@

 
   
   
   
   
   
NEWS  
NEWS FEATURES  
INTERVIEWS  
POLITICAL COLUMN  
EDITORIAL  
OPINION  
SPORTS  
CARTOON  
BUSINESS  
EYE - FEATURES  
LETTERS  
EVENTS  
SOUL - YOUTH MAG  
KIDS - NATION  
ENTERTAINMENT  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

 

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.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Eradication of LTTE (terrorism) will normalise the country

It could be observed that by eradication of terrorism by Prabhakaran, the country will return to normalcy that was prevailing prior to 1977 in Sri Lanka as a whole.

It is now an undisputed fact that the civil administration in the Northern Province ceased - came to a halt with the escalation of violence accompanied by terrorism of the LTTE and many other armed groups of Tamil youth organisations, as every Lankan knows, because they obstructed the functioning of the Government Agents, Kachcheries and other government establishments with the gunning down of Jaffna Mayor Alfred Duraiappa, including the local government bodies and staff attached to them who were maintaining law and order of the day, as they were forced to adhere to orders of so-called militants who were defying the maintenance of law, preventing the smooth functioning of the civilian society; especially since Black July of 1983, leading to a situation which could not be controlled by the succeeding governments although many attempts had been made by way of negotiations, peace talks, cessation of hostilities from time to time, up to date with no avail. Thus, the only final remedy became the complete destruction of the LTTE which is nearing its final phase at present.

However, what we gather is; that the functioning of the civil administration mentioned above did not become completely defunct as was evident by the fact that very often the Jaffna Government Agent, for instance, always used to distribute food supplies sent to Jaffna - at least to the civilians. This indicates that the civil administration which is dormant can start functioning on prevention of terrorism completely. Thus, the elimination of the Prabhakaran outfit and his LTTE cadres in total will culminate terrorism and the atrocities committed by them in the North as well as down South and in the rest of the country as a whole also will be terminated.
But in order to wipe out terrorism as a whole it will be essential to get rid of the leader, as a tree cut down sprouts forth again if its roots remain uninjured and strong, even so when the propensity to terrorism (i.e. Prabhakaran) is not destroyed resumption of militant activities may arise again and again.

Although we may preach about the situation of the country prior to 1977, the present day generation (teenagers as well as adults may not visualise the status quo in Sri Lanka prior to 1977) as already 31 years have elapsed and none of the present day electronic media (TV, radio channels, other than the two state radio channels existed prior to 1977). Thus by way of giving a ‘surprise’ to all private electronic media channels and their cohorts, the resumption of activities in the Northern theatre need to be visualised and the exact functioning of the country before 1977 - to be grasped and imagined the similarity drawn from the Fairy Tale of SLEEPING BEAUTY - where the immediate· functioning of the palace activities resumed with the visit to the palace of a Prince, which led to the awakening of the Princess who was sleeping for 100 years. Thus, even without the local government bodies, all the dormant life activities including government agents, kachcheries and other administrative bodies will resume work in those 3 Districts - Mullathivu, Wanni and Jaffna with the gradual culmination of terrorism.

The government, in turn can hold the local government polls, followed later on by provincial council polls in the North to appoint a Chief Minister as was done recently in the Eastern provincial council.

Thus, with the above performances, the 13th Amendment leading to provincial councils will be fulfilled by the functioning of all 9 provincial councils in all of the 9 provinces throughout Sri Lanka, as desired by India. Obviously, the International Community and the Paffrel organisation should be in a position to monitor - observe the developments and the prevalent situation in Sri Lanka and decide whether a further political solution has to be presented to appease any vested interests.

As the country is returning to the state of the era prior to 1977, it is far better for India to look after the New Delhi government and the incumbent President to look after the Colombo government, allowing for the history of the two countries to be repeated, just as Sirimavo Bandaranaike looked after the Colombo government and. Indira Gandhi looked after the Delhi government on mutual understanding and as family friends too, in maintaining excellent bilateral relationships - this being the status-quo prior to 1977 - allowing for the history of the two countries to be repeated.

S. A. P. Subasinghe
Alawwa

****

Are we on the brink of Armageddon?

The pace at which the world is moving shows us that there is something dreadfully wrong with the whole world. Anyone can put together the cataclysmic events of the past few decades and visualise the shape of things to come.
There is no doubt that the world today is on the threshold of a historic event. It will be anything like the renaissance or the industrial age which were all for the progress of civilisation.

The dawn of the atomic age has ushered an era of fear an uncertainty for the present generation. The match is so close to the fuse that, sometime in the near future, a nuclear war will blow up the earth, unless sanity prevails.
Creation was made not for destruction, but the super-powers, go on diverting enormous material resources meant for the vital need of mankind for a happy existence, into instruments of death and destruction.

The horror of a nuclear war dawned on the world when America embarked on building grisly nuclear armaments, an arsenal with the likes of the megaton bomb, which if dropped in a concerted assault, on population centers, could annihilate 60% of the population and turn vast areas into wastelands. It was suspected the Soviet arsenal was much greater.

By about the middle of the century; Super-powers came to certain agreement to curtail the manufacture of nuclear armaments. They solemnly warned that, unless there is an end to the arms - race, mankind will be wiped out.
President Dwight Eisenhower, echoed the fear somewhere in 1956; “that should there be any survivors from a nuclear holocaust, they would live in despair among the poisoned gas of a civilisation that had committed suicide.” Soviet leaders too agreed that nuclear war meant universal disaster.

Scientists and world leaders had known that in all 6000 years of civilisation, there was nothing to equal this peril, for man has finally laid hold of a power that can bring about his extinction.
This nightmare has engulfed the world with terrorism in its unbridled horror, forecasting what is to follow according to Bible prophesy. As recently as the end of the 20th century, former U.S.A. President Ronald Regan, in a television debate said; “No one knows whether Bible prophecies mean that Armageddon is a thousand years away or tomorrow.”
Events taking place, point out that it is upon us. Quoting Noble Prize Winner Bishop Desmond Tutu, at a rally in New York said; “that we are on the brink of a catastrophe, Armageddon is a whisker away.”

The Bible, which is not only for Christians, but a recorded history of mankind, predicts a War - Armageddon, but it in no way indicates that it will take place in West Asia.
Hatmaggddon the actual site for the confrontation, is not identified in West Asia and could the armies of nations squeeze into the area surrounding Megiddo an ancient Biblical city?
It could also mean that Armageddon is a situation that is the world’s assembly of nations in opposition to God. What is Armageddon?

As the world races towards the final hour of struggle, most people look towards the West Asia as the place where Satanic influence will lead nations to their confrontation with God the Almighty. The last chapter in the Holy Bible describes the end times, unfolding before our eyes. Some look to Jerusalem the troubled regions in which it is situated. Some think that a Soviet - American confrontation, there is inevitable.
Our generation living through all the evil predicted are heading for the Big Bang!

Mary Wijesekera
Maharagama

****

How useful is SAARC?

For sometime, many Lankans have questioned the validity of the SAARC grouping. The press has highlighted these concerns with little response from the government. The time has come for us to seriously ask ourselves what good has SAARC done so far in terms of invigorating trade, freeing of travel restrictions to enable the different peoples of the region to visit each other? Has trade improved within the region in the past few years of the existence of SAARC? How many Lankans have seen merchandise from Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Afghanistan here? Have our exporters found new markets in countries other than India and Pakistan? It may be noted that the increased trade between India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka is due to specific bilateral trades between the three countries and has little to do with SAARC endeavours. Just because the E/U and ASEAN were successes, there is no reason why the already meager resources of the smaller countries in the region should be wasted on the regular unnecessary tamashas under the SAARC flag.

Lankans have been demanding reciprocity from India for the ‘Visa on Arrival’ facility we have extend to their nationals for years. This, Sri Lanka has faithfully done, in prompt compliance with SAARC resolutions. India, flippantly continues to ignore her responsibility. She has only succeeded in convincing our weak Foreign Ministry officials with strange and untenable excuses of potential danger from imaginary LTTE and Pakistani terrorists. Hundreds of Lankans - old men and women, some of whom are in poor physical shape, pregnant women and children - are allowed to suffer only in search of a mere visa. The escape route the IHC chose to be rid of the public glare, by outsourcing visa formalities at Bambalapitiya, has only exacerbated the Lankan woe. Whereas earlier, sometimes lucky applicants were able to get their visas in a day, the present out-sourcing process requires one to hand over the documents one day and call to check the fate of their visas many days later. Imagine the suffering and unnecessary expenses of an applicant coming from Jaffna, Trincomalee or Batticaloa - from where, in fact, many of the applications come from. I am tempted to believe it is suffering such as this that regional groupings - believed to be committed to assist their nationals, should concentrate on and not the wining and dining one often sees and hears. It is clear, where Sri Lanka is concerned, the return in investment on SAARC cannot be justified. SAARC seems to dominate TV and media time when in session, to the bloated egos of politicians but has offered little to solve the problems of the people. I have not commented on the asymmetry between countries e.g. India and the Maldives that immediately brings to question the wisdom of SAARC. The insensitive refusal by India to assist in the visa matter makes it clear SAARC should be done away with pronto. It is not only visa applicants to India who will support my call, but also several hundreds of mendicants who have been ordered ‘to get lost’ from Colombo streets until the SAARC VIP’s leave. They will be as keen to be SAARCers as much as I. O tempora! O mores!

S. Rajaratnam
Colombo 6

****

                                                                     Appreciations                                                               

A faithful friend, husband and father
B. H. S. Jayewardene

A few months before Jaye passed away I had intended to let him know how much I esteemed him and his friendship and how much a part of our family legend he was.
Everyone’s death comes as shock- it is part of the pain of mortality.

But from the distance of time and place, Jaye seemed indestructible. And I had not heard of his final illness. Expatriates find it harder to bear the deaths of friends and colleagues because they do not have the consolation of sharing memories with relations and common friends to assuage the sadness.

In the twenty two years that I have been an exile from my homeland dozens of my mates have gone, but this is the first time that I am writing a note of appreciation for one. It has always been hard to express one’s deepest feelings in such circumstances.

Casting my mind over the thirty five years I have known Jaye, and reviewing all the associations of these years, counting all his achievements, there is one word that sums him; faithfulness.
He was primarily a faithful husband, father, and then friend. He was faithful to all his professional commitments. He was faithful to his ideals. He was all of a piece. He was a man of surpassing integrity.

He was also a very wise man. One could go to him for counsel and receive the best considered advice. He would listen with his mind and heart. With his powerful mind and warm heart, and you could sense his mighty intellect trimming the extraneous details and getting to the core. That was part of his legal heritage inherited from the genes of his lawyer father.
What followed was pure Jaye. Having found the solution he offered to help, impulsively, instinctively.

I have struggled against including two personal details and decided to include them.
When my elder son was ten years of age he needed to have some surgery. The nursing home insisted on an initial deposit of Rs I,000 prior to admission. Hardly anyone carries that amount of cash on their persons, (this was thirty years ago.) I rushed to my employers (a Catholic institution). They were less than helpful. I telephoned Jaye. He said “Stay where you are. I’ll come over. “He came with the cash within minutes.

When that same institution where I worked terminated my employment, Jaye visited me at my home that very evening and offered me employment at one of his enterprises on the same salary. Since that time I was associated with him in several of his ventures.
I stood in awe at his daring, at the great sweep of his mind, at great capacity for sheer, grinding hard work, at the skill with which he managed several affairs, while holding high offices in journalism concurrently. Single handedly he offered to handle the Public Relations work for a big international conference held at the Hotel Intercontinental. It ran for three days. He asked me whether 1 would cover it. Alone.

I said “Yes.” When he asked you to do something he infused the confidence that made it seem possible. And there was always that laugh that reduced mountains into molehills.
We produced a daily newspaper with photographs working almost all night on a handset press. It was delivered on the tables of each delegate.

He paid like a prince, putting some huge institutions I have worked for to shame.
When a novel of mine was being serialised in a Sri Lankan paper, he guided its progress with great skill and courtesy. He was the soul of efficiency. His personal office and desk proclaimed his neat mind.
He could relax when he wanted to. He was a lavish host and genial company.
His grasp of economics and politics was unsurpassed as far as I know. He used these skills in his journalistic ventures both locally and internationally.

His modesty was such that it was not well known that Ministers of State and at least one Prime Minister, came to his home to be briefed before making important speeches in Parliament.
He published a monthly digest of news for the diplomatic community, and an annual, with both of which I was slightly and peripherally involved. The latter sold at Rs 500 per copy.
He gave me an insight into his marketing strategy. “It’s easier to sell one copy at Rs. 500 than to sell five hundred copies at one rupee each.”

His accomplishments have been duly noted by the media in the days after his demise.
But the last words on him were those mentioned by his family at the back of the memorial service leaflet.
And that flashing smile on the card said it all.

E. C. T. Candappa
Melbourne

****

You will always be in our minds…

With a gentle smile and a honest heart
We will never forget what you have done
It brings a tear to our eyes to remember…

Countless lives you saved
Every act you did
Every tear and sweat you shed,
Will be remembered by all
Now draped in white
We stand by you
With memories and tears in our eyes,
Staring at your body
Now lifeless…

So long, until we meet again…..

Navindi Fernandopulle
Negombo

****

Air Chief Marshal “Harry” Goonetilleke

5th Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force

Since Air Chief Marshal Harry Goonetilleke’s demise, on 11th April 2008, there have been appreciations and eulogies extolling his achievements as a sportsman, administrator, pilot and a Commander. However, there is another side of “AVM Harry” ( as he was affectionately called and referred to by those of us close to him). He was amiable, simple and an easily approachable person. He was a good boss and, ‘he never showed it nor did we ever forget it.’ Arrogance, snobbery, guile and duplicity were words alien to him. He never hesitated to call a spade a spade when it was necessary or expedient to do so. He was also a caring man… who was very concerned about his family and friends, in spite of his onerous responsibilities as; Officer Commanding Administration and subsequently Commanding Officer SLAF Bases at Katunayake and China Bay, and later as Director of Operations and Chief of Staff.

I remember the amount of time he spent with his children during their schooling. I used to often wonder from where he got his energy and enthusiasm to work so tirelessly for the Air Force, be a dutiful and loving family man , spend hours on the sports field and have time for recreation and relaxation with friends and colleagues in the Officers’ Mess or in his home. He was a workaholic, an able administrator with an impeccable command of English -and little known to many, a good manager of men, a great friend and a good bridge player ! May I venture here to boldly say that he never interfered with his subordinates, when carrying out their assigned functions. He relied heavily on those whom he had confidence in, as he knew that ‘ the job would be done.’ And to so many, within the Service and without, he proved that he was more than a worthy friend and guide.

Having been associated with AVM Harry for well nigh 47 years, 20 of which were as a subordinate, I am happy and indeed proud to be able to pen these few words about a good human being. His doughty frame was symbolic of his character and his steadfast belief in truth and justice. He had an unblemished professional conduct. These, I know, stood him in good stead in his career, even in times of disagreement with his peers and superiors.

AVM Harry had a number ‘firsts’. He was the first Ceylonese Air Force officer to get married, the first Commander to have a son who also rose to command the SLAF, the first Director of Operations in the first Air Force Board of Management, the founder of the SLAF Families Association and the founder of the first SLAF Agricultural Detachment at Morawewa.
Way back in 1978 the Air Force obtained from the Forest Department 15,000 Pine and Eucalyptus saplings for transplanting on the hills of Diyatalawa, in the direction of Fox Hill.

The lush forest we see today overlooking the beautiful SLAF Camp at Diyatalawa is in no small way due to his foresight. Maybe someday, this forest reserve will be named after him!
He and his cousin, Lanka de Silva, both Royalists, were the co-organisers of the first ever Royal-Thomian Limited Overs Cricket Fixture in March 1975. As the President of the Ceylon Society of Rugby Football Referees, he put into place an infrastructure for upgrading the quality of refereeing and the knowledge and competence of referees. He himself was an “A” Grade referee. As Chairman Defence Services Rugby he worked tirelessly to improve standards of the game in the three Armed Services.

The ACM was always happy in the company of his friends and loved ones. He was Jovial, fun loving and had a fine sense of humour, even when someone ‘pulled his leg‘!

At a party, especially at ‘get-togethers’ of ex-Air Force Officers, he was a live wire who would start the ball rolling with humorous reminiscences and jokes.
On 27th November 2004 he celebrated his 75th birthday with a large gathering of family and friends and distinguished personages among whom were former Commanders of the 3 Armed Services , Inspectors General of Police and Commanding Officers of SLAF Formations.

AVM Harry was a devout Buddhist who practiced his faith unobtrusively. He did not believe in any outward manifestation of ritual, and those of us, who “worked under his nose,” so to speak, saw in him the four virtues of Loving Kindness, Compassion, Altruistic Joy, and Equanimity.

Being human also means having faults. As much as all of us have our own individual faults so did he. But that he was a good, sincere, large-hearted and friendly man was never in doubt.
It was my privilege to directly serve under his Command and I can do no better than recall the words of my friend and colleague, Squadron Leader JTR “Rex” Fernando that the Air Chief Marshal was like “a comet that blazed across our skies leaving a trail of luminescence which passing time can hardly erase.”
You will always be remembered, Sir!
Wg Cdr E. H. Ohlmus (SLAF Retd.)

****

Sister of My Heart Yasothera Balabaskara Nee Chinniah

With pen in hand, I know not what to write. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s “Sister of My Heart” comes to mind. She surely must have experienced what I did to have written that book about two “sisters” who were like one entity.

We could not reminisce when we should have, so let’s do so now. I was born just two years after you, but even as a toddler you took charge and fondly named me “kuttis”. For the benefit of the Sinhala domestics you also called me “Podi Baba” which became “Podiba”. Yes, we spoke only Sinhala to each other in our childhood. It was our first language! We begged the servants to make “rathu pittu and “rathu sambole” I guess Shankari made “rathu pittu” for you for the fifth day rituals.

I have but fleeting memories of the Chando Street days and of the evacuation to Jaffna during the war. Back in Galle, the Fort not being safe, we moved to Hirimbura. Those were carefree and halcyon days - plenty of land round the house to play in at our own sweet will. You were always the leader and I followed the leader implicitly.

Back to the Fort - Rampart Street - schooling at Southlands in the English Primary, especially created for us by Miss Ridge - we formed lifelong friendships with Lynette and Lucille - walks on the ramparts - and at your insistence we had the spunk to snatch the wickets while a game of cricket was on - because those big boys had annoyed us in some way!

Rampart Street days are incomplete without mention of Shirani Jayawickreme, the girl from next door. We had wonderful times - singing, dancing ‘and playing. Two balls were about our only play-things, nevertheless we derived immense pleasure from bouncing our balls and also playing ‘;’Mademoiselle, she went to the well”. Of course there were the music lessons at Brenda’s and the awe-inspiring Trinity College examinations.

You went to Uduvil a year ahead of me. Being in the hostel you took on the mantle of “elder sister” very seriously. I always followed you and your clique - so much so that the teachers would remark “Mary had a little lamb”.
Again you went to Methodist College in Colombo a year before me. The matron put me in the same dormitory as you, and Yehelee was also one of the eight. We had lots of fun and played many a prank - Seba was also in the same dorm and you and Seba made an awful mistake dressing Guy Fawkes in the matron’s clothes! .

You left school a year before me. So, in all we were separated for 3 years. Then it was the wasteland between High School and marriage, in Chundikuli. Not having gained admission to the University, when admissions were restricted to 100 to each faculty, and the numerous avenues that are available to school leavers today, not being heard of then, we plodded a long and weary road. However, nostalgic memories of those years are many. We did a lot of sewing on two machines at each end of the dining table. We sewed enthusiastically for babies to be born into the family and later had those babies clad in all the wonderful little clothes we had turned out with love’s labour going into every stitch.

We had holidays in Colombo at Rubaunty’s - and Nimala made us a trio ­shopping for sarees in Colombo, and in India as if our whole lives depended on the number of sarees we collected. Ironically, we have hardly worn saree in recent years!
Giggling was, and is, a family weakness or malady. It was absolutely our forte. I recall to mind one incident in each of the different phases of our lives. As kids we were sent to the Ephraums Dispensary to buy some medicine for Amma. We couldn’t speak because we started giggling - and went on helplessly. The dispenser said he had a medicine for giggling and gave us “chicklets” - tiny white lollies. We were intrigued because even after many chicklets the giggling wouldn’t stop!

Uduvil days - at the Girl Guide Rally in the Old Park, Jaffna - we were singing an action song - in two concentric circles, and at the end of each verse the outer circle moved one place clockwise while the inner circle moved one place anti-clockwise. Suddenly we found we were partners. It was hilarious for us - nodding to each other with a finger placed on the right cheek among other absurdities!

We giggled as women too. In Madras we were trying to fix an auto to take us to Mylapore for a day’s shopping. We were overcome by the giggles and had to dismiss the man and get another auto after regaining composure. The saree you bought in Mylapore that day is what Shankari chose for your final journey. I am sure you approved her choice.
I can recall so many little incidents, but. I would need reams to write them all. Until you got married in 1965 our lives were so entwined that Selvi’s sister Siva Sorubini, in all her childlike innocence could think of us as only “One” and aptly addressed us “YasoThilakka.”

That bond we had is being perpetuated by our sons. It is not for us to ask why your life had to change irrevocably, so suddenly and with but warning. We are all united in our gratitude to Bala, Shankari, Gajen and Rabin for having looked after you so well and kept you’ comfortable until the end.
I also thank myself for having made that special trip to see you on your birthday, May 17th, barely 2 weeks before you attained Glory.

Socrates said, “And now our lives part. I go to death, while you go to life. Who goes to the better only God knows.”
Socrates, in all his wisdom ought to have known he was going to the better.
Goodbye. Sister of My Heart, until we meet again.

Thilaha Yoganathan
Colombo 06

****

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to send
your feed-back

   

Click here to
see our readers comments