Seeing is believing! What happened to Dr.
Johnpulle’s house with the dispensary and
office prior to the NCP elections is
heart-rending to anyone with a conscience.
This episode was well described in the
newspapers and TV channels. Civilised people
could not believe this incident.
Proceedings in the Magistrate’s Court are
revealing and confirm the facts. Hence it
should not puzzle the IGP and the Defence
Dr. Johnpulle was injured. Damage to
property is estimated at Rs. 50 million.
What about the medical records lost? Who can
Above all, it has created history! Yes,
police history, an invaluable one, going
beyond Minister Silva’s record of crimes.
A question one would ask the police is,
isn’t arson which according to the Penal
Code — the bible of the police — punishable
with up to 20 years rigorous imprisonment?
If no one is liable for this incident, as
it seems now, the President should reward
the Anuradhapura police high-ups, which is
what would eventually happen.
Bank of Ceylon howlers anger customers
Angry customers of Sri Lanka’s premier
state bank are asking how some of its staff
got into the banking service when they do
not seem to know the basics.
Some of the recent criticism is directed
at the Bank of Ceylon branch at Nugegoda
where gaffes are becoming a way of life.
Two incidents in recent months are
sufficient to show the inefficiency and
ignorance of Bank of Ceylon staff at this
A Sri Lankan living in the UK was in
Colombo in July and issued a cheque from his
Lake House Branch account which is almost as
old as the branch itself.
Some years after that account was opened
it was made into a joint account with his
wife who was a senior lawyer in the Bank of
Ceylon’s Legal Department.
When the recipient of the cheque tried to
have it credited to her account, an employee
at the Nugegoda Branch refused to do so
saying it was a company account and required
the seal of the company stamped on the
It was clearly not a company cheque but a
private joint account but designated a staff
account as the account holder’s wife was on
the staff at the time.
It seems that staff at the Nugegoda
Branch are unable to distinguish a private
account from a company account thus
inconveniencing the bank’s customers who
have also to spend their time trying to
educate the staff.
The other incident also involved the same
account holder in the UK, who has had a long
standing account at the bank’s Kollupitiya
Branch now designated a ‘super branch.’
When he was in Colombo in March this year
he issued a cheque from that account. When
the recipient of the cheque took it to the
Nugegoda Branch to have it credited, he was
told that the account was dormant and the
cheque was handed back saying it could not
When the account holder came to Colombo
in July he was told that the Nugegoda Branch
had claimed his account was dormant and had
returned the cheque.
The account holder found this strange as
he had withdrawn money from that account
both in March and shortly after he arrived
in Colombo July. So he went to the
Kollupitiya Branch to find out why.
That account too is a joint account with
his wife and is designated a staff account.
At Kollupitiya he was told that the account
is not dormant and they could not understand
why another branch claimed it was so because
it had been active since January this year.
Just to clarify he asked the Customer
Services Manager what a dormant account was.
He was told the account had to be active. He
pointed out that money was being regularly
deposited to that account.
But that is not enough, said the officer.
Money must be withdrawn from the account to
make it active.
That came as a surprise. Most banks would
welcome money being deposited to accounts as
it increases the bank’s deposits. But it
seems the Bank of Ceylon wants customers to
withdraw their money rather than deposit it.
If that is so why did the Nugegoda Branch
refuse to honour a cheque when money was
actually to be withdrawn from the account?
It seems the bank’s left hand does not
seem to know what its right hand is doing.
Monks out of control
I thought I would write this as an
attempt to call for some rationality with
regard to the conduct of certain Buddhist
monks. Before the usual accusations are
hurled at me (i.e. Christian, NGO worker,
LTTE supporter etc.) let me hasten to
establish my credentials as a born and bred
Sinhala, Buddhist who has served a full term
as a Basnayake Nilame for a temple
venerating Lord Vishnu, who ironically
enough is charged with the sacred duty of
protecting Buddhism in this land.
There is an element of the Buddhist
clergy that is way out of control in this
country. They are being egged on by moronic
‘devotees’ who play on the fragile egos of
these monks. These individuals have in most
cases, taken to the robe as a free meal
ticket and a ‘safe’ living. The insidious
laymen concerned combined with TV stardom in
some cases, make them feel that they are
These individuals and those aspiring to
be ‘monk Superstars’ (I hesitate to call
them monks) should realise that they have
taken the vows of upasampada
(ordination) and as such are bound by them.
Furthermore the laymen concerned should
realise that creating a division among the
maha sangha (which will be the
ultimate result of these activities) is one
of the worst sins that a person can accrue,
according to the doctrine.
Weak leadership both from laity as well
as the senior clergy with of course a
generous helping of political deviousness
has resulted in this situation. A statement
from the Asgiriya Mahanayake has been issued
since, castigating this type of behaviour by
the monks but a deafening silence prevails
from Malwatte and all other ‘mahanayakes’
not to mention high profile Buddhist lay
trustees. Expel these monks now from the
holy order created by our great teacher
before they destroy the very philosophy that
they were created to preserve.
Passing the buck to the judiciary should
be seen in the true light that this
despicable action has been carried out in. A
simple ploy to try and reduce the
‘popularity’ that the chief justice has been
gathering for himself due to certain highly
visible actions taken by him.
There is no room for bending the rules of
the vinaya (code of conduct) in the
Theravada Buddhist culture that we venerate
in this country. What is highlighted in the
papers is a mere tip of the iceberg as far
as breaking the law goes by members of the
Stop it now before this last refuge of
the ‘purest’ form of Buddhism loses its
increasingly fragile hold on our society.
Raja bhawatu dhammiko! (May the
rulers be guided by the Dhamma!)
SriLankan sure to pick up under the new CEO
The article in The Sunday Leader
of August 31 highlights the present
financial crisis at SriLankan Airlines. It
is evident that income generated from ground
handling and catering done for foreign
airlines has subsidised the heavy losses
incurred in 2007.
This represents the supplementary or
ancillary business of the company whereas
the ‘core business,’ which comprises
passenger and cargo sales, suffered a loss
of Rs.5 billion. As the income from sales in
earlier years had not been reported, the
reason for such a loss is not known.
With the escalating cost of aviation
fuel, which amounts to 35% over the cost for
2007, which was 50% over the previous year,
the airline hopes to break even during this
financial year. However the anticipated
refurbishment to the A330s and A340s which
has been forecast to cost around Rs.10
billion may not be possible without funds
from external sources.
The action plan also envisages leasing of
a ‘nearly new’ A320 for short haul
operations which yields fuel economy and
ensure slow maintenance costs. The leasing
cost will obviously be higher. Again from
where are the funds coming?
Assuming fuel prices to be constant or
volatile, fuel conservation and hedging have
been adopted by airlines via daily fuel
monitoring. To minimise fuel usage
unproductive destinations and flights below
break-even with poor load factors are being
slashed. On the other hand it is better to
concentrate on long-haul routes such as the
London (non-stop) route and Indian sectors
which yield more revenue — almost an 80%
Overseas stations and city offices manned
by Sri Lankans are top-heavy and much
foreign exchange is spent in their
maintenance. As a cost-cutting measure GSAs
are appointed by airlines retaining only a
country manager or station manager as
necessary. If really necessary the ticket
office can be relocated away from the
The decision of the CEO to move the
headquarters to Katunayake is welcome. This
was suggested in the mid ’80s when the
administration building was built, but only
certain sections not needed in Colombo were
moved there. The saving derived from this
move is considerable. The staff may not
agree with this move; but considering the
present plight of the airline they would all
agree, I am sure.
Overseas on-line advertising is generally
expensive, and airlines have included this
item in their cost cutting measures. This is
taken charge of by well-known advertising
companies. Similarly, publicity and
promotional events in foreign destinations
can be postponed for later days.
It is heartening to note that the unions
have extended support to the CEO’s Action
Plan. For the first time newsletters from
the CEO will be circulated in Sinhala for
the benefit of bottom line staff. Being well
educated in Sinhala, he is able to have a
dialogue in Sinhala, which the expatriate
was unable to do.
Deepal N. Thenabadu
Former Secretary, Board of Airline
and Airline Operators’ Committee of Sri
Looking after the injured soldiers
As the present military drive gains
momentum we need to prepare for a rise in
the number of fatalities and injuries. Most
of the injured are likely to be sent to the
main hospitals geared to treat them.
We should not forget that most of our
soldiers come from poor homes. Most of these
families are unlikely to even have the money
to pay for the journey to visit their
sons/husbands lying in pain in hospital.
Most of these families who may make the
journey will obviously not have a place to
spend a night and no money to rent a room or
even pay for the food. They should not have
to suffer further heartbreak.
It is considering this unfortunate
situation that I propose that immediate
arrangements be made for temples in around
Colombo and other areas where the injured
soldiers are likely to be hospitalised to
cater to providing shelter to these poor
folk. The dayakas, I am sure would
come forward to provide the meals. We need
to at this juncture show our gratitude to
these valiant men and women who make up our
armed forces and the police, the people who
sacrifice their lives to keep us safe and
protect our country. In these last stages of
a war that has taken over 25 years, we all
need to rise to the occasion.
Med. students a disgrace
First of all let me express my
displeasure on the recent assault of
journalists by medicos of Colombo Medical
Faculty. It is a disgrace to one of Asia’s
oldest medical colleges and all its
graduates who serve throughout the island.
People who were involved should be sought
and punished as early as possible.
Doctors should practise healing, not
harming and I guess those who were involved
never knew anything about the Hippocratic
Oath which has a statement "I will prescribe
regimes for the good of my patients
according to my ability and my judgment and
never do harm to anyone."
I am a product of this prestigious
Colombo Medical Faculty and I was also a
member of the Colombo Medical Faculty
Students’ Union eight years back. But I was
very sad to hear the very same union
defending the assailants. I am also a
photographer and a member of several Sri
Lankan photographic societies in Sri Lanka
and maintain two of my own photography web
pages on the internet.
The triggering point for this unruly
behaviour as highlighted in the media was
taking photographs inside the hostel
premises! My query is, whether taking
photographs is a crime in Sri Lanka? Is it
illegal outside the high security zone in
the city of Colombo? Is there a rule
pertaining to photography restrictions in
Being an ardent lover of photography, I
remember several similar incidents where my
photography colleagues were harassed by law
enforcement authorities for "shooting"
photographs. In one incident the
photographer unfortunately was near a police
station. Even after proving that he was not
a terrorist and that this camera did not
shoot bullets, he was kept inside the police
station for hours still my photography
teacher came and ‘bailed’ him out.
Cameras do no harm to security. Any
terrorist organisation now has free access
to city maps from websites like Goggle. Even
small houses could be detected in these maps
and one can easily obtain locations in the
entire Colombo city if one is computer
literate. And speaking of photographing
important buildings and VIPs, anyone having
access to the internet can easily search for
images of virtually any building or any
Cameras are private property, and I
consider my camera a second wife. No one can
grab other people’s belongings, and it’s
similar to pick pocketing or worse.
According to the media reports these
journalists including a female journalist
were attacked by a mob of medical students.
Medicos are taught on mentality of mobs in
their Behavioral Stream Psychiatry lectures
during the first few years at the Colombo
Medical Faculty. I still remember our
lecturer explaining how a group of people
can easily be provoked to do anti social
activities as a mob.
If a person is a member of a mob, he gets
a false sense of security that the crimes
performed by him are diffused amongst the
clan. When people think they are anonymous,
they will behave in anti-social ways because
they believe they cannot be singled out
among the crowd and be evaluated. Either the
student culprits in this incident did not
attend the lecture on mob psychiatry or they
did not put their valuable knowledge to
I wish photography were given better
recognition and prestige in this war torn
country with civil unrest. It is a form of
art and is not a violent hobby. And I
sincerely hope that our dear lecturers in
the faculty help the law enforcement
authorities to punish all those who were
involved in this incident. Let us keep in
mind that the same media institutions helped
a female medical student in this very same
faculty to collect funds for her ailment
several months back through providing
Dr. Himantha Athukorale
Radawana Government Hospital