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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.

 

Muslim and Tamil Services of the SLBC

The Muslim/Tamil services of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation enjoy wide spread popularity not only in Sri Lanka but also in South India. The President of the News Media Research Council (NMRC) based in Kayalpatnam, Tamil Nadu, Bashir Arif recently visited the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation together with a delegation of his organisation to convey their appreciation to the SLBC broadcasts by the Tamil and the Muslim services which is heard in Tamil Nadu. Bashir Arif was of the view that these broadcasts will create greater goodwill among the Tamils of Tamil Nadu towards the Sri Lankan Government and people.
Bashir Arif of the NMRC accompanied by Presidential Adviser M. H. M. Azwer met Chairman Hudson Samarasimghe at the SLBC. Samarasinghe after discussions ordered the SLBC engineers to examine the feasibility of establishing more towers at Talaimanar for transmission of SLBC broadcastings to India. Samarasinghe added that he could implement this project only after the general election on April 8, 2010.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Tamils in the island never fail to tune in to the Muslim and Tamil services on a daily basis to listen to Muslim / Tamil news and most important of all to learn more about their cultures.
Many are unaware that today’s heights of the Tamil and Muslim services were reached due to recommendations made by an eight-man Commission of Broadcasting in 1953. The Commission consisted of very distinguished men, eminent lawyer N. E. Weerasooriya Q.C. (Chairman), K. S. Arulnandhy (Director Education), H. K. de Kretser (Director Public Works), D. P. Ellapola (Senior Administrator), A. H. M. Ismail (Senior Lawyer), K. Kanagaratnam (Auditor General), J. O. A. Perera (Eminent Artist), Martin Wickremasinghe (writer) and the Secretary of this Commission was A. M. M. Sahabdeen of the Ceylon Civil Service.

The Commission was appointed on April 4, 1953 to inquire into and report on the state of broadcasting in Ceylon at the time and in particular to inquire into the working and running of the SLBC and to consider the question of the advisability of introducing television in Ceylon and to make such recommendations as may be necessary for improving the state of broadcasting in Ceylon.

What is of concern in this article is the monumental success of the Tamil and Muslim Services in Sri Lanka and Asia, especially India. The foundation and roots for this success of the Tamil and Muslim services go back to March 1954 when the Commission sent a delegation of three members accompanied by the Secretary, A. M. M. Sahabdeen to All India Radio, New Delhi and to two other regional stations in Madras and Trichinopoly to study their methods, management techniques and approach to broadcasting. The Secretary A. M. M. Sahabdeen played a very crucial role in this commission. The commission paid a glorious tribute to him and said, “Our thanks are also due to the Secretary, A. M. M. Sahabdeen. The gathering of material from different section of Radio Ceylon and outside sources, and the systematic presentation of data thus collected for the information of the commission, the task of co-ordinating all the material gathered by us and the decision taken by us for the finalisation of this report, including also the preparation of statistical and other details. Necessarily the burden of all this work has been heavy and we place on record our appreciation of the interest and efficiency with which these duties have been performed.”

Sahabdeen continues to take great interest in broadcasting programmes specially in relation to Philosophy, Social and Cultural Development on which he had written several books and articles. He is one of the few Sri Lankans mentioned in the International “who’s who” published annually by Europe Publications Limited, England, U.K. which “provide biographical information on the most famous and talented men and women in the world today.”

Saybhan Samat
Rajagiriya

 

Developing a Sri Lankan identity

If the plan embodied in the Mahinda Chintana is left untrammeled, a Sri Lankan identity will soon surface, being a reality for the world to know. The Eelam howl is faint, having been suppressed down on the orders of the President, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. However, the John Kerry report to the US Senate has ominous plans for Sri Lanka. The Eelam agitation was launched on seeing the upcoming prospects for the West in¬ Asia. Tamils who sought close amicable ties with the majority community were physically eliminated. There was a covert, hidden hand. Now the politics of murder and mayhem is surfacing the hand of the Ugly American with velvet gloves who is groping Mother Lanka. We do not have to take a lesson from Mahatma Ghandhi, Martin Luther King or Rev Desmond Tutu, for Sri Lanka is led by a man who has gone through the mill, to be popularly elected to the high post of Executive President. Those who claimed both the North and East as Tamil homelands have been emphatically told that all land belongs to Sri Lanka and that all citizens are Sri Lankans first, and are being developed, irrespective of those domiciled thereon. They were at liberty to claim ethnicity in their holy places of worship. The Sri Lankan State will recognise them as Sri Lankans and treat all equally. Following the John Kerry report Chandrakanthan and the Mayor of Batticoloa have begun to waver. The TNA is buckling and Sampanthan displays a desire to lead, but the President is going ahead, undaunted, with his plans for Sri Lanka. What were dubbed as Tamil areas are being developed on the understanding that all land is Sri Lankan. Rev Sydney Knight your prayers will strengthen the hand of the President in brushing aside, and keeping away the meddlesome hands of Europe and the West, and a Sri Lankan identity will dawn, never to be eclipsed.
Ivor Samarasinghe

 

H.R.M. Awards - 2010

What about awards to union leaders

The widest publicity has been given in the print and electronic media to ‘The H.R.M. Awards 2010’, which is being organised by the Association of H.R. Professionals of Sri Lanka in partnership with Hewitt India.
The H.R. Professionals have to continuously and persistently face many challenges and have an unenviable task of maintaining a balance between the corporate objectives and the aspirations of employees which are manifested through the union leaders. The H.R. Professionals and Trade Union Leaders have reciprocal responsibilities and obligations. Human Resources Management and Development is not the sole monopoly of H.R. Professionals.

It is a fact that in Sri Lanka trade unions which were intended to protect the workers, regrettably became tools in the hands of self-seeking selfish individuals, some of whom have not hesitated to sacrifice the country and workers. However, there have been and there are today union leaders who have acted in an exemplary manner in the performance of their roles as union leaders. Some have acted with admirable restraint, adhering to a code of ethics and a code of moral rectitude. With their exemplary conduct of the union activities, they have ensured industrial peace, while effectively facilitating social integration. The P.,R. Professionals, who are to be rewarded and recognised, would not have achieved this if not for the peaceful labour environment. It is accepted without any dispute that harmonious industrial relations is vital for increased production and Human Resource Development. Some union leaders, I am aware, have in fact innovated strategies to conciliate and placate their membership and prevailed on them to act with responsibility, particularly during the period enterprises were experiencing the global economic crisis which caused untold pain of mind to employees and their families. Some union leaders have co-operated with Management during the economic recession and consequent restructuring of business operations in an admirable way.

While it is appropriate and fitting to recognise the H.R. Professionals and reward them for their efforts, there should be a way of also recognising and rewarding those union leaders who have made a significant contribution to the process of Human Resources Development and National Development. What is needed today is not so much adversarial trade unions but a sense of partnership in economic enterprises which inevitably will lead to Human Resources and National Development. The efforts of the union leaders who have contributed towards this in an exemplary and admirable way should be recognised and rewarded. Accordingly the Association of H.R. Professionals and the Sri Lanka Institute of Personnel Management should endeavour to identify the union leaders who have excelled in their roles and arrange to appropriately recognise and reward their efforts.

Sqn. Ldr. J. T. Rex Fernando
SLAF. (Retd.)

 

Politics and challenges

A minister of the previous government had challenged the former Leader of the Opposition to plant a karapincha tree and walk a short distance on a niyara of a paddy field. Perhaps that minister’s parents may be from a farmer family and his grandparents may also be from farmer families and he could be proud of his farmer capabilities. Does that mean that others engaged in other vocations or professions are of inferior quality? Old D.S. would have walked many miles on several niyaras in many paddy fields in different areas; he was a respected gentleman farmer. Dudley was seen with his camera hung around his shoulders walking on niyaras and their contribution to agriculture, irrigation, and river valleys development and to improve the quality of the villager’s life has not been comparatively surpassed by this former minister and others who held these portfolios.

During those periods; who would have challenged SWRD as a UNP minister that he had never held an udella in his hands to dig a pit to plant a coconut sapling. They owned extensive acres of coconut lands. The difference is that during that period the Opposition consisted of educated and knowledgeable persons of the calibre of Dr N.M., Dr S.A., Dr Colvin, Leslie G; Philip G., G. G. Pona and all in the government and in the Opposition had high ethical and political standards.

It is this type of rash uncouth statements that prompt political Pradeshiya Saba hooligans to attack a private institution with the state police was watching. Government parliamentarians have bought down the debating standards as they often were unable to defend the accusations and allegations of the Opposition. Writer has reservations on Ranil but he has to be respected for his parliamentary debating contribution. It is not decent politics to utter challenges to insult others.

Amor Patriae

 

First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa

The other day one of my sons who is in Year 6 just browsing through the front page of a weekend newspaper noticed the words “first lady” preceding the name of the wife of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and inquired as to what it means. I had to explain to him that it is customary that we prefix the name of the wife of a President as such. At this moment, my daughter who overheard this, just chipped in and asked me, waapa (father), how does one address Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, in case, if his spouse Ms. Shiranthi Rajapaksa is the President. I promptly said ‘first gentleman’ but now I have some reservations as to whether what I told my daughter was correct. Over to the readers for confirmation (if any).

Mohamed Zahran
Colombo 3

 

Politicians responsible for dragging Sangha into politics

Sri Lanka created history in the Buddhist world by electing Bhikkhus to local bodies and the Legislature which signalled the waning of discipline in the Bhikkhu Order.
Since independence our politicians tended to appeal for the support of the Sangha to gain political victories. The Bhikkhus in turn responded by gravitating into politics progressively. As at present, they not only come forward to face the hosting but also congregate or attend political meetings supporting different political parties thus exhibiting their political divisions. Up to the time Bhikkhus took to politics, they received the highest respect of the Buddhists and even that of those following other faiths, and their words had a say. The Sangha, then, were a unifying force. However, once the Sangha were dragged into politics, their esteem went down and the leadership they provided fell to pieces.

Of course, law and order situation in the country has seen a downward trend during the last two decades or so and indiscipline is prevalent in all walks of life - politics, schools, universities, the public service, the corporate sector and everything else. Nevertheless, when discipline deteriorates among the Bhikkhus who in our country are looked upon for guidance and direction and from whom a high standard of behaviour is expected, as they have to set an example that has to be viewed with concern.

It has to be conceded that it is the politicians who dragged the Sangha into politics for selfish political ends which resulted in the Sangha reaching out for political power and material benefits in a big way. There can be no denial that there is no hundred percent honesty, sincerity and decency in politics. Hence, a member of the Sangha taking to politics will be compelled to put up with and follow qualities inherent in politics, whatever the Bhikkhus who have taken to politics may say in defence. A Bhikkhu is one who has to break the fetters that tie him to lay life. Otherwise, there is no difference between the Sangha and the laity. Politics, which does not in any way help to break away from the ten fetters that shackle man to his weaknesses, is not for the Sangha.

It could be argued that politics and being elected to local bodies and the Legislature are not taboo for Bhikkhus. But the Vinaya standards expected of a Bhikkhu do not justify active politics by the Sangha. A bhikkhu wearing the Cheevaraya is considered to be a higher being than a member of the laity. The Cheevaraya draws respect of the Buddhists. Thus those who don the Cheevaraya have to behave as religious leaders - members of the Maha Sangha and not as political leaders, politicians or members of political parties.

Political Bhikkhus are seen delivering speeches without the calm and serenity expected of the Sangha. They sit with lay politicians and laymen, address political meetings standing and throwing about their heads and hands about not becoming of a respected Bhikkhu. They participate in political demonstrations. A Bhikkhu in politics propounded the theory of consuming liquor in small quantities. That is Wedhi Bana. The same Bhikkhu in 2005 speaking on BBC Sandeshaya advocated that Buddhists who voted for a certain political party leader should have their heads nailed (Oluwalata ana gahanna ona). The utterance suggested violence against Buddhists and that by a person wearing the Cheevaraya. Forgive the violence prone political Bhikkhu’s un-Buddhistic utterance, is all what we can do. Bhikkhus have turned out to be ‘Kattadiyas’ and ‘Shastrakarayas’. Some Bhikkhus have opened up their temples for God and Deity worship, alien to Buddhism, for the purpose of income earning. Certain Bhikkhus, by their behaviour and actions have come to disgrace the Sangha and the Cheevaraya they wear. Students are heard to call Bhikkhu university students as ‘Sangha Saho: A lay politico was seen speaking to a Bhikkhu politico with the former’s hand on the shoulder of the latter. What disrespect for the Cheevaraya.
The Bhikkhus who want to take to politics are free to do so and that after leaving the robes. That is the best service they could do for Buddhism.

Upali S. Jayasekera
Colombo 4

 

Double standards of law

Because of a law, TV blacks out scenes of consuming liquor and smoking. However, very often we can see people smoking in public and also being drunk.
What then is the paradox between the TV stations following the rule and persons behaving the way they do in public?
Can laws prevent persons using tobacco or consuming liquor? Isn’t the prevention lie somewhere else?
We hear that young persons are consuming too much of beer in the U.K. Steps are being taken to help these persons.
Are we doing the same here? Do we help the addicts of tobacco or liquor? Or are we too busy with our party politics? Food for thought.
Sydney Knight

 

Appreciations

Professor Charles Dahanayake

Professor Charles Dahanayake, Emeritus Professor of the University of Kelaniya passed away a year ago after an unfortunate accident. To those of us who had the privilege of making his acquaintance, he was indeed a most warm hearted and an unassuming academic, a very special kind of person, a person of rare substance. Those who have had the good fortune to have studied under this great teacher have borne witness to his commitment which to many was undisputed.

Prof. Dahanayake had his early education in Galle and later at Ananda College from where he entered University. He obtained four distinctions at the University entrance examination, a record at that time. This brilliant student did Physics Special at the University, took a first class and won a Commonwealth scholarship to read for his doctoral degree at the University of Bristol where he came under a Nobel Laureate, the famed Physicist Professor Cecil Frank Powell. After completing his doctorate he returned to Lanka and joined the academic staff of the University of Peradeniya. While he was a Senior Lecturer there, he won a Smith Mundt-Fullbright Fellowship for post doctoral research at the University of Rochester, New York. He returned to Peradeniya in 1967 and in the same year moved to the University of Kelaniya where he established the Physics Department and accepted the position of Professor of Physics. In 1971 was appointed the first Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Kelaniya. He was also the founder president of the Institute of Physics of Sri Lanka and a founding member of the University Grants Commission. He was also a past President of the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science in addition to being a member of a large number of professional associations. Professor Dahanayake also had a number of publications to his credit and has worked with some of the most famous names in his field.

Despite this most impressive academic record his greatness lay in his humility, which was an example to us all. He was indeed unassuming to a fault. He was a Buddhist who lived as a true Buddhist should; rituals were not for him, Buddhism to him was Metta (loving kindness), Karuna (compassion) and Muditha (Equanimity) and its fundamentals tenets, Sila (morality), Samadhi (meditation and control of the mind) and Pagngna or the acquiring of understanding or wisdom through Meditation. He was after all a Scientist and a Physicist.
Though a year has passed since that fateful day, he lives on not only in the hearts of his wife, Tilaka, his daughters, Rachitha and Punitha and son-in-law Rohan, his immediate family, who will miss him most of all, but also in the hearts of all those who knew him, for we have lost a friend and an intellectual with whom we interacted with profit. He was indeed an inspiration to us all.

May he attain Nibbana!
K. Godage

 

Anotte Kusum Ranasinghe

A great loss to social service work

Mrs. Anotte Kusum Ranasinghe of Kuda Payagala, Payagala passed away recently after a brief illness at the age of 74.
She was a very reputed English teacher and an ardent Catholic social service worker in the area. She was a past pupil of Holy Family Convent, Kalutara and immediately after completion her education she obtained a teaching post in the same school owing to her talent.
In 1955, she entered to the Teachers’ Training College at Maharagama to follow a Special English Diploma Training Course and passed out. Subsequently she received her first government appointment at St Michel Convent in Baddegama.

Thereafter, she worked on the staffs of Aniththawa Central College at Epitiya, Payagala Bandaranaike Maha Vidyalaya and D. S. Senanayake Maha Vidyalaya at Massala, Beruwala.
On her early young days she was an enthusiastic, popular, pioneer worker of the Young Christian Movement initiated by renowned Reverend Fr. Siri Osca Abeyratne (OMI) and during her last stages she worked as a patron of the Death Donations Scheme at Kuda Payagala.

In fact, her sudden demise created a big gap in social service works as well as in Catholic religious works in the area. Besides, she rendered a yeoman service in educating the young generation irrespective of caste and creed.
May your soul rest in peace!

C. M. Kamburawala
Payagala

 

 

 

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