Letters to the Editor

4th March 2001



Not unlike Aussie sledging

Sri Lanka came off well in the First Test against England just concluded, but unfortunately gathered many minus points on the way via the incessant and nonsensical vehicle of appealing, orchestrated by the man from behind the stumps. It was an unbecoming spectacle and took the gloss off our achievement.

This amounted to what I would consider almost a subtle form of cheating to gain an advantage to win at any cost-not unlike the Australian sledging.

I am not quite sure if this upsets the concentration of the batsmen but it certainly cuts across the seriousness and serenity of the game. It sure disturbs the viewers.

I wonder whether anyone in authority such as the coach, captain, umpires or even the match referee hasn't the power to intervene and stop this disturbance. It also gives the impression that the offender has not got the faintest idea of the rules of the game where specific conditions have to be met to gain an l.b.w. decision or catch. Of course those who know better (and there are many) make the offender lose all his credibility and be treated as a joke. Unfortunately, this could rub off on his not inconsiderable ability as a batsman.

In the same breath let us give due credit to the England batsmen for their effort against an imposing total, difficult wicket/conditions, searing heat and others.

C.H. Gunasekara

A minister for national self-respect

As you enter Horton Place from Green Path you can see a huge C.M.C. hoarding on which a tourist resort is advertising 'Beaches and Blondes'. Is there no limit to our shamelessness? A new vulgarity has crept over our people. Blondes are not an indigenous product, they have to be imported. One wonders what exactly is on offer.

At the Kollupitiya junction there is a social club, which has a sign boldly proclaiming 'VIP Lounge - Foreigners Only'. In no other country in the world that I can think of will such an insult to its own people be tolerated.

For three decades after independence there was a nursing home in Colombo which refused to admit any patient who did not have a white skin. A white sailor with the pox from some tramp steamer in Colombo port was welcome but the Maharani of Baroda who was on a visit to our country was refused admission. In 1977, when Gamani Jayasuriya became Minister of Health, he telephoned the nursing home and gave it two weeks to clean up its act on pain of takeover by the state. And suddenly the nursing home found itself able and willing to admit non-white patients? But Gamani Jayasuriya is no more and we do not seem to be able to produce another.

A friend of mine, a doctor who had served for some time in an African country, told me this story. A white doctor, who was summoned late at night to attend on a very sick African child refused to come. The child died. Rightly or wrongly, this was seen as racial discrimination because the doctor was known to have answered summons late at night to attend on a white patient.

The very next morning there were policemen at the doctor's residence to escort him to the airport and send him out of the country. Such a thing will certainly not happen here.

Before the present Minister of Tourism and the present Chairman of the Tourist Board took over, we read in the media that the Tourist Board had spent Rs. 21 million on producing a video for broadcast over German TV. This had depicted Sri Lanka as an ideal place for paedophiles and other sexual deviants. The video shown over German TV had reportedly shocked the viewers. The official responsible has since been sacked. This is yet another example of our complete lack of national self-respect.

Not long ago the bodyguards of a service commander, incensed that a mere motorist had presumed to overtake their chief's vehicle, chased after him, forcing him to stop and assaulted him. Fortunately the victim of this outrage had some clout and the culprits were hauled before the beak and had to grovel in open court and beg for pardon from the person they had harmed.

There are several other areas in which our lack of national self-respect is starkly evident. The belief of our undergraduates that they have a divine right to rag freshers in the crudest and most sadistic way is one that they fiercely hold on to. This despite the fact that many tragedies have occurred from this barbaric practice, including maiming, suicide and even homicide. This disease has spread to technical colleges and even to some public schools.

Meanwhile young nouveau riche thugs have devised a novel form of amusement. At weddings, they seize the newly-weds and, on what is supposed to be the happiest day of their lives, dunk them in the swimming pool in all their finery. This, they find enormously hilarious. Violence (including manslaughter) often results from these goings on.

We already have 45 ministers. We can surely fit in just one more - a Minister for National Self-respect. He would have plenty to do.

Piyal Gamage
Colombo 4

Nine, ten, big fat hen

Parliamentarians are paid a strange 'sitting allowance' of Rs. 500 a day for each sitting in Parliament, in addition to a handsome salary and other super luxury benefits and perks.

Thus for merely being in Parliament for 10 days, he/she gets Rs. 5000.

No other public servant gets such a payment.

Is it justifiable to pay this allowance exclusively to parliamentarians? What of the less fortunate public servants like clerks and teachers who are struggling for survival under the vagaries of the cost of living?

Most parliamentarians have lost their heads and forgotten that they have been voted into power by the common people.

They have also forgotten that they are being maintained at the expense of the taxpayers' hard-earned money.

Parliamentarians are also supplied subsidized meals at their canteen. A meal worth about Rs. 500 at a five-star hotel, is supplied to them for only Rs. 15 or Rs. 16.

After a parliamentarian has served for a minimum of five years he is also entitled to a princely pension. An MP gets about Rs. 22,000, a deputy minister about Rs. 28,000 and a minister about Rs. 29,000. What a bonanza?

I am an old, useless pensioner who served for 35 years (from 1951-1986) as a teacher of English. My monthly pension now is much less than that 10 days' sitting allowance of Rs. 5000 paid to a parliamentarian.

Raja Bhavatu Dhammiko

May the rulers be just!

P. Lokugamage

Chandrika, very beautiful no?

Sri Lankans are popular in the Gulf, although dominated in proportion by Indians and Pakistanis. Taxi drivers in particular seem to have a soft spot for us.

On more than one occasion I have been lured into conversation by cab drivers. Whatever the opening volley in Hindi, the link language here, I have a memorized stock answer - "Hindi nehi malum" (I don't know Hindi). Pat, comes the next question, "Aha, Sri Lanka? "

And I say, "Yeah". The next salvo is fired soon after. "Aha, Jayasuriya, Jayasuriya very good number one batsman." And I say, with much glee, "Yeah". The stage is now usually set for some stumbling dialogue.

But the other day, I was up against something amusingly different. This burly Pakistani with his well trimmed beard gave me the customary treatment in Hindi and later posed the question, "You Sri Lanka?" When I said, "Yeah", he quipped with delight and excitement, "Aha, Chandrika, Chandrika, very beautiful lady, no?"

With patriotic pride I responded, "Yeah, she is nice." Then he said to me, "Big bad man giving Chandrika big trouble, no?" Respecting his knowledge of Asian politics I mumble, "Yes". Then came the knockout punch. "Last night Chandrika telling bad man, you are too much hot, too much hot, I get rid of you," said the cabbie shaking his head negatively. Perturbed that I may have missed some vital home news, I ask him, "Hey sahib, who told you that?" Came the crisp reply, "Nobody telling me. Last night I eat Chandrika's crab curry. Ooh very hot, everybody crying."

I had reached my destination. The cab came to a halt opposite the popular Sri Lankan restaurant. Chandrika, the owner gave me her usual wave, while her cook, the big man from Matara was dusting the chillie powder off his white apron. "Aha, Chandrika nice no?" repeated the cabbie, blushing. -

Amarnath Paul

Return to Plus Contents


Letters to the Editor Archives

Write a letter to the editor : editor@suntimes.is.lk