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Tribute to Ven. Baddegama Samitha

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Our good friend, one-time hero of the University students (during JR Jayewardene regime), former Member of Parliament, and former Member of the Southern Provincial Council, Venerable Baddegama Samitha passed away on Sunday (May 30). He had been preaching and delivering religious services at several Buddhist temples in Baddegama area, in the Galle district, for many years.

Ven. Samitha became a hero of the university students in the late seventies, with his leading roles as a student leader and activist against the violence unleashed by the JR Jayewardene regime on the university students. He was a student of the Kelaniya University when a United National Party (UNP) gang leader Christopher terrified the students who demanded rights of the students, such as hostel facilities. As the gang leader had protection from the government, local politicians and the police, he continued to terrify students, with pistols, along with his fellow gangsters, even inside the Kelaniya University. But when he attacked the students, inside the library and the canteen, in front of Ven. Samitha, that was the last time Christopher could attack students. His fellow students, including the girls, attacked the gangster and the thugs until they ran away. Since then, Ven. Samitha became a hero of the students, at every university, because the government thugs had been terrifying the students in all the universities. But he had to face terrible consequences with arrests, detentions and death threats.

Fearing for his life, he fled the country, giving up his university studies. After he moved to Europe, he attended many international seminars, through the New Lanka Samasamaja Party. During his stay in England, he won a scholarship to study at Lancaster University. After completion of his postgraduate studies, he was awarded a PHD. After completing his degrees, he returned to Sri Lanka in 1988, and became a member of the executive committee of the Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP), led by Vasudeva Nanayakkara.

As a politician, Ven. Samitha had been representing the views of the poor and working-class people. In 1991, he entered mainstream politics through the Nava Sama Samaja Party. In 1997, he was elected as a member of the Southern Provincial Council and later, in 2001, he was elected to Parliament of Sri Lanka and had been an MP since 2001-2004. Samitha Thera was the first ever Buddhist monk to enter Parliament, as an MP.

Ven. Samitha had been immensely popular among the people in Sri Lanka, regardless of their ethnicities, until his death, including the local community because of his commitments and the dedication to ethnic harmony and serving the people. He helped people in the local community in numerous ways. When I came to England for the first time, I did not have friends or relatives in England so I asked him whether he could help me to find a temporary place. He arranged his friend to welcome me at London Heathrow airport and to provide temporary accommodation in his place in Kent.

Thank you for your service for the nation.

May he attain Nirvana.

 

Rajasinghe Bandara



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Opinion

Nelum Kuluna poses danger to aircraft

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The top of Nelum Kuluna (Lotus Tower) stands 350 above sea level in the heart of Colombo City, as the air navigators of old would say, sticking out like a ’sore thumb’. It has to be lit up in accordance with the Aircraft Obstacle Lighting recommendations contained in Annex 14 of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Convention originally signed by Ceylon in 1944.

A free-standing tower of that height is required by international law to be lit up not only at night with red lights, but also with high visibility white strobe lights during the day.

Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be on always during the day. The authorities concerned must realise that the strobe lighting during the day is not for beauty but for air safety, especially these days, when the air quality and visibility are low during the day.

Have those in charge of the tower been briefed properly on the legal requirement and the use of proper lighting? In case of an accident, this certainly will have implications on insurance claims.

I wonder whether the ‘Regulator’, Civil Aviation Authority Sri Lanka would like to comment.

If not rectified, it will be just a matter of time an aircraft will be impaled by the Nelum Kuluna.

I M Nervy (Aviator)

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Opinion

Simple questions to Sirisena and Gotabaya

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If Sirisena had not been informed of the plans to explode bombs on 21st of April 2019, as he has claimed, shouldn’t he have taken immediate action to call for explanation from Nilantha Jayawardena, then head of State Intelligent Service (SIS), who had been notified several times about the impending attack by the Indian intelligence.

Sirisena and Jayawardena should be prosecuted for allowing a mass murder to take place. Further Sirisena should be made to explain his famous uttering, “I will reveal everything, if somebody tries to implicate me”.

Why did Gotabaya, who announced his candidature for presidency almost immediately after the Easter Sunday attack and promised to punish those who were involved in it, pay no attention to Nilantha Jayawardena’s failure in taking necessary action with regard to information he received, instead he was given a promotion?

President Ranil Wickremesinghe at a meeting with USAID Administrator Samantha Power on September 11, 2022 had said that Scotland Yard had been requested to review the reports and reach a final conclusion on claims that there was a hidden hand behind the bombings.

We do not need Scotland Yard, just get an honest set of Sri Lankan police officers to question Nilantha, Sirisena and Gotabaya to find the “hidden hand behind the bombings”

B Perera

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Opinion

Open letter to Sirisena

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Y you were in Singapore when the Easter Sunday attacks took place. You claimed that you had not been informed of the intelligence received by your intelligence officers. However, the Supreme Court has ordered you to pay Rs 100M as compensation to the victims of the terror attacks. The reasons for the decision are stated in the judgement.

Acting on a claim that there was a conspiracy to assassinate you and former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya you caused the interdiction and arrest of DIG Nalaka Silva, who was held in custody without bail for a long time.

In his testimony to the Presidential Commission  of Inquiry, Silva said that he had been interdicted while plans were in place to arrest Zaharan.

Due to the arrest of DIG Silva, Zaharan escaped arrest. Silva was never charged. Zaharan continued with his plans and the rest is history.

After the SC order you have been claiming that you have no money to pay the Rs 100M as compensation. You are asking for public help to pay compensation to Easter carnage victims. You even accepted some money collected by a person called Sudaththa Tilakasiri, who begged from people.

You have said publicly that you submitted your asset declarations. I suggest that you sell all your assets declared in the declarations before asking for funds from the public.

Hemal Perera

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