Letters to the Editor



Treading the delicate path to peace
War or peace? The answer is very simple! Nobody wants war. Everybody wants peace. However, the path to peace is strewn with obstacles and pitfalls. General MacArthur, the Allies Supreme Commander of the Southwest Pacific Area Command of the Far East said during WW II: "The person who yearns for peace more than anybody else is the soldier himself. Because he alone knows the agonies of war more than anyone else."

In Sri Lanka, a conflict that started off with, a more or less, peaceful political demand for regional autonomy by the northern Tamil politicians escalated into a fierce civil war on conventional lines waged by the LTTE against the government with a demand for a separate state. The situation was made worse by the enhanced warfare capabilities of the LTTE, which affected the normal life of the people and the economy of the country.
Both the Sinhala and the Tamil people have suffered.

The net result has been the collapse of the economy and the government meandering along trying to overcome the LTTE through military action until the present day. Now a distant light of hope seems to be appearing, with the LTTE and the government agreeing to a ceasefire to work out the modalities of a peaceful solution to the conflict. This ceasefire has held for about a year now.

Though the effects of this conflict are still lingering, the fear of war, as we have felt even in Colombo has ceased. Gone is the fear of suicide bombs, destruction of buildings and loss of life due to explosions.Gone are the fears of congregating in public places and at public events.

More than anything else, gone are the screaming sirens announcing war casualties, gone are the dismembered bodies, numerous funerals, grieving mothers, fathers, wives, children and relatives and gone is the fear that your loved one may never come back or will be the next victim.

The question in the present context, I believe, would be: "Peace at what price? What concessions can be given to the LTTE and to what extent? In my view, as long as the fundamental right of an individual is not violated, there is no restriction of movement within the country, there is only one legal system for the entire country and one Armed Force, as to who rules the roost may not matter much.

To achieve this, it is necessary to tread very carefully. We have to work towards changing the mindset of the warring party- the LTTE-direct them to the political mainstream. We want a lasting peace, not a ceasefire filled with tension and fear of future conflict.

My advice to everyone is to join hands to support the present political leadership in their endeavours to achieve this goal, which has eluded everyone so far.

Col. Gamini
Balasuriya (Rtd)

Unfair charge against ST columnist
I read with interest the article, 'When are conversions improper?' by Kishali Pinto Jayawardena - (The Sunday Times, September 14) and the response by Indrani Devendra, Hony. Secretary, All Ceylon Women's Buddhist Congress (September 21).

I think that Indrani is unfair in charging Kishali of "accusing Buddhists of wreaking religious havoc" when they "have quite justifiably and legally" protested against unethical conversions. My careful reading of the article failed to detect any such statement made by her. No one can rightly take umbrage at legal protests but violence and arson should be unequivocally condemned by all law-abiding persons of every religious persuasion and stopped by the authorities before it rages out of control.
We already have enough problems in this our, once peaceful, country.

A . Jayatilaka

World fora and our leaders’ faux pas
It is a pity that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Minister Ravi Karunanayake did not have the presence of mind or courage to change or delete some sections of their painstakingly prepared speeches at world fora such as the UN in New York and WTO at Cancun respectively.

This was even after seeing the struggle of Bush and Blair for survival with the whole world against the invasion of Iraq (except, of course, Israel) and American parents of soldiers chanting, "You lied and they died". It is reported that Bush, cap in hand, was seen begging for support.

At Cancun, the developing world including our neighbours rose against the rich west's proposal to increase subsidies to their farmers and restrict farmer subsidies to developing countries.

Their ulterior motive is to stifle grain farming in poor countries, so that they will be dependent on the west for their staple food.

The PM boarded the sinking ship knowingly with the hope that Bush and Blair will come to Sri Lanka's aid in a confrontation with the LTTE in the not so distant future.
However, the direct intervention of Bush and Blair in our struggle is in great doubt unless, of course, we can succeed in our diplomacy in getting Osama or Saddam to migrate here and join Prabha.

S.I.M. Khaleel

A maid despised
At tender 11 my parents in need
Gave me away as they couldn't feed
A child in bondage to Podinona's
When the latter was also my age.

During her school and campus days
Which spanned a full 16 years
For her and her mother to bed confined
Toiled day and night their trusted maid.

While studying she made me feel
What a lot she would do for my weal
I envisioned starry days ahead
Until she became a doctor full fledged

Now for her I am of little use
For any lapse she'd rant and curse
To send me away she thinks of a ruse
Her hubby dislikes the food I make.

Do my bidding and question me not
If you dare I will chase you out!
So orders erstwhile Podinona, now a doctor
Ignoring all the chores I did for her.

Her father old and mother invalid
For her both parents are not valid
Though they are grateful and benign
Their pleadings did she to fire consign.


She was not the first
This is with reference to the feature ‘Falling from the sky’ (The Sunday Times, September 7). Without detracting from the young lady's courage, I wish to point out that she is certainly not the first Sri Lankan woman to skydive.

The Mirror Magazine of July 18, 1999 carried the article 'Fall from the sky' describing Chamila Jayaweera's experience of a solo or "static line" dive as opposed to the "instructor assisted deployment" undertaken by Ms. Scheube.

C.K. Samarakoon

Hazardous night riders
Motorcycles sans lights, speeding in the night have become a major hazard to other road-users in Negombo.

Though the Traffic Police are around to nab motorcylists riding without helmets during the day there is no one to curb them in the night. Cyclists, too, make it a habit of travelling in the night without lights.

They should be advised to fit at least a reflector so that oncoming vehicles can see them. Before the 1950s, all bicycles had a light fitted on them, otherwise cyclists could be charged. I can remember a time when bicycle lamps were lit with coconut oil.

A Pedestrian

Protect impressionable children from teledramas
Song, dance and drama are important subjects taught from pre-school to university. However, tele-dramas, a recent introduction to our society have turned out to be a malignant ulcer.

Impressionable children sit before the TV to learn something new and improve their knowledge. But what does he/she see and hear. The language in teledramas is uncouth and the scenes sometimes have sexual connotations.

Recently, I listened to a discussion by Buddhist monks and laymen of repute on the high rate of crime.

They referred to TV programmes, particularly tele-dramas and lamented that there are no checks by the Public Performance Board or the State Film Corporation. Why can't these teledramas be taken to the big screen, leaving the TV for old men, women and children who are at home. The government should protect children from TV.

L.G. Anderson


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