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politicians on stage
Another election has come around,
and the election fever is spreading everywhere. The media is full of
election news. Nominations have ended and the politicians will gird
their loins to tell you what they will do to you and the country if
they are elected.
The upcoming General Election has attracted politicos of all shades
and hues, ever ready to reach norms to meet their personal agendas.
They would come on the stage to sing their swan songs to titillate
the general public. They also would utter truths, lies, damn lies
and indulge in pompous talk, taking the listeners to be downright
Among them, there is a coterie who has resorted to corruption and
nepotism (the famous COPE report). Then there are fraudsters,
pranksters, bootleggers, murderers, shielders of criminal elements,
the underworld and drug lords, what’s more - rapists and arsonists
They all would speak as if they are paragons of virtue. They will
relate amusing anecdotes. They will dangle carrots to the people who
listen to them with open mouths. They would crow about their so
called achievements and boast of their ‘doughty deeds’ in the
parliament and outside it.
They will address you with such concern that it will appear that
they are genuinely concerned with the burning problems of the
masses. They will speak with their tongues in their cheeks, giving
you rosy promises for you to live in fool’s paradise, for instance,
a Rs.10,000 salary increment for government servants, monthly
allowance for the unemployed, a loaf of bread for Rs.3.50 etc, gold
bracelets for the village youth. When in power, all these would
evaporate like the morning dew.
Today politics is big business. This is one of the best ways to
get rich quick. Their common credo is that they have come forward to
serve the people, and so they need your precious vote. Once
ensconced in the seats of power, they become aloof from the very
people who sent them to the legislature.
Only their henchmen and others who lick their boots or slippers will
enjoy the plums and rewards until the next hosting. The rest are
left in the lurch and grope in the dark. Nobody is there to see to
their woes and worries. This has been the sad state of affairs ever
since we started to elect representative governments.
Most of us are disgusted; we are faced with a Hobson’s choice.
However, we go to the polling booth with some optimism, and cast our
votes hoping for better times. Subsequently, years would reveal
where we stand and our status quo. On the contrary, at the end of
the tenure of their office, we have noticed how fat they would
become, both physically and financially. We only stand and stare,
not knowing what the morrow holds.
Millions of public money is spent to hold an election. Millions
of rupees are spent one the election campaign of each party.
Millions (got through ill-gotten gains, black money, foreign funded)
are wasted on poster war, cutouts and hoardings. According to the
Election Department, Rs.22 million is needed to remove this muck.
Besides, it is a brazen violation of the Election Law; these are the
very legislators who propose laws for us – the people. The irony of
ironies! They have the ‘licence’ to break it; common man has to obey
The vast majority of the silent masses are groaning under the
unbearable living costs whilst the politicians including their
sidekicks have amassed enough to cushion off the effect. This we
have seen with our naked eyes for a longtime. Of course, there have
been some exemplary legislators who served the people sincerely. It
is pertinent to not the President and his term has done an excellent
job in eradicating terrorism amidst international pressure. But some
of those surrounding him have records of criminal and fraudulent
Over the years, party polities have brought bloodshed and
violence, harassments and witch-hunts of glaring proportions. This
time, too, I am certain, there won’t be an exception; victors run
amok to attack the vanquished – a very sad state of affairs in this
M. Azhar Dawood
|The Significance of Bak Full Moon Poya Day
In the month of April, the Bak full moon Poya day
Has special significance to Buddhist’s in Sri Lanka, in a unique
Gautama Buddha visited for the second time to
On a Peace mission through Compassion, to Nagadeepa.
While seeing the world each day, realised on Bak full moon day
Fifth year after Enlightenment residing in Sawaththi in Jetawanarama
Two Kings fighting for the throne ‘ll cause blood shed in a tragic
Determined to settle dispute in Nagadeepa visited Sri Lanka
To prevent gruesome bloodshed among Naga tribes, an eminent battle
A dispute between Mahodara’n Chullodara Kings of Naga clan to settle
The blessed one confident, parties’ll to listen to Him of war, its
Maternal uncle’n newphew in war over gem studded throne of regality.
Sammasam Buddha’s visit to Nagadeepa elaborated in Mahawansa
As the Saviour, Dispeller, Vanquisher of Sin, compassionate
Caused terrifying darkness, then called forth for the light of the
Seeing a felicitous advent, honoured the Divine Sage, a benign way.
Bewildered Nagas dropped their weapons, Sakyamuni spread Buddha rays
In His sermon Buddha preached need for unity’n reconciliation,
Mahawansa says. The gem studded throne is enshrined since then in
To this day at the age old Purana Vihara.
On a pleasure visit to Royal gardens with charioteer faithful Channa
Of the four significant visions, the first an aged man held Prince
On a Bak full moon Poya day to His amazement never seen before such
an image A human being weakened’n feeble with old age.
The long journey He commenced on Medin full moon Poya day ended in
Kapilawathupura on Bak full moon Poya day.
Gautama Buddha’s Peace Mission to Nagadeepa noble religious holy day
A visit confirmed by historical archeological evidence without a
Kumari Kumarasinghe Tennakoon
|Prescriptions and Fatwas by SMS
know some of my friends who have a good rapport with those in the
medical profession getting prescriptions for medicine over the phone
by getting the doctor to send the names of the medicine by “SMS” (texting).
The doctor does oblige without examining the patient but based on
the description of the ailments mentioned over the phone. I wonder
how ethical this is, to prescribe medicine as described above. In
case, if it is not Over The Counter (OTC) pharmaceuticals, I wonder
whether any new legislation has to be enacted to prevent the above
method of dispensing drugs.
Incidentally, a reputed Islamic Scholar as Sheik Noor Arkam Amith
mentioned in his Friday sermon last week at the mosque down
Bagatalle Road, Colombo 3 that people nowadays request for Fatwas
(religious verdict) from him over the mobile phone, not knowing that
it is not feasible to do so. Hope this letter will be an eye opener
for those resorting to SMS to get medicines / expecting religious
verdict via mobiles.
|Blocking Jaffna town expansion
There is a massive and unprecedented influx of foreign and local
tourists, NGOs and aid workers, donor agencies, foreign investors
and diplomatic personnel into the Jaffna Peninsula during the last
few months. According to newspaper reports, more then five lakhs of
people have visited the Jaffna Peninsula during the last few days.
But quality of accommodation available to these visitors is
virtually nil. In the bye-gone days, there were two luxury star
class hotels which provided comfortable and quality accommodation to
the visitors of Jaffna. They are the Subash Guest House and Hotel
Gnanams, both of which are presently occupied by the Army. In
addition, the Army is blocking a large prime commercial area in the
heart of the Jaffna town centre. When so many banks, firms and
companies want to open branches in Jaffna and do business there,
there is an acute shortage of commercial space in the town. The
British Council, USIS and the Indian High Commission want to open
their centres in Jaffna.
Even after repeated requests from the residents and even the Mayor
of Jaffna to hand over these premises to its rightful owners, the
Army is refusing to do so. Civil Administration is now fully
restored in Jaffna and the Police have taken over the security
duties of the town. There is no need for the Army to stay in the
centre of the town, blocking valuable commercial space. Jaffna is
bursting at the seams. The main problem in the city is lack of
Therefore, we appeal to the President who is also the Minister of
Defence to intervene in this matter and see that justice is done.
Bye-bye, Colombo; Hello, Yalpanam
With reference to the letter in The Nation “Adieu to Colombo” by
“Arul”, allow me to pay a warm tribute to my great pal Arul. I have
known him from 1955 to-date. I cherish the memories when we worked
all our life in the Colombo Municipality.
He danced the Fox Trot, Waltz and the Cha-Cha to the music of
Mantovani - an old disc spinning on the antique radiogram in the
Municipal Sports Club. With rare gusto, he participated in tennis,
cricket, table tennis, badminton and billiards for the club.
In all tasks, he was as straight as a ‘plump line’ and was indeed a
gentleman to his finger tips. Annually he and I edited and produced
a witty magazine for our Department (Assessor’s) get-together. He
wrote philosophical poems and inspirational ‘Letters to the Editor’.
“Arul of Kotahena” was a familiar name to readers of all English
He was a vegetarian and led a clean and straight life. Now in Jaffna,
after 60 years in Colombo, and living among his own people, I wish
more strength to his elbow and ‘Ad Multos Annos’.
Former All Ceylon Cricketer
“Bonds of friendship forged in childhood days,
Ties that bind us to our happiest time;
Which in strange and miraculous ways
Keeps alive days that were once yours and mine.”
- A poem by Bryan Claessen
I first came across Bryan Claessen as I joined Wesley in January
1950. It was the beginning of the school cricket season. He played
as a 16-year-old with D.B.C. Mack as captain. He went on to
represent school under his brother, Radley, before becoming the
captain of the 1st XI team in 1953. That was a most remarkable year
when we were unbeaten and Bryan scored four centuries and took many
five wicket hauls as a fine all rounder. He thought about cricket
with a deep intensity. He seemed to be a batsman without flaw,
impeccable in defence and classically elegant in attack. His stroke
play was a sheer delight. At his best Bryan could make any attack
seem ordinary. Bryan was a cricket legend, a leg-spin bowler with a
wily action who, at his peak, mesmerised and terrorised all who
faced him. It is said he made the ball bounce, especially his googly
which was well disguised. Despite his achievements as a teenager, he
was well liked at school as a modest cricketer and a good friend. As
an 8-year-old I was thrilled by his fine performances for the
After leaving Wesley, he continued to play cricket for Colts
Cricket Club and represented his country. Some of his team-mates of
the All Ceylon side, captained by V. G. Prins, were C. I. Gunasekera,
Dr H. I. K. Fernando, A.C.M. Lafir, Stanley Jayasinghe, C. T.
Schaffter, Dooland Buultjens, P. N. Schokman, G. P. Schoorman, P. A.
T. Kelly, M. Ponniah and M. Makkin Salih, who won the Gopalan
Bryan emigrated to Perth, Western Australia and then to Adelaide
where he continued to play Club Cricket with great success. He
coached and helped young cricketers to achieve their goals. His
innate ability to spot rising talent remained with him throughout
his coaching career. Bryan was one of the few great cricketers of
whom it could be said, without flattery, that he was as fine a man
as he was a player.
After working for several years in Adelaide, Bryan and his wife
Carol retired to a farm in Tailem Bend, South Australia. It is a
small picturesque town on the Murray River 100km east of Adelaide on
the South Eastern Highway to Melbourne. Here they enjoyed the life
in the country. They took easily to their new life of open spaces,
clean air and farm animals and became an integral part of the
farming community. He was a newcomer to farming and its demanding
physical routines took its toll. Nevertheless, Bryan remained a
resourceful and colourful character and an asset to the community.
His ability to charm never deserted him.
I had by then moved to live and work in the UK. When I wrote an
article to the Wesley College 125th Anniversary Souvenir, Bryan
contacted me. In the subsequent months and years we maintained close
touch with phone calls and letters. Bryan’s letters were always
beautifully written in calligraphic handwriting. He wrote the news
and views with poems to illustrate a point. He had an amazing talent
and zeal for poetry. It was a great pleasure to receive his letters
written with great sincerity and style.
Bryan was fiercely loyal to his old school, Wesley College. With
his characteristic enthusiasm he contributed generously when funds
were needed and maintained contact with many of his schoolmates. His
1953 cricket team remained always close to his heart and he kept in
touch with many of them. He never spoke ill of anyone and was always
polite. He combined his skills of natural diplomacy and generous
spirit with his strong beliefs in justice and equality. If there
were simmering conflicts at Wesley College Bryan was pragmatic and
gave his advice to help change the school for the better. He was the
voice of reason and common sense. When change came at Wesley he was
delighted and showed his approval by his well written emails.
Throughout the years after leaving school he kept in contact with
his old teachers – Rev Wilfred Pile, C.J.T. Thamotheram, Edmund
Dissanayake and Lionel Jayasuriya with phone calls, letters and
Christmas cards, until the very end.
In the last few years Bryan’s health was failing and had to give
up his active life. He and Carol continued to enjoy the social
events at Tailen Bend including Ballroom dancing and the more
energetic Barn Dancing. They loved the company of their
grandchildren and the extended family. Bryan and Carol had a rich
family life and she was the love of his life. They have five
children. Their highlights were large family gatherings where Bryan
took his place at the table with his usual humour and character.
They remained a popular couple in Tailem Bend where they
entertained often and generously. They were particularly close to
Radley, his brother, who lives in Adelaide. Although he bravely
fought his health problems, towards the end he displayed great
fortitude, resigning himself philosophically to the inevitable. His
strong Christian faith remained a great source of comfort.
I was deeply saddened to hear that Bryan Claessen passed away. I
am grateful I was able to know him and be his friend. We will always
remember him in the years to come. His sense of humanity and energy
for what he believed in will be sorely missed. We send our deepest
condolences to Carol and the family in this time of grief.
Grant him O Lord eternal peace!
Dr Nihal D. Amerasekera
An institution within an
“Who can prevent Death’s industry, which when he sleeps-Throws up
its Towers, slackness the dreams of Revolution and conceals
everything with ¬the birth of Death?” - (Stephen Spender)
Kithsiri Senevirathne J.P.U.M. Attorney-at-Law and Notary Public,
Acting Magistrate of Kandy and President of the Bar Association of
Kandy passed away peacefully after a brief illness at a private
nursing home in Kandy.
I had the privilege of associating with him for the last two decades
and I found him to be a genuine and sincere colleague. He was a
paragon of virtue. He hailed from a distinguished and aristocratic
Kandyan family. His late mother who was closely related to late Sir
Francis Molamure of Balangoda - former Speaker of the House of
Representatives settled down in Kandy after her marriage with late
D. D. Y. Senevirathne of Kandy. His house and garden surrounded by
the forest reserve of Udawattekelle stretched as far as Trinity
College, his alma mater. His late parents kept an open house without
grudging the produce from their vast garden. Every visitor was
welcomed with a warm “Cup That Cheers”. Late Kithsiri adopted this
charitable and gracious attitude from his late parents. His
generosity knew no bounds. Lawyers who happened to travel in his
vehicle from the New Courts Complex were treated with short-eats at
the Royal Mall and thereafter dropped in their respective offices in
During his school career he played cricket for Trinity’s first
eleven team. Thereafter, he joined the Sri Lanka Law College -
Colombo and passed out as a Lawyer in 1967. ‘An institution within
an institution’ is how best, I would describe soft spoken Kithsiri -
a colossus who strode the Kandy Courts for almost 43 years with zeal
and enthusiasm. His attire, outlook and mastery of the English
language were in keeping with the Eton and Harrow traditions,
Trinity is proud of to this day. He stood tall amongst his peers,
both literally and metaphysically. His soft heart, serene
countenance and kind words appealed to one and all. He appeared for
needy clients without a fee. Being a keen sportsman, he played
cricket for the Kandy Lawyers’ Cricket Club.
He played a pivotal role in organising parties and farewell dinners
for lawyers who were promoted to the Judicial Service. He had the
knack of picking the right type of lawyers to help him with his
wonderful job. He was instrumental in getting the New Law Courts
Complex and the Lawyers Chambers at Gopallawa Road constructed on
time. He was the S.L.F.P. organiser for the Hewaheta Electorate
after the demise of his brother-in-law Advocate P. Tennekoon.
Kithsiri was also a member of the Kandy Municipal Council for the
Although he possessed a few cars, yet he preferred to ride on his
Shanks Mare for his morning constitutional round in the city. He
thumped on the piano for relaxation at eventide.
Kithsiri’s contemporaries at Trinity College were retired Justice
Sarath N. de Silva, the late Gamini Dissanayake, the late Lukshman
Kadiragamar, Jayantha Dhanapala of the U.N.O., W. Muhsin of the
World Bank and other well-known Trinitians.
On great occasions at Trinity College, Kithsiri sported about in
his blazer embellished with the Trinity emblem and motto ‘Respice
Finem’ i.e ‘Look to the end’. Whenever he sang his College Anthem
after his day’s work, it created a sensation among lawyers who
hailed from less prestigious schools.
He leaves behind his wife Ramani nee Rathnayake and a son Maneesha
who is practising as a lawyer in Kandy.
An old Trinitian the late Carl Van Langerberg’s free verse haunted
his memory. He’d often say “Wrap me up in my Trinity Blazer, Blazer
- Summon six stalwart Trinitians to carry me - with steps solemn,
mournful and slow - To my eternal abode below - where I’ll rest with
glow for ever end ever”.
Such was Kithsiri’s admiration for his Alma Mater - Trinity College,
A guiding light his memory will be
To loved ones and friends, wherever they be
Free from pain, toil and care
A gentleman of great calibre, generous and rare.
May be attain Nibbana is my prayer!
A.M.I Saheed J.P.U.M.
Attorney-at-Law and N.P