by Rohini Marasinghe- Retired Judge of the Supreme Court
The President appears to have issued a directive to the Ministry of Justice to present a paper to the Cabinet to pardon the prisoners who are eligible to be pardoned, primarily due to the Covid Pandemic. All prisoners under death sentence will have their sentences reduced to twenty years, and all those who have served twenty years in prison to be released.
According to Government statistics as of the end of 2019, there are approximately about 1,300 prisoners in the death row. The death sentences of approximately 420 men and 50 women have been confirmed.
It must be noted that capital punishment remains as a part of the Law of Sri Lanka. It is a part of the penal Law of Sri Lanka that: “Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death.” (Sec. 294-296 Penal Code)
Additionally, whoever has in possession of ‘2 or more grams of heroin shall suffer the penalty of death or life imprisonment. (the Poisons, Opium and Dangerous Drugs Ordinance as amended by Act 13 of 1984)
It is manifest that under the Poisons, Opium and Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, the court has no discretion but to impose the death penalty or as an alternative a sentence of life imprisonment. There is no discretion available to a court to determine the appropriate sentence of imprisonment independently. When the sentence is mandatory as in murder and drug trafficking, the judge has no authority to determine the proper sentence less than death or life imprisonment.
The President has the power under the Constitution, to commute any sentence imposed by the court to a lesser one. The question as to whether a case is appropriate for the exercise of the power of Pardon conferred upon the President by Article 34 of the Constitution depends upon the facts and circumstances of each particular case.
The nature and effect of a pardon reach both the punishment prescribed for the offence and the guilt of the offender. When the Pardon is deemed to be a full pardon, it releases the punishment and erases the guilt 0f the convicted person. Therefore, in the eyes of the law, the offender is as innocent as if he had never committed the offence. (Justice Fields in ex parte Garland 71 US (4 Wall 1867) It is because the Pardon is viewed as an acknowledgment of the fallibility of a human judgment, which could even be a product of a well trained legal mind. Therefore, errors are remedied by entrusting a power of Pardon subscribed in the above-mentioned Article 34 of the Constitution. The Head of State has the supreme authority to exercise the executive power of granting Pardon after taking into consideration several reasons and appropriate circumstances which may not be apposite for reference before the courts
Where the government considers it reasonable that the power of Pardon should be exercised in respect of a particular category of prisoners, in that case, the government has the ability do so and also for excluding a specific type of prisoners which in its thinking does not seem suitable to be pardoned. A decision to pardon a given category of prisoners and not others of a different category is a matter of governmental policy. In the absence of any ill motives in making that choice, the aforementioned Article 34 justifies making it.
Where the President views it as reasonable to pardon those in the death row due to spread of the Covid virus within the prison premises, in that case, he is using his prerogative powers under the Constitution subscribed and protected under Article 34 of the Constitution. Other than the powers conferred on the President, we do not have any legislation in place to change an indeterminate period of punishment to a limited period of a sentence for incarceration to have a prisoner released after the appeals have exhausted.
Undoubtedly the President has the power in an appropriate case to commute any sentence imposed by a court into a lesser sentence. But the question as to whether the case is suitable for the exercise of that power depends on the facts and circumstances of each particular case. But the President cannot act independently in exercising the pardon power. When a sentence of death has been imposed, the President is subjected to the procedure stipulated in Article 34( See Proviso) The President cannot act according to his free will. And that power of Pardon is subject to judicial review.
The issue that concerns this article is, whether it is justifiable for the President to commute the death sentences to 20 years by a declaration and release all those who have served a sentence of twenty years; and the effect of such a ruling in the future concerning these offences.
The commutation of a sentence means the process of substituting the punishment imposed by a competent court with a lesser or lighter sentence.
Capital punishment or the death penalty can be defined as a punishment which is passed against a criminal who had committed a heinous and unforgivable crime under the Penal Law. Under this sentence in Sri Lanka, the life of the prisoner is put to an end by hanging. (Sec.286 Criminal Procedure Code).
The underworld kingpins in drug trafficking are a great menace in Sri Lanka. At one time, the previous government took steps to implement the death sentence and execute all those convicted in drug trafficking and those serving their term in the death row. Some of those convicts are presently serving life imprisonment. Ironically this government is thinking of releasing all of them.
Many countries which have abolished capital punishment view it as providing the criminal with an easy escape from all his wrongdoings through the sentence of death. Therefore, life imprisonment without parole or any remission is considered to be an equivalent punishment to capital punishment, which allows the State to punish the wrongdoer adequately without taking the life of such criminal who had committed a Capital Offence.
In India, after the insertion of section 433 A to the Criminal Procedure Code, imprisonment for life amounts to incarceration up to 14 years. The case of Swamy Shradananda, which is considered to be carrying a landmark judgment, that position was altered. As a sequel to that judgment, the courts are now empowered to substitute the death sentence with life imprisonment for a term of over 14 years and direct that the convict must not be released from prison for the rest of his life or until the actual period specified in the order is served. Whilst not endorsing the death sentence that was imposed on Swamy Shrdananda, the court found that since life imprisonment subject to remission customarily worked out to 14 years, it would be grossly disproportionate and inadequate, when considering the nature of the offence committed. ((Swamy Shrdananda v State of Karnataka- Supreme Court of India July 22, 2008)
In dealing with a life sentence as an alternative to a death sentence, the courts in India had systematically held that the persons convicted for murder, where the death penalty is not imposed, the convict should be incarcerated for a period for 30 years. He is not entitled to be released before the expiration of 30 years. The imprisonment for life must prima facie be treated as imprisonment for the whole life of the remaining period of the convicted person’s ‘natural life’ was the view of the Indian Supreme Court dealing with life imprisonment as an alternative to the death penalty.
The punishment for murder under India’s Penal Code is life imprisonment or death.
In England, persons who are found guilty of murder are given a mandatory life sentence. If the circumstances are severe enough, a ‘whole life order’ will be imposed meaning that the offender will never be released. The validity of the ‘whole life sentence’ was appealed. Now such a penalty will be reviewed after the convict has served a minimum of 25 years in prison. Amidst the severe spread of Covid, the government of Boris Johnson is proposing new laws to ensure that the most dangerous criminal spend longer in custody. The government has said that it would toughen sentences for violent offenders, including terrorists. Automatic early release of a convict at the halfway point is to be abandoned.
Usually, the minimum term the prisoner should serve is determined by the judge at the time of sentencing. Life sentences may be imposed with or without parole. The life sentence is intended for dangerous offenders who have committed the offences with the utmost brutality. In such circumstances the judge will set the minimum term he must serve before being eligible for release. Once the minimum term expires, the prisoner can apply for parole and will be released if he is deemed not to pose a threat to society. Once released he remains on license for the rest of his life. If the prisoner violates any of the conditions on the permit, he will be recalled. He will also be liable to be recalled if he becomes a threat to the public. At the moment, there are about 8,500 inmates serving life sentences. And around 60 with whole life sentences.
The parole board will decide whether or not the offender is safe to return into society. The decision of the parole board is based on evidence from the victim, health professional, prison staff and the offender.
These safeguards are essential to be considered in the event the prisoners who are now in our jails are to be released early or at any time.
The spread of the virus in the prisons may not be a good reason to release the dangerous offenders to society without a proper assessment of their behaviour.
Singapore’s laws maintained the mandatory death penalty for several offences. In 2012 the capital punishment laws were revised by the Singapore government. The mandatory death penalty for those convicted for drug trafficking or murder was lifted under specific conditions. Before the judgement of Abdul Nasir Bin Ahmed Hamsah, SGCA 38) a life sentence meant 20 years imprisonment, and with one-third remission for good behaviour, the offender would have to serve only 13 years and four months in jail. In the case of Abdul Nasir, the court clarified the meaning of ‘life sentence’. It held that in future cases, it should be interpreted to mean the whole duration of the person’s natural life and not merely 20 years. The first issue the court faced was whether the sentence of life imprisonment should equate to 20 years or the remainder of the convicted person’s natural life and concluded that unless the legislature in the future provides otherwise, this sentence should mean the rest of the person’s natural life.
The death penalty is the severest punishment prescribed in the Statute for grave offences. But this would not be the case if the death sentence was equated for 20 years. Death sentences would then become excluded as a part of the penal law of the land.
If the capital punishment is replaced by a period of imprisonment for 20 years, then persons who commit the most gruesome murder and all those large scale drug kingpins will be liable to spend even less than 14 years in prison once their period of good behaviour is deducted from the original sentence of twenty years of incarceration.
Where the method used for the commission of the original offence of murder is exceptionally gruesome or cruel, or the commission of the drug offence is spread wide and pervasive the sentence should be commensurately applicable, a sentence of less than 14 years would be grossly inadequate.
Where the legislature believes that sentence for murder and drug trafficking should be 20 years as an equivalent to capital punishment, then they should remove the death sentence as a mandatory sentence. Then the judge who heard the case would be given the discretion to impose the appropriate sentence to fit the crime and decide the suitable length of the convict’s incarceration.
A Presidential Declaration cannot equate the death penalty to an imprisonment of 20 years. Such a declaration would amount to abolishing the death penalty, which is authorized as a legitimate punishment under the 1978 Constitution. There is no provision to equate a death sentence to 20 years. It violates the Constitution and violates the “truth in sentencing.”The death sentence would mean that convicts life is put to an end.
It will not be justifiable without any legal provision being put in place, for a court to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment, and equate it to imprisonment for twenty years, only, through a Presidential declaration.
All communities should be treated equally without distinction
by Jehan Perera
The government was elected on a platform that stressed national security and unity. The elections took place in the aftermath of the Easter suicide bomb attacks of 2019 that caused the highest numbers of casualties in Christian churches. As the bombers were all Muslim, the Muslim population in the country came under public suspicion which was spontaneous and widespread. There was also equally widespread fear and anxiety about follow on attacks that could target Christians in particular and also the population in general. The cause of the attacks and the master minds behind them were a mystery then as they are now.
Due to the timely intervention of Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, in whose diocese the two most serious attacks took place, there was no retaliation against the Muslim population by those who had lost their kith and kin. However, in the weeks that followed, there were mob attacks against the Muslim community in parts of the country that were distant from the bomb attacks. These attacks were not spontaneous but organised and intended to loot Muslim property and cause fear in them. The government, which was under political siege for having failed to prevent the suicide bomb attacks, failed once again to adequately protect the Muslim community.
It is in this context that Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith’s statement on the occasion of the second anniversary of the Easter bombings takes on significance. About two months ago he gave a deadline by which he asked the government to identify who was behind the Easter attacks and the cause for them. The Cardinal has consistently spoken up on the issue of the Easter bombing, first to ask for restraint on the part of the victims, then to ask the government to identify the perpetrators and prior to the elections to take the position that the people needed a government that could protect them. Now he has said that “Our brethren were attacked not by religious extremism, but by a group that exploited it to use the attackers as pawns in order to strengthen their political power.”
Two years after the Easter bombings in which they were branded as supporters of religious extremism, the Muslim community seeks in many different ways to overcome the suspicion that once engulfed them and which they fear can do so again. The use of the black Islamic dress that was an increasing trend among Muslim women has been much reduced. Muslim organisations are making energetic efforts to network with other religious organisations, join inter-religious groups and to liaise with civil society. They make available to them the Islamic teachings on peace and coexistence. This weekend I was invited to the opening of a community centre in the Kurunegala District by a Muslim organization.
On the walls of the community centre there were panels put up with sayings from the different religions on a number of important matters, such as how to treat others, and the role of spiritual values in everyday life. The foremost place at the opening ceremony was given to Buddhist monks who had come to attend the ceremony along with government officials and police officers. The monks who spoke said that the Muslim community living in the village had good relations with the Sinhalese living in the neighbouring villages, and this had continued for generations. Another monk said that after the Easter bombings they had heard there were violent gangs heading in the direction of the Muslim village, they had come there to ensure no harm would befall those people.
In this context, the announcement that the government will ban 11 Muslim organisations sends a negative message to the country at large about the Muslim community. It creates an impression that Muslims organisations are under suspicion and possibly even close to performing acts of violence which necessitates them being banned. Of the 11 banned organisations, two are foreign ones, the Islamic State and Al Qaeda which have been reported internationally as engaging in violence. However, the other nine are Sri Lankan organisations which do not have a track record of violence or illegality. Four of them have the name “Thowheed” in them, which in the Arabic language means “faith.”
The ban on these Thowheed organisations may be due to the fact that the leader of the suicide squad, Zahran, was part of an organisation that had the name “Thowheed” in it. The ban on them may also be due to the fact that the Commission of Inquiry into the Easter bombings recommended such action against them. However, the Commission also recommended that other non-Muslim organisations be banned which has not happened. This suggests that the Muslim organisations are being treated differently. The danger is that when it treats organisations differently, the government may be generating resentment in the Muslim community, especially the youth. If the words of Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith are correct, the problem lies not in Muslim extremism but in partisan power politics.
Sri Lanka has experienced Sinhalese youth insurrections twice and even the Tamil militant movement was started by youth, who were once called “the boys.” Perhaps in anticipation of such a radicalisation phenomenon, the government has recently passed an add-on called the “De-radicalisation from holding violent extremist religious ideology” to the Prevention of Terrorism Act. This will permit people who fall into its ambit to be send to rehabilitation centres for up to two years without trial. This may provide the government with an opportunity to release up to 250 Muslim citizens currently under detention on suspicion of being involved in the Easter bombings and send them for rehabilitation. On the other hand, this regulation may be used in the future in regard to other persons and other groups. The better way to prevent radicalization is to make people feel that the law is even-handed to all, and also to encourage engagement between communities.
During the discussion that took place at the opening of the community centre in Kurunegala, it was noted that the younger generation had fewer inter-community linkages than those of older generations. This may be due to the changing nature of society and the economy where people spend less time with other people and more time with machines or doing narrow and specialised jobs. In multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies in which there is conflictual relations, the tendency on the part of those from different communities will be to live in their own silos rather than interact with those of other communities. Living in peace in plural societies requires purposeful and energetic interaction which is organised. Where there has been ethnic and religious strife the world over, the better answer has been to provide people with encouragement and incentives to mix together, which is what the Muslim organization in Kurunegala was trying to do.
TNGlive…a boon to artistes affected by the pandemic
No doubt, Covid-19 has ruined the entertainment industry, throughout the world.
Entertainment venues have been shut down, concerts cancelled…and musicians are finding the going pretty tough.
However, it’s heartening to know that there are performers who find solace in keeping the public entertained, via online performances.
In this instance, those responsible for TNGlive must be congratulated for creating this platform, on social media, in order to give lots of folks, from around the globe, the opportunity to showcase their talent, on a regular basis.
Quite a few Sri Lankans have been featured on TNGlive, including Melantha Perera, Suzi Croner (Fluckiger), Sureshni Wanigasuriya, Yasmin de Silva, and Kay Jay Gunesekere,
Suzi did this scene twice, and on both occasions her performance was highly rated, with bouquets galore coming her way…on social media.
On Saturday, April 10th, she was featured (8.00 pm Sri Lankan time) doing songs from the country and western catalogue.
It was a very entertaining programme, which also contained some dance scenes (line dancing) from the audience present, in her living room – her friends.
Her repertoire included ‘Joline, ‘Me And Bobby McGee, “Johnny B. Goode,’ ‘Blue By You,’ ‘Okie From Muskogee,’ ‘Tennessee Waltz,’ ‘Rose Garden,’ ‘Mississippi’ and ‘Cotton Eyed Joe.’
Suzi is to make her third appearance, on TNGlive, shortly, but this time it won’t be a solo effort, she says.
“For variety, I would be having a guy from the Philippines, and he sings the hit songs of Tom Jones and Engelbert.”
So get ready for another special from Suzi, who now resides in Switzerland.
Suzi was the frontline vocalist for the group Friends who were, at that point in time, top of the pops!
Another artiste who impressed viewers, performing on TNGlive, with his daughter, was Nigel Gerrard John Galway.
Nigel is from India, and has been a Chef for the last 23 years, with 12 years spent at the Oberoi hotels. He was also an executive Sous Chef at Taj, in Coimbatore.
In fact, Allwyn Stephen, TNGlive chief, referred to Nigel as…probably the first Singing/Dancing Chef in the world!
He, and his 18-year-old daughter, Lean Pamela Mary, did get the attention of many, with their unique style of presentation; while Nigel handled the vocals, Lean, using only gestures, expression, and movements, brought out the meaning of the lyrics in most of the songs her dad did. And, she did it beautifully.
Yes, she also did exercise her vocal cords, on this particular programme
Says Nigel: “We come from a family of musicians, but we attempted singing, only during the pandemic, on various social media groups, and we did so only because we were all stuck at home.
“We joined TNGlive, through a friend, and have been performing ever since. The love and support we received from people around only encouraged us to keep growing and now we have a page of our own called THE SINGING CHEF.”
Heard at the club
A member reminisced an incident that happened long years ago, during those peaceful times when terrorism was unheard of. He had been driving his car, on the Deniyaya Road, when about six miles from Galle, he saw a village in a state of panic. So he stopped his car near the village boutique and asked the mudalali what was happening? The mudalali had said that the self-opinionated ‘mudliyar’ of the village (a court interpreter) had organised a ‘dane’ (an alms giving) and was awaiting the procession of monks, complete with drummers, from the temple. And, seeing it coming over the paddy fields which was a short cut, instead of the village road as show off, put him in a paddy, and he had chased the monks away. So the monks had gone back to the temple. As the meal time deadline for monks was fast approaching, the villagers brought the meals they had cooked in their homes, to serve the monks! That was the panic.
He was an unpopular villager who rose to a high position in the public service with political influence. Cussed by nature, he used his official position to harass villagers. When he met with an untimely death and, right at the moment the coffin was taken to the hearse, the whole village reverberated with the sound of fire crackers, organised by the irate villagers.
Once a terrible post office blunder very nearly wrecked a marriage. A certain sales rep sometimes sold his wares on credit. One such creditor was the owner of a shop named ‘Chandra Cafe’ who was slack in his payments. So the sales rep sent him a telegram that he would be coming to collect his dues, next Monday. On receipt, the owner of Chandra Cafe telegraphed the rep asking him not to come on Monday and the telegram received by him read, ‘Do not come on Monday – Chandra K.P.’ And when the rep’s wife read the telegram there was some misunderstanding at home which nearly rocked his marriage.
This reminded us of another telegram. An army officer was to go back to camp by the night mail. When he arrived at the railway station, he found a lady in an advanced state of pregnancy, almost in tears, because no berths were available. Gallantly the officer offered her his berth and, at the nearest post office, sent a telegram to his commanding officer saying ‘Unable to return tomorrow as ordered. Gave berth to lady. Arriving tomorrow evening.’
Obviously, the vital word ‘berth’ had been misspelt as ‘birth’, for the gallant officer received this reply from his commanding officer, ‘Your next confinement will be to barracks’.
A philanthropist donated a building to his old school. An opening ceremony was held with a VVIP as the chief guest. A group photograph was also taken. As the donor was keen to get this photograph published in the newspapers without delay, he sent the local correspondent in his limousine to Colombo. He met the editor who happened to be an old boy of the same school. After a look at the photograph, he folded it in such away to eliminate the principal and sent it for publication. The editor seemed to have an axe to grind with the principal!
It was in the early 60s and I was on my way to the club in the evening, when I met a friend near the club. With him was another, I invited them both to the club and after a few drinks we were headed out of the club, when near the gate, my friend pulled me aside and said that his friend was going for some trade union work to Hambantota and was short of funds. I told him that he should have told me that before I paid the club bill and also told him I had only Rs.18.00 which I gave. This trade union leader was non other than Rohana Wijeweera, who was to become JVP leader.
It was towards the end of the 1980s and a club member, a tea factory owner was on his way home all alone in his car, at the break of down, after finishing his factory work. He had to travel 12 miles. After about five miles, he saw a youth profusely bleeding with injuries, coming down a hill. The good Samaritan that he was, he took him in his car to the hospital. On the way, the police took him and the injured youth into custody for terrorist activities. Fortunately for him, Major-General Lucky Wijeratna, who was a classmate of his at school, was there to save him.
This happened several decades ago. There was a certain popular elderly club member, who was a wealthy businessman and drank nothing but whisky. That day when he came to the club, he seemed to have lost his bearings. He told his friends that he was going to donate all his wealth to the Home for Disabled Children which was close to his house, because his only child, a daughter, had eloped. His friends prevailed on him to defer his decision for a few months. About a year or so later, he came to the club one evening carrying a big flask in his hand. He said that it was for his errant daughter who has now reconciled, adding that he was a grandfather now!
A busy garage was located in a residential area and it was open day and night. To highlight their services, they put up an impressive signboard, ‘We never sleep’. The following day a prankster had written below it ‘and neither do the neighbours’.
During the day of insanity – 29th July 1987, the Open University at Matara was burnt down and the Ruhunu University remained closed. A wall poster came up. It read: ‘Close the Open University’ and ‘Open the closed University’.
A young teacher, met a young man at the Dehiwala Zoological Gardens. Although their native villages were far apart, they
became close friends and planned to get married in the near future. He posed as a private bus owner. One day on a visit to his fiancée, he stayed the night over and muttered in his sleep, “Borella – Battaramulla! Borella – Battaramulla!” This aroused serious suspicions about his identity. So a few days later, her parents came to the Borella junction, to see him in a sarong loading passengers to private buses as a ‘bus crier’. And the love story ended right there.
A long time ago a wealthy industrialist, a popular member of the club, was having his drink in a secluded corner of the club, most unlike him. He appeared to be quite agitated. Some concerned friends asked him what happened. He said that his only daughter (he also had a son) had married a man of her choice adding that his wife was in favour of the marriage. The daughter he said, was 22 years old. His friends told him that at that age, she was entitled to choose her partner in life and appealed to him to take things easy as his wife too approved of the marriage. After about a year or so, a friend visited him. Proudly pointing out a large multiple storey house in his sprawling garden, he had said that it was built by his son-in-law.
A certain member served abroad for many years. One morning he come back to his native Galle in a hired helicopter. That evening he came to the club and ordered a case of beer for his friends!
Several years ago, a member had gone to the Galle Post Office to send a telegram to a close relative. He was informed by the postal authorities that there was a breakdown in the telegraphic services and that it was unlikely that his message, about a bereavement in the friend’s family, would reach his relative in time. They advised our friend to telephone someone in the area where his relative lived and to get the message delivered orally. Those were the days when only a few had telephones. As the member did not know anyone in that area with a telephone, he thought of S. Jayasinghe, known as Mr. S, who was not know to him personally and who was a Junior Minister residing in the area where our friend’s relative lived.
When our friend telephoned him from the post office, he had just got into his car to go somewhere. Soon after he was speaking to our friend over the phone as if he was talking to an old friend. He also told our friend that he was about to go to the site where he was building a new house. Our friend then gave him the message and appealed to him to get it delivered. The rest of the story was told to our friend by his relative who had said that during a heavy shower of rain, he found a car near his gate and that when he went up to the car he recognized him to be the Junior Minister. Like my friend, he did not personally know the Junior Minister. Instead of giving the message then and there, he had got off the car and had gone to our friend’s house and not only given the message but also consoled him by talking to him for a few minutes.
It was in the late 1980s, at the height of the insurrection, that this member was travelling all alone to Galle in his jeep. He was going through the Kottawa Forest which was famous at the time for tyre pyres. The Navy had stopped his vehicle and asked him to take a young man who was injured in a motorcycle accident, to the Galle Hospital, about eight miles away. The young man was bleeding profusely. He got him admitted to the hospital but our friend was forced to stay there for a long length of time, culminating in his having to give his consent for a surgical operation on the injured, whom he had never seen before. Alas! The purpose of his visit to Galle was lost.
A member had two sons, twins aged three years. As they fell ill, he channelled a specialist doctor who examined one twin and refused to examine the other, as an appointment was not made for him. So our friend had the other twin channelled as well. Certainly, it was no personification of Hippocrates!
A popular elderly member used to come to the club only on his pay day to keep himself warm. He worked at ‘Sathosa’ (C.W.E). The younger members would then tell him that he is very fortunate to work in a historic establishment like ‘Sathosa’ which is also referred to in Guttila Kavya (an epic) thus:
‘Sara Salelu Jana Sathose.’
Highly elated he would order a round of drinks, adding ‘Surapana karathi mese’.
This happened many decades ago. A member who was an inveterate gambler once lost heavily at the card table and mortgaged his expensive wrist watch. A member who was not well disposed towards him had sent a post card to his wife informing her that her husband sold his watch to gamble. He also had a 15-acre well-maintained tea estate which he had to sell when his gambles failed.
This story was related by a member and is about the ‘kings’ in the planting circles. A planter in the coconut belt of the North Western Province who owned acres of coconut, once named himself ‘King Coconut’. He argued that if a planter in the Kalutara District who owned vast acres of rubber could be referred to as a ‘Rubber King’ why shouldn’t he be called ‘King Coconut’.
One day a member related a story, which is hard to believe. A teacher who served in an uncongenial station, in his quest for higher knowledge, had studied for an external degree at a university. And he passed the examination with flying colours, obtaining first class honours and was highly commended by the university authorities for his brilliance, while serving in a different area. He had confided to his friends that his success at the exam was due to the gift of seeing all the question papers in a dream, before the examination!
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