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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.

 

M R: A President Lanka should be proud of

If the President bows to the dictates of the Constitutional Council to make appointments, he will, in effect, be doing the menial work of men designated as “Persons of eminence and integrity”. The moot point is, where such people are to be found?

The country elected Mahinda Rajapaksa as the President, knowing full well his capabilities to govern, having been in the political arena for many years. There was nothing stupid in him like some of the other contenders. At a young age he sided with Palestine in the fight with the improvised State of Israel. In an expression of their gratitude they have named a street in Palestine after Mahinda. China built the BMICH in Sri Lanka to honour Sirimavo Bandaranaike. They however do not sport her name anywhere in China. The Portuguese, Dutch and the British have left their insignia back in Sri Lanka by insolently naming roads,bridges, buildings, churches, and what not after their governors, petty road engineers, and other officials. .Though J. R. Jayewardena intervened to save Japan from sanctions following world war 2, his name does not appear anywhere in that country. Sri Lanka should be proud that Mahinda Rajapaksa’s name appears in Palestine, the heart of the Middle East.

Sri Lanka would soon be amongst the economic Tigers of South East Asia if it is peacefully permitted to be guided by the ‘Mahinda Chintanaya’ plan for economic development. Some Opposition political parties and interfering world organisations contribute to ousting the President for the satisfaction of their nefarious targets. The IMF and the WB recently had the audacity to recommend that the Government take steps to reclaim the country’s paddy lands and build houses to house the homeless, hopefully to render Lanka a buyer of western wheat, and having pauperised the country sell western paraphernalia to an upcoming Asian country The work on roads, irrigation tanks, bridges is being deliberately sabotaged and delayed, and the money squandered and the Government blamed.

A thoroughly anti homeland unpatriotic act to satisfy the petty ambitions of the opposition and wolves amongst the international community, biding their time to prey on the cadavers of fallen Asian countries. With SAARC being held in Sri Lanka, the President has won the goodwill of the involved countries, and their promise to assist in eradicating terrorism, a major setback in the economic development of the country.

Malaysia and Singapore achieved economic eminence because of the hold and interest that men like Mahathir Mohamed and Lee Kwon Yew took in the economies of those countries. The 17th Amendment to the Constitution if implemented to the letter will put paid to the direct influence of the President on the overall development of the country and its economy. It is a surreptitious attempt to empower Parliament which they believe has been reduced to a rubber stamp that endorses the Presidents wishes .Now that the country has at long last, got an illustrious President let its citizens make use of the windfall for the betterment of the Homeland. The Constitution empowers the President to look askance, at the barriers and inhibitions that surface, with no questions asked. The President is acting constitutionally. Parliament is a drag on the rapid forward march of the entirety of the country. The Prime Minister is the head of Parliament. The President appoints the Ministers who adorn the House. They are responsible for all development work; but all new propositions, by them, have to be approved by Parliament.

In Sri Lanka the Parliamentary Opposition only stymies all propositions to hold up work. It acts as an alien entity to entomb or delay work .The Parliament in Sri Lanka is modeled on the British House of Commons. The difference is that the Opposition in Lanka works to block and impede the work of the Government, to gain political mileage .The opposing political parties have their eyes on the next election, but not on the welfare of the country .In Britain politics is different. The entirety of the House works for the Country. The Opposition only points out the flaws in any Governmental proposition, and warns of probable dangers ahead. The Opposition speaks in defence and the good of the country; warning of probable pitfalls. However Parliament moves at a snails pace.

Margaret Thatcher, one time Prime Minister of Britain, found Parliament a draw back. She wanted work done efficiently and quickly. Her impatience with the slovenly and the laggard earned her the nick name, the ‘Iron Lady’. Tony Blair who earned the pseudonym “Puppy” for trailing behind President George Bush of the USA, found Parliament an impediment. The House, however could be a saving grace for Prime Ministers who are hurried.

The Sri Lankan Parliament is, however an entirely tasteless, different cup of tea. The classic case is of the Leader of the Opposition going around the world on the hard earned money of the people of poor Sri Lanka warning lending countries and banks, not to assist Sri Lanka in its development efforts, for when in power, he would oppose the repayment of the loans.

Mahathir Mohamed of Malaysia spent a day or two in Sri Lanka on the invitation of the business community. At a talk to which he was invited he clearly told his audience, that to govern efficiently a little bit of authoritarianism was a vital ingredient .The architect of the 1978 Constitution would not have envisaged the amendments that only serve to stultify governance. Having drafted it, he smacked his lips and said that when it was approved and became law, he was empowered to do anything that crossed his mind. All he was deprived of, was to make a man turn woman, and vice versa. Articles 32 and 35 of the Constitution guarantees the Presidents’ powers Mahinda Rajapaksa should bravely go his way not caring a farthing for the impediments that ambitious calculating nincompoops seek to place in his way.
Ivor Samarasinghe
Dehiwela

****

Not implementing 13th Amendment a violation of the Constitution

Some of our politicians and their supporters have stated that calling for the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution will undermine the war effort and those who advocate such a move are ‘unpatriotic’. They seem to forget the oath they took which is to uphold the Constitution. Therefore it is the responsibility of all the members of the national assembly to implement the 13th Amendment. There failure to do so is a violation of the constitution they have pledged to uphold.
All of us stand in contravention of the constitution by not implementing the 13th amendment.

Those who say otherwise should re-read the oath they took-before calling others ‘unpatriotic’. Our country has been blighted by twenty five years of conflict and we may overcome terrorism through military means, but the root cause needs to be tackled which is the oppression of the Tamil people and the minorities. Let us be very clear they have been betrayed and have lost confidence in the Southern Leadership since 1956. The Sinhala extremists caused this problem through their lack of sympathy, understanding and today we have terrorism because of them.

As a first step we should immediately implement the 13th Amendment which does not require a referendum or a two thirds majority. Its implementation will give confidence to the minority parties, and the people would learn how provincial councils work and that it will not result in a unitary state nor separation. We in Sri Lanka seem to misunderstand the word Federalism. The problem is that it was first mooted by the Tamil politicians as a fair arrangement between the communities. Sadly it is ingrained in the Sinhala psyche that it equates to separation. Federalism is not a bad word as suggested by some . In European Countries and even India, Australia, Malaysia to name a few have a Federal system where they enjoy the concept of power sharing. We need to eliminate this misunderstanding among the people in the South. If we do this, then I believe we can move forward and the final recommendations of the APRC too would be properly implemented.
C. Silva

****

Pensioners Forgotten and Neglected!

Bank’s Anniversary Celebrations -

Anniversary celebrations are held by Institutions especially to honour and reward past employees for their dedicated services through which it was possible to reach this milestone, but it is regrettable to note that Banks in the country which boast of making Billions of rupees in profits every year, are completely neglecting and ignoring their past employees, on whose blood sweat and tears the Institution was built to the present prestigious position. These past employees, who joined the Bank during the infancy, worked almost like slaves on poor salaries and working conditions and did not enjoy the very many perks and privileges which the present employees enjoy today. Hence, these pioneers should be adequately honoured on this occasion.

The salaries of staff are revised every three years from the year 1988, but the pensions are not concurrently revised and as a result the pensioners are given only a beggarly increase, ­that too, after years of agitation and as a result wide and amazing disparities exist between the pensions of those in the same grade retired before 1988 and after. Further junior officers retired recently are drawing a pension more than two to three times the pension drawn by the senior officers a few years back. This amounts to degrading and devaluing the devoted services rendered by the seniors.

The pension anomalies of the government servants have been rectified up to January 1997, by implementing the government policy as stated in the Mahinda Chinthana as follows:-
a) Pensions will be increased in line with increase in salaries.
b) Revision of pension by eliminating anomalies to enable pensioners to live with self-respect.
The Banks, too, should have implemented this policy but have been delaying the implementation giving various excuses. It is also rather disappointing to note that even after the passing of the Protection of the Rights of Elders Act no 2000, 7 years ago, still the elders have not been given due respect and honour. Under this Act, affluent children, who neglect their parents could be prosecuted. Similarly, wealthy institutions, which neglect their past employees and depriving their legitimate rights, should also be prosecuted for violating this Act.

Pensioners who are senior citizens are now a ‘Protected Species’ and under this Act no one should hurt them. Anyone who hurts an animal which is classified as a ‘Protected Species’ can be prosecuted and a similar severe punishment should also be given to those who hurt these protected ‘Human Species.’

The Bank of Ceylon- the leading State Bank in the Island - highest ranked in Sri Lankan Bankers’ Almanac with the largest asset and capital base, should also be not only the leader in the field of customer base and other operations but also claim the leadership in honouring their past employees, who were the pillars for this miraculous growth. The Bank will be celebrating its 69th year on August 1st, 2008 and hope the present Chairman and the General Manager will rectify the past injustices to pensioners and honour them, so that other banks could follow suit.

It is nice to note that in the Jaffna and Vavuniya district those in service honour the pensioners every year by entertaining with lunch and presenting them with a token award for their past services. Hope the other districts will emulate this noble policy implemented in the Jaffna district and establish a healthy and a cordial relationship with past employees, which will lead to a dynamic growth of the Bank.

As ‘Justice delayed is Justice denied,’ so also pension delayed amounts to pension denied. It is rather tragic to note that due to a long delay of nearly three years of waiting, some of senior pensioners, including the immediate Past President of the Pensioner’s Association, have departed this world without obtaining their arrears of pensions.
Hope on this 69th Anniversary of Bank of Ceylon, all the past the injustices done to the pensioners will be rectified, so that the pensioners will also be able to join the celebration with arrears of pension before their final departure from this world!
Ex- Banker

****

Scientific data on Ramazan

The Holy Month of Ramazan is round the corner and you will see many people predicting the new moon in various ways and at various times.  I would like to present the following scientific data for publication in your esteemed newspaper so as to remove any discrepancies, conflicting facts or claims or opinions which causes so much confusion in a community.
The details are as follows:
The Ramazan New Moon rises on August 30th, 2008
Date:    Saturday, 30 Aug  2008
Apparent Sunset:    18h   19m   25s  LT(local Time)
Moon Rise:             05h   24m  38s LT
Moon Set:               17h   58m  34s LT
Sunset-Moonset:       -0h   20m  52s
Here you can see that the moon sets 20 minutes, 52 seconds, before the setting of the sun. So the new moon has to be sighted before the sunset, which is very unlikely. 
Date:    Sunday 31 Aug  2008
Apparent Sunset:    18h  18m  56s LT
Moon Rise:             06h  15m  27s LT
Moon Set:              18h  41m  42s LT
Sunset-Moonset:    0h  22m  46s
Here the moon sets 22 minutes 46 seconds after sunset.
Hence the Evening of 31st August 2008 (Eve of 01st September 2008), will be deemed to be the First Moon of Ramazan whether the moon is sighted or not. 
Monday, 01st September 2008 Morning - The Ramazan Fast begins.
The Shawwal New Moon (Which announces and connotes the end of the fasting period) rises on August 30th, 2008
Date:    Monday 29 Sep  2008
Apparent Sunset:    18h 03m  29s LT
Moon Rise:              05h 43m  26s LT
 Moon Set:              17h 58m  55s LT
Sunset-Moonset:   -0h   04m 35s
Here you can see that the moon sets 4minutes 35 seconds before the setting of the sun. So the new moon has to be sighted before the sunsets, which is highly unlikely. 
Date:    Tuesday 30 Sep  2008
Apparent Sunset:    18h 02m  59s LT
Moon Rise:             06h 30m  17s LT
Moon Set:               18h 40m  07s LT
Sunset-Moonset:    0h 37m 09s
Here the moon sets37 minutes 09 Seconds after sunset.
Hence the Evening of 30th September2008 (Eve of 01st October 2008), will be deemed to be the First Moon of Shawwal, whether the moon is sighted or not.  
The Eid-ul-Fitr - The Ramazan Festival, therefore, falls on Wednesday, 01st October 2008.
 This scientific data could be verified from any meteorological authority, anywhere in the world.
Zulkifli Nazim
Colombo 6

****

Meat, a cause of infertility?

Dr. D.P. Athukorala is hell bent on proving that animal protein is bad for human beings. (The Island- August 16, Opinion page). Earlier, he tried to quote the Quran without proper knowledge and was shown the truth that Islam does allow and even orders animals to be slaughtered for consumption of meat by human beings.

Now, he comes out with another confounding argument, and I wish to know where he picked up these figures? I do not understand his figures at all and they do not sound scientifically acceptable. He says:
“This study was done on 18,555 women trying to become pregnant,” which means that, the study is done on sub fertile /infertile population. That itself shows the results cannot be used to make an assessment of an average population.

He further says:

*Those with one serving of meat a day had 32% infertility
*Those who consumed the most animal protein were 41% at greater risk of ovulatory infertility
*Women with the highest animal protein intake had a 39% increased risk????
*Those with highest vegetable intake had a 22% decreased risk of infertility.
Does this make sense? Not to me. What is the difference between “most animal protein intake” and “highest animal protein intake”? Why the difference in the results? What is highest vegetable intake? Decreased rate as opposed to what? The average normal population?

People who eat meat also eat vegetable. So one should counteract the other. So the whole theory falls flat.
Going by these results, the Muslims should have the least amount of children, and he knows it’s not true. And, going by these results, Sri Lanka must be one of the most infertile countries, for 95% of Sri Lankans, irrespective of their religion, eat meat. Surely!

I would respectfully ask the respected doctor to let us know which medical journal published such unfounded study results.
Dr. Mrs. Mareena Thaha Reffai
Dehiwela

****

Nature’s Lament

I am the almighty relative intermediate
Of everlasting evolution absolute
Baptized ceremoniously and solemnly
As vibrant Sweet Mother Nature

I created the picturesque environment
Instilling its rhythm secretly
On a day in the distant past dormant
Keeping everything perfectly orderly.

I bestowed diverse lush vegetation
Fresh air and water for sanitation
Among other myriad things in proportion
For biological life for its proliferation

I expected my loving children
Man and copious animals alike
To live in harmony indefinitely
Playing respective roles properly
Protecting the equilibrium eternally.

But, Alas! against my aspirations noble
Driven by thirst and lust insatiable
For comforts and ease innumerable
Rapacious, pugnacious man capable
Caused a vast change unbearable
Using modem science and technology
Born from the theory of fragmenting totality
And deformed the whole precious ecology
Inviting the monstrous havoc blindly.

Consequences are now profusely terrible
Abundantly die daily living beings miserable
Trapped in floods and cyclones horrible
In addition to quakes and conflagration
The logical end result of ill configuration.

I am really disappointed thoroughly
Weeping in silence incessantly
Witnessing the destruction crystal clearly
Failing to end this tragedy completely

My only wise child ‘Seattle”
Branded as a savage illiterate
By many so called sophisticated
Is no more to see the devastation
I am exulting today hesitantly.

Oh! my dear prodigal child Human
You have neither salvation nor solace
Unless you invent modes of production
Evolving from nature friendly sciences
Unifying my integral parts cohesive.
Sarath Sandacan

****

Appreciations

Vettivel Ramachandran lived his life helping others

Ramachandran, better known as Rama by his colleagues, and Ramanna by the younger folks, returned to the island along with his wife Pavalam, having spent six glorious months of holidaying in the company of his children in U.K before succumbing to the vagaries of fate on November 28 last year, after a fatal fall in his newly acquired apartment off Boswell Place, Wellawatte. His sudden demise spread like wildfire sending shock waves to his friends, associates and relatives, and more so among hundreds of his bank’s retired colleagues, who held him in very high esteem.

Though a brilliant student at St. Peters College, Bambalapitiya with exceptional talent in Mathematics, he chose a banking career at the tender age of eighteen against the wishes of all his teachers, yet with the blessings of his father who had a premonition of not living long, and felt that the son should take on the mantle of looking after the family of mother and three young siblings.

Having joined the Bank of Ceylon as a clerical hand, he gradually rose in position and in the process carved a name unto himself as a quick learner and a much sought after officer by the higher ups of the Bank. His immense popularity was mainly due to his easy way of approach in dealing with both figures and faces. As officer - in - charge of Supplies Department he had been an easy going officer with a more flexible and imaginative approach together with an unassuming smile that adorned his face at all times. As Accounts officer of the Northern Provincial Office he has to consolidate figures submitted by all branches of the province and when irregularities or lapses are detected he was never in the habit of calling for explanations or reprimanding anyone instead to guide the officers responsible with more data and directives. His duty was not to find fault but to guide everyone with a friendly approach. In addition to his official duties he played the role of a good Samaritan and sincere guide to many of his colleagues who had left the bank for good and were domiciled in many Western countries by helping them to obtain their Superannuation benefits and other forms of relief in the form of medical assistances which they were entitled to. To many he was like a saviour and they worshipped him.

Finally, retiring in the Managers grade as Accounts Officer of the Banks Northern Provincial Office, with an unblemished reputation of forty two years of record service he devoted his entire life from then onwards up to the time of his death to helping those in need of his help, and participating in all events of people he knew and more specifically that of his retired colleagues. Besides these admirable personal qualities, his old residence off Fernando Road then was hive a of activity with friends and relations flocking to see him from far and wide to be guided and helped in obtaining their travel documents to go abroad.

He undertook these tasks ungrudgingly accompanying the old and the disabled to the passport and visa offices as well as to the respective embassies too. Rama’s humane approach in helping the needy knew no bounds and his philosophy of life was to be of service to everyone who needed assistance be it to direct a patient with complications to the correct physician or advise someone as to which lawyer he should consult in sorting out legal problems or to which Bank and the name of the officer who should be approached in expediting a specific banking problem etc.

On his return to the island he lost no time in calling on many of his friends to inquire into their state of health and that of their kith and kin. Likewise he rang me up and when told that he was not in the best of health, promising to drop-in the next day. Alas, that day never came to pass by. That fateful fall had snatched from our midst a hale and hearty personality who had been a tower of strength in the lives of very many.
May he attain the eternal bliss of Modsha under the feet of Lord Krishna, the incarnation of Rama of Ramayana.
A. R. S. Mahalingam
Colombo 6

****

Siripala Senadhipathy, an outstanding gentleman

Mr. Siripala Senadhipathy, a teacher administrator, social worker, devoted Buddhist and a true friend passed away on June 14, 2008. Born in Kandana, he was 68 years when he passed away after a short illness. A brilliant student of De Mazenod College, Kandana a promising athlete, he participated in inter school basketball competitions on several occasions. Having completed his school education he joined the Ministry of Education as a science teacher.

During his long service as a teacher he sacrificed his luxurious life with enormous wealth left for him by his affluent and philanthropic parents. He was a teacher trainer, coordinator in administration and a senior instructor when he retired..

He was called Siripala or Senpathy by his close friends. The name Senpathy was bestowed on him with a real meaning as it symbolised, the inborn talent he was blessed with in leadership and oratory. As a student he held the position of President in the Literary Association. In the schools he served, he was an organiser in various projects. As a Buddhist he rendered a yeoman service, serving in Dayaka Sabha of Sri Jayawardhanaramaya Hapugoda, Kandana, holding the position of Honorary Secretary for six continuous years.

In 1957, we were in GCE (O/L) class at De Mazenod and only 5 Buddhist students out of 30 observed atasil at Jayawardanaramaya Hapugoda on Full Moon Poya days. Siripala was our group leader and his mother was also very supportive of our programme. Our class teacher late Dr. Watson Mendis, a devoted Catholic, visited us in temple and encouraged us. Kandana being a Catholic dominated area, with a few affluent Buddhist families was highly benefited by the service of Senadhipathy family. Siripala as the secretary of Dayaka Sabha, organised a pilgrimage for devotees of the area. It was a very popular annual event in Kandana. Another expensive and popular work he did annually was the Vesak decorations and illumination hung in his spacious garden. He started this interesting event when he was a school boy. I still remember, we Buddhist and Catholics participated in erecting a pandol, in Siripalas garden opposite his ancestral home. Those of us who joined in this project, are today doctors, engineers, scientist, teachers businessmen and politicians who are very successful men in society.

I came to know Siripala in my school days at De Mazenod. We studied together, underwent teacher training together served as teachers together and our true friendship and interests remained unchanged until his sudden death. Watching national and international cricket matches, taking part in religious activities, were our common interests. “Sugath, get up Jayasuriya is in action,” was a message received at 3 a.m. one day, when an international match was in progress. Siripala was very fortunate to have a simple and very understanding wife.

Once Siripala told me his wife took care of him just like his mother did when he was ill.. He was ill for a short period but he endured his illness with patience and understanding and was never depressed.

I was away from the country for a considerable period of time. In all there years I have never missed receiving the beautiful Vesak cards and reports of his annual pilgrimages. It was his pleasure to take the devotees not to famous places of Buddhist worship, but to the less famous but important religious places.

Siripala or Senpathy is no more physically, but memories of him will always remain in our minds.
May he attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana!.
Buwaneka Sugathadasa
Walpola, Ragama

****

 

 

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