Poor Cassandra! Like many others of her ilk – in the vulnerable group of the over 65s -but with no clout and more importantly, no desire or inclination to jump queues or go behind people asking for a favoured jab in the upper arm with the A-Z vaccine, she is despairingly fading with no sign of the second dose being given. The blame is totally on the government which should have ordered the vaccine well in time. No, they were preoccupied with other matters. And then to hear all sorts are getting vaccinated by fowl means, certainly. Such a beautiful, wonderful country with an on-average intelligent population and manageable, going the way of the US under Trump, Mexico under Bolsonaro, India under Modi. The first of these villainous murderers, yes murderers since they allowed the Covid 19 pandemic to rage stronger in their countries for the sake of their economies and due to their crass stupidity and pride, Trump, was roundly defeated in his second presidential bid. More is coming to him – accusation for siege on the Capitol and non-payment of taxes et al. His Republican mates are fast leaving the sinking man. Bolsonaro, riding high on imagined idolized status due to looks and pride is facing conviction of the crime of murder for criminal neglect of duty, Cass has read. Modi and his ultra–Hindu party will sink at the next parliamentary election. The millions who died in India due to unpreparedness by the government to tackle the pandemic wisely and effectively will reach up from their graves or mounds of ash to ghostly grab Modi by this throat.
In contrast to these three is Biden. In 100 days, he turned the US around so that now many States boast 100% vaccination of adults and they go about sans masks and lead almost pre-Covid lives.
Notice has been drawn to the fact that one of the three languages used by Sri Lanka was substituted for by an entirely new language: Tamil omitted and Chinese Mandarin inserted in a name board in the AG’s Department and Mt Lavinia railway station which went a step further and omitted both Sinhala and Tamil and catered only to Europeans and Chinese. People are going to town singing the new national anthem of Namo Namo Cheena or some such variation.
We seek consolation from Chinese economic colonialism fast moving to the total by saying we will be dead and gone when we are a colony of China. Two loud questions interpose themselves here. What about your children and their children? What about you wanting to be reborn a woman again in Sri Lanka; rebirth being a sure happening?
Cass quotes a gentleman of real class who is a retired private company CEO. She chats if he is walking beside his home across the road and she is perambulating up and down her drive. Her heart went out to him in sympathetic understanding when he declared very earnestly with anger and strong emotion: This government won’t allow me to die in peace after serving my country for so many long years.
Valuably informative panel discussion
Cass has mentioned several times before in these conversations she has with you on Fridays that the MTV1 Channel Monday night Face the Nation Programme is very good and excellent when Shameer Rasooldeen is moderator/anchor. I must admit that though I have heard certain Sinhala panel discussions are excellent, being explicit too, I don’t follow any, nor other English medium discussions. But though I cannot judge this programme is best, I categorically pronounce it is superior, very informative and bold.
On Monday 24 May the panel consisted of four eminent medical men: Dr B S C Perera, Consultant Pediatrician; Dr Rajiva de Silva, Immunologist – Assoc of Medical Specialists; Dr Vasan Ratnasingam, Media Officer – GMOA; Dr Lakmal Fernando, President – Association of Medical Associations. Rasooldeen moderated with three young journos to question the panel.
Much useful info came through the discussion of the Covid 19 situation in Sri Lanka. It emerged that quite some time ago medical specialists in a group wrote and informed the President that the best way to curb the third wave from rising higher was to order a lockdown. He did not listen to them for economic reasons. (Please read the editorial in Tuesday 25 May The Island which was delivered in print copy. One thing he Ed said is that if lockdowns are not strictly enforced there would be the factories in working order but no workers…!)
Some of the main points that emerged from Face the Nation 24/5 were that the lockdown was imposed only after local medical specialists living overseas like Prof Malik Peris almost demanded a 14-day lockdown. It was still imperative to observe set guidelines: washing of hands, wearing two masks for better protection, social distancing and staying quietly at home. We can and we should do these. Easy really for oldies, especially.
Talking on vaccines, the expert in this field Dr Rajiva de Silva said that vaccination would most certainly curb the spread of the disease but it could be contained by following health guidelines too. He agreed with a journalist that it was most regrettable that no forward planning, no timely booking of the A-Z and /or other vaccines was done. About mixing vaccines, he said it was the opinion of experts that Astra Zeneca could be mixed with a second dose of Pfizer or Sputnik (the second if my memory is right)
Dr Perera said that though there were Covid cases among children it was not a pandemic among them. The cases that were detected were very well treated in the Lady Ridgeway Children’s hospital which he went for consultations, and they worked closely with the IDH and other hospitals.
Although Shameer pronounced this programme was meant to be far from confrontational, and designed to ask questions that would be in the minds of the public, Dr Ratnasingam was confronted by the three journos and Shameer himself over the GMOA’s demand for the parents of their members to be prioritized in second dose A-Z vaccination. The GMOA doctor defended his Association and their claim by insisting the GMOA meant parents of all health workers. The reaction to the GMOA claim had already been roused and roars of ‘we will cease our work if … ‘was heard from other medical and health trade unions. We the listening public smirked since we had bad memories of GMOA actions and also parents seemed to mean entire extended families receiving the few available doses of the A-Z vaccine.
A final summation was that one of the panelists said we had not lost all hope; Sri Lanka was not on the brink of disaster as India was. We were close there but with quick government or Task Force action hearkening to wise advice of medical specialists who had banded together, we could be pulled back from staring and being pushed into a blistering, blasting C19 epidemic with lives being saved; never mind the economy, Cass adds.
New Trend of Defeated Democracy
One does not know whether Minister Udaya Gammanpila is enjoying his time of special prominence with the SLPP Secretary calling for his resignation and the Samagi Jana Balawegaya moving a vote of No Confidence in him.
The cause for his delight must be that the price of oil remains at the new high levels that were announced by him. He will certainly go down in history as one who replaced the Rajapaksas in leadership on a national issue of importance. Gotabaya, Mahinda, Chamal and Namal are all in the background on the fuel price hike – this is the Gammanpila Gift to the people, not the Rajapaksa curse, when they are trapped in burdens of the Covid pandemic.
The price of fuel is the stuff of governance. Gammanpila has shown how well he can burden the people with a huge fuel price hike. A new trend in fuel price politics was seen in the statement by the smaller parties of the SLPP government that opposed the SLPP Secretary’s call for Gammanpila to resign. Among them were members of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party, the Communist Party and the Democratic Left Front. Three left parties that were definitely not against the rise in fuel prices, and the hardships it will cause the people.
Just try to keep alive in your memories how the old left parties – LSSP and CP – with Vasudeva aligned with them, being strongly opposed to burdens imposed on the people. That is the fading history of the Left. What we now have is the Saubhagyaye Thel Mila, the Prosperity and Splendour of a Fuel Price Hike.
The new Thel Mila is the garnish on the dish of the people cooked with the banning of chemical fertilizer imports. There will soon be more of such painful decorations for the people of this not so pearly island.
While the Thel Mila will keep making its inroads into the lives of people with a Gas price hike, the rise in prices of vegetables, rice, flour and all other food, and essential clothes too, Gammanpila will dance, seeing how much he has progressed in crooked politics, forgetful of his past records in law and order.
There is a different joy that we are entitled to enjoy with the Court of Appeal allowing the application for bail by Shani Abeysekera, former head of the CID, and another police officer held in detention for nearly ten months. This has certainly strengthened our faith in the higher judiciary just as the Supreme Court saw to it that 25 clauses of the Port City Bill that were in violation of the Constitution were removed.
The details of that judgment by the Court of Appeal, not fully reported in the media, shows a very dangerous trend in the activities of the police and the authorities on governance, with complete disregard for the rights of the people, or Human Rights, that is an increasing topic of political manoeuvre.
The release of Abeysekera and the other police officer brings into focus the other issue that is the burden of governance in Sri Lanka today. It is the passage of a resolution by the European Parliament, with a huge majority, that consideration be given to the withdrawal of the GSP-plus facility for imports from Sri Lanka if important changes are not carried out to the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and this country acts in compliance with international agreements it has signed of the principles of the Rule of Law.
Let’s just bring back to our knowledge the full name of this Act. It is the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act of 1976. Why are we hanging on to all the temporary provisions of this law, passed at a time when the temporary provisions were necessary?
In a fast changing world on issues of the rights of the people, whether it is the Black Lives Matter in the US and Europe too, and the rights of women and children that require constant updating, as well as the rights of workers that are moving away from the days of colonial dominance, should we not update our legislation on matters that relate to humans, as well as animals too.
If we have as a democratic country – that we keep boasting about despite the 20th Amendment to the Constitution – signed so many international agreements relating to Human Rights and principles of justice by several governments, should we keep talking about issues of sovereignty, when the call is to fall in line with recognized international norms of Justice, Law and Order, and Human Values?
It is time to bear in mind that the denial of GSP-plus to Sri Lanka, will hardly affect the business sector that owns the garment industries – who can always go to other countries; but the several thousand workers in our garment factories. Why are we making so many adjustments to the ‘lockdown’ rules to keep these factories working? Is it not because of the foreign exchange they bring to the national treasury, coffers being emptied each day. We cannot afford to lose the benefits of GSP-plus, which will drive thousands out of employment and the country to much worse than it is today.
It is time to bear in mind that Udaya Gammanpila would bring no solution at all to the GSP-plus issue. It is time to go much beyond Gammanpila politics of today!
Come next week, Gammanpila will be largely replaced by Ranil Wickremesinghe. That is the new emerging politics. What a fine democracy we have, when a party leader whose party of political history was wholly defeated at the last general election, without even a single elected member – including himself, is appointed to the National List and crept back into Parliament.
Are we moving to the new trend of Defeated Democracy, whether fuel prices, Gammanpila or Wickremesinghe?
Prominent Persons in society
I saw a letter in the newspapers the other day purported to be from “prominent persons” in society. Now every single person in that collective had appended their signature and it was virtually a directive to the President to follow certain instructions issued by these people. Firstly, there was no detailed plan just instructions to do as “we say”. Secondly, I was left wondering as to how one becomes a “PROMINENT PERSON”? If you have held down a government job, not achieving anything of any consequence for your entire working life, or wormed and slimed your way through the mercantile sector to the detriment of countless dozens of your fellow workers, does that make you prominent? Furthermore, can you appoint yourself as a prominent person? Should you not be recognised by an established and more importantly a credible body, preferably with international credentials? What happens in a failed state? Are prominent people prominent failures? Heartfelt apologies to our Dear Mr. Haniffa, purveyor of all knowledge logical to the Royalists of my era!
Now, I am not saying all those prominent persons who had signed that letter fitted the above description. No doubt there are people who have been of great service to the Pearl and even the world. My point of contention is why have they got to call themselves prominent people? Of course (in my opinion) it is a clear indication of their ineffectuality, the fact that they have not included any plan how to get a hold of the number of vaccines required not to mention how to administer them and circumnavigate the inherent, corrupt system that is in place. Maybe their prominence would be better established if they could use their “prominence” and in some cases, international credibility, to get some doses of the vaccine by ensuring fair distribution of same? Rather than simply issue directives (probably in a feeble attempt to assuage their consciences’ and maintain their prominence in their own estimation), they should offer to get involved or better still abandon their refuge in academia and put forward some practical ideas on how to ensure fair distribution. These are undoubtedly (in some cases) some of the best minds left in our country, surely, they can come up with a plan? If they can’t can a bunch of barely O’-level-qualified parliamentarians and army officers do better? To venture into the ridiculous, if the aforementioned members of parliament (read as the scum of the earth) do come up with a plan does that make them “PROMINENT”!
On the subject of what is published in the newspapers and featured on the web of the Pearl, it seems like the discarded leader of the Yahapalanaya regime, and I say this because even if he wasn’t on paper (or prominence) the leader, he was and certainly should have been, Ranil Wickremesinghe is beginning to worry “the powers that be”, again. Virulent descriptions of him and his supposed perversions in the form of a crudely worded obituary is doing the rounds. Surely, all those who condemned him in all possible ways CANNOT be thinking “could we have been wrong”? The two-thirds of the oh so “literate” voter base who gave a clear majority to an established cohort of robber barons to take over and continue to decimate their country, couldn’t be wrong? The “prominent citizens” who either stayed silent or actively promoted this electoral result with nothing but selfish ulterior motives couldn’t be admitting to the fallibility of their “judgment”? BTW another petrol price increase, the super cars that are being imported for the MP’s will help finish the petrol and thereby leave less petrol for the people to waste their money on! Another referral to the convoluted logic of today that also decrees that printing money will have no effect on inflation.
I see a typically innocuous statement from the Covid reprieved leader of the opposition, saying that he would donate his shots of the vaccine to the people of the country. One wonders if this statement has had input from his advisor on foreign affairs! Is there any use of vaccines for someone who has already had the disease? The answer is pretty obvious even to this “unprominent” person. Therefore, the grandiose and dramatic statement that this doubtful specimen of humanity, will not be vaccinated until every last citizen of his beloved country is vaccinated falls into the category of unadulterated excreta of a bullock, as does most of the other things he says.
When the prominent citizens of this country survey the aforesaid alternatives for leaders in their motherland. The selection between robber barons, retired army officers, and moronic parliamentarians, leaves the purportedly sexually deviant well in the lead, doesn’t it? I must admit that I never ever thought that this line of reasoning would ever be activated!
The inquiry into who was really responsible for the Easter massacre, the strong words of the Cardinal and any possible action by the Attorney General seem to have been swept under the carpet by the various diversions that have either been put into place or that have fallen into place, due to the “curse of Kuveni” that dogs the past present and future of our beloved ex-pearl of the Indian ocean. It is up to the people of the country to make up their own minds, based on the available evidence and at least now decide, not to allow people with even a semblance of doubt attached to them, anywhere near the seats of power. That is assuming they get another chance in the form of another democratic election. The possibility of which does not look too good at present!
Meanwhile the G7 countries have been enjoying a great beach party in Cornwall that extremely picturesque part of England and during the two days of summer that England enjoys, to boot! No Aotearoa NZ at the party, but we are having our own having thrashed England at test cricket and all the Aussie rugby franchises in the trans-Tasman super rugby tournament. I guess parties do happen and the games must go on, regardless of the situation?
Journal mention is not fame but infamy; ‘reversed’ is not ‘cancelled’; public figures shown up
In this time of natural disasters and government’s omissions and commissions; a leaky burning ship surreptitiously invited to seek haven just outside our Colombo Port for money considerations, destroying our wonderful sea and life in it for a hundred years, one hugs little bits of normalcy that intrude joyfully our woeful state. Such was my emotion when I opened my front door on Friday 11 June and saw The Island newspaper in crisp print lying there waiting to be read. I actually hugged it as I would a lost child. So many of us newspaper readers yearned for paper copy. You could read on-line but there’s nothing like holding a newspaper in hand.
Oo-la-la! Featured in The Economist
Yes, yes, Sri Lanka has got a column in the British Economist, one of the most prestigious of weeklies. It is not about our economy (sinking) or C19 spread (exponential) or being the first country to ban chemical fertilizers (disastrous in its overnight implementation). It’s mainly about a slip of a girl with strident voice and apparent clout with high ups, and other pluses we suppose which to us Ordinaries are deplorable minuses. I quote part of the article for you to enjoy or curl your noses in disgust at how low we are sinking as a nation. I must add I could not believe that the Economist would devote half a page to this but verifying, found it was The Brit weekly. Here below are excerpts with title intact.
Push the boat out: An influencer’s rant overshadows an ecological disaster in Sri Lanka “Influence” is, after all, part of the job description
The Economist 12 June 2021
“For two weeks an inferno blazed on the X-Press Pearl, a container ship off Sri Lanka’s western coast. Its cargo—everything from frozen fish to hazardous chemicals and tiny plastic pellets known as nurdles—burned up or spilled into the ocean. Eventually, on June 2nd, the ship sank. Nurdles and other debris are washing up on beaches. Hard questions have been asked about why the vessel, which was known to have a leaky container of acid, was allowed to enter Sri Lankan waters.
“But naturally all that many Sri Lankans have discussed for the past week is Piumi Hansamali, a 28-year-old model and actress. On the same day that the ship sank, police in the capital, Colombo, bundled Ms Hansamali and more than a dozen other people into an old bus and drove them to Passara, a distant village, for a compulsory two-week quarantine. Ms Hansamali had earlier been arrested and released on bail for attending a birthday party on May 30th for Chandimal Jayasinghe, a beautician and beauty-pageant impresario, in a five-star hotel, in violation of a lockdown that started in the middle of May.
“Ms Hansamali, an accomplished social-media influencer …. heaped wrath on a television journalist who had urged police to punish the revellers (he later complained to police of death threats). ….allegations later emerged that Sarath Weerasekera, the public-security minister, had ordered the bus to turn round so that its occupants could pick up clothes, the maritime disaster was all but forgotten. On June 5th a local news website wryly noted that searches on Google for Ms Hansamali and Mr Jayasinghe far exceeded those for the sunken ship. Ms Hansamali, for her part, made the best of a bad situation and took to posting pictures on Instagram of her quarantine digs”The episode reflects a deeper unhappiness with the government’s enforcement of lockdown rules. For days before the bus incident, police had cracked down on violators, in some cases physically carrying them off the streets. But the partygoers were detained only after pressure from the media. Nor was the hotel punished for allowing the bash. Three recent deaths in custody—including one on June 6th, in which a man seeking food for his family was detained for breaching travel restrictions and died after falling from a police vehicle—have sharpened the sense of double standards. Mr Weerasekera addressed Parliament two days later, to defend himself against allegations that he gave Ms Hansamali special treatment after she called him.
… Ms Hansamali and her friends may have meant to cause the government grief. In reality they did the opposite.” The imputations are important.
That is this resplendent Island of yesterday, now decadent. But the humour of social media keeps the people going and unintended jollification in Parliament where in apposition to Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka who earns respect, his argumentative co-Parliamentarian Sarath Weerasekera has earned a new sobriquet to precede his first name. It sticks in Cass’ throat as ribald but that is the way this land like no others goes. He earned it for being considerate to Hansamali’s need for fresh underwear!
Remember a film starlet garnered more manapes than Karu Jaysuriya and at her first press interview said she knew nothing of the legislature and its rules. When rioting MPs of the Opp took over Parliament when Sirisena turned traitorous and ousted PM Ranil W, Pavitradevi of peni and mutti fame was the loudest rioter beside Johnston and company. Aney, now Health Minister! That’s Sri Lanka for you.
The intelligent and knowledgeable write on current matters
The Sunday Island of 13 June also came out in favoured paper/print copy. And it contained excellent reading on present matters. The eminent group led by Prof Savitri Goonesekera dealt with the misappropriation of Covid A-Z vaccine from those who rightly deserved the second dose. Chandra Jayaratne went deeper into this matter in his article “‘Fraud on a Power’- exercised in Vaccinations Management?” listing methodically cases of mismanagement. Sarala Fernando brought to light the help given by USAID to us and further help like free A-Z vaccines to be send by the government under Biden’s order. The Editor succinctly dealt with the “Aftermath of X-Press Pearl.” What had Cass calculating and getting tied up in Rs and dollars and not knowing whether the ship compensation to come would be in USDs or Singapore. But one thing hit her so it knocked her off balance and sent her almost reeling: The compensation for a hundred years of disastrous damage to the seas around us, a fertile resource to this island nation, is 50 M while the luxury cars ordered by the Prime Minister and readily and greedily rubber stamped by the Cabinet would cost us (we tax paying Ordinaries) 3 B. I had a banker help me in my calculations but the 50 M converted to rupees from USD was still totally inadequate payment to us and actually disproportionate to what was to be spent on luxury cars for fat MPS: 225 MPs, 399 cars.
Gentlemen meet, ladies included
Cass turned away from the degradation that is over here and listened with delight to BBC World News and saw wonderful pictures of Farnmouth, Cornwall, and Biden and other G7 leaders. No one can accuse Nan of being Suud savvy. See how civilly they sat at a round table and discussed seriously Covid recovery/ stronger global health systems; climate change; and trade. They have committed to handing over millions of vaccines to poorer countries. Chair Boris Johnson, coined their slogan of ‘Build Better Back’ which Biden adroitly directed to countering China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Cass particularly liked seeing merciful, sane Biden and teacher-wife meet the Royal Family; so gracious on both sides and so very civilized as against our mess and bits of partying fluff that even the Economist comments on as symptomatic of what prevails in this now cursed and battered island. The girl will boast being featured in an international journal little realizing the connotation she is mentioned in. This is the brash new type of young woman we are burdened with against all the beautiful, intelligent young adults we have.
Bright spark of news
That brightest star of Sri Lanka has yet again brought fame to the country. Kumar Sangakkara has been inducted to the ICC Hall of Fame, joining the other deserved Sri Lankan star already there – Muthiah Muralitharan. These two are definitely the greatest and both from Kandy, if you please. The accompanying thought is of how despicably the sports minister of then, Aluthgamage, and many on SLC Board badgered and bullied Sangakkara particularly when he was lauded overseas, particularly in Britain. This is why Cass is willing even to be stoned for an idea expressed which is a TRUTH. Class, upbringing at home and school, breeding and even caste hold good to sieve grain from the gross; the decent from dross.
All balanced Sri Lankans congratulate Sangha. We love and admire him.
A PS about Aluthgamage. Cass was told over the phone that the Anniewatte residents were all geared up to receive first vaccination at Kandy High School premises, tented and all, when a call of cancellation came through. Supposedly Minister Aluthgamage had appropriated the vaccines and hijacked them to Nawalapitiya or some such. Don’t believe Cass; please verify, then vilify.
The decision to import luxury vehicles for MPs has been reversed said Rambukwella. That probably means postponed, as this Minister himself said earlier the order could not be cancelled. MPs and others are not going to give up so easily on yet another perk.
We Ordinaries will never forget this heinous crime which was planned to be executed while the country was in dire straits on several fronts.
Lift restrictions on 21 June, and be prepared for dire consequences – Medical Specialists
SL youth eligible for employment in Korea, to get the opportunity shortly
SLPP will not let disputes with Gammanpila undermine govt.
7-billion-rupee diamond heist; Madush splls the beans before being shot
The Burghers of Ceylon/Sri Lanka- Reminiscences and Anecdotes
Unfit, unprofessional, fat Sri Lankans
Features6 days ago
What to expect in the short term and long term
Sports5 days ago
The kid who came to Colombo to study law
news7 days ago
Vaccinations: eminent group follows-up with Prez., PM and ministers
Sports4 days ago
Learning honesty and integrity through cricket
Features7 days ago
UNDERSTANDING PERSONALITIES – Part 10
Features7 days ago
Echoes of NM’s dismissal may have an impact on present crisis
Midweek Review4 days ago
news3 days ago
SJB, TNA, JVP insist they didn’t ask for vehicles: Speaker’s Office silent