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From a ‘Gut-Feeling’, 50 Years ago…




Dr. Chandana (Chandi) Jayawardena DPhil
President – Chandi J. Associates Inc. Consulting, Canada
Founder & Administrator – Global Hospitality Forum

Continued from last week…


A special thank you to Mr. Sriyantha (Simon) Senaratna, Precedent Partner, Simon & Associates, Attorney’s-at-Law and Notary Public, Sri Lanka, who was the Managing Director of Walkers Tours, 50 years ago when they entered the hotel industry. He provided valuable historic information about the beginning of a remarkable journey of a hotel company, for this article.

Cinnamon Hotel Brand

John Keells Group operated their hotel management company under different brand names. In 1970s as Walkers Tours Hotels, in 1980s as Hotel Management & Marketing Services Limited, and in 1990s as John Keells Hotels. In the year 2005, they rebranded their hotel chain as Cinnamon. In 2023, Cinnamon is the largest hotel company in Sri Lanka. They also have four hotels in the Maldives. With the opening of their 16th hotel – Cinnamon Life Colombo, the company will have a stock of 3,288 hotel bedrooms in Sri Lanka and The Maldives. Today, both in terms of the quality of the hotels and the quantity of the room stock, Cinnamon is arguably the greatest hotel company in Sri Lanka.

Generations of board members and professional hoteliers have contributed to this remarkable journey, having many unprecedented successes. In spite of various macro level challenges such as corruption, political instability and the 26-year civil war in Sri Lanka from 1983 to 2009, Walkers Tours/John Keells hotels managed to survive and progress. At the end of the day, it is still important to understand the humble beginning of this hotel company and appreciate the pioneers who commenced that amazing journey, 50 years ago…

How Did Everything Start in 1973?

After reading my recent episodes of ‘Confessions of a Global Gypsy’ dedicated to my time at The Lodge and The Village, Habarana, I received more than the normal volume of reader’s mail. One was a long e-mail from a person with whom I had no contact for 40 years. This person, Sriyantha (Simon) Senaratna was the Managing Director of Walkers Tours when I joined them in 1977.

He wrote to me: “Chandana, this is a voice from the past. I have been following with great interest your series of articles on your life in the leisure industry appearing in the Sunday Island. Firstly, I want to thank you very much for the kind references that you have made about me personally in some of your articles. I was greatly overjoyed, last Sunday when you mentioned the name of Somaratna Silva as the architect of Habarana Village. I would like to mention the background to Habarana Village, which almost did not happen.” After exchanging a couple of further e-mails, he kindly agreed to collaborate with me in writing the following question and answer section of this article. Thank you, Mr. Senaratna!

As a US trained lawyer, how did you end up in the Tourism and Hotel Industry, over 50 years ago?

Answer: In 1970 I returned to Sri Lanka from the US and became an employee of Mr. N. S. O. Mendis, one of the great corporate leaders in Ceylon of that period, owning Mackwoods, Mackinnons, Delmege and the later acquisition, Walkers. He appointed me to the Board of Management to overlook the legal affairs of the behemoth Walkers & Sons. He never stepped into any of his acquisitions, but let the boards run them and report to him directly from time to time at his residence.

At one of the meetings, he mentioned to me that Walkers had a small travel company called Walkers Tours & Travels Limited, and whether I could look it over, in addition to my other duties. I had no idea of the Travel Industry, but he was a marvellous judge of people and he thought that I could do something. So, at the age of 30, I became the Managing Director at Walkers Tours.

How did Walkers Tours & Travels Limited operate in the early 1970s?

They were handling two large charter operations — Tjaereborg Rejser from Denmark and Neckermann from West Germany. I studied the statistics and found out that the profits were razor thin. The greater portion of money was made by the hotels. You will recall that all these groups went on a week-long round trip, which usually included a night in Kandy, a night in Polonnaruwa/Sigiriya and another night in Annuradhapura. I was of the view, if we acquired three nights of the round trip, we would be doing well.

How was the location of Habarana chosen to build the first hotel project of Walkers Tours — The Village?

I felt that the best central location was Habarana, which was the cross road to all these historic attractions in the Cultural Triangle. I suggested to Adrian Wijemanne, the Chairman of the Board of Management, that Walkers build a hotel at Habarana, which would result in Walkers Tour’s profits increasin dramatically. We put forward a proposition to Mr. Mendis who accepted it. I was happy that my ‘gut-feeling’ was accepted by my superiors, at that time.

Thereafter Adrian, Neville Arnolda, Norman Impett and myself went to Habarana to see whether there was a suitable site. After a fruitless day of searching, we returned. After a few days Adrian, who was by then a firm believer in the idea of a hotel in Habarana, suggested that he and I meet the land officials at the Anuradhapura Kachcheri. In his work as a civil servant, he had many dealings with the Anuradhapua Kachcheri.

We met the Chief Clerk at the Kachcheri whom he knew to be a very experienced officer by the name of Perera. He immediately pulled out the one inch survey map of the area, after we advised him of the purpose of our visit. He studied the map for a few minutes, looked up and said, “I have found the ideal place for you at Habarana!”

We were quite surprised, but he said, “Let me come with you to show you the site.” So, when we came to the Habarana junction, we turned right towards Sigiriya and about 200 yards from the junction he asked us to stop the car. We looked around, it was an impenetrable jungle.

He got the help of some villagers and he took us about 200 yards into the jungle and suddenly we were looking at the Habarana Lake. Both Adrian and I looked at each other and smiled. We knew we found our site. The Government gave us 50 acres for 50 years. That was the beginning of Walkers Tours Hotels.

Who originated the concept for The Village Habarana?

Soon after we returned from Habarana to Colombo I immediately contacted Somaratna Silva (Soma) and discussed it with him. Soma was a very close friend of our family and I was his Power-of-Attorney holder whenever he was out of the country. He and I went back to the site and he identified what needed to be done. A few weeks later he came up with the concept of the Village. Mr. Mendis agreed.

Believe it or not, Soma was not a qualified architect, so there are no drawings of the village signed by him. He was the Sri Lankan representative for a large pharmaceutical group, a part of the Heineken Beer empire. In Amsterdam he followed his life’s passion of architecture and went through his training in architecture. When he came back to Sri Lanka, he showed me some of the houses he had constructed for his friends and I was deeply impressed by the concepts and the innovative use of space. In fact, the house I am living in today was designed by Soma, but for purposes of obtaining approval, all his buildings including Habarana Village and Sigiriya Village were signed by local architects.

How did the Ceylon Tourist Board react to The Village Habarana proposal?

Mr. Mendis agreed with Soma’s plans and the drawings. I took those to the Ceylon Tourist Board (CTB) to get their approval. The Development Director at CTB took a look at the drawings and said “What is this? This is not a hotel! I cannot approve this!” As you will recall at that time, the concept of a hotel was a brick-and-mortar structure with a central front office, dining room and bar. That is what he expected. Then I met with M. Y. M. Thahir, the Director General and Dharmasiri Senannayake the Chairman of CTB to convince them of this new concept. Fortunately, after several days they accepted. We commenced the project which was called ‘Habarana Walkinn’.

Who else made significant contributions to The Village Habarana project?

The interior décor of each of 60 initial cottages was done by Chole de Soysa, the wife of our Chairman A. C. H. De Soysa who had just retired as the first Chairman of the CTB. The gardens were landscaped by Bevis Bawa, and Lucky Senanayake did a magnificent mural in the lobby. Then came the choice of a manager. Soma, who had an unerring eye for people, suggested Bobby Adams, whom he had met as the Catering Manager at Queens Hotel in Kandy in 1973.

How and when did John Keells Company get involved in The Village Habarana project?

Meanwhile Mr. Mendis called me one day and said, I am selling Walkers Tours to John Keells, who were then exploring the possibility of entering the tourism sector. They started with Walkers Tours and I joined their main board. With that, Walkers Tours commenced The Village project in 1973 and joined the hotel industry with optimism and ambition to expand quickly.

When I put forward the name of Bobby Adams as the hotel opening Manager for The Village, the board, particularly David Blackler and Mark Bostock objected, saying that Bobby had no experience as a manager of a hotel, but I stood my ground and the rest is history. As you know Chandana, Bobby progressed very well.

When I was working at The Village and The Lodge in the mid-1980s, both hotels had a few weekly buffet dinners, which I heard that you were not keen about. Is that a fact?

Yes, when Habarana Village opened in 1976, I insisted that there will be no buffets whatsoever! Each meal was a sit-down meal. This was equally so when we opened Sigiriya Village. As weekly buffets were so common in all city, resort and roundtrip hotels in Sri Lanka, I wanted The Village to be different and unique, not only in its concept and design, but also in its products and services.

‘No buffet’ policy was not popular with the restaurant staff as you can imagine. When I sat for meals, it sometimes arrived late… perhaps a subtle message to me!! Of course, I noted but let it pass. After I left the company, I believe that policy was changed.

What are the other hotel projects you became involved in when you were the Managing Director of Walkers Tours?

We started with Habarana Village and just before its opening, Dr. Neville Fernando approached me to manage Hotel Swanee. After that, we took over another hotel in the same area called Dulmini owned by a local businessman. Thereafter, the film idol Gamini Fonseka approached me to manage his Sanasuma Hotel in Weerawila. Finally, before I left, we took over Hotel Ceysands owned by Lalith Kotalawela. These were the hotels under my purview in my time at Walkers Tours.

When, why and how did you become a competitor to Walkers Tours / John Keells?

A few years later, in 1979, I left John Keells as I was not in agreement with the manner in which they wished to expand the industry. I resigned and formed Gemini Tours and went on to build Sigiriya Village, which to me is a more classic example of Soma’s ability, where once again Bevis Bawa did marvels with the garden and Lucky Senanayake produced another magnificent mural in the lobby, with the interior décor of the rooms being attended to by Chloe de Soysa.

Before leaving the leisure industry during the time of the LTTE civil war, I also became one of the first Sri Lankans to invest in the Maldives, which I realised at that time was going to be an important tourist destination. When I left the industry on the invitation to be a partner of the long-established law firm D. L. & F. de Sarams, I really was going back to my first love, Law. When I left de Sarams about 29 years ago, I set up my own law firm of ‘Simon and Associates,’ where I still work, leading a set of marvellous lawyers and chartered secretaries, who handle over 400 client companies.

Do you have any other concluding comments?

Yes. In conclusion, I must mention Chandana, that when the Sigiriya Village project was nearing completion in 1980, having already become familiar with your ability and talents, I got Soma to approach you with an offer to be the hotel opening Manager of the Sigiriya Village. With 20/20 hindsight, I believe you made the correct decision by not accepting our offer, because as I see it, you blossomed under John Keells, and thereafter you had a fantastic global career. Congratulations, Chandana! I look forward to reading your column every Sunday.


After three more articles, on March 5th, 2023, the concluding article of the weekly column: ‘Confessions of a Global Gypsy’ will be published by the Sunday Island. Thank you for your readership over the last two years.

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Issues and Challenges of Humanities and Social Sciences Education in Sri Lanka



This collection has been developed as a part of the Sri Lankan universities celebrating hundred years (1921-2021) of teaching Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) and is primarily an outcome of the deliberation of conference papers presented at this national event held on 20th and 21st of December, 2021, organized by the Standing Committee of HSS, University Grants Commission (UGC). It is the third and the final volume of the series of publication brought out to mark this historical milestone of the higher education sector of Sri Lanka.

Vol. I and Vol. II focus on the historical development of Humanities and Social Sciences disciplines in our university system over the last one hundred years. Two volumes were published under the title of ‘Beyond Boundaries: One Hundred Years of Humanities and Social Sciences in Sri Lankan Universities’ which was edited by Professors Premakumara de Silva, KNO Dharmadasa, Asanga Tilakaratne, Chamalie Nahallage and Wimal Hewamanne.

The collection of papers appearing in this Volume – III addresses some of the critical issues and challenges that are quite relevant to the field of HSS. Some of the key issues and challenges highlighted in the volume are the present status of Social Science and Humanities Studies, Employability issues, Learning Environment, Language Competency of HSS graduates, University – Industry Collaboration, Teaching & Assessments, Quality Assurance of Teaching and Examination, and Issues in Publications in HSS. This volume consists of seven parts arranged according to the thematic order under which eighteen papers are presented. Part I situates the formation of higher education in the country in a historical context: pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial. Part II carries two papers which focus on current situation of HSS education in our university system.

Part III onwards the Volume moves from more general issues and challenges to specific ones like Graduate Employability, Teaching, Learning and Assessment, English Language Skill and Research, Innovation and Publication. It concentrates on one of the pertaining issues of Employability and Unemployment of Humanities and Social Sciences Graduates in Sri Lanka. This part consists of five chapters from chapter five to nine. Part IV concentrates on teaching, learning and assessment in higher education institutes and this section has contained two chapters.

Part V is concentrated on English language issues of HSS undergraduates. Part VI focuses on Research, Innovation and Publication of Higher Education Institutes in Sri Lanka and three chapters have contributed to discuss issues and challenges in this area. The final Part is addressing the plan for future development in the field of HSS in the state universities. As solutions to some of the pressing issues highlighted in this volume, standard prescriptions have been formulated and often implemented such as strengthening university-industry collaboration, modernizing curricula to meet the needs of the labour market, public private partnerships, internationalization, promoting more marketable study programmes, encouraging universities to offer financially sustainable and self-financed study programmes, strengthening ICT, soft skills, English among graduates, and restructuring of external degree programs, expanding science and technology studies while limiting the expansion of the humanities and social sciences.

The latest UGC statistics show that Humanities and Social Sciences education is still the dominant field of university education in the country though some argue about the drastic cut down of ‘Arts’ education in our universities. This volume with the forward by Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda, was edited by Professors Premakumara de Silva, Wimal Hewamanne, Asha Fernando and Lalith Ananda and was published by University Grants Commission The e-versions of those volumes are available free of charge at UGC web page.

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On first reading Sir Edwin Arnold’s THE LIGHT OF ASIA



By Rohana R. Wasala 

Here endeth what I write

Who love the Master for his love of us.

A little knowing, little have I told

Touching the Teacher and the Ways of Peace

Forty-five rains thereafter showed he those

In many lands and many tongues, and gave

Our Asia Light, that still is beautiful,

Conquering the world with spirit of strong grace:

All which is written in the holy Books,

And where he passed, and what proud Emperors

Carved his sweet words upon the rocks and caves:

And how – in fulness of the times – it fell

The Buddha died, the great Tathagato,

Even as a man ‘mongst men, fulfilling all:

And how a thousand thousand lakhs since then

Have trod the Path which leads whither he went:

Unto NIRVANA, where the Silence lives.












Edwin Arnold belonged to the group of Western intellectuals living at different times of the British Raj, who represented for us Sri Lankan islanders and Indian sub-continentals the mellowed humane face of British colonialism. They rendered yeoman service to both nations by stimulating historical and cultural awareness about themselves, which contributed to their eventual achievement of independence from foreign rule. German philologist, orientalist and great Buddhist scholar Frederick Max Muller (1823-1900), former American military officer, journalist, lawyer and theosophist Colonel Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907), British Pali and Oriental scholar T.W. Rhys Davids (1843-1922), German orientalist and historian Wilhelm Geiger (1856-1943), German educationist Marie Museus Higgins (1855-1926), and a number of other noble men and women similarly inspired by a selfless love of humanity were of particular importance to us Sri Lankans.

Edwin Arnold, who was of the same age as Olcott, was born at Gravesend, Gravesham, Kent, England on June 10, 1832. As an undergraduate of Oxford University, he won the Newdigate prize for poetry in 1852. Having earned an MA, he left Oxford to become a school teacher at King Edwards School, Birmingham. Then, Arnold went to India in 1856 as Principal of Deccan College at Poona (Pune, today).

While working in India, he learned Sanskrit. Having lived a constantly active life of just over seventy years as poet, scholar, author, educator, and journalist, he died on March 24, 1904, in London England. Though he remained loyal to the British Empire throughout his life, he was free from the entrenched patronising or worse attitude of the average colonialist of the time towards the native imperial subjects including the Ceylonese (Sri Lankans) and treated them as equals.

The poem about ‘the life and teaching of Gautama’ (Buddha) The Light of Asia or The Great Renunciation’ that Arnold composed was first published in July 1879. In his preface to the book, he wrote that it …”is inspired by an abiding desire to aid in the better mutual knowledge of East and West. The time may come, I hope, when this book and my Indian Song of Songs, and Indian Idylls, will preserve the memory of one who loved India and the Indian peoples.” The Indian Song of Songs is the English translation of the 12th century CE Sanskrit poet Jayadeva’s epic poem Gita Govinda. Though supercharged with eroticism and replete with sensuous imagery, it is religious in terms of its central theme of Bhakti-yoga of Hinduism.

(‘Bhakti-yoga/pure devotional service to Lord Krishna as the highest and most expedient means for attaining pure love for Krishna, which is the highest end of spiritual existence’ in Hinduism, as Swami Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada explains in his 1984 English interpretation of the Hindu sacred text the Gita: Bhagavad-gita As It Is’.) Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda describes the amorous relationship between Krishna in the form of young Govinda and the beautiful cowherdess Radha. Krishna is the eighth incarnation of Vishnu (the Preserver and the Protector of the universe in the Hindu religion), so Govinda is another name for Vishnu. Hindus venerate Buddha as the ninth avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu. Arnold did his translation of the Gita Govinda in 1875, that is, four years before he wrote and published The Light of Asia. He also translated the Bhagavad-Gita as The Song Celestial (1885), which he dedicated to India at the opening, having written it, as he claimed, For England, O our India! as dear to me as She!”

This digression about Jayadeva is because I believe that Arnold’s experience with the Gita Govinda had a strong bearing on the literary quality of his own English epic poem The Light of Asia. I happened to read both The Light of Asia and the Sinhala version of the GitaGovinda entitled Govingu Geeya done by Sinhala scholar Arisen Ahubudu about the same time during my adolescent years. At the time I didn’t know that Arnold had translated the Sanskrit poem into English (as The Indian Song of Songs) before he crafted the English poem about the life and philosophy of the Buddha. Ahubudu provided each Sanskrit stanza in Sinhala transliteration with the Sinhala interpretation following it.

Jayadeva’s poem is rich in sensuous imagery; his frequent use of alliteration and assonance enhances its enchanting musicality. Through his rarely matched mastery of the Sinhala language Ahubudu produces an authentic translation of the original Sanskrit text. That Arnold’s familiarity with Jayadeva’s Gita Govinda influenced his composition of The Light of Asia, was something I was able to discern as a mature reader of the English poem years later. (As I write this, I have open before me a copy of The Light of Asia locally published in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) by the M.D. Gunasena & Co. Ltd, Colombo in 1954, which my father bought for me in Kandy for two rupees in 1962. It is the very copy that I read at 15+) that I am using here now after sixty-one years!

It carries an introductory essay under the title ‘The Buddha and His Teaching’ written by Dr G.P. Malalasekera of the University of Peradeniya. But it says nothing about the story of Buddha’s life except that he ‘was a human being who found supreme Enlightenment…’. I noticed its lopsidedness as an introduction to the book even at that young age. Obviously, the professor had not written it for The Light of Asia, but the publishers must have added it to make the publication seem more appealing and more accessible to the local reader. The whole essay is about Buddha’s teaching according to the Theravada tradition. This was what we were taught at school for the Buddhism subject in the Sinhala medium.

As we were learning English as a second language then, it was a big thing for me to be able to read Dr Malalasekera’s learned writing about Buddhism and understand it just as much as Arnold’s poem. However, the phrase ‘The Buddha and his teaching’ well describes the subject of Arnold’s The Light of Asia, which is mentioned in different words in several places in the text, including the final passage of the poem quoted at the opening of this essay: ‘Touching the Teacher and the Ways of Peace’; he lived and died ‘Even as a man ‘mongst men’. Arnold says as much of the Buddha’s life as of his teaching, as truthfully as he managed to understand it, shifting through the inevitable hyperbole that traditionally embellishes the historical narration of his life story, and the deliberate mystification that distorts the meaning of his profound doctrinal concepts.

The same edition contains Arnold’s own original Preface to his poem, which starts: ‘In the following Poem I have sought, by the medium of an imaginary Buddhist votary, to depict the life and character and indicate the philosophy of that noble hero and reformer, Prince Gautama of India, the founder of Buddhism.’ According to him, though little or nothing was known in Europe of ‘this great faith of Asia’ it had existed during twenty-four centuries, and at his time, surpassed in the number of its followers and the area of its prevalence, any other form of creed. Though Buddhism had for the most part had disappeared from India, the land of its birth, ‘the mark of Gautama’s sublime teaching is stamped ineffaceably upon modern Brahmanism, and the most characteristic habits and convictions of the Hindus are clearly due to the benign influence of Buddha’s precepts’.

‘More than a third of mankind… owe their moral and religious ideas to this illustrious prince; whose personality, though imperfectly revealed in the existing sources of information, cannot but appear the highest, gentlest, holiest, and most beneficent, with one exception, in the history of Thought….’ (I could infer who Arnold meant by this exception, but I thought that in his heart of hearts, he would have avoided that reservation, for his assertion sounded like nothing more than a concession to the dominant Christian sensitivities of his society.) Arnold quite rightly points out that though Gautama has been accorded superhuman status, he disapproved of ritual and ‘declared himself, even when on the threshold of Nirvana, to be only what all other men might become – the love and gratitude of Asia, disobeying his mandate, have given him fervent worship’.

(The phrase ‘on the threshold of Nirvana’ means, in more mundane words, ‘on his deathbed’; ‘on the threshold of Parinirvana’ is the usual way to put it. To put what Arnold hints at here differently: Siddhartha Gautama did not preach a religious system of ritual worship.) But ‘Forests of flowers are daily laid upon his stainless shrines, and countless millions of lips daily repeat the formula ‘I take refuge in the Buddha!’ Arnold observes with quiet adoration for the Sage whose memory still induces feelings of such pious devotion in the hearts of his followers.

Arnold stresses the historicity of the Buddha: ‘The Buddha of this poem – if, as need not be doubted, he really existed – was born on the borders of Nepaul about 620 B.C., and died about 543 B.C. at Kusinagara in Oudh.’ (These place names respectively are: Nepal, Kushinagar and Awadh or Avadh, today.) About the timeless relevance of Buddha’s teaching, he says: ‘… this venerable religion … has in it the eternity of a universal hope, the immortality of a boundless love, an indestructible element of faith in final good, and the proudest assertion ever made of human freedom.’

What Arnold next says in his original Preface has a message of vital importance to those who are concerned about the survival of the Buddha Sasana in Sri Lanka: ‘The extravaganzas which disfigure the record and practice of Buddhism are to be referred to that inevitable degradation which priesthoods always inflict upon great ideas committed to their charge. The power and sublimity of Gautama’s original doctrines should be estimated by their influence, not by their interpreters; nor by that innocent but lazy and ceremonious church which has arisen on the foundations of the Buddhistic Brotherhood or “Sangha”.’ Incidentally, it would be timely to consider whether or not ‘innocent but lazy and ceremonious’ is a good description of the present-day Buddhist church (= the clerical officialdom/the Mahanayake, Anunatake, Adhikarana Sangha Nayake, … system) in Sri Lanka.

Arnold has put his poem into the mouth of an imaginary Buddhist devotee ‘because, to appreciate the spirit of Asiatic thoughts, they should be regarded from the Oriental point of view; and neither miracles which consecrate this record, nor the philosophy which it embodies could have been otherwise so naturally reproduced. The doctrine of Transmigration, for instance – startling to modern minds – was established and thoroughly accepted by the Hindus of Buddha’s time….’ (Arnold is here referring to the then prevalent Western attitude to the idea of reincarnation or rebirth, which Hindus of the pre-Christian Buddha’s time took for granted, as Hindus and Buddhists still do.) He confesses that his exposition of the Buddha’s ancient doctrine is necessarily incomplete, since, in conformity with rules of poetic art, he has to pass by many philosophically most important matters developed over Gautama’s long ministry. But he would consider his purpose achieved, if he succeeded in communicating ‘any just conception ……of the lofty character of this noble prince, and of the general purport of his doctrines…’

(To be continued)

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Untruths; media to be muzzled; youth bring honour



Cassandra was struck by three untruths (lies if the real term needs to be used) spluttered out this last week. The Island on Thursday June 1 carried this headline on page 1:” Aragalaya group behind project to cause religious disharmony.” That is a blatant lie for the very simple reason that one feature the Aragalaya in its true form was uniquely known for was that it fostered and demonstrated spontaneous amity among ethnic and religious groups. Innumerable photographs, media pictures, videos et al were taken then and are preserved now proving the fact stated here. So, Minister Prasanna Ranatunga is uttering a falsehood when he says that the Aragalaya induced religious conflict.

The second falsehood emanating from Prasanna R is that he “alleged that those who planned to kill the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa during last year’s protest campaign are behind the ongoing efforts to cause religious disharmony.” How can he possibly say this, unless of course he takes us all Sri Lankans to be idiots and ready to accept whatever a Minister or politician says. The very slogan of the Aragalaya disproves this fact. Gota Go Home meant just that – leave your post, resign and go away. There was not the slightest thought or talk of murder, leave alone the intention even in unsavoury groups within the later Aragalaya. Cassandra believes that not even the militant groups that overran the original Aragalaya and foisted their slogans and their ruthless style of protest had murder on their minds. Gotabaya opted to leave his post and country and the PM dubbed Myna saw continuing as PM not feasible, so he vacated Temple Trees and the premiership.

Politicians spew lies left, right and center but Ministers must be circumspect because what they say is recorded and preserved. This minister has absolutely no clout with the public; in fact, the truth is he is disdained, discredited and derided by most Sri Lankans and of course wholesale overseas for being convicted of having solicited a huge bribe and continues holding a high post.

The third lie was uttered by the Katunayake Airport authorities. After grossly mishandling Ven. Ajahn Brahm’s departure after his ten days of being busy leading people here on the correct path of Buddhist thought and meditation, caused a delay of 12 hours. He, speaking from Australia, did not want enquiries to the mistake made by the airport authorities. He used the word mistake, so there it is that the airport authorities made an unpardonable mistake. Why?

They were busy bending backwards, grovelling and paying pooja to Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, who was to travel in the same plane that Ajahn Brahm had a valid ticket for. The lie here was in the official statement made by the Airport and Aviation (Sri Lanka) Ltd, (AASL): “Sri Lankan Airlines would like to clarify that a story currently circulating on social media about the airline mishandling the travel of Ven Ajahn Brahm is completely false. Ven Ajahn Brahm was booked on a different airline when the unfortunate delay occurred at the BIA in the early hours of 31 May 2023.” Note the term ‘completely false.’ It is the AASL that was completely false.

Muzzling the media

The latest Bill to be presented in Parliament will be passed and made law since the majority of those seated in government comfy seats do not understand what’s what of the absolutely important issues they vote for. In the near future a vote will be taken on the government descending on broadcasting. Cass does not even want to Google and get the title of the Bill to be presented.

She is far more impressed by the symbolic portrait MTV Channel One presents when this latest issue is being reported on: a hand holding a pen tied up severely. The fingers are completely bound and immobilised. Just as apt and message-conveying are three quotes Cassandra gives below.

“When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you‘re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.” George R R Martin in A Clash of Kings.

When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.” Yevgeny Yevtushendko

“Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.

Henry Louis Gates. Jr Cassandra finds it difficult to ascribe this latest move to Prez Ranil W. Of course, he does not like a particular media outlet, or so it is said, since that outlet did hound him and promoted a rival. But everything is fair in war (is it said thus?) or love or should be in governing a country. Ranil is educated; reads much and we trusted him to be liberal and govern fair and square.

Why does the government persist in introducing controversial issues in Parliament, them being sure fire causes of social conflagration? As Ajahn Brahm advised, do all possible, without being tangentially misled by other issues, to improve the economy of the country and thus the lives of its people. Why for goodness sake censorship of the media at this stage? Expend all energies and expertise on getting maximum compensation from the company that owned the Xpress Pearl which destroyed our ocean, our resources, our fauna and flora. With it follow all clues and leads to catch the devil or the treasonous group that supposedly got an astronomical bribe to reduce the claim and rob Sri Lanka of legitimate billions as compensation.

Extra money in the kitty to spend on another white elephant?

Cassandra means here the proposed ‘Climate Change University’. It is proposed by Ranil W and is his brainchild, Cass presumes. Has he caught another infection from his friend and recently made relative – Mahinda Rajapaksa? The latter, who sure is fated to be an Ozymandias, had four or five white elephants built at huge cost and getting this poor country colossally indebted in his claimed demesne Hambantota and a garish Lotus Tower in Colombo. There are so many environmental organisations within the country and so many tappable international ones. Additionally, environment specialists are very many in the island. So why an entire university for climate change, when most of our universities have departments, maybe not faculties, for environmental study and research?


Let’s put aside these national worries which affect each one of us and celebrate the success of our youthful athletes now giving of their best in the Asian Junior Athletics Championships in South Korea. Ratnayake Central Walala runner Tharushi Karunaratne won back to back gold medals on day two of the contest. Others have also brought honour to our bankrupted (sic) little island. And note this is beating athletes from all Asian countries.

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