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Letters

   

Are there two sets of laws?

A list of persons who had invested money at the now failed Golden Key Credit Card Company of Deshamanya Lalith Kotelawala was published in The Sunday Leader of March 8 and 15.  The list included the names of quite a lot of people including religious dignitaries.

But surprisingly, we did not find the name of a single politician of this country in the two lists.  Does it go to say that the politicians of our country are honourable gentlemen and are not 'swindlers.'

I do not say that The Sunday Leader has done anything wrong by publishing the names of those who have invested money with the Golden Key Credit Card Company for a high rate of interest.  But my complaint is that The Sunday Leader has been partial in leaving out the names of politicians when publishing this list.

Some newspapers have reported that the Tax Department is getting ready to rope in the people who have invested such huge amounts of money with Golden Key.  Perhaps these people will be penalised by the Tax Department for having made false declarations and defaulted the paying of tax on these monies.

We all know the politicians amass wealth by crooked means.  They will perhaps be very angry to see this letter in print.  But that is how it is.  The case of a former deputy defence minister who had Rs.44 million worth of certificates of deposit in his bank vault and a minister in the present government who had over Rs.250 million and was unable to explain as to how he came by this money are cases in point.

The court order to return the deposit certificates back to the former deputy defence minister was not because he was found innocent of the offence, but because the CID had not filed an indictment against him even after a very long time.  May be the delay in filing indictment by the CID was stage-managed by the powers that be, and we can imagine what will happen to the case against the present minister from the Kalutara District.

We are reliably informed that some big depositors in the Golden Key Credit Card company were paid back just before the collapse.  Their names do not appear in the lists published.

This is the state of affairs in this country, where people in high places talk big and pretend to be above reproach, but are corrupt to the core.

We are also told that the list published by The Sunday Leader was the list provided to court at the request of court.  From this we can see how reliable the information provided to court is.

There seems to be one set of laws for the common man and another set of laws for the high and the mighty.  The people of this country need to take note of these things when casting their vote at any future election, whether provincial council elections, general elections, presidential elections, or even a referendum.

The government is selling the war and its victories over the LTTE to win elections.  Many letters have appeared in the press that voters should refrain from voting for murderers, rapists and other corrupt persons at elections.

The people would do well to remember the corrupt practices of politicians when casting their votes at the forthcoming Western Provincial Council election and all other future elections.

Irrespective of party politics all politicians who invested money in the failed Golden Key Credit Card Company must be made public immediately.

The minister from the Kalutara District against whom action is currently being pursued to get him to explain how be came by Rs.250 million, was only a minor employee before becoming a minister.  While I do not want to cast aspersions on any person, I leave it to the public to decide for themselves whether a normal person could have earned such money by legal means in these tough times.


Little 'stars' seeing stars

This matter is directed primarily to the Minister of Cultural Affairs and secondly to parents of all those little children who are contestants in a 'Star' show.  Apart from teenagers and adults between the ages of 16 and 25 who take part in the singing and dancing acts, a section for children aged eight years downwards and 12 years downwards takes pride of place.

The moot point here is the mental stress placed on these children in their formative years.  A child enters school education at the age of five years having gone through Montessori or play school training with the accent on mounding these little minds.  Certainly they learn to sing, dance recite poetry and engage in handwork which brings out their talents and capabilities.

With the advent of TV the actualities of communicating with the public has taken a seriously wrong turn!  In order to gain public acclaim and increase their advertising income some TV stations have gone the whole hog, not giving consideration to the physical and mental stress little children undergo in competing in these 'star' shows.  As a parent I wish to address the following anomalies to parents and the relevant authorities:

         It is usual for a large number to apply as contestants - as much as 30 or 40 thousand.  So from day one these contestants undergo auditions for months on end, until the 'round robin' system reaches the final group of 12 or 15 contestants (who would have to appear at say two auditions weekly.

         From here onwards contestants, whether dancing or singing will appear on stage each week where one will be eliminated until the three semi finalists are selected.

         The three semi-finalists will battle it out again until a winner emerges for that season.

It is not so stressful for teenagers basically, as today many of them dote on modern clothes, modern songs and modern dances.  But here, I am referring to little children who still have not faced the realities of life, being exposed to nights without sleep, day after day of practices and being transported around stages all over the country.

Any sane person, including a psychiatrist will testify to the damage caused to the lives of these little ones.  Of course, it is of great pride to see the talent of these kids being publicised - but is it worth the damage being done? 

I say this as the trend now is to follow the seniors with chat shows and stage shows in various parts of the country and parading these kids while the advertisers and the mobile phone service providers make their money.

Today many parents are hell bent on getting their children a good education and spend much money and time on 'tuition' in various subjects.  These parents spend hours each day hanging around tuition classes or schools displaying a 'protectionist' attitude.

 In like manner cannot the parents of child stars see the utter destruction to which the minds of their children are being exposed  to -hideous face make-up, hot lights and spending hours memorising and practising a song or dance for every weekend they appear on stage? 

It takes a lot of mental energy to remember every line and beat of every song or every move as a dancer.  The final result is that these kids undergo immense mental stress which in later years, will be a telling factor on their studies and behaviour.

Recently another 'dance' fad has hit the scene.  The irony of it all is that all the male contestants do just one style of dance in hip-hop or Jackson style, while the females imitate 'Bollywood' style dancing with nothing to show in variety.  To add to the woes, the judges, all except one, are actors in TV dramas and do not have an iota of knowledge of traditional dancing. 

If many have not noticed, I ask you to note the following - while the male contestants are attired in suitable outfits, the female contestants may well qualify for nudity!  This is certainly not in keeping with Asian culture.

  I call on the minister and all parents to step in and not let children be made 'scapegoats' for the greed of TV stations.  When smoking and drinking scenes in movies and dramas shown on TV are blacked out as per regulations made by the relevant authorities, why not have better standards with regard to 'culture' in TV productions?


The Golden Key 'swindlers'

Congratulations on your expos‚ of details pertaining to the Golden Key scandal˙including the complete list of depositors which you had published notwithstanding the protests of some depositors that their names be excluded, some even for religious reasons.

Some of us were grieved that you had referred to this list as a 'Swindlers List.' Some of these depositors are not rich persons by any stretch of the imagination but are very ordinary people who had invested small sums and who depended on the earnings of their deposits for their rice, coconuts and daily 'bread.' Of course there are, without doubt, swindlers among them.

Be that as it may, several good people have lost the earning capacity of their meagre savings and have been driven to the streets, so to say. Action on several fronts, including the courts, is now being taken to see that depositors are paid back. It has been extensively reported that the creation of a 'trust' in which all assets of GK will be vested and which will pay the depositors in the most equitable manner is˙under consideration by the courts.

However I was surprised to read on several occasions that GK lawyers had stated in court that some depositors had been paid their˙deposits ranging from a few thousand rupees to one or two million. As this matter is under the purview of the courts, in my opinion, such payments would amount to contempt of court and is a very serious matter.

This matter has not been clearly reported in the papers and it would be most appropriate if you would find out the facts in this regard and in your true investigative style publish the names and the amounts refunded to depositors, if such refunds had been made.

I am aware that many people will be most grateful if you will take action in this regard.


Appreciation

F. Felix Delip de Silva 

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Sultan of Oman made a generous donation of US $ 104,312 (equivalent of SLR125 million) to Help Age, Sri Lanka to meet the cost of cataract surgeries of the destitute elders in Sri Lanka.

He made the donation specifically to perpetuate the memory of the late Felix de Silva, former Inspector General of Police and Customs for his significant contribution to the Royal Oman Police, and the Sultanate of Oman.  This donation manifestly demonstrates the high esteem in which Felix de Silva was held and to the admirable gratitude of his Majesty.

Many Sri Lankans may not be aware of the outstanding contribution made by this illustrious son of Sri Lanka and his versatile personality.  Having served under him in the Royal Oman Police for nearly a decade, I feel obliged to set out his contribution, to the high esteem in which he was held by his Majesty, the Royal Oman Police and the people of Oman.

 Felix Delip de Silva did Sri Lanka proud in the Sultanate of Oman when he was appointed as the Inspector General of Police and Customs and later as Advisor to His Majesty on Police Affairs.  He was bestowed the highest and prestigious awards of the state for his contribution to the Royal Oman Police.  He guided the destinies of the Royal Oman Police for over two and half decades, and was highly respected and admired by its people.

A multi-faceted personality, an indomitable police officer, an administrator of the highest calibre, philanthropist, sportsman, and above all a human being with rare qualities, it is not easy to cover all the salient aspects of his personality, remarkable personal qualities, and outstanding achievements.  Further to evaluate the significant contribution he made in the transformation of a rather medieval police force to be a highly modernised and efficient force, and the best in the region is no easy task.

The education he received at St. Aloysius' College under the Jesuit Priests had a great impact on him.  Discipline and devotion to duty which were synonymous with the Jesuits, later became his guiding principles and in no small measure contributed to his remarkable success.  Felix was proud of his alma mater and he loved his school dearly.

On leaving school he took to planting.  Adventurous and daring by nature, the life of a planter did not appeal to him much.  He joined the Tanganyika Police Force in search of a more exciting and challenging career and soon excelled in his duties displaying a remarkable aptitude for police duties.  He was rewarded with accelerated promotions. In the '60s he joined the Oman police force which was in its fledgling state.  Distinguishing himself with rare dynamism, dedication and efficiency much to the envy of other serving British officers, he was elevated in rank in quick succession.

In the early '70s he assumed duties as the Inspector General of Police and Customs.  At this time Oman was witnessing an unprecedented growth and development under his Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said.  To meet the ever increasing demands of the time, he systematically planned for the expansion and simultaneous modernisation of the police force.

Felix de Silva successfully organised the various branches of the force providing for specialisation in their respective fields of activity setting up a Marine and Mounted Division and an Air Wing, to effectively serve the needs of the fast growing modern society. 

When he relinquished duties in early 1983, the Royal Oman Police in the international police world was recognised as an efficient, sophisticated, highly equipped force with the most up-to-date techniques, systems and procedures and an abundance of expertise.  It was the best in the Gulf States.  In fact, other members of the Gulf Corporation Council regularly sought the assistance of the Oman Police to train its personnel.

For his significant and remarkable contribution to the Royal Oman Police and National Security, he was decorated and bestowed the most envious and prestigious awards by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said and he was conferred a 'distinguished citizenship.'

On his retirement he was appointed Advisor to His Majesty on Police Affairs and was required to undertake some sensitive diplomatic assignments as His Majesty had implicit faith in Felix.

A devout Buddhist, he practiced his religion unobstrusively, observing the four Sathara Brahma - loving kindness, compassion, altruistic joy and equanimity to the maximum.  Humanism and generosity knew no bounds.  He gave generously to the temples, churches and other places of religious worship in his birthplace Galle, and his poor relations and friends in need.

Felix de Silva passed away in the USA on October 23, 2001, and his ashes were interred at the Radella Cemetery in Galle.  He was 74 years at the time of his death.  Sri Lanka lost a great man and Oman a friend who loved the Sultanate and its people. 

He was a rare personality and epitomised the legendary person who would walk with alacrity and equal harmony with beggars and kings.  His Majesty has persistently reiterated the gratitude of his people for the outstanding contribution made by Felix de Silva and naturally his magnanimous and generous donation to Help Age, Sri Lanka.

Rex Fernando


 

 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 


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