for a common approach
The ordinary people of every ethnic group are greatly confused and
disturbed by the recent happenings in Sri Lanka. A war-weary nation
sighed with relief when the peace negotiations began and there were
hopes that a lasting peace was in sight.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe took office, when asked about
his view of the future of the peace process he said, "I do
not ask to see the distant scene. One step is enough for me”.
And so with
infinite patience, the step-by-step negotiations began. Regrettably,
the response from the LTTE has not been the confidence-building
measures urged by both parties in the Memorandum of Understanding,
but rather, in recent months particularly, the reverse.
the Prime Minister's efforts have been dismayed over the fact that
the government seems willing to consider some proposals which could
eventually lead to a division of the country, politically and territorially.
Perhaps, even at this stage the Prime Minister should "ask
to see the distant scene ".
people of the country have not forgotten that it was President Chandrika
Kumaratunga who initiated the first serious peace talks some years
ago. However, in spite of the many valid points in the long statement
she has made in connection with the recent events, there is a general
feeling among the people, including some of her supporters, that
the move she made in the absence of the Prime Minister was contrary
to the spirit of the Constitution.
It is now imperative
for the wellbeing of the nation for a rapprochement between the
President and the Prime Minister, as soon as possible, to restore
the fabric of democracy and agree on a common approach to the peace
This is not
a time for personal rancour or party politics. All eyes are on the
two people who can bring unity and peace to the country.
a risk to students
An international school in Colombo has constructed a four-storey
building for the primary school on the bund of a canal.
is tilting towards the canal and may collapse at any moment.
This is because the management had allegedly made certain structural
changes after the plan was approved by the CMC. The lives of hundreds
of innocent children are at risk.
Appeals by parents
have fallen on deaf ears. Will the CMC step in and prohibit the
use of this building or will everyone wait till it collapses?
Stiff laws needed
to end suffering
I was deeply moved and saddened after reading 'Hurt no more' in
The Sunday Times of October 26. My sympathies are with the wives
who are beaten by their men. Their suffering should be alleviated
by the introduction of stiff legislation. In developed countries,
men dare not raise a hand against their wives as any complaint is
dealt with severely.
Sri Lanka should
enact legislation to make wife-beating a non-bailable criminal offence.
Separate units comprising police-women should be set up at police
stations. Complaints of wife-beating should be investigated promptly
by these units and the victims sent before a medical officer. If
there is evidence of assault, the husband should be arrested and
remanded. No bail should be granted until the case is heard and
The work done
by Women-in-Need (WIN) is commendable. At the same time, their activities
should be complemented by lobbying for effective legislation to
prevent this offence. Then only can this menace of wife-beating
be eliminated from society.
of our daily bread
In the good old days, the price of a loaf of bread did not vary
from shop to shop or from town to town, not even from district to
The price of
bread remained the same everywhere and the weight too was consistent.
Recently, wanting to buy a loaf of bread from an old and well-known
bakery on my way home from Kollupitiya, I was shocked to hear the
price was Rs. 24. Of course, only one variety of bread, sliced and
wrapped in polythene was available at the time.
On another day, I bought a loaf of bread from Bambalapitiya junction
for Rs. 17.
The quality of the bread was so poor I could not use it the following
day and had to throw it away.
Bread is an
important food item and consumed mostly by the poor. Therefore,
a strict control on price is important. Now that consumers can seek
redress from the Consumer Affairs Authority, which has been set
up under the Consumer Protection Act, I hope remedial measures will
Otara was not
the fourth, there were many before
I read with interest in The Sunday Times Plus of November 9, about
the creation of an orchid hybrid that has been named 'Dendrobium
Otara'. It was good to learn that orchid hybridisation is alive
and well in Sri Lanka.
that "this was the fourth orchid to be named after a prominent
personality in Sri Lanka", the article states that the others
were named after President Chandrika Kumaratunga, Ranil Wickremesinghe
and Dhanapala Weerasekera.
wish to point out that hybrid orchids have been named after several
personalities in Sri Lanka/Ceylon. To the best of our recollection,
they include Sam W. Soyza, Dr. Ernest Soyza, Gladys Soyza, D.S.
Senanayake, J.R. Jayewardene, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, John Clubb
and Tilly Wanigatunge.
A friend (who
wishes to remain anonymous) has given me the parentages to the best
of his recollection of the following hybrids created here: Vanda
Betty Wright (V. Burgessi x teres); Vanda D.S. Senanayake (V. Cooperii
x coerulea); Vanda Cobber Kane (V. spathulata x Agnes Joaquim);
Vanda Matarn (V. foetida x teres); Aranda Giffard Foote (Arachnis
Hookeriana x V. Agnes Joaquim); Vanda Gladys Soyza (V. Hookeriana
x tessellata); Vanda John Clubb (V. Cooperii x tessellata var. rufescens);
Vanda Isle of Lanka (V. spathulata x Hookeriana); Vanda Pride of
Lanka (V. Burgessi x Agnes Joaquim); and Dendrobium Anita (D. Louisae
x phalaenopsis schroederianum).
While he did
not have the parentage of Vanda Ceylon Sunset, he noted that John
Clubb, Giffard Foote and Betty Wright were members of the planting
It is also interesting to note that our indigenous Vanda tessellata
(commonly known as the 'Anuradhapura orchid') has a variety known
as 'Vanda tessellata kotiya'. The sub-specific name 'kotiya' refers
to the pattern of markings on the flowers and was given long before
the emergence of the LTTE!
Good words of
advice, but also some groundless cautions
We must all be grateful to Dr. G. Usvattearatchi for his detailed
critique of the 222- page complete Grade 6 English medium maths
book. His labour of love is the more welcome in that initially he
was opposed to the idea of English medium education, so I trust
this indicates a change of heart.
he spends much of his time criticizing me and my team, even though
the book (of 222 pages) he refers to seems to be the version published
by the Education Publications Dept of the Ministry in April this
year. The English Association did produce material for maths in
tranches, but the diskettes of these discrete sections were handed
over to the ministry in November 2002. At the time the English Association
of Sri Lanka indicated to the ministry that there were some infelicities
and errors, arising from the haste with which the material had to
be prepared, given the time constraints caused by various delays
at the ministry.
spokesman in fact, in explaining to principals at a meeting at President's
House why the Grade 6 materials were sent out only in April rather
than in January, even though we had supplied the diskettes well
in time, noted that errors had had to be corrected. It is clearly
a great pity that Dr. Usvatte-aratchi was not consulted at the time,
and I hope the ministry uses his services in the future. I personally
do not think the infelicities and errors he points out are particularly
serious ones, but the ministry may well feel otherwise and take
his gibes about their publication to heart.
of diagrams was for the same reason, and the ministry was asked
to introduce those that had to be omitted, but unfortunately this
was not done, despite the long delay.
While I hope
the ministry accepts his criticisms in the spirit in which they
were made, I should however caution them with regard to his use
of English. I do not think he ever errs, but there is a quaint purism
about his grammar that may not be suited to modern times.
30 litres of fuel' is perfectly acceptable usage, though someone
drilled in subject verb agreement formulas would insist on a plural
verb. Even more dangerously, while someone like Dr. Usvattearatchi
who appreciates Latin forms could well believe data requires a plural
verb, in English it is generally used with a singular verb, as in
'Data was collected...' rather than 'Data were collected.' Finally,
while he extols the virtues of the original text, I should note
that this is not a view shared at the NIE.
As he may be
aware, there is a plan to revise textbooks, and a Primary Maths
project that is generally agreed to have been extremely successful
produced new Primary texts in the past few years. Officials of this
project were of the view that the Grade 6 book was not compatible
with the foundation they had laid, and indeed the former Director
General of the NIE explained that unfortunately the reforms at that
level had not proceeded on schedule.
the coming year, the NIE and the ministry have I believe commissioned
a new textbook (the plan was for several under the multiple books
options), and this (or these) should be made available to students
from 2004. I assume the ministry has ensured that an English version
of the book(s) will be available to those opting for the English
to the Grade 7 books the ministry assured Principals that it had
prepared its own translations for next year, so I presume the material
the English Association produced in tranches will not be required.
This is doubtless why the ministry has failed to pay its debts so
that in fact the last tranche, of Maths and Science materials, cannot
be printed or sent to schools. In this regard Dr. Usvattearatchi's
cautions are groundless.
I am sorry,
however, that I will not have the benefit of his stringent critiques
of my English in the coming year too. Someone who has been, as he
tells us, to Cambridge and who understands about Latin roots must
be cherished in these dark times.
to the Editor' should be brief and to the point.
Address them to:
'Letters to the Editor,
The Sunday Times,
P.O.Box 1136, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Or e-mail to
Please note that letters cannot be acknowledged or returned.