World history finds its greatness and attraction through the services
rendered by philanthropists. A person whoever he is, achieves greatness
through ideologies borne in his mind and to the extent of effectiveness
and favourable consequences resulting there from.
If there was any person who was capable of uplifting the Sinhala
Buddhists who were helpless due to colonial rule, although their
forefathers enjoyed sublime virtues enriched with the advent of Arahath
His achievement in reestablishing a golden era in this country makes
really great and sublime. February 17th marks the 101st death
anniversary of Col. Henry Steele Olcott who was able to create history
through his revival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. He clamoured and awakened
a nation that was fast asleep without any vigour to rise up.
He was the pioneer who agitated to give due place to Buddhism and the
reformer who compelled the colonial government that existed at that time
to declare the Vesak Full Moon Day, a public holiday. He was the
architect who designed the six coloured Buddhist flag that has gained
He was the pioneer who was responsible for the establishment of
national schools such as Ananda College, Col. Olcott, whose contribution
towards the betterment of our country nation, religion, justice and good
conduct has been so great, therefore remains in our hearts forever.His
motto was "The best religion is nothing but the truth".
He established the Theosophical Society at New York in America on the
17th November 1875, towards the achievements of his goal. Col. Olcott
was an American.
This great child was born on August 2, 1832. As an enthusiastic
scholar, his research in agriculture in particular paved the way for him
to become the Head of a Department at Athens University of Greece.
However he declined to accept this honour and instead he established
an educational institution in agriculture because he preferred to serve
his mother country. During the American Civil War, he joined the Army
and through his achievements was appointed colonel.
American government appreciated his bravery and sharp wisdom,
appointed him commissioner to investigate and report on corruption in
the American army. He performed this task very well.
For some time he practised as a lawyer. Although he was a Christian
by birth, came across a copy of the Panadura controversy by Rev.
Migettuwaththe Gunananda Thera, in Ceylon.
Through his close association with intellectuals such as Ven.
Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala, Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera and Ven.
Waskaduwe Sri Subuthi Thera. Col. Olcott realized the sad plight of the
Sinhala Buddhists at that time. Considering the gravity of this, he
thought of the need to unite and create a formidable workforce to act
When we remember the fact that great schools of learning such as
Ananda, Nalanda and Dharmaraja produced national leaders and also when
we remember that colleges for girls like Musaeus and Viskha produced
heroic mothers for the country, we can imagine that they get the
blessings and grace of Col. Olcott who may be at a higher place in the
Col. Olcott made every endeavour to awaken the Buddhist and to
impress English rulers to prove that Sinhalese are a great race,
Although he belonged to a different faith, he embraced Buddhism and
Every Sinhalese in the past, present and future is indebted to
him.Finally at a time he was able to see that his efforts have become
fruitful, he became very happy and expressed his sentiments before chief
priest Rev. Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala whom Col. Olcott considered as
"Seeds have been sown. These have grown and become large trees, My
dear Rev. Sir, no force on this earth or above can stop its growth and
fruition in the future.
I would be most grateful if some of your knowledgeable readers
(lawyers or constitutional lawyers) enlighten me on this.
According to the 1978 constitution under the proportional
representation system in Parliament, does not the seat of a Member of
Parliament becomes vacant upon his leaving his political party from
which he was elected? (That is crossing from the Government side to the
Opposition side and vice-versa).
To fill the vacancy thus created, the candidate from the relevant
political party who secured the next highest number or preference votes
shall be declared elected after one month. If that is so, why is this
not strictly implemented?
Although many Letters to the Editor including one in the Sunday
Observer, last week, and articles have been written on the problems
Galle Fort the 38th heritage site is facing, no meaningful steps have so
far been taken to put an end to the destruction and deterioration that
is taking place.
At least Mr. M. I. M. Mubarak's letter should jolt the authorities
and the people from the slumber and apathy that we have evidenced.
The need of the hour is to put an immediate end to foreign purchase
of prime, property, Galle Fort. It is akin to selling family silver for
a short-sighted monetary gain.
Can a small country like Sri Lanka afford to alienate land for that
matter an invaluable portion of it to foreigners?
A critical analysis of the foreign purchase of land and property in
this cherished monument reveals that it has not brought any significant
benefits in its wake either to the people or the country.
As we learnt hardly any purchase has been subjected to the 100 per
cent levy. Moreover the foreign-run hotels and motels do not benefit the
country by way of foreign exchange as we understand that they are
involved overseas by the owners or their agents.
Most of the foreigners who have purchased properties do not live in
the Fort permanently nor have they made any noteworthy contribution to
the social or cultural welfare of the locals. The few who live there
lead an exclusive and detached life from the rest of the society.
Some of the properties bought by the foreigners have been put up for
re-sale. Such buying and re-sale induce suspicions of money laundering.
Some houses are inhabited by only males and this creates doubts amongst
locals about gay activities.
Most hotels, motels and bars have sprung up in highly residential
parts of the Fort. In some cases they have been opened in close
proximity to places of worship and schools. Renovations and
reconstructions of buildings are carried out with scant respect for
neighbours' rights and privacy.
As Mr. Mubarak rightly alleges the Galle Fort is gradually losing its
old world charm in the midst of the hustle and bustle.
I conclude with the fervent hope that this and the previous letters
highlighting the problem of this world renowned monument do not go
unnoticed by the authorities. Let's save the only world heritage site in
southern Sri Lanka from being converted into an exclusive foreign
Due to the successive collective agreements the emoluments in the
Banks have reached a level which has facilitated the removal of
disparities in the prevalent emoluments among the different banks. These
have made banking as one of the coveted professions in the country.
In this context it may be apt to point out that:
a) The Executive President and / or the surviving spouse receives the
same emoluments as the retiring President.
b) Parliamentarians too have their retirement benefits revised with
the revision of allowances of the current Parliamentarians. It is
sufficient for both (a) and (b) to serve on term of office which does
not exceed five to six years.
c) Central Bank of Sri Lanka retired employees too have the advantage
of having their pension revises along with the upward revision of the
salaries of the current staff.
d) In the Public Service the surviving spouse continues to receive
the same pension as the deceased staff and their emoluments and pensions
are revised periodically. The recent revision enables the pensioners of
any vintage to receive pensions equivalent to the entitlements of those
who retired in 1997. It is to be extended to the year 2000.
e) Bank of Ceylon continues to pay the variable cost of living
allowance to the pensioners and absorb the PAYE tax as for current
On the other hand People's Bank has frozen the cost of living
allowance to the last drawn amount to those who retired after June 1996
and has passed on the PAYE tax payment to the retiree. In the People's
Bank the marginal benefit of 90% gross as pension and non-recovery of
the commuted pension as the incentive has been eroded and has swept away
the steady pension and reduced it by as much as Rs. 10,000/- per mensem
for those who retired immediately after the freeze.
f) Bank of Ceylon has increased its pension for surviving spouse to
50% whereas People's Bank continues it at 20%. However both banks are
yet to emulate the State.
Tinkering and piecemeal solutions and handouts will never solve the
recurrent problem faced by the Bank pensioners. Banks have to accept
reality. Emolument for employees are fixed on the basis of job
description, required qualification, experience and other relevant
The periodical revision of emoluments is outside this consideration.
It is a question of wages chasing prices where the escalating cost of
living and the erosion of the rupee value has prompted the payment of
enhanced emoluments to make both ends meet. This twin adverse impact
equally visits the current staff as well as the pensioners.
Therefore, we have suggested to request all the Banks to revise the
pensions simultaneously with the triennial invariably upward revision of
the salaries or base the monthly pension as an agreed percentage of the
gross salary drawn by the current staff of similar grade, seniority and
This we feel will eliminate all inter grade, intra grade heartburns
and provide a stable income envisaged and implemented in the case of the
employees in other countries and selected recipients in our own country