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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.
Was SWRD the architect of the Sinhala only
legislation of 1956?
Outlining the history of events that largely contributed to the ethnic conflict
of Sri Lanka, reader Saybhan Samat very rightly attributes it to, inter alia,
the divide and rule policy of the British Colonial administration. It is true
that the minority Tamil people enjoyed a privileged position in every sphere -
education, employment, trade and business etc. Key positions in the
administrative setup were almost their monopoly.
In the words of reader Samat “Mr. Bandaranaike was very keen to restore the
rights of the majority Sinhalese people which were denied to them by the British
Colonial power since 1796.”
To put the record straight, in fairness to the architects of 1956 victory of the
MEP Coalition, it has to be accepted that SWRD’s role was one of political
expediency rather than a genuine attempt to restore the lost rights of the
majority Sinhalese community.
‘Sinhala only within 24 hours,’ the eye-catching slogan which contributed in
large measure to the landslide victory of the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) in
1956, was of course, the coinage of S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike. But it was the
other exuberant campaigners such as K. M. P. Rajaratne of the Jatika Vimukthi
Peramuna, a constituent party in the MEP coalition, who clamoured for Sinhala
only. Rev. Henpitagedara Gnanasiha Thera, Rev. Baddegama Wimalawansa Thera, L.
H. Mettananda and F. R. Jayasuriya were some of the leading personalities who
were in the forefront of the Sinhala only campaign. ‘Eksath Bhikkhu. Peramuna’
also played an important role. SWRD was no chauvinist. He only gave leadership
to this movement which had gathered momentum even before the formation of the
MEP coalition. The language issue came as a handy weapon to crush the opposition
led by SWRD’s erstwhile rival Sir John Kotelawala.
Incidentally, Sir John’s untimely utterances in the Delft Island on the eve of
1956 elections, spelt his ruin. He declared that he would confer parity of
status to both Sinhala and Tamil Languages if he came to power.
In fact, SWRD himself was for both Sinhala and Tamil Languages, as far back as
1926. Subsequently, in 1943 - 44, when J. R. Jayewardene moved in the then State
Council that Sinhala be made the official language it was SWRD who moved an
amendment to include Tamil also. The following excerpt of a speech of SWRD
Bandaranaike from the Hansard (State Council) 1944, Vol. I, Page 810, 25 May,
1944, is self explanatory:
“What is the object of having Sinhalese alone as the official
language?............ I do not see that there would be any harm at all in
recognising the Tamil Language also as an official language. It is necessary to
bring about that amity, that confidence among the various communities which we
are all striving to achieve within reasonable limits….. I have no personal
objection to both these languages being considered official languages, nor do I
see any particular harm or danger or real difficulty arising from it.”
Philip Gunawardena, Leader of the VLSSP, a constituent party in the MEP
coalition, advocated Tamil as a ‘Regional Language’ (Prantha Bhasa), while
supporting Sinhala only bill of 1956.
SWRD having succumbed to the pressure of extremist elements, in the first
instance, later saw through the passage of ‘Reasonable use of Tamil Act (Tamil
Language special provisions) Act No. 28 of 1958)’ to rectify matters.
The manner in which the Sinhala only Act (Official Language Act No. 33 of 1956)
was implemented overnight gave rise to a just grievance among the Tamils. Having
enjoyed the Lion share under the colonial masters, they now began to feel they
were second class citizens.
Every successive government failed to implement even the administrative
regulations under the Reasonable use of Tamil Act, in the teeth of opposition.
Even the LSSP, which once fought for parity of status to Tamil Language shouted
slogans such as ‘Dudleyge Bade Masalawade’ in their May Day processions.
J. R. Jayewardene’s protest march to Kandy (against the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam
pact of 1957), which was disrupted at Imbulgoda, is often referred to by critics
of J. R. Jayewardene. All that is history now! It is not too late for the
Mahinda Rajapaksa government to offer a viable solution to the ethnic conflict,
acceptable to all political parties, including the minority communist parties,
ensuring a fair share in the administration to the minorities under a unitary
In defence of Halal method of slaughter
Peter Singer (b. 1946) in his classic work Animal Liberation commented:
“Slaughter according to a religious ritual need not comply with the provision
that the animal be stunned before being killed. Orthodox Jewish and Moslem
dietary laws forbid the consumption of meat from an animal ‘who is not healthy
and moving’ when killed. Stunning, which is thought to cause injury prior to
cutting the throat, is therefore unacceptable. At the time this method of
slaughter was laid in Jewish law it was probably more humane than any
alternative; now, however, it is less humane, under the best circumstances,
than, for example, the use of the captive bolt pistol to render an animal
To answer the question as to which method is more humane, one has to look for a
comparable human model. Experience suggests that the sharper the blade used in
shaving, the less the pain. When an animal is slaughtered according to the halal
method, the big blood vessels in the throat—the carotid arteries and the jugular
veins—are cut, terminating the blood supply to the brain and causing an
immediate loss of consciousness. The cut produces instant shock, rendering the
animal unconscious, and since the heart is still beating, heavy blood loss
occurs under high pressure. The animal remains motionless for about 90 seconds
and is then subject to involuntary spasm caused by lack of oxygen in the brain.
It is believed that sensation ceases upon the initial cut. Some people think
that it is cruel only because of their ignorance of the actual processes
Professor Schultz and Dr. Hazim of Hanover University, Germany, proved through
an experiment using an EEG and ECG that the halal method is a more humane method
of slaughter than the captive bolt stunning practiced in the West. In the first
three seconds from the time of halal slaughter, the EEG recording did not show
any change from before slaughter, indicating that the animal did not feel any
pain during or immediately after the incision. For the following three seconds,
the EEG recorded a condition of deep sleep unconsciousness. This is due to a
large quantity of blood gushing out from the body. After these six seconds, the
EEG recorded zero level, showing no feeling of pain at all. As the EEG dropped
to zero level, the heart was still pounding and the body convulsing vigorously
(a reflex action of the spinal cord), driving maximum blood from the body and
resulting in hygienic meat for the consumer. In the captive bolt stunning, the
EEG showed severe pain. Immediately after stunning, the animal’s heart stopped
beating. This is clearly unhygienic for the consumer. Thus the animal rights
campaigner’s concept of mercy in the slaughterhouse does not correlate to the
animal’s physiological responses, as it increases the animal’s suffering rather
than reducing it.
People in the West are often horrified at the thought of animal sacrifice and
regard it as cruelty and a barbaric practice. They are confusing Islamic
slaughter with the ancient practice of offering blood to deities. They forget
that it was Prophet Muhammad who stopped the practice of spattering the blood of
the sacrificial animals on the walls of the Ka`bah and throwing their flesh at
its door. The Qur’an declares: [It is neither their meat nor their blood that
reaches God; it is piety that reaches Him] (22:37).
The Qur’an specifically mentions the attitude of humanity while slaughtering
(22:36). Sacrificing an animal represents sacrificing all worldly desires and
ambitions to show one’s total devotion and submission to God. The fact that
animals react to pain such as we do is, of course, no proof that they are
conscious. We regularly witness that weak animals are thrown into trucks and
taken to slaughterhouses hundreds of miles away. These poor creatures, goats,
sheep and buffaloes, are piled up into the trucks just like lifeless goods, one
on top of the other. These are all against Islamic teachings.
The Prophet taught the slaughter method in detail: “God has prescribed
benevolence towards everything. When you must kill a living thing, do it in the
best manner and so also when you slaughter an animal. Sharpen your knife and
reduce its suffering.”
“Pelapaliya” petition to President not practical
The article “Much ado about nothing” by Dr. Mareena Thaha Reffai, conveys to
us, the readers, that she is in favour of “pelapaliya” to hand over a petition
to the President. I think under the prevailing security situation, it is not
advisable to encourage processions to protest. Then every Dick, Tom and Harry
will organise processions to highlight their grievances and march to the Temple
Trees, and it will not be pragmatic for the Head of the country to entertain
such processions. We know that these processions are also one of the causes of
traffic jams on our already conjested roads. Moreover, being graduates and not
illiterates it is an inappropriate medium to highlight their grievances, if any.
There issues could be put in black and white and sent to the newspapers for
publication like what the learned doctor does very often.
The newspapers could have, and which they used to have long time ago, a column
called “Ombudsman” to which people could write their problems to. Our
journalists could operate as the intermediary and they in turn can contact the
President’s Office. Thereafter, they could write the feedback they receive
from the President or his Co-ordinating Secretary. So, what I am trying to
convey is that it is not the modus operandi for our learned graduates to resort
to - the outdated, very disturbing, and traffic and chaos-causing “pelapaliya”,
which the eye doctor prefers call the procession.
Food and clothes to Sri Lanka
It is sad to read in the newspapers the suffering our Sri Lankans are undergoing
due to the meaningless ethnic conflict in the country, and the escalating cost
of living, where the wage earners and the poorest of the poor are suffering,
with several children to feed.
I have met many Sri Lankans in Australia, who are rallying to send unperishable
food, milk food items and cloths to their relations, friends and elders homes,
who are battling to exist, as we hear the price of bread is now Rs. 50/, rice Rs.
100/- coconut at Rs. 40/- and the cost of dhal beef and fish are beyond the
reach of the ordinary man. Many of the people to whom food and clothes are sent
to Sri Lanka are facing a problem at the clearing warehouse in the city and
suburbs. They have to spend several hours at these warehouses to clear these
items, from the entrance to the exit, and have to give bribes to get the goods
Some elders homes representatives who go to take delivery of these items have
requested not to consign these items to warehouses, as it is a waste of time and
unnecessary expenses, due to the red tape prevailing in these warehouses.
Perhaps those in charge of these warehouses should try to remedy this situation
by trying to introduce some quick method of clearance. I would like to suggest
to the shipping agents in Australia to quote a certain amount to the shippers of
these food & clothes items, with an extra charge for door to door delivery
service, so that they need not have to go to these clearing warehouses and waste
their time and money, and these items can be delivered at their doorstep..
F. A. Rodrigo Sathianathen
Beasts to control beasts
A letter in the Sunday ‘The Nation’ questioned why humans behave like beasts.
Policemen have a onerous job to do. They are paid by the people of Sri Lanka to
maintain law and order, so that sanity will prevail in our peaceful country. If
the disgruntled, bedraggled political party led by the Leader of the Opposition
led a demented demonstration, protesting the increase in the prices of motor
fuel, it should have known better than to interfere with traffic on the busy
Colombo roads. The Opposition should have directed the protest to the American
Embassy for it was the American President who asked for it and got it in full
measure, from the oil producers of the Middle East. Those countries are
recouping the costs of war that America involved them in, and threatens to take
them further into the mire, by safeguarding their economic interests with an
increase in the price of fuel; a product on which their economies rest. The
Government of Sri Lanka cannot subsidise the motorist by keeping down the price
of petrol .The Government has other work to do, like financing the ‘Mahinda
Chintanaya’, a plan for the economic development of the country.
Beauty queens should engage in mannequin roles that they excel in and not be on
the roads tooting horns in violation of traffic rules. The Police did not
mishandle bhikkus. They were lay students, impersonating bhikkus, attempting to
march on Temple Trees. They were rightly stopped by the law enforcing Police.
The Police were not acting like beasts. They were only doing their job. The
misguided protestors were the beasts who attempted to pile the sins of their
America friend, President Bush on the Lankan government. It was a politically
inspired protest by the Parliamentary Opposition. The ‘herd’ instinct was
displayed by the protesters who failed to reminesce and understand the reason
for the protest, but herd like blindly followed the directions of the Leader of
the Opposition .They showed up as mutts who ran berserk. Mervin Silva’s thugs
assaulted journalists and men at the Rupavahini. Expecting the President of Sri
Lanka to take Mervyn to task is a gross indiscretion and veritable puerility.
Why do not those who complain of assaults take legal action, without attempting
to politise and gain mileage. It is the animal in the human that resorts to
Easing the killer electricity rates
The government has now decided to charge a flat Rs.12.50 for every unit
electricity consumed by places of religious workshop, charitable institutions,
etc. -a step in the right direction. The previous charge for fuel adjustment
charges have also dropped and instead one overhaul charge of Rs. 12.50 per unit
put into effect This is something that should have been done earlier, and only
one charge made for electricity making it less complicated. This no doubt has
provided some relief to places of religious worship, etc.
It is also now time for a complete flat rate for electricity for the domestic
consumers of electricity as well. At present, the real killer rates are now
being charged from domestic users. As I look at the charges I am now called upon
to pay, I see that for 785 units of electricity I have consumed for my household
I have been compelled to pay a sum of Rs.28,512.50 for June 2008.By itself it
would mean that that it works out to a rate of Rs.36.32 per unit. This is cruel
and unforgivable. Probably the highest rate in the world. Earlier I paid less
than half this amount. That this is the charge now being forced on a people
already suffering with soaring food prices and what not, this is a very cruel
and unreasonable charge levied from a people who are going through enough and
more hardship with not only soaring food prices but also the degree of
corruption and extravagance now regularly practiced by the government.
The feasts in 5 star hotels at home and aboard, the luxury air trips for example
for the Beijing Olympics taking even those heavily condemned by the Supreme
Court for fraudulent activities detrimental to the state whilst affair number of
our people are even starving today.
A fair charge should therefore be levied from domestic users of electricity and
a reasonable rate should be levied taking into consideration the hard times all
our people are going through today. A fair flat rate should be something that
will give some reasonable increase in the rates taking into consideration the
need for the govt. to get affair increase in the rates of electricity and the
plight of the domestic consumer. I would like to suggest that a flat rate be
levied and no further charge be made for any fuel adjustments. I feel affair
flat rate would be:-
For some even these increases may be too much, but overall it is better than the
heavy rates now charged. It would be totally unfair for the government to seek
to recover the entire increased costs of electricity from consumers. The
government is in a way to be held responsible for the increased costs as they
did not take timely action to consider the need for suitable sources of supply
like Norochcholai, etc. A share of these increased costs must now be borne by
the government, and the burden of the increased cost of supply be made les
burdensome to consumers. In addition there is the colossal wastage of funds, as
well as the lack of adequate steps being taken to recover the big losses from
the vat fraud, cope, etc. by the government. If these funds are recovered there
would be more money for welfare of the people.
The government should therefore take immediate steps to revise their new charges
for electricity for consumers as it did for places of worship, etc. The already
burdened consumers need greater relief from the high rates of electricity now
charged, and it is now for the government to realize the burdens they are now
casting upon the people, who are being c rushed under the present cost of
living, and to give them the relief of fair and reasonable rates for consumers
For the first 50 units Rs. 7.50 per unit
51 to 100 units Rs. 8.00 per unit
101 to 150 units Rs. 8.50 per unit
151 to 200 units Rs. 9.00 per unit
201 to 300 units Rs. 10.00 per unit
301 to 400 units Rs. 11.00 per unit
401 to 500 units Rs. 12.00 per unit
501 to 800 units Rs. 15.00 per unit
801 to 1000 unit Rs. 20.00 per unit
1001 to 2000 unit Rs. 25.00 per unit
2001and above Rs. 30.00 per unit
Hats off to the goodwill ambassador!
I am an Indian and a frequent visitor to Sri Lanka. I am absolutely in love with
this country and its wonderful people. An experience on August 27 further
endeared the country to me.
Returning from Kandy with a fellow Indian, I landed up at the Premadasa Stadium
on impulse. Sri Lanka and India were playing the fourth ODI. We had no tickets
for the match but were happy to take a chance. To our disappointment the match
was sold out.
Like all cricket lovers, we refused to give up easily. We hung around waiting
for a miracle to happen, when a Police officer came up and asked if we were
Indian. And he took it upon himself to have us see the match; tickets or no
He took us inside the stadium and found us some prize seats, bang in the middle
of Sri Lanka’s most ardent and happy supporters. We had a complete blast,
enjoying the heroics of Raina and the magic of Mendis.
The catchy beat of drums and rhythmic chants with fluttering Sri Lankan flags
added to the atmosphere.
Sri Lanka may have lost the series but it won our hearts big time. An ordinary
Policeman did something extraordinary. In a spontaneous act of courtesy and
friendship, he became his country’s goodwill ambassador.
First death anniversary
Deshabandu Harold Herat - A Gentleman par excellence
Born into an affluent planting family in the North-western sea board of the
country, Harold Herat chose law for his career, though his father was a foreign
qualified physician. While practicing law in his home town of Marawila and
nearby courts, Herat was attracted to politics. He told us how he was picked for
the Nattandiya electorate in the 1977 General Election by J.R.Jayewardene,
against many other formidable aspirants. It is, perhaps, this soft corner that
JR had for Heart, that made him to appoint him a Minister, within one year of
election as a Member of Parliament. He was the first non-Cabinet rank Minister
to be appointed under the Second Republican Constitution of 1978. He was
assigned the subject in which he had the greatest potential to perform - the
coconut industry. Having inherited vast and excellent acres of coconut lands in
the Marawila / Mudukatuwa area, though later diminished with the land reforms of
the previous regime, he was expected to revitalise this important segment of our
economy, which was essentially indigenous in nature. In the event, he proved to
be a worthy successor to that great politician, though of a different genre, Dr.
Colvin R. de Silva. who as Minister of Plantations in the Sirimavo Bandaranaike
Government, had laid the institutional foundation to uplift the coconut
Harold Herat not only improved and rationalised this network, but also
introduced new impetus through additional local investment and much needed
foreign investment and innovation. The coconut statistics for the era (1978-89),
not only in plantation, but also processing and marketing would amply
demonstrate the contribution that Harold Herat made as Minister of Coconut
I came to know him during part of this period (1983-89), as Secretary to his
Ministry and Chairman of the Coconut Development Authority, the apex body for
the industry. Being a general administrator, with no expertise in any particular
sector, I benefitted immensely from Minister Herat’s knowledge and wisdom. It
was both educative and fascinating to listen to him. Fluent in both Sinhala and
English, he could speak to a local crowd using their own idiom and to a forum
abroad in polished dictum. I have watched him in both. With local audiences he
may use pithy language if the occasion demands, but always with utmost decency.
At international and regional forums, which I attended with him, his discourses
made us proud. At personal discussions, he was very persuasive even with greats
like President Marcos of the Philippines.
Harold Herat had subsequently been elevated to Cabinet rank and had held two
portfolios, Minister of Foreign Affairs (April 1990-August 1993) and Minister of
Justice (August 1993 - August 1994). Unfortunately, I took up duties in the
Cabinet• Office only in mid-1996 and I missed the chance of witnessing my former
Minister performing as a Member of the Cabinet. However, I can visualise how it
would have been, with his well thought out presentations and un-hurried, timely
interventions. Going by his earlier performance before international and
regional forums such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (F AO) in Rome and
Asian and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC) in Jakatra, I assume that his
participation in much more prestigious global bodies like the UNO and the
Commonwealth would have been both useful to such organizations and beneficial to
It is really as a gentleman that Harold Herat impressed anyone who came in
contact with him. Neat in appearance, well but appropriately dressed always, he
was an embodiment of decency. As a rule, he was courteous to his staff,
deferential to those with expertise in relevant fields, and considerate to all.
Scrupulously honest he had a high sense of decorum and correctitude. This was
most evident in travel abroad. While his wife, Mrs. Gwen Herat accompanied him
on such trips, as his Private Secretary, there were occasions when one of their
three children would also join, to broaden their horizons. When this happened,
the Minister always made sure that all the expenses of the children are met with
his personal funds. In fact, I remember instances, when he brought in wads of
currency notes (obviously received after a successful coconut harvest!) to pay
for their air-fare!
It is one year since the demise of Harold Herat. Planter, lawyer, politician,
Minister of the State, though he may have been, I will always remember him as a
gentleman of the first order.
Farewell to a cherished friend
Harold was my closest friend and he was also the best friend I ever had in my
life. Last year around this time I spent each day by his side at the hospital as
he lay in hope that he would recover. However, God needed Harold near Him and he
was taken away from his dear wife and three lovely children.
With his passing, I lost a dear friend who helped me in numerous ways,
especially when times were tough and things were hard for me and my family. We
loved each other from the beginning and no one can ever take his place as my
Those who shared his life will always remember the many precious moments and
special memories that revolved around him. He will not be forgotten and we were
truly blessed to have him in our lives. May the Lord grant him eternal rest.