It may sound ridiculous, but it is true that
the climate or environment of the northeast
played a significant part in the ethnic
problem of Sri Lanka. The arid zone in the
north and east of the island is quite dry
and has only one monsoon a year, whereas the
rest of the island is blessed with two
monsoons that water these parts abundantly
to make it green and lush.
In the dry zone - where the Tamil minority
live - water is scarce and large areas look
like a desert. The water is also somewhat
brackish because of the high concentration
of limestone that makes even a cup of tea
Because the northeast is an arid zone, the
British government did not bother to develop
it. After independence, successive Sinhala
dominated governments did the same and
completely ignored it, especially as it was
a Tamil area with only about 3% of the
population being Sinhala.
The Tamils realised that since their land
did not sustain them, they had to venture
out into greener pastures in order to
survive and were therefore forced to go down
south into the wet zone, where the Sinhala
They also realised that in order to get
suitable employment they had to have a basic
English education. They were therefore
forced to educate themselves or starve. This
great motivation for education through the
years made the Tamil minority better
educated than the Sinhala majority.
The fact that the Tamils were in a more
advantageous position due to their better
English education, naturally engendered the
hostility of the Sinhala Buddhist majority,
who had a tendency to resist the learning of
English, without realising its future
effects and that one day it would be the
international language of the "Global
It was this hostility against the Tamils
that led to Bandaranaike's 'Sinhala Only'
language policy, which instantly divided the
country into two ethnic nationalities, by
the mere stroke of a pen, which in turn led
to the present ethnic war.
Had the northeast been a wet zone, the
British would have invested in it and grown
tea, rubber and coconut just like in the
south. Then, there would have been no
motivation for the Tamils to take seriously
to education and causing an imbalance.
The Tamils would have been just like the
Sinhalese and there would have been parity
with no feelings of hostility. This shows
how the climate in the northeast has been
responsible for all our problems!
I hope the Education and Social Service
Departments take up the question of
environment and its effects on demography
and society and the ethnic problem.
Recently, I met a retired Sri Lankan
Professor of Demography and Geography and he
told me that the question of environment and
its effects on the ethnic problem never
occurred to him - an obvious lack of lateral
The governments of
could have remedied the problem of the
imbalance in education and employment if
they were willing to listen to reason rather
than letting emotion get the better of
If only they had opened up the Tamil areas
and invested in technology, the Tamils would
have had no need to venture down to the
south in search of employment to support
their families in the northeast.
This would have also increased the job
availability for the Sinhalese and there
would have been no political threat to
prevent or discourage the Sinhalese from
immigrating to the northeast. The only
reason why the Sinhalese did not venture up
north is because there was nothing
attractive to them there.
Even now, the LTTE is not insisting on
separation if the Tamils are given what they
want in their areas, and if money is spent
by the state on development. The Tamil
diaspora will also contribute in a big way
and there would be great hopes for a
peaceful and prosperous future.
Recently in London the President had met the
British Prime Minister and said the new
chief minister of the Eastern Province was
previously a leading member of the LTTE and
had entered the democratic process as a
result of the development work done by the
government which had been appreciated by the
Tamil community. This is what all Tamils
So instead of fighting the LTTE in the
north, if the military is withdrawn, there
would be a great chance for peace and
reconciliation. The LTTE says that for the
past 25 years great promises had been made
by various governments and subsequently
broken and that is why they bombed Premadasa
and Chandrika and have refused to negotiate
- which they say is a waste of time.
The government should make every effort to
change this impression.
Lt. Col. A.J.N. Selvadurai
Bank of Ceylon chairman's business dealings
I refer to the letter written by Acting
General Manager, Bank of Ceylon to The
Sunday Leader which appeared in the June 8
issue, in response to an article written by
Ranjith Jayasundera captioned "How the Bank
of Ceylon Chairman helped himself" published
in The Sunday Leader of May 18.
Even though, expressing my views would not
be of any consequence especially nowadays,
even with reluctance what prompted me to
express my views was because of the utter
surprise I received when the Acting General
Manager had taken upon herself the
responsibility of replying to these
allegations as well as other allegations by
various people against the chairman at
various times in the recent past.
She has stated there that were many
inaccuracies and false allegations in that
article. If so, I would like to ask- Does
that mean that all the other corruption
charges in the earlier articles made against
the various chairmen at various times are
correct, as the editor has indicated?
Let me jolt your memory regarding some of
the articles published in the same newspaper
on various occasions regarding corruption
charges against various chairmen.
(1) 17.12.2006 - "Taking the BoC to the
(2) 24.12.2006 -"The great bank rip off"
(3) 4.5.2008 -"BoC dumps a billion rupees on
In choosing to reply this particular article
the Acting General Manager has been trying
to whitewash the chairman due to some
ulterior motive known only to herself.
Being a BoC employee with many years of
service let me enlighten you on some facts
relevant to this matter.
With the establishment of the BoC in 1953
after the departure of the British, the
first Ceylonese general manager to be
appointed was C. Loganathan. He made his
decisions independently without bending to
any influence whatsoever. The next GM, who
succeeded him was S.M. Sirimanne who also
made his decisions without fear or favour as
a consequence of which he had to seek
redress in a court of law against attempts
made by interested parties to block his
When these persons with vested interests
were unable to impose their will on the bank
they resorted to nationalise the bank in
1961. I need not stress the fact that the
BoC which had such a golden era has now
become a breeding ground for corruption
especially with the TODs and other crooked
dealings connected with the Mihin saga. I
often wonder where the bank is heading.
What the Bible says about leaders
"God controls all human kingdoms and can
give them to anyone he chooses." - Daniel
"The will of the Lord alone is always,
carried out." - Lamentations 3.37
"He protects those who are righteous; He
allows them to rule like kings and lets
them be honoured forever." - Job 36.7.
"I help kings to govern and rulers to make
good laws. Every ruler on Earth governs with
my help, statesmen and noblemen alike." -
"He does not take the side of rulers nor,
favour the rich against the poor, for He
created everyone." - Job 34.19.
"God condemns kings and rulers when they are
worthless or wicked." - Job 34.18.
"He does not need an investigation to remove
leaders and replace them with others.
Because he knows what they do. He overthrows
them and crushes them by night." - Job
"He brings down powerful leaders and reduces
them to nothing." - Isaiah 40.23.
Bomb blasts and Tamil media
There has been a spate of bombings targeting
civilians in Colombo, its suburbs and other
areas during the course of the past six
months or so. These bombs have been placed
in crowded buses and trains on most
occasions. The perception that many people
have of these bombings is that they are
mindless acts of terrorism perpetrated by a
desperate terrorist group unable to
withstand the onslaught of the government's
mighty armed forces on the battlefield.
Certain persons in the government declare
that the objective of these bombings is to
provoke a backlash against the Tamils living
in the south like in July, 1983 in the hope
that it would destroy the economy and lead
to foreign intervention. But what has to be
said is that even without these bomb blasts
the economy has already been destroyed
The Tamil newspapers however paint an
entirely different picture. According to
them most of the bus and train bombings of
the recent past have been in the nature of
retaliatory attacks triggered by the deaths
or serious injuries caused to innocent
civilians in the north by the government's
armed forces who oddly enough are portrayed
as benevolent persons in a series of state
sponsored television advertisements.
It is being reported that each incident
relating to a bus or train bombing here was
connected to some specific earlier event
that occurred in the conflict areas
resulting in civilian deaths and injuries.
Some of these incidents are blamed on the
Deep Penetration Units (DPUs) of the army
which are deployed to carry out search and
destroy missions in enemy territory.
They are supposed to attack strategic
targets and also eliminate key personnel in
the LTTE hierarchy whenever possible.
Apparently the DPUs have a propensity to
pick on civilian targets when they are
unable to zero in on any hard target. This
inevitably results in a very prompt 'tit for
tat' bombing in the south.
Aerial bombings and heavy calibre machine
guns fired from aircraft also cause a large
number of civilian deaths, serious injuries
and property damage in the north regularly.
If the damage is heavy, swift retribution is
meted out in some other place by way of a
bus or train bombing. It would seem that
every time there is an explosion or blast in
the north its echo is heard in the south
within two, three days.
The Tamil newspapers also state that little
or no information is presented in the
Colombo based Sinhala and English media
about the regular massacres and mayhem
inflicted on Tamil civilians in the conflict
areas by the army, air force and other
special forces. At most there may be a
passing reference to some incident and that
too after it is no longer newsworthy.
This, they say is in sharp contrast to the
massive coverage given to the acts of
violence unleashed by the LTTE in these
parts with graphic footage and in such an
impressive manner that even the wail of
ambulance sirens is projected into the
drawing rooms of persons living in places
far removed from the scene of disaster!
As the Tamil newspapers continue to carry on
in this vein, I just thought I should draw
attention to these rather divergent views
for the benefit of those who cannot or do
not read these newspapers.
Is there a shortage of change?
Can anyone please tell me if we have a
shortage of change money? As a frequent
traveller by public transport, I am harassed
daily by conductors of every bus that I get
in, asking for change money. It happens
If I give a Rs. 10 note for a bus fare of Rs.
7 the conductor asks me for Rs. 2 change
money so that he can give five rupees back.
This has become a practice and the
conductors always keep asking for change may
be perhaps to avoid having to give the
Sometimes I have seen the conductors having
a separate bag containing coins which is
usually kept with the driver tucked away
safely. There are times that we lose out on
the balance as they simply do not have the
change to give us.
Of late, this method of asking for change is
adopted by the supermarkets and retail
boutiques as well. Last week, at a famous
supermarket, I was asked for Rs. 4 in
change. I tendered a Rs. 5 coin that I had
and yet the cashier was asking for Rs. 4
which I did not have.
I understand that there are times when they
also do not have change but there are times
that we too do not have change. The
possibility of bus conductors and cashiers
having change money is greater than the
general public having change.
Disappearing yellow crossings
In Nugegoda and other towns, I have observed
some roads being re-tarred. This is
creditable. However the tarring obliterates
the zebra markings for pedestrians to cross
the road, creating problems for everybody.
People follow familiar patterns and tend to
cross the road at the same place everyday
whether there is a marking or not.
A driver unfamiliar to the town may suddenly
see people crossing haphazardly and this may
result in accidents. I have seen some 'near
miss' accidents due to the absence of the
familiar zebra lines on the new road
I suggest that the authorities who direct
the tarring should have their in-house gang
to do the repainting of the yellow lines, so
that this gang can do the repainting as soon
as the tarring is completed. This will
create more job opportunities and also be a
boon to all road users.
Another hazard road users have to face is
the protruding tiles on the pavements and
curbs. This really is a matter of quality
control at the time of approving the
contractors' work bill. This also needs the
attention of the authorities.