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
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
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
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
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!
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,
I have struggled against including two personal details and decided to include
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
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
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
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
You will always be in our minds…
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
So long, until we meet again…..
Air Chief Marshal “Harry” Goonetilleke
5th Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.