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Sumanthiran, the begging bowl and “self determination”

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The Sunday Island (Dec. 23) published the speech made by Hon Sumanthiran in Parliament on the President’s policy statement. He says a policy statement of a government is a one that gives a direction, one that points in a particular way to give people confidence. “The government holds the bowl”, he continues,  “and wait out there till someone comes and gives us the next meal”.

Quoting the President’s policy statement which requests people’s representatives of N and E to shed their “political ideologies” at least temporarily, and support the government effort to provide facilities/improve the living conditions of people living in those areas, the MP says it is an insult to the people who have been struggling and fighting for their dignity, to be treated as equals in this country. Then he continues to say that the people haven’t been fighting for “facilities” but they have been fighting for equal citizenship right, right to “Self Determination” and right to “Self Rule” and that’s what he wants.

He fails to  mention the obvious when talking about economy.  We earned  4.5 billion dollars from tourism and that industry collapsed totally. Lack of tourists also drove thousands out of employment.  There was drastic reduction of Sri Lankan expatriates remittances too. These are not excuses but stubborn facts that no one can deny. The government spent a colossal amount on vaccination and apart from paying Rs 5,000/= each for poor families, and continued to pay the wages of almost 1.5 million government employees including Sumanthiran’s. Also the government never defaulted settlement of international sovereign bonds todate.

The President does show the path and plans as to how to achieve definite growth in all three sectors, ie. agriculture, industry and services. Unlike Sumanthiran sarcastically says, the country doesn’t hold the begging bowl and waits till someone drops money into it but has a meticulous plan on how to earn foreign exchange from export industry through innovations, export diversification and value adding mechanism.

Sumanthiran also very conveniently forget the fact that we compare very favourably against many countries in terms of pandemic control and 85% of our population is fully vaccinated.

Nothing else can be expected from Sumanthiran who represents a political party formed by LTTE soon after Sept 11 attack in 2001. What Sumanthiran and the rest, who still demand “self determination” for the North must understand is that the LTTE fought for this for more than 30 years. They killed thousands of innocents including pregnant mothers and infants, killed many educated Tamils and Tamil politicians, maimed thousands of innocents and destroyed government property. Tamil children were forcibly taken, traumatized through gruesome training to kill Sinhalese whom they have never met before! But yet the LTTE was defeated by the government forces together with their ideology of “self determination”. That too at very high cost, where 29,000 soldiers were killed and 14,000 severely wounded .

So the LTTE/TNA who resorted to ruthless terrorism to achieve ” self determination” in North were militarily crushed by the forces.  After the war, the government carried out a huge development plan in North, during which time the growth rate in North was 22% compared to 7% in Colombo. And we find Sumanthiran who lives in Colombo still cries for “self determination”. What is the hidden agenda?

The ideology of LTTE and TNA are the same. TNA was directly controlled by LTTE. TNA MPs took oath in front of Prabhakaran before they took oath in parliament. TNA MPs were accused of violating parliamentary privileges and SL constitution by carrying out LTTE propaganda and participating in pro LTTE events overseas in spite of these organizations being banned. TNA never condemned the atrocities of LTTE, never appealed to release civilians when used as human shields, and never gave even a packet of rice to the poor Tamils

The yearly income of LTTE was about 400 million dollars as per the Jane’s Defence Weekly magazine. Throughout the 30 years LTTE/ TNA never built a single road in Jaffna. They never built a single house for the poor. Never produced a single bright student except using children as cannon fodder. Never put up a hospital or a school. But Prabhakaran lived in a luxurious bunker with all the facilities including a state of the art swimming pool!

We know during the war, in the North, it was a one man fascist regime hunting it’s political and military opponents most of whom were Tamils. Journalist HLD Mahindapala, in his article “Tamil oppressors denied Tamils justice, equality and dignity” posted on December 21, 2021, says as follows. Quote: ” LTTE regime had law courts that dispensed laws made to sustain the one man regime in power. No professional Tamil lawyer, including the lawyers like Sumanthiran, who complains bitterly about   Tamils not having dignity, equality and justice, in the Sinhala State, practiced law in Tamil courts in North. Isn’t it because they found dignity, equality and justice only in Sinhala courts? Would the Tamil leaders send their children to study law in Prabhakaran’s law college or would they enrol in Colombo law college? What respect would CV Wigneswaran have earned if he served as a judge in Prabhakaran’s courts? What justice did the Tamil parents get from Prabhakaran’s courts when they went to courts seeking the release of their children abducted by Thamil Chelvam? Unquote.

That was the plight of the Tamils in North under LTTE/TNA. But before that what was the plight of the low caste Tamils under Vellalas?

Sumanthiran talks about dignity, justice and equality of Tamils in North but doesn’t he know that Vellalas ( the so called high caste Tamils ) have reduced so-called low caste Tamils to a subhuman outcast unfit for human society? Mahindapala in a series of articles exposes the truth, ie. the worst enemies of Tamils were the Tamils themselves.

If Sumanthiran still feel self determination is a must for Tamils he must mention what are the grievances of Tamils that are exclusive to them and denied to them exclusively and constitutionally. Are there any grievances that are not common to Sinhalese, Muslims, Burghers and Malays?

What Jaffna looks like now and what it looked like before 2009 May is something no one today can even imagine. Now there’s no threat to the Tamil civilians by terrorist bombs. Depressed caste Tamil children are saved from converting into child killers. No one touches the money deposited in their bank accounts by their relations abroad. The fishermen freely trade their catches, prawns, crabs, lobsters etc without paying exorbitant taxes to LTTE. I can write a page on how the dignity and freedom of Tamils in North are preserved today compared to what it was in the past. In addition there’s massive infra structure development that has taken place. But yet there’s still room for improvement. That’s why the President, in his policy statement , asked to set aside various political ideologies at least temporarily and support the government s effort to improve the living conditions of people in those areas. That is the least  the country can expect from all the patriotic citizens in the country. Only people like Sumanthiran think it fit to fight for “self determination” in North when,  according to his own judgment, the country is holding the begging bowl for the next meal!

I think our brethren in the North can come forward. The call must come from the Tamil people themselves. They must remember the horrendous time they lived under LTTE. They must recall how the Vellalas treated helpless, oppressed “panchamars.” They must remember that it were the Sinhalese ( and the Muslim) soldiers  who saved them from the clutches of LTTE. They must appreciate the effort taken by the Sinhalese leaders who saved them from the clutches of Vellalas by bringing an Act. They must understand that “self determination” is a ploy to bring Vellala hegemony back to North. Finally they must watch carefully and see how more than 50% of their population live with the Sinhalese and Muslims in the South and watch how the Tamils engage in various types of trades of which the customers are mostly Sinhalese. Finally the Northern Tamils must think carefully and see what they are going to gain, more than what they have now, if they get the self determination which Sumanthiran demands. They also should ask Sumanthiran, if and when the so called self determination is achieved,  whether he  is willing shift his family and live in North to enjoy the  dignity, equality and justice which he has lost under Sinhala state in South.

So it is up to the respectable Tamils to decide whether to join hands with Sumanthiran (who has never lived or never live in North) and fight for “self determination” or support the President who says leave aside all “ideologies” at least for the time being and support him in providing more facilities for the needy.

Rear Admiral ( Dr.) Sarath Weerasekera

Public Security Minister



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Glimmers of hope?

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The newly appointed Cabinet Ministers leaves Cass un-uplifted. She need not elaborate. She wishes fervently that Dr Harsha de Silva will leave party loyalty aside and consider the country. Usually, it’s asking politicians to cast aside self-interest, which very rarely is done in the political culture that came to be after the 1970s. Thus, it is very unusual, completely out of the ordinary to appeal to Dr Harsha to forego party loyalty and do the very needful for the country by accepting the still vacant post of Minister of Finance. We are very sorry Eran W too has kept himself away.

Some of Cassandra’s readers may ask whether she is out of her right mind to see glimmers of hope for the country. She assures them she is as sane as can be; she does cling onto these straws like the dying man does. How else exist? How else get through these dire times?

What are the straws she clings to? News items in The Island of Tuesday 24 May.

‘Sirisena leaves Paget Road mansion in accordance with SC interim injunction.’ And who was instrumental in righting this wrong? The CPA and its Executive Director Dr Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu. It is hoped that revisions to the system will come in such as giving luxury housing and other extravagant perks to ex-presidents and their widows. Sri Lanka has always lived far beyond its means in the golden handshakes to its ex- prezs and also perks given its MPs. At least luxury vehicles should not be given them. Pensions after five years in Parliament should be scrapped forthwith.

‘Letter of demand sent to IGP seeking legal action against DIG Nilantha Jayawardena.’ Here the mover is The Centre for Society and Religion and it is with regard to the Easter Sunday massacre which could have been prevented if DIG Jayawardena as Head of State Intelligence had taken necessary action once intelligence messages warned of attack on churches.

‘CIABOC to indict Johnston, Keheliya and Rohitha’. It is fervently hoped that this will not be another charge that blows away with the wind. They do not have their strongest supporter – Mahinda R to save them. We so fervently hope the two in power now will let things happened justly, according to the law of the land.

‘Foreign Secy Admiral Colombage replaced’. And by whom? A career diplomat who has every right and qualification for the post; namely Aruni Wijewardane. If this indicates a fading of the prominence given to retired armed forces personnel in public life and administration, it is an excellent sign. Admiral Colombage had tendered his resignation, noted Wednesday’s newspaper.

‘Crisis caused by decades of misuse public resources, corruption, kleptocracy – TISL’.

Everyone knew this, even the despicable thieves and kleptocrats. The glaring question is why no concerted effort was made to stop the thieving from a country drawn to bankruptcy by politicians and admin officers. There are many answers to that question. It was groups, mostly of the middle class who came out first in candle lit vigils and then at the Gotagogama Village. The aragalaya has to go down in history as the savior of our nation from a curse worse than war. The civil war was won against many odds. But trying to defeat deceit power-hunger and thieving was near impossible. These protestors stuck their necks out and managed to rid from power most of the Rajapaksa family. That was achievement enough.

Heartfelt hope of the many

The newly appointed Cabinet Ministers leaves Cass un-uplifted. She need not elaborate. She wishes fervently that Dr Harsha de Silva will leave party loyalty aside and consider the country. Usually, it’s asking politicians to cast aside self interest, which very rarely is done in the political culture that came to be after the 1970s. Thus, it is very unusual, completely out of the ordinary to appeal to Dr Harsha to forego party loyalty and do the very needful for the country by accepting the still vacant post of Minister of Finance. We are very sorry Eran W too has kept himself away. As Shamindra Ferdinando writes in the newspaper mentioned, “Well informed sources said that Premier Wickremesinghe was still making efforts to win over some more Opposition members. Sources speculated that vital finance portfolio remained vacant as the government still believed (hoped Cass says) Dr Harsha de Silva could somehow be convinced to accept that portfolio.”

Still utterly hopeless

Gas is still unavailable for people like Cass who cannot stand in queues, first to get a token and then a cylinder. Will life never return to no queues for bare essentials? A woman friend was in a petrol queue for a solid twelve hours – from 4 am to 4 pm. This is just one of million people all over the country in queues. Even a common pressure pill was not available in 20 mg per.

Cassandra considers a hope. We saw hundreds of Sri Lankans all across the globe peacefully protesting for departure of thieves from the government. The ex-PM, Mahinda Rajapaksa’s answer to this was to unleash absolute terror on all of the island. It seems to be that with Johnson a younger MP stood commandingly.

Returning from that horror thought to the protesters overseas, Cass wondered if each of them contributed one hundred dollars to their mother country, it would go a long way to soften the blows we are battered with. Of course, the absolute imperative is that of the money, not a cent goes into personal pockets. The donors must be assured it goes to safety. Is that still not possible: assuring that donations are used for the purpose they are sent for: to alleviate the situation of Sri Lankans? I suppose the memory of tsunami funds going into the Helping Hambantota Fund is still fresh in memory. So much for our beloved country.

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Ban on agrochemicals and fertilisers: Post-scenario analysis

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By Prof. Rohan Rajapakse

(Emeritus Professor of Agriculture Biology UNIVERSITY OF RUHUNA and Former Executive Director Sri Lanka Council of Agriculture Research Policy)

There are two aspects of the ban on agrochemicals. The first is the ban on chemical fertilisers, and the second is the ban on the use of pesticides. Several eminent scientists, Dr Parakrama Waidyanatha (formerly the Soil Scientist of RRI), Prof OA Ileperuma (Former Professor of Chemistry University of Peradeniya), Prof C. S. Weeraratne (former Professor of Agronomy University of Ruhuna), Prof D. M. de Costa University of Peradeniya, Prof. Buddhi Marambe (Professor in Weed Science University of Peradeniya) have effectively dealt with the repercussion of the ban on chemical fertilisers which appeared in The Island newspaper on recently.

The major points summarised by these authors are listed below.

FERTILISER ISSUE

1. These scientists, including the author, are of the view that the President’s decision to totally shift to organic agriculture from conventional could lead to widespread hunger and starvation in future, which has become a reality. Organic farming is a small phenomenon in global agriculture, comprising a mere 1.5% of total farmlands, of which 66% are pasture.

2. Conventional farming (CF) is blamed for environmental pollution; however, in organic farming, heavy metal pollution and the release of carbon dioxide and methane, two greenhouse gases from farmyard manure, are serious pollution issues with organic farming that have been identified.

3. On the other hand, the greatest benefit of organic fertilisers as against chemical fertilisers is the improvement of soil’s physical, chemical and biological properties by the former, which is important for sustained crop productivity. The best option is to use appropriate combinations of organic and chemical fertilisers, which can also provide exacting nutrient demands of crops and still is the best option!

4. Sri Lanka has achieved self-sufficiency in rice due to the efforts of the Research Officers of the Department of Agriculture, and all these efforts will be in vain if we abruptly ban the import of fertiliser. These varieties are bred primarily on their fertiliser response. While compost has some positive effects such as improving soil texture and providing some micronutrients, it cannot be used as a substitute for fertiliser needed by high yielding varieties of rice. Applying organic fertilisers alone will not help replenish the nutrients absorbed by a crop. Organic fertilisers have relatively small amounts of the nutrients that plants need. For example, compost has only 2% nitrogen (N), whereas urea has 46% N. Banning the import of inorganic fertilisers will be disastrous, as not applying adequate amounts of nutrients will cause yields to drop, making it essential to increase food imports. Sri Lankan farmers at present are at the mercy of five organizations, namely the Central Department of Agriculture, the Provincial Ministry of Agriculture, the Private sector Pesticide Companies, the Non-Government organizations and the leading farmers who are advising them. Instead, improved agricultural extension services to promote alternative non-chemical methods of pest control and especially the use of Integrated Pest Management.

Locally, pest control depends mostly on the use of synthetic pesticides; ready to use products that can be easily procured from local vendors are applied when and where required Abuse and misapplication of pesticides is a common phenomenon in Sri Lanka. Even though many farmers are aware of the detrimental aspects of pesticides they often use them due to economic gains

We will look at the post scenario of
what has happened

1. The importation of Chemical fertilisers and Pesticides was banned at the beginning of Maha season 1 on the advice of several organic manure (OM) promoters by the Ministry of agriculture.

2. The Ministry of Agriculture encouraged the farmers to use organic manure, and an island-wide programme of producing Organic manure were initiated. IT took some time for the government to realize that Sri Lanka does not have the capacity to produce such a massive amount of OM, running into 10 tons per hectare for 500000 hectares ear marked in ma ha season.

3. Hence the government approved the importation of OM from abroad, and a Company in China was given an initial contract to produce OM produced from Seaweed. However, the scientists from University of Peradeniya detected harmful microorganisms in this initial consignment, and the ship was forced to leave Sri Lankan waters at a cost of US dollar 6.7 million without unloading its poisonous cargo. No substitute fertiliser consignment was available.

4. A committee in the Ministry hastily recommended to import NANO RAJA an artificial compound from India to increase the yield by spraying on to leaves. Sri Lanka lost Rs 863 million as farmers threw all these Nano Raja bottles and can as it attracts dogs and wild boar.

Since there is no other option the Ministry promised to pay Rs 50000 per hectare for all the farmers who lost their livelihood. It is not known how much the country lost due to this illogical decision of banning fertilisers and pesticides.

Recommendations

1. Judicious use of pesticides is recommended.

2. The promotion and the use of integrated pest management techniques whenever possible

3. To minimize the usage of pesticides:

Pesticide traders would be permitted to sell pesticides only through specially trained Technical Assistants.

Issuing pesticides to the farmers for which they have to produce some kind of a written recommendation by a local authority.

Introduction of new mechanism to dispose or recycle empty pesticide and weedicide bottles in collaboration with the Environment Ministry.

Laboratory-testing of imported pesticides by the Registrar of Pesticides at the entry-point to ensure that banned chemicals were not brought into the country.

Implementation of trained core of people who can apply pesticides.

Education campaigns to train farmers, retailers, distributors, and public with the adverse effects of pesticides.

Maximum Residue Level (MRL) to reduce the consumer’s risk of exposure to unsafe levels.

Integrated pest Management and organic agriculture to be promoted.

1. To ensure the proper usage of agrochemicals by farmers

All those who advised the Minister of Agriculture and the President to shift to OM still wield authority in national food production effort. The genuine scientists who predicted the outcome are still harassed sacked from positions they held in MA and were labelled as private sector goons. The danger lies if the farmers decide not to cultivate in this Maha season due to non-availability of fertilisers and pesticides the result will be an imminent famine.

The country also should have a professional body like the Planning Commission of

India, with high calibre professionals in the Universities and the Departments and

There should be institutions and experts to advise the government on national policy matters.

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Thomians triumph in Sydney 

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Nothing is happening for us, at this end, other than queues, queues, and more queues! There’s very little to shout about were the sports and entertainment scenes are concerned. However, Down Under, the going seems good.

Sri Lankans, especially in Melbourne, Australia, have quite a lot of happenings to check out, and they all seem to be having a jolly good time!

Trevine Rodrigo,

who puts pen to paper to keep Sri Lankans informed of the events in Melbourne, was in Sydney, to taken in the scene at the Sri Lanka Schools Sevens Touch Rugby competition. And, this is Trevine’s report:

The weather Gods and S.Thomas aligned, in Sydney, to provide the unexpected at the Sri Lanka Schools Sevens Touch Rugby competition, graced by an appreciative crowd.

Inclement weather was forecast for the day, and a well drilled Dharmaraja College was expected to go back-to-back at this now emerging competition in Sydney’s Sri Lanka expatriate sporting calendar.

But the unforeseen was delivered, with sunny conditions throughout, and the Thomians provided the upset of the competition when they stunned the favourites, Dharmaraja, in the final, to grab the Peninsula Motor Group Trophy.

Still in its infancy, the Sevens Touch Competition, drawn on the lines of Rugby League rules, found new flair and more enthusiasm among its growing number of fans, through the injection of players from around Australia, opposed to the initial tournament which was restricted to mainly Sydneysiders.

A carnival like atmosphere prevailed throughout the day’s competition.

Ten teams pitted themselves in a round robin system, in two groups, and the top four sides then progressed to the semi-finals, on a knock out basis, to find the winner.

A food stall gave fans the opportunity to keep themselves fed and hydrated while the teams provided the thrills of a highly competitive and skilled tournament.

The rugby dished out was fiercely contested, with teams such as Trinity, Royal and St. Peter’s very much in the fray but failing to qualify after narrow losses on a day of unpredictability.

Issipathana and Wesley were the other semi-finalists with the Pathanians grabbing third place in the play-off before the final.

The final was a tense encounter between last year’s finalists Dharmaraja College and S.Thomas. Form suggested that the Rajans were on track for successive wins in as many attempts.  But the Thomians had other ideas.

The fluent Rajans, with deft handling skills and evasive running, looked the goods, but found the Thomian defence impregnable.  Things were tied until the final minutes when the Thomians sealed the result with an intercept try and hung on to claim the unthinkable.

It was perhaps the price for complacency on the Rajans part that cost them the game and a lesson that it is never over until the final whistle.

Peninsula Motor Group, headed by successful businessman Dilip Kumar, was the main sponsor of the event, providing playing gear to all the teams, and prize money to the winners and runners-up.

The plan for the future is to make this event more attractive and better structured, according to the organisers, headed by Deeptha Perera, whose vision was behind the success of this episode.

In a bid to increase interest, an over 40’s tournament, preceded the main event, and it was as interesting as the younger version.

Ceylon Touch Rugby, a mixed team from Melbourne, won the over 40 competition, beating Royal College in the final.

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