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Letters

   

The failure of our foreign policy

The hostile reaction of the international community to
the triumph of the Sri Lankan military over the LTTE terrorists is food for thought to all serious thinking persons on the manner our foreign policy affairs are conducted by this government. When the outside world should be encouraging and supporting us on the hard fought war over a murderous terrorist group why are they so hostile to the government?

Why are they not persuaded by the integrity of the government’s war efforts? Why does the world at large support a small terrorist group over the claims of a large state with over 20 million people?

I think a good part of the blame must go to the amateurish, unprofessional manner in which the present regime is approaching this vital issue.

To begin with, we have as our minister in charge a person who seems to be hell bent on enjoying every benefit and perk that comes his way. When his profile is submitted to foreign governments by their embassies here they would surely know the kind of person they are dealing with. An empty windbag is not a good diplomat. We need personalities the world will respect. It is a national tragedy that we do not have persons of the calibre of late Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar who was a credit to the country.

Then we have so many political appointees as ambassadors who are not only non English speaking but are also clueless about diplomacy. There is no point in saying that ambassadors of some other countries do not speak English.

Our need now is to tell the world the truth about the situation in this small, insignificant island. If we can tell our long story to an impatient world in Sinhala, it’s well and good. But can we?

The same goes for getting aid and assistance. It seems the only countries that listen to our pleadings for help in the vernacular language are Libya, Myanmar, Iran, Nepal and perhaps North Korea.

Besides their language difficulties many of the recent diplomatic appointees have dubious backgrounds. They are mostly failed businessmen, shameless sycophants, unprincipled operatives who will do anything for their political masters, relatives of VIPs cashing in on the good fortune of their politician kinsmen, or simple bureaucrats desiring to obtain a better education for their children abroad. Who really works for the country?

Is it any wonder that this kind of corrupt, Alice-in-Wonderland approach to foreign policy has resulted in Sri Lanka having no friends in the world at our hour of need ?

Jayantha De Silva
(Ex public servant)


Portrait of a confidence trickster

Lalith Kotelawala sports the face of a cherub with an angelic look of some female from heaven that may sprout wings and vanish into the clouds above. May be the ambrosia they feed on, that his wife dear Sicille too has those angelic cherubic features, but is absconding somewhere abroad.

Lalith is in jail for his role in the Golden Key scam, but he has not lost his furtive ways, for he uses the money of investors he pauperised to bribe his way through all obstacles in his pathway. Some medical doctor, who has forgotten the Hippocratic Oath which binds him, has issued a medical certificate declaring that the man is sick, though not physically, probably mentally.

That enabled the man to escape from the cage and comfortably relax in the Merchants’ Ward of the Colombo National Hospital, reminiscing on the mighty array of friends he has built up both in the government and private sector, at the expense of thousands of gullible investors.

Jail birds cannot carry money, but he however seems to have plenty of it and everyone in the prison respectfully addresses him as "Sir." The money he uses is the hard-earned money, mostly of retirees of both the state and private sectors, of small time businessmen, workers and the peasantry, who proudly sported what was believed to be an unassailable document guaranteeing the return of the money together with interest in the specified time.

It appears it was not learning but money that bought both Cherubs, Doctorates which serve as an invaluable sesame to open the doors of all money-safes. The government has bestowed the male Cherub with the title Deshamanya and his Cherubic wife has got the title Lady. The destitute investors now look to the government for redress.

The public anxiously await a government Gazette to be informed that he has been stripped of his ‘Deshamanya’ title, for Sri Lanka cannot honour crooks. Still his medical certificate has not been questioned. Is it that Sri Lanka does not have a single doctor who will stand up and challenge the fictitious medical certificate, or is it that the GMOA will expel the honest truthful doctor who will question the certificate?

If so is Sri Lanka a country of dishonest rogues in the upper echelons of society, where medical doctors are dishonest with an equally corrupt Corporate World of CEOs who attract investors by offering high interest rates on their deposits, only to deprive them of both their investment and interest and pauperise the poor investor?

This begs the question — What did the Central Bank do while this daylight robbery was taking place? Did the Finance Ministry and the Monetary Board know about it? Or were those officials too ‘silenced’?

The military action to destroy the LTTE will soon be over and the terrorist leader would have his just desserts. Then the President would be free to cleanse the country of corrupt people like the Kotelawalas. The President as the Minister of Finance and Head of the Security Forces has a duty by the country, to see that the swindling scamps and knaves are incarcerated.

Gehan Ranatunge
Wattala


CB using force

The real story behind the perception of the many failed registered and unregistered companies in the financial sector of the Ceylinco Group is that force is being used to deny the depositors their monies at maturity.

Draconian rules have been set by those Central Bank agents who unlawfully hold back and deny the depositors of their hard-earned money on the maturity of these deposits.

It is high time that matured deposits are restored to their rightful owners, on request. Discretion is a world unknown to the insensitive agents who try to lord it over the depositors that appeal to them to restore their rightful dues at the maturity of their deposits.

Five months have passed. How long are the depositors expected to wait to gain access to their own money? You cannot fool the people all the time, for the shameful reality is that people are suffering both mentally and financially because the Central Bank has its own way. Shame! Shame! Shame!

Disgusted Depositor
Colombo


F&G depositors need help

Some people seem to be rejoicing over the fate that has befallen the Golden Key depositors. During the time of President Kumaratunga the interest on savings that was 16% per annum was reduced to 8% per annum and the present government made it a mere 4% per annum. So if someone deposited Rs.250,000 he would get Rs. 1500 per month, just enough to buy a cylinder of gas. The interest on FDs was 14% for three month deposits.

This is what prompted me to invest with Golden Key, for a mere 17.5 % and not 30% as stated in news reports. Why didn’t a particular newspaper publish the names of the numerous small depositors? How could anyone say this was greed and black money?

Most of the monies, say less than Rs.500,000 was money deposited by Middle East returnees, who have been out there for 15-20 years. Most of the deposits that are less than Rs.1 million are mostly Provident Fund contributions, accumulated through the years for which PAYE tax has already been paid.

My small deposits with GK yielded me just enough for various blood tests every other month and for life long medication. If I got hospitalised it was a tidy Rs.50,000 just for two days. You can imagine my plight without that money. So this is the story of the interest I received from GK. It is not through greed that I invested with GK but to keep my head above water.

Many people who have nothing to do with GK seem to the very interested in other people’s monies, and keep writing negatively to the newspapers not knowing the full facts. Haven’t they better things to do?

Priani Samarasinghe
Boralesgamuwa


Church money in private accounts

I fully endorse the views expressed by    Ananda M.N. Perera whose letter entitled ‘Father forgive them...’ appeared in the May 3 issue of The Sunday Leader. If the Revd. Bishop does not answer the three questions, the Catholic Church should furnish a reply, as this is a matter concerning the money collected from poor parishoners, and not ‘tithe’ money, mentioned in the Bible, collected from rich landowners.

What has to be clarified is whether money collected from church tills and from parishoners’ Family Books, masses, burials etc. could be held in a priest’s personal bank account to earn interest. The amount mentioned is a massive Rs. 40 mn. collected from a poor diocese and the monthly interest accrued will be over Rs. 700,000 per month. How was this money utilised? Was it all spent by the priests who are entitled to use money paid for masses etc?

It was also revealed that some Buddhist monks too had deposited millions in this corrupt credit card company and collected huge sums monthly as accrued interest. Can Buddhist monks handle money or operate bank accounts, when they are expected to renounce worldly life and live on alms?

Can they make personal use of what is donated to them which becomes saangeeka? One JHU monk proclaimed over the electronic media that "our government could manage without IMF or WB loans by selling gold Buddha statues."

When the Fatima secrets were revealed in 1917 to three village children, one secret was never revealed to the public. I think its time the present Pope reveals this third secret and reforms his curia.

Truth Seeker

Matale


Preserving Galle Fort

My attention has been drawn to a letter written by Mr. D.H. Gunadasa of Hikkaduwa, a valued reader of your publication, which has been published in The Sunday Leader of May 10, 2009.

Since the writer has requested the local UNESCO focal point to enlighten the readers as to whether any other country in the world has proposed and obtained nominations of sites constructed by invaders or foreign rulers or included remnants of actions that have caused immense pain or damage, to their countries, to be listed as World Heritage, a few examples from various continents of the world, are cited as follows;

Asia

India: The World Heritage Sites of Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, Humayans Tomb and Qutub Minar (comprising mosque buildings made out of materials belonging to 20 Brahman Temples) are creations of the Mughal Empires, who invaded Northern India, took over the rule from the Rajputs and held the reigns during the times of Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb.

Japan: The Hiroshima Peace Memorial was the only structure left standing in the area where the first atomic bomb exploded on August 6, 1945. Not only is it a stark reminder of the most destructive force ever created by humankind, it also expresses the hope for world peace and the ultimate elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Sri Lanka: The Old Town of Galle and its fortifications, founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese, is the best example of a fortified city, built by Europeans in South and South East Asia, showing the interactions between European architectural styles and South Asian traditions and is still a unique living fortress showcasing Chinese, Arabic, Portuguese, Dutch and British Architecture of the times and also, well inhabited by Sri Lankans today.

Africa

South Africa: Robben Island is of particular note as it is where the former South African President and Nobel Laureate Nelson Mandela, alongside many other political prisoners, spent decades imprisoned during the racist apartheid era.

Arab States

Morocco: The Portuguese City of Mazagan is an outstanding example of the influences between European and Moroccan cultures and one of the early settlements of Portuguese settlers in West Africa, on the route to India.

Europe

Poland: Auschwitz - Birkenean Complexes, established as extermination camps in the 1940s, reminds the world of the worst horrors of history, never to be repeated again.

France: The Roman Theater of Orange is the best preserved Roman Theater in the Western World, built under the Roman Emperor Augustus, in the 1st Century A.D.

Also, the Roman City of Arles and its Monuments in the South of France, who took the town from the Greeks in 535 B.C. The Town was formally established as a colony for veterans of the Roman Legion, which had its base there.

Having provided the requested information and whilst reiterating that heritage is our inheritance and is much a part of history, which must be preserved for the future generations to learn from history, I wish to leave it to the readers to judge the importance of history and heritage, and the need to preserve it.

No doubt, the game of cricket is also an inheritance from our colonial rulers, but we play it with much aplomb and enjoy watching it with great reverence.

Rohan Prithiviraj Perera

Secretary General,

Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO

National Institute of Education Complex

Maharagama

Sri Lanka


 Appreciation

Brigadier R. T. Tambiah

It brought us tremendous sorrow when news of the death of Brigadier R.T. Tambiah, VSV, a former Army Surgeon; Director, Army Medical Services and Commanding Officer of the Sri Lanka Army Medical Corps reached us on March 27, from Sydney, Australia.

During his service in the army he took a keen interest and dedication in maintaining his medical profession in addition to the military duties involved. I was very fortunate to have served under his command.

He was an honest and a loyal officer, who commanded respect not only in his corps, but also of the entire army.  His humane concern for patients made him a popular medical officer.  He was a strict disciplinarian, where regimental duties were concerned, but as a medical doctor he was very sympathetic towards his patients with human kindness.

He has been very helpful to those dedicated officers and other rankers, who worked under him and saw to their welfare, at all times.

He was a product of Jaffna Central College and took part in sports, mainly football and on joining the army he continued to play in the Inter Regimental Tournament conducted yearly.

After his retirement from the army he was offered a Senior Lecturer’s post in Anatomy at the North Colombo Medical College, Ragama, where he imparted his wide knowledge to the medical students with dedication.

Though he loved to live in Sri Lanka he reluctantly migrated to Australia in 1996 due to the compulsion of his immediate family members.

I was fortunate enough to have had served under him as chief clerk at the Military Hospital and I have no hesitation in declaring that he was a ‘Gentleman and an Officer’ with a sense of pride.

He was a past president of the Sri Lanka Army Medical Corps Association and took great interest in the affairs of the association.

May the turf lie softly on him and may God help him to enter paradise.   

C.M. Mayadeen, JP

Vice President,

Sri Lanka Army Medical Corps Association

Colombo


 

 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 


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