Letters to the Editor

30th November 1997

Mirror Magazine


Demerge the North-East Province

In the new Constitution, the Northern Province should be demerged from the Eastern. Otherwise not only the Sinhalese majority but all true patriots of Sri Lanka will fear the spectre or shadow of Varatha Raja Perumal, the former Chief Minister of North East Provincial Council who made a unilateral Declaration of Independence and thereby committed a treasonable act. As long as the North and East are held together, without a clear mandate from the people of the Eastern Province, the threat to the territorial integrity of the country will loom large in the minds of the people. It must be remembered that even the architects of the Indo-Lanka Accord did not favour a permanent merger. President Jayawardene gave a solemn promise to the nation that he would lead the campaign for the demerger of the provinces at a referendum.

Because of the merger, the Muslim Congress has a legitimate ground for demanding a separate Muslim Unit in the Eastern Province.

The concession of a separate unit of administration to the Muslims will lead to a proliferation of similar demands by the Plantation Sector, etc.

If the North is demerged from the East, the Muslim Congress will have no claim for a separate Unit. They will have their rightful place in the Eastern Province where the Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese are roughly balanced.This Council can serve as a model for other Provincial Councils in the matter of treating the Opposition.

Until the refugees and those living in camps are able to settle down in their own homes and cast their votes freely and fearlessly, until then the North and East must remain merged Temporarily, as it is now.

Within a period of five years the temporarily merged Provincial Council should take all necessary measures to hold the Referendum in the East to ascertain the views of its people as to whether they wish to remain separated or merged.

If the temporarily merged North-East Provincial Council fails to take steps to hold such a referendum in the East within this five- year period then automatically the provinces will be separated by a Presidential decree, without recourse to any referendum.

The New Constitution should be, as far as possible, jointly presented by the PA and the UNP. With people like the former Finance Minister Ronnie de Mel in the UNP, it would not be difficult for the PA to co-sponsor the new Constitution with the UNP.

The new Constitution should permanently remove the fear of the Sinhalese over the territorial integrity of the country. This new Constitution should also ensure the non-recurrence of such conditions and circumstances that forced the Tamils to cry and clamour for separation. This Constitution must prevent a repetition of the 1983 Black July incidents which brought the majority community into world-wide contempt and hatred.

As the Tamils were forced to take up arms against the government due to the many inflammable utterances and intolerable acts as is now admitted even by the President and the Minister of Constitutional Affairs, they cannot be tried for treason. They are victims of circumstances. The rust from the iron of hatred against the power-hungry Sinhalese politicians has penetrated their hearts and has taken a firm place in it after the Black July 1983 incidents. Therefore they should be treated with an understanding heart rather than fighting with them. It is far better to arrange an immediate cease-fire through International Agencies and proclaim a Presidential Amnesty unconditionally to all those who lay down their arms and are ready to enter the main stream of social life and even participate in the forthcoming provincial elections to the temporarily merged North-East Province. If the voters are willing they can capture power in that province.

It is now learnt that the LTTE has rejected the new proposals put forward by the government as an alternative to Eelam.

It will now appear to any sensible person that the LTTE will not accept any terms or proposals excepting their own terms and proposals which the Government and the people will not be willing to accept in toto.

It is evident that the LTTE will go on fighting till they capture power in the North. If they fail to attain that goal, rather than submitting to the government they would die swallowing cynide.

Faced with such a situation, the Government has no other alternative than to subdue them by force of arms.

But there is a better alternative, a more humane and noble method; that is to call an immediate halt to this bloody war. The grant of a presidential amnesty will be true to the spirit of the teachings of the Buddha who is followed by the majority of the people of this country. Such an amnesty will to a great extent neutralize the ill-effects of the Black July 1983. To the war criminals of Japan in World War II Ceylon delegates pleaded for such a mercy and clemency. The Jayawardenepura Hospital is a reward and a standing memorial. Asoka, nick-named 'the wicked' who was guilty of more heinous crimes than the LTTE, became Asoka the Great through the benign influence of the teachings of the Buddha.

Such a magnanimous joint offer by the PA and UNP will enhance the reputation of the country internationally. The war criminals,whosoever they may be, to whatever community they may belong, must be left in the hands of Nemesis or retributive justice. They would be punished by the pangs of their own conscience.

The PA and the UNP must bury the past. They must cease fighting for wrongs of yesterday. They must start fighting for the rights of today.

M. I. M. Razik,


Ragging in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh

A thousand push ups by the Vice Chancellors, Professors, Lecturers, Student Counsellors and Senior Students will not bring back to life, the brilliant young student who entered Peradeniya with fond hopes of becoming a professional engineer, having already done most of his CIMA exams. The entire University system in Sri Lanka is collectively responsible for the tragic end of this young man's life. For far too long have the hierarchy in our universities looked the other way, while heartless, cruel, bestial, sadistic 'ragging' grew into an uncontrollable cancer.

It is said that one single pair - male and female - of rabbits was introduced to previously rabbit free Australia. There were no natural predators to keep the numbers in check and now they have grown to such huge numbers that they are eating up all the vegetation and blocking highways. The introduction of the mild forms of 'hazing' from the older UK Universities has similarly grown to uncontrollable depths in Sri Lanka. Having studied in the universities of Ceylon, Cambridge and Ohio State, I did not encounter or hear of anything resembling what passes here for 'ragging', in the foreign universities.

If there is a will there is a way. I was in charge of the Institute of Surveying and Mapping where surveyors are trained, for a period of ten years. By a judicious mixture of consulting and advising the senior students about our cultural ethos, of welcoming strangers combined with regular checks of the hostels by senior members of the staff and myself, nothing serious happened during my long tenure as head of the ISM.

In Sri Lanka, two foreign introductions - ragging and party politics - have grown to cancerous proportions. The time has come to control these cancers.

For those who are interested, there is a beautiful custom practised by the seniors in the universities of Bangladesh. A senior 'adopts' a junior as his ward, advising and counselling the new entrant boy or girl and this relationship is for life. They are practising Muslims and the relationship is truly brotherly and sisterly. When I was working in Libya, one of my doctors was from Bangladesh and I could sense the concern with which he followed the progress of his adopted younger 'sister' through her finals and subsequent marriage. He was invited and went personally to England, where the ceremony took place, to attend the wedding and bless the bride in her new life. This practice is far more in conformity with our own Sri Lankan cultural ethos, than the sadistic and heartless treatment, by the numerically and physically strong majority of seniors, of the outnumbered and timid juniors, as they start a new life in new and strange surroundings. Ratnaseeli whose back was broken and Varaprakash are the extreme examples. How many more hundreds there must be, whose mental health was affected or who suffered lesser but permanent physical injuries.

In the public service, there are clear guidelines to be followed in such cases. If a public servant is charged for a criminal offence, he is immediately interdicted. If found guilty in a court of law, he is dismissed. That is, there is a two track policy. The law of the land is applied to the public servant and if the law finds him guilty, he loses his job as well. This is a salutary practice for the universities to follow.

T. Somasekaram


Towards Peace

Sri Lanka - the tear drop of the Indian Ocean,
Is losing her image as a much-sought-after nation,
Here bombs and bullets have become a way of life,
Signalling a troubled state with eternal strife.
Lanka is a known island fighting a civil war,
Maintaining peace is all what she hopes for.
In a troubled state that appears restless,
Can a peace-loving Lankan escape the daily stress?
Lankan life has been a mixture of strain and pain,
Because the bombs and bullets have come to reign.
A meaningful solution could bring about a change,
If the conflicting parties have their plans well-arranged.
A lasting settlement to her conflict could be within sight,
If the warring parties act with deep foresight.
The on-going civil war is a war of attrition,
Though internecine in form, it causes much friction.
The bombs have blasted and the guns have boomed,
Sending the city's infrastructure to a state of doom.
Death and destruction were the ultimate victors,
That brought heavy loss and damage to the economic sectors.
When can saner counsel in this blessed isle prevail?
When efforts to bring the two together have already failed.
Though devolution appears to be on top of the agenda,
Death and destruction have given her media propaganda.
Peace-loving Lankans look forward to ethnic unity,
They hopefully expect the warring parties to sign a treaty.
A treaty of amity would bring peace and prosperity,
To acountry where natural resources abound in plenty.
Let the Sinhala, the Tamil, the Muslim and the Burgher,
Stay equal and together, like the birds of a feather.
We're Lankans first and Lankans last, irrespective of ethnicity,
We're for harmonious amity purely to maintain unity in diversity.

M. I. Mohamed Ansar

More letters to the editor * Inconsistencies in phone bills * Extended water–cuts * Living by the Dhamma * Those neglected clock towers

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