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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.

 

Lanka must not lose its Continental Shelf rights

A. Denis N. Fernando has, in a recent newspaper article, made an appeal to the authorities to take urgent action to carry out surveys of the Continental Shelf outside Sri Lanka’s 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone, particularly over the area south of the Equator.

This is with the view that Sri Lanka, under the UN Law of the Sea, may claim its rights to the mineral and other resources in this vast expanse of sea, the extent of which is many times the land area of Sri Lanka. Fernando states that what needs to be ascertained first are the boundaries of the area where the depth of sedimentation exceeds 1000m and that this has to be done by the 2009 deadline. He mentions Dulip Jayawardene, Professor C.B. Dissanayaka, Dr. Hiran Jayawardene and the members of the Sri Lankan team that was instrumental in help formulate the UN Law of the Sea as persons who possess the specialist knowledge required and whose services the government should secure for this purpose.

Should the authorities fail to take timely action in this connection, it would represent irresponsibility of the highest order and a total lack of accountability. We, therefore, call upon President Mahinda Rajapaksa to order that all necessary steps should be taken immediately to safeguard the enormous wealth in this spread of ocean for the welfare of Sri Lanka for generations to come.

If, in fact, action has already been initiated, it would reassure the citizens of the country to know something of the progress that has been made so far.

Dr A.C. Visvalingam
President, Citizens’ Movement for Good Governance

****

Corruption and disasters

Two nights ago watching Television news of the catastrophic earthquake in China, an English channel showed TV cameramen and reporters at the site of a school that had been destroyed killing over hundred children.

What caught my special attention, was the comment of a distraught mother to a reporter. With anger written all over her face, she said. “These 135 children died not because of the earthquake, but because of corruption. This building would not have collapsed had it been properly constructed”. At the same time the cameras were focussed on a man crushing a piece of rubble out of the collapsed building with his bare hands. Sub-standard materials and the poor quality of workmanship had compounded the disaster.

I experienced something very similar 30 years ago. As the S.S.P. of Trincomalee I accompanied Mr. E. L. Senanayake the Minister of Agriculture on his inspection of the Polonnaruwa District after the devastating cyclone of 1977. Most of the newly constructed paddy warehouses had collapsed. Defective construction was obvious. Of the concrete beams and pillars that had collapsed, the steel rods had shed the binding cement completely and the rods were looking clean and new!

Turning to his officials the minister growled, “All these contractor buggers are rogues. They should all be blacklisted”. But to my knowledge they remained mere words.

These are not the only instances. Natural disasters are aggravated by the felling of forests, building and cultivating on hill slopes, illicit sand mining, illicit filling of water retention areas, encroaching on reservations, destruction of mangroves, indiscriminate disposal of garbage etc. Inspite of stringent laws these activities keep on taking place with political backing. Much of the devastation that is being caused annually by floods and droughts can be prevented if these illicit, corrupt activities are eliminated.

Corruption no doubt has become the bane of every human activity including governance, business, industry and even war. It is a canker eating into the fabric of civilization. When one considers the volume of the country’s resources swallowed up by corruption, it is perhaps the most catastrophic disaster that has hit this country.
Edward Gunawardena

****

Free Market responsible for rising cost of living

The cost of living has reached dizzy heights and continues to rise. The most affected are those living in urban areas.
The opposition political parties are launching protests demanding that prices be brought down. To stress their concern they are smashing pots and breaking coconuts. Such protests, as others before, will wither away in a short time whilst the cost of living will continue to go up. Protests of that nature will not bring relief to those affected. The cost of living went up even during the previous governments – Left, Right or Middle.

No government will willingly allow the cost of living to rise knowing that it makes them unpopular and historically, we have been defeating govern¬ments and electing governments to eat well.

Ours is an open economy. A Free Market is in operation. It is not the government that increases the prices mostly but the corporate sector – the Free Market.

Of course the taxes introduced by the government too have an impact.
The main opposition parties, the UNP and the JVP, should, in all responsibility, propose ways and means to stem escalating prices. Should we not deviate from the Free Market Economy and enforce price controls? Should we not curb imports and help local products as India did at the start? Will the government decide to do so? Will the UNP, JVP and other political parties support the government towards that end?
Protests don’t bring down prices. Only solutions will.

Upali S. Jayasekera

Colombo 4

****

Samadhi statue weeps alone

On an unknown day,
A sculptor not so famous
Gifted abundantly with intuition,
Whose name is shrouded in history,
Carved the marvellous Image Samadhi
In a trance like state
Out of an insensitive monolith
Lying alone in sylvan Mahamevuna
In the distant past.

The creative, assiduous artisan
Moved, profoundly by idolatry
Performed the awesome miracle
Having honed his innate talents
Being wrapped in ineffable patience

With the unsophisticated chisel and hammer
He etched the virtues of four sublime states,
Viz Loving Kindness and Compassion,
Sympathetic joy and Equanimity
With unflagging enthusiasm
On to the serene countenance
Displaying his artistic skills
So as to inculcate mental integrity
In fellow men and women
Of unborn generations.

Lyricists composed a myriad of lyrics,
Writers wrote a multitude of articles,
Poets penned profuse poems,
Appreciating this fantastic creation
That astonishes the throngs of pilgrims,
Who behold the image with awe
During the sweltering day time
Amidst swirling, stifling dust,
Particularly in Poson Season
In contrast,
At dead of night,
Serenity is pervading
The full moon is gliding
Like a gilded swan
Over the tree tops
Nodding ill the cool breeze
In front of the Image.

Mellow moon beams in their millions
Are cascading freely around
Showering the image with piety
Cooling the solitary surrounding immensely
Instilling tranquility all over the grove

The lonely Image Samadhi,
Suddenly, in a state of confusion
Shed a drop of tear secretly,
Failing to hold it back
surreptitiously
Asking a conscience pricking question
“How this once hallowed land,
Thrice blessed with my visits
Became an accursed land of
Gruesome killings and ignorance
Crimes and violence
Self deception and fraudulence
Selfishness and hatred
Hypocrisy and mendacity
In spite of my logical, unambiguous teaching
Sabbe Satha Bawanthu Sukithaththa
Sabbe Sankara annicati
Which transcends all parochial attitudes
Such as racism and religious fanatism
In addition to schizophrenia
That bring disrepute to humanity!”

By Sarath Sandacan

****

Arahat Mahinda’s historic mission on Poson Poya Day

Poson full moon recalls the historic mission
During the reign of king Devanampiyatissa
The Noble gift of Dhamma, in great Compassion,
Is elaborated in literary source, Mahawansa.

Great historic mission of Rev. Mahinda Thera
Memorable day, great awakening for Sri Lanka
In annals, many centuries recorded history
Engaged in hunting, royal sport, a day of festivity.

Arahat Mahinda volunteered to visit Sri Lanka
As requested by his revered father, King Ashoka
King Tissa at Mihintale peak, the historic meeting
Is the holiest occurrence in Sri Lanka’s history.

The brief conversation to judge King’s wisdom
The commencement, an era of virtuous wisdom
Mahinda Thera delivered, “Chullahaththipadopama Sutra”
Thus laid foundation, perpetual illumination of Dhamma.

The first discourse of Arahat Mahinda Thera
Rapidly brought peace’n prosperity to Sri Lanka
Forty thousand followers joined new faith, Buddhism
People rejoiced new found salvation, Mahinda’s mission.

Dedicated life propagation of Dhamma in Sri Lanka
Passed away at eighty peacefully, Mahinda Thera
Gratefully adoringly remembered, Buddhist in Sri Lanka
Architect founder, Dhamma expounded by Samma Sambuddha.

Pilgrims trek 1840 steps yearly to Mihintale
Pay homage, venerate Peak then named, Ambastale
Enriched crafts, sculpture, economy, Cultural heritage
Sinhala race rose to zenith of glory, a bondage.

Most Ven. Mahinda Thera reverently honoured today
With veneration on Poson day and each Poya day
A lamp be lit in every Buddhist home in Sri Lanka
To commemorate the Holiest Day for Buddhist in Sri Lanka!

- Kumari Kumarasinhe Tennakoon

****

OPA’s commendable battle against professional misconduct

I am a Professional (Engineer) who was compelled to retire prematurely due to intolerable corruption and waste. Having read the article ‘OPA to deal with misconduct of Professionals’ in the June 8 issue of The Nation, I am happy to note the action being taken by the OPA.

This is similar to the suggestion made by me in the letter ‘Blow to corruption,’ which appeared in The Sunday Times of April 29, 2001. I further suggested that the Bribery Commission should have the power to investigate corruption cases reported during the previous four decades as well.
Hope the media will give sufficient coverage to the long overdue proposal of the OPA.

Irwin de Silva, C. Eng

****

                                                                                       Appreciations                                                                                    

A comet that blazed across the skies

- Air Chief Marshal W. D. H. S. W (Harry) Goonetileke

Air Chief Marshal W. D. H. S. W. (Harry) Goonetileke N.D.C., P.S.C. the fifth Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force, an excellent flyer, capable administrator, outstanding sportsman and above all an officer and gentleman par excellence is now among the departed. He passed away peacefully on 11th April 2008. His sojourn here on earth however has been colourful, fruitful, gracious and remarkable.

A multifaceted personality he has left an indelible mark in the several fields of activity, which he enriched with remarkable competence. Born in Mutwal on 27th November 1929 he was the only boy in a family of five. While he lost his mother in his early childhood, he was brought up by his father with loving care and affection. He received his education at Royal College where he pursued his studies up to HSC and the London Matriculation. Apart from excelling in his studies he displayed a keen interest in sports, particularly in rugger and cricket. He was proud of his alma mater and he loved his school very dearly. He has left an indelible mark at Royal College by instituting the “Mustang Trophy” which is awarded every year to the winners of the Royal ¬Thomian one day Cricket encounter.

Of an outgoing and adventurous disposition, after his secondary education he displayed a keen interest to join the armed services, and in 1951 he joined the then “Royal Ceylon Air Force” as a flight cadet. After his initial combat and flying training in 1954 he was awarded his “Wings”, and subsequently assigned to various flying operational positions. His peers identifying in him his dedication to duty, competence as a flyer and his leadership potential, gradually groomed him for command. He was selected for courses of study in operational flying, administration and management in India, United Kingdom and U.S.A.

Appointed to various executive positions he was afforded adequate exposure to all salient aspects of operations, command and administration. These included base Commander Katunayake, Commanding Officer China Bay, Officer Commanding Flying Operations and Director Operations, and in 1971 he was appointed Chief of Staff. All these appointments he performed with commendable efficiency and dedication. He led his officers and subordinates from the front by his exemplary ethical conduct, and high moral rectitude and remarkable dedication to duty. A hard “Task Master,” he was a firm disciplinarian and would not condone the slightest breach of discipline. However, he was very humane in his dealings with the staff, and zealously looked after their welfare.

In 1955 he married Marion Perera with whom he lad been in love for sometime. Marian fitted into the Air Force environment admirably. She was very supportive of the husbands’ multifarious duties. Together they brought up their two sons and two daughters with loving care and affection, inculcating in them moral and ethical values., Both sons joined the Sri Lanka Air Force while the younger son Shirantha who had a very promising career, excelling in his flying and command capabilities within a relatively short period made the supreme sacrifice, when the Avro he was piloting came under missile attack. The elder son Roshan assumed duties as Commander in 2006. Imbibed with enviable personal qualities of his father, a capable flyer he certainly will make the country and the Air Force proud. The two daughter Shiromi and Sharmini are well accomplished and are professionals in their chosen fields.

While serving in the Air Force, I closely associated with him in his official duties as well as in social activities and sports. As President of the Sri Lanka Air Force Ex-Servicemen’s Association from 2000 - 2002, active member of the Retired Air Force Officers Association and the Association of Retired Flag Rank Officers and Ranaviru Family counselling services during the formative years of these institutiona he made a significant contribution and guided them. The Air Force Seva Vanitha branch was instituted by him and with Marion as President and many humanitarian projects were initiated and successfully pursued.

An avid sportsman he actively participated in sports captaining the Air Force Rugger and Cricket teams. His name was synonymous with Air Force rugger. He coached rugger team for many years. Along with WG. Cmdr. E. H. Ohlmuis he made concerted effort to improve the infrastructure of the rugby referees union and improve the quality of referring.
After 30 years of service, he retired from the Sri Lanka Air Force in 1981 as Commander..
On retirement his life revolved around his family.

His straight forwardness and honesty made him outspoken and he could not bear the injustice and the corruption in society. He regularly contributed articles on current topics, including on defence matters to the newspapers.
Air Chief Marshal Goonetileke was a rare personality, as he possessed the four Sathara Brahma, loving kindness, compassion, altruistic joy and equanimity to the maximum. But he practiced his religion unobtrusively.

His exemplary and ethical conduct, integrity and high moral values left an indelible impression on those he came in contact with him. The hall mark of his character were patience, simplicity, humility, modesty and accessibility. There never was any vestige of superciliousness and assumption in him. Marion lost a devoted loving and reliable husband, the son and daughters their caring and guiding mentor, his friends a loyal, lasting friend and helping hand.

Air Chief Marshal Goonetileke was literally a comet who blazed across our skies, leaving a trail of luminescence which passing time can hardly erase.
May he attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana. May his journey be short and comfortable.

J. T. Rex Fernando
(Sqn. Ldr. S.L.A.F. Retd.)

****

An irreplaceable grandfather - Dr. B. D. J. De Silva

Mano Pubbangama Ohamma.. Mano Settha Manomaya... was one of the verses from the Dhammapada, that Seeya recited over the phone to Rev. Ampitiya Rahula Thera of the Bhikku Training Centre.

My grandfather Dr. B J. De Silva was a “people’s man”. Seeya was a very religious person, thanks to his wife my grandmother Doreen, and the theras of the Bhikku Training Centre. Seeya was involved in religious activities. He was the Vice President of the Buddha Sasana Society, but never the president because of a unique quality which I admired. He always fought for the betterment of the Sasana by not just nodding his head for every right and the wrong to gain popularity. He did what he thought was right and that attitude was always engraved in a rock.

He was a loved, cherished doctor who was loved by his patients. I, as one of the 11 grandchildren saw Seeya as a god with a stethoscope who happened to be my grandfather.

Any family member a who fell ill was always treated as one of his patients only, he did not allow the relationship obstruct his diagnosis of the illness. His treatment with ADT (Any damn thing) for all the self limiting diseases was his secret to cure. When patients visited him with various illnesses, Seeya used to speak to them and remove the grief and worries from their minds so that they would return home in a happy mood. He would constantly remind them that no medicine was better than a heart full of laughter.

Seeya was known as “Pat” to his friends. He was born in Mt. Lavinia and studied at the “school by the sea”- St. Thomas’s College.

He was not only a wonderful doctor, he was a gifted artist, with a knowledge of electronics. He was an independent practitioner, who even saw patients at night in an emergency dressed only in his pyjamas. Even though he was busy, he always had time for his family. Without idling in his spare time, he always did something useful such as repairing something that was broken, or gardening in his free time. I, like the other grandchildren recall being seated on his lap, whilst he read his daily newspaper.

My grandfather was a loving husband, a caring father of 5 children and a proud grandfather of 11 grandchildren. I consider myself as one of the luckiest to have had the most best wonderful, grandfather. He left us all on the 9th June 2007. Even though one year has already passed by, we haven’t spent a night not thinking about you and you will always be with us.
May your journey through Sansara be short, and may you attain Nibbana soon.

Ranishka Ratnasekera,
Bishop’s College

****

Mark Anthony Fernando

Mark Anthony Fernando was a very versatile and learned personality, whose name is synonymous with Radio Ceylon, as he was in the years gone by without a doubt one of the most eloquent and dignified Announcers on Radio Ceylon, whose name was known in every household besides on the radio also on the TV.

Mark Anthony never forgot his career in Radio Ceylon, and in every conversation with us would elaborate on his unforgettable memories and other colleagues in his working life.

In fact just a few days before he passed away, he asked us for the telephone number of SLBC, as he wanted to converse with some of the staff he still kept in touch with.

We have had very close ties with Mark Anthony, as his youngest daughter Tanya is married to our only son Mark, and it is with pride we moved about with him and his family.

Mark Anthony was full of wit and kept us in fits of laughter with his anecdotes.
He was very proud of an award he received a few years ago from Radio Ceylon for services rendered so faithfully, which took pride of place in his home.

During the recent months his health deteriorated but he would not allow himself to be confined to bed and wanted to move around amongst company.

The unprecedented crowds that gathered at the funeral parlour and at his last funeral rites, proved beyond doubt that he was held in high esteem.
May God bless his soul and may he rest in peace.
Vernon and Anthea Muller

****

 

 

 

 

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