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.


Insane desire for nakedness
Amazing and disgusting news today (25.9.2009) in a national newspaper is that there is move to organise hiking in the nude in Harz mountain in Germany.
Why is this desire for nakedness in today’s world? We see this even in Sri Lanka now - the youngsters and sometimes even the not so young seem to be wearing less and less. What we wore as the lingerie seems to be the dress of choice at today’s parties! Even the saree is worn with the breasts exposed.

Recently there was a spectacle of wedding dress at a bridal show where the bride was wearing hardly anything and her flower bouquet was coving the little pieces of dress she was wearing. What is the groom, the bride’s parents and the groom’s parents thinking? Here there is a girl starting her life in all seriousness of sharing herself with the groom and on the very first day what she does is to expose herself to all and sundry? Where is the modesty which is part of all religions of Sri Lanka? Aren’t we following the perverted norms of the western world, knowing jolly well where it has landed them? Don’t we all know the depths to which the indecency and immodesty has pushed that society?

Another place this is apparent is the hospitals, strangely. The hospital staffers including the doctors, nurses and minor staff keep, scolding the patients, specially the Muslims, when they opt to wear a shawl or a hijab. They insist that all the patients wear a hatte and redda dress. Many non-Muslim patients too have expressed disgust in wearing hatte and redda and exposing themselves to the men who visit the wards - be they staff or visitors.

I remember when I was DMO at Akurana hospital, my non-Muslim staff used to scold the women when they were not decently covered when the men visited the ward. What had happened to the code of ethics?
By this way the bodies of the female patients are exposed to all and sundry. After all most of these staff are mothers and fathers. Would a decent mother or father like to get their own daughters be exposed like this? Would the doctors and the nurses like to work with hatte and redde in the wards?
This is an impingement of the human rights of patients. Either no men except the doctors - should be allowed into the ladies wards or the patients must be allowed nay, asked to wear modest clothes.
I hope saner council will prevail in future and we will return to the modest values of our ancestors, irrespective of our religion, race or cast.

Dr Mrs. Mareena Thaha Reffai


Beware of tricksters
One of my patients came a little late one day and apologised saying she had to go to the police station. When inquired she said when she was getting out of the church, two men came in a three wheeler and asked her to get in saying that she had to go to the police station. They had also told her to remove the gold chain she was wearing and to put it into the handbag she was carrying. After driving for a little distance they had said it was not necessary and asked her to get off the three-wheeler.

Of course, the poor lady found out that her gold chain was missing when she looked for it.
The President got rid of the terrorists but another kind of terrorism is still out there. That is taking the unsuspecting Tamils for a ride on the pretext of the Police wanting to speak to them. The word ‘Police’ terrifies them and they do anything they are asked to. This way the good work done by our forces and the government is taken advantage of by unscrupulous elements and made a mockery of.

So everyone out there, Tamil or otherwise, warn your women folk, no police officer can ask them to come along without being accompanied by a lady cop. And, even then, they can always refuse until someone of theirs accompanies them.

Dr Mrs. M.T.R


Mistakes by commercial bank
Unlike in the good old days, there is hardly any manual work now in banks. For banking transactions, it is just a matter of feeding the required data into the computer and then the system automatically does the rest by generating the documents, letters etc. that are to be sent to the constituents. The computer printouts that are sent to the clients do not bear any signature and it is clearly stated that a signature is not required for the letters /advices as they are computer generated letters/documents etc.

In the context of the above, most bank officers have a very little load of responsible work that has to be done. As they are not under much pressure, it is their bounden duty that they ensure that the data that is fed into the system has to be dead accurate.

In complete contrast to the above, the officers of a leading commercial bank in the suburb of Colombo where I had maintained a close rapport by maintaining several types of accounts for the past eight years have blundered by making several errors by not adhering to the basics in been accurate in feeding data into the system. All bankers and the clients very well know what withholding tax is. This is, if I am correct, is a 15% deduction on interest derived from fixed deposits which are remitted to the Department of Inland Revenue. This applies only to tax payers and to those who earn more than Rs 300,000 as interest from deposits during a calendar year. At the time of opening a fixed deposit account, a declaration form duly signed is taken to determine whether this withholding tax component is to be deducted or not. I opened two fairly large fixed deposits at this particular commercial bank in August 2008 and wanted interest to be credited monthly to my current account together with the withholding tax certificate to the effect that I do not earn more than Rs 300,000 in order to exempt me from deducting withholding tax.

However, when I received the annual renewal notice, a computer- generated-advice at the end of one year, I was astonished to note that the despite my declarations furnished this particular commercial bank had deducted withholding tax from the interest earned.

I also wish to emphasise regarding another mistake made by the same commercial bank when I opened the fixed deposits. Thinking that I may need money for future family commitments, I requested for a permanent overdraft facility to my current account amounting to 90% of my total deposits, which I could avail myself from my current account if and when necessary. I was once again surprised when I received my current account statement for the month of September 2009.The discrepancy was identified by me instantly as I had been charged the same rate as permanent overdraft interest despite the rates for the fixed deposits had been reduced. Here too the officers had failed to feed into the computer the correct reduced rate of interest to be charged on my permanent overdraft in relation to the interest paid for my fixed deposits. I have since met the officers at this particular commercial bank and got these omissions rectified and my refunds are pending. They knew that they had made the blunders which caused me a tremendous pain of mind. I had no option and hesitation in uplifting my fixed deposits and cancelling my permanent overdraft facility spontaneously. I am refraining from mentioning the name of the bank as it would definitely tarnish the image of this reputed commercial bank. However, it is my fervent hope that all accounts at this branch and at all in their network of branches are perused to bring redress to many ignorant valued clients who may have been similar victims, who have chosen this commercial bank as their preferred bank. This is a warning to all other commercial banks, state owned banks as well and to authorities of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, that these mistakes are not repeated.

Sunil Thenabadu
Mt. Lavinia


Govt-funded sterilisation of dogs
As of 2008, starting in the Central Province, veterinarian teams have been sterilising dogs in a couple of provinces, for which the government pays the veterinarians.
The decision by the government to sterilise dogs to control dog population to replace the previous method of killing dogs to control dog population in order to curb rabies is a direct result of the promulgation by President Mahinda Rajapaksa of non-killing of dogs since June 2006, for which I and millions of Sri Lankans would always be grateful to him, just as much as we are forever grateful to him for having rid this country of terrorism.

I have not had any responses to many letters I have written to the authorities regarding a proposal I have made to make the current government-funded dog sterilisation programme a sustainable, effective and accessible programme to all dog owners in the country, avoiding fresh animal welfare concerns that arise owing to ad-hoc sterilisation of dogs with no accessible post-operative services.

Do we want to solve this problem of rabies or do we want to keep it going as yet another proverbial beggar’s wound, incurring huge amounts of further money to pay for rabies vaccines, for both dogs and people? It is laudable that human deaths owing to rabies have been brought down in Sri Lanka (at a huge cost of providing vaccines to both dogs and humans), but I believe like most others that no one should die of rabies, which is a highly preventable disease.

Ever since animal welfarists, especially and most prominently Sagarica Rajakarunanayake of Sathwa Mithra, continued to argue for non-killing of dogs as a method of rabies control, promoting the only humane method of dog control, surgical removal of the reproductive tract (i.e., sterilisation), I wished to find a model to conduct dog sterilisation across the country in a cost-effective and systematic, and, most importantly, in a sustainable manner.
In 2006/2007, I did a sterilisation programme in the Udunuwara MOH area as a pilot study, covering several villages, and found out that in each village the number of owned female dogs is only about 10-25%. I also noted that there were no community dogs in the typical villages, but that there were about 10-25% of community dogs (mostly females and a few mange-ridden, disabled old males) in semi-urban villages, which obviously are the litters produced by the owned female dogs. So the clear need was to sterilize these 25% owned female dogs in villages across the country.

In the report I made on the pilot project I suggested that this small number of recurrently puppy-producing female dog population be sterilised in the first round and proposed that veterinarian teams be recruited to each MOH office across the country to conduct this work. I presented the data I had gathered to the Health Development Council (HDC) meeting of the Ministry of Health on March 29, 2007 and proposed the recruitment of veterinarian teams to each MOH office. At this meeting it was acknowledged by the Director General of Health Services that the health sector needs veterinary surgeons not only to combat rabies but to provide support dealing with other zoonotic diseases spreading in the country.

Prior to that, I made the same presentation to the PDHS (Provincial Director of Health Services)/Central Province, Dr. Shanthi Samarasinghe, to begin sterilising dogs in the Central Province using my MOH model. With all due credit to Dr. Samarasinghe, she initiated a province-wide sterilisation programme in February 2008, the first ever province to conduct dog sterilisations using government funds. Unfortunately, the programme deviated from the original proposal of only sterilising the owned female dogs in the first round.

The ad-hoc government-funded sterilisation programme conducted in the Central Province and now underway in Sabaragamuwa and several other provinces will not, in my opinion, touch even the tip of the iceberg, as the culprit owned female dogs are not being targeted in each village systematically. I understand that mostly male dogs are being sterilised.

My biggest fear and concern are that the authorities will eventually pronounce that sterilisation as a method of dog-population control is not successful and propose that they may have to go back to killing of dogs. I must stress that if the present programme does not provide sustainable results (and my firm belief is that it will not if we continue in this manner), the fault is not with the policy of sterilising dogs but the current method of application, which does not target the relatively very small number of culprit dogs, systematically, or have follow-up programmes.

The Minister of Health has recently said that there is a shortage of veterinarians. I pointed out in several letters to the authorities that the government trains veterinarians at a huge cost and when they pass out from the university, they have no jobs waiting for them, unlike the Medical graduates.

If these veterinarians are recruited to MOH offices as teams (of four perhaps) to conduct the dog sterilisation programme, they would definitely be able to sterilise the puppy-producing owned female dogs in each village of their MOH area systematically and conduct follow-up porgrammes. The huge monies (billions) that are now allocated for the government sterilisation programme can be used for the salaries of these veterinarians and then the cost for the government would only be the drug cost (like in the medical service). The biggest bonus would be that the programme would then provide sustainable results cost effectively. The service will be reachable to all dog owners too, unlike now. There will be responsible veterinary surgeons to attend to post-operative care of the dogs, also unlike now in some instances, and follow-up sterilisation programmes can be done.

I do hope that this proposal of recruiting veterinarian teams to each MOH office would be taken up by the Minister of Health and implemented islandwide before the money allocated for sterilisation is spent for a programme that will not touch even the tip of the iceberg, I repeat. If we sterilise small percentage of culprit female dogs, so well protected and looked after by their owners, the community dog population will become a highly manageable dog population, thus making the need for a large number of dog catchers too (another set of workers the Health Minister says they are short of) redundant.

If the billions allocated for the sterilisation programme is to provide sustainable results, the government-funded dog sterilisation programme should be converted to a day-to-day service accessible to the people as proposed above and not continued as a mere numbers game for some veterinarians. The ideal institution to provide this service is the MOH office, which is the only state institution that reaches each and every household.
Over to you Minister. Please consider recruiting salaried veterinarian teams urgently to MOH offices to conduct the government-funded sterilisation programme.

Champa Fernando
Association for Community Protection through Animal Welfare (KACPAW)


Suspects killed in police custody
“I’ll be judge, I’ll be jury,’ said cunning old Fury:
‘I’ll try the whole cause, and condemn you to death.’
Lewis Carroll – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
I was shocked to hear recently the news that 48 suspects had been shot dead by the Police apparently in the acts of self-defence from 2005 until now. In almost all the incidents, the explanation given by the police officers involved had been that the suspects in question had tried to grab a weapon from a police officer and shoot them and that they had opened fire at them in self-defence. This might have been true in 10 cases at the most. Still, to me, this sounds like something out of an American action-thriller. And the discerning public, I don`t think, are so naïve that they will believe in the explanations offered by the cops.

Further, only in 22 out of 48 cases, it has been established that the aforementioned reason had led to the death of suspects after a magisterial inquest. It has also been revealed that some cases had been referred to the Attorney General while some remain unsolved to this very date. Whatever the reasons for this may be, we have to accept that the killing of suspects in the police custody is hardly a healthy phenomenon.

Where a police officer has shot a suspect dead, unless it can be established that the shootout had been started by the suspect in question and that the police officer involved had acted in self-defense, as far as I understand, it`s little less than a crime and the officer involved shall be charged with murder. It is important that such officers be prosecuted under the criminal law itself. What I do not know, for sure, is whether this really happens every time. I say so because I`m aware that some people tend to (stupidly) sympathise with the cops who are reported to have shot murder suspects.

Particularly, in the wake of double murder in Angulana and the alleged assault on an IT student in Malambe by the spouse and son of a senior police officer (under the aegis of the latter, of course), and the apprehension of Lakshman Cooray, formerly an SSP from Gampaha (I guess he must have been cashiered) over his alleged ties with the LTTE and his involvement in the assassination of Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, an outspoken critic of the LTTE, it is mandatory for the IGP to make sure that the Police abide by the law they are supposed to keep and that they do not take the law into their hands and play the role of the judge.

The Police need to know that they only have to inquire the complaints lodged by people, arrest suspects, interrogate them and take statements from them and produce them before the court. They have not been granted the power or the authority to punish suspects no matter how serious their offences seem to be. It is only the Judiciary that has the power and authority to pass judgment on a suspect after a fair trial and penalise him or her in proportion to the severity of his/her crime. But, it`s deplorable that, increasingly, the Police seem to exceed their authority and act little better than criminals themselves. Unless prompt measures are taken to arrest this trend, I believe, it will spell dreadful repercussions in the near future.

Jayashantha Jayawardhana
Faculty of Business Studies and Finance
Wayamba University


Sri Lanka Life and Rupavahini
Sri Lanka Life [SLL] musical telecast on Rupavahini on Sunday nights has provided the listeners with an unfamiliar musical cum cultural impetus creating a strong attachment, enthusiasm and devotedness to local music. For sometime in the recent past new musical trends copying the western Pop music with noisy sound and uninspiring lyric quality without an attached meaning or a related mental image was the music loved by the young.

For those who appreciate such noisy music the opportunity was provided by all television channels, with frequent telecasts to satisfy the music love of the energetic young and thus creating the impression that the young were not interested or keen to learn classical music. There is no opposition to such telecasts and a dislike of the appreciators. In this world of rush, speed and noisiness late Bhikkhu Piyadassi of Vajirarama, Colombo in a booklet on ‘Buddhism’ had written, “Music hath charms, they say, but for many today, even music is not agreeable if there is no noise; the louder the noise, the greater is the music to them.”

In such an atmosphere Sirasa for the first time conducted a singing contest on Sinhalese songs and its success also evidenced that many youth were learning classical and semi-classical music and most of the singers sang with gentle rhythm and qualitative singing which encouraged other TV channels to conduct similar contests providing more opportunities for the young to sing in contests.

Sri Lanka Life had taken a further animated stride by introducing in its telecast an opportunity for two musicians with two instruments to display the skills they had learned. Instrumental orchestral arrangement music of a focal orchestra is never heard on our TV and thus the SLL two-member attempt was a rewarding vision. It is such a great success that many duo musicians had created new rhythms some based on folk and ‘vannam’ rhythms receiving the appreciation of the knowledgeable and learned panelist and at times the female panelist either sang or recited the original folk and ‘vannam’.

Thus it is suggested that Rupavahini could after the end of the event process and issue DVDs on the performance of the duo instrumentalists. The performance appreciation is greater in a DVD than in a CD and watching and listening to a DVD should encourage other youths to engage in learning to play an instrument without some youths engaging in damaging habits in the use of drugs and alcohol. It is also suggested to telecast most of the instrumental performances during its major programmes.

Amor Patriae


An appeal to Anagarika Dharmapala Trust
The Anagarika Dharmapala Trust, Maha Bodhi Society, Colombo 10 appointed me by letter dated February 26, 2007 to serve in the Dharmaduta Service in India for three years, but I fell seriously ill after serving for one year and eight months at the headquarters, Kolkata as a result of an attack of falciparum malaria. On medical advice, I was admitted urgently to S. V. S. Marwari Hospital, Kolkata and underwent treatment for five days. On hearing, my relations brought me back to Sri Lanka.

As soon as I arrived, I was rushed to Asiri Hospital in Colombo 05 and at least 10 medical examinations and consultations etc. were done costing about a lakh of rupees borrowed on urgent grounds.

It is nearly nine months since my letter of January 27, 2009 sent to the Anagarika Dharmapala Trust but not even an acknowledgement was received in spite of a registered reminder dated March 26, 2009. This is a grave situation on the part of a reputed Buddhist Institution and Anagarika Dharmapala.
This appeal is not to compensate me at all but to have a sympathetic financial assistance to continue medical treatment.

W. Rathana Thera
Ananda Buddhist Meditation Centre


Inordinate delay in personal foreign cheque payments
All commercial banks in Sri Lanka whether state or otherwise have established their corresponding banks scattered throughout the globe to help in the realisation of any type of foreign bank draft or personal cheque for assist their clients to obtain the value equivalent in Sri Lanka rupees when foreign drafts or personal chqeues are deposited and also for other trading transactions..

In the case of International Money Orders and Foreign Drafts most banks purchase them and give immediate credit equivalent in Sri Lanka rupees at the prevalent exchange rate to the account holder even if the beneficiary is a non-customer. The commission charged is a very nominal amount, which is undoubtedly an extremely a worthwhile service.

In the case of personal cheques drawn in foreign currency the cheques are collected and accepted to be credited on realisation. The normal time taken for this exercise in almost all banks is approximately one calendar month. The beneficiary has no other option but to wait for this stipulated period to obtain the proceeds in Sri Lanka rupees. It is pertinent to mention in all instances the personal cheques drawn in a foreign currencies is debited to the drawers account in an overseas country within five working days. The cheque in question is sent on a collection basis to the corresponding bank in the foreign country of the client’s bank in Sri Lanka via an efficient courier service. It is difficult to understand that with more innovative modern technology available that exists now, why all banks whether state owned or otherwise keep the client over here waiting for three more weeks or more after the personal cheque in question has already been debited to the drawers account to obtain the proceeds equivalent in Sri Lanka rupees

It is time that those responsible headed by the authorities Central Bank of Sri Lanka take the initiative and advice the banks to reduce the inordinate delay that is prevalent for a very long time in order to bring redress to those who deposit personal cheques drawn in foreign currencies which have been given to the kith and kin to meet urgent expenses and for immediate commitments

Sunil Thenabadu
Mount Lavinia


The Ascent
For the Students` Union/Council of Wayamba University and for all our juniors

Keep up your good work, young comrades.
Admittedly, we felt smaller and insignifi cant,
As we stood before the pandal,
The fruit of your collective labour,
For days on end,
And felt kind of envious of you too,
Because you’d done, and perfectly well,
What we’d believed,
To be next to impossible.

Keep up your good work.
In our days, the progressives who led us,
Feigned to engage themselves
In addressing more serious political is sues,
Which, according to them,
Left them scant time and little resource,
To do simple beautiful things,
As you’ve done.

Keep up your good work,
Because (I think) it’s infinitely more im portant,
Than organising a picket, starting a lec ture boycott,
Inciting riots, besieging the Dean’s office,
Or staging a sathyagraha at the gate,
Which, the dumbest passer-by,
Blind to the facts,
Blind to the attendant circumstances,
Would deride or chuckle at.

Keep up your good work,
But away from the power-hungry impostors,
Who pretend themselves
To be firebrand socialists,
Because the pedigree of true socialists is mixed now,
And their ideology adulterate.

Keep up your good work,
And in your mind the fact,
That water can douse the reddest firebrand,
In the blink of an eye,
And that the ideology is no more fixed,
Than a clock’s pendulum.

Keep up your good work.
Deal with the irreconcilables with tact.
Never throw away the hot potatoes
That are otherwise edible.

Keep up your good work.
And avoid invective and sensational polemic,
That rarely pays in the long run.

Keep up your good work,
And learn to tolerate rather than battle.
The wounded world wants no warriors now,
It only needs diplomats.

Jayashantha Jayawardhana
Faculty of Business Studies and Finance
Wayamba University



Had warmth in abundance
Far beyond the stars
My soul is longing to go
There beyond the stars
To a better place I know….
I heard my four-year-old grandniece Shaha singing these phrases from the ‘Singing Nun’. I thought of my dearly beloved husband Lhareef. This is the appropriate place for him.
He was a devoted and loving husband who had a strong will power and sheer determination to face the ups and downs of life. He always had a positive mind and nothing bothered him in moving forward, onward and upward. It was this attitude that made him bear his illness for six and a half years, trusting in the Almighty

Many are the sweet memories that I have of our years together. We travelled to Europe, London and Dubai and even went on a pilgrimage to the Holy City of Mecca while he was ill. When Dubai opened its ice rink, Lhara and I were there taking part in all the games. We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly in Europe and London exploring famous places all by ourselves with the help of road maps. He was a music lover and in Austria he made a visit to the humble abode of Mozart. We witnessed a dinner theatre and in Salzburg we toured the places where ‘A Sound of Music’ was filmed and we winded up singing popular songs from the film, much to the amazement of others in the bus, who later joined us.

He was a son of the former City Coroner A H M Ismail and Mrs Ismailand. He was the sixth in a family of eleven. He would humorously say that there are five above him and five below him. The middle order has now collapsed.

Lhara was so loveable, understanding, calm and patient. He was so popular with my relations and friends and most of all, my only brother and sister. Having a genuine warmth about him and generosity in abundance, he was there to put himself before them and guide them always. Forever thoughtful about others, his life was full of loving deeds

He was a loving a proud dad to our son Imran Hasan and daughter Imara Mariam. He gave them a beautiful childhood. The happiest day in his life was when Imara married Matheen Khalid and Lhara was glowing as he walked with the bride on his arm.

He always told me to bear in mind that whatever transpires, one must understand the reason why things happen. He said I must always keep smiling, and be nice to everybody, not to take unpleasantness seriously, or pass judgment on others but to forgive and forget. He said that everyone has problems and need help however possible. He always said I should carry on my social service, be dedicated and to move forward by the Grace of Almighty Allah.

Darlo! I am so glad I was your wife. I also take this opportunity to thank each and everyone who helped us in our time of bereavement and also to Dr Jayantha Balawardana for his care, support and encouragement.
Goodbye Lhara!
Through the darkest skies
I can see a heavenly glow
Far away… far away
Beyond the stars……..
Shazina Lhareef




Click here to send
your feed-back


Click here to
see our readers comments




- web designed by Mithila Kumara -