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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.

 

What happened to the proposed cancer hospital?

One K. Aravind has aired his interesting views in the local print media very recently on the above question ‘What happened to the proposed cancer hospital?’ This good idea and suggestion was made public, may be, about four years ago which was initiated by then a talented cricketer who had already cemented his place in the national side a few years after his brother had died of brain cancer. It is learnt that millions were collected for this worthy cause. The writer of this article says it will be interesting to note if the following questions are answered.

1 How much was collected, and from whom?
2 Was the collection and disbursement of funds done employing due diligence under conditions of transparency?
3 Where the hospital due to come up?
4 Has the project been approved and supervised by the Health Ministry?

Up to the time of writing nothing has been answered. For those who showed interest in this matter should have answered immediately. It is even not late for them to give answers to the questions asked in the interest of the public and in particular to those who contributed lavishly for this very worthy cause.

The numbers of cancer patients are on the increase every day and the percentage of deaths too have increased to unprecedented levels. A new building for administration and with some wards was opened a few years back, which is located at walking distance to the old building. The Radiotherapy unit is located in the old building and access to it is through a narrow passage nearly 40 yards in length without ventilation. There are two Radiotherapy units for both indoor and outdoor patients. The work begins at 7 a.m. each working day until late evening. Those indoor patients, some very feeble and old housed in the new building, have to carry their bed tickets and have to walk to the old building for prescribed radiotherapy treatment. I suggest that some philanthropist donate one or two vehicles (vans) to transport them to and from the old building for radiotherapy treatment.

It a fact that in Sri Lanka there is only one other Radiotherapy Unit in Badulla hospital and all other outdoor patients have either to travel long distances daily and get back or take shelter at a close by Buddhist temple located close to the hospital where the Chief Incumbent monk charges a nominal fee of Rs.20 for a day to give shelter and provide meals for the ailing cancer patients who spent a very uncomfortable life for five days in the temple premises with the least basic facilities for taking radiotherapy treatment and get back to their homes during the weekends

It is suggested that a hostel with all facilities be built to house those outdoor patients while they are taking the course of radiotherapy treatment. There are many other shortcomings not resolved for the suffering cancer patients who are visiting Maharagama cancer hospital owing to poverty. Why cannot, at least some of the funds collected be utilised to install Radiotherapy units at all major hospitals in the island, if the proposed hospital for cancer patients is not getting off the ground and as the money is just kept idling, I suppose. It also has to be mentioned that these Radiotherapy units are now old and are prone to get out of order very often.

When it happens the patients are terribly inconvenienced as they have to wait long hours until they are repaired or they have to go back home to places like Kurunegala,

Kandy, etc. are sans treatment. This is just one predicament of the ailing cancer patients, which needs to be looked into. I have had this experience as I was compelled to give transport to a family member for a complete month and had the unique privilege of speaking to the patients about their grievances. Something has to be done even by the Health Ministry authorities to give an immense redress to the suffering cancer patients whose numbers are on the increase daily
Sunil Thenabadu
Mount Lavinia

****

Should humanity dispel its animalism?

I had the good fortune to have personally known and move with the late Attorney Mervyn Cassie Chetty and to be present on invitation at a meeting of the Rationalist Association when Mervyn was elected the President of the Association. He was left oriented and an agnostic and has consumed alcoholic beverages for good cheer and bonhomie. We ate eggs and fish for ‘taste.’ He was no strict vegetarian though he avoided beef.

Mahathma Gandhi’s non-violence is connected with the British rule in India. He witnessed the heinous brutality of the British cavalry and the foot soldiers in suppressing uprisings of his countrymen opposed to the British occupation of India when hundreds were gunned down or bayonets used to lay them. He, as a leader was aware that impoverished India beleaguered by the mighty British Raj could not afford the weaponry to fight back and ingeniously together with Jawaharlal Nehru devised a formula to evict the domineering White oppressors from his homeland. The peasant farmers of India lived on the meagre earnings of the cotton they grew and exported to England. The English industrialised their country setting up mills and wove the cotton to fabrics and exported around the world. England exploited not only the Indian peasants but also the English workers and their children. That prompted Charles Dickens to write ‘Oliver Twist’ and Karl Marx to come out with ‘Das Kapital.’ India withheld cotton exports and commenced the kaddhar movement whereby they used the cotton to spin cheap kaddhar which Indians proudly wore. The English knew their time was up and ‘generously’ conceded Independence. Gandhi’s non-violence had nothing to do with the slaughter of animals for flesh. It was to save his country. Mr. Dharmapala Senaratne, you stand corrected.

It is moot to question the President of the Sri Lanka Rationalist Association whether he too is a practising Brahmachariya. As man ages the practice is forced on him, making him go into pharmacies in search of aphrodisiacs. There comes a time with age as man and woman will not need the company of the opposite sex and then he could pose as an ascetic. If asceticism takes over in mighty India it will not withstand the ravages of today’s world. It will descend to be a home for fakirs and lose its place as a nuclear power. Sexual promiscuity cannot be quelled. It is nature’s gift and device to aid procreation. All young students when they come of age should look askance at sex, for it is a distraction, or they may come croppers. It is good that Gandhi kept his promise to his mother for if he took a white woman as his wife India would still be under the British jackboot.

Being a Sri Lankan with little knowledge of Indian life I question what India does with the heavy milk producing Murrah buffalo, the milch cow and goat. Where does the Indian get his eggs from? What does the farmer do with the spent animals? Surely, they are used as food. Aspiring to be a vegetarian may be a good resolve for an individual but spell disaster for the economy of a country. What are the many accounts that Senaratne checked to know that the Mahathma never consumed eggs. Visiting his home Jong after he has departed from this world is no proof but an evasive subterfuge! Gandhi’s birthday is a national holiday not because he practised vegetarianism in later life but because he together with Nehru saw the exodus of the British from India. Ghandhi being the author ‘Moral basis vegetarianism’ does not detract from the truth that man the herbivore was once a carnivore who hunted in the forest and ate raw flesh. It was after fire was found that he cooked his food. After years of evolution still man retains molars in his mouth, canines to show that he was once a carnivore and incisors to bite off pieces of flesh.

Advocating stoicism and austere virtue is a repudiation of life. Why does man want to investigate the moon and the universe. He has found that there is ice on mars. He has sent men together with women into space. Why all these costly investigations if man is to repudiate the many gifts of nature? Life is a gift from the God above. Gandhi being a recluse in later life does not detract from the reality that man must thank the Gods above for the many facilities bestowed on Humanity.
Bertram Perera
Dehiwela

****

Oil price hedging disaster

Today we find the government has created yet another problem for the country, as a result of its getting involved in ‘oil price hedging.’ Basically, as a result of this ‘oil price hedging,’ the government is today unable to give the people a cheaper rate for petrol and diesel, although world market prices have come tumbling down to a mere $ 50 a barrel. Here it must be borne in mind that the earlier price of Rs.155 a litre of petrol and Rs.88 for a litre of diesel were made when the price of a barrel of oil had shot up to almost $ 150. On this basis, the drop to a price today of $ 50 a barrel, could have resulted in a substantial drop in price in petrol, diesel and the poor man’s kerosene oil. It could have been even a 50% reduction although the present reductions do not in any way reflect the big price drop. This could have been of untold benefit to the people and commercial business, who are finding it difficult to meet the heavy cost of transport.

But all this was not to be because the Petroleum Corporation had decided to enter the ‘oil price hedging market,’ and committed the country to something that was too dangerous and even unnecessary for a poor country like Sri Lanka which is already reeling under a financial crisis. It is being said that the Petroleum Corporation got Cabinet approval for this gambling on oil price hedging.
What expertise did the Cabinet or even the Petroleum Corporation had to enter a tricky market where even financial experts would think twice or thrice or even many times more before entering, for Sri Lanka Government with virtually no expertise in a tricky and dangerous and virtually gambling market, this was hardly the place the government should have stepped into.
It is fraught with enough danger and should have been avoided in poor Sri Lanka’s interests.

Whatever way we look into this disastrous adventure to get involved in this ‘oil price hedging,’ what is absolutely clear to the country and the people is that because of the grave error caused by the Petroleum Corporation’s entry into a market that it is not competent to enter, the country has been made to lose millions of dollars and the people are unable to get the substantial price advantage due to them by a big drop in oil prices which would have come Sri Lanka’s way had not any ‘oil price hedging’ being indulged in.

It is said that many banks have been involved in this ‘oil price hedging’ and in the country’s interest, competent independent financial experts should go fully into this price hedging, to make sure that the country’s interests have been fully looked after, and that there is no exploitation from any quarter. There must be a full investigation into the entirety of this price hedging transaction. It is also the time that the Central Bank took steps to prevent this type of financial gambling in the future.
Maurice Lord
Colombo 13

****

Have they forgotten...

(Mumbai 26-11-2008)

If...”India has the right

To protect itself”

In a six-pronged

Three-day terrorist invasion,

Did the hostages pay the price

For the on-going “ransom negotiations”

Belated and forgotten...

Irene de Silva
Colombo 5

****

 Appreciations

Casi (Casinathan)

Live wire of the family

Three months have glided by since we lost our Dear Casi, husband of my sister Subo and our brother-in-law. Casi was a true, dedicated and a loving husband to my sister. She was his life for him. The short spell he spent with her was really memorable.
Casi was a unique selfless personality who never thought of himself nor did he live for himself. His priority was to help others. Helping and resolving the problems and assisting in difficulties of his kith and kin took precedence over his own. Even when he knew that he was suffering from a terminal disease, he faced it with courage. When my nephew called him from overseas when he was sick, with full of hope he said “I know what is ahead of me but I am giving it a good fight.”

He was a God fearing, humble person with a heart of gold, always with a smile. There is never a dull moment with him. Being a Brahmin and married to a Roman Catholic, he balanced his religious life so beautifully that he never missed a single Sunday service nor the visit to the temple on a Friday. Even at his work place he was a very popular figure renowned for his hard work and dedication. Mr. Mithra Vallipuram under whom Casi worked for over 20 years said “Only in office he was my employee, outside the work place he was dear brother to me.”

It is a great loss for Saro, his sister, the only survivor in his family, who looked upto her brother so much for advice and moral support. She still cannot believe that he is gone.

He was the live wire of the Rajakariar family and his demise is an irreparable loss to us. Casi is no more but the good deeds he did will never be erased from our memories.
God takes whom he loves most early and Casi is one of those. We are confident that for all the good deeds he did he will be safe in the arms of Jesus. May his soul rest in peace.
Puvi Domingopillai

****

Ven. Gangodawila Soma Thera

(5th death anniversary commemoration)

The most revered, unique, Gangodawila Soma Thera
Great pupil of most Venerable Madhihe Mahanayake Thera,
Viharadhipathi, Sakyamuni, Sambuddha Vihara, Australia,
Irreparable loss the passing away, untimely in Russia.

Pioneered, established Jana Vijaya Foundation,
To build society, followers of five precepts in adoration
Fifty five year old, out spoken, controversial straight forward Thera
Campaigned against unethical conversions, forthright Thera

Conducted, discussable discourses, remote villages
Thousands flocked to listen forceful bold messages
Propagated Dhamma nationally in internationally,
Greatly influenced, irrespective of faith unanimously

Realised need to inject Buddhist view’s values,
Cleansed society with Buddha’s message true values,
Engaged in propagating Buddhism in many a country,
The vacuum made can never be filled this century

Believed moralistic concepts cannot reach society,
Without protecting principles wholeheartedly in piety,
Late prelate vehement critic practices mythical
Expounded Dhamma in clear manner so acceptable

Lived in Australia propagating Dhamma nearly two decades,
Donated to development viharas virtuous crusade
Contributed knowledge, services to religious necessities
In New Zealand too conducted Dhammaduto activities

Endeavoured to popularity among masses far’n near
Vanguard of Buddhism, to achieve noble’end dear
Guided by a deep sense supported causes national importance,
Felt deeply plight of Buddhism Buddha Putra par excellence.
May you attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana
Kumari Kumarasinghe Tennakoon

****

Captain Arthur E.A. Bartholomew

An officer and gentleman

Arthur Bartholomew passed away of heart failure on Monday November 17, 2008, in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 79.
Arthur was an alumnus of Royal College, Colombo, where he spent his formative years. Not only was he an excellent student but was also an outstanding rugger player representing the college in the inter school matches in the Bradby Shield tournament and played for the Havelocks Sports Club. He was also an excellent cadet rose to the rank of RSM in the Cadet Corp.

He applied to join the newly formed Ceylon Army and was selected as an Office Cadet to attend The Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in the UK for training. He graduated from there and was commissioned into the Sri Lanka Artillery. It was during this phase of his life that he met Anne in London. However before returning to his Regiment in Sri Lanka he went for training to the School of Artillery in Larkhill, UK. On completion of that training he returned to Sri Lanka and joined his Regiment which at that time was stationed in picturesque Trincomalee bordering the Eastern Coast of Sri Lanka.

Anne flew out to Sri Lanka where they got married and I had the honour of being his best man. Their two sons, Ean and Stuart and daughter, Tessa, were born in Ceylon.

At different times he was assigned to different duties that required him to serve in different parts of the island including the army training centre in the hills of Diyatalawa, where he trained many officers who subsequently became senior officers in the present Army.
One such assignment took him to the jungles of Amparai which to him was the quintessence of his army career. In 1959, he decided to say goodbye to the land that he loved and immigrated to the USA with his family.
The family settled in Florida where daughter Tara was born on Arthur’s birthday. Arthur was an executive in the citrus industry in both Florida and California. He loved travel, photography and most of all his grandkids.
It was with great sadness that we heard the news of Arthur’s demise on 17th November. He had many friends all over the world who have expressed their sorrow.

Extracts from the Guest Book -
Arthur was my friend from prep school days, through Royal, Sandhurst and the Regiment. Though our ways parted to different parts of the globe, we kept in touch. I have fond memories of him. He was an Officer and a Gentleman. My sympathies extended to his family. May he rest in peace!

Capt. Tony Anghie
I knew Arthur since my Trinco days in the late 1950’s! What a glorious time we had at Floris Court where we lived in two opposite flats! We could not have had better neigbours! He was a gentleman of pleasant personality, a congenial friend and a respected superior to those who worked with him! May he rest in Peace!
Brigadier George Fernando

Captain Arthur-We loved you in life and even more in death We will always cherish and remember your heart warming conversations that seemed to ignite us with fire. “Once a Gunner always a Gunner”. All who knew you and served with you in the Sri Lanka Artillery will surely miss you. Till we meet again in the shores of Heaven our fond remembrances.
Captain Callistus and Megal Corera, Michigan, USA.

Arthur is preceded in death by his Dear Wife Anne and their Daughter Tessa. Arthur is survived by his two sons, Ean and Stuart; his daughter Tara ; his brother and sister-in-law Vernon and Katie (Australia).
A memorial service was held at Holy Cross Episcopal Church Winter Haven on Monday November 24, 2008. Arthur’s ashes were interred with those of his late wife Anne and daughter Tessa in Tallahassee. Peace be with him!
Capt. Don Weerasinghe (Retd).

****

Amara Aunty

Faced adversities with a smile

“Ranjini! Are you sleeping?” is what you always ask during your customary late afternoon visits to our home. My mother’s standard reply was to say “I’ll wake up to answer the question.” The chuckles that follow the routine joke are the natural outcome.

You sewed my first baby gown with pin tucks and tiny embroidered flowers and I remember how it brought tears to your eyes to know that 28 years later I dressed my baby with the same gown when I brought him home from the hospital. You were gifted with the needle and for how many children did you create your little wonder pieces? Yet humble was your middle name, along with loving and compassionate. You were simple and hardworking and a constant in our lives.

You were also a ‘naughty’ diabetic. Of course that did not deter you from falling into temptation. Sweets were a passion. It always used to amaze me how you used to sense when I baked brownies. And did you ever say no to one?

We have to admit that you have a habit of forgetting. How many times would you come back after a visit in search of your lost purse, spectacles, bags and umbrella? How many times would you have laughed at yourself?

How could we forget all the animals? The animals you saved, the animals you nurtured, the ones you tried to find loving homes. You loved them and they loved you in return. When they suffer so do you. How often you have you come in search of extra bread so that you can give milk dipped bread to the homeless puppies you save.

What about your famous ‘Ketawala’ oil? You insisted that it is the total remedy for all human and animal wounds, bruises and what not. People form an integral part in the lives of all of us and your presence was something we have all come to depend on. Today you are not with us and we have come to realise how much we have taken you for granted.

Your life’s history is not what I remember dear Amara Aunty, but how you lived it. I celebrate the life you lead despite the many adversities you faced with a smile. Your brother, sisters and nieces and nephews will miss you dearly and so will I and my family. My son will not know the joy and fun you bring with you when you visit. He will not be able to learn the gentle compassion and joy of giving you had in abundance. I will try to teach him the little things you taught me with your deeds. Siripura will miss you Aunty Amara. May you attain Nibbana.
Suramya Hettiarachchi
Siripura, Talawatugoda

****

 

 

 

 

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