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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.

 

Israel - Insecure, isolated and inept

The continuous campaign to halt the Iranian nuclear programme for so long by the US, Western allies and Israel has backfired on themselves, when the 189 member nations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) voted that Israel be subjected to the NPT by compelling it to be a signatory and observe the rules and regulations of the NPT. The ongoing attention which was on Iran’s nuclear programme has now shifted to the nuclear programme and arsenal in Israel. The whole world is now concerned not with Iran’s nuclear programme, but is more concerned with the nuclear arsenal in Israel. The NPT requires members to open nuclear facilities to inspection and to disarm.

In its statement after the vote, Israel noted that since it is not a member of the NPT, it is not a party to the resolution. The Arab proposal for the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) free zone to pressurise Israel to give up its undeclared arsenal of perhaps 200 nuclear warheads was endorsed by the 1995 NPT conference but it was never acted on. At the May 2010 NPT review, a conference to begin talks on a nuclear free Middle-East was considered by many delegates as the “make or break issue” and the unanimous agreement for the 2012 meeting was widely accepted and welcomed after the 28 page final declaration was approved by consensus.

The NPT was opened for signatures in 1968. Initially, the US, Soviet Union, Britain and 59 other countries signed the treaty. Subsequently, others have done so but not Israel, India and Pakistan. North Korea withdrew from the treaty in 2003 and has since tested a nuclear device. While Israel is believed to possess more than 200 nuclear weapons, it has not conducted any of its own tests except perhaps with the South Africans in September 1979. The latter too had a nuclear programme that it voluntarily abandoned after apartheid ended in 1994. India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons in May 1998. Pakistan followed India two weeks after Delhi exploded its nuclear devices.

What is significant about the May 2010 resolution is that the US which has continuously supported Israel with funds, weapons and all forms of aid has voted with the other 188 members of the NPT for the resolution to have a WMD free Middle-East. It has also underscored the unanimity of the body to make Israel a signatory of the NTP, to open its nuclear facilities for inspection and disarmament.
Israel’s long list of atrocities from the beginning has precipitated a tidal wave of disgust and hatred for it among members of the international community. Even those in Europe who supported Israel earlier are now against it. The disgust for Israel is growing by the day.

Every report on Gaza has given identical details, prolonged and illegal siege; illegal use of white phosphorous on civilian population, deliberate targeting and killing of innocent civilians, destruction of infrastructure - homes schools and hospitals. All of these constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In its latest criminal atrocity, Israel killed nine persons bringing provisions for starving Gazans by attacking their ships in international waters. This event has set a monumental surge of disgust towards Israel. It now appears that it is not Gaza that is under siege but Israel itself is under siege, as the whole world is turning against it.
Israel is now insecure, isolated and pathologically inept. The latest killing of nine innocents in international waters is a public relations disaster which will not be forgotten by the world. Occupation, aggression, war and murder are having their toll. Israel has become desperate and schizophrenic. Perhaps Israel is aware that time is running out.

In the real world the Israelis are hurting. The waves of “Aliyah - the tens of thousands of “Jews” who are moving to the “Promised land” from hither-and­-yon are now history. The demographics of the Holy Land area are quickly shifting. Islamic self-determination is on its way in; secular and ungodly political trends are on their way out. Most importantly the US cannot afford to foot the Israel bill free of charge as was the case in the past half century. There is no other way but for a one state democratic system where Muslims, Jews and Christians live together with freedom to practise their own religions. The Zionist edifice created by so much blood is bound to crumble and justice will prevail although it took so long.

Saybhan Samat
Social Justice Movement, Rajagiriya

 

Pain of leaving pets behind

You were good enough to publish my letter regarding my leaving Colombo, after 60 odd years, and coming to Jaffna, my birthplace, in your issue of March 14, 2010. I came to Jaffna on May 15, after a short delay, just a day before the torrential rain started to play havoc in the South and causing several deaths of persons and animals and damage to property, and severe hardship to many thousands of people.
I am staying with my nephew in the town, as I have not been able to go to the village I was born and bred, which is still a high security zone. All the people of my village are scattered all over the country and some in foreign lands.

In Colombo, though an asphalt jungle, I had a convenient and comfortable residence in a two-storey building living in the first floor all by myself, by the generosity of the owner who knew me and after his death by his widow and after her death by their two sons, one of whom was married and was staying in his wife’s dowry house and the other son, the only other occupant in the building, with several rooms in each floor, was living all alone with a casual helper. I had the privilege of facilities, including the use of two telephones, all of which were free.
My constant companions during the last two years in Colombo had been two cats – one which I took care of when it was stranded in the premises as a very small kitten and the other, a female, as his partner, a year ago. I couldn’t bring them with me which remains a greatest regret. I am having a sense of guilt that I have left them behind. So intimate they had been with me like children. I couldn’t help it. That is one of the tragedies. I also had to leave two other cats in a compound that I had been feeding when I went to a house to get all my meals.
However, I had been assured by the inmates of these two premises that they would look after these cats and I, for my part, had told them that I would contribute towards their maintenance though they did not want it. A friend told me that he would go and feed them occasionally.

A person who is living in the same compound, a documentary producer, having seen me feeding the cats with care, wanted to film the cats and me with them showing the relationship between man and animals. And two days before I left Colombo, he filmed the cats with me, for a five minute documentary which, he said, he would air in a website for the benefit of animal lovers.

Arul Rajendran
Chundikuli, Jaffna

 

Is gender a taboo to attain Buddhahood?

This is a question often asked by certain individuals. Can a woman become a Buddha? Does it not amount to discrimination against women? In fact, there was a debate on this issue in an English daily newspaper recently.
According to Gauthama Buddha’s teachings, gender is no taboo to attain Nibbana (Eternal bliss). Anyone who belongs to one of the four divisions of the Buddha’s retinue - Bhikkhu, Bhikkhuni, Upasaka, Upasika - can attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana in this very life, if one follows His teachings (the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path) diligently. There is no discrimination whatsoever against a female.
However, there were 27 Buddhas preceding the Gauthama Buddha, all of whom were males. The future Buddhas, including the next in line “Mithree” Buddha, last Buddha of this eon (Maha Bhadra Kalpa), will be males too, according to the pronouncements of Gauthama Buddha.

This does not mean gender is a taboo. Those who feel this is discriminatory do not know that there are biological reasons for this limitation. If a female were to aspire to attain Buddhahood, the constraints along the journey to Buddhahood - a journey far more strenuous than that of arahathship - are many.
There is no question of the mental capacity of a human female. The story of the theri (Bhikkhuni aspirant to arahathship), who was raped while practising meditation, during the time of the Buddha, alone suffices to form an idea of the hazards along the journey to Buddhahood if a female were to aspire to become a Buddha.
Even after attaining Enlightenment (Buddhahood), His role requires a capacity to withstand the strenuous day to day routine that a female may not be equal to. Buddha Krthya (Buddha’s tasks) is manifold and calls for masculine effort.

Is there discrimination in Buddhism? The Buddha’s teachings will dispel any doubts in this regard. “All beings are equal. One is not superior to another by birth, race, caste, creed or gender.”
At the first Dharma Sanghayana, of the Three Canons (Thripitaka), the Vinaya Pitaka (the canon on discipline) was recited by Arahath Upali Maha Thera, a great disciple of the Buddha who was born to a so-called low caste (scavenger) family. There was no discrimination whatsoever in His Order (Sasana)
Gauthama Buddha has extolled the mental capacity of women. See the sermon on Kundalakesi. He compared motherhood to Buddhahood: (“Buddho viya matha”). See the sermon on Prajapathi Gothami, the foster mother of Prince Siddhartha.

Visaka and Sujatha are great names associated with Gauthama Buddha’s lifetime. Patachara and Kisagothami are two famous ladies who entered the Order of Bhikkhunis at the feet of the Buddha before attaining the blissful state. This alone will suffice to understand the esteemed place of women in Buddhism, contrary to allegation of discrimination levelled by those who have little knowledge of Buddhism.

J. Abeygunawardhana
Homagama

 

Airline neither going green nor blue

Somewhat recently a hoarding was installed within the premises of the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (Rajya Osu Sala), Colombo 7, facing the Lipton Circus roundabout. The billboard featured the cabin crew – three smart-looking air hostesses clad in blue sarees, their official uniform – of the State-owned budget airline. This billboard, a fairly big one, was partly covered by a tall tree in front of the hoarding, disrupting the view of the hoarding.
The other day, I saw this tree being chopped so that the people could get a better glimpse of the hoarding of this nascent airline. And yesterday when I was passing this way, I noticed that even the skin (flex) of the hoarding has been removed. What remain now are the metal frame of the billboard and the stub of the tree.
It is ironical that with the global warming, when we are supposed to go green, it seems to me, that the airline neither wants to go green with the tree being chopped nor go/see blue with the “blue” print of the cabin crew with the Sri Lankan smile being removed!

Mohamed Zahran
Colombo 3

 

Forty-year journey in Legal profession

M. Mousoof Deen, Attorney-at-law celebrated 40 years in the profession on May 22, 2010. Forty years is a long time, but Mousoof Deen has made his practice a journey more than a profession and he has had many experiences that are worth recording for posterity. On this journey, he has had seniors of the calibre of A.C (Bunty) de Zoysa, Dr Colvin R. de Silva, Nimal Senanayake PC and C. Renganathan QC among many other leading legal luminaries.

Deen passed his Advocates final examination and became apprentice of Dr Colvin R de Silva and C. Renganathan QC, who was an eminent civil lawyer at that time. He took his oaths before Puisne Justices A.L.S. Sirimanne, Victor Tennekoon QC and Christopher Gregory Weeramantry in the Supreme Court in May, 1970.
Mousoof Deen who hails from Kadugannawa was an immediate neighbour of the famous C.A.S (Sinhala) Marikkar, a member of the S.W.R.D Bandaranaike Cabinet.
Mousoof Deen was a front runner in the UNP Lawyers Association in the Pre-1977 period. He had been a lawyer polling agent in most of the by-elections. He was, however disillusioned by the holding of the referendum in 1982, which he says was the greatest fraud perpetrated on the people of his country and the 1983 riots.
He had also participated in the election campaign of Dr Colvin R De Silva in the Agalawatte electorate in 1970 with lawyers M.L. de Silva and I.S de Silva.

On August 1, 1970, A.C. (Bunty) de Zoysa, noted prosecutor in the Attorneys General’s Department, who had retired from the State, started his chambers with Mousoof Deen and Justin Perera as his juniors.
Mousoof Deen used to supervise Law College examinations and happily remembers that he had at one such examination one of the candidates, the young Mahinda Rajapaksa at that time a fresher in Parliament.
He had appeared in a number of well known murder trials as a jury lawyer in the Supreme Court Assizes all over the country including the Capitol Theatre murder case, Deputy Mayor Colombo Augustine Dias bomb murder. Two cases that figure prominently are the Ragala Estate murder case and the other being the lengthy Dunsinane Estate murder and attempted murder cases at which the star witnesses were the champion athlete Darrel Lieversz and cricketer and star tennis player George Ernst. Twenty-two estate workers were in the dock and the case lasted several weeks in the Kandy Assizes. M. M. Deen ensured that all accused in the Dunsinane Estate murder case were acquitted by the Court of Criminal Appeal when the acting Attorney General Ian Wickramanayake conceded that the convictions could not be sustained. Another crucial case was when Deen swayed the Jury and obtained 4-3 verdict in his clients’ favour in the Kurunegala Assizes before Justice O.L. de Kretser in a triple murder case. The Wanawasala train robber and jail-breaker whom Deen defended in the Dematagoda murder and robbery case is one that is fresh in his mind because of the nature and frightening character of the accused.
One of the highlights of his career was when he filed a Habeas Corpus Application in the Supreme Court and obtained the release of JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera despite the tension that hung like a pall of gloom over the country at that time. Deen had appeared for several JVP suspects to obtain bail from the Secretary to the Ministry of Justice, who at that time was the authority to issue bail.

He also appeared in the Kalattawa, Alfred de Zoysa murder case in the Court of Criminal Appeal as one of the juniors of Bunty de Zoysa for the 2nd and 3rd accused, while E.F.N. Gratian QC appeared for the 1st accused. The brief consisted of many volumes, and one of the largest briefs he had ever read. Deen has also appeared as Junior to H.L de Silva PC in the Court of Criminal Appeal, and with Bunty de Zoysa and Sarath Muttettuwegama in the same court.

He remembers Asoka de Silva, now Chief Justice, as one the juniors of G.E. Chitty QC with Mousoof in the Court of Criminal Appeal. In another murder case in the Court of Criminal Appeal, Mousoof Deen submitted that there was misdirection on the burden of proof by the Trial Judge M.M. Abdul Cader and the Court ordered a retrial. Subsequently, he went before the same judge in Kurunegala and Justice Cader told the accused he was lucky that his counsel Mousoof Deen had saved his life and complimented Deen.
Mousoof Deen’s fame grew much during this period of time. He attracted the attention of Saumyamoorthy Thondaman, President of the Ceylon Worker’s Congress (CWC) and its General Secretary M.S. Sellasamy who retained him in a large number of criminal trials in many parts of the country, including Mullaitivu, Vavuniya, Bandarawela, Nuwara Eliya and in the Magistrates Courts of Mannar, Rakwana and Lahugala.
Mousoof Deen did not confine himself to criminal cases alone.

There was a case in the heart of Kandy town where a businessman, who was occupying the premises had lost his appeal in the Supreme Court and the fiscal had arrived to eject him. A crowd from the Kandy market had gathered inside the premises protesting the fiscal and large crowds had gathered around the shop. This caused quite a sensation in Kandy town. Mousoof Deen was retained to prepare and file the appeal in the Supreme Court pending appeal to the Privy Council. Ever so committed to defend his clients to his best Deen burnt the proverbial midnight oil and prepared the papers overnight. The following day he appeared before Justice C.G. Weeramantry in chambers in Hulftsdorp and obtained a stay order pending appeal to the Privy Council. Later, appeals to the Privy Council were abolished, and this was perhaps one of the last appeals made to the Privy Council. The case was later settled and his client is still in possession of part of the premises.

In a controversial case, Mousoof Deen appeared in the District Court of Kalutara supporting the law of the day which related to the Jurisdiction of Conciliation Boards, where no court should entertain an action except where proceedings before the Board had failed to effect a settlement, and that cases should go to the Conciliation Board before being heard by the Courts. A few lawyers were opposed to the Conciliation Boards system, but Deen held his ground and won the day against the two then leading civil lawyers in Kalutara, L.T. Andradi and Ladduwahetty. When Andradi left for England he gifted a set of his law books as a token of friendship and also handed him a large number of civil appeals that he had undertaken in the Kalutara District which landed him on the opposite side of C. Thiagalingam QC and H.W Jayawardene QC.

One of the anecdotes that are fresh in Deen’s mind is when he was Junior to Nimal Senanayake connected with Nadesan QC who was appearing on the opposite side. The case involved Sir Bennet Soysa and Muhandiram Wijewardene over a financial transaction. Nadesan used to give Deen a lift to the District Court of Kandy in his Mercedes Benz 180. Since it was not ethical to discuss the case, the conversation concentrated on Nadesans nature’s cure diet habits.

Mousoof Deen also recalls a case from Matale town, a hardware shop, where the roof had caved in and opened to the elements. Lawyers had advised the tenant not to do any repairs as an application for injunction had been filed and Deen was consulted and having checked the record found that an inquiry into the application for an interim injunction was pending, but no injunction had been issued, and he saw no reason why a new roof should not be constructed restoring the roof to its original position and accordingly the construction took place. Deen appeared as junior to Dr Colvin R. de Silva in the Court of Appeal in the Contempt of Court case filed in that connection, where in reply to H.W. Jayawardene QC [J.R. Jayawardene was the President at that time] Dr Colvin R de Silva commented, “Your Lordships be pleased, this is not the President’s Court. Your Lordships derive your power from the Constitution of this country and no other”. H. W. Jayawardene QC appeared with A.K. Premadasa and D. S. Wijesinghe for the petitioner. The tenant was found not guilty and police officers reported to the IGP for action for erasing and interpolating police statements. This case has been referred to in some books on the Law of Injunctions.

As a law student Mousoof had won two gold medals for English Oratory – namely the T.B. Jayah Memorial Gold Medal where G.G. Ponnambalam QC presented the medal and A.C.M. Ameer QC, Attorney General was one of the judges; and the Sam J.C. Kadirgamar Memorial Gold Medal. He was Speaker of the YMCA Forum and was a member of the Law College debating team for 4 years. Some of the other members of the debating team included N.R (Dr Ranjith) Fernando, Razik Zarook, Asoka Somaratne, Ranjith Dewapura, Ravi Tennakoon, and A. Raja N. Fernando later Supreme Court Judge.

Mousoof Deen had held various positions under the government, being a member of the Board of Directors of the SLBC, the first Board to be constituted by the J.R Jayewardene Government in 1977 with M.D.D. Peiris as the Chairman, member of the Industrial Court and member of the Government Haj Committee which included all Muslim members of Parliament at that time. He is a Justice of the Peace and an Unofficial Magistrate.

Mousoof Deen is a warm and friendly person and this is reflected in the statement of Bunty de Zoysa who spotting such leading luminaries like A.L.S. Sirimanne and his brother D.Q.M. Sirimanne, C.G. Weeramantry, Colvin R. de Silva and his wife ‘Mummy’, his daughter Shereen and son-in-law Weerasinghe de Silva, S. Nadesan QC, C. Renganathan QC, R. S. Wanasundera, E.R. de Fonseka, P. Colin Thome, Subbiah Saravanamuthu, T.W. Rajaratnam, S. Thondaman, M.S. Sellasamy and I. S. de Silva at his wedding at the Hotel Taprobane, at a time when limited guests were permitted, that within a short period of time he had made friends with so many important personalities in the profession.
He also appeared with Subbiah Saravanamuthu nicknamed ‘Pocket Ponnambalam’ and the lesson he had learnt from him emphasised the importance of “availability” ‘you must be the first to come to courts and the last to leave’.

While at Law College, Deen acted as an Advocate in 1969/70 in the film “Kesara Singhayo” with Vijaya Kumaratunga and Neeta Fernando.
Mousoof is a widely travelled person and has participated in workshops including “Broadcasting and the Law” and “Mass Media and Communication.”
Becoming a success as a lawyer is no piece of cake. The process is long and tedious and only men and women who are committed to the nobility of the profession can make their mark. It has been often said that if one can survive a period of six months in the Colombo Law Library you can survive in any part of Sri Lanka. The challenges at the SLBC are so intense that it has been said that if one can survive at the SLBC for one year, you can survive in any part of the world. Deen survived both. Deen says he owes a lot and dedicates his life to his beloved parents and above all the Almighty.

 

 

 

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