Letters to the editor

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25th July, 2004  Volume 11, Issue 2

















Lanka doomed so long as a
maniac is at the helm

SriLankan Airlines with their head in the skies advertised some time back that this tiny island will show what peace is to the whole world! Do they ever think that so long as there is a maniac at the helm of affairs: doing the most undemocratic acts that would leave Zimbabwe in the shade, even eat dirt if power can be retained or usurped, spend as if there is no tomorrow, tell the most glaring lies to deceive the masses, smile at them as if butter would not melt in the mouth, have around the most hypocritical people who they jolly well know that what is going on is total ruin of this country yet put on a fa‡ade that they are gentlemen of honour and are sincere.

Have they got a conscience that tells them that they are the scum of the earth for being supportive of a leader who is rotten to the core?

It is now up to the educated to change their attitude of burying their heads in the sand and pretend that if they ignore things, they will go away. Sri Lanka is doomed as long as the cronies (except a very few) dominate the political scene, holding elections every other year, grab as much as they can when they can when they get elected, thwart justice, hoodwink the public, promote all their friends and relatives into high positions, acquire as many state vehicles as possible.

We then have the same set of unsuitable people doing work for which they are unfit by all standards, perpetuating crime and fraud at the highest level. How many murderers (who have got away because of their position) and criminals (who again have escaped justice because the system is impotent to convict them since their appointments are by the grace of those whom they grovel to) are mocking at the legislature and sitting in parliament?

L. E. de Mel

The fault is not in our stars!

The state TV informs us daily of the lucky times tomorrow and when to watch out for Rahu, the spoiler. There is a tendency now-a days to rub in what is 'un-Buddhistic.' When the Buddha urges us to be self-reliant, even to the extent of mitigating the effects of past bad karma, why is it being dinned into us that astrology/nekath rules over our fortunes and misfortunes?

Belief in nekath leads naturally to charms and mantharas. The best proof that charms and mantharas are baloney is the number of those who have been blown to smithereens, with charms and mantharas obtained hot-hot from the swamis, rishis, and soothsayers of India.

In spite of everybody knowing this, what an exodus there is across the Palk Straits to obtain more! Our parliament opens to an auspicious time, even jolts to a sudden, unexpected halt to accord with the auspicious time given by the seers. Elections are fixed, ribbons cut, lamps lit, oaths taken, papers signed, poojas performed and coconuts smashed before shrines, all to the tune of nekath.

The result is a country, so ravaged by the bad governance of nekath addicts, that it is now careering towards self-destruction. Could true Buddhists have brought it to such a pass?

Instead of worsening the depressed mind-set of the Sri Lankans, the state TV should replace the skit with some pithy sayings, extolling courageous independence, emphasising that the fault in not in our stars. The Buddhist texts abound with get up-go-do-it yourself calls. Who will want to know what time rahu is due to strike, if he has heard and understood the Buddha-word.

"Whoever behaves righteously in deed, word and thoughts in the morning, noon and evening time, surely a happy morning, noon and evening will be theirs!"

Prema Ranawaka-Das

Hell hath no fury like a 'convict' beaten

The above phrase, although freshly coined suits an Australian down to his dirty bootlaces. I am talking of Aussies connected to the cricketing fraternity and those who jump on the bandwagon, to bask in the reflected glory such as the highly unpleasant and controversial John Howard. Otherwise, how on earth could anyone explain the mass hysteria and words of hatred and malice, which emanated from every Australian worth his salt in cricketing circles and those such as Howard once Muttiah Muralitharan broke Courtney Walsh's world record before every Australian's pet poodle Shane or is it Shame Warne.

Muralitharan's action may or may not be legitimate but the fact remains that the apex body of world cricket, the ICC has had no problem with it for the past so many years despite the conniving methods of several Australians (who else?) and envious stooges such as Bishen Bedi to sensationalise matters. In this context, it seems ridiculous that an old problem has once again been dragged out, with Muralitharan on 527 wickets. Clearly, the issue of Murali, a little Sri Lankan, sitting on top of world cricket's bowing honours list rankles quite a few Australians and their colonial masters, the Englishmen.

While we are at it, lets also ponder awhile about the deeds of Warne, Murali's closest challenger, whose shameful resume outside of cricket reads thus - Took prohibited drugs, allegedly popped in to his mouth by his doting mum, played the role of a 'weatherman' to accept money from a notorious bookmaker, which matter was swiftly swept under the carpet by the holier than thou Australians with a ridiculously small monetary fine.

He also made lewd and obscene phone calls and sent text messages to women in three different countries - England, Australia and South Africa (what a role model), he also took money from an organisation to quit smoking, then puffed to his heart's content on the sly and when caught on camera by a teenager tried to assault him.

The list is endless. This is an individual for all his cricketing skills, who is in clear need of psychiatric help. Compared to him, Murali is almost an angel and all he has done is bowl and take wickets according to the rules laid down by the ICC and not the Australians.

Finally a poser for Sri Lanka Cricket and its cricketers in general. Why is it that they run to Australia at the slightest hint of a toothache? Aren't there men and material with similar or better skills than Australians to handle medical or scientific matters in other countries?

Let's for once unite and keep our dignity while shunning the biased Aussie cricketing fraternity, for their mud slinging campaign against one of our greatest sportsmen.

Nishantha Herath

Why this witch-hunt for Fr. Rector? 

I read with interest a newspaper report about an injunction and warrant issued by the District Court of Colombo on Fr. Rector in a case filed by two old boys of St. Joseph's College. Reading further, I was dismayed to discover that the huge song and dance is only over the fact that an annual general meeting was held without being preceded by the usual Holy Mass.

I think to myself 'For God's sake, give the man a break.' He has in his tenure as rector, taken St. Joseph's College from strength to strength. Fr. Rector has left no stone unturned to improve the image of St. Joseph's as a major player in the fields of academics, sports and the arts. He has moulded the students not only by ensuring that they are given an all-round education, but also as young men who will fit into society academically, socially and culturally - sons that Mother Lanka will be proud to call her own. More than that, Fr. Rector has conducted himself with dignity and integrity and has always led by example.

So to the two old boys responsible for seeking legal intervention to have an annual general meeting preceded by Holy Mass, I say, get over it and stop your witch-hunt - channel your energies into worthwhile projects like community and social service for the youth. Stop making a mountain out of a mole hill and appreciate what Fr. Rector has done for St. Joseph's. Life is too short to dwell over petty things - concentrate on the bigger picture!

An Old Joe

Whither parliament? 

After an expenditure of over Rs. 800 million on the last general election, parliament has met four times. On three occasions there was pandemonium.

First it was during the election of the Speaker. One deputy minister sat on the ballot box preventing the casting of votes. The masses at the election behaved very much better than most of the elected representatives.

On the next occasion the same deputy minister carried the mace, and there was mayhem in parliament.

Maximum punishment should be meted out by the Speaker to the members concerned who behaved in this most unruly manner whether they be in the opposition or in the government. The guilty should be debarred from attending parliament for three months. It was not this kind of behaviour that was expected by the people from the MPs elected to the supreme legislature of the country. According to media reports, the well of parliament resembled the aftermath of a cyclone.

The Prime Minister, Speaker, Leader of the Opposition, Leader of the House, the Chief Whip and all party leaders should meet and see that they come to a consensus among principal parties for conciliatory governance with speedy policies to lessen the burdens of the people.

Dr. D. Nillegoda

More dramas with state media playing centre stage 

We earlier had 'Operation Brief Case' and more recently we saw 'Operation 113' - both of which ended in total failure. But hold your breath; now, with the new media minister having identified the "real enemy" there is bound to be more to follow, with the state media playing centre stage.

One thing that emerges from the drama enacted in parliament on June 8, is that this country can boast of some very talented super-stars who could well be used for the production of a real thriller and box office draw, at a time we lack some good entertainment.

We already have on hand an actor of sorts, with some experience, who showed us that the role of a street fighter comes to him quite naturally. Then, there is the character whose track record is as dark and gloomy as the deep ocean, of which he is quite familiar with from his dubious past, to readily play a fitting role. For a scene depicting taxi driver warfare, we don't need to look too far to pick a suitable player also with an abundance of experience in the field.

The most talented of the lot is the one born and blessed with the inherent foxy snout to play the lead role, if someone should write a suitable script which may be headlined 'Who stole the mace?' Of course, the required cameraman is readily available with state-of-the-art high tech equipment at his disposal, complete with five star coiffure and designer clothing etc, etc. And, to cap it all, the state media will give the necessary publicity provided the UNP will be torn to shreds in the course of the dialogue included.

So, fellow Sri Lankans, we can look forward to some great dramas, by a cast hand picked by our own selves. And the good news is that, we don't have to visit Lionel Wendt for this entertainment. Just watch your TV monitors on days that parliament sits - which also may not be too often so that you won't be bored!

Raj de Getty

Tribute to entire medical staff 

It was Monday, June 14, when the fourth blood count revealed that my granddaughter, Sanuli, 8, was suffering from dengue haemorrhagic fever. Her PLT count had dropped to 37. As advised by our family physician, Dr. Sarath Paranavithane, she was rushed to Sri Jayawardenapura Hospital.

The time was around 11 a.m. and the hospital was crowded for admission of mostly dengue patients. It was God's mercy and grace that my good friends, Dr. (Mrs) Ruwani and Dr. Asoka Moragoda came to my assistance to get my granddaughter admitted as soon as possible. Only then I knew that my granddaughter's condition was very serious. Her life was on the borderline - she was in a state of 'shock.' The doctors said if we delayed another half an hour to admit her, it would have been fatal.

I thank God for the prompt attention given to my grand daughter by all the doctors, sisters and nurses of Ward 1 under the care of Dr. (Mrs) Rani Wasala - consultant paediatrician of the hospital. If not for their caring hands and prompt attention today, we would have lost the little angel, God gave us. She was given 18 bottles of saline.

Ward 1 was full of dengue patients. It was so overcrowded that beds had to be shared. My grand daughter was there for one week and through this time I saw how these doctors, sisters and nurses worked round the clock morning, noon and night very patiently with a pleasant smile on their faces cheering up the worried and anxious mothers and the sick children like ministering angels from above.

I owe a 'big thank you' for saving not only my grand daughter, Sanuli's life but all the helpless children who were under the care of the medical staff of this ward. I thank God for the miracle healing and bow my head to this hospital for having such dedicated doctors, sisters and nurses who take good care of the helpless patients who come to them, irrespective of caste, creed or religion.

Indira Perera

 B. J. Karunatileka


My beloved wife Kamala passed away on May 6, 2003 and less than two months later, on June 25 my close friend of over 50 years, Karu died leaving me even more bereft and lonely. I first got to know B.J. Karunatileka (known by his older friends as Karu and by more recent acquaintances as BJ) in 1950 as a fellow hosteller in the Wesley College boarding when we were both around 14 years of age.

In 1955 I lost contact with him when I entered the University in Peradeniya and he took on employment as a medical rep at J.L. Morisons. We resumed our friendship in 1960 when I had passed out and began working at Lever Brothers as a management trainee. From that time until his demise in 2004 we were the closest of friends. We had our share of joys and sorrows. His wife Cynthia died after a long and traumatic battle with cancer in July 1992 leaving him a broken man. Unfortunately I was living abroad at the time of Cynthia's death and could not provide Karu comfort and consolation in his time of need. It took Karu several years to overcome his grief but he did eventually return to normalcy.

In the course of our association Karu and I also shared many happy experiences. One annual event that brought our families immense pleasure was the holiday we spent with our schoolmate and buddy Clinton Rodrigo and his charming wife Yvette. At that time Clinton was the monarch of all he surveyed from his spacious bungalow on North Meddekumbara estate in Watagoda. The comfort of Clinton's bungalow and Yvette's graciousness; good food and drink and the salubrious upcountry climate made those holidays wonderfully memorable. There were many other times of joy and laughter that we spent together which I now recall with nostalgia.

Karu's formal academic education was confined to GCE 'O' Levels but he educated himself very thoroughly in the university of life. He was well informed and well read and his general knowledge was only surpassed by that of his son Nalin who won every public general knowledge competition held in Sri Lanka, including the Dulux contest and the Mahaweli quiz! In fact the legendary Gamini Dissanayake is said to have admitted that Nalin knew a lot more facts about the Mahaweli Scheme than he did as the pioneering Mahaweli minister.

Karu in addition to his prodigious knowledge was also a good writer and an eloquent public speaker. Karu's competence is clearly demonstrated in the fact that he rose from the modest rank of medical rep to the position of Joint managing director of J.L. Morison Son & Jones.

Karu and I had many common interests. We served as committee members of the Havelock Sports Club for many years and as president in successive years. Those were the halcyon days of the Park Club when defeat at rugby was a rare occurrence! We were both also committed marketing professionals and though we worked in rival business organisations we did our best to promote the cause of marketing through our association with the Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing.

We were loyal old Wesleyites and both served as vice presidents of the OBU. We both loved Western classical music and English literature. However, in temperament we were poles apart. I have always been a reserved person. Karu on the other hand was very much of an extrovert and in addition to Havelocks he was a prominent member of Bloomfield, Capri, and the Old Wesleyites Sports Club. He revelled in club life and camaraderie. In his school days he was affectionately referred to as 'Puller' because of his tall stories. Even as an adult, Karu was a raconteur with a zest for relating yarns with more than a measure of exaggeration. Karu once told me that he was a late developer and didn't start talking till he was five years old! He made up for this lapse because he rarely stopped talking in later life!

Karu had a very generous disposition. He spent a great deal of his time and money on charitable causes. During the latter part of his life he was actively involved in Helpage and despite failing health made regular visits to the Helpage office and assisted director. Wijewantha with numerous administrative and operational tasks in a totally honorary capacity. Above all, Karu was a wonderful friend and a truly upright human being. He belonged to a rapidly disappearing breed of gentlemen with old school values. In the memorable words of the 14th century English poet Geoffrey Chaucer - "He was a verray, parfit gentil knight."

Frank Samaraweera

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