3rd May 1998
By Shelani de Silva
A Vesak week is being declared by the government to ban the slaughter of animals, the sale of liquor and commercialised or romanticised cards that mar the sanctity of the holiest day in Buddhism.
Officials of the Buddha Sasana and Home Affairs Ministries told The Sunday Times that police and other local authorities were directed to ensure that the code of ethics was followed for the Vesak week.
One official said the Ministry of Cultural Affairs was again this year printing Vesak Cards as part of efforts to draw people away from buying cheap commercialised cards that were more suitable for Valentine's Day than for Vesak Day.
He said police were being told to keep a tab on the Vesak cards being sold, but it was not clear on what basis the cards would be evaluated.
Vesak card sellers told The Sunday Times that a crackdown last year had reduced their sales but they were going ahead this year too as no clear direction was available as to which cards were good or bad.
Sumedha Jayasena, Deputy Minister of the Buddha Sasana said instructions had been given to the police to prevent the sale of cards which had little or no relevance to Vesak.
Report had indicated that upto 60% of the cards sold earlier depicted girls carrying roses, or hearts pierced with arrows and were more suitable for romance.
The National Movement against Terrorism in a letter to Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has stated that the recent statement by Narendranath Jha in Colombo had caused some concern when he said the Sri Lankan ethnic problem could be solved by merging the Northern and Eastern provinces.
It states that the Northern and Eastern province as a Tamil homeland was a total fabrication created by separatists. Some sections of Indian opinion were initially brain-washed to believe this lie. But more accurate information is now available. Recently, the Indian Economic and Political Weekly called the traditional homeland a lie perpetrated on the Indian government. So for India to believe in this hoax now and base policy recommendations about a neighbouring state is highly disturbing, the letter further stated.
Just as the earlier intervention led to negative repercussions in India itself, we believe the present statement supporting separatist ideology , will also boomerang, the letter added.
Donovan Moldrich, the well known journalist and former News Editor of The Times of Ceylon passed away on Friday May 1, after a brief illness.
Mr. Moldrich was a highly, principled journalist who cut his journalistic teeth under Editor, Tori de Souza beginning as a cub reporter and rising to the post of News Editor which he held until he retired shortly before the paper closed because of financial problems.
He was also the local correspondent of "The Times," London for several years even after he retired.
A voracious reader he also possessed an enormous collection of old, rare, Ceylon books and wrote the histories of several old companies in Sri Lanka.
He was also a passionate writer against capital punishment and wrote several books on the subject chief among them - "The Hangman's Rope."
A tall, lanky, fair-skinned grey haired figure, he was always noticed in a crowd.
He lived a quiet life in retirement and leaves his wife Shoba and four children. He will be missed by all those 'Old Timers' who themselves learnt their ropes under his stewardship on "The Times of Ceylon."
The funeral will take place today (Sunday) at Kanatte R.C. Section.
By S. S. Selvanayagam
Despite the creation of the statutory Official Languages Commission in the 90s and the move to inculcate Tamil as another language of public administration, the benefit derived by the non-Sinhala speaking minority was negligible, an official said.
K.M.M. Sheriff, Senior Assistant Secretary to the Ministry of Justice, Ethnic Affairs and National Integration, also said the mental attitude of public servants was the biggest deterrent to the effective implementation of laws for language equality.
These were pointed out at a seminar on 'Implementing the National Integration Policy: Language Initiative' conducted by the International Centre for Ethnic Studies
A United Nations Special Representative on children in armed conflict areas will be arriving in Sri Lanka today to make a first hand assessment in the war zone and hold talks with government leaders.
During his week-long stay, envoy Olara Otunnu will familiarise himself with the harmful effects of the conflict on children. He is scheduled to visit displaced and resettled communities and border villages in the districts of Jaffna, Mannar and Vavuniya.
He will meet the President and senior ministers and government officials in Colombo and in the districts, as well as hold discussions with senior officials of UN agencies and NGOs.
A variety of precious and rare items will be on display at a Vesak exhibition which will be held at the Gangaramaya from May 10 to 14.
The exhibition will have on display over 200 Buddhist paintings made out of copper and bronze, 188 Buddha bronze statues done in Thailand, rare collection of elephant tusks, Gaja Muthu, pictures depicting the history of Sri Lanka, collection of statues, Chaithyas and Gods turned out of stone, places of worship carved on copper sheets, Buddha relics, Seevali relics and relics of Arahats placed in Chambers. There will also be a large pandal depicting "Purisa Dhamma Sarathi" and "Ashtaloka Dharmaya" and a Seevali talisman will be offered free.
Britain and Sri Lanka have discussed fishing opportunities in the British Indian Ocean territory (the Chagos archipelago around Diego Garcia).
This took place when British High Commissioner David Tatham met Fisheries Minister Mahinda Rajapakse in Colombo recently, the High Commission said.
Mr. Tatham presented the Minister with a stock of charts of BIOT territorial waters, showing clearly where fishing was allowed and where it was prohibited. The charts are for distribution to Sri Lankan fishermen and carry warnings in about the consequences of illegal fishing. Fines of over Rs. 1,000,000 have been imposed on Sri Lankan boats caught fishing illegally in these waters in recent years, but fines can be as high as Rs. 60,000,000.
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