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|Optimism prevails in post-war
Our island nation is sixty-three years young,
having gained freedom on February 4, 1948. The country has emerged
from the grip of the monster of terrorism that bedeviled the nation
for well over three decades. This unsavoury chapter was the result
of pseudo-nationalists who promoted communalism and racialism, and
governed the country according to their personal agendas since
independence. The so-called leaders from both sides of the ethnic
divide stand accused for planting the seeds of communalism in this
once peaceful and united country.
We have been silent spectators to the tragicomic dramas enacted
in the political firmament by our representatives. We were witness
to the agony and misery of the country’s citizenry during these
turbulent times. Fortunately, there emerged a leader who brooked no
nonsense. This is the second year the country is celebrating
independence after the elimination of ruthless terrorism.
The nation owes a debt of gratitude to our dynamic and determined
President who set aside all opposition from all quarters, locally
and globally, and offered a political leadership through the
dedicated security forces to emerge victorious, giving us the much
needed peace, so essential for harmonious living and development. A
patriot and a humanist to the core, President Rajapaksa is embarking
on a unique mission hitherto unprecedented to bring prosperity to
I love Sri Lanka more than our leaders, some of whom have been
crooks and nincompoops. Most of them are power hungry, greedy,
corrupt and self-centred. I am not inclined to politics and hold no
brief to any political party. This country belongs to all racial
groups. I deplore those who advocate that the National Anthem should
be sung only in Sinhala. This would hurt the sentiments of our Tamil
Now that the government has eradicated the barbarity and
brutality of the terror outfit, let us unite and march forward to
see a prosperous Sri Lanka in which everyone could share the fruits
of peace and plenty. However, there are obstacles on the country’s
march to development. You cannot speak of development unless you
cure the cancer of bribery and corruption so rampant in our public
institutions. Even our politicos are in the dock with reckless
spending, malpractice, mismanagement and other financial frauds in
the institutions that come under their purview. Monitoring them
becomes and imperative need.
It is also incumbent on the part of the government to root out
crime and violence which have escalated in recent times. The
activities of underworld and drug barons should be nipped in the bud
for a violent-free society. On the other hand, the menace of alcohol
and illegal drugs are threatening to ruin the youth - the lifeblood
of the nation, and whose contribution is significant for the
development of the nation. So do the incidence of rape and
abductions which are reported daily in the media. The perpetrators
of these vices should be brought to book and dealt with a firm hand
with positive, punitive action.
Drastic situations need drastic remedies. To the government that
saw to the successful ending of terrorism, tackling of crime,
corruption, rape, etc. would not be a formidable task if every
member of the government put his/her shoulder to the wheel. We have
a stable government to gird its loins to cleanse these Augean
stables with a greater sense of commitment and dedication to bring
about a vast change in the landscape of Sri Lanka to be a miracle of
May the fragrant flower of PEACE bloom in every comer of this
beautiful country! May there be unity in diversity. We all belong to
one country, one nation under one national flag. Let us be honest,
true to our conscience and stand steadfast to contribute our might
to reach the cherished goal of development. This is my humble wish
for this year’s independence of our once battered and brutalised
M Azhar Dawood
|Craze for cowboy films of yesteryear
We look back with fondness and nostalgia with lingering thoughts of
the scenes of horse-riding cowboys with muskets, rifles and other
arms in very colourful scenes of sun-setting in the cowboy films
that we have seen at various theatre halls some decades back.
Some of the memorable films that I have seen are Three Musketeers,
Man in the Iron Mask, Coscican Brothers, Beauogeater, King Solomon’s
Mines, and The Magnificent Seven. Other interesting films that I can
remember are James Bond films and Relic Hunter and not to mention
the films like the Red Indian and the Whites Confrontations.
A few of the actors that I can remember at this distant time are
Tyroll Power (Coscican Brothers) Gary Cooper (Beauogester), Chuck
Norris, Burt Lancaster, Randoff Scott and Tia Career.
These films are well shot and are perfect at all levels as Hollywood
is one of the pioneering film production locations. These films gave
us septuagenarians, octogenarians, nonagenarians a thrilling time
which still linger in our minds with pleasure.
I think the copies of these films could be obtained from the
American Embassy and the British High Commission which should be
available in their archives.
Mahinda Chinthanaya has done everything possible to lead us a happy
and contended life in the evening of our lives. Hope the Rupavahini
Corporation and other TV channels will do the needful to make us,
the senior citizens, see these films once again.
V K B Ramanayake
|Cricket stadiums need better facilities
There is absolutely no doubt that Suraj Dandeniya, the Chairman of
the Organising Committee for the ICC World Cup venues would have had
to face an unbelievable uphill task in connection with the
completion of activities connected in reconstructing and upgrading
the Kettarama International Cricket Stadium, the construction of the
new stadiums at Sooriyawewa in Hambantota and in the completion of
the already built new International Cricket Stadium in Pallekelle.
All stadiums should be completed in conformity to the conditions
laid down by the world governing body of cricket, the International
Cricket Council, where all venues should be on par with the other
international cricket venues of the Test playing nations.
It is pertinent to mention that the followers of the game are yet to
see the infrastructure facilities available to the players as well
as the spectators at the Sooriyawewa and Pallekelle venues. However,
those who have witnessed One Day International matches at the
Kettarama International Stadium were subjected to a lot of
inconvenience due to the lack of minimum infrastructure facilities,
like the all important toilets facilities for ladies in particular,
pipe borne water, IDD facilities, TV monitors to watch replays and
proper ventilation as the there was a lack of ceiling fans. It is
the fervent hope that these essential infrastructure facilities are
made available, if not done up to now. This should be the case in
respect of the Sooriyawea and Pallekelle venues too.
If these suggestions are implemented, it will no doubt bring glory
to Sri Lanka for not only hosting the World Cup fixtures but also
would delight the foreign spectators with our infrastructure
facilities, who will be present in their numbers at these venues. I
was a spectator at the 2002 Champions Trophy Final played at the
Kettarama International Cricket Stadium. I was amongst several
Indian fans including ladies who had flown in, to witness the final.
I felt ashamed when they asked me where the toilets were and about
the IDD telephone facilities etc. If the organisers have not been
able to make available these facilities, there is still time to
attend to the essential needs in respect of infrastructure
facilities. It should be known that the spectators are not asking
for air conditioning and VIP treatment but the basic needs as the
game of cricket is not only for the affluent.
|Sri Lanka -The Land of My Birth
I wish to sing the praises of Sri Lanka at the 63rd Independence
Anniversary of our Island nation whose rich and bountiful national
resources and tourist potential should be harnessed along with
agricultural and industrial production as to arrest our biggest
bugbear - the soaring cost of living which affect the most important
part of man’s anatomy - stomached and which most often leads to the
unpopularity of governments.
Sri Lanka, the land of my birth
An emerald isle on mother earth
To her Mother Nature very kind
Visitors here everywhere will find.
Lanka admired for her scenic beauty
Kind, smiling face and her hospitality
Fauna and flora they are in plenty
Let’s enjoy these in calm serenity.
Called the Pearl of the Orient
Beauty shines like diamond brilliant
Lanka an island in the Indian Ocean
Going all out for tourist promotion.
Set foot the Enlightened one
Preached hatred, enmity to none
Evil, malice, greed, anger let’s shun
In this beautiful island in the sun.
Oh! This tropical land of Buddha Dhamma
Boasts of ruined cities, dagabas, Yala and Kumana,
Menik, Nilwala, Kelani and Mahaweli Ganga
And saffron-robed monks of Maha Sangha.
Lord Buddha’s dhamma priceless possession
Maligawa’s Tooth Relic another audition
Greenery palm-fringed beaches a qualification
My Mother Lanka to be a tourist destination.
Sri Lankans adherent of noble religion
Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam
Our religious leaders made a call clarion
For inhabitants to be united, peace and calm.
Bygone days noble kings reigned supreme
The Lion race is Sri Lankas cream
With rich glorious heritage and traditions
Now, earning praise, glory and admiration.
Sri Lanka, the land of my birth
The Garden of Eden, my native land
May there be peace, goodwill on earth
Pray I, a citizen of this sun-kissed land.
M Azhar Dawood
|The political bible
Weapon of mass communication
Of modern art of wars?
Better fought without a thought.
Mrs Irene De Silva
|Teaching has become a tiring job
Teachers in state-run schools, where classrooms consist of students
numbering more than 45, find it unbearably difficult and
uncomfortable to work in. Primary class teachers, who most often
face this unfortunate situation, are critical of their day-to-day
workload, such as marking of students’ exercise books, written work,
assignments, homework, and even managing the classrooms which are
mostly overcrowded to the maximum student load.
Some hardworking teachers-in-charge of Grade five Scholarship
classes are said to be very reluctant and fed up of working due to
unnecessary parental interference and criticism. Such fingering also
happens when such schools organise sports meets, concerts, English
Day programmes and various other competitions and functions where
the parents’ co-operation is needed.
The most unfortunate and shocking occurrence taking place in most of
the jam-packed classes is that too many slow learners and weak
students are automatically neglected and become less regarded by
teachers who are expected to cover up all the subject components in
the relevant syllabi within a limited time frame.
I hope this letter would be an eye-opener to the relevant
H L Sunil Shantha
|Beacon lights needed to help fishing
|The fishermen, who set off for one-day fishing on their wooden
canoes and diesel engine boats on their return journey from the sea,
face many hazards and accidents when they try to land due to the
absence of beacon lights along the beach.
Specially, the fishermen of some fishing areas in Beruwela such as
Payagala, Diyalagoda and Maggona always experience these
difficulties. Hence, it would be an immense service to these
fishermen if sufficient beacon lights are fixed along the beach to
guide their vessels.
C M Kamburawala
|Professor Charles Dahanayake
Let us remember him
Professor Charles Dahanayake, Emeritus Professor of the
University of Kelaniya passed away an year ago after an unfortunate
accident. To those of us, who had the privilege of making his
acquaintance, he was indeed a most warm-hearted and an unassuming
academic, a very special kind of person, a person of rare substance.
Those who have had the good fortune to have studied under this great
teacher have borne witness to his commitment, which to many was
undisputed. People reached out to Prof. Dahanayake easily because of
his unassuming manner.
Prof. Dahanayake had his early education in Galle and later at
Ananda College from where he entered university. He obtained four
distinctions at the University Entrance Examination, a record at
that time. This brilliant student did Physics Special at the
university, took a first class and won a Commonwealth Scholarship to
read for his doctoral degree at the University of Bristol where he
came under a Nobel Laureate, famed Physicist Professor Cecil Frank
After completing his doctorate, he returned to Lanka and joined
the academic staff of the University of Peradeniya. While he was a
Senior Lecturer there, he won a Smith Mundt – Fullbright Fellowship
for post-doctoral research at the University of Rochester, New York.
He returned to Peradeniya in 1967 and in the same year moved to the
University of Kelaniya where he established the Physics Department
and accepted the position of Professor of Physics.
In 1971, he was appointed the first Dean of the Faculty of Science
at the University of Kelaniya. He was also the founder president of
the Institute of Physics of Sri Lanka and a founding member of the
University Grants Commission. He was also a past president of the
Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science in addition to
being a member of a large number of professional associations.
Professor Dahanayake also had a number of publications to his credit
and worked with some of the most famous names in his field.
Despite this most impressive academic record, his greatness lay
in his humility which was an example to us all. He was indeed
unassuming to a fault. He was a Buddhist who lived as a true
Buddhist should - rituals were not for him, Buddhism to him was
Metta (loving kindness) Karuna (compassion) and Muditha (Equanimity)
and its fundamentals tenets, Sila (morality), Samadhi (meditation
and control of the mind) and Pagngna or the acquiring of
understanding or wisdom through Meditation. He was after all a
Scientist and a Physicist.
Though an year has passed since that fateful day, he lives in not
only in the hearts of his wife Tilaka, his daughters, Rachitha and
Punitha and son-in-law Rohan, his immediate family, who will miss
him most of all, but also in the hearts of all those who knew him,
for we have lost a friend and an intellectual with whom we
interacted with profit. He was indeed an inspiration to us all.
May he attain Nibbana!
|Allan Eustace Gunawardena
A true gentleman and a great man
February 5 of this year marked the 96th birth anniversary of my
grandfather, and January 27 marked 14 years since my grandfather
went to rest in the arms of Jesus. These sad anniversaries give me a
moment to pause from the crazy, breakneck pace of daily life and
reflect upon his life and my relationship with him because not only
did he play the role of a grandfather, but also during my early
formative years he played the role of a father figure to me. There
is so much to share, and therefore it is a formidable task to
capture the essence of his life here on earth in this limited space.
First, he made my childhood and my teenage years delightful and
memorable which are ever etched in my memory. He found time to take
me to school each morning, and bring me home in the afternoon, to
take me for scout training on Saturdays, and for tennis lessons on
Sundays. The memory of my fellowship with my grandfather during my
childhood and youth is infused with vivid recollections and
unforgettable experiences we had together during those years.
Second, he was a true gentleman - a rare breed in this day and time.
He taught me by example the principle of forthrightness, of telling
the truth, paying your debts on time, standing up to your principles
even if that meant facing up to inconveniences. I appreciate the
honest, clean example that he set for me to follow. He influenced me
to look at my life from a much more positive perspective, to enjoy
each and everyday, and contribute to society.
My grandfather was a great man. His commitment to God, church and
family was peerless. He loved everyone and everyone knew he did.
During the latter part of his life, circumstances did not offer me
the chance to be closer to him. I was deeply saddened to hear his
demise, and my inability to be by his bedside during his last days.
Ever loving grandson