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Letters


Readers please note it is essential that all Letters to the Editor carry the full name and address of the writer, even if it has to appear under a pseudonym. This applies to all email letters as well.

Felicitation of STC teachers – A joyful evening

“Joy and woe are woven fine a clothing for the soul divine,” were William Shakespeare’s words several hundred years ago.
Amongst several threads of woe, a single gold thread of joy was there to be woven for the clothing of the heart and soul divine of the Thomian teachers who had retired several decades ago. The same gold thread went through that clothing of several hundred old Thomians who were present on December 4, 2007, at Sasakawa Hall, Colombo 3.

The chief guest was none other than our illustrious old scholar Minister G.L. Peiris, for whom I happened to be the class teacher in 1958 in his 5th Form (JSC). Professor Peiris gave a memorable speech, as usual; philosophic and quite relevant to the occasion. I was anxious to remind him what we witnessed at the dinner he hosted on his 13th birthday for the staff including Canon R. S. De Saram, whom we still remember as one of the best wardens we ever had.

As we entered G.L.’s Panadura residence we were surprised to see a van full of ice cream surrounded by hundreds of less fortunate children of his neighbourhood. (May be that was the first step towards his political career). Unfortunately Professor Peiris had to leave the party early to attend to his ministerial work and I was unable to bring back his memories.
This historic occasion was filled with eloquent speeches from Kala Suri Arisen Ahubudu, Dr. David Ponniah, Frank Jayasinghe, Mandawela, Coperahewa and a few others.

This great idea of felicitating the old teachers of STC, I think, originated at Sriyan Jayasekera’s residence during a conversation Sriyan held with his friends G.Y. De Silva, Kesaralal and several other fellow Thomians. It was the day before our most respected headmaster of STC, D.S. Jayasekera departed from us. I was eavesdropping and heard them discussing about felicitating the retired teachers who are still living.

This idea went deep into my heart and mind as I am also one such retired teacher waiting for my transfer to another world, may be in a few years. I am sure this great event will postpone that day of transfer by a few more years for all old teachers. These old Thomians of the DSA Group Era had organised this felicitation event extremely well, in true Thomian spirit. They had spent several hundred hours of their precious time and monies I believe, to organise this event to such perfection.

We teachers were all given equal treatment and very valuable presents to be taken home for sharing with our family members too, until Christmas time. The most valuable part of it was the providing of transport to each and every teacher utilising the old students living close to their homes to transport them to the hotel and back. The same old students, not only drove back the teachers to their homes, but also they were willing porters of the teachers to carry the heavy presents. So heavy were they that none of us old teachers would have been able to lift them by ourselves.

Last of all we have to thank these loyal old students heartily. Thomian teachers have done their duty, I think, by sending out to the world such grateful ones. This night was quite an enjoyable one even without drinks of the hard type showing the perfect student-teacher relationship from start to end, remembering and reviving old doings and happenings at STC during their service. Thus, they enjoyed themselves thoroughly throughout.

Let’s hope all other schools will follow this example and make year 2008 which has been named as the ‘Year of Good Customs’ a success and make this country a better place to live. Well done, DSA Era Group of STC Mt. Lavinia.
W. G. Sugathadasa
Wevita, Bandaragama
 

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Pomposity of the ignorant

Newspapers gave prominence to a lawyer who proposed the impeachment of the incumbent President for what was construed as his failure to appoint the Constitutional Council. The Organisation of Professional Associations slammed the President for his failure to do it, for they argued that the failure would not ensure good governance and opened the door to corruption. A Sunday paper also accused him of having embezzled tsunami contributions when he was Prime Minister . The Supreme Court held otherwise, castigating the paper and the journalist for her article captioned “Helping Hambantota.” The Constitutional Council nominates public figures to fill the prestigious posts but the appointment is in the hands of the President. Article 41 A clause (e) leaves it to the discretion of the President to appoint or not. Article 32 clause (3) distinctly says that the President “shall not be liable for any breach of the privileges of Parliament.”

In the presumptuous letter ‘State of the Nation’ the writer says “President Rajapaksa has no power to make direct appointments to either the independent commissions or the Supreme Court.”

A well known subterfuge of journalists, who know fully well that readers do not have ready reference to the Constitution and will gulp the lie. Article 33 cause (d) says that the Chief Justice and other judges of the Supreme Court can be appointed by the President. The paper in its usual strain of confusing and befuddling its readers trots out a canard involving the seniority of the appointees. Seniority is of no importance. The President appoints the best man to his knowledge. He wants good honest men to help him in the perilous journey of governance. That is why he appointed his trustworthy blood relatives. It was not nepotism, unlike the first UNP government that earned the nick name’ Unge Nathayonge Paksaya which harboured the first Minister to demand a commission on a purchase of a trawler for the Fisheries Department. He got off scot -free. Transfers and placements in top posts should remain in the hands of the President or else his governance will be hindered.

To ensure good governance the President should be free to make appointments and he has the right to choose men he will want near him and not others.

Roy Silva
Dehiwela


****

Right of reply                                                                                                                                                                       

Letter from Chairman, BOI

We have received the following letter dated April 24, 2008 from Dhammika Perera, Chairman and Director General BOI, with a copy to the Attorney General, in relation to Article titled, ‘AG checkmated! – BOI Chairman calls the bluff’, published in The Nation on April 20, 2008.

With reference to your article, on the above title, published on April 20th, 2008 in The Nation, “First of all, I would like to categorically state that, the Board of Investment and the Attorney General’s Department are working closely, with regard to the matters referred to in the article, under reference.

The Attorney General’s Department is an independent Department, which advises the Government and other statutory Institutions, on all legal matters.

The Affidavit to be filed by me, was prepared by the Attorney General’s Department, based on the observations, submitted by the BOI and I categorically deny that, any attempt has been made to pressurise me, to have any material, included therein, against my wishes.

I further state that, there was no attempt made by the officials of the Attorney General’s Department, to suppress any material from Court, as insinuated in the said article.
It would appreciate, if the same publicity and prominence, that has been given to your news item, is given to this letter, as well.”
Our reply

We stand by the facts in our news report, which we had obtained from reliable sources, at BOI and Attorney General’s Department. The above letter apparently drafted by either the Legal Officers of BOI or the Attorney General’s Department, admits that, the Affidavit for BOI Chairman to sign had, in fact, been prepared by the Attorney General’s Department, as had been reported by us. If the Affidavit has already been prepared, then what is the delay, in the BOI Chairman signing the same?

Our Court Reporter informs that, the Attorney General’s Department has filed a Motion, dated February 19, 2008 requesting four weeks time, to file the Affidavit of the BOI Chairman. Attorney General’s Department, by a further Motion dated March 18, 2008 has required further time, till March 28, 2008, to file the Affidavit of the BOI Chairman. The BOI Chairman’s Affidavit has still not been filed even up to April 30, 2008. Would this not, disclose that, there is some problem, as was reported by us, with the Attorney General’s Department, unable to get the BOI Chairman, to sign the Affidavit, which as per the above letter, had already been prepared!

On the other hand, Chairman Ports Authority Saliya Wickramasuriya, has not denied our news report, which concerned him also. Ports Authority sources inform that, the Chairman has protested to the Attorney General’s Department, and has informed higher authorities of having to sign Affidavit, prepared by the Attorney General’s Department. Ashantha De Mel, Chairman Petroleum Corporation has also not denied our report, but had informed the Petitioner, Vasudeva Nanayakkara that, he had signed the Affidavit, without reading the contents in good faith, since it had been prepared by the Attorney General’s Department.

The BOI Staff, who had been pressurised during the past, to grant special favours, have now started ‘spilling the beans’, disclosing shockingly, how the BOI had been run in the past, causing major losses to state revenues, with special concessions, granted to certain parties. One such shocking disclosure made to ‘The Nation’ is that, the BOI Approval granted to Lanka IOC, has included concessions for businesses, such as, “automatic car wash, car service, departmental stores, internet cafes, ATMs, food courts, etc”, as per the BOI Agreement dated December 5, 2002 signed with Lanka IOC !
 

****

Open letter to the Postmaster General

It is understood that the you as the Actg. Postmaster General, whilst presiding at a meeting of the postal staff, had charged that “Certain postal officers who failed to put things right in the past when they were in service, are now writing to the print media criticising the postal services.”

Having been a postal employee and as one who writes to the print media, I wish to clear the air not only with regard to unfair and thoughtless remarks but also to project the factual position over the present state of the postal services especially because you are new to the post and therefore not conversant with the postal administration and operations and also as your knowledge of the history of the post is apparently limited, and you have had a wrong start.

You catapulted to the post as a result of a conspiracy hatched to oust your predecessor. False allegations were brought against your predecessor by certain trade union leaders (he may perhaps claim damages from those trade unionists) and a strike was engineered, the culmination of which was the removal of your predecessor, to make way for you.

You are perhaps unaware that I, in my letters published in the print media, disproved the allegations. No one has so far challenged the facts put forward by me. You too have been silent. Then again two committees that inquired into the allegations have cleared your predecessor of corrupt practice or misdemeanour. Will you deny that? What steps have you taken on those reports? Will you deny that a misleading report was sent to the Public Service Commission?

Nevertheless an innocent officer, your predecessor, continues to be under a cloud whilst the corrupt, inefficient and backboneless rule the roost, one of the reasons why postal standards are on the decline and corruption and dishonesty have been institutionalised. During the time I was in service, the postal standards were very much higher. Not that there were no shortcomings. Public complaints were promptly acknowledged, and clarifications were either issued or remedial action was taken, and the complainants were replied.

The ministry secretaries and the postmasters general were honest, upright, dignified and were impartial administrators. Some of the names that come to my mind are A.R.M. Jayawardena, A.B. Damunupola, A.L. Perera, D.F. Balahenadra, Christy Silva, S.M.S. Jayasiri, Austin Fernando, Asoka Gunasekera and W.A.R.P. Ranasinghe. They stand tall among the others. They did not tolerate dishonesty, corruption and indiscipline. Favouritism and discrimination were unknown to them.

The trade unions then did not protect wrong-doers. They fought against corruption and indiscipline. Trade unions opened files for certain officials and documented their irregularities, even covering their trips abroad. A certain top official had misused his position to send air mail letters abroad to his friends on ‘postal service.’ He was trapped but without writing to the press, the Ministry was written to with documentary proof. Within a week he was out of the Department. Today the Ministry Secretary who is involved in such an irregularity continues to be in service. Sad, isn’t it?

A certain PMG who forwarded wrong reports and occupied departmental quarters in Colombo when he owned a house in Colombo along with certain other irregularities was reported with documentary proof and out he went. An Acting PMG who misused vehicles and when reported with documentary evidence was sent out. These are only a few.

We did not have postmasters general who were involved in the award of unlawful tenders. We did not have postmasters general who forwarded misleading reports or defied Public Service Commission orders. We did not have postmasters general who suppressed inquiries against officers and recommended them for promotion. These were no postmasters general who recommended those who had disciplinary cases pending against them, for promotion to staff grade. We did not have delays to examinations circularised, not holding the examinations for two to three years, extending the date of closing through invalid circulars and that too on forged or wrong signatures.

Will you agree to probe into the questionable competitive examination for promotion to the grade of asst. superintendent, applications for which were called by Circular No.1812004 dated November 11, 2004 under the signature of the ministry secretary which had the closing date of applications as December 10, 2004, but which date was extended to August 2, 2006 by a circular dated July 26, 2006 and No. 11/20/890/204(06) issued under the signature of DPMG (Administration), when the DPMG had no authority to extend the date, whilst the signature of the DPMG (admin) is suspect?
It is also rumoured that certain applicants whose applications had been entertained were not entitled to sit the examination – which too needs to be inquired into.

The post of postmaster general is not a SLAS post. However, when H.E. Seneviratne, the PMG retired, the only Asst. PMG, Mr. W.S.A. Gunasekera declined the appointment as PMG. That resulted in a SLAS officer being posted as a stop-gap measure and D.G. Dayaratne was the first SLAS officer to occupy the post. Thereafter the SLAS used its influence to keep the post under their grip.

Nevertheless the Attorney General has since ruled that the post of PMG is not a SLAS post. I am therefore of the view that your being appointed to the post is against the Attorney General’s ruling. It will not be long for the postal workers to realise that and rise against the “foreign occupation of their territory.” I challenge you, Mr. Acting Postmaster General, to disprove what I have highlighted.

Upali S. Jayasekera

****

 

Religion                                                                                                                                                                               

Ven. Olande Ananda as I see him

A Dutch by birth graduated in Sociology came to India in search of reality of life in late 1960s was destined to meet a charming but erudite Bhikkhu during a journey. It is (lay name) ........ who after receiving ordination from Ven. Davuldena Gnanissara Thera the Supreme Prelate of the Amarapura Maha Nikaya on September 21, 1975 is widely known as Olande Ananda who was born on January 2, 1948 completes his 60th birthday toady.

Yen. Olande Ananda has been serving the Buddhist community in Sri Lanka for many years. For people who lead busy lives many of them being professionals, his Asapuva is a heaven of peace which brings a sense of tranquility through quite meditation.
Nidh2naYzva pavatt±raYz, yaYz passe vajjadassinaYz;
niggayhav±diYz medh±viYz, t±disaYz pa01itaYz bhaje;

t±disaYz bhajam±nassa, seyyo hoti na p±piyo.
“Should one see a wise man, who, like a revealer of treasure, points out faults and reproves; let one associate with such a wise person; it will be better, not worse, for him who associates with such a one.”

The association with Yen. Olande Ananda Thera helped me to learn the Dhamma as well as the practice of Samatha and Vipassana, which help experience the reality as it is. He is wise and treasure of the Dhamma, he points out the difficulties of the meditation practitioner. It will be very helpful to get succeed in the practice and understanding of the Dhamma.

He advices people who come to him for guidance to refrain from unwholesome activities, spiritual development, who wishes to attain higher level of Arya Magga, he instills great virtues such as Metta, Karuna, Muditha and Uppekka in order to establish and maintain interpersonal relations among people of different groups ... that is to make a peace loving society, he gives them the sense of distinguish good and bad particularly in terms of five precepts (Pancha Sila) in the correct way as it has been misinterpreted from a negative point of view by many; he shows sympathy towards everyone with loving kindness; what is not heard and see, he makes to hear and see. He gives new knowledge to those who seeks; What is heard of, he corrects, purifies and clarifies.
 
SantaYz tassa manaYz hoti, sant± v±c± ca kamma ca;
sammadafifi± vimuttassa, upasantassa t±dino.
“Calm is his mind, calm is his speech, calm is his action, who, rightly knowing, is wholly freed, perfectly peaceful, and equipoise.”
I see in him the above statement in the Dhammapada which I put in my words as;

“Ven. Ananda leads people to look inward into their own thoughts and often erratic ways. His quiet voice throughout the meditation session gives the strength and courage to reach out to tranquility of mind. He also leads Dhamma discussions which are very flexible allowing the practitioners to as any question that may come to their minds. He invites all participants to give their own views so that there is a rich exchange of views and opinions. This is a refreshing aspect that one misses in normal Dhamma sermons. His wide knowledge of the Dhamma is evident in the erudite view he expresses simply in analyzing aspects of the Buddha’s teachings”.

However he does all this in a very kind manner that inspires everyone to seek further knowledge and to practice what they listen to. All in all his contribution to improve the Dhamma knowledge and practice of meditation help people to better understanding of the reality. The guided mediation classes conducted by Yen. Ananda has been well recognised by people immensely as it inculcates a new mental discipline for life in general and further for attaining higher level. The simple introductory classes given before the meditation session helps understand one’s own attitudes which in turn help develop good mental disposition. In his method of guiding, he starts with the practice of Metta Bhavana, then switches to samatha and ends with Vipassana. His method is gradual process which is simple and easy to practice.
 
He teaches various aspects of Buddhism through his own experiences and various traditions like Mahayana, Tibetan. He is very simple with a vast knowledge of philosophies and practices of different religions. Dhamma talks are well put together and informative as well as useful to everyday life.
He is very practical but disciplined.

His calm, simple bearing, down to earth manners and the way in which he answers Dhamma questions as only one who has truly practiced the teachings of the Buddha can do.
M±se m±se sahassena, yo yajetha sataYz samaYz;
ekafica bh±vitatt±naYz, muhuttamapi p3jaye;
s±yeva p3jan±seyyo, yafice vassasataYz hutaYz.

“Though, month after month with a thousand, one should make an offering for hundred years, yet, if, only for a moment, one should honour (a saint) who has perfected himself,-that honour is, indeed, better than a century of sacrifices.”
Thus I take this opportunity to record my sincere wish to a great Bhikkhu Ven Olande Ananda Thera on his sixtieth birth anniversary. May he have good health.
 
Bhikkhu Andhra Dhammika

 

****

 

Islamic inheritance laws flouted
 
Today, Muslim elders seeking alms and assistance, has reached unusual proportions to the shame of the society, because the inheritance laws laid down by Allah are not followed. The Prophet (pbuh) said that the first knowledge that will be lost among his followers will be that of inheritance and therefore, urged us to study this. It looks as if the time has come when we are ignorant of the Islamic laws of inheritance, at all.

How many of us know that it is not permitted to write off one’s whole property to the children, while one is still alive? Certain Imams have said it is haram (prohibited) to do so. Today, parents write off all their property and therefore, have to depend on the children, who often maltreat them or treat them as if they are doing the parents a favour. The respect due to parents is also lost because of this.

How many of us know that when a man/woman dies, his/her parents inherit part of his/her property? The Quran orders us that “for parents a sixth share of the inheritance to each, if the deceased left children.” (Sura 4: verse 11) That is 1/3rd of the property should go to the parents if both are living!  This amount need not even be bequeathed, automatically this share goes to the parents.
Today, no one leaves any share to the parents, and the children, along with their spouses, take the whole lot. Parents, who toiled to bring up their children, are often left destitute.

Islamic laws are made by Allah, and He knows our qualities better than us! If we follow them, we can eradicate many of the evils within society, today.
Anyone who wishes to know of the laws of inheritance, could obtain a booklet on this subject, published by Almuslimaath, by calling them on 2736577.

Dr. Mrs. Mareena Thaha Reffai
Dehiwela
 

****

Appreciation                                                                                                                                                                       

My Mother - Emma Kumarasinghe


Monumental patience, sacrificial nature, of true motherhood ways, I recall down memory lane, since my happy childhood days,
A devout Buddhist, unquestionable boundless integrity
The fragrance of humility, embodiment of simplicity.
Numerous silent benefactions at Mallikaramaya ‘n Dharmagaweshi Youthful zeal tremendous commitment, punctual was she
Helped needy generously, expecting nothing purely for charity

Like a fountain quenching thirst, to me a celebrity.
Each day with courage you left in us, lasting impressions,
Never failed social duties epitome of war mannerisms

A guiding star radiating values, a ray of dignity,
My mother, rare calibre, exemplary lovable, noble personality.
Undying nostalgic memories engulfed in my lonesome aching heart, Par excellence you played the seven stages effortless warm at heart, You tenderly, graciously, sprinkled filial admiration

Extraordinary grandma lost to the next generation.
Bowing to death’s calling naturally, so peacefully,
But, still I feel your unstrained smile greeting me cheerfully Filial affection a symbol of unmatched boundless unique love Virtuous minstrel angel overflowing with super maternal love

Soaring in your humble heart FORGIVENESS ‘n TOGETHERNESS Imprinted in the sands of time, your righteousness.
We know, you lovingly nurtured ten of us to be
We all owe you that gratitude, as it should be)

Never did ill winds of any kind embitter our lives, Unknown unheard miles apart all viles,
There’s a feeling you’re everywhere with us far ‘n near, peaceful May your samsaric sojourn be ever cheerful!
In my solitude, my daily prayers, I’ve an undying wish To be born, be under your wings, my one ‘n only wish
By virtue of myriad meritorious deeds performed in Sansara May my loving mother attain the supreme bliss, Nirvana.

Kumari Kumarasinghe
Tennakoon
 

****

 

Dare to forget!

Mentors and murderers stood the test
Of Scotland Yard and what ex-Tiger Karuna confessed!
We will rise from the ashes
We will fight in the Indian Ocean
As we simply dare not forget
.
Mrs. Irene de Silva
Colombo 5
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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