Mahinda should sign an agreement with Ranil
Mahinda Rajapakse though genial and amiable seems to lack a strong mind of his own. And so, being anchored nowhere, he merrily floats around, among 23 or more political parties, claiming to have united all the left and liberal forces under his leadership. But, these numerous parties with different agendas hold divergent and contradictory views. So the new Sandanaya is already paralysed and with just weeks to go for the big
However, if elected it is the two extremist parties, the JHU and the JVP that will exert power over Mahinda. They could easily drag him towards Sinhala chauvinism possibly leading to war or a continuation of a 'no war, no peace' situation.
What we need most is political stability and that means a change in parliament. If Mahinda wins, the country will continue to be burdened with a weak, inefficient, minority government unable to move forward. The Parivasa and Sandanaya governments, both under the leadership of President Kumaratunga proved to be miserable failures. What then is the guarantee that the same Sandanaya government with a much weaker leadership would
Rajapakse's contradictory statements reveal a confused mind. Unitary state, federal state, union of regions, united Sri Lanka - all these concepts are one and the same as far as he is concerned. So, he innocently promises everything to everyone. He promises a unitary state to one group and federalism to another. "I'll abolish the P-TOMS" he tells one, "No I'll
improve the P-TOMS", he tells another. Handy Dandy-War or Peace?
This is utter confusion. One common factor that binds Mahinda and all the parties supporting him is their collective determination to destroy the UNP and grab state power. Once in power, the Sandanaya will fall apart, plunging the country into chaos and total anarchy.
Rajapakse is also a frightened man, who seeks presidential immunity even before reaching that goal. He seems to be afraid of being proved innocent in the Helping Hambantota case! Having got the Chief Justice to stall the CID investigation, he may also order the Bribery Commission not to entertain any complaints against the future executive president of Sri Lanka! Before the voters
cast their votes, don't they have the right to know whether this presidential hopeful is above suspicion?
Rajapakse lacks the courage and the conviction to openly declare his views on important issues affecting the country, whether it is the ethnic conflict or his national economic policy. "I will bring honourable peace to this country, so that all Sri Lankans-Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers can live in harmony" he keeps repeating whenever he addresses the public. But how? The voters have a right to know.
He promises a disciplined society where law and order will prevail. In a country where he, the president to be, uses his power to stall or prevent CID investigations and one of his deputy ministers gets Kudu Lal, a notorious drug dealer appointed as a JP, how can law and order prevail? The voters have a right to know.
Rajapakse promises to eradicate poverty and bring in economic prosperity. Again we are not told how. He has been part of the Kumaratunga government for more than 11 years. What has he done to help the poor during this long period? If he wins, he will have the very same Sandanaya team to work with. Is he doing to achieve in the next six years, what he couldn't achieve in the last 11 years?
Rajapakse's reluctance to engage in a public debate also reveals his confusion and diffidence. He lacks confidence to face the public. He expects the voters to trust him to do what is right and does not want to be questioned in public.
Rajapakse has also admitted that he is more of a learner than a leader. He complainted that President Kumaratunga, his leader, refused to teach him anything. If he needs to be educated in economics and management, Rani Wickremesinghe and Bandula Gunawardena could do it better than the JVP or JHU.
It would be a better proposition, therefore, for Rajapkse to come to an agreement with Wickremesinghe. Ranil and Mahinda could promise each other that when one becomes the president, the other would be appointed prime minister.
That would not only prevent violence at the polls, but also lead to a national government to usher in P E A C E !
Misuse of state TV: Does anybody care?
There has been much concern expressed about the abuse of state media, especially the electronic media. The state television channels openly promote the candidature of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse while embarking on a campaign to generate mass disaffection towards the candidature of Ranil Wickremesinghe. It is indeed surprising that the Elections Commissioner who has won the confidence of many as being an impartial
government servant is inactive in this regard.
Appointing a Competent Authority just before the elections would not do. A serious well organised campaign is conducted by those in charge of promoting the candidature of the Prime Minister, to exploit, mercilessly, state television for their propaganda and for their campaign of destruction of the opponent. Are we truly a democracy?
What they do not realise is that state television is public property. Use of public property for campaigning on behalf of a candidate is illegal. In this light the person whose candidature is so promoted stands answerable to the people at large. How can we expect such a candidate to lead us to an era of law and order, as promised over and over again?
Those who advocate the restoration of the rule of law must adhere to it and must abide by the law. This is an election to select a head of state. The person's past, and more, the present conduct must be exemplary if he were to be bestowed with leadership of a nation. It is therefore the responsibility of the Prime Minister to halt at once this abuse of state property by his faithful followers if he expects the public to place
trust in him as a righteous leader.
The popular excuses given are that the private media supports the opposition leader and that previous governments have also abused state media. As to the latter, one must realise that two wrongs do not make a right. More over it is those who are now abusing the state media who vehemently opposed such abuse by previous regimes. When they do like wise, while in power, they stand miserably exposed before the public.
Private media, as the name suggests, is privately owned and as elsewhere in the world, is free to promote its own political philosophy and align itself with any political group, so long as it conducts itself within the law of the land. If the allegation is that a private television channel is supporting the candidature of Wickremesinghe, legally no wrong is committed by such a channel, for there is no law against it. Such a
partisan coverage, if any, does not give the organisers of the PM's campaign the right to abuse state television channels for the candidature of Rajapakse. The solution lies in not suppressing the private media but in having one's own channel or one that sympathises with one's cause.
To be fair by the private media, both television and radio, it must be appreciated that news coverage and political programmes on these channels are balanced, compared with the coverage and propaganda of the state media. Perhaps these private channels stand accused of bias because they give coverage to Wickremesinghe's campaign as well. Had they devoted all their energies to the campaign of Rajapakse, like their state
counterparts, the private media would certainly not be accused of being biased by the organisers of the PM's campaign.
The election's commissioner needs to act immediately if we are to expect any fairness in the conduct of this election. In the last few elections we saw election observers by taking into account the reduced incidence of violence etc. on the day of the elections, issuing statements to the effect that the election was free and fair. Whether it was so must be determined not only by looking at what happened on the day of the
election but by looking at the fairness of the campaigns leading up to the election. In fact the presentation of a budget, of a government whose Prime Minister is a candidate, just a few days before the election raises a very serious question as to the fairness of this election.
Time to crush LTTE militarily
JHU member Kotakadeniya recently said that it is time to crush the LTTE militarily. He is a retired S.D.I.G. who has tackled terrorism whilst in service, successfully, albeit transferred and forced to lull in his doldrums for his line of action in a place called Siberia, at police headquarters.
A front page news item in a Sunday paper read thus. "The fate of the three police officers, including a sub-inspector of police and two police constables, attached to the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) currently being held by the LTTE cadres, will be decided when they will be taken before the LTTE courts in Kilinochchi on September, 27, police said".
"The LTTE has refused to release the three police officers in custody," states a Sri Lanka English newspaper on September 28.
What a damning indictment on the three armed services and the police. Here is an unlawful terrorist organisation keeping three lawful police officers in unlawful custody and proposing to produce them before an unlawfully established court of law. Can we have faith in the three armed services and the police? They are paid to protect the citizens within the island which they are neglecting. One can imagine if Sri Lanka is
invaded by a foreign power, our protectors will run home and hide behind their mothers' skirts.
Another banner headline of the same paper in the middle page states "Upto 5513 violations of the ceasefire agreement by the LTTE, by September 24. 2005, which include adult abductions -1110, killings of civilians - 237, child abductions - 198, child recruitments - 1971, killing of security forces - 60.
Have the armed forces and the police gone to sleep? Can they as protectors of persons and property tolerate this any longer? Future generations will ridicule and laugh at their former protectors.
It is earnestly hoped that there will be many more Kotakadeniyas in Sri Lanka, with the same mentality. Kotakadeniya has repeatedly reminded that given the option, the Tamils in the LTTE held territory will migrate to other areas. It has happened and it will happen.
M. D. B. De S. Seneviratne
Three wheeler Buddhism?
We are faced with a new brand of Buddhism by the three wheeler drivers who erect Buddha statues at public places, violating all the rules and norms. This three wheeler Buddhism caused a chaotic situation in Trincomalee and at present they are making another attempt to create social unrest by erecting a statue of the Buddha, which was a practice scorned by the Buddha Himself, near
the Muslim Masjid at Kollupitiya.
We address this to the conscience of all mahanayake theros and monks, President, Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Mayor of Colombo and all right thinking citizens of this country to come forward to solve this mischievous behaviour of a
three wheeler driver which would eventually create only hatred and social unrest disrupting normal and brotherly relations prevalent amongst communities.
Timely action to remove this unlawful Buddha statue would be a great honour that Buddhists of this country may bestow on him, instead of allowing a Buddha statute to become a symbol of hatred.
When 'Yes' means 'No'
Presidential candidate, Mahinda Rajapakse is proving an adequate ploy for his campaign manager. While the latter opens his loris eyes wide and utters the most absurd, blatant and obvious lies, Mahinda goes around saying and doing things which he denies and reverses soon after.
He enters into agreements with desperate and extremist groups which in effect literally mean war, if he is victorious in the presidential poll.
As the rejection of these agreements by the general populace becomes evident even to him and his advisers, he makes it known that he had no intention of sticking to the agreements. To the extremists concerned, who haven't the chance of a snowball in hell if they go it alone, this denial is something to be ignored. Similarly, the P.M. has back tracked on many issues when cornered
and continues to lose credibility.
Worst of all, instead of welcoming a chance to legally clear himself from the Helping Hambantota scam, he scampers to the court to have it stalled.
What of the host of documentary material to prove he broke laws and regulations. Is taking Rs. 83 million no offence, if it is returned (almost in whole) when detected.
He continues to go on his merry way promising everything to everybody, while making it known that his promises are only made as a vote catching stratagem. What then is the conclusion to be drawn by the voter? Are we to presume that a 'Yes' from Mahinda is a 'No'. When he says 'Vote for me', does he mean 'Cast your vote for Ranil?
A. A. B.
Earle was surely a man created in God's own image.
Paul, the apostle in his first epistle to the Corinthians, wrote of those who are "fools in the cause of Christ." Earle was just that kind of fool.
Earle's life was a benediction to all those whose lives were touched by the gentle life of Earle, however brief, however fleeting.
Often he was Nicodemus, gently helping the fallen to their fee; tenderly wiping the blood and tears from their anguished faces, and adjusting the cross a trifle more comfortably on their shoulders bent with hair.
My father and mother, Bernard and Lilian were aboard the same boat with Earle and Anne, that conveyed them from Tilbury to Colombo around the Cape of Good Hope
This was a point of departure in the history of our family; a singular occurrence of good hope.
Earle created a job for my mother in the secretariat of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon.
Earle was friend, philosopher and guide and above all, a sobering influence, on the life and times of my somewhat erratic and impulsive father.
Earle infused grace and refinement to our family home.
This he did by being himself, the gentle, tender, refined and gracious, soft spoken and affectionate person.
Earle played Nicodemus so superbly in the lives and times of our family.
It is here, in my many visits to the Abayasekara home as a child that I imbibed the finer refinements and lofty ideals of life.
Earle's Wellawatte home, which he shared with his gracious and vivacious wife Anne and seven children was the very embodiment of charm; and nobility.
My own education had its roots in the gracious Abayasekara home. Gatherings at the Abayasekara home were an intellectual adventure beyond measure. Abayasekara home was a contemporary 'Algonquin Round Table' around which the likes of Robert Benchle, Dorothy Parker, Alexander Wolcott and Haywood Brown used to gather for an evening of wit, retort and repartee.
I listened with veneration and awe to the newspaper giants of the time who assembled at the Abayasekara home.
Tarzie Vittachchi, Denzil Peiris, 'Sooty Banda', Mervyn de Silva and Ranji Handy 'held their own 'Algonquin' which fascinated and delighted me and made upon my impressionable life a lasting impact.
The misguided boy that I was, overawed by the Peradeniva School of Sinhala Poetry, represented by Siri Gunasinghe and Gunadasa Amarasekera, told of my poetic inclinations to 'Sooty Banda' - he with his tongue in his cheek, put me firmly in my place: 'Blank verse' my son? try and quote me anything written by T. S. Eliot that can top this:
"Percy poosy balalee, kos ata kapee."
I could still picture Earle laughing uproariously in his most engaging way at 'Sooty Banda' Sally.
It was at Earle's Wellawatte home that I was introduced to the majesty of English literature. This started when Anne gifted me with a copy of Ernest Hemingway's 'Old Man And The Sea.'
To me Earle would always remain Peter Pan; the boy with the impish grin upon his face and the twinkle in his eyes, who steadfastly refused to grow old, to be a seedy, weighty, grumpy old man.
Reading through Dilip's tribute to his father I understood at once why Earle did not age.
He tramped the mountain tracks of Diyatalawa with his sons, studied the constellations of the night skies with his sons, walked the beach with his sons, shared in the dreams and hopes of his sons and lived his youth over and over again through the lives and times of his sons to remain eternally young.
As Samuel Ullman wrote "youth is not a time of life but a state of mind ... a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease."
Why is it that Wordsworth's lines keep on nagging at me as I write this piece; is it for the reason that Earle's life is capsuled there.
"My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow in the sky;
So was it when my life began;
So is it now when I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old or die."
Beneath this wide eyed childlike simplicity and humanity of Earle, however, there lurked a tough and informed administrator.
He delivered the goods at Lake House, he kept the newsprint and ink in place; he kept the presses rolling; he had the newspapers on the breakfast table; by keeping the many thousands of workmen on line.
Earle was the total man; the all embracing reach of his personality was amply demonstrated during the last years of his life when he acquainted himself of the finer points of the philosophy preached by Gautama, with the same commitment with which he embraced the teachings of the Church that Christ founded.
Earle was thus a man who was emancipated of all the shadowy divisions that the pettiness of man had created.
Thank you uncle Earle for the benediction of your life.
Nihal K. M. Perera