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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.

 

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

The Hon President

The modern day hero
The most recognised Sri Lankan face
He can be the only “life of the party”
Enjoying success and good fortune
Capitalise on it, your magnetism strong
Positive increased personal power
More and more clout begins to register.
Burning desires to accomplish
Considered strategies put into place
Greatly widens the scope what can achieve
Keep mind focussed through positive
Will make the progress you’ve been seeking
And begin to brim with vitality and promise.
The stars begins to supply rocket fuel
Your vision broad enough what SL want
Explore the unknown and the unknowable
The outcome beckons like a ‘crown’
Accommodate more ‘Chintana’ ideals
So make along nicely and much can be achieved.
Days may have already warmed your heart
About all the meetings, even those that
Come by surprise will tingle, exiting success
So remain sharp, ride that ‘success wave’
‘The architect of new visionary ideas” I compared with Ghandhi, Jinnah and Mao
An uncanny spiritual and inspired legacy.
In your challenging life journey
To weave SL’s winning success
Deeper self empowers action
May ‘true blue’ wishes come true
To see the star trail open
And take my country’s fate
Where it wishes and where it will.
With your vivacious personality
And worthwhile interest
People are drawing to you by speeches
Now those others find very attractive
Bringing power to realise the future
And the outcome will be delightful
So revel in your new insights.
Progress cannot be halted
No matter who what getting you down
Will overcome all in more ways than you know
You will shout from roof tops
Rewards for efforts coming your way
And the ‘wheel of fortune’
You displayed gentle side to the world
It’s ‘accepted’
After communicating from the heart
SL won’t be ungrateful you little ‘soldier’
So stay’ grounded and touch the stars’
And if the ‘ CROWN’ fits wear it
You will know what life’s maze to astound you!

The Major General, rtd

Let loose the rebel within you General
No matter what your height is
You know you are taller than you think?
Lightness and brightens every step
And success surrounds you General
Use that good portion of animal instinct.
Devoted to those who love
But beware of betrayals
For you’ll travel the world
And live thousand times
To settle the score
Although love conquers all General.
Things are looking up
With each passing day
Achievements of your goals
Closer to significant resolutions
But don’t get caught up if you win
With those unnecessary extravaganza General.
Wisdom and kindness with humanness
Knowledge and good portion of instinct
No matter what life brings you General
Stars adorn your noble pathway
To navigate SL by the “lone star” General.
Organise your time well
To cash on high points
Wanting to win any argument
To bring your hidden strength
If someone plotting against you
To disarm him or her in advance general.
Good fortune has its eye on you
Drive the open road with care
Turning corners with care
And cast off excess baggage
As a detour may require
Keeping clear to get you there.
From Chilaw to Batti
Jaffna to Dondra through Central
As you take critical corners
Major Goals come into view
And time to scale those pinnacles.
Your home with the beloved
Ready for enrichment
Make sure you pick up
Every stitch
Helping the poor, the old, sick
And under privileged to
Weave a fortune into your life.

 

Sri Lanka - A land blessed with natural resources!
Our country is one of those countries with sea right round with a rich source of fish of many varieties unlike some landlocked countries and nature against them. Also the various fresh water lakes and rivers are special to our country. But, other countries explore our natural resources. They come and poach in our seas for months along and take away tons and tons of fish.

What have we done to explore these natural gifts? Also our fresh water lakes and rivers have not been explored fully for irrigation, power and fresh-water fisheries etc.
Our soil is so rich that anything sow germinates. Look at the lush greenery all over the country. With so much of water resources, fertile soil, our country should be self-sufficient in rice, sugar, vegetables, onions, garlic etc. Also with so much of fodder we should be self-sufficient in milk. What have we done to explore these natural resources?

Fruits, a wide variety, though seasonal are only special to our country. The bananas (16 varieties), avocados, rambuttans, guavas, durians, passion fruits, jaks, jumbus, oranges, mandarins, grape fruits, grapes, apples, mangosteens, mangoes, papayas, what juicy fruits are these? Have their cultivation on a commercial scale undertaken to supply the world. What have we done to explore these natural gifts?

With the sea right round, have we explored fully the tourist potential? With the many scenic locations in the hills, in the mountains, by the river, by the forest etc, with so much of wildlife, the local birds, the migratory birds, etc what have done to explore these natural resources?

With rains all 365 days - a gift from the rain Gods, though there are the drought prone zones, unlike other countries, these do not prolong for years as in some countries. Have we utilised these natural gifts to the full? What have we done?

No, doubt all efforts are made to get the benefit from these natural resources but sad to say not explored to the full. What have we done to explore these natural resources?

Come on you the politicians, the scientists, the academics, the business community, the privileged in our society rise up to the occasion and explore to the fullest the potentialities of our natural resources and make our country self-sufficient with the Natural Gifts. Why should we importing tin fish, rice, dhall, sugar, fruits, dry fish, Maldives fish, onions, and the many alike?

Kingsley Durairaj
Etul Kotte

 

My vote to end ear-splitting noise
“The man of honour should minister to his friends... by liberality, courtesy, benevolence, and by doing to them as he would be done by.” - (Sigalovada-suttar)
It appears that the monks are above the law. This is another category of citizens who enjoy this privilege.
To highlight my point let me place on record what happened. On Sunday, December 27, as advertised, the chief incumbent of Gunawardanaramaya Temple in Koralawella Moratuwa held its annual “Sangamitta Perahera”. The loudspeakers that lined the road, the penetration and numbers of which have progressively increased in the recent years, commenced their intrusion into personal space at around 10.00 a.m. in the morning and of course, it drove me away from the comfort of my home, not being able to bear the noise level. I, however, hoped to return when I thought the noise would subside as evening progressed.

On returning home around seven in the evening, as one would, to the comfort of home the noise from the loud speakers was 5tH! as strong as it was, but since there was some rain which I thought would encourage proceedings to finish early, and that the monk, being a monk, would let sanity prevail. I assumed that the noise would stop at 10.00 as was required by law, so I decided to stay in my home of over 25 years and endure the noise for a few more hours, and not run away as I did in the morning.

Alas! I was sadly mistaken, not only did the loudspeakers continue to dish out the noisy drivel, the volume doubled as well. The time was now well past 10.00 pm. I tossed and turned in bed in a fume effort to shut out the noise, to no avail. Ear plugs capable of shutting out noise from Formula One cars too failed. There was no hiding from the deafening sounds, short of moving to another district.

It was torture in the extreme, from the ear-splitting noise and sleep deprivation, and what appalled me was that it was dished out by a monk in the name of Buddhism, with absolute impunity and total disregard to the law and the comfort of fellow beings and animals alike, totally against the Buddhist doctrine. This continued unabated till after 3.30 a.m. the following day.

My night totally wasted, the following morning, another day, I went forth to face the other perils of life in this island, which are too much to enumerate here.
This loudspeaker use is a very regular occurrence, especially in religious use and often commercially, and I write this in complete frustration and in a miserable and helpless state and in the belief that at least the publication of this letter and the use of my franchise would grant me redress.

I would, therefore, wish to advise those presidential contenders that my vote is for whoever stops this madness. I would also invite my fellow citizens to follow me in supporting this. May I also spare a thought for the sick, animals and birds who have had to suffer this unusual cacophony.
Finally to those monks who perpetrate this horrific noise another thought from the Buddha,
“The member of Buddha’s order... should not intentionally destroy the life of any being, down even to a worm or an ant.” - (Mahavagga)

D. M. Balasuriya
Moratuwa

 

Ashley Weerasooriya
The miracle of an Iranian saint in Sri Lanka
Muslims of Sri Lanka attribute the luscious growth and beauty of natural vegetation, of our spicy land and it being immune from major permanent calamities to the presence of shrines, temples, mosques, churches and kovils. The tsunami caused only a limited damage and was short-lived. Sri Lankans generally are very religious even atheists and rationalists among them though they publicly deny religion, privately during the birth of a child, a marriage and at a death ceremony insists on recitals of prayers and seek blessings not withstanding their disbelief in spiritual matters.

As I am more aware of Islamic practices, a legendary narrative of an Iranian saint who visited our island now interned in Shiraz, Iran would underscore the spiritual blessings on Sri Lankans. The name of the saint was Abdullah ibn Khafif. Ibn Batuta in his book ‘Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354 translated and selected by H.A.R. Gibb George Rutledge & Sons Ltd pp 95-96, 256 details the miracle of this saint. It must be remembered that Ibn Batuta was a world famous traveller who recorded experiences of his travels in widely read books. Ibn Batuta says that Abdullah ibn Khafif occupies a high place among the saints and relates the following story about him.

“One day the sheik went to the mountains of Serendib (Adam’s Peak) in the land of Ceylon accompanied by about 30 darwishes. They were overcome by hunger on the way, in an uninhabited locality, and lost their bearings. They asked the sheik to allow them to seize one of the small elephants, of which there was a large number in that place and which were then going to be transported to the king of India. The sheik forbade them but their hunger got the better of them and they disobeyed him and seizing a small elephant, killed and ate it.”
“That night, as they slept, the elephants gathered from all quarters and came upon them, smelling each one of them and killing him until they made an end to them all. They smelled the sheik too but offered no violence to him; one of them lifted him with its trunk, put him on its back and brought him to the inhabited district.”
“When the people of that inhabited area saw him, they marveled at him and came out to meet him and hear his story. As it came near them, the elephant lifted him with its trunk and placed him on the ground in full view of them. I visited this island of Ceylon….”

Describing his sojourn in Sri Lanka then known as Ceylon (p256) Ibn Batuta states:” After passing the small town of Bandar Salawat (Chilaw) our way lay through rugged country intersected with streams. In this part there are many elephants, but they do no harm to pilgrims and strangers, through the blessed favour of the Sheik Abdullah Ibn Khafif who was the first to open this road for the pilgrimage to Adam’s Peak.
The Sinhalese people used formally to prevent Muslims from making the pilgrimage and would maltreat them, and neither eat nor trade with them, but since the adventure that happened to the Sheik, as related above, they honoured the Muslims, allowed them to enter their houses, eat with them, and had no suspicion regarding their dealings with their wives and children. The Sinhalese people have not forgotten Sheik Abdullah Ibn Khafif from Iran and to this day they continue to play the greatest veneration to this Sheik and call him, “the Great sheik” of Iran.

The affinity of the spirit of this Iranian Sheik long ago may explain why the Islamic Republic of Iran has very close relations with the Rajapaksa government, President Ahamadinejad is a very close personal friend of our President Rajapaksa and Iran has given huge amounts of funds for the development of the Uma Oya project, the Petroleum refinery in Sapugaskande and for rural electrification. Muslims believe the death of a saint is only a physical death the spirit or soul lives in ‘barzagh’ a temporary place till the Day of Judgment. In this state the saint with the approval of God has the power of intercession to alleviate the suffering of people who are alive. Who knows that the descendents of the people who at one time long ago was hospitable to the saint would have pleaded for intercession of the saint for relief from economic hardship which resulted in Iranian help to the Rajapaksa government. Those who know about spiritual matters do not reject this possibility. However the atheist and agnostics will not believe!

Saybhan Samat
Rajagiriya

 

Zebra crossing opposite Jetawanaramaya Temple
I have noticed that not only the devotees to the above temple situated on Jetawana Road, Colombo 14 but also the general public are also very much inconvenienced on account of the bus-stop and the crossing being located very close to each other. The reason is when two or more buses want to stop at the same time at this particular halt, there is no alternative but to encroach onto the pedestrian crossing, making it risky and inconvenient for those who want to cross the road. I have seen quite a large number of people come to this temple and therefore, I suggest that the either the crossing, which is somewhat right in front of the gate of the temple be shifted or else the bus stop, in order to accommodate more buses coming to the halt simultaneously.

I spoke to one of the priests, Venerable Madawela Dhammika yesterday morning and his response was that it was not only an obstruction but also a risk to one’s life - baadaawak vitharak novai, maaraanthikai - if I were to quote him verbatim. I would like the authorities responsible to know that the priest is also in favour of keeping a reasonable distance, than what it is now, between the crossing and the bus halt. Please note that a large number of students also attend the tuition classes conducted in the temple premises and therefore, it is very urgent that the Colombo Municipal Council or the RDA, whichever is responsible take suitable action soon, please.

Mohamed Zahran
Colombo 3

 

Lasting Post (Sri Lanka)

Die hard of war victories
Subjects of executive presidencies
Betwixt maturity and history
Repeating 26th Jan 2010 to the date
The words...abolish, abandon or abdicate.

Irene de Silva
Colombo 5

 

Appreciations

JOAN DE MEL
Founder of Sumithrayo
We at Sumithrayo fondly remember our Mentor, Mother and Founder Joan De Mel who passed away on December 27, 2008 in Colombo at the age of 87 years, leaving behind her daughter Penny and son Nick. Joan, the widow of a British Army Officer came to Sri Lanka in 1971 to marry Bishop Lakdasa De Mel. Five years of abundantly blessed and happy marriage convinced her that Sri Lanka was her home where she claimed to have lived with her natural elements, with the large family of the Bishop and many warm hearted Sri Lankan friends.

Energetic and totally committed Joan was persuaded into starting a branch of Befrienders International in Sri Lanka, by none other than Chad Varah - the founder of the Worldwide Organisation called “The Samaritans” which helps those who are desperate, depressed, and lonely and contemplate suicide. Joan has worked as a “Samaritan” in London. Knowing too well that it is a daunting prospect for a foreigner especially in a strange land and culture, Joan spent sleepless nights amidst insurmountable odds with disheartening results. Then Dr Hugh, physician of Joan’s husband (Bishop) rekindled her interest when he inquired one day, whether there is any place in England which the suicidal can seek contact to be dissuaded from committing suicide, as Dr Hugh had to deal with four attempted cases of suicides admitted to his ward that day. At that time there were no proper statistics on suicides in Sri Lanka.

Why England? Why not here? Joan went back to her initial idea. So, Joan seriously commenced her project with a new energetic steering committee comprising Dr Wijerama, Mansoor and Nalini mapping out various plans like obtaining a suitable building, telephones, and volunteers of the appropriate blend of race, character and abilities with effective training. Formalities to register as a charitable organisation was taken into hand. Sri Lanka Sumithrayo was established as a probationary branch of Befriender’s International in 1974 despite diverse frustrations and anxieties confronted during the course, but were overcome and managed with the encouragement and enthusiastic support of her husband, friends and well wishers. The name Sumithrayo was chosen after careful consideration to mean “Best Friends” which seemed similar to Befrienders. With Sri Lanka Sumithrayo (SLS) coming to reality, Joan’s dreams of a peaceful retirement in her adopted country was shattered and transformed into a busy, hectic and active schedule helping out Sumithrayo. It is noteworthy and highly appreciable that she continued as a volunteer at Sumithrayo like any other volunteer till her last, which act portrayed her unstinted commitment to the cause, age being no barrier!

Tender loving care is what Sumithrayo offers. Think what it means! Someone who is unpleasant, perhaps unkempt or aggressive, certainly difficult to love, is cared for so tenderly by an unknown volunteer friend at Sumithrayo. It obviously transforms them to regain their stature in their own eyes, which in turn makes them feel that their immediate burdens are lessened and they have a friend in need to support.

Joan’s husband, Bishop Lakdasa De Mel, passed away peacefully after a brief illness in 1976 with contentment and satisfaction having given his wholehearted support to the establishment of Sumithrayo. We Sumithrayos are extremely grateful to him for being the prop and force behind Joan and also for giving his valuable land subsequently for the functioning of SLS. Joan being a contributor of various articles to newspapers and church magazines, authored her first book as a catharsis soon after her husband’s death, titled “Lakdasa De Mel: God’s Servant, World Citizen’s Son”, which was widely circulated and well received.

Joan also authored another book “Closer than a Brother” the title of the book itself is a quotation from ‘Proverbs’ of the “Holy Bible” which emphasises that the Sumithrayo exists, to offer caring and genuine friendship to those who are overwhelmed by their personal problems. She has portrayed honestly how Sumithrayo was given birth inspite of the uncertainties of its early days, and of the hopes, ideals and enthusiasm that have ensured its continuation and development up to the present day.
We Sumithrayos are ever grateful for her invaluable contribution to humanity.
May she find eternal peace!

Sri Lanka Sumithrayo
Colombo Branch


One year death anniversary

In memory of Lasantha
Longevity was predominantly, what we prayed for you….
As menace incessantly chased you….
Smile of yours seemed undying and alluring,
A depiction of sunshine in times of dejection…
Nothing on earth would match, no nothing at all….
To your legitimacy, where duty came first - in that service, you stood tall
Hellenic one may say, who hardly knew the man in you,
Not forgetting your imperative views….
Arrogant - another may say, to which not even were you close…
And perhaps could not even be, by force…
Well, for all of us au-fait with you - Lasantha,
You were the sweetest, the funniest, the warmest, the wittiest and the able of them all…
Virtue seemed utterly a word meant for you,
Now many seem to cogitate, after you are no more….
Children were a world to you, amidst the hectic path you aspired in life ….
Benevolence for them did naturally unfold - for kids you poured your heart and soul
To retort to unending menace - was what you always refrained from,
Not considering you’d one day, pay the price of death, and would be gone…
Endless were the nights - in your search for utter truth,
And working hours never did limit - to that of broad daylight
Reels of newsprint, exposed scandal after scandal…
You fought deadlines, with diligence and resolve
For endless years, you were strived to be hushed…
Ultimately what a shameless act was conduct
Notwithstanding the gravity of danger to your life,
You never took off - not in a single plight
One year goes by - since they came for you….
When they finally did so, no one was to speak for you….
Unbowed and Unafraid - you faced each day,
You lived up to those mere words….
Until your dying day
Now, you are no more among us…
Yet your morality shall sustain, come what may….
An intellect indeed - in exploratory journalism, without qualm,
Who paid the price of death - for exposing sheer facts…
Unbowed and unafraid - you shall march into history,
An audacious man of all time - who stood up for the needy
You shall linger in hearts of many - until the end of time,
Dear editor, mentor, second father and comrade…
Your journey shall continue, until the shore is reached, and destination perceived…
And yet, nothing I shall say - compares to you…
May peace be with you - and no harm once more reach you!

Sunalie Ratnayake
California, USA

 

 

 

 

 

 

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