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.


Kerawalapitiya Gas Plant – A positive step

I thank H. M. Navaratne, Director, Lanka Aloka (Private) Ltd. for his, what he calls an educative letter, appearing in your issue of July 19. I must state that my letters of the objections were based on reports of the World Bank 2002, USA1D 2003 and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JA1CA) which I now quote from a letter appearing in ‘The Island’ of July 16 by Dr. Tilak Siyambalapitiya, an Energy Consultant of repute.

World Bank 2002 – “Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is not an economic source of power for Sri Lanka for the foreseeable future. The arguments about LNG have simply added to the delays in making a decision for the coal project, without any real prospect of LNG projects becoming bankable in Sri Lanka in the near future.”
USA1D 2003 – “The prime difficulty in introducing gas is that the potential demand in Sri Lanka is small, reaching only 1.3.6cm by 2011. The cost of this gas would still be higher than the coal.”
JA1CA 2006 – “Recommended LNG based power generation from the year 2020, not owing to economic reasons but to fulfill fuel diversity and emission objectives.”

In the light of these reports from world renowned organisations, it is intriguing or confusing as to whom we should accept, the WB, USA1D, JA1CA reports or that of H. M. Nawaratne. Whatever it be, how is that the CEB had rejected this proposal, if the rosy picture painted by H. M. Navaratne had been made available?

As for the amusement where he says, “it is amusing to read that feasibility study on the use of LNG is to be undertaken by a foreign party.” When I mentioned this study, I went by the statement made by the Secretary to the Ministry for Power and Energy in a statement to the ‘The Island’ financial review of May 27, captioned ‘LNG energy awaits Japanese study’ which says, “LNG is a matter under consideration by the CEB. Because there is a MoU signed with the Japanese Government to do a study. Once this study is carried out only we will take a decision whether to go ahead to permit construction of this plant at Kerawalapitiya. The Media Secretary to the Ministry in a letter to the ‘The Daily Mirror’ of 29.11.06 stated “the Government of Sri Lanka accepted the offer of the Government of Iran to conduct a feasibility study on the use of LNG for power generation. A MoU was signed between the Ministry for Power and Energy of Sri Lanka and Ministry of Energy of Iran to conduct a feasibility study as the first phase and then consider the setting up of a LNG operated 450 mw power units.” Are then amusing statements emanating from the Ministry for Power and Energy in Sri Lanka? Who is fooling whom?

It would therefore appear, if not amazing or amusing, why this company had gone ahead, when the CEB had rejected this proposal right along and also without signing a MoU. Surely no sane company will undertake such a gigantic project, investing 600 million US dollars if a firm undertaking is not given by the CEB which will be the only purchaser of electricity, unless of course the Minister or the government is influenced or forced to accept, creating on energy shortage by some means.
Finally, I invite H. M. Navaratne, to read Dr. Tilak Siyambalapitiya’s letter in ‘The Island’ of July 16 and also letters from the former knowledgeable Vice Chairman of the CEB which appeared in “The Island”, to educate and to be educated as the case may be.

G. A. D. Sirimal


Chief Guests at School Prize Day

A news item revealed that while a provincial school desired the Chief Minister to be the Chief Guest at a School Prize Day, a Member of Parliament was insisting on to be the Chief Guest. It is unfortunate that schools are politically controlled and Principals have been robbed of their independence to act in the interest of the students. Politicians have political platforms and the National TV to address the public and the school prize day should not be a political platform for politicians to address the parents of the children.

An address from a Chief Guest at a Prize Day should benefit the school children and that cannot be expected from politicians. They are traditionally bound to speak on benefits accrued to the people with their political ‘chintanaya’ and not of a subject beneficial to the students. It is same even when the Minister of Education speaks at a school prize day. Students could benefit only from an address of a University Academic, Principal of another school and professionals of the calibre of doctors, engineers, accountants, architects, lawyers, bankers and many others from whose knowledge and experience the students would benefit. We are not short of such qualified persons and most schools have past students who are professionally qualified to address the students and whose presence will reflect a pride for the school and also a hope for students to achieve professional qualifications.
Schools have established traditions and the history records of Principals and teachers who have served the school for long periods. Thus they are committed to develop the school, mindful of student educational needs. But, currently Principals and teachers are transferred on requests of politicians and it’s more a survival employment and the sudden displacement affects not only the Principal or the teacher but also their children who are also compelled to move from one school to another like nomads. With Provincial Councillors the political interference has deteriorated to low levels.

This situation could be changed only by a series of presidential orders and that relating Prize Day addresses and Principal and teacher transfers and prevent student sufferings and students getting involved in demonstrations.

Amor Patriae


What’s In a Name?

What’s in a name?
All children want their gift
From Santa or Saint Nicholas
It doesn’t matter from whom, if it’s beneath the bed.

What’s in a name?
Call it football or soccer
When the rules that guide are ignored
We watch everything but the game.

What’s in a name?
German Shepherd or Alsatian
One animal with two names
Representing nationalism and jingoism.

What’s in a name?
Americans call him Jesus
Arabs call him Issa.
In English she is Mary
The Lebanese call her Mariam.
Like a container giving liquid shape.

What’s in a name?
Madras, you call it Chennai
Calcutta, you call it Kolkata
Bombay, you call it Mumbai
But you leave intact poverty and misery
Where Rama moves as Krishna.

Bhagavadas Sriskanthadas


Mobile phone ban in schools

This is going to cause a serious problem. Now if a school girl (or for that matter a schoolboy in these happy days) is about to be raped how is he/she to photograph the assailant?
Over to you Inspector General of Police.

Nihal Ratnayake


A growing menace!

A neighbourhood in darkness
Falling branches sparking fires
Roots that spread like wildfire
Fighting shy to face the thunder
Of trees trespassing...
And a bill of loading...
Who cares!

Irene de Silva
Colombo 5



His charismatic smile, reassuring words healed patients

Dr. V. Ganesan

The impermanence of life brought its curtain down on you on Saturday, July 18, 2009, to terminate an illness bravely borne, three years ahead of even the biblical three score and ten. Your premature demise made us all reflect on the age old saying, “they will not grow old as we who are left will grow old; age will not weary them, nor the years condemn.”

Death humbles us all because in death we are all equal. Your life was a shining example of the consistent practice of those precepts of humility and equality at all times and the numerous tributes paid to you at its termination emphatically endorsed it. In July 1983, when some misguided people burnt down your dispensary in Horana, I know your heart broke, but when the villagers together, re-built it, and pleaded for your return, you had it in you not only to forgive, but also to return to serve that community with as much, if not greater, commitment. You treated patients from all walks of life with the equal compassion and loving kindness. Your charismatic smile, and gentle, reassuring words, often made your patients feel that they didn’t need any other prescription!

You were an exemplary son to your parents, an exceptional husband to your lovely wife Pathmini, as you were a father to your three children, Sanjeev, Anjana and Nishani.
To your daughter-in-law, Jananie and sons-in-law Brahman and Nimalan you were a very special friend and in your later years you deservedly found great happiness in your grandchildren, Ashwin, Akshara, Bhishman and Nithya.

Whilst all of them continue understandably to grieve at your loss, I am sure they are equally grateful to God for having given them a husband, father, father-in-law and grandfather of such humane qualities, whose life revolved around, compassion, loving kindness and service to humanity.
Your soul, we know, is already in a heavenly abode having enriched the lives of a countless number of people who had the good fortune to know, and be treated by you.

Thank You Dear Doctor, You will surely be missed.



He never heeded the call ‘heal thyself’

Dr. V. Ganesan

I had known Ganesh (as he was referred to by those closely associated with him) for almost 30 years! He was the kind of man who one took to instantly - a kind, gentle, humane and above all, a Physician who took enormous trouble over a patient. The moment we were first introduced to each other, I knew I had met a man who would be a good friend. It was not as a patient that I met him but in the line of some official duties. From then on, my family, friends, relations and even colleagues at my workplace - all became his patients.

I recall the many times that I called him for a consultation and the embarrassment I experienced when he asked his loyal Assistant/Nurse Indrani to usher me to his office with so many patients, all of who may have arrived long before I did, seated patiently awaiting their turn. In such instances, we both decide that he should see the patient next in line before me. On those occasions, I observed his disposition towards the patient, almost all of who are people with limited means. He takes as much time with them as he does with his friends and shows them so much kindness and concern.

His ability to communicate in all three languages is another factor that endeared him to people from all the communities. His affection for the people of Horana in particular, to whom he was not only a Physician but also a friend, took him there at least twice weekly, returning home late at night.

Ganesh possessed what is referred to among the Sinhalese as “Ath Vasiya” - in this context, ‘healing touch’. I recall my children who always insisted on seeing him when ill, been cured just by visiting him, even before they had started on his medicine!
Most of his close friends were aware of his own ailment over the past few years and I have been one of those who would plead with him to seek a consultation overseas as his was a complicated case. However, he always put it off defending his action making me sometimes feel that he feared the ailment. I am aware that Pathmini, his dear wife, was also filled with sadness over his procrastination in attending to his own health needs.

Ganesh leaves a huge void among his numerous patients, friends and of course his loving family. He was a loving husband and a father who always kept abreast of his children’s (Sanjeev, Anjana and Nishani) careers and well-being.

I recall the last time I saw him laid out in bed. While honouring him, I could detect his eyes swelling with tears and I tried to do what he would do to me and so many others when laid down - consoling and giving confidence. Looking at him, I could not help but think of the many lives he had help save and yet he failed to heal himself. Alas, God Almighty had other plans and my dear friend is no more and is also no more in pain.
Goodbye Ganesh, may the angels lead you to eternal bliss!

Herman Gunesekera


An artiste par excellence

Shesha Palihakkara

Shesha Palihakkara breathed his last recently as an octogenarian.
Tall, fair and handsome, Shesha had all the making of a film personality. From the days of his teens he showed a flair for dancing and proceeded to India for higher learning.

However, as his efforts bore no fruits he was compelled to return to the country. But he did not give up and joined the then prominent dancing Guru Chitrasena. This time ,he emerged with flying colours and was associated with Chitrasena’s productions. Later he became an exponent of Manipuri and Kathakali dancing.

Once again Shesha proceeded to India to acquire more talents in dancing and entered Shantineketan, the rendezvous of those who sought skills in dancing and music. He had an itching desire to go for performances abroad and toured countries like the U.S.A., the U.K. and Ireland and participated in performances with several troupes.
Shesha had ambitious plans of taking dancing to the masses including estate areas. His intention was to popularise especially Indian dancing forms.

With this end in view he opened up dancing institutes in various places. He had for sometime a stint in the Kelaniya University Aesthetic Faculty. Just before his demise Shesha was busy with dancing classes in a leading International School.
Although Shesha’s first love was dancing, the country knew him more as a leading film personality. The elderly folk still remember his dual roles in Mathalan screened in 1955 which was a box office hit. It had scintillating music with lilting tunes. Before that he directed dancing scenes in Ahankara Sthree produced by S. M. Nayagam who selected Shesha for the main role in Mathalan.
A signal contribution to Sinhala film industry was rendered by Sesha in the 1960’s. His film associates were Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Mike Wilson and Rodney Jonklaas. With Mike Wilson as a partner, he formed the Serendib Film Company. Its maiden effort was Ranmutu Duwa which had for the first time underwater scenes in a Sinhala film with Gamini Fonseka playing the main role.
Shesha blazed new trails in the film art. He had no hacked themes like boy meeting girl. He offered to the people new themes as in Getavarayo and Saaravita. In these films there was super music with songs which are on our lips even today. His other films were Laksheta Kodiya, Satyagrahanaya. In Rekawa his role as a stilt walker with a monkey in hand will not be forgotten by us.
It is not only as an actor or Producer / Director that Shesha excelled.
He was a five in one He was a sought-after person as a make-up artiste, choreographer, and dance director. The films he got involved in these roles were Ramyalatha, Surathalee, Sakvithi Suvaya, Christu Charithaya and in some English films like Bridge on the River Kwai.

I came to know Shesha when he consulted me with regard to legal matters pertaining to his films. In many discussions, I had with him he came out with a lot of information regarding his career as an artiste. He was well read with fluency in several languages. He was noted for the simple life he led.
With his manifold roles Shesha played in the field of arts I wonder whether we will ever get such a talented man in the future.

D. P. Gankanda


An excellent public servant

W. G. Jayatilake

The Chief Immigration Officer, W. G. Jayatillake, attached to BIA Katunayake, after completing nearly 30 years of yeoman service in the Department of Immigration retired recently.
He was a versatile person in various aspects of immigration duties and possessed an unblemished character. During his tenure he worked at the Jalimanar Pier, Trincomalee, Colombo and the Galle harbour too.

He was a very strict disciplinarian and a quick decision maker.
He was a close associate of late Minister of Social Services Asoka Karunaratne in one of the previous regimes and as a co-worker I am grateful to him for doing social services for a fairly long period to the public of Rambukkana area in the Kegalle District.

He is a reputed farmer too and before assumed work in the Deparatment of Immigration and Emigration he worked as a superintendent of the Janatha Estates Development Authority and rendered an excellent service.
We are missing a capable public servant to the country and a very close friend of ourselves.
I wish him all the best for a healthy and peaceful retirement.

C.M. Kamburawala


An extraordinary priest

Rev Fr Kingsley Jayamanne

I met him on the day he came to St. Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya, when he was introduced to me by the late Rev Fr Joe Wickramasinghe before he left for the UK for higher studies. Later Fr Kingsley took over St. Peter’s College as acting Rector. During that time I held office as General Secretary of the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) and Hon Treasurer of the College Welfare Association from late 1970s to mid 1980s.

He never had any differences among all the parents and students, may they be Catholics, Buddhists or Hindus. As a Tamil and Hindu parent he was surprised to see the contribution I made to St. Peter’s College. Whenever he called me I gave my fullest co-operation to him for the betterment of St. Peter’s. I cannot forget the help and the co-operation he and late Rev Fr Sunil Perera did to accommodate the refugees in the 1983 riots and helped the refugees in so many ways.
Later, when he was the Editor of the Messenger and the Parish Priest at Kotte, Galkissa and Kollupitiya I used to spend little time sometimes in the weekends.

He was well admired, an excellent administrator, teacher, educationist, counsellor and above all a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Fr Kingsley’s last days of pain and disillusionment were typical of the human predicament that lies beyond human understanding.
Goodbye and farewell Fr Kingsley. I cannot forget the animated conversations I had with you and the help you gave me during your stay at St. Peter’s during the years I held office in social activities.









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