Letters to the editor

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4th July, 2004  Volume 10, Issue 51

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Speaker has fallen short of his role

The Speaker's role in parliament is primarily that of conducting debates. In Sri Lanka it seems that peaceful debates are a thing of the past. Therefore, the Speaker falls short of his role, if he is unable to control unruly MPs - mace or no mace. The current Speaker has the added burden of being a member of the opposition and his very election created an uproar on the first day of sittings of the 13th parliament which exposed the level of competitiveness between the ruling party (parties) and the coalition opposition.

It must be remembered by all concerned in parliament that they were elected to represent the public and not their personal interests, likes and dislikes. Only three months into the UPFA's term and they are already talking about dissolution of parliament and a new general election!

The opposition is hell-bent on toppling the government in much the same way the SLFP and JVP did before they came into power. The public must insist on competing politicians to personally pay the cost of general elections should this government be toppled or call for elections, if they are unable to conduct the business of governing this country  before their term of office expires.

The Speaker dons the Speaker's robes because it gives added stature and dignity to his position. Robes and uniforms were designed with this in mind. The mace used to be a weapon but is now a symbol of authority of an official - perhaps we should revert to its former use as a weapon, seeing that some MPs are being injured by  rowdy parliamentarians who belong in ghettoes, not the illustrious house of parliament, which we all used to respect.

Linda van Schagen
Mt. Lavinia


Foreign troops needed to ensure peace is kept

Karuna has pointed out that since the signing of the MoU 11 shipments of sophisticated arms and ammunition have been received by Pirapaharan. What was our navy doing? How is it that it could not stop even one shipment? On the other hand for two decades our defence forces combined have not been able to put down the Eelam insurgents.

In the circumstances, what a tragedy we asked the IPKF which came here to do what our soldiers could not do, to go away before they could complete the dirty work we entrusted to it. It was President Jayewardene who said that if the IPKF had been allowed to stay here for three months more, it would have annihilated the LTTE root and branch. It was Sirimavo Bandaranaike, who said in parliament that sending away the IPKF prematurely was the most foolish act of President Premadasa.

We are even now faced with a dangerous situation. In spite of the MoU, Pirapaharan is importing arms and ammunition, recruiting child soldiers and engaged in other nefarious activities not for fun. He knows that the Sri Lankan government will never allow him to remain permanently as president cum prime minister of a 'de facto' Eelam.

"Trust in God, but tie your camel well," cautioned Prophet Mohamed. Let Kumaratunga send Kadirgamar to each and every friendly foreign country to sign a military pact so that we may get peace keeping forces from all over the world if the fourth Eelam war starts - God forbid - to assist our defence forces.

India can send a contingent from the fourth largest army in the world to Sri Lanka and Karuna can lead it on to Pirapaharan's bunker at Kilinochchi, as our security forces have not been able to do so, so far, although a written request has been made by the Indian government to extradite him as he is charged as the first accused in the Rajiv Gandhi murder case.

Concerned citizen
Mt. Lavinia


No reason for UPFA to crow about 

The UPFA is still crowing about the election victory even though the electorate did not give them a working majority in parliament.

The UPFA, an alliance of nine political parties with diverse policies and political agendas and behaviour, which parties have changed their individual party symbols, colours and policies, from time to time at the feet of political expediency and opportunism, jointly fought against a single party, the UNP, who faced the election with it's party colour and symbol unchanged, under odds, with the entire state media indulging in propaganda against the UNP. Hence it is not a victory that one can be proud of. The UPFA still has to go begging for a parliamentary majority to keep itself in power.

The JVP, the JHU and several other minority parties came into political reckoning entirely due to the present election procedure. The system prevents a dictatorship of the majority. It is, therefore, not proper to change the system merely to accommodate a single individual to continue in politics.

The so called senior member of the alliance - the SLFP, having lost nearly 40 of its stalwarts at the last election, if the present trend continues, is on the way out. The next election in another year or two will have two political parties in the fray - the UNP and JVP.

Whatever it is, the President and the SLFP should now get about keeping the promises made at the hustings within the three month period announced at election meetings by the President.

G.S. Perera
Nugegoda


Gruesome, sordid past of JVP

The incidents that occurred in parliament and the SJ campus are downright pathetic and deplorable. This campus is the abode of depraved hooligans with homicidal tendencies. This is the second homicide at this particulate campus. The killers must definitely be sent to the gallows.

The complete banning of politics in the campuses may bring about brutal manslaughter and rowdyism.

Members of parliament behaved like third grade rowdies the other day. They had the audacity to assault the bhikkhus. At this rate there may be killings in parliament too.

The whole world knows the gruesome, sordid past of the JVP whose hands are smeared with the blood of countless innocent people including bhikkhus. The tiger, even though it changes its habitat, its stripes will remain intact.

The best place for the rowdy elements in parliament and the campuses is the Pettah fish market where they can give full vent to their rowdyism.

Indranee Wijesinghe
Nugegoda


End inequalities and bind nation together

In Sri Lanka the question of homeland has developed into a national crisis. The reasons are many, but it is the politician who has to take the blame. Here the question of homeland is being given a twist. The minority is probably seeking a haven to protect its survival from the terrors that were unleashed on them with state sponsorship on several occasions.

Now the state has conceded that error, and has made efforts to reconcile, but for the minorities that reconciliation is not coming with full commitment, as is evidenced in the constitution giving special place to language and religion of the majority, who are represented in parliament more as the rulers than equals.

If those inequalities and impressions are removed from the statute books and equality enforced, the minorities would be compelled by circumstances to withdraw their stand. This is the only way to give credibility to the intentions of the majority, which in turn will create an impact locally and internationally, and permanently bind the nation into one entity.

If this is not heeded the opportunists within the minorities, will use this situation to create a statehood through the homeland concept. This will be catastrophic for the minorities, the majority, and finally for posterity.

Walter Fernando
Ratmalana


Enough of 'white' cricketing supremacy 

The time has come when one should no longer suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous behaviour on the part of the 'white' cricketing countries towards the Asian and African countries. Look at the record.

When Australia noticed a threat to their cricketing supremacy from a young Sri Lankan bowler (Murali) they attempted to remove him from test cricket through the likes of Hair and Emerson - two 'patriotic' umpires who did their bit for Australia. Their PM too has done his bit for them. Indeed that's not the whole story of 'white' cricketing infamy.

When Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana overturned the then classic 'white' strategy of 'getting one's eye in' during the first 15 overs in ODI's (30 to 40 runs being about the norm!) and set about massacring the first 15 overs to the tune of some 80 to 90 runs (remember the Australian tour of '95/96?) and thus invented the 'pinch hitting' strategy that every country tries to adopt today, there was a move by the 'white' countries (Australia and England) to move the ICC to consider a change of the '15 over' rule.

As I recollect they suggested reducing the 15 over segment to some 10 or so and/or permitting during the first 15 overs fielders in the outfield! The current limit on the 'bumper' (two per over) was the result of Anglo - Australian funk of the battery of W/Indian pace squads of the '80s - 90s. It is the same funk that the 'whites' have of Murali, and had of Sanath and Romesh!

Then look at the ICC's behaviour/practice of nominating umpires for Sri Lankan test matches. Many times our cricket boards have had to protest and call for a change in the umpires panel. Whether due to ICC cussedness or whatever, it seemed that it invariably nominated an umpire with whom we have had problems.

Consider another aspect of 'white' cricketing behaviour so far as Sri Lanka's cricket vis-…-vis the 'white' countries is concerned. England refused to give us a three - test series, even while we were almost the top dogs in the game (1996-1998 or so) until much later in the day. Actually one felt that it was we who should have refused to give England a test series (one test or three) as we were much superior to them at the time. The tour itineraries were so lopsided from our point of view that it seemed the 'white' hosts did build in a 'tire them our before a test' strategy as part of a scheme to get the better of us in the tests!

And now the current Australian tour sees the hosts taking us on a tour of their god-forsaken northern territories, Darwin etc! Why did we agree to this downgrading of our national team? Was such debasement inflicted by Australia on England and S. Africa, or even the Windies! We should have called off the tour if Australia could not afford us the same privileges that it affords to other ICC members.

Sportey
Colombo 5


President is culpable 

A vacancy in the Permanent Commission for Prevention of Bribery and Corruption, piped in with so much fanfare not so long ago, remains unfilled for over a year. What is the problem that the President cannot face? Are there no men and women in this country, of ability, integrity and honesty? Of course it is unlikely that some of them will do her bidding. The statement that the Act itself needs amendment to be made more effective, is laughable in the context of the facts hitherto enumerated. People are not fools not to see through it.

The Elections Commission is unable to function, and an ailing commissioner is conducting elections under protest at great peril to his life, merely because the President stubbornly refuses to approve the nomination the Constitutional Council has carefully and responsibly chosen. Is she wanting someone who will dance to her tune? The Constitutional Council just refuses. Hooray! The press and people seem to have totally forgotten these two issues. This letter is to awaken them from their drugged stupor. If necessary, let them take to the streets and remain there till the President acts.

R.A. Goonewardene
Moratuwa


No prayers in Buddhism 

In The Sunday Leader of 13 June there is a picture titled "Monks pray for divine intervention." A fair number of monks are seated on the Colombo Town Hall grounds.

If it is a divine intervention, it must come from a heavenly being. Divinity belongs to a god. No mortal can aspire to that status or position.

Buddhism does not recognise the existence of a creator god. Further, it is a prayerless religion/ philosophy.

Christians have many a prayer to invoke blessings and favours from their Almighty God. I believe Muslims too offer prayers to their benevolent Allah.

How come then the monks' acceptance of divinity in Buddhism?

G.A. de Silva
Negombo


Make Mundo gas available without delay 

Last year Mundo gas was introduced to the market and it was a welcome relief to many middle income category citizens as they were being fleeced by Shell gas and Laugfs gas companies. But unfortunately since April, we are suffering without Mundo gas, and we are unable to buy Shell or Laugfs gas as they do not accept Mundo gas cylinders.

Through your esteemed journal we appeal to the relevant authorities to ensure that Mundo gas is made freely available without further delay. If this cannot be done, we appeal to the authorities to compel Shell and Laugfs gas companies to accept the Mundo cylinders and give us gas until such time Mundo gas is freely available. We hope that the Minister of Consumer Affairs will take appropriate steps in this regard as all Mundo gas users are middle class citizen who cannot afford to buy new cylinders.

T.B. Ekanayake
Gampola


Will history repeat itself? 

In February 1999, S.B. Dissanayake, then a confidant of Chandrika and a minister in the government, made a statement regarding a new constitution which was to be enacted, in effect through a constituent assembly. He further said that parliament would be closed down and converted to a constituent assembly, and the judiciary also will be closed down during this period.

Gravely perturbed by the latter statement the judges of the Supreme Court met and requested the Chief Justice to initiate an inquiry as to whether the this statement was defamatory of the judiciary. Consequently the matter was taken up for inquiry on June 26, before a panel of three judges which included the Chief Justice. The minister in a brief statement apologised for what he had said and the Chief Justice discharged him after giving a simple piece of advice. Will history repeat itself?

Shelton Wijesinghe
Nugegoda


 Noory Teacher

Appreciation

Don't ask me to tell you her full name. I realised my ignorance about her name only when I started to write this note just after I reached home from her 'Janaza.' It is pathetic I couldn't see her face before the last rites, because I wasn't a near relative. I met her last a couple of months ago when she was back at home after a few weeks stay at the Gampaha base hospital. Naturally she was a little bit upset about her physical condition at that time. But she was strong as usual.

Almost everybody who resides in Thihariya knew her. Some called her "Noory Miss." I prefer to call her "Noory Teacher." She was a lady who was full of kindness. She was a government school teacher. After retirement from government service she lived at Hijra Mawatha with her family.

The Gampaha District has been her educational territory. So many students witnessed her unlimited dedication and devotion. 'Noor' or 'Noory' in Arabic literally means 'bright' or 'brightness.' Who gave her this name I don't know. Whoever it is, she lived up to her good name.

On Saturday, April 3 her children had taken her to the Gampaha hospital again. Since the medical advice they got was not so positive they had brought her back home. The country was agog with the election atmosphere and the next couple of days being holidays, the children had decided to keep her with them until Tuesday which was the first working day of the new government.

But everything ended on Sunday, April 4. Unbelievable? In the morning she passed away and at 4 in the evening we prayed for her at the Masjid-ul-Raula in front of the cortege.

I treated her as my elder sister who supported and encouraged me on numerous occasions. We missed a kind lady who was a sister, teacher, mother, aunty, a grandmother and a good neighbour.

Dear Noory Teacher, may Almighty Allah - ar Rahman ar Raheem shower His merciful blessings on you.

Haji Abdul Kareena Nandasena
Thihariya
Kalagedihena


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