Letters to the Editor

5th March 2000

Adding more stripes

A news item (Sunday Times - Feb. 20) states that the Federation of Buddhist Organisations had called on top Buddhist prelates to seek support for the campaign to change the National Flag by removing the two lines which symbolise the minority communities. 

The National Flag is depicted in the Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and provided under article 6 in Chapter I 'The People, The State and Sovereignty'. The composition of the Flag was arrived at after discussion and by consensus.

When I read the news item, I thought what an un-Buddhistic approach. I was reminded of a meeting held in Galle by the Sudassanaya (Sudarsanam, 'Clear Vision') Movement which is for the abolition of the party system of government, which it believes, has been the root cause for the continuing ruination of this country. The movement wants to replace this system by the election of parliamentarians on their merit.

The meeting was held over a year ago.

At this meeting, speaker after speaker, from the audience, thundered that the provision of the Tamil Language as one of the national languages should be removed from the Constitution.

After everybody spoke, the Chairman of the Meeting and President of Sudassanaya, Mitra Wettimuny quietly rose from his chair. In simple language, completely composed, he spoke words to this effect - As a Buddhist, is it fair to hurt the feelings of others? Why do you seek to withdraw what has already been given? We should be magnanimous in matters of this nature. 

The thunder and lightning ceased, the brave sons of Ruhuna felt the cool breeze of consensus that pervaded the atmosphere from these wise words.

'A single word full of meaning, hearing which one is at peace, is better than a thousand useless words' (Dhammapada 100)

Those who wish to remove the stripes from the Tiger, would only help their counterparts to add many more stripes to it. Therefore this idea is hardly the proper approach to unity and needs re-thinking. Let wiser counsel prevail. Let the words of the Master for the welfare and happiness of a civilized world pervade the length and breadth of Sri Lanka.

S. Thambyrajah
Colombo 3

Dog flesh: 

You can buy plenty

The depths of cruelty to which Sri Lankans can sink under the mantle of the pure Sinhala Buddhist culture they claim to value so highly never cease to amaze. 

Done with exploring new and cruel ways to lead cattle, poultry, goats and pigs to slaughter, they have now decided that a quicker way to 'make a buck', would be to sell stray or even stolen domesticated dogs to the ever expanding Chinese and Korean restaurants that are springing-up all over the townships. 

The police and the municipal Authorities could raid the many such places down Duplication Road and Havelock Road. 

Very heavy penalties should be enforced on the dog killers, suppliers and consumers. Nip it in the bud before it grows out of proportion.

The dog is a domesticated animal and is supposed to be man's best friend. Sinhala Buddhists, the Ministry of Buddha Sasana and the relevant authorities please wake up and put an immediate stop to this madness. 

We don't need the Chinese, the Koreans or any other national who behaves in this way with blatant disregard to the social values of our country. 

When in Rome do as the Romans do. Otherwise go away. We survived without you for thousands of years. We don't need you now. If some Sri Lankans want your money, abide by the laws of the country.

This was highlighted recently on a private TV channel where a hooded man described graphically how he earns a living by killing dogs and selling the flesh to foreigners in Sri Lanka. 

One wonders if we are really living in a Dharmadeepa as many hypocrites claim it to be. The man seems to have enough of suppliers and demonstrated 'live' the method of killing, where he hit the dog on the head, with the legs tied and blood spurting from the eyes. This was shown during prime time viewing.

This issue also brings to light the folly of some people who do not sterilize their pets in order to reduce the number of unwanted puppies because they are afraid of committing a sin. But they are not averse to dumping these same puppies on the roadside, making them victims of these dog-eating people.

I hope, President Chandrika Kumaratunga would read this letter and help us animal lovers and animal rights activists in putting an immediate stop to this new fad in Sri Lanka.

Wiki Wickramaratne,
Animal Welfare and Protection Association

Humane slaughter: Long way to go

The campaign directed by animal welfare organisations and individuals for the imposition of painless slaughter methods, has been a dismal failure in this country. 

The vegetarian societies both local and international are moving for animal welfare legislation, foremost of which is for the painless slaughter of animals. 

In developed countries, the majority of meat eaters is fiercely against cruelty to animals.

The state and animal welfare associations ensure that the trade follows accepted slaughter methods. 

Hence labelling of products to inform the consumer that procedures have been followed is unnecessary. 

The Sri Lankan situation is entirely different. The meat industry here follows cruel methods and a majority of the meat consuming public are compelled to consume flesh they will not opt for, if given a choice. 

The consumer finds products labelled as 'Halal' but none indicating the product has come through a humane slaughter. 

It may be good for meat marketing companies to label products showing that animals have been slaughtered humanely. 

People can then have their meat with a clean conscience. What matters is the reduction of cruelty to animals even at the slaughter stage. 

S.M.B. Perera, 

What's the weight, Shell?

Newspapers recently reported that the price of a 13 kg gas cylinder has been increased to Rs. 365, but never mentioned the quantity of gas in the cylinder. Few consumers may be aware that such a cylinder contains only 12.5 kg.

Even after Shell Gas Lanka Ltd., took over the business of the Colombo Gas Company a 13 kg (TW) cylinder contained 13 kg of LP gas. 

In fact there are some cylinders marked "13 kg LPG" still in use.

Subsequently the quantity of gas in the cylinder was reduced to 12.5 kg by Shell Gas Lanka Ltd. But at that time the price of a cylinder was not reduced. Since then the price of a 13 kg (TW) cylinder containing 12.5 kg LP gas was increased on several occasions.

Are the officials who approve price increases aware of these facts? If no action is taken, Shell Gas Lanka Ltd. will reduce the quantity of gas to 12 kg.

In some cylinders the quantity of gas is marked "13 kg LPG" when there is only 12.5 kg while in most of the cylinders the quantity of gas is not marked.

Is it not cheating? Let the consumers decide.


Cricket: Well played!

To many of us who have been disappointed that our President has not done more to curb corruption, her latest action in issuing a directive to the Minister of Sports to defer elections to the Board of Control for Cricket until alleged financial irregularities are investigated comes as a breath of fresh air. 

All of us know who would have been elected if elections under the present rules had been permitted. This would have been a great tragedy for the country which has, under the squeaky-clean administration of the Interim Committee, seen a resurgence in our cricket performance and a restoration of our international reputation.

It is quite obvious to all those who are unbiased or have been impervious to the malefic influence of largesse, that the Interim Committee has done a magnificent job. They have chosen teams on the basis of merit, not reputation, and a captain who has inspired respect and affection from his team mates. There are no passengers in the team or men who due to portliness or lack of fitness have to be hidden. 

The team is clearly happy, which is a far cry from what prevailed during our cricketing decline.

All cricket lovers should be concerned about the irregularities that characterised the previous board. 

Never again should such men be allowed to hold positions of influence on the cricket scene. Under the present rules of election they will inevitably establish themselves in power again if given the chance. When the full story is revealed there will be public revulsion; but that will not suffice to prevail over the deficiencies of the system.

Let us hope and pray that the President will continue to act admirably not only in the field of cricket but in other areas that need her courageous attention.

D.B. de Silva


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