Letters to the Editor


Get out of the well and bridge the divisions
It has been reported in the press that the JHU is contemplating initiating a dialogue with the LTTE. One of the main reasons for the formation of the JHU was the protection of the country from the LTTE. If the JHU could show such magnanimity as to initiate a dialogue with "arch enemies", why not a JHU-Christian dialogue? - directing people in the correct path of living.

Adherents of the four leading religions of the world have been living in this beloved country for centuries, in harmony. There are many inter-marriages and children of mixed nationality now. There are also many families that visit both the temple and the church.

We have to nevertheless accept the fact that there are misconceptions, misunderstandings, distrust and even resentment in the minds of a few. This is due to divergent "mind-sets" formed by personal experiences and knowledge.

We have often heard the saying "frog in a well", referring to individuals whose experiences are limited and therefore the "mind-set" very narrow. Every individual is "a frog in one or a few wells". "A frog in the Sri Lankan well” is a person who has never left the shores of this country and therefore has no personal or first-hand experiences of other countries and their people.

Similarly there are many wells - "The urban-city well", "The village well" ,"The Buddhist well”, “The Christian well" etc. Those in the Christian and Buddhist wells are those who have been born, bred and still live their lives within their own religious communities and environment. They may have temporary "official" contact with others but they have no knowledge about the "temperature" in the other wells. They do not know the modes of worship, living styles, customs, aspirations, hurts, longings etc. of those belonging to other religions. Unfortunately those at the helm - those who matter, the ones who take the decisions that affect the whole community and even the whole country are those from a single well. As such they are totally ignorant and therefore deaf, dumb and blind to the other's point of view, aspirations, wants etc.

Occasionally we have exceptions. The late Rev. Fr. Marcelline Jayakody personally knew the "temperatures" of both the Christian and Buddhist "wells". What a pity he is not among us today at this decisive moment.

All the Bishops of the country have paid a courtesy call on the Mahanayake Theras. This is a magnanimous gesture. The JHU as one of its very first political actions offered one of its National List slots to Mr. Anandasangari, the TULF leader. That together with their willingness to speak to the LTTE speaks highly of the magnanimity of the JHU.

A large number of non-Buddhists supported the JHU at the last General Election. Why cannot magnanimous minds with similar goals travelling on parallel lanes get on to the same track, help solve each other’s problems and work for the betterment of the people. Had Lord Buddha and Jesus Christ been contemporaries would they not have joined forces to fight the forces of evil even though they were of different communities advocating different philosophies.

The clergy of the main line Christian churches have been constantly warning their faithful to be vigilant about the unethical "advances" of the fundamentalists. The Buddhist and Christian clergy, are therefore on common ground. Religious leaders should refrain from resorting to provocative utterances, statements or actions in case "resentment" is aroused beyond a limit. It will be the simple poor who will be at the receiving end and not those in their secure abodes.

On behalf of all the citizens I appeal - Please "initiate a JHU - Christian dialogue". Withhold proposed legislation for a few months, withdraw objections, hold discussions and formulate legislation to satisfy the needs and aspirations of all, which does not infringe on the basic human rights of any. Let us together solve each other’s problems. Let us all live in harmony respecting and upholding each other’s views. Please prevent a catastrophe in our beautiful, beloved motherland.

M.V. Noel De Silva

Get rid of this slippery mass of muck
Whilst the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Health are striving hard to ensure a pollution-free and healthy environment, certain local bodies are callous in their attitude. Families living down Pinthaliya Road, in the heart of Mount Lavinia, are facing health hazards due to a huge garbage dump on this road.

Throughout the day and night garbage from houses, restaurants, vegetable and meat stalls are dumped at this spot.The foul smell wafting in and out of the houses as a result of this makes living unbearable. A large number of stray dogs too are attracted to this spot and have become a danger to the residents.

It has also become a breeding ground for flies and mosquitoes, which invade the houses nearby, causing serious health problem to residents. Every morning, the entrance to this road is covered with this stinking, slippery mass of muck making it difficult for road users and even vehicles to pass.

The overflowing garbage has now clogged the drains along Galle Road in this area and they have not been cleaned for ages. Although representations have been made to the M.O.H's section of the M.C., the promised solutions have not materialized and the residents continue to suffer as a result.

Part of the problem has been that the tractor, which the MC has hired from a private contractor, has stopped going down this road to collect garbage from houses and no alternative arrangement has been made.

Therefore, it is earnestly hoped that the Municipal Council even at this late stage will take some meaningful steps to restore a clean and healthy environment, which the residents enjoyed before, without further delay.

Suffering Residents
Mount Lavinia

Honour our heroes
Statues of great leaders are erected after their death, in memory of their great deeds and services to the nation. All citizens of our country have a moral duty to honour these heroes. Unfortunately, it is seldom done. Very often we see their statues being damaged or defaced by hooligans.

During a recent visit to Badulla, I glimpsed the statue of the late Major-General Denzil Kobbekaduwa while travelling by bus just beyond the Hali-Ela town, before the bridge. It was sad to see the statue of this great military leader who sacrificed his life for our country in such a state. The statue's face appeared to have been badly damaged and the baton broken in two.

Statues of such great men should be preserved so that their noble deeds are not forgotten.The irony is that statues of our colonial rulers who did more harm than good are preserved and maintained. We should also remember those heroes in our midst who are disabled and suffering. While honouring the dead, I hope the authorities would focus more attention on the plight of the living by affording them more facilities for their families and dependents in appreciation of their services to the nation.

Don Sarath Abeyesekera

Who needs this blaring noise?
Radios blaring inside buses is pure noise pollution. Who is most interested in the music? None other than the driver, who is so engrossed that he is noticed drumming the tune on his steering wheel whilst driving.

This contributes to his lack of concentration that in turn could be one of the causes of accidents on the road. Do the police take into consideration whether the radio was on during an accident? Over to you D.I.G. Traffic, and whoever gave permission for radios in buses.

Concerned Citizen

It’s commission time once again!
Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who took refuge in commissions and committees, appointing them at the drop of a hat was ridiculed by the PA when in opposition.

Ironically, it now appears that the Sandanaya is treading the same safe path.
Anyway the former premier must be having the last laugh! Laughter is the best medicine even in these times of turmoil. That inimitable wit and orator, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike painted a hilarious picture of commissions.

He compared the working of a commission to one's activity in the loo - "First the sitting, then the deliberation and after the reporting, the matter is simply dropped off"!

Asoka Weerakoon

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