Letters to the Editor

29th October 2000

Sihala Urumaya

The rift within

"Eight resign from Sihala Urumaya", screamed the morning headlines. The dispute - the inability to choose the party representative to sit in Parliament. Unfortunate to say the least, from the point of view of the Sinhalese who were expecting so much from the party. After all, weren't our rights being painfully trodden on by minorities? So unlike the normal, decent, broadminded compromising individual, who is the average Sinhalese. Of course it was all S.L's fault for being a man of principles. Be him forever. He and his ilk must be dispensed with quickly and thoroughly lest they sow the hated seed of co-existence. 

It does not surprise me that the Sihala Urumaya performed below par at the elections. The downright racist attitude of some senior party members and activists, and slogans that included phrases like 'rabid, racist minorities' may, just may, have had something to do with it. But then, what of the cornered Sinhalaya who needed just these very people to represent his interests in Parliament? Where is his vote? Surely there must be over one hundred thousand of them? Like they said before, we need to rid the country of this minority rabble, so why is nobody heeding the call? Subsequent events at party HQ will, I believe, shed light.

Why is it, that the only party claiming to be exclusively Sinhalese has internal squabbling? The fact that the name Sihala - as opposed to Sinhala is of historic value and not racially motivated is mere pedantry. The common man sees and thinks Sinhala. It is safe therefore, to assume given the stand the party took in the run up to elections, that no survival minded Muslim or Tamil would have joined their ranks. 

This leaves us with Sinhalese opening the curtain, playing the lead and shifting props. The rift at the top therefore, could not be racial. It must then, be personal. If the unity of the 'Sihalaya' is what the party has endorsed so far, what would it matter if S.L. Gunasekera or Champika Ranawaka went to Parliament as long as he spoke with one voice with the mandate of the party, on behalf of the majority race. Their interest i.e.- the interest of the Sinhalese people, is, or should have been the only concern. 

For Stephen Fleming last Sunday, it would not have mattered whether Chris Cairns hit the winning runs, or Adam Parore or even poor old Geoff Allott, as long as the runs got hit. Imagine the plight of NZ, and cricket in general, if Parore and Cairns had a mid-pitch bat-waving, pad-kicking, helmet-shaking argument in the final over as to who would hit the runs. 

Apply the analogy. Cricket is politics. NZ is the Sihala Urumaya. Cairns and Parore are the jokers at the top and the NZ public and supporters, dying of embarrassment, are us. The Sinhala people who have no voice in Parliament except for maybe, nine tenths of the UNP and the PA, plus ninety five percent of the JVP. 

Does it not strike the unbiased observer as rather ironic that the communities with the least numerical representation seem to be holding sway in Parliament. The SLMC and the Tamil parties (TELO, EPDP, ACTC etc.) like the Sihala Urumaya unequivocally represent an ethnic group. Why is it then that only the exclusively Sinhala party is having problems getting to, leave alone sitting in, Parliament. It all points to the race it represents. After all our leaders are only a reflection of the people they lead.

The violence in Kandy, the rigging elsewhere in the country, the intimidation and thuggery, all well documented by the indefatigable CMEV and PAFFREL, were mainly perpetrated by Sinhalese. Why? The efforts of these aforementioned organisations in hindsight, seem a waste. Nobody seems to give a rodent's behind for the democratic process (least of all the EU observers, but that's another story). The fact remains though, that the Sinhalese are the worst orchestrators of this unholy symphony of violence, nepotism and apathy. Throughout all this though we mustn't forget that the minorities are the ones that are 'rabid and racist'. If we grant them this for argument's sake, it doesn't explain why they don't fight each other and shoot their own cause in the foot.

I am a Sinhalese. However in the light of the SU debacle, I find it hard to say I'm proud to be one. The sooner we realise our incompetence as a race the better for all concerned. Jesus Christ said (there's that man again! He's not Sinhalese) that you must remove the log in your own eye before you attempt removing the rod in your neighbour's eye. Let's sort out our own race first before we use numerical superiority to dictate to others. 

Even as Thomas Paine's perennial pal Edmund Burke said, "All governments indeed every prudent act is founded on compromise."

Maybe then we will be able to be proud of being a Sinhalese, and at the same time, not hate the man who's proud to be Tamil or proud to be Muslim. Maybe a few years down the line, we may all even be proud to call ourselves Sri Lankans.

Shanaka Amarasinghe

The general and the deserters

By the prevailing laws of this country it is an offence to harbour, employ or assist an army deserter to leave the country, and warrants a jail sentence. 

Being an ex-soldier who still loves the country and the forces, it was so disgusting to hear of the behaviour of the so called ex-Deputy Minister, the way he exploited army deserters for his personal vendettas during the elections, without handing them to the relevant authorities. 

If the facts are correct what action will the President who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the forces and the Minister of Defence take against her former deputy?

There cannot be two yardsticks - one for the common man and another for the Deputy Minister. He cannot be a law unto himself. 

I am sure the present deserters and those in custody must be wondering where they stand. It must also be really demoralising for the officers and the rest of the servicemen who believe in discipline and law. As we know the deserters are the main force of the underworld which is turning out to be a plague. 

So if a Deputy Minister in uniform can stoop to low, degrading actions, I wonder where the government and the country is heading.

Jaylath Fonseka

Don't allow hand phone masts in schools

When a very powerful British mobile phone company wanted to erect a mast next to a primary school in the UK, the parents protested that it could damage their children's health and the local district council refused permission.

The phone company appealed and a public inquiry was held. At the inquiry a report by an independent expert group on mobile phones chaired by Sir William Stewart was tabled. 

This report stated among other things that "the particular vulnerable situation of children who absorb more energy from external electromagnetic fields than adults is confirmed.... the gaps in knowledge are sufficient to justify a precautionary approach.... beams of the greatest radio frequency should not fall on any part of the school grounds without the agreement of the school and the parents".

Dr. G.J. Hyland of Warwick University in his evidence at the hearing stated, "It should be noted that the apparent absence to date of life threatening adverse effects of exposure to GSM base station radiation is no guarantee of immunity against long term chronic exposure. Exposure to this kind of radiation is still in its early days in comparison to the very long latency period of the kind of carcinomas that could be pro moted in certain people."

He concluded that "erection of the mast cannot be responsibly permitted since it could well compromise the safety of certain individuals, particularly the children living in the area or attending the nearby primary school".

In view of the above opinions school authorities in Sri Lanka should not permit the erection of hand phone masts in school premises as it is a danger to schoolchildren.

P. Jayasiri,

Captain Calcium gets a toothbreaker

I am sorry that Ms. Amber Withanagai of Hemas Marketing is once again saying the same thing said in her other letters, which I scientifically pointed out that she is making a false claim. 

I agreed with her on the demineralization and remineralization theories. But, does she have any proof backed by scientific studies done, such as using radioactive isotope tagged calcium, incorporated into the toothpaste so that one can show using a Geiger counter that calcium has entered the teeth?

All she mentions in her letter quite casually is that free calcium ions in toothpaste further help to drive the 'equilibrium'! towards remineralization.

Just big words!

For the benefit of the public let me give a clear picture of what happens to your teeth due to the presence of bacteria inside the mouth. As Ms. Withanagai points out the bacteria produce acids that can cause demineralization of teeth i.e. calcium and phosphorous from teeth dissolve out leading to dental caries. To overcome the acidity, the alkaline saliva helps a lot. 

Also the alkaline pH of any brand of toothpaste contributes towards the neutralisation of this acidity. All this is correct. But the fact is remineralization occurs spontaneously whether there is extra calcium in the toothpaste or not as there is enough calcium in the blood for this purpose.

Besides you do not have scientific proof that your Captain Calcium gets into the teeth. So why do we need any calcium added to the toothpaste? In other words the toothpaste with added calcium serves no purpose and it does not make it a better toothpaste.

In medical practice we always say prevention is better than cure. Also in any disease the best treatment is removing the cause. So, to prevent dental caries one of the most important things to do is to prevent teeth from harbouring bacteria.

To do this you must- 

(1) Brush your teeth regularly using any brand of toothpaste, preferably twice a day. 

(2) Use dental floss to remove plaque.

(3) Visit a dentist to have your teeth cleaned if necessary. 

If you don't give this type of care to your teeth you will no doubt end up with dental caries in spite of any amount of extra calcium you may take.

Finally, I appeal to the advertisers of this toothpaste; Please don't assume that the public is so gullible enough to swallow your toothpaste. 

Dr. Ajith Fernando
Colombo 5

Protect the consumer

Few maybe knowing that the Ministry of Trade has a unit to deal with any misdeeds done to a consumer by an entrepreneur. Is it equipped to take action against all those who advertise their products with bogus benefits? A few cases in point:

As pointed out by Dr. T. Ajith Fernando in The Sunday Times of Sept. 17, 'Captain Calcium' does not have any anti-bacterial properties even though the advertisement claims it does.

A leading cellular phone company announces "incoming one minute free" and " all incoming during off peak only 2/- rupees". The advertisement does not say that this facility is only for Rs. 1000/- cards!! 

Incoming for other cards are Rs. 600/- 30 seconds and Rs. 450/- 15 seconds respectively. Off-peak incoming rates are higher for the lower denomination cards. Why doesn't the company announce these too in its advertisement? 

It is misleading the general public. The same company once announced that there is no monthly charge for card phones. Then it imposed a validity period and withdrew the Rs. 350/- cards and made the minimum amount Rs. 450. This is hoodwinking the people. By withdrawing the Rs. 350/- card the company made sure that it would be not less than Rs. 450/- per 45 days!

Over to the consumer protection unit!



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