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Morning Spice by Ginger
Massive turnout for UNP rally against cost of living

Evidently there had been a massive turnout for the rally in protest at the cost of living organised by the U.N.P. Ginger handles politics with kid gloves as that is not his business. What made numbers assemble at that rally is totally another matter crushed by the weight of the living costs. They would attend any meeting where there is a semblance of protest at the cost of living. Actually what Ginger wants to know is how it all happened.

Inflationary rates have dropped all over the neighbourhood and why is Sri Lanka reeling under the impact. There are some reasons that strike most of us and that is the handing over of our essential services to the private sector. The transactions by themselves were O.K. But is the lack of safeguards to insulate the public against the Prices of the private sector that has led to much of Citizen Perera’s woes. Nobody need lose money over any venture, but the fact is that the state would have been less profit hungry than the private sector.

Health coverage by media
How good is the health coverage by media here. In America, it was found wanting. There were a few obvious defects in its coverage that was spotted by those who did an analisis of reports that appeared in the papers. They were by no means flattering when you come to think of it.

Now the question asked is whether the journalists are willing to take what doctors and researchers tell them about certain drugs and not probe deeper into it to get at the actual truth. They say over 80 per cent of the stories blow up the benefits of the drug. They also failed to mention side effects and links between researchers and drug companies.

That Adonis look
Now who wouldn’t like to get that Adonis look. Well defined muscles and power in your body would help to draw many admiring looks no doubt from the fairer sex. How do you get about it though. Now they feel that Creatine which is one of America’s most popular nutritional supplements will help you realize your ambitions.

This supplement is supposed to make you a kind of superman. In fact, it has been proved that it can increase strength, endurance and build your muscles. All this is correct, but it also can have certain side effects, if you take too much of it. You could suffer from dehydration, muscle and ligament tears and develop kidney problems.

Futile seminar on coal power

Apropos the letter of Mr. Tissa De Silva on the above subject in the Island of 22.7.2000.

Mr. Silva is surprised that "CEB has good people’s money as wasted on the public seminar when the country’s President and Opposition Leader had both made statements that they will not build the coal power plant at Norochcholai".

This statement of both the President and the Opposition Leader only appeared in the press and may be that the CEB had not been officially informed of this decision in writing. Further, one should not forget that this statement was made by both at the height of an election campaign. I leave the readers to come to their own conclusions as to whether the statement should be taken seriously under the circumstances which prevailed then.

Mr. Silva seem to be living in the clouds, not seeing realities, when he says "Does the CEB and its Board of Directors as a government institution believe that the President of the country would break the trust in her by the Church and people of Narochcholai and thus give the CEB the green light."

Here again, I leave the readers to draw their own conclusions, taking into account the election pledges made by political leaders before the elections and how many of them are implemented and how many are forgotten conveniently.

Then he suggests buying electricity from the neighbouring country rather than buying coal. The common in the streets, less intelligent than a professional of the calibre of Mr. Silva sees this as penny wise and pound foolish. What if the neighbouring country jacks up the price on cut off electricity, a vital component in a country’s development. Why be dependent when we can have our own. If this suggestion was conceived earlier, the present diesel and hydro plants are a waste of funds and Sri Lanka would have been at the mercy of a foreign power.

The main reason as it now appears, for opposing the siting of the coal plant at Norochcholai is that the sanctity of St. Anne’s church at Talawila which is about 15 kilo meters away. Does this mean that no other development project and a settlement cannot come up in this area. Do they expect this area to remain as it is, undeveloped, to save the church and also the inhabitants of this area to live in poverty?

Think positively. Advancement in material life is a for runner for advancement in spiritual life, to serve God better.

In conclusion, I quote the Bible - O Lord! forgive them for they do not know what they do.

G. A. D. Sirimal

Coconuts and heart disease

My attention has been drawn to a letter published in the Island with regard to the relationship between coconut consumption and heart disease. Although coconut contains no cholesterol, it has a very high content of saturated fat (palmitic, myristic and lauric acids). Consumption of saturated fat raises the blood cholesterol as it shuts off the LDL cholesterol receptors in the liver. Receptors are like gates through which LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) enters the liver. Excessive consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet reduces the number of liver receptors allowing the blood cholesterol to go higher.

In contrast reducing the intake of saturated fat and cholesterol in food increases the number of receptors allowing the blood cholesterol to get lower.

There is abundant experimental and clinical research linking a high level of cholesterol to coronary heart disease. In fact, an elevated LDL cholesterol is the major cause of coronary heart disease in addition to other causes like Diabetes, High blood pressure, Cigarette smoking, Low HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and elevated Triglycerides.

One of the most important factors that determine the level of cholesterol in the blood and coronary heart disease is the hereditary factor. Although two third of the cholesterol is made in the body and one third comes from the diet, excessive consumption of coconut may raise your cholesterol further and lead to coronary heart disease.

Therefore, it is advisable that those concerned with the relationship between coconut and heart disease, should in the first instance check their level of cholesterol in the blood. If the cholesterol level is normal ( less than 200 mg%) they need not restrict their intake of coconut as they are genetically endowed with abundant LDL receptors in the liver.

However if the cholesterol level is high (over 200 mg%) and /or they already have coronary heart disease, they should restrict their intake of coconut products in the food including the use of coconut oil for frying, as they may be sensitive to the cholesterol raising effect of saturated fats.

Since coronary heart disease affects mostly urban Sri Lankans who consume other sources of saturated fat (dairy produce and animal fat) coconut consumption should be restricted in this category. As rural Sri Lankans consume less animal fat and dairy produce and their major source of fat in the diet is derived from coconut, their intake of coconut need not be restricted. Additionally, the rural population in contrast to the urban leads a far more active life and will be utilizing the calories derived from coconut fat.

In summary, restriction of coconut products is advisable in those with a high cholesterol, those with coronary heart disease and those with other risk factors for coronary heart diesease.

Dr. Hemal Fernando M.D.

The vatican and coal powered energy

I write with reference to the "Italian response" in the Island of June 8. After stating that coal generated power feeds the Italian grid and that there are beautiful non spoilt cathedrals and churches in Italy, the writer asks "So how can Catholic bishops, who often visit Rome, oppose coal power stations?"

There is a flaw in the above argument.

The coal fired power is produced in one place and it is used elsewhere, sometimes hundreds of miles away. To my knowledge, no Bishop or environmentalist has suggested that coal generated current pollutes the place where that current is used. Presumably the current generated at Kalpitiya will be used in the South (losing a good deal in the transmission, by the way). It is not the South, that will be polluted or attacked by terrorists - but Kalpitiya. It is like the case of Puttalam cement factory. The people of Puttalam suffer. But thank God, people all over the Country who use that cement do not suffer.

Regarding Poland being a pioneer in coal use, it is understandable. Poland has more than enough coal and it has traditionally provided livelihood to many. Sri Lanka have to import every bit of coal it uses. Specialists have pointed out that even some countries that have coal and have generated power with coal in the past are now gradually turning to other sources of power (e.g. natural gas).

They have realized the disadvantages of coal. Naturally they would like to palm off their coal and expertise to the poor third world countries, for good money.

Lydwine Kirieldeniya

Are we true Buddhists? — a reply

I read a most interesting article by Mrs. Nalini Colonne on the above subject. Yes, I am ashamed as she says we Buddhists do not practice our religion. I fully agree with her.

I think 80 per cent of Buddhists in Sri Lanka especially in big towns like Colombo, Kandy, Galle etc. to name a few and in the suburbs, they are name-sake Buddhists. They repeat the precepts like parrots.

I wonder whether most of them even know the meaning of them. "Metta" is compassion and kindness shown towards other living beings. These Buddhists and even some animal-lovers forget the suffering these poor animals go through in the early hours of the morning in the abattoirs. When they eat the beef steaks, mutton chops, ham, bacon and sausages, they don’t realize that this is the flesh of animals which were killed just that morning.

The Buddha preached "Ahimsa" and Metta. Metta is compared to a mother’s feeling for her only child. If so, they should not eat the flesh of these poor, dumb animals who cannot plead for themselves. Those who want to eat flesh say that the Buddha said, not to kill and did not forbid them eating. This is like the age old Sinhalese saying "Ugurata hora behetha Kanawa" meaning swallowing medicine with out the knowledge of the throat.

The Lord Buddha said not to kill in the first of the five precepts and not trade in flesh is one step of the Noble Eight-fold Path. If people do not eat, then there won’t be sales — so no killing. Does this not stand to reason. They do not kill — to throw the flesh to the dust bin or feed the dogs.

I have often heard the butchers saying — We would not kill if you’ll don’t eat.

Dr. C. D. Godamunne
Kandy Humanitarian Society

Interest paid "Up-Front"

Commercial banks, competing for deposits, offer various concessions and incentives to the public. One such is the payment of interest "up front". The depositor is told that he will be paid the interest on the deposit at the time the deposit is made. The fact is that the depositor is not paid the interest at the advertised rate on the date of the deposit.

For example, a bank advertising deposits @ 10% per annum with the interest paid "up front", will take a deposit of Rs. 90,910 and give a deposit receipt for Rs. 100,000 payable at the end of 1 year, claiming that the difference of Rs. 9,090 is the interest paid "up front".

The interest on Rs. 100,000 @ 10% per annum is Rs. 10,000 and not Rs. 9,090 which is what the bank actually pays. If interest is being paid "up front", the Rs. 100,000 deposit receipt should be given for Rs. 90,000 and not Rs. 90,910. What the bank actually does is, that it accepts a deposit for Rs. 90,910 on which interest will be paid at 10 @ per annum on maturity - the only difference being that the receipt is for Rs. 100,000 and not Rs. 90,910.

If the bank’s claim is that a receipt is given for an amount higher than what is deposited and that the difference represents the interest paid "up front", then the rate is NOT @ 10% per annum but @ 9.09% per annum - a big difference!!

The persons who strictly applied the payment of interest "up front" were the money-lenders of yesteryear. When one wanted to borrow Rs. 1,000 he gave the money-lender an I.O.U. for Rs. 1,000.

The money-lender gave him the Rs. 1,000 but immediately took back Rs. 50 being the interest on Rs. 1,000 @ 5% per month! That is what interest paid "up front" actually means.

A depositor

Talawatugoda Road/Kotte Road intersection

Oil Barrels painted in black and yellow together with boulders have been placed at locations above with the intention of regulating traffic.

The intention is to be appreciated but as a motorist who uses these roads regularly my observation is that the barrel facing Talawatugoda Road does not appear to be at the correct location.

Consequently, motorists wanting to turn right from Kotte Road into Talawatugoda Road have got into the habit of not going round the barrel in the proper way.

Some of the barrels already show signs of dents, no doubt provided by the crazy Sri Lankan motorists! In my view, wht is required is a set of traffic lights not painted barrels and policemen to direct traffic.

Once installed, the traffic lights will do the job much more efficiently. Traffic policemen hiding in ambush can nab those who try to beat the lights or like some who ignore them with amazing regularity.

Cecil Fonseka

Allan de Saa Bandaranaike

The news of the sudden demise of Allan de Saa Bandaranaike, a long-standing close friend for about fifty years came as a shock and a cause of much grief and sorrow. No less would it have been for those who looked forward to his week-end "Poets Corner" and his wide circle of friends. Both of us joined the then Prisons department of which the Probation unit was an appendage way back in 1951. It soon expanded to become the separate Probation and Child Care Service Department during our time.

However, in due course, we sought other avenues of employment. Allen joined the Prisons department where he served as Superintendent of Prisons; but our friendship continued to the end. I have personal knowledge of his devotion and competence as a probation officer who successfully rehabilitated convicted offenders, referred from even the Supreme Court, who had histories of crime because some of them now doing well in life, call on him to express their gratitude.

It speaks a great deal for his devotion and competence and a pride to this country that he was chosen as a probation officer in England, the birthplace for the concept of probation. He served there for ten years in Nothampton and came back because with age, he could not stand the English winter on account of a recurrent chest problem - his achilles heel. Being a keen sportsman, he plunged himself playing cricket for the NCC at the time when Dr. N. M. Perera was president, and playing tennis as a member of the Orient Club. With declining health, he gradually gave up out-door games and satisfied himself with playing Bridge, a game he loved so much and devoted the morning to his other love poetry which he wanted to share with others. He spent many hours reading the biographies of the popular poets and labouriously typed them out himself for the weekly "Poets Corner".

Allan was a man of many parts. Not many are aware that he took part in de Lanerolle’s hilarious comedy, "He comes from Jaffna". He had a rich voice and at parties when he sang, his voice was heard above others. His recitation of poetry was exemplary. (He has gifted me with a few cassettes recorded of some poems selected by me). He was grateful to his Alma Mater, Richmond College and her teachers one of whom was his father, Major de Saa Bandaranaike and W. Dahanayake who encouraged him to read, appreciate and recite poetry.

Although he moved with friends in high places, he came to the level of the ordinary man when dealing with him. He always cracked jokes with his domestic staff. He was simple in his habits. He preferred sambol and rice to other spicy dishes on the table. To the last, he wore wooden slippers of a bygone age.

He had many setbacks besides his various illnesses; but he never was overwhelmed by them. He never bore grudges.He faced them with philosophical calm.

He was a perfectionist to a fault. He always gave friendly advice which he did not often follow. He went out of his way to help a friend. His end would have come much earlier but for the motherly care of Chandranie, his wife. Many who knew him will mourn the loss, a lovable friend and gentleman. May he reap the benefits of the worthy life he led.

Tissa Amarasekera,

Ira Amarasekera

Social service is the only pleasure to those who wish to serve mankind. The late Mrs. Ira Amarasekera too belongs to that category. Social service was her only way of joy. In the true sense of the word, she was a social worker. Although she was a trained teacher, a principal, she had spared most of her time for social service, especially she worked for the benefit of the down trodden village folk.

The late Mrs. Ira Amarasekera was the founder principal of Peththenigoda Maha Vidyalaya, Narammala. So, about 40 years ago, this school was the Bana Maduwa (Preaching Hall) of Peththenigoda temple and step by step, she had encouraged the villagers and developed the school as a Maha Vidyalaya having all the facilities.

This little school of Kurunegala district developed as a top class school because of her endless power, wisdom and devotion. She had spent her wealth, time and energy for the true development of the village and school. Although, she was a devoted principal, she always paid her attention for the grievances of her staff and helped all the young teachers as a mother.

The late Mr. I. M. R. A. Iriyagolle former minister of Education (1965-1970) ordered the director of education of Kurunegala to supply all the concessions for her school for the satisfactory results of O’Level exam. In addition, Mr. Iriyagolla gave a good library (A Siyawasa library) and new buildings too.

Her husband, D. R. P. Amarasekera was a planter. Mrs. Amarasekera was the pioneer/ founder, leader of Mahila Samithi and Village development activities of Narammala and Dambadeniya. Thus, she was the founder of Mahila Samitis at Kadahapola, Karuwalagahagedara and Peththenigoda villages. She had introduced a new saving scheme among the village women folk and began a Mahila bank, for the first time in the country. So, I wish to point out this concept will be the origin of present Janashakthi bank of Hambantota.

Mrs. Amarasekera was a talented poetess and authoress who had published two books, namely, "the daughter" and ‘Child is your wealth’. Her life is an example to the new generation of our country. She was a strong member of Vayamba writers guild and conciliation board of Polgahawela. Lavishly she spent money for the construction of Buddha statues at Hirikulapitiya Viharaya and new library of Huruggomuwa temple. She was the chief daika of Pravashana Lankara Pirivena of Narammala and visited the sacred Birth Place of the Buddha. Mrs. Amarasekera was the Mother of three children. Her elder son Daya is the head of Dept. of Sociology, university of Peradeniya and Priyanka, attorney-at-law and Sunil. She spent a full life, dutiful, purposeful and meaningful.

May she attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.

Dr. Mirando Obeysekere

People and Events
St. Patrick’s College, Jaffna 150 years old

On 21st July, 2000, St. Patrick’s College (SPC), Jaffna celebrated its 150th year as one of the oldest educational institutions in the island. It is a milestone for a college that started in 1850 in two palm — thatched huts. The Colombo Branch of the Old Boys’ Association marked this occasion with a simple ceremony held at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute. Over 200 old boys attended the function at which the Chief Guest was Ms. Linda Duffield, the British High Commissioner in Sri Lanka. Mr. Philip McDonagh, the Ambassador for Ireland in India flew in from New Delhi to grace the occasion. Rt. Rev. Dr. Kingsley Swampillai, the Bishop of Trinco-Batticaloa, himself a distinguished Old Boy of SPC, was also present. In recognition of the contribution SPC had made in the field of education, the Philatelic Bureau of the Department of Posts issued a commemorative postage stamp to mark the 150th anniversary of the college.

St. Patrick’s College was established as the "Jaffna Boys’ Catholic English School". It was founded by Bishop Rt. Rev. Dr. Orazio Bettachini from Rome, in order to provide a high standard of English education not only to the Catholics in Jaffna but to any interested student, irrespective of communal or denominational differences. The Protestant Mission had already beaten the Catholics by establishing its Christian mission schools in Jaffna 25 years earlier, which were attracting a large proportion of the local population, including Catholics, much to the dismay of the Catholic Mission. So the establishment of the first Catholic Mission school in Jaffna was also an effort to stem this flow. The good Bishop also had plans to establish another school for girls, which eventually became the Holy Family Convent (HFC). When it commenced its operation, the "Jaffna Boys’ School" had a student population of about 50 boys and two teachers including its first Principal, the Irishman Mr. Patrick Foy. In 1861, the school was named "Jaffna Boys’ Seminary". We owe a great debt of gratitude to the duo, Brothers Brynne and Brown of the Oblates of the Mary Immaculate (OMI), through whose efforts, the Jaffna Boys’ Catholic English School was upgraded and given its present name, St. Patrick’s College in 1881. Since then, SPC has remained one of the leading educational institutions in the island, through whose portals had come and gone thousands of students, Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims, Burghers, Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists, - even students from overseas as far away as Uganda, South Africa, and the Federated Malay States.

In 1863, there were 63 pupils and Latin was one of the important subjects that were taught in addition to English and Mathematics. From such humble beginnings, through the concerted efforts of its rectors and staff, SPC managed to produce the best results of all the schools in the entire British Empire at the University of London, Matriculation Examination in 1922, 1932 to 1935, and again in 1937. It is a tribute to the zeal, dedication, and commitment of the founding fathers that SPC still remains a great institution, respected not only for its achievement in the fields of education and sports, but more importantly for the high moral values, it had always stood for.

Milton referred to his college, Christ’s College, Cambridge as ‘a stony-hearted step-mother’. By contrast, to many of us who studied at the more humble educational institution, St. Patrick’s College was more like a warm-hearted Irish godfather. Our school days were indeed the happiest and carefree period of our lives. I joined SPC in 1953, when the great Irishman, Fr. Timothy M. F. Long was still its Rector. It was also the year when the Excelsior Carnival and Exhibition was held at the college grounds. It was declared open by an illustrious Old Patrician, the late Mr. G. G. Ponnambalam, Minister of Industries and Fisheries at that time, and an outstanding criminal lawyer. 1953 was also the year when SPC staged the first Passion Play. It was so successful that a record crowd of 30,000 people attended on the second night.

During my early years in Jaffna, I knew Rev Fr. Charles S. Matthews very well, as he was a good friend of my father, and would often visit us at home. He was the most gentle and humble priest I have ever come across in my life. So profound was his influence that my parents named me after him. Father Matthews was the real force behind St. Patrick’s greatness. He was a graduate of Ottawa University and had the longest tenure of office as Rector - a total of 28 years between 1905 and 1921, and then again from 1924 to 1936. It was during his time that new buildings were put up including a fully equipped science laboratory, and a spacious and well-stocked library to improve the quality of education. Father Matthews was a pioneer and a great visionary. In 1912, long before the government pension scheme came into operation, he devised a pension scheme and liberal salaries for the teachers at SPC.

But the most towering and colourful personality, who dominated the religious, intellectual and social life of Jaffna was undoubtedly Fr. T. M. F. Long of Limerick, who took over as Rector of SPC in 1936 from Fr. Charles S. Matthews. It was the period of carnivals and concerts, pageantry and passion plays. Under the guidance and stewardship of Father Long, SPC blossomed into one of the top-most educational institutions that was the envy of other schools in the peninsula.

His warm Irish personality would often burst into ebullient smiles and rumbustious laughter. Against the bureaucracy, his strong suit was competitiveness - always on the lookout for a China Shop. With his philosophy of "Can do" and Irish humour, he had a way of getting things done all his own. As he often said, "The best is good enough for us". Wherever he went, and in whatever he did, he radiated an enthusiasm that was truly infectious. He could sometimes appear aloof and intimidating, but those who chose to meet him on equal intellectual grounds found his company truly exhilarating. "Come straight in, Master, and sit thee down" was how Father Long greeted any teacher who knocked on his office door. When he finally left Jaffna for good on the night of March 30, 1954, I was one of the thousands who went to the railway station to bid him "Farewell". There was not a single dry eye in the crowd that night. Father Long came as an Irishman, but left as a Jaffna man. Long after he is gone, Father Long is still missed by Patricians who knew him, but his work endures.

Mr. F. N. C. Savarimuttu, who taught us English, was an accomplished scholar who was loved by all. Despite his learning, he remained a very modest man, accessible to all. He was a man of the highest personal integrity, and whose friendship brightened and enriched our lives.

He was also a deeply religious man, whose beliefs were put into practice in all that he did. He was an outstanding teacher who made the study of English language and literature great fun. Known affectionately just by his initials, F.N.C. by all, he was one of the rare breeds of teachers who never believed in corporal punishment. He had the amazing gift of subduing any unruly student through the use of sarcasm and the razor-edge of his wit. By force of intellect and personality, he exerted a profound influence on all of us. He would exhort us to "read, read, and read books and newspapers", in order to improve our language skils. What he generously gave us were his time, inspiration and very high moral values, perhaps the most valuable gifts that any teacher could offer to his students.

Throughout my career at St. Patrick’s, I was extremely fortunate to have come under the wings of some of the most dedicated teachers, without whose care, concern and constant encouragement, I would not have become what I am. Teachers such as Messrs. F.N.C. Savarimuttu (English), P. J. Amirthnayagam (English), S. F. Santiapillai (Latin/English), Sam B. R. Alfred (Chemistry), S. M. Christy (Physics), D. S. Gnanapragasam (Physics), A. B. Andrew (Botany), B. Lawrence (Mathematics), Rev. Fr. John Mary (Religion) to name a few, were responsible for bringing the best out of even the worst students. One of the finest memories of my time at SPC is the college anthem - the Alma Mater- written by Fr. Michael Aloysius Murphy.

Alma Mater, blest sanctum of learning

Where the mind is adorned with rich lore,

And each tutored faculty’s yearning

Is sated and taught to seek more.

True to its motto, "Fide et Labore", St. Patrick’s College has stood as a symbol of the Faith and Industry of the Catholic community of Jaffna, since its founding 150 years ago. Despite many difficulties and setbacks, SPC has provided excellent education in the past for not only the Catholics of Jaffna, but to students of other faiths from all over Sri Lanka as well. May it continue to prosper and promote the high ideals for which it was founded by the Oblate Missionaries from Ireland.

Charles Santiapillai


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