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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.

 

This is my response to A. D. Gunasekera’s letter on the above topic which appeared recently (July 9, 2008) in a Colombo English daily.
I wish to discuss the points on which I agree and disagree with him in regard to what he has conveyed in his letter. I concur with him that -
(1) All organisms have to feed to live
(2.) Only plants can manufacture their own food
(3) Carnivores cannot live without eating other animals - may I add here that eyen carnivores never ever devour their own breed - and
(4) One should not desist from eating fish or flesh because in religions it is taught as a sin.

In my view ‘sin’ is only a religious belief because there no proof for life after death. So sin or merit cannot influence life after death. Religions are creations of man and each religion has its own ‘basic’ tenets which persons belonging to that particular religion are expected to adopt and follow but what about the rest of the animal kingdom which do not have any religion? It is again my personal view that none of us have been created.

The concept of ‘life’ should in my view be looked at from this angle - more highly evolved animals of which the ‘most highly’ evolved being the human species followed by those of the ‘lower’ evolved category such as animals, birds, fish, insects, plants and finally those in the ‘lowest’ evolved category namely microbes like the bacteria viruses and unicellular organisms, both of animal and plant origin. The significant difference between these two groups, viz, plants and animals is that most plants can regenerate when some segment such as a branch or part of the stem is injured or severed by injury/trauma and also when subjected to the trauma there is no visible suffering or agony experienced by the plant whereas in the more highly evolved forms of life which includes man and animals what is witnessed is just the opposite, that is, an amputated or severed limb cannot be replaced by Nature and therefore the loss is permanent and there is also an immense visible suffering/agony when animals are killed at game/hunting or when slaughtered for the consumption of their flesh as meat by man to satisfy his appetite.

The uprooting of plants cannot be equated, in my opinion, to the slashing the neck of an innocent chicken/goat/pig or cow.
A popular misconcept amongst some Buddhists and Hindus is that ‘fish’ is not equivalent to ‘meat’ but this is not correct: the fish is also an animal and living wholly in water and it is reported that when taken out of its environment (water) the fish undergoes immense suffering prior to its death – pathetic indeed!

Let me conclude by agreeing with Mr. Gunasekera that ‘one should not desist from eating fish or flesh because in religions it is taught as a sin but “because of compassion for a more developed form of life”.
This is exactly what the Noble Buddha taught and stressed.
“May all beings be well and happy”.
Prof. M. Sivasuriya
Colombo 8

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Teach children their obligations to parents early

There was an ad. in the recent papers where forlorn looking parents are waiting at dinner for their grown up children to visit them. It is a touching heart rending scene, all too familiar in many a home.
This is pathetically true in many parents’ cases. We see many number of parents who are practically on the road while their children are doing very well. While the attitude of the children has to be condemned in no uncertain terms, I feel the parents too have to take part of the blame. It is the parents’ duty to teach the children that they have an obligation to look after the parents in their old age.

According to Islam the parents in old age can be the stepping stone for the children to hell or heaven. If they look after and care for the parents then there will be a way to heaven, and if not they will be on the path to enter the hell. Being obedient to parents is said to be only secondary to being obedient to Allah. Allah says in the Quran : 17:23 Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour.

Thus if any parents truly care for their children, they will teach them from childhood that the obligation to look after them is of paramount importance. Also when they do not look after them in adulthood, they will demand it, and reprimand them.
The parents should not feel that the “children should know” their needs. As much as the child told the parents their needs when they were small, now that the roles are reversed, the parent should feel bold to tell them what they need. Of course the children should know their parents’ needs and do more than necessary, whenever possible. And the parents should not demands unreasonable obligations. But the children should remember that what most parents need is not money or material, rather a matter of visiting them often and keeping in touch with them in the true sense, not merely by giving some money and feeling they have done their part.

After all if the parents did only that, just spending money on them without looking into their real needs, the children would not be in the high status they are in now.
It is important to teach the children to make supplication for their parents while the parents are alive. Often people do not do this but only after the death of the parents they mourn and wish they have supplicated for their health and long life.
Similarly many do not tell their parents they love them, do not thank them for having brought up them in a good manner though they will spend thousands sending presents to friend they recently met.
When did you last hugged and kissed your parents? Do so today, even if you do it regularly, for, however much you do, you cannot do it enough.
Dr. Mrs. Mareena Thaha Reffai

Dehiwela

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Mosquito menace

Mosquito menace has been threatening our lifestyle for too long and it is high time that some drastic actions were taken to get rid of it without delay. The key is to eliminate the root cause of the problem rather than trying ad hoc remedial measures. Whenever a dengue outbreak is there we see increased activity and fogging for a few days. Millions spent on mosquito coils only make coil manufacturers rich. Such half-hearted attempts can only subdue the problem for a short period of time. Destruction of mosquito breeding places will only be the effective solution to the problem.

Singapore is a country with a similar equatorial climate to ours, high rainfall and dense living conditions. These are ideal conditions for mosquito breeding, but Singapore is free of mosquitoes due to some stringent regulations and tough enforcements. Singapore has an anti-mosquito task force whose only duty is to see that the county is mosquito free. Dedicated teams of over 500 officers do regular audition, inspection and enforcements.

It is high time that here also a dedicated task force be set up with the task of tackling the mosquito menace. Municipal and Urban councils should have anti-mosquito teams whose full-time job would be to tackle this issue. Preventive surveillance and control, public education, enforcement and elimination of potential mosquito breeding spots should be carried out aggressively and continuously in order to get rid of mosquito menace.
K.G.E.
Nugegoda

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Why are flowers offered to God?

With reference to the letter captioned ‘Flowers are youngsters of the vegetable kingdom’ by Dr. M.T. Reffai appearing in the Daily Mirror, she has queried as to why does one offer flowers to God. When I mailed this question to a Hindu colleague of mine, he sent me the following reply which I reproduce below, as I would like to share it with the doctor and other readers who will be very keen to know the reasons.

Offering of flowers or Puja symbolises the natural opening of the heart to the Divine, the way a flower naturally unfolds its petals. Offering of flowers are done with the same purity, openness, receptivity and innocence, a spontaneous dwelling of our innate love of life. The seers saw the flower offering the natural form of worship, nature’s ultimate expression of love of God, and they sought to embody it in our human lives. Flowers are relatively new comers to evolution and parallel the evolution of mammals. They are the vegetable kingdom’s counterpart of devotion. Hence they link us up to the aspiration of Nature herself, to the Divine’s Seeking of the Divine in its own creative play.
Hope to hear from a Buddhist, their version of why flowers are offered at the temples as most of us would like to know the reasons.
Mohamed Zahran
Colombo 3

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Appeal for donations to Renal Care Unit, Anuradhapura

A few months ago your newspaper spotlighted the plight of thousands of people, most of whom are farmers of the NCP (Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa Districts) who suffer from a chronic kidney ailment. These farmers and their families are the backbone of our country. Having consumed contaminated water they are today suffering, awaiting medical attention at the Anuradhapura, Horowpathana, Medawachchiya, Kekirawa and Polonnaruwa Hospitals. On an appeal made by me for monitory donations to equip six wards at the newly constructed Renal Care And Research Centre, General Hospital, Anuradhapura, the public response was laudable. During a short span of five weeks nearly Rs. Two million was donated, and has been handed over to Dr. A. M. L. Beligaswatta, FRCS, (Eng) FRCS (Edin), Chairman, National Kidney Foundation, Sri Lanka which enabled the foundation to provide certain requirements for six wards and also fourteen special imported beds for the Dialysis and the Intensive Care Units.

Much more money is needed urgently to provide Operating Theatre facilities. In this background, I am making a Further Public Appeal and to The Corporate Sector to donate funds. All donations should be by cheque “Account Payee” drawn in favour of National Kidney Foundation of Sri Lanka, and be posted to Upali Salgado, Fund Raiser NKF, No. 29, Deal Place (A), Colombo 03. Cordinator, Fund Raising Actives National Kidney Foundation of Sri Lanka

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Overcrowded prisons

Apropos the letter by Dr. Mrs. Mareena Thaha Reffai of Dehiwala in your issue of 05.10.2008, the problem of overcrowding of Prisons should be tackled in a compassionate manner, understanding the reason behind it.
It is more a human problem. The government is spending vast amount of money to feed the prisoners as it is a social necessity. If the prisoners can be provided with productive employment, this expenditure can be overcome. The government should provide more avenues of employment for them.
Certain prisoners commit minor offences over and over again as to enter prison so that they can survive as they have no other way to exist.
Dr. Mareena Thaha Reffai requests judges to remember the overcrowding aspect when punishments are given. The judges give punishment according to the law of the country. In my opinion, it is up to judges to decide on that matter.
V. K. B. Ramanayake
Maharagama

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Husband’s responsibilities to family

The family is that brick which forms the foundation of a society. It is composed of individuals that have permanent relations established between them. Certain etiquettes pertaining to the husband maintained for the loving relationship of the family.
The husband must share responsibilities with wife. The husband must help his wife during times of necessity, such as when she is sick, pregnant, has given birth or similar to that. The exemplary husband is he who cooperates with his wife by bearing good relations and showing kind manners to her. Beware of characterizing the relationship between the spouses with over-seriousness! The family life with a militaristic nature amounts to one of the causes for failure and bad results. The kind and noble manners of the husband is that he complies and assents to the requests of his wife, so long as they are not forbidden in Islam.

The husband should specify a time in which he can play around and pass free time with his wife. Relationship between the spouses must contain one singular and specific nature. And it cannot be this way unless the couple begins demolishing all the obstacles and impediments that stand between them. For example, the husband should not feel timid and restrain himself from drinking out of the same cup that his wife drinks out of.

There is no human being that is perfect. So there is no doubt that the husband will see things in his wife that do not comply with his natural disposition and preferences. If these aspects are not in opposition to the fundamentals of Islam or to the obedience of the husband and his rights, then at that point, he should not try to change her personality. He should also remember that if there are some characteristics that he doesn’t find pleasing in his wife, then indeed she has other characteristics, which are definitely pleasing to him.

Do not let Ramadhaan be a barrier that impedes you from showing affection to your wife. But this is so long as you are able to refrain yourself, since what is forbidden during the days of Ramadhaan is only sexual intercourse. Showing affection to one’s wife during Ramadhaan can be done during the night and if during the day (while they are fasting), it can be done by other than kissing and hugging.

Do not chase after the small errors of your wife and recount them to her, for too much blaming and reprimanding will worsen the relationship between the two of you, and it will pose a threat to your marital life. If you are able, do not hold back from providing your wife with good clothing and food, and from being generous in spending money on her. This is of course according to the extent of your ability. Do not give little importance to implementing the punishment required for any acts in opposition to the Islam, which your wife has committed, whether it is in the home or outside it. This should be the only reason that causes you to become angry. What has been stated previously does not mean that you should leave matters alone until that result comes to happen. Thus, whenever you realize that a matter is left alone, weigh it with seriousness and determination, without being too harsh or rude about it. Do not attempt to meddle into your wife’s housework affairs that do not fall into your area of duties and responsibilities, such as the food and the order of the house because woman like to put their personal touch on the house (her kingdom). Beware of scolding your wife or blaming her for a mistake she committed, in the presence of others, even if they are your own children. For indeed that is an act that goes against correct behavior and it will lead to raising anger in the hearts of people.

If you are forced to place punishment upon your wife after having advised her and she didn’t respond, then let it be by staying away from her at bedtime. And do not boycott her except that it is done within the household. And avoid using foul language, insulting her, beating her and describing her with repulsive names.

Having jealousy and caring about the bashfulness of your wife is a praiseworthy thing, which shows your love for her. However it is on the condition that you do not go to great extremes in this jealousy. For then at that point, it would turn into something worthy of no praise.
Do not alarm your family by entering upon them suddenly. Rather, enter while they are aware of it, and greet them with Salaam. And ask about them and how they are doing. And do not forget to remember Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, when you enter the house.

Beware of spreading any secrets connected with the intimate encounters you have with your wife, for that is something restricted and forbidden.
Constantly maintain the cleaning of your mouth and the freshening of your breath.
Guardianship of your wife doesn’t mean that you can exploit what Allaah has bestowed upon you from taking charge of her, such that you harm and oppress her. Showing respect and kindness to your wife’s family is showing respect and kindness to her. This applies on the condition that it is not accompanied by an act forbidden in Islam, such as intermingling of the sexes or being in privacy (with them).

Too much joking will lead to (your family having) little fear (of disobeying you) and a lack of respect for you. Prompt in fulfilling the conditions, which you promised to your wife during the pre-marriage agreement. When you lecture your wife or reprimand her or simply speak to her, choose the kindest and nicest of words and expressions for your speech. It is not proper for you to ask your wife to look for work outside of the house or to spend upon you from her wealth.
Do not overburden your wife with acts that she is not able to handle. Consider, with extreme regard, the environment she was raised up in. Rural service is not like urban service, and the service of a strong woman and her preparation for it is not like the service of a weak woman.
Sawmeer -Anuradhapura

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Swindlers’ List (timeless)

Global or gullible
Princes or peasants
Lists of shame remain
Belated and unruffled
Amidst yawning giants.

Irene de Silva
Colombo 5

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Appreciation

Late Mr. Hubert Austin de Silva

It is 16 years since late Mr. Hubert Austin de Silva was called to his eternal rest by Lord Jesus Christ on 21st October 1992.
The younger generation and all these employees who joined after October 1992, would probably be unaware of the kind of person he was, but to senior citizens like the undersigned, particularly those who knew him well, Late Mr. de Silva was an unforgettable character endowed with a good brain, a splendid sense of humour, with steady fast loyalty to his principals and friends.

Late Mr. de Silva had achieved greatness and possessed the qualities of a leader. Late Hubert de Silva possessed all the qualities to lead the entire group. He had his early education at St. Benedict College Kotahena where he had a brilliant education.
Late Mr. de Silva was selected for the District Revenue Officer’s Service in 1944. His first appointment was in Matara later to Gampaha district.

In 1951 he was selected by the Colombo Plan to undergo training at Administrative Staff College’ Hanley - on Thames, England for a period of six month.
In 1958 Government appointed late Mr. de Silva to the Port (Cargo) Corporation where he was the Chief Executive and Chairman Port Cargo Corporation.He served in several Government organisations and also as Acting Chairman, Ceylon Shipping Corporation.

After over 27 years of valuable service, he left the Government Service and joined the private sector as Director of Mc Larence Ltd. which was then one of the well established reputed foreign owned shipping agency houses.
In 1973 Mc Larence Limited became fully fledged Ceylonese Company as Mc Larence Shipping Limited and Mr. de Siva was elected as its Chairman in the latter part of 1971. He made Mc Larence a group of companies of which he became the Managing Director / Chairman. In 1975 he launched his project in tourism and constructed Hotel Topaz and later Hotel Tourmaline he further developed into various other fields and also built two Container Yards at Welisara and Hendala.

It is the duty of all employees at the group should say a prayer on this October in his memory.
I have written this appreciation for the 16th time because we are a society with short memories.
May the Almighty God rest him in peace and joy until we meet beyond the sunset.
Claud de Silva

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