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Galle and its heritage

I refer to the response of Rohan Prithviraj Perera of UNESCO, appearing in your issue of July 26 from which it is noted that he does not wish to continue further dialogue on this issue.

As the person who originated this correspondence, may I be permitted to submit my final observations on the subject under discussion. R.P. Perera states that "it is to be noted that requests for nomination as world heritage with their respective titles are submitted by governments who are state parties to the World Heritage Convention." In the circumstances, I trust the government department concerned, which I believe is the Archaeological Department, would make note of the contents of my previous letters published on May 10 and June 14.

In addition, this writer wishes to state that my letter on the same subject appeared in another newspaper on February 11, 2008 and D.G.A. Perera’s response to the said letter appeared in the same newspaper on March 5, 2008 under the heading "Saving Galle Fort and ignoring Vijithapura." I have no doubt that D.G.A. Perera will not object to my quoting his letter which is very relevant in the current context.

"D. H. Gunadasa has raised a valid question about our sense of values as a nation. He has suggested that Sri Lanka could enter the Guinness Book Of Records being the only country in the world to glorify foreign invaders. The sarcasm involved here is quite appropriate, for successive governments have not only neglected, but also allowed the desecration of two of our most important ancient forts.

"The land on the southern end of the Polonnaruwa fort and all along the road through the eastern wall, the land has been alienated to private owners. It has become a haven for treasure hunters, some of whom have become rich thereby. That is the treatment given to a fort built by our own kings nearly eight centuries before the Dutch built their ugly fort at Galle, using the impounded labour of the indigenous folk.

"D. H. Hemapriya and Dennis Fernando had been crying out aloud, to the government and the Department of Archaeology to recognise this ancient site and conduct archaeological excavations there for over a quarter of century now. The legitimate plea of these two amateur archaeologists fell on the deaf ears of the JRJ Government that was pushing ahead with the preservation of Dutch buildings.

"D.H. Gunadasa’s parting shot should be modified to read as follows: ‘We are the only country in the world to glorify foreign invaders and preserve their leftovers, while consigning the much older ruins of greater value to our heritage, to be desecrated and passed down to total oblivion.’"

Now that Rohan Prithviraj Perera of UNESCO, "does not wish to continue further dialogue on this issue," it is sincerely hoped that the Department of Archaeology will respond to what is contained in this letter and my previous letters referred to above.

D. H. Gunadasa


Nonchalance of a swindler

Several hundred depositors of F & G Property Developers Ltd. were to demonstrate outside the Supreme Court on July 23, demanding the settlement of the monies due to them. It is certainly alarming that trusting depositors have to agitate before court houses to get justice. Lalith Kotelawala the genie has been trapped but he confidently leers, sneers and grins waving to the anxious depositors whilst being transported back to the jail house from the court house.

Should not there be some hidden secret for his bland nonchalance? A recent news item stated that influential people were playing a role in the investigations. Kotelawala is being investigated. Do not the ‘influential’ people become criminals too, for aiding and abetting? Only wily, sagacious and the cunning could induce the nonchalance in Kotelawala and his ‘influential’ supporters. The man has been rightly locked up on a court order. His pretense of sickness saw him in the Merchant’s Ward.

Court intervention saw him back in his cell. He now rides a wheel chair, but back in prison, it is allegedly a different story.

He has applied for bail. Perchance it is granted, it will be a godsend for all depositors to meet him in person! Whatever the real qualifications of Kotelawala and his wife they have certainly graduated in swindling.

It is rumored that though in jail he enjoys all the five star luxuries. His investors however remain paupers, without a square meal.

Gehan Ranatunge


Double standards of the private sector and Attorney General

The exposure by Kimarli Fernando, formerly of Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) on the fraudulent hedging deal which appeared in The Sunday Leader of July 26 has only confirmed the extent of the sleaze and corruption that prevails in the private sector today.

Foreigners have come and pillaged and plundered our resources, as has happened over centuries. It  appears that their successor SCB is following in this role by mis selling a product to an institution  whose decision making officers were completely out of their depth in deciding on such a risky transaction.

It appeared that SCB was only interested in making  unconscionable profits.  This disclosure revealed that SCB subverted their own code of ethics and put profit before ethics and did not care for the interests of their client.  This courageous lady was harassed by the CEO who was only interested in his bonus and not concerned about the ethics of the Bank and the ‘playing out’ of a nation.

The CEO was cunning enough to rope  in a state bank thinking that the Central Bank would then not oppose such a deal.

There are pontificating private sector officials who claim that exposures are bad  for attracting investment and the image of Sri Lanka. This is a load of rubbish. Genuine investors will be happier with the knowledge that the judiciary would overturn corrupt deals.

It is the fly by night investors who would be scared to invest. These types are assisted by the leading law firms here that eat off the fat of the private sector —  mostly from ill gotten gains. It is the ill gotten gains these so called national minded people are really trying to protect. These spokesmen feed off the local mafia who are the plunderers of the people’s property.

Whistleblowing is what we need to activate in this country. Kimarli’s disclosures on Sunday were like a breath of fresh air. We need more courageous people to blow. There is provision in the New Company Law which no one has used effectively. The government sector would be clean if the private sector stopped giving bribes.

The Chambers, who should be distributing whistles to the business sector are supplying their members and the general public with ear plugs and mufflers! There are hired cover up artistes all around us.

The Attorney General who is paid by the tax payers’ monies objected  to affidavits from eight concerned parties being heard. Fortunately for the honest people in this country the new Chief Justice, upholding  public interest permitted the affidavits to be sworn. If not for the new Chief Justice acting in the public interest, Kimarli’s disclosures would not have seen the light of day.

Is the Attorney General  not concerned about the public interest? He is supposed to be defending the country overseas in the arbitration case filed   by the banks involved in the hedging  scam. Back home he objects to disclosures being made against the banks.

Similarly  where P.B. Jayasundera and so many others (one of whom is ironically now the Minister of Justice) have had damning judgements   against them, what action has the Attorney General taken to enforce the rule of law ? 

Romesh Perera

Colombo 7

What is the stand of the BASL?

Your Editorial of July 26titled "In Contempt Of The Constitution" is certainly to the point. Yet certain issues as regards BASL’s current stand arise. Some clarifications are due from the Bar Association.

When pointing out that the article and its caption "creates the impression that lawyers who appear against the Defence Secretary are traitors" (one can certainly get that impression), BASL, through its secretary, clearly made out its stand on the issue as follows:

(1) "Every person has a legal right to be represented by a lawyer."

(2) "Lawyers have a duty (save in exceptional circumstances) to appear for such person."

(3) "BASL condemns any and all endeavours to prevent lawyers appearing for clients, and/or clients having the services of lawyers."

(4) "BASL will resist any pressure exerted to prevent persons retaining lawyers and/or lawyers appearing for clients."

On that stand, BASL requested removal of the offending article.

No reasonable person can take issue with the above in view of the qualification at (2) above. BASL however needs to clarify the following:

(i) How does the above stand reconcile with the stand BASL took in the late ’80s when it resolved that no lawyers appear for any member of the police against whom legal proceedings were or may be instituted, unless and until the government brought to book the killers of its member lawyer Liyaanarachchy, who BASL alleged were some members of the police, during the JVP uprising.

(ii) Was it legally justifiable or justifiable on any grounds of fairness and reasonability or on grounds of natural justice for the BASL to penalise all and every member of the police for the alleged crimes of some members only of the police?

(iii) If BASL cannot reconcile the two apparently inconsistent/contrary stands, will it retrace one or the other? If so which?

(iv) If BASL stands by its 1988/89 stand, will it therefore ask its members to refuse services to Defence Ministry personnel; and retract its current stand? If it stands by its current stand will it retract its 88/89 stand? What then? Or, finally will it ignore the contradictory stands, meaning the current stand remains? If so, is it a tenable position worthy of BASL, to retain both?

(v) Finally what are the "exceptional circumstances" at (2) above?

Fair Query

Colombo 5

That ‘Amazing Story’

Re: Letter on "Amazing Article" in The Sunday Leader of July 26.

Please note Mr. Rusiripala Tennekoon was contacted for his view point on our story in that he was a former chairman of the NGJA. We did not as the writer states, "contact him for advice."

In so far as Mr. Milton Fernando is concerned, he is in fact an award-winning exporter of gems. We stand by our story. 

Faraz Shauketaly

Scouts Association recruiting girls

It was reported in some week-end English newspapers including The Sunday Leader that the Scouts Association which has now dropped the word ‘boys’ has begun to recruit girls and has joint camps. This has been vehemently criticised and opposed — quite correctly — by the Girl Guides’ Association, where they say that it is not in keeping with our high ideals of bringing up girls to be useful to society, safeguarding our culture, beliefs and religion.

The Chief Commissioner of the Scouts’ Association, C.C. Batuwangala has said that he merely carried out the instructions of the parent association — a very irresponsible statement indeed — having no sincere feelings for the country, our culture, our outlook in life and our aspirations.

Here it is best to quote what President Obama has said as reported by Alex Spillus in The Telegraph. "The danger I think is when the United States or any country thinks that we can simply impose these values on another country with a different history and different culture."

Hope the Chief Commissioner of the Scouts Association, C.C. Batuwangala at least learns from what Barack Obama has said, rather than follow blindly what some Western organisation dictates. That’s sense.

Parents, please write in expressing your views.

G.A.D. Sirimal



P. Sudharman de Silva

Sudharman is no more. He passed away a few months ago after a brief illness and it was so unfortunate that I could not attend his funeral due to ill health.

I have known him for over a period of 40 years having worked with him at the Colombo Municipal Council. He was straight forward, open-hearted and honest. He was a simple man who respected his peers as well as his subordinates.

He was known throughout the island because he was the Secretary of the Local Government Clerical Service Union for several years and fought for the rights of its members. What I observed in him was that he hated injustice and did not make use of his position to obtain promotions in the service.

I very well remember his turning down a top job offered to him at the Housing Ministry by the then Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike. He did this because he did not want to betray the union.

People of his calibre are not easy to come by in the present day.

May he attain nibbana.

B.D.R.S. Senanayake


 V.J.T. Perera (Victor)

Thank you for the kindness

The impermanence of life brought its curtain down on you on August 2, 1999, ten years ago. This was his birth month too. I am only sorry a few more years you would have reached a three quarter century which I am about to reach. This made me reflect on the age old sayings;

"They will not grow old as we who are left will grow old. Age will not weary them, nor the years condemn"

Death humbles us all because in death we are all equal. Your life was a shining example of humility and equality to your children and self, your loving younger brother.

You were an exemplary son to your parents, exceptional husband to your lovely wife Joyce and a loving father to your sons, daughters and the in laws whom you never considered as in laws but your own children.

Whilst all of them continue understandably to grieve at your loss. I am sure they are equally grateful to God for having given them a husband, father and grand father of such human qualities, whose life revolved around compassion, loving kindness and service to humanity.

He was attached to the Ceylon Tea Propaganda Board and they advertised saying ‘any time is tea time.’ This was his theme in his personal life too where anybody could come for help or advice at any time of the day.

Maurice.A. Perera









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