Easter Sunday Critiques:In amateurish isolation!
By I. P. C. MENDIS
Some 60 plus years ago, the country was shocked and shaken over the news of the murder of the wife of a star cricketer, M. Sathasivam. Husband Satha was eventually arraigned before the law and was eventually acquitted by a unanimous verdict. By and large, the public was confused, non-plussed and tossed up with the thought as to whether, in fact, the law is an ass! The common question that followed was – “Did the mortar kill Mrs Sathasivam? Such sensation and legal upsets, Sri Lanka seems to revel in and can well be touted as a tourist attraction in the future. We are now treated with another sensation, to wit, the Easter Sunday episode – regarding which the Presidential Commission of Inquiry has produced its Report and which has raised a hornet’s nest. It has drawn heavy flak, understandably from some of those faulted, and their supporters. The whole thing is being given a political twist and rather than face charges in court, the agitation is for the whole report to be discarded. Democracy thrives on the tripod of the Legislature, the Judiciary and the Executive and all those who hold positions in these areas have necessarily to be like Caesar’s wife – above board. The fact that a President, Parliamentarian or other public officer has been faulted is no cogent reason to criticize, agitate and condemn a Report of an Independent Commission of Inquiry to be unceremoniously thrown away, based on prejudiced subjective arguments in favour of those faulted. By extension, it will be a very sad day if public criticisms and demonstrations were to be permitted to influence the judiciary or the administration. Such tendencies need to be nipped in the bud if chaos is to be avoided. Some of these specious arguments can be repeated in court if and when they are arraigned. The ‘modus operandi’ for ditching the Report is a short-cut’ to freedom. It will be a contradiction in terms if we are only at selected, convenient times vociferous in the fact of the independence of the judiciary and at other times condemn members of the judiciary (in office or retired) who are compelled to act on evidence, however unpalatable it may be, and give in to unfair demands. It will be a very sad day, if experienced, decent people refuse to be victims of such irresponsible harangue, often let loose under parliamentary privilege and otherwise. Indeed, the Easter Sunday debacle should not be permitted to be equated to the mortar in the Sathasivam case, eventually making the bomb, the perpetrator of the crime in the Easter Sunday attack!
The Yahapalana Inaction
The Presidential Commission of Inqury has, as far as it is discernible, reiterates and confirms the mind-set of the people anent the contemptible and complete inaction, indolence, indifference, and ‘devil-may-care’ attitude of the yahapalana regime, headed by President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, in effectively utilising the intelligence services and security forces and dealing promptly and effectively with the intelligence information, particularly the reports from foreign agencies. The security outfits appear to have been conducting themselves as complete headless novices and not professionals. Their conduct appears to have been influenced by the in-fighting and conduct of those at the top. As for the findings of the PCOI in regard to inaction, the public of this country can well respond with the old expression “Queen Anne is Dead” as they had already made up their minds about the “Open Sesame” made available to the terrorists and that it was practically a local version of “Nero fiddling while Rome was burning” with no acting appointment being made for the position of Minister of Defence, in the absence of the President, abroad on medical grounds, and if the evidence is anything to go by, the President remaining mostly incommunicado. To take up the position now that President Sirisena has been targeted is far-fetched and preposterous. The Commissioners were picked by him. Nor can the then Prime Minister Wickremasinghe, as Head of Government, shun responsibility, absence of the Minister of Defence notwithstanding. Defence Secretary, Hemasiri Fernando’s claim made to the foreign media that a calamity “of such magnitude” was not expected speaks volumes! People are entitled to ask whether they were playing “football” with national security!
Taking the wind off the sails
The parliamentary debate, taken up on 10th March 2021, had afforded the present government the opportunity to respond to the main slogan or accusation that the origin of the terrorist outfit had not been identified nor any action taken to apprehend those responsible. Minister Sarath Weerasekera narrated the action taken to date and what is intended to be taken which appears to have appeased. His was a very wise step considering the fact that there were various organizations, parties and groups which were, without invitation gleefully ever ready to gatecrash to eventually gain political mileage with anti-government propaganda which idea was far from the agenda of the Cardinal and aggrieved Roman Catholics. Indeed, wiser counsel had prevailed and those who were waiting on the wings to turbo-fly their way through over dead bodies forestalled. Those who were accomplices in the crime by their avowed silence in the face of complete and studied inaction then, now seek to masquerade as saviours of the nation using the tragedy as a weapon and the aggrieved as a tool in a desperate endeavour for power.
Ven Ajahn Brahmavamso visits Sri Lanka in May
by Nanda Pethiyagoda
The next month, soon to be upon us, is of special significance to the majority of Sri Lankans since we Sinhalese and Tamils celebrate our New Year, with festivities continuing for a week or more in mid-April. The month of May is significant to Buddhists as the three major events of the Buddha’s life are commemorated at the Vesak full moon poya. This year, May carries another significance, joyful and to be grateful for. Ven. Ajahn Brahmavamso arrives here towards the end of the month for about two weeks. The Ajahn Brahm Society of Sri Lanka (ABS) has completed all arrangements for the visit which is full of great good happenings.
The last time Ven Ajahn Brahm was in Sri Lanka was 2017. I well remember the day long sessions of his speaking to the audience in the BMICH, delivering so easily and absorbingly the Word of the Buddha and conducting meditation. 7000 persons were present to listen to the venerable monk from Australia, spreading themselves in all the BMICH halls and a few even seating themselves in the corridors. The sessions, with Ven Ajahn Brahm moving from hall to hall, with of course TV presentations in them, were deep in significance and of immense benefit to us. However, as is his manner of presentation, the gravity of what was being imparted was tempered by Ven Brahmavamso’s informality and constantly smiling, benign face. One indication of his informality is shortening his religious name to Ajahn Brahm.
This time it is one session on May 30 that the monk will conduct at the BMICH. Passes were available at announced venues from the 15th of this month. I am certain they were all snapped up, so eager are we to listen to this great teacher.
His programme, most efficiently arranged and made widely known by the ABS under the guidance of Ven Mettavihari, includes a resident meditation retreat from May 22 to 30 in Bandarawela for 150 participants inclusive of bhikkhus, bhikkhunis and lay persons.
A singularly unique forum will be held exclusively for professionals and business persons at the Galle Face Hotel on May 29. These sessions are by invitation, sent out well in time by ABS.
The much looked forward to Dhamma talk and meditation instructions for the public will be at the BMICH from 7.00 to 11.00 am on May 30. Anticipatory of the large crowds that will flock to the BMICH on that day, the ABS has organised sessions with the venerable monk moving from the Main Hall to Sirimavo Halls A and B so all can see and hear him. He will speak in English, followed by summarizations in Sinhala.
More information could be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For WhatsApp messages the number is 0720735837. The filled applications are to be submitted before 10th April 2023.
It seems superfluous to give details, even brief facts on Ven Brahmavamso, as he is well known in this country of ours. However, it appears pertinent to mention facets of the life of this very blessed Bhikkhu.
He was born in London in 1951. Having read widely on Buddhism, at the tender age of 16, this promising student and keenly interested teenager considered himself a Buddhist by conviction. When in the University of Cambridge following his undergrad course in Theoretical Physics, his strong interest in Buddhism and gravitation to meditation went alongside his studies. After earning his degree he taught for one year, He then decided to follow his greater interest in Buddhist philosophy and practice and so proceeded to Thailand. He followed meditation under a couple of Thai masters. Convinced of his future as a Buddhist Bhikkhu, he was ordained a monk at the age of 23 by the Chief Incumbent of Wat Saket. He then went for further training to the famous meditation teacher – Ajahn Chah. He spent nine years studying and training in the forest tradition. In 1983 he was invited to help establish a forest monastery near Perth, Western Australia. Within a short period he was Abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery, Perth. He is also the Spiritual Director of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia and Spiritual Patron to the Buddhist Fellowship in Singapore. These are but two of the spiritual responsibilities he undertakes. His pragmatic approach and his deep conviction in Dhamma have made him a much sought after Buddhist teacher throughout the world.
We Sri Lankans are truly blessed to have him visit our land and share his knowledge, his conviction in the Buddha Word and his encouragement to meditate.
The team that calls itself the Ajahn Brahm Society Sri Lanka of multi-talented and multi-skilled men and woman are all deeply dedicated to helping us, the public of Sri Lanka, benefit from Ajahn Brahm, acknowledged as an excellent teacher and exponent of the Dhamma. We are most grateful to them and Ven Mettavihari who guides the ABS.
One of best development administrators SL ever had
Mr. K. Thayaparan (KT), who retired from the government service after serving as a development administrator for more than thirty years passed away on Jan 05 at the age of 86. He was born in 1937 in Malaya, which was then under the British rule; his father had migrated there in 1916 for employment. His father was employed in the Malayan Railways, and the family was living a happy life. In the late 1940s, there erupted a terrorist movement launched by Communists of Chinese origin. To fight with the terrorists the British Government had issued a conscription order for all school leavers above the age of 17 years to join the military. Many families with male children over 17 years fled to Ceylon to avoid conscription. Since KT’s family also had a male child who had been noticed to report for military duty, his family members too other than his father left Malaya in 1951 and came to live in Ceylon. In Jaffna, KT resumed and completed his school education. In 1958 he entered the University of Ceylon at Peradeniya to undertake studies in geography, economics and history.
During the university days, KT had won university colours in badminton. He graduated in 1961, and served as a school teacher in the Matara district. In 1962, after sitting a competitive examination, KT joined the Government Divisional Revenue Officers’ service. In 1963, together with the other officers of the DROs’ service and comparable services, KT was absorbed into the Ceylon Administrative Service that had been created in place of the Ceylon Civil Service, which had simultaneously been abolished.
Till 1975 KT served in the district administration in the northern districts, first as DRO, then as Asst. Government Agent and as Addl. Government Agent. From 1976 to 1979 he worked in the Ministry of Fisheries as Deputy Director Planning, and contributed to the development of the National Fisheries Development Plan 1979 – 1983. The Fisheries Development Plan, among other activities had concentrated on exploitation of the fish resources in the Sri Lanka’s exclusive economic zone, which was proclaimed in 1977, and utilisation of irrigation reservoirs and village tanks for development of inland fisheries. The Government made a policy decision to implement an accelerated programme to develop inland fisheries and aquaculture. For this purpose, a new Division called the Inland Fisheries Division was set up in the Ministry, and KT was appointed its director.
The accelerated development programme had a number of activities to perform. Establishment of fish breeding stations in different parts of the country, recruitment and training of scientific and technical officers to serve at fish breeding centres, import of exotic fish species suitable for culture in Sri Lankan inland waterbodies, training of youth in inland fishing and aquaculture, promotion of investments in shrimp farming, etc. Funding agencies like UNDP, ADB and individual countries on bilateral basis came forward to support the accelerated inland fisheries development programme by providing funds for development of infrastructure, providing technical assistance, providing foreign training for the scientific and technical staff who were mostly young people without experience, and providing advisory services. It was heavy work for KT, but he managed the Division and its work smoothly.
KT was a firm believer in team work. He knew workers in all outstation inland fisheries or aquaculture establishments by name. He distributed foreign training slots offered by donor countries or agencies to every scientific or technical officer on an equitable basis. He listened to everybody, and was quite loved by his staff. KT was quite neutral in politics. However, in spite of his hard work to develop the inland fisheries sector, he was transferred out of the Ministry in 1985 to the SLAS Pool.
In 1979 when KT took over the responsibility of developing inland fisheries and aquaculture in the country, the total national inland fish production in Sri Lanka was 17,400 tons. During his tenure of nearly six years, the national inland fish production steadily increased and in 1985, the year he was transferred it had increased to 32,700 tons, showing an increase of nearly 90%. Also, there were 4,500 inland fishing craft operating in reservoirs, and the number employed as fishers, fish collectors, fish traders, etc. was over 10,000.
After leaving the Ministry of Fisheries he served different assignments such as Director Regional Development, National Consultant or the World Bank funded Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Project, Secretary to the North-East Provincial Council Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries, and Secretary to the State Ministry Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs. In 1995, he was appointed Addl. Secretary Development of the Ministry of Fisheries, but his stay in this post was brief since the then Minister replaced him with one of his political supporters. His last government assignment was as Addl. Secretary, Ministry of Plan Implementation, National Integration and Ethnic Affairs. In 1997, he retired from the government service, but continued in a few foreign funded projects as institutional development consultant. He once told that his most productive period in the government service was as Director Inland Fisheries. After retirement he authored several books, Reminiscences of Malaya 1937 – 1951, Stories of Some Brave Men and High Achievers, and Introduction to Some Known High Achievers.
Although he was quite suitable to be appointed the Secretary to a Ministry, he was never considered for such a post. In the final years of his career, he was compelled to serve under his juniors. But he carried on regardless and did the best in whatever the capacity he served.
It was not Central Bank bond scam
I was surprised and sorry to read a journalist attached to The Island writing about a central bank bond scam: surprised because, the editor of The Island, in his inimitable editorials, consistently refers to a treasury bond scam; sorry, because it is simply factually wrong. I have driven home that point several times in The Island and assumed that that canard was dead. Would you permit me to flog a not-so-dead horse?
There never was a central bank bond scam; there could not have been, because there was no market in central bank bonds. The central bank has not issued its own liabilities at least since 1967. The currency notes issued by the Central Bank are liabilities of the government (aanduva/state?) of Sri Lanka. (Should you not clear up that mess confusing ‘state’ with the ‘government’? It is one thing to have faith in the state of Sri Laska and quite another to have faith in the government of Ranil Wickremesinghe.) The Central Bank issues those bills (it does currency) on behalf of the state/government of Sri Lanka and they are not the liabilities of the Central Bank or the Monetary Board. There was a scam in government bonds in 2015 as well as in 2016.
As became clearer in the course of the Chitrasiri Commission, the then-governor of the Central Bank and a few other officers of the Central Bank were parties to that financial fraud involving government bonds. The Central Bank is simply the agent of the government/state who markets government liabilities. Those liabilities do not become the Bank’s liabilities. When you carry Sri Lanka currency, you carry liabilities, much like government bonds, of an entity whose credit is low. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka is not in the picture.
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