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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 foreign country.

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 personal problems.

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!

Edward Gunawardena


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.

Damien Perera




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.


Colombo 3



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

You’re wealthy
In generosity and honesty
Amicable and heart
With all of us
You’re gentle
Genteel and genuine
I’m gleeful
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 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.
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 brilliant education.
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 short memories.

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 Unknown)

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 gathering.

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.

Lilamani Amerasekera


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 and helpful.

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 ill.

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





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