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Republican Party at a Turning Point

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President Biden’s First 100 Days:

by Vijaya Chandrasoma

President Joe Biden addressed Congress and the American people on April 28, just one day short of the first 100 days of his presidency. He began his address with the grim reality, that “he inherited a nation in crisis. The worst pandemic in a century. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War”.

President Biden has dealt with the virus and the economy with spectacular competency, using science-based policies. He has appointed a diverse cabinet, professionally experienced to handle the departments entrusted to them. Nary a crony or relative in sight!

I will list his achievements in the first 100 days later in this essay.

What he hasn’t been able to control is the continuing attack on our democracy, based on the Big Lie, that the 2020 presidential was stolen from Trump by a Democratic backed cabal. A Lie that has been rejected by district, federal and Supreme courts, which have thrown out 60 cases of election fraud brought by Trump lawyers for lack of a shred of evidence; by every election official and state legislature, Republican and Democratic; by Trump supporters, Attorney General, William Barr, Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and even by the House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, who stated during the January 6 insurrection that “Trump bore responsibility for inciting the insurrection”. He subsequently contradicted himself, in his inimitable sycophantic style a few days later, after visiting Mar a Lago and kissing the ring, stating that Trump was not responsible for the insurrection, which was not a big deal. And the election was indeed stolen from Trump.

There were only two leading Republicans who have refused to endorse the Big Lie of a stolen election, who condemned Trump for inciting an insurrection based on that Big Lie. They are the third-ranking Republican member of the House, Liz Cheney, and the 2012 presidential nominee of the Republican Party, Senator Mitt Romney. Their crime: daring to tell Republican voters that President Biden won the presidency in a legitimate election and exposing the Republicans’ effort to whitewash the January 6 storming of the Capitol, the seat of America’s democracy.

A week after the January 6 insurrection, Cheney stated, Trump “summoned this mob, assembled the mob and lit the flame of this attack”. She tweeted on May 3: “The 2020 election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system”.

In a Washington Post op-ed on May 5, Cheney, the Conservative of Conservatives who has a Republican voting record of 92%, wrote, The GOP must “steer away from the dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality…. History is watching. The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution” over blind fealty to a criminal tyrant, whose lies may incite future attacks.

There is currently an effort coordinated by Kevin McCarthy to purge Liz Cheney from her leadership position as Conference Chair in the House, as early as May 12. A replacement for the Conference Chair is already in place: New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who has a terrible Republican voting record (34%). She had even been considered a liberal. But she passes the sole Republican litmus tests of today, of buying into the Big Lie of a stolen election, the whitewashing of the January 6 insurrection. And the ultimate test, the embrace of Donald Trump.

Cheney will go down fighting, but go down she will. Proving yet again that Trump still calls the shots in a party which refuses accept the results of a fair election, and whitewashes the January 6 violent assault against the Capitol, incited by Trump, as, at the worst, a mild protest.

A mild protest which left six people dead, hundreds wounded and the seat of American democracy vandalized and violated. And a beautiful and historic building forever marred by military-style barricades to protect the integrity of the Capitol and our elected lawmakers against white racist domestic terrorism.

Senator Mitt Romney was booed at a recent Republican Party conference in his home state of Utah when he stated that the election was not stolen, “that the Trump campaign had a chance to take their message to the courts, the courts laughed them out of court. I’ve seen no evidence that there has been widespread voter fraud…I was pulling for Donald Trump, but he lost fair and square”. When the booing subsided, and before he was escorted off the podium, he said: “Aren’t you embarrassed?”

No, there is no embarrassment in this Republican Party, the calling card of which is now the Big Lie. According to a May 3 CNN poll, 70% of all Republicans believe that the election was stolen from them. Against all evidence, including the evidence of their own eyes and ears.

The profound sadness is that America celebrated democracy in its finest form in November 2020 with an election in the midst of a pandemic, when more than 150 million Americans voted their choice; an election described by the nation’s senior election official as the fairest in its history. An election that is only rivaled in its integrity and courage of the electorate by the election of 1864, when Americans came out in record numbers to vote for incumbent President Lincoln in the middle of a Civil War.

The Civil War was about the perpetuation of slavery. The January 6 insurrection was about the perpetuation of white supremacy, an assault against the foundations of our democracy – free and fair elections. A proud, historic victory soiled by the delusional rantings of a desperate, defeated and disgraced president.

There is nothing so vicious as the fear of white supremacists losing their privileges. They will stop at nothing to preserve their supremacy, their whiteness. But remember Hitler and his quest for a blonde, blue-eyed Aryan nation? That did not work out well for the Nazis. The same fate awaits the Republican Party if it stays with the white racist leadership of the American alter ego of Hitler.

The past four years of the criminally incompetent Trump administration have been largely responsible for all these crises. Trump started his presidency with his first Big Lie, that he inherited an economy in shambles from the Obama administration. The “shambles” of 72 straight months of a growing economy, and the lowest unemployment numbers in decades.

Then the pandemic hit in January 2020. Trump’s downplaying of the virus, which resulted in over 500,000 preventable deaths and brought the economy to a standstill, is legendary in its criminal negligence.

The frightening fact is that had the pandemic, a global tragedy, not struck and exposed Trump’s self-serving incompetence, he would almost certainly have lied his way into winning the 2020 presidency. Which would have meant the destruction of American democracy and the establishment of a white supremacist oligarchy in the United States of America. A president for life who would have continued the elimination of an already fast-disappearing middle class. Frighteningly, Trump would have been cruel and dictatorial enough to carry out a Final Solution to America’s Brown Invasion.

President Biden’s move to the White House brought a deep sigh of relief from not just America but the whole world, that normality and decency had finally obliterated the vulgar stench the People’s House had exuded for the past four years. Church bells rang all over the world, especially in Europe. People of all free nations took to the streets, dancing in celebration. Why? Because they all knew that Americans had pulled themselves out of a future that had plagued Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Turkey, Belarus and other totalitarian regimes. Europeans knew, better than the American voter, that once right-wing dictators seize power, they use that power to ensconce themselves and perpetuate their totalitarian, often racist ideology by all means, including military, available to them.

President Biden took swift and science-based action to combat Covid-19 and to revive the economy. His major achievements:

The signing of the Covid-19 Rescue bill, a $1.9 trillion package into law within two months, designed to help the unemployed and the needy, support small businesses and help schools reopen safely.

Covid-19 case, hospitalization and death totals are now one-fifth of what they were during the last months of the Trump administration, and diminishing by the day. Biden has exceeded the milestone of 220 million vaccinations delivered by the end of his first 100 days; at least 70% of all Americans will be fully vaccinated by July and the vaccine is now available to everyone over 16 years of age.

The economy has grown by an unbelievable 6.4% during the first quarter of 2021, and is well on the way to complete recovery. Unemployment is falling and currently is at a pandemic low, with 196,000 new jobs added during his presidency – he pitches his jobs plan as a Blueprint to Rebuild America; and schools are re-opening for in-person learning, bringing a semblance of normal life to families.

All these achievements with no whining, no bragging, no self-adulation, no bible wielding that we had been tortured with through four terrible years.

President Biden has also used his executive powers to reject many of the reactionary actions of the Trump administration. He has rejoined the Paris Climate Accord; re-engaged with the World Health Organization (WHO); revoked the presidential permit granted to the Keystone XL pipeline, which native Americans and environmentalists have been fighting against over a decade; revoked the harshest and cruelest of Trump’s anti-immigration bills; and revoked many of Trump’s laws which allowed pollution and fracking in sacred and historically protected areas.

Most importantly, he has stood up to Russia’s Putin, and has imposed a raft of sanctions for Russian interference in the 2020 elections, recent cyber-attacks and other hostile acts. Putin has woken up to the fact that he is no longer dealing with a sniveling, corrupt American president, completely beholden to the Russian dictator.

President Biden has made less progress in his efforts at restoring bipartisanship and unity. Not one Republican voted for his Covid-19 Rescue bill, and Republicans are opposed to the next major item of Biden’s agenda, the massive infrastructure bill of $2 trillion, aimed at fixing America’s damaged roads and bridges, and a list of other projects “intended to create millions of jobs in the short run and strengthen American competitiveness in the long run”.

Republican Senate Minority Leader, McConnell said “that 100% of his focus will be on stopping Biden’s policies”. As he did in 2009, when he blocked President Obama at every turn. So much for bipartisanship.

The costs of these ambitious projects will be met by the closing of tax loopholes used by corporations and super-wealthy to hide their wealth in offshore accounts. And higher taxes on these corporations and the super-wealthy, to ensure they pay their fair share in projects of development that will serve the nation and revive the middle class. It’s a good start.

President Biden has only been a huge disappointment to comedians and satirists, who were expecting an old man pottering around in the Oval Office in his pajama bottoms, looking for his car keys, and stuttering his regular gaffes on TV.

The president we see today is a confident man determined to rescue and develop the nation with or without bipartisan support. A man who is not whining and heaping blame on the administration he inherited, but taking immediate and decisive steps to reverse its often corrupt and illegal acts. Biden has armed himself with a program that is seen as the logical progression of the New Deal of FDR, which planted the seeds of compassionate capitalism in the United States after World War II, combined with infrastructure development on a scale reminiscent of Eisenhower.

The United States has regained universal respect and is once again the undisputed leader of the free world. In just 100 days.



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Echoes of NM’s dismissal may have an impact on present crisis

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by Tissa Vitarana

Dr. N. M. Perera, one of the greatest politicians and statesmen produced by our country, was born on June 6, 1905.

In recognition of his stature as a freedom fighter, a trade union leader, an authority who consolidated parliamentary democracy in the country, an economist who defended the rights of the developing world and sacrificed political power to defend minority rights, he remains in the heart of the people 43 years after his death. Each year on June 6, it has become customary to celebrate his birth anniversary by paying floral tribute at his statue in Colombo. Leaders of the Left and many other political parties participated, together with some leading supporters of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), which he had helped to form in 1935 with socialist objectives.

Among the chief speakers were the current Leader of the LSSP and the Chairman of the Dr.N.M.Perera Centre or his representative. Similar functions would be held at the statues in Thun Korale, Ruwanwella and Yatiyantota, in turn bi-annually.

As usual on June 6, 2021 the function was held, but only with three persons present as a token event, to conform with the three health regulations required to control the Covid 19 epidemic . As the present General Secretary of the LSSP I gave a short speech, the Chairman of the Dr.N.M.Centre who was unwell was represented by Ranil Vitarana, and the LSSP rank and file by Nuresh Rajapakse, a member of the PB whose ample size filled the space left by the absent LSSPers. We retired home to discuss how NM might solve the present crisis if he was alive.

The crisis that NM faced as the Minister of Finance in the SLFP/LSSP/CP Coalition Government in 1972 was far worse than what confronts us today. In 1972 there was the perennial crisis of over production that dogs the capitalist economic system. But in addition the fossil fuel price went up seven times due to the getting together of the oil producing countries to form a cartel, OPEC. The worst global drought in 30 years led to a severe food crisis, with thousands of deaths worldwide. As a result, due to the traditional import dependent policies of the UNP Governments, our people were in grave danger (e.g. the price of a ton of imported sugar went up from $ 40 to $ 600).

NM explained to the people the magnitude of the crisis and called upon the people to tighten belts, stop the import based luxury lifestyle, and develop an import substitution national economy, producing our food and developing value added industry (his budget allocation for science and technology was increased four times). The bulk of the burden should not be passed on to the people but borne by government and the rich. The direct personal tax on the rich was raised to a maximum of 75% (today it is only14%). He managed to balance the budget and in one year in office earn more than the loss. The strict import restrictions reduced the foreign trade deficit and helped to cut down foreign borrowing. The foreign debt was reduced to the lowest in our history.

Today the biggest problem is the high cost of living, mainly due to huge profits made by rapacious middlemen (big mill owners, local money lenders to farmers such as traders etc.). To end this NM and the coalition developed the producer cooperatives (such as farmers) and the consumer cooperatives as genuine peoples’ organizations. By direct dealings between the two he wiped out the profiteering of the middlemen. The cooperatives were so successful that NM brought down the price of essentials to affordable levels, and even gave a measure of rice free. The result was that no one died of starvation unlike in other parts of the world. Due to the opposition of the traders, outsourcing to them was not possible. The result was long queues at the co-ops. This and the other shortcomings were exploited by the media controlled by the rich to lay the blame on the government. They hid the global nature of the problem, but blamed the government.

Besides food shortages a major problem was the shortage of medicine in government hospitals and the high cost of medicines in private pharmacies. Prof.Senaka Bibile, a member of the LSSP, came up with his Medicinal Drug Policy, which was accepted by WHO. NM strongly supported it and it was implemented. The outcome was that medicines for practically every disease was available in all government hospitals free of charge. The shortages were overcome, unlike the situation that prevails today. The foreign drug companies got their governments to intervene and promise a large sum of money to the government to overcome the crisis, provided the NM and the LSSP was expelled. The finance portfolio was taken away from him, and he was given a minor post which he refused and the LSSP was forced out of the Government.

The CP left the next year and the SLFP suffered a major defeat in the 1977 general election. The UNP led by JR Jayewardene came to power in 1977 and opened the door for the commencement of the process of change referred to as neoliberalism. This ideology led by the USA reached its zenith throughout the capitalist world, most of all in America. But it was a failure. It was rejected by the Sri Lankan people at the last presidential and general election.

The anti-UNP political parties helped form the SLPP-led government and are committed to do everything possible to solve the economic, social and health problems facing the country and people.

Like NM, I and the LSSP are very happy that the neoliberal foreign market dependent policies have been rejected, and the commitment is to establish an indigenous economy, where local agriculture and value added industry are to be developed. A major problem is the Covid 19 coronavirus epidemic. In view of my training in virology and experience here and abroad in association with WHO, I could have made some contribution to overcome this problem. In addition where local value added industry is concerned I have already made a significant contribution as the Minister of Science and Technology when Mahinda Rajapaksa was President.

In the four years I established 263 Vidatha Centres, one in each division, and helped 12,300 micro, small and medium entrepreneurs to develop island-wide (17 exporters, 64 suppliers to Cargills and other food chains, and 53 to hotels). To promote large scale industry for the export market I set up a Hi-tech Centre, SLINTEC, with emphasis on nanotechnology near Colombo. But it would appear that I am not fit to be a minister, leave alone a cabinet minister. I wonder whether what happened to NM and Senaka Bibile had any bearing on this.

But why was Prof Sirimali Fernando, Senior Professor in Medical Microbiology at Sri Jayawardenapura University left out. For her post-graduate research in London she not only worked in the field of Virology, but also used the PCR. She could have seen that the PCR test (and the RAT) were properly standardized to give reliable results. Control of the epidemic will be difficult with many false positives and negatives.

You can understand what a person of NM’s stature felt when he was kicked out of the finance ministry, when what has happened to me is related. The only occasion that I could express my views was when the Health Advisory Committee of Parliament met on one occasion, at very short notice, with the Minister in the chair. I proposed that a National Committee of party leaders in Parliament be set up to interact with the minister to exchange views so that we all unite to fight this common enemy. Then truly national Covid committees could cooperate down to village level in the interest of all the people.

The minister turned this down and said that this Health Committee will meet twice a month and any party leader is free to come. Four months have gone and this committee has not met once since then. Secondly I proposed that as community spread had begun a new community based approach was necessary to control the spread and I gave an outline of the necessary measures. She rejected my assessment and approach, stating that it was still in the cluster stage. I said that the cluster approach could continue where indicated, but my proposal too should be implemented. She rejected this proposal.

I might mention that the day Dr. Fernandopulle was appointed as minister she invited me to meet her and I had a fruitful discussion with her for more than an hour. I hope that she will get the necessary support.

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Monastic food – vegetarian food (mildly selective)

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I was directed to the film series on food on Netflix titled Chef’s Table and enjoyed watching the first of series three. It was on the South Korean Zen Buddhist nun, Jeong Kwan, and her preparations of monastic food.

Jeong Kwan

(born 1957) is a Zen Buddhist and chef of . She lives in the Chunjinam Hermitage at the in , where she cooks for fellow nuns and monks, as well as occasional visitors. She had no formal culinary training but is now directing the preparation of vegetarian food in a café in Korea and has visited China and Japan as ‘food ambassador’. Temple food is literally food consumed by ascetic Buddhist nuns and monks. Since their goal is enlightenment, achieved by both mind and body, ascetic food aims at this great achievement – enlightenment.

The bustling Chef

Jeong Kwan ran away from her home in a northern province of South Korea at age 17, leaving her family of seven siblings. At 19 she joined an order of Zen nuns and took to cooking with joy, food for the nuns and monks in an adjoining monastery. She had learned to turn out noodle dishes when she was just seven years old. She refers to her being chef to monks and nuns as her way of spreading the Dhamma as food is a very important component of ascetic life, the food certainly not to be relished, drooled over, hungered for, but eaten mindfully to sustain the body in health and thus contribute to the development of the mind.

Jeong Kwan’s recipes use aubergines, tomatoes, plums, oranges, pumpkin, tofu, basil, chilli pepper, and other vegetables and of course rice or noodles. vegan, Jeong Kwan’s recipes omit garlic, green onions and leeks, which are believed to be mildly aphrodisiacal. In the Netflix film I watched, this fairly well set nun with a serene face and charming smile, grows all the vegetables used in her menus. She sows seeds or plants seedlings, tends then lovingly and then harvests what she needs day by day. She says however: “It’s up to nature and the plants themselves to stay alive. Time flows for them and for myself at the same pace.” Her philosophy on cooking monastic food is: “We cook food that can become one with the person eating it; then it functions like medicine inside our bodies.”

Most of what she used in the film were familiar to me. There was nelum ala or the ‘yam’ of the lotus used; and various leaves she gathered. She uses oil fairly freely in her preparation. I don’t know what oil it was. And of course kimchi is an integral part of what she serves each nun in small dishes; the typical Korean dish always present, made from a certain kind of cabbage dipped in sauces. Nun Kwan dipped into large clay pots of sauces, some of which were very old, the sauces I mean.

 

Vegetarian and Vegan

It is apt to define these two terms here. A vegetarian is one who does not eat meat or fish and sometimes other animal products, especially for moral, religious or health reasons.

A vegan is one who abstains from the use of animal products particularly in diet and believes in the “philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals.” There are degrees of veganism. The term was coined by Dorothy Morgan and Donald Watson in November 1944. (Wikipedia)

 

Food served at meditation retreats

I wrote a fortnight ago about my experiences of meditation retreats at Parappuduwa Nuns’ Island off Ratgama, Dodanduwa, while Ayya Khema was living there and later; and about 10-day and shorter retreats undertaken at Dhamma Khuta Vipassana Bhavana Centre in Hindagala, Peradeniya. Both places were vegetarian. At Parappuduwa we served ourselves from dishes placed on a trestle table, after the resident nuns and any foreign persons in prolonged retreat, had had their meal. I recollect Ayya Khema would remain in her seat supervising us! I once reached out for a dish to pass on to my neighbour who I thought needed some from that dish. Ayya Khema reprimanded me for reaching out for a dish. I did not explain it was not for me but for another that I did what I did. Extreme respect!

At Dhamma Khuta we went up to the food tables in a two queues – men and women – and held out our plates for rice first and then down the line for the vegetable curries; just four sans red chilly, and a salad or leaf sambal. Everything was served in measured quantities. This was lunch at 11.15 – 11.30. We were served dessert, mostly fruit or a prepared simple pudding. For breakfast we were served boiled seed like green gram, followed by a cup of tea. We were allowed to keep tea and sugar in our dormitories and expected to drink plain tea after noon, which unfortunately some did not follow, copiously adding milk and even snacking, just as they broke the Golden Silence rule. In the evening at around 6.00 we were given the choice of half a glass of fruit juice or a mug of plain tea. Those on medicines were served a couple of biscuits and a banana.

Recollections are many but I will narrate just two. At the first ten-day meditation retreat at the newly constructed and not quite complete Dhamma Khuta picturesque Centre right on top of a hill, with Ven Goenkaji and wife living in the bungalow on the premises, we were rather choc-a-bloc since the organizers wanted to accommodate as many as possible at this unique retreat. We were three in most dormitory rooms with the previous meditators accommodated in the now defunct tea factory below, necessitating an arduous van ride in rain and mud and fog.

One of my roommates was obviously rich and definitely fussy, and oldish. She brought along a huge suitcase which covered half the floor of the room. My small bed was against the opposite wall so I had no jumping across or alongside it. She even brought a winter coat! Before bed there was a ritual she followed: munched crackers and cheese, thala guli and drained a mugful of beverage – cocoa or chocolate made with the hot water given each of us in our flasks after the evening gilanpasa.

The next recollection is me, a novice, standing at the narrow food table with helpers on the opposite side, ready with ladles. On the first day of the retreat, I stood at the rice dish at lunch, waiting for the server to give me another spoonful. I thought the amount served was totally inadequate. A slight wave of her palm to indicate I move on was missed by me. She then moved me to the curries with a big wave of her hand. The point in this story is that by the end of the retreat, say seventh day to tenth, I found the rice served me was too much and waved away the second spoon ready to descend on my plate. Even the measured, restricted quantity was found to be too much as the mind got calmer and body felt rested.

With Ven Goenkaji, samples of the cooked curries were taken to him to be tasted and passed as OK. At latter retreats, maybe Brindley Ratwatte or Damayanthi performed that task to see that not too much spices were added. But bland though the food was, it was so very well cooked by the village women who came to help. We ate with gratitude in our hearts to them, the organizers of the retreats and even the farmers.

A very significant point was that with the glass of juice or tea and the fresh cool water off the clay pots placed at strategic positions, I slept more soundly than at home. I found the cup of tea made before going to bed totally unnecessary and even impeded sound sleep until woken at predawn 3.30.

Conclusion: we normally eat far too much, especially at dinner!

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The Rajeewa Jayaweera I Knew

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For a fleeting period, Air Lanka (before its change to SriLankan) lit up the Oman sky, but it was all too brief, as was the life of the initiator of this success. We commemorate the first death anniversary of Rajeewa Jayaweera and recall with pride the achievements of this dynamic individual who left a significant imprint of Sri Lanka’s landscape among those living in the gulf states.

As a journalist my association with Rajeewa spanned over a decade in the nineties. He was a “stoic and principled” administrator who was forthright and considered in his views. As Manager of the Sri Lankan airline in Oman, he delivered exceptional service not only to our community in many ways over the period of his tenure, but also to those Gulf travelers visiting our island. I was amazed at his dedication, determination and discipline; he did not waver in his search for perfection.

When Rajeewa arrived in Oman in the second half of the nineties, Sri Lanka’s National airline was in the doldrums and was considered “just another airline” competing for a share of the Gulf’s travel market catering mainly to the Lankan workforce. Rajeewa’s vision was different, his desire was to raise the standard of the airline to be on par with the best, but he had to contend with the bureaucrats in Colombo. He faced up to the challenge. Not afraid to speak his mind and to take a firm position on issues that were

important to him and the airline, his persistence to enhance the image of the airline succeeded, commencing with the shifting of the airline’s office premises after 13 long years to a prestigious and prominent location. The airline’s logo was displayed for all to see.

This was followed by familiarisation tours to our Emerald Isle for foreign journalists and travel agents and Rajeewa accompanied them as tour guide, mesmerizing reporters with his in-depth knowledge of Sri Lanka’s history and attractions to leave them in awe.  Rajeewa was a true ambassador for the country and its airline, just like his late father, Stanley Jayaweera, a career diplomat of repute. In 1997, to coincide with 50-years of Sri Lanka’s Independence, Rajeewa hosted Air Lanka’s first-ever glamorous “Top Agents Awards” ceremony at the Muscat Holiday Inn.  The invitees were treated to an extravaganza of what Sri Lanka had to offer interspersed with a cultural show, traditional dancing, and authentic Sri Lankan cuisine courtesy of Jetwing’s finest chefs.  Rajeewa’s positive charm instantly propelled the

airline into the limelight, winning hearts and minds of the Gulf’s expatriate community resulting in Air Lanka becoming the preferred carrier of choice for their holidays. As a disciplinarian he may not have endeared himself to many, but he stood tall with his direct and “no nonsense” approach which provided the basis for the airline’s success in the Sultanate.

After completing his term in Oman, Rajeewa was transferred to Madras and then Paris continuing his drive in these two cities to improve the image of Sri Lanka’s national airline.

In later years Rajeewa bemoaned the plight of Sri Lanka’s national airline and mismanagement.  He had a fierce loyalty for the airline and represented his country with pride and would have been an ideal member to serve on the SriLankan Airlines board with his vision and experience. Unfortunately, those with vested interests thought otherwise and the island nation’s loss was Qatar Airways gain. Those who associated closely with Rajeewa will remember him as a strict disciplinarian with a strong work ethic and an abundance of skill. He was an outstanding role model for young people in particular. He was a beautiful, kind and much-loved friend. We are sad beyond words and extend our deepest condolences to Rajeewa’s family.

 

Clifford Lazarus

New Zealand

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