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A wonderful beginning to a new life




by Senior Retired DIG Edward Gunawardene

In the year 1957 I sat two public examinations conducted by the Public Service Commission, the constitutionally created independent body for recruitment to the Public Service. My father gladly gave me the examination fee of Rs. 250/= to apply for the Ceylon Civil Service examination. But it was with reluctance that he gave me Rs. 150/= to sit the examination for the selection of Assistant Superintendents of Police.

Finding a job then did not appear to be a problem. By the time the results of the Police examination were announced I had received several letters of appointment to various jobs at staff level. The three that I remember are: Assistant Assessor of Income Tax, Assistant Superintendent of Surveys (Geological Survey) and Assistant Superintendent Government Stores.

However, with my coming first in the Police examination by ever 100 marks I had little choice. Everybody, especially my brothers, said “Take it”. The man I had beaten to second place ‘Brute’ Mahendran was a triple international having represented Ceylon in Athletics, Rugger and Boxing. I had only taken part in games. At the interview ‘Brute’ and I had been asked the same question, “Can you tell us where the game of Rugby originated?” The man who was playing rugger for Ceylon was not able to answer.

The Board of Interview appointed by the Public Service Commission for the Police examination was chaired by Gunasena de Zoysa, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and External Affairs. The Minister was the Prime Minister himself, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. The other members of the Board were Brigadier Anton Muttucumaru, the Army Commander, and C.C. Dissanayake, DIG, who was then acting as IGP.

When I walked in dressed in a white satin drill suit with the words ‘good morning’ in my mouth, the entire board looked at me. They were all smiles. Perhaps they were amused at this small but confident looking youngster. As soon as I sat down the Chairman spoke, “you have an excellent degree, a geography second”. Mr. Dissanayake looked at me and said, “I find that you have played rugger at Peradeniya, but you have not played rugger for your school.”

“St. Josephs is not a rugger playing school. Soccer is their game”, interjected the Army Commander who was an old Josephian.

After a short pause Dissanayake asked me where the game had originated. I replied that it began at Rugby, the famous British grammar school during a game of soccer. “What else do you know about this school?” was his next question. I then mentioned the name of Arnold, the famous principal, and explained to the Board that he is still remembered as a stern disciplinarian. That was the end of the interview. The final results showed that I had received 350 out of 400 marks.

It was on February 1, 1958 that I entered the Police Training School. Mahendran and David, the other two Probationary ASPs, accompanied me from Colombo. We were picked up at the Kalutara railway station by my friend Nehru Goonetillake and driven to the Training School. At that time Nehru had received his LLB degree from Peradeniya and was following lectures at the Law College in Colombo. His father P.F.A. Goonetilleke was a leading citizen of Kalutara. He was not only the Crown Proctor but also the President of the Kalutara Bodhi Trust. Over 50 years later, Nehru at the time of his premature death was not only a leading President’s Counsel but the President of the Kalutara Bodhi Trust.

As we stopped at the Training School gate a constable approached the car. When I told him that we were the new ASPs, he stood to attention and saluted smartly and directed us to a place called the Charge Room. As the three of us entered this room an officer shouted, “Charge Room, Attention!” Simultaneously, a young constable escorted us to an open area with seats of cement slabs where there were several persons in informal dress as well as police uniforms.

The most impressive of the lot was a handsome, middle aged, blue eyed gentlemen dressed in a white shirt and blue shorts. Smoking a pipe he looked very relaxed. “Here come the new Probs”, he told the others there. By ‘Probs’ he meant Probationary ASPs. He then walked up to the three of us and warmly shook our hands saying “Welcome to the Police, Gentlemen”. He introduced himself as Fred Brohier, Assistant Director of Training. He apologized for the absence of the Director, Stanley Senanayake who was attending the funeral of his sister, Mrs. Wanasundera.

With Brohier were three other ASPs Murugesupillai, Terry Wijesinghe and Van den Driesen. They were all introduced to us. Whilst these introductions and pleasantries were taking place there was also chatter behind. An oldish man in shorts was heard to remark (referring to me) “the short fellow looks a tough nut.” I later came to know that he was Inspector Suraweera of Monte Cristo fame. The story current at the time was that Suraweera had taken an armed police party to Monte Cristo estate to quell a riot; and the man leading the mob had dared to advance towards the police raising his sarong and exposing his person. Suraweera himself had opened fire, with a shot gun blasting the genitals of the mob leader! The latter had not succumbed to his injuries. The labour unrest on the estate ceased; and Suraweera had been commended by Sir Richard Aluvihare who was the IGP then.

Soon the Asst. Director commanded a mustacheod uniformed officer, “Major, take them round on a whirlwind tour of the school.” Boarding a hood less jeep we set off. “I am Sergeant Major Nallawansa. You see, like the IGP there is only one such officer in the police,” was how he introduced himself. He then suggested that we could go to our lodgings first, the SSM (Senior Staff Mess), do a change etc. before doing the full round of the school.

The SSM had many rooms including a spacious dining room and lobby with a regulation size billiard table. Most of the rooms were occupied by a new batch of trainee Sub-Inspectors of Police. A few rooms were also occupied by staffers. Alex Abeysekera and Terry Amarasekera were two of them. The three of us were allocated rooms in different areas of the building. After lunch we were met by Inspector Ekanayake, the Chief Lecturer. He explained to us the daily routine of training. For three young men just out of University it was a rigid program indeed. However before long we began to enjoy the healthy mix of physical exercises, parades, lectures on law, criminal investigation, Police role in the maintenance of public order etc. More than even Mahendran and David, I took a special liking to the riding of motor cycles and horses. A probationary ASP had to be competent in the riding horses for confirmation in the rank of ASP.

On my second day at the Police Training School (PTS) Feb. 2, 1958, whilst taking part in Physical Training exercises dressed in blue shorts and white shirts, my colleagues and I were intrigued to see a handsome gentleman dressed in riding trousers and polo shirt riding a chestnut coloured horse on the perimeter of the parade ground. Sub-Inspector Somapala who was the P.T. instructor was quick to announce to us that the gentleman on horseback was the Director, Stanley Senanayake. That moment I thought that I had selected a great job.


That same evening at about 7′ O’Clock the three of us were picked up from our lodgings and driven to the Director’s residence for dinner. As we entered the verandah we were warmly greeted by Stanley Senanayake and his charming wife, Maya. From the moment we met this couple I realized that life in the police will be pleasant and rewarding. We were indeed fortunate that Stanley and Maya were at the helm during our stint at the Training School.

Stanley had been an outstanding student at the University, and had chosen to join the Police as an ASP prior to graduation. Maya was an honours graduate. She was the daughter of P. de S. Kularatne. Even before joining the Police, Stanley had earned recognition as a handsome sportsman and an accomplished horseman. In fact in 1948 during the independence celebrations I had seen him and Sydney de Zoysa act as Dutugemunu and Elara in that epic Pageant of Lanka enacted at the Colombo racecourse.

Others present at this dinner were Fred Brohier, Terry Wijesinghe, Murugesupillai and their wives. From the following morning for more than a week continuously we were shuttling to Colombo and back with the Asst. Director, Fred Brohier. He had to get our uniforms ready as a matter of priority. Orders for the tailoring of uniforms were placed at Millers, Fort. This up-market department store, owned and managed by Englishmen, was the traditional uniform maker for senior Police officers. Several types of uniforms had to be turned out:

Ceremonial White Uniform consisting of tunic, long trousers and cross-belt. A white pith helmet with a spike and large silver badge and a ceremonial sword accompanied this uniform.

Ceremonial Riding Uniform The difference was that instead of white trousers dark blue serge pantaloons and riding boots with ceremonial spurs were worn.

No. I Khaki Uniform – White shirt with black tie, khaki long trousers, tunic coat and Sam Browne belt.

The Normal Working Uniform consisted of a light khaki tunic and long trousers.

The riding boots had to be specially made. This was an expert job undertaken by a boot maker on Hospital Street in Fort.

The Headgear – The white pith helmet, braided peak cap and a felt slouch hat with a broad puggaree; the crossbelt and Sam Browne belt; and insignia, epaulets, nickel plated buttons and officer’s baton had to be obtained from the Inspector-General’s stores at Police Headquarters.

After equipping the three young ASPS with their uniforms, Brohier had to perform a traditional task of a different but pleasant nature. This was by appointment to introduce the three of us to the Governor General, Prime Minister, the Chief Justice, the Army Commander and the IGP. Of all these meetings the meeting with the Prime Minister, SWRD Bandranaike, turned out to be the most informal.

He was completely relaxed. He asked only one question from each of us, “Who is your father? What is he doing?” He was pleased at our frank and forthright replies. When I told him that my father was the Assistant Manager of the Fountain Cafe, his immediate response was, “I am sure, I’ve met him”. Fountain Cafe was Colombo’s leading restaurant. My father who had been there since its inception, had befriended even Caldecott, Sir Geoffrey Layton and Oliver Goonetillake. As a schoolboy I have seen leading jockeys Fordyce and Cook talking to him. Bandaranaike was certainly more pleased at meeting and conversing with three young graduates of the University of Ceylon rather than three new ASPs.

I was to meet this great man twice in 1959 before his cruel assassination in September the same year. Whilst attached to Colombo Division for practical training I once accompanied the Supdt. of Police Colombo, H.K. Van den Driesen to the Prime Minister’s Office. Van den Driesen had to brief the Prime Minister on the labour unrest that was prevalent in the Port at the time. My final meeting with him was when he had to officially open the new Kelani bridge. I was the only Senior Officer present. It was not a grand show. Mr. Premaratne, the Director of Public Works was present with a few officials together with the workers who had taken part in the construction. The Prime Minister had to cut a ribbon that had been strung across the bridge. Mr. Premaratne received him with a sheaf of betel while another official offered him a pair of scissors on a silver tray. The Prime Minister took the scissors, paused a while and handed them over to one of the workers to do the honours. Once the ribbon was cut, the Prime Minister himself led the applause. At the time of his assassination I was the ASP, Batticaloa.

(Continued next week)

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South likely to be hit most by West’s price cap on Russian crude oil



People protesting in China

Months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is becoming increasingly clear that the latter’s traumas would not end any time soon. Nor is the invader registering any notable gains from its fatal decision to annex Ukraine by armed means and might. However, it’s abundantly clear that the destabilizing economic consequences for the world from the invasion are likely to increase exponentially.

The recent decision by the G7, EU and Australia to place a price cap of US $ 60 on a barrel of Russian crude oil is further proof of the West’s intention of weakening Russia relentlessly on the economic plane, but as matters stand, it is the global South that is likely to suffer most from this decision.

Observers of the global oil industry were quoted as saying that the world would need to brace for further oil price hikes as a result of the Western decision and that OPEC would likely reduce its oil output in the days to come with the aim of propping-up prices. Needless to say, these developments translate into graver economic hardships for the more vulnerable economies of the South, although destabilizing ripple effects from stepped-up oil prices would be felt worldwide as well.

At the time of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, hunger and famine were already taking hold of parts of Africa. Some African countries with the worst food crises are; Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Somalia. Their condition was further aggravated as a result of food and energy prices escalating, close on the heels of the invasion.

It was only a matter of time before these economic aftershocks made themselves felt in even the West. Right now, the West is very much into a ‘Winter of Discontent’, with rising food and energy prices proving to be doubly distressing. Inflation in the UK, for instance, is said to be notably high.

In the Asian theatre, countries such as Sri Lanka and Afghanistan are virtually begging for survival. If not for the largesse of the international community, it could be truly said that Sri Lanka ‘would not live to see another day’. If its multi-dimensional crisis is not resolved expeditiously, Sri Lanka is likely to be categorized by the world community as one of those countries with the highest levels of hunger in South Asia and Southeast Asia. Some other countries in this category from the regions concerned are: Timor-Leste, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and North Korea.

Accordingly, the mentioned economically-distressed countries and more are unlikely to survive another series of energy and food price shocks and also remain intact, so to speak. However, with the prospects remaining bleak for a negotiated settlement of the Ukraine crisis, the possibility of the international community alleviating the economic hardships of the South in the foreseeable future is remote. The conclusion is inescapable that the South would need to brace for aggravating material hardships and economic disempowerment.

Wise counsel would need to be brought to bear on the Russian political leadership to enable it to see the no-win situation into which it has brought itself in the Ukrainian theatre. President Putin is unlikely to take the path of negotiations in Ukraine if the latter course would incur for him a loss of face and prestige. The negotiated settlement while ensuring Ukraine’s independence and geographical integrity should guard against the possibility of a drastic loss of prestige and credibility for the Russian President in the eyes of his public at home.

However, the world community is quite a distance away from such a win-win outcome, considering the polarities in thinking and the persisting hostile relations between the main sides to the Ukraine crisis. The solution calls for deft diplomacy of the highest order.

It is left to powers, such as China and India, to take up the challenge of bringing about a negotiated political settlement in Ukraine. China has not condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine but is not endorsing it either. Since the Chinese political leadership has entered into what may be called a détente process of sorts with the US, it emerges as a suitable candidate to bring the antagonists in Ukraine to the negotiating table.

President Xi could use the measure of cordiality he established with President Biden before the recent G-20 summit in Indonesia to narrow the differences between the conflicting sides in Ukraine, considering that the West’s staunch support for Ukraine is a vital factor in perpetuating the conflict.

Likewise, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi could use his offices as the head of the G-20 to help to bring the crisis in Ukraine to an end. As is the case with China, India enjoys cordial ties with Russia and being a major democracy, India is likely to see the wisdom of ending the Ukraine conflict by peaceful means, in consideration of the need to serve the best interests of the Ukrainian and Russian publics without further delay.

A moral duty is cast on the world’s foremost democracies, such as India, to attach primacy to the wellbeing of people everywhere and in the current world economic crunch, it is the people who are affected negatively most. It stands to reason if the Ukraine invasion is ended through negotiations, there would be considerable relief for people worldwide.

The fact that there is considerable popular unrest against the political leadership of China and Russia at present should further prompt the respective Presidents of these countries to lose no time in doing their best to end the Ukraine crisis by peaceful means. It ought to be clear that their tenures at the helm of their countries would no longer be peaceful, since their policies, domestic and foreign, have only served to trigger internal dissent and unrest. They may deploy state coercion to get such unrest under control but the possibility is that the people’s animosity towards their regimes will explode time and again.

If Xi and Putin would permit wise counsel to prevail they would redress the grievances of their publics by peaceful means rather than court chronic and continuing dissent against their regimes by seeking to quell their popular uprisings through the use of coercion. Next, they should use the expertise they have acquired locally to heal a ‘running wound’ that is bringing distress to people the world over, such as the Ukraine crisis.

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Christmas with the Calibre Team



The festive season is certainly brightening up and, going by what I see on social media, there will be plenty of festive activities for everyone, and that’s a good sign, indeed, as we missed out on those Christmassy celebrations, the past two years, mainly due to the pandemic.

Choro Calibre and X-Calibre, two unique bands, with energetic musicians, who are focused and passionate to create choral and acoustic music, in their own style, have released their new Christmas cover song…the ever popular Jose Feliciano festive hit, ‘Feliz Navidad.’

This much loved Christmas pop song has been given an electronic colour, and twist, by the Calibre Team.

For the record, ‘Feliz Navidad’ was written, in 1970, by Puerto Rican singer-songwriter José Feliciano.

With its simple, heartfelt lyrics—the traditional Spanish Christmas and New Year greeting “Feliz Navidad, próspero año y felicidad” means Merry Christmas, a prosperous year and happiness”.

The song has been heard, on the radio, by an estimated 3.8 billion people, according to Billboard, where it remains as one of the top 10 best-performing songs on its Holiday 100 chart.

You can check out the new music video, by the Calibre Team, on YouTube, and download the song on Apple Music and Spotify.

Choro Calibre and X-Calibre became a reality, in 2009, when Shamal De Silva, driven by the passion for music, teamed up with a few of his friends and started a choir, and a band.

Shamal De Silva

Shamal began his music career at the age of just eight, probably the youngest church organist at the time, when he started playing at St. Paul’s Church, in Waragoda. Later, he took over the leadership of the College Choir, in 2008, at his Alma-Mater, St. Joseph’s College, Colombo, and went on to win “The Musician of the Year” award, in 2009, for his multi-disciplined musical contributions. He also excelled in his studies and graduated from the University of Colombo.

Explaining the meaning of ‘Calibre,’ Shamal says Excalibur is the legendary sword of King Arthur and it is believed to be the strongest sword – unbreakable, and powerful. And so, the band is named as X-Calibre, and the choral group as Choro Calibre.

Elaborating further, Shamal indicated that the choral group, Choro Calibre, is an international award-winning commercial choir (won three awards at the Asia Cantate Choir Games, held in Thailand), and they perform at weddings, events, and Christmas carols, while X-Calibre is an acoustic band, also doing weddings, events and private functions.

“With our new outlook, new sound, re-arranged music and melodious harmonies, we’ve got some exciting events and productions lined up. We perform different genres and musical eras, ranging from the sounds of golden oldies to the top club hits of today”, said Shamal.

You could check them out, during the festive season, at the following venues:

• 14th December: 7.00pm – Cafe Ivy

• 16th to 25th December: 4.00pm – Cinnamon Grand

• 17th December: 5.00pm – Gold FM 70s show at Taj North Lawn

• 20th December: 7.00pm – Christmas party at Cinnamon Lakeside

• 21st to 25th December: 7.00pm – Cinnamon Lakeside

• 22nd and 23rd December: 8.00pm – Taj Samudra

• 24th and 25th December: 8.00pm – Hilton Colombo

• 22nd to 24th December: 9.00pm – Galadari Hotel

• 25th December 2022: Galadari Hotel

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Face Masks for Healthy, Glowing Skin



*  Tomato-Lemon mask

1. Take one tomato and crush it into a puree.

2. Then add two tablespoons of lemon juice.

3. Mix it well and apply on the face and neck.

4. Leave the mask for 20 minutes and wash off with cold water.

The mask will help in removing any tan on the skin, leaving it brighter.

* Turmeric mask

One of the most popular ingredients, used in home-made masks, is turmeric. The medicinal properties of this spice helps in reducing blemishes and maintaining a flawless skin.

1. To prepare the mask, take three tablespoons of lemon juice, one tablespoon of turmeric powder, and mix it well.

2. Apply on the face, and on the neck, for 20 minutes, and then wash it off.

* Carrot-Honey mask

1. Boil 2-3 carrots and mash them completely.

2. Add 2-3 teaspoons of honey to it.

3. Apply this mix on your face and neck.

4. Wash it off after 15 minutes to reveal a radiant skin.

This mask is great for sensitive skin.

*  Papaya-Banana-Cucumber mask (for oily skin)

1. Blend 1/4th papaya, 1/4th cucumber and half a banana, together, to form a smooth paste.

2. Apply this on your face, and neck, and let it sit for 15-20 minutes.

3. Rinse with lukewarm water.

*  Aloe Vera-lemon Juice mask

Lemon juice effectively removes grease, while adding a fresh fragrance to your skin, and aloe vera keeps your skin moisturised.

1. Whip up a quick face mask by taking two tablespoons of aloe vera gel (or scrape fresh gel from an aloe vera plant), and add two teaspoons of fresh lemon juice into it.

2. Use the mix to cover your face (voiding eyes) and wash after 20 minutes.

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