Letters to the Editor

28th May 2000

Don't kill, or kill but don't be cruel? 

It is time that Buddhists in this country owned up to the fact that they are the largest consumers of meat in the island and are thus directly responsible for part of the animal slaughter that takes place here.

Those who slaughter do so to cater to this market. There is no closing our eyes and ears to this fact. No amount of digression and trying to put the responsibility on others by pointing at relatively less important issues can change this fact.

The question we must address is whether killing itself is cruel or not in Buddhism. If it is so, it is meaningless to discuss the method. 

Appeasing our conscience by trying to focus on the methods used by other communities which consume meat, be they Muslims or Christians, is nothing short of hypocrisy. 

Why should they care? Slaughter for consumption is allowed in their religions.

If the Buddhists in the country desist from violating the precepts of their own religion and simply give up consuming meat and meat products including fish, without trying to find or invent loopholes in Buddhism, animal slaughter will drop significantly, and the people involved will certainly be compelled to reconsider whether they should continue the trade. 

If killing for consumption is not cruel but only the method is so, we must set about finding a way that can be rightly called humane, while being practicable any- where at any time in the world.

If we say that Buddhism allows killing in a humane way, then what is the method that could be considered humane and practicable at all times and in all places by Buddhist standards?

Surely, if we endorse killing, it cannot be said that Buddhism has allowed killing for consumption only in the twenty sixth century (Buddhist calendar), after the discovery of modern stunning methods.

If we say that killing by other methods was not cruel according to Buddhism until the twenty sixth century, but has become cruel since, I fear we may be accused of using double standards. 

When I say other methods, I mean the traditional Sri Lankan methods of strangling, beating to death, wire noose, door-and-threshold, stabbing and crushing the skull, among a rich variety.

R.I. Samaraveera

Apologies please

I refer to the article "Police beat up our crime reporter" in The Sunday Times of May 21 describing Leon Berenger's experience at the hands of unscrupulous officers at the Dehiwela Police Station.

Being a Burgher myself who always detested to migrate, all for the love of Sri Lanka, I feel ashamed that a fellow brother should have been treated in such an inhuman manner.

It is most pertinent to mention that crime and underworld operations in the Dehiwela area are rampant. A bunch of plantains, a papaw on a tree nor a piece of clothing on a line, is spared by drug addicts. 

It is a pity that the authorities concerned are allegedly hand in glove with these criminals. We are aware of things happening around us under the very nose of the police, but are helpless.

We are a fun loving lot with no malice towards anyone. We have been a silent community and not a burden or a problem to the state. We have lived in perfect harmony with our fellow brethren with no ill-feelings against them.

Judging from the facts, you will no doubt agree that the OIC and officers concerned at the Dehiwela Station owe a public apology to Mr. Berenger for their unruly behaviour and provocations made to the entire Burgher community in Sri Lanka, with a statement like "All the bloody Burghers should be thrown out of the country. Most of all, for the humiliation, insults and derogatory language used on him and his parents which would have caused them great pain of mind.

-A patriotic Burgher

Imaginary backlash

It is interesting to note the head of the UN coordinating office in Colombo resorting to a panic decision on an imaginary backlash on Tamil civilians in Colombo. 

Was he expecting a victory by the LTTE in the north, having read all that was carried on Tamilnet?

Over the years the Sri Lankan community has been flabbergasted to observe that some Britishers often tend to believe that they have a de facto obligation to safeguard the interests of Tamil terrorists. 

Certain sections of the British public appear to be brainwashed by the propaganda machine and front organizations of the LTTE engaged in covert operations to destablise an elected government of a Commonwealth country.

During the Falklands War, Britain was fully backed by Sri Lanka, when most of the countries condemned it. 

Besides, the Sri Lankan community has never aided or abetted IRA separatists. 

Unfortunately, the British polity and intelligentsia appear to be riding on an ill conceived concept of aiding a so-called "liberation movement" without knowing the facts.

Britain is being used by the LTTE as its international base to monitor worldwide operations in terrorist activities and engage in foreign trade through various front organisations to collect funds. 

Most of the people in international agencies in Sri Lanka are subtly brainwashed and financially supported by these front organizations so craftily that those organisations still exist. The Commonwealth spirit is thus openly nullified by the mother of the Commonwealth community itself.

It is the duty of every Sri Lankan to protest against and condemn the policies and attitudes of British organizations and responsible individuals who interfere in our internal affairs.

P. Hewage

Why not then, UN?

There was a newspaper item that the UN office in Colombo had high level talks to safeguard themselves and innocent Tamils - this is fair enough. 

But what did the UN office do when thousands of innocent Sinhalese and Muslims were killed in the north, east and Colombo by the LTTE? 

D. de Alwis
Colombo 5

Free education? Really?

The impression among the present generation is that Dr. C.W.W. Kannangara helped poor children to be educated free. And they think that if not for him, only the children of the rich would have had the privilege of education.

In1946, when so-called free education was introduced Dr. Kannangara, the then Minister of Education, he was hailed as the Father of Free Education in Ceylon. 

But free education was available in the Sinhala or Tamil medium to children well before that. There were 'free' vernacular schools even in the Eighteenth Century. Only education in the English medium was available for a fee. 

But children who studied in vernacular schools could not become professionals and were only absorbed into teaching.

What Mr. Kannangara did in 1946 was to give the option to schools in the English medium to become free. 

Some of the schools like Colombo Zahira College and Mahinda College, Galle became free. 

Zahira College opted to become free because its Principal T.B. Jayah was a minister in the UNP Government. Mahinda College opted to become free because its Manager the late H.W. Amarasinghe was a minister in the UNP Government. 

But what was the result of these two schools entering the free scheme?

The science teachers at Mahinda College whose salaries were reduced under the free scheme by more than 50% left and joined Ananda College which hadnot joined the scheme. And the varsity science class at Mahinda College had to be closed down.

Then the children left Mahinda College and joined Ananda paying the same fee and getting boarded in Colombo. 

Now students who paid only Rs. 23/- as fee per month had to spend about Rs. 150/- a month for their education in Colombo.

In 1945, a year before the new scheme was introduced, Mahinda College produced the best results in the island in the entrance examination. 

What Mr. Kannangara should have done was to have introduced the English medium in the vernacular schools as well and allowed English medium schools to continue as before. 

What he did was to bring down the standard of education in the fee-levying English schools and also the standard of the vernacular schools. 

Today international schools have taken over the fee-levying English schools. They charge about Rs. 60,000/- a year as fees. Admission is about Rs. 40,000. Who can afford this? 

When history is written, the so-called leaders who are hailed as heroes would be condemned as men who ruined the country in general and the education system in particular.

M.I.H.M. Sally


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