21st December, 2003 Volume 10, Issue 23
propagating her political agenda
given to voice free
taking over of the Ministry of Mass Communication by the President and the
subsequent changes witnessed since prove that her political charlatans are
back at work engaged in a futile attempt at legitimising a course of action
which is now history. All this is indeed an unfortunate legacy from the past
to a country that yearns to break away from the clutches of political
is a tragic irony that a mandate given by a majority of the people to its
elected government to voice its own opinion with fair representation of
opposing views through the apparatus of state media is ruthlessly vitiated
by the leader of the main opposition political party who also happens to be
the President of the country for propagating her political agenda. It is the
elected government that governs the country and the President despite her
enormous powers will theoretically enjoy her powers to the full only when
the party of her choice or of which she is the leader is the government.
the contrary her efforts at scuttling and crippling the activities of the
elected government is unethical and undemocratic. The President is
constitutionally empowered to take over any ministry. But only a reckless
president will dare it.
constitutional pundits and legal eagles through racking their lofty heads
have found in the constitution is the incontrovertible truth that the chief
executive has powers to take over the functions of any ministry of the
government. It is, however, sad that these legal experts fail to interpret
the law beyond its implicit value.
institutions in any society tend to thrive and prosper only in an
environment where its legal institutions are free and independent of any
countervailing influences being brought upon them and voice their free and
genuine opinion in the promotion of human values. In doing so the unhampered
and dauntless interpretation of the law is a key to the enrichment of
democratic institutions which sometimes run the risk of being plagued by
some misguided action of power hungry politicians.
has dashed the hopes of the poor
UNF budget presented in parliament recently is a big hoax.
pre-budget statements and speeches of ministers raised the eager
expectations of the downtrodden masses but when they came to know the actual
proposals, their hopes were dashed.
increment of Rs. 1250 to the government. servants and a meagre Rs. 500 for
the pensioners are absolutely meaningless in relation to the sky-rocketing
cost of living. It is the same in all other fields of economic activity.
ministers including the learned Finance Minister tasting the perks and
privileges associated with their high offices, not to mention their handsome
salaries, cannot understand the tears and turbulent lives of the poor
people. The budget makes the rich richer and the poor, poorer. These are the
leaders we have who without any hesitation say that they are there to serve
the poor and the destitute.
will always prevail but blatant lies will perish by their very nature and
sweep away the carriers of falsehood from the portals of society. It is the
divine order of things.
war has stopped for the past two years. Why cannot the government use the
colossal amount of money saved during these two years to give more relief to
the suffering masses? Can the governments fool all the people all the time?
UNF sunshine budget can aptly be described as “old wine in a new
rent fixers must roast in hell
have received my telephone bill for September indicating a sum of Rs.
1500 as rental. My average charges including the rental never exceeded Rs.
this is unconscionable. The authorities concerned should realise that all
telephone users are not gamblers and bookies. People who make decisions of
this nature should roast in hell!
of South Indian Tamil stock
your article “Bandaranaikes – the bane of Sri Lanka” in
your issue of November 18, you did not mention Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s
father, Ratwatte. One of the Kandyan chiefs who signed the Kandyan
Convention in 1815 had clear Tamil letters in his signature. That was
apparently Ratwatte’s grandfather, that is, Sirimavo’s great
means the Ratwattes are South Indian Tamils who settled down in Kandy and
adopted high sounding Sinhala names and called themselves the Radala clan.
the majority of Sri Lankans know that the Radalayas who are the
Ratwattes are actually South Indians. Only the masses whose minds have been
indoctrinated by SLFP propaganda will continue to worship these so-called
superior Kandyan Radalayas.
is also a known fact that the Bandaranaikes are also the descendants of the
Nayakkar kings of South India!
to educate ignorant credit card merchants
as much as financial transactions are channeled through credit cards in
developed contries, during the past decade, most Sri Lankans too have got
accustomed to the use of credit cards purely for convenience.
merchants who qualify to enjoy this facility of acceptance of credit cards
are provided with the necessary interlinked machines with the respective
financial institutions, particularly to screen and scrutinise their
over a decade I have made use of this wonderful facility purely for my
convenience too, as I need not carry cash. I am privileged to use a Visa
credit card from a prestigious bank having a network of branches worldwide.
I am grateful to the relevant authorities of this bank to have correctly
assessed my integrity and credit worthiness even without a formal interview.
I have acclaimed their decision to enhance my credit limit, simply over a
have derived many benefits from this facility while making my payments
promptly. I have had the luxury of pumping fuel by producing the card at a
nearby filling station. But I regret to say I have not had the same response
from another filling station closer to my residence. This, I believe, is due
to lack of knowledge by those who are expected to operate the connected
machines. What is necessary is to educate these credit card merchants.
does not ex-Speaker say ‘mea culpa’ even now?
refer to the observations of a former Speaker, Stanley Tillekeratne
in your issue of November 23 under the heading “Speaker ruled right.”
It will be recalled that it was Tillekeratne who, on being elected Speaker
in 1970, broke away from a very noble tradition followed by all Speakers up
to 1970 that is, as soon as the Speaker is elected, he resigns from the
political party to which he belonged and functions as an independent MP not
subject to any party whip. This procedure was consistent with the dictum
that “Justice should not only be done; but appear to be done.”
Tillekeratne not only continued to be a member of the political party, after
being elected Speaker, but also declared to the country loud and clear that
he was breaking away from tradition, as if he had done something remarkable.
the noble procedure referred to above was continued, then there would have
been no necessity for the newspapers to devote their pages, criticizing or
supporting the decisions of the Speaker. Tillekeratne should, even at this
late stage, stand up and say mea culpa, for it is better late than
never. Then, at least, history will be kind to him.
for the highest international posts
recent government supported candidates to international posts failed
miserably (no reflection, for example, on the brilliant UNESCO candidate),
we have the spectacle of highest government backing — simultaneously —
for one of the world’s highest posts at the UN and the other for the
Commonwealth, with every possibility of enacting a comedy of failure, in
both. World opinion is not likely to support two from one country, even if
not small. Mercifully, we have all been saved the problem by the
Commonwealth candidate being eliminated almost before he started his race.
brings to mind an occasion now passed when somebody asked me, who I thought
could be the fittest person to the UN high post. The other three, I said, in
Shavian answer, were M/s. Neville Kanakaratne, Gamini Corea, and Shirley
Amarasinghe, in that order, knowing the true needed qualities of a good
verve, rapport, commonsense and style combined with his exposure, would have
been outstanding had one pursued his case at the right time. Gamini had a
command of the system and in the subjects, with only perhaps a slight bent
to over deliberation in arriving at decisions.
the star then on the stage, with the Law of the Sea Conference probably had
what it takes, with only an unconscious overbearing disposition.
truly, among them, had been unanimously supported with one country
withdrawing its own intended candidate, another instructing all its
embassies to discourage all other candidates, a third conveying that my
appointment to the post of Under Secretary General, Executive Secretary for
Asia and the Pacific, beginning 1982, was a foregone conclusion and needed
only a formal (one line) letter from my own government to the UN conveying
that they support me.
whole matter collapsed simply for want of the “one line” support from
the then president of Sri Lanka – interestingly, a matter recorded in The
Prof. C. Suriyakumaran Felicitation Volume at the 50th
anniversary of the UN, edited by the late, T.B. Subasinghe with
contributions from authors worldwide.
them all, now Neville (affectionately called Bunny by those close to him)
and Shirley are deceased; with Gamini and myself, as Mark Twain would say,
“also not feeling too well!”
go back now, best wishes to the ‘other’ candidate!
of English for A/L students welcomed
re-introduction of English as the medium of instruction in the GCE (A/L)
classes specially in science subjects is a big blessing to students.
students who sat the entrance examination in the English medium for the
first time in April this year should be given encouragement, because the Swabasha
medium students naturally will be at an advantage to score higher marks
and to compete to enter university. Therefore, English medium students,
because of poor performance may not be able to compete on an equal footing
with Swabasha medium students.
ensure justice, the English medium students should be given additional
weightage in some form or other to enter university. Then only will the
government scheme to encourage students to enter the university through the
English medium be a success.
the English medium students will be frustrated. During the transitional
period at least, some encouragement should to be given to them to ensure
Soysa on ‘legal assault’
refer to your editorial in The Sunday Leader of December 14.
“Who could forget his formidable legal assault on Doctor Priyani Soysa
even as she lay crumpled and cowering on the witness stand.”
Arsecularatne was the plaintiff and as such did not cross - examine me. The
court was told that I had been arrogant “in our territory.” Which indeed
I was not. I merely answered questions firmly from the conviction of truth.
case was dismissed, with costs in all three courts which I declined to
accept through my lawyer.
is almost two years. Titus Malgahagamage died on October 26, 2001, and even
his lips did not betray the pain of his last days. His wife, Yvonne, told me
of his condition many months before he passed away and I would put the phone
down and ask myself whether the futility of it all was some big cosmic joke.
There is no use talking of a man who now lies, an empty shell. That can
never be the Titus who was loved so well.
met, years ago, in Sharjah, and he was the kindly, gentle person who was
appalled to know that I lived alone in a little apartment over the Safestway
Supermarket. “This won’t do,” he said, “and how do you eat?” He
wasn’t pleased. “You mean you come home, cook and sit to dinner alone?
What is this nonsense?”
that day, Titus, who ran his engineering consultancy at Ajman would roll up
to my flat in the evenings. “Come on. You must live a normal life. Let’s
go home.” It became so regular – home to Titus’ Dubai flat for dinner.
I would insist on taking a taxi back even as 10 in the evening, but I always
left with a particular warmth. We would sing songs around the piano and eat
well and that welcome aperitif was always on the table.
his only child, was then preparing to go abroad. She was truly her
father’s daughter, excelling in her studies. So was her father and Trinity
College, Kandy has his name on honour boards in the college hall.
and his wife Yvonne were the only ones who came to the Dubai airport on the
night I left the UAE. They were sad, but promised to return to Sri Lanka
when they had settled Nirasha in a university in the UK. She was their life,
actually, and as their daughter, brought them much joy and fulfillment.
was a true friend. He did not say much, but what are words when the heart is
full? He had the gift of light and love that shone in his eyes and he never
felt that anyone he gave of himself to should ever feel the obligation. To
me, his Dubai home was home. It was the nearest thing to home I ever had
while in the UAE and it was with a feeling of mixed pain and joy that I sat
back in the aircraft and thought of my passage back – home from home!
is the Titus I will always remember. Why did he have to come back to Sri
Lanka to die? It is something I find so hard to accept, but to this day, the
little gift Yvonne pressed into my hand at Dubai airport adorns my home.
“For your wife,” she said and Titus smiled, and how was anyone to know
that even then, the seeds of a terrible debilitator lay within him?
He survived the surgical operations in Colombo but the ordeal of it all, the trauma was too much for his tried self. When he died, the angels would have wept. Of that I am sure.
was of that rarest breed – the perfect gentleman, the kindliest of souls,
a spreader of happiness. It is never right that such men should be called
away, but I console myself in the thought that out there, where the stars
turn and the galaxies glow ethereally, he continues his Samsaric journey
and now there is only bliss and the utter beauty of the spirits of the ever
living who surround him.
with God, Titus. He accompanied you on your earthly journey. Now walk with
Him and know your true reward.
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