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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.

 

Written words are more dangerous than the spoken words

We have all heard of ‘the pen being mightier than the sword’. But, we have to recognise the fact that, written words can be mightier than the spoken words, for they can easily be misunderstood. When we speak face to face, the facial expression and body language conveys the real meaning of what we intend to say. We can say some harsh words with a smiling face to make it jocular or vice versa. Even when one speaks over the phone, the inflections of the voice will convey the actual intention. When written words are read, the reader assumes the meaning. Ass-u-me, as it is said, is making ans Ass (of) U (and) me.

Further, while speaking directly or, over the phone, one has the oppurtunity to correct the misunderstanding. But, when one writes, the whole intention can be misunderstood. This is specially so, when one communicates through SMS, e-mails or chat room encounters, than mere letters. What you intended as a joke, may be construed as barbed repartee. This is even more so when opposite sexes converse through written means. What you intended to be a friendly word, can be taken as a sign of intimacy. No wonder, many youngsters end up with the wrong partners

Allah says in the Quran: “If you do fear Allah, do not be too complacent of speech, lest one in whose heart is a disease, should be moved with desire, but speak ye a speech (that is) just.” Sura 33:32

This ruling and warning by the Almighty, must be remembered while speaking to those of the opposite sex, not only directly, but even while writing, otherwise unexpected serious consequences might follow.
Dr. Mrs. Mareena Thaha Reffai
Dehiwela

****

Animals and plants

Islam teaches us to respect all living things. It enjoins kindness to animals. Animals, just like people, are entitled to receive charity. Once a man asked the Prophet (peace be upon him): “Is there a reward for the charity that we give to animals?” He answered: “For every being possessing a moist liver, there is a reward.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

When we slaughter an animal for food, we must do so in the best, most humane manner possible. The Prophet (peace be upon him)) said, “When you kill, you should kill well, and when you slaughter, you should slaughter well. Sharpen your knife and give relief to your slaughtered animal.” [Sunan Abî Dâwûd]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) even forbade the cursing of animals: Once, while the Prophet (peace be upon him) was on a journey, he heard a woman invoke Allah’s curse upon a camel that she was riding. He said: “Offload the camel and let it go, since it has been cursed.” [Sahîh Muslim]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade keeping dogs as well as selling and buying them.
Ibn Qudâmah said in his book al-Mughnî (Volume four, page 281): “It is unlawful to keep dogs for other purposes than hunting, herding or farming.”

Therefore, a Muslim may not keep a dog except for a dire need such as protection if one’s house in a remote place away from other people. If a blind person needs to have a dog as a guide or for protection, then that would also be permissible.
A Muslim should not play with dogs. The saliva of a dog is impure (najas). The way to remove this impurity is to wash the affected are seven times, one time with dirt. It does not matter whether the contaminated area is a dish, an article of clothing, or the skin. A person who comes in contact with the saliva of a dog must purify the affected area correctly in order for him to be able to perform prayers.

Al-Qurtubî states: “It is prohibited to castrate an animal except for a tangible benefit like improving the quality of meat or preventing harm.”

In the Hanafî legal text Badâ’i` al-Sanâ’i` (1/78), it reads: “Imam Abû Hanîfah held the opinion that it is permissible to feed dogs a dough made of flour which is mixed with impure water. This is because whatever becomes impure is unlawful for human consumption, but it may still be utilized.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah has decreed proficiency in everything. If you kill, then kill or slaughter something, then do so in a good manner. He should sharpen his blade and make it easy for the animal.” [Sahîh Muslim]

Muslims are categorically prohibited from abusing animals. The Prophet (peace be upon him) informs us of how a woman earned Allah’s wrath for her mistreatment of a cat. She entered the Hellfire on account of a cat that she imprisoned, neither feeding it nor letting it hunt for food. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]

Islamic Law requires from us to be good and kind in our treatment of everything. This is especially true for those mute animals who are unable to protest or defend themselves against abuse.Even when it comes to our lawfully slaughtering an animal for food, Islam takes the animal’s interests into consideration. We must make sure the blade is sharp, so as not to prolong the pain of slaughter by using a dull knife. We are not supposed to allow the animal to see the blade beforehand.
How much worse is it for one who raises a newborn calf in a state of abuse and misery, so that it suffers from the ailments and trauma described in your question?

As for eating the veal itself, this is permissible as long as it does not cause any harm to the health of those who eat it. The meat of the calf is lawful, provided it is properly slaughtered. If eating the meat poses a health risk, then it will be unlawful to do so, since the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There shall be neither harm nor the causing of harm.” [Sunan Ibn Mâjah, Mustadrak al-Hâkim, and others]
Sawmeer
Malwana

****

Georgia- A lesson for Sri Lankan leaders

After the States within the Soviet Union gained their independence, the US wooed these former Soviet States to gain influence over them. The US, in particular, and the EU sought both political and economic relationship with them. In effect, Western powers brazenly tried to get these former Soviet States out of the influence of Russia. The Russian Federation was in economic chaos just after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and could not do much to prevent the Western powers from bringing these states under the influence of their orbit.

Much to the disapproval of Russia, the US also planted missiles in two former pro-Russian countries viz. Poland and Czech. In addition, Kosovo was granted independence, hanging the carrot of entry into the EU, to Serbia. Western powers were also eyeing Lithuania, Estonia, the Ukraine, Latvia and Moldova, to bring them towards their influence. All these States were in the backyard of the Russian Federation. Russia was very worried of the machinations of the Western powers meddling in her backyard. This was of no avail and on the eve of Georgia wanting to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Russia attacked the Georgian forces in South Ossetia, sending their troops there and also air-attacked Georgia itself.

The Western powers already caught in a quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan could not come to the rescue of Georgia. The prime-minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin, seizing the opportunity to pound Georgia with air-strikes and military incursions, sent an emphatic message of global consequences. NATO’s expansion in Eastern Europe and onwards to enhance former republics of the Soviet Union, has been put on notice. The Kremlin, in a no-nonsense message, has conveyed that it is prepared to use force to halt any more adventures into its backyard.

Russia does not need to do what she did in Georgia to her other enclaves in the Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, because what is now happening in Georgia, has already driven home a powerful message that, what happens in these Russian enclaves, wherever they are, is for Russia to determine and no one else. Moscow’s operation in Georgia would serve as a deterrent to any other country wishing to come into the influence of the Western powers. Russia is the regional power and wants to be recognised so.

This also is a very good example for little Sri Lanka. The consequences of ignoring India and moving too close to China and Pakistan is not to the liking of the regional power in South Asia, India. In no uncertain terms have the Indian leaders expressed this notion to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Like in 1987, there is every likelihood that, India will intervene, if we too, try a “Georgia.” Neither China, preoccupied with building her own economy, nor will Pakistan, burdened with political, economic and extremist problems, come to our rescue.

Our relationship with India should be conducted in a wise, patient and prudent manner. Extremist views from the JHU and the JVP must be sidelined by explaining to them, the grave consequences of following an anti-Indian line.

The Rajapaksa government, without further delay, must implement the 13th Amendment. In their expected victory over the LTTE, the government should display generosity, mercy and forgiveness. If the Rajapaksa government shows bluster and bravado, there will be very grave consequences to Sri Lanka, may be even a Kosovo scenario may God forbid, emerge.
Saybhan Samat
Rajagiriya

****

Tree of Enlightenment of Supreme Fame - The Bodhi Tree

Throughout the world, Buddhists pay homage to the sacred Bodhi Tree
Buddha attained Enlightenment at the foot of the holy tree.
Millions greatly venerate the tree in piety
With fervent hope of bestowing merit, health ‘n’ prosperity.

No other tree receives the attention, care ‘n’ respect, as this tree
As long as Buddhism exists ‘n’ flourishes tradition’ll go on so free
The Bodhi is considered a symbol of dynamic life for many a century
The tree of Enlightenment of Supreme fame - The Bodhi tree of sanctity

Even before the birth of Buddha this tree was in exalted dignity
From time immemorial people used this tree for religious utility
The Bo-tree regarded ‘The tree of life’, in far flung places in folk love,
Bulgaria for ages much importance is attached to this tree in Sri Lanka

Popular as Pippali or Aswatta in Sanskrit from long ago,
After Buddha’s Enlightenment this tree became known as Bodhi tree to fore
Deeply venerated as an auspicious, lucky sign, serenity for environment,
An authentic history for centuries, king of trees filled with enchantment

The oldest tree in the world yet, so young looking significant distinction
In regal splendour stands majestically in supreme perfection
Constantly fluttering evergreen foliage rhythmic melody
Like pattering rain whispering much needed Peace ‘n’ Unity.

Recalling epoch making events in history, of bygone era
By Theri Sangamitta for ceremonial enshrinement, royal city at Anuradhapura
A sapling of Sri Maha Bodhi at Buddha Gaya, the tree of Enlightenment
Defying the sun, rain, wind, priceless gift undescribable monument

The Great Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi at A’pura of regal splendour
When ceremonially enshrined the earth quaked, many a visible wonder
According to Mahawansa thousands plunged in amazement miracles visible
Now stands a compassionate monarch bestowing solace to each, a way possible

Sanctuary of miracles, wondrous powers in history
The shaft of radiance remind us of holy Vesak day in dignity
May you eradicate hatred ‘n’ enmity in human for unity
May you spark the divinity in each human to make this wish a reality
Kumari Kumarasinghe Tennakoon

****

One serving of meat a day, keeps the baby away

I write to thank Dr. D. P. Atukorale for sharing the results of the analysis done by the Harvard researchers of dietary assessments of 18,555 women trying to become pregnant. I think the Sri Lanka Family Planning Association (SLPA) can include the consumption of meat to their conventional birth control methods, which has several drawbacks / side-effects.  Hope Dr. Sriyani Basnayake, Medical Director of the Sri Lanka Family Planning Association (SLFPA) will take note of the article captioned “Animal protein increases infertility risk”, appearing in a newspaper recently, by the senior (Retired) Consultant Cardiologist Dr. Atukorale.
Mohamed Zahran
Colombo 14 

****

Let’s be true to ourselves

Since, Independence in 1948, (Ceylonese) Sri Lankan have been suffering and have gone through from bad to worse in their daily living conditions, with the rising cost of living making it more and more difficult to exist, particularly for the poorest of the poor.
The party politics have ruined peace in our country, creating animosity against every community. Most politicians want to rise to power irrespective of what happens to the people and the country’s welfare is no concern to them. People have lost confidence in our politicians, due to the behaviour of politicians like Mervyn Silva.

Japan, Germany, Korea, Vietnam and recently India, have achieved a better standard of living for their people, by telling the truth.
Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was once known as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean and the clearest city of Colombo of the East.

Four decades ago we were far ahead of other countries in the South East Asian region. We even had South Indians swimming across the Palk Straits to seek employment in Sri Lanka, as “Kala Thonis,” and there was a popular song then “Kala Thoni Apayanagatha Mudalali.” Today what has happened to this beautiful and peaceful country? Sri Lankans now seek employment abroad in Canada, Australia, Italy, Middle East, Korea, Malaysia etc. wherever they can get an opening legally or illegally.

Lets give a few minutes of our time to the following “words of wisdom” and try to develop together for the future generations and lessen the burden of the people, particularly, the poorest of the poor.

To develop the country, the first thing we have to be irrespective of party politics and positions, from the President downwards is:
i. To be true to ourselves.
ii. Give strength where there is weakness
iii. Remember that the hand that gives, gathers and “The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives away the flower”.
iv. You will never put a good man down in life
v. Ingratitude is an unpardonable crime in society
vi. We must leave this world, better than it was found, since we are only passengers in transit in this world.
F. A. Rodrigo Sathianath
Melbourne

Australia

****

Future of the UNP

It would have been admirable, if the leader of the Party had resigned immediately after the first major defeat, as is traditionally done in the U.K. However, this did not happen and there is no point in harping on this matter. It would appear that the UNP was “taken for a ride” by the Norwegians and the LTTE as regards the Peace Accord.

But, was it only the Leader of the Party who was to blame for all this? To the credit of Ranil Wickremesinghe we must not forget that at least he has been referred to as “Mr. Clean.”

There is a Sinhala saying that, “you cannot fall from the mat to the floor.” Therefore, now is the time for the UNP to take drastic action to become a party of honest persons, without vested interests and also a party without the support of unscrupulous financiers and the underworld.

Let the UNP say that it will not directly take back any person who has defected, even though claiming to be a dissident. Dissension should have been strictly within the Party. Any so called dissident, should be told to resign from membership of the Party and to contest an election as an independent candidate, before seeking to rejoin the party. However, under no circumstances should any person, against whom there is a finding of corruption, by a duly constituted Commission or Committee, ever be given membership or taken back to the Party. Politicians should realise that power is evanescent and that their survival really depends on the Party’s Vote Base.
The crying need of the hour, for the sake of good governance, is a political party of honest and dedicated men.
P.B.Herat

****

Revised Stamp Duty

Stamp Duty was re-introduced on 4.4.2006 and has been amended subsequently.
From 01.01.2008, all Receipts and Payments up to Rs.25,000 were exempt from Stamp Duty and Stamp Duty of Rs. 25 was only payable on Rs.25,000 and above.

However, the Department of Inland Revenue will not be able to check the correctness of the Stamp Duty recovered, as total Receipts and Payments columns will not tally with the stamp duty recovered. Tax revenue will be maximised, only if “tax recovery audits” are simplified. In the circumstances, it may be useful to charge Stamp Duty on Total Receipts (excluding cash sales) and on Salary Payments @ Rs. 10/- per Rs. 100,000/- and Individuals be exempted.

A separate programme may be introduced to collect stamp duty from enterprises which do not have stamp duty files. It is always beneficial to collect stamp duty by cheques, rather than affixing revenue stamps.
S. R. Balachandran
(Council Member National Chamber of Commerce)

****

A pittbull in a china shop?

2008, visions for a rerun.....
Of warring (1960’s-1975) of N. and S. Vietnam
Visions of girl with burning “napalm”
“Chemical-agent-orange”....
Airsprayed over the jungles of Vietnam,
“Hanoi Jane” or Saigon John,
War virgin or veteran,
Hallucinations or visions for Washington?

Irene de Silva
Colombo 5

****

                                                                     Appreciation                                                                

A hospital that cares

I am pleased to write about human beings who go beyond their job function with much caring and commitment to take care of patients. I am just completing, three weeks since my bypass surgery at Durdans Hospital.

I being ‘clinically’ healthy, returned after a ten day overseas business tour, and continued with my usual day to day activities till two days after returning I was diagnosed with Heart Disease. Some blocks and bypass surgery followed immediately after. A massive heart attack was prevented by Dr. (Mrs) Selvi Perera’s timely intervention, and follow up diagnosis by Dr. (Mrs) Neomali Amarasena, for which I am ever so grateful. On recommendation of both doctors I made a decision to get my surgery done at Durdans Hospital, Colombo. It was then that I was handed over to Dr. K. Dev and his team.

With the very first consultation with Dr Dev, I was made so comfortable and calm with his soft spoken and confidant approach where he explained everything in detail and spent more than half an hour with me. At the end I was given so much courage he even went to the extent of giving his personal mobile number and said to call him any time when in doubt. He also said to text him if he did not answer the phone while in the theatre - that he will get back to us as soon as possible. This is a rare quality!! It was then that all his juniors started visiting, in preparation of surgery. Well the way all these doctors, sisters, nurses and all other staff conducted themselves and the caring and attention paid certainly gave me full confidence to go for the operation without any fear. I feel the nursing staff in this section must be well briefed and regularly trained to handle such patients. I would be failing in my comments if I do not write about the junior staff who prepared me for the operation and attended to my requirements. They were so kind, soft spoken and very caring

I was taken in for surgery and that is all I knew until I gained consciousness in the Cardiac Surgical Intensive Care Unit. I faintly remember struggling in pain while on the ventilator. It was an unusual feeling. It was then that I could hear a female voice in a very comforting tone saying ‘Why Mr. Nanayakkara? What is wrong? You are ok now!’ They kept on talking to me in the same tone and in that comforting manner from time to time.

The kind tone and the way they were caring was no different to a mother talking to a child, when the child is not well. These are things to learn for all others - whatever the profession that you may be in. I was at the CSICU for three and a half days and do recollect that there was a nurse or a sister allocated to each bed paying personal attention. However, the team work of the nursing staff at the CSICU was amazing! Though I was in pain and recovering from surgery, I gave time to observe how the nursing staff was helping each other whenever the requirement arose. If the nursing staff looking after me was not around - I only had to tell someone else my requirement and it was met. Being someone who appreciates system driven management, it was great to watch how they handed over the patient to the incoming staff at the shift change, and how well they give a short briefing of the immediate history of the patient. The place is so streamlined and organized - every time before the medicine was given the nursing staff would go up to the team leader, show the medicine and get the approval to give the medicine to the patient. I certainly appreciate and consider these professionals.

Having come out of the ICU into the Ward Number 08, caring and the nursing continued to be of very high standard. I did not feel that I was in a ward purely because of the friendliness and the warmth extended by the staff. My appreciations also go to the team of Physiotherapist who got me to walk and climb stairs within a short spell. It was nice interacting with the entire team of doctors who helped me along.

I am able to talk only about the experience that I have had at Durdans Hospital – perhaps, and I want to believe, that all other hospitals extend a similar service.

Dr Dev visited me at the CSICU as well as at the ward after the surgery, immaterial of it being a Sunday, Poya or any other holiday. Such was the commitment. Personally, to me, seeing him was absolutely rejuvenating - and I think the name ‘Dev’ goes well with the personality.

Overall, personally, to me - my gain is way beyond value for money. If this is what Sri Lanka can offer together with an Indian Team of doctors, I see no reason why people have to rush off to other countries for ‘bypass surgery’!
Nilmin Nanayakkara
Nugegoda

****

Memories of an outstanding friend
Srimathie de Silva

The news of Srimathie de Silva passing away reached me on September 14, 2007, when I called her residence on this day, to find out whether her son had come to take her to the hospital. The sad news I received about her death disturbed me so much that, I walked out of office, as I wanted to reach her home quickly. It was with a very heavy heart that I got into a three wheeler to get to Wijerama. I comforted myself with the thought that she had a full life and had passed away peacefully, without much suffering. However strong you are, it is always sad when you receive a message to say that someone very dear has passed away.
I had the privilege of knowing my dear friend Srimathie for over 30 years. My first encounter with her was way back in the early 70’s. I know how hard it is for a single female to survive, unless you have the warm assurance and advice of sincere and caring friends and family. Such was Srimathie akka. To me, she was a dear mother, always happy to welcome me. Her home and her heart was open to me at all times. Her ready smile and her friendliness, when she greeted me, whenever I visited her. She would listen to my problems and try to solve them. I am deeply grateful for the help and advice given to me throughout in all matters.

She was unwell for some years. Although she is no longer with us, the friendship with that family continues. She was a Buddhist, leading a righteous life and a truly trustworthy person, and I was not alone in benefiting from her. I could give many examples of her kindness. She is far beyond the price of pearls. She found time for others too, giving happiness to those who sought her assistance. All of us who knew her, will never forget her, as she has touched many lives. We are all aware of her extraordinary capabilities and talent all round.

She was a good mother to her two sons Prasanna and Ranil and doted on her two grandchildren Chanilka and Roshan.
Fond memories of the good old days will never be forgotten or fade away from my memory.
As a Christian, I believe she is now resting from toil, pain and sorrow, awaiting the joyful resurrection at the Lord’s second coming. Farewell Srimathie akka, till we meet again.
Lilamani Amerasekera

****

 

 

 

 

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