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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.

 

Note to readers                                                                                                      
All contributors to the Letters page please limit letters to no more than 500 words. Letters longer than 500 words will not be published.

 

Letter to Mahinda Rajapaksa

Dear Sir,
It was a rare honour to meet you in person at the Oxford Union. I admire the fact that you feel so passionately for your country and changing the lives of your fellow citizens. Sir, you inspire us, the young generation that our lives should not be squandered in personal merriment and self-promotion. Sir, may I thank you for answering my question in detail: it does not happen everyday that I get a chance to hear the first-hand views of the maker of a nation.

What I liked the most about your speech, was the fact that you talked about sustainable development and paying attention to strengthening the rural economy, as energy and food are two of the key questions. Policy makers should not forget that in the race of the making their nations industrialised or turning their countries into service industries. Another key point was that you mentioned the distribution of the wealth across all sections of the society, very important indeed, as discontent leads to social disharmony and problems. We need sustainable societies.

I am very happy that you have fond memories of India, especially Dehradoon. My brother Dr. Dev Ratna Shukla is currently posted in Dehradoon, as the National Head of the Information Ministry of Government of India in his role as Head for Rural and Land Records Reforms through Electronic Governance. I go to Dehradoon and Rishikesh for river-rafting.

Sir, I pray that under your vision and leadership, the relationship between India and Sri Lanka will grow stronger. I wish the very best to the people of Sri Lanka. May your country prosper and be an example to the rest of the world as a nation. I also hope that increasing piligrimage to the Ramayana sites will allow people of our nations to have a closer cultural ties. I look forward to visiting your beautiful land some day.

Thanks a lot for your attention.
Warm Regards,

Aadya Shukla
President
The Oxford Indian Society

****

Why Pillaiyan and not Hisbullah as CM?

Mr. Hisbullah is the right candidate who could work parallel with the UNP/SLMC and he is also an enlightened politician and experienced in public office. The people in the East needed a big break since they have suffered during the time of the LTTE under the renegade leaders like Karuna and Pilliyan. To give Pillaiyan the post of CM it will not appeal to the people in the East.
 
People in the East have always seen Pillaiyan as part of the armed group. He should have been allowed to sit as a Councillor and study how to run an administration before appointing him the Chief Minister. Now the government should take full responsibility for every action Pilliyan takes.

Who will give the assurance that Pillaiyan will not misuse his good office like Dr Mervyn de Silva? We should not give the opportunity for the pro-LTTE forces to infiltrate the masses and disturb the Council in the East. Pillaiyan should replace Dr Mervyn in Parliament and given a portfolio as the Minister for Rehabilitation in the East under the purview of the President.

Presently the minorities are been given step motherly treatment according to the UNP, and this is the only way the government could bridge peace among the Tamil speaking people. That also vanished with the appointment of Pillaiyan. There were rumors that Pillaiyan manipulated the election and then naturally he would have got more preferential vote but here its not the preferential votes that should count, its how many Muslim members got elected.

Ranil never wanted to work hand in hand with the minorities. He only works with Norway, LTTE and the countries who wanted to sell arms to the LTTE. Ranil ruined the Colombo Municipal Council by not allowing a minority to contest although this time, the mayoral candidate should have been a minority but he brought in Sirisena Cooray and handed over the Council to be administrated by a trishaw driver. Everybody and specially politicians must one day have to answer to Almighty for all the corruption that now prevails.

Mohamed Faizul
Muslim Front of Canada

****

Pillaiyan’s statement: A slip of the tongue?

The much-hyped Eastern Provincial Council elections are over and Mr. Pillaiyan has already been sworn in as the Chief Minister. The UNP and SLMC are saying the election was grossly undemocratic. The UPFA is saying the election was purely democratic. We, the general public, are nowhere close to the truth. However, I think Mr. Pillaiyan made everything clear during the speech he made at the swearing-in ceremony. He said that  their victory was not a normal one, but a democratic one. I thought in a democratic country, a normal election victory is democratic and none other than that. What did Mr. Pillayan mean when he said that this victory was not a normal one? Remember Sri Lanka is after all a democratic country! Did the truth slip? Was it a slip of the tongue?
 Jeyam

****

13th Amendment will open the door to separation

There is no military solution to Sri Lankan conflict. So says the American Ambassador, Robert O. Blake. He is in illustrious company, for much of the Christian priesthood, probably with dark motives hidden away beneath their cassocks, echo the same refrain.

This conceited pronouncement comes ill-timed, when the east has been wrenched from the LTTE and the armed forces have turned north, where the insurgents harbour, The pompous utterance is reminiscent of the cocky swagger of the American Yankee as he strutted about following Pearl Harbour and end of World War II.

Western ambassadors mistake Sri Lankan geniality for timidity and make comments that are unworthy of their exalted positions. They forget that they are permitted residence as observers and defenders of their countries’ interests in the land they serve in. Comment on the mode of governance in the host country is well beyond the ambit of the Ambassador and his embassy.

Ambassadors should be conversant with the history of the country in which they serve. The swords of the Portuguese, Dutch and the British brought Sri Lanka, with a 2,550 year history down to its knees, but it never kissed the posteriors of its captors, or belly-crawled. Now, with 60 years of independence, and a President of the calibre of the present incumbent, the country holds its chin up.

Ambassadors should be familiar with the constitutions of the countries in which they serve. Oh, Robert Blake, you should have known, that the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of 1978 was certified on August 8, 1983, distinctly saying that “no person shall directly or indirectly promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka.”

Is it misguided etiquette, or a hangover of colonial subservience, subtle diplomacy or plain disinterest that any government agency has not told the Ambassador that he should hold his tongue lest he be declared persona non grata and asked to leave Lanka’s shore within a stipulated time?

Blake should have read the author John Perkin’s best seller Confessions of an Economic Hit Man to know the shocking story of how America took over the world. America has not retreated. It seeks to continue on the same arrogant, repugnant path, and looks askance at Iran, possibly to lead the world into an inextricable catastrophe.

The 13th Amendment will open the door to separation. It is the secret ‘open sesame’ to separation. The country knows the bitter taste of the provincial council set-up, where the corrupt in the land battle for positions only to feather their nests, and not to render service to the province.

The APRC headed by a person who is believed to be a Marxist, backs the 13th Amendment, which will perpetuate friction leading to intermittent war. The situation calls for an intelligent leader like the incumbent President to intervene, brush aside the vexatious Articles of the Constitution, and go for improvised district councils, which will ensure peace throughout the country for no one ethnic community is likely to predominate, to be a source of irritation.

The President has the powers to do it, and thereafter seek ratification by Parliament. The district council will be a small manageable unit in full view of the public where the rogues and the corrupt cannot cover, and be easily spotted from the Presidential Secretariat, to ensure good governance and prevent political fiddling by foreign visitors with their own secret axes to grind. One could be the introduction of Christianity to Buddhist Sri Lanka!
Ivor Samarasinghe
Dehiwala

****

The myth of a National Problem

There is a gaping lacuna in the thoughts of those engaged in offering a solution to what is popularly referred to as the ethnic problem. Filling the vacuity is an unenviable task, for Sri Lanka is a Sovereign State. It is a democracy where Sinhala, Moor, Malay and Burgher have made a home. They are all, free to have as many residences as they could afford, scattered in anyone or all nine Provinces. One house or more, in each Province. A holiday bungalow in the hills. A farm cum residence in the East, within a short distance of Arugam Bay and Passekudah, to bask in the morning sun on their beaches. Will not all that freedom and luxury be curtailed, if, as is mooted, talks commence to Separate. What the underlying motive is not disclosed but, they talk of compassion and respect for diversity, by negotiating away parts of the territory that is Sri Lanka, to an organisation labeled LTTE. A UNP leader beat all by signing an unconstitutional document called Cease-Fire Agreement (CFA), which legal opinion construed as a surreptitious attempt to establish an Eelam; meaning a Separate State, for the Dravidian in the North. Given a star by the CFA, a Muslim, who believes himself a leader of Moors, and is backed by a West oriented political party, hopes to set up a Moor State in the East . There was a time when Dravidian Indians of recent origin, residing in the hills, spoke of a Malai Nadu. But better counsel prevailed, and the agitation petered off.

All humans have aspirations, not only Tamils. In a multi-ethnic country, the desires of one should seek to accommodate the wishes of the others and make way, or friction and displeasure could lead to open warfare, as it now reigns. Questions like, “How far is Sri Lanka a democracy”, suggesting that Provinces should be parceled out and presented to the northern Tamil, if Lanka is a true democracy, is a subterfuge of the Christian West, whose representatives parade here clothed in cassocks, to cover the damnable designs against the Buddhist State.

Before the covert designs surface, the powers that be, should scrap the corrupt Provincial Council system, for it does little for people or the province, but permits the corrupt to fatten. Men who should know better, blab, suggesting ‘Constitutional settlements’ with the LTTE, as the road to peace. That is either cunning in collusion with the terrorist or plain idiocy. The end of the tunnel is nigh, and light and fresh air will flow in when the insurgency in the North has been suppressed. The East, which the Tigers claimed, is now in the hands of the GOSL and will be unshakably confirmed, following the Eastern Provincial Council elections. Political initiatives, in which the covert DMK hand will show, are unacceptable. The LTTE will be an irrelevant factor, if only the GOSL jettisons the Provincial Council and use the Constitutional powers of the President, to set up improvised District Councils to be later ratified by Parliament.

They will be small units, similar to Local Government bodies, where no one ethnic unit is likely to predominate. Such will see an end to conflict, when harmony is likely to prevail. Vaiko of Tamil Nadu is free to take back the Tamils, if they agree, to the dreary land that is Tamil Nadu, their Motherland. The District Council will introduce honest, decentralized administration, where the corrupt will find it difficult to cover, for the people are too close to them to effectively hide.
Ivor Samarasinghe
Dehiwela

****

Denigrating Gamini Dissanayake

Gamini Dissanayake was, undisputedly, a shining light in the political firmament of 20th century Sri Lanka. Charismatic, erudite and honourable, he was one politician who, early in his career, amply demonstrated that, he had all the qualities required to give true statesmanlike leadership to Sri Lanka.

In whatever project he handled, there was dignity and finesse. The accelerated Mahaveli Development programme, which he set about with supreme confidence, primarily because, he was personally able to win the trust of Britain- the donor country, with his impeccable English, admirable diplomatic skills and overpowering personality, will always remain a lasting monument to his memory. The address he made to the International Cricket Council at Lords, that clinched Test Status for Sri Lanka, still resonates among the cricketing elite in the world.

The charisma that Gamini possessed is difficult to describe. He definitely had something more than most of his contemporaries, including stalwarts such as R. Premadasa and Lalith Athulathmudali. Even in the midst of world leaders such as Reagan, Thatcher or Indira Gandhi, the graceful figure of Gamini stood out.

Of all the assassinations that took away the lives of leaders in this country, the assassination of Gamini Dissanayake will rank as the blow that hit this nation the hardest. He was truly a symbol of hope. It is indeed unfortunate that, he did not live to lead this country, even for a short time.

In his heyday, subtle attempts were made by some, to sully his name. One such was the accusation made in Parliament by TULF leader Amirthalingam that, Gamini Dissanayake, with a band of goons, was responsible for the burning of the Jaffna library. This was a canard. The thought of burning a single book, let alone a library, would certainly have shocked the conscience of the cultured and erudite Gamini. When I was summoned before the Truth Commission chaired by former Chief Justice Sharvananda, I was, for some reason or other, asked only one question, “Was Mr. Gamini Dissanayake in Jaffna when the library was burnt?” My answer was an emphatic, ‘No’. And that, is the real truth.

Gamini Dissanayake maintained the highest standards of public conduct. He never used his power to harass his political opponents. I am personally aware how he resented the injustices perpetrated by his own party men or, even the President, particularly, the deprivation of Mrs. Bandaranaike’s civic rights and the stoning of the houses of Supreme Court Judges. He was a firm believer in the Rule of Law. As a true democrat, he held high the propriety of governance. As a sportsman, he believed in a level playing field. Winning by foul and unfair means, even an election, was far from his mind.

Many were the times he had confrontations with President Jayawardena. With the ringside positions that I held as Director of Intelligence, Director, Presidents’ Security and DIG Metropolitan, I was able to observe that Gamini was certainly not a favourite of the President. But, the latter had the highest regard for Gamini’s capabilities and was also conscious of his popularity and esteem within the country.

For nearly 15 years, after the cruel assassination of this great son of Lanka, a grateful nation has held him in the highest esteem. To millions of poor peasants in the arid dry zone- like D.S. Senanayake and Parakrama Bahu, he was a provider of life-giving water.

But, lo and behold! In a flash, in a few tragic seconds over the electronic media, in the full gaze of the nation, the son, of all people, chose to use a tar brush on the immaculate name of his illustrious father. To please his newfound master, he was trying to justify the wrongdoings of his and his cohorts, by accusing his late father of similar wrongdoing! A clear instance indeed, of the mind sinking to the lowest depths, to fulfill one’s political ambition. It is hard to believe that the President would be impressed by this petty gimmick.

Navin Dissanayake is a young man. But, he is mature enough to realise that he is ‘a somebody’ today, because of his father. The fact is, if someone asks the question today, “Who is Navin Dissanayake?” The answer is bound to be, “He is the son of Gamini Dissasnayake. ”Not even his colleagues and friends would know what miserable portfolio he holds! By this unpardonable blunder, he has virtually jettisoned his father. He has certainly lost the moral right to invoke the name of his father, even remotely, at any future election, if he cares to remain in politics.
Edward Gunawardena
Battaramulla

****

                                                                         Tribiute                                                                      

A true and righteous leader with a 20-year history in Lionism

Deshbandu Lion Nimal Bulathsinghala MJF.MMC.JP

Lion Nimal Bulathsinghala, since joining Udahamulla Lions Club, in 1989, rendered immense service as a Lion in the District, in various positions and appointments.

Since his youth, he was greatly interested in social service and development, and as a Scout he received the Presidential Award, from President J.R. Jayewardene, in recognition of his ability to lead and achieve.
In 1994-1995, he led the Udahamulla Lions Club and was presented the President’s Excellency Award by the Lions Club International for his services. Since then, he had been an indispensable District cabinet member.

Lion Nimal has been District Chairman, Zone Chairman, Region Chairman and the District Governors Programme Coordinator for their numerous social service projects.

As the Region Chairman, he was received the Most Outstanding Region Chairman’s Award.
Lion Nimal’s greatest achievement to date is that, he is one of the very few Lions to be acknowledged by International Presidents for six consecutive years.

Furthermore, the International Children’s Day Event organised by him annually, was acknowledged by International President Jimmy Ross, as a special and valuable project for the year 2006-2007.
He was a Science and IT External Lecturer at the Dehiwala Technical College affiliated to the Education Ministry and played a vital role in nurturing the students at the college.

As Chairman, Nimal Super Lights (Pvt) Ltd, he was a very successful entrepreneur. Today, his State Award winning company is a leading provider of high quality stage equipment and lighting in the country. Nimal is a well known Theatre Lighting Director.
Lion Nimal Bulthsinghala has always been a prominent social service worker and has rendered yeomen service towards society with his humane qualities. In appreciation of his service for the benefit of the poor and less fortunate citizens of this country, he was made a Vishva Kala, Humanitarian, Deshabandu.
Dharmasiri Bandaranayake

****

                                                                     Appreciation                                                                  

In Remembrance of my son!

Five years have gone since your death
I still think how this all happened
Every where I see your gentle smile
And always I hear you calling me ‘ammi’
The sweet past memories always linger in my mind
And no one can erase the gap you left in my heart.
You are the priceless gift given to me by karma
Your sudden death left an enormous blank in my whole life
As a mother I always wanted you to be a ‘perfect’ man
With gentle qualities and sober manners
I wanted you to be a ‘special doctor’
A ‘doctor with a heart’ who served the poor with a smiling face
You were such, but only for a very short period
This wicked world didn’t allow you to be so for long
I always hope and pray to meet three of you
In this long journey of Sansara again and again
And all the meritorious things I have done in my life
Specially during the past five years
May help you to end this long journey and attain ‘Nibbana’
With all of us by ending all the sufferings

[Commemmoration on the 5th death anniversary of Dr. Sanjeewa Ranwella,
Dr. Kamani Ranwella and their infant son Helinda, by his mother]

****

 

 

 

 

 

 

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