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On-the-spot fines can help cut poster menace

Reference Dr (Mrs) Reffai’s article captioned ‘Advertisement at any cost…….’ appearing in The Nation newspaper recently, I strongly believe that imposition of “on the spot” heavy fines similar to that imposed of late for indiscriminate disposal of garbage will definitely put an end to this poster pasting at every nook and corner, on walls - both public and private, on buses, on bus-stops, on lamp posts, and I have seen even on garbage bins!

I have seen the ‘Poster Maraya’ of the CMC getting rid of these posters with much difficulty and which must be, no doubt, costing the municipality men, machine and time. What a waste of valuable resources apart from being an eyesore because of loads and loads of posters being indiscreetly pasted as mentioned by the above writer.
We can see that the on-the-spot fines imposed has been highly effective and drastically reduced garbage being thrown everywhere. Over to the powers that be to implement immediately fines for culprits caught red-handed pasting posters at unauthorised places.

The municipality and other relevant councils should also make available authorised display boards / areas to paste these posters for which they could levy a fee by way of a display tax.
It will then be revenue for the council whereas it is at present an expense to remove the posters.
Hope, the CMC Special Commissioner will take note and if possible, implement the above proposal with immediate effect with prior warning over the print and electronic media about the impending new regulations to create public awareness.

Mohamed Zahran


Mock trials and hooligan threats

A politician tied a public officer to a tree in the immediate presence of some people, watched by two police officers and watched on TV by a large audience. The police did not prosecute the guilty politician, though it is the general view that he should have been prosecuted not only for insulting a public officer but also for imposing a punishment taking over a judicial function.
Thereafter, he should have been prosecuted for obtaining on threat a letter or affidavit that the public officer had tied himself voluntarily.

But the police are prosecuting a girl of l3 years for stealing a Rs5 coin and she is on bail of Rs100,000. Whatever the reason for taking possession of a rupee five coin, when a girl of 13 years is produced in a court of law, she must be mentally disturbed and police could have settled it internally.
And The Island [September 13] editorial has courageously revealed a few past instances of favouritism where the doctor [honorary] politician who pleaded guilty on a cheque fraud of Rs70,000 was free after paying Rs2,500 as state costs and thus continues his concept of hooliganism with the nodding approval of higher authorities.

He has been exonerated by a disciplinary committee of the SLFP and reappointed as a junior minister. And the duty conscious public officers and majority of the people will agree with The Island editor [September 10] that the government “might as well abolish the judiciary and appoint the jokers who sat on the disciplinary committee that cleared Mervyn, as judges”.
As a result, he has made a death threat to the media, “Journalists should not write in such a way that they end up being hung,” a more severe punishment than being tied to a tree and the Daily Mirror editorial [September 11] has virtually accepted the challenge and editorially made plain of the position he holds and by now he should be aware that the media cannot be scared by hooligan threats.

Not only the media but also the general public should be conscious that the hooligan threat was with the backing of the higher authority and also to silence the public on numerous agitations and public demonstrations.
There is another government politician who virtually daily appears on a private TV channel news telecast and regularly utters that the opposition parties are now buried or they are shouting for their last breath and there are other government politicians making worthy statements but their utterances are not aired that frequently and a wag at a fish outlet remarked, the TV channel has a jewellery business and for supplying in the past and even now stolen precious metal desired by females his image is being popularised.

Justice Weeramantry in his internationally acclaimed publication, The Law in Crisis says,” A law honoured in the breach rather than in the observance does no good to itself or to laws in general. Like any other ineffective tool it earns contempt for itself and those who make it.”
Apparently, he has judiciously foreseen the future and justifiably warned those in authority of the dangers of wrongful accommodation.



Law is equal to all

I read a news item in the media that former army commander Sarath Fonseka is requesting many facilities from the government while serving his sentence.
Is there logic asking for facilities, when thousands of other prisoners convicted for various offences are languishing in jail without the basic facilities?
Sarath Fonseka has committed an offence and a court of law has found him guilty. So the law is equal to all and sundry.
I believe the only way for General Fonseka to get out of prison is for the family, either the wife, Anoma or the children, who are residing in the US, to make an open plea to the President.
I am sure the President is a good practising Buddhist and he will consider their plea and give forgiveness for any wrongs he has committed.
So my only belief is that we must forget all the past differences and get together and make this country of ours a blessed country and give all our support to our President, who is a very honest, able, true and a devout Buddhist.

Dr M G M S Zurfick


Crossovers for personal gains

The United National Party, out of power and engaged in in-fighting within the party, is in shambles resulting in parliamentarians elected on the UNP ticket deserting the party like rats from a burning ship.
One says that he was promised a deputy ministerial post, another finds a court case against him being considered to be withdrawn, certain others ageing and facing a long term without political power have realised that they should support the President’s development efforts by crossing over to the government.
Minority political parties (some communal and racial) that won seat in Parliament aligning with the UNP have once again changed their minds to support the government “to bring peace, stability to the country” – My foot. Eh.
Whatever reasons adduced, the crossovers appear to be a means to an end-testing political power and the perks attached.
Late President D B Wijetunga once likened the UNP to an ‘ambalama’ referring to an SLFP Member of Parliament crossing over to the UNP (He is now back in the SLFP).
An ambalama was a temporary resting place to travellers in the good old days, but now used by those without a fixed abode but not entitled to permanent occupation. Whether he said so sarcastically or not is not known but the remark seems applicable to the UNP as at today.
Then again, I wonder whether I am wrong, if I say, that if by some luck, Prabhakaran won the war and grabbed power, he could have secured at least a working majority in Parliament with parliamentarians crossing over to him, knowing the fickleness of some of our politicians.
The SLFP founded by UNPers who crossed over should feel happy that during a period of 59 years, it has managed to swallow up the old left and is now in the process of devouring the right - the UNP. Similarly the UNP loyalists remaining in the party could take pride in the fact that the SLFP government is run by former UNPers thanks to Ranil Wickremesinghe’s ineffective leadership. Or it may be that, as the UNP preferred Gamini Dissanayake and Sarath Fonseka to contest the presidency sidelining Wickremesinghe, he may be taking revenge from the UNP.
Whatever it may be, the outcome is the SLFP’s gain and the UNP’s loss.

Upali S. Jayasekera


Lessons from mistakes of Prabhakaran

Not a day passes without a cache of weapons or mines or bombs are found in the LTTE occupied areas.
Even after one year, the discovery of such war weapons continues.
Even the wells in the resettlement areas are broken and filled up and they are reluctant to clean them up for fear of finding bombs there which might go off while cleaning.
This, in contrast to the appearance of the Tamils who emerged from these areas, seen by the whole world on TV, tells much more than any eulogy on Prabhakaran.
The people worse than the poverty stricken Somalians, were obviously suffering from chronic malnutrition – of food and emotion. Prabhakaran, while hoarding weapons in thousands – nay, millions, seems as if never ever had an intention to stop the war nor for the war to stop.
Sadly, while all the time preparing for war, it looks as if he never looked after his own people.
If only he had spent one thousandth of this money spent on the war, which he fought and which he was foreseeing to fight, I am sure, every single one of them would have given their last drop of blood to safeguard him and his troops.
Defence is an important aspect of any country, true, but what is being defended is what is important.
If there are no people who are happy with the government, no amount of defence nor weapons will protect them.
There is much one could learn from the mistakes of Prabakaran.

Dr Mrs Mareena Thaha Reffai



What a man! What a vision!

Lionel Gamini Dissanayake (GD) was known to me since 1975. I was a tea planter on Dunsinane Group, Nuwara Eliya and GD was a budding politician and lawyer basing himself in Nuwara Eliya as well.
Over a cup of tea in my bungalow, he would dream of the day he would be a minister doing the country and his school proud. These fond memories are still very strong in my mind. I also remember him cycling around the Kandy Lake with his close friends Nimal Maralanda (Late), Kulakurusooriya-Madena. I was about five years junior to him in school.
At a very tender age, GD felt I should join him in this enormous ambitious project, the Mahaweli as a consultant to develop livestock in the Mahaweli areas. I accepted like a duck taking to water. Livestock environment was my forte!

The J.E.D.B. was not ready to release me since they had a livestock project of their own under World Bank assistance. However, men like Jim Amarasinghe (chairman - Kegalle area) understood the importance of Mahaweli and released me on a two year secondment. Super Chairman late Pem Seneviratne was also very helpful and understanding. Mind you, by this time I was 12 years on to planting having worked for companies like Uva-Ceylon and Messrs George Steuarts. I was quite comfortable and doing well in planting. My training was to perform with no excuses for failure.

G.D. would have quietly studied me during my talks with him. I was then 30 years of age and very eager to take off. Estate life was now a bit boring to me. I needed a change.
1979 July I reported to the Mahaweli Development Board for duty. Chairman Douglas Laduwahetty personally handled my affairs and I took off to system H. Having had a very comfortable life on the estates, things were very rough in the system. I lived in a school teacher’s small house in ‘Niraviya’ with eight of my staff. No lights, no tap water, no commode, only mosquitoes to keep company in the night. I had to go to the stream daily to wash my face. Our cook could only make rice and curry. So it was rice and curry all three times a day!
So the first livestock farm commenced was ‘Niraviya’ in Thambuttegama. The lonely nights were spent planning to implement the next day. GD was behind me in every way and he often visited the farm with Srima and spent hours with the animals. My mission was to breed an appropriate heads of cattle with what stock was available to be distributed to the farmers.

Laduwahetty, the chairman, I must say was not only a first class engineer but also a livestock man. At the Kalawewa Circuit Bungalow at lunch he gave me valuable tips, an all-rounder. Do we have this breed today? Much to the ministers amusement we even herded the cattle on pony back. Cowboy style! Having done a record performance of opening three livestock farms in one year namely, Niraviya, Kala-Kuttiya and Kantale I took over the consultancy of Forestry and Environment for all systems in ‘82. Late C. F. H. de Saram took over from me. He even did a better job.

My almost 10 years as Consultant, Forestry and Environment was even more hectic. My knowledge of forestry in the dry-zone was very poor. I picked up from scratch. I learned from everyone. One forestry plan included conservation, re-planting diminished forests, landscaping locally and abroad, nurseries, wildlife conservation, avenue planting miles and miles of it, home garden programmes, education of the villagers, etc. A huge programme invented by us and approved by GD and, of course, Panditharatne who was also most appreciative of our work.

The total number of trees planted in all systems was around 12 million! All with 100% success! I never wanted less. This was what GD wanted off me. This progress can be even seen today. Of course, maintenance is badly lacking.
Now as I sit by his statue at the Kotmale Gamini Dissanayake Park these beautiful memories flow by still very vivid. Cycling on the bunds of Kala Wewa sometimes talking shop to amuse oneself at 6.30 a.m. with the well known Gaja-Banda fussing around is so very strong. Kala-Wewa was GD’s favourite.
I think he spent a lot of his time there reading. He wanted neither TV nor a phone. Just to be away from it all with the landscape, the wildlife at your doorstep, Gaja-Banda to feed with all the gossip. Can there be a better plan to recreate? I yet maintain a link with him by maintaining his park at Kotmale. I know for certain that he has reached a very fine place in his afterlife. May be I shall join him again in my afterlife too to do another Mahaweli some where. What a man! What a vision!

Palitha Samarakoon
Retired Consultant, Forestry and Environment.

16th death anniversary of late Gamini Dissanayake

Charismatic and visionary leader

October 24 marks the 16th death anniversary of the charismatic and visionary leader Gamini Dissanayake.
His tragic death occurred following a bomb explosion while he was participating in his own presidential campaign meeting at Thotalanga by an LTTE female suicide bomber where the precious lives of so many other UNP stalwarts were also lost.
His untimely death was indeed an irreparable loss to all citizens of Sri Lanka and shattered many hopes of an unaccountable number of his supporters.

Born on March 20, 1942 in Kandy.
He was the eldest in a family of seven children.
His father was Andrew Dissanayake himself an M.P. in the SWRD Bandaranaike government.
He was educated at Trinity College, Kandy.
He pursued a career as a lawyer obtaining a degree from the SL Law College.
He also possessed a degree in international relations from the Cambridge University, UK.
He was a former presidential candidate, opposition leader and lawyer by profession who sacrificed a lucrative career and entered politics in the early 1970’s.
He was initially unseated by an election petition but was elected a Member of Parliament by winning a seat in the Nuwara Eliya-Maskeliya by-election in 1972.

As a young and energetic politician and the people’s representative in the Nuwara Eliya district, he extended yeoman service to all constituents irrespective of caste, creed and religion.
He was one person who never engaged in petty, diverse and partisan politics.
He was an excellent orator who always spoke sense.
His humility and friendly disposition endeared to him many and he was held in high esteem by his colleagues and even respected by his political opponents. For his skills in debating, the then President J R Jayewardena on several occasions depended on him to confront the opponents.
When the United National Party won the Parliamentary elections in 1977, he was entrusted with several ministerial portfolios - Irrigation, Power.

The most gigantic task entrusted to him was, of course, the accelerated Mahaweli Project. The toughest challenge was the exercise of evacuating approximately 6,000 families from over 50 villages who lived in the valley of the Kotmale reservoir.
They were forced to leave their traditional homes and shift to unfamiliar environments. He sacrificed his own lands too, setting an example to the villagers and gifted the lands of his ancestors as well without any reluctance.
He spearheaded the Mahaweli Development Project, which focussed on irrigation, hydropower generation, agriculture and town and country development.

Most of the power generated for the local consumption is generated from these hydropower plants, while an overwhelming majority of rice cultivation harvests are from the Mahaweli areas.
This multipurpose river diversion scheme also included the development of several canals and waterways.
The accelerated Mahaweli development project was undoubtedly the largest gigantic project with foreign collaboration ever undertaken in our history.
It was initially targeted to be completed in 30 years taking into consideration the magnitude of the volume of work involved.
Owing to his enormous skill and charismatic leadership it took only an unbelievably short period of just seven years.

During 24 years in active politics he had achieved a more than a lifetime worth of milestones, goals and accomplishments.
The Kotmale reservoir was commissioned on August 24, 1985.
While paying great tribute to those who sacrificed lands engulfed in the reservoir, Minister Dissanayake emphasised that it was made for the sake of national interest with a view to have a definite development revolution.

The vast majority of those who gifted lands were given alternate lands under the Mahaweli scheme.
These settlers living independently today have their basic needs like jobs, housing and food, while making maximum use of the golden waters of the reservoir for their agricultural needs
The proposal to rename the Kotmale reservoir was made by the then Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe to pay homage and tribute to Gamini Dissanayake. It was indeed a memorable gesture of national gratitude.
On the April 11, 2003 the Kotmale reservoir was renamed as ‘Gamini Dissanayake reservoir’ by unveiling his statue in close proximity to the reservoir site at a glittering ceremony.

He was also chiefly instrumental in obtaining full ICC status for Sri Lanka to play Test cricket.
He was appointed the President of the then Board of Control of Cricket in Sri Lanka on two occasions - initially from 1981 to 1989 and again for a short period in 1994. As President he stood firm against the rigid resistance of the ICC officials.

His efforts helped Sri Lanka to be admitted as a full member of the ICC to play Test cricket in the year 1981.
Another significant contribution made by him to international cricket was making a desperate plea to the ICC for India and Pakistan to host the 1987 World Cup away from England for the first time.
It was, however, very unfortunate that his life was ended tragically just 17 months before our triumph at the Wills World Cup in 1996. As a fitting tribute Skipper Arjuna Ranatunga and his team paid homage to the late leader by handing over the World Cup to Mrs Dissanayake as a mark of deep respect, at their residence at Alfred House Gardens.

At the conclusion of the 9th edition of the Asia Cup in July 2008 staged in Karachchi the late Gamini Dissanayake, who was chiefly instrumental in our achieving full Test status, was awarded a life time award as he was the pioneer member who formulated the concept of the Asian Cricket Council.
In keeping with his vision Gamini Dissanayake Foundation was founded which has already set up the Gamini Dissanayake Institute of Technology and Vocational studies in Kandy for the benefit of the less privileged in the Central and Uva provinces where students could learn with modern technology .Up to now several have secured permanent jobs learning various skills.

Two years ago, these facilities were extended to the school leavers in the plantation sector, which has boosted their low morale.
It should be the wish of every citizen that the untiring efforts of the late Gamini Dissanayake rendered for the benefit of development and cricket would be sufficient enough to shorten his life through Sansara until he attains supreme bliss of Nibbana.

Sunil Thenabadu




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