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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.

 

Pensioners campaign for what is rightfully yours

It has been publicised that the pensioners will be paid a Rs.560 increase under the 2009 Budget Proposals as from January 1, 2009 - a negligible increase no doubt, compared to increases given to politicos.

In terms of the 2008 Budget Proposals, pensioners should receive a Rs.187.50 increase in December 2008. What therefore needs clarification is whether the Rs.560 increase is in addition to the Rs.187.50 due under the 2008 Budget Proposals. If not the actual increase under the 2009 Budget Proposals is Rs.372.50, a mere pittance.
On the other hand, the promised removal of the pension anomalies based on the salary revision operative as from 1st January, 2006, has been totally ignored.

The pensioners and their dependents around 20 lakhs, need to carry on a sustained campaign to ensure that what is due to the pensioners is paid without any further delay. If you do not campaign to get what is rightfully yours and promised, the promises will never be kept.

The pensioners should stand up against the discriminatory treatment meted out to them. Perhaps a new organisation for the purpose seems salutary.

Upali S. Jayasekera
Colombo 4

****

Air power of the LTTE

The LTTE for the eighth time has demonstrated that their air power is still active and powerful. This time they have targeted the Thaladi Army Camp in Mannar and the Kelanitissa Power Station in Colombo. According to media reports within two hours after taking off from the base, the toy like short range light aircraft have gone back unscathed after causing considerable damage to life and valuable property.

Army and the Sri Lanka Air Force miserably failed to destroy the enemy aircraft this time too. What is it due to? Do not we possess anti aircraft guns and allied equipment such as radars, search lights, predictors height finders and such like equipment to engage these planes of the LTTE? The equipment mentioned here is what was used during World War II to destroy the enemy planes. There may be more technically advanced modern military devices available now which could be used for this purpose. If we do not possess these range of vital equipment, we must obtain them from friendly foreign countries together with expert personnel to handle them so that we could crush the air power of the enemy i.e. the LTTE once and for all.

In order to ascertain what has gone amiss it is imperative that a high powered committee should be appointed to find out -
a. lapses on the part of the army and the SLAF

b. recommend ways and means of averting such lapses in future
It is not desirable to allow this sort of lapses to occur during an ongoing war against the LTTE. If drastic and meaningful steps are not taken to arrest this menace, the LTTE is bound to target more vulnerable and strategic places like the oil refineries, the port and such like places.

R. M. L. Ratnayake (JP)
Matale

****

America chooses universally accepted personality

The newly elected president of America is a man of many combinations. Accordingly, he will not only be a great president of America, but also a great and accepted personality of the entire world, whose present leaders would have something to learn from him during his period of presidency.

This position is quite evident from the enth­usiasm of many nations and people all over the world who rejoiced his recent victory, making most to convince, why it was so? How he came and conquered is most amazing, convincing that he is a unique and a special and chosen for the benefit of the entire world, where the sustenance of same depends mainly on the behaviour of America. Accordingly, the world too is fortunate to have him, because he will usher in peace for all nations including those where there are con­flicts at present. This he will achieve through his honest and wise administration, giving results similar to his election campaign which he conducted as a thorough gentleman and demonstrating who is qualified to lead America and her people, thereby bringing peace to the entire world.

He would be a president similar to Abraham Lincon whom the Americans and the rest of the world should be fortunate to have especially at a time when there is tension building up towards another world war. To achieve same he is sure not to exhi­bit his superiority antagonizing others around him.

Tommy Wanigesinghe
Kurunegala

****

Wedding par excellence

It was this September 12 that we had the opportunity of attending a fascinating event at a grand hotel premises in Kandy. My two little daughters were offered the opportunity of taking the role of two sweet little flower girls on this magnificent occasion. It was a combination of a Christian and prestigious noble Udarata Sinhala wedding. The bride and the groom were undecipherable in their ethnic groups. The charming bride was a born Christian while the groom was a Buddhist. The flower girls were Muslims attired in lamasaree in the traditional Kandian style. It was a marvelous gathering. No one could identify them in their different ethnicity. All the invitees were spellbound at the uncommon situation. The wedding took place according to both Udarata tradition with Poruwa ceremony and Christian rites at the Church. What a lucky couple to be blessed by the members of not only two religions but three. Each and every invitee was stunned by the charming ceremony not knowing what came next.

This is what our country needs. Every person has a religion of his own by his origin of birth. No one likes to change his religion at any circumstance. It is our duty to respect the beliefs and customs of each individual. Should we necessarily introduce a person by his ethnic group as Sinhala, Muslim or Tamil? Why not Sri Lankan? In a CV, the subheading, ethnic group and race should be replaced by the word “nationality”, which means Sri Lankan. The world is so advanced that schools like Buddhist Ladies’ College, Hindu Ladies’ College, Christian Ladies’ College and Muslim Ladies’ College should be done away with for a common ladies’ college.

When there is a mixture of ethnic groups in schools prejudices among different communities may tend to fade away and children from their infancy will grow up as Sri Lankans irrespective of their ethnic differences. Developing unity among small Sri Lankans will give strength to win the world one day.

Roshni Fathima Hafeel
Research Officer
Rice Research Station (Department of Agriculture)
Ambalantota

****

Insurance claims and admission to the hospitals

Some insurance companies have a clause that they will pay the claims only if the patient is admitted to the hospital. They do not seem to realise that nowadays some major treatments are done as outpatient procedure. For example, most doctors do the cataract surgery as an outpatient procedure but this is a surgery which is pretty costly and it is considered a major surgery.

Because of this clause, the patients get admitted when it is not necessary. Actually the insurance companies lose out in the long run for they are paying for the admission costs unnecessarily.

What they should do is to decide for what procedures/surgeries they will pay and give a list of them to the patients. Or they should have a doctor on the panel of those who decide on the claims who will be knowledgeable whether the procedure/surgery/investigations etc. are worth paying for.

This will save a lot of money for the insurance company. It will also save the patient from the hassle of getting admitted and will relieve even the doctors from having to see a patient spending an extra time unnecessarily and from filling out extra forms.

Dr. Mrs. Mareena
Thaha Reffai
Dehiwela

****

                                                                                   APPRECIATIONS                                                                              

Justice P. Ramanathan

Endowed with abundance of goodwill

Justice P. Ramanathan passed away peacefully at his home on the 7th of December 2006. Two close friends and his dutiful wife Mano, who always looked after him with great care, were by his side. It was in the fitness of things that his death was as peaceful as was the way he lived all his life - in quiet dignity.

He belonged to a well-known family. His great grandfather was Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, Solicitor-General, King’s Counsel and a distinguished member of the Legislative Council. His great grand uncle was Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam, the first Ceylonese to enter the Ceylon Civil Service and was Registrar-General for several years. Sir Muthu Coomaraswamy was also a relative from an earlier generation. The family was renowned for its philanthropy, munificence and service to the people.

Much has already been said and written about his career as a prosecutor in the Department of the Attorney-General and the various judicial positions he held with honour; first, as a Judge of the High Court, thereafter as a Judge and President of the Court of Appeal and finally as a Judge of the Supreme Court. It is therefore unnecessary for me to advert to his career, except to say that he possessed in ample measure the essential attributes of a good Judge, namely, impartiality, integrity, and a strong sense of justice and fairness.

On this occasion, I would like to refer briefly to his personal qualities which permeated and vitalised his entire being. These were the mainspring of his life. It is precisely these qualities which endeared him, in a special way, to a very wide circle of friends.

His personal qualities and attributes were unique. He was blessed with a nature devoid of meanness, pettiness, malice, envy, ill-will and arrogance. On the contrary, he was richly endowed with positive qualities such as generosity, hospitality, magnanimity, moral integrity, compassion and an abundance of good-will to all, including the few who disliked him! He was never self­-righteous nor ‘moralistic’. He was unassuming to a fault. It is but rarely that one meets with a person so loyal in friendship, and so resolute and unswerving in principled conduct. He certainly measured up to the Roman ideal, ‘1 have lived honourably, I have never harmed anyone’.

His journey came to an end two years ago. Ours may continue for a short while longer, but the fragrance of his memory will remain undimmed and undiminished in the hearts and minds of all those who had the good fortune to have known him. I consider it a privilege to have associated with him closely and to have worked with him. The oft quoted lines from “Hamlet” epitomise his life and work.

“He was a man, take him for all in all.
[We] shall not look upon his like again.”

G. P. S. de Silva
Former Chief Justice

****

Theo Seneviratne

In memory of her sweet gentle ways

Theo was born on January 9, 1922 in Nuwara Eliya. She was the third born to her parents Stanley and Lilian Jansen. She had a brother and two sisters, and is survived by her younger sister Barbara Brown who resides in Australia.

She studied at Good Shepherd Convent in Nuwara Eliya where she was a good student, and had a very quiet, happy and content childhood. Theo met her late husband Noel when he was posted at the Governor’s Office in Nuwara Eliya, where they moved to during Easter to avoid the heat in Colombo. They married on 27th December 1947 at St. Mary’s Church, Bambalapitiya. I had the honour to be bestman at their marriage. After marriage she moved to live with Noel’s parents and our large family in Colombo. Coming from a Burgher background, she adapted well to the totally contrasting Sinhala lifestyle of her new in-laws who took to her kind, loving and gentle ways.

Despite the sad demise of her first born child, she courageously and faithfully went on to raise five more children in Avril, Nishanta, Nihal, Lalith and Sabrina. She was the perfect wife and mother, dedicating her life to caring for her husband and young family with lots of love and many personal sacrifices. Many were the times that she had to be a single parent due to Noel’s business travels both locally and overseas. At such times she conducted herself courageously and with excellence.

Having been to nursing school for a short period prior to marriage, she did an excellent job in nursing and caring for her Mother-in-Law, and subsequently her Father until their ultimate demise. In her twilight years she also nursed and cared for her late husband Noel during his prolonged illness, taking toll on her personal health and wellbeing. On one of our visits to Sri Lanka, she was most concerned that Noel needed immediate hospitalisation, but was refusing to go as he was fed up of being to hospital so often. I happened to call her that night to inquire of Noel’s condition when she begged of me to speak to him. I went over to Nishanta’s where most of the family had gathered, sat by Noel for quite awhile, and finally convinced him to agree to enter hospital. Theo was so happy and grateful. That was her nature. She was blessed in return with her children and daughters-in-law taking good care of her during her final years. Theo was a great and much loved Mother-in-Law who was always approachable, and available for advice and guidance. She has 8 grandchildren, each of whom has very fond memories of having grown up spending much time with her, listening to her folk-tales and experiencing her love and spiritual guidance. She was blessed with a Great Grandson a few years back, and was thrilled to knit him a pixie cap among other things. Spiritually, she was a devoted Catholic taking a very active role in her church activities at Ratmalana. She believed in working for the Lord by helping the needy through prayer, deeds and means. There were many less fortunate families in Ratmalana who benefited from her goodwill. They will undoubtedly mourn her loss along with all of us. As a caring relation and a great friend she is loved by many for her sweet gentle ways, and the love she exuberated at all times. Though extremely sensitive and easily hurt, there was never a harsh word or an act of retaliation from her, only a silent suffering and a prayer for the offender.

At the age of 86, she was full of energy and led an active life free of any major ailments. When we visited Sri Lanka in June 2008 she attended my 80th birthday, and was the ‘live wire’ at the party. It was a few months later that she complained of ill health that led to her demise. That makes it more difficult for family and friends to accept that she is no longer with us. We thank and praise the Lord for being merciful in sparing Theo a long suffering end. May she spend the rest of her years in the presence of the Lord.

Joe Seneviratne (Brother-in-Law)
L.A. - USA

****

Kumudu Rodrigo

Built a tea brand from scratch

Who would have thought that when we all saw Kumudu on that fateful day on the 15th of September that it would be the last time that we would see his smiling face and his still small voice? Many of us are still suffering from the shock of bidding him goodnight and agreeing to meet him the next day, when we were thunderstruck by the news that he had met with a tragic accident a few minutes later.

As the news trickled in, we all thought it was a case of another accident of someone’s reckless driving or a faulty vehicle, but it was only the next day that all of us realised that the cruel hand of fate had struck this genial personality. We came to know that a large metal piece from a passing cement mixing truck had flown off and come through the driving side shutter and struck one side of his head. The thunderous impact of this object made him lose control of the car rendering him motionless. He was unconscious until he passed away exactly one week later. He was only 37 years old, far too young to die.

The doctors in the accident ward did their utmost to give him the best care and attention but unfortunately fate took a different turn and all of us lost a gentle human being whose qualities and ways are rare in this present generation. We were always greeted with a warm smile whenever we saw him, and never saw him unruffled or angry or upset over anything. None of us have ever heard him speak a harsh word to anyone even though some may have offended him. He was indeed a rare human being. The saying that only the Good die young is truly a fitting tribute to his memory.

He joined Aitken Spence ten years ago, as a young graduate trainee and came to work in the marketing division of Elpitiya Plantations Plc. as a junior executive. His dedication, hard work and common sense attitude made the company entrust him to develop a brand of tea from nothing. He single-handedly gave birth to the Harrow Ceylon Choice brand and brought it to what it is today from scratch. He took the tough low cost route and built the brand purely on relationships, quality and image to make it a brand that is well known particularly in the outstations with over 15 distributors and 20 sales representatives. He built a Harrow family amongst all these people, as was witnessed during those tragic days after his accident. His dedication to the brand was unbelievable, so much so that even in the last moments before his death, he had been on the phone to some distributors and sales representatives. The pride of his life was the brand and did everything on his own giving leadership to all who worked with him. It was no surprise that in a few years he rose to the position of Deputy General Manager. His void in this job will be hard to fill.

Kumudu was also a great family man and did more than his best for his wife and three children. He wished the best for them and his main ambition was to particularly give his children the best education that he could afford. His wife Shama was his tower of strength and together built his home and family bit by bit. Unfortunately he was tragically struck down before he could see the fruits of his hard work. The pain and agony to his wife and children cannot be measured and if we, his colleagues, miss him so much, one could not imagine the grief and sorrow that his family and his parents would be going through after his death. We can only pray that God will help his family to bear the grief and sorrow of his sad loss and may God give strength to his wife Shama and the children to carry on life and fulfil Kumudu’s expectations with the help of all those who cared and loved him in life.

May his soul rest in peace!
Colleagues at Elpitiya Plantations Plc.

****

Mr. Viji Weerasinghe - First death anniversary

An educationist par excellence

31st October 2008, marks the first death anniversary of a true, dedicated, humble, and humane son of Mother Lanka, an institution at our “Alma Mater”, Royal College, a colossus in the field of education, Vice President and Advisor of the Royal College Old Boys Union. Readers, and Friends, I refer to none other than Mr. Viji Weerasinghe, whose first death anniversary was on the 31st of October, 2008. Friends, and Readers, he was indeed a “Patriarch” and an “Institution” at our “Alma Mater”, Royal College, and most importantly a humane, humble, and benevolent son of Mother Lanka.

One of the noble and gifted characteristics that this humane individual possessed was that he never ever basked in the glory of public patronage, a unique feature, which is, very seldom found among, the “so called educationalists” of today.

A statement made by the Principal of Royal College, at the funeral a year ago, when I, and scores of others from all walks of life, who were there to hear the speech was the Prophetic words uttered by the Principal which is still itched in my memory. He said “ He was the Mahatma Gandhi of Royal College,” and it goes, without any exaggeration whatsoever, he commented. Friends, this bears ample testimony to this remarkable individual who was a martyr to our Royal College, and has left an indelible mark not only at Royal College, but also in the field of Education.

Our Honourable Sir, Mr. Viji Weerasinghe, should be bestowed with the highest title in the country, not only for his yeoman and dedicated service in the field of Education he had served for over 50 years, but also for being a true, dedicated, humane, humble son of Mother Lanka. It is my earnest hope and prayer, that even, at this late stage, in hindsight, the Government of Sri Lanka, bestows this honour on him. Friends, I wonder, how many are aware of the fact that he was the oldest, and most senior, living educationist in our Mother Land at the time of his demise, and also how many are aware of the fact that lakhs of people from the Corporate World, and all walks of life, came for his funeral. It was something like a State Funeral, of a high public official, from the top echelons of State, who had expired while holding office, but in reality, he was only a Senior Advisor to the Royal College Old Boys Union having an office in the OBU complex.

Another unique and noble characteristic he possessed, was that it went against his grain, to speak any evil or ill against anyone, at our Alma Mater, or anyone, for that matter. I have never seen him getting angry or having vengeance, malice or vendetta against anyone, even if harmed or provoked.

In Conclusion, it is my earnest hope and prayer that his Soul rest in Eternal Peace and Happiness in the world beyond.

Amyn Chatoor

****

 

 

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