Plus - Letters to the editor

Hands off Sri Lanka, int’l policemen of the world

For many centuries Sri Lanka was ruled by foreign invaders and at long last we gained independence in 1948 and became a Republic, ending colonial rule. Since 1971, we have struggled with many forms of internal strife, with limited assistance from foreign countries.

The LTTE menace which started in the 70’s continued for three decades taking the country to the brink of bankruptcy as well as causing the deaths of many local leaders a foreign leader. 2009 saw the end of the war, where the LTTE was militarily defeated by:

a) Disciplined armed forces
b) Dedicated leaders in the political and military hierarchy committed to the ending of terrorism.
c) A few neighbouring countries such as China, Pakistan, India and a few others who lent their assistance to our cause.

When finally the dream of a united Sri Lanka - free of war and terrorism - is just over the horizon, the so-called “International Policemen’ the USA and EU seek to make their dominance known by trying to solve an already solved problem.

We have rehabilitated most of the LTTE fighters and released them to society. The government has started development work in the North and East, which were the most affected areas and in need of development, to bring the former war torn areas to normalcy. Segregation in the past within Sri Lanka was overcome with the elimination of the LTTE, an effort in which the EU and USA played no decisive part.

During President J.R. Jayewardene’s tenure, when the government of Sri Lanka wanted to purchase Cadillac gauge armored cars and unused reconnaissance aircraft parked in the Mojave Desert, the answer was a firm “NO” as it was an ‘internal affair.’ If we wanted we could purchase the armed tanks without the ‘gun turrets, which is the military equivalent of playing baseball without a bat. If ours was an internal conflict what was Libya, Egypt and Tunisia?

What business did the EU and USA have, in supporting “militias” in these countries who had taken the law into their own hands? What is the status of these countries now? The law still does not prevail, there is still civil unrest and political turmoil even after the so called beneficial regime change. Does this not warrant an investigation by the UNHRC to find the hidden hand behind all of this?

Have the atrocities committed by the foreign forces - such as the dispersion of Agent Orange freely over Vietnam, the effects of which are still being felt by new born children - in Iraq, Afghanistan and numerous other nations been probed by UNHRC? Weapons of Mass Destruction? Who is accountable for over two million displaced Iraqis and countless deaths? Who is responsible for the uncertainty and disturbance of civilian lives in Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia?

The EU and USA would do well to learn from the Sri Lankan armed forces on how to defeat the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world and apply the same principle in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya etc., There is a saying in our country, “Clean up the dirt in your backyard before looking at the dirt in your neighbours”.

General S.C. Ranatunga (retd.)

A lawyer’s duty is to help the judges arrive at the truth

A rise in the crime rate mostly benefits the lawyers who engage in crime-related litigation. It was a sad and strange sight when Buddhist monks manhandled a lawyer who was appearing for the two suspects in the Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya murder. This was a big embarrassment for all Buddhists. Don’t the Bhikkhus know that every person who faces criminal charges must have a lawyer to speak on his behalf?

Addressing law students in Colombo on November 25 1927, Mahatma Gandhi said, “In England, in South Africa, almost everywhere, I have found that in the practice of their profession lawyers are consciously or unconsciously led into untruth for the sake of their clients. An eminent English lawyer has gone so far as to say that it may even be the duty of a lawyer to defend a client he knows to be guilty. There I disagree. The duty of a lawyer is always to place before the judges, and to help them to arrive at, the truth, never to prove the guilty as innocent. It is up to you to maintain the dignity of your profession. If you fail in your duty what shall become of other professions?” (Gandhi and Sri Lanka 1905-1947).

Amor Patriae

Why make virtuous promises in Pali – a language we don’t understand?

Crime – from murder, rape, robbery and fraud to blackmail and white-van thuggery – is rampant, and increasing at an alarming rate. What is happening to this country?

One reason is a breakdown in religious discipline and values. During the reign of King Maha Naga, the Ven. Buddhagosha translated all the Sinhala Buddhist scriptures into Pali. Like parrots, we Buddhists repeat stanzas in Pali saying we will never kill, steal, lie, commit sex crimes, indulge in liquor, and so on – and all this in a language we do not understand.

We should pray and conduct our religious rituals in the language we use daily. If we repeat these same stanzas in our mother tongue, we will be impressing these promises deep in our minds.

The Maha Sangha should launch a vigorous islandwide campaign to have the Pansil and Atasil gathas translated into Sinhala and Tamil. All Buddhist temples, associations, schools and tertiary institutions should be involved in this exercise.

Dr. D. Malwatte-Mohotti

Fashion shows, food columns and thoughts from Kandy

I live in a secluded corner of Kandy where whiffs of fresh air manage to penetrate the growing fog of pollution, the trill of bird-song and the background roar of traffic. A roar which is increasingly getting more insistent, as carpeted roads have insinuated themselves into our area too; regarded as ‘magic carpets’ by the motorists intent on getting from A to B in a twinkling of an eye.

Our town gets more and more congested with commercial and residential buildings, and pedestrians.
Despite this, the number of restaurants remain static. The choice is limited to, “Captain’s Table” [Indian], and “Flower Song” [Chinese]. No, I am not complaining, but just explaining my mind-set, and my reaction to the ‘gossip columns’ of the newspapers.

It never ceases to amaze me how unrelated these columns are to the lives of the average middle class citizen. There is the food column which exhorts us to try out “Smoothies” (totally alien to me) in café A, and ‘cup cakes” (totally alien to Kandy), in cafe B.

The theme continues with the weekly columnists, who seem to indulge in a continuous round of entertaining, or being entertained by friends. The other major obsession is Fashion. Fashion shows which seem to justify their frequency, by contributing to a charity. Fashionable socialites splatter the pages -very few of them seem to wear that most elegant and enduring of costumes-the saree.

Fashion boutiques, again promoted by columnists, which are springing up like mushrooms. There is no such limiting factor as “Prime residential areas” for them. And no wonder, as our amiable Minister Bandula Gunawardene, assures us that a family can live comfortably on Rs.7,500 per month.

This leaves that something extra that can be frittered away on fashion and exotic food. Alas, the former teacher of economics has got it wrong! A gas cylinder, which costs over Rs. 2000 lasts two to four weeks.. the bread consumption per day for an average family could be three to four loaves,[morning and night meals, and sandwiches for school]. This totals Rs.4,950 to 6,600 per month. No less an authority than the Bible tells us’ man cannot live on bread alone….”

At the moment, my blinkered vision is restricted to Colombo society, the struggling middle class and the sprinkling of millionaires. I am not talking of ‘desperation ‘or the “War-ravaged”, but even in this limited context, one is reminded of the artificial society of the Batista regime in Cuba in the 50’s which was literally blasted from their rum and champagne saturated chandeliered existence.

Is it too much to ask of our journalists, to be in touch with the more positive aspects of society, instead of laying on the gloss of consumerism?

‘Kandy Menike’, Via email

Let’s get on with the LLRC recommendations and be done with it

A national newspaper ran a front-page story last week titled “Geneva; Lanka fails to beat the odds”, giving Geneva coverage and mentioning three amendments made to the original UNHRC resolution against Sri Lanka. The amendments called on the Government of Sri Lanka to:

– Implement the constructive recommendations made in the LLRC report;
– Expeditiously implement an action plan;
– Seek the advice and technical assistance of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for

Human Rights and relevant Special Procedures Mandate Holders. These steps are being taken, and the work will continue. Was it necessary, therefore, for our loud-mouthed politicians to excite the masses and go on parades, carrying placards, handing over petitions to the US Ambassador, and asking Sri Lankans to boycott American products?

The UN only wants the recommendations of the LLRC implemented expeditiously, knowing well what invariably happens with government-appointed commissions and their recommendations – these end up in pigeonholes and no follow-up action is ever taken.

The saying is that “those who live in glasshouses should not throw stones”, in a clear reference to the US, at a respected body like the UN, shows a very poor sense of diplomacy.

Not only the UN but all Sri Lankans would like to see the LLRC recommendations implemented expeditiously, so we can enjoy our hard-won freedom by defeating the LTTE.

We pray that those in power will not make us look like asses in the eyes of the world.

S. Weerakoon Banda Suduhumpola SPO

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