Plus - Letters to the editor

Buddhist monks drawn into politics

Reader Leela Gunaratne says we should enact legislation to stop Buddhist monks from breaking the Vinaya rules laid down by Lord Buddha.We laymen should take much of the blame. What can the monks do, when politicians ask them to get on their propaganda platform? With their oratory skills and the respect they enjoy, the Buddhist clergy can attract voters.

The Communist Party in 1947 obtained the help of the Buddhist clergy by making Ven. U. Saranankara Thera an active party member. This monk became a star attraction at their election rallies. In 1956, Mr. S. W .R. D. Bandaranaike made use of the Bhikku Peramuna, to come to power.

The United National Party sought the help of Ven. Meetiyagoda Gunarathna Thero and Ven. D. Amarawansa Thero for their propaganda rallies. The Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) took in Ven. Samitha Thera as an active party member who contested local government elections.

The entry of Ven. Samitha Thera laid the way for another group of politicians to form a party and nominate Buddhist monks for the Parliamentary election. They organised election rallies with a large gathering of Bhikkus on the stage, and a statue of Lord Buddha in the centre of the election platform.
We should take care that unseen hands do not ruin Buddhism in our country.

I appeal to the President to take action now, and country’s Buddhist population will be forever grateful to him.

Dr. D. Malwatte Mohotti, Bandaragama

Are we proud enough?

The fickleness of sports fans is common to all nations, and Sri Lanka is no exception. But have we ever considered the high echelons we have reached in cricket and the hundreds of reasons why we should NOT have reached them?

Moment of victory: Murali and Mathews celebrate after hitting the winning runs in the first ODI against Australia. REUTERS

Unlike in Australia or in the UK, not all our young players can talk their parents into spending forty thousand rupees for a basic cricket kit or bearing the costs of what is clearly a time consuming and long drawn training period. On the other side of the coin are the numbers – our 20 million pales against the sheer options of India and Pakistan, where the law of averages should see them producing exceptional cricketers like the assembly line at Toyota.

Yet we emerge, again and again, performing with persistence and commitment – here an exceptional spinner, there a captain with eloquent confidence. Here a slinger who is unplayable and there an all rounder who will carry us through.

Our achievements in cricket over the years – in light of the above – are nothing short of a miracle. We need to remember that before we think of switching off our TV or lambasting them at the office tea room. “Katha kerela wadak naa, Machan” must be replaced with “I am sure we will do better the next time”.
They give us that extra joy of being a Sri Lankan, and that is a commodity that no amount of money can buy.

Athula Senanayake, Via email

Please help me get my dues

I hope you will give this letter the space it deserves as the media perhaps is my only recourse now. I am a depositor at Golden Key and I was a working woman who put her little savings into the hands of someone I thought was God’s apostle on earth- Lalith Kotelawala.

Now I am virtually penniless and I was waiting for the Watawala Committtee at least to return my investment to me. I was not at home when the first cheque of Rs. 100,000 was sent and anyway the cheque seems to have been written wrong and may have been returned for that reason.

I have been up and down to the Central Bank since then, first to find out where the cheque was and later to try and get a fresh cheque. They did not give me information and it was thanks to Prof. Watawala’s intervention that I at least got the cheque number to authorize the cancellation.

It took them a month to issue a fresh cheque after Prof. Watawala intervened in early September and then in October they sent me a cheque again with a wrong name. The officer handling the matter at the Central Bank told me two weeks ago that a cheque would be posted when all that was required was an alteration and a signature to be placed on the altered cheque. I could have easily brought it back with me but maybe some red tape stood in the way.

I am desperately in need of money for medical expenses but the Central Bank seems to be depriving me of what should have been paid over a year ago.

I hope someone will read this and see that justice is done quickly.

M. Dias, Ja-ela

Students will protest, but see to it that it is within the law

The vice chancellor of a university being the chief administrative officer should take the blame for campus violence and deaths.

Youth has much to offer-idealism, generality, dedication and service. But the last thing a law-abiding society needs is indiscipline. Society recognizes the validity of protest regarding current burning problems. If the protests disrupt normal operations of the university, or in any way impede the rights of the public in general, such actions should be deplored as a violation of everything that the university community stands for. A university should keep all lines of communication open even when it comes to dissent, but not at the expense of the institution’s general functions.

There seems to be a current myth that university students are not answerable to the laws of the land. But it is not so, for all members are subject to the duly constituted laws of the university community and all the laws of the land.

Without law and order the university is a sitting duck to any small group from outside, like the J.V.P. that wishes to disrupt and interrupt the life of the institution. When the law is enforced a big hue and cry is made of police brutality etc largely to muster sympathy from the passive members of the community.

Ragging has been and is going on unabated in universities due to the inefficiency of the university administration. There seems to be no effective control over indisciplined youth. It is my opinion that harsh action should not be used, unless as a last resort after corrective action has failed. The problem of University lawlessness can never be completely eradicated I believe. But meaningful efforts must be made to confine it to the bare minimum.

One remedy could be for the clergy to advise the undergraduates. In addition, those in authority should have open discussions with the students to understand their problems instead of confronting them harshly.

V.K.B. Ramanayake, Maharagama

Sri Lanka lacks the business spirit that drives Singapore’s success

Sri Lankans hoping to emulate the Singapore success story, and make Sri Lanka another “tiger” economy fail to see some major difficulties with that hope. The most glaring of these is that the Chinese of Singapore are entrepreneurs and businessmen to the core.

In the 1950s and 1960s, passenger cruise ships would stop at Singapore to re-fuel and replenish their stocks of food and water. Shipyards were available for repairs. Singapore was a safe haven for rich tourists on “round the world cruises” to do some exotic tropical sightseeing and shopping. The Singapore Chinese built on that business.

With the coming of international air travel, the Singapore Chinese provided free or cheap “stop-over” hotels for visitors to rest and go shopping. They built air-conditioned shopping malls where international travellers could purchase tax free Japanese electronic goods. And with every step, the Singapore Chinese re-invested their profits in new projects that would bring in more profits and, most importantly, provide jobs for the young Chinese. They protected their money and invested it wisely. They guarded it well and made it work for them, resulting in many jobs for Singaporeans.

Sadly, that entrepreneurial spirit is lacking in Sri Lanka. The wealth of this country flows out in the purchase of luxury cars and other luxury goods – all helping the West economically but damaging investment and jobs growth here. Most responsible Singaporeans would consider the Sri Lankan style as imprudent and reckless spending.

If Sri Lanka is to avoid sliding into a Bangkok-type situation – with a wide divide between rich and poor and the accompanying unrest and tension, the President should ensure that the flow of funds is redirected to profitable investments in the poor parts of Sri Lanka.

Jack D’Arbo, Hotel Browns Beach, Negombo

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