Letters to the Editor

18th May, 1997


May peace and unity dawn!

Vesak Full Moon shine
With brilliant radiance
Spreading holy fragrance
Covering every distance.

The peal of temple bells
The beat of temple drums
Renew our memory
Of the Triple Anniversary
Birth, Enlightenment and Passing away
Of our Master, Lord Buddha.

Sweet smelling flowers
Perfuming the surroundings
Greet the world so gay
On this Blessed Day
Adding beauty and serenity
To the surrounding scenery

Shining in milky white
Stands the 'Stupa' in moon light
The resplendent pinnacle
Performs a miracle
The Bo-leaves spread the message
Through every passing breeze.

Temples are seas
Of white clad devotees
Altars are full of fragrant flowers
Camphor and joss-sticks
The oil lamps glitter
Illuminating the surroundings.

Every where can be heard
The message of the Buddha
The preaching of Dhamma
The path to discard craving
The path to end rebirth
To attain the Bliss of Nibbana.

Gorgeous pandals
Exhibiting various births
Of Bodhisatva and episodes
Of the life of Lord Buddha
Attract bee-hive crowds,
At the height of celebrations
The Vesak Full Moon smiles.

With Vesak Full Moon beams
May sympathy and kindness shine!
May on every human being
Peace and unity dawn!
May peace and unity shine
On this dark world war-torn!

Malini Hettige

Let the people decide

The very mention of the term mediation raises the most virulent opposition from the most diverse quarters. Some of this opposition is based on honest concern and some with malicious intent. Some fractions within both the ruling People's Alliance government and the Opposition have recently displayed a considered interest in bringing about a negotiated political settlement between the State and the LTTE and both have within their respective concerns, begun to emphasise the importance of mediation and international guarantees.

History warns us that it is better not to negotiate than to negotiate and fail, since failure generally results in a further polarisation and escalation of the conflict. History also provides both positive and negative experiences in negotiating a sustainable political settlement.

The historical experience of the recent Middle-East negotiations provide some crucial lessons. The initial preparations for talks between the PLO and the Israeli State was initiated by Norway. But as we all know, it was brokered in Washington by the US. The peace process has now virtually collapsed with renewed conflict. The only gain has been for the US in further entrenching its strategic dominance in the region.

The major international and regional powers particularly the US, Britain and India have been intensely involved in the Sri Lankan conflict for many years, due to their strategic geo-political interests in the Indian Ocean and South Asia. All of them are interested in and contend to gain access/control over Trincomalee which has one of the best natural harbours straddling the Indian Ocean sea lanes, in order to gain and maintain strategic dominance in the region. All of them solidly support the Sri Lankan State in waging war against the Tamil national liberation struggle, while striving to penetrate into the politics of the Tamil national movement. It's a deadly game of chess where the country and the people are played as pawns.

The US has vetoed itself out of the equation by openly supporting the Sri Lankan govt. in waging war against the LTTE including engaging in combat military training.

In as much as they continue to support the war, these powers also conspire to negotiate peace since peace is also a means of consolidating strategic dominance.

These developments raise a fundamental question about our national sovereignty and about the fate of the Tamil national liberation struggle. What would a mediated political settlement mean for our national independence, which has already been fatally compromised? How will these developments impact upon the national democratic aspirations of the Tamil people, the cause for which tens of thousands of militants have shed their blood? If the peace that is to be negotiated is not sustainable, that is, if it does not have the support of the people, and if it leads to an entrenchment of foreign dominance, then all the sacrifice on all sides would have been betrayed.

Where do the aspirations and the rights of the people come into all of this? Are they to be treated, as always, as mere pawns in the game, or should peace be a way of entrenching and consolidating the sovereignty of the people?

At all costs, the people must be empowered to design and monitor the peace process. Our own history is replete with treaties and accords signed by our own rulers with foreign powers where they betrayed the national interest in favour of perpetuating their own powers and privileges. The Indo-Lanka Accord is one such recent example of a settlement that was imposed by India purely in its own national and strategic interests and where the UNP govt. of JR Jayewardene betrayed the sovereignty of the country just to save its skin.

This means that we must design a negotiation process that institutionalises the role of the people in monitoring the process such that our national independence and sovereignty is preserved. We must design a mediational modality and a negotiations process where a citizens group that has the confidence of all communities may prevail upon the structure, methodology and outputs of the process such that the entire enterprise is sanctioned by the people.

Ajith Rupasinghe,

Peace Council of Sri Lanka.

Noble practice of neutrality is no more

The Attorney General's recent comments regarding the "Arsecularatne Affair" and the letter of A. L. M. Hashim of Kegalle provide interesting reading not only to legal minds, but also to lay people. I call it 'interesting' because it arouses much public interest in the manner cases are handled by the A.G's Department where a relative of a party to a case is involved.

I am one who has service in the Courts for 18 years, during which period I have gained a sufficient knowledge of all aspects of civil law. Therefore, I speak with some authority.

The answer of the A. G. to the question: "So, you say, it is correct to hear a case where your brother-in-law is suspect?", seems to me absurd or ridiculous, for the simple reason that even if you don't disclose relationship or friendship, it would ultimately transpire at some point of time in the course of a case. This will necessarily cause prejudice in the minds of those affected.There are certain basic unwritten principles to be followed by a Judge or a Legal Officer conducting a legal proceeding.

The first and foremost point is to ascertain whether the parties are known or related, in which case the matter should obviously be referred to another "neutral" Judge meaning one "belonging to neither of two opposites".

I am personally aware of cases of this nature where Judges have transferred cases, on their own initiative, to other Judges within the same jurisdiction no sooner they become aware of a connection whatsoever.

It is regrettable that this noble practice of neutrality is fading away today.

C. M. de Silva,


Nobody cares

Another strike by a sector of the University employees and once again activities in the country's citadels of education have come to a grinding halt.

Examinations are postponed, libraries are closed, research programmes disrupted and carefully planned academic programmes disorganised.... but who cares?

The undergraduates entered these ivory towers of knowledge with the hope of achieving academic distinction to contribute to their motherland's call in the hour of need.

Some students are wasting their prime of youth in frustration, waiting to enter these universities inspite of having qualified to do so several years ago.

But do those who are elected or appointed or responsible to resolve this impasse care.....? evidently not !!!

They do not have the necessity to do so, nor the political will.

After all, their children ( including those of Ministers of State) are having their uninterrupted academic facilities either in International Schools (which few can afford) or in Universities across the shores.....so what does it matter if our progeny kick their heels in frustration while the prime of their youth is being wasted away?

Let at least these plaintive words from a disillusioned parent open the blindfolded eyes that refuse to see.

P. Muthuthanthrige,


More letters to the editor * Bring in some outsiders * Of roads and booby traps * Those greedy landlords * He was simple and true to himself * A remarkable woman was she

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