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Rise of Rajavasala Injustice

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There is a new nationalism having its impact on the world today. It is “Vaccine Nationalism”. As the pandemic keeps spreading, and faster with variants, Vaccine Nationalism is rapidly moving towards a Vaccine War, with the European Union and the UK showing a display of vaccine weaponry. 

Sri Lanka has received its first vaccine weapons against Covid-19, from neighbouring India. There is more such weaponry sailing here from China – reviving memories of Rubber-Rice friendship. Russia will also send us its special Sputnik V, to be in the vaccine armoury here. But, where will the balance of millions of vaccines come from – needed for the people? 

Keep praying if your belief is in a deity. Keep hoping for the best, if you can manage to have such feelings today. Take strength from that report about Sri Lanka ranking 10th in the global ranking of Covid handling. Just try to forget that with that 10th tanking, we are now in the 700 to 800 ranking on daily infections, with those passing away soon moving beyond 300. 

What is needed is proper faith in the political leadership that is handling this crisis. We must try to keep away from both vaccine nationalism and East Container nationalism. Just keep believing the result of the 69 lakh voters – the Gotabaya nationalism, more powered by the 20th Amendment, with increasing deafness to the yellow robes that were the loudest in the call for the Gotabaya Rajavasala.

We will soon celebrate the 73rd anniversary of our Independence, while being trapped in the vaccine nationalism and the economic disaster of the pandemic. Let’s look at what this celebration of independence has to offer for the future.

Sri Lanka and India were very close  in the call for freedom from British colonialism. Some of our freedom fighters were engaged in the Indian fight, too. India’s own celebration of Republic Day, earlier this week, saw a huge battle between protesting farmers and the Police, and flag raising over the Red Fort that had much to do with the Freedom Movement. It took the minds of many Indians away from the formal celebrations with Military Parades and Cultural Displays that are the stuff of such events. Is that a word of caution for Narendra Modi and the Bharatheeya Janata Party, with its huge electoral mandate in the country?

Where are we in this celebration of freedom? We are moving to a new concept and image of freedom that our freedom fighters ever thought of. It is the Freedom from Justice. We have already seen several persons found guilty and convicted by courts being freed by judiciaries that seem to have little interest in the flow of justice. We have the promise of ‘sil redi’ being the stuff of electoral politics in the future. We also have the promise of parliament being a place of political rest and delight for those convicted of murder?  

Will we soon raise questions about murder being any serious offence; an act that is protected by the Privileges of Parliament? 

We now have a much bigger list of such privileges for those facing judicial action. A Presidential Commission on political revenge on those brought before justice by the previous government, is the hallmark of the new Freedom from Justice. Even those charged with offences against private individuals, by foreigners living abroad, are now to be freed.

How far more should we go? There is the promise of complete freedom of property manipulation, funding for sports from unsporty earnings. It is the emerging promise of Pavul or Family Power, in the new understanding of Freedom and Independence.

We are certainly concerned about the delays in our judicial process. This needs correction, through the proper judicial process. What we now see is the rise of the Presidential Commission process. The recommendations for release through speedy action by the legislature – with its two-thirds power – are those against whom legal actions have been filed by the Attorney General.

It is clear the powers that be today are in a great hurry to bring freedom to their political and profitable catchers much faster than any court would do. From Supreme Court convicted murderers, to those charged with abducting and losing 11 children, stopping of any further action on the Lasantha Wickrematunge murder, no more search for Pradeep Eknaligoda, judicial freedom for Udayanga Weeratunga and Jaliya Wickramasuriya are just a few on that list.

The coming Independence Day is the Day of Promise for the Destroyers of Freedom. It is a day of celebration for all those who have been found guilty under the law, or brought before the courts under the legal process by the previous government. What matters is certainly not Justice, but who sought to bring one before Justice. 

‘Justice Delayed is Justice Denied’ is what we have heard so far. But with our new celebration of Freedom, Justice Denied becomes Freedom Ensured. This certainly cannot be a day of any celebration for the Attorney General and that Department. Could it be any day of celebration of the Minister of Justice?  Are we to soon name that ministry that of Gazette Justice?

There will be ceremonial parades at Independence Square. Twenty-one gunshots will be heard. Soldiers and students will keep marching, aircraft will fly — not bringing any message of freedom, but one of  Justice Ignored and Denied. 

Ranjan Ramanayake must certainly feel happier in his new place of imprisonment with hard work, when compared with those who are promised Freedom from Justice by a Presidential Commission.       

Sri Lanka has to now think of a new fight for freedom, not from any foreign colonial power, but from the Rajavasala Balaya – the Power of those who believe in the Denial of Justice to the people. 



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Features

Sohan…adapting to the ‘new normal’

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Surprisingly, the Coronavirus pandemic seems to have galvanised our entertainers into action.

True, most of the big bands are finding the going pretty tough, these days, as most public shows, like concerts, sing-along, and dances, have been put on hold.

Fortunately, we do have artistes who capitalise on unexpected situations to continue to keep the public, and their fans, entertained – of course, doing it differently

Band leader Sohan, of Sohan & The X-Periments fame, who is always innovative, when it comes to music, has hit upon a novel idea, in order to keep his band occupied, for the next three months.

He has decided to put The X-Periments into ‘recording mode.

Says Sohan: “I’m getting them involved in doing in-house recordings at my home studio.”

And, what’s more, I’m told that Sohan has found a secret sponsor, so the boys will be paid, too. Obviously, it’s a win-win situation and that makes Sohan extra happy!

The veteran artiste/entertainer went on to explain that the main CD will contain cover versions of his favourite songs, and will also include a duet with his daughter Erandika who is scheduled to be in Sri Lanka, hopefully, in May. She is currently in the States.

The song, Sohan has in mind, is that immensely popular golden oldie, made popular by the late Nat king Cole (and daughter Natalie Cole) – ‘Unforgettable.’

Clifford Richards will be seen in a virtual concert, along with Corrine Almeida, and Sohan

The second CD will feature Sohan’s original songs, both western and oriental. 

Sohan will be working with Shobi Perera, Kumar de Silva, Rajiv Sebastian, Roshan de Silva, Chrys Wikramanayake, Rukshan Perera and Damian Wikkramatillake on his novel project, while Krishantha de Silva, who manages Sonexco Enterprises, will take on the role of coordinator.

Although this project will keep The X-Periments, busy, one day of the week will be designated as ‘recording day’ and they have a deadline of three months to complete this project, said Sohan.

There is also a possibility of Sohan inviting a few of his friends to join him in the vocals but that will depend on the materiel he decides on.

“There is no point in hanging around, waiting for work. Musicians have to innovate and create work to keep going, during these challenging times.”

 Sohan is also working closely with Corinne Almeida  and Clifford Richards and has an idea of doing a virtual concert, with the same line up that was featured at the Valentine show, called  ‘Love at the Edge.’

Rajitha, of Misty, is helping them with the technical details of the show,

No doubt, things are looking a bit rosy for Sohan & The X-Periments, and Trishelle.. 

The guys are also working with Benjy and Aquarius, on a mega event, for Richard de Soysa, to be held at Nelum Pokuna,  which is scheduled for mid- May, of 2021, and will feature 10 leading artistes ..

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Remembering Dr. Neville Fernando

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This tribute is in remembrance of my father-in-law, the late Dr. Neville Fernando who would have celebrated his 90th birthday on 9th March 2021. He passed away unexpectedly on the 4th of February 2021 due to the deadly COVID-19 virus.

His birthday will be remembered with an almsgiving to the priests at the Kotikawatta temple to invoke merits on him to attain the Supreme bliss of Niravana. Religious observances on his birthday were an annual occurrence even during his lifetime.

As I ponder his memories, being ‘no more’ is the saddest thought that crosses my mind. I suspect that if you are reading this you understand what I mean logically. Death means that our loved ones never grow a year older, although logic does little to clear up our confusion when his birthday continues to happen year after year.

His memories and deeds throughout his life brought back towards the day I joined his family, when I was just a medical house-officer at the Nawalapitiya Hospital in 1982, through the marriage to his only daughter. Even then he was known to be a real legend and an honest politician. Today, I am in this position as a cardiologist due to his encouragement, loving care and continuous assistance in whatever means. My mind is full of memories of those loving moments shared together. He was a loving, kind and straight gentleman. I may also use the words handsome and charismatic leader. He will inspire us throughout our lives. His pleasant disposition will charm anyone and uplift our mood.

He led a good life and now has a left a good legacy of four children( three boys and one girl) whom any father would be proud of, nine grandchildren and five great grandchildren loved by everyone. He is now no more and no one can fill the void nor bring back the warmth and love he exuded.

We all have courage and we have our convictions, but rarely have the courage of our conviction. His kindness and compassion were his key attributes that made him so special. He had been a good general practitioner before coming to Parliament defeating a formidable leftist politician Leslie Goonewardene who represented Panadura for decades. It was a landmark victory for the UNP in 1977. He was a kind and compassionate doctor who served the rich and poor alike in Panadura for many years and was sought after by his patients for his well known ‘athguna’ (healing hands). This is where he earned his loyal fan base to enter into politics.

Among many things he achieved in Panadura establishing the “Kethumathi” Maternity Hospital, the only one of its kind outside Colombo, helping Sri Sumangala Girls College expansion programme, starting Agamathi Girls school and Janadhipathi Boys School and self funding the Sri Saugatha Vidyalaya Pirivena building at n the Rankoth Viharaya temple in Panadura. Likewise he helped many Buddhist temples during his tenure.

He also started an industrial zone in Modarawila, Panadura which was an abandoned marshy area before that. He had provided the first computer lab and two acres of additional land to expand the Sri Sumangala Vidyalaya which is spoken with gratitude by the students of his alma mater. He did not expect anything in return.

He was a fearless ,principled and honest man who opposed JRs’ motion to takeaway Mrs.Bandaranaikes’ civic rights as he never wanted to compromise his basic human qualities over politics. Very soon he left the Government before any attempt to expel him and formed a small party with few other honest politicians. Later he joined SLFP on the invitation of Mrs.Bandaranaike and worked in the party as an Assistant Secretary for the progress of the country.

He was a maverick par excellence ,an entrepreneur ,extraordinaire and a businessman with a foresight. As one of the pioneers in the hospitality industry, he built hotel Swanee, subsequently he started JF and I, one of the most modern printing and packaging factories in the country to date. He also pioneered a porcelain factory called “Royal Fernwood Porcelain” in Kosgama. Which provided so many employment opportunities and in time to come, helped to economically develop the area.

Continuing his political career, he entered Parliament again as an SLFP opposition member. Later on in 1994 he decided to give up politics.

His divestments in the Porcelain factory enabled him to purchase Asha Central Hospital which was developed with latest equipment and brought to international standards. This is the time I had to take a difficult decision to leave the Government as a Consultant Cardiologist and join Asha Central Hospital in 1998 to help him in his endeavour. He developed and managed Asha Central Hospital till 2007 and subsequently sold it to start his new venture SAITM or South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine with the encouragement of the then Min.of Higher Education Wishwa Warnapala.

Infact I was very much concerned about the new development because of the past experience in the country with the North Colombo Medical College. He always used to tell “every child should have the right for a decent education either in a government or non-government organisation”. His main vision was to give a higher education opportunity for the students .Therefore apart from medicine he also established nursing, engineering , IT, management programmes with the help of esteemed academics who believed in his vision. He established the Dr Neville Fernando Teaching hospital (NFTH) in Malabe to provide clinical training for his students at the medical faculty .It was a impressive state of the art hospital with 1002 beds and latest medical equipment . All of this was done during his 80s which was a remarkable achievement.

SAITM gave him immense pride and a lot of pain at the same time. He was very proud of the fact that he was able to give so many scholarships to deserving students (close to Rs.600 million scholarships during his time).In addition to saving a tremendous amount of foreign exchange he was also able to give an opportunity to students to stay in Sri Lanka with their parents, without having to go overseas for their education leaving behind all family and friends.

However, he had to face many obstacles during this period and was socially and politically crushed due to SAITM. With time, he made a decision to give the NFTH to the Government in return for the clinical training of the medical students of SAITM. In 2017 SAITM was closed down by Maithripala Sirisena who gave in due to the heavy opposition made by the unions against private medical education.

At 89 years of age he was an avid Facebook warrior and used to keep abreast of what was going on in the social media. He was a big cricket fan and never missed watching a cricket match day or night.

Writing about this unique personality cannot be limited to a few words. His life is a monumental story full of new chapters. He dreamed big and his dreams were of public service, even when he was no longer a politician. He yearned to make this country a better place for people to live in, even in his eighties.

May his journey of Sansara be a short one and may he attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana!

 

Dr Mohan Jayatilake

Consultant Cardiologist

 

 

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Boogie Night with Suzi

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Yes, music lovers, get ready to boogie the night away, this Saturday, March 13th.

From 9.00 pm to 10 pm, you would be given the opportunity to see Friends’ former female vocalist, Suzi Croner (Fluckiger) boogie away on Facebook, on Talent Network Group (TNG).

Suzi is excited about this new scene, which will be live streamed, worldwide., and she plans to belt out songs from the Friends’ era (’80s and ’90s), country, and rock ‘n’ roll.

She is already working on her repertoire and says she will make ‘Boogie Night with Suzi’ a real exciting event.

TNG is a Dubai-based project, administered in Dubai, with moderators, worldwide.

And, that means, the whole world is going to see Suzi boogie away.

Several local artistes have already been featured on TNG.

 

 

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