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 viewer.

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.

William Sigera



Model officer, philanthropist and perfect gentleman

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
(SLAF Retd.)





Click here to send
your feed-back


Click here to
see our readers comments