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Avurudu Thel Keliya



We have moved from sugar sweetness to an oily slipperiness.

Will this season be remembered as the ‘Pol Thel Avurudda’ or the ‘Thel Pilika Avurudda’?

Those who celebrate Easter, will have a hard and painful time, with memories of those bloody blasts in churches, the failure to find the brains behind that carnage, and the incompetence of the State apparatus that enabled that huge tragedy to take place. 

Is there any difference in the state apparatus today? Is it any less corrupt, less politically structured and managed? Are we really in need of divine intervention to bring those responsible for that carnage, to book, and not the legal and judicial process that is meant to fight and put down crime?

Those who celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, even wearing the mournful black, must certainly remember the role of Judas, and the pieces of silver, that enabled the Crucifixion. How much of such silver is moving around these days; and how many business, administrative, and legal Judases are around, to ensure the success of Saubhagyaye Dekma, the flow of corrupt sugar sweetness and oily slithery?

The debate today is about Pol Thel – not much about the carcinogen in the imports, but on how best to get rid of it. The big and official call is to re-export it. Some voices of the people, including a few members of the Sangha, are against such re-exports. If it is dangerous to the health of the people of Sri Lanka, will it have no danger for people in the country it was exported from? 

That is not all. Why take it away before all stocks, in whatever godowns, Customs or private, are checked and the real carcinogen level identified, and the importers and/or distributors are brought before the law? There should be public cry to keep those stocks here, and prevent the oil importers and distributors slithering away from the law. Or is this the new meaning of  Saubhagya Thinking? 

We are moving to a really slippery Avurudda. There is Covid with its own problems, the sudden halt to  vaccinations with a Chinese vaccine being waved around, a rise in Covid infections in India – with a pause in vaccine imports from there, and clash of thinking among professionals and politicians on what vaccine to use. 

Is this confusion the stuff  of the new Avurudu season?

Minister Bandula Gunawardena has given the people an Avurudu Malla. Celebrate avurudu with this thousand rupee benefit. If you don’t have a thousand rupees, just drink some Pol Thel and let your worries slip down your throat. Hold on, what is the connection between cancer and Pilika Pol Thel? That is the avurudu query this season., 

What about all the kavun, kokis, mung kavum, and all those other layers of sweetness that comes from the frying pan and with even small amounts of coconut oil? Has the import of coconut oil taken away the traditional taste of the Aluth Avurudda?

What can the Saubhagya thinkers have in mind to meet this situation in the avurudu games. Will there be a new Thel Keliya where two persons with bodies covered with coconut oil – with or without carcinogen – have a fight with each other? Will any chief guest invited for an avurudu event have to walk on a special Pol Thel layered slippery path to the stage? 

Thel, Thel

and not Pol Thel is the new reality in governance in Sri Lanka. It is the slippery drive in corruption and political manipulation that is the substance of power today. Will there be a loud call for the ban on coconut oil imports? Not likely, because from what else is one to bring cancer threats to our people? Is it from dried chillies or the posible rice imports? 

Amidst all this pol thel fears and dangers, this avurudu season is one that has a much bigger show than the village festivities. It is a China-India competition. The Sino-Indo clash for control of official thinking and the policies in the coming months and years. Our President had a long phone chat with President Xi Jinping of China. There must have been much more  than coconut oil discussed there. This is  the follow up from Geneva. India had better be on the watch. Sino-Lanka connect, with the promise of a single party governance is the new Avurudu Promise for Sri Lanka.

The Pol Thel Keliya of today will soon take us to a Cheena Thel Keliya in politics and governance. What is mentioned as Saubhagye Dekma is in reality an Abhagye Sathya.Lets keep slipping down the path of national disaster, with enough carcinogenic oil to help us down the way.      

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This refers to the superlatively interesting and provocative piece on the above subject by Dr Upul Wijewardene{UW) appearing in The Island of 21/3/23 wherein, as he states, he had been a victim himself at the hands of a well-known Professor of Medicine turned health administrator. He makes it a point to castigate the leaders of the Buddhist clergy for their deviation from the sublime doctrine of this religion.

My first thought on this subject is that it is a cultural problem of exploitation by the privileged of the less fortunate fellow beings. The cultural aspect has its origin in the religion of the majority in India, Hinduism. There is no such discrimination in Islam.

The first recorded case was that of a Sinhala member of the Dutch army fighting against the Portuguese (or the army of the Kandiyan kingdom) being prevented by the members of the higher ranks from wearing sandals due to his low status in the caste hierarchy. The Dutch commander permitted the Sinhala solder to wear sandals as recorded by Paul Pieris in “Ceylon the Portuguese era”

There is also the instance of a monk getting up to meet the King when it was not the customary way of greeting the King by monks.

In an article by Dr Michael Roberts, a Sri Lankan historian published in a local journal, it is said that members of the majority caste (approximately 40% of the Sinhala population) were not permitting lower ranking public officials serving the British government wear vestments studded with brass buttons. The second tier of the hierarchy who had become rich through means other than agriculture like sale of alcohol in the early British times took their revenge by lighting crackers in front of houses of their caste rivals when a British Duke was marching along in a procession in Colombo.

It is not uncommon for members of minority castes numerically low in numbers to help their own kind due to the discriminatory practices of the higher tiers of the hierarchy.

Dr Leo Fernando
Talahena, Negombo

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Billion-dollar carrot



The IMF successfully coerced the government into falling line with its instructions on debt restructuring and increasing of revenue, among others, and in all probability will release the first tranche of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) during the course of this week. Regrettably, the IMF is not coercive where the violations of fundamental rights of a country, vis a vis universal franchise, is concerned. On its part, the government flaunted this invaluable tool on the public, as the only remedy for all its financial ailments. It was least worried of the consequences that would necessarily follow.

Taking the cue, professionals and trade union activists dangled the carrot of carrot of strikes to restrain the government on its implementation, the results of which are still in abeyance. Not to be outdone, the powers that be has refused to relent on the grounds that the economy has to be strengthened at whatever costs.

Now that the IMF loan has materialized, the government is already focusing its attention on securing further assistance from other lending agencies. How will the IMF monies be expended, and for what purposes? Naturally, the people would want to know since it is they who have to foot the bill at the end. The Treasury insists that it has no funds to provide for the conduct of LG polls. Just 10% of the rupee equivalent of the first tranche of US $ 300 million will suffice for the successful completion of the elections. Provided the government wants to.

The President has assured that no sooner the Agreement is signed with the IMF, he would submit a copy of it to Parliament. It would be prudent if he would also submit (without plucking figures from thin air) a comprehensive expenditure account on the disbursement of the first tranche. And continue to do so for the rest.

Being fully aware of the country’s top priority needs, attention should be focused on providing them at reasonable prices. Besides them, agriculture, fishing and domestic industries should also be given due consideration. Merely dangling of carrots before them will not suffice.

Non-essential development projects should be shelved until the dreamed of economic stability is achieved. Of special note is that upkeep and interests of politicians should not be addressed with these funds.Can the people expect some sort of genuine transparency even at this late stage?


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Death penalty – another view



In his article, (The Island, 8th March), Dr Jayampathy Wickremeratne, would have us believe that the Death Penalty is not an effective deterrent and it should be abolished in Sri Lanka. Similar arguments are presented in India, home to some of the most horrendous crimes of violence against Women and children, and also in South Africa, where the death penalty was abolished despite strong opposition from the vast majority of the population.

Use of the Death Penalty purely for political purposes is always bad, but that’s not what the public are calling for. The public want the Death penalty implemented RIGOROUSLY, against those who have undeniably murdered children, and also serial killers whose victims are invariably women. Their crimes are gruesome but unfortunately need to be detailed to counter the pseudo- academic arguments of Death Penalty abolishonists. For example:

South Africa abolished the death penalty despite vigorous opposition. In South Africa one of its worst serial killers, led the police to the remains of 38 of his victims all of them women and all from the poorest class (mostly domestic servants).

On 12 March, India’s National Broadcaster NDTV reports the case of a man in Kashmir, whose marriage proposal was refused. He murdered his prospective young bride, cut up her body and disposed the remains in several places to avoid detection. A few days ago, a similar incident in India was reported by NDTV, where a 17-year-old was stabbed and dragged through s crowded street and murdered with no public intervention! In Sri Lanka a few years ago, four-year-old Seya fell victim to a murderer, rapist, a person known to her family, whom the child trusted. Likewise, a 17-year-old girl miss Sivaloganathan was raped and murdered in the North by a gang led by an individual known as “Swiss Kumar” a porn film maker of Sri Lankan origin, living in Switzerland. (One wonders whether he subsequently received the benevolent “Presidential Pardon”!

Other arguments used in Dr Wickremeratne’s article, are out of date. For example, he refers to wrongful convictions in a bygone age where DNA testing did not exist. DNA tests enable identity to be established and tie a murderer to the crime, beyond any doubt. Elsewhere he cites a Table where Murder rates are calculated as follows- “divide the number of murders by the total population, in death-penalty and non-death penalty states”. This methodology is patently flawed. It assumes that the populations of ALL 50 States in the USA are homogeneous in demography and other characteristics- it equates the violent State of New York with relatively peaceful Alaska.

Dr W advocated “long term imprisonment” in lieu of death penalty. Frankly this is the academic argument of a person removed from everyday life and steeped in Academia, “the social cost of rehabilitation” is Immense! It has been estimated that the cost of keeping a person on death row is at least Rs 50,000 per month – for the rest of the murderers’ life! It should ALSO be pointed out that in Singapore and other countries where the death penalty operates, murder rates are significantly low.


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