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|Sri Lankan pensioners living
It is very sad that the Director-General
of Pensions in Sri Lanka without giving any notice stopped the
monthly pension payments from November 2009 to all overseas
pensioners without stating any valid reason.
It is illegal to stop payments of pensions to pensioners in the
Commonwealth countries. Sri Lanka is a member of this great
organisation, having signed the bi-lateral agreements etc.
Perhaps, there may be a possibility of abuse or fraud by some, if
the pensioner dies and the other partner living (non-pensioner) can
continue to draw the monthly pension by forging the signature of the
real pensioner (dead). This applies to pensioners in Sri Lanka too.
To avoid this type of irregularities, the Director-General of
Pensions in Sri Lanka can request the pensioner to report to the Sri
Lankan High Commissioner in Canberra or to the nearest Consulate for
Sri Lanka in Australia at least once a year.
In the case of pensioners, who are sick and feeble and are living
in Elders’ Homes can be asked to forward a Certificate of Health by
a doctor to be forwarded to the Director-General of Pensions in Sri
On the other hand, to open a new savings account at the People’s
Bank, Queens Street Branch, No.38, D. R. Wijewardena Mawatha,
Colombo 10, the bank lays down a condition which reads “(3) The
pensioner should personally attend the bank to withdraw money when
he visits Sri Lanka.”
This is very unfair. Everyone cannot make a trip to Sri Lanka to
withdraw the pension. Many are old and feeble, and have passed the
biblical three score and ten (70) years, some are in Elders’ Homes.
These people should be given some concession as at present some
pensioners are living with their children and others with their
I am aware of Sri Lankans who had worked in the United Kingdom for
about 10¬15 years and have gone back to Sri Lanka and when they
reach the retiring age of 65 years, they inform the Home Office in
London and their pensions are thereafter remitted direct to
pensioners’ bank accounts in Sri Lanka or to any other Commonwealth
country where they now live in retirement.
The average pension of a Sri Lankan pensioner living in Australia
is about Rs. l0,000 and if he/she retains his pension for a period
of one year, Rs. 120,000 is accumulated in a Sri Lanka Bank. When
he/she decides to travel to Sri Lanka to withdraw his/her pension he
has to purchase a return ticket both ways. In today’s market it will
cost him between AUD $1,200 and AUD $1,300 (exchange equivalent of
Rs.137,000). While collecting the pension of Rs.120,000 he has to
incur a further Rs.17,000 and what about the other expenses such as
board and lodging and other incidental expenses while in Sri Lanka
for about two weeks.
Is this trip worthwhile, to whom to tell (kata kiyannada)?
|Sanctions against Iran
Western controlled mass-media is in a big way ratcheting up the
US-Israel determination to enforce crippling sanctions on the
Islamic Republic of Iran in order to halt her nuclear development
programme for peaceful purposes, despite Iran not having broken any
of the treaties and laws of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The US has worked itself into a frenzy of even threatening to bomb
Iran and repeating the time-worn cliché “all options are on the
table.” Israel like a parrot repeats it and keeps up the war
rhetoric. Both the US and Israel know that they dare not risk war as
war is not only going to cause damage to themselves but to the whole
world. What the US and Israel are engaging in is psychological war.
China more than Russia is disinclined to vote for crippling or
any other sanctions against Iran because of Chinese oil interests in
Iran and because Iran pumps as much as 540,000 barrels of oil a day
to China. Secret meetings are being held to coerce China not to veto
the US led resolution of sanctions at the Security Council against
Iran. A high level Israel mission to China including Governor of
Israel’s Central Bank Stanley Fischer, visited China in late
February, according to a solitary news report in the Financial
Times. It is not hard to imagine that when an all important
economist like Fischer goes to China and explains to the Chinese the
US led planned sanctions regime against the Islamic Republic of
Iran, something is brewing.
The Chinese are cool on the whole issue. They are hell-bent on
their development progamme and want to be the number one super-power
in the world. Their progress and determined efforts so far point to
the likelihood that in the near future they will achieve it and all
Asians are going to be proud of it. Oil is sine-qua-non for this
ambition to be fulfilled. In fact, every drop of oil is necessary.
So, China will not cave in to US and Israel demands and Asian wisdom
It is indeed sickening to listen and read the propaganda against
the Islamic Republic of Iran on this issue. Iran has abided by all
conditions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, in the last 250 years it
has not invaded any country, abided by UN conventions, have the
support of the 118 Non¬ Aligned nations, have good political,
socio-economic and cultural relations with all countries except US
and Israel and also have the support of the Islamic Conference
Organisation and it is beyond comprehension why Iran is treated as a
threat and one in “the axis of evil” and a terrorist country.
The all-powerful media has conditioned the minds of the people to
believe that Iran is a threat. However, the discerning knows
otherwise. In the real world the Israelis are afraid and hurting.
The waves of Aliyah - tens of thousands of “Jews” who were moving to
the “Promised Land” from hither-and-yon are now history. Hizbullah
missiles have scared them. The demographics of the Holy Land are
quickly shifting. Record increases have occurred in the numbers of
Muslim and Christian Arabs who now live in the Holy Land. Islamic
self-determination is on its way in; secular and ungodly political
trends are on their way out. The US can no longer afford to foot the
Israel bill free of charge as was the case in the past half century.
Even Israel’s first line of defence, the Palestine Authority, is
crumbling like a house of cards. A breaking news item says that the
Fatah faction of the Palestinian Authority in Lebanon, a group of
over a thousand that has been with Mahmud Abbas - has gone over to
the pro-Iranian Hizbullah.
Mubarak, who is attempting to recover from surgery in Germany, is
badly immobilised. Who knows what will happen in Egypt which has
close relations with Israel? The octogenarian rulers of Arabia are
dying off along with their credibility. The Jordanian tribal regime
is taking away Jordanian citizenship from the Palestinians. It deems
to be “security threats.” Israel in these circumstances is in mortal
danger as it should be. It knows this better than anyone else. Will
it buy itself more time for survival by going to war? Can it avoid a
back¬lash in the US where treasury and troops have been stretched to
the breaking point all the way to Afghanistan and Pakistan to
These thoughts have caused Israel officials nightmares, there
seems to be no way out, but a one-state solution where all citizens
in Palestine - Christians, Muslims and Jews live in a democratic
set-up with equal rights for everyone to practise their own
religions and cultures. Of course, then the State of Israel will
like the Soviet Union disappear from the map of the world. Will the
Zionists accept this?
Social Justice Movement
|Second death anniversary of Dr Lionel Algama
Renowned and gifted music maestro
|May 18, 2010 marks the second death anniversary of the late Dr
Lionel Algama, the renowned and gifted musician, teacher and
composer of songs. He was also ‘A’ grade singer in Hindustani and
Bengali as well, examiner, ‘A’ grade instrumentalist,
ballet-stage-film-teledrama-director, conductor, inventor of the
original instrument called the “Soorthar” and the sophisticated
‘Sree Veena’ comprising of 39 strings, which had taken him about 15
long years to complete after continuous research.
He obtained his Doctorate after successfully writing two theses,
‘Teaching of Music, and ‘Development of Chordophones East and West’
in the years 1978 and 1979. For his achievements in the field of
music he was acclaimed and hailed by critics as an accomplished
musician with accolades such as ‘Music Maestro’.
He was a native of Gampaha born on March 24, 1935 who had his
primary education at Veyangoda Central. His father, Jinadasa Perera,
was a wealthy businessman, financially very sound, who loved to
enjoy life, owned and ran his own theatrical company mainly for
amateurs and for his own personal gladness and enjoyment. It was a
routine every evening for amateurs to conduct rehearsals at their
residence where all guests and friends were well entertained. He
naturally learnt art and musical skills while he grew in these
surroundings. His uncle Jayasinghe Perera was an expert exponent of
the harmonium. In such a soothing musical environment it was
automatically natural for him to be drawn into the world of music.
His enormous talents were easily identified by his father in this
creative field who decided to make arrangements to send him to Visva
Bharathi University, West Bengal Shantiniketan to complete a degree
in Bachelor of Music in the year 1955 when he was just 20 years old.
He obtained his degree in music after four years of strenuous theory
and practical courses. He studied Bengali and Hindustani under
reputed professors in 1959. Having been identified his talents he
was selected as a member of the broadcasting team of the University
as an Instrumentalist..
He had an aptitude and a keen interest in designing various
musical instruments and experimenting with various types of sounds.
He used his natural skills combined closely with practical knowledge
of other musical instruments and invented through rigorous research
an original instrument termed the ‘Soothar’. He is the only musician
in Sri Lanka who had invented a musical instrument. The ‘Soorthar’
is basically based on the blending of sounds transmitted by the
sithar, hawaian guitar, sarod, santoor, harp and goothawadyam.
Besides his own ‘Soorthar’ he mastered the sithar, sarod, harmonium,
piano, organ, mendolin, tennor, banjo, guitar, esraj, torshani,
santoor, violin and the tabla.
He had made several solo performances in several countries. He
had humbly admitted that when he played his Soorthar or any other
conventional instrument and sings, fans had been subjected to rare
aesthetic nourishment, especially when he performed to spellbound
audiences in concerts in many parts of the world. He had excelled at
classical and jazz concerts, ballets in New Delhi, Calcutta, Bombay,
Benares, Jaipur and Pakistan between the years 1955 to 1959.
Subsequently after evolving his own distinctive style he had
performed in Perth and Tasmania in Australia with the Chitrasena
ballet troupe and at Broadcasting and T.V. Singapore in 1963. He had
also performed in musical recitals and concerts in U.K. and all
From the year 1959-1989 for a period of three decades, he had a
long tenure of teaching in the Department of Education. He had a
long stint at Thurstan College as a music teacher. He was
instrumental in creating the college theme song which exists even to
date. The music composition of the ‘Daham Pasel’ song is also his
creation. In 1975, he was assigned as the Cultural Development
Officer in the Ministry of Cultural Affairs. He was also entrusted
with the duties of the Examiner of Music both theory and practical
at the Faculty of Aesthetic Education, University of Kelaniya. He
served as a Supervisor in Music, Ministry of Education, in the
Republic of Maldives in 1983 to1984. He earned the distinction of
designing the North Indian classical music syllabus for the
Institute of Asian Culture, University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
He composed and directed music in several films, ballets, dramas
and tele-dramas in Sri Lanka and had won a number of awards for the
Best Music Directions in the years 1961, 1963, 1966, 1976, 1984,
1996 and 2000. The musical score of the award winning film
‘Parasathumal’ and the music composition of the theme song ‘Paravunu
Mal Wala Suwande Athethe’ sung by Sujatha Perera was also his. He
had made several musical melodies for a countless number of popular
artistes. The composition of musical melody ‘Thanha Asha’ sung by
Maestro Amaradeva was also his.
The names of some of the dramas for which he had composed music
were Naribena, Romeo and Juliet, Kusa Pabawathie, Tikirimalie and
the ‘Horror of Mahahena’. The names of some ballets where the music
compositions were his are Karadiya, Nala Damayanthi, Sakunika,
Ginihora, Rankikily, Isolation etc. In addition, he had organised,
composed and conducted music for several feature programmes in
Hindustani - classical and light music. The contribution he had made
individually to the field of music in this country is very extensive
The ‘Sree Veena’ instrument is the first of its kind produced in
the world and could be used exclusively for a solo concert. He
played and demonstrated his new instrument ‘Sree Veena’ in a solo
concert at the Elphinstone Theatre, Maradana on January 7, 1996. The
Professor of Music, University of Delhi, Ajit Singh Paital was the
Chief Guest and had this to say, ‘The Sree Veena’ innovated by
Algama had unique sound quality of many Indian instruments like
sarod, sitar and swar-mandal, all combined and blended together in
one instrument. Algama’s performance, it was said, was marked with
highly skilled technique as he was fully conversant with several
Indian and Western musical instruments. It was a unique experience
to listen to Algama playing on the ‘Sree Veena’, the Indian ragas
with such depth.’ A certificate confirming his marvelous performance
was also issued.
Since his demise there had been many family discussions to find a
manner to dispose the instrument. Their efforts to obtain assistance
from our Cultural Ministry and other related higher sources have
proved futile. They lack knowledge and integrity to appreciate such
a valuable product, the only one of its kind in the world. It is the
fervent hope of the family members that someone will come to their
rescue in regard to the disposal of the unique instrument the ‘Sree
Veena’ which has to be preserved for posterity.
May he attain Nibbana!
|Dehiwela traffic police need guidance
Parking vehicles where ‘U’ turns are allowed was a problem both at
Wellawatte and Dehiwela. After one letter to the papers (or even may
be their own decision) immediately a ‘No Parking’ sign appeared
opposite the Rathaas’ shop (next to Delmon Hospital) and there are
no traffic jams anymore at this place. But Dehiwela is another
matter. Despite repeated letters still vehicles are allowed to be
parked in front of Waidya Road and opposite 2nd Lane. Many a time
the traffic cops are present and instead of asking the parked
vehicle to be removed, they hurry the motorists who are trying their
best not to cause an accident reversing, taking the difficult ‘U’
turn with vehicles in front and traffic behind.
To make matters worse, traffic cops descend at Waidya Road
junction between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. and dissuade people to take ‘U’
turns. These people have to go all the way to the junction to take a
‘U’ turn and come back. Even when the traffic from Mt. Lavinia side
is not coming because of the light being red at the junction, still
the cops insist all the vehicles should go all the way to the
junction. This causes quite a traffic jam at the junction since the
vehicles can go single file only on the side lane where the vehicles
have to reach the ‘U’ turn at the junction.
The Dehiwela overhead bridge was made to lighten the traffic but
thanks to these cops it is as bad as ever or even worse!
Obviously, they have been given instructions to make matters easy
by using their discretion. But they just follow orders blindly like
robots without thinking intelligently. Or is it a sense of
superiority when given power of ordering about, that makes them act
It is time some intelligent senior officer gave the traffic cops
some training on intelligent thinking.
Dr Mrs Mareena Thaha Reffai
|Senior citizens in for a bit of luck
The Government of Sri Lanka has decided to pay a bonus of 20% on
interest received on savings and fixed deposits pertaining to rupees
deposits of senior citizens with licensed banks with effect from
January 1, 2010.
The much aged senior citizens who are sexagenarians,
septuagenarians, octogenarians and some centenarian require extra
nourishment, unlike others to revive their weary bodies after having
toiled for the country in their long career, some having worked even
for over 40 years. Forty years in the life expectancy of an
individual is a considerable length of time. After retirement some
are not fit to do any other job.
For their nourishment they have to purchase foods like butter, milk
foods, Marmite, Nestomalt, Horlicks, soups, plenty of fresh fruits
They always get about in three wheelers as they cannot walk long
distances and neither travel by bus, as they are so feeble and
require extra assistance for walking.
Their medical bills are considerable and consultation fees for
doctors cost them a tidy sum. I spend by way of consultation fees
Rs.1,200 per consultation. I am expected to see the doctor every
month. The medical bills to purchase prescribed medicine too are
considerable. I am prescribed Madoper. I require one tablet a day
which was earlier Rs.45.25 and now it is Rs.48.75. With other
medicines, costs are about Rs.7,000 for medicine and doctors fees
The pittance of a pension the senior citizens get is not enough
for their other bills, water, electricity etc. This extra payment by
the governments is most welcome. Hope it will not be an election
gimmick and continue even after elections.
V. K. B. Ramanayake
|To the Editor
I refer to the
article published in your Letters/Appreciations page sent by one
G.A.D. Sirimal of Boralesgamuwa headlined “Giving foremost place and
fostering Buddhism?” The explanation of the writer referring to
“Maame Baala Samagamo” is: ‘Mame’ means uncle and children call
elders ‘Maama or uncle; ‘Baala’ means ‘fools, imbeciles’. The
perception of the writer or the explanation given is totally wrong.
The text ‘Maame Baala Samagamo’ is a Pali text and the meaning of it
is ‘not to associate with people with inferior mental capacity and
inferior qualities’. If the writer did not know the meaning of the
Pali text it would have been better for the writer not to have
written garbled versions! I trust that the Editor will correct it
for the knowledge of the public at large.
|Giving foremost place and fostering Buddhism
All those who wish to foster and give pride of place to Buddhism and
the world to acknowledge Buddhism as a great religion will certainly
appreciate the courageous and forthright letter of G. A. D. Sirimal
which appeared in your paper of April 18. It is also commendable
that you published it for the authorities - Mahanayaka Theras,
Buddhist leaders and the government - to give serious thought to
stop any more sacrilege to this noble religion - Damma of Lord
Buddha. If definite steps are not taken, Buddhism will be ridiculed
in the eyes of the world merely because some men in yellow robes
parade as Buddhist monks with ulterior motives for material
It is hoped that more letters of this nature will appear in the
press to enlighten the public and the Maha Sangha. Unless we lay
Buddhists show our contempt and disgust, this kind of behaviour and
utterances will continue regardless.
To quote from the Dhamma Pada - Bhikku Vagga - Verse - 4
Ya mikhasannato bikkhu mantabhani anuddto
Attam dhammana ca dipeti madhuram tassa bhasitam
(The Bhikku who is in control of the tongue, who speaks wisely, who
is not arrogant, who explains the meaning of scriptures - sweet
indeed is his speech.)
– Asoka Kularathna
|Island of drums
Spirit of exorcism
Southern comfort or chaser
Booze or coconut water
The belief unmasked
The devil is no stranger!
Irene de Silva