
applicable to Commercial Institutions, which may be asked to pay even more than
It is time the Government realises that, these increases in the rates of
electricity are not fair. As its burdens are now becoming unbearable on the
people, who are already called to pay soaring costs of food, this additional or
high increase in the rates of electricity, (which is so vital for every citizen
of this country) will certainly deal a near death blow on an already suffering
It is time the Government realised the burden it would be on people, who are
already heaped with many other problems. Please give the people the relief, they
are asking. Otherwise it may pave the way for people to lose all hope of any
relief from the Government, and look for relief elsewhere.
Elucidation from the US Ambassador
An article in a widely read Sunday newspaper on February 17 ref¬erred to the
Oath of Allegiance taken by Gotabhaya and Basil Rajapaksa when they were granted
US citizenship. According to this article, a person taking the Oath declares
that he/she would give up allegiance to any other sovereign state.
If this is correct, as it very probably is, how are these persons and others of
their ilk, who were ‘imported’ holding important state positions here?
(Incidentally, dual citizenship is granted only by the President).
These persons are virtually running (or more correctly, ‘ruining’) the country.
Is this morally correct or acceptable? The ethics of the matter demands that
they renounce allegiance either to the US or to Sri Lanka.
Mr. Ambassador, can you throw some light on the matter? Is it cor¬rect or not,
that such persons must give up allegiance to Sri Lanka or any other country,
when they take the oath of Allegiance to the US.
It is a dangerous situation. The ‘gentlemen’ concerned are likely to make a dash
for safety, as they did before, if the situation turns ugly. The country would
then be in a worse mess than that created by these ‘gentlemen’ and the Company.
God save Sri Lanka!
Noise polution regulations
I have read with much interest the recent news releases, letters to the editor
etc on the subject of noise pollution and I would like place on record where I
have been a victim due the loud noise twice a day on a daily basis from the
loudspeaker just opposite my house.
This all started in June 2004 when a group of people in the area built a Lord
Buddha Shrine with a loudspeaker. Thereafter, the chanting of pirith twice a day
on a daily basis and addition activities on poya days commenced.
Once the pirith chanting is over at 6.30 am, Science College, which is also
opposite my house, commences another dose of pririth chanting and also the
school announcements which should be limited to the teachers and students.
I have duly made a complaint to Mt Lavinia Police Station with no action being
taken, although certain action was taken when I made a complaint to the DIG
Western Province. The discussions had with the then SSP did not receive any
results, he mentioned that he has the same problem where he lives from the
I have had discussions with the neighbourhood Buddhist temple where I visit for
my religious activates, they have no control. They too use loudspeakers on Poya
Days and other days of importance, but it is not heard outside of the temple
premises. Incidentally, this particular loudspeaker is heard to the temple but
the temple loudspeaker is not heard to my house.
In the event, this group of people wants to perform their religious activities
there are four prominent and well known temples within a 200 yard radius.
Presume they do not want to join one of these said temples as they do not
benefit from the collection, otherwise I see no other reason.
However, finally one Head Quarter Inspection of the Mt Lavinia Police brought
the concerned people and explained to them that what they are doing is illegal
and as it is a religious activity to use the loudspeaker without being a
nuisance to the neighbourhood. They recorded a statement ref; CIB II dated
23/03/2006, page 206, para 578. I agreed to the arrangements made by the HQI as
indicated in the statement in order that this operation will be legalised
shortly. But, I have doubt that the loudspeakers are used legally.
I have informed the Dehiwala - Mt Lavinia Municipality and no action has been
taken in this regard.
Now, I would like ask the following simple questions from the relevant
authorities, please correct me f if am wrong.
Police - I presume one has to obtain a permit from the HQI of the area of the
Police Station, if not why is the Police not taking any action? When one is
found guilty of parking offence, they are penalised, which I feel is a minor
offence compared to using of loudspeaker which is of a nuisance to the public.
Municipal Council - How is a construction allowed without having a legal deed of
ownership, plan approved prior to commence of the construction and on
CEB - How is it that an electricity connection is provided without the necessary
NWS & DB - How is it that a water connection is provided without the necessary
Ministry of Religious Affairs - Why is it that Lord Buddha Shrines are allowed
to be placed in every nook, and corner with loudspeakers. To my reckoning, Lord
Buddha statues should place in very sacred areas with cleanliness etc. Further,
no one stops and listens to the prirth chanting over the loudspeakers which are
normally placed in noisy street corners etc.
Finally, with the recent regulations announced by the authorities, I presume
this social menace shall be eliminated in Sri Lanka.
In the event, anyone needs copies of my correspondence, I would be glad to
provide them on request and also be present at any forum.
D. R. P. Abeysinghe