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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.

 

Innovative cheap exercise books

Two weeks ago when I visited a couple of bookstores with the booklists of my children, I found that the cost of exercises books to be exorbitant. Maybe, one of the reasons could be the printing of the cover of these exercise books in full colour to make it attractive to the students. Nevertheless, in all the booklists it is clearly mentioned that all the books should be covered with brown paper. What I would like to know is, eventually when the book is going to be covered with brown paper, of what use is printing the cover in eye – catching designs, the cost of which will have to be borne by us, the parents, which is a waste of money. I happened to see some exercise books at Upali Press at Homagama which had the cover printed in such a way simulating a brown paper covered exercise book which I came to know has been printed in single colour and that it was the brainchild of their production manager. I suggest that all the exercise books be printed in this novel way so that cost of printing could be reduced considerably.

Mohamed Zahran
Colombo 3

****

Let us have statesmen

The talk of the day is the intention of the government to hold Provincial Council elections before April 2009, taking advantage of the victory so far gained in the war front. As all point out, the government is confident in winning.
Whatever it be, we as voters would plead with the President and political leaders to nominate honest men with proven ability to weeding out those undesirables charged for murder, bribery, corruption, thuggery, etc, so that we as voters will be served by a set of politicians who are not self-seekers as those who claim Rs 100,000 as rent to houses when they live in close proximity to the Parliamentary Complex.

To this end. the Judiciary should expedite all cases before Courts against politicians in alleged corruption etc. and the Police should also expedite investigations and file action in Courts and not delay as the case of Dr Mervyn Silva and the recent crimes at Anuradhapura where a doctors residence and dispensary had been torched.

Most importantly, the media has a responsibility to guide the voter by exposing those nominated so that we have a peaceful and prosperous country devoid of corruption and the voters can live without fear.
If the President acts to ensure we voters are to be served with men of high integrity, it will enhance his position as a great leader, fulfilling his promises in ‘Mahinda Chinthanaya’

S. Tennakoon
Homagma

****

Driver taking the law into his own hands

I still remember the accident. I will never forget it. More than the accident, what I will never forget is how people reacted to it.
It was an unknown area. We neither knew the roads nor the people in that area. But who would feel scared of people, since though they were living in a different area they were people, just like my dad, mum, mum’s sister, my two cousins and me, who travelled in the van. But my theory of all people being alike was fatally proved to be a mistake on the day of the accident. Though they were made of flesh and blood, just like us, they were products of a different ideology; an ideology of thuggish violence.

It was a four-way junction on top of a small hill. My father did not know that it was a four-way junction. As is usual and natural to our country, there was no road sign signalling a four-way junction in front of us. My dad drove straight and there came, out of no where, a three-wheeler, driven by a ‘pilot.’ Our country is full of such ‘ground pilots’ driving three-wheelers. Since pilots are driving three-wheelers I suppose three-wheeler drivers are flying planes. But that was a bit of a digression.

To move back to the accident, the three-wheeler came flying and knocked on our van. The three-wheeler driver, who was a person from that area, did not bother to pause at the four-way junction and check for other vehicles. He had assumed, I suppose, the road to be his private property, as do most drivers in Sri Lanka. There was a small scratch on the ‘passenger’s arm. The ‘pilot’ of the three-wheeler and the ‘passengers’ dismounted the three-wheeler. Instead of wincing in pain, they winced with violence and hatred. My mum, who was a goody-two-shoe, softly spoke to them, pointing out that it was the fault of both drivers, not just the fault of my dad who drove the van. The three-wheeler ‘pilot’ sprung at mum, with a ready hand to strike her. So much for the proud Sri Lankan culture.

I was shocked. My stomach churned. I could not cry; I had to be brave for my dad. I clung to my cousin. I clutched him with icy fingers. I have never seen my dad so helpless. It tore my heart to see him thus. I buried my fingers in my cousin’s arm and secretly cried to God.

They scolded us with brutish violence, never pausing for a moment to consider that they too were at fault. People of the area rocked around us. Women started to curse us. Men started to hammer my dad with words. They were all but ready to speak through their fists. But, they saw us using our mobiles and assumed that we had connections with influential people. That was the only reason why they did not slap our faces and kick our legs. My dad wanted to go to the Police. As soon as the accident occurred, he rang the nearest police station. But the three-wheeler ‘pilot’ was extremely reluctant to go to the Police. If we were at fault, he had no reason to fear going to the Police. If we were at fault, the Police would have filed a law suit against us, not against them. But they were reluctant to go to the Police and they wanted to resort to a strategy called ‘godin beragamu’. They wanted us to pay Rs. 40,000 for a damage which would have taken Rs. 10,000 maximum to repair it. We could not pay such an amount; my parents are not millionaires. They are honest, hard working employees and hence, they only get enough money to eat, drink, pay the bills and spend for my university education. But they were not worried about it; all they wanted was money; so as to say that they would shut their mouths if they are paid. This shows the extent to which ‘bribery’ has seeped into their brutish blood veins.

However, my dad was adamant about going to the Police, as all of us were. Hence, amidst their aspirations to gain Rs. 40,000, amidst their reluctance to go to the Police, although according to them they had nothing to fear and their assurance that my dad would be imprisoned, we drove off and reached the save harbour of the police station. The accident was not a bolt from the blue to me. I admit that we were wrong; we did not know that there was a four-way junction in front (how on earth are we to know what is ahead of us, without road signs to inform us, is beyond me). I am neither fearful nor ashamed to say that we were wrong. What I am fearful and ashamed of is how those people spoke to us and how they tried to make sense of what had happened. Their brutish negotiation skills stunned me. They hissed and barked instead of talking. They did not allow us to speak; their view was the law. I am ashamed to call them Sri Lankans. They did not have the patience or the humility that Sri Lankans are famous for; they did not possess the famous Sri Lankan indigenous milk of human kindness. The only way they knew to solve problems was by using violence. Then what hope do we have of peace in our country? If a man/woman cannot confront another man/woman and solve problems using intelligence and discretion, what hope do we have of peace in our country?

Lakshani Kodituwakku
Matale

****

Householder’s list under of Emergency Regulations

Confusion prevails in respect of complying with the above regulation. I am writing from my own experience as a chief occupant. Quite often the above form is personally handed by a Police officer at the householder’s premises, with a request to fill same and keep it till it is collected by the Police officer himself.

At the time of collecting same, request for an acknowledgement is refused and therefore for my own records, I make a photo copy for my file. Quite happy with this arrangement, I was under the impression, the matter ends there. Until over a period of time the main water supply to a section of Inner Flower Road diminished. At present it is nil and bowser water is supplied regularly. This involves the presence of one of the inmates; to run up and down, assist in holding the hose etc. Being a government pensioner of advanced age, I am the only one available during the day and unable to physically cope with the prevailing situation and therefore I engaged an able bodied man from Nawalapitiya as a domestic aide. He obtained the certificate of residence and character certificate issued by the Grama Niladhari and is also in possession of the NIC. Then I produced him at the Kollupitiya Police station for registration and was found fault for not having registered all the occupants in one form. I explained that I have filled the same form and was told that that was not given by them. Then I set about complying with the requirements again. First the NIC of the inmates has to be surrendered at the Police station. An acknowledgement is given on a photocopy of the NIC. The NIC is checked with the Department of Registration of Persons regarding its genuineness and then returned. Thereafter the names of all occupants have to be filled in the above form and two photocopies of NIC of all persons, the original and photocopy of the Grama Niladhari’s certificate have to be given. The last phase, which is the most difficult one, is for all the inmates to be present at the same time before the OIC of the Police station, when he is available.
The time taken and the tedious process is making the Police - public relations bitter. But there is no justification in blaming the Police or the householder. Both are under severe strain.

A resident
Colombo 3

****

 Tribute

Nawarath Kumari Pilapitiya

Inculcated Buddhist social values in students

Born on June 22 to Tikiri Banda Tennakooon and Somawathie Kumarihamy of Ukuwela, Matale. Nawarath Kumari Thennakoon was destined to be the beacon light that showed the right path to thousands of Sri Lankan girls. Principal of Musaeus College Clolombo, Nawarath Kumari Pilapitiya has endowed the future generation with an ocean of knowledge and inculcated in them the human values in their formative years.

After completing her primary education at Agnus Convent Matale, she entered Musaeus college in 1948, when Mrs Clera Motvani was its principal. She successfully completed her secondary education at Musaeus College and entered Peradeniya University. After passing her B.A.Hons in Geography she took to teaching at St Anthony’s boys’ school in Kandy. Later she served at several school islandwide. She passed her Post Graduate Diploma in education when she was a teacher of Walala Maha Vidyalaya and qualified herself for the teaching profession. In 1961 Kumari Thennakoon was transferred to Mahamaya Balika Vidyalaya in Kandy. After her marriage to Asoka Bandara Pilapitiya, a social service officer, she got a transfer to Kalutara Balika Vidyalaya. Later she served at several schools including Ukuwela Nagolla Maha Vidyalaya, Matale Baptist Mission School, the present Sanghamitta Balika Maha Vidyalaya and Senkadagala Maha Vidyalaya from 1964 to 1968. She was appointed as Vice Principal of Baptist Mission School by then Principal Mrs. Vera Armond. After her promotion to grade 1 of the Teacher Service, she was appointed as Deputy Principal of Senkadagala Maha Vidyalaya. In 1973 she was appointed as Principal of St. Anthony’s Balika vidyalaya, Kandy which was the nurture ground of education for the students of different communities and religious faiths. Kumari Pilapitiya was the first Buddhist principal of the school. She recalls the nine year period of service from 1981 to 1990 at the Maha Maya Vidyalaya with poignant pleasure. Then Deputy Minister of Education Lionel Jayatillake hailed the efficient administration of the school under Kumati Pilipitiya who further improved the school with several facilities including a science laboratory, a school canteen, a fully pledged auditorium. After her promotion to the Sri Lanka Education Administrative Service in 1990 she held the posts of Additional Director of Education and Director of Education, Central Province until she retired from the government service in 1994, soon to be appointed as Principal of Musaeus College reviving her nostalgic memories as a student four decades ago. Kumari Pilapitiya is the 14th Principal of Musaeus College. During her tenure of service as the Principal of Musaeus College she streamlined the affairs of the school and maintained a high standard of discipline. Musaeus College under Kumari Pilapitiya earned high reputation in the field of education and in extra curricular activities as well. She believed that globalisation should go together with the Buddhist social values and the age old culture inherited by us.

Several new facilities including a two multi-storied school buildings, an air conditioned administration building, an auditorium, a science laboratory, a day care centre were added to the school during her time. She did not forget that sports and extra curricular facilities were an integral part of education. With this in view she introduced several extra curricular activities including Table Tennis, Wushu, and swimming.

Musaeus College, established by Lady Mary Musaeus Hinggins has been the nurture ground of scholarly pursuits for several generations. Its present Principal Navarat Kumari Pilapitiya who retires this year from service, will go down in the annals of the college as a glorious personality who was largely instrumental for elevating the college to its present status.

Adarshini Elson
Staff, Musaeus College
Colombo 7

****

                                                                   Appreciations                                                                  

40th Death Anniversary of Chandra Senanayake

Champion athlete in the Police Force

It is 40 years since my father, Chandra Senanayake passed away on 5th January 1969, leaving a vacuum, a void that left the family and the country to only reminisce the glory he brought to the athletic field, the service he provided as a Police Officer par excellence and above all a dutiful loving husband and father .
Born in a hamlet down south called Induruwa, he was the son of Muhandiram Arnold Senanayake and Susan Senanayake. He had two siblings, an elder sister and a younger brother. 

Educated at St. John’s Panadura and thereafter at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo, where he excelled in athletics as a schoolboy and showed his prowess in the Discus Throw and Shot Putt events. He entered the AAA Nationals in 1935, still a student, to compete with the then mighty ‘Jungle’ Dissanayake who was the unchallenged king of his domain. He beat ‘Jungle’ at the AAA Championships in 1936 establishing a new record. He continued to prove his performance by breaking his own record in the Discus Throw and Shot Putt events regularly. In 1941 he broke the discus record again and won the National Title in 1942. In 1948 he crowned himself with a throw of 129’ 11 ¾”. My brother and I were just outside the throwing circle in the middle of Police Park when he achieved his dream and retired as an unbeaten champion for 20 years in the Discus and 12 years in the Shot Putt event. He represented the Ceylon Police in the major part of his athletic career. After his retirement from active athletics, he officiated on the panel of AAA officials. His unassuming personality and modesty made him a popular figure, both in school and on the field. His record of achievements as a discuss thrower in Ceylon will be hard to beat. For consistency and devotion to his sport will serve as an object lesson and an inspiration to the students of athletics.

Chandra Senanayake married, Dilkusha Aserappa, daughter of Dr. C.V.Aserappa and Leela Aserappa in Kandy during world war 11. Dr. C.V.Aserapa was the second Ceylonese Chief Medical Officer of Health of the Colombo Municipality, the first being Dr. Simon De Melho Aserappa, his uncle. My father was a devoted family man. He inculcated the values of family and business ethics and the Buddhist philosophy in my brother and me whilst my mother who was beautiful, elegant and a lady to her finger tips, tought us to appreciate all good things in life. They made a very handsome couple.

My father joined the Police Force when Sir S.L. Dowbiggen was the IGP and he was stationed in Kottawa, Kadawatha and Gampaha. He then joined the CID. He was a brave and devoted officer and was recognised for it. He received the very prestigious King George VI Defence Medal for active service in defense of his country during the British period 1939 to 1945. After Independence he was selected to be the personal body guard of Rt Hon D.S.Senanayake, the first Prime Minister of Ceylon in 1948. He was a shadow to him all the time and the only time he left him was when the Prime Minister disappeared inside Cargills to buy him a Christmas present! Many were the gifts the Prime Minister bestowed on him, one being a pure silver cigarette case gifted by the Maharaja of Baroda. The day the Prime Minister died was the saddest day in his life. It was one of the very rare occasions that he did not accompany him as the then IGP Sir Richard Aluvihare rode at Galle Face with the Prime Minister. My father used to take us on week ends to Temple Trees very early in the morning as he made his first visit for the day. I still remember how the Prime Minister used to come into the front room in his smoking jacket and pipe and seeing my brother, Sarath and I, would bend down slightly and challenge us to try and hang on both sides of his walrus mustache. Of course we could never reach it and as a reward for trying, he got his batman Carolis to serve us a plate of Cadbury’s chocolates. Fortunately my mother was not told that we were eating chocolates at 06.00 in the morning. We were then sent out to play in his Rolls Royce while my father discussed his programme for the day. My father insisted that my brother and I be invited to State functions and took us with him where ever he went, and this gave us many opportunities to meet dignitaries who visited Ceylon such as Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth and the Duke, Pandit Jawharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and the Duke and Duchess of Kent were some of whom I vividly remember. He travelled extensively and at the Commonwealth Heads of State Conference, held in the Houses of Parliament in London, the Ceylon Representatives, the Prime Minister, R.G.Senanayake, Dudley Senanayake, J.R.Jayawardena and my father were in a lift, when a British Lord trying to enter the lift and seeing it crowded with hulky, burly figures, stepped back saying, ‘I thought Ceylon was an under developed country!’ The Prime Minister and Mrs Senanayake treated my father like a son, and the firm friends he made with many important people like H.E. President J.R. Jayawardene befriended us even after his untimely death.

We lived at his official Police bungalow in Melbourne Avenue, Bambalapitiya which was just by the sea, and I remember my father as a Police Officer, a law abiding citizen who would not tolerate any hindrance to the general public. He caught chain snatchers who tormented young couples sitting on the rocks, by posing as a couple with another male cop dressed as a woman. A murderer called Dabilin, a dreaded criminal who had earlier shot at my father had escaped by swimming a river with his handcuffs on and later surrendered to him as he trusted that he would not be harmed. There had been many such instances which are etched in only memory today. His colleagues in the Police were, Jungle Dissanayake, Stanley and Lionel Senanayake, Lionel Goonetilleke, Sidney de Zoysa, Clement Alles and many other brave officers of that era. He retired prematurely from the Police at the age of 43 when Prime Minister Mr. Dudley Senanayake retired from politics

My father was passionately fond of Jaguars and drove one most of his life. After retiring from the Police, He decided to start his own business and together with Major T. F. Jayewardena, incorporated the Lotus Insurance Company in 1957. With the nationalisation of insurance companies, he went on his own and incorporated Exchange & Finance Investments Ltd. (EFI) in 1959. In 1963, with many restrictions on foreign exchange, and a person being allowed to carry only Pounds 3.10, he decided to take us on a trip to Europe and U.K. My brother and I were teenagers and through this trip gained much confidence and courage to face the future. I truly appreciate my father’s devotion to us. My brother joined EFI soon after our holiday. In 1965 my father, with my brother at his heels decided to turn to airlines and was successful in obtaining the GSA for Cathay Pacific Airways, At this time he met the Ambassador, Senator Sam P.C. Fernando in Cairo, and they became firm friends. This friendship has continued down the generations and many people tell us that my father helped them in some way. People still do remember him and help us even now. My father lived in an era in which most public servants and businessmen were honourable. He never fell prey to amassing wealth nor was he tempted by greed or bribery. He was self-made man and reached the top in whatever he undertook through hard work. The trust people placed in him was incredible.

My father loved his parents very much and visited the Induruwa Walauwe every month with us. Through example, he inculcated values in us that hold us in good stead up to this day. He never preached to us but we observed his love for his parents and the Buddhist philosophy he believed in and tried to follow his guidance. On our regular visits to our grandparents in Induruwa, my father took great pleasure in physically carrying his aged father, who was over 100 years old, from the house down many rugged steps to the well and bathing him till he was able to get water service to the house. One day on the way to Kataragama with Hon Prime Minister D.S.Senanayake, my father had a strange feeling that his father was ill. When he mentioned this to the Prime Minister, he insisted that they visit the home in Induruwa and sure enough my grandfather was seriously ill. The whole village was agog with an unscheduled visit of the Prime Minister. As our grandparents grew older, my father with difficulty purchased a house at De Fonseka Place for them. Every morning and evening he went to see them to and fro from work. He was truly a devoted son. Every evening we used to watch the Jaguar turn down our lane at Maharagama, and he would let my brother and me remove his shoes and socks. The four of us would then sit in the veranda and talk and discuss various issues till dinner time. Most often he would get us in the car after dinner and rush to a 9.30 movie ending up at midnight at Green Cabin for egg hoppers.
As a successful businessman, my father served on many Boards, some of them being The Grand Hotel Nuwara Eliya, and Hendersons. He was a Rotarian, and was the President of the Rotary Club of Mt Lavinia.

Our house was open to the highest in the land down to common criminals. It was always full of people, and my father patiently listened and counselled the many who came to him for advise. Being foremost a Policeman at heart, he actively joined the Reserve Police and revived the Police Volunteer Force in the 1960’s and remained the Commandant of the Special Police Reserve till the time of his death.

It was on the 31st December 1968 that my parents went to the The Finance Company New Year Dance with Senator Sam P.C. Fernando, Mr Justin Kotelawala and their children Sicille and Lalith Kotelawala. My mother noticed that my father was driving the Jaguar erratically. On the 1st of January 69, he was having double vision but since he avoided doctors at any cost we could not persuade him to see anyone. On the 3rd of January my mother spoke to Dr Shelton Cabraal, an eminent Neuro Surgeon and family friend and arranged to see him the next day. Alas! It was too late and on the 4th night my father started a series of fits and was rushed to the General Hospital at midnight where Dr Cabraal was ready to operate on him. But he continued having fits and passed away in the early hours of the 5th of January, aged 53. Many could not believe he was gone. Mr Dudley Senanayake who was getting into a plane was given the news of the death and was visibly moved. I have never seen so many men cry at a funeral. We were devastated but we had the courage we inherited from him, to go on and try to realise his dreams.

The brave and courageous man who strode the sports arena like a colossus was gone. It is incredible as the saying goes – a man who could not be felled by an axe, had been laid low by the hand of death before the fullness of his time. But his memory still remains ever green as he walks beside us guiding us always to do the right thing and keep on playing the game. The spirit you lit in us will go down the generations to your grandchildren and your great grandchildren and I will always miss you.

Indira Senanayake Kulatilake

****

T. Sabreen Sallay (Tony)

Champion of manly sports

“Those we love go away
They walk besides us everyday
Years may pass and fade away
But memories of loved ones are here to stay”

I pen these lines from an authoritative source attributing to a sad event of that of the untimely passing away of my beloved brother-in-law who has left us in deep remorse and untold sorrow. I would like to recall the final phase of his life which saddened him most was the passing away of his youngest daughter Roshini domiciled in Melbourne, Australia on 30th September, 2007. He along with his wife was fortunate enough to be at her bedside when she finally succumbed to her illness. Life of Tony, as he was fondly called, was not the same thereafter, when he too complained of his failing health needing hospitalization and then what surprised us all was his sudden demise on 13.02.2008. Needless to say that the shocks of the untimely demise first of her daughter and then her husband has left my sister Rubina shattered beyond her belief.

Tony received his education at Zahira College Maradana and excelled in sports mainly wrestling when as a schoolboy, he won his weight class in the All Island Schools Championship Meet in 1954 and was finally adjudged the Best Wrestler at this meet much to the joy of his schoolmates. Sports thus paved the way to his enlistment in the Sri Lanka Navy which was his vocation. He was a pugilist of no mean repute, representing the Defense Services he won the Light Heavyweight title in his class in 1964 crowning himself with glory at their Championship Meet.

My memories of him keep flashing back as he was endowed with good looks and a superb physique in keeping with the manly sports he indulged in - a loveable personality with an effervescent smile and a puckish sense of humour which was his forte. The journey of our lives has gone this far but the fragrant and golden memories of him will linger fresh in our minds as he leaves his beloved wife, eldest daughter Jean and her husband Ravi with their sons Rajindra and Ravindra, Shane (husband of late Rashini) and their children Meshan, Viran and Tiani. On our part we shall not falter to invoke upon him Allah’s benign blessings to give him that eternal Elysium of Jennathul Ferdous Inna Lillahi Inna Illahi Rajioon.

T. Aniff Ahamed

****

 

 

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