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World Affairs








Ranil - a welcome change

Ranil has always been the perfect gentleman to the tip of his fingers up to now. That is why he could not rebuke former President Chandrika Kumaratunga when she unceremoniously dumped him from his post sometime back. That is why he could not speak against all the atrocities committed by the politicians - on his side and the other side.

He was too good to be a Sri Lankan politician where politics means ungentlemanly behaviour - shouting, screaming, cheating, lying, breaking promises openly and unashamedly, thuggery, threats etc.

For those who had always seen Ranil sitting so composedly with a smile, even when his own men tore the constitution of the country, his behaviour in parliament last week was a treat to watch. And his outburst at the press conference was the icing on the cake.

So, has he finally decided to join the bandwagon? Is there a shift in policy: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em?"

All said and done, I must say this is a welcome change. It is time he woke up and faced the challenges like a lion. It is time he gives as good as he gets.

Let us hope that we see an active Opposition Leader in the future. Not one who is so prim and proper that it only brings a yawn - not only from his own group, but from the citizens too. He has to fight corruption, injustice and inflation with all the vigour it deserves.

We only hope he will stop with his new found aggressiveness and not overstep to go into thuggery and mayhem like the rest. On second thoughts, naaah, he will not. He would not know how to.

Dr. Mareena Thaha Reffai


Political deception more rampant than ever before

Most politicians, particularly some of the so-called favourite ministers of the ruling hierarchy have begun to consider themselves as the undisputed saviours and defenders of democracy and good governance.

With a view to shielding their own errors of commission and omission and also to cover up their manipulations, they would hasten, at the drop of a hat, to denounce in the vilest terms the elected opposition as the sole perpetrators of villainy and thuggery in this land.

There is no doubt that some of the leaders of the past regime did resort to villainy and thuggery to achieve their own ends and consequently suffered dire retribution. But that is history. Only a weak, vacillating and ineffective ruling outfit would keep on harping on the misdeeds of previous rulers to cover up their own.

The present holders of political power had promised on oath to wipe out all thuggery and mayhem and foster peace, goodwill and prosperity for the good of all our people - but have they done it?

They seem to have failed miserably and are now resorting to the same methods of suppression to stay in power. Their pious announcements claiming good governance and morality in public affairs are one-sided, twisted and hollow. Some of the politicos, apparently drunk with political power display arrogant attitudes and seem to think that the people they address are gullible fools who cannot sift the grain from the chaff and discern the truth from falsehood.

Our politicians expect all people to believe every word they utter as gospel truth.

Peace loving people have suffered terribly during the past regimes and continue to suffer today. It is no wonder that well-meaning observers of the current political scene have begun to say that politics in this country today is the worst kind ever experienced.

R.A.M.B. Dassanayake


Long live justice and the rule of law

The Supreme Court in an unprecedented, landmark judgment on November 28, directed that the Petroleum Minister A.H.M. Fowzie be replaced and the CPC Chairman Asantha de Mel be suspended immediately. The Court also directed the President to take over the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation under his authority till a suitable minister is appointed to administer it.

This direction was made on a petition filed by the chairman, Laugfs Holdings Limited for alleged infringement of fundamental rights.

What made the Supreme Court to make this direction was because the hedging agreements entered into by the CPC with some commercial banks were not legally valid, as they had been entered into unilaterally, without proper authority.

Asantha de Mel who was present in court had admitted that while holding an important and responsible post, he had acted in a way detrimental to the CPC and the country, and to the benefit of the said banks. The Court had also taken cognisance of the fact that at a press conference organised by one of the banks recently, De Mel had acted as a 'mouth piece' of the bank and had said that the government was bound to make payments to the banks involved and that there could not be any default.

The Court had therefore held that De Mel's conduct was improper and that he had no authority to make such a statement.

Now that the cat is out of the bag, not only De Mel, but all others including Fowzie who joined the bandwagon  and deliberately tried to dupe the masses must hang their heads in shame.

S.D. Gunapala

Mt. Lavinia

Religion, cleanliness and sanitation

Divergent views have been expressed recently by numerous persons on the above topic, and on many other practices relating to Islam in newspapers.

It is not the desire of this writer to enter into a controversy over religious teachings and practices, but it is the inherent view that the individual should have the liberty to observe and practice his/her religion without clinging on to conventional, rigid, dogmatic, superstitious and ritual practices, balancing the individual's inner and outer life based on the power of thought.

If hygiene and sanitation are practiced because of religious requirements or ethical needs it should not be an issue.

An individual's discipline and conduct, consciously observing sound principles of ethical behaviour, social impulses, religious conduct, harmless to others, should echo a harmonious living environment to society.

Such an individual's living is without fear of punishment after death or of fear based notions. Such disciplined conduct is not bound by fear of some other world or future life and manifests mainly on ethical behaviour and conduct with dignity.

An atheists conduct in public or social life cannot in any form or degree cause an infringement on any other person's pious, religious practices. A confirmed atheist may not visit his religious place and observe the routine religious practices, but that should not hurt others of the same religious faith and if such persons' ethical conduct and exemplary behaviour is harmless and is acceptable to others in society, a stern moralist need not worry to convince such person to visit the religious place for the sake of 'benefits' after death.

If a man eats or bites another human being, similar to the world famous boxer who bit the ear of his opponent, it could be on account of his cannibalistic characteristics and yet he could be a person frequenting his religious place but has not been able to discipline himself to act with restraint.

Human beings have all sorts of beliefs. The way in which they arrive at them varies from reasoned argument to blind faith. Some beliefs are based on personal experience, others on education, and others on indoctrination.

Many beliefs are no doubt innate: we are born with them as a result of evolutionary factors. Some beliefs we feel we can justify, others we hold because of gut feelings.

"The modern world is plagued by a greater diversity of beliefs than ever, many of them eccentric or even dangerous, and rational argument is regarded by a lot of ordinary people as pointless sophistry" - The Mind Of God by Paul Davies Ph.D.

Kasi Silva


Fitch on 'Suspension'

Fitch Ratings Lanka Ltd., Country Head Chanaka Wickramasuriya referring to the article that appeared on these pages last week under the heading "Lanka may face international credit suspension" has said that at no time did he say Sri Lanka's sovereign credit lines were at stake, vulnerable, or likely to be suspended on account of the recent Supreme Court (SC) decision on the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation hedging contracts.

'In fact what I did mention was the recent SC rulings are not construed as a sovereign default by Fitch,' he has said. 

Editor's Note: Our reporter stands by his story. No where in his article is the word "sovereign" mentioned. But it also said: "...Wickramasuriya however contended that even if the SC ultimately cancelled CPC's hedge payment contracts, it would not be construed as a payment default as that would be the result of an action of an independent entity, namely the courts."

Let us have statesmen

The talk of the day is the intention of the government to hold provincial council elections before April 2009, taking advantage of the successes gained in the war front.

Whatever it may be, we as voters would plead with the President and political leaders to nominate honest men with proven ability weeding out those undesirables charged for murder, bribery, corruption, thuggery etc., so that we as voters will be served by a set of politicians who are not self-seekers.

To this end, the judiciary should expedite all cases before courts against politicians on alleged corruption and the police should also expedite investigations and file action without delay, as in the case of Mervyn Silva and the recent crimes in Anuradhapura where a doctor's residence and dispensary were torched.

Most importantly, the media has a responsibility to guide the voters by exposing those nominated. The ultimate goal is to have a peaceful and prosperous country devoid of corruption and the voters to live without fear.

If the President acts to ensure we voters are to be served with men of high integrity, it will enhance his position as a great leader, fulfilling his promises in the Mahinda Chinthanaya.


Sandy Senaratne

Sandy Senaratne finally gave in to the disease which afflicted her after facing it bravely and in a manner which amazed all those who knew her and her husband, Athula.

Sandy adapted herself in Sri Lanka with ease and even began enjoying her stay in her adopted country. Athula and Sandy endeared themselves to all those who had the good fortune in crossing their path. Sandy was very popular at her place of work, with the neighbours, and all of Athula's friends.

She became a naturalised citizen of Sri Lanka and was a concerned and caring mother to Dehara. Sandy even went to the extent of bringing her ageing parents from the UK to Sri Lanka so that Athula and she could take care of them.

It was actions such as this that stood out and made all appreciate her concern for other human beings and more particularly that of caring for ones parents in their advanced years. Sandy never trumpeted the good that she did by way of uplifting the needy and afflicted. An avid supporter of Sri Lanka cricket, Sandy was able to keep abreast of her love for Premier League Soccer in UK too due to the advent of cable TV.

Athula and Dehara did not spare anything in taking care of Sandy during her illness. May Sandy find eternal peace in the Lord's garden.


Austin and Rose de Silva Wijeyeratne

Austin and his family were originally from Grandpass and moved to  Horton Place, Colombo  7 in 1905 with his mother and other family members. He was educated at St. Joseph's College, Colombo.

 He  married Rose, the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. M.R. Fernando of Hatton and Moratuwa in 1916.  After a few years  they purchased Shamrock in Horton Place, Colombo 7 and took up residence in the year 1927.  They had a family of 10 children. The eldest, Shereen, expired as a baby. 

The others were Sherard, Cleta, Rienzi, Dalton, Manel and Therese (twins), Hermione, Linden and Shanti. The sons were educated at St. Joseph's College, Colombo  and the daughters at St. Bridget's Convent.  They owned hundreds of acres of land and Austin was known to be  an authority on copra.

During the time of the Second World War, Austin  surveyed  the entire island's stock of copra. Long after retirement, he was recalled to serve the Oils and Fats Corporation as copra surveyor as his honesty and integrity were unquestionable.

Austin also built several middle class houses in the Borella area which were later named after him as "Wijeyeratne Town."  This area is still known by that name, and he also owned several houses opposite All Saints' Church. They kept company with the highest and lowest in society and contributed generously to various charities. 

They contributed towards the construction of All Saints' Church in its initial stages during the time of Rev. Fr. Jayamanne and Rev. Fr. Guegen and gifted most of the statues which  we see in this beautiful church. 

Austin and Rose helped many members of their extended family and theirs was an open house to all their friends and kith and kin, rich and poor who were entertained lavishly. This tradition of helping others and entertaining friends and relations has been continued by their children.

Their children, their grandchildren and their great grand children are well placed in society and some of them are now resident abroad. 

Their children and grandchildren are today reaping the fruits of their labours. It must be mentioned that the new electronic pipe organ at All Saints' Church which was played at this service of thanksgiving and remembrance has been donated by a grandson.

The family still continues to help and support the church and live good Christian lives.  May the Lord grant Austin, Rose and the departed members of the family eternal rest.

Anton and Shanti Fernando


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