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Vaas, keep up your commitment to cricket
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.
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
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
The syllabuses of history, civics, science, geography and health textbooks are
so vast, so complicated and detailed that they cannot be tackled during school
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.
The bridge at Payagala Elagahawatta which leads to many villages is on the verge
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
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?
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,
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
In retrospect of a Musical Phenomenon
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….