World Affairs








Damning the 'fag'

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 law.

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 innocence of  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 punished.

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.

G.M.P. Siriwardena

JHU and Buddhism

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 various accusations.

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 meritorious."  Having stated thus, Jayaratne goes on to criticise the JHU thus: "this set of saffron robes are only war-mongering nationalistic chauvinists..."

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 terrorist outfit!

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 this country.

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 'human?'

It would be wise for Jayaratne to refrain from quoting the Buddha's word out of context.


SSC 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 of cricket.

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 support Murali.

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
Royal College
Colombo 7

Bring 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.

 I 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 normality soon.

It is my earnest hope and prayer that the criminals who committed this arson act, would be brought to justice.

Amyn Chatoor

Severe erosion of standards

It is indeed sad to see the standard of some of our leading schools going down day by day.

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 utmost here.  It is indeed another nail to the coffin.

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.

Interested parent


Wg. 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 and grace.

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 1971.

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 "National Emblem."

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 affection.

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 professionals.

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 honest officer

In retirement his life revolved around the family and religious activities. He was deeply religious.

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 dear friend.

I now realise how real Charles Caleb Colton's words are;

"True friendship is like sound health,

The value of it is seldom known until it be lost."

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.

Rex Fernando 


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