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.
Why waste money at the feet of statues
Dr. Mrs. Mareena Thaha Reffai could be more helpful to readers if she qualifies
her appellation of Doctor by specifying whether it is a doctorate in Medicine,
Philosophy, Law, or Divinity or an assumed designation, which some people do to
fortify their failing psyche.
Her assumption that only politicians garland and lay flowers at the feet of
statues is misleading. Relatives, friends and admirers place flowers at the feet
of dignitaries, religious or lay.
Prophet Mohamed, who rose to heaven does not have a statue or picture of himself
anywhere in remembrance of him. Jesus and the Buddha have. So also politicians
like S. W. R. D. Bandaranayake, D. S. Senanayake and many others. It is not the
money involved but the thought that is valued.
A flower at the feet of a statue or image conditions the minds of the viewers,
that here is a person, who in life, stood for a set of respected and valued
ideas. Having viewed it, a plethora of ideas sail through the mind of the
S.W.R.D. stood for the eviction of the White Rulers and their sahibs from Lanka
and consolidation of the freedom that was won from the oppressors. The sculptor
sought a graphic image of the stature of the person by symbolically heightening
the statue. Hence the windswept tall statue of S.W.R.D. at the entrance to the
Galle Face esplanade, requiring a crane to garland the statue. It is not money
wasted but signifies a directive and resolution for the Nation to follow in his
footsteps to greatness.
D. S. Senanayake was Minister for Agriculture but pathetically he was associated
with conservative British governance and capitalism and the sculptor has dwarfed
the statue to bring out the concept that politically his ideas were of little
significance, in the political arena.
That is the significance of statues and images compelling great world sculptors,
painters and artists to portray figures of worthy people at which flowers and
garlands are offered. With the Temple of the Tooth being open to viewers, lotus
flowers along with many other varieties of flowers will be offered to the statue
of the Buddha. That spells progress of a nation. That is the significance of
Statues and Images.
The floral industry benefits and so also the mind of a Nation will bloat. Who
could predict that amongst the viewers, some day someone will step into the
shoes of the venerated person.
Viewing is the harbinger of ambition that propels the Human mind. Those who seek
to follow in the footsteps of achievers and the great will be those with the
wherewithal to indulge in charity, feed and help the poor and the needy. The
gateway and the roadway are the flowers offered at the feet of statues
commemorating past leaders.
Laying flowers will see the minds of people blooming, leading to the, blossoming
of a greater Nation.
Model officer, philanthropist and perfect
F. Felix Delip de Silva
“Help age Sri Lanka” has given wide publicity in the local newspapers to the
magnanimous and generous donation of us $ 1,040.312 made by His Majesty Sultan
Qaboos Bin Said Sultan of Oman to meet the cost of cataract surgeries for the
destitute elders in Sri Lanka.
His Majesty the Sultan of Oman made the donation specifically to perpetuate the
memory of the late Felix de Silva, former Inspector General of Police and
Customs for his significant contribution to the Royal Oman Police. This donation
manifestly demonstrates the high esteem in which Felix De Silva was held and to
the admirable gratitude of his Majesty.
Many Sri Lankans may not be aware of the significant and outstanding
contribution of this illustrious son of Sri Lanka and his versatile personality.
Having served in the Royal Oman Police and under him for nearly a decade, I feel
obliged to set out his contribution and the high esteem he was held by his
Majesty, the Royal Oman Police and people of Oman.
F. Felix Delip de Silva did Sri Lanka proud in the Sultanate of Oman. Appointed
as the Inspector General Police and Customs and later as Advisor to H. M. on
Police Affairs, he was bestowed the highest and prestigious awards of the state
for his contribution to the Royal Oman Police. He guided the destinies of the
Royal Oman Police for over two and half decades, and was highly respected and
admired by its people.
A multi-faceted personality, an indomitable Police Officer, an Administrator of
the highest calibre, philanthropist, sportsman, and above all a human being with
rare qualities, it is not easy to cover all the salient aspects of his
personality, remarkable personal qualities, outstanding and commendable
achievements. Further to evaluate the significant contribution he made in the
transformation of a rather medieval Police Force to be a highly modernised and
efficient force, and the best in the region is no easy task.
The education at St. Aloysius College, Galle under the Jesuit Priests had a
great impact on him. Discipline and devotion to duty which were synonymous with
the Jesuits became later his guiding principles and in no small measure
contributed to his remarkable success. Felix was proud of his Alma Mater and he
loved his school dearly.
Leaving school, he took to planting. Adventurous and daring by nature, the life
of a planter did not much appeal to him. In search of a more exciting and
challenging career, he joined the Tanganyika Police Force and soon excelled in
his duties displaying a remarkable aptitude for Police duties. He was rewarded
with accelerated promotions. In the sixties he joined the Royal Oman Police
which was in its fledging stage. Distinguishing himself with rare dynamism,
dedication and efficiency much to the envy of other serving British Officers, he
was elevated in rank in quick succession.
In the early seventies, he assumed duties as the Inspector General of Police and
Customs. At this time Oman was witnessing an unprecedented growth and
development under his Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said. To meet the ever
increasing demands of the time, he systematically planned for the expansion and
simultaneous modernisation of the Police Force.
Apart from the traditional and conventional Police duties, Customs, Emigration
and Immigration, Motor Vehicle Registration and Administration, Coastal
Security, Desert Surveillance, all came under the purview of the Police.
Consequently as the Inspector General he wielded extensive powers and was
answerable only to his Majesty Sultan Qaboos, who had implicit faith in Felix.
Felix de Silva successfully organised the various branches of the Force
providing for specialisation in their respective fields of activity setting up a
Marine and Mounted Division and an Air Wing, to effectively serve the needs of
the fast growing modem society. When he relinquished duties in early 1983, the
Royal Oman Police was recognised in the International Police World as an
efficient sophisticated, highly equipped force with the most up-to-date
techniques/systems and procedures and an abundance of expertise. It was the best
in the Gulf States. In fact, other members of the Gulf Corporation Council
regularly sought the assistance of the Oman Police to train its personnel.
One significant and commendable feature of the force was the close affinity with
the people. He zealously attempted to identify the Police Force as the ‘Friend
of the People’ and it is to his credit that the Force has remained deeply
attached to the people, in spite of the dramatic social and economic changes.
For his significant and remarkable contribution to the Royal Oman Police and
National Security, he was decorated and bestowed the most envious and
prestigious awards by H. M. Sultan Qaboos Bin Said and he was conferred
Distinguished Citizenship. On his retirement, appointed Advisor to H. M. on
Police Affairs and was required to undertake some sensitive diplomatic
assignments, as his Majesty had implicit faith in Felix.
Serving the Royal Oman Police in the late seventies and working at Police
Headquarters, where the Inspector General was located, I was fortunate to
closely observe his inimitable style of Management, although somewhat
unconventional, but most effective and the principles underlying his work and
his code of high professional rectitude. He epitomised the model officer and
perfect gentleman, in his work he displayed a rare dynamism and exemplary zeal
and set a very high standard for others to emulate.
While many expatriates, including Sri Lankans were recruited to provide the
necessary expertise during the formative period of Police Force, he continuously
impressed upon them the need to blend with the indigenous culture, to be
receptive to the religious susceptibilities and continuously re-iterated the
sacred obligation to train the Omani staff to take over the duties performed by
the expatriates. He was very firm on those expatriates who failed to measure up
to his expectations.
Despite his diverse interests he was essentially a family man. He loved his wife
and family, those who visited the de Silva home experienced the family warmth.
Though somewhat of diminutive stature, he was dynamic and asserted himself with
firmness and authority, but with decorum. Daring and adventurous, he loved fast
cars and go-cart racing, and won many a coveted trophy in the Tanganyika, Kenya
and African Safaris and open meets.
A devout Buddhist, he practised his religion unobtrusively, observing the four
“Sathara Barahma” - Loving Kindness, Compassion, Altruistic Joy and Equanimity
to the maximum. Humanism and generosity knew no bounds. He gave generously to
the temples churches and other places of religious worship in his birthplace
Galle, to his poor relations and friends in need.
Felix de Silva passed in the USA on the 23rd October 2001, and his ashes were
interred in the Radella Cementry in Galle. He was 74 years at the time of his
death. Sri Lanka lost a Great man and Oman a Friend who loved the Sultanate and
its people. He was a rare personality, he completely epitomised the legendary
person who would walk with alacrity and equal harmony with beggars and kings
there was no vestige of super ciliousness and assumption in him. He was loved
and admired by both Omanis and expatriates. The officers and other ranks in the
Royal Oman Police in particular remember with gratitude his significant
contribution to the progress and spectacular development of the Royal Oman
Police and their personal development while. His majesty has persistently
re-iterated the gratitude of his people for the outstanding contribution made by
Felix De Silva, and naturally this magnanimous and generous donation to “Help
age Sri Lanka”.
Sqn. Ldr. J. T. Rex Fernando