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Overseas pensioners driven to despair
It is now more than a year, when the Director General of Pensions in Sri Lanka without giving any notice, stopped the monthly pension payments from November 2009 to all overseas pensioners without stating any valid reason.
I have been writing on behalf of my wife, who is a Sri Lankan Government Pensioner, PN 111714, since December 2009 and again a new sets of forms were issued to open new savings accounts with People’s Bank, Queens Branch, 38, D. R. Wijewardena Mawatha, Colombo 10. These documents were duly certified by the Sri Lankan Consular Bandu Dissanayake (Melbourne) who came to the Clayton Community Aged Care and signed all these forms, and we are most grateful to him, since my wife was unable to call at his office.

I sent all these certified documents through my nephew who is living in Mount Lavinia in June 2010, who handed them over personally to the Deputy Director of Pensions, Maligawatta Secretariat, Colombo. Since then he had visited the Department of Pensions, Western Province Provincial Council Pension Branch, Colombo Kachcheri, and People’s Bank, Queens Branch several times in the sun and rain, and has not been successful.
When my nephew called at the Colombo Kachchri Dam Street early in August 2010, he was told that the cheque with arrears had been sent to the People’s Bank Queens Branch from the Colombo Kachcheri yet the bank has not received any payment at all.

My nephew called at the Colombo Kachcheri again and during this period it appears that the file is missing or misplaced and the officer had apologised to my nephew for that.
In view of the above situation, I had no choice but to make a fresh application and forward through the Sri Lanka High Commission, Canberra on November 17, 2010. Once again the Sri Lankan Consular in Melbourne Bandu Dissanayake came to the Clayton Community Aged Care to sign these documents for which I have to thank him.

How long will my wife have to wait to draw her pension, now it is 13 month late?
Recently, I met several Sri Lankan pensioners, who had gone to Sri Lanka after the new regulations were issued by the Director General of Pensions, to draw the pension at the People’s Bank, Queens Branch had to open a new Savings Account with one condition, “Pensioners should personally attend the bank to withdraw money when he/she visits Sri Lanka”.

Having taken three weeks’ to one month leave to draw the pension at the bank, and meet old friends and relations in Sri Lanka overseas pensioners’ efforts have been a total failure, as they were pushed from one department to another, and after several visits and at the Provincial Council Pension Department, where the respective pension files are kept in custody.

The officers attached to the record room of the Provincial Council Pension Branch are fully aware that the overseas pensioners have a limited time to get things moving, visiting friends, and relations and if they find no inducement is forthcoming, they only say your pension file is missing or misplaced and the matter ends.
The average pension of a Sri Lankan pensioner living in Australia is about Rupees ten thousand (Rs.10,000) and if he or she retains their pension for a period of one year, there will be Rs.120,000 accumulated in a Sri Lanka bank account. If the pensioner wishes to withdraw his/her pension, then a return air ticket will cost between AUD1,200 and AUD1,300 which is the equivalent to Rs.137,000.

What about the old and feeble who have passed the biblical three score and ten (70 years)? Some are in Elders Homes and these people should be given some concession as at present, some pensioners are living with their children and others with their in-laws. Can they ever go to Sri Lanka? Will these category of pensioners ever get their pension or perhaps in the next world!
The government departments are working at a snail pace due to red tape, weak administration at the top level.
Dogs can bark, but the caravan moves on. Bribery and corruption is the order of the day at all levels in Sri Lanka.

Fred Rodrigo


No two sisters as wives at same time

Reference the article captioned “Uncooperative first wife” appearing on the Features page of a Saturday’s edition of the Island wherein it was mentioned that a person has been carrying on an affair with the sister of his wife, who was abroad and when this extra-marital problem landed at the Kalutara South Police Station for a solution, it was reported that the Policeman had said that according to the Muslim Marriage Law, a man of Islamic faith can marry four women.

Though Islam allows polygamy, which has many a rule governing same to comply with, making it well nigh extremely difficult or rather discourage to opt to tie the nuptial knot with more than one woman, it will be of interest to know that it doesn’t allow to have two sisters as wives at the same time. Either he has to divorce one or he may marry only after the death of one of them. This is the ruling as per the verse (Chapter 4 Surah An-Nisa’ -The Women, verse 23) in the Holy Quran which says:

“Forbidden to you (for marriage) are: your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father’s sisters, your mother’s sisters, your brother’s daughters, your sister’s daughters, your foster mother who gave you suck, your foster milk suckling sisters, your wives’ mothers, your stepdaughters under your guardianship, born of your wives to whom you have gone in - but there is no sin on you if you have not gone in them (to marry their daughters), - the wives of your sons who (spring) from your own loins, and two sisters in wedlock at the same time, except for what has already passed; verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
Mohamed Zahran


Home gardening competitions promote agriculture

Due to the recent wide spread destruction caused by rains and flood, considerable damage had been caused to agricultural land and properties depriving common man the means of income from their plots of vegetable and fruit trees.
These people depend solely on the income from their vegetable plots and fruit trees and they are now left destitute losing their means of providing their poor families a square meal.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa after defeating the ruthless terrorist leader Velupillai Pirabhakaran and his gang of followers has begun to reconstruct the war-affected area by providing relief by way of food, housing and striving to unite the nation under one flag.

In this circumstance, a home gardening competition to encourage growing vegetables and fruit trees will no doubt contribute its might towards the reconstruction of the economy and help ordinary man to lead debt-free life.
I suggest the competition should be confined to only home gardening of each Pradeshiya Sabha area, excluding the large scale agriculture. Only way to make it successful is to offer incentives by way of cash prizes.

Over 3000,000 coconut trees in the Matara District affected by blight are to be cut down and destroyed to prevent the spread of the disease. Cutting down and clearing coconut lands to construct houses should be completely banned. Cutting down hundreds of coconut trees for large scale housing schemes is a criminal act, considering the price of coconuts today, each nut costing Rs.58. Only those affected by the blight should be cut down only after obtaining permission from a very senior Agricultural Officer.
Immediate and top priority should be afforded to this home gardening programme to promote agriculture.

VKB Ramanayake


Road widening not properly done

The roads in Wellawatte had been broadened by removing parking areas and curbs. However, still the signs of the old curbs are visible due to the uneven areas being left as they are. Even when the traffic is very congested, still most motorists tend to run only in the usual two lanes and there are very few who drive on the edges where there is enough space for another vehicle. Habits die hard indeed.
However, the uneven surface due to the gullies and newly cemented areas maybe another reason why motorists are reluctant to venture into these areas. If the Road Development Authority takes interest in smoothening the roads and making the surface on the same level, probably the traffic jams, which we see day in day out specially during the rush hours, can be reduced at least a little.
Dr Mrs Mareena Thaha Reffai


New visa procedure hinders tourist promotion

The Department of Immigration and Emigration is going to introduce a new visa procedure and it will be commenced soon.
According to the new system, there are no more granting of visas on arrival to hereafter at the point of disembarkation although two nations have been exempted from the visa requirements. They are Maldivian and Singaporeans. As per this method, other nationals have to obtain prior visas from Sri Lankan embassies or consulate offices in their respective countries.
But there are no embassies or even a consulate office in some of the Western countries to obtain an entry visa to Sri Lanka. In such circumstances, the British High Commissions were allowed to issue visas on behalf of Sri Lanka previously.
Now their attitude has been almost changed, though we were enlisted and considered as a Commonwealth country.
According to my opinion, the newly introduced visa scheme is not conducive to the promotion of tourism.
C. M. Kamburawala


Renowned physician Jivaka during Gautama Buddha’s era

Illegitimate son of much sought courtesan Salawathie of Rajagaha
Gave the newborn, sans hesitation to a slave woman away from Rajagaha
She placed the infant in a cane basket’n left beside a garbage heartlessly
Disappeared as the wind leaving the innocent babe to its destiny.

Next day, Prince Abaya, son of king Bimbisara riding through the city
Sighted crows encircling a tiny bundle beside a garbage heap in anxiety.
Immediately stopped his carriage to investigate bundle in basket
On seeing newborn babe, in loving kindness took it away as his own to adopt.

Soon infant was named Jivaka kumara Bhacca
Meaning adopted by a Prince, will to live denoting Jivaka
Lived in place amidst enjoying all comforts many a privilege
However, one day after questioning his father found truth of his empty heritage.

Jivaka began studying medicine under renowned Sage Atreya Taxila, in
firm determination
The training lasting eleven years, took him only seven years, worked in
His first patient daughter of wealthy nobleman suffering with severe headache for seven ars
Rendered services cured maiden permanently no further fears.

The second patient his own grandfather, tumour in stomach, king Bimbisara
Though treated by great physician’s failed, tumour removed by genius Jivaka
Next operated two tumours from a rich merchant, friend of King Bimbisara
In no time won reputation, great royal physician, during time of Buddha.

Once Gautama Buddha afflicted with stomach ailment prepared medicine in devotion
Applied on a blue lotus, requested Gautama to inhale essence emanating in perfection
The discomfort soon vanished, ultimately became an outstanding disciple of Buddha
Donated as a retreat for rainy season, inherited mango grove to Gautama

One day, Prince Abaya revealed Jivaka was his own son
Unknowingly adopted the child in sympathy’n overflowing compassion.
Eventually Prince Abaya built a royal palace with many a comfort
But Jivaka continued his dedicated services to an unfathomable extent

Two discourses delivered by Buddha known as Jivaka Satta
Buddha established rule, monks should sweep compound of monastery at request of Jiavaka
Responsible for bringing Ajasattu to Buddha after patricide, brutal crime
Jivaka’s fame escalated, ministered patients sacrificing much time.

Far-sighted Jivaka thoughtful physical health of Gautama ‘n disciples, no limits
When offered celestial robe, mark of respect Buddha delivered discourse on the merits
On listening to discourse on immense merits accrued by Jivaka
Attained the first stage of serene sainthood, Satapana.

By Kumari Kumarasinghe Tennakoon



Haridas Mudiyanse

He was a devoted Buddhist

Haridas Mudiyanse, Mourovia Place, Pannipitiya passed away recently and the funeral took place at the Kottawa public cemetery amidst a large gathering.
I met Mudiyanse in 2005 as he came to his new residence close to my home. In fact, he became a close friend of mine. He was a religious minded person who was a benefactor of the Buddhist Temples in the area.
He was a prominent figure in sports. He devoted his time and wealth for the uplifting of the Buddhist Temples in the Ambalantota area. He was a very kind-hearted person.
May he attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana!
M. G. Asoka Karunaratne


Vernon Mendis

He took Sunday worship seriously

Death has taken away from us our friend Vernon Mendis. Vernon died on Wednesday, June 23, 2010. His mortal remains were cremated.
Those, who knew him in the Foreign Ministry and thereafter, will have their own stories to relate. Mine is the story from the Church where Vernon belonged to. It was my great joy and pleasure to have met Vernon about 21 years ago when I moved to Colombo to work. He was then a member, a faithful one of the Cathedral in Colombo where I worked. Later on Vernon moved to St Michael’s Polwatte.
Vernon’s formation was such at home, and through education and the church that for him Sunday attendance was a must. So Vernon had his own inner life and spirituality.
As a person prepared properly for confirmation he used to come to Church giving himself enough time to be on his knees before the service started. After service he did not run away but fellowshipped with those in Church. Hence the significance of those who were present at the thanksgiving service at the Cathedral.
During my time at the Cathedral, Vernon also used to take part in the service by reading lessons and doing the prayers. I also worked with him on the Celestine Fernando Memorial Committee of which he was a very significant member. At the meetings of that committee I got to know him at a different level.
Looking back at the life of Vernon Mendis it could be stated that he belonged to a generation of Christians who took their Sunday worship seriously. We will always thank God for Vernon for his commitment, discipline and values.
His wife, the son and daughter-in-law and all others can certainly be sure of our prayers for them.
May the soul of Vernon Mendis along with the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace and rise in glory! Amen.
Sydney Knight




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