My recent visit to Sri Lanka

| by Dr.Sripali Vaiamon
( November 22, 2012, Toronto, Sri Lanka Guardian) After a lapse of ten years I paid a visit to my mother country, Sri Lanka and got amazed with the infrastructure activities commenced on the development of the country which were almost neglected by the leaders of the past. I made a journey from Colombo to Passikuda via Kandy, but the Kandy road was congested with heavy traffic where I felt it needs expansion without delay or another express way in future has to be constructed with overhead bridges. The road from Habarana to Passikuda with tarmac was excellent, perhaps in ten years time it may have to be expanded in view of the clusters of tourist hotels coming up in the region. A byroad avoiding old urban areas to hotel complex is more expedient. A 9 starting from Kandy is also need expansion within a couple of years. Road net work in the country is coming up unprecedented. Road network is the prime factor in any country to prosper towards its economic targets. I am delighted to note that Asia Development Bank has decided to donate US $. 98 million to develop the roads in the war torn northern region. I am also happy that Mr.John M.Seneviratna who represents Rathnapura District , the Minister in-charge of State Administration, has proposed to have a cable car service to Sri Pada. This I proposed in my Publication, Pre-historic Lanka to end of Terrorism, Dedicated to The President, in full elaborations with the experienced that I had gained after making two trips by cable cars to Alps when I was undergoing Media training in West Germany.
Govt. Pay more attention on rural development from the grass root level and hitherto selected 14,000 villages for this purpose. So that the mode of living of the village folks will be dramatically changed into a modern and strategically improved pleasant life style.
I travelled in number of by roads in Colombo and suburbs where the narrow roads are terribly congested due to colossal amount of vehicles, three wheelers, cars, vans, lorries etc . Until the infrastructure of the urban development launched these by roads have to be expanded, at least temporarily with minimum expenditure by using 16inch concrete tubes for either sides and fill the gutter areas. Which apparently provide little more space for the vehicles until the urban development take place roughly about two three years’ time.  It is going to be a combine effort of Colombo Mayor and Secretary to the Defence and Urban Development.
Another pleasant situation that I observed was locating beautiful Buddha statues at several prominent buildings and in road sides and junctions with appropriate illumination which were quite apt predominantly for a Buddhist country like Sri Lanka. This practice of placing Buddha statues on road side were first started at Radio Ceylon when Director General, Mr.S.B.Senanayake initiated to erect a Buddha statue with a congenial canopy in front of the building considering that Radio Ceylon is involved in broadcasting almost daily innumerable Buddhist programmes starting with Maithri Chintha. At that time I was the General Secretary of the Buddhist Association of the Institution and it was not the practice to obtain government money for religious activities. As such I organized a musical show at the Viharamahadevi Park and collected the required amount. If this practice is acceptable and expedient it should be extended and encouraged to other religions also in the country, where Muslims who do not tolerate statues and images could confine to a symbol if they wish.
I learnt the Northern region is coming up with an unprecedented level with several housing projects including luxury apartment complexes such as Thulsi. Hotels and commercial complexes are also in the offing. The bridge, Sanguppidy, 288 meters long constructed from Pooneryan to Jaffna which cut short the way to Jaffna by 120 km than  A9.  Army boys who were involved in terrorist war have now become house and road constructors in the region.
You must be wondering why am I praising every aspect instead of criticising negative areas. In any government in the globe negative areas are more according to those who are constantly muddled up with resentments, dislikes and opposition views.  Well it should not be the policy of a country that is eager to see the country is developed for the benefit of all citizens in the country minus discrimination. Even opposition parties should lend their hands for the nation building while criticizing effectively any vulnerable points brought forward by the government. Nation development should be in a prime position in their agenda too, at least they must respect for the voters who sent them in to the parliament and other governing councils.
The great hindrance as I realized at the moment for the positive development activities in the country is the intolerable strikes initiated by trade unions in the country where opposition members are behind. If the govt. desire to develop the country and build the unity among all the citizens, these so-called strikes should be controlled at least for ten years taking health, wealth and happiness into consideration of all the communities in the country. This is something utmost essential. During the past few months the higher education of all the university students were ruined by these so called strikers who had no mercy on the children and younger population of the country. In this connection I wish to refer to the following Trade Union Ordinance:
Trade Union Ordinance, Section 20 (2) and 21
According to the Ordinance an association or combination consist of judicial officers, members of the arm forces, Police officers, Prison officers, and members of any corps established under the agricultural corps Ordinance cannot engage to trade unions.
This restriction should be extended to Educational sector including higher education as well.
During the past few months FUTA strikes made considerable devastations to students according to the views of the parents. I am sure every parent in the country collectively agreeable to ban the strikes stage by Education Sector. Primarily because it ruins the education of the children who have to shoulder the responsibility of the nation building in time to come. Each and every parent anxious to see that their children do not get disrupted their education due to meaningless strikes organized by Unions where Opposition parties are behind.
A.E.Gunasinghe was the father of the labour unions in Sri Lanka. He was so thoughtful and never consider to drag education sector for trade union activities. He was so considerate about the national consciousness and education of the children. He established the labour movement after the visit of Ramsay McDonald, British Labour Party Leader in 1926. Even International Federation of Teachers Association may not have received membership of any size and join I LO. It is now up to the National Education Commission to take up this issue for the sake of children who will plunge into great havoc due to despicable labour union activities.
When I consider the past of the country it is fascinated for me to recollect some historical aspects and memories of the country. My first set of poems contributed to VEERAYA tabloid edited by the then Minister of Labour, Mr.A.E.Gunasinghe. That was when I was in the 7th standard.
I received an interesting article from a relative of mind on the colonial era on Kollupitiya and its environs based on a piece of literary works by a Senior Professor attached to Moratuwa University which inspired me to share some of his information plus my reminiscences that were lingering in my mind from a long time with the readers of Sri Lanka Guardian.
In 1664, king of Kandy was Rajasingha the second. He must have been a cruel king. As a result  some of his subordinates rebelled against the king. Leaders were Udunuwara Ambanwela Appuhamy, Sath Korale Manna Appuhamy and Atakalang Korale Sundara Appuhamy. These Appuhamise wanted to expel the king and get his 12 year old son to sit on the throne. At that time Portuguese occupied the maritime provinces and king wanted the help of the Dutch to expel them. King with the help of other supporters got round the rebels and beheaded two of them. Ambanwela Rala was entrusted to Dutch to impose a suitable punishment. But this shrewd fellow became friendly with Dutch. They wanted someone for them to provide with coconut to brew beer. He agreed, became so friendly and loyal, moreover changed his name as Van Ry Cloff, a Dutch name. In return Dutch offered him with a plot of land in the present Kollupitiya area to grow coconut. He was so cunning grabbed adjacent lands and made his extent greater and greater. Therefore people called his property Kolla-ke pitiya which became ultimately Kollupitiya. The area where the St.Michael church  stands is known as Polwatta even today.
Dutch brewed beer out of coconut treacle and the brewery was at the Temple Trees, House of the Prime Ministers and Presidents at present. In Dutch de Brandery was the term used for the brewery. From 1805 this property was owned by Fredrick Baron Mylus, a judge in the Ceylon Civil Service. Iswari Corea in her book, Glimpses of Colombo, describes, In 1840, C.R.Buller, Govt.Agent of Western Province occupied it. Later it became the property of the Layard family and in 1848, Dr.Christoper Elliot ,The Principal Medical Officer in Ceylon bought it. He also was the Editor of Ceylon Observer. In 1856 it was owned by J.P.Green who named it as “Temple Trees” as there were two gnarled temple trees at the front yard.
I am not aware whether those two old trees are still in exist but subsequently had grown several temple trees in the premises blossoming with white and yellow flowers with pleasant smell. Near this property there was the Captains garden which was later named as Maha Nuga Garden where former minister Felix R.Bandaranayake and my contemporary broadcaster Vernon Corea was living and I have visited the place twice or thrice with my boss Livy Wijemanna, who was the then  Asst.Director of the Commercial Service of  SLBC.
The Senior Professor who had written about Colonial Kollupitiya and its Environs where he states in the Dutch period the area was known as Baraddeniya.  May be a mispronounciation by Dutch. The ancient Sinhala name was Baran deniya. There was a Sinhala poet at Kollupitiya to whom we addressed as Barandeniye Ralahamy. The famous southern poetess Gajaman nona also was born at Kollupitiya in 1758. She was christened at the Milagiriya church as Dona Issebella Peruman Koraneliya.
The Kollupitiya area of Colombo was developed after Dutch as Portuguese people were living in Colombo, Kotahena and Mutwal regions. Some writers have written KOLAMBA means that there was a huge Mango tree with leaves only but bear no fruits. R. L. Brohier who wrote extensively on Colombo in his ‘Changing faces of Colombo’ where he explicitly states KOLAMBA means ‘waters’ edge” which referred to the coastal area from Galle Face Green to the Harbour front. -Amba means water.  Beira lake in the region was utilized by Dutch to transport goods and even passengers. Beira lake was named after Dutch Engineer John de Beira in 1700. Hultsdorf where the court complex exists today is also a Dutch name.
Dutch who used channels in Holland for transportation purposes of goods and passengers. utilized Beira Lake for the same purposes. Even today in Holland they utilize canals heavily for transportations. In fact they built a canal from Kelani Ganga to Negambo during their jurisdiction for the same purpose which is known as Hamilton canal.
Slave Island was developed by Portuguese to domiciled Kaffirs who were brought from Goa to employ as scavengers, who served like slaves as such where they were domiciled became the Slave Island.
Galle-face Green was a bare land during British period where they play cricket, polo, football and also utilized for horse racing. Subsequently it was converted to a leisure garden by Governor Ward in 1859.
Perera bakery is a well known place at Kollupitiya today, which was opened up by K.A.Charles Perera of Kodagoda, Galle who trudged to Colombo with only cents.50 in his hand in 1888, worked as a cook at the Grand Oriental Hotel. Later he established the Perera bakery.
A.G.Hinni Appuhamy was an another business magnate who started a tea kiosk at Maliban street Pettah with only 75 cents in hand. He was a great philanthropist came from Galle and later became an entrepreneur with several business enterprises such as Maliban biscuits and hotels.
There were several entrepreneurs in that region who started their ventures in a very small scales and later became millionaires.  In this respect we can’t forget Mr.Elbert Edirisinghe,  an another philanthropist who was an employee at William Pedris  & Company and started his own optical business at Turret Road, Kollupitiya in 1936.
In my recent visit to Sri Lanka I gathered plenty of information on the infrastructure of development activities launched by the present government which I have well elaborated
with facts and figures in my recent publication “Pre-historic Lanka to end of terrorism.” published in America and now I have given over to Lake House Publishers to print as second edition on behalf of Sri Lankan readers, along with three other books, viz. The “Therapy,” “ Blessing in Disguise” and “Nava Gee Dehena”, with 50 lyrics for the sake of our singers.
I hope to touch reminiscences on other areas in future articles.
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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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