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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.

 

My granddaughter needs answers
My granddaughter attends Sunday Dhamma School, accompanies her mother to temple on Poya Days to observe “Sil” and also listens to Dhamma sermons on TV every morning and while waiting for the school van, asks me the following questions to which I have no answers.
a) She says, in her Dhamma school, the priest has taught her to clasp her palms and place on her forehead when reciting the “Namaskaraya” (Namo Thassa Bhagawatho, Arahatho Samma Sambudassa) but the priests who come over the TV do not do this. Some recite the “Namaskaraya” without bringing the palms together, some do so by bringing the palms together and place on the chest. What is the correct way?
b) Some priests wear yellow robes, while some wear nigger brown, brown or dark bluish brown. What is the correct colour of the robe which Lord Buddha instructed the monks to wear?
c) Some priests, when they preach Bana, wear the robe fully covering the body, while some wear with one shoulders open. What is the accepted manner, Lord Buddha has instructed?
d) Some priests gesticulate as if addressing a political meeting rather than the serene, calm composure. Is there a code of conduct on this matter?
This is certainly not an indictment on our Buddhist monks but what I fear is that my granddaughter may in time to come give up Buddhist way of life, which she may feel is not consistent. If that happens, we all have a responsibility and we have to accept the blame inclusive of Buddhist monks. Shouldn’t the priesthood set an example and be a model for them to be respected and revered?
S Weerakone

 

International Labour Organisation

Part II

In the service of workpeople for 92 years

When the ILO Headquarters building in Geneva was ceremonially opened in 1926, three persons who happened to be the Chairman and Vice Chairmen of the Governing Body - Arthur Fontaine - a Government representative (French), Jan Oudegeest - a worker representative (Netherlands), and Jules Carlier - an employer representative (Belgian) opened the gates and walked into the building led by Albert Thomas, the first Director of the ILO. Others present at the historic occasion followed. This action symbolised the principle of tripartism which is characterised the World Organisation.
Tripartism means the involvement of three parties. Thus, in the worker or labour related field the three parties are the worker, the employer and the Government. In economic activity or in production these three parties have different interests for a common purpose - production of goods and offering of services.
A living wage, security of job and safe and healthy working conditions are the primary aims of a worker when he gains employment.

The employer who invests capital expects to maximise profits, keeping wages as low as possible and holding production costs down often by ignoring minimum health and safety requirements at workplace. This applies to the manager as well.
The government has to safeguard the interests of the community at large - to provide the people with goods and services at reasonable and within the reach prices - whilst having concern for the employer interests and safeguarding workers’ rights.
The reconciliation of these three different interests for evolving workable compromises at institution or industry level for the efficient, smooth and viable functioning of an enterprise is necessary. This approach is administrative pluralism and helps reconcile conflicting views through dialogue and common approach to problems and issues.
The tripartite approach is symbolic of the ILO conference as well which is held in June every year. Each member country could send four delegates - two representing the government and one each from workers’ and employers’ organisations.

The Governing Body of the ILO elected by the conference also has representatives of the worker, employer and governments and having 14 each and the governments 28.
It is to the credit of the ILO that it is the only international organisation that has representatives from workers’ and employers’ organisations and governments sitting together discussing common issues.
The ILO, therefore, in promoting tripartite consultation is only ensuring the improvement of working conditions and industrial peace through the joint efforts of the worker, employer and the Government.

Worker education
The workers, to effectively participate in the tripartite system as envisaged by the ILO, should have strong and well organised unions and a knowledgeable leadership. New technology and automation which need to be introduced to meet international standards and requirements will influence wages, working hours and conditions and employer-employee relationship. The workers represented by trade unions should as such be ready to meet these changes and challenges. Worker education is the answer.
The trade unions should train their members in bargaining and negotiations as well as in other trade union activities and social problems facing modem society. This requirement cannot be ignored for the well-being of the workers and the labour movement.
The ILO as far back as 1924 adopted a recommendation concerning the opening of facilities for the education of workers and it continues to be active in this field and conduct worker education. programmes to achieve that end.

Social justice
The over-riding objectives of the ILO have been Social Justice. It has adopted 188 Conventions and 200 Recommendations up to date, to achieve that objective. For peace and prosperity could be achieved only through the enshrinement of Social Justice. And Social Justice would mean a social order without the existence of a minority living at the expense of the majority. It being so the ILO, it is evident, is marching forward in its quest for social progress and social justice.

Upali S Jayasekera

 

Water consumers unreasonably overcharged

I moved into the occupation of present premises late last year. I give below the details of the billings in a tabular format so that anyone can see the discrepancy in the billing and how the Water Board is trying to overcharge the customers. The meter number is 0608005790 and the water bill is in favour of the previous owner.
The average consumption of my household is about 17 units for a month. As per the Water Board tariff, if the meter reader visits monthly and the billing is done accordingly, the total number of units consumed will be about 122 units as computed in the table above and the amount I will incur will be approximately Rs.2,077.60 (Rs.296.80 x 7 months) whereas the total amount I have to pay now has skyrocketed to Rs.6, 544.36, an overcharge of Rs.4,466.76.
A written complaint was made on April 8, 2010 on receipt of March bill for 59 units but to date I have still not received any redress. I wish to draw the attention of the Minister of Public Utilities and Chairman of the Water Board as to how the customer is being unnecessarily and very indiscriminately burdened by the Water Board.
I would like to know, if the meter reader fails to visit on or before the due date and in case, the house is closed, how is the consumer supposed to be billed?
Anver A Azeez

 

Discard politics; espouse unity
I humbly and most sincerely appeal to the United National Party to kindly give up their kind of politics and join hands with Mahinda Rajapaksa (The Second Father of the Nation, the first being Hon. D. S. Senanayake) and develop this beautiful, now peaceful country with its wonderful people who deserve nothing better and nobler than that task, for the benefit of future generations of this thrice blessed land.
The Tamil parties should be patient for a little while longer and let President resolve that problem too just as the way he did with the terrorist problem, what the whole world thought was impossible to solve.
I request the JVP to either honourably give up politics altogether or join hands with President once again or find another country to continue their useless politics.
This country, in my opinion, does not need any more politics in the near future.
Dr W B Wijekoon

 

Display official identity cards

It is reprehensible that in certain government departments, the employees, who are to assist the callers for getting certain matters attended to, do not wear the necessary official identity cards.
Perhaps they may be lying in their drawers safely.
All categories of public servants, who have to be met by members of the public seeking advice and assistance, should be required during hours of duty to display on their dress (on either side or centre of their chests) the official identity cards. Even when a public servant goes out of his office to visit a residence for an inquiry or for other purpose of the government, he/she should be displaying his/her official identity card.
Identity cards should be certified by the Head of Department. It is suggested that a prominently encircled spot containing a distinctive reference number be provided in every card so that a citizen can conveniently note it for any complaint.
I submit that salutary measures as suggested above are required in view of prevalent frauds, scams, bribery, corruption and other scourges in this country.
D Kuruneru

 

Counter service at banks not satisafactory

Leading private banks operating in the Colombo city having over four to eight/nine counters are not at all equipped with their staff at least in five counters to serve their customers. Only two counters are in operation during busy hours. After all, these different banks were awarded for ‘Best Banking’ continuously for the past 10 years.
When it was referred to the Manager of the Cash Counters, the answer was curt ‘short of staff’. As a result, the customers have to wait in long queues for hours.
I appeal to all the Regional Managers of these private banks to have surprise visits to their branches in the Colombo city during the rush hours - between 9.00 am and 11.00 a.m. and 1.00 pm to 3.00 pm
Also it has been observed that at the most of the counters, the ‘Counter Closed’ boards are displayed. I trust that higher authorities of the banks will take immediate action to improve their counter services to their customers.

A K Gnanakanthan

 

Appreciations

Willet Fernando

A gentleman held in high esteem

Willet Fernando (Willet to his friends and close associates) passed away on September 28, 2010 peacefully, ending his battle with a sickness he didn’t know what it was. I will be failing in my duty if I do not put pen to paper for a few words in the form of an appreciation to a soft spoken man who was like a brother to me and to his colleagues for a long time, loved by all who knew him well.
He was 78 years at the time of his demise and was a gentleman held in high esteem by one and all for his valuable services rendered to Moratuwa Sports Club from 1978 to 2008 as its hony general secretary and was also the secretary of the Moratuwa YMCA for a short period.
I met Willet in 1980, when I was elected a vice president of the Moratuwa Sports Club and at that time he was the general secretary of Moratuwa SC and supported me to the hilt. He was of tremendous assistance to me and to the club for well over two decades. His devotion to the club helped me and the club to organise 14 International cricket matches at Tyronne Fernando Stadium between 1983 and 2001.
Matter of fact, he rendered assistance to me on major public relations and community service projects I carried out for the Lions Club of Moratuwa in the past and even when I happened to be its president in 1988/’89, irrespective of not being a lion.
I gave up the presidentship of the Moratuwa SC in 2001, after serving the club effectively and meaningfully as president for exactly two decades, unanimously elected uncontested for those twenty years. During the said period the club faced many obstacles and setbacks, but Willet stood in solidarity with me and other office bearers, even when undesirable hooligans ransacked, looted and completely burnt down the club in 1987 at the time of the peace accord through sheer cussedness and pure jealousy. Matter of fact, Willet helped immensely to rebuild the club in a short time and we managed to put the club back on its feet and cricket blossomed to a peak with top players turning up for the club and became one of the best cricket clubs in the premier cricket tournament conducted by the cricket board.
Willet was attached to the Ministry of Higher Education (projects division) and was a very popular officer and had the expertise in the division he worked. He also worked at the Import & Export Department, Govt. Supplies and the Pill Project, Technical College as a very honest, capable and a diligent officer well respected by his colleagues.
Besides, Willet was not only sincere but was honest too which is a rare commodity in clubs these days, now that cricket is commercialised to the hilt.
He was an unassuming and down to earth person, always ready to help not only his friends but everyone who came to him for help.
Talking of his family Willet lost his beloved wife Lorna when his two sons were kids, however, he managed to bring up his sons well, educated and guided the eldest Sumith to be in an affluent and leading furniture contract businessman, married to Vaasu a dynamic young buisiness-minded lady and both of them are blessed with two sons, Gimhan and Devhan, while his younger son Pradeep is in Event Management business, having qualified from the Ceylon Hotel School in hotel management.
I had the opportunity of seeing him just one week before his demise, after my return from overseas and Willet was very happy to meet me, and told me that he was having an unbearable headache that won’t settle, and he told me that the AGM of Moratuwa SC for 2010 is just weeks away and that he intended to become President, to save the club from a disastrous situation it has fallen into, by initiating important changes. I wished him well. But alas, just a week from that day Willet passed away peacefully at a private hospital and sadly his dream of becoming the President of Moratuwa Sports Club ended.
Thus a void has been created in the club never to be filled, for the club is now facing a parlous and sorrowful situation according to some members, past cricketers and the public of Moratuwa.
I am quite sure that a few life members of the club also know the fact that Willet was interested in becoming club president to re-organise the club to its past glory. The stalwarts of the club could pay a glowing tribute to Willet by getting together to cleanup the deteriorating mess, by driving away the undesirables, if any, who have crept into the club, to have an effective administration for Moratuwa SC to be a force to be reckoned with, in cricket in Sri Lanka once again. That was his only desire and dream which I believe some of the senior club members knew very well.
As a Past President of the club, I too would be extremely happy if the club stalwarts use common sense to resuscitate the ailing giant in its dire need to glorify the club with a clean administration which is Willet’s desire and all Moratuwites.
Willet, a gentleman to his fingertips, will be missed dearly by all his friends, family members and loved ones and especially the Moratuwa Sports Club.
I thank and praise God for Willet’s life. He is now in the nearer presence of his Lord and Master. May he rest in peace and rise in glory!
‘De mortuis nil nisi bonum’.
Chrisantha de Silva

 

Arisen Ahubudu

A teacher who epitomised the profession

I was shocked and saddened by the news that my beloved teacher Arisen Ahubudu had passed away. Many a Sri Lankan of the older generation knew his name for his scholarly skills. He had given names to many children in the new generation; each name with a meaning that one was expected to live up to.
He was someone who had influenced my life as a young student at S Thomas’ College.
One might think that this Sinhala scholar may not have suited the college culture. But he was, in fact, a guiding factor in instilling the college traditions in us.
Ahubudu taught from grade 7 to Ordinary Level classes. His style of teaching was what we call ‘out of the box’ today. As soon as he enters the classroom he draws pictures across the black board. The pictures included figures of kings, stupas and different ancient scenarios. With these pictures, which he drew under two minutes, he was able to draw our attention to him.

He was an excellent artist and his illustrations were lively and intriguing. Then he would relate the story pertaining to the drawing. Most often the stories were about a king or something from our history. He told us about kings such as Dutugemunu and Dhatusena and their dedication to the country, religion and the people. His stories also included ancient cultivation practices, irrigation and the commitment of the leaders of our country. The stories which lasted for about six to seven minutes touched our minds and hearts creating a deep sense of affection and pride towards our language, culture and country.
He did not ever have to shout at us to get our attention. His mild mannerisms and gentle way of addressing us together with his exemplary appearance made us want to listen to him. I feel that he was the one who sowed the very first seeds of patriotism in our minds. His vision on patriotism was all about being community and not communal minded. Our forefathers who were the main characters of the stories he narrated, always placed country before self whether they went to war, made stupas, had trading with other countries or developed irrigation systems.

He was able to strike that fine balance in his stories by highlighting the exemplary character traits of these heroes and heroines and not just giving a false sense of pride of being Sinhalese. Even when he told us stories about the fight against the British Empire, he instilled no anger or animosity in our minds. He ensured that we never became ‘label patriots’; citizens who would call them patriots, yet act contrary to the supreme notion of patriotism. He also introduced the concept of farming for self-sustenance to us. Once again he showed us our duty and responsibility towards the country’s future.
I have been guided by many disciplinarians in my life. But none was gentler than Ahubudu. I still wonder how he commanded attention and respect, kept the students quiet and still stole our hearts and minds without ever having to be strict with us. He was a different type of character; non-threatening and soft-spoken but extremely effective as a teacher. I cannot recall a single day when he punished us. He addressed each of us as ‘oba’ (‘you’ in its mildest and most respectful form). There was no necessity to send anyone to the Warden or give any sort of punishment. The reason was not that we were great students but because he was a great teacher; great because in his presence all the students behaved well.

I will never forget the ‘sloka’ (Pali and Sanskrit stanzas) through which he imparted deep philosophy to us. I still recall those stanzas from my memory effortlessly thanks to him. These stanzas simply taught us the way to live in this world. He always gave us much more than the syllabus or the prescribed subject matter. Arisen Ahubudu went above and beyond his line of duty to give us more. Come to think of it, he never had a ‘line of duty’. We never made a mockery of his stories or thought it was a waste of time. From the moment we realised that this teacher was getting us on track to face life’s challenges, we followed him. It was his guidance which helps many of us today to move with people from all walks of life.

Punctuality, they say, is the politeness of princes. Ahubudu was a right royal prince for he was always punctual. It was his way of respecting others. He was simple, friendly and affectionate. His priority was teaching and his personal life was secondary. If there were issues, the teachers brought them up at different fora but never at the cost of children’s education. What he wanted and what he dedicated his life for is to ensure that the younger generation became citizens of worth. He was thus connected to his students.
He was also a lyricist who penned meaningful songs such as ‘Lanka Lanka’ to promote patriotic feelings among the young and the old. His songs, written in the 50’s and 60’s, awakened the nation and are still popular. Even through his songs he was teaching the values of our culture and history without insulting other ethnicities. Teaching was in his blood. His knowledge on astrology, numerology and language was so great that people constantly sought his advice when they had to name a child, a project or a business venture. Many of the projects launched by successive governments have been named by him such as ‘Maga Neguma’ and ‘Sisu Seriya’.

Many of his students have risen to highest ranks in the field of politics, media and a vast range of other professions proving that the foundation that he laid in their lives has been solid. Unlike a majority of our teachers, Ahubudu constantly kept in touch with us long after we had left school. A few people, whom I met at his funeral including those who called me to pass on the message of his demise, requested that I write an appreciation of this great son of Sri Lanka. It is indeed a very sad occasion for all of us to know that he is no more. And the vacuum he has created can never be filled. Today as always, I salute him for the nobility he showed us and the humility with which he taught us.

May he attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana!
S.V.D Kesaralal Gunasekera

 

Nineteenth Death Anniversary of T B Ilangaratne

Whatever did by TBI all for nation

Born on 27/2/1913 TBI
Died on 21/5/1992 TBI
The humaneness of TBI
We remember sincerely our TBI

Doyen of the S.L.F.P. TBI
Common man’s TBI
Heart & Soul of TBI
Endeavoured to give by TBI
An improved social standard by TBI

Determination & Dedication of TBI
Honesty & Sincerity of TBI
Made him the true TBI
Politician of the calibre of TBI

Whatever did by TBI
Whatever actions by TBI
All for the Nation, by TBI
Neither let us nor forgets TBI

Dynamic TU leader the TBI
TU dignity advocated by TBI
No matter what happens to TBI
Did the duty to TU, by TBI

MP or Minister TBI
Whatever the status of TBI
“Simplicity” of our TBI
Was the primary motive of TBI

Literary of TBI
Village & the Villager of TBI
Was not forgotten by TBI
Given the due place by TBI

Critics National & I ‘nat. of TBI
Made hue & cry for TBI
Smiled, at them by TBI
Shamed, the critics by TBI

Inimitable ways of TBI
Exemplary life of TBI
Late Tamara, the Wife of TBI
& the four children of TBI
Made the full life of TBI

Gentleman of par excellence TBI
Disciplined politician TBI
Undaunted, come what may TBI
Stood for the cause by TBI

Kept his cool unshakably by TBI
The devoted Buddhist TBI
Supreme Bliss of Nirvana to TBI
Our prayers are for you, TBI

This is what we could give you now TBI
Thanks for all what you did, TBI

Daya Nihal de Silva
DHARMASENA ATTYGALLE

Among the stars,

I see you still…

Why did stars above
snatch you
From the mortal’s land?
I wonder…
Too soon,
Long before the ripe old age.

The final journey
was as quick as a flash
Just as you desired -
No pain, no decay
For us to cherish you
In that unmistakable element…

Time had not barred
Your laughter of warmth,
Your charm and charisma,
Spun in a magic
Only you could fathom…

When I feel you beside me
In testing times
Giving the strength
To reach soaring heights,
When I feel your love
Enveloping me,
Your mettle- a buffer
Against all odds in life,
Forgive me,
I do not wish
to end
Your Samsaric journey,
For I need you beside me
My aatha precious,
In many more births
of this mortal world….

Randima Attygalle
(Granddaughter)

 

 

 

 

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