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.
Mothers! Use your time wisely
We see many mothers who come to leave or collect children from schools and
tuition classes, wasting valuable time while waiting for their children. Many of
them stand on the road, twiddling their thumbs, subjected to the assault of
weather hot sun and pouring rain. Why not organise some worthwhile classes for
these mothers in schools or tutorials such as spoken English, hand work or even
Instead of paying for the teachers/ classes they can even teach each other some
hand work like crochet, knitting, patchwork etc. or even get together and plan
some Social Services. Libraries for them also can be built up slowly.
Of course, this has to be arranged by some parents in consultation with the
school / institution authorities.
Almuslimaath, a voluntary organisation of women and girls, conducts free classes
on cookery and sewing at Station Road Dehiwela. One may get the details by
I only hope that following this article, some pea-brain doesn’t come up with the
idea of putting up an idiot box otherwise known as the television in a room for
all mothers to sit and watch, to make them waste their time away in comfort!
Dr. Mareena Thaha Reffai,
Pity the borrower
Credit cards a debt trap
Banks have had a boom time over the years. Bank lend money at high rates of
interest ranging from 15% to 27%. If payment is not made on the due date, a
penalty rate is imposed. Sometimes borrowers pay more than 200% of the capital
Banks are money lenders but the Money Lending Ordinance No. 2 of 1918 as amended
does not apply to any duly incorporated and registered Banks.
It is clearly stated in Section 2, that the maximum rate of interest should not
exceed 15% for monies lent by a money lender. Under Section 5 of the Ordinance
the maximum amount of interest recoverable should not be in excess of the amount
then due. In other words if a person has borrowed Rs.1 million and if he has
paid Rs 500,000/- to the lender in repayment of the capital, then the lender
can recover as interest only a further sum of Rs.500,000/- and no more.
Unfortunately these salutary provisions of the Money Lending Ordinance do not
apply to Banks. As a consequence borrowers are called upon to pay
unconscionable amounts by way of interest, and very often lose their property
kept as security.
It must be observed that the Money Lending Ordinance became law in 1918 during
colonial times, when there were only a few banks who funded development in the
There is a need today to amend the Money Lending Ordinance to prevent banks (who
are in fact money lenders) from exploiting the borrowing public. There have been
however instances when the banks have not been able to recover money due on
loans, because loans have been approved by dishonest bank officials without
proper security and/or because loans have been given at the request of
politicians by state banks.
To make matters worse for the borrower the Debt Recovery Act permitted banks to
recover money due to them without filing a regular civil Action. The Board of
Directors of the bank, to pass a resolution giving particulars of the amount due
on the money lent by the Bank, publishes the same in the news papers. Thereafter
the bank could apply to the District Court to enter a Decree Nisi in respect of
the total amount claim including interest. And thereafter obtain an order to
sell the property mortgage to the lender of the borrower. This law was not
available to other financial institutions and was discriminatory and denied the
right to equality to other money lenders. A serious attempt should be made to
curb corrupt activities of politicians to prevent the misuse of public funds.
Bank also have the right to issue a credit card granting credit facilities to
the credit card holder. If one does not pay the amount due, a high rate of
interest are charged. There is also a separate charge for late payments. Credit
card companies have adopted aggressive marketing strategies and enticed young
persons to obtain Credit Cards . When the card holder fails to pay, after
several telephone calls some credit card company resolved to debt collectors to
threaten card holders to recover money due to the company. In one instance the
credit card company obtain a decree in the civil court. But since money could
not recovered they complained to the Frauds Bureau . He was remanded and in
remand he was severely assaulted. Credit card companies now resort to extra
judicial methods to recover money to due to them.
And the mother of the credit card holder sold her residential house to pay the
creditor. The police action was not prosecuted further. The young persons are
completely unaware of the trap they have got into..
Should rector of a college be president of its OBU ?
My writing, without prejudice, stems from a real situation which prevailed when
the Rector of a school faced legal action instituted on him by two old boys over
a dispute in the activity of its OBU.
The dispute had gone far; old boys had signed a petition to the Archbishop of
Colombo but no solution materialised, culminating in the two old boys seeking
legal intervention. What is unfortunate is that the two old boys who instituted
litigation against the Rector did not mean to target the Rector himself, but
filed action against the Rector merely because the Rector was President and at
the helm of the OBU Committee who committed the original sin.
My contention is that the Rector should not be the President of the OBU. The
President of the OBU should be one elected from the membership of old boys. My
suggestion drew the reply that the Archbishop of Colombo must be the Patron and
therefore the Rector has to be the President. This is not acceptable to me.
The Archbishop does not attend the AGM of the OBU. Is there any point in His
Grace being the Patron ? But if the Archbishop is to be retained as the symbolic
Patron of the OBU, then make the Rector the Vice-Patron. This is beneficial to
all, viz (a) it indemnifies the Rector from all possible litigation, (b) it
justifiably allows the old boys to elect a President of the OBU from among the
old boys themselves which will generate nostalgia and better camaraderie; (c) it
affords a distinguished old boy the opportunity of Presidency of his own OBU,
instead of a priest from some part of the island being appointed the Rector,
which automatically makes him the President of the OBU although he has had
absolutely no affiliation to the school, and (d) when the elected President is
an old boy of the school, decisions can be challenged and perhaps with an SGM
the President (old boy) could be replaced - not so when the President is the
The position of the Rector being the President of the OBU has its evil
alliances. For example, when I questioned the emptiness of a table in a tightly
packed ballroom at the school’s annual dinner dance, I was assured the table was
reserved for Fr. Rector and his entourage. One hour later they arrived. To me
this is evil, because the presence of a Catholic priest at a dinner dance is not
in keeping with the spirit of celibacy. It is certainly not the arena for a
priest. The ensuing argument claimed that Fr. Rector is the President of the OBU
that organised the dinner dance, and therefore it was obligatory Fr Rector be
invited, as President, to attend, otherwise he would get offended. To me this is
A dance hall, as I have seen, and as we know, is a platform, inter alia, for
ladies to rightfully bare their ups and downs as fashionably as they can.
Accepted. It is therefore not fair at all to see Catholic priests mingling with
the old boys and their wives in the foyer, nor within the four walls of a
ballroom. Though the presence of the priests is to have dinner and leave, why
invite them at all into an arena that is not in keeping with the attributes and
the sanctity of priesthood. This embarrassing situation would not arise if Fr.
Rector was not the President of the OBU.
Having a Rector of the School as the President of its OBU could be detrimental
and embarrassing to the whole school, and to the catholic entity in the island
and old boys abroad, when the Rector is summoned to court merely because he is
the President of the OBU, (as proven by the case in point). Those at the helm of
affairs in the OBU must act with Knowledge and Virtue. Priests of God are
sacred, consecrated individuals and are dedicated to the work of the Lord. Let
not even a single priest be ridiculed in any way. Catholics must protect their
priests, help them at every turn to focus on their chosen cherished vocation in
life, not open them to ridicule by making the Rector of a school the President
of its OBU.
Neville Joseph Overlunde
Colombo – A walled city
First, it was a portion of the Galle Road at Kollupitiya opposite Temple Trees
that was closed to the public – causing unbearable traffic blocks and
inconvenience. Now it is the stretch of the Galle Face Road from GFH to the old
Parliament. The same fate has befallen the road opposite the Hilton Hotel in the
vicinity of the Treasury Complex where the recent bomb – targeting a bus of
Policemen – went off.
The closure of these vital traffic arteries results in tremendous traffic snarls
where the public is not only inconvenienced by long waits but motorists have to
burn off expensive fuel. There must be some way for the Police and the armed
forces authorities to conduct their policing and safety-oriented measures
without inciting public wrath. The totally unannounced closure of roads in
Kollupitiya, Maradana and Fort areas is now an occurrence several times of the
day. This is said to facilitate the movement of political and armed forces
VIP’s. It is often mentioned that others of lesser importance, in unrestrained
fits of vanity, also resort to these road-closures. It is not only the closure
of roads but members of the public (I might say voters who brought this
government to power) are often chased away by poorly trained Policemen rudely
into the nearest by-lanes as if they carry some kind of infectious disease.
Although the number of motor vehicles has multiplied many a fold in the recent
times, available parking space has been reduced drastically – adding to the
anger and frustration of an already suffering public. We know the President is a
good and reasonable man who may not want his voters to undergo this suffering.
Yet, the people are subjected to this tremendous trauma.
Putting everything on the LTTE is a monotonous joke that has long lost its
sting. Even the learned Chief Justice commented, “All the checkpoints and severe
security measures did not stop bombs and explosions attributed to the LTTE.” In
old Greece, one could have looked heaven-wards and prayed to those handsome
Greek gods to come down and fight on their side. But ancient Greece is a thing
of the past and we are struck here in Sri Lanka consigned to the Bard’s, “to be
or not to be” mode. Perhaps the President’s trinity of wise men – Cabraal,
Jayatilake and Wijesinha – might sneak in a clue or two.
Bill Gates’ 11 rules
Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not
and will not learn in school. He talked about how feel-good, politically correct
teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this
concept set them up for failure in the real world.
Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it!
Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you
to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be
a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.
Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a
different word for burger flipping: They called it opportunity.
Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your
mistakes, learn from them.
Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now.
They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to
you talk about how cool you thought you were. So, before you save the rain
forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet
in your own room.
Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS
In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY
TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest
resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very
few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own
Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave
the coffee shop and go to jobs.
Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.
With kind regards,
M. Zulkifli Nazim
Central Bank Annual Report 2007 - A remarkable and noble
I had just purchased a copy of the latest Annual Report of the Central Bank.
As, I normally do, I went through the report briefly and found it as usual ‘very
educational, informative, full of substance’ and a ‘storehouse of knowledge,’
which indeed, is entirely due to the efforts of the officials of the Bank.
Another item that struck me, which is very imperative, is the price at which it
is sold to the public, a nominal price of Rs. 300. I am fully aware of the fact
that it is heavily subsidised, by the government of the day, which I personally
think, is a very correct, and noble act, by the Bank. This is especially with
the runaway inflation in the country and the high cost of living, as it would be
affordable not only to institutions and libraries but also to the average
student and average individual to purchase same, to enhance ones knowledge and
educate oneself in ‘every field of learning,’ be it banking, economics,
political or social. This book is definitely the ‘ultimate source of knowledge’
on Sri Lanka.
It is my earnest hope and desire that the Central Bank continues to publish the
Annual Report and other publications at the subsidised price, so that it is
within the reach of all and sundry, as the team of the Central Bank, have been
doing so for so many years. And I hope that the Central Bank Annual Report, be a
shinning example to the other ‘so called’ publishers, booksellers and other
institutional publishers who demand ‘blood money,’ for their ‘so called’ great
publications. These publishers do not care ‘two cents,’ for the average person,
who barely can make ends meet, to enhance ones knowledge and inculcate the noble
reading habit among all and sundry. They are only interested in profiteering and
I salute the Central Bank and its officials, for this remarkable and noble
Once again, it is my earnest hope and prayer that the Central Bank officials
continue this noble and humanitarian service of publishing the Annual Report,
which is a Bible of knowledge, for all and sundry, at this concessionary rate,
and the other publishers and booksellers, would some day follow the example set
by the Central Bank.
B. H. S. Jayewardene
Remembering Bassa, a unique, humane, sincere friend
Sometime in the mid-fifties students from colleges in the south were sent to
Jaffna schools, virtually the last hope for concerned parents, as Jaffna schools
had a reputation for education and discipline. Some of us entered the portals of
Jaffna College Vaddukoddai. About this time students from Malaysia were also
being enrolled, because college education in Ceylon, as this country was then
known, was said to be better than in Malaysia. We entered the college as boys
with a shaky past and uncertain future.
We left as men well equipped to serve our nation. Most of the Malaysians went
back and held responsible positions. Those who stayed back did extremely well
One amongst us at Jaffna College was Briareus Hercules Susunaga Jayewardene,
popularly and affectionately called Bassa. Quiet at first, not only because like
the rest of us he was coming to terms with the environment, but more so because
he had lost his dear father, Francis Jayewardene the Crown Proctor of
Kuliyapitiya, a few months before. In general conversation he often referred to
his father whom he was proud of. It is fitting, therefore, that his ashes lie
beside that of his father in the family grave at Kuliyapitiya.
As time moved on and he took to journalism as his profession, he acquired more
aliases, BHS, Jaye among them, Mahes called him Briareus. His personality
changed to portray the character that each alias was expected to project. He
was, however, at his natural best as Bassa, in the company of close friends and
colleagues. Bassa did himself proud at Jaffna College. After an initial
misunderstanding with the Faculty, he was liked, respected and much sought
after, specially after he left the institution, manned by the then stalwarts of
the education system of that era in the North: Rev. Bunker, Dr. Rockwood,
President and Vice President of the College, Dr. Holmes, K.A. Selliah and Lyman
Kulatungam, Principal and Vice Principal, K.C. Thurairatnam, who taught English,
which was one of the subjects followed by Bassa and Prof. Dr. K. D. Arudpragasam,
hostel warden, amongst others. Early in life he developed the ability of moving
with persons holding responsible and respectable positions in society. His room
mate K. B. Y. Seneviratne, an ex-Trinitian like Bassa, now an established Kandy
lawyer, mentioned that he was the favourite of Gordon Burrows the house-master
of Alison house.
He enjoyed hostel life, and though he wanted very much to be part of the action,
was cautious. When his mates went on fowl raids, he would trail behind, because
he was nervous that if detected, his size would prevent him from making a quick
getaway. He was sporty enough though, to lend his only sarong which was soaked
in water, to cover the unsuspecting fowls roosting on the branches of
neighbourhood trees. On those special sarong less nights Bassa slept between the
bed sheets; his reward was one leg of chicken! His generosity went beyond the
sarong, to the extent of giving Manikam, the bare bodied hostel cook, a generous
hand- out every Wednesday which was mutton day in the hostel. The cook responded
by giving him an extra large serving. The writer sat next to Bassa and got the
crumbs which fell off his plate, which was substantial! His roommate KBYS
composed a baila about Bassa’s rotund bottom which was sung lustily at baila
sessions. Bassa played the cymbals in the hostel band. Though his timing had
room for improvement he made enough noise to be noticed.
Gajendran and Bassa were the poets in our group. Their romantic poems reflected
their hopes, feelings and frustrations. The subjects of their poems were two
co-eds, whom they eventually married. The writer standing on a table in the
hostel lobby, would read the poems aloud, accompanied by appropriate actions, as
light hearted entertainment to a ready audience. Little did we know that cupid
was shooting his arrows in the direction of the women’s hostel. Gaj and Bassa
were at different times Associate Editors of the Northern Undergrad, probably
now defunct, when the editresses were Elizabeth Verghis and Mahes Kandavanam
respectively. Eventually Elizabeth also known as Sheila married Gaj and Mahes
married Bassa. It is said that marriages are made in heaven. These were made at
the printing press! It is correct to say that Bassa cut his journalist teeth and
honed his caring ways at Jaffna College.
Many tributes have mentioned that he always went that extra mile to help his
colleagues and friends, to whom he freely gave both financial support and
advice. While he gave freely, unfortunately, he hardly accepted, specially
advice given in good faith. This tribute would have been many moons away, had he
heeded advice. Bassa had a keen sense of humour and enjoyed a good story often
inventing his own. The story is told that he phoned his daughter Romaine and
told her that her mother and domestic who were taking their sick dog to the vet,
had taken off in a three wheeler, leaving the sick dog behind!
The Asian Tribune for which journal he was the Colombo correspondent, in their
tribute said that his family was his universe. He and Mahes invested in their
children’s education; of the three girls, two are accountants, one a Ph.D in
Mathematics and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Colombo and their only
son a Chartered Ship Broker working in Malaysia. To them, he and Mahes were
their guides on the journey to adulthood, teachers of moral values. They
listened to their problems and helped to find solutions. They were their friends
sharing good and bad. His children respected and trusted him and loved him
because of all that he was to them. He disciplined them without compromising his
love and care.
The dedication, love and commitment of Mahes, his wife of 47 years and the
children were visibly demonstrated, and commented upon by the doctors and
nursing staff when he was unwell. We have reason to believe that he was
overwhelmed by the care and love they gave him. During this time he was able to
reflect and build his relationship with his Creator.
Hercules was his middle name, a Greek mythological hero, famed for his courage
and strength and cleaning in one day the Augean stables. Bassa may not have had
physical strength, but the courage and strength of his convictions, his attempts
to rid corruption, were demonstrated time and time again in his journalistic
career, even losing his job in the process.
After Bassa’s death, Mahes discovered a few pairs of new unused shoes in his
wardrobe. These shoes were offered to relations and friends. They fitted nobody.
This is symbolic of the man - nobody can get into Bassa’s shoes! He was unique.
He was Bassa.
Bassa will be missed with the going down of the sun and in the morning; he will
be missed when we next meet at the Wadiya to reminisce and recount the mad and
good old days which Rajan Kadirigamar a teacher during our period and later
Principal of Jaffna College described as the ‘golden era’ of the College. We
will miss him when we want to discuss the latest political situation in the
country and have his interpretation of same. We will miss his brand of humour
and his chuckles.
To Mahes, Ianthe, Romaine, Tamara, Sanjeeva, his in-laws and grandchildren, to
whom his home was always halfway point, a haven, we extend our sincere
condolences and pray that Bassa will rest in peace in the near presence of his
C. S. Edwards
My friend Dalrine
who was affectionately called ‘Dal’ by her loved ones and friends passed away on
May 1, this year. When I heard, on the day prior to her death, that she was in
the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Asiri Hospital, I rushed to see her. As I
peeped through the glass pane of the ICU and saw her lying on the bed, I soon
realised that our friendship was coming to an end. At that point the thought
which arose in my mind was that all mortals have to one day breathe their last
breath and that is an inevitable reality.
In the year 1991, I was being treated for para-typhoid fever at the Nawaloka
Hospital, Colombo. Towards early noon on a warm July day, in walked Dal and
Nimal to see me in my room, my husband Rama having told them about my illness.
Dal carrying a bag full of oranges in her hand, sat on my bed, introduced
herself and started chatting. I was frail and weak at that time. She insisted
that I had a glass of fresh orange juice, immediately. In her own inimitable
style, she got a member of the hospital staff to prepare an orange drink for me,
and also saw to it that I drank the full glass of orange juice. I recall how
well and refreshed I felt at that time after having had that orange juice.
Like a duck taking to water, I took to her at that very first meeting. As time
went on, I realised what she had done for me that day was not something unusual.
That was typical of Dal. My husband and I had enjoyed Nimal’s and Dal’s
generosity and hospitality on many occasions. Those who knew Dal and associated
with her, and those who were the beneficiaries of her generosity and hospitality
will always remember her with great affection. She was generous, helpful, kind
and selfless. These qualities are all too rare in a society that is increasingly
becoming materialistic in the assessment of virtues.
Into each life, whatever the degree of its lustre, some rain must fall. All
human beings at some point of time in their lives experience rejection,
disillusionment, failure, death and personal tragedy. I too experienced immense
sadness in great measure in my own personal life, not too long ago. At that time
Dal stood by me like a solid rock, always available and caring.
As a friend, Dal was world when you were lonely, a guide when you were
searching, a smile when you were sad and a song when you were glad.
She was a great culinary expert. About 10 days prior to her death, she sent some
homemade goodies to me with a note, “With love to you Deary.” Little did I
realise then, that this would be her final act of hospitality to me. She had the
capacity to enjoy little things in life. There was always the hidden little girl
in her. Her hospitality was boundless and spontaneous.
With her charming ways, she was able to win friends wherever she went. All those
who associated with her, her friends, her acquaintances, even her subordinates
will miss her for a long time to come.
My heart goes out in sympathy to Nimal, Imran, Merza, Ghazi and other members of
her immediate family.
May the fragrance of her memory live on
May her soul rest in peace
There is a link death cannot sever
Love and remembrance last forever.