Jayanath Laksen Chandri Salgado
SLAF No. 2 intake of officer cadets consisted of nine, along with few other in–service inductions. Of the nine, four were Thomians and Jayanath Laksen Chandri Salgado of ‘Preetheum’, Moratuwa, was one of them.
Sala, as he was fondly called by his friends, came in with an excellent school profile as one who had reached to represent Sri Lanka at the Indo-Sri Lanka athletic meet in his pet event, the 400 meters, through ACE Athletic Club. He was a college prefect, cadet, and a member of the Second XV Rugby team.
Sala’s father, Lloyd Salgado, who was a proprietary planter, was well known to my father, who was once a Police Superintendent of Moratuwa. Later, I also became acquainted with his brother-in-law, surgeon, Dr. Wimal Gunaratne, who, too, was a public school athlete.
Cadet intakes were a result of the post ’71 insurgency expansion, which the services underwent in its wake, with the infrastructure required not being able to keep pace. In this context, the No. 01 intake, of 30 cadets took priority in the available resources. Consequently, the ‘flyers’ of our batch had to wait till No. 01 completed their phases, which applied to all other branches as well.
We felt the salubrious climate of Diyatalawa (DLA) during morning PT in our thinnest possible vest. One might say we developed a dreadful respect for the ‘Siberian winter’, which we had only read about.
The stagnation in training facilities made Sala and the flying cadets follow the training that unfolded mainly for Regt. Cadets, under the then Commanding Officer (CO), Wg. Cdr. Bren Sosa and the Officer Commanding Training (OCT) Sqn. Ldr. Tony Direckze. A component of it (No. 1 Officers’ Regt. course) was a jungle march to a location, in the Kuda Oya area, in small batches, and the flight cadets consisted one of them. It so happened that they reached the destination a day earlier than the other groups, perhaps due to a ‘flying navigational error’ and had to take the ‘back bearing’ to the DLA camp. This all-round training had perhaps stood in good stead in later service life, when commanding stations, and for Sala, in particular, when he was the Director Operations with ground operations coming under it.
On commissioning, the three flyers were posted to the No. 03 Maritime Squadron flying Cessna 337 aircraft under Sq. Ldr. CO Christian. However, unexpectedly they were converted to Jet Provost (JPT) fighter aircraft which came into its own glory with the ’71 insurgency strike and interdiction sorties. Sala and the batchmates kept on flying this aircraft until it was phased out. It took almost another two decades for the SLAF to get back to fighter jet aircraft flying, post ‘OP Poonamalai’, where the Indian Air Force dropped relief supplies over Jaffna, better known as the ‘Parippu drop’.
Sala, later qualified as a Flying instructor and he was selected to undergo No. 313 Qualified Flying Instructors (QFI) course at Central Flying School, Royal Air Force, Leeming, UK, meeting a very demanding long overdue void in flying training. In his seven years as a QFI, culminating in the last two years as CO of the Flying Training Wing (FTW), generations of pilots had been churned out meeting the coveted RAF standards. He was the first to follow the Air Warfare Course at the Air War College, Pakistan Air Force for over a period of a year. As a pilot, on his flyingmanship, what better opinion than from his own batchmate who later became a very senior Captain with SriLankan Airlines. He opined, “Sala was an exceptional flyer who could be cool as ever for military flying.”
In his rising career he had gone through the ambit of appointments as Eastern and Western Zonal Commanders, Director Operations and finally the Chief of Staff. He was a recipient of the Ranawickrema Padakkama (RWP) very early in his career (1992), and without resting on his laurels on valour he continued with his operational contributions until the very end.
Sala leaves his wife Erandathie and children Laksith and Shalindri. We are grateful to Sala’s College friend HDK Silva for keeping us updated on his medical status, sparing us from troubling Erandathie. Religious ceremonies were held at the Holy Emmanuel Church, Rawathawatte, Moratuwa, and a service funeral under health regulations.
Old soldiers never die, they only fade away
May his soul rest in peace!
Role of Buddhism in cultivating inter-communal peace and harmony
Buddhism is one religion which has never in its history anywhere in the world engaged in warfare to spread the Dhamma. Its scriptures do not preach violence as a means of conversion of people to Buddhism. World history does not record crusades undertaken for that purpose by Buddhism. This is not to denigrate other religions which have resorted to such means, for one needs to consider the context in which such things had happened before rushing into judgment, but to view everything in the right perspective at the beginning of this discussion.
Buddhism in Sri Lanka is in a position to protect all other religions and whatever cultures those religions may have developed in Sri Lanka, not only because it is the religion of the majority, but also due to its virtues such as religious tolerance, its pervasive compassion, respect for different views and particularly its denunciation of fundamentalism. Buddha in the Brahmajala Sutta (Diga Nikaya) had advised his disciples not to be displeased or generate rancour against anybody who speaks in disparaging language about the Buddha, Dhamma, Sanga.
More important is the Buddha’s opinion on religious fundamentalism. He had preached that one should not have dogmatic attachment to views and ideologies whether they are true or false. Such attachment could lead to the development of an attitude that states; “this view alone is true, all else is falls”. This type of attitude is defined by the Buddha as exclusivism (vide; Dhammasangani) which in religion could lead to religious fundamentalism. Buddha in his famous discourse on the Parable of the Raft says that his Dhamma is not for grasping but for crossing the river of samsara and the raft thereafter must be abandoned (Alagaddupama Sutta in Majjhima Nikaya). Buddha had discouraged religious fundamentalism amongst his disciples for it could lead to conflict and even war. Terrorist violence we experienced recently could have been due to religious fundamentalism.
Buddhism could be the protective religion for other religions not because Sri Lanka belongs to Sinhala Buddhists only. Indeed, it does not. Catholic, Hindu, Muslim religious leaders, have said that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist country. To briefly clarify the matter, what one means when one says Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist country is that it was Sinhala Buddhists who had built and protected the Sri Lankan civilisation which constitutes a nation. When Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith was questioned on this matter he said when one travels by helicopter one could see the ‘Stupa’ and the tanks together, the ‘Weva-dagaba’ concept, everywhere which is the symbol of Buddhist culture side by side. To identify Sri Lanka as Sinhala Buddhist is to make reference and give due recognition to this phenomenon. The good Cardinal had said that everybody in Sri Lanka had grown under the protective culture of Buddhism.
Buddhism could be the catalyst to bring to the surface all the goodness that resides in other religions and discourage evil if any. The Islamic fundamentalists who set off bombs in Catholic and Christian churches may have perhaps referred their scriptures, and disregarding context, focused on the content that recommends violence, and were motivated by it. Buddhist clergy and laity could by word and deed show that non-violence could be a very effective force. They must by their demeanour and action show how emotions could be controlled, and how non-violence work.
Instead if there is violence against fundamentalism as happened in Kalutara and Digana, the fundamentalists will never learn the wretchedness of violence, depravity of killing others and oneself and the importance of living in a Sinhala Buddhist country. They must see and feel the difference in Buddhism and life in a Sinhala Buddhist country. This cannot be achieved by attacking mosques and churches or harassing the minorities. They must feel they belong to Sri Lanka. They must feel that the famous singer late Mohideen Baig was right when he told his son that he will never go hungry as long as he lived among the Sinhalese. They must be made to feel that they belong to Sri Lanka. This is in the hands of the Buddhist clergy and laity.
Other religions on their part must appreciate the benign nature of Buddhism, its precept of non-violence, its ability to foster their religions and allow them to work in peace and harmony. Other religions must make use of these virtues of Buddhism and not abuse them. They must not make unfair and unethical advances, claims, and try to subvert the Buddhist culture that pervades the entire country. Instead it may be prudent to try and subject the cultural aspect of their religions to a process of localization or domestication, for instance in the areas of music, ritual, symbols and architecture. We see this happening in Catholic areas in the Western coast but seldom in the East coast’s Muslim areas. In fact, what we see there is a process of ‘Arabisation’. When we visit Kattankudy we feel as if we have come to the Middle East. This was apparently the experience of MP Prof. Marasinghe recently.
This kind of activity may hurt Buddhist sensitivity. After all Muslims happen to be in the East due to a kind gesture of a Kandyan king. Perhaps this kind of adaptation may be easier for Sinhala Christians as their culture is Sinhala Buddhist for their ancestors belonged to that culture before they were converted, which was often by unethical means and not conviction. Sinhala culture is inherent and visible particularly in the rural Christian folk if not in the urban westernised.
If religious harmony is to prevail unethical proselytizing, conversion without conviction for material benefits, has to be recognized as an evil for everybody. No genuine religious priest would attempt this kind of conversion. Only those who are tools in the hands of a global political power would engage in such unethical work. Stopping unethical conversions would go a long way in achieving religious peace and harmony. Paying lip service to peace while turning a blind eye to these happenings is to court disaster and to strengthen the hands of the extremists and pave the way for violent reaction which has the potential to trigger foreign interference in our internal affairs.
Buddhism seems to be slowly but surely gaining in strength internationally in providing a solution to the problems concerning peace of mind and harmony and control of greed. These changes are happening mainly in Europe and the US. In the US for instance, believers in Buddhism rose by 170 percent during the period from 1900 to 2000. This happened while successive generations moved away from belief in God and associated rituals. The majority comprising 53 percent of believers in Buddhism were white middle class highly educated young Americans and they had converted by conviction, 67 percent of American Buddhists had been raised in a religion other than Buddhism (Pew Foundation Survey, 2015; Russel Heimlich, 2008).
On the other hand the attraction of these groups to Islam and Hinduism is much less. This change had happened despite a concerted effort to prevent it. The main attraction of Buddhism has been its above-mentioned virtues and their final goal of peace achievable via its method of meditation. All this proves the point that Buddhism could play a role in uniting the people under one umbrella. In Sri Lanka it should be done by the priests and laity by word and deed. Whether politics would allow them is a moot point.
N.A. de S. Amaratunga
Collie Smith – the other ‘Sobers’ that West Indies lost
When I read the article, “Cricket’s greatest is 85 today” by veteran cricket journalist, Rex Clementine of this newspaper on 28th July, I thought of writing the following article about a ‘Great loss’, incurred to Jamaica, West Indies and the world cricket.
The name Collie Smith would be familiar to the majority of cricket fans, fascinated by the history of international cricket of yester years. His full name was O’Neil Gordon “Collie” Smith who was born on 5th May 1935 in Kingston, Jamaica, before he met with an untimely accident and died on 9th September, 1959, in Staffordshire in England.
Following is an account of the accident extracted from the internet.
On September 6, 1959, Collie Smith, Garfield Sobers and Jamaican medium-fast bowler Tom Dewdney, met after their respective Lancashire League games ,and were all set to travel through the night to London to take part in a charity match, the following day. But, fate had different plans. At around 4.45 that morning, Sobers was in the driver’s seat, and it so happened that he was confronted with two dazzling headlights, coming straight towards him, leaving him no time to react. That was all, Sobers says, he could remember about the collision that followed. It was later learnt that the car they were travelling in had run head-on into a 10-ton cattle truck. Once out of the daze, Sobers immediately went to check on Collie, but the latter responded by saying “I’m all right, Maan. Go look after the big boy (Tom).”
Three days later, on September 9, 1959, Collie was declared dead due to a severe damage to his spinal cord. He had lapsed into unconsciousness after the horrific accident, and one of Jamaica’s favourite sons was no more. He was already an accomplished player by then, having scripted terrific centuries against formidable sides, like England and Australia. Sobers, in his autobiography, reckons that Collie would have been among the top players in the world had he not been taken away by that fatal accident. But on that day, the dreams of the Jamaican people and that of Collie’s had indeed come to an abrupt end.
Following is what Sobers had written about the accident and Collie.
“There should have been four of us making the journey south on that fateful night. We were waiting for Roy Gilchrist, but after an hour or more we gave up and decided to make our way to London without him. Such is the fickle finger of fate. Had we left on time or had we waited for a little longer, who knows what might have happened. But there is no turning the clock back,”
“He was three years older than me and already a very fine cricketer who seemed destined to become even better. He was more than just an accomplished batsman, having scored big 100s against England and Australia. He was also developing into a very good off-spin bowler. I am serious when I say that he had the potential to be a top class all-rounder, probably one of the world’s best.”
A crowd of 60,000 is believed to have attended Collie’s funeral in Jamaica. That speaks volumes of how popular he was back then. The people believed in his ability.
His tombstone, in Jamaica’s May Pen cemetery, is engraved with “Keen Cricketer, Unselfish Friend, Worthy Hero, Loyal Disciple and Happy Warrior. A road in Collie’s birthplace is named ‘Collie Smith Drive’ in his memory.
Sobers was found guilty for careless driving and was fined although he pleaded not guilty claiming that he was dazzled by the oncoming headlights.
The following comments found in the internet, are truly interesting.
After the three ‘Ws’ – Everton Weekes, Frank Worrell and Clyde Walcott – had graced the stage for West Indian cricket, it was perceived that another trio in the form of Sobers, (Joe) Solomon and (Collie) Smith would take the cricketing world by storm. Sadly, the dream was short-lived.
Ministers at the Olympics “Fiddling while Rome burns”
Thank you for the editorial of 29 July, aptly headlined – “It’s MPs’ Code of Conduct, stupid”! We could also add, “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Media Minister and government Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella’s remarks that several Parliamentarians (including himself!) had visited the Olympics where they enjoyed ‘fun and games” with sponsorship from private sector companies, warrants an inquiry by COPE. Such “sponsorship” of Joy Rides by Ministers would be illegal in many countries and is unethical under any circumstances.
Your hard-hitting editorial is summed up in the opening line- “What on earth are our politicians doing at the Tokyo Olympics?” Is the Sports Minister’s presence so essential at the Olympics? And if so why can’t all ministers self-fund this type of visit rather than expecting me and other taxpayers to pay? After all, no Minister is short of cash.
As compared to other countries our Vaccination program has been relatively very good. People in both Indonesia and Thailand are on a waiting list of several months before they can expect even the first Jab! As for the Phillipines,its even worse. This explains why the Sports Minister seems to be claiming kudos , by, as you call it, “monitoring the progress of the Vaccination drive”.
The function of the Sports Ministers of the recent past has not been particularly great- and include as you point out, Olympian Susanthika Jayasinghe, – the “poor lass who had to sprint so fast to escape the randy minister pursuing her.”
Sports Ministers frolicking at the Olympics, in Japan, during both an Economic crisis and Health pandemic at home, reflect their scant regard for the hardships of the public .
Govt. has already spent US$ 60-65mn to procure Covid-19 vaccines – Lalith Weeratunga
Keeping an Even Keel
Swiss team of experts due today to study SL’s agricultural landscape
7-billion-rupee diamond heist; Madush splls the beans before being shot
The Burghers of Ceylon/Sri Lanka- Reminiscences and Anecdotes
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Cricket’s greatest is 85 today