SUNDAY OBSERVER Sunday Observer - Magazine
Sunday, 21 July 2002  
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Editorial on Palestine praised - a response

In the Sunday Observer of June 23, I read with great interest two letters on the above subject - a bouquet and a brickbat. I crave your indulgence for little space to comment on the brickbat by David Matnai, Ambassador of Israel, Embassy of Israel, Bangkok. The ambassador has taken umbrage for using the phrase "Zionist regime of Tel Aviv" and declares this is not only an insult to Israel but also an affront to all democracies. He further pontificates on the ethics of journalism by observing your paper has excluded from serious journalism.

The editor has wielded his pen to good effect and written courageously in defence of democratic and moral values and vehemently denouncing violence and injustice. It has been the policy of this paper by being very firm in opposing and condemning discrimination, injustice, violence in any form, and the stifling of democratic rights and human freedoms, whenever and wherever they occurred.

He accuses the Editor of being ignorant of matters whilst extolling the virtues of his country. The word Zionist did not come as a bolt from the blues. For more than half a century, Zionist and Israel have become synonymous to whoever who wrote of that regime, whenever she brazenly violated international norms of decency and dignity.

What is Zionism? According to the Oxford Dictionary, it is a movement that campaigned for a Jewish homeland in Palestine and which means Israel is a Zionist state when we remember its sordid past and the current acts of aggression and desecration of religious places of worship. Need I mention Al Aqsa Mosque? Israel has occupied Palestinian territory in blatant disregard of international laws and UN Security Council resolutions.

The ambassador begins his sized letter by alluding to the Editor his "deep ignorance of matters". Whilst we deplore and denounce this statement in unequivocal terms, of Sri Lanka.

He says that Israel maintains friendly relations with Sri Lanka. So what? Does that mean that the editor of a newspaper has no moral and legal right to comment and criticise the inhumane acts and other misdeeds committed by that country, and present an objective point of view to the reading intelligentsia?

In his concluding paragraph, the envoy states, "if you want to join the honourable club, this has been the customary practice of this state on Palestine for over half a century." Finally, the envoy states the vibrant democracies that are Sri Lanka and Israel. We know the democracy in Israel both are poles apart in all respects. Sri Lanka has never displayed her greediness to forcibly occupy other people's land with the patronage of a super power.

To sum up, it is pertinen to point out that the Editor has touched on violence in a very impartial manner and urges a work out for justice and peace marking "Small is beautiful",. the Editorial in question is succinct, well written, balanced and objective, deserving not only the plaudits of the Muslims, but also the encomiums of the entire reading public.

M. Azhar Dawood ,
Dehiwela

Dengue eradication must be properly planned

Epidemiologists must be aware that the mosquitoes can fly a distance of three to four miles. It is dangerous to put car shutters down anywhere in Colombo as mosquitoes get inside for a free lift (!) and can transmit dengue. So the present limited campaign is only a waste of time and money. It has to be properly planned and executed, island wide.

Drains belonging to the C.M.C. and other local bodies are blocked and are fertile breeding places. Telecom underground manholes are another. You see mosquitoes emerging from them. A large C.M.C. drain between Asha Central Hospital and Musaeus College is full of mosquitoes. This was brought to the notice of the C.M.C. but so far the mosquitoes enjoy life! It is the paid CMC or other government servants who are instructed to carry out the campaign and after some time the campaign would end like the fizz of a soda bottle.

The planning can be done by a well informed planning committee consisting of Officials of the Health Ministry, Telecom, Highways and R.D.A, Education, Railways, Local bodies and any others. The plan should be given at grass root level for execution. At this level the community must be involved or it would fail.

The biggest problem today is the disposal of garbage collected by local bodies and even households. Polythene bags, plastic items and other non degradable material are dumped everywhere from Colombo 7 to the remotest villages and even the wilderness is not spared. The government must look at the whole problem of pollution and not consider only one aspect - dengue. Pollution by exhaust fumes are aggravating lung diseases, polluted water increases bowel disease. Noise levels in so called musical shows and even wedding halls will affect hearing.

Recently the television exposed the squalor in tenement. These must be cleaned and local bodies must give leadership and the government must give a helping hand. Dr. Neville Fernando Nawala

Kashmir - a simple solution

Initially, let me get the record of facts straight; I would admit that I do not profess to be a specialist in international politics, I possess a certain amount of common sense.

In the case of Kashmir, the dispute is between two super powers, both having access to and equipped with nuclear armaments, capable of triggering of a nuclear holocaust as devastating as Hiroshima. It has indeed turned out to be a prestige battle and in this confrontation, Kashmir has unfortunately become the ham in the sandwich.

Tremendous expenditure in time, funds and more important lives, have been sacrificed on the altar of distinction and fame. High powered international leaders, negotiators, advisors at the highest level and even heads of state have shuttled between cities and continents to resolve this issue, with insignificant results for the outlay involved. The most significant and essential question is - have the people of Kashmir ever been consulted on what they themselves would opt for? Since it is the population of Kashmir that matters, surely they must have the last say, whatever the rest of the world may reckon? Are the Kashmiris so dumb that they are unable to accept the responsibility of governing their own country?

The case of Bangladesh comes to mind. That country was similarly placed until they asserted themselves and decided to accept the onus of managing their own affairs and so, Bangladesh was born as an independent state. Why not Kashmir? If all else fails, why don't the two supper powers - India and Pakistan, stop their posturing and invite the United Nations Organisation to come on stage to resolve the issue by having a free and fair and transparent plebiscite to decide whether the Kashmiris want to live in their own independent Kashmir with Srinagar as their capital. Why not?

Sepala Ilangakoon ,
Colombo.

Astrology, lottery and seeing stars

I had the opportunity to read in your esteemed paper on May 19 and recently on astrology, lottery and seeing stars. Dr. Marina Thaha Raffai has asked why fortunetellers do not win jackpots; while A.C. Perera requires clarification by astrologers in the interest of posterity, as he is seeing stars through "Starscope".

It is in this context that I am writing this letter. Mr. Perera seems to have some knowledge of the Zodiac and on Buddhism; I do agree on his view of Buddhism being a natural science, but I would go further and state that IT is the 'World's Greatest Philosophy'.

Explanation of the Zodiac and astrological history can be read in most of the books available. Astrology is a science base on Astronomy, which is a proven science. There are many branches of astrology, but Natal Astrology, which deals with beings is what is under discussion. It is a method of finding the destiny of a being, born at a certain time and date and at a certain place, the longitude and the latitude of the place being very important, according to its Karma. The influence of planets on earth, especially of Sun and Moon, are known and need not be emphasized.

There are various schools of astrology, the Western Indian, Greek, Chinese, etc. The most scientific of all these is that propounded by Sothida Mannan, Jotish Marthand, late Professor K.S. Krishnamoorthy, known as "Krishnamoorthy Paddathy" or Steller Astrology. For a prediction to be accurate the time of birth has to be very accurate, as in the case of twin births, the difference of two minutes can produce such varying destiny of one being a veterinary surgeon and the other a butcher, which can only be predicted through this method, as Lagna, i.e. Ascendant at birth, the position of planets and Nakshastra for both twins, in their horoscopes, are the same.

So, Mr. Perera can rest assured that, there is a good and correct system to predict anything, such as date of marriage, travel abroad, etc., even the date of birth of a child. But these cannot be found in a very general astrological guide, like 'Starscope' or any such writings found in daily papers. They are only a guide, based on the Sun or the Moon. For those who do not have accurate time of birth, to find an answer to a question regarding an important matter, there is a system developed by the late Prof. K.S. Krishnamoorthy, known as Honorary astrology, (not Numerology).

As for Dr. Mareena Thaha Reffai I have only to state that, you would require a lot of reading to know of Astrology. To win a jackpot, or in astrological parlance, 'Gain without Pains', the rule is, "The sub-lord of the 3rd is in anyway connected with 5th, 6th, or 11th one is hopeful of gaining through lottery" which condition most do not have, and especially astrologers, because they are destined to gain by predicting others fortunes, and also as their Karma do not allow such luck.

As for Mr. David Alwis, who wrote in today's paper, even though you have said of the Zodiac and the Almanacs (now printed in volumes 10 years by Krishnamoorthy, up to 2010) your knowledge of Astrology seems to be limited and not scientific. Even my knowledge was such, until I read and re-read 6 volumes and many more books of the Stellar System, of late Prof. Krishnamoorthy. There are astrologers who are clairvoyant, but one need not be such, as almost all predictions have definite rules, scientific as "Blue Litmus paper turns red if the substance is acid", and no Brahma is involved. Before writing and ridiculing anything it is better for someone to enlighten himself by reading, researching, experimenting and knowing properly, as little knowledge is dangerous. Mr. Wimal Dharmasiri of Gampola could be commended for trying to justify Astrology on his own experience and his knowledge by reading of Sir Oliver Gunathilaka's auto-biography.

For those who wish to enlighten themselves they could contact K. Hariharan, son of the late Prof. K.S. Krishnamoorthy at K.P. Stellar Astrological Research Institute, F-21A, First Floor, Spencer Plaza, 769 Anna Salai, Madras, 600002.

A.B. Warakagoda ,
Katugastota.

Those subtle ads !

The letter regarding subtle ads on cigarettes by Jeewaka Maithree in the Sunday Observer of 16.06.02 prompted me to point out how our world renowned cup of tea is suppressed by other drinks in our own presence. Most Sri Lankans here and abroad who generally see the Rupavahini news program on

TV might be wondering whether the two mugs with the lettering "Nestomalt" kept on the table in front of the announcers are empty or filled with the drink that is indirectly advertised.

We have to face and bear with many wrong sides of advertisements and suffer a continuous eye sore while we wonder whether those who have to put up with such things in the TV studio are not fed up. The handles of the two mugs are turned and kept as one for the service of a left handed person and the other for the service of a right handed person. It has now been corrected.

Never mind all that, let there be proportionate or equal place for other drinks too in this show business cum commission chase.

Y. Amerasena de Silva , 
Ahungalla

Oldest tree in the world

As Dr. S. K. Vadivale says in his letter in the Sunday Observer of June 9, 2002, there may be trees other than the hallowed Sri Maha Bodhi at Anuradhapura, which are older. There may also be other trees in dense jungles which are even much older than the one's he has cited in his letter.

But the Sri Maha Bodhi at Anuradhapura is believed to be the oldest tree historically recorded in the world. It is looked up as the emblem of the beginning of a new religious cum social order according to the history of Sri Lanka which took place in the 18th year of Asoka's reign in India, after King Devanampiyatissa ascended the throne.

Danister I. Fernando , 
Colombo 8.

One nation - One country

At a time when different ethnic groups are clamouring for separate nationhood of their own and the country is about to embark on constitutional changes it might be useful to look at the Nigerian experience under almost identical circumstances.

The ethnic composition of Nigeria is very similar to that of Sri Lanka. There are three major ethnic groups. The majority group among them occupies land area less developed and poor in natural resources. Their educational level too is comparatively lower. In contrast a minority ethnic group occupies an area rich in natural resources and economically more developed. In general they are better educated. As a result, under the British they enjoyed a higher standard of living and better privileges.

After the country was granted independence this situation began to change. The political power shifted in to the hands of the majority ethnic group. The resultant changes did not please the minority groups. Because of these changes one of the oil rich southern minority states wanted to breakaway from Nigeria and establish an independent country of their own which led to the well-known Biafra civil war. Over two million died during the conflict. Majority of them died due to starvation - what a contrast from the Sri Lankan situation?

Ultimately, through strong international pressure, the parties to the conflict reached a peaceful settlement through consensus and compromise which has survived for the last 35 years.

The two main features of this settlement which are very relevant to us are (1) The whole of the country consisting of 19 states with different ethnic and religious groups to be treated as One Nation and one country, (2) Political parties based on a particular religion or ethnic group are to be debarred from contesting national level elections even though they are free to contest local and state elections.

Nigeria is not the ideal democracy to be taken as a model. It has been under military rule many times after independence and there had also been a few minor ethnic or religious clashes. But inter state conflicts and civil wars have not taken place since, hence its relevance to the situation in Sri Lanka.

G. DHARMAWARDHANA ,
Kotte

On UFOs

Each time I read reports about Unidentified Flying Objects or UFOs, I realise how easy it is for people to delude themselves into believing almost anything. The truth is that there are so many UFOs in the night sky - but we can be certain that they are not alien spacecraft carrying intelligent beings from other worlds.

I believe in life elsewhere in the universe, and have written extensively on possibilities of technologically advanced civilisations on habitable planets. I wish I would one day be able to meet a visiting alien - but I don't for a moment agree that aliens are visiting the earth in UFOs, making secret appearances or contacting a handful of human beings. Hollywood must take a good part of the blame for this mass hysteria. On the other hand, science fiction writers and Hollywood script writers have long known the entertainment and suspense potential of such alien visitations - especially if the aliens are technologically superior to humans, and come with malicious intent.

We need to discern enthralling science fiction from science fact. The hard scientific fact is that after investigating thousands of UFO sightings, scientists at NASA, US Air Force and elsewhere in the world haven't found a single credible incident of aliens visiting the Earth. And if any spacecraft does come our way - as I hope they will someday, soon the whole world will know in about five minutes: there are at least three global radar systems that track every bit of airspace - they can detect the entry and movement of any object larger than a pebble.

I have seen so many 'UFOs' myself that I am not the least interested in seeing any more. In every single case, the UFOs I saw eventually turned out to be an IFO, or an Identified Flying Object.

Arthur C. Clarke , 
Colombo

'Railway incompetent'

I fully endorse the last para of G.M.C. Bartholomusz's letter in the Sunday Observer of 16/6/2002 that the Railway is full of incompetent clerical oriented personnel at the top. Square pegs in round holes who lack practical operational knowledge and experience as well as technical knowledge which has contributed in no small measure to its present unfortunate decline.

After B.D. Rampala who introduced colour light signalling system and many more improvements, the services deteriorated at the hands of management to administrative men who had no technical knowledge or operational knowledge in the working of the Railway.

The services further deteriorated by political interference in the appointment and promotions in the Railway which caused incompetent personnel to be at the top. Unlike other Government Departments, Railway is a highly technical and commercial Department which cannot be managed by men without having a highly competent skilled knowledge of its working.

Station masters who are working as train controllers, and operating work and the running of trains punctually and efficiently and who are in touch with the efficient running of trains may be selected to executive grades and promoted according to the efficiency and competence and not by political affiliations.

Today men having a limited knowledge of the working of the Railway are selected to higher grades resulting in the deterioration of service and it is high time to appoint a Commission to probe into the matter to avoid further deterioration, break downs, derailments, collisions and frequent accidents at unprotected level crossings which are rapidly on the increase.

D.C.V. Karunaratne , 
Colombo 6

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