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World Affairs








Politics in Sri Lanka

Politics in Sri Lanka is corrupt, unscrupulous, dirty, ugly, and seems tailor-made for a handful of those in power who are motivated solely by hunger for position, power and material gain. This handful has held the entire nation to ransom, squandered its resources and has led it to the position of a failed state.

Overcoming or getting rid of the opposition by whatever means in order to cling to power, appears to be the modus operandi of the regime in power. Abductions and killings go on unabated, and the failure of the police to solve any of these crimes, raises suspicion that there is obstruction and subversion from the top.

The most glaring examples are the massacre of the 17 aid workers, and the killings of MPs Raviraj and Maheswaran. The latter instances appear to be politically motivated. Although there is no obvious link with the case of the aid workers, they all fall into the category of grave human rights violations. It is fairly obvious that all this stems from the political situation prevailing in Sri Lanka.

The trend in politics has taken a dangerous turn. The rights of the people are ignored, media freedom is suppressed, media-personnel are harassed or killed, protest rallies are broken up with the use of undue force, and even if the suppression of the democratic right of voicing one's opinion is ignored, the ominous sign that democracy is at the cross-roads in Sri Lanka, is obvious to all.

The political atmosphere is very unhealthy for those who are critical of the regime in power and is it any surprise that Sripathi Sooriyaarachchi's widow has called for an independent investigation into the death of her husband, although on the surface it appears to be an accident?  Will Mano Ganesan's call for an international probe be heeded or bear any results?  Recent records make us skeptical!

A Concerned Citizen

Religious and civil society leaders' initiative welcome

Politicians have been labouring and labouring like mountains to find a political solution, but have been unable to bring forth even the proverbial mouse in the form of the APRC Report. The military solution pursued so far has brought forth so many widows, so many orphans, so many refugees, so much weeping, wailing, gnashing and untold agony and misery. And this is only the beginning.

The country is being ruined not only by war, but also by vandalism arising from indiscipline, bribery and corruption.  In the past, the issue was that politicians did not divide on political lines but only on racial, religious, and linguistic issues.

The present regime has added one more dimension to these - there are no scruples in politicians and they can be easily bought over at a price.

It is unfortunate that the laws relating to bribery and corruption do not cover this area. In this situation the move by religious leaders and civil society is most welcome.  But it has to be said, they have a Herculean task before them.  Will they be able to bridle the galloping horse singing the war song and going berserk on a mission of vengeance and destruction?

I recollect, in 1993 Bishop Kenneth Fernando's visit to the north on a peace mission resulted in so much mudslinging, sneering and ridiculing in the south. Those of us who have been born in that beautiful country, Ceylon - "Where every prospect pleases, and only man is vile"- have no choice but to watch in silent agony the vile man who has gone wild. 

All good wishes to  civil society to bring about a civilised society!

S. Thambyrajah

Lanka's elephants will soon become extinct

What is happening to the elephants in Sri Lanka? Every few days the news broadcasts give the death toll of elephants killed. TV news on February 11 reported the death of six elephants. A few days ago three baby elephants were shown on TV, all quite dead. It was heart breaking.

The cause of all this is the unplanned move of bringing in new settlers into areas that are strictly elephant territory. Needless to say this causes a human/elephant conflict and the casualties are the elephants.

Now settlers have been moved into an area that was to be used as an elephant corridor. Where are these elephants expected to go?

Part of the Wasgamuwa Park is to be used for the construction of a reservoir. Land is cleared causing untold hardship to the denizens of the wild, both big and small.

Who permitted the Maduru Oya/Wasgamuwa elephant corridor land to be cleared to set up a private poultry farm? Please do something about this even now.

And what purpose do reservoirs serve? The Mahaweli was diverted at tremendous cost - monetary, environmental destruction etc. It was supposed to make us self-sufficient in rice. And what are we doing today - importing rice from neighbouring countries. When will we ever learn?

Possibly when the last forest tree has been chopped and the last elephant is killed.

O.C. de Silva

Let ministers take over postman's job

The postman has become redundant with the country's President and ministers taking over the delivery of letters.

The so called representatives of the people are only serving themselves trying to gain cheap credit by personally delivering thousands of appointment letters to an already overstaffed government service, a ridiculous situation not seen anywhere in the civilised world!

According to the Tissa Devendra Commission Report the government service is overstaffed by as much as 30% and still we see these grinning 'benefactors' on TV bestowing what they want us, the voters, to believe is their 'personal largesse.'

The solution to the problem appears to be to give our politicians the job they like best - delivering letters! Let's reverse the roles and appoint the postmen to fill the vacancies created by the President and ministers taking over the role of postmen. There are enough ministries to accommodate the postmen and they will surely do a better job than the present sycophants! But we will have to wait and see whether the people's representatives will do even the postman's job efficiently.

The President boasts that we have the largest proportion of government servants in the world! The whole world laughs at this admission of inefficiency and folly! Who pays for all these desperate survival tactics - these redundant jobs, redundant ministries, redundant tamashas? The entire cost filters down to the poorest of the poor - the victims of deception and manipulation.

Money is printed to fund the cost of the 90% redundant ministries and 30% redundant government service that gobble up a large slice of the revenue, and these valueless pieces of paper only cause galloping inflation!

Will our politicians even at this late stage stop this nonsense and deception and try to do something for the progress of the country and the people?

Lioncoln Wijeyesinghe

It was wonderful

It was wonderful to read the column by Sonali Samarasinghe titled "Be the change you want to see" in The Sunday Leader of February 17.

I think there are at least a million people who would agree with her point of view.

Can you please translate this into Sinhala and give it to a Sinhala paper so that the Sinhala reading public and the President himself might know what the need of the hour is?

W. Rajakaruna

Noise pollution: What? Where?

The latest news is that noise could lead to hypertension according to a report published after a four year survey conducted near major airports such as Heathrow, Milan, Berlin, Athens and Amsterdam. They had also found a key factor - that the result would have been the same, independent of the sound source, even if they do not wake up during noise propagation.

We in Sri Lanka have lately addressed the issue of noise pollution generated by loudspeakers, but have totally ignored the noise pollution created by various vehicles, notoriously so by the bus drivers with their continually sounding air hones. There are  drivers of other vehicles too who seem to enjoy this intimidation with their noisy horns and there seems to be no one to come to the rescue of the general public who are being affected by all this.

Noise pollution is  independent of its source. We should have legal protection so that the miscreants are brought to book and suitably punished without any favouritism. This is the sort of preventive action that is necessary so that our ailing nation could reduce the burden on health care.

Naturally this is only a minute example but there are many areas where we have failed to take preventive action by addressing the root cause of many of our ailments and failings. We seem to be satisfied by taking the minimum corrective action maybe due to the people's ignorance, but the same things appear to happen without any regard for the law or the comfort of fellow citizens.

A good example is the long drawn out ethnic war of over 24 years. Politicians are now saying that they need to identify and address the grievances of the Tamils. Instead of wasting time by saying so, why don't they just do it, and surely, it is not necessary to change the constitution for that!

When will the powers that be, learn how to tackle our problems?

K. Silva

Military Spokesman on "Abductions and killings in the northeast"

1. Your kind attention is drawn to the box-story captioned "Abductions and killings in the northeast - June '07 to February '08" in your 24 February 2008 issue, in which "An Army Field Bike Squad" has been blamed for the murder of Ms Dushyanthan Baleshwari (21) of Manthuvil, Jaffna near Cholalamman temple on 31 January 2008.

2. Facts and Chavakachcheri Police investigations revealed that the victim, who has married thrice to LTTE cadres earlier, had been carrying on with another nefarious affair with another LTTE cadre called "Vellayan" who has been reportedly hiding in the Jaffna peninsula. Owing to a personal dispute, this relationship too broke off and tension has prevailed between the victim and Vellayan. Reports also confirmed that her last husband was in Wanni working for the LTTE.

3. Vellayan, as a result of the persistent personal dispute, according to the investigations, has murdered the woman lest all information and secrets related to his role in the LTTE be exposed because of her malice towards him. It was also reported that the woman became pregnant due to this illegitimate affair.

4. The criminal behaviour has also resulted in the death of Balasundaram Pathipan (19) who was at the scene at the time of LTTE cadre's reaction to the situation.

5. The said inaccurate statement in the report is therefore completely false and prepared in order to tarnish the image of the security forces serving the area.

6. While the army categorically denying any involvement in the incident, challenges any party to prove by any means of evidence the involvement of the security forces in this crime. Any interested party could also obtain all the details related to this murder from the Chavakachcheri Police Station, the Security Forces Headquarters, Jaffna has informed.

V.U.B. Nanayakkara USP
Military Spokesman

The Sunday Leader states:  The story was based on the University Teachers for Human Rights (UTHR) Report and it was accordingly attributed and there had been no prior denial of that report.


Benedict Dodampegama

A senior journalist, author of many books and a renowned film critic, Benedict Dodampegama passed away on February 19, 2004, at the age of 75, after a brief illness.  Dodampegama, fondly known as  'Ben' in Sri Lanka's journalistic and literary field, first joined Lake House in April 1954, after being introduced to the Observer's then Editor Denzil Peiris by the film maestro Lester James Peiris. He started feature-writing to Sri Lanka's renowned Sinhala journal Silumina and his contributions helped make Silumina the most popular Sunday newspaper in the whole Far East with the highest circulation.

Born on October 8, 1928 at Averiyawatta in Wattala, Benedict Dodampegama had his education at St. Anthony's College, Wattala and St. Benedict's College, Kotahena and later entered Peradeniya University. When he left the university, unlike most of his university contemporaries, fresh faced Ben chose journalism and films to administrative service.  His enthusiasm for films and drama made him the most lovable man among his journalist colleagues not only in Lake House but also other newspaper groups as well.

Right throughout his life Ben firmly believed that reading made a complete and useful man. He encouraged those who were around him - especially the young budding journalists - to have a book handy at all times. He advised them to read more and more and expand their horizons if they wanted to be really good journalists. He assuredly became a beacon to the young band of writers in our country.

He was a good friend to all associates, a man with a fine sense of humour plus a family man and a loving father to his children. Though he is gone now, the void created by his departure will never be filled. However his inspiration will linger on in the world of Sri Lankan journalism.

Ben will be remembered for all those things said above, but mostly as an excellent human being.

Sisira Chandrasekera


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