Sri Lanka is at the cross roads
The protracted and bloody war against
the LTTE has been declared over. Events leading to the
coup de grace are shrouded in mystery but the
death of Pirapaharan is now no longer in doubt. History
may record he was given a Mullaithivu Cocktail,
considered due retribution in view of the mayhem and
grief he unleashed single handedly for so long.
We are now well into the victory
celebrations and read of every Tom, Dick and Haramanis
waving flags and choking on kiribath in an
emotional show of gratitude. Are the Tamils in this
country aware of this euphoria and joining the parade?
Perhaps less so willingly and it is not difficult to
Nearly 300,000 refugees are herded in
extremely poor conditions with restricted access only
being granted to relief agencies and media. Try as it
might, the state does not have the resources to provide
adequate food, shelter, sanitation and medical
It is no shame to seek assistance from
other countries during such a crisis. The perception is
that Sinhala victims of similar and natural disasters
were treated better by the state and with more dignity.
The unstoppable party media machine has spouted a new
slogan ‘Uthuru Vasanthaya’ close on the heels of
‘Nagenahira Udanaya’ where the President has
called upon the south to help rebuild the north.
Apparently the north is trembling in
anticipation of this collective show of Sinhala
goodwill. Still, this may be seen as beneficence by the
Sinhala majority towards the Tamils rather than their
right as citizens of Sri Lanka as stated recently by the
Anglican Bishop Duleep de Chickera. A task force for
redevelopment of the north and east headed by Basil
Rajapakse is loaded with uniforms but with no Tamil or
Airing of grievances could in theory be
suppressed although Tamils should know this is not the
style of the army. The same is true of the recently
formed Jaffna Development Committee. The army commander
has in a recent TV interview referred to treacherous
activities by NGOs and journalists, hinting at
consequences (a little bit of peeda perhaps?) for
repeat offenders. He has also in a separate interview
stated that photographs of anti government rallies
should be examined to identify participants who should
then be tried in courts.
In the TV interview he has also stated
that the army will increase in size by 100,000. Some
fear this may form part of the Susantha Gunatilleka
master plan for colonising the north and east with
military cantonments in Killinochchi, Mullaithivu,
Mannar and Batticaloa. The tribe will increase naturally
and before Kannan begets Siva and Siva begets Sothy, the
ethnic balance would have changed, just as D.S. planted
the seeds of communalism, even before SWRD’s Sinhala
Only policy. Tamils should not be faulted for feeling a
sense of loss of security, of being vulnerable to the
strong arm of the state and of finally becoming second
A curtain has been brought down on the
war, but rises on the greater epic of rebuilding trust,
devolving power and reconstruction on vast swathes of
land and communities. The President in his address to
the nation said that "there are no minorities any
longer, only patriots and a small number of those who do
not love the country." Fantastic. If the similarity to
President Bush’s own simple division of species into
"those who are with us and those against us" can be
overlooked, the concept of a minority-less society is
The President has gained immeasurably in
respect, stature and popularity. He has won a war most
thought unwinnable, has reduced the opposition to
irrelevancy, split the militant JVP into a couple of
fringe players, brought down inflation thanks to low oil
prices, snubbed the rich and powerful at the UNHRC on
human rights violations, gained friends in China,
Russia, Libya, Pakistan and Iran and is on track to
obtain a US $ 1.9 bn. loan from the IMF against all
This is heady stuff by any standards,
sweetened by the knowledge that all this must be most
irritating for the elusive Leader of the Opposition.
Even the normally clannish and clubbish Colombo 7 is so
delighted to be seen in the same frame as he. The
satakaya will be or is de rigueur.
Now is therefore the right time for the
President to carve a path towards an equitable peace for
all communities. Since President Rajapakse is at the
height of his powers and popularity (as distinct from
the party), he is in a position to implement programmes
that would otherwise be less popular.
His current popularity is more than
sufficient for his party to win general elections hands
down despite a relatively poor showing by his cabinet
He can, if not distracted by numerous
calls from fawning colleagues to become king, emerge a
true legend by implementing the 13th
Amendment, warts and all, rebuilding a war ravaged
country with loads of money waiting to flow in from
abroad and restoring the rule of law islandwide for
As a Ruhuna Puthra from a country
that clings to its dynasties, this must resonate within
him, for if a durable and equitable solution is not
found, whilst he might breeze through two presidencies,
a torn nation is not what one would bequeath an apparent
Dr. A. Bandusena
A golden knockout
Reading the replies from different
readers I was really amused when I read one from a
person named Nicholas. I don’t want to condemn or
condone anyone but the facts are clear — it has not been
the hoi polloi but a group of somewhat social
people that have been taken for the ride of their lives
by the Ceylinco Group.
Clearly the Swindler’s List published in
The Sunday Leader shows it includes the
upper echelons of our society including doctors,
lawyers, executives, housewives, office workers as well
as members of the clergy.
The blame lays squarely on these
unfortunate people for being so gullible when, before
the very eyes of the nation, several ‘investment’ frauds
have been committed and hordes of common folk were
cheated. The irony being that to date the powers that be
— the Regulatory Board of the Central Bank — are
Investigative reporting has revealed
that the head of this bank, even though informed of GKCC
not being authorised to accept ‘investments’ but were
doing so in contradiction of the law, kept mum, even
disbanding the group of CB investigators, which
re-bounded in GKCC creating a golden chance to rob the
I was an investor with HPT Investments
but fortunately withdrew the larger sum to purchase a
land, leaving a balance of Rs. 5000 of which I was
refunded only Rs. 1000 in installments of Rs. 500 on two
occasions and nothing more to date in spite of there
being a sort of ombudsman named Kreston Company to whom
all my endeavours to get the balance payment proved
It was indeed a pity that when
Mercantile Investments collapsed, my neighbour’s mother
lost Rs. 50,000 with no reimbursements to date. She
passed away eight years back. But not wishing to put a
damper on hopes, I wish to make this letter a harbinger
of bad news — no amount of demonstrating, letter writing
or legal action will move the monies invested back to
its owners —‘on the trot.’
It’s going to be true heartbreak and
frustration, the reason being the earlier investment
frauds were not on the level of GKCC. So, as the saying
goes these unfortunate investors whose greed to make
mountains of gold led them to GKCC will have to ‘grin
and bear’ it for years. And in my opinion that makes
Nicholas and the rest of the GKCC investors nickel-less.
Bertram de Lile
Concerns of the British High
The British High Commissioner had an
absurd tale to tell the Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman,
Bernard Gunathilake — that "the LTTE’s global empire of
sleeping terrorist cadres and Tiger fugitive Kumaran
Pathmanathan’s ascent as the new terrorist leader
despite the destruction of the LTTE in the Wanni are the
main concerns that prevents Britain from removing its
Travel Advisory that tells Brits not to travel to Sri
I can’t believe this. If that is so,
with Osama Bin Laden still at large and al Qaeda’s
global empire of not sleeping but very active terrorist
cadres, Mullah Omar and the Taliban remaining equally
active, shouldn’t Travel Advisories be issued preventing
tourists from going to the City of London — where in
addition young British Muslim terrorists are also
walking around and plotting daily to set off bombs in
the underground, buses, shopping centres, etc.?
For that matter, for the same reason
shouldn’t there be British Travel Advisories preventing
Brits from travelling to New York
is equally unsafe because of Osama Bin Laden and
company? And for the same reason should not the British
authorities advise British tourists not to travel to
Spain as the ETA is still active?
Bernard Gunathilake, the good diplomat
he has been all his life, did not have the guts to admit
that this is economic terrorism. But do we all have to
be silent like Gunathilake?
True enough we are a small nation
dependent on Europe and Britain for tourism, garments,
IT and other exports. But do you have to continue to
bully us in this 21st century with your big brother
attitude? Come, come Mr. Hayes — stop these double
standards and go back to the British puritan ethics of
justice and fairplay. Do the right thing, and do it soon
so that the world can believe that the Englishmen can
still be trusted for fairplay.
M. Stanley Fernando
West has got its wires crossed
Sri Lanka made history when its armed
forces wiped out completely the Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who were named as the most ruthless
terrorist organisation in the world by FBI, USA. In our
memory armed rebellions have ended either by warring
parties declaring a ceasefire or reaching a power
sharing agreement as witnessed in the cases of PLO and
IRA or by secession as in Kosovo or Chechnya.
There is no contemporary example in the
world where a democratically elected government was able
to completely crush a rebel organisation without ceding
the country as Sri Lanka has successfully demonstrated.
However the response of the Western
world towards this remarkable achievement is disgusting.
Rather than assisting Sri Lanka to settle the IDPs in
their home grounds the Western leaders are threatening
to take our leaders to international courts on war
crimes and also opposing the two billion dollar loan
from IMF to Sri Lanka.
Rescuing more than 300,000 civilians
during the military operation is a war crime by Western
standards whereas bombing border villages in Pakistan’s
Swat Valley causing deaths to hundreds of civilians is
not a crime against humanity. What we need to do at this
hour is to ensure self reliance and meet the aspirations
of the IPDs who trusted the government and made the
cross over with a long term political solution with
rapid development of the North East Provinces.
Prof. Rohan Rajapakse
Govt. wants a political stranglehold on
It appears that after the war victories
the government is planning on spreading its political
tentacles throughout the country. Signs of moves to do
so are evident in the government’s attempts at trying to
coerce Tamil parties like the EPDP and DTNA to contest
the forthcoming local elections in Jaffna and Vavuniya
under the betel symbol.
If the government is able to convince
the parties to contest the elections under the betel
symbol, control of the two municipalities will
invariably end up in the hands of the government. With
those two local bodies won the government may proceed to
contest the Northern Provincial Council elections too
with the Tamil parties once again under the betel symbol
and bring that province under its control.
The government has already made
overtures to the TMVP members of the Eastern Provincial
Council to join the SLFP, and the TMVP Mayor of
Batticaloa MC has already done so. It is therefore a
matter of time before the government is able to coerce
the TMVP members of the Eastern Provincial Council too
to join the SLFP and with that, stamp its authority and
control over the Eastern Province.
Once the government secures control of
all the provincial councils the demands of the Tamil
parties for more power will fade away and there is a
possibility of the country ending up in a dictatorship
if some of the Muslim parties in the east too join the
Douglas de Silva
Douglas de Silva went away to be with
the Lord on March 25 this year. He was a man who lived a
life shunning publicity and the worldly ostentations.
Even in death he made a wish to his family that he
should be cremated privately without the usual
arrangements related to funerals associated with a man
of his standing.
God gave Douglas the gift of a dear
wife, Fidelia who was a tower of strength to him for
more than 50 years. He would often confess that his sons
Dilhan and Harin were his wealth.
The writer has known Douglas and
associated him for nearly 50 years. Douglas was the
first Sri Lankan to have ventured into the establishment
of a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Sri Lanka
which at that time was the exclusive preserve of foreign
giants such as Glaxo and Pfizer.
At that time it was necessary to obtain
approvals from government authorities to establish this
facility. The discouragement and scorn he received from
the authorities did not deter him from his vision.
He proceeded to obtain foreign
assistance from a UK company which paved the way to
establish this facility which today stands as a sentinel
to his dedication and determination — Unical Ceylon Ltd.
Through this project, he demonstrated to the government
and the medical profession that quality pharmaceutical
products could be manufactured in Sri Lanka.
In this respect Douglas was hailed as a
pioneer and although the industry associations persuaded
him to take leadership, he preferred to work behind the
scenes instead of basking in the limelight of publicity.
He was a visionary, a leader and above
all a human being. He gave employment to young men from
various backgrounds. Some of them, having benefited by
his training and example of leadership ended up holding
high positions in the pharmaceutical industry and other
Douglas had qualities which we seldom
find in present day society. He was a true friend to
anyone who came into contact with him and his
humaneness, and integrity will be the guiding factor to
the younger generation he has left behind.
There was another aspect of Douglas
which was his love for golf which he had inherited from
his father who was the first Sri Lankan golf champion.
Sometimes when we walked into his office room, it was a
common sight to see him swing an imaginary golf club
hitting yet another imaginary ball! Although his
concentration appeared to be undisturbed, he would
listen and discuss an intricate business problem without
taking his eyes off the imaginary ball. That was the
uniqueness of Douglas.
He lived the life of a true Christian,
fearing God and active in the Church where he
worshipped. Rev. Duleep Fernando gave us an insight into
his Christian belief during the Service which was held
at the funeral parlour prior to his cremation.
Douglas has left an indelible impression
on many of us to emulate and we can only thank God that
he was brought into our lives for a purpose which has
been fulfilled through his commitment and sincerity
which he showed us all throughout his life.
Thank you our beloved Douglas for your
life which has touched us and we shall always love you.
Till we meet again.
A friend and colleague
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