Letters to the Editor

29th April 2001

How to stop ragging

The university authorities and the government have from time to time put forward proposals to combat ragging, without success. The university dons should think of some other solution without using law enforcement officers on the campuses. 

The freshers should be brought in a week before the university opens for other students. This would minimise ragging as freshers would have an opportunity to get accustomed to the environment and get to know each other. 

The dons should be careful when handling the ragging problem.

Austin Jayatilake


Climb up and shut them up

Herbert Hoover once wrote: 

"It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own." 

In the preface to his book 'John Huss', published before the World War II, Benito Mussolini says:

"As I prepare this little volume for printing, 

"I cherish the hope that it may arouse in the minds of its readers a hatred of every form of spiritual and secular tyranny." 

When Adolf Hitler was alive and at his zenith, his countrymen shouted in unison:

"We love our Fuhrer,

We honour our Fuhrer,

We follow our Fuhrer,

Until men we are;

"We believe in our Fuhrer,

We live for our Fuhrer,

We die for our Fuhrer,

Until heroes we are."

S. Sivagurunathan


Dudley was a true leader

April 13, marked the 28th death anniversary of Dudley Senanayake. With his death, Sri Lanka lost a great leader.

Dudley was the greatest apostle of non-violence. He also endeavored to seek the truth and practise it.

He attempted to transform an ancient civilization into a modern political society, which guaranteed freedom, equality and justice to all. 

Dudley visited Trincomalee when he was Minister of Agriculture and Lands in 1950. He was accorded a civic reception at the Trincomalee resthouse by then MP, Subramaniam Sivapalan. It was a visit by a leader that many people remember.

V. Gnanesampanthen


Let's remember the Bamiyan Buddhas

Sri Lanka should dedicate this Vesak to honour the artistic achievements of the once glorious Buddhist civilisation of Afghanistan. Though this great civilisation is no more and its stone artefacts have now been turned to rubble in one of the great cultural crimes of history, the Buddhist Afghans of the past should be honoured.

If we commemorate the achievements of the former Buddhist Afghanistan, we will be making a statement to the world as the citadel of Theravada Buddhism. It would indicate that we, as a leading Buddhist country, would resist non-violently, fanaticism, bigotry, hatred and the destruction of Buddhist icons.Over 1,500 years ago much of Asia was Buddhist. During the intervening centuries a number of Asian Buddhist countries fell under foreign rule and other religions gained dominance. Though foreign conquests, invasions and pacifism in the face of religious persecution, played a significant role in the decline of Buddhism in these countries, the overwhelming factor was the gullibility of the then weak Buddhist rulers and the withdrawal of state patronage to Buddhism.

Sri Lanka, which counts as its greatest achievement the preservation of the Buddhist Pali canon in its pristine form, has a solemn duty. We must reach out to Afghan Buddhists across both time and space, and give them one final salute. We are united with them by a shared past and a splendid Buddhist legacy. Their Buddhist heritage, which they have left to posterity, we have a duty to preserve if not in stone, in replicas, on paper and most importantly in our hearts and collective memory.

During Vesak, we can pay a fitting tribute to the glorious Buddhist civilisation of Afghanistan, in particular to the creators of the two magnificent Buddha statues in the Bamiyan Valley, in a culturally appropriate way. The traditional Vesak cards, pandals, newspaper supplements, lanterns and other decorations should carry, amongst other things, the images of the Bamiyan Buddha Statues destroyed by the Taleban. 

Mini replicas of the Bamiyan statues should be made of wood or any other substance, so that the public could buy them and voice its protest at the destruction of the statues.

The grandeur of the Buddhist civilisation of Afghanistan should be researched and published. This would make it difficult for people with different political agendas, to treat the pre-Islamic history of Afghanistan as obscure.

We must also call upon the rest of the Buddhist world to join hands with us. 

The destruction of the Buddha statues in Afghanistan should be turned into a rallying point for the re-vitalization of the Buddhist spirit during Vesak.

Senaka Weeraratna

Colombo 5

Carve them in Kurunegala

After the Taleban destroyed the Buddha statues in Afghanistan there was a proposal to re-build them in Sri Lanka. This is not feasible. Instead of building them, we should carve a smaller statue in the Kurunegala rock.

The government should join hands with India and complete this project as a symbol of peace for SAARC.

Funds for the project can be collected in Sri Lanka, India and other Buddhist countries.

Lionel J. Seneviratne

Mount Lavinia

Develop the Fort 

I visited the Fort Railway Station area after a number of years. I am surprised that such a large area in Fort is still underdeveloped and the buildings so dilapidated. 

Systematic development of Fort is a must. Foreign and local investors should be invited to join.

W.J.S. Fernando

Colombo 6

Bring on the experts

It is heartening that electric rail transport is being acknowledged at last as the solution to road congestion, pollution and other ills. 

However, it is not easy for Sri Lanka to transform this dream into reality under the current financial constraints it faces.

A realistic and practical way out would be to invite a friendly country, like Japan, with a proven track record in the field to help select a contractor for the project. It could be undertaken on a plan, build, operate and transfer basis, cost and profit to be recovered in the operating period.

Planning the railway grid and dedicated power supply system is an urgent need to control the ultimate cost of land and demolition such a project would entail. The time to start is now.

Transport is the life-blood of the economy and its obstruction would spell death.

Lincoln Wijeyesinghe


Open Sesame!

During the heyday of the UNP administration, when Lalith Athulathmudali was Minister of Trade and Defence, his office was in the Insurance Corporation building on Vauxhall Street. Then both accesses to Vauxahll Street were closed and checkpoints put up as security measures for him. 

The UNP has been out of power for seven years and Mr. Athulathmudali is no more. But for some unknown reason, the checkpoints remain, inconveniencing the large number of tea exporters and other business establishments in this area.

When murders, robberies and terrorist attacks are taking place by the hour in other parts of the country, there is no justification to waste police power in protecting institutions that do not require protection.

Why are these checkpoints still maintained at high costs?

F.N. Juraid

Colombo 2Marie Colvin 

Postal service: Disgusting

The Minister of Posts and Telecommunications has on many occasions spoken about improving the postal service. This is a laudable objective.

However, there appears to be lethargy and resistance to change among the bureaucrats of the Postal Department. These bureaucrats, even at the highest level, are members of various trade unions that are holding the department to ransom.

Pilferage and inefficiency, too, are a way of life in the department. 

On March 14, I was at a counter at the Punchi Borella post office at 8.45 a.m. There were about 25 people who wanted stamps.

When officials were told about the rush, I was asked to join the milling throng who were being served at the other registration counter. Then I went to an agency post office and was served in double quick time.

Pilferage is rampant too and affects poor people who receive monies from abroad and send drafts locally. 

I was the victim of two shocking examples of pilferage. A Ridee Rekha certificate enclosed in a Ridee Rekha envelope of the National Savings Bank was posted from Nugegoda to an address in Colombo 10. 

But it never reached that address. Two weeks later a similar certificate was purchased from NSB and posted to the same addressee, by me at 5.30 p.m. at the post box outside the central mailroom on D.R. Wijewardene Mawatha (near the former UDA office). This too has not been received. It is obvious what has happened to both these letters.

It's time someone did something about it.

Disgusted Citizen


SLT's Internet service is a disaster

Impressed by the assurances in the advertising literature put out by Sri Lanka Telecom, I chose their facility for an e-mail and Internet service (BLT@SLT.LK) in my private office at Kollupitiya a few months ago. 

I intended to switch from telex and fax to e-mail. The SLT service here, to use the most charitable description from the point of an SLT customer, is a disaster. It is not just the poor service in terms of tele-traffic failure. Efficient and objective customer-service also does not seem to be in their scheme of things.

We need access to the Internet, both for incoming and outgoing messages, from 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. But the lines here work generally till about 9.30 a.m. and then again only after about 8 p.m. The service for which we have paid is not available to us at a time when we need it most. I am not a lone sufferer. There appear to be many others.

Members of my staff have given up phoning the hopeful sounding "SLT Help Desk" because its phones 441270/331153 are rarely answered. On the few occasions they are answered, only after several dozen rings and loss of valuable time, SLT staff manage to maintain an air of courtesy and politeness but are not able to offer a solution. Finally I decided to take the matter to the Manager/Customer Services on January 17. Someone did think it was time to respond, but did so only on February 14. He offered polite apologies but could do no more. 

Then I wrote a registered letter to The Chairman, SLT himself on March 28. What I need more than a reply is to get the service to function.

Could it be that the SLT is trying to bite off more than it can chew in terms of the number of lines it has and its limited infrastructural capacity? I live in hope until the SLT gets its act together.

A. Kandappah

Colombo 3

Deal a blow to corruption

This is with reference to "Corruption corrupts absolutely" (The Sunday Times of April 15).

I had to retire prematurely from the Public Service, as I was unable to tolerate corruption and waste. In 1995 (after perusing the Bribery Act), I wrote to the Ministry of Justice proposing that genuine complainants against corruption be rewarded and protected. But my letter was not even acknowledged. 

Corruption and waste have existed over four decades. 

Therefore, the Commission investigating bribery should have the powers to inquire into any complaint relating to corruption and waste during the last four decades.

Those including politicians, found guilty should be jailed for life and treated as traitors. Their wealth too should be confiscated and genuine complainants rewarded. 

Professionals found guilty should be dealt with by their respective institutions. The media could help by giving due publicity to convictions.

Irwin de Silva



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