|Betrayal of Alfred Nobel’s lofty
On a day like November 27, 115 years ago
a scientist, inventor, entrepreneur, author and pacifist
placed his signature on his last will in 1895, leaving a
fortune “to recognise and honour those who, during the
preceding years shall have conferred the greatest benefit on
The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, left a large
portion of his wealth to the establishment of the Nobel
Since 1901, the prize has been honouring men and women
from all parts of the globe for outstanding achievements in
Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature and work on Peace.
A prize for economics was introduced too in 1960s
The recipients of the prize receives a gold medal, a diploma
and a cash prize, -depending on the income in the previous
year, in 2009, winners receiving US$1.4 million each.
Alfred Nobel the inventor of dynamite, died in 1896
entrusting, a Swedish committee to selects all winners
except the Peace prize, which is by the Norwegian committee.
However, betraying the trust placed on them by the great
man, the members of the committees have acted in contrary to
The peace prize has frequently caused controversy. One
reason is that many laureates have been contemporary and
highly controversial politicians.
This year, the Norwegian committee selected the jailed
Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, as the winner of Nobel Peace
prize, and boasted, it could go down in history as ‘one of
the most important’ ever awarded.
Liu was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for subversion by
the Chinese authorities after co-authoring a manifesto
calling for reforms in the administration. (readers should
not try to draw a parallel with our main opposition party).
Enraged Chinese regime cancelled official meetings with
Norway, and urged other nations to boycott the awards
ceremony which was scheduled to be held in Oslo.
This award seems a betrayal of lofty ideals of the prize and
can only tarnish its image.
The Norwegian committee has been accused of having political
agendas, and of being Eurocentric. 2009 Peace Prize awarded
to Barack Obama, omitting more deserving candidates, the
decision surprised Obama himself.
Another worst selection was in 1973 when Henry Kissinger
was awarded it while the fighting continued, for
“negotiating a peace deal” at the Vietnam war. Two members
of the committee resigned in protest saying Kissinger was
responsible for widening the war. Yasser Arafat, the
inventor of ‘suicide bomber’, received the peace prize in
1994 for his role in talks with Israel making one member to
resign saying Arafat was a ‘terrorist’.
The 2004 Literature prize went to Eldred Jenlinek, drawing
protests from a member of Swedish academy.
Herta Mulla, the literature laureate in 2009, was criticised
by many accusing that her name was not even known in
There had been unfair selections in the medical field
too, In 1949, Neurologist Antonia Monist was awarded the
Medicine prize for developing ‘Prefrontal Leucotomy’
overlooking Dr Walter Freeman who developed a faster and
easier version of same in 1948.
The Physics Prize in 2010 awarded to Andre Geim and
Konstantine Novoselov of Manchestor University UK, for their
work on ‘Graphene’, a two dimensional carbon structure that
has huge potential in the field of electronics too has been
challenged by high profile Graphene researcher, Walt de Heer
of Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
Heer was objecting to errors in its explanation of this
year’s prize which compelled the chairman of the committee
to admit, “Some of the things we also think are mistakes”.
But de Heer sees a series of errors that he believes
overplay the significance of Geim and Novoselov’s work at
the expense of other researches. What a disgrace?
As far back as 1937, the name of Mahatma Gandhi was
nominated for the Peace prize, which the committee deferred.
Making the most hilarious statement in 1989, they awarded it
to Dalai Lama of Tibet saying, “this prize we attribute to
Late Gandhi ”.
Scientist Marie Curie and her family members receiving
six prizes in the years 1903, 1911, 1935 and 1965, too has
met with criticism from many a quarter. The award committee
should be careful not low itself to be the instrument of any
group or ideology.
In 1973, Le doc Tho refused to accept the Peace Prize for
his role in peace talks at the Paris summit on Vietnam, he
declined saying there was no real peace in Vietnam.
Philosopher, existentialist, novelist and playwright Jean
-Paul Sartre rejecting the Literature Prize in 1964 stated,
“A writer must refuse to allow himself to be transformed
into an institution, even if it is done in the most
honourable form ”.
K K S Perera
debris of a devastated factory
The first Test match between the visiting
West Indies cricket team and Sri Lanka ended
in a draw with the visitors taking all
honours over the always complacent Sri
Lankan side who are never consistent.
The Test was played in the reconstructed new
picturesque Galle International Cricket
Stadium which was completely devastated by
the 2004, December tsunami.
The second Test in a series of three Test
matches commenced as scheduled at the
Kettarama International Cricket Stadium (RPS)
in Colombo on Tuesday, November 23, which
unfortunately is undergoing extensive
renovation of a very large magnitude.
It is reliably learnt that the ground area
had been lifted by about three feet and the
playing square also had been re-laid.
No matches had been played on the newly
laid turfs and even the expert curators were
not aware how the wicket would behave. In
fact, Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara
was initially repenting for having won the
toss as he was not sure whether to bat or
elect to field first.
Prior to the commencement of the Test, the
SLC secretary had apologised to the cricket
loving public for the inconvenience they
would have to face as facilities that exist
at the venue are by no means adequate.Why
the hell they did not take a decision, to
shift it to some other Test venue in
Colombo. It is learnt that the massive
renovations are done to accommodate a
capacity crowd of 30,000 as this is the
venue where a semi-final match for the Word
Cup is to be staged approximately in three
months from now.
It is only now that the authorities
reveal reliably that earlier only a capacity
crowd that this stadium could accommodate
was only 17,000. However, when International
ODI matches were held, the commentators
often said that there was a capacity crowd
of over 30,000 spectators. The organisers (SLC)
unlike in other countries issue passes at
random to their henchmen and as a result the
stadium gets jam packed while in addition
service personnel flash their Service ID’s
and enter free with their kith and kin.
Nobody really knows the exact number of
spectators that were present at the venue.
Fans are packed as in a tin of sardine fish
which made watching an ODI match very
While this article is being written, the
much awaited first Ashes Test between hosts
Australia and England commenced at the Gabba
Stadium in Brisbane on November 25. The
stadium is very much larger than the
Kettarama International Cricket Stadium and
even in it the capacity crowd that could be
accommodated is only 42,000 spectators.
All tickets had been sold out long before
the commencement of the Test match.
The ground authorities are able to confirm
exactly the number of spectators present on
any given date at the venue by using not so
sophisticated counting devices.
It was confirmed on the giant screen and by
the commentators that first day’s attendance
was 35,389 spectators.
It is time our cricketing administrators
(SLC) adopt similar devices to precisely
inform the number in attendance at the
up-coming World Cup fixtures at least to be
in par with practices adopted by other test
playing nations at their venues.
We are still in a very primitive stage
although we were allowed Test status in
1981, almost 30 years ago.
Although the Test match was staged despite
severe odds, was telecast the world over via
Ten Sports based in Dubai. Although
development at any cost is our nations
theme, we are yet to build up our own sports
TV channel. At least no plans have yet been
drawn to commence it either.
The press box for the second Test was still
a makeshift one with international
commentators, media personnel cramped up in
They worked amidst several constraints
and technical complications.
This fact is easily proved when one compares
this coverage with that of the coverage
between India and New Zealand Tests just
concluded. They are poles apart, which prove
without any doubt, the primitiveness in our
infrastructure. Unless proper professional
personnel are deployed, our cricketing
infrastructure will never improve. The giant
screens have been installed, time has now
come for the installation of electronic
The few spectators who have braved these
constraints have been cramped into a corner
of the stadium with temporary seating
arrangement. Most of these spectators are
not true cricket lovers, but were some
schoolchildren and those from the locality,
and the rest mostly shanty dwellers, who
have been probably tactfully taken in
perhaps to show the world this Test was
played with an audience. Of course, a band
in disarray (in a small scattered space) was
There are huge monstrous concrete
constructions that enclose the playing area
and above them are long iron rods.
These unpleasant sights do not have a roof
above and the work is yet to commence.
The spectators and millions of television
viewers are pondering how an unfinished
stadium could be completed barely in three
months from the scheduled World Cup matches.
The deadline to have the venues ready it is
learnt is December 31.
The entire incomplete structure around
the stadium resembles the remains of
devastated, debris of a large iron factory
from a fire.
It is a horrifying, frightening and
appalling site for any viewer. Rarely an
International Test match had been played in
such a hostile setting.
We Sri Lankans must thank the West Indian
Cricket Board and its management for
agreeing to play at such a venue which
cannot be labelled as one in the category of
a normal Test venue.
The governing body of World Cricket, the
International Cricket Council should take
notice of this matter and this Test match
should go into the Guinness Book of World
Records. The funniest thing is that the
secretary SLC had confessed without any
shame that this venue was pursued with in
order to give exposure to our cricketers.
Was he not aware that this was a Test match
and not a one-day International? The
composition of the One Day team is quite
Words aren’t easy on a day 80 memorable
This fourth birthday unfurls warm memories
Every now’n then entrustingly glancing at me
Revealing a secret within a secret exclusive
Seldom I do end my crowded each day
Without a solemn wish for your future
Your angelic innocent ways makes specially
May each sunny day dawn blessing you sans a
The little laughs tinkling sweeter than
In you, I see invisible strands of power, a
My heart swells in unusual humble pride
In true grandmother style pleasurely, thee I
May you be healthy, wise, courageous a
Be a multi-faceted, versatile lady with
May your path be paved with many a golden
May you be exemplary, accomplished par
Smiling blue eyes screened in long dark
Recalling yonder memories, happy times
shared amidst warm wishes
May the triple gem shower choicest blessings
For a legion of years on my granddaughter
Pamathi truly aren’t.
|We should be free to
settle anywhere in Sri Lanka
Some days ago Professor Keethaponkalan of
Colombo University gave evidence before the
LLRC spouting (just like our Cardinal) the
doctrine of a “traditional homeland” for
Tamils only in the North and East.
I am saddened that this intellectual rejects
the unitary nature of our multi-ethnic
country by protesting about Sinhala settlers
in “their” areas.
Every citizen of Sri Lanka should be free to
There is just no question that Sinhalese,
Moors, Malays, Burghers, etc. should be
banned from settling in the North and East
and thus disturbing their (god-given?)
He seems to be touting the idea of our
nation being transformed into a bunch of
Prabhakaran, the prophet of this doctrine,
put it into practice by brutally evicting
the long-standing Muslim community of Jaffna.
Does the Professor realise that the logical
application of this doctrine would be to
evict all Tamil residents (including
himself) from the “traditional homelands” of
the hospitable Sinhalese where 55% of Sri
Lanka’s Tamils live in harmony.
Wake up to reality, dear Professor.
Humbled in thought, words and deed
On the death of a LTTE terrorist
A United Nation’s mischief?
Worthy of a toy T-56.
Irene De Silva
|Modesty needed in
Recently there had been some efforts to
bring about a little decency into our
decadent society by our President.
I would like to draw his attention to a
serious breach of decency in our society.
Wherever there is a function, often there
will be some scantily clad lady dancers
inaugurating it. Unlike those days, where
there was elegance and beauty combined with
decency in the dances, most of these
functions nowadays consist of young girls
dressed in what can be termed as an excuse
for a dress, consisting often merely part of
a bra and a low-hipped thigh hugging
transparent dress and the dance consisting
of just some vulgar suggestive gyrations.
Some troupe just keep changing their
dresses, each more revealing than the
earlier ones and doing the same gyrations in
the name of dances.
Even little children in some nursery schools
are copying these dresses – or are made to
copy by their unthinking teachers and making
a mockery of their innocence.
It is also horrifying to see these events
taking place even at some youngsters’
functions like the cricket or school
celebrations and even elderly guests sitting
and watching these so called dances. What
levels are we stooping to?
Would they like their own daughters to
perform like this and would they feel
comfortable for their youngster sons to
watch them, I wonder. Don’t the decent
elders see what we are promoting amongst our
youngsters? This sort of exhibition brings
out the worst carnal feelings and combined
with alcohol as happens often, we are
pushing our nation to moral disaster.
Islam totally forbids women and girls
exposing their bodies leave alone gyrating
in front of aping and gaping men and dancing
in front of men.
Lets’ hope the president will consider
bringing in some decency into our so called
artistes so that modesty and decorum
Dr Mrs Mareena Thaha Reffai
|Don’t let children be
Halloween Night, a
commercialised festival, designed to be a
money spinner by certain members of the
business community, using ghosts
(disembodied spirits or shadows of
semblance), vampires (reanimated corpses
which are supposed to strike at night and
suck blood of persons - a superstitious
legend that sprang up from the novel
‘Dracula’ written by Bram Stoker in 1897),
witches (ugly old women said to be dealing
with devils or evil spirits), mystical
monsters, birds, animals and skeletons, is
observed in the Western world on the day
before All Saints’ Day or October 31, every
year. The colours used in the festival are
black and orange, depicting darkness at
night and autumn leaves, respectively.
This mythical event has spread to our
country as well and especially teenagers,
dressed in scary costumes resembling
witches, skeletons, monsters and birds, do
merrymaking and dance into the night.
Halloween began as a summer’s end festival
called ‘Samhain’ among ancient Celts during
the Iron Age. Christianity, thereafter,
absorbed such pagan festivals. The Celts (an
Indo-European language group that lived in
Brittany and Europe) believed that ghosts or
spirits attempt to return to their former
homes during Samhain. To appease such ghosts
or spirits Celts used to heap food, fruits,
etc. at their doorsteps in the night and
wore costumes to scare away the ghosts and
It is that ritual that is performed in the
That type of mythology should not be allowed
to take root in the minds of the children
and such events should not be sponsored.
The parents and teachers have the
responsibility to stop the spread of the
mystic Halloween Night which is against our
President’s second term
context of the president taking his oath of
office on Friday November 19 at 10.07am and
the events of the run-up to the ceremony
have made some of us Sri Lankans wonder
whether we are in the days of the monarchy.
To begin with, the president re-elected in
January 2010 took his oaths only in November
Perhaps, the rationale is that since he took
his oaths for the first time in November
2005 he wanted to make use of the month of
Unlike the other presidents under the 1978
constitution, there were days of
celebrations before and after last month’s
In the midst of the supposedly shortage of
electricity in the country, Colombo was lit
heavily during those days.
Certain parts of Colombo did not function on
that day certainly the government and
Some mercantile offices were also closed.
However, certain international schools
functioned on that day.
These schools created for the rich class in
this country and for foreign examinations.
But the bulk of our children, who do the
local examinations and those sitting the ‘O’
Levels in December this year, had to miss
work on that day.
However, some sections of the media named
the president as the peoples’ president!
To my mind, what is happening today in Sri
Lanka is certainly the outcome of what began
in 1978 with J R Jayewardene’s constitution.
So, all those architects of the 1978
constitution must be held responsible for
the present monarchical trends in the
Now that the president has taken his oath of
office and the military part of the war was
over in May 2009, Sri Lanka’s president has
to walk the talk in the context of his
oath-taking address to the nation.
Plenty of work has to be done and I hope and
pray that the thinking of the Lessons Learnt
and Reconciliation Commission will be
Soon after the oath-taking ceremony the
president appointed the new cabinet and also
presented the new budget.
It is now left to the system. The Sri Lankan
government, headed by the president, is
expected to deliver the goods so that all
the people from Hambantota to Jaffna,
Batticaloa to Colombo will be part of what
the government of Sri Lanka will do for the
Over to all interested in the future of Sri
Rt Rev C. Lakshman Wickremesinghe
Lest we forget
On March 25, we shall once again remember
Bishop Lakshman’s birthday. If he had been
with us he would have kept his 83rd
In this context of the realities of Sri
Lanka today with no master plan for National
Reconciliation we miss Bishop Lakshman very
much. Why do I say this?
Bishop Lakshman has left behind for all time
his own story.
In July 1983, he was in Birmingham. Against
doctor’s advice he came back to this
country. He visited all the Tamil clergy and
workers in the diocese of Kurunegala.
Thereafter he visited Jaffna. Based on his
findings, he wrote the now famous Lakshman
Wickremesinghe Statement. That was his
charge; Indeed his final charge as the
Bishop of Kurunegala. This was in September
1983. Within a month he was dead.
In that statement he said the following:
1. I am one of those “who has tried and
failed to solve the Sri Lankan national
2. On behalf of those responsible for July
1983 he apologised to all the victims.
In the run up to July 1983, Bishop Lakshman
was one of those who dared to go to Jaffna
when the Jaffna Library was set on fire.
Because of the work that he did as the
Chairperson of the Civil Rights Movement,
the then President J R Jayewardene speaking
from Dompe asked the question why is Bishop
Lakshman criticising my government? That
question was answered by The Civil Rights
In fact, some Sinhalese cynically stated
that Bishop Lakshman would be the
Presidential candidate not the Tamils.
Bishop Lakshman was also involved in other
crises. One issue that cannot be forgotten
is his intervention when the J R Jayewardene
government chose to sack the workers on
In this regard the Christian Workers
Fellowship organised an “open air” public
service in Ratmalana. At this service Bishop
Lakshman preached. His sermon made such an
impact that Dr Colvin R de Silva speaking at
a public rally in Bogambara Kandy quoted the
When we think of Bishop Lakshman’s life we
must certainly remember that he was what he
said and did. If we Sri Lankans have a sense
of history we must all work for National
Certainly, those of us who were touched by
this Sri Lankan must in his memory continue
to work so that what he could not achieve we
can. The impossible dream must be made a
May his soul rest in peace and rise in