Letters to the Editor

25th March 2001

It's a disgrace…a matter of regret… an insult

The demolition of Buddhist statues by the Taliban regime is a disgrace and affront to civilized human beings. Under the cloak of Islam, the Taliban regime has committed vandalism. 

The tenets of Islam are opposed to fanaticism and vandalism.

It is the duty of right-thinking Muslims to condemn this dastardly act.

Ample evidence is available on the tolerance of Islam towards other religions. 

The Prophet emphasized that due respect should be given to every religion. 

So it is the duty of Muslims to condemn the irreligious and intolerant Taliban.

Dr. U.L. Sarafdeen
It is a matter of regret that the Taliban regime destroyed Buddhist cultural artefacts in Afghanistan in the name of Islam, which by its very name denotes peaceful co-existence.

Once a Bedouin Arab had inquired from the Prophet (on whom be peace), "When would the hour (Doomsday) come?"

And he had answered, "When honesty's lost, then wait for the hour." 

The Bedouin had asked, "How will that be lost?" and he had replied, "When the power or authority comes into the hands of unfit persons, then wait for the hour." How true, judging from the course of action being taken by these Afghan leaders. 

Mohamed L. Harees
Insulting other religious faiths is a sin. The Holy Quran states that we must respect non-believers of Islam. They are our fellowmen and, therefore, friends. 

The Holy Quran orders rulers to be kind to and friendly with minority communities. Their properties should be protected. It is the duty of rulers to safeguard and protect the places of worship of minority communities in their countries. If they fail to do so they will surely earn the wrath of Allah.

The foolish decision taken by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan to destroy monumental Buddha statues is indeed vandalism. 

Islam is a way of life. Afghan guerrillas can't be the sole captains to steer the ship of Islam. 

The Holy Quran belongs to all Moslems and the Afghan rulers should not do wrong in the name of Islam. 

Sri Lankan Muslims vehemently condemn the barbaric decision of these Afghan leaders to destroy these statues. 

They should read the histories of the rulers of "Hulobahisrazeetheems", "Abbasies" and "Omiyas" who assisted non-believers living in the Middle East to practise their faiths. They even erected temples and churches.

If the Taliban rulers didn't want to keep those priceless Buddha statues in Afghanistan, they could have handed them over to either the Sri Lankan or Japanese governments.

M.S. Alikhan

What about these 'palaces'?

Minister Mangala Samaraweera appeared on TV and vociferously attempted to convince viewers that it was wrong to say 'Presidential Palace' for the President's House, which is under construction. 

He seemed perturbed over the word 'palace' being applied to an average upstair-house with only a few rooms. 

He also gave an assurance that building materials like marble would not be imported from Europe 

For lesser mortals, all this is a case of the cat jumping out of the bag. 

The country has been placed on a war footing and the people advised to tighten their belts. People are struggling for survival due to the rising cost of living, the index of which is not published except once in a blue moon. 

Our fear is that if the Minister happens to see the 'shoe palaces' and 'picture palaces' scattered all over our island, he may order their demolition forthwith for misusing terminology. 

We are not proud of our ideal democracy, where the order of priorities is all wrong.

P. Lokugamage

Bishops and the Tigers

The Catholic Bishops of Jaffna, Mannar and Trinco-Batticaloa seem to have a soft spot for the LTTE. According to news reports, they have asked the government to trust the LTTE, accept their offer of a ceasefire, remove all embargoes to the Wanni and start talks. 

What we would like to know is whether the LTTE had their blessings for murdering unarmed Ms. Thiranagama, Rajiv Gandhi, A.Amirthalingam, Neelan Tiruchelvam, C.V. Goonaratne, R. Premadasa (from whom they received arms and money) and many others who opposed their views? The list is long: 

* Did the LTTE have their blessings when bombing the Central Bank on a working day, killing 82 civilians and maiming hundreds of others?

* Did the Tigers have their blessings when they bombed Hotel Galadari killing 18 civilians? 

*Did the Tigers have their blessings when they bombed the Dalada Maligawa or killed nearly 700 policemen who surrendered to them on goverment orders? 

* Did the LTTE have their blessings when they tried to kill President Chandrika Kumaratunga? 

* Did the Tigers have their blessings when they chased Tamils from the Valikamam area in Jaffna in 1995 and then looted their homes? 

* Did the LTTE have their blessings for having made Jaffna an open prison camp when they were there prior to 1995? 

I can go on and on. May God save the Bishops! 

R.L. Selvaratnam

Gang robberies and rising crime: Time to take action

It is no secret that both hardened criminals and novices like deserters from the armed services are now in possession of dangerous firearms. 

They stage daring holdups of banks, business establishments and houses and even commit murder.

People have been murdered in cold blood even in police stations and court premises driving fear into the minds of law-abiding citizens. These people's safety, needless to mention, is the responsibility of the state.

Grave crime is escalating and the police seem to have no other solution but to round up a few petty criminals every now and then after the damage is done.

The need is to amend the antiquated Firearms Ordinance to make illegal possession of firearms an offence punishable with five years' rigorous imprisonment.

A special court should also be set up to dispense quick justice to those who fail to surrender their illegal firearms to the police on or before a given date. 

Cash rewards should also be offered to those giving information about persons who have not complied.

It is time to take drastic action to stop people getting robbed, kidnapped and murdered.

Baptist Fernando

Deploy armed personnel on trains and buses

An armed gang terrorised passengers on the night train at Nawalapitiya, stabbed some of them and robbed them of their jewellery and valuables.

The passengers had nobody to complain to, until the next station was reached. Even if they complained the culprits could not have been arrested.

Not only train passengers but also bus travellers fear for their safety. 

These days law and order has broken down to such a degree that even those appointed to stop law-breakers appear to be helpless.

The only way to protect commuters is to deploy armed security personnel on buses and trains.

Austin D. Jayaweera

Good behaviour begets good umpiring

Few people realise that the poor umpiring in the 2nd Test at Asgiriya could have been the direct result of poor behaviour on the part of the players themselves. 

When fielders shout out meaningless appeals each time the ball hits the pads and suggestive "ahs" and "ohs" when it does not, the credibility of the players takes a plunge in the eyes of the umpires. 

This in turn would cause an adverse effect - a case of cause and effect resulting in genuine 'outs' being negated and vice versa. Should appeals be better tempered and more selective it is a fair bet that results would be more realistic.

The story goes that 90% of Bert Oldfield's (one of the best stumpers of all time) appeals were answered in the affirmative because umpires of the time had so much confidence in his judgment and scrupulous fairplay. 

A case of good behaviour begetting good umpiring. 

I am not trying to hold a brief for Mr. Cooray but it so happened that most of the contentious decisions had to be made at his end - some were right and others not; some in favour of Sri Lanka, some against. 

The foreign commentators with repeated comments and many replays on TV highlighted these. 

Rudi Kersten was not wholly lily-white either but fewer comments were made on these. 

Some of the decisions were very difficult to make. When Hussein was caught off the glove, every one was quite positive of the verdict after seeing three replays including two in slow motion shown from the point area - which luxury was denied the umpire, who had to decide in a second one way or the other. He cannot decide on what he does not see! 

There were one or two similar instances, with every nearby fielder shouting after every ball, putting tremendous pressure on the umpires.

To prevent a crisis on account of faulty decisions, I would like to suggest that the 3rd umpire be given the authority and right to intervene (unsolicited), make contact with the field umpire and say that a mistake has been made. Then the outgoing batsman could be called back or given marching orders as the case may be. 

It may be argued that it would make the umpire on the field redundant but at least there will be fairplay and less cause for acrimony. One can't have the cake and eat it as well.

Finally, Atherton should consider himself lucky to have been let off lightly for his finger-wagging episode, which appears to be the prerogative of English captains.

C.H. Gunasekera

We never spoke of foot and mouth

It is horrible to see the carnage in England, Ireland and some other European countries, to contain the foot and mouth disease in farm animals. 

Those of my vintage may recall the time when foot and mouth disease struck Sri Lanka. Veterinarians who were in service may recollect the steps we took to eradicate this disease (not Rinderpest). 

I do not remember mass slaughter to curb the spread of this virus as is being done now in Europe where herds of animals are being killed and bulldozed into infernos.

There was no quarantine nor a ban on the transport of animals, as I remember. Shoes and feet were not disinfected on leaving an infected paddock. 

The affliction left as silently as it arrived. Since there were not many deaths from the disease per se, but only an infection of the lips and hoofs, nobody took much notice of it except relevant state officials. 

My notes at the School of Agriculture, Peradeniya, do not even mention foot and mouth disease!

Sepala Ilangakoon

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