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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.

 

School fashion show with guns!

This is the level of education developed in Sri Lanka

In a society where guns are only to be used by military, an international school fashion show organisers thought it was cool to point guns at the audience. Yes, one might think this only a fashion show and should be ignored but see the undercurrent that’s flowing which says guns are approved in school fashion shows.
Are these guns stolen or owned by the deserters? Can they point a gun at the audience? Nowhere in the world, one can point a gun at a gathering even it’s without bullets! This is not the norm. Pointing guns or introducing guns in a fashion show should be stopped and should be investigated if these guns are licensed to carry. What next? Grenades and bombs in fashion shows? What’s the level of security we will have in the future?
Sri Lanka has allowed this stupidity to go so far and now even at school fashion shows. The level of education in Sri Lanka in ruins and now the guns are introduced. Sri Lanka should have only one level of education and no other. Why should Sri Lanka have different education system for normal citizens and another for rich and famous? Are we developing a different society which is allowed to use guns?
Roshan Amarasinghe

 

Paying utility bills via credit cards easy for all

The proposal made in 2007 by the then Minister Public Administration and Home Affairs to introduce and implement a ‘citizens charter’, a document where rights are defined, in order to uplift the prevailing deteriorated public service and to prevent the bureaucrats to work and discharge duties according to their wishes is definitely a wonderful move in order to offer the suffering masses redress they richly deserve as citizens. .
The ‘citizens charter’ is a document where the employees’ role to the public, particularly in the most ideal and legitimate manner in discharging duties allotted in order to offer the best services, is clearly defined. However, to achieve this objective which is a long-felt need, the latest modern technology should be implemented through decentralisation of Public Administration. The acceptance of payments to the Ceylon Electricity Board and the National Water Supply and Drainage Board via the credit card should be commenced in the first place in order to achieve this endeavour.

But unfortunately this important exercise is yet to be implemented. However, a process for those affluent has been introduced to pay online for payment of bills. How many non affluent are having this facility devoid of personal computers and adequate computer literacy.
In this country, similar to the usage of a mobile phone by the majority, credit cards, which are world-renowned, issued by banks and reputed institutions are also used by many as a mode of payment for bills/purchases, etc. With the introduction of credit cards over three decades ago, most people do their money transactions through them, which is very convenient mode rather than carrying physical cash along with them.

There is absolutely no doubt that the highest number of bills paid to a single government statutory institution by individuals, institutions and companies is to the Ceylon Electricity Board. Since the amount of the monthly bill is a variable one, clients who are compelled to pay the electricity bill on a monthly basis cannot place a standing order with the bank. Hence, a personal visit has to be made by each subscriber to a payment centre of the CEB.
Of course, now many banks, post offices, various private companies, communication centres do accept payments for bills. The payments, however, have to be made by cash and there too, payments are not accepted by credit cards. These payments invariably take a considerable length of time to be credited to the respective accounts of the millions of subscribers. Those amounts paid more often than not, do not reflect in the following month’s bill and invariably the amount paid is added on as arrears, making the subscriber baffled.

Although credit cards are not accepted, the bills of the CEB and NWS&DB could be paid by personal or official cheques drawn in favour of the respective statutory institutions. A certain percentage of such cheques are bound to get dishonoured for lack of funds or for technical reasons such as ‘cheque post dated,’ ‘drawer’s signature differs from the specimen in our possession,’ ‘account not stated,’ etc.
Hence, there is a definitely a risk factor involved in recovery of the payments due to these statutory institutions. Some make these technical errors deliberately. The members of the staff handling the work of dishonoured cheques at the banks and at these institutions to take follow up action will have to devote valuable time to resolve these matters.

But on the other hand, if the payments are accepted via credit cards, it is just like paying physical cash. The minimum bank charges for obtaining immediate credit for the credit card payments could be easily negotiated or exempted in consultation with the respective credit cardholders, dealers, banks or credit card institutions.
So why don’t the authorities of the CEB and the NWS&DB commence the exercise of accepting the subscribers’ credit cards, which would benefit them as well as millions of subscribers scattered island-wide? The credit cardholders would benefit by this exercise mainly for the sake of convenience and the respective cards they use would have more transactions, thereby the approved credit limits would be automatically enhanced through a system certain multinational banks adopt.
It is surprising that these two institutions do not accept the world renowned credit cards for settlement of bills of the subscribers. At Sri Lanka Telecom this facility is available not only at Regional Telecommunication centres but also at the Tele-shops.
Sunil Thenabadu

 

Extend equal concessions to all retirees

The employees of the state institutions serve both for the government and the public. But they are divided into two groups such as government servants and semi-government employees. The former after retirement enjoy benefits like pension, after his or her death pension to the family, railway warrants, etc. But nothing to the latter.
Therefore, I wish to suggest to the Ministry of Public Administration and Home Affairs to consider the following benefits to those who retire from the semi-government services.
To give them and their families opportunity of booking holiday bungalows relevant to their institutions on concessionary rates and if there are any other benefits that could be given also to be included.
In the case of ferry services, which will soon be in operation from Sri Lanka to India, the present and the past employees of the Ceylon Shipping Corporation, Sri Lanka Ports Authority and Colombo Dockyard should be given concessionary rates for their families.
I hope welfare societies will forward this proposal to their respective management and obtain the necessary approval considering the retired personnel who served their institutions.
Nazly Cassim

 

International Women’s Day

Marriage vows discriminate against women

Much have been spoken, written and promises made by leaders of all countries. This reminds me of a wedding invitation which I received sometimes back from a Catholic family, quoting Bible – Old Testament Genesis 2-22. “And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made a woman and brought her unto him”. It will be seen the bride is given to understand that she is an offshoot of man and therefore, subordinate to man in all respects.
Further, the Old Testament Genesis 3-16 says: “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conceptions in sorrow thou shaft bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”. These biblical references are religiously instilled in Sunday school catechism classes from childhood and in adulthood men guiltlessly follow this command of God. What God proposes can man reject?
What the international women’s organisations all over, should first get this rooted idea out and this only could be done by the Vatican – Pope Benedict XVI., by deleting these irrational, archaic teachings, which are outdated with men and women becoming more educated, knowledgeable and rational.
Towards this end, the Church of England seems to have taken a meaningful action as reported in The Telegraph Group London 2006 by Johnathan Petre, where the Archbishop of Canterbury says: “Traditional marriage vows could be used to justify wife beating. The traditional marriage vows in which the bride promises to ‘OBEY’ her husband could be used by men to justify domestic violence.” It adds that make “headship” had been enshrined in the marriage service and could be misinterpreted as supporting the idea that the wife should submit to the husband.
Hence the Church of England has offered alternative version, admitting the word “OBEY”. If these Biblical references are deleted, then and only then will women stand in par with men and their rights, maintaining their natural feminine traits – beauty, charm and above all reductive looks.
Will Pope Benedict XVI respond if such a prayer made by women?
GADS

 

Wesley Founders Day – 2011

Visit to Wesley College always a great pleasure

A visit to Sri Lanka and particularly to Wesley College is always a great pleasure. The early years of one’s life are so influential and mine were spent in Sri Lanka. My father Rev James Cartman and my mother Winifred sailed for what was then Ceylon soon after their marriage in 1937 and settled in Batticaloa, my father having accepted the post of Principal of Methodist Central Col1ege. It was during this period that I was born in 1940.
My mother and I were evacuated back to the UK in 1942, my father remained behind. Thus I have no memories of life in Batticaloa. My memories of Colombo, however, are very vivid. After a short furlough in UK, my father returned as Principal of Wesley College in Colombo where he set about restoring the college to its old premises, which had been occupied by the Army during the war.

My first memories were of living in a bungalow on Baseline Road until the Principal’s bungalow was ready for us. I attended the kindergarten at Wesley, with Mrs. Leembrugan as my teacher before moving to the Hill School in Nuwara Eliya. School holidays were spent at Wesley and I enjoyed many happy hours in the compound there.

I can remember vividly hating the idea of leaving Sri Lanka when in 1949, my father decided to return to the UK. I believe that he felt very strongly that the Principal should be a local man following Independence. England seemed a very alien place to me then. Natural1y it is home now.
I completed my educational Bromley High School in Kent, and then went to London University to read Zoology - graduating in 1961. It was at University that I met Michael Weaver and we were married in 1962, moving to Bristol where I made use of the post­graduate teaching certificate I had gained in London to teach at a Teacher Training College. My husband worked at Roll-Royce for four years, after which we moved to Fleet in Hampshire for him to take up a post as a Government Scientist at the Royal Aerospace Establishment. 45 years later we still live there. We have two sons, David and Andrew, and a daughter Kate. We also have three grandsons and three granddaughters all of whom live near to us.

Although England is undoubtedly home now, I still feel a sense of belonging when I return to Sri Lanka. My parents had kept in touch with several friends and they have always welcomed us most warmly. When we visited in 1999, we were able to see the college chapel which had recently been completed, and when we visited in 2002 we admired the Junior School classrooms which had only commenced construction in 1999.

It is fortunate for us that Wesley celebrates its Founder’s Day in March, which we consider a good time, weather-wise to visit and we have been delighted to be guests at various College and Old Boys celebrations. We are currently again on holiday in Sri Lanka and are very much looking forward to a visit to Wesley on March 3. I will particularly wish to see the Cartman Library, named after my father, and to see all the improvements we have been told of. It will be, as always, a great pleasure to return my old haunts at Wesley and to see again my old friends from Wesley days.
Christine Weaver

 

Appreciation

Sidath Dharmaratne

He preferred to practise dhamma not to read

I lost my precious and beloved son in the early hours of December 28, 2010. Even though we all knew he was terminally ill, the moment of departure was not anticipated. No mother can anticipate such things or find it easy to come to terms with that eventuality. It was the same with me when my third son, Sidath passed away.
Of all my sons, it was Sidath who spent the most amount of time with me. He even observed sil with me because he felt I was very careless and might have a bad fall. He stopped me from using public transport and always insisted that I go in a taxi. It was not just about helping his mother navigate safety the infirmities that old age brings. He had a larger purpose.

He wanted me to attain a higher level of understanding, in terms of the teachings of the Buddha. He wanted my sojourn through sansara to be brief. He would observe on many occasions that what was important was not the reading of the dhamma but its practice. He often told me that I had read enough and knew enough. He used the word pragna or wisdom very often; so often that we sometimes affectionately called him ‘Pragna’.
Sidath called me ‘Raththaran Amma’ and always told me not to worry, that he would always be with me and that he would never leave. In a sense, he hasn’t but that is not a source of comfort but one of pain, perhaps because I didn’t ‘practice’ enough. That’s what he would say.

He was never one to complain. Through all the difficulties he faced in life and most of all through the terrible pain he suffered on account of his disease, Sidath never complained. He was not one to trouble anyone. He never showed his pain. He didn’t whimper or groan. He didn’t even sigh.
He was a very good chess player, but that’s not all he could do. He could sing very well. I remember his friends organising a sing song and a dinner for him. He was the singer. His favourites were the songs of Milton Mallawarachchi and Gunadasa Kapuge.

Before he fell ill he used to sit in front of an open chess board and contemplate games and positions late into the night. He had stopped taking part in tournaments a long time before. When I mentioned this to him he said that he did not want to bring glory to himself but that he wanted to help a few outstanding players improve their game. With this in mind he travelled all over the country helping children who were really talented.
He was a good banker, but he never waned to be tied down to one place. His last employer was a very religious person and Sidath helped him build hermitages and living abodes for bikkhus. He was the mediator who looked after their needs. He used to take lots of poor patients to doctors who were his friends for treatment. Yes, he would go out of his way to help anyone, especially the less fortunate.
Sidath was a good father to his beloved son Devin. While it is true that all parents love their children but his love for Devin was rare. So was Devin’s love for his father.

It is three months since my son left me. He is as present, as loved and as beautiful as the first day I set my eyes on him. He would tell me that I have to employ pragna, recognise the incomparable truth of the Buddha’s words, accept that all things are transient and strive to shorten my journey through sansara. There is no lack of striving. And yet, I am a mother and he is my son. Perhaps my journey will be very long, longer than he expected or would wish. That’s because he was a different kind of human being and different kind of son. I wish him the same, because I am a mother. Because I am his mother.
May you attain the supreme bliss of Nibbana, Sidath!
Amma

For Sidath Ayya

When I close my eyes
I see your beautiful face
The kindness in your eyes, the joyful smile
I hear your voice
Maybe one or two witty remarks…
I still have your number
Maybe you’d give a call as you always do
And say “Suba davasak nangi”…
I will always love you
The love will never die
I still wish the best for you
And may all your wishes come true
After all, your only wish from this life
Was to end your suffering
And never to be born again
Maybe next time.
And maybe I’ll be there with you again
As your loving nangi 
May you attain the supreme bliss of happiness
And end your suffering forever!               
Sanjiva

 

 

 

 

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