Another epochal development has been reached in the world’s search for collective security with the adoption recently by the international community of The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The treaty is supported by some 51 states at present with the Red Cross and Red Crescent describing the TPNW as making clear these states’ ‘refusal to accept nuclear weapons as an inevitable part of the international security architecture.’
Recent press reports said that the TPNW, ‘Explicitly and unequivocally prohibits the use, threat to use, development, production, testing and stockpiling of nuclear weapons, and it obliges all State Parties to not assist, encourage or induce anyone in any way to engage in any activity prohibited by the Treaty.’ Hopefully, states in increasing numbers would not only subscribe to the TPNW but also go on to ratify it, thereby making it absolutely obligatory on their part to observe the treaty in both letter and spirit.
As could be seen, the TPNW broadly complements the provisions of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is yet to be adopted by the major nuclear weapon states, who account for the bulk of global power. This places a big question mark over the effectiveness of the TPNW, since the nuclear weapon states have continued to be in possession of their weaponry of mass destruction despite the wide acceptance by the world of the NPT.
The latter treaty has helped greatly in impressing on the world the urgent necessity of global de-nuclearization and expresses the moral resolve of the international community to steer clear of the development and use of nuclear weapons, but it has failed to compel the major nuclear weapon states to de-activate and destroy their nuclear weapons. This is the foremost issue the world confronts in its de-nuclearization efforts.
Put simply, the world would remain a most dangerous place to live in as long as there is no total and universal nuclear disarmament. That is, as long as the foremost powers continue to retain their nuclear weapons collective security would remain a hard to realize ideal.
However, there is no denying that treaties, such as the TPNW, would prove effective as a means of raising global awareness on the perils of nuclear weaponry, besides being embodiments of a near universal ethical awareness on the need to eliminate nuclear weapons. They could prove vital instruments in ramping-up moral pressure on nuclear weapon states.
The effectiveness of the latter task depends on the degree to which the world’s civilian publics, desirous of world peace, bring overwhelming pressure on their governments to say a decisive ‘No’ to nuclear weapons, thereby compelling the latter to initiate concrete measures to de-nuclearize and make good their pledges. This, in turn, is a question of people the world over organizing themselves into a force their governments cannot ignore. Ideally, nuclear disarmament needs to feature as an election issue. Besides, a popular anti-nuclear movement should be world wide and prove to be the evidence of universal moral pressure.
However, the exercise of people’s power of the above kind would depend vitally on the extent to which people enjoy fundamental freedoms. Needless to say, this may not be possible in authoritarian states and a number of nuclear weapon states are undemocratic in kind. Accordingly, while there is a possibility of an anti-nuclear movement gaining ground in what are seen as democratic states the same does not apply to authoritarian countries.
The above reality poses problems for anti-nuclear, popular pressure groups. These consists in the fact that nuclear power is projected by a state on the basis of the Mutually-Assured Destruction (MAD) principle. That is, nuclear weapon states competitively build-up their nuclear capability on the basis of the perception that their opponents would desist from deploying their nuclear weapons against them if they fear highly destructive reprisals.
This is the MAD logic behind competitive nuclear arms build-ups among, particularly, rival, neighbouring states. Accordingly, a democratic state would be unwilling to destroy its nuclear arsenal if its rival states, which happen to be authoritarian and ideologically opposed to it, prove reluctant to de-nuclearize. This is based on the democratic state’s apprehension that it would be deprived of its retaliatory capability if it unilaterally de-nuclearizes. Accordingly, ideally, de-nuclearization should happen simultaneously among states to be effective. But this is hard to achieve in a world of power politics.
However, anti-nuclear movements need to soldier on in the direction of progressive change. Awareness building on these questions must be sustained the world over if anti-nuclear, popular mobilizations are to prove successful even to a degree.
One area in which some gains could be made relates to the conceptual basis of national security and its implications. States usually give out that national security would be compromised if the nuclear option is not availed of. This is particularly true of antagonistic neighbouring states that engage in competitive arms build-ups. But how true is this?
It is ruling elites that create security fears in their publics. This is for the purpose of mobilizing their publics behind them and for perpetuating their power. It ought to be clear that the people gain nothing from these ruling power posturings. In fact, people lose from these ruling group ploys because states will have little or nothing to spend on human welfare if the bulk of the country’s budget is spent on nuclear arsenal build-ups disguised as national security considerations.
The above is a vital element in discussions on national security which is not sufficiently aired. But it is important that it is widely scrutinized in the context of nuclear disarmament. If publics are to challenge their governments on issues relating to nuclear disarmament they would need to focus on how national security concerns are used by ruling elites to consolidate their hold on power. Meanwhile, though, treaties, such as TPNW, need to be discussed and popularized by people’s organizations that have human security at heart rather than national security; the two are not one and the same thing.
Sohan…adapting to the ‘new normal’
Surprisingly, the Coronavirus pandemic seems to have galvanised our entertainers into action.
True, most of the big bands are finding the going pretty tough, these days, as most public shows, like concerts, sing-along, and dances, have been put on hold.
Fortunately, we do have artistes who capitalise on unexpected situations to continue to keep the public, and their fans, entertained – of course, doing it differently
Band leader Sohan, of Sohan & The X-Periments fame, who is always innovative, when it comes to music, has hit upon a novel idea, in order to keep his band occupied, for the next three months.
He has decided to put The X-Periments into ‘recording mode.
Says Sohan: “I’m getting them involved in doing in-house recordings at my home studio.”
And, what’s more, I’m told that Sohan has found a secret sponsor, so the boys will be paid, too. Obviously, it’s a win-win situation and that makes Sohan extra happy!
The veteran artiste/entertainer went on to explain that the main CD will contain cover versions of his favourite songs, and will also include a duet with his daughter Erandika who is scheduled to be in Sri Lanka, hopefully, in May. She is currently in the States.
The song, Sohan has in mind, is that immensely popular golden oldie, made popular by the late Nat king Cole (and daughter Natalie Cole) – ‘Unforgettable.’
Clifford Richards will be seen in a virtual concert, along with Corrine Almeida, and Sohan
The second CD will feature Sohan’s original songs, both western and oriental.
Sohan will be working with Shobi Perera, Kumar de Silva, Rajiv Sebastian, Roshan de Silva, Chrys Wikramanayake, Rukshan Perera and Damian Wikkramatillake on his novel project, while Krishantha de Silva, who manages Sonexco Enterprises, will take on the role of coordinator.
Although this project will keep The X-Periments, busy, one day of the week will be designated as ‘recording day’ and they have a deadline of three months to complete this project, said Sohan.
There is also a possibility of Sohan inviting a few of his friends to join him in the vocals but that will depend on the materiel he decides on.
“There is no point in hanging around, waiting for work. Musicians have to innovate and create work to keep going, during these challenging times.”
Sohan is also working closely with Corinne Almeida and Clifford Richards and has an idea of doing a virtual concert, with the same line up that was featured at the Valentine show, called ‘Love at the Edge.’
Rajitha, of Misty, is helping them with the technical details of the show,
No doubt, things are looking a bit rosy for Sohan & The X-Periments, and Trishelle..
The guys are also working with Benjy and Aquarius, on a mega event, for Richard de Soysa, to be held at Nelum Pokuna, which is scheduled for mid- May, of 2021, and will feature 10 leading artistes ..
Remembering Dr. Neville Fernando
This tribute is in remembrance of my father-in-law, the late Dr. Neville Fernando who would have celebrated his 90th birthday on 9th March 2021. He passed away unexpectedly on the 4th of February 2021 due to the deadly COVID-19 virus.
His birthday will be remembered with an almsgiving to the priests at the Kotikawatta temple to invoke merits on him to attain the Supreme bliss of Niravana. Religious observances on his birthday were an annual occurrence even during his lifetime.
As I ponder his memories, being ‘no more’ is the saddest thought that crosses my mind. I suspect that if you are reading this you understand what I mean logically. Death means that our loved ones never grow a year older, although logic does little to clear up our confusion when his birthday continues to happen year after year.
His memories and deeds throughout his life brought back towards the day I joined his family, when I was just a medical house-officer at the Nawalapitiya Hospital in 1982, through the marriage to his only daughter. Even then he was known to be a real legend and an honest politician. Today, I am in this position as a cardiologist due to his encouragement, loving care and continuous assistance in whatever means. My mind is full of memories of those loving moments shared together. He was a loving, kind and straight gentleman. I may also use the words handsome and charismatic leader. He will inspire us throughout our lives. His pleasant disposition will charm anyone and uplift our mood.
He led a good life and now has a left a good legacy of four children( three boys and one girl) whom any father would be proud of, nine grandchildren and five great grandchildren loved by everyone. He is now no more and no one can fill the void nor bring back the warmth and love he exuded.
We all have courage and we have our convictions, but rarely have the courage of our conviction. His kindness and compassion were his key attributes that made him so special. He had been a good general practitioner before coming to Parliament defeating a formidable leftist politician Leslie Goonewardene who represented Panadura for decades. It was a landmark victory for the UNP in 1977. He was a kind and compassionate doctor who served the rich and poor alike in Panadura for many years and was sought after by his patients for his well known ‘athguna’ (healing hands). This is where he earned his loyal fan base to enter into politics.
Among many things he achieved in Panadura establishing the “Kethumathi” Maternity Hospital, the only one of its kind outside Colombo, helping Sri Sumangala Girls College expansion programme, starting Agamathi Girls school and Janadhipathi Boys School and self funding the Sri Saugatha Vidyalaya Pirivena building at n the Rankoth Viharaya temple in Panadura. Likewise he helped many Buddhist temples during his tenure.
He also started an industrial zone in Modarawila, Panadura which was an abandoned marshy area before that. He had provided the first computer lab and two acres of additional land to expand the Sri Sumangala Vidyalaya which is spoken with gratitude by the students of his alma mater. He did not expect anything in return.
He was a fearless ,principled and honest man who opposed JRs’ motion to takeaway Mrs.Bandaranaikes’ civic rights as he never wanted to compromise his basic human qualities over politics. Very soon he left the Government before any attempt to expel him and formed a small party with few other honest politicians. Later he joined SLFP on the invitation of Mrs.Bandaranaike and worked in the party as an Assistant Secretary for the progress of the country.
He was a maverick par excellence ,an entrepreneur ,extraordinaire and a businessman with a foresight. As one of the pioneers in the hospitality industry, he built hotel Swanee, subsequently he started JF and I, one of the most modern printing and packaging factories in the country to date. He also pioneered a porcelain factory called “Royal Fernwood Porcelain” in Kosgama. Which provided so many employment opportunities and in time to come, helped to economically develop the area.
Continuing his political career, he entered Parliament again as an SLFP opposition member. Later on in 1994 he decided to give up politics.
His divestments in the Porcelain factory enabled him to purchase Asha Central Hospital which was developed with latest equipment and brought to international standards. This is the time I had to take a difficult decision to leave the Government as a Consultant Cardiologist and join Asha Central Hospital in 1998 to help him in his endeavour. He developed and managed Asha Central Hospital till 2007 and subsequently sold it to start his new venture SAITM or South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine with the encouragement of the then Min.of Higher Education Wishwa Warnapala.
Infact I was very much concerned about the new development because of the past experience in the country with the North Colombo Medical College. He always used to tell “every child should have the right for a decent education either in a government or non-government organisation”. His main vision was to give a higher education opportunity for the students .Therefore apart from medicine he also established nursing, engineering , IT, management programmes with the help of esteemed academics who believed in his vision. He established the Dr Neville Fernando Teaching hospital (NFTH) in Malabe to provide clinical training for his students at the medical faculty .It was a impressive state of the art hospital with 1002 beds and latest medical equipment . All of this was done during his 80s which was a remarkable achievement.
SAITM gave him immense pride and a lot of pain at the same time. He was very proud of the fact that he was able to give so many scholarships to deserving students (close to Rs.600 million scholarships during his time).In addition to saving a tremendous amount of foreign exchange he was also able to give an opportunity to students to stay in Sri Lanka with their parents, without having to go overseas for their education leaving behind all family and friends.
However, he had to face many obstacles during this period and was socially and politically crushed due to SAITM. With time, he made a decision to give the NFTH to the Government in return for the clinical training of the medical students of SAITM. In 2017 SAITM was closed down by Maithripala Sirisena who gave in due to the heavy opposition made by the unions against private medical education.
At 89 years of age he was an avid Facebook warrior and used to keep abreast of what was going on in the social media. He was a big cricket fan and never missed watching a cricket match day or night.
Writing about this unique personality cannot be limited to a few words. His life is a monumental story full of new chapters. He dreamed big and his dreams were of public service, even when he was no longer a politician. He yearned to make this country a better place for people to live in, even in his eighties.
May his journey of Sansara be a short one and may he attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana!
Dr Mohan Jayatilake
Boogie Night with Suzi
Yes, music lovers, get ready to boogie the night away, this Saturday, March 13th.
From 9.00 pm to 10 pm, you would be given the opportunity to see Friends’ former female vocalist, Suzi Croner (Fluckiger) boogie away on Facebook, on Talent Network Group (TNG).
Suzi is excited about this new scene, which will be live streamed, worldwide., and she plans to belt out songs from the Friends’ era (’80s and ’90s), country, and rock ‘n’ roll.
She is already working on her repertoire and says she will make ‘Boogie Night with Suzi’ a real exciting event.
TNG is a Dubai-based project, administered in Dubai, with moderators, worldwide.
And, that means, the whole world is going to see Suzi boogie away.
Several local artistes have already been featured on TNG.
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