Letters to the Editor


Terror begins at home, school
When and where are the seeds of terror sown? As a teacher I'd say that the seeds are sown in homes, school vans and in the school itself. One set of boys will plan and gang up to bully and terrorise one boy or more.

In school vans too, some boys get-together to bully others who are seen as refined. They are cornered and the van driver turns a blind eye or, worse still, shows his approval in the mirror. He is elated that boys from good schools behave like rowdies.

Ask schoolchildren who are aggressive about the home environment and they will give you the real picture - bad language, wife and child bashing, destruction of valuables and even tearing up of school books.

What happens if school authorities identify bullies and try to correct them? Maybe, they call a parent to discuss these important issues.

But most parents are not prepared to admit that the child needs counselling. They prefer to sweep the child's misdeeds under the carpet. Then these seeds of terror germinate and thrive.

Time is running out for our youngsters. Something constructive needs to be done before it is too late. The issue should be addressed at all levels - schools, homes and religious institutes - and a concrete, viable solution found.

One aspect of this problem is allowing films and teledramas that portray violence and sex.

In schools, one should inculcate courtesy and discipline at all levels. Moral science should be re-introduced. Children should also be gainfully occupied on indoor games such as draughts, chess and carrom.
Pearline Vithana

The big stadium stink
By hosting the ICC Championships, Sri Lanka tried to project its image to the outside world to attract tourists and investments. However, some of the spectator experiences at the match would be counter-productive towards this end.

At the finals on September 29 at the Premadasa Stadium, the Block 'A' lower seating arrangements were in an appalling condition. No attempt had been made to clean the floor or the chairs. Spectators were seen cleaning the chairs before they sat.

The toilets were another disaster. They were inadequate to cater to the large number of spectators resulting in long queues and unhygienic conditions. Many men were seen relieving themselves in the open area adjacent to the toilets. It was obvious that basic spectator comfort had not received the attention of the officials who were seen walking around nattily dressed with huge identification tags and walkie talkies.

To aggravate matters, when the spectators had to leave due to rain, most parts of Colombo were under water and not motorable.

In future, when such international events are organised, we must not only attempt to project an image through opening and closing ceremonies, but also ensure that spectators carry memories of pleasant experiences which will be more lasting than any other.
S. Peiris
Colombo 4

Ceylonese culture: What is it?
Newspapers articles on ethnicity have raised the question "Do we have 'races' or, are we hybrid?" In this context, I thought it appropriate to rehash a letter I sent to the newspapers four years ago.

A news item appeared during the time of the State Council (1936), when we were happy-go-lucky Ceylonese. It was based on a speech made by the late B. H. Aluwihare, who represented the Matale electorate in the State Council. Mr. Aluwihare was a barrister and was actively involved in the independence movement along with Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru of India. He could have been identified anywhere as he sported the Gandhi cap and the North Indian vest. The news item is reproduced below:-

"A Ceylonese culture! Is there such a thing as a Ceylonese culture, and if so, what is it? This is the question that arose in a debate a few days ago in a Literary Club in Colombo. Speaker after speaker got up and asserted that there is no such thing.

And then somebody went on to quote the delightfully eloquent passage from a State Councillor B. H. Aluwihare, apologising at the same time for the authority's 'knowledge of history and geography': 'Ceylonese culture is one of the most hybrid things on earth. It is born of Portuguese and Dutch culture mixed up today with the British. In ancient days it arose in the tree of the Vedda culture. It was enriched by the Hindus and Aryans at the Ganges, and it was then touched, with the fervour of the South Indian and Tamil. I am not certain that we have not, to some extent, been enriched by the thought of the Negroes of Africa. I am not certain that we are not affected by adventurers and traders from Arabia.

'Therefore, it is a most hybrid culture. It is certainly rich, but when you ask what Ceylonese culture is, the answer is that culture has come to us from all the ends of the earth. It has enriched us, and if ever we do boast of anything, it is that we have the wealth of the four corners of the world. It has enriched our vision, our mind, our literature and that is what we are able to boast of - the breadth of vision and the breadth of thought of our golden age.' It is from Mr. Aluwihare's speech in the State Council on the subject of non-Ceylonese teachers. A large majority of the debators refused to believe in Mr. Aluwihare's theory."

Let our historians and learned men utilise these assets to the betterment of Sri Lanka. Let our bickering and quarrelling MPs use the beauty of our languages to put across their views in a decent manner and style, learn to meet in harmony, discuss in harmony and disperse in harmony.
Colombo 3

White Cane Day fell on Oct.15
White cane his only lifeline
A tap, tapping sound is all he hears
As he tentatively treads an unknown path
The white cane swishing from side to side
To probe any dangers that may lurk there
* * *
Visually handicapped since the last war
The white cane his only lifeline
Maybe he is alone, maybe not
He wonders, will anybody care
* * *
The colour white signifies peace
But does he have peace within him
Knowing not day from night
And everything in between
* * *
Yet this lonely figure can be seen
In almost all walks of life
Tap, tapping his white cane
So people, vehicles can move aside.
* * *
The white cane, therefore, is
A symbol of the visually handicapped.
And October 15th set aside
For others to remember them
Menique Gunaratna

Water shock
Water is a gift of God, for which the government is charging the people. In September, water rates were increased by 150 percent but most of the consumers were unaware of it. My bill was around Rs. 200 a month, but last month it shot up to Rs. 440. The meter reader explained that it has been increased and VAT too has been included. Isn't it a case of the government fleecing the public?

Though the government came to office on the promise that it would bring down the cost of living, the COL is still soaring. Electricity charges, gas, milk powder to mention a few, are exorbitantly priced.
M.R. Jowher
Colombo 9

Politics and monks
With reference to the letter of P.A. Binduhewa of Panadura (The Sunday Times, October 6), a majority of Buddhist monks dabble in politics, either directly or indirectly. Even some of the Mahanayakes are dragged into politics by politicians and instigated to issue statements supporting their cause.

When the Buddhist clergy, as a whole, decides to give up politics as it is not in keeping with Buddhist practices as categorically stated by Ven. Gnanawimala Thera, I presume the only monk in Parliament will step down and give his place to a layman.
Danapala Patabandi

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