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Port City, politicians and monks



The Port City Bill is one of the hot topics discussed today and Lekadhikari (Chief Secretary) of the Asgiriya Chapter, Medagama Dharmananda Thera, has said that it is the duty of the Maha Sangha to come forward opposing any move that would affect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Reading this statement my first thought was how anyone who had renounced just about everything was qualified to advise normal laymen and in this case a government. Can the Dharmista rule espoused by Buddha Gautama – 1. Dhana (Charity) 2. Seela (Morality) 3. Pariccaaga (Altruism) 4. Ajjava (Honesty) 5. Maddava (Gentleness) 6. Tapa (Self-control) 7.Akkodha (Non-anger) 8. Avihimsa (Non-violence) 9. Khanta (Forbearance) 10. Avirodhana (Uprightness) be practiced in this world of conflicts and advancement in science and technology in every field is a matter to be seriously thought of and adjust to suite the present day.

Now, I come to what the Maha Sangha and our politicians have done to this blessed Island. History records how our ancient kings sought the support of foreigners to defeat opponents to be in power and ultimately the foreigners took hold of the entire country – the Dutch, the Portuguese, the British – and when the last colonial regime handed over the country without any struggle, we expected national leaders to steer this country to prosperity and unity among all ethnic groups.

Following Independence, our first Prime Minister D. S. Senanayaka, hailed as the Father of the Nation, evinced a keen interest in agriculture and irrigation, restored old tanks, set up colonies; the Gal-Oya scheme was his brainchild. All that good work came to naught when he nominated his son, Dudley, as his successor, when the legitimate and promised successor was S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike. This move led to a split in the ruling UNP; SWRD broke away. With this split, the UNP had to lure minority parties with promises, and the latter became kingmakers. Worse, the UNP suffered another split with Sajith Premadasa forming the Samagi Jana Balawegaya. The same fate befell the SLFP with the formation of the SLPP.

SWRD enlisted the support of farmers, Ayurvedic physicians, workers and Buddhist monks; they came be dubbed the Pancha Maha Balawegaya. These monks insisted on having ‘SINHALA ONLY’ as the state language and that too within 24 hours, without allowing SWRD to work out an acceptable solution in consultation with the minority parties, perhaps with English as a link language. Undoubtedly, a country should have a national language but not at the expense of the minorities. This led to the bloody war which lasted 30 years, leaving thousands dead and maimed. This cancer is yet persistently prevail as correctly pointed out by the Reconciliation and Rehabilitation Commission appointed by the government, chaired by Prof. Tissa Vitharana.

Buddhist monks are losing respect by taking to politics. They could become politicians after leaving their robes. Politicians, too, if they wish to rule without discontentment among citizens may seek the advice of monks where necessary and allow the preaching of the Dhamma, fostering and propagating Buddhism to them rather than taking that responsibility. The responsibility of fostering Buddhism, as laid down in the Constitution has made the Sangha hand over their legitimate religious duty to politicians, who are making the most of it politically.

Coming back to the Port City Bill, eminent lawyers and other intellectuals have expressed their views and let the Judiciary decide what is best for the country.

There are political leaders, but we are yet to find a patriotic national leader. Our quest has been a failure since we gained independence. Family, nepotism and parochial interests are the order of the day. When can we see the light at the end of the tunnel?

This is my personal view, based on what I have read, seen, heard and experienced, devoid of malice.


G. A. D. Sirimal



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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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