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Open letter to Ali Sabry: Tread cautiously in amending laws



I am addressing this note to you as I believe that you are man of the world with a road map for the Nation. I have listened to your pre-election speeches, delivered in Australia, and read your orations, in Sri Lanka, which outlined your vision for the country and the nation. And, I still believe that you have a lot to contribute to the Nation.

I am rather puzzled with two recent propositions made by you which fly in the face of the picture of you, I had in my mind. Still. I have implicit trust in you as I am of the view that which I discuss below will receive your close scrutiny.

Grasping the Nettle, I may point out that your proposal to ‘amend the Antiquities Ordinance, repealing the provisions therein, preventing the courts from releasing persons charged with or accused of related offences on bail” (article in The Island by K Tiranagama) reminds me of the attempts of some to hunt with the hounds and run with the hare. As you no doubt agree the Antiquities are part of our living history which we have to protect and handover to our future generations. As a small country, we have been cheated by a number of invaders who pillaged our invaluable treasures of historical value and stole many others which are now stored in prestigious museums of the West. Your efforts to tackle “the prison congestion “by tinkering with the Antiquities Ordinance is not acceptable to a nation which is at the receiving end of systematic robbery of her artifacts by the colonial powers and, at present, by the greedy and the well-planned destructive forces,

So, Hon Minister, you should consider looking elsewhere, if your objective is to reduce the prison congestion. If at all, you should introduce stringent measures to the Antiquities Ordinance to deter persons from robbing the nation’s history. We hear that yearly over 750 complaints are received annually by the police and the Dept of Archaeology, about vandalism directed at our antiquities. If you do implement your misdirected proposal, such vandals will have a field day.

The second proposal which is equally, or more, damaging, is included in the gazette notification no 2208/13 -2020 issued on council of legal education dated 30.12.21/which says.

“Part I : Sec. (I) – GAZETTE EXTRAORDINARY OF THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA – 30.12.2020 5A (d) the Special Entrance Examination shall be held during a specified month as determined by the Council, of the year preceding the year of entry to the Sri Lanka Law College. (2) immediately after rule 28 thereof, by the insertion of the following new rule:- ” 28A. (1) All courses conducted at the Sri Lanka Law College shall be conducted in the English Medium. “

Why should the law be taught only in English, vitiating the Official Language Act? As you no doubt agree law affects everybody in Sri Lanka and the opportunity should be made available to the average Sri Lankan to understand and to act according to the law. Once the education is provided in English only, as per the proposal, the whole legal machinery, including the hearing of court cases, will be conducted in English only. You may remember how the ordinary villager Silindu, in the well know novel “Village in the Jungle” had to face justice when he had to look up and accept the judgement against him, delivered in English, a language which he did not comprehend! There will be many more Silindus in Sri Lanka who will have to come to the courts and suffer in silence to the dictates in English if the proposed scheme comes into operation. The law had been taught in the Sinhala language for more than 25 years and is not a subject to be used internationally, except with regard to special occasions which can be handled even by using official translators as in the case of eminent international leaders who are not conversant in English. You are only attempting to turn the clock back to the colonial period. Please reconsider and revert to the existing system in providing legal education as per the Official Language Act



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Mrs Paripooranam Rajasundaram- A Gracious Lady



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.


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Independence celebrations for whose benefit?



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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Aftermath Of Mr. Ranjan Wijeratne’s Assassination



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!


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