dare you laugh at our pain?
I being a mother of a Thalassemia patient watched a degrading programme
on Sirasa TV titled Isiwara Hora Na on September 18 at 9 p.m.
this programme, a panellist joked about Thalassaemia. I wonder whether
he and the others including the producer know the gravity of this
disease which is in most cases, incurable and affects mostly children.
Only a very small percentage live upto adulthood. That is why Health
Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva is making every effort to help
these patients live a better and longer life.
article in the Lakbima paper that was read out is a campaign organized
by the Health Ministry. Sirasa TV had the audacity to make a mockery
of this article. The presenter joked that Thalassemia came from
California. For his information it all started in the Mediterranean
region and no Beta (Beta Thalassaemia) or Rita brought it here.
It is also not contagious as he says but hereditary. I hope some
kind doctor will be good enough to enlighten the public about Thalassaemia.
it is, affected children go through enough trauma and for the parents
it's a terrible drain on their earnings to help their children live.
To see their sickness made into a joke for political gain is heart
breaking and disgusting, to say the least. Today it's my child who
is affected, tomorrow it might be yours. This is no laughing matter.
on behalf of the more than 2000 affected children and their parents,
demand a public apology from Sirasa TV. An incurable disease is
have no right to live the way they do
A large notice was placed in the Daily News costing the
taxpayer almost half a million rupees, asking for ideas to prepare
the budget, which would benefit and satisfy all the people. We wish
to suggest that the 550,000 politicians and top public servants
who craftily got themselves absolved from the payment of income
tax, be made liable, even if it affects the Minister and his Secretary
and all his cabinet colleagues personally. They should not live
such comfortable lives at the expense of the mere 152,000 taxpayers.
perks, huge allowances, several cars and drivers at their disposal,
petrol for several cars at Rs. 70 a litre, entertainment allowances,
daily allowances for attending Parliament, free phones, free phone
calls, free mobile phones, unnecessary joy rides abroad with stupendous
allowances, free housing, electricity and water bills paid for,
pensions, car permits, and a host of other benefits including a
sumptuous breakfast at Rs. 6 and a three course lunch at Rs. 15
are all theirs. Had they eaten like this before they went to Parliament?
Most of them were nobodies before they entered Parliament.
would take a bold Finance Minister like Dr. Sarath Amunugama to
implement this, however unpalatable it may be, but we feel that
he has the guts and the grit as a member of the prestigious Ceylon
Civil Service to do so, having been trained in justice and fairplay.
Finance Minister has a duty to look after the self-employed who
do not trouble the government for jobs unlike the government servants.
They get no fixed salaries, no allowances, no perks, no pensions,
no joy rides abroad, no car permits and no bribes.
they drop dead their families are destitute. Politicians and top
public servants do not feel the cost of living as they get almost
everything free. In addition, most of them further enrich themselves
by bribery and corruption. The President recently said that the
judiciary is corrupt. So what can we expect from politicians and
top public servants?
self-employed comprise 75% of the country. Each time the cost of
living goes up, the government raises the salaries of only the government
servants because politicians also benefit in the process.
employees and the self-employed too would like to enjoy the perks
and trips abroad that govt. officials enjoy with their money (taxpayers'
money). We pay taxes. Top govt. officials pay none, but stay at
the Waldorf Astoria hotel with taxpayers' money but yet call them
rogues and tax dodgers.
tax forms are distributed to every business establishment down all
trunk roads, at least one million taxpayers will be drawn into the
tax net rather than continuing to strangle the existing taxpayers.
on conversion and religion
I refer to the Point of View on Conversion: Sinister and covert
motives by Asoka Devendra in The Sunday Times of September 19. Since
he makes inaccurate statements and false conclusions in the letter,
I think it is important to correct them.
first conclusion is that "the people of this island have been
the victims of alien Christian conversion stratagems... for nearly
500 years". One may ask, out of a population of about 20 million,
how many Sri Lankans have been victims of conversion? I worked very
closely with the De La Salle Brothers who conduct schools in Colombo,
Wattala, Chilaw, Mannar, Kandana and Kurunegala, but never heard
of any conversion or attempts to convert in these schools. The good
Brothers were concerned with providing good education and making
children good citizens.
Dharmapala who studied at their school in Pettah wrote highly of
their conduct and education in his published diaries. The late Ven.
Narada Thera used to visit the Brothers at St. Benedict's to thank
his teachers for the good education he received at the college.
The word "victim" is inappropriately used here, because
we don't see many people who have become "victims" i.e.
second conclusion that "still the conversion rate stands around
7% of the total population" is also false. What he is referring
to is not the rate, but the percentage of Christians in the country.
are a few observations on the rest of the letter. The author displays
ignorance on the concept of God, Christian doctrine and baptism.
The letter refers to god as a mythologised anthromorphic being,
probably based on the concept of gods in Buddhism and Hinduism.
There is significant evidence on design, direction and wisdom in
the universe not to overlook the existence of God.
our major discoveries are finding out what has been there for ages.
E=mc2 operated before Einstein discovered it, and protein synthesis
occurred millions of years before Watson, Crick and Caspersson discovered
the DNA structure and RNA in protein synthesis. The chance of a
protein molecule arising from an organic soup is one in 10113 (1
and 113 zeros). However, mathematicians reject any event that has
one chance in just 1050 as never happening. Within chaos, there
understanding of God will never be complete, but we will be able
to grasp only some aspects of God such as his wisdom, power, justice,
love, mercy etc through our God-experience. Christians approach
God with reverence and love as Rabindranath Tagore did in Geethanjalee.
Christian doctrine is contained in the teachings of Jesus, i.e.
the love of God and love of neighbour. It extends to humility, honesty,
simplicity, forgiveness, justice and care of the poor and the needy.
for the rituals, human beings need symbols. Whether they be a cake
or a ring, what they signify is more important than the external
object. Most Buddhists have recourse to gods, perform rituals and
depend on stars far away for their success and prosperity simply
because they are human needs.
so-called universal laws in religion (on Kamma and Vipaka) mentioned
in the letter are not universal laws in the strict sense, since
they can neither be verified nor falsified (Refer-Karl Popper).
I haven't heard of any specific scientific discoveries made through
Dhamma in attempts to dispel ignorance. They are beliefs, and as
such are useful for good conduct of the individual.
when we consider the crime rate in the country we cannot be proud
of the conduct of our citizens. We also cannot hide behind the '500
years of foreign domination', when Singapore did shed it in a mere
40 years. Strangely, countries practising Mahayana Buddhism (Japan,
Taiwan, Singapore) seem to be more peaceful and prosperous than
those practising Theravada Buddhism (Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia,
Thailand and Sri Lanka).
we need to come down from mind-theories to practical aspects of
life, solve the ethnic problem within one Sri Lanka, live peacefully
with minorities, avoid internal fighting, co-operate with everyone,
develop a positive attitude and civic sense, manage the cost of
living and fill the 8% annual budget deficit, to take Sri Lanka
to a prosperous future.
the Gospels to understand Christianity better
I refer to the letter of Asoka Devendra in The Sunday Times of September
19, where he attempts to suggest that conversions to Christianity
are motivated by sinister motives.
apparently, is of the view that those who have embraced Christianity
are mostly those living below the poverty line and illiterate, lured
by material benefits.
would consider it a downright insult to the thousands of Sri Lankan
men and women of high intellect who have turned to Christianity
of their own free will, choice and conviction.
agree with Mr. Devendra that the Buddhist philosophy is one of the
noblest teachings in the world. What is sad is that Mr. Devendra
is among the several who when they refer to Buddhism as a religion,
talk of the founder and His teachings, but when they refer to Christianity,
totally ignore the teachings of Christ, and the life He lived, but
only call attention to those who in the name of Christianity indulged
in certain activities for their own selfish purposes.
one denies that many have used and some are even now using Christianity
as a convenient instrument to achieve their own selfish ends. Jesus
Christ never preached or advocated the use of force, deception or
subterfuge to carry the Gospel message to mankind. The Gospel no
Christian is ashamed of -- although to some it may appear foolishness
and to others a stumbling block -- is the power of God to grant
Devendra and others who have a wrong notion of Christianity, should
find some time to read the Gospels and the Epistles and see for
themselves that Jesus Christ is beyond any criticism or condemnation.
reference to the "insignificant percentages" of Christians
in the final para of his letter is amusing. If that is so, I can't
understand why the non-Christians appear so paranoid about this
community, a majority of whom it is inferred are poor, helpless
to the Editor' should be brief and to the point.
Address them to:
'Letters to the Editor,
The Sunday Times,
P.O.Box 1136, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Or e-mail to
Please note that letters cannot be acknowledged or returned.