5th September, 2004  Volume 11, Issue 8

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    


Preliminary step to complete separation?

Since the declaration of independence in 1948, the Tamil-Sinhala problem has passed through a period of 56 years of sweet, sour and bitter experiences. In 1983 it entered a new phase of belligerence, and since then, the search for a political solution has become something like scratching the wound for a cure.

In 2001, under the new government, the national and international political actors who felt committed to find a quick, lasting solution to this problem commenced a thorough search, and went round the globe, but returned after two years, empty handed. Now, the LTTE having assumed the role of the sole guardian of the Sri Lankan Tamil community, has submitted to the government a "proposal to establish an interim self-governing authority" for the territory comprising the northern and eastern provinces of the island, thereby postponing a final solution to the infinite future.

Under these circumstances, the discovery of a final solution to this problem has become the most urgent need of the moment. If the Tamil leadership is genuinely interested in the well-being of the Sri Lankan Tamil population, a happy solution is not far to seek. The purpose of this letter is to examine the possibility of finding a lasting, practical, solution to the problem. However, once again, it must be stated that success in the implementation of a suggested solution will depend on the honesty and genuine interest on the part of the actors in this political drama.

Now, we will, proceed to examine the possible alternative solutions. The preamble to the "proposal of the LTTE to establish an interim self governing authority for the north and the east provinces of Sri Lanka" gives a useful hint towards the best solution to this problem. The preamble contains 25 sections. Particularly, the 23rd and 24th sections therein tell us very eloquently where to find the correct solution to this apparently chronic problem.

The 23rd section in the preamble states as follows:

"Mindful that the Tamils did not participate in the making of the 1972 and 1978 Constitutions which institutionalised discrimination, and denied them an effective role in the decision making process: Noting the practice in international relations over the last decade of solving conflicts between peoples through agreement between the parties to the conflict on terms of equality and through innovative and imaginative measures."

It is absolutely clear from this statement that the correct course of action to be followed by the LTTE would have been to compel the government to introduce a new constitution based on  nationwide participation, and further, preferably, to submit to the government a draft of a new constitution, and demand it due consideration. Clearly, in such an effort, the LTTE would have received the support of the other Tamil parties, the Muslim parties, and the Marxist parties in particular, and all political groups of the opposition in parliament and outside, in general.

But the LTTE avoided this logically correct course of action and demanded a separate Tamil 'Eelam state' comprising the eastern provinces of the island, and embarked on a belligerent policy, looking at the issue through racially tinted glasses. When the new government and the LTTE re-entered the new phase of peace talks in 2001, the LTTE continued to postpone a final solution and demand an interim self-government, through agreement, not through constitutional devolution of power, and what is more, proceeded to enhance its military strength and logistics. At least political elites know that an interim self-government is an essential preliminary step to a complete separation to form a sovereign state. The proposals of the LTTE contain all essential elements of a sovereign state.

Naturally, under these circumstances, the final goal of the LTTE has been open to doubt, and both the national and international elites have been kept guessing. This ambidextrous behaviour of the LTTE is vividly seen in the 24th section of the preamble.

H. Ratnapala Jayawardena

 Stepping down from UPFA leadership 

Chandrika's ploy to talk to the Tigers on their own terms

'I shall do those things, what they are as yet I know not, yet they shall be the terror of the earth' King Lear - Shakespeare

This is the cardinal principle in the thinking (sic) of our gracious President of Sri Lanka.

The fact is, she would never have seen the light of day as a prime minister or president if not for the untimely death of President Ranasinghe Premadasa.

If anyone looks at the wonky methods of Chandrika, it won't need much to realise that this woman's head precedes her "thinking." It  has been nothing but a plethora of lies, lies and more lies to keep her going. Are we, as a nation, a herd of cattle? Does she think, in her warped way, that a sucker is born every minute? With nary a bit of consideration, she takes a decision to do something and then backtracks! Without prejudice, I must state that the Tiger leader, even classified as a 'terrorist' has more principles in his administration, in that any decision, plan or action is carefully studied before action is taken. Even the lackadaisical attitude of the armed forces led by even more mundane, spineless commanders fall into the category of 'malingerers.'

From the day Chandrika lost the last general election, she had nothing but jealousy and utter wickedness in her heart and conscience (does she possess one?) - scheming, plotting to overthrow parliament. We all know how she did it, putting the island and its people into misery, the economy into a mess and now going full steam 'taking political revenge' being ably assisted by Mangala and Mallo (reminds me of jugglers in several plays of the erstwhile Shakespeare). The latest scenario is her capitulating to talk to the Tigers on their terms, stepping down from the leadership of the UPFA - all a ploy to the lines I quoted "as yet I do not know" which clearly outlines the mania of this woman!

Meanwhile, an even procrastinating Opposition Leader sits on the sidelines like a vulture hoping things will die down enough for him to feast on. Dreams are made of this, dear Ranil. If you think your supporters whom you deserted so ably are going to forget the carnival you allowed Chandrika to run with your coterie of fossilised parliamentarians - you are even worse than CBK. Reminds me of that famous poem 'the boy stood on the burning deck.'

If some real, honest, true men of politics don't rise up against the murder, mayhem, corruption, disharmony, in Sri Lanka - certainly it will mean 'the terror of the earth.'

Let's put all those radicals, terrorists, and especially 'power-hungry' saffron-robed monks in their right places. Peace is not an option - it is a right of all people!

Brian Jansz

Gaining political mileage through conversions!

Being a regular reader of the print media and a contributor to the pages of the local press for a very long time, I have been a silent participant of this on-going debate on conversions. However, the recent testimonies in one of the local morning papers, one by a convert to Christianity and the other by a convert to Buddhism, and also the statement signed by the mainline churches have prompted me to enter this controversial debate.

May I begin with two stories to make my initial point? Both stories come from India. The first one concerns Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's Home Minister in the first cabinet, Sardar Vallabhai Patel. Patel, taking part in the debate on the new Indian constitution concerning the freedom to practise one's religion in a secular state, speaking from the floor of the house of the constituent assembly stated, that his reading of the gospels is such that no Christian can be a disciple without sharing with others the gospel message.

The second story concerns Bishop Lesley Newbegin, one time Bishop of the Church of South India. Newbegin, after a visit  to the former Soviet Union said that the church is alive in Russia despite the prohibition to preach. Both these stories make the point that the task of conversion belongs to God. God picks and chooses his instruments. Therefore, I will not panic about the proposed bill on the subject of conversions, nor will the government's attitude upset me because those in parliament are trying to gain political mileage using this subject.

We in Sri Lanka are a broken community and this legislation will divide us more and earn a bad name for us in the midst of global realities. Moreover, this proposed legislation is like Nero fiddling while Rome was burning. We in Sri Lanka, to my mind have more important economic and political problems to handle. I do not think conversions are a problem for most of our people. As a Christian I am also sad that the recent statement made public had been signed only by the leaders of the Roman Catholic, Church of Ceylon and NCC Churches. There are others outside these structures. Why haven't they signed these documents, especially the organised Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka?

Sydney Knight

Chicken feed pension arrears granted

The majority of pensioners who are entitled to claim their dues, under the state Pension Circular No. 01/2001 are being granted  'chick feed' arrears and increments as for anomaly removal of their pension, holding back the bulk of their payments - granted by the Treasury Pensions Department and the ministry.

Some of these pensioners are ailing, bed-ridden and even crippled. They can't bring themselves to fight for their rights. Those who can manage to walk and talk come and make appeals to the divisional secretary's office staff to get vague and evasive responses reminiscent of King Kakille's reign.

It is a well known fact that a selected group of 200 pensioners of this lot were ceremonially awarded a token anomaly removed pension.

What can the authorities who calculate pension anomalies today say about the difference between the above 200 peoples' salary calculation and today's calculation?

Goldfinch has no hiding place.

D.W. Samarajeeva

Pensioners hit in two ways

Pensioners are hit in two ways. On the one hand the COL has risen to dizzy heights, and on the other their interest on their fixed deposits in banks has been drastically cut.

One election promise that the present government made was that it would increase salaries and pensions by 70 per cent. The writer hopes it would not be forgetten like the rice from the moon or a loaf of bread for Rs. 3.50.

If the Director of Pensions were to examine each and every account for the adjustment of anomalies, the work will never end and in some old cases, it will even be not possible to ascertain at this stage the exact figures due to misplacement or loss or destruction of relevant documents or records. Therefore, I suggest that a suitable percentage be paid to cover the loss due to anomalies.

The most anomalous case is that of sterling pensioners. As they are the oldest pensioners, having one foot in the grave, their poor health does not permit them to agitate for  redress of their grievances which even the Tissa Devendra Committed may not have looked into.

When the value of a pound sterling was Rs. 13.33, our colonial masters paid the sterling officers and pensioners Rs. 15 per . Now the value of a  is Rs. 180 and what is the incumbent government paying this category of pensioners? Only Rs. 22.50 per . What a difference? What an injustice?

Will our kindhearted President grant some relief to this category of pensioners, most of whom are bed-ridden?

Fiat Justitia
Mt. Lavinia

How we can have a foolproof NIC?

From day one, our National I/C was a farce - it lacked a lot of information to detect forgeries, and we hear of this daily in the papers.

The best way to rid all doubt is to have a new NIC incorporating the following on the card.

1 Have a coloured picture on the card.

2 Have a signature or thumb impression on the card.

3 Have the left thumb impression on every card of owner.

4 Use special security paper.

5 Use a hologram or a transparent picture on the card with the government logo (like the Rs. 200 note).

This will reduce forgeries and with the coloured picture, signature, thumb print and hologram it will deter a lot of forgeries, unless it is with help from insiders as recently reported in the press.

All documents should be stored, once complete and not released without proper authorisation.

Over to you, Commissioner P. Bandara Abeykoon.

C.E.T. Rodrigo

Mayor's surreptitious act

Please be informed that the Mayor of Dehiwala - Mt Lavinia suddenly planted a name board Atapattu Mawatha, replacing Gal Vihare Road at Galle Road end on 5 July. This surreptitious act of his has no justification to what we originally wanted regarding Atapattu Place vandalism 18 months ago. He has now doubled the problem without abiding by the law of the land is our stance.

We insist for our rightful place between the zoo and water tower, Dehiwala but not for this new place, as we go by our indelible ancestry. Changing legally enacted boards to suit one's taste is nothing but election gimmicks !

Our long gone ancestors, who donated lands for the expansion of the zoo and for the Water Board then have to be honoured in that due place and not in another's area.

Two wrongs do not make a right!

Guy Atapattu

Trevor Alphonso


His home mates, school mates, work mates and his many other associates would readily apply those works of Scripture to Trevor - "Blessed, O Lord is that man who walks in thy law, who shall be like the tree planted near running water which shall produce its fruit in due season". Verily did he produce abundant fruit in due season. In the season of boyhood his young Benedictine friends found him an amiable character, inclined to study, appreciative of another, loyal to his mates, class and school and a ready participant in all schoolboy endeavours.

In adulthood with his certificate of membership in the British Institute of Management, holding top notch posts in various business institutions, he became a successful power-bank in telecommunications. That he was a national expert in his chosen field with many international connections is well known to those who shared his expertise. That's only one side of the picture.

His wife Leonie will vouch for the fact that he was a steady support and an inspiration to her all her life. Nicolli would swear by her father that she could have had no better. As for Rohan, his son-in-law, we are told that, in nature's fashioning, he much resembled his father-in-law in character. That's spiritual largesse in the Aplhonso family.

A Benedictine contemporary of his says tritely: 'On leaving school he took with him the best that St. Benedict's could give him - humility, simplicity and honesty. These qualities he took with him to the highest echelons of the mercantile sector.

Succinctly put, he lived the College Song to the hilt, "True to our god and true to all man, follow we ever life's holy plan." Could you beat that? Going beyond the confines of the noble, he was extremely generous with his time, his words of advice and his wealth too helping not only his frinds but anybody who approached him in need. His alma mater after his family, had his selfless dedication. Ever at her service, no time, trouble or money would be spared in the process. Many are the Benedictine committees he had a hand in, too many to be mentioned here. Benedictine annals will record them for all time.

Could he speak of himself? (which he shunned) Shakespeare would do it for him thus:

"I have touched the highest point of my greatness:

And from that full meridian of my glory,

I haste now to my setting."

You'll surely be regaled in paradise, TREVOR, and, 'draw us after your ointments', 'in trailing clouds of glory'.

Brother Alexander, FSC 

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