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Is Singapore a role model we must emulate?

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By Susirith Mendis

(susmend2610@gmail.com)

I was prompted to write this post after I read the article in ‘The Island’ newspaper titled “The MPH Formula of Singapore” on 25th April 2022, by an anonymous author.

For the past few decades, especially since 1977, when JRJ said that he would make Sri Lanka a ‘Singapore’, this comparison between Sri Lanka and Singapore had been bandied about, ad nauseum. So many have been eulogising Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) and the ‘Singapore miracle’ that he created from next to nothing. Singapore is the role model that is being held up for us to emulate.

It was said in that article, that “the need of the hour for Sri Lanka” is the ‘MPH Formula’ – Meritocracy, Pragmatism and Honesty – of Singapore; that it is the magic formula that made Singapore what it is. Nobody will disagree that the ‘MPH Formula’ is necessary for good governance and economic development of any country. But do we need to take Singapore as a role model for such governance?

Is this formula a true representation of Singaporean governance? Or, is this a half-truth with a dark underbelly deliberately withheld in the uninformed enthusiasm (or desperation) to seek role models? Why not look closer for the real truth? Why not be both truthful and realistic and call Singapore’s magic formula MPHD or MPHA? Why not add the words dictatorship or autocracy to it?

Take an unblinkered closer look at the economic miracles of the ‘Four Asian Tigers’ – Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Between the early 1960s and 1990s, they underwent rapid industrialisation and maintained exceptionally high growth rates. They were called ‘The Asian Miracles’. If you wish, you can add the other Asian ‘miracles’ to this list – Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

There is a common thread that runs through all these ‘miracles’ (perhaps with the exception of the then British-ruled Hong Kong) – political repression and authoritarianism. Since I do not wish to make this too lengthy an article, I will limit myself to who LKY really was, and how his ‘Singapore Miracle’ came into being.

1. Repression by LKY

Let us begin with a quote from the horse’s mouth:

“I am often accused of interfering in the private lives of citizens. Yes, if I did not, had I not done that, we wouldn’t be here today. And I say without the slightest remorse that we wouldn’t be here, we would not have made economic progress, if we had not intervened on very personal matters – who your neighbour is, how you live, the noise you make, how you spit, or what language you use. We decide what is right. Never mind what the people think.”

(Lee Kuan Yew – The Straits Times, April 20, 1987)

LKY said the following to one of the “silver-tongued, but more principled member of the Opposition” in independent Singapore’s first parliament, J.B. Jeyaretnam:

“If you are a troublemaker … it’s our job to politically destroy you. Put it this way. As long as J.B. Jeyaretnam stands for what he stands for – a thoroughly destructive force – we will knock him. Everybody knows that in my bag I have a hatchet, and a very sharp one.”

The New York Times reported on Nov. 16, 1986, that Mr. J.B. Jeyaretnam, a Tamil of Sri Lankan descent, who was the leader of Singapore’s parliamentary opposition was sentenced to a token month in prison and stripped of his seat in the country’s legislature. At that time, LKY’s People’s Action Party (PAP) held 77 of the 79 seats in Parliament. The opposition, thereby, was reduced to just one MP. Has anybody wondered why the PAP has held power continuously since 1959 – even before Singapore’s independence from Malaya? If not, why not?

With incredibly petty vindictiveness, LKY’s government pursued Chee Soon Juan, who was fired in 1993 from his teaching job at the National University of Singapore after he had joined an Opposition party, and who was repeatedly imprisoned and bankrupted simply for joining an Opposition party and for holding small street demonstrations to air criticisms that state-controlled media wouldn’t publish. Since 2002, he had been repeatedly arrested and imprisoned for organising a rally to promote workers’ rights; he has regularly faced legal charges for speaking out about undemocratic practices in Singapore in the past and has twice been imprisoned for speaking in public without a permit; and fined S$20,000 (US$15,720) for “making an address in a public place without a license”.

Chee Soon Juan was the secretary-general of the Opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP). He has been convicted four times, in each case for speaking in a public area with street vendors for four to five minutes about upcoming elections ultimately held in May 2006. The courts convicted Chee of violating the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act (PEMA), which provides that “any person who provides … any public entertainment without a license under this Act, shall be guilty of an offense and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000.”

Thor Halvorssen, President of the Human Rights Foundation, published an open letter to LKY’s son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, noting that, “In the last 20 years he (Dr. Chee) has been jailed for more than 130 days on charges including contempt of Parliament, speaking in public without a permit, selling books improperly, and attempting to leave the country without a permit. Today, your government prevents Dr. Chee from leaving Singapore because of his bankrupt status … It is our considered judgment that having already persecuted, prosecuted, bankrupted and silenced Dr. Chee inside Singapore, you now wish to render him silent beyond your own borders.”

Another one-time founding father of Singapore, its former Solicitor General Francis Seow, had to flee the country after declaring that its Law Society, which he headed, could comment critically on government legislation. Seow was arrested and detained for 72 days under Singapore’s Internal Security Act on allegations that he had received funds from the United States to enter Opposition politics. Seow lives in exile in Massachusetts, where he has been a fellow at the East Asian Legal Studies Programme and the Human Rights Programme at Harvard Law School.

Here is the first two paragraphs of the foreword to the second edition of the Amnesty International Report on Singapore in 1978:

“The first edition of Amnesty International’s Briefing on Singapore was published in February 1976. Since then, the Singapore Government has taken a series of actions which have led to serious violations of human rights. More men and women whom the government claim are members of or sympathizers with some branch or satellite organia0stion of the illegal Communist Party of Malaya have been arrested.

However, no formal charges have been brought against them and there is no opportunity to test the government’s allegations in court. These people can be imprisoned indefinitely without charge or trial by government order under the Internal Security Act. Those arrested in 1976-77 include people who have been outspoken in their criticism of the Singapore Government.

Former political detainees, some of whom spent up to 10 years in prison without trial in the 1960s, have been arbitrarily re-arrested and once again face indefinite detention without trial.

An increasing number of political detainees have made “confessions” on the State-run television and in the government-supervised press. Such “confessions”, which are usually required as a pre-condition for release, contain claims relating to allegations that they have engaged in illegal and subversive activities, but their statements are not tested in open court according to generally accepted legal practce. The “confessions” often implicate friends and associates of the detainee and are used by the government as a pretext to arrest these people.

There is growing concern, both in Singapore and abroad, at the increasing use of public “confession” to justify the arrest and imprisonment of men and women without any involvement of judicial process.”

2. Racism of LKY

Too often, Singapore is held up as the epitome of racial equality and ethnic harmony. Let us just quote LKY himself to disabuse you of that notion about Singapore.

“Now if democracy will not work for the Russians, a white Christian people, can we assume that it will naturally work with Asians?” he asked on May 9, 1991, at a symposium sponsored by the large Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun.

Race riots among Chinese, Indian and Muslim Malay residents of Singapore in the 1950s had taught LKY to impose “harmony” through strict allocations of resources and services along race lines: All Singaporeans carry ethnic identity cards. A policeman or government official examining the ID of a Singaporean will immediately know the race/ethnicity of that person.

Here is more from LKY:

“The Bell curve is a fact of life. The blacks on average score 85 per cent on IQ and it is accurate, nothing to do with culture. The whites score on average 100. Asians score more … the Bell curve authors put it at least 10 points higher. These are realities that, if you do not accept, will lead to frustration because you will be spending money on wrong assumptions and the results cannot follow.” (LKY in 1997, in an interview for the book ‘Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas’).

“If I tell Singaporeans – we are all equal regardless of race, language, religion, culture, then they will say, ‘Look, I’m doing poorly. You are responsible.’ But I can show that from British times, certain groups have always done poorly, in mathematics and in science. But I’m not God, I can’t change you …” (in LKY’s book ‘Success Stories’ – 2002).

Was LKY endorsing or recommending eugenics?

“People get educated, the bright ones rise, they marry equally well-educated spouses. The result is their children are smarter than those who are gardeners. Not that all the children of gardeners are duds. Occasionally two grey horses produce a white horse but very few. If you have two white horses, the chances are you breed white horses. It’s seldom spoken publicly because those who are NOT white horses say, ‘You’re degrading me’. But it’s a fact of life. You get a good mare, you don’t want a dud stallion to breed with your good mare. You get a poor foal. Your mental capacity and your EQ and the rest of you, 70 to 80% is genetic.” (in LKY’s book ‘Hard Truths’(2011)

(For more, read Jim Sleeper’s article ‘Lee Kuan Yew’s hard truths’ in ‘Open Democracy’).

3. Singapore’s migrant underclass

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” wrote George Orwell in ‘Animal Farm’. The father of Singapore and its present leaders obviously seem to agree with this jocular Orwellian understatement.

The horrible plight of the Singaporean migrant underclass was exposed to the whole world when Covid-19 hit Singapore.

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases skyrocketed in migrant worker dormitories—where men from India, Bangladesh, and China live in cramped rooms of about 12 to 20 persons, making social distancing impossible – the government adopted a racist strategy of treating the situation as one of “two separate infections,” one affecting migrant workers in dormitories and another circulating within “our own community” in Singapore, as relayed by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong. (FP, May 6th 2020)

Purpose-built and factory-converted dormitories that housed 323,000 migrant men were an epicentre of the pandemic. Singapore has 1,427,500 migrant workers comprising 38% of its labour force. The prejudices and negative attitudes against migrant workers are well-documented in ‘Research Brief’, a document by the UN WOMEN of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in December 2020. The public (Singaporean citizens) attitudes to, and perceptions of, migrant workers have deteriorated since the previous study done in 2010, they claim. A significant percentage of Singaporean citizens (36%) are of the view that migrant workers should not be given equal pay for equal work; should not receive same work; and should not be able to join unions.

An article published by the Asia Pacific Migration Network of the ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand, notes that foreign workers in Singapore work long hours for low pay in frequently hazardous conditions and are often abused by employers and labour contractors and “many have to endure abuse, discrimination and violations of their rights but few can obtain legal redress.”

With a total population of approx. 5.82 million (2022), roughly 1.43 million people in Singapore are in the foreign work force. Non-citizens now comprise 36% of the population compared with 14% in 1990. Singapore, in too many ways is a “fiefdom”; raising concerns that the country is starting to resemble the oil-rich Gulf sheikhdoms in which low-paid overseas workers allow citizens to enjoy lives of ease.

In terms of undemocratic governance, inbuilt racism, enforced ethnic harmony and migrant forced-labour, Sri Lanka is comparatively still a haven compared with Singapore. The worst of our good governance parameters have not exceeded those that have been prevalent for decades of LKY rule. What we have instead is chronic economic underdevelopment – the scourge of many developing third world democracies.

When those who should know better, tell us that Singapore should be our ‘role model’, are they telling us to follow the despotism of LKY? Were we not shocked when an uninformed priest (Anunayake of the Asgiriya Chapter, Venduruwe Upali) asked Gotabhaya Rajapakse – Presidential candidate – to become a Hitler? It seems, from some ‘liberal’ and ‘democratic’ voices we have heard, that he seemed to have faulted on the name. Instead, if he had said “be like LKY” would our ‘Singapore-Model’ torch-bearers have said that anything was amiss? That we do not want the autocracy of LKY?

What we are being told by these same voices is that the final economic outcomes outweigh the democratic freedoms we treasure. A ‘miracle’ like Singapore (or South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia or Indonesia) is what counts and not its record of political repression. The oxymoronic expression ‘benevolent dictator’ is often in convenient usage and now part of the political lexicon. LKY is said to be one such rare national leader. The venerable Asgiriya Anunayake must have had a ‘benevolent dictator’ in mind when he made the unforgivable faux pas.

Or are we advocating what I mentioned at the outset – MPHD or MPHA? That dictatorship, autocracy and repression is OK if meritocracy, pragmatism and honesty is also practiced in governance? That what we need is development at any cost to individual freedoms? That democracy and civic freedoms can be sacrificed at the altar of the creation of an affluent state? That repression is OK if we are given adequate food and fuel?



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Features

Glimmers of hope?

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The newly appointed Cabinet Ministers leaves Cass un-uplifted. She need not elaborate. She wishes fervently that Dr Harsha de Silva will leave party loyalty aside and consider the country. Usually, it’s asking politicians to cast aside self-interest, which very rarely is done in the political culture that came to be after the 1970s. Thus, it is very unusual, completely out of the ordinary to appeal to Dr Harsha to forego party loyalty and do the very needful for the country by accepting the still vacant post of Minister of Finance. We are very sorry Eran W too has kept himself away.

Some of Cassandra’s readers may ask whether she is out of her right mind to see glimmers of hope for the country. She assures them she is as sane as can be; she does cling onto these straws like the dying man does. How else exist? How else get through these dire times?

What are the straws she clings to? News items in The Island of Tuesday 24 May.

‘Sirisena leaves Paget Road mansion in accordance with SC interim injunction.’ And who was instrumental in righting this wrong? The CPA and its Executive Director Dr Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu. It is hoped that revisions to the system will come in such as giving luxury housing and other extravagant perks to ex-presidents and their widows. Sri Lanka has always lived far beyond its means in the golden handshakes to its ex- prezs and also perks given its MPs. At least luxury vehicles should not be given them. Pensions after five years in Parliament should be scrapped forthwith.

‘Letter of demand sent to IGP seeking legal action against DIG Nilantha Jayawardena.’ Here the mover is The Centre for Society and Religion and it is with regard to the Easter Sunday massacre which could have been prevented if DIG Jayawardena as Head of State Intelligence had taken necessary action once intelligence messages warned of attack on churches.

‘CIABOC to indict Johnston, Keheliya and Rohitha’. It is fervently hoped that this will not be another charge that blows away with the wind. They do not have their strongest supporter – Mahinda R to save them. We so fervently hope the two in power now will let things happened justly, according to the law of the land.

‘Foreign Secy Admiral Colombage replaced’. And by whom? A career diplomat who has every right and qualification for the post; namely Aruni Wijewardane. If this indicates a fading of the prominence given to retired armed forces personnel in public life and administration, it is an excellent sign. Admiral Colombage had tendered his resignation, noted Wednesday’s newspaper.

‘Crisis caused by decades of misuse public resources, corruption, kleptocracy – TISL’.

Everyone knew this, even the despicable thieves and kleptocrats. The glaring question is why no concerted effort was made to stop the thieving from a country drawn to bankruptcy by politicians and admin officers. There are many answers to that question. It was groups, mostly of the middle class who came out first in candle lit vigils and then at the Gotagogama Village. The aragalaya has to go down in history as the savior of our nation from a curse worse than war. The civil war was won against many odds. But trying to defeat deceit power-hunger and thieving was near impossible. These protestors stuck their necks out and managed to rid from power most of the Rajapaksa family. That was achievement enough.

Heartfelt hope of the many

The newly appointed Cabinet Ministers leaves Cass un-uplifted. She need not elaborate. She wishes fervently that Dr Harsha de Silva will leave party loyalty aside and consider the country. Usually, it’s asking politicians to cast aside self interest, which very rarely is done in the political culture that came to be after the 1970s. Thus, it is very unusual, completely out of the ordinary to appeal to Dr Harsha to forego party loyalty and do the very needful for the country by accepting the still vacant post of Minister of Finance. We are very sorry Eran W too has kept himself away. As Shamindra Ferdinando writes in the newspaper mentioned, “Well informed sources said that Premier Wickremesinghe was still making efforts to win over some more Opposition members. Sources speculated that vital finance portfolio remained vacant as the government still believed (hoped Cass says) Dr Harsha de Silva could somehow be convinced to accept that portfolio.”

Still utterly hopeless

Gas is still unavailable for people like Cass who cannot stand in queues, first to get a token and then a cylinder. Will life never return to no queues for bare essentials? A woman friend was in a petrol queue for a solid twelve hours – from 4 am to 4 pm. This is just one of million people all over the country in queues. Even a common pressure pill was not available in 20 mg per.

Cassandra considers a hope. We saw hundreds of Sri Lankans all across the globe peacefully protesting for departure of thieves from the government. The ex-PM, Mahinda Rajapaksa’s answer to this was to unleash absolute terror on all of the island. It seems to be that with Johnson a younger MP stood commandingly.

Returning from that horror thought to the protesters overseas, Cass wondered if each of them contributed one hundred dollars to their mother country, it would go a long way to soften the blows we are battered with. Of course, the absolute imperative is that of the money, not a cent goes into personal pockets. The donors must be assured it goes to safety. Is that still not possible: assuring that donations are used for the purpose they are sent for: to alleviate the situation of Sri Lankans? I suppose the memory of tsunami funds going into the Helping Hambantota Fund is still fresh in memory. So much for our beloved country.

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Ban on agrochemicals and fertilisers: Post-scenario analysis

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By Prof. Rohan Rajapakse

(Emeritus Professor of Agriculture Biology UNIVERSITY OF RUHUNA and Former Executive Director Sri Lanka Council of Agriculture Research Policy)

There are two aspects of the ban on agrochemicals. The first is the ban on chemical fertilisers, and the second is the ban on the use of pesticides. Several eminent scientists, Dr Parakrama Waidyanatha (formerly the Soil Scientist of RRI), Prof OA Ileperuma (Former Professor of Chemistry University of Peradeniya), Prof C. S. Weeraratne (former Professor of Agronomy University of Ruhuna), Prof D. M. de Costa University of Peradeniya, Prof. Buddhi Marambe (Professor in Weed Science University of Peradeniya) have effectively dealt with the repercussion of the ban on chemical fertilisers which appeared in The Island newspaper on recently.

The major points summarised by these authors are listed below.

FERTILISER ISSUE

1. These scientists, including the author, are of the view that the President’s decision to totally shift to organic agriculture from conventional could lead to widespread hunger and starvation in future, which has become a reality. Organic farming is a small phenomenon in global agriculture, comprising a mere 1.5% of total farmlands, of which 66% are pasture.

2. Conventional farming (CF) is blamed for environmental pollution; however, in organic farming, heavy metal pollution and the release of carbon dioxide and methane, two greenhouse gases from farmyard manure, are serious pollution issues with organic farming that have been identified.

3. On the other hand, the greatest benefit of organic fertilisers as against chemical fertilisers is the improvement of soil’s physical, chemical and biological properties by the former, which is important for sustained crop productivity. The best option is to use appropriate combinations of organic and chemical fertilisers, which can also provide exacting nutrient demands of crops and still is the best option!

4. Sri Lanka has achieved self-sufficiency in rice due to the efforts of the Research Officers of the Department of Agriculture, and all these efforts will be in vain if we abruptly ban the import of fertiliser. These varieties are bred primarily on their fertiliser response. While compost has some positive effects such as improving soil texture and providing some micronutrients, it cannot be used as a substitute for fertiliser needed by high yielding varieties of rice. Applying organic fertilisers alone will not help replenish the nutrients absorbed by a crop. Organic fertilisers have relatively small amounts of the nutrients that plants need. For example, compost has only 2% nitrogen (N), whereas urea has 46% N. Banning the import of inorganic fertilisers will be disastrous, as not applying adequate amounts of nutrients will cause yields to drop, making it essential to increase food imports. Sri Lankan farmers at present are at the mercy of five organizations, namely the Central Department of Agriculture, the Provincial Ministry of Agriculture, the Private sector Pesticide Companies, the Non-Government organizations and the leading farmers who are advising them. Instead, improved agricultural extension services to promote alternative non-chemical methods of pest control and especially the use of Integrated Pest Management.

Locally, pest control depends mostly on the use of synthetic pesticides; ready to use products that can be easily procured from local vendors are applied when and where required Abuse and misapplication of pesticides is a common phenomenon in Sri Lanka. Even though many farmers are aware of the detrimental aspects of pesticides they often use them due to economic gains

We will look at the post scenario of
what has happened

1. The importation of Chemical fertilisers and Pesticides was banned at the beginning of Maha season 1 on the advice of several organic manure (OM) promoters by the Ministry of agriculture.

2. The Ministry of Agriculture encouraged the farmers to use organic manure, and an island-wide programme of producing Organic manure were initiated. IT took some time for the government to realize that Sri Lanka does not have the capacity to produce such a massive amount of OM, running into 10 tons per hectare for 500000 hectares ear marked in ma ha season.

3. Hence the government approved the importation of OM from abroad, and a Company in China was given an initial contract to produce OM produced from Seaweed. However, the scientists from University of Peradeniya detected harmful microorganisms in this initial consignment, and the ship was forced to leave Sri Lankan waters at a cost of US dollar 6.7 million without unloading its poisonous cargo. No substitute fertiliser consignment was available.

4. A committee in the Ministry hastily recommended to import NANO RAJA an artificial compound from India to increase the yield by spraying on to leaves. Sri Lanka lost Rs 863 million as farmers threw all these Nano Raja bottles and can as it attracts dogs and wild boar.

Since there is no other option the Ministry promised to pay Rs 50000 per hectare for all the farmers who lost their livelihood. It is not known how much the country lost due to this illogical decision of banning fertilisers and pesticides.

Recommendations

1. Judicious use of pesticides is recommended.

2. The promotion and the use of integrated pest management techniques whenever possible

3. To minimize the usage of pesticides:

Pesticide traders would be permitted to sell pesticides only through specially trained Technical Assistants.

Issuing pesticides to the farmers for which they have to produce some kind of a written recommendation by a local authority.

Introduction of new mechanism to dispose or recycle empty pesticide and weedicide bottles in collaboration with the Environment Ministry.

Laboratory-testing of imported pesticides by the Registrar of Pesticides at the entry-point to ensure that banned chemicals were not brought into the country.

Implementation of trained core of people who can apply pesticides.

Education campaigns to train farmers, retailers, distributors, and public with the adverse effects of pesticides.

Maximum Residue Level (MRL) to reduce the consumer’s risk of exposure to unsafe levels.

Integrated pest Management and organic agriculture to be promoted.

1. To ensure the proper usage of agrochemicals by farmers

All those who advised the Minister of Agriculture and the President to shift to OM still wield authority in national food production effort. The genuine scientists who predicted the outcome are still harassed sacked from positions they held in MA and were labelled as private sector goons. The danger lies if the farmers decide not to cultivate in this Maha season due to non-availability of fertilisers and pesticides the result will be an imminent famine.

The country also should have a professional body like the Planning Commission of

India, with high calibre professionals in the Universities and the Departments and

There should be institutions and experts to advise the government on national policy matters.

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Thomians triumph in Sydney 

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Nothing is happening for us, at this end, other than queues, queues, and more queues! There’s very little to shout about were the sports and entertainment scenes are concerned. However, Down Under, the going seems good.

Sri Lankans, especially in Melbourne, Australia, have quite a lot of happenings to check out, and they all seem to be having a jolly good time!

Trevine Rodrigo,

who puts pen to paper to keep Sri Lankans informed of the events in Melbourne, was in Sydney, to taken in the scene at the Sri Lanka Schools Sevens Touch Rugby competition. And, this is Trevine’s report:

The weather Gods and S.Thomas aligned, in Sydney, to provide the unexpected at the Sri Lanka Schools Sevens Touch Rugby competition, graced by an appreciative crowd.

Inclement weather was forecast for the day, and a well drilled Dharmaraja College was expected to go back-to-back at this now emerging competition in Sydney’s Sri Lanka expatriate sporting calendar.

But the unforeseen was delivered, with sunny conditions throughout, and the Thomians provided the upset of the competition when they stunned the favourites, Dharmaraja, in the final, to grab the Peninsula Motor Group Trophy.

Still in its infancy, the Sevens Touch Competition, drawn on the lines of Rugby League rules, found new flair and more enthusiasm among its growing number of fans, through the injection of players from around Australia, opposed to the initial tournament which was restricted to mainly Sydneysiders.

A carnival like atmosphere prevailed throughout the day’s competition.

Ten teams pitted themselves in a round robin system, in two groups, and the top four sides then progressed to the semi-finals, on a knock out basis, to find the winner.

A food stall gave fans the opportunity to keep themselves fed and hydrated while the teams provided the thrills of a highly competitive and skilled tournament.

The rugby dished out was fiercely contested, with teams such as Trinity, Royal and St. Peter’s very much in the fray but failing to qualify after narrow losses on a day of unpredictability.

Issipathana and Wesley were the other semi-finalists with the Pathanians grabbing third place in the play-off before the final.

The final was a tense encounter between last year’s finalists Dharmaraja College and S.Thomas. Form suggested that the Rajans were on track for successive wins in as many attempts.  But the Thomians had other ideas.

The fluent Rajans, with deft handling skills and evasive running, looked the goods, but found the Thomian defence impregnable.  Things were tied until the final minutes when the Thomians sealed the result with an intercept try and hung on to claim the unthinkable.

It was perhaps the price for complacency on the Rajans part that cost them the game and a lesson that it is never over until the final whistle.

Peninsula Motor Group, headed by successful businessman Dilip Kumar, was the main sponsor of the event, providing playing gear to all the teams, and prize money to the winners and runners-up.

The plan for the future is to make this event more attractive and better structured, according to the organisers, headed by Deeptha Perera, whose vision was behind the success of this episode.

In a bid to increase interest, an over 40’s tournament, preceded the main event, and it was as interesting as the younger version.

Ceylon Touch Rugby, a mixed team from Melbourne, won the over 40 competition, beating Royal College in the final.

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