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Letters


Readers please note it is essential that all letters to the Editor carry the full name and address of the writer, even if it has to appear under a pseudonym. This applies to all email letters as well.

 

Is the law equal to everyone?

The law is something that must be fair to everyone. It is the same to every child, teenager, and adult in the country. The Policeman is the person that upholds the law irrespective of their titles and positions and is respected by everyone in this country.

Now, when a certain law is newly enforced, it is the responsibility of all the police stations to enforce it throughout the country on the same day, in same manner. However, it seems this is not the case. A recently enforced law caused mopeds with pedals to have helmets, license and registration. I have obtained my learners permit and displayed the “L” board on my moped bike, and obtained insurance. However, I have not obtained my registration as there is a lack of documents as my bike was replaced for a defective one, the available documents back then are no longer relevant to obtain such as these bikes were sold as no more than toys. However, I have always worn my helmet. On my way to Colombo, I was stopped by a police unit and was fined for driving a bike without ‘registration’.

But when I took it up with others who I know and ride the same bike they just laughed at me, as they were never caught or fined. This is because they ride their bikes in other parts of Colombo which for some reason the law is not enforced. These people say to me “See, you respect the law too much, that why you get the bad part of it!” There is slight problem when trying to argue this point after what happened to me. Shouldn’t the law be glad that I’m displaying “L” (learning) boards after having ridden my moped for two and a half years for 18,000 km in the Colombo City?

There are kids ridding these moped pedal bikes at maximum speeds of 50 KM/h, this is something to note as there is argument on this with people as they think the sound of the bike means speed. If you go over 50 KM/h on a pedal moped, you will blow the engine. They ride it without the helmet, insurance, or registration, while I have to leave my bike home and watch them through a window of a smelly bus full of people squashed together. How can I open my mouth and say: “The law is equal to everyone”. Also “real” pedal mopeds cannot climb even small hills without using the pedals to pedal them up, so there is a doubt as to if they even classify as a motorcycle.

Even in other countries the licensing requirements are less for mopeds as they provide safe transport for many teenagers below the licensing age. And seeing the high transport costs as well as uncomfortable overloaded, smelly public transport, the mopeds should be a good solution to many teenagers and adults. However, everything is a two-way sword, people must have the freedom of selecting the way they want to go, who’s to say public transport is safer than a moped? I propose that instead of trying to classify mopeds as motorcycles, new regulations should be put in place to bring in insurance schemes and flexible registration systems for mopeds. There are people that say teenagers ride like crazy! I ask you, who’s to say every teenager rides like crazy? And who’s to say adults don’t ride like crazy? Everything is a two-way sword. It’s just depicted in the way people want to see it.

Even though the media in the country ramps around A-Z talking politics, they are not forcing on these issues. The media in this country has clearly forgotten what its responsibilities are and what they are supposed to publish thus have lost the attention of many educated people in the country. While they attack other political individuals without any problem, articles like these are considered ‘controversial’ and never published.
I ask any media (website, paper, TV, radio), who remembers the true meaning of media to publish this.

Chirantha Amerasinghe

 

Sportsman’s unsportsmanlike behaviour

When I was browsing the Internet recently, I came across a news item wherein it was reported that Australian skipper Ricky Ponting has been reprimanded for damaging a television set in the dressing room after being dismissed against Zimbabwe. He has to forego 50 % of his match fee for causing this damage said this particular news release.
I strongly feel that he should have been stripped of his captaincy and debarred from playing for a couple of years in international tournaments in addition to imposing a heavy fine by way of punishment. These cricketers are role models for many a youngster and therefore, in order that these sportsmen do not behave unruly in the future, the International Cricket Council should consider implementing similar punishments with immediate effect.
– Mohamed Zahran

 

The batsman and the umpire

Two approached the gates of heaven
An umpire and a batsman:
Asked the porter of the umpire
“Did you give him out when not out?”
Confessed the umpire: “I did cheat a time or two
I apologise for it is true!”

The batsman cried, “Hurl him into hell”
He gave me out six times in all!
“I regret my sins” the umpire wept
An earthly fly flew in my eye”,
He was accepted his sins forgiven
And fitted too with angel wings!

The batsman stamped and cursed and fumed
But the porter said the final word;
“When I played cricket down below
He gave me out when oft not out,
A repentant sinner now, so what?”
William Aiyadurai

 

J William Aiyadurai was a former Trinity Lion having captained the cricket team for two successive years in 1928 and 1929.
His 100 birthday falls this year. He died on March 1998 at the ripe old age of 89 years.
He was a prolific writer who used to contribute poems and short stories to various papers and a former journalist at the ANCL, Lake House and Times of Ceylon.

 

APPRECIATION

Fabian David, attorney-at-law

He gave leadership to social work

Today, March 6, 2011, its going to be three months since Fabian had left all of us.
Mahendra Fabian Winston David LLM, attorney-at-law, who is known as Fabia was born on July 1, 1946 in Sri Lanka. He passed away on December 6, at the age of 64 in London after suffering from an illness. Fabian went on his last journey leaving behind all of us. My son and myself being away from all relations and most of friends, it’s not easy to cope with the loss of the husband and father to us.
He was a student of St Anthony’s College Wattala and the Colombo Law College. When he was a teenager, Fabian became a fan of Elvis Presley and started imitating Elvis’ ways.

Fabian’s parents’ wishes were him to go through his father’s footsteps and to be a lawyer even though he had a liking for the engineering field, he selected legal career. He came from a family of lawyers.
He passed out as a lawyer and took his oaths on March 6, 1974. His mother’s wish was Fabian’s son to follow the same route so that her grandson would be a lawyer of the fourth generation.
A few months after Fabian passed out as a lawyer, he met with an accident and he had a fracture in his leg due to which he was bed-ridden for almost two years. Since then his life pattern changed. He gave up practising Criminal Law and switched to Civil Law. His hobbies became reading, listening to music and news programmes. He took interest in watching sports programmes too.

I met Fabian in the latter part in 1970’s and I could say I was really impressed by his looks and he was smartly dressed. He was so particular about his clothes. Even the staff at his office complex used to call him smartly dressed lawyer and he was really popular among the staff. Fabian loved cracking jokes and was popular among lawyers and friends for his humour. One of his hobbies was collecting jokes.
We got married on April 15, 1978. Our only child, who is a son, named Niroshan. He passed out as a graduate from the University of Greenwich doing his BSc. in Computer Science.
He didn’t push his son to follow his footpath but made his son select the career he wanted. So, the son selected computer field which was his liking but now after his father’s death he wanted to do Law so that he could follow his father’s field as well as he could fulfill the grandmother’s wish of becoming a lawyer of the fourth generation
Fabian had a very fluent knowledge of the English Language and also General Knowledge. Most of his colleagues came to him for any query in English grammar or definition. Even Fabian was my Master in English as I never miss to consult him in all my writing.

We became members of a voluntary organisation and organised many humanitarian projects for the less fortunate. We cooperated with other organisations to build a guest house for a Buddhist Priest at Madu Road Junction which was later destroyed due to the war.
Fabian and myself built a shrine to St Jude in 2004 April on the request of Rt Rev Rayappa Joseph, Bishop of Mannar, which too had been destroyed due to the war. The opening ceremony was conducted by his Lordship and the Guest of Honour was SF Commander of Vavuniya at that time.

When Fabian was the Club President, he did social work donating spectacles for the needy and also he organised a number of medical camps arranging doctors and medicine to enable the poor to get medical treatment. He donated wheelchairs for the disabled. He helped children in remote areas with school items. Most of these projects were done with the coordination of the Sri Lankan Army.
One of the historic projects he did was organising a blood donation camp in Jaffna in 2004. On the request of doctors, blood donation camp was organised with the help of the Jaffna Commanding Officer. At that time, there was a shortage of blood in the hospitals in Northern Peninsula, and Sri Lankan Army was promptly accepted to collaborate with us to help the blood donation camp. They selected the venue as Sinhala Maha Vidayala in Jaffna. More than 500 Army personnel took part in this camp. It was a memorable project as armed personnel of the majority community donated blood for the use of the minority community in the North. It has been a great pleasure for me watching Fabian giving the leadership to these projects.
Fabian came to the UK in 2004 and got through his Masters in Law and while studying for PhD in Business Administration he got sick and since then all my efforts and time were concentrated on him.
He had a fall which caused a spinal code injury to his neck which made him house-bound. But he used go to mass and receive holy sacrament daily. On his burial day, the priest Rev Fr Richard, who conducted the Holy Mass, said Fabian was resting in God’s kingdom and said every time he conducted the mass would see him in the church. It was a great relief to hear him saying so.

When he complained about his vision, I thought to how many people Fabian had donated spectacles. When he was going to church in a wheelchair, I remembered that he had donated wheelchairs to the disabled who were unable to get a wheelchair. He helped the poor to get medical treatment free. Thank God he was able to get free medical assistance after his accident
I prayed daily for Fabian’s recovery. I expected him to get back to normal with Gods blessing. When he got sick I asked God to reduce my lifespan and give those years to Fabian and make him live a little longer. Now he had gone, I pray to God: “Oh God! why did you take Fabian away from us, when we tried hard to keep him with us. I am begging you to take Fabian into your kingdom and to give him eternal life and happiness. Please God don’t make him suffer any more as he had suffered enough. I can have peace of mind only if I could know that he is happy and suffers no more.”
- Esther

 

TRIBUTE

Sisira Mendis

Sisira leaves a blazing trail!

There are things one can say and things one cannot say about a friend. There are things that can be said in private and not in public. There are things that can be said at a specific moment in time but never before or after. Today, I sit and write about my friend, Sisira Mendis, because the time is right to say out loud what needs to be said about this extraordinary officer of the Sri Lanka Police.

Sisira retired from service a few days ago. Retirement is as good a landmark as any for a man to look back on his life and reflect on the vague, indeterminate, relaxing and awesome foreboding called the ‘future.’ It is a good moment for someone like me who has known Sisira for more than two decades to give voice to my memories holding nothing back, fearing the censure of a modest man or being worried about embarrassing him.
I met him, as I said, 20 years ago through his wife Sharmalee, who was at the time one of my colleagues and a dear friend. We have been very close ever since that first meeting and Sisira has never been too far from my thoughts even if circumstances put physical distance between us.
He was DIG-Narcotics when he retired, but was and always will be known as a ‘CID person,’ having spent around 35 years in that sphere of police work, holding in turn the posts of Deputy Director, Director and Deputy Inspector General.
Sisira is not the only senior police officer I have known and associated with closely. Sisira is not one to ask and I am not one to tell, so he might not know of the warm, endearing, respectful and admiring terms that his colleagues, superiors and subordinates use to describe him. They only reaffirmed what I already knew: that he was a driven, passionate human being, possessing exceptional skills, hailed quite rightly as a man of discipline, integrity and a wonderful work-ethic and as such, a rarity not just in the Sri Lanka Police but in the country as well.

Much has been said about Sisira’s prowess in the police force and how he distinguished himself in that field; so I would like to dwell instead on the human being I am privileged to know.
As a person who spent a few years in the media industry, I can say without hesitation that friendship with a man of his stature would be considered an asset by anyone interested in gathering facts and information. This was not the case though with Sisira. He never divulged unnecessary information, not even amongst those he considered intimate associates. His first and last point of reference in everything he said and did was his responsibility to the police and the need to do justice by his position. He never compromised himself because he knew this would damage his employer and the institution he loved and dedicated his most productive years to serve.
I remember him hanging up on me once when I called him on his mobile.
He was driving and rattled out the following words: ‘I will call you back…there are cops on the road!’ He did call me back. I teased him: “You are a rare policeman Sisira. You are DIG/CID. You could have easily picked up the call and talked to me. You could have said ‘I will call you back’ but needn’t have said ‘there are cops on the road.’ I will never forget his response. ‘As a senior policeman, I should not insult subordinates and I should always respect the law.’

Those words epitomise Sisira Mendis through and through; his profound sense of honour and conscientiousness at all times, never bending the rules for reasons of convenience.
Sisira never put himself in a position that would compromise his integrity, even in a matter of perception. If someone wanted to meet him for some ostensibly social purpose, Sisira would invite the person to the Senior Police Officers’ Mess, because in that environment, he would be in control. He would foot the bill. Always. He was a rare professional of exceptional quality. His word was his bond and he never promised what his ability and his integrity did not permit him to deliver. Here was a man who walked the line unafraid; Truth and Justice were his raison d’etre and simplicity the sine qua non of his existence.

We live in times when political loyalty is the bottom line. This is true of all sectors of the public service. There are officers who align themselves with one or another of the political parties. They leave themselves open to be used as tools and indeed they are more than happy to oblige. Sisira was in a class by himself. He was not arrogant. But he was not interested in being a foolish hero either.
He did his job, making sure that the law was fairly interpreted and justly executed.
One recalls a different era when a parent would be proud to have a son in the Police and so too a child whose father was an officer. Times have changed and now there is as much pride as there is embarrassment and sadly, probably more of the latter. It is people like Sisira Mendis who keep hope alive and give stature to an institution that ought to stand much taller than it appears to today.

In all the years. I have known him, I have understood that Sisira sets a great store by friendship. His loyalty to his friends is beyond question; beyond reproach. He would put his own hand in the fire for you, even if the whole world was against you, yet Sisira believed you were in the right. I know this through personal experience. He saved my life. Justice was important to him and while he would stick his neck out to defend you because you were right, he would never venture to defend you if he felt you were in the wrong. He would stand beside you and ensure you did not feel isolated and abandoned, but would never support what he felt was an erroneous decision or wrongful course of action, especially if the law was somehow compromised in the process.
We all retire. In this vein, I am reminded of the wise words of Shakespeare’s tragic hero Hamlet: “If it be now, ‘tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: The readiness is all.’ Sisira was always ready. There are a few public officers we wish were excused from retirement-regulations. Sisira is one of them, but that would be beyond the bounds of his humble and rational thinking. Those of us, who know him, know better. During his illustrious tenure of service to the nation, Sisira has acquired such a wealth of knowledge on all things human and the intricacies of running an institution and managing human resources efficiently, that there is no doubt that he leaves the Sri Lanka Police hopelessly impoverished in the wake of his departure.

I am no clairvoyant so I don’t know what life after the police would be like for Sisira Mendis. I am certain of a few things, however. I know that Sisira will remain an honourable human being and a man who will undoubtedly continue to serve, with distinction, any organisation or community that is privileged to next count him among its ranks.
Speaking strictly for myself, as far as I am concerned, Sisira has not retired and never will. Friendships don’t have expiry dates outside of those imposed by the laws of nature. Fate brings us together, friendship keeps us close. I am richer for having the privilege of his friendship. For that I am grateful.
Krishantha Prasad Cooray

 

 

 

 

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