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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.

 

Green light for SB

Many are holding lights for SB to tread untrammeled path on his political journey. He has pole vaulted to new heights with the assistance of the referees. The country’s Constitution in Article 89 clause (d) clearly states that any person who has served a term of imprisonment of not less than two years is disqualified from having his name included in the Register of Voters unless he has been pardoned by the President. SB served two years in prison for contempt of Court. Two years keeps him on the fence. The quandary is which way to push him. A red light that was on, turned into amber with the approach of an election, and now it is a fixed green light that has come on. The Commissioner of Elections did his job when he kept SB’s name out of the register. The Supreme Court, by a Stay Order has directed the Commissioner to have his name included. Has the SC taken upon itself to pardon SB ultra vires the stipulations in the Constitution? A moot point is whether the Commissioner has to conform to a clearly unconstitutional order, or stand fast by his duty by the country, the government and the people. Isn’t it this interpretation a clear attempt to politicise in favour of a political party? Attorneys resort to loopholes and lacunas in the law but it is rather distressing that the august SC found a road to circumvent the supreme law of the country as laid out in the Constitution. It is correct that SB has made an application to court alleging arbitrary treatment in withholding his name from the register of voters. Until his application has been determined should not the Constitution hold supreme or does the Supreme Court order hold sway.

Roy de Silva
Dehiwela

****

Unity in diversity

The awe inspiring article written by Ms. Hafeel “Wedding Par Excellence” not only put a smile on my face but made me feel proud of living in a nation with such diversity.

Being a student of a boys’ school which had a blend of students with different religious beliefs and ethnicity, it has been a very enlightening experience. I have now left school, but I still can remember the times that I had lunch together with my friends from one packet of rice and that packet filled the stomach of a Muslim, two Buddhists and a Christian. The wedding that Ms. Hafeel, attended was blessed by the three religions just as our packet of rice was blessed.

Deep within our hearts we know what the solution is, for all that has happened to this country. As we all understand we cannot call our country ‘The Pearl of the Indian Ocean’ out loud. But in our hearts we know, deep inside, that it still is. We all know that if we, as Sri Lankans, get together as one, we can do wonders. Even you, the reader, know that if the people of the north and the people of the south get together, the problem will be solved. But why is it that when we see a Tamil, in the bus, we look so skeptical and treat him different? Most of the time that person is innocent and is someone who loves this country as much as we do.

The two sweet daughters of Ms. Hafeel (as she describes), attended that wedding as flower girls. One day they will have their own children, and will dress them as flower girls or page boys and when they do they will tell a story from their childhood of how once they attended a wedding of so much beauty and glamour. “Why was it so beautiful mother?” the children will ask, and they will reply “It was filled with colours, not only for the eye to see, but also for the heart. That’s why it was so beautiful”.

I have a dream, that one day Buddhists, Christians, Muslims and Tamils will live under one flag; not judged by their religious beliefs, not judged by the way they are dressed, not judged by what they eat or not judged by how they speak; but judged by the content of their character. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. once had a dream and I have a dream today.

Arfath Saleem
Pitakotte

****

A new Constitution based on Executive Committee System

While I try to stay clear of politics despite having served as a Parliamentary representative of Batticaloa and where I did flirt in my early days as a supporter of the then LSSP, where people like Doric de Soosa, Vivienne Gunawardene came all the way down to Batticaloa to conduct classes for us, I am enveloped with a sense of sadness at the present turmoil in our nation.

I am happy that your paper The Nation does come to Batticaloa despite hardly carrying any news of this area, and my spirits received a shot in the arm, as I read an article - ‘A new Constitution - Need of the Hour’ by Mr. K. Godage. I do not know whether it’s the same Godage who on a visit to Batticaloa wished to meet me perhaps to discuss matters of politics, and where I politely refused his meeting with me, for various reasons.

It’s a wonderful article by Mr. Godage and how I wish that all sections of the nation would give serious consideration to his suggestion of the need for a new constitution, impregnated with aspects of the plus points of the past Executive Committee system.

In the same issue of The Nation of 30th November, 2008, I take my hat off to one or two of your representatives, who fearlessly did declare seeing motor bikes without registration numbers, and what more described the furtive actions of the motor cycle duo, whose movements and actions were suspicious, and for reasons unknown while other motor cyclists were stopped at that check point, and despite this duo riding a bike devoid of registration numbers was allowed free passage.

I refer to the boxed news with the heading ‘Witnessing a Numberless Bike’ of Page 9. One has to laud your newspaper representatives for airing this.

Prince Casinader
Batticaloa

****

India’s guidance....

The guide, guru or Gandhi
Lost chapter in history
Training and terrorism
For thy neighbour
Written in (tomb) stone
“CEASEFIRE”
 
Irene de Silva
Colombo 5

****

Absurd irrelevant and inaccurate comments on animalism

I refer to the essay captioned ‘Should humanity dispel its animalism?’ by Mr.Bertram Perera appearing on the ‘Letters’ page in ‘The Nation’ of December 14, 2008.
Noting the confusion of mind displayed by him in his writing, I am not surprised that it contains so much of absurdities,irrelevancies and inaccuracies. Let me remind him that I originally wrote to the press – to which he has now replied – only to prevent readers from being misled by his un-informed and erroneous assertion that Mahatma Gandhi consumed meat and eggs in his childhood days.

Let me reiterate for emphasis that Karamchand family in Gujarat has been strict vegetarians over generations. Eggs, or ‘andaa’ as they call it, have been totally excluded in their household too.

Perera says, attorney Mervyn Cassie Chetty ate eggs and meat over a drink. What on earth has all that got to do with the matter in issue here? Let me say for his information that my friend Mervyn died a violent death a decade ago. Yes. Mervyn was a non-vegetarian unlike Gandhi. But why the heck do you want to drag in Mervyn, long dead now, here just because he was associated with Sri Lanka Rationalist Association?

‘Gandhi’s non-violence had nothing to do with slaughter of animals for flesh. It was to save his country. Mr. Dharmapala Senaratne, you stand corrected’, adds Perera.

To say so is absurd to put it bluntly. Does he mean that Gandhi became a vegetarian ‘to save the country’ like SWRD Bandaranaike became a Buddhist for political purposes? Any grade 5 school child will enlighten Mr. Perera that Gandhi was a vegetarian initially by family tradition and then by conviction and utilised the non-violence weapon thereafter only for the purpose of the struggle for the nation’s independence.

Perera goes on to query, ‘It is moot to question the President of the Sri Lanka Rationalist Association whether he too is practicing Brahmacharya. As the 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.’
What a clownish attitude? What has all that got to do with vegetarianism, animalism or Gandhi?
Well. Anyway, let me state here in order to appease his curiosity that my hormone glands function in good order sans any chemical stimulants though not as actively as they did in my 20s.

Dharmapala Senaratne
Attorney-at-law President – Sri Lanka Rationalist Association.

****

Tribute

Dr Ali M. M. Liaquat MOIC – RTU, NHSL

Dear Sir,

The versatile wisdom and fair
Hoary hair
Charming utterance, shimmering, bold-head,
Are the rewards? By the ‘God’

When you sit,
On that majestic – rotating chair,
Almost like a mighty king,
Enthrones in the splendid spring

Agile hands – merciful heart
Treat the sick genially
Arouse the life gingerly
Save the souls rightfully

You’re wealthy – in humanity and honesty,
Also in piety and pun equality

Neither genus nor cast
Inside the heart
It’s the only glare
Gleams the unit

You’re gentle
Genteel and genuine
I’ no gleeful
To see your glory and good will

No words in my glossary,
To appreciate your modesty

As a devotional Mohammedan,
You’ll be rewarded in the heaven

This my gratification of greet
For your great service

A patient from Negombo Hospital

****

                                                                                     Appreciations                                                                                     

Mrs. Rowan de Costa

It is with profound sadness that I decided to pay this tribute to Aunty Rowan, whom I have known for over 30 years. It has been nearly three months since the demise of Aunty Rowan and I am ashamed that I took so long to write this for her. On 13 September 2008 around 3.30 a.m., Ayesha called me to say that her mum had passed away just a few minutes ago. I was so shocked as it was on the previous night that I received the message to say that one of my favourite teachers had passed away suddenly and since I was very close to that family too I had planned to visit them that day.

I had visited Aunty Rowan a couple of times, since her health condition was deteriorating but never thought that she will leave us so soon. Sadly during the last couple of years Aunty Rowan’s life became vulnerable to illness and acute discomfort. I feel guilty that I did not see her for two months since her birthday which fell on the 13th of July 2008.

My first recollection of Aunty Rowan goes back to the early 70s when I was working at the Wildlife & Nature Protection Society. Although my father and uncle Noel had been friends from their childhood, my first meeting with this fine lady was at an Annual General Meeting of the WNPS at the CR & FC premises.

She was as gentle as the falling dew, soft spoken like the whisper of a breeze, calm and collected at all times, modest yet dignified. She was a charming and friendly person.

She was a kind hearted person who extended her hospitality to her friends and relatives. I remember the enjoyable weekends I spent at their beautifully kept, neat and tidy home in Kawdana. All these were done by her and whenever I commented she simply used to smile.

Aunty Rowan was always well dressed to suit the occasion. She was a very caring person and ever ready to help anyone. Anyone who knew Aunty Rowan will undoubtedly feel sad to hear of her demise.

She was a dutiful wife to Uncle Noel and a precious mother and a grandmother to her children and grandchildren. She served the Jehovah’s witnesses in everyway, especially for the activities of teaching the Bible but most of all, she was there in the Kingdom Hall on every Sunday.

I will never forget how she spent time with me in 1980 when I was hospitalised after an accident. Even after I went home from hospital she saw me at home weekly and used to spend around 4 hours on those occasions till such time I started work. She even kept me in her home for a couple of weeks since I was unable to walk by myself.

Her love for animals was very great and always had some four legged animal, be it a cat or dog, as a pet.
To her children Ayesha and Alan, I wish the burden of the loss be lessened with the consolation that she is in a much better place with no pain or sorrow.

Your life’s work done and now shine bright like a candle in a holy place. Cheers Aunty Rowan till we meet on that beautiful shore. May your soul rest in peace!

Lilamani Amerasekera

****

I.X. PEREIRA

Prolific and committed person for national unity

The name of Ignatius Xavier Pereira, born on 26th April, 1888 was synonymous with National Unity being a very strong and staunch promoter and a real supporter of National Amity in then Ceylon particularly in the latter half of the 20th century, very much prior to gaining Independence and soon after. His father was a prominent Bharatha Community businessman of Tuticorin who migrated to Ceylon in the year 1889 and started a firm in the name of M/s. F.X Pereira

Ignatius Xavier Pereira was educated at St. Benedict’s College but could not pursue higher University education, owing to the demise of his father when he was just 18 years of age. He was forced to take charge and shoulder the responsibilities of M/s F.X Pereira & sons, the established family business entity. As the eldest son he had to spearhead and steer the activities of the firm.

Through sheer dedication and commitment made towards the business activities the company flourished to unprecedented heights and within a short period of more than a decade or so it became household name in business circles in Colombo. I.X Pereira strictly adhered to the saying of Sir Christopher, the Architect ‘there is nothing he touched that he did not adorn”. Where trade and commerce were concerned he possessed a touch of Midas, the ability to make a lot of money out of anything he launched on. The love for the subordinates and fellow beings endeared him to all who had good fortune to associate him and know him intimately. The business flourished and prospered at a rapid pace and also the expansion under his able leadership.

Those who knew him remember him as a unique personality possessing a sturdy and rare personality sporting a prominent mustache not easily matched by anyone. He always dressed perfectly, a person who possessed very good attributes and characteristics. He always focused attention mainly on the less affluent particularly the neglected uncared members of the suffering Indian community living in then Ceylon. After two decades of establishing and expanding the family business he made his debut in politics solely for the purpose of uplifting the poor living standards of the Indian Community whose cheap labour was exploited to the maximum by the ruling Englishmen. In the year 1924 when he was just 36 years old, he was nominated to contest seats reserved for Indians in an all island electorate for the Legislative Council.

He was elected unanimously as the First Member with a huge majority defeating Mohamed Sultan. After this unprecedented victory he was able to spearhead the much needed cause of the Indian labour in the highest Forum in the country. It is worth reiterating the problem of Indian labour was so intricate and close to his heart and it was all the time itching in his mind and something he wanted to explore and resolve genuinely. He very successfully fought many battles on behalf of their needs on negotiating tables.

For his continuous genuine untiring efforts of this nature he became better known as Chavalier Dewan Bahadur I.X.Pereiira, during his life time and even thereafter. He always stood for National Unity and throughout his life he endeavoured to the maximum to promote National Amity to live with understanding and friendship among all communities in then Ceylon devoid of ethnic, religious, caste and linguistic differences. Having lived a very noble life he earned a unique permanent niche in the annals of the history of this country. Prior to the inauguration of the State Council in 1931 he proceeded to London to meet the Secretary of State for Colonies regarding minority representation in the proposed Donoughmore Constitution. He was honoured to be re-nominated to the second State Council in 1936 and continued to hold the same portfolio and to be a member until the year 1947. He was appointed the Minister of Labour,Industry and Commerce very appropriately when the Minister Sir Claude left for U.K.

During his active political career which spanned for 23 years he was unanimously nominated to serve on a number of Committees. He was a member of the Colombo Port Commission, the Board of Indian Immigrant Labour. In the year 1943 during the World war 11 Chevalier Dewan Bahadur I.X.Pereira was one of the few Ceylonese appointed to the War Council when, the Commander-in-Chief was Sir Geoffery Leyton. Apart from them he has also served as the President of the Indian Mercantile Chamber, the Indian Club and was also once the Vice President of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress.

He had the honour of been in the select group which subscribed to the Memorandum drafted by and witnessed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on 29th July, 1930 bringing into existence the Ceylon Indian Congress as a united body to represent the Indian Community in the Island. The distinguished Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the Indian Prime Minister was invited to his residence at Vajira Road for dinner and on that day as expected the roads were choc-a-block as people were waiting and scrambling anxiously to get vantage positions to get a glimpse of this great personality It is learnt that the boundary wall of the adjoining house had to be broken to accommodate the crowds that flocked.

In 1934, Lord Willigdon,Viceroy of India conferred on him the title “Dewan Bahadur” in appreciation of his services for the Indian Community in Ceylon. In 1946 his Holiness the Pope conferred on him a Papal Knighthood for his services to the Catholic Church of Ceylon and was made a Knight Commander of St. Sylvester. During the period our Independence was granted in 1948 his health was deteriorating and hence he had to decline the offer made by the first Prime Minister Mr. D.S.Senanayake in the Senate, the upper House of the Parliament.

Chavalier Bahadur I.X.Pereira,s demise at the age of only 63 years on 26th April, 1951 was indeed an irreparable loss especially to the Indian Community who owe him a deep depth of gratitude for having fought for their rights to uplift their living standards. He received glowing tributes and accolades in the House of Representatives even by the Leader of the Opposition Dr. N.M.Perera.

Chevalier Dewan Bahadur I.X.Pereira was undoubtedly one of the extraordinary national heroes ever produced in the annals of our history and more particularly in the first half of the 20th century who did a yeoman service in bringing together harmony amongst all religions, ethnic and linguistic people of all communities. He was, without any doubt, a very staunch committed promoter of National amity, a supreme sacrifice that nobody had made in our history. During the past a number of his death and birth Anniversaries were commemorated with the participation of VIP’s and many distinguished guests and many appreciations have been published in several newspapers about his unique achievements. A stamp was issued in his honour to commemorate and coincide with his 100th birthday in 1988 and subsequently a road was named after him at Pettah by the Mayor.

Sunil Thenabadu
Mt.Lavinia

****

Great musician Mervin Perera: An ode to a true musician

The elements,
Of your heavenly voice,
Still echo,
In our hearts and ears.

Never have we heard,
A voice so divine;
It will never be replaced,
Even if the God of music come to sing.

We never knew,
That magic could be done,
With a voice,
And music.

You touched our hearts,
Visited our minds,
Made us surf,
In a sea of emotions.

You will never fade away from our hearts,
Your voice has already stolen our hearts,
You created a divine image,
Of a graceful musician in our minds.
Dearest Musician of the hearts young and old,
Our hearts yield for a voice like yours,
For talents like yours,
In a world of “Mu-sickness”.

You were a rainbow,
In a dark cloudy sky;
You were a star,
Of the morning.

We are in remorse,
We mourn because of your irreplaceable loss,
We are unfortunate,
To lose a truly valuable musician like you.

You did a silent service, to our souls;
How can we ever thank you,
Dear master of music,
We miss your voice of the past, present and future,
You’ll live in our hearts forever, more….

Amanda Benjamin
Nugegoda

****

 

 

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