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|Here lies the
As one grows old and hold
Life a mere existence and bore
Richess in vaults acreages held
Deposits fixed bills and bonds
Shares and stocks dividends lot
Weighty on head a nightmare.
Forgetting where what and when
How and why slips in mind
Kith and kin snatch your wand
Tables turn advance retreats
Commands frequent obeisance demand
Powers usurped a king turns slave
Ponder much ere too late
Disasters avert remedies in time
Deeds written gifts bestowed
Votes passed treasury used
Shares fair deserving each
Squabbles free all at ease.
Balance saved for future’s good stead
To eat well, sleep well, feeling free
Enjoy life with regrets none
All this better done than said
Lest the epitaph on your tomb stone cynic
Will read “here lies the millionaire”.
Ranjit Jayaweera Bandara
|Education system needs
reforms, not privatisation
education policy followed since 1943 requires the
schooling of a child in the mother tongue. This is
the policy followed in other countries too -
developed or developing, rich or poor. Accordingly,
the medium of education in our schools should
compulsorily be Sinhala and Tamil.
The use of any other language is contrary to this
policy, illegal and anti-national.
However, the international schools where Sri Lanka
children study have English as the medium of
instruction, which is a serious violation of the
country’s education policy. Yet the functioning of
these schools has been permitted and those
institutions carry on with impunity.
Would any other country allow a privileged section
of children of that country to be educated in a
foreign language especially where the elementary and
secondary education is concerned? Will America
permit Arabic or Sinhala to be the medium of
schooling for their children or will Saudi Arabia
permit English or Sinhala to be the medium of
schooling in that country? No country will tolerate
such flagrant violation of their education policy
though we have allowed.
What are the implications of such alienation of
our education system?
The alien culture-based education imparted in the
international schools will, to a large extent,
prevent our children attending those schools from
acquiring social values and the ability to live with
others learning customs peculiar and essential to
our country. The children passing out from those
schools will form a new social class with snobbish
values, and will be inclined to consider themselves
as a superior lot who have received the best
education and even look down upon those educated in
the Swabasha or Government schools. Can we permit
such an education-based class division which is not
in the national interest? It goes further.
A news report published in a newspaper recently
quoted a student attending an international school
as having said, “Who wants to learn Sinhala? What
can you do learning in that language? Can you get a
job with a good salary? No doubt, it is the
The international schools will certainly provide
the opening for the children of the elitist class to
secure more lucrative employment here and abroad
leaving the lesser jobs for the ‘not so fortunate’
children educated in the Swadasha.
With the privatisation programme in full swing it
will be English medium educated children of the
affluent class who will reap the harvest. That, in
turn, will pave the way for future class conflict
and even an upsurge of violence.
It is a pity that there has been no public outcry
against this dual system of education, which is in
operation against the national policy. Perhaps, the
masses have still not had the time and the
opportunity to analyze and understand the
implications of the system, as the issues have not
been placed before them in its correct perspective,
and the educationists surprisingly have continued to
It could be argued that education in the English
medium is nothing new to us and that it has helped
English was imposed on us during colonial times and
with it came the spread of the Western culture as
well. English and westernisation at the expense of
our own language and culture were thought to be good
at that time and this thinking and practice
continued long after independence.
This is because of the dominant part played by our
political elite that sprang from the westernised
English speaking fraternity throughout.
English, no doubt, is a world language and is our
interest to get our children to learn the language.
However, there is no justification to permit the
moneyed class to adopt English as the “mother”
tongue in respect of their children for the purpose
of economic expediency and social uplifting to the
detriment of the vast majority of the population.
The people will not endorse the replacement of
Sinhala and Tamil with English as the medium of
schooling in our country. If they do, then that will
be fine. Otherwise, we have to teach English as the
second language only and that should apply to the
entire student population without exception. English
should not be the adopted mother tongue of a
selected lot only, whether be they Sinhalese, Tamils
or Muslims as long as they are Sri Lankans.
Our University education has been of
international standard or even more at a time but
standards have come down now. Hence, before even
thinking of allowing the establishment of private
universities giving room for foreigners to enter the
university education ‘market’, we have to ensure
that our university education is brought back to
The private universities proposal, besides being
a move to commence the process of privatising
education institutions, helps the stabilisation of
international schools as an integral part of the
If a private university be established, it will be
an English medium run fee-levying institution. For
whose benefit will that be? No doubt, exclusively
for the rich.
It is, therefore, a subtle move to introduce an
education system that favours the rich. Perhaps the
permanent establishment of an English educated
ruling class obedient to westernised mannerism is
the ultimate aim.
Education should help students to get at the good
things in the world materially, in intelligence and
knowledge. That possibility should not be made
available to the privileged only. It is, in that
context, not fair or proper to allow the advantages
of education to be reserved for the rich and the
Our education system needs a change. It is the
responsibility of the educationists to take the
initiative to propose necessary changes, with the
advice and guidance of the economists, sociologists
People should be vigilant to oppose and stop the
imposition of any system that does not suit our
culture or meet our national aspirations.
What is required is the strict implementation of a
national education policy.
Upali S. Jayasekara
merchants flouting basic rules
only just over two decades ago that our state-owned
banks started issuing credit cards to their
However, the constituents of globally-renowned banks
and reputed financial organisations were able to use
this product for their convenience for quite some
At present, the usage of the credit card is very
common, primarily, for their benefit and secondarily
It all depends on the cardholder’s option. It has
to be emphasised that one need not carry physical
cash as all purchases and various bills could be
easily made via the globally accepted credit cards.
All credit cards, at the time they are handed over
or taken possession of, have to be compulsorily
signed on the reverse with the cardholder’s usual
signature on the white strip allocated.
All credit card merchants have been properly
educated and instructed by the related bank
officials and those officials in the respective
credit card institutions the correct manner in which
to accept credit cards from clients for purchases at
super markets, Sathosa outlets, SLT regional centres
and various other organisations where payments could
be effected for various other services.
However, despite educating these merchants with all
the necessary advice and precautionary measures to
be taken, all of them totally flout the instructions
by not adhering to the basics.
They never verify the signature the client places
with that on the reverse of the card.
I am aware of so many who entrust a third party to
purchase their needs from a supermarket by giving
their credit cards, which are not at all
On the contrary, when a genuine cardholder makes
an inquiry to find out the balance or any other
information about his/her card over the phone,
several questions are posed requesting for vital
information such as NIC number, billing address,
last deposit made, the present credit limit,
mother’s maiden name, the profession etc.
After a lot of harassment only the query is
answered. In the event a client fails to deposit the
minimum payment on the due date, reminders via
telephone calls are given and the cards are kept on
hold until the minimum payment is made.
It is my fervent hope that immediate
precautionary action would be taken by the related
bank personnel and other officials in financial
institutions to advise the credit card merchants not
to flout the basics, but to adhere strictly to the
instructions furnished when a credit card payment is
accepted and more particularly to be more lenient
when inquiries are made by genuine card holders as
they have to hang on to their mobile/land phones for
a fairly long length of time to obtain the necessary
|Of cabbages and Queen
None to reign on her parade
Time-tested with grace
Amid empires, colonies and memories
Big hats and nothing shady
Republics are a reality.
Irene de Silva
|Politicians banking on fresh
The year 1931, when Ceylon was
given universal adult franchise, could be stated as
the beginning of party politics in our country.
Since the candidates seeking election have to woo
the electorate, language was a subject of misuse by
the candidates for decades. Hence the civil war and
all that went with it.
Now that the war based on race is over at least the
military part, the message of the time is that our
party politics are picking up other subjects.
The UN, the war crimes, the Tamil diaspora and
the role of the so-called first world seem to be on
the agenda of today’s Sri Lankan party politics.
This shows the bankruptcy of Sri Lankan party
My reading of Sri Lanka today is such that the 225
in Parliament along with the Executive President do
not seem to be interested in addressing National
Reconciliation, Poverty, Bribery and Corruption and
Human Rights violations.
On the other hand, the Government of Sri Lanka
seems to be flying kites on using the power in
Parliament to change the Constitution to suit the
ruling party. This is like the 1978 Constitution of
Constitution making is a subject that belongs to the
entire country and not to the party in power.
In this reality, it is good to hear that the old
left specially the likes of Vasudeva Nanayakkara are
protesting about the envisaged changes to the
In this context, the silent majority has to wake
up from the slumber. Being a rural
agricultural-based society we will not take to the
streets like in the Philippines of Marcos’ time.
However, some of us are still dreamers.
We are dreaming the dream of Sri Lanka coming to
terms with the reality that we are a nation with
diverse communities and hence the Government of Sri
Lanka must accept this reality.
Over to all those who love Mother Lanka.
|Please do not conduct exams
viz. the Year 5 Scholarship Exam, the GCE (A/L) Exam
and Accountancy exams conducted by the ICASL, were
held during the holy month of Ramadan, causing a lot
of inconvenience to the Muslim students for whom
fasting is compulsory during this period. It was
announced over the radio that a very few candidates
have missed sitting for the GCE (A/L) exam as they
have overslept, which is very likely, after the
early morning meal if one goes for a nap.
These students do attend late night prayers which
also contribute towards their inability to wake up
Moreover, taking into consideration that these
students are fasting, it will be very much
appreciated by the Muslims, if these exams could be
scheduled either before or after the fasting period.
We hope the officials of the Education Ministry and
those institutes responsible will prepare, in the
future, the timetables for these exams not to
coincide with the fasting period. Because of the
above situation, it is obvious that these students
have to wait for another year to sit for the above
exams and what about the stress that these students
must be in having missed the exam.
|Menace of foreign paedophiles
The foreign paedophile menace raises its ugly
head again slyly in the costal belt villages of the
The sources reveal that the children of low income
families have been the victims of those paedophiles
through local touts.
Specially, tourists locations such as Kalutara,
Payagala, Beruwala, Aluthgama and Bentota are vastly
Some foreign paedophiles are residing in local
houses which have been built by them with their own
resources and with the collaboration of local touts
engage in their nefarious activities.
They use children for pornography too.
When people make complaints regarding these abuses
to the Police and the relevant authorities,
surprisingly they always turn a deaf ear.
Very often some of these foreign tourists possess
expired visas and stay illegally, hence the
Department of Immigration and Emigration has an
important duty to apprehend those illegal visa
holders and deport them.
Besides, the National Child Protection Authority and
the Ministry of Social Services have a great
responsibility to curb these malpractices ruinous to
C. M. Kamburawala
Azlam Fazly Laphir
Homage to a war
the end of a vicissitudinous war, it is not unusual
for disputes to emerge among the victors on the
military and the political ingredients that
contributed to their final success and, even more
specifically, on who deserves credit for the
Such disputes have been much in evidence in Sri
Lanka since the military defeat of the LTTE about 14
Moreover, it is invariably the leaders of the
successful operations against the enemy –
especially, the coup de grâce – that are accorded
recognition as heroes of the war. Past failures and
setbacks tend to be forgotten in the post-war
Perhaps the most ‘forgettable’ among the episodes
of failure in the course of the ‘Eelam Wars’ were
the debacles at Mullaitivu (July 1996) and Elephant
Pass (April 2000) at which the losses suffered by
Sri Lanka included many thousands of men in arms and
large hauls of battle-field hardware.
This brief essay is intended to spotlight a true
hero of one of these episodes – a man who laid down
his life in a partially successful attempt to save
the lives of several hundreds of his
comrades-in-arms under circumstances of almost total
The occasion for this tribute is the 14th death
anniversary of that hero, Colonel Azlam Fazly Laphir,
He was posthumously awarded ‘Parama Weera Vibhushana
Medal’ – the highest military honour in Sri Lanka
for battlefield gallantry. He, it should be noted,
is the senior most officerof the Sri Lanka Army to
be so honoured, and one of the very few commanding
officers to die while leading his men in the
Born in Matale in 1958, he completed his school
education at St Anthony’s College, Kandy. In
accordance with the wishes of his father, the late
Dr Laphir, who wanted his son to become an engineer,
on completion of his schooling, young Fazly secured
a scholarship to proceed on his higher studies in
Libya. However, his lure was in an entirely
different direction which was to join the Sri Lanka
Army – at that time, a relatively small but
From the very outset, his army career was
featured by dedication, skill and exceptional
overall competence. He was one of the pioneering
officers in the first Gajaba Regiment. When Lt. Col.
Vijaya Wimalaratne inaugurated the ‘Special forces
squadrons’ scheme to counter the intensifying threat
posed by the guerrilla war tactics of the LTTE,
Fazly was appointed the officer in charge of the
first such unit which had several skirmishes with
the fledgling militant groups in the North among
which the most successful was the operation in
Ambuweli in 1983. He was a founder member of the
‘Thirty-Five Gang’/’Combat Tracker Team’ formed in
1985. He was a member of the “Rapid Deployment
Force” formed in the nineteen eighties.
As a pioneer member of the First Regiment of the
‘Special Forces’, Fazly’s involvement extended to
all its aspects including even the design of the
cap, badge and the insignia.
His reputation for physical courage earned him from
his colleagues the affectionate nickname of “suicide
One of the memorable demonstrations of his
willingness to risk his life against almost
insurmountable odds is found in the annals of the
rescue mission he took part in across the Jaffna
lagoon to reach the troops besieged in Jaffna Fort.
Over time, he acquired a mastery of the ‘military
geography’ of the Jaffna peninsula.
This, according to well-informed sources, turned out
to be invaluable in the re-establishment of
government control over that region in 1995.
Meanwhile, he was also involved in strengthening
the army camp at Mullaitivu which was mainly
intended to control the LTTE smuggling operations
along the north-east coast.
His fateful day came when the Sri Lanka army camp at
Mullativu was surrounded by the terrorists on July
Mullaitivu was of strategic significance to the
Tigers because of its central location along the
Although a massive SL army garrison had been
placed in its command area of 8.5km, the camp was
vulnerable to enemy attack, being relatively
isolated – the nearest main SL army camps being at
Welioya 35km to its south and Elephant Pass 55km to
its north across hostile forested terrain.
The Tiger forces surrounded the camp and started
their attack at 1.30am.
An operation code-named “Thrivida Pahara” launched
by the SL Army to defend Mullaitivu was severely
handicapped by the fact that no reinforcements could
be dispatched to Mullaitivu either by land or by sea
because of the impenetrable blockade by a larger
number of Tiger battalions armed with heavy
artillery and a large Sea Tiger force. It was in
this situation of total despair that Lt-Col Fazly
Laphir volunteered to lead a “do-or-die” air-borne
rescue mission manned by 275 combatants of the
“Special Forces” under his command.
Fazly was stationed at that time at the Maduru Oya
From there, he and his men were conveyed by
helicopter via Trincomalee to Alampil (5km south to
the Mullaitivu base) around 4.30pm on the same day.
As expected, they encountered stiff resistance from
the guerrilla forces.
Earlier reinforcement operations by the Sri Lanka
Air Force and the Navy had been thwarted, the
resulting damage included damage to two helicopters
and the gun-boat ‘SLN Ranaviru’ which was blown up
with its entire crew of thirty-six. Some of the most
fierce fighting of the entire ‘Eelam War’ were
witnessed over the next few hours.
Since helicopter landing on open beaches was
excessively risky, Fazly and his troops had to
descend to the ground along ropes amidst heavy
Both in the hazardous task of descending and
re-grouping as well as in the deadly close-encounter
combat against several thousands of well-armed
Tigers, Fazly is reported to have displayed such
extraordinary leadership skills that his men
persisted with their task, achieving a fairly degree
of success and causing heavy losses to the LTTE
They advanced amidst fierce mortar fire but lost
communication with the rear.
Fazly at their vanguard was fatally wounded by a
shrapnel that pierced his brain on the morning of
Though receiving no medical care, he went on
fighting until, later that morning, he succumbed to
His body was evacuated three days later.
Heroism shown by Fazly in the annals of Eelam wars,
and especially his commitment in the battle of
Mullaitivu was unique.
We moan the fact that he was not destined to
enjoy with us the fruits of victory.
The least we must, therefore, do is to accord to him
an everlasting place in our collective memory.
‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lays
down his life for his friends’
Dr Saman Nanayakkara
The University of Peradeniya