Mere words will not get votes Mr. President
Our President seems to have taken for
granted that the Sri Lankan voters are
buffalos, cows, goats, and asses. I can
remember during my school days when we
wanted to bring the calf back to the garden
what we did was to take a bundle of grass,
show it to the calf and dropped a little of
it on the ground to entice the calf. When it
came close we repeated the process until the
calf came into the garden and then closed
Similarly President Mahinda Rajapakse does
the same trick. He keeps shouting at the top
of his voice from inside a bullet proof
cubicle "Do you want me to save Kilinochchi?
Do you want one undivided country? Then vote
for the government."
He is hoodwinking the masses. For the
President, Kilinochchi was 4 km. away during
the last provincial council elections, and
for the PM "it could be seen by the forces,"
and for the Army Commander "every inch of
the area was surrounded by the forces."
Now when the chief of the defectors left the
camp after holding on for two years, the
President has thought of another ploy to
deceive the masses to win the other two
provincial elections. It is the ordinary
man's sons and daughters that sacrifice
their lives for the motherland while his son
who is attached to the navy is on a
'scholarship' about which people know very
little. People are under the impression that
the young son of the President is undergoing
training in 'warfare' in the north to save
Is there anything for the President to boast
of the 'services' he has rendered to the
country? He and his jumbo cabinet have
ruined the country. The President has
utilised EPF funds without cabinet approval
to fund an airline which for all intents and
purposes is bankrupt. He wants to pump some
more funds into it to be managed by his
His projects such as Mihin Lanka, Weerawila
Airport, the southern harbour, the oil
refinery and finally the CPC hedging have
all crash landed.
The chief of the 17 defectors has left the
party knowing that in another two or three
months the people would be on the streets
demanding the dismantling of the 'Company.'
I will not be surprised if the other 16 come
crawling back to Ranil's feet.
The electronic media recently showed a group
of expectant mothers from a remote village
hanging on to a van to get to the maternity
clinic - the reason, there were no proper
roads and vehicles for them to get to the
clinic. But in Colombo the top heavy cabinet
of ministers enjoy luxury vehicles, and
whenever they travel the common man is made
to stand in the hot sun or rain and grin and
bear. What a shame Mr. President! Come the
next election, mere words will not do.
The polythene menace
MANY assurances have been given by the
government that the ruinous influence of the
non-biodegradable polythene is under
control. There was a big lull on the issue
for some time following the Supreme Court
order, and now polythene bags are in free
Uncontrolled use of polythene would result
in our handing over to the next generation,
the interminably and harmfully blocked
obnoxious drainage systems and lands made
infertile by toxic waste. This would be a
crime against society.
with such a limited land space has to forego
even the little available land due to bad
planning by local authorities and other
agencies in charge of the environment.
It is unfortunate that solutions like
recycling polythene to make plastic items
such as buckets, basins, soap dishes etc.
and soluble macadam surfacing for our roads
have not been thought of by the authorities
concerned. Even recycling waste paper to
meet Sri Lanka's need for paper would save
our trees and forests from destruction which
would otherwise reflect badly on our
The Weligama Municipal Council gave the lead
in this respect over three years ago by
organising the planned collection of garbage
and recycling same to produce compost,
thereby solving their problem of garbage
disposal and converting worthless and
harmful rubbish into good cash!
Why cannot the other local authorities too
follow the example set by the Weligama
Municipal Council and resolve their garbage
problem and also earn money by undertaking
ventures of this nature'?
W. Meadows, Dehiwela
Trishaws and their fares
.IT was amusing to read that trishaw drivers
have turned down the request for a fare
reduction by the Transport Minister on the
pretext that "the small reduction in fuel
prices" has not brought any relief to them.
This is really farcical.
When the prices of petrol and diesel were
raised by a small amount, the three wheeler
operators jacked up their fares for short
trips from Rs. 40 to Rs. 50. The fares of
longer trips were jacked up by almost Rs.
50. But when the price of petrol and diesel
were reduced by Rs. 15 and Rs. 30
respectively they should have reduced the
fares relating to shorter trips by at least
Rs.5 which they didn't.
If the three wheeler operators are to be
tamed, the government should seriously
consider the installation of taxi meters.
Legislation for this purpose should be
framed to make it compulsory for all trishaw
drivers to install taxi meters. Then it
would be an offence for them to operate a
trishaw without a taxi meter - an offence
under the Motor Traffic Law.
The taxi meters should be certified and
sealed by the Motor Traffic Department and
random checks should also be made by Traffic
Police to ensure that the meters are not
The trishaw drivers would not have any cause
for complaint as almost 95% of three
wheelers are owned by mudalalis who lease
their vehicles to drivers who in return have
to pay Rs. 250 to the mudalali at the end of
the day. It is therefore the three wheeler
mudalali who will have to pay for the
installation of the taxi meter.
Most of the three wheeler drivers drive
their vehicles with utter callousness,
breaking every traffic rule, abusing other
law abiding road users, and they also drive
at high speeds over-taking all other
vehicles resulting in accidents, death and
despair to passengers.
The traffic police should teach them the
traffic laws, check whether they possess a
licence to drive a three wheeler and whether
they are under the influence of liquor etc.
It is only if these measures are taken that
the three wheeler operators could be tamed
and the trishaw service made a disciplined
It also has to be mentioned that there are
also honest and decent drivers among the
three wheeler fraternity and unfortunately
their numbers are few. Over to you for
action Minister of Transport Mr.
The wisdom of King Solomon of Israel
King Solomon who was the greatest ruler of
Israel was the son of David, a shepherd in
Palestine around 1000 B.C. David was good at
the harp and he played it to overcome his
loneliness. King Saul of Israel became aware
of David's beautiful singing and ordered him
to come to his court to entertain him. David
was so charming that Saul made him his sword
bearer in battle.
When the Hebrews were fighting the
neighbouring Philistines the enemy dared
them to send a warrior to fight single
handed a giant soldier named Goliath. David
came forth carrying only a sling with which
he hurled a rock that struck Goliath on the
forehead killing him instantaneously.
David became so popular that Saul grew
jealous and tried to have him murdered.
David became aware of the plot and fled to
the wilderness where he lived as an outlaw.
When King Saul died David was crowned king.
He ruled for four decades and made his
kingdom wealthy, prosperous and secure from
David in his youth fell in love with a wife
of one of his army officials - a beauty
named Bathsheba. David wondered as to how to
win over Bathsheba. He had a plan and
ordered Bathsheba's husband Uriah to lead
his men to battle for he knew that Uriah
would be killed. After Uriah's death David
married Bathsheba. That made Bathsheba
David's wife and Solomon's Mother.
Solomon became king shortly before the death
of his father around 950 BC. Under his rule
Israel became very wealthy and a powerful
nation. Ships from all parts of the
civilised world traded at its ports. Jewish
merchants and ship owners prospered and
Jerusalem, the capital became a Cultural
King Solomon owned many ships, farms, mines
and workshops and was one of the wealthiest
men in the world. Shortly after he became
king, Solomon had a very strange dream. He
dreamed that the voice of God sounded in his
ears requesting him to make a choice of a
gift that would be given to him.
The youthful king who by now felt how
difficult it was to govern a whole nation
asked for only one thing - wisdom. Soon the
whole kingdom was overjoyed and very pleased
over the decision of the king. They
applauded his wisdom and praised his
The reputation that Solomon had marvelous
wisdom and was cunning came about in the
following manner. In one famous case brought
before him to judge of two women each
claimed to be the mother of an infant. The
king was told that the two women lived in
one house and that during the night one of
the women in her sleep had crushed her baby
to death and on discovery of the baby's
death hastily took the dead baby to the
other mother's bed, and returned with the
other's infant. The true mother declared the
story to be true. The false mother
vehemently denied it. Who could decide which
was the rightful mother?
As Solomon could not decide which one was
telling the truth he proposed that the
child's body be cut into two and that each
mother could have a half. The woman who was
lying showed no grief and agreed; but the
real mother burst into tears saying that the
baby be given to the false mother in order
to save its life. Solomon then judged who
the real mother was.
The popularity of Solomon spread among the
people and he applied himself with diligence
and grasped the wise proverbs of the
ancients. He soon became renowned for his
sayings and his wise judgments.
Solomon built a great temple in Jerusalem
and in close proximity to this he put up a
magnificent palace. He adorned it with gold,
silver, ivory, bronze and marble. The beauty
and grandeur of Solomon's temple drew other
rulers to see the temple. Among the visitors
to Jerusalem was the Queen of Sheba who
ruled over a kingdom south of Israel and who
was supposed to be one of the most beautiful
women of the time.
Solomon was shrewd and later in life
developed the characteristics of a tyrant.
His reverence to God faded and his lavish
expenditure was a heavy burden on his
subjects. When he died the kingdom of Israel
split into two. The northern section
retained the name of Israel while the
southern part was called the kingdom of
Professor R.N. de Fonseka
University of Colombo
The delays at Osu-Sala
I visit the Osu-Sala at Dharmapala Mawatha
very often to purchase medicine for my wife
and me. Generally I have to spend more than
an hour every time I visit the place.
I think the time wasted is mostly for
writing the bills by the pharmacists. This
delay may be avoided if the system is
computerised. In supermarkets customers are
served without delay because everything is
Another cause for the delay is calling
numbers of customers to collect their
medicine. Most of the people do not hear
their names being called. This too could be
avoided by installing a simple electronic
Osu-Sala has to be kept much tidier than
what it is now. Repairs to the ceiling that
are in progress have been dragging on for
more than three weeks.
I strongly feel Osu-Sala can serve the
people better if it has a loyal and devoted
some time during 1997 the distinguished and
controversial author, Carl Muller, told me
that he wished to introduce me to an
extraordinary man. He took me to a shop in
Trincomalee Street, Kandy and there, in a
tiny, cluttered office at the back of the
shop sat Saheed.
I have never been aware that he had any
other names. For me this meeting had the
sort of significant effect on my life which
one rarely experiences. Saheed was a man
of much thinking but few words and when he
did speak you had better listen because his
words were so well worth listening to.
Through the years I considered him to be
immortal so, when he died on November 30, I
was totally shocked and deeply saddened.
During the past week my mind has been
trawling through the many delightful
meetings which I had with this articulate,
wise, and perceptive man; my recollections
would take pages of print so I will confine
my thoughts to a few observations.
His personal standards were impeccable, he
was slow to accuse and very quick to forgive
- he was without malice. I once asked him
what he considered to be the most admirable
trait and his response was immediate -
humility. I don't know why I was surprised
because his humility was demonstrable.
Saheed was intellectually sharp and well
read, from the Greek classics, through
comparative religion (he was more educated
in Christianity than I) to current affairs
and politics. During any conversation he
would dive into his 'archive' and pull out a
yellowed document, a faded letter, or an old
photograph of some long dead eminent person
to reinforce some point or opinion which he
This might suggest that Saheed was too
academic and unapproachable. But it was not
so. He was a 'people person' who cared
very much for his fellow men, particularly
those who were less fortunate in life than
he. His sense of humour was slightly
mischievous but never at another's
expense; it was understated and delivered
with a twinkle in his eyes. Some of his
anecdotes even had him laughing out loud.
Saheed's Islam was intensely private to him
and extremely important. He resented
anyone who used it as a power base and felt
that those who constantly paraded the
religion to enhance their egos, was
irritating and rather foolish. He was
convinced that the main ethic of Islam, as
demonstrated by The Prophet, is tolerance.
Physically he was wiry and lean, but a
strong man whose ears fascinated me. They
always seemed disproportionately large to
the rest of his body. Perhaps they were a
compensation for his myopia! The latter was
responsible for a compliment which he paid
to me, he entrusted me with writing
occasional mails for him (under his strict
Saheed had a voracious appetite for both
knowledge and food and this was
appropriately apparent during our last
meeting. He wished to discuss an important
letter which he wished me to draft and we
did so at the Kandy Club. I was somewhat
in a hurry. So, when we had finished talking
about the details of what he wished me to
write, I asked him whether he would like a
soft drink. "No thank you," he replied, "I
would rather have lunch!"
I abandoned my thoughts of leaving
quickly, ordered rice and curry which he
devoured with a relish - something that had
to be seen to be believed. "My turn next
time" he said. God bless you, Saheed.
There won't be a next time but it was an
absolute pleasure and a memory which I will
M.P. Saheed was a man of the highest quality
and integrity whom I loved and respected.
He was a gentleman, there can be no stronger