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Brandix made scapegoate



It would appear that both print and electronic media, as well as the National Operation Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 ( NOCPCO), in the past few weeks have been relentlessly engaging in a vicious media campaign to place the origin of the second wave of COVID-19 at the doorstep of the Brandix garment factory, Minuwangoda, probably with ulterior motives. Reams of articles and electronic media news have gone to the extent of naming this second wave as a Brandix Cluster epidemic, suggesting that this particular garment factory is instrumental in originating and spearheading this epidemic, which has

now surpassed 2,000 mark. There have been hardly any articles or news in support of the company, except for the paper advertisements published by the Company stating their genuine stance intermittently, but media messages appear to have made a lasting impression among the public that the company in question is totally responsible for the origin and the spread of the virus. How far is it true and genuine!

It is in this unsavory background that Dr. B. J. C. Perera, Specialist Consultant Pediatrician, in a recent thought-provoking article published in The Island has narrated a balanced view and the true behaviuor of the virus. In a hard-hitting note at the commencement of the article, this learned physician says that Sri Lankans had a lackadaisical and complacent attitude over the virus, in that Sri Lankans totally disregarded lockdowns, curfews and quarantines in defiance of health guidelines for the last few months. However, all hell broke loose with the emergence of the so-called Brandix Covid cluster, initially with an infected factory female supervisor. It came to such a pass that the authorities had the audacity and blamed the company in question for installing and spreading the virus like a headless chicken. Sadly, it is now reported that employees of this manufacturing facility, over 1,000 and their associates, had inflicted the disease in lock, stock and barrel whereas the responsibility for neglecting this unfortunate situation should be placed before the respective authorities and not at the Brandix.

The learned Physician suspects that the blight was surreptitiously lurking around, not only within the factory premises but also within the adjacent villages and immediate environment, for some time before the emergence of the so-called Brandix cluster until the unfortunate victim was detected from the factory. This highly respected physician is of the view that the factory girls have been made scapegoats in this process. There have been fabricated ruses that the Brandix workers employed at their Visakhapatnam facility who were brought in three flights, and Indian businessmen who visited the Minuwangoda plant, would have brought this deadly virus en masse and the Company’s efforts to convince the authorities and the general public otherwise proved futile. The authorities have so far failed to ascertain the source of its origin and they are groping in the dark. Even now in the news telecasts, the authorities have the temerity to pinpoint that the latest detections are the associates of the Brandix family, which is not the factual position and this argument will have to be taken with a pinch of salt. Are we going to buy the argument that the detection of 49 Covid cases reported at the Peliyagoda Fish Market today and the Colombo Dockyard are the intimate associates of the Brandix cluster? Has the authorities heeded attention to the article in which it has conveyed a strong message that Brandix did not manufacture Covid?

How, Lt. General Shavendra Silva, a highly respected decorated officer and Head of the NOCPOC, justifies this stance at the cost of the damages inflicted to the reputation of the factory. He should have borne in mind that Brandix is an international brand that has generated foreign exchange to the tune of billions of rupees for the country, and provided gainful employment opportunities to the unprivileged female workers in remote villages. Surely, the Company would have been financial resources to the adjacent villages and towns by way of emoluments of the factory employees, and the quality of life of these innocent employees have had an appreciable impact after the factory was established at the Minuwangoda facility. It would appear that the NOCPOC totally lacked its vigour and direction with the removal of the former Director General of Health Services who successfully managed the first wave of coronavirus on a scientific basis. To add insult to the injury, the former Director of the MRI has also been removed on frivolous grounds at a time that both ends of the candle are burning at a faster pace.

An unfounded outcry initially doctored by the authorities that the visit of the Indian businessmen had led to the spread of the virus among the Brandix factory workers has now found no basis. That was an illusory stand that has now been rejected. Notwithstanding the firm assurance given by the Company that no Indian businessmen visited the factory, a wide publicity was given that their visit would have a nexus with the coronavirus. The Island, recently quoting a statement made by Industry Minister, Wimal Weerawansa has told at Parliament that not a single Indian national had been allowed to the country as an employee or any person to obtain technical assistance since the outbreak of COVID19, having verified facts from his ministry, BOI and the Controller of Immigration and Emigration. Health Minister, Pavithra Wanniarchchi too confirmed this stance at the Parliament.

Commenting on the social lives of the factory workers, Specialist Consultant Pediatrician, further contends that the factory workers are made to work in enclosed, air conditioned, virtually packed surroundings. Their lodgings are overcrowded, sometimes quite a number of them sharing a room. They are going through all that through necessity and certainly not by their own choice. They are just trying to make an honest living. They are working and living in environments that are the most favourable of conditions for human to human transmission of the coronavirus. This candid expression of this erudite scholar is food for thought for the authorities concerned. In view of what he says, the constant interaction of the workers with the public outside the factory premises, may have had a great probability of contracting the virus. That cannot be discounted at all. Should the Brandix be held responsible for their interactions with the society after working hours. There appears to be great possibility that few workers would have brought the virus to the factory from the outside environment, for which the management of the Brandix could not be blamed for. The physician says the virus could remain viable for even 28 days, especially on certain types of surfaces. As to how realistic these findings are in our hot and humid climes are not yet known.

Now, the virus has spread throughout the Gampaha District, the need of the hour is a committed compliance with health guidelines by the Sri Lanka people, and perhaps this is the only proven and tangible way to protect ourselves against contracting virus, as per the advice of the Consultant Pediatrician. There has to be an unwavering and steadfast effort on the part of the entire population of the country to abide by the rules of the health guidelines. Hence, the mode of government approach hither to adopted i.e. running with the hare and hunting with the hound, must be stopped. We would expect the authorities to extend its unqualified apology to the Bradix management for the humiliations it suffered, and help the company to rebuild its brand and reputation.


Productivity Specialist and Management Consultant

(These are writer’s own professional views with malice towards none.

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Geneva Debacle: Forging a Way Forward





Alisdair Pal of Reuters says of the recent UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka, “the resolution allows the U.N. to “collect, consolidate, analyze and preserve information and evidence and develop possible strategies for future accountability….[it] is a “huge blow” to the Sri Lankan Government including President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.” (“What does the U.N. resolution mean for Sri Lanka, 24th March 2021,

To my knowledge, much of the commentary on the resolution follows a similar pattern, i.e. the focus is on what the resolution entails for Sri Lanka, but not the Council. It is vital to focus on this latter aspect in order to facilitate a future defence of Sri Lanka at the Council, and related international forums. In my opinion, the “Core Group” and the other nations that joined them in voting for the resolution, have destroyed the credibility of the UNHRC and thus the institution.

In this article, I focus on the “Core Group’ consisting of the U.K., Canada, Germany, North Macedonia and Montenegro that brought the resolution. I argue that the existence of such a group within the UNHRC makes a mockery of the principles and purposes behind the Council’s founding statutes, U.N. General Assembly resolution 60/251 and UNHRC resolution 5/1 (“Institution-building in the Human Rights Council”).

The UNHRC and the “Core Group”

The U.N. General Assembly created the Human Rights Council in March 2006 as a replacement for the U.N. Commission on Human Rights that had been functioning since 1993. Many people accused the Commission of having become too politicised and biased. Therefore, the “Charter” of the Council was formulated to ensure that the new institution would not follow its predecessor. Paragraph 4 of UNGA res. 60/251 states inter alia:

“The work of the Council shall be guided by the principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity, constructive international dialogue and cooperation.”

Meanwhile, para 5 (e) states:

“[The Council shall] undertake a universal periodic review, based on objective and reliable information, of the fulfillment by each State of its human rights obligations and commitments in a manner which ensures universality of coverage and equal treatment with respect to all States; the review shall be a cooperative mechanism.”

To my knowledge, there is no other mention of a specific mechanism through which the Council should carry out its work. Therefore, it is reasonable to suppose that the framers envisioned that the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was the best means through which the institution could carry out its work while conforming to the principles enunciated in para 4.

To turn to the Council’s other founding statute—UNHRC resolution 5/1 of June 2007—Annex 1 of the resolution sets out detailed instructions in regard to the Universal Periodic Review. Para 1 of the annex states that the basis of the review shall be: a) the U.N. Charter, b) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, c) Human Rights instruments to which a State is a party and d) voluntary pledges and commitments by States.

Meanwhile, Para 2 states: “In addition to the above and given the complementary and mutually interrelated nature of human rights law and international humanitarian law, the review shall take into account applicable international humanitarian law.”

The fact that the instructions for the UPR include a mandate to look into humanitarian law issues, means that the framers envisioned that if a particular country is accused of violating humanitarian law, such matters could also be reviewed through the UPR mechanism. Therefore, the following question arises: If, as alleged by Sri Lanka’s critics there are rampant human rights abuses going on in this country or humanitarian law issues that remain unaddressed, then why could not these issues be taken up through the UPR process rather than through country-specific resolutions?

Neither UNGA res. 60/251 nor UNHRC res. 1/5 prohibit the Council from resorting to country-specific resolutions. However, reason and common sense suggest that where recourse to a country-specific resolution is made, it should be for an occasion or crisis of a magnitude or urgency that cannot normally be dealt with under the UPR. Otherwise, it makes no sense to have the UPR.

It necessarily follows that, if the Council determines that a crisis of a magnitude or urgency that cannot be addressed through the UPR exists in a particular country, such determination must also be made through an open, objective and impartial process of assessing and evaluating the relevant evidence, including by giving the accused country adequate time and opportunity to speak in its defence.

Now, let us turn to the “Core Group.” In this regard, one must consider three points. First, the “Core Group” is a self-appointed group and does not have a mandate either from the Government of Sri Lanka or any U.N. organ, including the UNHRC, to monitor the human rights situation in Sri Lanka.

Second, some members of the group, notably the U.K. and Canada, have domestic political reasons to involve themselves in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs. In regard to this, the following matters are relevant. First, there is a 2009 Wikileaks cable by an American diplomat to his bosses in Washington, detailing his conversations with the head of the Sri Lanka Desk at the British Foreign Office. He says inter alia:

“Waite said that much of HMG and ministerial attention to Sri Lanka is due to the “very vocal” Tamil Diaspora in the U.K., numbering over 300,000 … .He said that with elections in the horizon the Government is paying particular attention to Sri Lanka with [David] Miliband recently remarking to Waite that he was spending 60 percent of his time on at the moment on Sri Lanka.” (“Wikileaks: David Miliband championed aid to Sri Lanka to win votes of Tamils in U.K.” The Telegraph, 22nd January 2012)

Some people might object that the above happened when the Labour Party was in power, and now that the Conservatives have taken over things are different. However, the Conservatives are under just as much pressure to win Tamil votes, and this is proved among other things by the conduct of former PM David Cameron on his visit to Sri Lanka in November 2013 for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. No sooner had he landed, he gave a speech scolding then President Mahinda Rajapaksa for his treatment of the Tamils and was whisked off to Jaffna to commiserate with the folks there. This behaviour shocked even some English people. The well-known columnist Rod Liddel wrote derisively:

“Normally, when one is a guest in someone else’s country, it is incumbent to be polite, even deferential. But the prime minister is aware that this does not apply to Sri Lanka …. So, it is to David Cameron’s immense credit that he struck the right tone when addressing his Ceylonese jonny. It is the tone of a member of the Eton upper sixth addressing some errant fag who has failed to buff his shoes to the correct level of shine, through either incompetence or negligence.” Rod Liddel, “That is the President of Sri Lanka, PM, not one of your fags,” Times of London, 17-11-2013,

Meanwhile, in the recent past, the Conservative Party in its manifesto for the 2019 Parliamentary elections, had a clause calling for a “two-State solution” in Sri Lanka, and that clause was corrected only after stringent protest from the Sri Lankan Government. To repeat, the Conservative Party has just as much reason as Labour to court the Tamil vote, and it is reasonable to suppose that with the present action at the UNHRC, PM Boris Johnson and his cohorts have achieved a veritable “coup” in that regard.

To turn to Canada, Martin Collacott, a former Canadian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, writing in The National Post in 2005, says, “LTTE-friendly community leaders are willing to ensure that liberal candidates win votes in Tamil-heavy urban constituencies provided the Federal Government turns a blind eye to fundraising” (Martin Collacott, “Canada’s role in Tamil terror,” The National Post, 26-1-2005). In sum, the U.K and Canada have ulterior motives to be interested in Sri Lanka, and this makes the motives of the Core Group as such suspect.

Finally, to my knowledge, the “Core Group” has not submitted to the Council any report explaining that the purported human rights problems they see in Sri Lanka cannot be pursued through the Universal Periodic Review, and must instead be addressed through country-specific resolutions.


To accept what the Core Group has done is to accept that rich and powerful nations joined by poorer nations that they can coerce, cajole or influence, can decide by themselves that a particular country has a human rights “problem”, and proceed to take action against such nation at the UNHRC, without ever establishing before the Council that the “problem” of which they complain actually exists, and all the while violating the purposes and principles of the Council as well as the right to a fair hearing of the targeted nation. Sri Lankans must do everything in their power to hold the Core Group accountable for their actions.

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Regulate sports in popular schools ahead of big matches



The Big Matches between popular schools in Colombo and main outstation cities are round the corner. In the past school sports was in the hands of former sportsmen and sportswomen who loved the game as well as their school. They devoted their time and money to coach the budding youth without any monetary gain for themselves.

But, see what has happened today. Sports coaches selected by the schools demand millions of rupees to coach the students. And this is readily agreed and paid by the school authorities. In the good old days the members of School teams were provided free meals during match days and also Sports equipment. But it is not so now. The school earn millions of rupees from big matches played for a duration of two, or three days in some cases, and this money could be utilised to buy the required cricket gear such as bats, pads gloves, boots, etc,. I understand a pair of cricket boots is in the region of Rs.18,000 to 25,000. Can a poor village lad who is enrolled to an affluent schools in Colombo, based on his performance in Education and Cricket afford this? These lads should be given all the support to continue in their respective sports rather than drop out due to financial constraints

Coaches in some schools are in the payroll of big-time businessmen whose children are, in the so called pools. Parents of children engaged in a particular sport should not be permitted to come in as sponsors as this would be rather unethical.

The Big Matches between popular boys schools are around the corner and I suggest that the Sports Ministry ensures performance based selections rather than on other criteria.




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‘Post turtle’ revisited




I have written about this amusingly thought-provoking creature, the ‘post turtle’ to ‘The Island’ around three years ago (appeared in the opinion column of The Island newspaper on the 19th of June 2018, titled ‘The post turtle era’). The story, which I am sure most of you have heard/read already, is obviously not a creation of mine and I happened to come across it somewhere, sometime ago. 

And for the benefit of those, who haven’t heard the story, it goes like this:

“While surturing a cut on the hand of an old Texas rancher, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually, the topic got around to politics and then they discussed some new guy, who was far too big for his shoes, as a politician.

The old rancher said, ‘Well, ya know he is a post turtle’. Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a ‘post turtle was’.

The old rancher said, ‘When you are driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, well, that’s your ‘post turtle’.

The rancher saw a puzzled look on the doctor’s face, so he went on to explain. ‘You know, he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he is up there, and you just wonder what kind of a dumb ass put him up there in the first place’.”

Now I was having this nice, little siesta, the other day and suddenly there appeared ‘the turtle’ in front of me, sitting on a fence post, seemingly doing a precarious balancing act as the post itself was too high for it to give it a try to jump down to the ground. Not that it probably wanted to do it anyway for it looked quite contended and happy sitting there doing absolutely nothing. And no doubt some loyal and dumb all rolled into one, must have put him up there and been feeding it well too, for it looked quite contended and fat showing a thick head that kept turning to the left and then to the right, while its tongue kept on lolling out as if it was saying something, which must have been absolute gibberish and rubbish anyway.

What a fitting and symbolic representation, 

I mean this ‘post turtle’, of the lot, or the majority of it sitting across ‘the oya’, I mused on after I woke up from my snooze.

Many of them get there thanks to the gullible voter, who while ticking the boxes, thinks: he/she will surely deliver the goods this time as promised! 

And those two-legged post turtles inside the edifice, bordering the Diyawanna, like the one in the story, keep uttering sheer rubbish and spitting out incomprehensible mumbo jumbo, all in return with thanks to those, who tick the boxes in their favour.

Their statements such as ‘what is oxygen for, to eat?’, is just one among many such stupendously stupid utterances of theirs and I don’t want to tire you with the rest, for they are well known and far too many.

Now I have only one question for you before I end this:

When are we going stop being ‘those dumb asses’, once and for all?

Laksiri  Warnakula  

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