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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.

 

Faces that destroy natural beauty

Natural beauty is a need for the mental health of a society. Walls and fences are used as boundaries for protection of houses, institutions and business premises. Lampposts too are a main infrastructure needed by the society to provide light during the absence of natural sunlight. All these infrastructures cost money and are necessary part of our day-to-day life. People work hard to colour wash these structures in order to keep them clean and pleasant to look at. Unfortunately today most walls and lampposts are decorated with the posters of those who are contesting in the upcoming election. Most of these faces are of those known to the society by way of newspapers, or television.

The funniest part of it is the fact that most of those photos on the posters have been taken at least 10 years ago. Most of the grey hairs and the wrinkles are hidden. Why should one go to the extent of putting up pretty pictures on the walls, is it another way of saying that they know that the rest of the community is stupid enough to vote based on the good looks?

Please spend this money instead to tell the people as to what your vision is for our country, which you yourselves have almost ruined. The public is more interested to know as to what you plan to do in your electorate, because their children are hungry and without much hope. Please do not try to insult the public by assuming that they are fooled by your good looks.

Looking at faces of people that they consider to have ruined your lives is a huge stress on them. So for better mental health of the society, please remove all your smiling faces from the walls, fences and lampposts.
Dr (Mrs) Ajantha Perera
Chairperson, Association for Consumer Action

 

Presidential Poll Result - An SLFP Victory

Prof. Wiswa Wamapala’s (P.W.W.) piece with the above title in one of our popular dailies is to my mind the best piece of writing on the Elections of January 2010 .
This writer is personally happy with P.W.W.’s thinking since he and the present writer are two of the four who read Political Science at Peradeniya of the Batch of 1960. All of them sat at the feet of Peradeniya’s Greats A. J. Wilson and H. A. de S. Gunasekera. That Political science Batch also had the Asia Foundation Visiting Lectrurer from the U.S. Dr. George Lerski of Polish origins who had to leave Poland because he was a Jew.
My response to P.W.W.’s contribution on this subject of January Elections and S.L.F.P. victory is as follows.
I fully endorse P.W.W’s thinking. After all in 1956 still at school we did applaud the M.E.P. victory of that year.
That writer Tarzie Vitachchi said it all in his work “THE BROWN SAHIB”. Although Ceylon gained Independence from the British in 1948 it could be said that it was not a true Independence. For a class of persons prepared by the British through their Education provided in Public Schools were the Leaders of 1948, and thereafter for a few years.

Ceylon’s earliest Prime Ministers D. S. Senanayake and his son Dudley and thereafter Sir John Kotelawala all came from the same class in society. On the other hand in 1956 S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike although from the same class of leaders of the 1948 - 1956 period was the chairperson of the Sinhala Maha Sabha. Thus he had his feet on the ground where Ceylon was concerned. Also as the Minister of local Government in the State Council of 1936 he was in touch with the Ceylon of his day.
So the M.E.P. of 1956 with the support of the Forces that Howard Wriggins refers to in his book, the Sinhala Village School Teacher, The Ayurvedic Physician, The Notary Public, The Buddhist Monk, the Peasant, The Worker and the Student won the Elections of that year. It was a coalition known as the M.E.P. which had the S.L.F.P. The V.L.S.S.P. and the RP,.
The year 1956 saw the Postal Peon Themis winning one of the three seats in Colombo Central. D. G. William of the L.S.S.P. Chief Waiter at the G.O.H. in the Senate.
The silent Revolution of 1956 with the use of the ballot made the Sinhalese in the south regain the Independence that they lost in 1505 when the Portuguese arrived in Ceylon.
The Parliament of 1956 produced therefore the Paddy Lands Bill and the opening of Banks known as The People’s Bank.

Sadly, in 1956 because of it’s slogan “Sinhala Only within 24 hours” helped only the Sinhalese to regain Independence. However, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike attempted to make Tamil also with the Bandaranaike Chelvanayagam Pact. But, because of the pressure the Buddhist Monks and the J. R. Jayawardene led Opposition, Bandaranaike tore up the Pact to please the Buddhist Sangha.
Since the break down of the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact there have been other attempts to address the issues of the minorities. For example the Dudley Senanayake Chelvanayagam Pact. Sadly, none of these Government made pacts were implemented because of the failure of the Opposition to support the Government of the Day to solve the problems of the minorities.
Sadly, in 1971 Front failed to listen to the cry of the southern youth who took to arms and attempted to crush them. The rest is history.
As I write this response I am aware of the news of the night of the 8th of February 2010. The arrest of General Sarath Fonseka.

In the backdrop of the 26 of January 2010 Polls as P.W.W. rightly states the S.L.F.P. won the battle. Of the 14 million voters 10 million voted and out of the 10 million, 6 million cast their ballots for Mahinda Rajapakse and 4 million for Sarath Fonseka. The 4 million voters were from the North except for Kayts the Eastern Province, the Vanni Colombo and Nuwara Eliya.
What does this S.L.F.P. victory mean in the context of the realities and the brokenness of Sri Lanka today?
Moreover, another popular daily has carried the Banner Headline “Mahanayake Decries Fonseka’s Arrest”. How will the S.L.F.P. victory of January 2010 handle/manage this new reality.

Can the S.L.F.P. victory overcome all these problems?
This essay is in the nature of an engagement and not meant to be of the type of confrontation. Therefore, may we the people of Sri Lanka who are part of the problem and therefore part of the solution rise above petty party politics and resolve all our problems in such a manner that all our people from Point Pedro in the North to Dondra Head in the South, can live in peace, with justice for all.

Sydney Knight

 

Billboards on pavement

The other day as I walked on the pavement along Havelock Road, Colombo 5, I was horrified when I had to stop for a billboard of a politico which had been erected on the pavement blocking the pedestrian movement.
In recent times, billboards have been springing up on one’s own front yard without any consideration for either the pedestrian or environment. This, however, takes the cake! Slap-bang, right in the middle of the pavement.
The public has every right to know who gave permission for this board to be erected. Is it the CMC? Or is the RDA? Or is it the high handed action of the politico himself! Whichever it is, these are State Agencies which are supposed to look after the welfare and safety of pedestrians. Are they doing their job?

R. de Silva

 

Public servants and politics

A public servant or a state official is an employee of the state paid from the Consolidated Fund or the State. Accordingly, a staff grade officer in the public service, an ambassador (political appointees inclusive), a consultant attached to a ministry or the Presidential Secretariat, technically, fall into the public servant category. Such state employees cannot engage in political activities in terms of the Public Service Regulations. They are not political party employees. It has to be so to ensure that they discharge their duties without favouritism, discrimination and political bias. When public servants and law enforcement officers have political bias with allegiance to political parties, they cannot act independently and as a result the public will suffer and justice will not prevail.

It is no secret that public servants, police personnel and members of the armed forces directly and indirectly involved themselves in party political activities at the last Presidential Election. In fact, police officers had put up cut-outs in front of police stations under their names. Disciplinary action should be taken against all such public servants, police personnel and members of the armed forces, whoever they are, whether they were engaged in political activities for the government parties or the opposition parties. Otherwise, it will amount to political victimisation of one category whilst extending favoured treatment to others who have done the same. Nevertheless, it does not seem to be happening as it should. It appears that only those who worked for the opposition candidate are being penalised which is unjust and unfair whilst undermining public service discipline. Then again, that in turn, amounts to breach of discipline by heads of departments and government institutions, due to their failure to take action against those engaged in political activities for the government party. All public servants, police personnel and members of the armed forces should be treated alike and there should be no favouritism or discrimination shown, otherwise, the already politicised public service will go from bad to worse and the country will suffer.

Due to political patronage, corruption and indiscipline have taken root in the public service and political henchmen rule the roost. The President should intervene immediately to stop the rot.

Upali S. Jayasekera

 

Parliamentary elections and violence

I agree with the salient points raised in your editorial of February 14. As you have pointed out, we have to bear in mind the economic development of the country. It cannot be achieved without political stability. This is the need of the hour.
We are going to have a parliamentary election before the New Year. To conduct a peacefully election there should be a serene atmosphere.

The arrest of Gen. Fonseka has created ill-feeling in both camps and it is increasing day by day.
The present agitations, protests and other political activities going on all over the country has caused much damage to property, injury to people and even deaths.
This, in return, is ruining the economy apart from the political instability.
As advised and advocated by the Mahanayakes of all Nikayas and other religious leaders, Gen. Fonseka should be released without delay.

We have passed about 62 years since Independence from foreign rule and therefore, we are a mature nation. The political leaders should follow the example of other independent countries like India, England, Pakistan, and think of our beloved country forgetting our political differences. The leaders of all political parties are all experienced mature leaders and should act wisely.
The President is requested to direct all concerned to create the atmosphere to conduct a peaceful election.

V. K. B. Ramanayake
Maharagama

 

An innovative idea

Today morning, on my way to office, I noticed at the end of T.B. Jayah Mawatha (formerly known as Darley Road) towards Maradana, a display board with the entire date set for the month of January, a macro version similar to what you see in a 12 page dates only wall calendar, installed on the pavement. This board has the name of a janitorial company on the top and for the border luminous, multi-coloured sticker has been pasted. I think that it would have better if the display panel is installed at eye-level of an adult and not on the ground as it has been done now. Hope the advertising agency / the company responsible for handling this advertising will take note to either install it at eye-level or slightly enlarge the display panel for the ensuing months. Anyway, a novel idea, for passers-by to know the day/date!!!

Mohamed Zahran
Colombo 3

 

Appreciation

Bishop Swithin Fernando

A pastor par excellence

Bishop Swithin left us in early December 2009.
Had he lived, on January 12, this year he would have been 92 years young!!!
I first met Bishop Swithin in 1965 when I was a student at the then Divinity School at Bullers Road and the Bishop was the Vicar of St Michael’s, Polwatte. Since then I have been in touch with the Bishop. Since my ordained life began in the Diocese of Kurunegala, when I was in Kandy and other places of the Diocese, I used to meet him.

However, it was when I moved to Colombo in 1989 that I really got to know him. He and his late wife Gwen were part of the Cathedral Family, where I worked.
In fact, he was the Assistant Curate at the Cathedral when I was the Dean. During those years he was my spiritual adviser. So I used to spend a lot of time with him. Bishop Swithin was a very good listener. A Pastor par excellence. Whenever, he knew that I was feeling low, he came to visit me, spend time with me and never leave without anointing me with oil. In fact, he used to tell my staff at Kithu Sevana to give me a hot cup of malted milk for me to sleep well. Such was this man of God.

He was all this and much more, because of his inner life and spirituality, Bishop Swithin with some of us still alive belonged to the old Anglican formation, which nurtured us and moulded us in the saying of the Daily Office.
We were brought up, to ring the bell and say morning prayers and evening prayers. The Bishop never missed the Daily Office. When I was at the Cathedral he used to be with us when we said our Morning Office.

Bishop Swithin had his early education at Prince of Wales, Moratuwa where he completed the London Matriculation. His Anglican Formation was at the Colombo Divinity School. He was made a Deacon in 1942 by Bishop Douglas Horseley. In 1944, he was appointed a priest by Bishop Packhenham Walsh. Bishop Swithin was ordained before the formation of the Kurunegala Diocese. So he began his ordained life in Kandy. Thereafter he worked in Galle and Baddegama. He was in Gampola when the Diocese of Kurunegala was formed. Thus he was a part of the clergy of that Diocese in 1950. Of all the clergy present at the Trinity College Chapel on February 2, 1950, Bishop Swithin is the last one to leave us.

From Gampola he moved to the Diocese of Colombo and served in Borella and Polwatte.
From Polwatte he went on study leave to England. He was made the Archdeacon of Colombo in 1971 by Bishop Cyril. He succeeded Bishop Cyril in 1978. On his retirement in 1987 he was made Canon Missioner.
One of the many things that I will treasure about Bishop Swithin is the time we used to spend after the Eucharist on weekdays. In keeping with strict Anglican discipline we did not speak till the Eucharist was over. We used to meet outside the Chapel of Joseph the Holy Carpenter at the Cathedral. Whenever cricket was being played Gwen used to give us all the latest scores.
Thank you Bishop for having been there for me when I needed a person. You were there.
Our prayers are for John and his family.
May the soul of the Bishop Rest in Peace and Rise in Glory. Amen!

Sydney Knight

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Asoka Paranavithana
A pleasant gentleman

Asoka Paranavithana of Mahal Varava passed away recently. He was an ex-member of the Municipal Council, Boralesgamuwa. His father came from Galle and built a house at Pannipitiya. They are related to the late Senarath Paranavithana, a leading figure in Sri Lanka.
Asoka Paranavithana was a religious person who was a devoted patron of the Buddhist temples in the area. He always had a pleasant smiling face and I have never seen him in an angry mood. I knew him for nearly 20 years.
At the latter stages he fell sick. Asoka Paranavithana is no more. We cannot forget him easily as we never expected his sudden death.
May he attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana!

M. G. Asoka Karunaratne

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Dr Gamini Attygalle
A gentleman with sterling qualities

It is very sad to learn of the demise of a very outstanding gentleman with sterling qualities and a Medical Practitioner. He hailed from the very noble aristocratic Attygalle Family in Ratnapura.
He was educated at Wesley College, Colombo 8. He excelled in his studies, sports and other extra curricular activities in college. He was successful in the University Entrance and he entered the Ceylon Medical College, Colombo 8 for his Medical Studies. He got through the MBBS (UK) and specialised in Anaesthetics. He served as a Medical Practitioner in several provincial hospitals and Colombo General Hospital, and treated patients very kindly which is a very rare quality. He got married to one of the daughters of a very respectable family in Miriswatte Walawwe, Kamburupitiya, Matara namely, D. Walter Wijewardane and Kalyane Wijesinghe Wijewardane.
The couple has very outstanding son, Dhammika Attygalle, who is a group Director of Upali Group of Companies which was founded by his very patriotic charismatic and illustrious fearless uncle late Upali Phillip Wijewardane, whose prestigious name known the world over. The late Gamini Attygalle did social, cultural and religious services to the community in the areas concerned. His illustrious patriotic and charismatic son Dhammika Attygalle renders great services to the area, community and Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya, Kelaniya whose family the custodians of the Rajamaha Viharaya for generations since the Dutch period.
May he be born among us till he achieves Nibbane in his journey in Sansara!
Annicavata sankhara. Uppada vaya dhammino
Uppajjitva nirujjhanti - Tesam vupasamo sukko. – Dhammapada
Transient alas are all component things
Subject are they to birth - and then decay
Having gained birth to death, the life flux swings
Bliss dawns when unrest dies away.

Capt. L .B. Lanka (Wilbawe) Jayaratne
Mrs. Iranganiedevi Seneviratne Jayaratne

Weligama

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Priest Samuel Patrick Rajaratnam
He led the Tamil chant beautifully

On World Cancer Day - February 4, 2010 - with its slogan ‘Cancer can be prevented too’, SP as we called our very much loved colleague in the ordained ministry was called Home. SP joins the many who have died because of this terminal illness.

I first met SP when I as the Director of our Cathedral Institute had to meet him since he sought ordination in the Diocese of Colombo. This meeting with SP led to the Bishop’s Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) seeing him. We discerned that SP had a sense of vocation. It was our recommendation that he shall go to our ecumenical Theological College for formation. At that point SP wanted time to reflect on his life/vocation etc. This he was granted.

In the meantime, we had a new Bishop. SP was seen by him and the rest is SP’s story as a member of the ordained ministry, as a Non-Stipendiary Minister (NSM). By the time SP began his formal training as a NSM I had moved from the Cathedral. However, being one of the Examining Chaplains, I was invited by those responsible for activities to teach SP and his batch Liturgy and Worship. Looking back to those classes I wonder as to who taught whom and who learnt what and from whom. SP was a good student, very keen to learn and he brought to the class his life’s lay experience of being a faithful member of his parish church in Polwatte.

SP walked the talk for he certainly was a jewel in the crown of the area of Gospel and Culture. With his God given gift of music he led worship in a very relevant manner. He had a good voice and led the Tamil chant beautifully. He also composed music, words etc.
Of the three in his batch, he was the only one who did the practical assignment I had set the class as part of Liturgy/Worship.

Despite his very responsible work at Senok and the need to take care of his wife, her mother and also his sisters, SP made time for Polwatte. SP never ever said ‘no’ to work. From Monday to Saturday morning it was at Senok. The weekend was for Polwatte. SP also took weekday services and Bible Studies.
SP was full of life. He always had a smile and a word for all those whom he met in church. By invitation I was part of the Polwatte Team for months in the 2006 - 2008 periods. SP was a great team man. He always appreciated something well done.

During those years at Polwatte I suffered from depression and SP was a wonderful friend in need. He was always keen to make certain that I was happy in my cottage and that I had a good meal etc. I found it hard to accept SP’s illness. SP’s ordained ministry was only from 2006. But as a lay person he was a servant of God in his home parish of Polwatte.

Since he was by profession an Accountant he was used by his church in this area too. He also served this church as a Youth Chaplain. SP was a good Pastor, a very keen student always willing to learn. He had his own inner life. On Sundays at Polwatte he was there long before the time of the Service to be still and know that there is a God. He was also proficient in all three languages.
SP I am sure that when you slipped into that deep sleep never to get up again you would have heard those words “Well done SP”.
Not only will Polwatte miss you. But all of us of the community of the Ordained also, for you were a very caring person.
Shirani and her mother and SP’s sisters will always be in our thoughts and prayers.
May your portion SP this day be in peace and the dwelling in the heavenly Jerusalem!
May you rest in peace and rise in glory!

Sydney Knight

 

 

 

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