minister concerned referred to the abductions of
Muslim businessmen as false by saying that these
abductions were ‘staged’ by businessmen to be
away from their wives and spend time with their
mistresses. This is ridiculous and should be
considered as an insult to the Muslims.
I am at a loss to understand the stony silence of
our Muslim MPs and ministers sitting pretty with the
government over this insulting remark on the
Muslims, and the community by extension. Their
plight is understandable.
However, it is interesting to note that one
individual referring to the minister’s remark has
commented that the minister was ‘joking.’
The minister concerned is regarded as an elderly
man of the community, but never respected for his
views, because he is a joker.
a cue from India
On reading the letter of W.A. Weerakoon titled
"Why do we have to fight terrorism" in The
Sunday Leader of June 10, I find that Weerakoon
has got his facts wrong.
It is nothing but a travesty of truth to say that
Tamils inhabit the entire globe. Surely, one does
not find Tamils in countries such as China, Korea,
Japan etc. Like other Sri Lankans, Tamils too live
in the UK, France Australia etc.
There are a large number of Sinhalese from towns
like Madampe, Marawila, and Wennappuwa living in
Italy and the economic impact it has on these towns
has made people to call these places ‘Little Rome.’
Weerakoon has conveniently forgotten the fact
that the 16th
Amendment to the Constitution passed on December 16,
1988 made Sinhala and Tamil official languages, and
English the link language. Hence the government owes
a duty to have all name boards painted in all three
languages. The constitutions of countries such as
France, Canada, and the UK etc. do not accord Tamil
such status and one cannot expect name boards in
those countries to be in Tamil.
Tamils in Sri Lanka have a history that spans
many centuries. That is the reason why they demand
language rights equal to that of the majority
community. The Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam pact of
1957 and the Dudley-Chelvanayagam pact of 1965 were
manifestations of this inalienable right.
Tamils in France learn French; so do the
Sinhalese and people of other nationalities. It is
something all immigrants have to do including the
Weerakoon has trotted out a threadbare slogan
about 60% of coastline being claimed by the Tamils.
India provides a good example that shows the
emptiness of this rhetoric that is often bandied
about by all and sundry.
Uttar Pradesh has an area of about 93, 000 sq.
miles and a population of about 166 million. Madhya
Pradesh has an area of about 119, 000 square miles
and a population of about 60 million. On the other
hand Kerala has an area of about 15,000 square miles
and a population of around 32 million. When the
state of Kerala was formed in 1956, Hindi-speaking
people of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh did not
rise up against the central government demanding
that Kerala should not be formed as it was getting a
long coastline whereas these states were not getting
an inch of coastline.
The Hindi speaking people were magnanimous enough
to view the coastline factor as a geographical fact
and accepted it with grace. Perhaps W.A. Weerakoon
and others of his ilk could take a cue from the
Asking minorities who cannot pay allegiance to
the language of the majority to leave Sri Lanka is
not asserting the rights of the majority, but it is
hegemonism of the majority.
If at all Tamils were to go to Tamil Nadu in
India, they do not need to know a word of Hindi as
all business is conducted in Tamil and English.
Tamil is one of the 14 official languages in Tamil
Nadu and Hindi is the national language. Hindi
speaking people form only 30% of the Indian
population and as such Weerakoon’s contention that
Hindi is the language of the majority is factually
The media had reported many conflicting versions
about the recent evacuation of Tamils from Colombo.
The PM according to these reports took full
responsibility for the evacuation and apologised for
Then we had Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle
critiquing the PM for ‘letting down the forces.’
Now we have the Defence Secretary defending the
All three are persons representing the government
of Sri Lanka. What then is the message? Is the
government divided on this issue?
Moreover the Defence Secretary has said that
these Tamils should go back to their homes. What
then is the problem about the traditional homeland
of the Tamils?
Does this idea of going back to their homes apply
to all Tamils living in Colombo or is it only for
those Tamils not permanently resident in Colombo? Is
Colombo only for those permanently residing there?
The government which is fighting the terrorists
has by these evacuations given enough ammunition to
the terrorists to continue their war till they get
their ‘land.’ How foolish on the part of the
government! Who advises the government on this war?
A report said that two of those who call the
shots in Colombo — a part of the government —
are dual citizens of Sri Lanka and the
USA/Australia! Those who have left us for greener
pastures are now part of the government. How can
they be loyal to us?
Over to all who want to free Sri Lanka from these
persons and their foolishness!
touch the judiciary!
Three cheers to the Chief Justice and the
judiciary for resuming their time-honoured role of
protecting the constitution and the law of the land!
I am proud of the CJ although I had occasion to be
critical earlier. The judgments on the Tiran Alles
affair and the evacuation of Tamils from Colombo
lodges, are priceless. Justice Sarath Silva is a
very able judge and he is very erudite on the law.
The judiciary is the last bastion of freedom for the
citizens in Lanka — their final refuge from the
onslaught of politicians.
It is rumoured that moves are afoot to force the
CJ to retire early. Strange parallels to Pakistan!
There may be attempts to even kick him upstairs.
This would be a further black mark for the
government in the human rights area.
Given that power has passed on to vile
politicians who have no qualms, self-respect, or
shame, the judiciary’s steadfast independence
is all the more important.
The government is moving rapidly on the road to
catch up with Mugabe although that tyrant is still
well ahead. This trend has been created against the
background of the objective need to fight terrorism.
Nobody objects to the quelling of Tigers. However,
the implementation of laws towards this end must be
done with great care, caution, and responsibility.
Our politicians assume private ownership of the
assets of their office and this is the psychological
root for the hubris and arrogance they display when
in office. They think they can ride roughshod over
the people and that they can harass political
opponents at will. They are doing that misusing the
Prevention of Terrorism Act. As ‘private owners’
they also try to make money. The judiciary must take
a hard look at both these aspects.
The constitution, to a very large extent,
guarantees the independence of the judiciary.
However, if judges become cheap and politically
pliant in their behaviour as ordinary government
officers do, they will forego that independence.
This will surely denude a great heritage that modern
Lanka has had.
In the recent past, there indeed have been
instances where controversy was rife. Let’s bury
those memories and regain the heritage.
pay for others’ sins
The TV on the evening of June 29
into our sitting rooms the images of our Prime
Minister along with other ministers, to brace
viewers of impending price increases. Reasons were
freely touted in support of these price increases,
the main among them being the heavy losses incurred
by the Petroleum Corporation.
The question I have is, how have such heavy
losses accrued? Haven’t fuel prices been increased
regularly on this same excuse? And more importantly,
haven’t these heavy losses been due to
inefficiency, mismanagement and corruption within
the corporation? And we the public are called upon
to pay for the sins of others. How unfair!
If the jumbo cabinet of this government is
trimmed down, and the excessive perks extended to
politicians are cut down, I am confident the public
would be spared these unreasonable and regular price
Of course one has to consider the effects of such
action. It could perhaps be the end of Mahinda
and his Chinthana. Can that be allowed to
happen? So we the gullible public, have to suffer in
There is a kind of child abuse that is going on
with the consent of parents and right in front of
all of us every day. That is the ‘child beggars.’
One can see daily, happy children
skipping joyfully begging from car to car,
while their parents — often a mother — sit a
little far away and keep watch over them. These
children may not even be their own.
Sometimes when I see these children I ask them
whether they do not attend school. They avoid
answering me but are intent only on getting some
coins. My heart shudders to think what future these
children have; none other than being beggars for
As much as it hurts me I have stopped giving
these children money. I tell them I will call the
police and they run away — only to the next car,
and often are happy to receive a two-rupee
Where are the police who recently took a mother
into custody for beating her child? Which is
worse — beating her own child to teach a
lesson or teaching them begging? But then, nobody
cares. These are nobody’s children. They have
parents, yet are orphans.
Isn’t there a law against child beggars in our
country? If there is where are the law enforcing
Dr. Mareena Thaha Reffai
V. K. Samaranayake
The man who iconized Information Technology,
moulded multitudes of youth into successful
professionals and useful citizens and tread the
computer world as a colossus, departed this world so
suddenly whilst on an official tour overseas.
An epitome of class and finesse, a gentleman par
excellence and an embodiment of integrity, he will
long be remembered for his academic brilliance, his
selfless service and his monumental contribution to
computer science. He was ever so unassuming and
unpretentious. Simplicity and his charismatic smile
in any given crisis were his forte. He would
confront every problem with his ingenuity and vast
knowledge of his specialty; such was our dear guru,
Professor V.K. Samaranayake.
He attained the pinnacle of his career through
sheer dint of hard work and commitment and was
renowned for his decorum and elegance. A simple man
with an even simpler life style he was loved and
respected by his subordinates and his vast circle of
friends. As a boss he enjoyed the confidence of his
subordinates and respect of his peers alike.
The news of his death reached me in Canada almost
immediately. Literally shattered on hearing of his
demise I slipped into a space that can best be
described as a permeating sadness, a sensation that
lingers around still, and a feeling that surely is
shared by those who knew and loved him.
I like so many of my colleagues owe my
professional career to the Professor at whose feet
we learnt our A B C in Computer Science and obtained
employment at Cintec, considered the Mecca of IT. I
have never seen him lose his cool or vent his
disappointment on us the lesser mortals. A strict
disciplinarian he brooked no nonsense from any
quarter be they the political heavies or the elite
of the professional or social stratum.
Samaranayake was a man of moral courage with an
incredible capacity for compassion and
understanding. He was blessed with an abundance of
goodwill, integrity and empathy and renowned for his
incorruptibility. Equally he had a deficit of guile,
deceit, craft and malice. He lived by a rigid code
of discipline and professional ethics.
A man deeply committed to the cause of lasting
peace in the context of a ruthless war that has
ravaged our beloved country; he possessed an abiding
love and deep concern for all kinds of people and
drew no distinction between the high and the low, or
between the rich and the poor. He had no bitterness
in his heart or rancour in his soul or revenge in
his mind. For him all people irrespective of race,
caste or creed were equal; and in imparting his
wealth of knowledge in the field of computer
literacy he held the scales evenly.
He would be remembered for his many achievements
in the furtherance of the field of information
technology with scrupulous emphasis on quality,
equality, equanimity and fairness. He was a unique
professional and a symbol of honesty who bore no ill
will towards anyone.
He stubbornly refused to submit to injustice from
anyone but sought to conquer untruth with truth and
in resisting untruth he was subject to many a
setback in his illustrious career.
This kind and gentle soul was interred before his
beloved family and a mammoth gathering, which
comprised his peers, friends, students and a cross
section of those who had even fleetingly touched
this gracious man.
The state funeral accorded to him was testimony
of the esteem and reverence he was held in by the
state as well as those who knew him.
He graced the history of Information Technology
in Sri Lanka. For those of us who knew and loved him
he graced our lives. He will always be a part of my
soul, an amazing boss and a lovely human being. He
was God’s gift to our country — nay the world.
At this hour of grief I pray that his beloved
wife and children would find the strength and
courage to contain the sorrow and the irreparable
loss of an icon and a man of great virtue and
Dilrukshinie Adolphus (nee de Silva)