Doctorates for the President and his brother
heartening to know that the University of Colombo has
decided to confer honorary doctorates on the President
and Defence Secretary "for safeguarding the country's
sovereignty and territorial integrity, restoring peace
and harmony among communities and upholding Sri Lanka's
image among the international community."
is the first time terrorism has been wiped off from a
country by the leader of a country. It is a creditable
countries in the world know that there is a conflict in
this beautiful island which was due to the
discrimination of the minorities. When the minority
Tamils resorted to an arms struggle after all their
peaceful protests were ignored, it was labelled as
terrorism. In the process of fighting terrorism in the
last few months more than 300,000 Tamils were chased
away from their homes and herded into a no-fire zone.
Food, medicine and water were denied to these people.
to these people by aid agencies and reporters were also
denied in the name of fighting terrorism. Knowing very
well that women, children and elders were trapped in
this densely populated areas security forces were
shelling, and the air force was bombing allegedly
indiscriminately killing 30,000 and maiming more than
50,000 including women and children.
warnings, the polite requests and ultimately the
pleadings by the Tamils, and requests made by world
bodies such as UNO including India, a friendly
neighbouring country, were brushed off in the name of
wiping out terrorism.
terrified people were herded into barbed wire fenced
camps devoid of facilities and kept without any chance
of communicating with the outside world. The Tamils
still do not know whether their loved ones who lived in
the Wanni are alive or not.
is now known world over because it stands accused of
human rights violations. Sri Lanka may pride itself that
it has beaten the resolution brought against it at UNHRC
with the help of its friendly countries. However, for a
country which boasts of an ancient civilisation and
professes to follow a religion which abhors killing it
is a shame that such a resolution was brought against it
government has still not found a lasting solution to the
conflict or for that matter the IDPs who are languishing
in the camps. But the University of Colombo which
teaches humanities and civilisation has thought it fit
to confer honorary doctorates on the brothers.
universities in the world confer such titles on leaders
who have demonstrated compassion and statesmanship when
dealing with problems of this nature. Nelson Mandela is
one such respected leader. However in Sri Lanka the
leader intimidated all those who spoke against the war
and shown his narrow-mindedness by not offering a
solution to this conflict
President may have safeguarded the territorial integrity
of the country because he has captured the Wanni sans
the people; but one cannot see how he has brought peace
and harmony among communities as claimed by him and his
supporters. It is the Sinhalese at the echelons of
power, who are happy that the Tamils were driven from
their homes and live in the camps at the mercy of
security forces, and celebrate their 'victory' day and
night. Sri Lanka's image is tarnished forever as it
stands accused of killing more than 30,000 Tamils
including women and children
disgusting that an institution like the University of
Colombo has decided to confer doctorates on the twosome
as if they have won a war against an enemy country. The
day of awarding the doctorates would be the darkest day
in the annals of the University of Colombo.
A Tamil IDP
Emperor’s clothes for the President
Certain cunning persons are trying to confer the
President with various worthless Degrees and titles, and
some are even trying to make him a king. Perhaps it is
to get favours for their business empires and gain undue
advantage. Our President is wise enough not to be led up
the garden path.
Sri Lanka is a very small country and the Sinhalese
are in the majority only in Sri Lanka. In all other
countries where our children have gone for studies and
employment, the Sinhalese are the smallest community.
Already our children are being harassed and some even
beaten up and injured. Demonstrations are being held
denouncing Sri Lanka. The governments of those countries
are also hostile to us over the LTTE issue.
The government TV channels are showing war scenes and
also clips of the opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe
distributing leaflets in the streets and holding
demonstrations followed by clips of Ravi Karunanayake
speaking in parliament espousing the "Alimankada-Pamankada"
comment, having suspended the normal programmes.
This has gone on for months and we are sick and tired
of watching these scenes. These are now stale and
unnecessary for they do not serve the national cause of
rebuilding the badly battered economy. These worthless
things must stop.
Coming to the point of the Emperor’s clothes — we
have heard during our young days the story The
Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson —
in which an emperor is tricked by a cunning weaver who
supposedly dressed the king in a very thin flimsy robe.
The Emperor in his vanity parades the streets to show
his subjects his new clothes.
A small boy who was among the crowd seeing this,
shouts "The Emperor is naked." It is only then that
everyone in the crowd and the king realises the truth.
The Degrees being conferred upon the President cannot
cover his nakedness for they are worthless.
We the Sinhalese are a minority in all other
countries and the Tamils who are all over the world are
a bigger community. Therefore we should treat our Tamil
brothers and sisters with respect and give them their
rights as enjoyed by the Sinhalese. This attitude will
soften their attitude towards our people in the foreign
countries. Now that the terrorists have been defeated we
should not hereafter think that all Tamils are
The government must focus on rebuilding the economy
of Sri Lanka and bring down the cost of living.
Those acts will have long lasting benefits and peace
will prevail in Sri Lanka.
Let us live and let live. Sri Lanka is not a monarchy
but a democracy.
Is this to harass minority groups?
It was heartening to read the President’s recent
speech avowing that all citizens irrespective of ethnic
background will be treated as equals. This was further
confirmed by the remarks of the retiring Chief Justice.
Now we are told all citizens should register themselves
on www.citizens.lk by the Ministry of Defence who
sanctimoniously say it is for the security of ourselves
and our property.
The forms are to be directed to the police of the
area where the person concerned resides. The form has a
column for ‘ethnic group.’ Why is this necessary? A
question like this from the Department of Census and
Statistics is acceptable. But how does it concern the
Doesn’t this sound like a ploy to find out where the
minority groups reside and carry out ‘checks’ on them
because all of them can be suspected to be LTTE
supporters? Something is definitely rotten in the state
The gurus who designed the form also have a column
for number of residents — either permanent or temporary!
You presumably cannot have both in a home. When, if
ever, can we all proudly call ourselves Sri Lankans?
Ombudsman for financial institutions
Ever since the Golden Key, Sakvithi and Okanda
financial scams, with monotonous regularity, various
irregularities of other finance companies who have
defrauded and duped depositors by insidious ways have
been reported in the print and electronic media.
Despite the constant vigilance and monitoring of the
Monetary Board and the Department of Supervision of Non
Banking Financial Institutions of the Central Bank,
certain dubious finance and leasing companies continue
to fleece and defraud unsuspecting depositors of their
millions if not billions of rupees, and complaints of
depositors against finance companies have been
Most of these complaints relate to:
A. Non payment of interest and capital on maturity
B. Arbitrary and unilateral variation of the agreed
rate of interest reducing the rate of interest
C. Non payment of interest on debentures and
failing to honour the debentures
D. Financial losses due to the share value falling
to a deplorable level due to mismanagement.
The deplorable and parlous state to which financial
companies have fallen into in many cases can be
a. Gross/blatant mismanagement
b. Unethical business practices
c. Investing in unprofitable/questionable projects
d. Lavish remuneration packages for directors and
senior executives and extraordinary fringe benefits.
While depriving the depositors of their legitimate
dues, some of the finance companies are pursuing their
crooked business activities in dubious ways.
It is timely to appoint an Ombudsman for financial
institutions similar to the Insurance Ombudsman. Such an
appointment will provide quick relief to the many
depositors who have been duped/defrauded. He should also
be empowered to carry out regular off-site and on-site
inspections to appraise the financial performance, the
risks that the financial institutions are exposed to and
evaluate the effectiveness of the system and controls,
while also ascertaining whether the institutions are
properly managed, and report on any irregularities. This
is an immediate requirement.
Police - its about time you did your duty
For whatever reason one has to sadly agree that our
police, especially the traffic police cut a sorry figure
by their lackadaisical attitude towards their duties.
While the members of the three forces have shown us
and the world how to combat evil, the police
particularly those in urban areas are either sleeping or
have been having it good.
It was almost a year ago that the ban on vehicles
emitting excessive smoke was introduced. Subsequently,
the ban on sound pollution came into effect. What action
have these so called ‘guardians of the law’ taken?
Private buses and vans flout these laws right under
their noses and yet they are incapable or incompetent to
take action. It was only the other day that a reader’s
letter appealing to the AG was published in your
The police chief should be ashamed and should
relinquish his job if he is incapable of giving effect
to these basic laws of the country. If he is incapable
of solving simple matters like these, how on earth does
he expect to solve bigger issued placed before him?
R. de Silva
It’s time to introduce visas for SL
For far too long, Sri Lankans have been subject to
unfair treatment at the hands of embassies demanding
visas to enter their country. Some European countries
like the UK blatantly rob people of their money on the
pretext of visa application fees or else they sit on the
application for months and reject them or issue them
when no longer necessary.
I am sure most Sri Lankans who travel will agree that
it’s time Sri Lanka too began a process of issuing visas
on a reciprocal basis. Of course consideration should be
given to areas that can be affected by such a move — as
the tourism industry, and that precisely is why I say
that a process should be put in place in order that the
same inconvenience as imposed on Sri Lankans by the
likes of the UK High Commission, is not caused to
genuine visitors and tourists to the country by our
Introducing visas will also enable the government to
use the fees collected towards the maintenance of our
I hope the government and the tourism industry give
this suggestion serious consideration.
first met Anura Cooray on a very cold and dreary day in
the winter of 1952 at the Royal Air Force Camp in
Locking, Somerset, in the UK. Though it was a dreary
day, the warmth of the meeting of several of us,
Ceylonese, at that time training with the RAF on a three
year Aircraft Engineering Apprenticeship, was an
exhilarating one. I had been in the UK a few months
before Anura arrived, and meeting up with new faces from
home was something we all looked forward to with great
were trainees from the UK, Ceylon, Pakistan, Rhodesia,
Burma, New Zealand and friendships built up then have
lasted to this day, over 50 years later.
friendly guy, Anura was always an instant hit with
everyone in camp, especially because of his prowess in
boxing. Whenever there was a boxing competition against
another camp, and when Anura got into the ring to fight
his opponent, the roar that rose from the crowd was
deafening. He usually walked out of the ring having
easily knocked out his adversary in the first one or two
return to Ceylon, we were stationed at Royal Ceylon Air
Force Camp, Katunayake where we served with the air
force for a few years. It was during that time that
Anura met and fell in love with Manel. Very soon they
were married and I had the honour of being his bestman
at their wedding.
1960 we had both left the air force. Still very young
and in our mid 20s, we had chosen the paths to our
future careers. I joined Lever Brothers and Anura had
decided to go abroad. Manel was the 'force' behind the
man. She convinced Anura that their future lay abroad
and they must sail the seas to England, the country that
Anura was already familiar with. By then they had been
blessed with the birth of their first child - a daughter
whom they named Kumari.
decision was made and they left the shores of Ceylon in
1961 for greener pastures in London, England. After
overcoming the initial obstacles of finding suitable
employment and accommodation, they settled down in
Paddington, London. Between them they had decided that
Anura would resume his studies whilst doing a job, and
Manel would start and run a shop of their own.
began a tremendous struggle to bring up a growing family
whilst at the same time achieving the targets they had
set for themselves. 'Karmalika Stores' came into being
at the corner of the street where they lived and Manel
behind the counter, ran a successful operation - whilst
Anura got down to academics, doing a job during the
night and studying during the day. He took in his stride
the O/Levels, A/Levels and then the Law exams.
called to the Bar (Lincoln's Inn) in 1968 and practised
at the Bar in London. By July 1978 he was appointed
Acting Stipendiary Magistrate. In August 1982 he was
appointed fulltime Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate,
the very first non-white to be appointed to that
position. He was approved to sit as Assistant Recorder
in November, 1985 and by February 1989, he was promoted
Crown Court Judge - His Honour, Justice Anura Cooray.
meteoric rise, a tremendous achievement and yet for all
intents and purposes, Anura remained the same simple man
to all those who knew him. During one of our visits, it
was Manel who very proudly produced a photograph of the
family when they were invited to have tea with the Queen
soon after Anura was appointed 'Judge Cooray.'
retired from Circuit Bench in October 1997 on grounds of
ill health. He passed away on April 30 in a hospital in
London after a brief illness. He leaves behind his
loving wife Manel and his children Kumari, Vincent, Sita,
Samantha and Marlon. Our love and sympathies go to them.