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DateLine Friday, 26 December 2008

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Global warming and the Maldives

Even if we escape the much predicted tragedy of global warming, our neighbours, the friendly Maldivians, are in great danger of losing their traditional homes. This is one concern of the newly elected Maldivian President, Mohamed Anni Nasheed, who has said his Government will begin saving now to buy a new homeland for his people to flee to in the future.

"We are talking about taking insurance - if the islands are sinking we must find high land some place close by. We should do that before we sink," Nasheed said following his recent election victory." India and Sri Lanka are the two places he has in mind where his people, a total population of 350,000, could be settled; he is also looking around to see whether Australia could be another possibility.

If the sea level rises one metre off the coral islands of the Maldives that could be the end of that land. The former President Abdul Gayoom launched a book in April to highlight the threat to the Maldives posed by global warming. He said at the time that they could only adapt to the problem by relocating citizens to safer islands. The alternative, building protective walls on the 193 inhabited islands, was too expensive.

Gayoom himself was nearly washed into the Indian Ocean in April 1987 when giant tidal waves swept the capital island of Male. "While I was inspecting the damage, a large wave reared up suddenly and buffeted the vehicle I was in," Gayoom wrote later. "It was a moment of fear, not for my own safety, but for the safety of the people."

The nearest to the Maldivian experience we in Sri Lanka had was the tsunami that dared to invade our shores four years ago. Though well protected by our mountains and forests a greater part of our island is as vulnerable as the Maldives to a greater tsunami.

A new status symbol?

In these days of massive lay offs in the States a new status symbol that can be displayed is having a job, says a PTI message. But it does not follow that the one who has acquired a new status symbol is as keen as coming to show it off regularly. For, according to the latest findings of the annual absenteeism made by the largest online jobsite CareerBuilder.com, a third of those who have acquired the new status symbol keep away from work for what may be described as the most ingenious excuses that can be made up.

Some fear that they will lose the parking places before their homes. Others offer the explanation that they have nothing to wear as the wife had accidentally burnt the family clothes. At least one in three of those with the newly acquired status symbol have been found to call office at least once a year to inform that they are unable to come to work due to feeling unwell. Status symbol or not, work seems a pretty dull business in the 21st century to at least a third of its workers in the States.

Cross border terrorism

Over a 1000 delegates from different countries including the USA, UK, France, Spain, Malaysia, Japan, Austria, Jordan and South Africa, met in New Delhi recently and asked the world community to take concrete steps to address the issue of terror on a priority basis and "impose multilateral sanctions against nations not extending their cooperation in this regard". The Ambassador of France, Mr. Jerome Bonnafont, said "there is no justification whatsoever for terrorist activities which cause innumerable sufferings to civilian populations because the terrorists have no agenda, no religion, no demands, but to create mayhem by targeting innocent people across the world."

"The Governments of the world must join hands to tackle terror perpetrators and follow the directions shown by the United Nations," he added.

The jurists agreed that existing multilateral and bilateral arrangements were inadequate to deal with cross-border terrorism and 'non-state actors' engaged in violence against citizens anywhere in the world and prevent such militant groups from operating in any particular country.


Tsunami - Asians' worst enemy

The fourth year of tsunami -
The Asians' worst enemy,
Is fast approaching reminding memories,
Of grief to victims of those tragedies.

Families clutched together, lovers holding tightly,
Mothers embracing children, others hugging helplessly,
Were all seen soaked in water scattered.
Carcasses of animals as if were battered.

Shanties, huts, houses, bungalows and buildings,
Totally demolished with some overhead wires hanging.
Concrete posts, huge and tall trees crashed on vehicles,
Trains derailed and strewn, dismantled pieces of bicycles.

Things will appear like a film on screen,
For those who witnessed that pathetic scene.
Those who were dead are forever gone.
But the living continue to mourn.

The Boxing-Day of the month of December,
Will make my heart forever remember,
For, my friends and I on that fateful day,
Fortunately escaped walking into tsunami's prey.


O, Tsunami

December 26, 2004
Can never be forgotten
But ever be remembered
By all Sri Lankans
Survivors and witnesses,
Of the so-called 'Tsunami'
The greatest natural disaster
In the history of Sri Lanka
Which attacked the coastal belt
Taking a toll of 40,000 odd lives
On that Unduwap Full Moon day
Much sacred to Buddhists;
O, wicked monster Tsunami,
Thou taught us a worthy lesson
That life is impermanent
All riches are like paper-boats
Vanishing in a moment,
O, Tsunami, how fierce, you were
In a split second, you flattened
Georgeous mansions to the ground
Millionaires were turned refugees
As if in a dream,
The relentless tide
Rose about sixty feet high
Invading the land
Sparing nothing on its way
The high and the low
The young and the old
The rich and the poor
Were dashed like ants
By the roaring waves;
Any way thou can't be blamed
Since humans aroused your wrath
By polluting thy golden beaches
And glossy emerald waters
And killing and eating
Thy dazzling fish
Dancing with thy waves,
Thy patience broke its bounds
And acted furiously
Teaching a lesson to humans
Leaving a myriad problems!
That's more than enough
O, Tsunami, I appeal most humbly
Not to come again!

- Malini Hettige

 

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