Letters to the Editor

12th October 1997

Mirror Magazine

There's no escape from war

The Devolution Package of the government is being talked about as if the war will come to an end as soon as the "package" is through. None of us like killing and war. We must give maximum credit to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge for having made a genuine and serious effort to end the war, by extending her warm hand of peace to the LTTE quite early in her term as President. The Nation looked forward to a long and peaceful period under the PA government.

But unfortunately for all Sri Lankans, including the vast majority of Tamils, the LTTE leadership will not be satisfied with anything except Eelam. Eelam as envisaged by them is not merely the Northern and Eastern Provinces as a separate independent Tamil homeland; it also includes land extending upto Chilaw along the western coast. It was very clear from their maps shown on nation-wide TV after Jaffna town was captured by the government forces.

Prabhakaran has made it absolutely clear to the whole world that he will not give up war until his goal is achieved. For this openly declared purpose he is prepared to sacrifice the lives of thousands of Tamil youth including boys and girls not even in their teens yet.

Therefore, how can the passing of the "package" end the war? We are forced to go on with this devastating and unpopular war much against our wish; we are left with no choice. There is no doubt that the war will devitalise the country for many years to come. We should not wail in public that the war is hurting us; some of our leaders are saying in the mass media there will be no money to provide health, education and other basic needs. Aren't our leaders doing just that often, demoralising our fighting units and the public?.

Will the joining of North and East in a package have any effect except making the goal of Eelam easier to achieve? Any leader even after Prabhakaran will have a vast area and a larger population and a long unpatrolled coast line under his control. If he is permitted, Prabhakaran will take over North and East even without saying "thank you" and immediately go on with the war, demanding the balance.

Even after achieving his Eelam, will he end the war? India is quite aware that Tamil Nadu will be the next target to have a Tamil hegemony.

There were reports that small groups in South India have already been trained. Eelam will be a safe haven and a training ground for the greater war.

As I said at the start we have no escape from this war except by winning it. We cannot expect to strengthen the enemy and expect to win thereafter. We must stop wailing "AIYO IT HURTS US AND UNABLE TO CONTINUE". The package will give more land and men to the present enemy and encourage any future terrorist leader to continue the Eelam dream.

Dr.F.G.Hudson Silva

Colombo 7

Entertainment for the few

The collection of howlers in English from "An English Teacher's Diary" by C.N.S. in The Sunday Times of 28th September, would have provided much entertainment to that class of persons in our society who take pride in being able to use English accurately and fluently. That is one side of the coin. The other side is that such entertainment will be at the expense of our unfortunate learners who through no fault of theirs have been placed in this predicament of having to learn English as a second language. Their difficulty is further aggravated by the somewhat unfriendly environment which is ever ready to collect their errors and to be entertained by them.

The problem can be best explained by the following set of questions and the most likely answers to and from a learner of English: Can you speak English? Yes, a little. Then why don't you speak? I'm afraid. Afraid of what? Afraid of making mistakes. Why are you afraid of making mistakes? Because others will laugh at me. So much for howlers from the learners' angle.

However, there is one question that needs to be raised. C.N.S. appears to feel that there is a correct spelling for "Jayawardenepura " and he provides a number of other ways in which this word has been spelt by his students. The question is - Is there a correct spelling for words like 'Jayawardene'? The Telephone Directory, which is probably the only directory of names available, gives the following spellings for the word 'Jayawardene' : Jayawardana, Jayawardane, Jayawardena, Jayawardene, Jayawardhana, Jayawardhane and Jayawardhena.

D. A. Siyambalapitiya,


Will this suffering never end?

The war of attrition has continued like a beggar's wound for fourteen years and seems set to continue. The loss in terms of life and resources has been something which the country simply cannot afford. The life and resources could have been used instead for poverty elimination and for development.

Without adequate food, medicines, water and sanitation - not to speak of proper schooling for the children - the people in the war-torn areas are undergoing unspeakable suffering.

We in the South with our TV and our sports events, our hotels and our glamorous shopping centres, are largely oblivious of this suffering of the people in the war-torn areas. Yet, sooner rather than later, if the war continues, this suffering is going to envelop all of us.

We therefore urge the Government and the separatist combatants to immediately proclaim a ceasefire and hold negotiations without pre-conditions to end the war and establish an honourable peace. The negotiations may be facilitated by an acceptable third party.

The negotiations should have a clear agenda and a fixed time frame. The negotiators should be empowered to make decisions with the minimum delay.

Paul Caspersz

Satyodaya Centre

Erratic driving - does anyone care?

Sri Lanka's Traffic Police (Colombo and Greater Colombo's in particular) should take a high spot among the most inefficient in the world. Everyday one observes blatant violations of basic traffic and driving rules. Trishaws and private buses act as if they have a stake with the police force while private vans (fast becoming the most populated vehicles in Sri Lanka) come a close third.

Recently two foreign sports commentators were heard discussing Sri Lanka and they were heaping accolades on our island. But when referring to driving here, one stated that a foreigner driving here should always do the wrong thing as the right thing ie. observing traffic laws, would confuse Sri Lankan drivers and cause accidents. Though humourously stated, such was the shameful impression of those responsible for maintaining driving discipline.

One cannot understand the problem. Is it lack of personnel? Surely there are thousands of unemployed men and women. Or is it the private interests of the cops in such vehicles that has caused this madness?

Whatever the cause, the powers that be, should take the responsibility for letting this situation slide so badly and also for not attempting to take any action to correct it.

Soon we will be celebrating 50 years of independence. Is it really anything to crow about? Poor show Traffic Police.

R. Silva,


Such confusion

CNS' notes from his diary-Part 1 (28.09.97) gives plenty of food for thought. It must be remembered that English is a second language to us and as long as one could communicate in this language, it would suffice.

English itself is a complicated language which causes confusion to both teacher and pupil alike. For example, the pronunciation of words such as 'debut', 'debris', 'subtle', 'picturesque' and a host of other words confuse the students to a great extent and make some of them brain-sick. When I was browsing through the Proper Names in the dictionary, I came across this name - FEATHERSTONEHAUGH and oh! the pronunciation is FANSHAW....haw-haw! How many letters are silent?

Hence, we should not ridicule these English Learners. I agree with the English expert from Britain who says that these errors should not be taken too seriously.

Being an English teacher for 40 years, I would like to regret the readers with some howlers

1. Teacher (angrily) : "Do you know your mother tongue?"
"I know, Sir, and I also know others' mothers' tongues"!

2.Q: "Who is a miser?"
"A rat-catcher" (mice!)

3. Q: "What is the opposite of Mummy?"

4. Q: "What is the opposite of Pride?"

When I retired I received a letter from one of my past students who wound up - "Thank you very much, Sir for all your halp". This does not speak very much of the teacher does it?!!

Richy Jacob

Mt. Lavinia

They also contributed

Reference the feature article 'From garbage stench to scenic stretch?' in The Sunday Times of October 5, I am indeed very grateful for the coverage you have given, but feel that equal publicity is due to our co-sponsor Messrs. Odel (Pvt.) Ltd., and our two other sponsors, M/s Moosajee Sons and Dipped Products Ltd, who collectively contributed generously to make this event the success it was.

Dr. Arthur C. Clarke

Colombo 7

I don't dip my pen in vitriol

You chose to publish an open letter to Tamil Leaders by Kumar Ponnambalam. This letter was teeming with insulting epithets. For some time I had decided not to reply Kumar Ponnambalam because my friends told me that nobody takes Kumar seriously and so why bother to reply him.

But I write this only to correct a falsehood in that letter. He says that in my letter to the President, I had wanted "One nation-one people" amended as "One nation-many peoples." This is a deliberate distortion. I give below the full text of my letter to the President which text I passed to the newspapers.

"I write with regard to the "ONE PEOPLE ONE NATION" programme which was launched last week by Your Excellency. While we appreciate this programme which was launched to educate the people on the importance of the devolution proposals, I wish to point out that the slogan "One people one Nation" seems to imply an assimilative strategy. The emphasis of this campaign should be on a pluralistic, multi-religious and multi-ethnic society. Therefore the theme should be focused on many people, instead of one people. I have already drawn this matter to the attention of Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, and I shall be grateful if this campaign is revised accordingly."

You will see that I never used "one nation-many peoples."

Having uttered a lie he goes on to pontificate. This is utter dishonesty.

He brands my letter as being "wishy washy". Of course to Kumar Ponnambalam whose only political vocabulary is abuse and insult, my letter is wishy washy. But I believe that one can be effective without being abusive. I don't write by dipping my pen in vitriol.

M. Sivasithamparam,

President - TULF.

More letters to the editor * Why this deception? * Don't disturb the peace and harmony

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