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Sunday, 5 January 2003  
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Giving ideas to the young

There is a cut-out placed opposite a Cinema Hall at Borella which is indeed a beautiful painting. It is in technicolour. It depicts a school girl wearing a white uniform with school tie and tennis shoes. There is a school boy in spotless white long trousers and short sleeved shirt.

They are carrying school books and are walking on a railway line. Background of the painting has a prominent building in Colombo.

Several boys schools and girls schools are in the close vicinity. The cut-out is so prominent that it cannot escape the eye or be missed by passersby. It will be interesting to have a seminar with schoolchildren to judge their feelings, when one sees this cut-out.

What have the competent authority / censors got to say about this cut-out. As for me, I feel this type of exposure is opposed to my conservative type of thinking and culturally unsuited for the youth of this country. The young ones might get ideas and try to imitate the couple in the cut out. "Why not" they might say, "After all the whole world loves a lover."

Bandula Seneviratne, 
Colombo 8.

Of happiness

So long as senility and decadence following suit is evident in life; there can never be the word called "happiness" infused in the minds of people unless one strives to find out very earnestly the real truth of life, and the substance of its existence.

Why is senility followed by decadence devouring all that seem to be yours to a dead garland of roses? It is not really the power and pelf that makes a man happy. Happiness is only an abstract vision, You lose all unexpectedly and are directed to abysmal heights why? What makes a man joyous in joy and disappear to the oblivion in so a short time? How can one measure the fundamentals of happy people? To improve the outlook of life one has only to master the precepts of truth. Mind is the master weaver of the real truth and not the outer garment featured in life.

There are no permanent feelings of joy and happiness. Happiness is not static. It resembles a passing cloud and should one think that happiness is there; it is only a "mirage" or a "misty" sight converted into optical transmission and it is considered a woeful sin if we do not divulge the real path to freedom and everlasting happiness.

Whatever the caption be of happiness we will have to strive very hard to achieve it since it is a thing obscure. We now realize that happiness is two fold, temporary and permanent.

It is felt that every angle of our life is coasted with sin and it is the sin we have to get rid of completely to dawn happiness to life. It is a fairly difficult phenomenon. Therefore it is now seen that the first precursory thing is to nourish your simple thoughts to get converted to devout thoughts. Mind is the weaver of these thoughts and one must make his thoughts sublime to achieve something higher than where you are.

If the thoughts are always focused on killing, hurting, stealing usurping others belongings by evil means debauchery, get involved in unnecessary gossip so as to endanger the life of others and consumption of liquor excessively will never lead to one's happiness whatever power or pelf he possesses. Every angle and thoughts of those mentioned above will lead to abyss. Thoughts generated by mere thinking of those will spill evil; hatred and thoughts as if dreamt of in a delirious dream of a disordered brain. The result of even observing one of these items will definitely lead you to aberration.

Once you commence observing these precepts one will get bathed with thoughts of serene and they will shine at every window of your abode radiating true glimpses of happiness. It is now thought that there could also be pre-disposing factors besides the thing mentioned above, in addition to the devout thoughts to rid of sin and evil - and to collect your far spread thoughts pooled to one spot with a vision to dawn the real state of happiness that everyone yearns for.

With all these sincere thoughts I earnestly believe you stick to your own religious faith to guide and steer you. (Do develop devout thoughts to be your best companion in life).

"Cause and effect is as absolute and undeviating in the hidden realm of thought as in the world of visible and material things. Mind is the master weaver both of the inner garment of character and the outer garment of circumstance".

Pro Bono Publico

Anglican ecumenism, justice and peace

Please permit me, as an Anglican, to clarify certain issues of ecumenism and justice in Bishop Duleep de Chickera's pastoral address (October 20, 2002).

My Lord Bishop diminishes his noble thoughts on peace and multiculturalism towards the end of his address by simplistically blaming those die-hard Anglicans who went to court and scuttled the scheme of union in the 1970s.

It is always good to ask and to know why my Church was found to be violating the rights of its members by the Constitutional Court while paying lip service to justice, peace and tolerance. At the time, the scheme of union saw most Protestant Churches merging into the Church of Lanka, despite their deep theological differences. Those who wished to remain genuinely Anglican would not be allowed to be so. And the whole case hinged on that.

The Court held that provision must be made for those who wished to remain Anglican. An Anglican could not be forced into another religious denomination even if a majority voted to do so; it would be violating his basic rights. We could not be bulldozed into a new identity, into the united identity defined by the majority. My Church had failed to understand the Protestant tradition of personal faith that had defined its ethos when Pilgrim Fathers fled religious bigotry in their home countries to hold onto their faith.

Herein lies the contradiction in the bishop's message where in the Sri Lankan context, we must be allowed to be Sinhalese and Tamil and Buddhist and Hindu and whatnot. We must have choice of identity. We must celebrate diversity. But in the Church's context we are not granted such choice! We must give up so called parochial identities such as Anglican, Methodist etc., and merge and be subsumed into a common Sri Lankan Protestant identity upon the wishes of the majority.

Those who do not agree, are, as the bishop does, branded as scuttlers.

Wisdom must prevail. As Jesus Christ taught us, we must look inwardly at our own state of sin and cleanse ourselves before cleansing the sins of the state.

Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H.

Fragmentation of coconut land - a response

The Forum/Features page of the Sunday Observer October 24 published an article titled 'Stop the fragmentation of coconut lands'. It goes on to describe that coconut trees are unscrupulously felled and sold in blocks for housing purposes, that large areas have turned barren, and also that therefore the price of coconuts have increased. The obvious question that arises is, Why do coconut estate owners dispose their land, and to quote the writer, 'Sometimes even below the market prices'. Has anyone addressed his mind to this question?

Coconut is also grown in areas recommended as suitable for plantation and classified as the Coconut Triangle in the dry zone, where most coconut estates are located in extensive acreages.

To obtain a satisfactory crop it is compulsory that fertilizer be applied during the proper period and also that pest control methods be adhered to. Is the public aware that the coconut fertilizer has increased by over 60% over the price that prevailed last year? It is common knowledge that in coconut lands, boundary fences have to be maintained, and weeding has to be carried out at appropriate times.

The cost of tools, material and equipment needed for these purposes have sky rocketed; yet land owners are compelled to meet the expenses very especially since they are greatly concerned about their crop. The matter does not end there. Coconut thieving from estates is in full rampant the year round. Complaints to the police in this regard has proved futile.

How many know that coconuts in the dry zone do not produce the quantity or quality of coconut milk as those grown in the wet zone due to the hardness of the kernel? The coconut itself is small in size in comparison and also possesses less water. What is the outcome of all these? Owners of coconut estates in the Coconut Triangle are left with no alternative, but to hand over their produce for which they have spent heavily, for a song, to copra mills or desiccated mills. How long can coconut estate owners bear this.

The writer does not dispute the fact that the population is facing an acute housing problem. Certain people possess monies but are subjected to severe difficulty in finding house-buildable land. So what is wrong with them building houses on the only lands freely available, which happen to be those disposed by coconut estate owners who suffer tremendous losses endeavouring to maintain their estates? House builders on coconut estates, can be encouraged to save a few trees in their compounds, for themselves.

In any event, it is not that coconut estate owners get lured for money as the writer makes out. It is that maintaining a coconut estate is more than a headache to the owner. In fact it is really prohibitive under present situations.

Affected coconut land owner, 

Son of the land, an unwelcome guest?

I returned to my homeland after 50 happy years in Scotland, where I had gone to study Chartered Accountancy. It did not take me long to discover major differences between the two countries, an enormous gap in "customs", habits, and manners. I had an inkling, a foretaste of what was to come, but I never expected the lies, cheating and humiliation I experienced.

I left Scotland on November 7th, and arrived a day later here. I was permitted to stay 30 days, which meant up to December 8. However, as I came here for good(and received bad!), I had to get an extension.

Therefore, on December 4th, I visited the Immigration and Emigration Department and I spoke to the Deputy Controller. He gave me an extension for one year, but not before sarcastically remarking I could live abroad for 50 years, but I had to come back to retire. I informed him that I would not have found it necessary to go abroad, if Chartered Accountancy examinations were held here.

Now my one year extension should have been from 8/12/02 to 8/12/03. Instead, the calculation was mysteriously done from 7/11/02 to 7/11/03, thus giving me only 11 months, when I was given one year, I paid Rs 7,500 for the "privilege".

I satisfied the Deputy Controller of this discrepancy, and I await his reply.

My misfortunes were only beginning and worse was to follow. I had sent my luggage, consisting of 4 trunks/suitcases, by sea, it arrived late and was kept later by customs. I hired a clearing agent, who requested and received Rs 9,000/= to clear and deliver the luggage to me.

This was finally delivered to me on December 10, with every lock forced open by custom officers and the cases totally destroyed, one being a solid, steel trunk of 69 years. Needless to say, I have received no compensation at all, not even an apology, and, if I know Sri Lankan "customs" by now, I will never get one either.

I cannot understand the mentality of people who act in this manner, they are to be found at all levels, but mainly at the top. They say that cream rises to the top, but so does scum! "Might is right", appears to be their motto, and one must not dare to question their authority or unbecoming behaviour. They are in high places and can act as they like.

Life is so different, as I found it in Scotland and other countries in the West. No doubt, culture and civility exist in the East too, but both are only apparent here by their absence! I hasten to add that the "man in the street" is infinitely friendlier, and very likely, more honest than the "superior strata".

Doubts of my returning are increasing daily, but I do not see why I should be treated, or made to feel, like an unwelcome guest, in the land of my birth, since my family is here. I have numerous good friends. I shall "dig in" and stick it out, until I am accepted.

Dion. J. Walles.

Sinhala proficiency certificate

It is with great pain of mind and frustration that I write this letter. I was an officer in the River Valley's Development Board from 1968, having passed out as a graduate from Hardy Senior Technical Institute, Amparai.

I was absorbed into the Department of Agriculture in April 1977, while the RVDB's Agricultural Research Division was handed over to the Department on a Government policy decision.

An interim letter of appointment was issued without any terns or conditions and the matter was completely forgotten for six years. Any employee in government departments have to be confirmed in service three years from the date of recruitment. That is the administrative law. But it took six years to issue a letter of appointment.

In 1982 when I was in the Ampara office, I received a proper letter of appointment. One of the conditions stated there was that I should get through the Grade III Sinhala proficiency exam, which level I have already got through in March 1971 while serving the RVDB (Walawa).

The copy of the result sheet which was issued by the RVDB (W) personnel officer, was sent to the Department Head Office together with the other perfected forms as part of the official formality to confirm an officer in the government service. They have accepted it and continued to pay my annual increments, (which otherwise would have been stopped).

I was retired in 1995 on the direction of the PSC. The Department of Agriculture has calculated my benefits as if I had not got through the said Grade III Sinhala proficiency exam. Hence I was forced to loose many thousands of rupees. The reason given is that there was no certificate in my personal file and thus my agony of search for document started.

I made an urgent request to the Commissioner General of Exams on December 6, 2000, all necessary documents and also the personal officer's letter with date to confirm my success at the said exam to the Director General of Agriculture specifying DGA's enquiry letter reference, date etc.

I have travelled from Batticaloa to Battaramulla office five times and have incurred an expense more than Rs. 10,000 to no avail.

I am an invalid now, unable to move about and hanging on my two employed children.

I am writing this letter hoping it would open the eyes of the authorities concerned.


Crescat Development Ltd.

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