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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.

 

Justice to Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is in a fragile state at the moment. After our long and arduous war with terrorism, we are still open for attack and need to be protected from threats. Our current president has worked hard to bring peace and is on his way to help us prosper. In the upcoming election, Sri Lankans should vote wisely.
Rajapaksa has more qualifications to be re-elected as the President of Sri Lanka. In my opinion, I think he would help Sri Lanka move forward with pride. Sri Lanka needs the leadership of a good strong leader like Rajapaksa who will protect democracy. He has helped reunify the broken fragments of Sri Lanka and establish peace throughout the war torn nation. His strong leadership has helped Sri Lankans escape the evil grasp of the LTTE.
Ever since he was elected to office, President Rajapaksa has worked tirelessly for the sake of our nation. He had to overcome international pressures to end the war. The President has also adopted many projects to help better the country. He has provided educational opportunities for citizens living in villages. Also, he has developed projects to help the poor. Recently, President Rajapaksa inaugurated the opening of the construction of the Hambantota International Airport to help the fastest growing coastal areas.
This airport would help boost the tourism in the Southern Province, helping the local people. The president has also proposed an extension of the rail link from Matara to Kataragama in the next two years, to help many Sri Lankans travel to and from these areas. Thus, the president has shown his concern and support for the rural citizens of Sri Lanka as well as the wealthy upper-class.
President Rajapaksa states that, “The challenge before me is to ensure the development of our motherland, to secure a better future for the present and future generations.”

Dayannanda Peiris
Long Island, New York

 

Now or Never
Dear Sir,
It saddened me when I read a news item in a Sunday Newspaper a few weeks ago that a politician had gone abroad to promote business to take the country forward and its development. It appears they are not interested in doing anything to the people and the country for whom they were elected, but to serve themselves and their kith and kin. Their appointments are akin to placing square pegs in round holes.
Recently a Minister had gone to Bangkok and placed orders for Suits to the value of Thai Baht 400,000 or around Rs. l.2 million in just one go. That would naturally last him a lifetime. He wears immaculate white when he is in Sri Lanka. What hypocrisy! It prompted one wag to remark when he travels abroad, he could wear a suit every hour.

When you compare the politicians of pre-Independence Era 1948, they were really honest and sincere politicians. They spent their own money to uplift the masses, and even served prison sentences fighting for Independence.
It will be interesting to know how many politicians of Government and Opposition have gone abroad on tax-payers’ money since 2005. There appears to be no control of these politicians going abroad.
What are our Ambassadors and High Commissioners doing in several capitals of the World representing Sri Lanka in developing the country’s future? Is it really necessary for the Politicians to go abroad? They are elected to develop their electorate and the country, at large, unless of course to attend some international conference and the Ministers presence is really necessary.

It reminds me of only one Politician who never left the country, since Independence in 1948. He was the Member of Parliament representing Galle, Minister of Education, Prime Minister the Late Hon. W Dahanayake.
This tax-payers’ money that is wasted could be used to send Engineers, Doctors, Nurses, Para-Medical, Technicians, Environment Officers and other fields for further advanced training in Australia, so that once they come back, they can keep and train their co-workers, and improve the standard of work, which will no doubt take the country forward.

Most of the Ministers have overspent their Budget allocations, and will now be submitting supplementary estimates to Parliament in due course, and instead of their Budget 2010, to present a Vote on Accounts.
As usual we have to go with the begging bowl to Financial Institutions in the world asking for loans, grants, aid. This has been going on in the last few decades and the country will never be developed. Bribery and corruption is the order of the day.

We have to learn a lot from Australia, a God Blessed country where more than 190 ethnic groups and multi-religious people from other parts of the world live in peace and harmony, speaking about 200 languages including 45 indigenous languages. Australia is also known as a “lucky country” as so it is. It has a wonderful climate and has most natural resources. We have many people from different nations and cultures and they all seem to blend together like a beautiful tapestry or mosaic.

Why cannot Sri Lanka, a small poor country, with the same Australian population, achieve a better standard of living for its people? Perhaps if politicians and people of the country give a little thought to the following “Words of Wisdom” we might make Sri Lanka a better place for all Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burghers, Colombo Chetties and others to live in peace and harmony and not to go to Parliament to make easy money at the expense of tax-payers’ money.

“Words of Wisdom”
1. To thine own self be true
2. Give strength where there is weakness
3. “Hand that gives gathers” and “the fragrance always stays in the hand that gives away the flower”
4. The hand that helps is holier than the lips that pray.
5. You will never, never put a good man down in life
6. Ingratitude is an unpardonable crime in society
7. Seek knowledge from the Cradle to the Grave
8. We must leave this world better than it was found, since we are only passengers in transit in this world

Fred Rodrigo-Sathianathen
Melbourne, Australia

 

RDA, are you sleeping?
The main road in front of the Roxy theatre in Wellawatte caved in sometime back and was repaired. It again caved in a little further and was repaired again at great inconvenience to the public. Then again there had been some problems and for the last 6 months or so there have been some barrels placed to prevent the vehicles going over a certain area of the road and since then this matter appears to have been forgotten.

This is an important junction where those driving from Ramakrishna Road, when they want to avoid the traffic lights, take the side lane and cross over to the Galle road. Three way traffic meets at this junction where these barrels are placed.

Now, is the RDA waiting for another catastrophe of the road caving in or are they so busy that they have no time to attend to such a small job?

How come the motorists, thousands of those now ply this route day in day out have not complained to the authorities? How come the municipal council has turned a complete blind eye to such an important matter for so long? How come even the election time has not caused a flurry of activity?

The municipality must have a time limit for these barrel placing. Ideally the date they are placed must be clearly marked and they should be removed within a maximum of two weeks.

Dr. Mrs. Mareena Thaha Reffai
Dehiwela

 

If I hear it once more I will scream
I thank Mrs. Mareena Thaha Reffai for her letter of the nuisance and the anger caused by repeated advertisements when an interesting programme is shown on the TV.
The worst is that when news is telecast an advertisement line runs below which disturbs the interest in hearing the news. If permitted to be printed as a specific case, it should be shown when the morning ‘Mul Pituwa’ over Swarnavahini at 6:30 a.m. is telecast. Sometimes the advertisement covers the written comments of a cartoon, much to the annoyance. Hope this will catch the eye of the TV concerned.
I may sound uncivil, if I say, who is the fool who will sit down with pen and paper to write down the telephone numbers of the sponsors. I consider that both the viewer and the advertiser are MUTS or MUGS.

R. Ranchagoda
Homagama

 

Tale of two heads (year 2010)
The world weathers double standards
Ozone layer or political surrenders
Blake or white man’s purse for good....governance?
Two heads are better than one, for some
The lion with the sword hanging over its head
Guards the heritage.

Irene de Silva
Colombo 5

 

APPRECIATIONS

Rohan Wijayanayake
In the late fifties and early sixties, anybody who walked up the beautiful palm-fringed road from Trincomalee Street to Trinity College, Kandy and asked for Rohan Wijayanayake would have drawn a blank. If he asked for Teddy, he would have been able to confront a tall handsome young boy athletically built and sporting a mischievous grin. Rohan was always popularly known as Teddy.
He was my eldest brother, or Loku Aiya, in a family of four boys. He was big in every sense of the word, a six-footer, with a physique to match. His heart was as big as his frame, always ready to help the needy and bleeding for the oppressed and the wretched of the earth.

He took to sports as a duck taking to water. Rugger was his first love, while he paid a lot of attention to hockey and athletics too. Studies received the least attention. His leadership skills were honed under that great warrior, Denzil Kobbekaduwa who captained Trinity rugby with distinction and later left an indelible mark in the country’s military history, as a legendary leader of men. Later he played rugby for Trinity College, led by Ken de Joodt, alongside heavyweights such as Nimal Maralanda, Ken Murray, Mike de Alwis, Jacobs. Madugalle and Odayar, under the watchful eyes of coach, Captain Bertie Dias and Norman Walter, the Principal.
Studies did not draw his interest but he was intelligent. Sinhala language and literature were his weakest subjects and my father had to obtain the services of a Sinhala tutor during the school vacations to help boost Rohan’s Sinhala skills. Not surprisingly, the Sinhala lessons were the only occasions Rohan’s face was not creased with that mischievous smile for he hated those sessions.

School vacations were full of fun, frolic and tights in a family of four boys. Female cousins who sometimes visited our estate were at the receiving end of our teasing and pranks, especially Rohan’s. He was always the leader, our guardian and hero, in all our exploits of good, clean fun.

My father, being a fun loving man, took everything in his stride but lost his temper, whenever we broke a window pane whilst playing cricket. Rohan loved to organise various games for his younger brothers and have fun at the expense of my second brother, by engineering the victory of the other two younger brothers. Very often my mother had to play the role of peacemaker, in the ensuing quarrels, giving a piece of her mind to Rohan. When cakes were made, mother used to make one separately for the children because within a few minutes, Rohan would cut the cake into four huge chunks and the four children had a hearty treat.
Being a chip off the old block, Rohan opted to enter the field of tea planting, after completing his SSC exam, with the blessings of my parents. He had his first “creeping” assignment at Holyrood Estate, Talawakelle, under that Senior Planter and strict disciplinarian, Peter Inness. Rohan continued playing rugby for Dickoya and later, Dimbulla.

Little by little, he inched his way up the ladder of his planting career and became a Senior Planter, a “Periya Dorai”. He was a popular figure in the planting field. He did not tolerate indiscipline and inefficiency in his staff, but I knew that underneath that veneer of ferocity, was a man whose heart melted at the suffering of the poor estate labourers. I suppose the labourers too knew about it. He received the necessary guidance from my father, who himself was a knowledgeable and very Senior Planter.

In the early sixties, his big heart was stolen by a quite, pretty, fair maiden called Sujeeva (fondly called Suji by family and friends) Atapattu, a product of Kandy High School. Their association culminated in marriage in 1966. They became the proud parents of three sons, who had their initial schooling in Trinity College and later proceeded abroad for higher studies.

After the accelerated Mahaweli Scheme was launched by JRJ in the late seventies, Rohan was invited to take up a responsible post at Kalawewa, by his school friend, Gamini Dissanayake, then Minister in-charge of the Mahaweli Project. Rohan, along with another distinguished Trinitian, Jayantha Jayawardene, took up the challenge of resettling people in the Kalawewa area, thereby contributing directly towards establishing an entirely new civilisation based on the paddy field, tank, irrigation canals and the dagaba, with electricity too, thanks to the vision of JRJ and Gamini Dissanayake. This offer by Gamini Dissanayake bears testimony to the honesty integrity and efficiency of Rohan and Jayantha and the high esteem they were held in by Gamini Dissanayake and JRJ because they wanted such people to man these responsible positions at Kalawewa, as it was a pioneering project, success of which was of paramount importance to the government in general and the country in particular.

During the 1987 - 89 period, when the country was in political turmoil due to the insurgencies of the JVP and LTTE, Rohan was compelled to go to USA with his dear wife, due to the country situation and family commitment. That was a very difficult period for both of them. However, they survived and succeeded in educating their three sons and see them blooming into strapping young men, who are good and useful human beings in every sense of the word.

Even though he was in the states, his heart was in Sri Lanka. He visited Sri Lanka practically every two years or so and never forgot his parents, brothers-in-laws and friends. He used to call me from Los Angeles every weekend, and find out about our health and never failed to speak to my father.

He did his duty by his parents and family, never for once forgetting that he was the eldest. His first question, whenever he phoned was, “How, how are you?” and the last “What do you want from here.” He did everything possible to ensure that my father received the best of comforts and medical attention during the evening of his life.
His concern for his family member was amply displayed by his act of telephoning from LA, every day for more than 2 months, when I underwent “Coronary artery bypass graft” surgery, in 2007.
He was a man who was full of good humour and his hallmark was his infectious, unstoppable laughter, even at funerals, sometimes much to the annoyance of elder.

He brought up his children in an atmosphere of strict discipline, but always friendly and warm. His wife Suji, was a tower of strength to him. He never forgot his friends. The word in never appeared in his thoughts He was generous to a fault. His heart melted for the poor and the downtrodden.

He was a dutiful father, husband son and brother. He was a father figure to me and I was fortunate to host him for almost a month in 2007, when he finally came to settle down in Sri Lanka. He never forgot his roots and was lucky enough to visit his childhood ancestral home at Jawatte, Kalutara, a few months before his untimely demise on May 16, 2009. A cousin who went with him told me that he was able to trace the house, after more than 50 year and was thrilled, as a small child, taking photographs and relating childhood incidents. That was Rohan, giant of a man, with a heart of gold.

He was very proud of his school and was associated in its activities as an Old Boy, whenever time permitted. He moved among a wide circle of friends, from all walks of life. Although Rohan was a Trinitian, two of his best friends were “gentlemen of Kingswood College”, namely, Owen and Roy. If there was one rare occasion when Rohan was in a pensive mood, that would have been when Trinity lost to archrivals Royal in the Bradby.
He lost his temper only when he saw injustice, dishonesty, indiscipline and treachery. He did not tolerate fools. He always fought for the underdog and never compromised his principles for a mess of pottage, like the present day politicians. Otherwise, he was as mild as a lamb, always laughing and enjoying life to the fullest.
His sudden departure from this world took everyone by surprise. It was as if he was taken away by some mysterious force.

Loku Aiya, it took over 3 months for me to put pen to paper to write this article, because I could not quite get used to the fact that you were no longer with us. You epitomised everything we Wijayanayaka’s stand for, values such as fairplay, loyalty, honesty, integrity, efficiency, unwavering principles, generosity, simplicity and never say die attitude.

So my dearest Loku Aiya, it is time for me to say good-bye. Let us meet again a brothers, at least once, before we achieve the supreme bliss of Nirvana. Sorry, I could not peak to you during your final moments, because I was too emotional, but I am sure you would have understood my though process, which will remain a secret between both of us. Until we meet again, in this ardous journey of sansara your unadulterated, genuine laughter will continue to reverberate through the cockles of my heart. With apologies to the Bard of Avon, may I ay, “Good night, sweet prince, may hosts of smiling angels sing thee to thy sleep.”

Lakshman Wijayanayaka

****

Mrs. Sita Rajasuriya
Mrs. Sita Rajasuriya passed away peacefully on 24, September 2009. Three months have gone by. She has left us for good but will live in the hearts of thousands of those who have been influenced by her exemplary life.
Mrs. Rajasuriya and Guiding in Sri Lanka.
It is a strange coincidence that the year 1917 happens to be of special significance to Girl Guiding in Sri Lanka; for more reason than one.
• It was in 1917 that Girl Guiding was introduced to Sri Lanka by Jenny Calvary a Missionary working at Girl High School, Kandy.
• It was in 1917, September 2 a child was born in Nuwara Eliya. Dr. Soloman Silva a medical practitioner and his wife Mary Abeyratne were blessed with a daughter whom they named SITA.
• It was in 1917 that a school for girls was established in Colombo. This school is what we know as Visakha Vidyalaya, a leading Buddhist School for girls.
This is why I say that the year 1917 is of special significance to us members of the Sri Lanka Girl Guides Association, as these three are interlinked.
It is at Visakha Vidyalaya that Sita Silva was enrolled as a Girl Guide. Sita married a Police Officer, A. J. Rajasuriya, who was required to serve in various parts of the country. They were blessed with a daughter Lilamani and son Chandra. Wherever they were and whenever she could Mrs. Rajasuriya was in contact with Guide Leaders and Commissioners.
Back in Colombo, Mrs. Rajasuriya was sad to hear that Girl Guiding at Visakha Vidyalaya – 11th Colombo was not functioning. It is at this stage in 1947 that she revived the company together with Lakshmi Nimalasuriya and Swarna Fernando.
Later Mrs. Rajasuriya was a Nursery School teacher at Musaeus College, Colombo when she helped with the Guides of 23rd Colombo.
I was fortunate to be a student at Visakha Vidyalaya and was enroled by my Guide Captain, Mrs. Sita Rajasuriya, as a Girld Guide. She was very popular as a Guide Leader and actively participated in events organised both in Colombo and the National Level.

Lord Olave Baden Powell, World Chief Guide, visited Sri Lanka in the late 1950’s and it was she who identified Mrs. Rajasuriya as a person, who was capable of taking charge of Girl Guiding in our country. When on a flight over Sri Pada, Lady Baden Powell held Sia Rajasuriya’s hand and made her promise that she would accept this responsibility. Thus when Miss Edna Alwis, first Sri Lanka Chief Commissioner, completed her term of office, Mrs. Rajasuriya was appointed Chief Commissioner of the Sri Lanka Girl Guides Association.
Mrs. Rajasuriya was personification of dedication and commitment, to serve the girls and young women of the country. She quietly but steadily led the way with the dignity and simplicity. She was humble but firm in the decisions taken.

Some of the highlights of her achievements were:
• Taking Girl Guiding into the rural areas in Sri Lanka. A Commissioner was appointed to work in this field – Ms. Mallika Perera who together with Miss. Iris Blacker and Ray Blaze did wonders.
• Introduced the Branch for the Handicapped, now known as Differently Abled. Started a Little Friends Pack at the Khan Memorial Ward.
• Introduced Guiding to the inmates of the House of Detention, Gangodawila.
• Introduced Community service into the Guide programme. Mrs. Rajasuriya was a firm believer that girl guides must join hands and work together with other organisations, which were service orientated and with moral standards – values. This resulted in our working with Abeysekera a Rural Development worker, working in the Rodiya Community of Manawa and Kanatoluwa. Later with Dr. A. T. Ariyaratna, Jatika Sarvodaya Sharmadana Sangamaya and Dr. Lakshman de Silva the Saukyadana Movement.
The doors were now opened for Girl Guides to do Community Service. An auspicious start to where we are today.
Mrs. Rajasuriya and World Guiding:
• Was the first Sri Lankan to be elected to the World Committee of the Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).
• Was the first and only Asian to Chair a World conference
• Was the first Chairman of the Asia Pacific Region, WAGGGS
• Was involved in the setting up of a World Centre in Asia, Sangam in Pune, India.
• The first Asia Pacific Training Pool was set up during her term of office.
These are some of the many achievements of Mrs. Sita Rajasuriya who led a successful and exemplary life – she left us at the age of 93 on September 24, 2009.

May she attain the Supreme Bliss of Nirvana
This article was compiled and written by Mrs. Venetia Gamage, President of the Sri Lanka Girl Guides Association.

 

 

 

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