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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.

 

 

More preschool education training centres needed for plantation sector

Recently the Department of Early Childhood and Primary Education Faculty, Faculty of Education of the Open University of Sri Lanka called for applications for a course of study titled “Certificate in preschool education programm.” This is a one year course of study for preschool teachers and those interested in the field. As per the advertisement the course of study is to be conducted in the Sinhala medium in Colombo, Kandy, Kurunegala and Matara, while the course for Tamil medium students will be conducted only in Colombo and Batticaloa.

It appears that the authorities have not taken into consideration the training needs of the prospective Tamil medium candidates in the upcountry areas especially in the Central and Uva province. Is it because the plantation children are not eligible to have quality preschool education? There are hundreds of young plantation women working in preschools in the Nuwara-Eliya, Kandy and Matale Districts and some Districts in Uva province. Many of them have not had the opportunity of a proper training in preschool education. The present Open University course would be a blessing for them. However if the course of study is going to be held in Colombo and Batticaloa, the question will arise as to whether the plantation girls could benefit by this. Although it is a distance course of study, one needs to visit the centers on and off for review sessions, workshops, tutorial classes, library reference, evaluation and consultations. One would accept that in the present security situation in the country, it would be extremely difficult for the young plantation girls to travel to Colombo, and to find temporary residential facilities in Colombo. In addition to this, travelling costs will be an additional burden on them. All this will finally deprive these young women of benefitting from this valuable opportunity..

The Open University has regional centers in Kandy and study centers in Hatton, Badulla and Bandarawela. If the present course of study could be started in any of these plantation area based centers, hundreds and hundreds of plantation youth will join the course of study. The brochure issued by the Open University says that a new course of study could be started in any of the centers if there are more than fifteen students. There is no doubt that if the course of study is started in any one or more upcountry based centers, hundreds and hundreds of present preschools teachers and other aspiring candidates will apply. It is the duty of politicians such as Mr. Chanthrasekaran Minister of Community Development and Inequity Eradication, the Deputy Minister of Education Mr. Satchithananthan, Mr. Arulsamy Minister of Education Central Province and others to take up this matter with the authorities of the Open University and other relevant authorities, to impress upon them to start the course of study in at least one center each in the Central and Uva provinces. Failure to attend to this matter immediately will deprive the plantation children of receiving quality preschool education on one hand, and employment opportunities for a large number of plantation young girls.
Benedict Cruize
Kandy

****

Remembering Mahamaya Devi – The mother

The Full Moon on this Vesak Day, so serene,
Shone brightly, casting its mellowed golden beams,
Over the sylvan garden at Lumbini
The ideal place for solace and peace

To the melodious songs of birds and dancing trees,
The fragrance of flowers scenting the breeze,
Beautiful Mahamaya Devi, King Suddodhana’s queen
With her retinue rested here, enjoying peace

This day we should reverently remember,
Mahamaya Devi the Queen Mother,
To whom a prince was born, named Siddharta,
Who enunciated the eight-fold path to attain Nibbana

His knowledge of life was boundlessly vast,
None could equal nor ever surpass
Ending suffering in Sansara, he found at last,
And attained Buddhahood and showed us the path

Let us on this eventful day remember,
With gratitude and bow in prayer,
To that mother who gifted a noble teacher,
To the world, he preached the Dhamma
As done in our homes, worship and adore,
Our mothers who bore hardships untold,
Let us not forget to say the same prayer every morn,
To Mahamaya Devi, mother of the greatest being ever born.

“Dassa Masa Uurekathwa, Posethi Uddhi Karanag
Ayu Deegan Vassa Sathan, Mathu Padang Nama Mahang”

By G. A. D. Sirimal

****

The Postal Department and discipline

I read in your papers of an allegation that the Postal Ministry was involved in a tender that was illegally awarded, and that the Supreme Court had given a ruling and fined the postal department. It was also reported that the Ministry had sent a foreign parcel on State Service without paying the postage and without declaring the contents. These are very serious irregularities to which the Secretary should have been answerable.

I understand that the people involved in these irregularities are still there, although others have been dismissed for much lesser offences. How is it that the office of the Cabinet of Ministers, the Public Service Commission and the Ministry of Public Administration have been turning a blind eye in connection with the irregularities committed by the Ministry. Is that not favouritism shown to officials with political patronage?.

I hope that the Public Service Commission and the Ministry of Public Administration will follow up the revelations in the Press..
No wonder the public service is going from bad to worse!
S. L. R. de Silva
Maharagama

****

Lessons that govt. and bureaucracy can learn from Singapore

1. 2008 school text books are not ready till April 2008.
2.. NIC for GCE (OL) and (AL) candidates are not ready by December or August.
3. PAYE and other Tax Tables are not printed on time for April Salary preparation for the changes made by previous years (November) Budget.

4. Maximum price level contracts with the manufacturers of gas and milk powder to be expired by 30th April, but not re-negotiated till 29th April 2008.
The above are some of the headlines that appeared in the Sri Lankan media which reflect bad planning of government ministries and state bureaucracy.

I wish to quote my own experience on a practical issue that I encountered in Singapore.
During February/March 1998, I was a participant of a seminar in Singapore. During this seminar, the media spoke about the supply of water to Singapore from Malaysia, which was under contract and that the current contract was due to expire in 2012. You may be aware that there are no natural resources in this City/Country other than the air they breathe. Malaysia has indicated their planning of the increase price prior to negotiations.

Again I got an opportunity to visit the same country in 2002, July/August period and then the media discussed the supply of drinking water to the participants of the country’s National day parade including the Prime Minister using the recycled water from the new plant. That was the phase I of the supply of water project and next was to improve the technology to convert the sea water to usable water for drinking and washing which they achieved by 2007.

Latest information we have is that Singapore Government is one of the few countries, which informed its citizens not to get into the situation of panic buying of food items including rice, since the government has sufficient stocks.
What we know in our country is that although every one was aware of the rice crisis since December 2007, and we had all resources at our disposal (land, water, seed paddy, and human resources) till the crisis hit us, all the ministers and bureaucrats were only talking and doing nothing. Even at this stage other than importing of rice, no plans have been made for the use of freely available resources in our country.

In the mid 1960’s Mr. Lee Kwan Yu wanted to Singapore to be like Colombo. By 1990’s he made his vision and mission a reality far beyond 1960 Colombo. I need not to say where Colombo and Sri Lanka stands when compared with present day Singapore.

Is it worth paying salaries and later pensions, giving duty free vehicles and many more other benefits to government servants, parliamentarians in the legislature, and have over one hundred ministers to make policies and another set of advisors and supporting staff to them?
Citizen Silva

****

                                                                                           APPRECIATIONS                                                                       

Marhooom Al Haj M.L.M. Jabir - A man of unwavering faith

It has been two years since Marhooom Al Haj M.L.M. Jabir left this world, and not a single day passes without a thought or fond memories of him recollected by his beloved wife or his children. As time passes without him around, memories of him, his values, his deeds and his wisdom are recalled and appreciated more and more.

Our father or ‘Pa’ as we affectionately called him was a man of unwavering faith, strong principles and great foresight. In most situations he would see a side that no one ever thought of. At times we disagreed with some of his decisions. But eventually we came to realise that he was always correct and that it was we who were incorrect. We are still realising and experiencing the wisdom of his actions. The present day Management Gurus are asking companies and its employees to think-out-of-the-box. This was second nature to our beloved Pa.

Every thing Pa did was with a purpose and as far his children were concerned, the purpose was to instill, encourage and educate with the ultimate objective of making us better human beings. During school holidays we were taken on trips to different parts of the country. And at the end of the trip there would be an essay competition with prizes. The objectives of the trips were two-fold; one, for pleasure and the second for education. Similarly, he would take one or more of us for walks in the evening. He loved nature and the outdoors. Such walks would eventually end up in a relative’s home. Again, done with a purpose! He is always the first to propose to make an occasion out of an achievement by anyone in the family so that achiever gets the recognition, and others get the message that success is always rewarded.

One of the most important traits Pa instilled in us was the habit of reading. A voracious reader himself, we remember and still treasure some of the books, periodicals and other useful publications he got for us. He was a firm believer of the saying “Reading Maketh a Full Man” and to drive home the point, he would almost always present us with a book as a present for our achievements.

Pa was also an ardent crossword puzzle solver. Recent medical research has shown that this is an activity which aids the elderly to retain their memory power. He was practicing it long before they thought of it! Thanks to Allah, his memory was sharp till the moment of his passing. All of us dabble in crossword puzzles and hope to carry on his practice.

Pa loved his family immensely and he also loved his relatives and friends equally. A great believer in strong family ties, he made sure that every occasion and festival was a family affair with everyone attending. Festivals especially were an exciting series of events; the day before the festival, the girls helping in the preparation food and other goodies, frantically giving finishing touches to the dresses to be worn for the occasion, boys polishing the floor, furniture etc. On the festival day everyone taking a bath, wearing new clothes and going to mosque for prayers and looking forward to sitting together and partaking in the special food prepared for the occasion with light banter and laughter. He’s the happiest observing these because he strived to achieve exactly this!

Another value Pa taught us was “If it has to be done, it has to be done!” If something was required to be done around the house, he would be the one to start doing it, making us all join in and in the end rejoicing in a job well done! Family unity is foremost in his mind this is how he strengthened the bond amongst his children by doing things together or playing carrom or bridge with them in the evenings. What he wanted to instill in us was to be independent but united, think and analyse situations intelligently and to look after our affairs by ourselves and not be a burden unto others. He was a very strong believer in this and he virtually lived a life without being a burden to anyone including his own family. Almighty Allah blessed him even in his passing which was without a burden to anyone and with a united and loving family by his side.

Marhooom Al Haj M.L.M. Jabir was a wise, disciplined, loving man, a beloved husband and a great father.
May Almighty Allah bestow on him the blessings of Jennathul Firdous!

His beloved wife and children

****

Al Haj S.M.Sabry - A true friend

Sometime in everyone’s life, there comes a jolt with the news of the death of someone close, a parent, a sibling, a relative or even a good friend. I had such a jolt recently when one of my friends called me up early in the morning with the question, ‘Have your checked your e-mails’? When I said, ‘Not yet’, he came out with the sad news that our mutual friend Sabry had passed away peacefully after a brief illness. This was indeed a shock to me as I had met him a few weeks back.

Sabry retired from the position of Auditor General in August 2000 after having served for nearly eight years in that prestigious post. The position of Auditor General, one enshrined in the island’s Constitution, calls for professional competence but more importantly, a sturdy independence and utmost integrity. Sabry met these requirements in more than full measure and served in that capacity with honour and distinction. His professionalism, vast experience, fair and unbiased judgment played a vital role indeed. His strong sense of ethics and justice in the execution of his duties was outstanding and he was bold and forthright in the face of opposition.

Sabry also served as a member of the Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and on many important committees of the Institute, which included the post of Chairman of the Examinations Committee. Since qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, until his demise, he made an invaluable contribution to the Institute.

Born on August 13, 1940, Sabry was the youngest. in a batch of Audit Superintendents selected on the results of an open competitive examination held in June 1966 He was a bright student who carried away many prizes, and had the rare distinction of being equally proficient in all three languages. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, he could very well have moved to a more rewarding job in the private sector, He chose, however to remain in the State Audit. His professional competence and dedicated service resulted in his reaching the zenith of his career as the Auditor General of Sri Lanka.

A devoted husband and father, he preferred to spend his retirement with his family, instead of accepting any foreign assignments.
Sabry was a very private person and shunned publicity and personal glory. Simplicity and humility were the hallmarks of his life. Pride, pomposity and prejudice were anathema to him. A true practicing Muslim, possessing deep faith in his religion sustained him throughout his life.

Dear friend, it has been my privilege to have been your good friend for over three decades. I moved out of Sri Lanka first to the Middle East and then to Canada but our friendship was maintained and fostered. Whenever my wife and I paid our infrequent visits to Sri Lanka, your wife and you always made us so welcome and we were showered with lots of affection and kindness. Both of you were gracious enough to pay us a visit on the day before we left Sri Lanka, and little did I know that I would be meeting you for the last time.

I can no longer count on your genuine friendship and words of wisdom and solace.
Your loss is an irreparable one to your beloved wife, Fahima, your children and other family members but I am sure they have accepted God’s will with grace.
I can only repeat the words of the poet:
“Your life was so gentle and the elements so mixed in you
That Mother Nature would stand up and say to the world,
‘Here was a Man’.”
May the earth lie softly on your turf, dear friend
And farewell.

Benedict Thomas
Scarborough, Canada

****

Dona Lisina Senanayake (nee Samaraweera) [1911 - 1980]

Twenty eight years have passed by which happen to be nearly a lifetime to me, a period that passed by without my beloved grandmother Dona Lisina Senanayake. Time and again, I cannot help, but realise the trauma of missing your dearly loved presence around me, a ‘presence’ which fulfilled my every need as an infant, and which I cherish most , as long as I live. Dearest Aththammi, you have been, you still are, and you will always be special to me.

 You were a warm human being, who has always spoken kind words, and even gone that extra mile to heal a wounded heart of anyone who needed your help. The days and times I spent in your loving tender care, at our ancestral home, in the heart of Kurunegala, better known among friends, relatives and the neighbourhood as ‘No: 55,’ was the most contented period of my life. They indeed were the ‘best days of my life,’ as you were right beside me, bringing meaning to every passing minute.

 I recall the memories of many a moonlit night that we spent together, in our warm home, located beneath the mighty elephant rock in Kurunegala. You used to read bedtime stories to me, as I fell asleep on your lap. I also recall, how you would remain silent, bearing the pain, when I used to pinch your arm every night, before I would fall asleep. I was only a child and had I known, my ‘unconscious pinch’ hurt you even a bit, I would have never even dreamt of continuing with my habit.

When Vesak arrived each year, we used to illuminate the entire house with oil lamps and lanterns, with the assistance of domestic help. I have heard many a time, later in life that my grandpa, your beloved husband, built this eminent home for you, before he welcomed you into his life as a picturesque young bride. The enlarged version of your wedding portrait, which hangs on the wall of my home, clearly exhibits your enchanting personality as a young, brisk, delicate skillful and stylish bride, wearing a pair of ivory colored court shoes, who even kept up with the fashions of the times.

 The private driveway, which led to the entrance of ‘No: 55,’ the Walauwa built by my grandpa, for the queen of his life, kept the house distant from the main Kurunegala-Kandy highway, yet distinctly visible to the road. As the house was situated in a much higher elevation, you and I, along with other family members used to enjoy the annual Peraheras of the most renowned ‘Athkanda Raja Maha Vihara,’ from home. The same Vihara remains our family temple forever, as we remain loyal to it, continuing all religious conducts and duties with the place, even after your demise.

I recall your frequent visits to the Vihara, the generous offerings of ’dana’ to the monks. Since your demise, it was the late Ven. Kallanchiye Chandananda, who conducted duties as the chief incumbent of this historic Vihara. Your children and all your grandchildren including myself closely associated the late Ven. Chandananda for many years, until his demise, a few years back. Every time we visited the temple, the chief incumbent would never forget to bestow his deep respect, gratitude and prayers to you, recalling you as a person who had been outstandingly devoted to her religion and temple. “Senanayake Menike (or Loku Menike) has done great deeds to the Vihara, which could never be forgotten, ever,” he would always say. Moreover, you were a woman who had deep respect towards your husband. I recall my mother saying that, every time that you were to visit the temple with your children, you would kneel down and worship your ‘better half’ and make the children do the same, before leaving the house. Not only did you bring seven children to this world, but also you inculcated values on them. After the demise of Seeya Pappa (your beloved husband), you strongly and firmly faced all challenges in life, overcoming every single obstacle, with patience and determination.

You taught me how to believe in myself, how to love, respect and share, yet never let myself down. Compassion was what you were all about, and you taught me to be wise. Knowing that my veins carry your blood, brings a feeling of pride and joy, simply knowing that, I am a grandchild of a grandmother, so humane.
 I will always love you. May you attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana!
 
Sunalie Ratnayake
California, USA.

****

 In memory of…

Don Clifton Kuruppu Wijeratne and
Amara Kuruppu Wijeratne

Somewhere, there’s a road
I am seeking,
To the city of Yesterday
It had splendid mansions
Built for me,
Named Childhood, Girlhood, Youth,
Womanhood and Motherhood, All
Filled with the glory of love,
And you
To nurture, cherish, and guide
Every step of the way I trod.

Years passed, and you went away,
You had to go. Death
Claims all beings alike
So long ago it was,
Vain now is my search
For that road and city
Buried ‘neath Time’s jungle-tide
Only memories of you,
Father, Mother,
Stand firm like beacons of light

May you attain Nibbahna’s perfect peace!

With love and gratitude,
Your only child,

Wishwaranee Nagahawatte
Epitamulla Road
Athul Kotte

****

 

 

 

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