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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.

 

Australia Harmony Day - 2010

Australia celebrated Harmony Day 2010 on March 21, 2010. This signified the Australian Government’s campaign to promote Australia’s cultural diversity and encourage people to say “no” to racism. As a part of the ‘Harmony Day’ celebrations, the SBS Television Network in Australia together with the Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs launched “Harmony Heroes” TV Competition that promises the spirit of what Harmony Day represents.

Every Australian community probably has a person that does simple yet important things that bring together people from different backgrounds. Without expecting anything in return, they go out of the way to help others. Simple things like welcoming new families who have just arrived in Australia, helping students from other cultures, and supporting new workers who speak a foreign language creates harmony in your community and workplace and also builds a spirit of team work.

Australia is a great 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 200 languages, including 45 indigenous languages. Australia is also known as a “lucky country” as so it is. It has a wonderful climate and vast 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 the Sri Lankan Government promote and adopt the attitude to all its people, whether they are Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burghers, Colombo Chetties or others to live in peace and harmony.
In the November 2007 elections, Australia’s 26th Prime Minister Kevin Rudd promised he would be Prime Minister for all Australians. During his election campaign he pledged greater attention and support to the migrant community and a fair go to everyone under his Labour Government.

On February 4, 2010 Sri Lanka celebrated 62 years of Independence from our Colonial Masters, Ceylon as it was known then, was the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean” where Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Burghers, Colombo Chetties and others lived in harmony, irrespective of caste, creed or colour. The hospitality of the Ceylonese was well known to the outside world. People were always with a smile. Fingers were never pointed at each other to say that somebody was a Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher or Colombo Chetty. We lived as ‘Machans’. The English language helped and fostered unity among all Ceylonese peoples and this helped everybody remain united.

It is good to go down memory lane in times of crisis to find out when the ‘rot’ started. It is an unforgivable crime that power hungry politicians whipped up communal feelings for short-term gains in order to come to power, since we gained Independence in 1948. This is a fact beyond dispute.
The political cry at that time was “Sinhala only”, “Fifty-fifty”, “Reasonable use of the Tamil Language”, “Parity of Languages”, “Free Rice”, “21 Demands”, “Rice from the Moon”, “Eight Pounds of Cereals, “Employment for the Unemployed Graduates”, “Unemployment Allowances” etc. These were the slogans that were used then. As usual the masses were gullible to these highly sensitive slogans preached by then politicians at election platforms.
Most of these politicians were not honest and not concerned about taking the country and its people forward for prosperity in order to make Sri Lanka a Paradise Island. We were then far ahead of some other countries in the South East Asian region. These politicians only wanted to come to power by “hook or by crook”. Once they were elected to form a government they failed to deliver the goods but instead made a mess of everything and completely ruined the economy of the country.

Politicians of the pre-independence era spent all their wealth fighting for Independence and the uplifting of the masses. They did not amass wealth after entering politics. All political parties that were formed from the post- Independence period up to the present day should take full responsibility for the chaos, tension and turmoil that is prevailing today. Many of the leaders that preached communal discord may be dead. Their bones may now be turning in their graves owing to the legacy they have left behind for the present generation of people who are undergoing untold suffering and misery today. In addition, the burden of the escalating cost of living due to the meaningless war in the North and East make matters worse, that had now ended after more than two decades.
The war has been won and all political parties should now join hands with the President Mahinda Rajapaksa and reach an agreement with dignity and as the President Barack Obama, USA, stated, “The God given promise that all are equal, and free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”

President Mahinda Rajapaksa should bring peace to our country and give a directive to the Rupavahini TV and Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation to start the day in all Government Departments to play the song ‘This land belongs to me, this land belongs to us, this land belongs to all of us.’
The ethnic problem is the foremost question today in the minds of all people who want to live in peace and harmony in Sri Lanka.

Fred Rodrigo-Sathianathen
Melbourne
Australia

 

Parliamentary democracy

Is parliamentary democracy alive in Sri Lanka today?
I write this as a student of History and Politics. I give below my thinking on the subject. According to statistics, only about 55% of the Sri Lankans have voted. In this reflection I do not hope to state as to why the 45% did not vote. On the whole, the results of January and April 2010 are not very different.
This, I believe, is because the Southern electorate is very grateful to President Mahinda Rajapaksa for winning the war, eradicating the LTTE as a military force and removing Prabakaran and Co. from this earthly abode.
Similarly, the North has by and large preferred the new TNA. However, Douglas Devananda, an ally of Mahinda Rajapaksa has, I think, done better than the January poll.

Thondaman has done well in Nuwara Eliya compared to January 2010. This is because the campaign in Nuwara Eliya was based on “Please vote for the Man from the Plantation,” that is Thondaman and not the Man from the North of Sri Lanka, the UNP candidate who is well known because of his programme on Shakti TV.
From the media I gather that there is a very strong move to get the 2/3rd majority by hook or by crook. At this juncture, we should not forget Lord Acton’s words “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
This is not good for Sri Lanka because as it stands the President will be there for six years plus a few months and the Parliament will be there perhaps for six years.
This is like what Richard Nixon called “the silent majority”. The ‘silent majority’ will be silent till they are affected. This is not good for parliamentary democracy.
In our country if the President takes a stand however unconstitutional he will not have his popularity, at the moment, reduced.

What about the Opposition in Sri Lanka today? Sadly, the Opposition in our country today is so divided. They only fight with each other and fight Mahinda Rajapaksa and his alliance. In this context we have a very, very weak Opposition. This is not good for parliamentary democracy.
Will Mahinda Rajapaksa and the new parliament keep the promise they made before May last year? Will they together, the Executive and the Legislature with the help of the Judiciary address the long standing problem of the minorities? Of course, there are other problems like poverty, bribery and corruption and human rights violations.
Will Mahinda Rajapaksa, although head of Political Alliance rise above party politics and function as the President of all Sri Lanka - both the majority and the minorities?
In a sense the honeymoon will be over next month when Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Minister of Finance tables the budget. According to a well respected economist in Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka is today living on borrowed money, on loans and on interests which will mean the middle class will get hit again. Not the new rich, nor the lower strata of society.

Sri Lanka today needs very badly good governance. The government of the people for the people and by the people. Is this possible?
However, my hope and prayer is that we will have good governance for we the people of Sri Lanka deserve this despite the ugly and vulgar party politics of today.
Most of those who have entered Parliament were able to use the state machinery as incumbent MP’s and others had big money. In this context, the Elections Commissioner and the Police looked very weak.
Therefore the 17th Amendment has to be in place.
Over to all Sri Lankans who value the best tradition of parliamentary democracy.

Sydney Knight

 

Incompetent musical show panellists

On Saturday, March 27 two private TV stations telecast two musical shows one for talented young and the other open to all and sundry, that even film stars and politicians are participating. In the past, for such singing and dancing competitions only well known and reputed singers and musicians were nominated for the judging panel. But for reasons best known to the TV authorities, a person better known for his brawn than for brainy thoughts and deeds has been selected and participating as a panelists perhaps from the beginning makes very ludicrous statements, observations and suggestions after an event embarrassing the participants, other panelists, the studio audience and TV viewers.
On the particular Saturday while watching the Indian IPL cricket matches was switching channels to watch and listen to the two musical telecasts, and a young lady not familiar, decently dressed sang the song ‘Sinha Pattaw’ in an acceptable manner, but who could sing a Nanda MaIini song with exceptional distinction. And the brawny panelist in his uncouth, rustic manner said it was better if she sang about puss pattaw and that the singing made him loose his dignity, courage in Sinhalese. Writer is not in the habit of watching tele-dramas and is not familiar with actors and actresses, but the remarks sparked that the singer was a female actor and was a contestant for the recently held elections. She took it good spirit but the TV station should be ashamed that they were not capable of nominating a distinguish panel of judges.

Amor Patriae

 

Tread on sewerage water to enter Kotahena library

When I accompanied my niece on a Sunday to the Kotahena Public Library to borrow a book on “Sewing”, we had no way but to tread on the waste water that was seeping through the concrete slabs of the pavement to enter the library. It was apparent that the sewerage pipe lying beneath the pavement has gone bust.
Not only the pavement was polluted with the waste water from the sewerage pipe but it has also got collected along a small stretch of road adjoining the pavement.
I request the current Administrator/Acting Mayor of the CMC Omar Kamil to initiate steps pronto to repair this sewerage pipe which has got busted. Otherwise, it will not only be a source to spread the dreaded disease - dengue, but also deter not only the children but also the adults from patronising the library. One could easily guess what the plight of those visiting the library on rainy days will be, when it so in the evening these days.

Mohamed Zahran
Colombo

 

Better late than never

My daughter appeared for the YON KYU examination held in January 2009 paying an entrance fee of Rs.15,000. The results were to be released within 3 months. However, it is of great regret to note that it is well over one year since the exam was conducted and the students are kept guessing indefinitely. By this delay, the students are deprived of pursuing their future studies in this field. I appeal to the Japanese Embassy to look into this matter.

G. R. Jacob
Kelaniya

 

Serenity begets sanctity

Candid, coy and charming qualities are hard to be realised because its anti-elements are active and alert to combat these hard-earned values. Society is mostly groomed with, not debonair attitudes and approaches to problems, but with irate and insidious human frailties. Religious, philosophies and concepts were the mainstay since over two thousand years ago, but society has turned from bad to worse with regard to charming ways of life. Religions are not blame-worthy for this naive situation, we are the culprits, who are prone to conflict and confusion, in search of power, authority and supremacy.

Serenity of mind is sine qua non, for any individual to muster growth and development and thereby distinguish between good and bad of merit and sin. A confused mind is a devil’s workshop or it resembled a “bull in a china shop”. Serenity is precisely the gift of meditation, enshrined in Buddhist culture. Transcendental mediation too yields comforting results in achieving serenity of mind. Purification of mind is a sound phenomenon of health and vitality. It culminates in jealousy, and revengefulness and nourishes peace, harmony and honesty, firstly among members of the family and later friends and associates. If a little meditation is practised by a dozen of individuals, it would influence a soothing effect for a whole village or a large community within reasonably a short period. It is not stressful of frustrating to medicate but invigourating and debonair to continue the process. Serenity thus established will beget sanctity, which would groom a good citizen who can help deliver the goods.

Serenity is not mundane but spiritual. When a person is calm, settled and peaceful, he reflects rays of piety and holiness. His mind and physique become controllable and obedient to his will and determination, thereby driving him towards serenity. Virtues, values, tranquility and serenity are on a higher elevation of sanctity. These qualities constitute our “social capital” without which, any society cannot usher in sustainable growth and development. It is through serenity and sanctity; we are able to reach a conflict-free and mystery-filled destination. We cannot repose confidence in serendipity to achieve a viable society. The robust validity of serenity and sanctity can never be repudiated. Serenity is the forerunner to sanctity. Therefore, virtues of serenity should be well instilled in the minds of younger generation without delay.

Susantha S. Edirimuni

 

Appreciation

H. L. B. Gomes

An excellent teacher

Lakshman Gomes was born on October 7, 1940 at Kotahena. His parents were C. Martin Gomes and Mabel Chandrasekera.
He had his school education at Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa. From the very start he was a very bright student. He always became the first in the class except for in 2 classes from Lower Kindergarten to A/L.
He was awarded the Gold Medal for the best student in studies as well as sports and other extra curricular activity in 1960.

He entered the University of Peradeniya in 1961 and passed out in 1964 obtaining his BA (Hon) in Geography.
He started his long and distinguished career as a teacher from Kalutara Maha Vidyalaya. He was there for 4 years and joined his much loved Alma Mater, Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa in 1989. He was Principal of the college for a very long period of 14 years till 2003.

While teaching he passed his Diploma in Education in 1970. Before joining Prince of Wales he taught at the Central College, Anuradhapura and the Teachers Training College, Maharagama as a lecturer for one year and then went to Nigeria and taught there for 2½ years from 1983 to 85.
No sooner he returned from Nigeria the OBA of Prince of Wales, knowing his excellent teaching and other all-round knowledge in sports and other activities correctly appealed to him to accept the Deputy Principal post with the view to be the Principal. He was too glad to accept the offer for he dearly loved his old school. He held the post for a long period of 14 years from 1989 to 2003.

He started earnestly to make his dream of making his Alma Mater one of the best in the whole of Sri Lanka.
He initiated hostel facilities that was not available prior to that and built a sports complex with so many sports facilities for gymnastics, karate, swimming, cricket, soccer, rugby, table tennis, carrom, basketball, athletics and many other outdoor and indoor games.
In recognition of his good work he was awarded the Muthucumarana Scholarship for the Best Principal in the Island-1990.

The then Education Minister, Richard Pathirana was, I understand, searching for an efficient person to head Royal College, Colombo as the principal. As H. L. B. Gomes was the best person available, he was offered the post. Though Lakshman did not want to leave Prince of Wales, for the sake of the younger generation he accepted it and was head of Royal College from 1997 to2003.
At the time of his death, he was the Principal of Lyceum International School, Panadura.
As Lakshman worked was good he was granted three extensions of service at Royal.

He was the President from 1989 to 2002, Tournament Secretary, Senior Vice President of the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association. During his tenure as President of the Schools, Under 19 Cricket Team toured England in 1992 and he was the Manager to it. He was also Vice President of the Schools Rugby Association.
His only son Nuwan is a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Curtin University, Perth, Australia.
Lakshman, after brief illness, passed away on March 24, 2010 and the funeral was held on March 28, 2010 at the Rawathawatte General Cemetery before a well represented vast gathering of VIPs, relations and friends.
A message of sympathy from the President Mahinda Rajapaksa was read by Rohana Mendis. N.E.C. Fernando, a former Principal and Minister of Education Susil Premajayantha also spoke at the funeral.

Lakshman was an honest, efficient person and a gentleman to the finger tips.
Among the grieving are his ever loving wife Annette, son Nuwan, daughter-in-law Shanika, V. K. B. Ramanayake retired Senior Station Master (Railway), Gunasiri Weerakoon, retired Commission of Labour and Consultant Dr Neville Karunatilake, (former Governor of the Central Bank), Doreen Ramanayake and Merle Weerakoon. His sisters-in-law predeceased him.

Lakshman was a very lovable person who was very much liked by his family, relations, friends, his pupils, his staff of teachers. He was always with a pleasant smile and displayed a friendly attitude. He was a devoted Buddhist.

May he attain the supreme bless of Nirvana!

V.K.B.Ramanayake

 

 

 

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