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1st October, 2006  Volume 13, Issue 12

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                                    

Letters

Why charge a fee from foreigners who visit the Dalada Maligawa?

Any visitor to Sri Lanka would want to take back fond memories of an island nation complemented by the warmth of its people.

All visitors enjoy learning about the country’s rich cultural heritage and the highlight is always visits to places that leave the visitors in admiration and amazement.

However, accompanying a foreign visitor to the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy recently resulted in a sense of shame as a fee of Rs. 500 was charged from foreign nationals to view/worship at the Dalada Maligawa.

It was embarrassing that anyone wishing to enter a place of homage and worship should have to pay for it. If funds are needed, perhaps a nicely worded message requesting donations would suffice. But the entrance charge for foreign nationals being raised to Rs.500 was not a welcome gesture as it was really an embarrassment especially since they are non-Buddhists and it is we who encourage them to visit the place to see its beauty and cultural significance.

I therefore request the authorities to consider reviewing the levy charged on foreign nationals for entry to places of worship in particular.

 Shenali Waduge


CFA — the flogging horse!

Repeated references are made to the effect that the LTTE had the freedom to arm themselves and to infiltrate the south with their cadres and arms and ammunition during the period of the CFA.

 If this is true, it begs the following questions. Was it only during the time of the CFA that LTTE operatives infiltrated and transported bombs to the south? Did not the Central Bank and Galadari Hotel bombs and the devastating raids on the airport, the Kolonnawa oil installations and the aborted raid at Rajagiriya take place long before the CFA was signed?

Was it during the time of the CFA that the LTTE brought in the operatives and the bombs which were used recently in Kebithigollewa, against the army top brass, Kethesh Loganathan and the Pakistani High Commissioner, etc.? Did not the LTTE openly boast of acquiring most of their ammunition free from the government, when camp after camp was being overrun during Chandrika’s reign as President through the fiasco enacted by ‘General’ Ratwatte, who was later found to have millions stashed away in fixed deposits?

Doesn’t the fact that the LTTE has not used anti aircraft missiles in the face of continuous air strikes by the air force, give the total lie to the detractors of the CFA who claimed that the LTTE had taken the opportunity to bring in war material during the CFA? If that was true, surely they would have replenished the missiles that brought down a number of planes during the Chandrika regime, which gave them the edge and acquired more sophisticated, state of the art weaponry.

In any case, is the CFA valid currency any more where the government and its partners are concerned — because the general election in 2004 and the last presidential election were won by the Chandrika/JVP and the Rajapakse/JVP combinations respectively on the pledge that the CFA would be torn to shreds.

Aren’t they flogging a dead horse when they keep referring ad nauseam to this CFA which the government had purportedly disowned and both sides are openly violating what are called its ‘terms’? If the present CFA is not acceptable, why not amend it or draw up a new set of rules?

What is most baffling is that everyone, including the UNP leadership, seems to have forgotten the major plus factors of the CFA which created the Karuna faction, succeeding immensely in weakening the LTTE to such an extent that the task of the army has been made that much easier, which even Minister Keheliya Rambukwella has accepted.

What about the freedom of movement enjoyed throughout the country, where those in the south were able to move around without the fear of bombs going off, and the inconvenience of having to undergo security checks at barriers and the consequent traffic jams?

There was also social interchange between those in the north and the south, economic growth, flourishing tourism and above all, a lull in hostilities and a true glimmer of peace on the horizon.

The warmongers, including the JVP and JHU, appear to have conveniently forgotten that war is not just about killing the enemy, it is also about getting killed and maimed, the suffering of innocent civilians, the plummeting of the economy and destruction caused to property.

Can they remove the scars of war and increasing racial hatred? Can they adequately compensate the families of the dead and injured soldiers, the children for loss of education and rehabilitate the thousands of displaced civilians and restore their property?

The time for rhetoric is over. Reality has to be faced! The nation braces itself for another bout of war as the detractors of the CFA have won the round for the moment. All that can be hoped for is that both warring parties will come to their senses and count the cost and the ravages of war including the loss of lives, the education of their youth and the wanton destruction to property and the economy, call a truce and begin the peace process all over again!

When will they ever learn?

Desmond Z. de Silva
Moratuwa


Punish the child abusers

The story of a 15 year old girl abused by villains as reported in The Sunday Leader of September 24, is heart-rending. Her mother’s appeal for justice should be granted.

I wonder if it wouldn’t be a good idea for the Colombo media to run a concerted campaign until justice is done. This means the police should take vigorous action and the Attorney General too should prepare water-tight cases, where there should not be even a remote possibility of the perpetrators of this heinous crime getting away in appeal.

This should be the beginning of a trend to clean up the country of crimes against children. The campaign should include persuading the government to enact appropriate legislation, if possible with retrospective effect.

All perpetrators of crimes against children should be ruthlessly tracked down and punished mercilessly. This kind of criminal behaviour towards children should never be allowed to happen in the great little island.

P. Shantikumar
London


Some are more equal than others

Recent news that the late LakshmanKadirgamar’s family is to be paid Rs. 10 million (Sugandi Rs.5 million and the children Rs.2.5 million each ) to get them to vacate the government house they were occupying makes one wonder what kind of a world this is. Needless to say, Kadirgamar was one of the best politicians we had, who served the nation unselfishly, daringly and lost his life in the way of duty.

But how can the payment of Rs.10 mn to his family be justified? If the government insists on paying such a huge amount of money to a minister’s dependents, what about the young soldiers who sacrifice their lives for the sake of the country? What about their wives and children?

Obviously Mrs. Kadirgamar or Kadirgamar’s children are not dependant on his income. But what about the thousands of families who send their beloved ones to the three forces out of abject poverty — absolutely depending on their salaries? Shouldn’t each of the wives/mothers of these soldiers be given Rs.1 million each and their children half a million rupees each? Or is Kadirgamar’s life worth more than the others?

The recent murder of 17 volunteer aid workers received unprecedented news coverage — not only here, but worldwide. Also 100 or more Muslim youth have been shot dead in cold blood in front of their kith and kin, the news of which hardly appeared in any newspaper. Do these boys, merely because they have been classed as Jihad boys, have souls of a lesser value?

Every human being must be given equal rights. When this simple, basic rule is flouted the prosperity of the country will be just a wild dream. 

Dr. Mareena Thaha Reffai
Dehiwela


President’s human rights pledge

The brutal killing of 10 Muslims in Pottuvil in the east is another example of the breakdown of law and order related to security of life in the country and the growing trend of impunity.

The National Peace Council condemns these killings and condoles with the families of the victims. We are distressed that people are being killed, abducted and held for ransom and that investigations into these violations of human rights have been largely unsuccessful.

The lack of faith in the traditional institutions of law and order is amply reflected by the kilings in Pottuvil. We regret the violent response by the security forces to the demonstrations by the people of the area. The killings took place in government-controlled territory in close proximity to a camp of the Special Task Force of the police.

As has become the norm the government forces and LTTE have both denied their involvement in the killings, and each has blamed the other.

Due to the contested nature of many of the human rights abuses taking place at this time, the National Peace Council believes that an independent mechanism to investigate human rights violations is imperative.

We note that President Mahinda Rajapakse has expressed willingness to invite international human rights observers into the country. We join other human rights and Muslim rights organisations that have called on the government to appoint an independent commission to investigate this massacre so that the perpetrators may be brought to justice and that the confidence of the people in their security and human rights will be restored.

Executive Director
National Peace Council


Appreciation

D. S. Jayasekara 

"Not to name the school or the masters of men illustrious for literature is a kind of historical fraud by which honest fame is injuriously diminished"— Dr. Samuel Johnson.

If the place held by such masters of men is worthy of mention the training they gave and the fortunes that went with it are doubly worthy of appraisal.

D. S. Jayasekera after successfully completing the S. S. C. and the London Matriculation Examination at St. Joseph’s College, Colombo entered the University of Colombo to follow a diploma in education. Some of his lecturers were Profs. Malalasekara, D. E. Hettiarachchi and Julias De Lanerolle.

Jayasekara started his teaching career at St. Joseph’s College. During the war, the school was shifted to Homagama, Gampaha and Waragoda. He was assigned to the Waragoda Branch and the classes were conducted at St. Paul Girls’ School in the evenings. At the request of Fr. Peter Pillai he was entrusted to teach at St. Paul’s during the mornings.

It was here that he met Sirimathie. Later they were married at Sedawatte and the occasion was graced by the father of the nation D. S. Senanayake.

In the year 1947 D. S. Jayasekera was offered a teaching appointment at the school by the sea. He took over from C. H. Davidson, and was the master in charge of class 4B until 1960 when he had to undergo eye surgery.

During his teaching career which spanned almost half a century he was fully involved in the community life of the college and was the livewire in maintaining the high standards of Sinhala at S. T. C.

For a long period he was the master in charge of the Sinhala Literature and Debating Society and was also in charge of the Sinhala Music and Drama Society. He deviated from the normal practice of electing office bearers and had hand picked, efficient students depending on their past performance to run the societies.

Jayasekara was also in charge of De Saram House and did a fantastic job by grooming future leaders. Fine and meaningful stage dramas were produced by this House for the Old Boys’ Day celebrations. He not only produced actors but also moulded young Thomians to be efficient and trustworthy.

I take the liberty to narrate here a story that was told to me by a confidant. The college office has a system where they send to the class teacher a list of names of those who were in arrears of school fees. One particular boy had not paid the fees even after he was noticed to pay up. Hence he was summond to the office and was issued a letter to go home and bring the fees.

Jayasekara who saw this letter promptly gave the boy the fees to be paid to the office. This student who is living in the lap of luxury now says that he was able to continue as a Thomian because of Jayasekara. Gentleman of the calibre of Jayasekara are quite rare these days and we Thomians are a very privileged lot to have studied under him and to have associated him closely.

His life was one of simplicity and sincerity. He was a strict disciplinarian with a soft heart. At times did not spare the rod. But he always gave a chance to the culprit to turn a new leaf.

Jayasekara was responsible for forming the Buddhist society at STC and along with Arisen Ahubudu made the Buddhist children feel quite at home in an Anglican school.

When one day I asked him about the great Thomians who passed through his hands , I remember how he mentioned with pride that names of David Peiris, Sangabo Corea and Gamini Fonseka. Out of the younger generation he mentioned the names of Harsha Abeywardena, Priyanka Perera and Shalinda De Soysa as outstanding students. On the academic side he spoke highly of Prof. G. L. Peiris, Dr. Palitha Kohona and Prof. A. P. De Silva.

Jayasekara’s funeral was well attended with many of his students participating. The funeral oration was delivered by Rupe Wijesinghe who was very close to him.

At the funeral ceremony I met the principal of Jayasekara’s village school who had come to sympathise with Jayasekera’s son Sriyan. He mentioned to me me that his school held a special assembly as a mark of respect for their old student who brought honour and fame to the school and helped the school in many ways.

As old boys of the school we remember Jayasekera with respect and gratitude for the long and loyal the service rendered by him to STC our Alma Mater.

May be attain nibbana.

M. S. Ranasingha
Kelaniya


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