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.


What are eye doctors up to?

For many years, I consulted a ‘not-so-well-known’ eye doctor, who had the time and patience to examine and explain the relevant details. He advised me to visit him every six months, but by an oversight I failed to do so for over a year.

During this time, I developed difficulty in reading at length and felt a discomfort in the eyes towards the evening. Since I was on medication for diabetes and other ailments, many friends advised me to get an eye-scan, and to consult a leading eye specialist in Colombo, which I did. After examination, this famous doctor ruled out glaucoma but diagnosed other complications, for which she referred me to another leading household name in the field of eye surgery. The consultation chamber of this gentleman was very crowded. He had very little time for each patient. He confirmed I had an advanced cataract in my left eye and a not-so-advanced cataract in the right eye. He further stated that my right retina was very weak. He suggested that we remove the cataract in the left eye as soon as possible, and to attend to the cataract in the right eye later. The surgery was fixed for July 30, 2010.

As I was not too satisfied about the manner of the consultation, I decided to go for a second opinion. I went to another leading eye specialist in Colombo. Upon examining both eyes, I was diagnosed with an advanced cataract in the right eye. I informed him that I was diagnosed by another doctor a few days ago, who said I have an advanced cataract in the left eye. He insisted the cataract was in the right eye, and also confirmed I had a weak retina in the right eye. The operation for cataract in the right eye was scheduled for July 16, 2010.
These two conflicting opinions by two of the topmost eye surgeons in Colombo were very disturbing. I was due to visit family in Singapore. Over a phone call, I explained and discussed my dilemma with them. It was suggested to get a third opinion in Singapore.

Upon arrival in Singapore, I met a consultant eye surgeon attached to the Singapore National Eye Centre. This specialist doctor did a thorough examination, supported by several tests on both eyes, including a testing of my current spectacle lenses. The surgeon categorically stated there was no need for surgery in either of the eyes, as there was no cataract in both. The retina in the right eye had slight spotting, which was not cause for alarm, considering my age. He advised me to protect the eyes.
I inquired about the reasons for the discomfort in the eyes preventing prolonged reading, difficultly in driving and general irritability. He said “I will prescribe new lenses, which is all you need”. Having done that, I am now feeling much better. I cancelled both the appointments for the surgery scheduled with the two Sri Lankan doctors.

It is my desire to share this experience with the general public, as I now feel there might be many patients who would face the scalpel unnecessarily, at great expense.

I can be contacted via email at cannex@sltnet.lk.
G.W. Kannangara


Cabinet meetings in outstations

There has been a fair amount of discussion on the above proposal of the Government. This is not a bad idea as the ordinary people who do not generally visit the city will get an opportunity to see a bit of the lifestyle of our Cabinet Ministers.
The limousines that they use parked in an outstation will be a rare attraction for the village folks. The hotels and restaurants in the locality will have a field day catering not only to the ministers but also their families, their security teams and support staff.
But I totally agree with the views expressed by Jayatissa of Nugegoda in his letter in The Island newspaper of July 1, titled ‘Cabinet Circus sans Bread.’
This can be done without burdening the tax payer. Everybody knows that ministers are very affluent, by the manner in which they spent on posters, cut outs and treating during the election campaign.
Cabinet meetings should be held in each minister’s electorate in rotation and the minister concerned made to bear the cost.
Knowing how politicians exploit the business enterprises in their electorates, the cost will ultimately is borne by the Wine Stores licensees, Kasippu Mudalalis and illicit timber racketeers of the electorate.
Cabinet Secrecy will be a problem. The Secretary to the Cabinet will have to work out a system with the local police to ensure the secrecy of discussions.

Edward Gunawardena


Why expose belly button?

I was listening to the Buddhist Forum programme broadcast over the airwaves of the SLBC (Radio Sri Lanka) where Dr Raja Kuruppu discussed with Dr Kosala and Dr Wattegama about the duties of the husband towards the wife. In the course of the discussion, it was mentioned that even Lord Buddha was aware that the weaker sex, even at that time, liked to adorn themselves and that it was part of their psyche and so on. But, I would like to know what any of your readers of your esteemed paper or any member of the panel conducting the above programme has to say regarding women exposing their belly buttons.
And nowadays, what is in vogue is that they go to the extent of piercing the navel to wear rings, ornaments and other embellishments, as done with the ears.
Not only tattooing is done around the navel area but alluring designs with the application of Mehendi also is the craze these days.
Over to the readers for your comments on buriya exposing and piercing for our information.

Mohamed Zahran
Colombo 3



Himidiriyawa is the old public cemetery within the Kalutara UC limits but it is not maintained properly by the Kalutara Urban Council. This caused much inconvenience to the public of the UC area. Though there is another public cemetery, Wettumakade at Katukurunda, that’s too, not up to the standard.
Since a long time, many requests have been made by the taxpayers to build a crematorium in one of these cemeteries but all the pleas have fallen into the deaf ears of responsible authorities.
C. M. Kamburawala


Strange logic

‘No’ to Bollywood; ‘Yes’ to Cricket!

The ongoing debate on Sri Lanka in the Indian film world in general and the South Indian Film Industry (SIFI) in particular is intriguing and thought provoking. The recently held International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) award festival was devoid of participation of leading film stars from India, presumably on account of the pressure mounted by the SIFI on Bollywood film stars to stay away. Interestingly, we have not seen any statement on the IIFA from either the representatives of the Tamil Nadu Government or major political parties. It is not clear if the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and Opposition Leader in the state J. Jayalalitha are supportive of the campaign for boycott of IIFA and shooting of Indian films in various locations of Sri Lanka.

In contrast to the high pitched campaign against the IIFA, we have not seen any of the SIFI people seeking similar treatment vis-à-vis cricket. The Indian Cricket team represents entire India including the South India. The moot question is why the SIFI is looking at this issue as very much narrow minded perspective. As far as we know, Indian films and cricket are part and parcel of the life of many Indians. Both fields cut across ethnic barriers and are above ordinary politics. Then what is the rationale for the IIFA boycott by the SIFI? Do they look at Sri Lanka as their enemy? The time has come for the SIFI to rise above narrow considerations. They should realise that their campaign against Sri Lanka would only adversely impact the poor marginalised Tamil people in the North and East of Sri Lanka.

The SIFI can play a big role in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is now experiencing post war reconstruction and rehabilitation and this is going to be a more painful process than conducting a war. We have IDPs in the camps to be resettled very soon, people need shelter, education, health, food and water, sanitation, de-mining and many more. If SIFI looks at these burning issues in a critical way, we can think and say we all are on board to support them. Nobody wants to be left out when we support this community. If they go against Sri Lanka, at the end of the day, the North and East people will go against the South Indian Film Industry very soon. The Government of India has been in the forefront of the effort of the Sri Lankan Government in rebuilding the lives of the war affected and the credit will go to the Congress Party and the Manmohan Singh Government.

The big brother and close neighbour India has always been a family member of Sri Lanka. Both countries have a long history of shared culture and bonds. Buddhism came from India. As we all know, it is not a Sri Lankan born religion. This tells us how close the people of Sri Lanka are religiously and culturally for centuries.
As we all experienced that three decade of war started with politically motivated issues and gradually it has transformed to guerrilla moment to terrorist outfit. Both India and Sri Lanka have had experienced the bitterness of that conflict, India lost its former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lanka lost its head of the State R. Premedasa. We don’t want again that bloody conflict in Sri Lanka. The time has to come for the healing process. We all should look at the big picture with an open mind and seek answers on where we went wrong and how we can make a new beginning. We should look at a new way of social integration for all the communities to live in harmony. We have a long way to go.

Vidya Abhayagunawardena


Recall to Mother Lanka

Oh Mother Lanka!
Though many anguish years have
Gone by,
Your people still grieve and cry
Since they from shore to shore
Have sadly failed to re-mix or
Rebuild once more.

With peace,
A god-given chance has luckily
Come their way
So dear brothers let everyone
With justice and fairplay
Open their hearts and minds
Without delay
Seize this chance re-mix and
Rebuild dear Mother Lanka now
And to a single national flag bow.

Rodney Mervin Downall


Oliver Castle

Thanks to contributor Ravi Perera writing in our dailies asking the question “Canada, are you still intending to destroy Sri Lanka’s ‘Oliver Castle’?”
How come the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) permits foreign organisations purchasing land in this country, and thus they are being able to destroy the heritage sites of this country?
Batty Weerakoon went public at the N.M. Perera Centre in the context of the launch of a book stating that a leading light of the Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaranatunge administration was responsible for allowing the British High Commission to purchase a prime land at Bauddhaloka Mawatha.
The other day when I saw Wimal Weerawansa and his group standing opposite the British High Commission with placards protesting about what David Miliband is alleged to have done in London I was wondering as to why the likes of Wimal Weerawansa have not prevented the purchase of this prime land by a foreign organisation.
Over to those who take to the streets to protest about various matters?

Sydney Knight
Colombo 3



Rev Canon Malini Weerasinghe Devananda

One of the first women deacons

The death has taken away from us our friend Malini who succumbed to a terminal illness on the night of Sunday, April 11, 2010 - The first Sunday after Easter. Malini was a Weerasinghe and because of my links with Trinity College Kandy, I knew all the Weerasinghes. Because of Malini’s marriage to Sevaka Yohan Devananda, I first met Malini.
Yohan, whom I have known from my Peradeniya University days, was invited by our Ecumenical Seminary in Pilimathalawa to be the Director of Lay Formation when I was in charge of work in the college as the Registrar. So it was my responsibility to find housing facility for Yohan and Malini. It was then that I had the joy and privilege of meeting Malini.

So my friendship with Malini could be broadly divided into my Pilimitalawa days and my Colombo days. During the former, my relationship with Malini was mainly confined to her as Yohan’s wife. It was during my Colombo days that I really got to know Malini, the person, mainly because of Malini’s desire to get ordained in our Church.
This is not the place to write about the ordination of women in our Church. However, because of my work in the Church I was involved with Malini’s long journey which led to her ordination as one of the first women deacons of our Church. This was a long and painful process. The movement for the ordination of women in our Church suffered from non-theological factors.

Those who were opposed to the ordination of women did not confine themselves to theological and biblical arguments only. There were a number of issues concerning the women who sought ordination in the Church. Thus, Malini had to endure these personal factors and issues. Because of my work in the Church I knew what Malini had to go through. However, I was able to participate with Malini in her formation. Therefore, I had to be a part of the group that interviewed her for ordination.

Since, we have the rule that all those whom we prepare for ordination must work with a priest and a congregation, I was able to invite Malini to help me with the Sinhala work at the Cathedral. This invitation Malini accepted gladly. Looking back at Malini’s work with the Sinhala congregation at the Cathedral during those years,I must say that Malini made her own typical contribution to the life of the Sinhala congregation in the Cathedral. For this I must thank God and Malini.
It was indeed a great joy to be a part of the group responsible for Malini’s ordination with three others as the first women deacons of our Church. This historic service of ordination was held in our Cathedral on the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday on March 1, 2003 in the evening.

Thereafter, as the Diocesan Director, I continued to work with Malini and the other women deacons. Malini as a person and as a clergy wore a number of hats in the Church and in our society. In some of these areas of work I got to know Malini better. I still vividly remember the time we spent on a plantation beyond Dambulla. It was not only an exposure programme but a time when I got to know Malini as a person better.
My last work with Malini was in connection with the Church of Ceylon. To be specific, I had been asked to see as to how the two dioceses in the Church of Ceylon in Colombo and Kurunegala could work together. As such in February this year I wrote to several committees/commissions in the Diocese of Colombo. Typical of Malini, it was only she who responded to my February 10 letter.

So my last official work with Malini was to see as to how Colombo and Kurunegala could work together in the education sector. Here again I must be grateful to God and Malini for her immediate response.
This tribute will not be complete if I do not mention the many personal areas in which Malini had been very concerned and caring. While at Pilimatalawa during one Christmas, I was alone since my late wife and daughter were visiting family and friends in Bangkok. So Malini invited me to share Christmas lunch.
When I had to come to Colombo to work because of my wife’s death and my daughter being away in America, Malini used to make it a point to drop into Kitu Sevana where I lived to check on me and invite me to her Nawala residence for meals.

Something that was very touching was when Malini came to see me a few days before my daughter’s wedding to ask me as to in what manner she could help me with the preparation. She was indeed concerned about me as a single parent. So when Yohan invited me to see him with Malini’s body lying at their Nawala residence to do the house prayers before the body was taken to the Cathedral, I was glad to accept that invitation.
On the day of the funeral, at the service at the Cathedral at the end of the sermon Bishop Duleep asked the question ‘Where is Malini now?’
If it is in order that I venture to answer this question where is Malini now, Malini is now in the lives of all those with whom she worked. Malini has touched all our lives. Thus we have to continue the work that she began.
Our prayers are certainly with Yohan and the Weerasinghes and all those who will miss Malini in the days to come.

May her soul rest in peace and rise in glory! Amen.
Sydney Knight


Colonel Fazly Laphir

In memory of Colonel Fazly Laphir, PWV, RWP, RSP, Commanding Officer, 1st Regiment Special Forces, who died in action on July 19, 1996 while on the rescue mission in Mullaitivu.

My dearest, darling Fazly

“Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and die”

While others were dying to live
You died for others to live
When others didn’t care for their own
You cared for others as of your own

While others wanted everything
To give something in return
You gave more than everything
To let others get return

While others avoided and gave up
Complaining things were not perfect
You accepted, faced and acted
Making the possible-perfect

While others held back without living and loving
And blamed it on life, society, race or religion
You respected life - sharing, caring and loving
And for others, you let go life, me and everything

Your ever loving Ano




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