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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.

 

Democratic administration needed for peace

Do the discerning have to look far to witness amicable living? Colombo and its immediate suburbs accommodate Tamils, Muslims and Sinhala citizens. Many temporary residents from the West and Asia too mingle with the resident citizens. . The demography was determined more by the peaceful atmosphere that prevailed. Most of the land and dwelling houses are Sinhala owned. Tamil speaking people who preponderate, pay rents to remain in the hub, for they are mostly businessmen. The current conflict is confined to the North. Peace will descend on the North the Country has seen it happen in the East. Following the defeat of the LTTE that held sway there, elections were held and the Muslims won a majority of seats .However in the interests of peace an ex-LTTE fighter, a Tamil, has been elected to the post of Chief Minister with all agreeing. He was sworn in by the Sinhala President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Leader of the T. M. V. P. Muralitheran, alias Karuna Amman has been invited into the Parliament .Now all will float in the Democratic main stream. Ethnic problems will be fought in Parliament and not on the battlefield. Claiming the Separate State of Tamil Eelam was a myopia. Such demands will cease.

The 13th Amendment should go off the Constitution. Such segregations of citizens only breed enmity. Sri Lanka belongs to its citizens who are free to live anywhere. The Constitution guarantees that. When the North has been militarily defeated, elections should be held after inviting those who fled the jackboot of Prabahkaran to return and claim their property. Sri Lanka need not yield to pressure from wherever it may emanate. Sri Lanka can once again be the placid country it was before the eruption of the insurgency, about twenty five years ago. Let the Executive and the legislature mete out a Democratic Administration for the entirety of Sri Lanka, that will suffice.

In an ‘Opinion’ on the topic of Negotiations that appeared in the Daily Mirror of the 14th of October 2008 the author disapproves of majoritarian rule. Democracy embraces fair play but its foundation is majoritarianism. When Sir Ivor Jennings, 1st chancellor of the Colombo University was commissioned to drafting a Constitution for independent Ceylon, he called for propositions from the political elite. The late Mr. G. G. Ponnambalam representing the Tamils presented a paper demanding Fifty - Fifty representation for the Tamils in Parliament. Sir Ivor scoffed at the suggestion. The All Party Representative Committee is a failure.. That Sri Lanka was and remains Sinhala land and is a historical reality. The JHU and the Army Commander only voiced a truth, when they said it was Sinhala land. It is important that the world is aware of the fact, and that it forms no part of South India, where Tamils predominate as the home of the Dravidian .That pronouncement does not imply any desire for Sinhala dominance. The Moor was first and long later the Dravidian were permitted domicile by the Sinhala Kings of yore. What is presently engaging the Armed Forces is not a war but the suppression of an insurgency by a rag tag gang of terrorists in the Sovereign State of Sri Lanka. Wars take place between sovereign states. No negotiations become necessary .Only a democratic administration is called for, to consolidate peace. The EPDP and the TMVP are with the Government, not to offer military strength but to offer friendship and amicability to ensure harmony in the island home. They have realised that strength lies in unity. No negotiations are necessary. Democratic administration of the country is all that is needed

Bertram Perera

Dehiwela

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Can humanity dispel its animalism?

Mr. Bertram Perera has posed the above question in the Opinion/letters page of an English daily newspaper of 16 October 2008.
My answer to his query is a definite ‘YES’ and I have no doubts that it would be the same answer ‘yes’ from all ‘right’ thinking Buddhists and Hindus the world over!

All long established religious, to quote, Buddhism Saivism Brahminism and Jainism - these three being the ‘off-shoots’ of Hinduism - and also Zoroastrianism have advocated abstinence from flesh food. Some even regard Hinduism as the ‘mother’ of all the other religions as no one seems to know for certain how and. when it originated.
So, if there is to be abstinence from flesh food according to these religions it is crystal clear that there should be no ‘killing’ or ‘slaughter’ of animals (which includes the fish - a cold blooded animas living wholly in water) by whoever it may be for this purpose, that is for food.

Vegetarianism is a direct consequence to the adherence of ‘Ahimsa’ (compassion) and ‘Metha’ (loving kindness) advocated by both Buddhism and Hinduism.
I disagree totally with Mr. Bertram Perera that “Man, the animal, has no choice but to remain an omnivore”: I would rather state that ‘Man, the animal, has every choice to be a herbivore like, for example, the elephant (the strongest animal on earth), the horse (one of the fastest/speediest animals), the bull/cow, the camel, the deer, the monkey, etc if he has ‘reverence’ for animal life!
I agree with Mr. Perera that ‘Man’s superior intellectual powers are dependent on the food he consumes’ but this does not imply that he should depend on a carnivorous or omnivorous diet. He/she need not be that to be a ‘world’ class crickter or an ‘Olympic’ champion as revealed, for example, by Sachin Tendulkar (in cricket) and Martina Navratilova (in Tennis) and Viassily Jirov former Olympic (1996) Cruiserweight boxing champion.

Amongst other notable vegetarians the following may be cited: Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Sir Isac Newton, Plato, Pythagoras, Bernard Shaw, Shakespeare, Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Aristotle, Seneca, Socrates, Rajendra Prasad (the first President of Indepedent India), Abdul Khalam (a Mlslim), the immediate past President of India and (Sir) Paul and (late) Linda Mc Carlney.

Even today misconception prevails amongst many that ‘certain people have special nutritional requirements and may have to eat meat but this is not correct. Being a medical man myself, I would like to categorically state that ‘medical opinion is currently of the view that there is nothing more nutritious that could be obtained from a carnivorous (flesh) diet than what could be obtained from a well chosen lacto-vegetarian diet and I might add that this is accepted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as well the American Medical Association (AMA).

Let me conclude by quoting Dr. Koshalya Walli: “Meat can never be obtained without injuring creatures and injuring sentient beings, meat eating is detrimental to heavenly bliss and therefore one should shun meat eating.” “One should consider the disgusting origins of flesh and cruelty of slaying sentient beings and entirely abstain from flesh eating”. “He who permits the slaughter of animals, he who cuts up, kills, buys, sells, serves it up and eats, everyone is a slayer of animals”. “He who seeks to increase his own flesh with the flesh of others and worshipping the gods and manes is the greatest sinner of all sinners. Meat cannot be obtained from straw or stone. It can be obtained only by slaughtering a creature, hence meat is not to be eaten”.
So let us “Live and let Live”

And “May all Beings be Well and Happy”

Professor M. Sivasuriya

Colombo 8

****

Cruelty to animals - A reply

 I totally agree with Dr. Godamuna ( for once!) on what he says in his letter in The Island of Saturday 11th October.
Islam while allowing the slaughter of animals for consumption, lays many rules on the way they are to be treated.
It is prescribed in the Shariah that the animals for slaughter -
1. should not be underage
2. should not be pregnant
3. should be looked after well
4. should be fed well and given enough water to drink
5. should not be made to watch another animal being slaughtered
6. Transport should be done in a humane manner
These are all part and parcel of proper halal slaughter. Based on this it is doubtful whether even one butcher today slaughters the animals in the true Islamic way.
We the God fearing Muslims welcome the decision of punishment for the perpetrators by the Chief Magistrate of Kandy for the cruelty meted out to the animals.
Dr. Mrs. Mareena Thaha Reffai
Dehiwela

****

Even a tree is not spared !

It is a common sight to see those involved in the installation of tube wells adopt a cost free advertising by putting up miniature boards with mobile numbers prominently displayed nailed to the tree trunks in prominent places. There BTL (below the line) advertising technique not only deprives the Municipality of its entitled dues such as taxes and rentals but also is an eyesore.

This trend of “abusing” the tree is being followed by private tuition institutes to promote their tuition classes, by people who want to dispose of bare lands, sell or lease houses, etc. One can also see that even the bus stops, lampposts, pylons are not spared. The advertising messages are sometimes printed on wooden boards and at times, to be economical, on laser print-outs laminated or sheathed in polythene covers are used. I hope the municipalities will take suitable steps to eradicate this trend, which deprives them of the much-needed revenue and make the city free of advertising boards being put up at unsuitable places.

Mohamed Zahran

Colombo 3

****

Licit and illicit alcohol trade

Now that corruption in high political and public sector circles is being regularly exposed by the Supreme Court, it is time to see how it has operated in the illicit liquor industry.
The first thing to recognise is that kassippu kills.The second is to recognise that the Law on Alcohol and Tobacco (and the establishment of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol – NATA ) has given a huge boost to the kassippu industry. This is the natural and inevitable consequence of the Law and government fiscal policy. By making legal drinks like arrack and gin difficult to obtain and prohibitive in cost the government has compelled the poor to turn increasingly to kassippu. Drinking is one of the few sources of pleasure and relaxation available to the poor. No amount of preaching can alter this inescapable fact. By the way, total prohibition is the Paradise that kassippu mudalalis yearn for. Just think about the rise of gangsterism and violent crime that the experiment with Prohibition in the US spawned in the 1930’s. Total prohibition would be a disaster for our already beleaguered nation.

Tobacco and alcohol are vastly different in their impact on health although the NATA Law treats them both the same. Tobacco is cumulative in its effect and is damaging even in small quantities, and very highly addictive even with moderate indulgence. Alcohol on the other hand is now recognised by the medical profession to be positively beneficial in moderate quantities. Doctors now recommend one or two drinks of ethyl alcohol based drinks, a day. This is considered not merely tolerable but beneficial.

Two years ago, a study was done by the highly respected Institute of Policy Studies into the alcohol industry, and some of their findings published in their Report “The State of the Alcohol Industry” dated 21st March, 2006 were:
1. It is a fallacy that Sri Lanka has one of the highest per capita liquor consumptions in the world. In fact it is one of the lowest.
2. Only 20% of the liquor consumed in Sri Lanka is legal. The balance 80% is illegal.
3. There are only about 2,000 legal wine retailers while there are an estimated 200,000 illicit selling points.
4. Government revenue from the legal liquor industry for 2004 was Rs 23 billion.
5. A ban on advertising, according to the experience of other countries, will not lead to less consumption.
6. An advertising ban in Sri Lanka will lead to further dominance by the leading players and further price increases which will increase the consumption of illicit liquor.

This Report was made available to some Ministers of this government, though some of them appreciated its implications, nobody was able to have the NATA policy reversed.
Excise duty generated by the legal liquor industry in 2005, excluding VAT, Turnover Tax, Income tax and other levies, was about Rs.14.5 billion (Excise Report 2005). On the basis that the illicit industry is four times larger than the legal industry this would imply that government is losing about Rs.58 billion annually in excise duties alone.

Now the government should re-examine its failed policies, foremost among which are the NATA Law and the shortsighted continuous increase in excise and other duties on alcohol. I can confidently predict that a reduction in excise duties and other such levies will result in an increase in revenue, just as happened in the case of the decrease in income tax rates many years ago. A vigorous campaign to wipe out the illicit outlets, led by a dedicated special Task Force, will reap enormous rewards to government and make a significant contribution to its revenue. Apart from that the health of the poor will improve and expenditure on health services will decrease. And as an added bonus, the level of crime will decrease. And all that is required to achieve this is the courage to grasp the nettle. As there are more ways than one to skin a cat, it would not be necessary to abolish the Law at this stage. The easier course would be to tacitly downplay it and reduce it to a dead letter.
Charitha P.de Silva

****

                                                                      Appreciations                                                              

Mr Vijitha Weerasinghes’ 1st Death Anniversary

Mentor unparalleled

Among the great men produced by a hallowed institution, which is unique, was a man who stood greater than the rest.
Mr Viji Weerasinghe renowned as one of (if not) the greatest Royalists was a rare and exemplary character. I find it difficult to surmise his life with few words, yet let me brave the challenge.
Viji had the rare opportunity of being closely attached to Royal for a record 73 years. During this span he played many roles, from school boy, teacher and Deputy Principal and advisor to Royal College Union. Many old boys move on with life stepping out of the Boake gates into the real world they shoulder a myriad of different burdens. Mr Viji devoted all his time and energies towards his Alma mater. College was his and maintaining it became a full time job
His vision forged Royal College anew, with a fusion of both old and new, the time honoured traditions and experiences along with new briefs and trends.

Some might wonder why Mr Vijitha was so involved in the day’s activities of school, even during his last days. Aged and quite feeble he still came to office, never a minute late; never a day missed. His hand guided many a policy of school administration. The number of Principals, Deputy Principals and teachers, who drew wisdom and inspiration, are too many to mention. He was the link between school and authority and both parties gained immensely from his patient mentoring.

Mr Viji possessed a wealth of knowledge on Royal College. Having been an integral part of it for over 70 years and having witnessed so much more, one could always rely on Mr Viji to provide an answer to a pressing problem, or extend a helping hand and truly worthy advice. This ensured that his office was never empty. Looking back, we smile and reminisce all that was great and good about him. It cannot fail to stab our hearts with pain to know that never again will behold his angelic smile and words of courage and hope. We really miss your presence as there is no one else who could advice us on Royal College or Royal College Union matters as the way you did.
Yet our memories and learning will last a lifetime and till then, Sir your spirit will never leave one eternal home.

Rizan Nazeer
Secretary, Royal College Union

 

Man to be taken for all in all
A year passed of thy presence unfelt
Only in person for thy persona lives in the hearts of old and the young
All those fortunate to have had a glimpse of you.
Still yearn for your magical touch
On the eve the 175th Birthday of Royal
The only man served the hallowed place for 72 years !

Few men would create history and fever would be revered like you
We mortals still wonder the secret of your health and happiness
We still wonder how you were numb to pain
Was it your strength to renounce
The worldly possessions
Caring for nothing, but the human worth
The moral sensibility never unaffected
Or your single ambition to be near your loving Glado

All those who came through the mighty Boake gate
If lucky enough, to receive your gentle smile
Saw the real world.
Good old Viji one would say yet in a rebels shoes, I would say
No traditionalist you were for the traditions sake
Boldly advised the Principals
Discarded bravely all what was outdated, counter-productive
Of an institution facing the time and tide tuned by the global trends
Many young ones at times failed to comprehend
The blunted purposes should not get better of Royal
Yet a strong defendant of the same when the tradition called for
Thus “threw away the worser part of it
And lived the purer with the other half’

Music, Literature your food for life
The youngest cast King Lear
Coming home with the coveted Trophy
Passed your empty office
The castle thousands found a “pleasant seat”
Air nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
Unto your gentle senses”
Being thankful Children
Sang in your praise

“He was a man; Take him for all in all I shall not look upon his like again”

Lakshmi Attygalle
Deputy Principal
Royal College

****

A perfect grandmother

It is a well known fact that the world consists of many imperfect people. Being a perfect human being might not be possible, but being the best person you can be, making a positive impact on other people’s lives, living a life you can look back and be proud of, and one that others admire is, in my opinion, being perfect. My grandmother Vinitha Rukmani Wijesinghe was one of those people. She passed away on October 22nd , 2008, leaving behind a loving husband (Samson), mother (Daisy), brother (Susanda), sister (Dharshani), her five children (Gayani, Priyanga, Delan, Eresha, and Sudharshi), and her grandchildren (Anushka, Sarindee, Mevanka, Janith, Anuka, Nethmal, Kushali, Randil, and Imasha).

A mother’s love is something that is difficult to explain. It’s something that can only be felt by her children. The devotion, joy, pain, sacrifice, and equal love, are only a few attributes that mothers’ possess. My grandmother had each and every of those qualities. Throughout her life, she fulfilled the duty of being a mother to full of her ability, loving, and sharing everything she had, with her five children equally. A grandmother’s love is something rare that should be cherished. She can be defined as someone who had a big heart, a warm smile, and a loving touch. On every occasion a grandchild was born, she opened up her heart to let that one in.

At 70, she passed away from a life full of generosity, kindness, commitment, and unreserved love. It was a life that will not only be dearly missed, but admired immensely by everyone who knew her. Though she had left the mortal life, she will stay in the hearts of anyone she had come in contact with.
We all love you very much Aachchi, and
may you attain Nibbana.

Sarindee Wickramasuriya

****

 

 

 

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