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Book Fair a waste of time and money 

Shoppers were forced to crowd into
cramped stalls to browse the meagre offerings

By Michael Hardy

The Colombo International Book Fair at the BMICH, which ends today (27), reminded me of that old Bruce Springsteen song 57 Channels (and Nothin’ On). Despite its much-advertised 400 stalls, there was, to quote the Boss, nothing on. How could so many vendors have so little to offer? How could so many books be so boring? How many copies of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary do Sri Lankans need? These were the questions I asked myself as I headed swiftly for the exit.

The best-known publishers, like Vijitha Yapa and Oxford University Press India, seemed to be using the book fair to unload the remainders and used books they couldn’t sell anywhere else. How insulting to think that people at the fair will buy what everyone else has rejected. Most vendors weren’t even discounting!

Except for 20 percent off medical books at Pitraban Importers and 30 percent off Tintin comic books at Pahan Publications, the majority of booths were demanding full price for back-of-the-warehouse crap. We are apparently meant to be thankful to the book fair organisers for assembling all of the second-rate books in Sri Lanka in one place. That’s right: this week, the BMICH is your one-stop shop for the worst this island has to offer.

Hit and miss

The selection was entirely hit and miss — but mostly miss. The Oxford Companion To Ships And The Sea? Okay, I suppose. A complete set of John Grisham novels? I’d prefer to watch the movie versions, thank you very much.  My favourite find was a row of Hardy Boys young adult books with the traditional blue covers, which made me nostalgic for childhood, when I must have read a hundred of these disposable mysteries. Fortunately, I’ve long since graduated to more adult fare, so I paid Rs. 130 for George Eliot’s novel Silas Marner in a cheap illustrated edition.

If the book fair’s selection left something to be desired, the atmosphere certainly didn’t help. The air conditioners were no match for the great mass of humanity streaming through the aisles and pushing to get a look at books. The air was thick, warm, and humid, and my shirt was quickly soaked in sweat.

To cool off, the only options were orange soda or a small paper cup of Coke, when what I really wanted was a tall glass of arrack to help forget this awful experience. When I grew hungry, I could choose between popcorn and Maggi noodles. There’s a better selection of refreshments at a cricket match. So much for the civilizing effect of reading!

A contact sport

Even on the few occasions when I was moved to enter a book stall, I found my way blocked by about 30 other shoppers with their elbows held out at threatening angles. Browsing at the Book Fair was a contact sport with no rules except ‘winner takes all.’

 The crappier the books, the more people seemed to push and shove to get at them. Fortunately, the vendors were well-equipped for the large crowds with the latest sales technology — pencils, pads and extra-large calculators. Apparently, they left their cash registers at the warehouse along with all of their good books.

Unless you’re looking for textbooks, children’s books, or works of Buddhist theology, you’re better off spending the Rs. 10 admission fee on a bus ride to any of Colombo’s many bookstores, any one of which is guaranteed to have a better selection than this over-hyped fiasco of a book fair.

 If the Sri Lanka Book Publishers’ Association wants to regain its dignity next year it will realise that it isn’t enough to sell books — you have to sell books that people want to buy. That distinction was completely lost on this year’s organising committee, and no amount of breathless advertising can cover it up.  

The assassination of a Prime Minister 50 years ago

The fourth Prime Minister of Ceylon,
Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike

By Lloyd Rajaratnam Devarajah 

It was on the morning of Friday, September 25, 1959 — 50 years ago — that the fourth Prime Minister of Ceylon (now called Sri Lanka) Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike, was brutally gunned down at his Rosmead Place residence in Colombo, by a fanatic, saffron-robed, head-shaven Buddhist monk.

Having resigned my permanent, pensionable and secure job in the Posts and Telecommunications Department after seven and a half years of service, in August 1959, I became a “stringer” reporter for the now defunct Times of Ceylon group of newspapers. Earlier, I was free-lancing for the Times, since 1953.

On that fateful Friday morning, I was carrying one-year old Lakshan Amarasinghe my next door neighbour, to show him the two pups littered by my Alsatian dog. As I was showing him the pups in the back verandah of my Moor Road house at Wellawatte, the telephone rang. Donovan Moldrich, news editor of the Times of Ceylon was on line and he asked me to “Come to office right away as something tragic has happened.”

He did not spell out what it was, but I noticed the time was 10.20 am. I went next door and left Lakshan and I got dressed up and as I was about to step out of my house, I heard Lakshan’s father Alfred Amarasinghe returning home in his car, shouting to my father, (reading the morning Ceylon Daily News seated in an easy chair on the front verandah) that “the Prime Minister has been shot and wounded.”

An assassination attempt

When I reached the gate, the phone rang again and I returned to answer it. It was Felix Gunawardena, editor of the Sunday Times asking me to proceed direct to the General Hospital, Colombo where the Prime Minister had been brought, “ After an assassination attempt.”

I went direct to the hospital and I saw a truck-load of police getting off and positioning themselves at various strategic points in the vicinity. I moved around and saw two of my colleagues, veteran reporters K. Nadarajah who was also working for the Indian Express and M.K. Pillai also correspondent for the Times of India there.

I also spotted E.C.B. Wijesinghe working for the Reuters news agency there. I reached there at 11.10 am and was with them until 2.30 pm when another veteran journalist / colleague Shelton Liyanage (Fernando) also working for the Statesman Calcutta, came to relieve me.

At the time I left, the Prime Minister was still in the operating theatre. The emergency operation was performed by Dr. M.V.P.Peries, Dr. P.R. Anthonis and Dr.Noel Bartholomeusz and lasted a little over five hours.

Continue with the meeting

Earlier, the Governor General Sir Oliver Goonetilleke who was swearing-in the Italian Ambassador Count Paolo di Michelis di Sloughhello, stopped the ceremony and rushed to Rosmead Place.

Dr. N.M.Perera and Philip Gunawardena who were in the House of Representatives (Parliament) went to the PM’s residence on hearing about the shooting. A message had also been sent from Queens’ House (Governor General’s official residence) to parliament to continue with its meeting. W. Dahanayake had suggested that parliament be adjourned but Dr. Perera said that “There was no need to panic.”

At the time of the shooting incident, there were many people as usual, waiting to meet the Prime Minister in the verandah of his house. Among them were two saffron-robed Buddhist monks. After meeting one of them and bowing to him in reverence, Bandaranaike turned towards the second monk. Whilst bowing, the second monk suddenly pulled out a .45 revolver from under his yellow robes and shot at the PM at point-blank range.

Bandaranaike turned and ran into the house and in the process, three shots hit him in the hand and abdomen, whilst two hit the glass pane of a nearby door and a flower pot in the verandah.

Mauled mercilessly

The people who were waiting to meet the PM, immediately set upon the Buddhist monk and mauled him mercilessly. A policeman on sentry duty there, also shot at the Buddhist monk and wounded him on the thigh and arrested him.

The Governor-General declared a State of Emergency throughout the island at 11 am and the Army, Navy and Airforce units including volunteers were mobilised in order to suppress any civil commotion.

When I reached office the Times which had already put out two editions about the shooting incident, put out its third edition giving more details of that day’s assassination attempt.

Around 5 pm, I left in a taxi with Sunday Times feature writer Samson Abeygunawardena to meet Dr. Gamini Corea at his Horton Place Colombo residence. The entrances to Rosmead place as well as the adjoining Barnes Place and Horton Place which were guarded by armed police, were closed to all vehicular traffic. We got off the taxi and walked about 200 yards and met Dr. Corea and collected an article on “Ceylon’s population problem” for the Sunday Times National Forum Column.

Biting into a sandwich

After that, we proceeded to 5th Lane, Kollupitiya and met Dr. L.O de Silva at his clinic, where there was a large number of patients. The doctor was biting into a sandwich which he told us was his late lunch. He said he was in the operating theatre and the surgery “lasted a little over five hours.” He also told us “The first 24 hours after the operation was very crucial.”

When I returned to office at about 7.15 pm, many of my colleagues were also there. I was then directed by Moldrich to be at the General Hospital the following morning (Saturday, September 26, 1959) at 6 am. When I reached the hospital at 5.40 am, my colleagues Nadarajah, Liyanage and Pillai were already there keeping vigil, for any new developments about the PM.

Shortly after, that Saturday morning, Shelton came hurriedly down the hospital corridor and signalled me to grab the telephone in the solitary booth in the hospital vicinity, before anyone else got hold of it. As he approached me he grimaced indicating that it was all finished. Shelton took the receiver from me and phoned through to Moldrich that the PM had passed away.

When I reached the Times news room at 9.25 am, the first edition of the Saturday Times of Ceylon was already out. The headline read “The Prime Minister is dead.”

Joked with the doctors

A few hours after the operation the previous day, the PM had joked with the doctors and nurses around his bedside.

He had asked one of the Nurses “How am I doing?” She replied “You are doing fine, Sir.” “Yes I am an old man and have undergone a five hour stomach operation but I still have guts,” the PM declared.

The Buddhist monk who carried out the assassination was Talduwe Somarama Thero, an eye specialist and a visiting lecturer at the College of Indigenous Medicine, Borella and also of the Amaravihare, Obeysekere Town.

The official bulletin on the PM’s death stated; “The condition of the Prime Minister suddenly took a turn for the worse about 7 am. There was a sudden alteration of the action of the heart and his condition deteriorated very rapidly. He passed off peacefully about 8 o’clock.”

Sgd. Dr. P.R. Anthonis Dr. T.D.H. Perera and Dr. M.J.A. Sandrasagara.

Shortly after the news of the death spread throughout the country, there were several incidents where Buddhist monks had been abused, harangued and even assaulted. This resulted in the monks fearing to step out of their temple premises and were mostly confined indoors for about six weeks, after the assassination.

A verdict of homicide was recorded by the City Coroner J.N.C Tiruchelvam J.P.U.M at the inquest. He said “death was due to shock and haemorrhage resulting from multiple injuries to the thoracic and abdominal organs.”

The Prime Minister’s funeral was held on Wednesday, September 30, 1959, where his body was entombed into a vault at his ancestral Horagolla Walauwe.

The last 60 years of my life

A.H.A. Azeez, Customs house agent

I came to Customs long ago in 1947 when I was just about 17 years old. It was my brother-in law A.C.M. Mohideen who introduced me to the wharf. He was working under his own father, I.L.M. Gafoor. Gafoor had his own clearing agency named I.L.M Gafoor Clearing Agency.

I started my job as a delivery clerk and worked under him till 1953, which year I left his employment to join a circus. I met with an accident while working in the circus and had to leave the circus.

I returned to the Port again in 1956, and joined Pioneering Agency. Its proprietor was H.D.S. Mohideen Hajjiar. While I was working under him, about 10 years later, Mohideen Hajjiar entrusted me the running of his company and went to India for permanent residence as he had more business abroad.

There was one Mehalar who was working under Mohideen Hajjiar at that juncture and so I along with Mehalar started a new clearing agency under the name Mehalar Clearing Agency. By that time I was a very popular wharf clerk in the Customs and also among the other wharf clerks. This prompted me to think of starting a union for the wharf clearing agents.

Elected president

The word spread from mouth to mouth and I organised the very first meeting which was convened at the small hall at YMCA building at Chatham Street. That was in 1975. The wharf clerks who gathered there elected me as their president. We named the Union Sri Lanka Customs House Agents’ Union.

From that point onwords I championed the cause of clearing agents. Some time ago the Customs Department had introduced a new regulation requiring all Customs House Agents to have completed education at least up to GCE (O/L). The regulation also required all Customs House Agents to deposit Rs. 50,000 with Customs.

In those days, majority of the clearing agents were not educated up to GCE (O/L). Further, most of the wharf clearing agents were attending to clearing work of only one or two importers, and were unable to make a deposit of Rs. 50,000. That was in 1978.

At that time, Rs. 50,000 was a huge sum of money. Customs Department had appointed Leighton and Wijekoon to discuss that issue with the wharf clearing agents and had given a date and time for the discussions.

I attended the meeting and represented matters on behalf of the wharf clerks. I pointed out that all the wharf clerks working at that time had a very good working knowledge of Customs matters and fairly long experience in doing the job. So I suggested that those who had completed 10 years as wharf clerks be exempted from this requirement.

New registration system

I also I pointed out that a deposit of Rs. 50,000 was very unreasonable and suggested that it be reduced to Rs. 10,000. The committee agreed to both suggestions. However, I am sorry to say that some of the wharf clerks, who had completed education up to GCE (O/L) and who could afford to make a higher deposit did not like my idea. They wanted to push the old hands out of the Port so that they could grab more work for themselves.

The Customs Department started the new registration system on those concessionary terms, and I too registered my company accordingly under the name of Mehalar Clearing Agency. After the demise of my partner Mehalar my company functioned under the name of Master Freight Agencies C&F (Pvt) Limited. That was from the year 1995. From the time the company was known as Mehalar Clearing Agency, and now after the name had been changed to the present name Master Freight Agencies C&F (Pvt) Limited, the company had a staff of around 30 wharf clerks working under me. Some of them had since left the company and opened up their own clearing agencies and are now doing very well.

At that time the Port was maintained by the Port Cargo Corporation. When the Customs Department required any repair — like replacing a bulb or a ceiling fan or putting up a cubicle, the officers had to write to the Port Cargo Corporation. The Port Cargo Corporation took a long time to attend to such requests. Most of the time, it was the Clearing Agents’ Union that attended to such minor repairs. Likewise, when the clearing agents faced any difficulty, the Customs officers assisted us in solving the problem.

Entries to be typewritten

Long ago, the Customs Entry Form was filled by hand and submitted to Customs. The Principal Collector of Customs, Dissanayaka decided that all  Bill of Entries should be typewritten. At that time, there was a group of wharf clerks to attend to the preparation of the Bill of Entries. They were upset that their jobs would be jeopardised and protested over the new rule.  They also complained to the minister.

Then Dissanayaka called me and explained that it is the government policy and requested me to help resolve the issue. I then suggested to him that an office room inside the Long Room should be provided for the Clearing Agents’ Union, so that I could keep some typewriters there with typists to type the Bill of Entries. Dissanayaka agreed to that suggestion and the problem was resolved.

Amarapala started the I&I Branch in the Preventive Office itself. At the start, he used to stop at least 15 containers and those containers were examined under the bridge adjoining the Preventive Office. That was not a suitable place to examine containers. Due to inadequate facilities there, the containers got held up. Out of those containers, there were at least 10 containers belonging to genuine importers and they suffered due to that new arrangement.

Opening of branch offices

The importers appealed to me and I had to speak to Amarapala suggesting the  opening of an office in warehouse. He said that he too was looking for a suitable place and requested me also to suggest a place. I found that space was available at PVQ Repository Warehouse, and Amarapala negotiated with the Ports Authority chairman and obtained space there and opened the new I&I Office there. Another I & I Branch Office was also opened in QEQ Warehouse as well.

Even after opening the two I & I branches, there was a considerable delay in clearing containers through I & I. There were so many registers to register the containers and it was difficult to obtain the services of officers etc. I discussed those problems and solved them as quickly as possible.

There was an interesting incident that occurred at that time. One of our members went into the cubicle of the senior staff officer who was attending to another wharf clerk. The staff officer was angry and shouted “One donkey at a time.”

The wharf clerk, a member of my union, was very hurt and complained to me. I took him before the Principal Collector and he on hearing of the incident, immediately instructed that the staff officer concerned should apologise to the wharf clerk, saying that “Wharf clearing agent is the representative of the importer, and is a part and parcel of the Customs.” That issue was sorted out after the staff officer apologised to that particular officer. This incident  made me even more popular among the wharf clerks.

Ceremonial opening

When Dissanayaka came for the ceremonial opening of the office allocated for the Customs House Agents’ Union, he made a speech, extolling the service provided by the wharf clerks and commented that the wharf clerks  enjoyed a respectful position in developed countries. He also said that Customs agents were known as Customs brokers in those countries.

 That speech was sensational because it was instrumental in changing the attitudes of the Customs officers in general towards the wharf clerks.

There was another incident in the Preventive Office. While recording the statement of a wharf clerk, there had been an argument in the presence of the importer, and the assistant preventive officer who was recording the statement had slapped the wharf clerk so hard, the finger mark was clearly visible on the wharf clerk’s face. The wharf clerk, instead of coming to me, went to the police and lodged a complaint. He also had complained to the Port Cargo Corporation as a result of which arrangements had been made to interdict the assistant preventive officer.

At that juncture, the Assistant Preventive Officer (APO) and the Chief Preventive Officer sought my assistance to save the APO’s job. The importer was adamant that the officer should be punished. With greatest difficulty, I discussed with the parties for about a month, and finally the importer and the wharf clerk were prepared to accept the officer’s apology and settle the matter. That too enhanced my popularity among the officers. In fact I arranged a great party at the Preventive Office the day the APO concerned apologised to the wharf clerk. The issue was thus amicably settled.

Farewell parties

I as the Union president, use to organise several farewell parties when senior Customs officers retired. We arranged parties for Xavier, Mendis and Wijekoon, when they retired.

There was another incident, this time involving the classification of glass tumblers. Cumaranatunga who was in the Treasury then (before that he was the Principal Collector of Customs), informed Dissanayaka that beer mugs and wine glasses were classified along with ordinary glass tumblers and that was  not correct. Cumaranatunga wanted Dissanayaka to charge duties separately on beer mugs and wine glasses.

 However, until then, the Customs had classified all three kinds as “Drinking Glasses.” However, the importers were not in agreement. They decided to resort to court action. As a result of this dispute there were 18 containers held up in the harbour for two months.

Action unfair

At that juncture, I went to discuss the problem with the Principal Collector of Customs, Dissanayaka. My argument was that it was unfair for Customs to change the classification decision all of a sudden after allowing the clearance of the goods for so long under one classification. I requested Dissanayaka to allow clearance of the held up goods under the previous classification, but classify the new arrivals under the new classification. Dissanayaka agreed and a long classification battle was resolved.

After Dissanayaka left the Customs, Weerasekera became the DGC. He too helped me a lot in his capacity as the DGC. Later, Sarath Jayatilaka became the DGC. We were overjoyed because Sarath Jayatilaka had been in the Department for a long time and was a fully qualified person to become DGC. He knew A-Z of Customs and was capable of taking wise decisions. He was also very helpful to wharf clearing agents in doing their legitimate duties.

I left the Clearing Agents’ Union in 1995. The reason for the departure was mainly because the union members were not supporting the union. Niaz, who became the president after me, had faced the same problem. He too was unable to serve the members because the members were not supporting him. Now there is no one to attend to Wharf Clearing Agents’ grievances.

There was an anomaly in the recovery of excise duty and value added tax on 40 units of electric motor bicycles imported by one of my consignees into Sri Lanka for the first time in the year 2002.

This was due to non availability of the said item identification number in the tariff guide at that time.

My company was instrumental in getting an exemption of the 15% excise duty and a refund of 10% from the 20% VAT imposed by the Customs on a directive issued by the Deputy Secretary to the Treasury in the year 2003.

A new ‘H.S.Number’ was also introduced subsequently for the fist time for electrically operated motor bicycles as suggested by my company as a result of which all importers of the relevant bicycles benefited.

— A.H.A. Azeez

Bird trappers trapped by Wild Life’s flying squad

Birds used for commercial purposes

Over 14 parrots, 10 mynahs, and six spotted doves were among some starving birds held captive in a small cage on the rooftop of a house down De Silva Cross Road, Kalubowila when the ‘flying squad’ of the Department of Wild Life raided the premises last Sunday after protests by residents in the neighbourhood.

Angered residents however alleged that these birds were a mere two days catch.

“It is horrendous, the way the birds were being trapped and caught each morning. They had a huge extending cage-like structure on their rooftop — on one side were some fauna and the other side was used to trap unsuspecting and starving birds of all kinds. Every morning we used to hear birds crying their hearts out, some were asking for their mates, others screeching for their young ones.” alleged a resident of a high rise residence.

“The moment the birds entered the cage to eat the food that they kept in there, they were trapped in some tricky steel netted structuring. We also saw birds struggling. The screeching birds were then caught from this large cage with the aid of a towel and put into a smaller one. This has been going on for months,” alleged the distressed residents and went on to say that their environment has been now drained of all the bird life. “We do not hear the cry of birds in our environment except for the cries of distress when they are caught in the morning,” they alleged.

Trapped in a wire cage

Assistant Director of Wild Life, P.F. Upali Pathmasiri and his officers who conducted the raid said they were taken aback when they saw the screeching birds trapped in a wire cage sans food and water.

“We want the public to be vigilant of such offences. These are birds that naturally occur in the habitat and some of them are protected birds. It is an offence to trap them or cage them or use them for commercial purposes,” said Assistant Director Upali Pathmasiri.

Mystery surrounds the fate of the birds that have been trapped in the past.

The alleged offenders it is learnt are Maldivian nationals who had reportedly told the authorities that the cage was to protect their plants from squirrels.

 Meanwhile, another raid has been conducted in Thihariya on Monday where 10  protected birds – the bald-headed Muniya were found trapped allegedly for commercial purposes.

Jagath Gunewardene, an Attorney at Law specialising in environmental issues when contacted by The Sunday Leader said the birds, be they protected or not cannot be caged without the permission of the Department of Wild Life.

“While protected birds cannot be caged anyway the caging of unprotected bird is an offence if the permission of the Department of Wild Life has not been sought,” said Gunewardene.

Reduction in offences

Attorney at Law Jagath Gunewardene went on to observe that he has noticed a reduction of such offences from 2002.

“This is because some officials of the Department of Wild Life have been conducting raids in an admirable manner and I know that they are very much alert to complaints by the public,” said Gunewardene

Wild life Enthusiast and Advisor on fauna and flora, Ministry of Environment, Vidya Amarapala when contacted by The Sunday Leader said that there was a time in Sri Lanka, during the pre-war days, when  a dog was knocked down by a vehicle the motorist would get  off the vehicle and see what he could do for the wounded or dying animal. “There were also people in the neighbourhood who would bring a mammoty and bury the dog. But today when a dog gets knocked down, the cars run over the carcass again and again,” observed a distressed Amarapala. “We have to rebuild the love and affection that we have always had in our blood,” he sad.

Call centre

“The Minister of Environment is keen to bring back those glorious days not only to fauna but also to flora. That is why he has taken the initiative to establish a call centre for an emergency response. Today the public can call 1991 and make a complaint about any destruction to the environment or any crime being committed against the environment. Reports of illegal felling of trees, sand mining and such other activities that ruin nature can be reported on this telephone number. The setting up of this emergency number will give the average man and woman in society the encouragement to notify the authorities of acts that will harm the environment,” said Amarapala.

“It is the participation of the general public that will increase the efficiency of this mechanism,” observed Amarapala.

The Sunday Leader learns that the trapped birds have now been released to the environment – and have taken wing to the nests of their loved ones.

US Ambassador Chief Guest at American Chamber of Commerce AGM

The 17th Annual General Meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce was held on Thursday, September 17, at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel.  Patricia A Butenis the newly appointed American Ambassador to Sri Lanka was the chief guest. Ms. Moji Akingbade was re-elected President of AMCHAM. 

The newly appointed Board of Directors

Front Row - Seated (from Left to Right)

Parveen Dassanayake (United Holidays), Nimal Cooke (Maharaja Group), Prasath Nanayakkara - Secretary (Virtusa), Moji Akingbade - President

(Paxar), Patricia A.  Butenis (US Ambassador), Vijaya Ratnayake - Vice President (Zodiac Medcials) , Amal Rodrigo - Treasurer (Maersk), Nick Nicolaou (HSBC), Jerome Auvity (Hilton)

Back Row - Standing (from Left to Right)

Kosala Dissanayake (Delmege), Glen Rase (Citi Bank), Suresh De Mel (Lanka Fishing  Flies), Chullante Jayasuriya (Executive Director), Nikhil Hidaramani (Hidramani Group), Edward Heartney (US Embassy), Rohantha Peiris (Ace Cargo), Mustanser Ali Khan (Ceylon Tobacco PLC) were also appointed as directors . (Not in photograph). 

Ambassador Butenis, in her address to AMCHAM members, said that this was a historic time for Sri Lanka and AMCHAM Members, as the end of the conflict will bring with it many economic opportunities. She reiterated that she and her colleagues at the US Embassy will work closely with AMCHAM members and the rest of the business community to ensure that Sri Lanka delivers on its economic promise.

Jeff Gunewardene a Honourary Deputy  Mayor in the US 

Jeff M. Gunewardena, Sr. Coordinator to President Mahinda Rajapakse to the United States  and  Consul General to Colombia and Venezuela has been appointed Honourary Mayor to City of Oceanside, California, USA  and Honourary Mayor to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA. Social worker Gunewardene is also the political  advisor to the honourary mayor and the trade attache to the City of Oceanside California.  Photo shows Gunewardene receiving the honour.


A show of talent, glamour and knowledge 

It was a perfect show with an equal blending of beauty, glamour and talent when   the Ramani Arsecularatne International Academy of Cosmetology and Fine Arts  held its convocation at the Oak Room of the Cinnamon Grand Hotel recently to celebrate the graduation of 56 students who followed the one-year course of cosmetology and others who followed courses in hairdressing.

It was evident by the creations that students had not only learnt and sharpened their own talents but had been guided by the beautiful veteran Beautician and Hairdresser Ramani Arsecularatne.

 Panadura gets new UNP organisers

Professor Ravindra Fernando, United National Party organiser for Panadura, will be appointed from the National List at the next general election. Panadura electorate is to be divided into two sections and former UC chairmen Deepthi Abeywickrama and Vijith Priyantha de Silva are to be appointed as organisers.


Revelations in a Thanksgiving Service

The Revelations in acknowledgment of God’s benevolence in their success, will hold a Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Church, No. 9, Kynsey Road Colombo 8 on Sunday,   October 4, at 6.30 pm. The collection from this service will be donated towards a project relating to IDP children in the north.

The Revelations invite all friends, well wishers and all who have helped, promoted, supported and uplifted them throughout their 15-year musical journey to be present at this service.

Celebrating Home-Makers Haven

President of the Sri Lanka Housewives
Association, Colombo, Poornima Lakshman,
Vice President Rene Ismail and Secretary
Sepalika Pinto are seen lighting the
traditional oil lamp at their annual fund
raiser – Home-Makers Haven.



Losing hair: what you need to know

Why do males go bald only t a defined line and hair loss stop at that point? It's al to do with DHT

By Dr. Harold Gunatillake 

Cosmetic Surgeon

Losing hair among young men and women would be disastrous and most depressing during the period when they would wish to look young and smart, and also the time they would wish to attract the opposite sex.  Losing hair on your head makes you feel old, until one gets accustomed to and most do accept the situation, without knowing that scientific help is available. There are ways of reversing the process provided you get the right advice very early.

We are blessed with nearly 100,000 scalp hair follicles (roots) at birth. (It is interesting to note that unborn babies, grow fine, soft, un-pigmented hair that sheds about the eighth month before birth). Some of us are lucky to retain those hair roots actively till late in life, besides thinning and greying of the hair shafts. Others are less fortunate, including both genders, gradually losing their hair at some stage in life, held so proud and precious earlier.

In men we call this male type of balding, but fortunately, women may have a similar pattern, but does not lead to total baldness like the male counterparts. Under normal circumstances hair growth in each root occurs in cycles, and not continuously.

Three phases are described — anagen, catagen, and telogen phases. Anagen is the active phase of growth. Telogen is the resting stage for hair growth. Catagen is the period of regression of the hair roots

Loss not visible

These changes and the phases do not occur in the whole hair bearing scalp simultaneously. Because it happens in cycles the loss is not visible. We shed from about 50 to 100 hairs daily. This amount seen on the comb whilst combing is normal. But more importantly, that amount of new hairs should start growing simultaneously

Why the human hair roots behave independently and differently from other mammals cannot be explained. In short each human hair root has its own memory and identity. This attribute helps when transplanting hair, and is successful. Let’s discuss about the hair structure, before getting on to the common causes of premature shedding.

Each hair shaft is elliptical, circular or flat in cross-section, and has three concentric layers. Asians have straight circular hair, and those that have wavy and curly hairs are elliptical. Negroid hair is flattened and ribbon like. The innermost core is the medulla, a hollow air-filled space occupying the entire length of the hair, and surrounding this, the cortex, which makes up most of the bulk of the hair, is made of a tough fibrous protein called keratin, same material present in finger and toe nails. The protein is rich in cysteine which cross links to form cystine as the hair moves up the follicle. Cystine provides strength to the hair shaft. Hairs have no nerve supply and can be cut without inflicting pain.

Flat tiles

The outer layer is the cuticle composed of layers of flattened cells displayed like the flat tiles on a roof, overlapping each other at the edges. The healthy appearance, such as shininess, brightness and strength, depends how badly weathered these individual cells are.  It is akin to the damage that occurs to your roof tiles. If the edges are cracked and separated, water creeps in, weakens the hair shaft and premature ageing occurs. If the cells are neatly tiled like on the roof, light will be reflected evenly from this smooth surface and the hair will appear glossy and smooth.

Weather beating of these tiles commonly happens on standing in the hot sun daily waiting for the bus, strong winds, and atmospheric pollution. Frequent usage of strong shampoos, hot showers, and damage caused at the salons, through waving, straightening, bleaching, colouring, etc. would lead to chemical and physical beating of these glossy tiles.

Cracks in these cell edges, unlike roof tiles can be repaired. Daily conditioning your hair will fill those cracked edges of the outer cuticle cells with silicon, found in hair conditioners. Furthermore, the silicon gives that strength, smoothness, and shine to the hair shafts. Conditioners also reduce static electricity in the hair. Both shampoo and conditioner in one is not generally recommended. It is hard to believe that both in one will perform their functions as good as when used separately.

Cucumber has sufficient silicon. Fresh slices when rubbed on the hair fills those cracks, and give that lustre to the cuticle cells (tiles). So, daily strong shampooing is damaging whilst daily conditioning is beneficial. A good shampoo should remove the buildup of oil, dead skin, and atmospheric pollutants that bind to the hair shaft and it should rinse cleanly the hair and the scalp.

Acid shampoos (low pH, 4.5 to 6.0) are said to be more friendly and kind to the hair, and preserves the protective acid mantle. Soap also does the same, but in the presence of hard water may lead to build up of insoluble soap salts and may cause some discomfort. Soap does not cause premature shedding of hair or damage roots, as believed by some. You may remember the pre-shampoo era during and before the ’40s, men and women did use soap on the scalp, with no complains of hair loss.


Hair loss or alopecia can be caused by several factors, including hormone changes, physical damage, and mental stress. In some cases, hair loss may also be the symptom of certain fungal infections, immune system disorders, or systemic diseases.

Using combs

Another important factor that gradually damages your hair shafts is the type of comb you use, and the way the hair roots are stretched on combing, and the styling that maintains them stretched the whole day. Ladies with long hair face this situation.

Plastic type of brushes with soft spiky teeth well spaced fixed onto the shaft are preferable, as there is no tension on the hair roots when brushing.

Hair colour

The number and type of melanosomes from melanocytes within the hair bulb matrix determine hair colour. Melanosomes are large, ellipsoid, and rich in melanin in dark hairs, spherical in red hairs, and present in low numbers in white, gray, and blond hairs. Bleaching is a lightening of hair colour. Oxidizing agents, usually hydrogen peroxide chemically changes the hair pigment melanin.

The hydrogen peroxide is mixed with an alkaline ammonium solution immediately before applying. This process damages the keratin, rendering the hair dry, porous, and more prone to tangling. The increased porosity of the hair allows bleached hair to absorb more water through cracked outer cells (tiles), resulting in longer drying times, and increased susceptibility to humidity changes.

For greying hairs a natural old remedy would be to rub boiled karawila leaves extract on the hair frequently.

Frequent colouring and tinting of hair may also lead to weakening, thinning and loss of hair. Semi-permanent hair dyes are the most popular forms used at home and at the salons. The chemicals used in such dyes will penetrate the outer cells of the hair shaft, and cause gradual damage to the structure of the hair.

Vegetable dyes derived from plants are also semi-permanent dyes. They do not penetrate the outer layers of the hair shaft and hence less damaging to the hair.

Permanent dyes on the other hand penetrate the hair shaft and get trapped within the hair cortex, and cannot be removed by shampooing. The dye is mixed with the developer, i.e. hydrogen peroxide - 20 volumes, which generate a chemical reaction within the shaft of the hair. Unfortunately, the bleaching reaction caused by hydrogen peroxide is damaging to the keratin, leading to breakage of the hair shaft.

Female Androgenetic Alopecia

The distribution of hair at the time of puberty and development of other secondary sexual characteristics in both genders are totally under the influence of the hormones secreted in the sex glands. The male hormone-testosterone, the dominant one in males, is produced in the testicles during puberty and continues during ones sexual life. In the female testosterone is secreted in the ovaries and the adrenal glands. Excess secretion of the male hormones in females lead to androgenetic type of hair loss.

 It travels in the bloodstream to the hair follicles. However, testosterone does not kill off the hair follicles (roots) directly. It is converted, inside the follicle, to a much more powerful hormone called dihydro-testosterone (DHT). DHT has a great effect on the hair follicles, affecting them in different ways in different parts of the body. On the face and chest, DHT stimulates the growth of thick curly hair. This contrasts with its effect on the scalp where it makes hair thin out and eventually kills off the follicles altogether, on the hairline, sides of the frontal scalp (receding), and the crown.

Why do males go bald only to a defined line and hair loss stops at that point? This is because the DHT receptors are in the area that goes bald and not in the part that does not. Another important question is — why do hair transplants grow in the bald area if it has concentrations of DHT that kills hair follicles? It is believed that the DHT receptors are actually in the follicle itself. If they do not exist in the follicle that is transplanted then they are unaffected by the DHT levels in the surrounding tissue.

To be continued next week

Anwar Ibrahim to give Annual Dudley Senanayake Memorial Oration

Dudley Senanayake

By Ilica Malkanthi Karunaratne 

The Dudley Senanayake Commemoration Foundation has announced that the Annual Dudley Senanayake Memorial Oration will be given by Anwar Ibrahim this year. The venue is the Ceylon Continental Hotel. It will be on October 16 at 5.30 p.m.

Anwar Ibrahim needs no introduction as he is one of the most respected political personalities in this region. He is a colourful personality known for his steadfast stance against corruption and for never wavering in his principles during his entire political life. He has had a remarkable journey in politics and his popularity nationally and internationally has never been in doubt.

Among the milestones of his political life are being Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia from 1993 to 1998 and Minister of Finance in Malaysia from 1991 to 1998. He is greatly respected and famed for his principled stance against corruption and his excellent management of the economy during a somewhat turbulent period of coping with a financial crisis.

Other issues leading to his fame and qualities of leadership are that he is viewed as one of the forefathers of The Asian Renaissance and a leading proponent of greater cooperation among civilisations. Democracy is the keyword for him in all issues and his is an authoritative voice in bridging the widening gap between East and West.

Born in Penang

Anwar was born in Penang in 1947. His early education was in his hometown from where he got admission to a most prestigious school, Malay College at Kuala Kangsar. He went on to The University of Malaya. While here he witnessed the tragedy of the 1969 race riots. During this period he led protests against the Vietnam war and several demonstrations on domestic social issues such as corruption, poverty and the plight of the marginalised.

 Both his intellectual and leadership qualities came to the fore at this time and he was appointed a member of the ad hoc Advisory Group to the Secretary General of Youth Affairs in 1973. During his university days, he championed many causes and actively pursued the reform agenda.

In 1971, he formed the National Youth Movement of Malaysia; primarily to promote and uphold the principles of modern Islam and to campaign for moral upliftment and social justice. This was a period of great hardship for many sectors in Malaysia due to a weak economy. Anwar became a target  as president of the multi ethnic National Youth Council and was detained without trial for 22 months for championing the cause of hard pressed poor farmers in a northern Malaysian state.

His rise was meteoric

Later on in 1982, he was invited to join the United Malays National Organisation by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed. His rise from then on was meteoric. He is unrelenting in fighting  corruption and is deeply committed to the ideals of empowerment, justice, equity and above all to freedom and democracy.

There was a growing distance between his ideals and the authoritative governance of Mahathir Mohamed which eventually led to confrontation. He was responsible as acting prime minister for introducing the controversial but undoubtedly effective anti corruption legislation which held public servants accountable for corrupt practice even after they ceased to hold office. In his political life he has been courageous in his emphasis on social justice, poverty eradication and education as priorities.

He has been as active on the international front by advocating civilisational dialogue and the ideals of mutual co-existence of civilisations and interplay of different social, cultural and spiritual ideas. He has been president of the UNESCO World Council, chairman of the Development Committee of World Bank and International Monetary Fund, honourary president of Accountability and chairman of the Foundation for the Future.

Internationally recognised

His contributions to humanity were internationally recognised when he was awarded the Presidential Medal by Georgetown University and an Honourary Doctorate by the Ateneo de Manila University in the Phillipines. Malaysia enjoyed unprecedented prosperity during his tenure as finance minister.

He was named one of the top four finance ministers by Euromoney and Asiamoney named him finance minister of the year in 1966. His prescriptions saved the Malaysian economy and brought him worldwide accolades including the title of Asian of the Year by Newsweek International in 1998.

His calls for reform increased his popularity and Prime Minister Mahathir fearing all this dismissed him from the government and had him tried on trumped up charges. His trial and conviction were widely criticised by the international community and many world leaders called for his release.

Political manipulation

The entire trial proceedings were described as a pattern of political manipulation by Amnesty International. Anwar was finally released from solitary confinement after six years of appeal in 2004.

He is an outspoken and fearless opposition leader  and used his time in confinement to read widely on a variety of subjects including English literature, politics and religion. He has lectured at Oxford University, John Hopkins and Georgetown University. His fame as a speaker draws crowds as large as 50,000 or 60,000 people.

The Dudley Senanayake Memorial Foundation, its Chairman,  Desmond Fernando and the directors are greatly honoured that he has accepted the invitation to deliver the oration this year, in honour of another great politician.

Stafford International School students excel at Edexcel examinations 

The students of Stafford International School exhibited outstanding performance at the London GCE O/Level and A/Level examinations held in June 2008.

Amongst the 48 students who sat for June 2008 London Advanced Level examination, several students achieved exceptional results. Students who sat for the May / June Ordinary Level examination also achieved impressive results.

GCE O/L:         

Ayushka Nugaliyadda - 9As, Nishika Samaratunga - 8As, Saundararajan Vidula - 8As, Dehan Jayamaha - 7As, Samindika Wadanamby- 7As.


Chamindika Konara - 5As, Hasini Jayatilaka - 4As, Jovan Jacob - 4As, Keshab Muttupulle - 4As, Neluka Wikramanayake - 4As, Rashitha Watsala - 4As, Bhavna Mohan - 3As, Harini Baptist - 3As, Kevin Paldano - 3As, Julian Wong - 3As.

The students mentioned above  obtained the Edexcel awards as recognition for their outstanding performances. It is worth noting that the following students who obtained the first place in Sri Lanka were also ranked among the first three in the world. They have indeed brought immense credit to the institution.

In addition to the outstanding prizes won nationally by the students there were many world prize winners as well.

June 2008 Edexcel GCE O/L and A/L prizes — highest in Sri Lanka:


Ayushka Nugaliyadda - Commerce and English Literature, dehan Jayamaha - Economics, Nishika Samaratunga - English Literature, Gamika Seneviratne - Human Biology


Keshab Muttupulle - Biology.





     More Reviews....


The assassination of a
    Prime Minister 50 years ago

  The last 60 years of my life

  Bird trappers trapped by
     Wild Life’s flying squad

  US Ambassador Chief Guest
     at American Chamber of Commerce AGM

  Jeff Gunewardene a Honourary
     Deputy  Mayor in the US 

  A show of talent, glamour and knowledge 

  Panadura gets new UNP organisers

  Revelations in a Thanksgiving Service

  Celebrating Home-Makers Haven

  Losing hair: what you need to know

  Anwar Ibrahim to give Annual Dudley
     Senanayake Memorial Oration

  Stafford International School
      students excel at Edexcel examinations


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