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Congrats to Captain Kusal and his team

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Our country is famous for having wrong people in the right places. As a result, the educated intellectuals have left the country en masse for greener pastures, where they can make use of their talents and knowledge freely, without any interference, for the benefit of mankind. They are well recognised in those respective countries, quite contrast to the stepmotherly treatments inflicted upon them in their own motherland.

Athletics in our country is no exception. In a recent article, ‘Barrier Breakers’ in this newspaper (21st May edition) I read how a top-class athlete in the 1940s and 50s, Summa (Sumanthiran) Navaratnam, was not selected to represent then Ceylon in the London and Helsinki Olympics in 1948 and 1952 respectively. Decades ago our long distance running maestro, S. L. B. Rosa was deprived of representing our country in the 1976 Montreal Olympics. He was barred even from running under the Olympic flag. A personal grudge cost an Olympic medal for the country?

Sri Lanka had to wait 52 more years to be blessed with an Olympic medal after Duncan White brought a Silver medal to our motherland way back in 1948. It was then that our own ‘iron lady’, Deshabandu Susanthika Jayasinghe, brought a silver medal in 200 meters in the year 2000 in the Sydney Olympics, amidst a plethora of obstacles not from the rival competitors but from the sports hierarchy.

In our country, when a regime changes the cricket fans can expect a change in the set up of the cricket selectors. Such selections for this ‘elite’ group sometimes were pathetic, and were purely done because of personal affiliations. In the past, on numerous occasions the selections of the ‘knowledgeable’ selectors were full of obvious favouratism. Let’s forget about the past, as now we have a new set of cricket selectors, and I prefer to abstain from commenting on that.

However, the infusion of young blood into the recently held two Test series gave desired results. Young Praveen Jayawickrama emerged as a hero. Also the selection of young faces into the team that toured Bangladesh for the just concluded ODI series, should be applauded and commendable. That was a very intelligent and an appropriate move in view of the World Cup 2023, to be staged in our neighbouring country India. Kusal Janith Perera (KJP) who was axed on certain occasions from our national sides, despite having done yeoman services to the country as a cricketer, was deservedly elevated to lead the side, although it was long overdue. To make a long story short he is suitable for all three formats of international cricket for many more years to come. He had proved that with his willow.

Not all captains were 100% successful in their maiden engagements, but later have achieved greater targets with much needed experience, perfect backing and also with team spirit and unity. Therefore our 2 – 1 defeat to Bangladesh (although it was the first occasion) was not a big blow, considering the present excellent forms of BG cricketers. KJP’s captain’s knock of 120 in the final third ODI brought a much-needed win for us. The present Bangladesh cricketers are really an advanced lot, compared to the bunch of cricketers that commenced their international appearance 21 years ago in 2000, as a full test playing nation. With regard to KJP, we all should recall the epic match winning knock of 153 not out (12 fours and 5 sixes) in South Africa. His commitments were and are truly remarkable.

The International press had the following praiseworthy words to describe that innings of a simple golden boy, who really plays for the country and not for his personal glory. “This knock is arguably one of the best in Test cricket’s vast history”, “Kusal Perera’s 153, miracle in Durban, one of the greatest of all time” and finally from former South African captain Faf du Plessis – “It was a superman effort”. Subsequently, he was dropped from the Test squads for reasons unknown to the intelligent cricket fans.

Dear KJP, it was not a road full of roses during your elevation to the top. The Majority of the cricket fans are with you because of your simplicity, loyalty to the country, and your proven batting heroics. Now you have been appointed to lead the country again, Sri Lankan cricket fans wish you and your team all success in the upcoming ODI and T20 tour of England.

The success of your team will make you the automatic choice for the leadership role in the 2023 World Cup to bring glory to the motherland. Good luck KJP.

LALITH FERNANDO Panadura



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Opinion

Mrs Paripooranam Rajasundaram- A Gracious Lady

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I first came to know Mrs Pariapooranam Rajasundaram, who was born in Singapore on October 25, 1935 while serving a short stint in Jaffna with police intelligence. Her late husband who called her “Pari” was my very close friend, Mr. Vaithilingam Rajasunderam, the former principal of Victoria College, Chullipuram who was introduced to me by my friend and police batch mate, late Tissa Satharasinghe, who was the Personal Security Officer, to the late Mr T.B. Ilangaratne in 1971.

Mrs Rajasundaram was blessed with three sons and a daughter and several grandchildren and can be truly described as a very faithful spouse and dedicated mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and a great grandmother to the family of which she was matriarch.

My short spell in Jaffna in 1973 brought me closer to the Rajasunderams who celebration their 25th wedding anniversary in 1974. Theirs was an open house and my wife and sisters too came to know them well.

Mrs Rajasundram and her husband were good hosts and his assassination was a shock to all of us. It was then she became part of our family as she lived with us briefly till she obtained a UK visa to join her daughter and son-in-law there.

Many years later when she was living in England, I had joined KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and my family used to spend vacations with them in Cockfosters in North London. Mrs Rajasundaram treated us to sumptuous meals lavishing attention on us. She was very fond of my wife and two children and had a heart of gold. A devout Hindu she never failed in her religious obligations, lived within her means and was never greedy for what she could not afford. She firmly believed in being patient and willingly gave to those in need.

She was a lady who was selfless, full of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, very virtuous, and full of love and character. I can say of her: “People may forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel!”

My prayer as a Christian is that God grants you eternal rest.

NIHAL DE ALWIS

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Opinion

Independence celebrations for whose benefit?

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Celebrating what? Bankruptcy, corruption and nepotism to name a few. Surely isn’t there one MP among 225 who feel we have nothing to celebrate. We say we cannot pay govt. servants’ salaries in time, the pensioners’ their entitlements. A thousand more failures confront us.

In our whole post-independence history such a situation has never arisen. We should be mourning our lost prestige, our lost prosperity our depleting manpower. Our youth in vast numbers are leaving the country for greener pastures. We should be conserving every cent to live, not to celebrate a non-existent independence. We should be mourning, walking the streets in sack cloth and ashes in protest at this wanton waste of money by an irresponsible government.

I can’t understand this mentality. The forces are also our young men who feel for their fellow men and women. Maybe their lot is a little better than the rest of us. But how can you order them to go parade? They cannot refuse. It is an unwritten or written code that they have to obey orders without question. I feel sorry for them. All that spit and polish – for whose benefit? Definitely not ours. We will be mourning in silence in our homes.

Padmini Nanayakkara.

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Opinion

Aftermath Of Mr. Ranjan Wijeratne’s Assassination

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It was on Saturday March 2, 1991 when that fateful LTTE bomb blast shattered the life out of Mr. Ranjan Wijeratne, Minister of Plantations and Deputy Minister of Defence, in front of the Havelock Road University Women’s Hostel opposite Keppetipola Mawatha.

Mr. Wijeratne used to take the same route from home to office every day. The LTTE had monitored his movements and found that it would be easy to target him on his way to office from a strategic point after receiving the information of his departure from home.

The LTTE targeted his vehicle right in front of the University of Colombo Women’s Hostel opposite Keppetipola Mawatha. The suicide bomber crashed into the Deputy Minister’s vehicle and killed the Minister instantaneously.

I had dropped our elder son at Royal College for scouting and then went to the public library to return some books and borrow new ones. After having done that, I was returning home when I saw a large cloud of black smoke going up from somewhere on Havelock Road. As I neared Thummulla junction, a university vehicle (I was Registrar of the Colombo University) was going in the opposite direction.

I stopped it and asked the driver what had happened. He said the Shanthi Vihar restaurant at the Thummulla had been set on fire. The police did not allow vehicles into Havelock Road from Thummulla. I parked the car on Reid Avenue between Thummulla and Lauries Road and walked down the Havleock Road to see what exactly had happened.

As I got onto Havelock Road, a policeman accosted me and told me that I cannot be allowed to proceed. Fortunately, at that moment the OIC of the Bamabalapitiya Police station, Mr. Angunawela, came to that spot and recognizing me told the police constable to allow me to proceed.

As I walked down I saw the damage caused. But there were no signs of any vehicle or any dead bodies as the police had got everything removed. There was a large gaping hole on the road where the blast had occurred. But immediately this was filled up and that section of the road carpeted.

I do not know who had ordered it and why it was done in such a hurry. There were pieces of human flesh hanging from the overhead telephone wires. The blast had also affected the house in front where there was a P& S outlet and a lady who had come to buy something had got her eyes blinded by the shrapnel thrown by the blast.

The parapet wall and the Temple flower (araliya) trees that had been grown just behind the wall were all gone. As I went into the hostel, I saw that the front wall of the hostel building badly damaged. When I went in the girls in the hostel were looking terrified and shivering with fright.

Two of the undergraduates who had gone out of the hostel as they had to sit an examination in the university had got very badly injured and they been rushed to the national hospital. Later one girl who was from Kobeigane, a remote village in the Kurunegala area, succumbed to her injuries. The university paid for her funeral. The security guard who had been close to the gate was thrown up and landed back on the ground. Fortunately, he had no injuries other than feeling groggy.

The next job was to evacuate the hostelers from the building. I telephoned the university office and found the Senior Assistant Registrar in charge of examinations was in office. I told her what had happened and to come to the hostel in a van. Thereafter both she and I packed all the hostelers in the van and sent them to the Bullers Lane Women’s hostel. This was done in three trips.

On inspecting the damage done to the hostel I thought the building would have to be demolished and a new building constructed to replace it. However, I contacted an Engineer, Mr. Upasena, at the Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau (CECB,) who came, inspected the damage to the building and stated that he will get it repaired to be stronger than what it was.

He stated that it might cost around Rs, 20,000/- to get the repair done. I contacted NORAD and they agreed to give the funds required for the repair and renovation. Mr. Manickam from NORAD came and inspected the building and agreed to get much more done than what we wanted repaired and renovated. The repair and renovation were done very quickly and the hostelers were able to move in again.

The reopening ceremony was attended by the then Ambassador to Norway, Mr. Manickam and the Vice-Chancellor. The Vice- Chancellor thanked the Ambassador, Mr. Manickam and the CECB for getting the hostel repaired and renovated to be used again. He never mentioned what I had done to get this hostel repaired and habitable again. That is gratitude!

HM NISSANKA WARAKAULLE

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