Plus - Letters to the Editor

May the new Chief Justice save us from the law of the jungle

The International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested and produced in court on a charge of attempted rape. Italy’s Prime Minster Silvio Berlusconi has been charged with the same offence, and the case is being heard in court. Nearer home, in India, Kanimozhi, daughter of the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, has been charged with fraud.

Strauss-Kahn Silvio Berlusconi

But in the resplendent island of Sri Lanka, a Member of Parliament charged with rape goes scotfree, after the Attorney-General announced that the victim was not prepared to give evidence, as she would be subjected to unpleasant questioning.

Is there no provision for a person giving evidence in court to request that the proceedings be done in camera? In this instance, for reasons best known to him, the Attorney-General has taken the least path of resistance.

In a case of alleged fraud against a Member of Parliament, the vital documents, according to the Attorney-General, have been lost, and the case has been withdrawn. This begs the question whether this country has two sets of laws, one for the politician and the other for us poor Podisinghos?

The former Chief Justice too had been critical of the Attorney-General’s interventions on behalf of the government. We hope the new Chief Justice, Shirani Bandaranayake, who is held in high esteem by both the public and the Bar, and who has a reputation for fearless judgments, will not be swayed by anyone, and that she will mete out justice fairly.

When the Judiciary is made ineffective, the Law of the Jungle takes over – a state of affairs that some describe as “Mervinism”.

G. Seneviratne, Boralesgamuwa

One tree is better than no tree – but what we need is millions of trees

I wholly endorse W. R. H. Perera’s letter condemning the shocking proposal to cut down forests of pinus (“Unwanted Trees? No Such Thing”, The Sunday Times, June 4, 2011). Mr. Perera is absolutely right in saying that there is no such thing as an “unwanted tree”. One tree is better than no tree.
Planting on catchment areas is nothing new. Soil conservation to prevent erosion and siltation has been practised for decades.

Hills and valleys clothed in pinus are a wonder to behold

For some reason, neither technical nor scientific, there is a bias in this country against pinus caribaea. Pinus was introduced in the 1950s on a large scale and grown on bare grasslands and improvised soils, and it was a huge success.

Hills and valleys clothed in pinus are a wonder to behold. Our administrators should consult qualified persons before they carry out a drastic proposal like doing away with our pinus forest cover. There is illicit cutting of eucalyptus and pinus, but so far the impact on the environment has not been too big.
Let us look at why, in the history of reforestation in Sri Lanka, exotics were planted in preference to indigenous species.

Re-forestation began in the early British period. The new forest cover served as shelter belts to check the strong winds from the ‘Uva Bowl’ blowing over the tea plantations in Haputale. Re-forestation was later extended to the Nuwara Eliya district and other areas.

The large plains of patna grass were first planted mainly with eucalyptus species, with an admixture of cupressus, pinus and callitris in the upper region. The soil in the patnas is acidic, shallow and degraded in places. The exotics did remarkably well. Pinus caribaea covers vast extents of land in Sri Lanka.

The clearing of pinus forests would be a disaster. You can cut down a tree in minutes, but it takes 30 years or more to grow a tree. There have been tree planting tamashas, but if the plants are not looked after, they wither and die.

G. J. Eriyagama, Former ranger, soil consultant and Senior Technical Asst. (Forestry) Huntings, Canada

Tribute to NHSL’s Neuro Trauma Unit

Last November I collapsed on the road opposite the Kushmi Food Centre, in Pamankada, from an attack of epilepsy.

I was unconscious, bleeding heavily from the head, mouth and nose, when people rushed me to the Kalubowila Teaching Hospital. From there I was transferred to the National Hospital, Colombo, as my condition was becoming critical.

I was very fortunate to be admitted to the National Hospital’s ICU (Neuro Trauma Unit), where I received excellent treatment and the best of care, with state-of-the-art life saving equipment. Within four days I was back to normal and on my feet.

The service, the equipment and the tender care I received from the doctors and the nursing staff, all free of charge, I would not have got in any other hospital, anywhere in the world.

I wish to pay a special tribute to the medical specialists of the Neuro Trauma Unit, headed by Dr. Mrs. Shirani Happuarachchi, Dr. Saman Wadanambi and the nursing staff, all of whom fought hard to save my life.

The service they provided was unparalleled, and a good example for all persons in the medical profession and every hospital in Sri Lanka.

Kanishka Jayasinghe, Kalubowila

Who says ‘pig’ is a forbidden word for Muslims?

As a Muslim mother, I am against young Muslims, especially Muslim girls, being given a military training. We have brought up our children on Islamic values and not to be trained to use firearms – and act like cowboys and cowgirls from the Wild West, quick on the draw.

It is disappointing that our Muslim Members of Parliament have not raised objections to the military training being given to new entrants to the universities.

However, National List MP A. H. M. Azwer did protest about something recently, and that related to the use of the words “wal oora” (wild boar).

The debate was interesting. When the Minister for Wildlife proposed that we stop referring to wild elephants as “wal ali” and call them instead “wana ali” (jungle elephants), MP Anura Dissanayake, in his usual cynical manner, wanted to know whether “wal oora” should be changed to “wana oora”.
At this, Mr. Azwer, the MP representing the Muslims, vehemently objected to the use of the word “oora”, saying it hurt Muslim sensitivities. From where did he get such an idea?

Islam forbids only the eating of the flesh of the pig (pork), and has nothing against the use of the word “pig” or “oora” in Sinhala. May the learned MP tell us what name is given to the “pig” in Islam, or how the animal is mentioned in the Quran? Whatever its name, a pig remains a pig. Comments like those made by the MP give the impression that Muslims are an ignorant people.

(Mrs) Haleema Rahuman, Dehiwela

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