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Sri Lanka: The only country that bombs its own citizens

This amazing admission was found in the letter written by Lasantha Wickrematunge, the late editor of The Sunday Leader a few days before he was killed. He had also said in the letter "When I am finally killed, it will be the government that kills me."

The evil war forced upon the Hindu Tamil minority is now coming to an end after over 25 years. The burning question in the minds of every Tamil is what is going to happen to them after the war that has been carried out by the Sinhala Buddhist majority who claim in their constitution that the island is a Sinhala Buddhist Nation, with complete disregard to the Tamils, Muslims and other minorities.

The late President Wijetunga said quite openly, "No Tamil will ever be the president or the prime minister of Sri Lanka." The present Army Commander with a Portuguese name says that "minorities can live in this country with us, but they must not try to — under the pretext of being a minority — demand undue things." What does he exactly mean by "undue things?" In other words he says that they cannot be equal.

A Mahanayake Thero had also stated a few years ago that Sinhala Buddhists cannot be equal to others — but superior in that they should have exclusive privileges. This shows the extent of Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism that has entered the head of the Sinhala nation. They are so blind that they cannot see the truth. That is why they cannot see the writing on the wall.

Provincial councils have been instituted but they are not implementing the law properly. There is no guarantee that another government using its two-thirds majority power would dismantle everything and once again oppress the Tamils.

Lasantha Wickrematunge has stated quite categorically that a military defeat of the LTTE will not solve the ethnic problem and that there has to be a political settlement to make the Tamils feel equal and not inferior. But the willingness to do so does not seem to be there.

Lasantha’s final article says, "The LTTE is a ruthless and blood thirsty organisation; but to fight them violating the rights of Tamil citizens, bombing and shooting them mercilessly is not only wrong but shames the Sinhalese, whose claim to be the custodians of the dhamma is forever called into question, by this savagery, much of which is unknown to the public because of censorship.

"What is more, a military occupation of the country’s northeast will require the Tamil people of these regions to live eternally as second-class citizens. Do not imagine that you can placate them by showing ‘development’ and ‘re-construction’ to them in the post-war era. The wounds of war will scar them forever; you will also have an even more bitter and hateful diaspora to contend with. If I am angry and frustrated, it is only because most of my countrymen and everyone in the government cannot see the writing on the wall."

In fact Lasantha implies in his article that the situation has gone beyond the point of no return. The Tamils have all through history been a separate nation and it is only the British that made this country a unitary state for convenience of administration, as they did in other parts of the empire.

At the time of Independence, the Tamils should have asked for a separate state, and since their land did not sustain them and the government did not develop it, they had to depend entirely on the Sinhala south.

Provisions were made in the constitution for protection of the minorities, but soon after Independence, the Sinhala leadership used their two-thirds majority to change the constitution. They abolished English and Tamil and made Sinhala the official language. The main reason for this was to undermine the Tamils who were a better-educated community, because the Tamils were forced to take to education in a big way for survival, as the land could not sustain them. It is this jealousy and chronic inferiority complex that is the main cause of our ethnic problem.

Such strong feelings cannot be dispelled easily and it will probably take more than a generation for amity to return. Under the circumstances the Tamils are depending on the UN and the Co-Chairs to step in together with the international community and use pressure on the Sri Lankan government to agree to separate on amicable terms like the incompatible married couple.

International pressure has succeeded in South Africa, East Timor and other places and the hopes and aspirations of the Tamils of Sri Lanka now depend on this. This is the only way the Tamils could be freed from the clutches of a people who have hitherto shown a paucity of conscience and a serious lack of wisdom.

A.J.N. Selvadurai

United Kingdom


When Justices of the Peace shatter peace

Justices of the peace take their oaths before a magistrate and thereupon they are called to defend peace, harmony, justice and the truth, under whatever circumstances. Often some of them are seen to break what they have sworn to uphold thereby dishonouring the oath. No doubt, this is the result of unsuitable persons being appointed to hold this hallowed position two instances of which are cited below.

From the instances cited it would be seen some of them seem to have enlisted themselves as JPs purely to boost their ego and not for selfless and objective service to the public.

Testimonials and documents necessary to prove a person’s suitability to be sworn in as a JP could be obtained from religious dignitaries, businessmen and politicians etc., without much hassle, some of whom recommend them for personal reasons. Once the oaths are taken these gentlemen seem to lose their sense of balance and objectivity.

The honourary post of J.P., entails, inter-alia, many facets such as to act on occasion, to be arbitrators, reconcilers in conflict situations etc. All in all, they are peace makers who should uphold the truth. In the United Kingdom, a J.P. may even be commissioned to perform minor judicial and allied functions.

Despite all this, some openly contravene the oath taken before a high judicial officer. It is surprising that they are seldom accused and reported to the authorities for appropriate disciplinary action, as they well deserve.

A J.P in a Colombo suburb who got drunk and hung on to the tail of stray cattle was dragged along the road by the animal. He had however, not offended the personal sensitivity of any person or caused hurt to anyone, but had only damaged his reputation and the high ideals he was supposed to uphold.

In contrast to him, another justice of the peace was alleged to have not only brought shame upon himself, but also disregarded the sensitivity of worshipers at a church in Mission Road, Kotte, recently. He had inflamed their conscience by shouting uncouth words at the priest who was officiating at the sacred service. The worshipers, including the innocent Sunday school children had been alarmed.

Such things could be expected only from people who are out of balance or are not of a sound mind. In that instance, he had appeared as having the same mindset as that of the former, who swung about on the tail of the stray bull. Both gentlemen had displayed similarities to each other by their deeds bringing dishonour to the decorous positions they were holding.

Behaving in an unsuitable manner before the clergy or in any place of worship, be they Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or Christian — only proves their disrespect for religion. By such behaviour their image, character and their motives become questionable.

The pressing question in the minds of the public, who hear such things on and off and who witness such in places of worship is, what criteria or yardstick is applied to judge the suitability of those vying for the post of Justice of the Peace.

Aren’t they subjected to a strict criteria and short-listed for a final interview to select only those with objectivity and proven, sound mental equilibrium needed for a Justice of the Peace?

Pro Bono Publico


Eastern Education Ministry a home for the aged

The Eastern Provincial Council is re-employing public servants on contract with scant regard for Public Administration Circular No: 56/89 and Public Service Commission Circular No: 1/2008. Such appointments abound especially in the Education Administrative Service and the Principals’ Service.

These appointments are not only contrary to government circulars, but also deny avenues of employment to eligible young officers and are an infringement of fundamental rights of officers eligible to receive promotions or appointments in terms of the provisions in the Establishment Code which governs appointments and all other establishment matters in government service.

Although officers of the All Island Services directly come under the purview of the Public Service Commission, the Eastern Province Governor is misdirected by the top administrators in the region consequently making all these appointments invalid since they have been given by the Provincial Public Service Commission without the concurrence of the National Public Service Commission. In fact these are appointments that have been rejected by the National Public Service Commission.

All top administrators in the province such as the Chief Secretary, and the Secretary to the Governor are persons who have been re-employed on a contract basis.

The Secretary to the Provincial Public Service Commission conducted an interview for the appointment of Assistant Directors and Deputy Directors of Education, without knowing the limit of his powers and granted appointments to them.

Consequently the Regional Education Ministry has come to be known as the ‘home for the aged.’

The Secretary to the National Public Service Commission by circular number 1/2008 has not only stated that these are invalid appointments, but has also informed the Auditor General to take action with regard to the payment of salaries to the ineligible appointees.

Will the Secretary to the National Public Service Commission take remedial action and inform the Eastern Province Governor to cancel these invalid appointments giving a chance to young eligible officers to get at least acting appointments?

Frustrated Eligible Officer


The Thyroxine quest

The obscure Sri Lankan Thyroxine has today become notorious. Priced at less than a rupee per tablet, it has been prescribed and ingested with quiet compliance. It has abruptly been rejected for its impotency and shunned by both therapists and patients.

The therapeutic quest is for Thyroxine by Cox from England. There was a time when Cox Thyroxine stagnated without appeal on pharmacy shelves avoided by patients on account of its cost.

Today cost does not matter. What matters is therapeutic efficacy. Here is a classic example of the national quality failure of a generic drug. The advocates of the cheap generic are mute.

Cox Thyroxine is imported in limited quantities and rationed to patients in selected pharmacies. The supply cannot meet the big demand.

The faith of patients in Cox Thyroxine is unshakable, for it is a faith motivated by therapy.

Merwyn Burrows

Moratuwa


Pseudo patriots!

At a recent gathering in London I found myself within earshot of a clique who are known to fancy themselves as special Sinhala patriots. Their chatter would have made one who did not know, think that it was they and not the Sri Lankan armed forces who had defeated the LTTE in places like Killinochchi.

The facts however are different. Most of them had lived here since the 1960s, and to my knowledge some had taken UK citizenship. In this country it is not mandatory for a person from abroad to do so.

They spoke in Sinhala, English and even Singlish. Much of what they said was typical of ethnic cleansers except for one of them who had visions of cleansing even his own race. I heard someone say that the population of Sri Lanka should be made up only of Sinhala Buddhists! I will bet my bottom dollar that should that, God forbid, happen he and his chums will not return to their country of origin.

K.D. Gamage

United Kingdom

 Appreciation

Dr. Daya S. Wanigaratne

Dr. Daya S. Wanigaratne passed away suddenly at the age of 67 years, in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England.

Born and bred in Galle, Southern Sri Lanka, he pursued his primary education at Richmond College followed by his secondary education at St. Aloysius’ College from where he entered the Medical Faculty of the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya, passing out as a doctor in 1965.

While at the university Daya portrayed his talents at the literary and drama societies following in the footsteps of his late father Dayananda, an erudite scholar with volumes of anthologies and prose to his credit.

Prior to his departure to England in 1975, Daya served in Tangalle, Galle and other areas, specialising in the epidemiology of tropical diseases.

During his stay in England spanning over three decades, Daya specialised in psychiatry serving as an associate specialist in England before joining the civil service in 1985 and serving Her Majesty’s Prison Service in 1985 as a medical director.

Daya was a quintessential doctor, soft spoken, mild mannered, and thoughtful, always maintaining his standards of professionalism incorporated in his work ethics and ethos with infectious enthusiasm.

While reminiscing our upbringing during our adolescent days, I would say, our meetings with Daya were full of his pearls of wisdom in all aspects of life, where seemingly infinite rays of energy poured down from his youthful persona enlightening all of us.

On behalf of the grieving Wanigaratne families, I pay obeisance to Daya by quoting Pundit Nehru "A light has gone out of our lives."

Days is survived by his wife Indranie and two daughters Srinie and Dilinie.

May he attain everlasting peace.

Gunasiri S. Wanigaratne


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