Luxman a 22 year old trishaw driver was
smoking a cigarette inside his vehicle at
around 6 o'clock in the evening on November
30, at the Paragammana junction, two
kilometres from the Kegalle town. A police
jeep on its way to the police station
stopped, picked up Luxman and took him to
the police station. The rest of the trishaw
drivers were agitated that one of their kind
was in trouble for smoking a cigarette.
This drama is not confined to one area but
has engulfed the entire nation, except the
north and east, in serious proportions. The
law banning cigarette smoking in public
places and sale of cigarettes to those under
21 years of age is now in full force. Excise
officers, and the police have taken hold of
this legislation to arrest with a vengeance,
all those who act in contravention of this
The excise officers use decoys to trap
unsuspecting boutique keepers for selling
cigarettes to minors. Some of the decoys are
not even minors but hefty, matured males
with dubious histories. They are willing
decoys to the excise sleuths who know that
their alternate trade is selling kasippu.
In one instance an excise officer berated a
female boutique keeper for not checking the
identity card of the customer wanting to buy
a cigarette. She was alarmed and pleaded
the law. She was prosecuted and had
to pay a hefty fine for her ignorance. She
is still shaken.
The JHU and their acolytes in particular have
taken it upon themselves to take the mathata
tita of the Mahinda Chinthanaya as a cudgel
to rid this country of drugs, cigarettes and
alcohol. They have now swooped into villages
and stopped the boutique keepers from either
stocking or selling beedi, cigarettes or
cigars - but not beetle. The bulath vita as
it is known consists of three leaves of
betel, chunnam, grated arecanuts and a roll
of tobacco, and is sold for Rs.10.
In the absence of beedi, cigars and
cigarettes, it has now become common to opt
for the bulath vita instead of smoking. The
habit of chewing betel in our country dates
as far back as the days of the Sinhalese
Kings. It was common that every household
had a well-stocked tray of all the
ingredients needed for a chew.
Every visitor to a house or temple was first
greeted with a sheaf of betel. This habit
still continues in some villages. The
visitors were then provided a spittoon to
spit at liberty after a chew of betel.
The British, took the first step to stop
people polluting the environs of kachcheris,
courthouses and all other government
institutions with betel spit.
Notice boards were put up saying that
anybody who violated the law would be
The JHU and their acolytes must realise that
chewing betel with tobacco is more harmful
to health than smoking cigarettes. Medical
evidence would show that there are more
cases of cancer of the mouth and throat in
government hospitals than those with lung
cancer caused by cigarettes.
Nobody would advocate that cigarette and
tobacco smoking is either good or healthy.
It may cause various health problems.
But that is not the point: the point is that
it is an encroachment of personal liberty
and freedom of choice. It is the prerogative
of the individual and not the concern of the
political parties or the government to
impinge on the rights of the individuals.
If they are so concerned about the use of
tobacco then they should ban the chewing of
betel as well; and not damn the fag, which
is nothing but blatant hypocrisy.
An article which appeared in the 'Letters'
section of The Sunday Leader dated December
9, with the above caption sent in by Bandula
Jayaratne of Katugastota, requires people to
think about the reason as to why this 'Bhikku
bashing' takes place.
Of late, it has become quite a
fashionable thing to target criticism at JHU
monks and also discredit them by hurling
In the process of criticising the JHU
regarding their silence 'on crucial issues,'
as Jayaratne states in his article, he also
quotes the Buddha as follows. "Eschew
wickedness. Be not aligned with malicious
elements, but only with the
Having stated thus, Jayaratne goes on
to criticise the JHU thus: "this set of
saffron robes are only war-mongering
LTTE terrorism has engulfed our nation for 30
years, brutally killing innocent children,
infants, adults, and pilgrims of all
religions. It has kidnapped innocent
children to be enrolled in the 'Children's
Brigade' while their own children are
whisked off to greener pastures overseas.
The LTTE has brutally killed Buddhist
and Hindu clergymen, and brutally murdered
many Tamil politicians who supported a more
moderate political line than terrorism.
The physical composition of human beings
could very well be the same as per
Jayaratne's quotes. What Jayaratne fails to
understand, is that the mental state of
human beings can be many and varied as is
the case of Pirapaharan and his LTTE
Just as former Ugandan Leader Idi Amin's gory
hobby of cannibalism is averse to any sane
Ugandan, so is Pirapaharan's perverse and
brutal methods of attacking innocent human
beings detested by all decent and moderate
Tamils and as well as decent Sinhalese,
Muslims, Burghers, Malays etc., living in
The majority population of this country do
not want war but they want terrorism to be
wiped out. The fact that the JHU is standing
behind the GOSL to free this country of
terrorism and mayhem does not mean that they
"are disgracing the Buddha" as is
made out by Jayaratne! How much longer does
Jayaratne want to permit Pirapaharan and the
LTTE to continue their atrocities against
Sri Lankans? Does Jayaratne consider the
inhuman acts committed by terrorists to be
It would be wise for Jayaratne to refrain
from quoting the Buddha's word out of
pitch was messed up
It was surprising yet sad to read the
comments made by our captain Mahela
Jayawardene on the wicket at the SSC for the
second Test Match against England.
Being a curator with over two decades of
experience, and a past Division One
cricketer who has played at the SSC over the
years, I can definitely confirm that it
offers the best pitches in this country.
Being a member of the SSC, I had the
opportunity of having a look at the test
match wicket on the Wednesday before the
match and it remained an absolute beauty
with a tinge of grass and the surface firm
and hard - an ideal surface for a great game
However when I saw the wicket on Friday, I
was shocked and disappointed to see all the
grass shaven and the wicket bone dry.
On inquiring from the ground staff I
was told that the captain had wanted sponges
put under the covers so that the moisture
will be sucked on to the sponges and have
the wicket completely devoid of grass.
When such ill-considered acts are perpetrated
there will only be a dead, dry and grassless
pitch, a condition that would eliminate the
fast bowlers from the equation, whereas if
there was some grass and some moisture, it
would have helped the fast bowlers, and even
Murali would have got bounce off the track.
Even though wickets are prepared to suit the
home team, it needs to be effected prudently
and never should it be done to create a
negative outcome, as was the case in this
instance. It simply is not cricket!
As for the selection of the team when the
game is to be played at home the team should
ideally have six batsmen and five bowlers
including two quality spin bowlers. At this
moment of time it is the consensus that
Malinga Bandara is the obvious choice to
Finally it is my fervent hope that the Board
leaves the preparation of wickets to the
curators who are thoroughly competent.
The captain and the team should
confine themselves to playing the game as is
the case with the Australians.
Let it not be a case of the flat-footed
complaining about the dance floor!
H.N. de Silva
the arsonists to book
I have been wanting to send this letter ever
since I heard about the wanton destruction
and chaos caused at the Leader Publications
factory, but was prevented from doing so as
I was away overseas.
only recently returned to the island and
hasten to send you this message
My heartfelt and sincere condolences to you
and your staff for the inconvenience caused
and the damage suffered by the institution.
May Almighty God give you the strength and
courage to recover from this painful and
stressful incident, and get back to
It is my earnest hope and prayer that the
criminals who committed this arson act,
would be brought to justice.
erosion of standards
It is indeed sad to see the standard of some
of our leading schools going down day by
The main reason seems to be the present day
system of education which is playing havoc
with the students. Unfortunately nobody seems to take any notice of it.
The other day we went for a chapel choir
presentation by a group of students from a
leading school in Kandy.
Alas, it was just horrible.
I am ashamed to mention that a few
old croaking frogs may have done a better
job of it. It was absolutely a disaster, and a sight for sore eyes.
We have had a high regard for this school and
our children are students of this school.
Also, there is a slight whisper going
round that discrimination is going on at the
It is indeed another nail to the
Administrators who are in slumber; it is time
to wake up and take charge of the affairs
before the good name of this school goes
down the drain.
Cmdr. Anthony Maurice Fernando
It is with profound sorrow that I pen this
appreciation on the demise of Wg. Cmdr.
Anthony Maurice Fernando who breathed his
last on November 16 in Brighton U.S.A.
He left an inedible mark in several
fields of activity in the Sri Lanka Air
Force and Royal Oman Police which he
enriched and adorned with great competence
A dear friend he left behind a void which
never can be filled. His greatest attribute
was his love and respect for all people and
his patent humility and simplicity.
Denzil was born on July 11, 1939, the eldest
in a family of eleven. He was brought up by
his parents in a deeply religious and
disciplined environment. From his childhood
he was exemplary in his performance whether
at home or school. His deep sensitivity, his
sense of commitment and dedication to
anything he undertook was remarkable. He
received his education at St. Anthony's
College, Katugastota and St. Joseph's
College, Colombo. The high ethics and
discipline of the OSB and OMI priests had a
great impact on his life.
On successful completion of the G.C.E.
(Advanced Level) examination he chose the
profession of arms as his calling and
enlisted in the Royal Ceylon Air Force as a
flight cadet on April 27, 1959. On
completion of his initial flying training
and the award
of "wings," he was promoted
Flying Officer in August 1961.
Excelling in his flying and
administrative duties he was promoted Flight
Lieutenant in 1965.
Following his performance in varied positions
of flying training and in command of flying
squadrons he was promoted Squadron Leader in
He was later appointed officer commanding the
Standard Examination Unit and Command Rating
examiner and also as acting base commander.
He was promoted Wing Commander in 1976. In
every position he held, he performed to the
entire satisfaction of his superiors.
On completion of 21 years of service despite
having a clear path he retired from service
on April 30, 1980. Later joining the Royal
Oman Police as an Air Operations Officer
along with other Sri Lankan Air Force
Officers they made a significant
contribution to air operations and made Sri
Lanka and the Sri Lanka Air Force proud.
While in service he was decorated in
recognition of his services and awarded
"The Oman Peace Keeping Medal,"
10th Anniversary Medal, Glorious 15th
National Day Medal and the order of the
Denzil married Premanie on December 28, 1970.
In love with each other they overcame
intricate problems. Their marriage was a
tremendous success. They were a loving
couple, harmoniously blended into one and
went through the ups and down of life
finding solace and happiness in each other
through all the trials and travails. He
adored his two daughters Sheolie and Dinali.
Their home was an abode of peace, love and
Denzil zealously guided and fashioned their
careers and today Sheolie after graduating
from Harvard University with a degree in
public health is presently a third year
medical student at the George Washington
Medical College while Dinali is a physician
attached to the Mount Sinai Hospital in New
York. They are both married to
Denzil was an unassuming person never given
to ostentation and bragging. Throughout his
life he epitomised kindness, gentlemanliness
and other good qualities which are fast
disappearing from society. He earned a
reputation as an efficient, dedicated and
In retirement his life revolved around the
family and religious activities. He was
Denzil was a wonderful friend who reached out
to his friends particularly in times of
distress; he was steadfast in his loyalty to
his friends. With his demise I have lost a
I now realise how real Charles Caleb Colton's
"True friendship is like sound health,
The value of it is seldom known until it be
I have lost a friend that is hard to replace,
there remains in me an emptiness and void I
don't seem I can fill. I thank God however
for the gift of Denzil's friendship. I thank
God for his life. I will not say farewell
because I know we will meet again.
May the turf lie gently over him.
May he rest in peace.