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Selection blunders cost us World Cup
When Aravinda de Silva was elected as the new Chairman of the Board of Selectors, SLC, all cricket followers were happy, anticipating eagerly a drastic change in the selection pattern, which ultimately became a real stalemate, exactly like what the pattern of previous selections panels’ decisions. Of course, when the reigns of the Chairman was taken over, Aravinda made certain stern comments in the media that drastic changes would be made, especially in regard to the picking of the 15 member squad for the Cricket World Cup 2011, focussing attention on our future cricket.

At several press conferences and in the print and electronic media he stressed on selecting a unit comprising of youth blended with experience is what would be selected. Ultimately, regretfully only the usual experienced players most of whom who had not performed consistently were chosen with the youth more competent completely neglected. This was the monotonous pattern that existed even before for a long time.
The seniors did ever like talented and performing youngsters getting groomed and being included in the team. They never wanted to break the monopoly but to stay on and on at the expense of youngsters. So many talented youth were deprived of playing for their country owing to the policy of all selection panels in the past, although they had performed admirably in our domestic tournaments.

On several occasions, ‘The Player of the Tournament’ was not considered for selection. Once a Chairman of a previous Interim Committee also disagreed why ‘the Player of the Tournament was not selected’ and hence there should be something wrong with the selection process. The selection of the present squad is ample testimony to his statement. The squad has no surprises very unfortunately and it when scrutinised resembles a Test squad rather than an ODI squad for the ICC World Cup 2011.
From the squad of 15 selected it would have been prudent to include Sanath Jayasuriya, Chaminda Vaas, Dinesh Chandimal (who is a dashing batsman cum wicket keeper having notched an ODI century in only his 2nd ODI), Mahela Udawatta by omitting Charmara Silva, Charmara Kapugedera, Rangana Herath and Dilhara Fernando who was only a bench/water boy in the entire tournament. The former has only played only a handful of ODI matches and latter would have mentally suffered for just hanging around by napping.

Even Thilan Samaraweera should not have been included having played only a very few ODI matches. Thilan fought his way into the side saying he cannot be branded as only a Test player. The Indian counterparts, who are definitely much more knowledgeable, omitted Test players of the calibre of Rahul Dravid and V V S Laxman from the ODI squad. Chamara Kapugedera who has never scored a century in 87 ODI’s, has had a very bleak batting record and a low average is persisted, had been included perhaps with the backing of a powerful element which is very unjustifiable. His inclusion has caused an obvious injustice to the talented budding youngsters disproving and defying Aravinda’s own logic which he preached.

If Aravinda’s desire and intention was to groom youth, why did he fail to do justice even to include a single talented youngster barring Thissara Perera who performed admirably. The present and past selectors have ruined the careers of so many youngsters. This selection panel is just one like bold ‘Mavan Atapattu’ named ‘headed by a joker’ at a press briefing in Australia when the Chairman was Ashantha de Mel. The foursome named above, Thilan, the two Charmaras’ and Rangana Herath together with Dilhara should be axed from our future ODI squads and should be replaced by budding talented youngsters as confessed by Aravinda, if we are a force to be reckoned with.

A huge damage/blunder has been made flouting all promises made by the new Chairman of the Selection Committee in selecting a squad with experience and youth as confessed by the new Chairman of the Selection Committee, as only a single budding talented youngster was included in the final 15 squad which was made in a mighty hurry when inter provincial tournaments were in progress. It is indeed pathetic for our future cricket. The colossal loss in the World Cup final could be attributed to playing an only 50% fit Murali, Charmara Kapugedera and excluding Ajantha Mendis for Suraj Randiv who was flown to India only on the previous day to play for the final.
Sunil Thenabadu


Muslims not in conflict with any community

Sri Lankan Muslims are peace loving-people. They are not in conflict with any community although they were the most affected in the North and East being driven away for the loyalty they showed to the successive governments and the opposition for the division of the country.

This is a tradition they have followed from the time of the Sinhalese kings. They have fought many wars against the invaders along with the Sinhalese soldiers. Therefore, their love for their motherland is second to none and their patriotism is unquestionable. Having all these cast iron-credentials as an asset to the community, to be insulted by an UPFA parliamentarian en masse, as reported in The Nation, the entire Muslim community of Sri Lanka demands an apology from this politician.

He seems to be angered by a few ignorant or idiotic Muslim youngsters that have supported Pakistan during the recent Sri Lanka vs Pakistan match played in Colombo.
This parliamentarian has totally ignored the fact that this is just an isolated case while the entire community solidly stood with the country’s team. I know many of my Muslim friends, who went hoarse, after shouting their throats out for Sri Lankan team not only while playing against Pakistan but any country for that matter!
In the meantime, the MP should not forget how the entire Pakistani spectators, nearly 30,000 of them, supported Sri Lanka their hearts out in the 1996 World Cup final, played in Lahore, Pakistan. There were not more than a few hundreds Sri Lankans in the pavillion but the Pakistanis did the job for us.

The then Pakistani prime minister the late Benazir Bhutto, while presenting the cup to captain Arjuna Ranatunga declared an additional cash award of US $ 100,000 from the Pakistani government which was equal to ICC’s stake then. Arjuna in his speech paid a glowing tribute to the Pakistani spectators for their enthusiastic support for our team.

We also cannot forget the military aid we get from Pakistan and we remember how one of their diplomats narrowly escaped an attempt on his life, in Colombo, by the LTTE terrorists, because of this assistance we were afforded.

This MP’s threat that ‘housing in Colombo for the Muslims will not be considered by the government in the future’ is something ready deplorable. We are sure that this is not the policy of the President or the government or even the UPFA. Our President’s policy is to maintain excellent relation with Arab and Muslim countries has paid rich dividends by way of aid without any string and employment, which is our top foreign exchange earner now. I wonder whether this MP is aware that All Ceylon Jamiyathul Ulema, the Muslim religious body, made an appeal to the Muslim community to support our team.

It explained that our religion compels on everyone to show his or her allegiance towards his or her country. As Muslims we are duty bound to stand by our country under any circumstances. Just because a few foolish fellows were ignorantly failed in their duty, it is not fair for the MP to paint the whole community en masse with the same brush.

The Muslim community has already taken action to identify the very few who were ‘unpatriotic’ and have already reprimanded them. However, we are really disturbed to see the MP’s extremely harsh statement not respecting the sentiment of the community. He is trying to have a ‘storm in a tea cup’. In the meantime, we commend the SLC chief for playing down the issue and dismissing it by saying ‘it is only a sport and you are free to support a side you fancy’.
We are one hundred percent behind our team and looking forward to a repeat performance of 1996! Good luck boys, our thoughts are always with you. God bless you all!

S H Moulana


Travails of pensioners overseas

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


Slanting newly installed trash bins

No one will fail to notice these days that small plastic buckets mounted on metal pipes are being installed on the pavements close to bus stops, at entrances to private roads/ lanes. These are meant to be used as trash bins for the road users to dispose of toffee wrappers, ice cream cups and other throwaway items.
This, I think, is part of the government’s effort to keep the city clean. I noticed that in the process of fixing these poles, the pavements have been dug and these poles have not been rigidly fixed. These poles which would have been fixed vertical as already started tilting and one possible reason could be that the digging has not been deep enough!
I saw at one place the plastic bucket has gone missing with the pole only remaining. In another place the garbage was partly jutting out from the base of the container. I also would like to raise the following queries in respect of these newly installed plastic trash bins.
Shouldn’t the size of the plastic container be a bit bigger? Shouldn’t there be a lid on top? As otherwise, crows are pulling the trash out from these containers. Shouldn’t the installation be much stronger? Preferably it should have been done free standing with a heavy base whereby digging of the pavement could have been easily avoided.
This is to request the janitorial company which has won the tender and entrusted to execute this installation to do a good job with the balance installation of these trash bins without comprising on quality.

Mohamed Zahran


Long for pipe borne water for long

The National Water Supply and Drainage Board has not provided pipe borne water so far to the following areas, namely Peththa Waththa, Gomarakanda and Panikkigoda in the Beruwala electorate.
The residents of the above areas have made so many requests to extend the water supply line from Payagala-Galle road to these densely populated rural areas since the inauguration of a new regional office at Payagala North.
Now almost seven (7) years have lapsed, still the Board has not woken up from its deep slumber to this crucial issue.

C M Kamburawala



Sidath Dharmaratne

Willingly helped the less fortunate

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!

Mother Teresa

Knew her personally and worked with her

Agnes Bojaxhiu, being Mother’s birth name was born on August 26, 1910 in Yugoslavia. In 1928, she left home to become a Novice of Loreto and in 1931, arrived in India
On her way to India she had a brief stay in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). In India, she took the religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and was given the name by which the world knows her, Mother Teresa. As a Sister of Loreto she taught at St Mary’s School in Calcutta for several years. While teaching Geography to the elitist girls, the young Sister fell in love with “the wretched of the earth” in Calcutta.
Hence her leaving the Roman Catholic Sisterhood of Loreto and seeking the permission of the Vatican to begin a new Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity, which was approved by a decree of the Pope in 1950. Since then, the Congregation has expanded and moved to almost every continent in the world. For her work she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Magsaysay Prize and the Bharat Ratna. When the Pope visited India in the 1980s, he left for her and the Congregation the car that he used in India, which she raffled and used the money for her work thus, being obedient to her vow of poverty.
The present writer knew her personally in the latter part of the 1960s. Then the writer was undergoing formation at the then Provincial Seminary of the Church of India, Pakistan and Ceylon.
The writer with other students was in the same neighbourhood of the Parent House of the Sisters. During that period of formation, the students of Bishop’s College, Calcutta, as a part of their formation related to Mother and the Sisters and also worked with the Brothers of the same order in Calcutta.
The students of that era with the Brothers got up early in the morning and before lunch visited the people in Calcutta with whom the Brothers and Sisters worked.
There were a few significant areas of work.
1. Working with the urchins at the two big stations in Calcutta – Howrah and Sealdah.
2. Working with the lepers in the colony and on the streets of Calcutta.
3. Working with the migrants in the city of Calcutta ended up in the slums brewing illicit liquor.
4. Working with the Sisters and Brothers looking after those at the point of death at the Kali Temple in Calcutta. They were people picked up by the Sisters and Brothers from the streets of Calcutta.
It is strange but true that in the Temple dedicated to Goddess Kali, the deity of destruction and death, the Mother, her Sisters and Brothers gave even at the point of death meaning to life in and through their love in the context of the reality and death and suffering.
Looking back at those days in Calcutta with the Mother, this writer is thankful for that formation given by the Mother. The writer kept in touch with the Mother till the very end. On a visit to Calcutta he was able to visit the Mother. She was at prayer in the Chapel, for her life was based on the Blessed Sacrament, her inner life and her spirituality.
After her time in the Chapel she saw the writer, spent a few minutes and left him with the words, “A child learns to love, under God, and gives till it hurts”.
Thus, following the Mother’s life and reading her words as a part of daily devotion, the writer was able to work out his own inner life and spirituality.
Thanks to television, one learnt about the Mother’s death soon after the tragic end of Princess Diana. The Mothers funeral in Calcutta spoke volumes. Not only the people of Calcutta but the persons of the whole world mourned the death of this Woman of God. Thus, it is significant that her Church is in the process of making her a Saint.
May her soul rest in peace and rise in glory! Amen.
Sydney Knight




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