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Letters


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.

 

Provincial councils sans elections
The manner politicians conduct elections, the selection of party candidates, the basis of voting by the majority, the ensuing election results, the cost to the State and to the contestants and supporters, the lost man-hours of productive work due to neglect and commitment to elections and the service and the benefits the voters receive are taken into account the provincial elections in addition being a cost to the tax payer are not worthy even as a exercise to judge the voters reflections of the achievements of any governing party.

But due to the political situation in the country for the last over 30 years, provincial councils are a dire necessity to administer the provinces and thus an alternative method less costly and a more effective system to constitute a council should be found.

During an election the public officers who suffer the worst humiliation and been inhumanly pressurised and have to bear the uncomfortable situation of being unable to discharge their duty reasonably are the police officers. In recent times most police officers have not acted in good faith or in public interest. Letters of former police officers publish in newspapers testify to the authenticity of the conclusions.
In recently held Uva and the South Provincial Council Elections showed, by not voting or avoiding to vote about 30% had indicated the ineffectiveness of the provincial council administration with the voters not benefitting from its functions and services.

It is thus a fundamental duty of the government to evaluate the reasons for such a high non-voting trend without attributing unworthy political conclusions to satisfy the masses. With the results of the war, earlier election results and the President personally canvassing with his voter provoking focalized oratory and his capacity to win the sympathy and the appreciation of the simple persons in the South, the UPFA should have received more votes with more people responding eagerly to vote with the additional advantages due to the on going construction work in Hambantota and the impending employment opportunities.

If the government does not fulfill the wishes of the people as of 36% who had not voted in the South more persons are bound to vote at a general election and most of them may vote with the Opposition.
With the passing time voters are bound to consider other needs not fulfilled and shift their war success allegiances. Now that the armed forces are at the receiving end from a few politicians, shifting of allegiance is inevitable. Though President’s speeches were rewarding during the earlier elections but in Uva and in the South a diminishing effect was reflected and the people in both areas may not have been pleased with the speeches of some politicians mainly capitalising on ‘kumanthranya’ allegation and several other topics.

Even the most forceful allegation relating to ‘maubima araksakirima’ irrespective of its potential truth, the frequency of utterance would have prompted as an over exaggeration. His ministerial colleagues’ public addresses at political meetings were ineffective being unable to speak of their contributions. They spoke of the success of the armed forces and the personnel qualities of the President and the projects commenced by him.
There were major issues on health, education, transport, food prices and shortages, villages without electricity and drinking water and properly maintained roads and bridges and other infrastructure requirements but the concerned ministers could not explain to crowds at meetings of the strategies they propose to adopt to overcome the problems relating to their ministries in the future.

The even the illiterate villagers were aware of the urban development with costly highways and other road constructions, multi-storeyed buildings, bridges and flyover constructions, supply of drinking water and many other urban development activities while the politician spoke of the ‘sanwardanaya’ relating to the major projects commenced by the President.

Thus, before the next election government politicians should on a priority basis attend to major shortcomings relating to rural infrastructure work, specially relating to school buildings and teacher shortages, hospital buildings and drug shortages, irrigation and supply of timely water for cultivation and gravel paving most of the dilapidated roads, marketing and reasonable prices for their agricultural produce in order to ensure the rural voter will vote with the government candidates.

Most of the people are in the habit of voting taking into account various strengths of the candidates, financial capability, physical assertion capability, local area popularity and not on the publicised party agenda the candidate represents. Cash rich persons could reach the high command of the two main parties than other more eminent and suitable persons and family dynasty system is prevalent in Asian politics. A 22-years-old student without any political commitment studying in the UK who returned to the country to participate in the election received the second highest votes because of his father’s ministerial popularity.

These reasons demand the necessity to adopt a different composition of the Provincial Councils to minimise the costs to the state and to the candidates and supporters and to ensure that the people receive a worthy deal from their political representatives. As such without having provincial council elections the members of Parliament of a province could with an amendment to the Act in addition to their present responsibilities become members of the PCs and with the dual responsibility should be able to serve the people in an acceptable manner. They could be paid a suitable allowance but the act should prohibit them from getting present princely perks considering that service is their prime desire.

Democracy is based on consciousness and thus unless the voter’s needs are attended to, a voting shift cannot be prevented. The ruling party if it desires to be elected at the next election in order to complete the few projects commenced by the President which the previous regimes were not prepared to undertake the government politicians should on a priority basis help and satisfy the rural villager.

Octogenarian voter

 

OF THOSE CAPTURED WEAPONS ON DISPLAY
 Before the article titled above appeared in the Island of October 5, there was an interesting article in the Daily Mirror Financial Times of August 24, 2009, where the Chief Defence of Staff, General Sarath Fonseka had spoken on “How he prepared the Army to win the war” and also after visiting the Army Exhibition at the BMICH, I would wish to add few more facts, which may have had an impact on the victory. This is written, definitely, not with the intention of diluting the epic victory of General Sarath Fonseka. Unlike Mervyn Silva MP, Non-cabinet Minister, as reported in the Daily Mirror of October 17, where he has said, “Only President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Mr. Gota deserve credit and no other member of the armed forces.” Is this not an insult?

Enthusiasm is gradually fading out on the victory gained over the terrorists, although the government is trying to keep it alive to win future elections. Politicians in the ruling party, quite understandably praise the President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the victory, which reminds me of patients who are once cured by the physician, praise gods for the cure, not giving credit to the doctor. Similarly, the Army Commander, General Sarath Fonseka and his valiant men should be given the credit, praise and recognition.

The next question is, has anyone thought of, how it was possible for the gallant General Sarath Fonseka and his men to win the war, which was once thought to be ‘non-winnable’?
It is a well known fact that the NGOs who acted as good Samaritans and those felicitators worked for the LTTE. The sophisticated weapons, air strips, sea scooters and many other ammunitions which were discovered, taken and displayed at the Army Exhibition could not have been used unless by trained soldiers and experts.
It could, therefore, be safely concluded that certain NGOs were training the LTTE cadre or even may have taken part in actual combat. Fortunately the committee appointed to probe the activities of the NGOs, chaired by the JVP stalwart Vijitha Herath, whose party along with the JHU vehemently agitated and forced the government for such a committee, came out with startling findings which resulted in some NGOs being deported, rendering Prabhakaran rudderless. He stood as one poet wrote, “The boy stood on the burning deck whence all but him had fled.” Hence the committee should be given credit.

The next factor is defection of Karuna, the strong leader of the LTTE military wing. It was during the UNP regime that an MP from the East Musthapha of the UNP smuggled Karuna out of the East and brought him to Colombo. Pillayan thereafter, followed. It is, therefore, clear that these factors may have made the task of General Sarath Fonseka easier although he may not have considered them so, not taking anything for granted. The other may be (my own thinking) the attempt on his life where he narrowly escaped which may have given him determination to take revenge, a human quality. Soldiers cannot afford to be saints!

It should also be mentioned that every citizen in this country rallied round the Army, to give all support by undergoing hardships in the way of body searches, delays at check points etc. Most of all, the poor village parents sent their sons to the war front.

Definitely, the President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa should be praised for providing the necessary funds, without any restrictions, for the Army to purchase weapons and also recruit soldiers and allowed General Sarath Fonseka to work out his own strategies with no political interferences.

The support of the President and the Defence Secretary has been greatly appreciated by Gen. Sarath Fonseka, as reported in the Island of October13, where he has said that “he appreciated the leadership provided and the valuable contribution had helped the Army in a big way to reach the desired heights” thus keeping, rightly, the credit to himself and all ranks of the forces.

Apart from winning the war, there leaves a good lesson for the President and his ministers to lay down policies and allow men of ability and integrity to deliver the goods, which is sadly missing in the Public Sector, where political misfits are appointed, making the Public Service corrupt and inefficient.
Finally, Prabhakaran asked for it and he got it in the way he wanted it.
I believe this an unbiased fair assessment of the war victory. Any comments?

Nimal Weerakody
Bellanwila

 

Generalised Sadism of Preference Plus
(G S P)
Trade-sadism at “human rights” level
EUropeons’ condemnation
Brussels sprouts venom
South Asia Blake-mailed
And all that’s Sri Lankan
Alternatives or preference...

Irene de Silva
Colombo 5

 

Ladies sporting trousers
There had been a few articles in the recent issues of newspapers for and against the fairer sex wearing trousers. I see there is nothing wrong in ladies wearing trousers provided they are baggy and not figure-hugging where the contours of the body are accentuated. Isn’t it definitely better than wearing minis? What is awful to see is, when one wears it in such a way that the top parts of the intimate garments are exposed, which incidentally is a fad amongst the new generation, both the guys and gals. What should not be is to wear plunging necklines for the weaker sex which from an Islamic perspective is haraam and should be so, even from other religious perspectives.

Mohamed Zahran
Colombo 3

 

APPRECIATIONS

Mohamed Isack Bin Ismail
Young at heart and yet soft with age
He was a grandson of the famous Arabi Ibrahim, who hailed from Zebedee in Yemen and settled down in Ceylon with his beautiful wife from Surat, India. He came as a trader and later came to own the Avissawella town and its environs besides several properties and estates acquired by him. The British who were the masters of the time described his rise as ‘from peddler to prince.’ His son was Ismail Bin Ibrahim to whom was born Hassan and Isack. His only daughter was married to the late Sir Razik Fareed, the leader of the ‘Ceylon Moors.

Isack was born on January 1, 1927, had his early education at Kingwoods College in Kandy which moulded him to what he was, an attorney-at-law and notary public by profession, a great sportsmen excelled in captaining school cricket and hockey team and thereafter he entered the Ceylon Law College and in 1952 as a opening batsman who scored a rare century in the annual Law¬ Medical Cricket Match. A gentleman par excellence, he was a lover of the outdoors and wild countryside. As a lawyer, he was highly respected in the legal field as an honourable and fine gentleman.

While a student at the Law College he joined the Moors Sports Club in 1948 and was active in all club affairs, played pivotal role as wicketkeeper and opening batsman, in 1952 he captained the Moors Team. Isack played tennis in the Moors Clay Lawns, and his team annexed the Hildon Sansoni Challenge Shield, and he spent half his life playing tennis at the Moors Tennis Club which kept him fit and active. He inaugurated hockey to the Moors S.C. and due to his tireless efforts the team reached its peak in the game in the very first year and annexed the coveted ‘Beacon Cup.’ He took to planting in the land bequeathed by his father, Zeabeediya Estate at Demmanhandiya, Katana, which was also his home.

M. I. Bin Ismail elected Assistant Secretary from 1956 to 1961, elected honorary General Secretary from 1961 to 1988 - a record 27 years as Secretary - President from 1988 to 1991, Immediate Past President from 1992 to 1998, Patron from 2002 to 2009. He was the longest surviving committee member up-to-date and after his demise, moreover, he has the unique distinction of having served the club for 52 long years, quite a feat by any standards in recognition of his unwavering loyalty and devotion to the club.

On May 25, 2001 Past President Al Haj Bin Ismail was felicitated and as a token of appreciation for his yeomen service towards the Moors Sports club named and declared open the Al Haj M. I. Bin Ismail Auditorium on the third floor of the new pavilion with the presence of a large distinguished gathering and unveiled a portrait of Bin Ismail by the Chief Guest Hon Rauff Hakeem, MP Minister of Internal and International Trade, and Commerce, Shipping Development and Muslim Religious Affairs, At the felicitation ceremony Al Haj Bin Ismail spoke and said that usually, unveiling of a portrait was to commemorate the demise of distinguished past members, but in his case, the club members unanimously decided to “hang him whilst alive.” Bin was loved by all, where he was present in the evenings playing his favourite game of tennis. He was a very loyal member of the club and a pillar of strength, a friend and guide to all who had the good fortune to know him. Always a picture of sartorial and tonsorial elegance he resembled a prince from Surat with his neatly trimmed moustache, which would have made Errol Flynn proud.

On the eve of the centenary celebrations of the club, he was honoured as a long-standing member who had contributed immensely towards the revival and popularity of sports. He was the patron, and fathered the Moors constitution and advised me upon the completion of the New Club pavillion. He was on all counts a true friend, age was not a barrier but his humour and his journey down the memory lane at many committee meetings was a pleasure to listen to. Young at heart and yet so soft with age. We all loved to be amongst this great man.

I had the pleasure of his company for over three decades, enjoyed his trust, learned immensely from his wisdom and courteous qualities. A very rare person indeed. When I was elected as the President of the Moors Sports club Mr. Bin Ismail called on me and extended a word of advise and said, “Son, this position of President of this club has been held by great men in the past and having upheld the highest traditions of the Moor community with Islamic values amongst sporting men in the Island,” and later at the felicitation ceremony for me being elected to Parliament, I remembered the words of my mentor, and delivered a key note address that I was a simple businessman then, having upheld the highest traditions, I held the position of a Municipal Councillor, Provincial Councillor and today as a Member of Parliament whilst holding the position of President of Moors Sports Club.” In my close association with him, he was one who inspired me into political life, advised me as a true friend. His demise has been a great loss to me, to our great club and its membership, specially a great loss to the Muslim community of the island.

He leaves behind a great son, Iqbal, who is also another livewire at Moors to carry on the legend of Bin Ismail for years to come and his two daughters. The fond memories of a great and gallant gentleman remain evergreen whose love for the MSC was only superseded by his love for the family.

May Allah grant him the highest abode in Jenna.
Shafeek Rajabdeen MP

Late Dr B M Mahboob
A consultant surgeon with charisma
Most of the eastern regions from Batticoloa to Pottuvil were soaked with sadness and submerged in an unexplained sorrow by the news of the untimely demise of DR B M Mahboob, a Consultant Surgeon attached to Teaching Hospital Batticoloa on the October 18, 2009 at the age of 52. People were bemused and perplexed without knowing as to what to do on learning the death of Dr Mahboob who was born and breathed his last at Kathankudy where he lived with his beloved wife and children. He was selected as a medical student to the University of Jaffna where he completed his graduation and passed out as a doctor in 1983.

He was, thereafter, appointed as medical officer in charge to D H Sammanthurai at a time when the people of this area had a dire need for a doctor. At this juncture, the appointment of Dr Mohboob was felt as a boon blessed by the heaven. The patients of this area really benefited immensely by Dr Mahboob who had all characters of humanism. During ethnic clashes took place in Kalmunai region in 1988 as I was a medical student I had to take some victims who sustained severe gun-shot injuries from Kalmunai to Ampara Base Hospital with the help of the Indian Peace Keeping Forces. These patients on their way to Ampara Base Hospital were given necessary emergency treatments by DR Mahboob who worked single handedly through out the day at the district hospital,Sammanthurai. He, outside of his profession, maintained convivial and cordial relationship with patients and people of this area.

After many years of service at Sammanthurai, he was transferred as Medical Officer at the Eye Hospital in Colombo. He again got an appointment to the eastern region as Medical Officer of Health at Kathankudy. The surgical cases that Dr Mahboob handled during his many years of service in these strife-stricken and war-torn areas necessitated him to further his carrier in surgery. With that intention, he got through his MS part I examination while he was working as MOH at Kathankudy. After that he was appointed as Registrar at the Teaching Hospital Karapittiya where we both worked in different surgical units.

On his completion of MS part II examination and training period, he was appointed as an acting surgeon to Ashraff Memorial Hospital, Kalmunai. He was the first general surgeon who started surgical intervention and treatment for patients in this region.

Even the poorest of the poor was able to seek treatment in his private channeling place. He never failed to consider seriously the socio-economic situation of his patients. The way he talked to his patients in common parlance attracted those who sought treatment from him. The patients who were treated by him always prayed for his health and wealth.

After a few years of service at Ashraff Memorial Hospital, he was transferred to teaching hospital Batticoloa where he worked until his last day. When he worked at this hospital, he went for his overseas training. On his return, he again assumed duty at the same institution. He always approached his patients with sympathy and much needed empathy. Whenever he came to know the adversity of his client he never failed to extend his assistance to those patients in all possible ways and means. He never bowed down to power and privilege. He treated and cared for all people alike irrespective of their race religion and ethnicity. During festive seasons, his charity was not limited to the poor people but extended to other low wage earner who worked in his units. Dr Mahboob established a name for charity in the minds of people. In spite of all these he never failed to pay his thanks to the creator whom he believed firmly. This was the very basic reason for his humane characters that he inherited from the soil where he was born.

He was, in any occasion, it could be an official meeting or a social gathering, seen intermingled with all people without staying aloof considering his position and post which is now a day a very rare scene among educated stock. The name of Dr Manboob as a first Muslim General Surgeon with diligent and intelligent from eastern region will definitely go down to posterity.

On October 18, 2009 a mammoth crowds of people from all communities, from all the areas wherever Dr Mahboob worked, flocked towards his residence at Kathankudy where his remains was lying in state to pay their last homage. Most of the business establishments at Kathankudy were closed to mark of the irreparable lose of its most esteemed and dignified son of the soil who was there to bid his last bye to them.

The late Dr Mahboob led a life as a prestigious doctor to his patients, beloved husband to his wife and caring father to his three children. Any amount of words can not console the grief of his beloved wife and children who lost her beloved husband and most caring father and a good friend to all of them. I humbly convey my deepest condolence to the bereaved family members and pray the Almighty Allah to bless late Dr Mahboob with Jannathul Firthowse, Ameen!

Dr U L Sarafdeen
Kalmunai
 

Ubesena Godahewa
A great social worker
Ubesena Godahewa, General Secretary, the Pension Association, Maharagama passed away recently and his funeral took place amidst a large gathering. He had been attached to the Ministry of Health and later retired. He was born in Ambalangoda area and he built a home at Daham Mawatha, Maharagama while he was working in the government service. After the retirement he was engaged in social service and meanwhile he was helping to the Buddhist Temples in the area. As for the Pension Society he was doing a yeoman service. In fact, we lost a good friend and we never expected his sudden death so soon.
Godahewa is no more with us. He was of great service to the society. May he attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana!

M. G. Asoka Karunaratne

Dr Amal Uthum Herat
A superior human being standing above all
Dr. Amal Uthum Herat, one of the leading lights making up the top brains of the Central Bank got extinguished permanently last week. He was the Deputy Governor overlooking the financial system stability at the time. In addition, he was Chairmen of both the Institute of Bankers of Sri Lanka and the Credit Information Bureau of Sri Lanka, two responsible positions he held simultaneously.

Having completed his primary and secondary education the S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, young Herat joined the University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, to read for a special degree in Mathematics and Statistics. However, the ethnic disturbances that broke out in Jaffna at that time did not permit him to complete the degree at that university. He, along with others in his batch, was relocated at the University of Sri Jayawardenepura to complete the degree programme. His academic brilliance was such that he passed out from the university armed with a First Class Honours Degree in Statistics. Like other youngsters of his generation, he had by that time completed another professional examination: the final examination of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, UK. He joined the Central Bank as a young staff officer with these double qualifications. Then, he proceeded to Purdue University in the USA and completed a Master’s degree and a Doctorate in Economics specialising in financial economics.

After returning to the Central Bank, he worked as a Senior Economist for sometime, got promoted as the Deputy Director of Economic Research and finally, was appointed to the prestigious post of Director of Economic Research. He was then released to the IMF to function as the Alternate Executive Director of the Executive Board representing India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan. After a three year stint at the Fund, he returned to the Bank as an Assistant Governor and in May, 2009, was elevated to the post of Deputy Governor.
Dr Herat was a combination of many disciplines: Mathematics, Statistics, Finance, Accountancy, Economics, Philosophy, Religion, History and many more. A brief conversation with him will leave any stranger with awe, respect and love for the rare intellect, fittingly conditioned by modesty and humility, which he normally displayed. He had the remarkable ability of patiently listening to the viewpoints of others, quickly synthesizing the main arguments and approving or refuting them without offending or hurting their feelings. He was a master debater, mesmerising preacher and spellbinding speaker. Anyone who had listened to him once would love to do so again and again. Many generations of students who had studied under him at the universities, professional bodies and numerous other places of learning will vouch for this fact.

Dr Herat was a late entrant to the science of economics, having embraced the ways of that dismal science only after joining the Central Bank. Yet, true to his innate skill of learning any new subject to its core, he became a master of that science with a profound knowledge of the philosophy on which it is based. His multi-disciplinary background would have helped him to understand the foundation of economics much more easily. When all of us were making silly mistakes in our reading of the world events, he was able to guide us to the correct position with examples drawn from religion, politics, philosophy and even Mathematics. He was a firm believer of free market economy system, free trade and individual liberty as pillars for creating wealth and prospering sustainable growth. His public lectures, discussions and writings display his unambiguous position on these subjects.

The writer had the advantage of being associated with Dr Herat very closely for nearly two and a half decades and picking up wisdom from him regularly. At the Monetary Policy Committee of which he was the founding secretary initially and later an important member, he made no bones about the true culprit of unsustainable inflation in the country: reckless government expenditure. The papers he submitted to the Committee were all lucid, to the point and sharp on the policy recommendations. At the Committee meetings, there were heated debates; yet, he was able to carry his view with proper explanation and clarification backed by sound logic.

He was a person of exemplary character and a living example for all of us to emulate. The writer recalls that once when there was a thumping salary increase in the Bank, the ordinary mortals like us could not hide our over-joy and were openly boisterous about it. Dr Herat, having watched us for sometime, had only one comment to make: ‘I don’t know what I could do with this salary; I wish if I could return it to the Bank’. It showed the frugal living he made satisfying only the bare necessities of life. When he was the Alternate Executive Director of the Fund, every time he returned to Sri Lanka, he presented the writer with a new book. When he was offered payment, he refused saying that he was disseminating the knowledge among many through the writer because the ideas in the books could be used by the writer in his lectures and writings. That was the magnanimous character of Dr. Herat.
Dr. Herat had only friends and no enemies. When the news of his falling sick and being hospitalised was heard, everyone was concerned. The writer got frantic calls and e-mails from his friends from all around the globe asking about his health. There would have been others too who would have been similarly contacted. During the two weeks he was fighting for his life alone on a hospital bed, the whole Central Bank got into action irrespective of religious, ethnic or cadre differences. Religious observances were held daily to invoke the blessings of deities for a quick recovery. Central Bank employees rallied in large numbers to donate blood for him. At the funeral on October 25, the Mount Lavinia Cemetery had practically been flooded by present Central Bank employees, past employees and all those from banks, universities and professional bodies to pay their last respect to him. An unsaid message was visible on all their grieving faces. That was that ‘Dr. Herat was a superior human being standing above all of them’.

As a human being, Dr. Herat led a practically worry-free life. To the knowledge of the writer, he had only two worries, both relating to his name. The first one was the long list of initials in his name (numbering six) that troubled him every time he filled up immigration forms that did not have sufficient space to record his full name. The second one was the spelling of his surname ‘Herat’ which the computer automatically changed to ‘Heart’. Perhaps, the inanimate computer would have been correct. We, as well as he, would have wrongly spelt his surname all this time when he was truly a big ‘Heart’ for all of us.

W. A. Wijewardena

 

 

 

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