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Vaas, keep up your commitment to cricket

The cricketing exploits of Vaas with 400 Test wickets and 364 ODI wickets have earned him a distinguish name in the cricketing history of our country. During a certain period Vaas, Murali, Sanath and Marvan were the dominant cricket foursome and for generations to come the young and the old lovers of the game will remember them and pay tribute with gratitude and appreciation. The skills of any talented bowler after a peak period is bound to loose the penetrative effectiveness and has to make way for the emerging new comers with greater skill and effectiveness. But Vaas, a keen, devoted and knowledgeable cricketer should not give up hope but should be in the scene as occasionally his services may be required, as old soldiers never die.

During the cricket match in Galle, a Sri Lankan commentator was often heard over TV of speaking of his past performance records and regretting over his omission from the playing eleven. In the best interest of the game, players should not be included in a team mainly on past performances. Vaas also would not have had a chance to replace his fast bowling predecessor when he first played for the country if past performance was the main criterion. If due to past performance a player cannot be replaced, Pakistan may not have been able to include the 17-year-old fast bowler Ameer who took many wickets in the first Test and in the second Test enlist 22-year-old Alam who scored l68 in his first international match. Our own Mathews and several others would not have been able to play if past performance was unduly recognised.

Of course, attachments to players prevail because of the old school, club membership, common dwelling area and many other significant attachments and many are bound to comment on non-inclusion of some players and the eleven who represented the country in the two Tests have justified their selection though different opinions. In our country all cricketers do not receive a monthly professional payment and therefore even ageing players wish to retain their places in the national squad. As for Vaas, his contribution to the game is not over with his knowledge of the game and the skills he possesses, should commence training young prospects with long-term hopes and is bound to succeed.

Amor Patriae


Revoke jak tree felling prohibtion

The prohibition on felling of jak trees was promulgated sometime in the seventies during a food shortage in the country. The trees could be felled provided it was approved by the Grama Niladhari of the area, who was on the spot. Though related to the shortage of food at that time, it was not rescinded when the problem ceased. Like all government strictures that remain in force for all time, and are reviewed only if the public draws¬ attention to them and this restriction too remains so which will soon result in a paucity of jak tree timber. The jak tree like the coconut, kithul, palmirah and arecanut trees is a common sight in home gardens. The jak fruit is close to a staple in south Sri Lanka, where the climate is conducive. What the government officers have not realised is that the tree will be grown profusely only if it could be freely felled and not be subject to restrictions. It will provide food until then. Being a dual purpose tree that aspect should always be borne in mind and its cultivation should be encouraged. Being a pertinacious food, it goes well with rice to build good health. The fruit can be cooked at all stages, from the tender to the ripened. The ripe fruit, because of its sweet taste serves as dessert too.

Ivor Samarasinghe


Howlers in new school textbooks

The government’s school textbooks following the new syllabuses have been distributed to the pupils all over the island in English, Sinhala and Tamil respectively.
The syllabuses of history, civics, science, geography and health textbooks are so vast, so complicated and detailed that they cannot be tackled during school hours.

The timetable only allows two periods per week per each of these subjects. The maximum number of weeks per year in a typical school in Sri Lanka will not exceed 40. About 10 of these weeks will be set apart for tests and assessments and school functions and sports practices.

So the first thing the Commissioner General of Publications should have advised is to write books only containing facts which can be taught, understood and remembered in 60 periods lasting 40 minutes each i.e. books which contain what can be read in the class and explained in 60 periods.

I have done an unofficial survey in 20 popular schools in the Colombo District and have discovered that the teachers are unable to read every page of the book with the pupils and/or to explain every page while reading .They skip from chapter to chapter even in the prestigious private schools.

Consequently, the teachers do not have time to discuss the activities suggested and to evaluate the work done at home. They ask the children to tackle the activities by themselves at home and you can guess how students are running around to gather facts and material. Not every home has a computer!

A second thing the Commissioner General of Publications should have advised is to be aware that the pupil has to study about 10 subjects and should not be burdened with too much content in any single text book or subject.
A third thing he should have observed is that the quality of the contents is appalling. The details which 13-year-olds in Grade 8 are expected to remember according to this new approach is more suitable for those opting to specialise in just any one of these subjects at or after the Advanced Level. But along with such highbrow stuff are some howlers and incorrect statements. The reproductive system in the health book is an example of a complete mix up.

A fourth thing the commissioner should have seen is that the presentation is also a problem. The experts have tried to introduce colours and pictures and have even dramatised lessons and have included unnecessary little sermons which are more suitable for mere conversation. The actual basic facts and concepts have got lost in the wilderness of so much of rubbish (pardon me).
In the history book the facts are not in chronological sequence. Without starting off by stating that in the year such and such there existed in our island so many kingdoms, their borders being such and such and resorting to give a time chart at the beginning of the book this text book suddenly tells that one kingdom resisted the Portuguese who were led by so and so.... and that the king at that time signed a treaty with the Dutch.

I am stressing history because it has been made compulsory for O/Ls.
But all the other books are equally confusing.
If you open up the topic there will be many writers who will respond.

Shanthi Perera


Dilapidated bridge

The bridge at Payagala Elagahawatta which leads to many villages is on the verge of collapse.
The iron plates which were laid at the time of its construction which extend back to 1950 have rusted away making a big hole in the middle of the bridge obstructing vehicular movement.
As a temporary measure a steel plate has been placed over it to enable pedestrians to cross over. No iron railings are found on either side of the bridge to help pedestrians especially in the night.
Regarding this precarious situation the public has made many pleas to the authorities including the RDA but to no avail. How long are we to wait for the repairs?

C. M. Kamburawala


Feeding stray animals

A news item in a daily newspaper of July 4 stated that the Chief Inspector of Health Mount Lavinia charged two people for providing a haven for stray cats which allegedly created an unhygienic environment and caused inconvenience. They were fined Rs. 20,000 each.

He has probably not noticed that in some areas, the garbage is not collected from house to house. Is this for the convenience of the collectors or the householders? Sometimes, these garbage heaps are a few feet high. Is it hygienic to inhale the putrid smells emanating from them?

In common with other parts of Lanka, building laws have been flouted along Station Road, from the junction onwards. So some squatters more influential than others have even held up road widening. Don’t they inconvenience the public? Perhaps there are others who bide time to take the cue from the law-breakers.
In this Buddhist country where we frequently hear sermons and pirith chanting, is it thought fit to punish people who feed stray animals, instead of helping them to control their numbers. Is this compassion?

Elders Home


Undermining President’s ‘one people’ policy

The Zonal Examinations currently underway have undermined all the good intentions of President Rajapaksa. We have seen, since the defeat of the LTTE how the President has gone out of his way to make the Tamil people and other minorities feel as one, switching to Tamil in many of his speeches since then, etc.
For the Zonal Examinations, the Order Form to get the correct number of papers was given only in Sinhala, even to the many Tamil medium schools in Colombo.

The Time Table was given only in Sinhala. After many complaints, a hastily typed one was given about a week later to the Tamil government schools.

A letter was given stating which subjects were being given in what language. This was also given only in Sinhala. All Tamil schools were not even aware that they were not getting some papers in Tamil, because this letter was in Sinhala and so not sent to the Tamil government schools.

Question papers for subjects such as Grades 6, 7 and 8 Civics and Geography, which are two of the six core subjects, were not given in Tamil. Although there is a special Director for Tamil Medium schools, she has not ensured that the schools under her purview would have the papers to sit. You can understand that in a mono-lingual school, there will not even be a competent Sinhala medium teacher of those subjects, to help them translate, and they have to depend on the generosity of a neighbouring multi-lingual school to get access to a Tamil medium paper in these two subjects.

The government approved bi-lingual programme is also being sidelined by the Ministry. Subjects such as Health Science, Civics and Geography from Grades 6 – 8 were not given in English although they are approved subjects for the bi-lingual programme, with text books, etc being printed in English.

At Grades 10 and 11, the Zonal office proudly proclaimed that they will not be giving the English translation for any Basket subjects, i.e., subjects like Health Science (Basket 3) and Geography (Basket 1) though how they could take an ad hoc decision like that when they are conducting examinations is beyond the understanding of the teachers. It is sad that in the ‘Year of IT and English’ as proclaimed by the President in February this year, the Education Ministry itself is undermining the President’s goals and aims.

All teachers in these affected schools (Tamil medium schools, schools with all three media, and schools with the bi-lingual programme) are now frantically opening up the packages and translating them. Confidentiality is left to the integrity of the staff members concerned. Many of them say that if only they had been asked by the Zonal office, they would have helped to translate them after school. The Divisional office has so many ISA’s for each subject. They come regularly to schools and harass the teachers to do this and that. Aren’t they competent to translate or get it done from any of the teachers they meet in different schools?

We hope it will not come to a stage where students sitting for the G.C.E .Ordinary Level examination will be asked to read the questions in Sinhala and answer in Tamil or English!!

A school principal


Save dog or man?

Cultured people do not willingly harm animals; though children who have yet to ascend to culture, delight in hurting animals that they are afraid of, for by that act they feel superior to the animal. However, children want friends. So they take them to bed as companions and make friends. The dog is reputed to be man’s best friend but the snag is that the dog and the cat are carriers and purveyors of rabies. Their lick, bite or saliva will bring on dreaded hydrophobia in man which results in certain death, unless treated in good time. Despite vaccination to keep animals immune, they do sometimes contract the disease, thereby risking human life. It has been recorded that there were one million dog bites within a period of four years. In 2008 the State spent rupees a 100 million to control the disease.

Animal lovers’ organisations do much to protect their dumb friends, little realising that they have to be mindful of their human cousins. They are against the capture of stray dogs and their destruction if not claimed. Under British rule all dogs had to be licensed. Having paid a fee the dog owner was issued a badge which the animal carried on a collar. It brought money to the State. Dogs roaming freely in public are a hazard, and their elimination is welcome. Dogs should be kept within doors. If brought onto public roadways, they should be on a leash.

Anyone bitten or licked by a dog is advised to have an anti-rabies injection. They are costly, but administered free at State hospitals. Often, the vial is not available in the hospital, but is available in the pharmacy next door, though at an exorbitant price. With all these hazards the people facing, rearing of dogs should be discouraged, unless they could be carefully tended. People who callously strand unwanted litters on lonely roads should be traced and penalised drastically. Dog meat is a delicacy in Korea. Sri Lanka could make it a part of the livestock industry and export them to that country. Jesus, Prophet Mohammed or Prince Siddhartha did not disapprove of animals being used as human food.

Ivor Samarasinghe


Cancer Hospital spreads diseases!

The Cancer Hospital located at Maharagama has become another menace for causing cancer to the people living in the neighbourhood.
All the contaminated refuse water of the Cancer Hospital is diverted to Daham Mawatha where at certain places - the entire road is wrecked with potholes and filled with this dirty water. Those who pass this road have to tread this contaminated water.
The incinerator used by the Cancer Hospital to burn filthy solid waste of the hospital is also causing severe health hazard to the residents in this area. The black colour fumes blown out of this incinerator drifting all over the area early morning. Unwittingly the Cancer Hospital authorities are causing serious health damage to the public especially the neghbouring people.
The residents are questioning as to who is responsible for this negligence to endanger the lives of healthy people to make them sick and who they should turn to complain, is it the Cancer Hospital directorate, the relevant Medical Officer of Health, the Urban Council or the Central Environment Authority?
Relevant authorities please draw your immediate attention to this serious matter.

Manjari Peiris


Nonchalance of sneering swindler

Several hundred depositors of F & G Property Developers Ltd. were to demonstrate outside the Supreme Court on July 23, 2009, demanding the settlement of the monies due to them. It is certainly alarming that trusting depositors have to agitate before court houses to get Justice. Lalith Kotalawela, the genie has been trapped, but he confidently leers, sneers and grins, waving to the anxious depositors whilst being transported back to the jail-house from the court-house. Should not there be some hidden secret for his bland nonchalance. A news item in The Island newspaper read that influential people were playing a role in the investigations. Kotalawela is being investigated for his swindle. He is a swindler and criminal. Do not the ‘influential’ people become criminals too, for aiding and abetting? Only the wily, sagacious, cunning could induce the nonchalance in Kotalawela and his’ influential supporters. The man has been rightly locked up on a Court order. His pretence of sickness saw him in the Merchants Ward. Court interference saw him back in his cell. He now rides a wheelchair, but back in prison, the cheat sits up and walks. The wheelchair act is the duplicitous, crafty way to gathering sympathy! A jab in his ribs by a smart jail guard will cure him of his hypocritical pretence. He has applied for bail. Perchance it is granted, it will be a godsend for all depositors as they could take a swipe at his cherubic face! When the salary revision of judges comes up in Parliament it will be moot to question the law’s delay and the expedition of the depositors’ case claiming their monies. Did the money of the depositors win Lalith and his woman Cecille a honorary doctorate. They have certainly graduated in swindling.

It is rumoured that though in jail he enjoys all the luxuries of five star living.
Chandrika of Waters’ Edge fame, faced with an incarcerated Ratwatte, built the relative a cosy villa within the prison with all luxuries found therein - a replica of five star living. Home from Home! His investors, however, remain paupers, without a square meal.

Gehan Ranatunge


In retrospect of a Musical Phenomenon

Michael Jackson
You are the king of hearts,
Young and old,
Your voice travelled across
The continents and commenced
A Revolution of pop music
There is none who can’t recognise your voice
Whatever is said about you?
Is not true.
Your fans always believed,
That you had a large heart.
Your life was a thriller
Filled will, suspense
You never cared,
Who’s black or white?
You never stopped
Till you got enough
You beat it all
We’ll miss you,
Just as much as your children and family do,
You healed the world with your music,
Even your pets Ben and Bubbles will miss you
Your departure was too hard to believe,
Even on the day you left us,
We hoped that you’d come
And dance like lightning at any moment;
But you didn’t
You left a blank space,
In our hearts….

Amanda Benjamin






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