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                                    


September 16, 2007  Volume 14, Issue 13









Karu’s amnesia

Your newspaper reported that Karu Jayasuriya has now claimed that he was forced into signing the impeachment motion against the Chief Justice in 2001.

Please ensure letters to the editor 
are short, to the point, and
 do not exceed 300 words

 Jayasuriya was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the United Professionals Group (UPG), an organisation of professionals affiliated to the United National Party held in February 2006.

When a UPG member found fault with the party for not impeaching the Chief Justice in 2002, Karu proudly said — "See whose signature is at the top of the list — Mine."

He tried to make out that though the President wanted to impeach the CJ the party decided otherwise.

I was seated in the front row of the audience when he said this.

Jayasuriya is an adult. Was his arm twisted or was a gun held to his head and forcibly made to sign? He should have made a police entry at that time if force was used on him.

What is to prevent him from — one day — saying that he was forced to leave the party and that he would like to come back?

 C. Ramachandra
 Colombo 7

Democracy is respecting the other person’s views

Thank you for the very fine Editorials you published during the last few weeks. I read them with great interest. My late father instructed me when I was young that the most important part of a newspaper was the editorial since it reflected the opinion of the editor — indeed it is the soul of the newspaper.

I do not want to write much although there is a lot that could be said.  With reference to your recent editorials, it is evident that you do realise that there is a sinister situation where there is an attempt to suppress democracy.

Sadly the people in this country do not know what democracy is. In school we were taught what demorcracy is. That was during the civics class, which was a subject in school. This syllabus was changed during the regime of Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike and history, geography and civics was amalgamated into one subject called social studies.

That was because the syllabus for education was drawn up to suit the socialist line of thinking. We were taught that the press was the watchdog of the nation and it was the duty of the press to mould the minds of the people.

Freedom of speech as expressed in the immortal words "I detest your opinion but I defend unto death your right to utter" — our teacher stressed upon, to drive home the spirit of democracy.

Unfortunately the younger generation appears to have been brain washed with socialist ideas that they do not understand the true meaning of democracy.   It is tragic because all this has been done with deliberate intent— like doing away with English in schools. If our educational system had not been ruined by doing away with English all Sri Lankans would have been proficient in English and Sri Lanka would have been in the forefront, leading a lot of other countries.

The final analysis is how people could understand demorcracy if the education system is faulty and the media is controlled by the state.  Sri Lanka may have a high literacy rate but today literacy itself is useless, unless the people possess some special knowledge such as IT. What we were taught in school was that education by itself would be useless unless one was able to distinguish between right and wrong.

Your newspaper is simply exercising its democratic right.  But some people behave as if your paper is committing a crime.  Even some educated people, from whom you would expect something better, say ‘The Leader is too anti-government and very critical etc.’  So am I wrong when I say that the minds of people have been moulded by the state media all these long years giving them the wrong impression? Many people I spoke to do not seem to have an inkling of what democracy is all about.

Shirley Holsinger

The hypocrisy of those who preach

While listening to the sermons of Buddhist monks telecast on TV, I have noticed that in most instances the sermons centre on the present day luxury life styles of people. In one such sermon the issue highlighted was that people were spending money unnecessarily to stock their kitchens with modern gadgets, and then eating out at hotels instead of making use of these gadgets and utensils for which they had spent so much money.

While I did observe a few guilty looks on the part of the devotees listening intently to the sermon, it raised a few questions in my mind as to the validity of these statements. Whatever any person is supposedly accused of, he is actually spending his money which he had earned by hard work and his spending that money on whatever that makes him happy, which is purely his choice — no one should grudge that.

No one has any right to question that because he has not robbed anyone else’s money except use what he has. Of course, there will be occasions when many may raise concerns as to why they don’t put that money to better use. But there again no one should be telling him what to do with his money. But is this the case with so many others amongst us?

Is it not surprising then, that those who don’t earn a penny or contribute to the economy of the country in any way, are the very people who ask those who earn a living, to tighten their belts and not bemoan the spiraling cost of living? Are they not the very people who lead very similar, if not more luxurious lives than those who earn to pay for the life-styles they lead; and go about in ultra luxury vehicles, wanting the best of things and demanding that the normal citizens should foot their bills?

The hypocrisy that shrouds the governance in Sri Lanka is revealed through the very sermons that are being preached today. Unfortunately, we have followers who never see the truth that prevails and put the story straight.

Shenali Waduge

Dress is a matter of individual choice

I agree with what Dr. Mareena Thaha Reffai has to say about a lot of issues in Sri Lanka.

However throughout the decades her pronouncements on the dress code and appearances and behavior have been guided by her convictions about Islam and her own interpretation of Islam.

In the matter of the dress code she is outright wrong but has every right to express her views. However, we are not a backward, primitive Muslim nation like Saudi or even the backward, primitive Afghanistan where Muslim women are prevented from getting an education beyond grade four. The beauty is, Sri Lanka is a secular nation of different ethnic and religious groups that have lived, side by side for centuries without forcing one group to impose their will on other.

Sri Lanka is not a backward oil rich kingdom run by Islamists or Wahabis.

If a woman and a man want to wear short skirts for their wedding they have every right to do so. I defend Dr. Reffai’s right to express her opinion in a secular nation like ours where democracy thrives and I may disagree with every word she says, but as Voltaire said, I defend to my death her right to say it. 

That right is not something her backward Islamic nations such as Saudi she admires, allows its citizens. Even if a Muslim lady wants to wear a short dress for her wedding we in a secular nation will allow that. We will not force women to wear veils and be backward like the Taleban men want us to do.

People of different faiths like Dr. Reffai should realise she has to respect the other religions. If a woman and her parents and her husband have no problem with her wearing a short dress, and that dress is of her free will, then no one should be writin opinions based on their right-wing Islamic views in a nation that is secular, and not run by Taleban Islamists.

Why should it matter to anyone if my friend wears a short dress at her wedding by her free choice and approved by her husband? It is the perverted, sexually repressed attitude of some primitive Taleban type Lankans who are trying to impose these sick rules.

Sri Lanka is a secular nation not an Islamic or Christian kingdom where people are forced to accept one way of life.

Mano Ratwatte


S. Illangaratnam

It was with profound grief I learnt of the sudden demise of Sabapathipillai Illangaratnam after a heart attack. I venture to write this appreciation to pay homage and tribute to a great cricketer and a thorough gentleman.

Illangaratnam was an amiable, unassuming and a unique person possessing an exemplary character. He was a colleague of mine at the Bank of Ceylon. More than as a banker I knew him as a cricketer, as I too was playing cricket at inter-bank, inter-district, and inter-province tournaments organised by the bank.

I became a freelance reporter after premature retirement and used to meet Illange almost every weekend at Bloomfield. At the end of the day he helped me immensely in reporting the scores to a Sunday English newspaper.

Illange as he was called by bankers, cricketers and friends, was born on December 18, 1947, and was a native of Irupalai in Jaffna. He has had his primary and secondary education at Hindu College, Ratmalana, where he excelled in academic studies as well as in sports particularly in cricket. With his all-round sports and academic background, he had no difficulty in finding employment at the Bank of Ceylon. Initially he was appointed as a junior clerk and was posted to the City Office, the largest branch of the bank at that time.

Illange loved sports and perhaps had sports in his blood. No sooner he joined he wanted to take part in sports activities, and cricket was his favourite sport. As a youth who had just turned 20 he found it difficult to secure a place in the cricket team as there were many seniors who had already cemented their places. But owing to his talent as a pace bowler and a good batsman, he managed to find a place in the team. Some of his seniors and contemporaries were Sumithra Fernando, Brindley Perera, Asoka Perera, Rex Silva, Baba Fonseka, A.P.C de Silva, Sripal Silva, Paramanathan, Balasubramaniam, and Ranjit Wijekulasooriya.

The contribution made by Illange as an all rounder was enormous and on a number of occasions, the Bank of Ceylon emerged champions in the A division cricket tournaments conducted by the Nationalised Services’ Cricket Association.

When Illange was playing, he became a sought after cricketer, and in the early ’70s he was grabbed by Moratuwa Sports Club to play Sara Trophy cricket, which was a good opening for him. He was given the opportunity to share the new ball with Sylvester Dias. The Moratuwa S.C. team was star studded with a number of players having a good reputation. R.M.Fernando a former Thomian skipper, Bandula de Silva, Bernard Perera, Daya Sirisena, Stanley Fonseka and Ransiri Peiris were some of those who played alongside Illange.

However Illange found it difficult to travel all the way to Moratuwa for practices, especially after work. In addition he had to neglect the home front having two daughters to look after. It was at this time that he was absorbed into the Bloomfield Cricket and Athletic Club, where his place was cemented as a fast medium pacer and as a batsman. During this period Illange was in peak form, perhaps one of the fastest in the national squad. He was selected to play in the One Day International against Keith Fletcher’s English team, just after we had got test status.

Illange was very fortunate to play alongside test players of the calibre of Bandula Warnapura, Lalith Kaluperuma, Jayantha Seneviratne, Anura Ranasinghe, Flavian Aponsu and Ajit de Silva. Illange was fortunate to have established a permanent place at the Bloomfield Club. He was appointed skipper of the club’s Division 2 team in the years 1993 and 1994. Through his personal contribution and astute captaincy Bloomfield became the champions.

For a few more years he played Division 1 in the Premier league and performed admirably. When he got to know that many youngsters were waiting for a place, he started coaching youngsters and whenever one visited the Reid Avenue venue, Illange was sure to be there. He was in the executive committee of the club for a number of years, He was made the club coach for Division 2 and then appointed the coach for the Premier Division side until his demise.

At Bank of Ceylon, Illange worked during the past three decades or so at the most toughest department called the Ginthupitiya stores where all stationery orders had to be placed and executed without delay. The smooth handling of the gigantic exercise to the network of branches scattered islandwide had to be astutely handled. Luckily for Illange he had a well-trained and trustworthy staff that supported him wholeheartedly. To be honest there was no one to take over his work as it was a tough assignment.

It was extremely unfortunate that Illange passed away just five months before he reached his 60th birthday. Had he lived up to 60 years the management and the staff may have accorded the biggest farewell accorded to any member of the staff in the annals of the history of Bank of Ceylon for the yeomen service rendered to the institution.

The sudden demise of my colleague Sabapathipillai Illangaratnam is an unbearable shock to all who knew him. To his beloved wife Kalavalli and the two daughters Gayathri and Abirami his demise is irreparable.

May the turf lie softly over him.

Sunil Thenabadu
Mt. Lavinia



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