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|Newspapers should accommodate rational views
|Rev Sydney Knight, a person who contributes plausible ideas to
newspapers, writing to (The Nation on Sunday, October 17, 2010 has
made a candid observation that the Colombo-based press has a
finicky, picky, choosy dispensation when handling letters of
Economists abroad and within Sri Lanka have commented on the
amazingly rapid ascendance of the Island’s economy and its
infrastructure but newspapers pay scant respect to the phenomenon
that means so much to the islanders. It behooves the Fourth Estate
which is the national gazette to shed its parochial, insular, and
even narrow minded attributes and gird itself to assist in taking
the country forward.
It should dispense with its parish pump features and contribute,
to play its role in a progressive advancing economy. The media
should endeavour to publicise all progress and accommodate cogent
views of its readers, forwarded as ‘letters’ and ‘opinions’ setting
aside any prejudice.
The Fourth Estate should open out and entertain the varied views
that would enable the nation to bloom. Political opinion is welcome.
Political parties should run their news sheets. Conforming to the
views of Sydney Knight, let us all hope that dailies and weeklies
will provide space for the opinions of their clientele, the ordinary
people who contribute to forming ‘public opinion’. Advertisements do
help to keep papers afloat but the significance of the daily paper
should not be relegated to the background.
Such an attitude by the Fourth Estate would spew a barren nation!
Thanks to two Sunday journals a spade may be called a spade. Let us
all hope that papers will go back to the laissez-faire-stance of the
good old days!
|Re-carpeting parliament, a thoughtless
|A news report says government is to spend Rs.1.2 million on
carpets for the parliament.
Surely, there is no guarantee that there will not be another bout of
floods at the parliament for it is built on marshy land. I am sure
there won’t be any permanent rectification of the drainage system,
knowing our politicians – they believe in short-term solutions,
stopgap measures just for the moment.
So instead of courting loss again, why not just tile the whole
place? Even if they use the most expensive tiling, still it will not
get damaged by the floods. When the masses are suffering with floods
without a solution in sight for their loss, this sort of thoughtless
extravagance will bring the wrath of the people in the government.
The Internet is flooding with mails regarding the idiotic smiles of
the politicians while they were being evacuated, while the people
had to “grin and bear” their suffering.
Decisions seem to be made by a few nitwits without consulting the
experts on solutions. No strategy, no long-term plans, just a few
knee jerk reactions and the whole matter is swept under the carpet
until the next year, the next rain and next floods. Then the whole
episode is repeated. No permanent solution.
There is a limit to the patience of the common man. Let’s hope the
decision making goons do not stretch it too thin.
Dr Mrs Mareena Thaha Reffai
|Resume ‘My Life’ on SLBC
above favourite programme of mine presented by Shareefa Thahir (whom
I fondly address as Lady Gaga whenever I call her) on Wednesday
evening at 9 pm is not on air anymore. I think with the presenter
having gone overseas, this programme, where important
personalities/celebrities are interviewed, has been temporarily put
on hold. I suggest that Soundi Thawam or Fathima Razick present this
programme till the arrival of usual host Shareefa. Over to Radio Sri
Lanka to oblige by continuing this entertaining and interesting
|Only crumbs for the masses
other day, I met a senior citizen at a Budget Shop. He lamented. “A
month ago, the price of 500gms of sugar was Rs.46. Two weeks ago, I
had to pay Rs.47. The budget was on November 22. After five days,
the price has shot up to Rs.49.50. But, the price is not marked. And
mind you, it’s a state co-op outlet.
He continued: “we poor folks haven’t got any relief from this
budget. Prices of medicines and consumer goods are escalating and
we, seniors are struggling to make ends meet. What can a pittance of
Rs.300 do to ease our woes? All our expectations have been dashed.
We’re left in the lurch in post-war Sri Lanka.”
This is the consensus of opinion of the common man. The working
class and the pensioners have been overlooked. The
development-oriented budget has not brought relief to the working
class, to cushion off the high cost of living which keeps on
increasing by the day.
We could sum up: “Only crumbs for the masses; wealth and luxury for
the ruling classes.”
M Azhar Dawood
|Festive season – Cheerful December
Festive season of cheerful Yuletide
Holy month, true spirit of Christmastide
Customary burning of Yule log fiesta for mirth
Anglo Saxons called December, the Yule month.
Christ’s birth solemnly, genuinely, to commemorate
Not forgetting the less fortunate, homeless in frustrate
Sharing, caring, loving, giving, time to celebrate
Shed differences, treat alike the suffering in desperate.
Tinsel streamers colourful heartrending cribs displayed
Wonderful hamper gifts, fancy goods prices incredibly slashed
Mist wee dew gently sprinkling time
Making the environment pleasing vision salubrious clime.
Fairyland atmosphere glittering shopping malls
Packed classy hotels, banquet halls
Last minute mad shopping sprees
For décor sparking Xmas trees.
Lovers tie nuptial knot in misty, chilly December
For true love to last, never to part forever ‘n ever
Seasonal bridal extravaganza in glamour
Dramatic drapes exotic colour.
Church bells sweetly chiming
Carols, choirs, cheers, echoing
Kids impatiently await much loved Santa Claus
For gifts enthrall young ‘n old every soul
A month for peace ‘n goodwill a call
A season to fete for all.
|Fish consumers fall prey to black marketeers
Since a long time, the public has been making requests from the
Fisheries Corporation to install fish stalls in Maggona, Magalkanda
and Payagala towns. But the corporation pays no heed at all.
There is abundant of marine fish catch in the southern coast
nowadays. Although the consumers have to buy fish from the private
vendors at exorbitant prices and the poor consumers are always
become prey to the exploitation of the black marketeers. The
corporation possibly can maintain fish selling outlets in the above
areas and even dispatch mobile delivery vans to inland areas too.
If so, the corporation will be able to make a sizable income also,
but the consumers say the corporation shows no concern to the public
C M Kamburawala
|Long walk to freedom
passage appears on the last page of the autobiography of Nelson
Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom and I was so moved by it, that I
thought it deserved a larger audience.
Everybody should share his feelings and thoughts about freedom. The
cover of the book says: The riveting memoirs of one of the great
moral and political leaders of our time - An international hero
whose accomplishments won him the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize. Since his
release in February 1990, Nelson Mandela has emerged as the world’s
most significant moral leader since Mahatma Gandhi.
As President of the African National Congress and spiritual
figurehead of the Anti-Apartheid Movement, he was instrumental in
moving South Africa towards black majority rule. And throughout the
world, he is revered as a vital force in the fight for human rights
and racial equality.
Says Nelson Mandela: “I was not born with a hunger to be free. I
was born free - free in every way that I could know. Free to run in
the fields near my mother’s hut, free to swim in the clear stream
that ran through my village, free to roast mealies under the stars
and ride the broad backs of slow-moving bulls. As long as I obeyed
my father and abided by the customs of my tribe, I was not troubled
by the laws of Man or God.
“It was only when I began to learn that my boyhood freedom was an
illusion when I discovered as a young man that my freedom had
already been taken from me, I began to hunger for it. At first, as a
student, I wanted freedom only for myself, the transitory freedoms
of being able to stay out at night, read what I pleased and go where
I chose. Later, as a young man in Johannesburg, I yearned for the
basic and honourable freedoms of achieving my potential, of earning
my keep, of marrying and having a family, the freedom not to be
obstructed in a lawful life.
“But then I slowly saw that not only was I not free but my
brothers and sisters were not free. I saw that it was just not my
freedom that was curtailed but the freedom of everyone who looked
like I did. That is when I joined the African National Congress, and
that is when the hunger for my own freedom became the greater hunger
for the freedom of my people.
“It was this desire for the freedom of my people to live their lives
with dignity and self-respect that animated my life, that
transformed a frightened young man into a bold one, that drove a law
abiding attorney to become a criminal, that turned a family loving
husband into a man without a home, that forced a life loving man to
live like a monk.
“I am no more virtuous or self-sacrificing than the next man, but
I found that I could not even enjoy the poor and limited freedoms I
was allowed when I knew my people were not free. Freedom is
indivisible: the chains on anyone of my people were the chains on
all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me.
“It was during those long and lonely years that my hunger for the
freedom of my own people became a hunger for the freedom of all
people, white and black. I knew as well as I knew anything that the
oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed.
“A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred
- he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I
am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just
as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The
oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.
“When I walked out of prison, that was my mission to liberate the
oppressed and the oppressor both.
“Some say that has now been achieved. But I know that, that is not
The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the
freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken
the final step of our journey, but the first step is a longer and
even more difficult road. For, to be free is not merely to cast off
one’s chains, but live in a way that respects and enhances the
freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just
“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to
falter. I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered
the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that
there are many more hills to climb.
“I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious
vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come.
But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come
responsibilities, and I dare not linger for my long walk is not
Dr W B Wijekoon
|Pensioners are in dire distress
With the presentation of the Budget 2011, pensioners expected that
the pension anomalies that arose from the salary increases granted
to public servants effective January 1, 2006, would be rectified
especially since that promise is found in the Mahinda Chintanaya
However, once again, the pensioners have been sadly let down. And,
adding insult to injury, with the five percent increase in the
salaries of public servants provided for in Budget 2011, the anomaly
will be further widened.
At the National Pensioners’ Day held on October 8, 2009, Minister
Wimal Weerawans - the only invitee, who attended (cabinet ministers
who were invited and who had confirmed their attendance, were
conspicuous by their absence and. were represented by their private
secretaries or ministry officials), accepted the memorandum
addressed to the President and in his speech Minister Weerawansa
promised to hand over the memorandum to the President with a view to
have the anomalies removed.
The then prime minister and then minister of Public Administration,
when delegations from the Pensioners’ Associations met him, assured
that action will be taken to have the anomalies removed and bring
relief to the pensioners.
On January 14, 2010, when around 5,000 pensioners invited to Temple
Trees before the last presidential election, the President gave an
undertaking that anomalies arising from the salary increases granted
to public servants effective January 1, 2006 would be removed in the
When a delegation from the Pensioners’ Associations met Minister
Wimal Weerawansa to invite him to the Pensioners’ Walk and Rally to
mark the National Pensioners’ Day on October 8, 2010, he stated that
he would participate only if he could bring good tidings. He did
attend, and addressing the pensioners gathered in front of the Fort
Railway station after the walk, said that steps will be taken to
remove the pension anomalies in question.
However, the feeble old aged pensioners, victims of various ailments
that affect old age, who awaited the ‘next budget’ to receive their
dues to die peacefully, have been badly disappointed.
There were around 450,000 pensioners, who were affected by the
anomaly as from January 1, 2006, to start with. According to the
Director General of Pensions around 6,000 pensioners die every year.
Thus, since 2006 a large number of pensioners have passed away
without receiving their dues. The passing away of the rest should
not be awaited to avoid the expenditure.
I hope that the President will make amendments even at this stage in
keeping with the promises made.
Upali S Jayasekera
|WWII wreaths and apologies
will they ever learn?
Sri Lanka yearns
An apology for
A 30 year provoked war
May the UN reckon
‘A thousand apologies’ should be sufficient
Irene De Silva
|A tribute to past peacemakers
month of August is a month of memorials and remembrances for many in
Sri Lanka today.
On August 8, 1992, we lost Denzil Kobbekaduwa and all those who
travelled in that vehicle. On August 12, 2005 we lost Lakshman
Kadirgamar and on the same day four years ago Kethesh Loganathan and
on the same day three years ago KC Kamalasabayson PC.
All of the above except for the last name were victims of the
30-year Sri Lanka civil war. Denzil Kobbekaduwa wanted a permanent
solution. He looked into the sufferings of an ordinary soldier and
wanted to begin from the point of strength.
Lakshman Kadirgamar from the same school in Kandy like Denzil
Kobbekaduwa used his office, the Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry, to
fight the LTTE in and through our missions overseas. Kethesh
Loganathan, a former freedom fighter, opted to work for peace. All
these men and several others were the victims of violence and abuse
of power in the worst ever movement of the world.
We must thank God for them along with all the victims of the war
remembering their loved ones.
Kamalasabayson spent all his years contributing to the legal system
in our country. We must thank God for his legal contribution and
also remember his family.
May all these deaths make us value life! Very specially in post-war
As Mother Lanka endeavours to build a new Sri Lanka after the events
of May 2009, may we all Sri Lankans endeavour to look after all the
persons from Point Pedro in the North to Dondra head in the South!
May this be the task of Sri Lanka today!
|Donald Jayapalan Kanagaratnam
the likes of Fr Donald today
If Father Donald as we called him affectionately had lived on
March 8 this year, he would have been 83 year old.
In today’s Sri Lanka, those of us who knew Fr Donald miss him very
much. Why do I say this?
Recently, when we went to Vavuniya on our way to Jaffna, my thoughts
went back to Donald and his ministry in Vavuniya.
He was more than an Anglican Priest. He was ecumenical in the best
sense of the term. He attempted to work with all Christians, with
the people of other faiths and no faiths, with those with ideologies
and with all human beings.
When he died in February 1995, the LITE helped to get his body from
Kopay, where he died to Vavuniya, where he lived. Those who came for
the funeral which included the Armed Forces and Police were a
testimony to his ministry in Vavuniya.
When Fr Donald left Pilimathalawa after the sad and tragic racial
riots that took place in 1977, he moved to Vavuniya. In Vavuniya, it
was his dream and vision to make Oppuravillam come alive. In that
house of reconciliation peace and justice, Fr Donald wanted to work
for national reconciliation.
We need the likes of Fr Donald to build a just society. Those of us
who were touched by his life and work must, therefore, work for
justice in an unjust society in Fr Donald’s name.
We shall always remember Fr Donald with love and gratitude and
certainly Aria, his wife and thus his partner in mission.
His most admirable trait is humility
Some time during 1996, I retired from the plantations and came to
Kandy, joined Kandy Sports Club after my earlier stint with the club
in the year 1969 to 1972,1973,1974 and 1975 captaining the last
In 1997, I took up the position as hon. secretary of the club under
Dr Sarath Kapuwatte as president and Malik Samarawickrema as
trustee, the team that year was captained by Lasantha Wijesuriya,
the current rugby chairman became the Triple Rugby Champions for the
first time. The distinguished and controversial sports writer of
that era Hafiz Marikar told me that he wished to introduce me to an
extraordinary man from the stands. He took me to a person named
Mohamed Najumudeen who was seated on the terraces in his white
national shirt and sarong.
I have never been aware that he had any other names, but later found
out that he was named “Mara Rugby Kandak” of Kandy with the highest
respect and regard by all spectators. For me this meeting had the
sort of significant effect on my life which one rarely experiences.
Najumudeen was a man of much thinking but few words and when he did
speak you had better listen because his words were so well worth
listening to as it was all about rugby, rugby and rugby and in
particular of “Kandy Sports Club”.
He told me that he was educated at Zahira College, Colombo and moved
over to Akurana in 1960s on business. Since 1972, he followed rugby
at Kandy Sports Club big time during times the team was at its
lowest ebb, but still continued to travel to witness all matches
played by Kandy Sports Club only.
He faced difficult times in the early 1990s when the contest with
both CR & CH was tight and in some instances ended with brawls
inside and outside the grounds, but still supported the games and
travelled where ever the Kandy team went at any costs personnel to
His personal standards were impeccable, he was slow to accuse and
very quick to forgive, he was without malice. I once asked him what
he considered to be the most admirable trait and his response was
immediate – humility.
I don’t know why I was surprised because his humility was
demonstrable. Physically he was big made, and a strong man whose
attitude and knowledge of the game fascinated me. His sense of
humour was slightly mischievous but never at another’s expense: Some
of his anecdotes even had him laughing out loud.
Mohamed Najumudeen was a man of the highest quality and integrity
whom every body loved and respected. He was a great gentleman; there
can be no stronger compliment. At 64 years of age he says “goodbye”
to all loved ones, Kandy Sports Club rugby and the rugby loving
public of Kandy.
“To Allah we belong to him is our return “