Letters to the Editor

8th April 2001

World media 'speechless' when it happened here

The actions of the Taleban regime have earned the justifiable condemnation of the world, including those of the international Islamic community. This is, as it should be. 

It is not well known though, that during the last two millennia Buddhist sites have been the victims of similar desecration, and that too in Buddhist countries, by various colonial powers and others with hegemonistic designs. Some of the Sri Lankan sites have survived the attention of marauders and also the ravages of time.

It is a matter of regret, nevertheless, that the world stood idly by, while Tibetan monasteries were destroyed by their so-called overlords (their neighbours in fact) and in Sri Lanka, from the 16th century onwards when statues and monuments were destroyed at regular intervals. 

In recent times, places of religious worship have not only been vandalised but also razed to the ground by invaders and guerrillas. The Sacred Bo-Tree in Anuradhapura and the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy-were both targets of guerrillas.

It must, however be mentioned in all fairness that there were many expressions of sympathy from various countries, such as USA, UK, Germany, Japan and many others. 

But, due to some reason or the other, their sentiments were at negative variance with their action, so much so that Buddhists were left with feelings of anguish, during that period. The more significant matter for concern was the inexplicable inertia, at that time, of the usually strident and vociferous international media. 

Perhaps their objectivity deserted them; their sympathy being with the perpetrators of these wanton acts, terrorists and others of their ilk. During the Taleban crisis, all major news networks, CNN, BBC and others were active and dynamic in their coverage. In retrospect though, their energetic activity is poor consolation to the Buddhists who suffered in silence in their time of need. The Taleban, therefore, to most of us Buddhists, to whom tolerance is a way of life, are only the latest in a succession of criminals.

B.J. Karunathilake

Colombo 2

Bandarawela: Let the pilgrims rest

Pilgrims from all over the country worship at the Bandarawela temple, which is conveniently located in the heart of the town. News that the temple land is to be converted into the premises of a commercial bank is, therefore, unnerving.

Bandarawela being at the crossroads, the temple is frequented by pilgrims from the Rajarata on their way to Kataragama or Mutiyanganaya and those from Ruhuna on their way to Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Kandy. 

This temple afforded the not so affluent, a transit spot in cooler climes. 

Many minor government employees are able to offer relatives who cannot afford guest houses, an opportunity to visit the temple and also have a holiday in the hills. Such visitors generate a substantial income for minor suppliers of food, provisions and firewood. 

It is because of this that the community got together some years back to expand the parking area by filling up the abandoned paddy field there. If the pilgrims' rest loses the parking area it is not only the pilgrims who will suffer but also the poorer sections of the town who will lose their livelihood.

Nobody denies that for the development of Bandarawela new commercial establishments should be set up. But is this the only bare land available for expansion of the town? 

Worried Pilgrim


Doctor No!

Doctors in Sri Lanka should understand that they are the servants of the general public. They must remember that a majority of them have gone through medical school at the expense of tax-payers. Therefore, they are bound to serve the sick. 

I recollect the nightmare experience a week ago when I took my sick child to a specialist professor. As my child fell ill suddenly, I rushed him to a private hospital in Colombo where I was told that there was only one doctor who could be consulted at that time. With much difficulty I managed to convince the nurse in charge to let me into the consultation room, as the child's condition was worsening. 

The others present outside the room allowed me to crash the queue as they too saw that my child was very ill. 

But I was in for an unpleasant experience as soon as I entered the room. The doctor asked me whether I had consulted him earlier. I said no and explained that the child had not been ill before.

Then he yelled at the child and asked me to look for another doctor, as he was not willing to see anybody other than his regular patients.

A heated exchange of words then followed between the doctor and myself as I desperately wanted my child treated. I was also compelled to make a complaint to the hospital authorities. 

Concerned Parent


Dambulla: Good but change the name

The Board of Control for Cricket is to be congratulated for completing the Dambulla stadium in 155 days.

The stadium will no doubt help make Sri Lanka a power-house in Asia and the centre of cricketing excellence in this part of the world. This stadium being located close to the cultural triangle will also boost tourism.

Former Sports Minister S.B. Dissanayake and current Minister Lakshman Kiriella could also share in the glory of this achievement as they gave their unstinted support to this project. 

As the name 'Rangiri Dambulla' is associated with the historic and hallowed temple, could BCCSL name this stadium, "Dambulla International Cricket Stadium"? By deleting 'Rangiri' the unique status of the famous and historic temple would be preserved. 

Now the question is from Dambulla stadium to where? Even before Minister Kiriella took on the sports portfolio, he promised a modern stadium for the Central Province at Pallekelle. This will accelerate the development of Pallekelle.

Ananda Pilimatalawe


CEB: Cost cutting begins at home

Power and Energy Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte has said that a 25% hike in electricity rates is inevitable due to the reliance on thermal power generation.

This increase could be avoided if staff in the CEB's regional offices and other sub-offices attend to their day-to-day work diligently without neglecting their duties. 

Most officers are either shopping, taking their children to school or attending to sub-contract work during office hours. Their work is done on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, for which they claim heavy overtime. Isn't this a waste of public money- money which could easily be set off against rising costs?

Keen Obeserver


'Deserving' hawkers

Minister Mangala Samaraweera deserves a bouquet for the excellent work done in clearing some of the structures put up by hawkers, which were blocking pavements and roads. 

But there seems to be a catch. Mr. Samaraweera says that "deserving" hawkers will be accommodated in parks to be built soon. Your guess is as good as mine who these "deserving" hawkers will be. 

P.A. supporters, of course!

Henry Lee


Look who is helping

I agree with H.M.P Wickremasinghe of Kengalle with regard to 'International swindling' (The Sunday Times, February 18).

The swindle is carried out by a group of Sri Lankans living abroad. How do they get our names and addresses? Is it through their friends or from the telephone directory?

Last year, my son received five letters that he is a millionaire and to send a few dollars as subscription to operate this racket. He received computerised letters from Nigeria, Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia and Amsterdam. I too got two letters that I had won bogus prizes from Canada and Australia this year. They enclose self-addressed envelopes, but none of the letters carry any date. 

This has been going on for some years. Even the local embassies are clueless. 

P. B.

Colombo 13

The Noble Doctrine will prevail

The curtain has fallen on the horrible episode of the destruction of ancient Buddha statues in Afghanistan, with the announcement by the Taleban rulers that they have already been blasted.

In the Buddhist world, such vandalism was met with indignation and disgust, but according to Lord Buddha, "All component things are subject to decay or destruction". History reveals many instances where anti-Buddhist elements have destroyed statues due to religious hostility or in treasure-hunting. However, the Afghan episode undoubtedly is a unique incident in contemporary civilised society. 

Those who destroy Buddhist statues or shrines should keep in mind that they destroy the images of the Compassionate One who even lamented over the misdeeds of his greatest enemy, the incorrigible 'Devadatta'. The Buddha lamented that 'Devadatta' would go through untold suffering because of his evil acts. The Buddha's wish that "all beings should be happy" applied even to his worst enemies.

Those who indulge in misdeeds should remember the explanation in 'Yamaka Wagga' of the noble 'Dhammapada'. 

It is that "the repercussions of one's evil acts will follow one in the same manner as the cart-wheel follows the bull". It must be remembered that statues may be destroyed but the "Noble Doctrine" of the Buddha will prevail.

H. Ariyadasa


Deadly mistakes

Mahinda Ratwatte's frightening experience at a private hospital (The Sunday Times of March 25) reminds us of a little recognized aspect of doctors' prescriptions.

Prescriptions are notorious for their bad handwriting. Certainly, no layperson will be able to decipher them.

Even pharmacists sometimes have to make hazardous guesses. A responsible few of them take the trouble to refer to the doctor concerned.

To strike a light note, may I recount the case of a lady who invited a doctor to a party. His RSVP was indecipherable. So the lady sought the help of her pharmacist to decipher it. 

The pharmacist took a look at the note, then excused himself and shortly thereafter appeared with a bottle of medicine and said, "That'll be Rs. 40.00, Madam"

Doctors need to write legibly in the interests of all concerned, most of all, the patient. 

Some doctors may think that there is a certain cachet attached to illegibility. At best, it is a dangerous form of cachet!

Mansoor Ghouse



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