Russel Arnold applauded for his stance on poya day abstinence

from the Daily News, 23 March 2010

National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) Chairman Prof Carlo Fonseka has written to former Sri Lankan cricketer and cricket commentator Russel Arnold appreciating the remarks made by him during the recently concluded Sri Lanka-New Zealand cricket match in Mumbai. When his co-commentator mentioned that it is a pity that alcohol is not available in Sri Lanka during Poya days, Arnold countered it justifying the religious and cultural ethos that prohibits the sale of alcohol on poya days and its social importance.The letter:

“As Chairman of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA) I write to thank you profoundly for the signal service you incidentally, unconsciously and – in the event – so generously performed for Sri Lanka during the World Cup Cricket match between Sri Lanka and New Zealand at Mumbai on March 18, 2011. I refer to the point during your commentary on the match at which your co-commentator opined that it was a pity that there would be no opportunity to have an (inebriating!) drink on the Poya day in Sri Lanka.”

“Your instantaneous response to his remark warmed the cockles of my heart, even as your brilliant performances did, in the cricket field. at a time when the merchants of death represented by the tobacco and alcohol industries are doing their damndest to advertise and promote their brands of medically proven poison, you ably defended the policy endorsed by the cultural ethos of our country. Millions in the world heard you expounding a view which is specifically identified with the spirit of our multi-religious, multilingual, multicultural country. The view you expressed will be endorsed by all shades of religious opinion in Sri Lanka as well as by the current world of scientific medicine. The World Health Organization is committed to the elimination of tobacco use and the elimination of the physical, mental and social harm caused by alcohol.”

“Coming as it did from a world class cricketer of your calibre your endorsement of the policy implicit in the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol Act No 27 of 2006, is of inestimable value.

In an era where money talks so loud that good sense cannot be heard, the value of your generous defence of the culture of our motherland is simply not convertible in gold.” “I know that in praising you I am only giving voice to millions of our people. Many phoned me and told me to publicly acknowledge your patriotic service to the health of our nation.”

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