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Gullibility – No limit to a national weakness
Going by the number of people who are being duped daily by all manner of crooks
and tricksters gullibility has indeed become a national weakness.
The ‘Sakvithi’ scam is not the first large scale play out to come to light. The
misery that was caused to thousands in the HPT and Pramuka Bank episodes is
fresh in our memories. But this type of activity to dupe investors is going on
unabated. Advertisements still appear even in leading newspapers tempting people
to invest promising high profits or returns. The word ‘interest’ has been
discreetly dropped! Even the term ‘Fund Management’ is being used.
Property sales advertisements are also becoming suspicious. It will be
interesting to know how many have paid advances for building plots and the
periods they have been waiting without any return for their money.
The ruses that crooks use to attract the gullible are numerous. To boost their
credibility they operate from posh offices and also use expensive vehicles. Some
have Doctorates and titles of honour tagged on to their names. They also succeed
in getting photo-opportunities with VIPs. The keen desire that a large segment
of our youth have for foreign employment is a weakness that is exploited in a
big way. For the past forty years the Fraud Bureau has been investigating
thousands of cases where innocent, poor youth have been played out.
Only a few of these crooks have been convicted and punished. There is a reason
for this. Many will be surprised to know that most victims prefer to get their
money back even in installments. They know that they will not get their money
back if the crook is convicted and imprisoned. This is a real dilemma that the
police face. In spite of all the publicity regarding these employment rackets,
many keep on becoming victims.
Here too the latest method appears to be, for the crook to gain the confidence
of the victim, to even remotely drag in a politician. Recently there have been
media reports of employment and visa rackets being operated from the offices of
VIPs. It was only a few weeks ago that a security officer of a minister, a
police officer at that, had allegedly duped employment seekers of millions of
rupees. There was also the case of an MP illegally escorting a job seeker to a
Apart from these much publicized swindles thousands are cheated daily by illegal
cheetu and lottery organisers, by numerous people going round even in vehicles
with loudspeakers making collections for patients, charities, pandals, dansalas
etc., money ‘doublers’, astrologers and horoscope readers, kattadiyas and
organisers of ‘poojas’, peddlers of love portions and miracle oils etc.
Many will remember how hundreds were duped by a crook pretending to be an Indian
rishi who operated from a star class hotel in Colombo. Expensive advertising is
resorted to, by even clergymen claiming that they have solutions for all
It is also worthwhile to consider how the entire nation is periodically taken
for a ride by politicians making all manner of promises. If thousands could have
consumed ‘Vadakaha Sudiya’ wishing to be fairer and more beautiful, during the
total eclipse of the sun in 1955, it is even reasonable to presume that many
would have believed the ‘Rice from the Moon’ promise of the Seventies!
But the height of gullibility is how people including some media men have fallen
to the gimmick of an ‘inventor’ crook who claimed that he could convert a petrol
driven vehicle to a water driven vehicle. He even successfully canvassed
partners for a joint venture to set up a factory to commence production!
More to be desired from RMV
The winner of the National Productivity Award of this has been the Registrar of
Motor Vehicles Department. It’s a great achievement by a Government Department
that has been talked of with contempt for years. The new face created by this
Department would no doubt be appreciated by all and sundry. All this facelift
had been due to the efforts of the Head of Depepartment and the entire staff.
This Department is mostly involved in the issue of Driving Licensees,
Registration of Vehicles and Transfer of Vehicles. Is the Department prompt in
performing all these? A driving license on which issue date has been shown as
21.01.2008, but the owner received it only in October this year. We do not
expect the Commissioner to do miracles. Considering the number of applications
received from the entire island, the additional requirements of fingerprints,
blood sample etc. are expected to be incorporated and the availability of staff,
the Commissioner may consider in issuing the Licenses at least within a month.
The transfer of vehicles, an issue, the vehicle owners speak of very frequently,
where there is a long delay. A diesel van was transferred to a new owner and the
connected papers were forwarded through the Asst. Commissioner, Kandy about a
year back. The transaction has not been registered so far.
Tikkiri Bandara Ekanayake,
Illicit Liquor Menace
Illicit liquor is sought after by the poor, or at times by others when what they
usually imbibe is not affordable. Licensed restaurants that serve alcoholic
beverages are a necessity. They presently are not licensed to sell takeaways. A
takeaway bottle goes home, and is consumed with friends or inmates, and is not a
hindrance to anyone of the public. All licensed restaurants should be permitted
to sell a sealed bottle as a takeaway. Such a bottle should be consumed at home,
but not at a restaurant or eating house.
The availability of alcoholic beverages at any time of day or night in all shops
will discourage the mushrooming of illicit liquor dens. It will be in the
interests of the State to initiate the manufacture of a wholesome cheap
alcoholic beverage and make it freely available to all and sundry. To expect the
existing brands are affordable to the poor is a mistaken notion. The State could
commission the Industrial Technology Institute to turn out a low cost alcoholic
beverage for commercial manufacture. The present ban on liquor shops to open on
religious holidays should be reviewed. As the result of closure, the black
marketing thrives and does not restrict the consumption of alcohol on such days.
The State should consider a strategy to make liquor available to the public at a
low cost to safeguard poor alcohol consumers’ health and review the existing
excise laws to curb illicit liquor menace.
AMERICA CROSSES THE RACIAL THRESHOLD
When President Theodore Roosevelt asked the brilliant Booker T. Washington,
former slave, for Dinner to the White House (1901), white America went berserk.
When young James Meredith dared a place in the exclusive white University of
Mississipi in October 1962 Alabama exploded - under the inspiration of Governor
Ross Barnett. President Kennedy sent in State troopers and ensured Meredith
enjoys his Constitutional right. Walking with Meredith in that racially-inspired
State in those violent times were also young whites. Opposed were extremist
whites of the George Wallace mould. When Rosy Parks refused to concede her seat
to a white passenger in a segregated bus - as ordered by white driver James
Blake (1955) - the indications were growing that the USA will have to give in
sooner than later even in those twisted Bible-belt States. And then came Rev.
Martin Luther King who captured many million hearts of American blacks with his
celebrated “I have a dream” and “in that dream I saw one day on the red hills of
Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be
able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood….one day right there in
Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with white
boys and girls playing like sisters and brothers.” The fact that some of these
States returned coloured Senators, Congressmen and even Governors in recent
times is proof that the racial platform has collapsed in the US South. Bobby
Jindal of Indian Punjabi origin is the current Governor of Louisiana. Rev. King
captured the hearts not only of black and coloured America but also white
liberals and youth who were beginning to question the validity of pigment-based
politics. It was not going to be too long when white America was going to
liberate itself from its own prejudices and come to terms with morality-based
politics. And then came along Obama. Many thought Barack Obama was far too young
and his attempt to make the great leap was far too early - and even brash. A New
York Times poll held a few months ago carried out by a group of experts and
analysts of impeccable reputation - concluded Hillary Clinton will take the
democratic nomination. Obama was to prove them all wrong. But, in a way he was
not a black American in the traditional sense. His father was Kenyan (Kenya has
already declared a National holiday on Obama’s victory) and his mother a white
from Kansas. When he interrupted his Campaign last week to visit his ailing
grandmother (who died since) the American voter was reminded that, in a way, he
was one of them too. But the happiest feature to come out this exciting and
historic election is that the colour of the skin of voters may not sway American
elections any longer – although it will have its own influences in particular
local electorates. Obama reaped the harvest from the seeds originally sown by
Lincoln and nursed by Martin Luther King. George Wallace and the bigoted
political culture he advocated (“Segregation yesterday, segregation today and
segregation forever”) is dead as a door nail and so is the influence of the
dreaded the Ku Klux Khan (the KKK).
The focus of much of the world in the past few months was in the US Elections.
It is a healthy feature of the keenly contested affair that McCain did not refer
to Obama’s colour. Neither did the Republicans resort to negative politics by
referring to his middle name – Hussain in these religiously charged days. That
his name rhymes with that of America’s Enemy No.1 was not brought into play
either. MaCain - and the American voter - deserves to be congratulated on
relatively clean politics. It was good hearing McCain, in his speech conceding
victory to Obama, that racial bigotry in the US is a thing of the past. The US
Presidential election was not merely America’s Greatest Show. It is also a
celebration for people everywhere believing in the true spirit of real democracy
- which is probably why many people almost everywhere were glued to the TV these
past few months. Here’s to Barak Obama to bring that spirit of “Change” to the
USA whose suspect economic health has caused immense problems to the rest of the
world. America’s recovery indeed does matter.
The gratification to Dr. M. M. L. A.
The versatile knowledge and fair
The hoary hair,
The shimmering bold-head,
Are the rewards? By the God
When you sit
On the majestic, rotating chair
Almost like a mighty king,
Reigns in the beautiful spring
Agile hands merciful mind
Treat the sick – genially
arouse the life – gingerly
In generosity and honesty
Amicable and heart
With all of us
Genteel and genuine
To see your, glory and good will
As a genuine human
Neither genus nor casts
It’s the only glare
That gleams the unit.
How? Do I gratify and greet, to you
As a glorious doctor,
This’s my gratification and greet
For your unforgettable treat!
B. B. – N.H.S.L.
Sam De Silva
A man of surpassing integrity
It is 2 years since my friend late Mr. Sam De Silva was called to his eternal
rest by his creator on 24th November 2007.
I knew Sam for 60 years at the time of his death. He entered St. Aloysyus
College, Galle in 1945. For the last time I met Sam when I went for the Annual
General meeting of the Colombo branch of the old Boys Association on 9th
September, 2007 at the entrance of the Hotel Sapphire, Wallawatta, where he
invited me to be his guest. At that time I never saw anything that he was sick
but to my surprise that Sam had passed away on 24th November, 2007. He had being
sick for only a week but I didn’t not know it. Had I known I would have gone to
see him but it was a very sad occasion for me about his death.
Sam was a very loyal old boy of the college, He took a keen interest in the
affairs of the Old Boys Association where he was holding office as a Committee
Member, Vice President, President, and Vice Patron at the time of his death. Now
a loyal old boy is no more. Casting my mind back over the 60 years about Sam I
knew and reviewing all the association of these years, counting all his
achievements, there is one word that sums up him, i.e. faithfulness. He was
primarily a faithful husband, father, and then friend. He was faithful to all
his professional commitments. He was faithful to his ideals. He was all in one.
He was a man of surpassing integrity. He was also a very wise man. One could go
to him for counsel and receive the best considered advice. He would listen with
his mind and warm heart, and you could sense his mighty intellect trimming the
extraneous details and getting to the core.
Goodbye my dear friend Sam until we meet again.
Claude De Silve
Possessed all the qualities to lead - Late Mr. Hubert Austin
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.
Late Mr. de Silva was an unforgettable character endowed with a good brain, a
splendid sense of humour and steady fast loyalty to his principals and friends.
Late Mr. de Silva had achieved greatness and possessed the qualities of a
leader. The first and foremost requirements of a great leader are honesty and
sincerity of purpose. Then come vision, devotion and dedication to that purpose
which could be enumerated as qualities that enhance leadership.
A leader should also be able to identify temperament, the individual
capabilities and ability of his entire staff. Mr. Hubert Silva possessed all
these qualities to lead the entire group.
His early education was at St. Benedict College Kotahena where he had a
Late Mr. de Silva was selected for the District Revenue Officers Service in
1944. His first appointment as D.R.O. was in Matara. Later he was appointed as
D.R.O. 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
months. 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 on several other and Government organisations and was
also acting chairman Ceylon Shiping 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.
In 1975 he launched his project in tourism and constructed Hotel Topaz and later
Hotel Tourmaline. He further ventured into various other fields and also built
two Container Yards at Welisara and Hendala.
It is the duty of all the staff employed at the group to say a prayer on this 21
October, 2008 in his memory.
I have written this appreciation for the 16th time because we are a society with
May the Almighty God rest him in peace.
Claud de Silva
Remembering Mrs M A Silva
“The best teachers, teach from the heart, not from the book.” (Author
It is with a very heavy heart that I decided to pay this tribute to my teacher,
this noble lady, Mrs M A Silva who passed away at the age of 83 on September 13,
2008. Rev. Fr. Priyantha Silva who is her only son conducted the funeral service
at Christ the King Church, Pannipitiya in the presence of a distinguished
I first came to know her in the mid 60’s when she walked into our class as the
Algebra teacher for grade 7, the then St. Joseph’s Convent, Nugegoda which is my
alma mater. I will always remember her as a very warm person who introduced us
to Algebra. I shall be failing in my duty and obligation if I do not pen a few
lines as one who had the pleasure of knowing her for over 40 years of my life.
At St. Joseph’s there were a few its best teachers who had devoted over 20 years
of unbroken selfless service in the interest of her students and Mrs. M A Silva
is one of them. The entire term of her teaching career at St. Joseph’s spans, I
am sure, over a period of 25 years. This great personality joined the tutorial
staff during the period of Rev. Mother Rafiel.
Throughout her long period of service at SJC, Mrs. Silva discharged her
innumerable duties with calmness, devotion and thoroughness. She was genuinely
kind and sympathetic and was accessible always. She was a distinguished, loyal
and a professionally qualified teacher. She was a noble woman where she treated
teaching as a service oriented profession.
It’s strange how we really don’t see what the teachers have been trying to
instill in us until we have left school.
Mrs. Silva was a teacher par excellence who would have moulded thousands of
lives including her own daughter throughout her career. Her students have
distinguished themselves in all walks of life both home and abroad. As a true
daughter of God, she dedicated her life and service to teaching. I should not
forget the fact that she was also a daham pasal teacher for over 60 years of
which 47 years in her own parish at Christ the King Church, Pannipitiya and the
little children’s minds were touched with holiness. She was a methodical
painstaking diligent personality. Her association with her students was not be
confined to the classroom but she guided them too. She was not always sweet
faced with us – there were times that she was strict and stern when needed. She
was a strict disciplinarian too, and was able to inculcate great ideas and
values on her students.
From SJC she was transferred to a junior school as a sectional principal and
later she was appointed as principal of the primary section of Vidyakara
Vidyalaya, Maharagama. The past pupils of these schools still have vivid
memories of her undying service.
This is also a long overdue “Thank You” to my teacher. You developed in your
students a lasting foundation that we remember you fondly.
We praise and thank God for her life. Farewell and Goodbye till we meet on that
beautiful shore. May your soul rest in peace.
Durand Jayasuriya Devoted life for social harmony
I came to know Durand Jayasuriya when he came to reside at Siripura Housing
Scheme in 1974. Since, there were very few families residing in the scheme at
that time and scattered far apart, my wife and I, being newly married were
greatly thrilled to have them as our immediate neighbours who were very friendly
Durand completed his schooling career at Aluthgama Vidyalaya and taught for some
time at Thudugala Vidyalaya and when he got through his Government Clerical
Service Examination he joined the Government Service. He served as an Executive
Grade Clerk at the Examinations Deparatment. Thereafter, he was transferred to
Cultural Dept. where he was entrusted with the highly responsible task of
accompanying foreign cultural groups to all corners of the country attending to
their needs, looking after their comforts, transport arrangements and
coordinating with other departments which he performed meticulously to the
utmost satisfaction of the foreign cultural groups and his higher officers. He
also served at the Fisheries Department for a number of years and was
transferred to the Department of Agriculture. Thereafter, he was transferred to
the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunication where the former Minister Mr. Sunil
S. Abeysundera impressed by his performance appointed Durand as his Personal
Assistant. Finally, when he reached 60, he retired from Government service. He
was a very humble person who treated everyone with due respect. After retirement
he joined Pure Beverages and served for a few years at Coca Cola Co.
Durand loved his alma mater Aluthgama Vidyalaya which is situated adjoining his
house at Aluthgama. He held many posts in the Aluthgama Vidyalaya Old Boys
Association. He was also a founder member of Colombo Branch of Aluthgama
Vidyalaya OBA where too he held many posts. Many old boys paid their last
respects without considering the distance involved in travelling as all of them
loved him sincerely for the long service he rendered to the OBA.
Born on 22nd November, 1929 at Beruwala, Durand was the second son of Kaineris
and Joslin Peiris. He married Kamala Gertrude De Silva Manukulasuriya, an
English trained teacher on 6th September, 1961. After marriage he resided at
Moratuwa and Dehiwela and finally settled down at Siripura, Talawatugoda.
He gave the best education possible to his two sons. He was a very friendly and
amiable gentleman, a devoted husband, a dutiful father and a very helpful
neighbour. He is one of the oldest residents at Siripura Housing Scheme who was
a founder member of Siripura Welfare Society where he was the first Cultural
Secretary who did yeoman service to unite the residents by organising Sinhala
New Year festival avurudu pola, get-togethers, Wesak Bakthi Gee, eye catching
Wesak decorations within the scheme, organising a procession of the residents to
offer Buddha Puja at the Jothikarama Temple in the neighbourhood in the morning
of Poson Poya Day, Christmas Carols, New year Get-togethers etc. He devoted most
of his time to organise the above events which helped the residents to live in
harmony like a well-knit family irrespective of any religious differences. He
also served on its Committee for many more years making his services readily
available for the greater good of the residents.
Durand as a hobby wrote regularly to the newspapers highlighting shortcomings
and defects affecting the community. He never missed to write an appreciation to
the newspapers whenever a resident of Siripura or a friend of his passed away.
Once his wife Gertie asked him as to who would write his appreciation when he
dies. He was a regular writer of articles to the newspapers and magazines and
was the editor of ‘Kala Puwath’ and ‘Saruketha’. He happened to be a voracious
reader and never missed to read the newspapers daily until he grievously fell
During his illness Durand was well looked after by his wife, two sons and
daughters in law and relatives such as his nephew Wimal Dharmaratne who is also
a resident at Siripura. Gertie will find it very difficult to bear the loss of
her husband, so will be the two sons, two daughters in law and the three grand
sons who loved him very dearly. Durand .was also a diabetic patient recovered to
a certain extent where he could walk about but all of a sudden his illness
turned into worse and breathed his last at 9.30 p.m. on 12 October, 2008 at the
age of 79. He will be missed not only by his family, relations and friends but
by the residents of Siripura Housing Scheme who are very grateful to him for his
kindness, friendliness and helpfulness. May he attain eternal bliss of nibbana.
D. I. T. Hettiarachehi