Longing for that once clean Lanka As one who has spent more than a decade in your beautiful island nation as an expatriate official representing an Indian Bank and later two other top Indian conglomerates in very senior positions, I have always loved Sri Lanka for varied reasons, particularly its cleanliness,orderliness and more importantly, the [...]


Letters to the Editor


Longing for that once clean Lanka

As one who has spent more than a decade in your beautiful island nation as an expatriate official representing an Indian Bank and later two other top Indian conglomerates in very senior positions, I have always loved Sri Lanka for varied reasons, particularly its cleanliness,orderliness and more importantly, the hospitality of the lovely people of this nation. Even after completion of my assignments,my wife and I continue to visit Sri Lanka often as our daughter has now settled here and also for the other reasons mentioned above.We always used to talk about the cleaniness of Sri Lanka at every opportunity to those who had no opportunity to visit Sri Lanka, the little paradise on earth.

However, of late, I am really pained to note that the cleanliness has taken a beating in the country and it is shocking to find garbage littered and strewn all over. Even the uncovered storm water drains remain blocked with garbage dumping resulting in stagnation of water and serve as a convenient breeding place for mosquitoes. No wonder people get affilicted with the most dangerous dengue fever and fall victims to Elephantiasis and  Malaria.

I hope and pray the urban and municipal councils  take note of this and see that the garbage is removed then and there and adequate actions taken against those who litter the roads and by- lanes  with garbage.

I really long to see the once most clean and litter-free Sri Lanka again.

Tharcius S. Fernando  Wattala

Would anyone in their right mind allow a construction that violates every rule and obligation?

A resident of Initium Road, Dehiwela lives in a house built within 10 perches of land according to the building regulations which prevailed at that time. However, on the western side of his boundary the Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia Municipal Council (DMMC) has approved a condominium building with four floors which has obstructed cross ventilation to his premises as well as the sunlight to a certain extent.

In 2014, the DMMC once again approved a condominium building consisting of 17 floors within 43 perches of land on the eastern boundary of his property. This is against all norms of the existing planning and building regulations. On an appeal made by the residents of this neighbourhood, the proposed development was cancelled at the request of the then Chairman of the Urban Development Authority.

Subsequently, the developer has managed to obtain approval from the DMMC and has recommenced the construction of the condominium building within the property on this resident’s eastern boundary. Furthermore the rear space for the condominium building ought to be on his side but the developer has omitted to do so without any valid reasons. This was first brought to the notice of the Minister of Megapolis vide letter dated 22/10/2015 on a public day and an encouraging verbal assurance from the Minister was given. It is also noteworthy that this same Developer has constructed a condominium building at No 20,2nd Lane Dehiwala, which is also against planning and building regulations, notwithstanding which people are occupying same.

Since no action has been taken up to date, the resident appealed to the UDA Chairman vide letter dated 27/04/2016 regarding the suspicious pile driving taking place within the said premises. The developer thereafter halted his development for some time and has now restarted it at a slower pace. Hence the resident wrote another letter to the UDA Chairman on 05/07/2017 and met him personally with three other residents of Initium Road. They were told that he has seen the notice sent to the developer to cease the development.

However, to the resident’s dismay he has heard recently that the UDA has approved this development for a number of  floors exceeding the stipulated amount of floors specified and permitted in the planning and building regulations. They have allowed the use of the rear space of the building contrary to the said regulations, thereby not only denying the entire cross ventilation to his house but also proper sunlight.

Can this development be construed as a healthy development? Will any learned professional in town planning be able to justify it as a proper development? Prof.Priyanka Seneviratne who has worked in 38 countries in three continents has stated that he has “never seen such blatant violation of every rule of law and obligations by all parties to construction contracts anywhere, except in India and Bangladesh” (The Sunday Times – 03/09/2017).

This resident’s predicament may appear to be pathetic, but is there anybody in this beloved country capable of dispensing justice?

Disappointed  Via email

Sri Lankan Malays, a fast vanishing community

 Somewhere in the 17th century Indonesia was invaded by the Dutch, vast areas were captured but many regions remained with the indigenous population who fought back.  Some chieftains of such regions were captured and banished to far-away countries like Ceylon, South Africa and Surinam. Many Indonesian Malays also joined Dutch forces as soldiers or workers who were sent to these countries.  Exactly why or how my own forefathers came to this country called Ceylon at that time, unfortunately, is not traceable.

Soon my community integrated with the rest of the population with ease, became part of the majority Sinhala and Tamil communities, took part in their struggles for independence from the Dutch and then British occupation, while also serving as soldiers, fire-fighters, plantation supervisors, accountants, teachers and musicians.  They were great sportsmen who often represented even national teams in soccer and rugby.  Even during the three decades of separatist war, my community sacrificed the lives of no less than 40 gallant soldiers in officer ranks for the freedom of this country.

Despite all positive contributions to Sri Lanka, today my community has not been recognized politically, so much so that we don’t have even a single representative in the country’s Parliament, not even in any local government body in any part of Sri Lanka or anyone holding prominent offices in the higher rungs in the corridors of power, even though there are many well qualified and able people in my community

We don’t have even a single Malay school or institution for higher learning, no teachers, no books or even community centres where our language and culture could be discussed and revived. Our children attend national schools mostly studying Sinhala, the language which gradually replaced my own mother-tongue Malay at home.  We have forgotten our culture, language and history.  Due to poverty and lack of opportunity a large number of our children dropped out from school unable to pursue higher education.  Many educated young men migrated, leaving others without a strong leadership or guidance to the less fortunate.

A few individuals and organisations struggled to keep us afloat.  One of them B.D.K. Saldin wrote books dedicated to my language and culture and even published a Malay Dictionary.  An organization called the Conference of Sri Lankan Malays (COSLAM) conducts Malay language classes to try and revive our language. Their efforts meet with limited success due to lack of interest among my community or due to other reasons like their day to day struggle for survival.

Java Lane, a historical Malay neighbourhood in the heart of Colombo has been removed completely from the map when the lands in the area were taken over by the government for a hotel project and no Malay was able to raise any protests. (The Java Lane Soccer team was one of the best in Colombo)

Will other names such as Malay Street, T.B. Jayah Street, Justice Akbar Street, Jawatte, Jaela and other historical names too vanish in time to come?

While my ancestors in Indonesia and Malaysia are making giant strides in social and economic development and prosperity, my tiny community in Sri Lanka is on the brink of virtual extinction.

Anver Kamiss  Colombo 5


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