The auction of retired police dogs has stirred up a controversy on two counts. Both are ethical concerns: the first, ingratitude to an animal who was once a valuable worker in the police force, discarded in old age for a pittance. One would surmise that this ethicality has cultural resonance to the debt owed to parents who need care and love in old age, rather than being ‘auctioned’ off to a nursing home. The second ethical objection was the mental anguish and suffering resulting from the change of the handler and familiar surroundings at a late stage in their lives.
If I may seek your indulgence to write about my experiences with dogs briefly, the point I am making will become clearer. Our family’s love for dogs knows no bounds; we are even willing to even sell family wares to protect and save the animals. When my last two dogs ate the snail pellets, the poison, one evening, the veterinarian bill, if you would believe me, came to $ 9986.40 for the two nights to wash out their stomachs. Putting both down, the option offered to me, was abhorrent. The moral is that in Australia, a terrific dog loving population, will put their pets to sleep (euthanasia) to avoid pain and suffering in old age. In fact my vet told me that he never knew of dogs dying at home. If I may be rude enough to say that in a capitalist society any emotive instance makes good money and can pass off as good ethics. Many a parent is shoved off to a nursing home, ostensibly to their own good that can also be seen as an avoidance of responsibility by the children. ‘Auctioning’ off parents is also good economics as the property settlement makes children happy. A euthanized dog costs around $1000 but seen by many as an avoidance of unnecessary suffering to the animal in old age. To see it as good ethics sanitizes the conscience of any guilt.
Being a Sri Lankan, I found it impossible to agree to my vet’s numerous pleas to put down my old dogs, because I could not in all conscience be assured that the dog would agree that its life needed termination. I took refuge under my Buddhist learnings to get away from the veterinarian and almost all my dogs lived to the fullest, 16-18 odd years each, and I do not suffer from pangs of guilt that I killed them. Of course they lived with lots of disabilities wearing socks, shoes, diapers etc. that come with old age. For me that was part of my responsibility to the animal who served me with utmost affection in good times. Since they ate well until the last day I believed that they were happy. But such is the nature of ethics and there is no unanimity on these matters. Dealing with members of another species is ethically problematic
Now to come back to the dog auction, it is obvious that all arguments emanate from one fundamental premise, and that is the pain of being removed from handlers. Therefore, by extension, dog lovers correctly believe humans are not the only beings capable of feeling pain, and that most animals that we habitually eat also feel pain. They also experience the distress of being separated from carers, being locked up in cages. We, therefore, are responsible for inflicting pain as well as not preventing pain when we have the wherewithal to do so.
Not being critical of all those who love dogs we must realise that our morality with regard to dogs must extend to many other animals like cows, pigs, chickens and fish that we consume habitually. The Animal Welfare Bill that the Prime Minister has taken an interest in hopefully will cover these grounds. The slaughter of cattle by cruel sufferance and the beating of pigs before killing are primitive, abhorrent practices that we must stop. We cannot disregard the feelings of other beings merely because they are not members of our species. Our grouse is not about killing animals for food. It is to stop unnecessary cruelty that we inflict on these animals in the process of killing or raising them in inhuman conditions. Our morality is on safer ground when we extend it to proscribe so-called culturally prescribed practices such as genital mutilation, child marriage, because they are all about inflicting pain on the voiceless.
It will also be a good thing that we extend our conscience to prevent killing our own humans on the road on a daily basis, because such unwanted deaths can be prevented if road users adhere to traffic regulations. A driver under the influence of drugs should be charged for murder and not manslaughter; numbing substances and driving do not go together and such drivers are killers on our roads. My assertion that animals deserve the right to live free of pain does not mean that we humans are the same as animals. Far from it. But being a member of the species of Homo sapiens is in itself the reason to understand the value of life that non-humans cannot understand, and that makes a big difference.
Dr D. CHANDRARATNA
The care of good dentists
I experienced an agonizing toothache for the first time in my right-hand upper jaw. On bringing it under control with native medicines, a couple of colleagues at my work place stressed me to see a dentist who could prevent any recurrence, and recommended a highly proficient doctor by the name Rini Mathew attached to a popular medical centre in Riyadh. After nearly five-days-wait I was successful in getting an appointment to consult her.
This highly pleasant lady doctor from Kerala, India, after seeing the set of teeth in my right-hand upper jaw recommended for a root canaling and requested to return in two-weeks-time. Having not undergone any sort of surgery in my whole life, I was a little confused as to what to expect. As I arrived prepared for the repair work on my teeth, the good lady told me to my pleasant surprise that I don’t need any further treatment for the moment and if I get the toothache back again to come and see her. I thanked God and praised her for her being frank and honest.
The history of dentistry records Hesy-Re, an Egyptian scribe, who lived around 2600 BC is recognized as the first dental practitioner. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates and Aristotle wrote about dentistry, specifically about treating decaying teeth, but it wasn’t until 1530 that the first book entirely devoted to dentistry – The Little Medicinal Book for all kinds of diseases and infirmities of the Teeth – was published.
You don’t want to feel like just another item on your dentist’s to-do list. The best dentists, like whom I consulted, have a way of letting their patients know they care about them personally. They are interested in their patient’s lives and are eager to become a part of their general care team. The best dentist always gives you the care that you deserve.
S. H. MOULANA
The Age of Animal Ministries
The call by the government’s backbench MP Mr. Dilan Perera to be made the Rilav/Vanduru Amathi, or the Minister for Monkeys, in the Pohottuva Realm, certainly leads to plenty of interest.
This must do with the various divisions and breakup tasks that have been given to both Cabinet and State Ministers, in the current play of governance, by the Gotabaya strategies.
The call for a Rilav Ministry may have come after the Minister for Coconuts, Arundika Fernando, tried to climb a coconut palm, in his estate, at Dankotuwa, and hold a press conference to tell the people about the shortage of coconuts and the cause of the high price of this essential food item. One was surprised that he did not blame the coconut price hike on the 19A to the Constitution, and give any assurance that the coming 20A will bring the nut prices to within the people’s reach. Such nutty thinking is possible from politicos today.
What was also interesting is how he did this climb, halfway to coconut heights, with some modern climbing gear, having nothing to do with the traditional coconut tree climbers, who used their feet and hands to move much higher, and also walk on ropes from tree to tree for coconut plucking and toddy tapping. He must be following the new thinking of the Rajavasala on Digital Development to raise this country to new heights of Rajapaksa Success.
Let’s get back to the hopeful Rilav Amathi – the Monkey Minister Dilan Perera. The dictionary meaning of ‘Rilava”, that comes from the Vaanarayas, is those who take the forest products. This certainly has much relevance to the huge forest destruction taking place today, with the clear political blessings of the Rajapaksa realm. It is the crooked, or rilav, thinking of the Pohottu politicians that is causing this huge destruction of nature, bringing disaster to the environment. Is it the hope of Mr. Dilan Perera that he would be put in charge of this chronicle of destruction, becoming the political gatherer of profitable forests products, and giving free forest land to the political catchers of 20A fondness?
Or, is he thinking of the romantic legends of the monkey Hanuman, that had so much to do with Rama and Sita, and brought so much of forest land from India and dumped in several parts of this country, giving much of the ayurvedic medicine to this day. Is the Pohottuva Dilan thinking of becoming the Phohottu Hanuman, to bring in new legends of politically powerful romances that will soon be part of the Hanuman Keli or Monkey Games of the Power Players? His recent defence of the 20A, against the 19A that he voted for, gives a good indication of the Rilav and Vanduru thinking that is the stuff of Pohottu politics.
There is also a good opportunity for the call for a Nari/Hival Amathi, or Fox Minister, in this government. Why not have one of these foxy politicians, with their delight in political long-jumping, who have plenty of nari-thinking in their systems, as the new Nari-Hival Amathi. He or she will make some quick decisions on how the ‘Nari Tharjanaya’, the Fox Threat in the Kalutara, and now Horana areas, can be tackled; giving the Cabinet Minister of Health time to keep thinking of matters other than public health, and more on the political health of those who are in the bandwagon of power politics.
A Nari-Hival Amathi will be one whose hoots will be heard loud and clear in support of 20A, and one who would have gladly hooted in support of both the 18A and 19A, and is ready to raise both hands, and even one’s legs, for the 20A.
There are other animals who can have Cabinet or State portfolios in this politics of backward evolution. Why not have a Buffalo, or Meeharak Amathi? This could be a Pohottuva activist who will promise to give a good price to the curd made from buffalo milk, and also tell the public how much they can benefit by lying for hours in the mud found near their homes, without looking for government jobs or contracts for services that can only be given to the Pohottu catchers.
The Tamil Tigers were defeated more than a decade ago. But the politics of today is still seething with tiger threats to national unity. With what is happening to the leopards in this country, there is certainly a cause for a pohottu backbencher to ask for a Kotiya or Diviya portfolio. This can be a pohottu player who have the stripes of corruption on one’s body, with plenty of experience of grabbing the land of others, whether paddy fields or plantations, with the twisted politics of power, whether from the UNP, SLFP, UPFA or the Yahapalana travesty. A Koti Amathi will be roaring away, and leaping with great success on grabbing the property of other people, for the rising cause of Pohottu Balaya, the future power Dual Citizens, especially of the Washington-Medamulana alliance.
It is not likely that there will be any calls for a Bull or Cow – Harak Amathi – especially after the reigning silence over the plan to stop the slaughter of cattle. There are plenty of bulls in the huge pack on the government side, at Diyawanna Oya, we hear and also see their ‘gon talk’ and ‘harak keliya’ in the parliament so often today. They will be happy that cattle slaughter will remain a reality here, with no moves for the rise of a vegan society, which is certainly not the substance of the real Rajavasala thinking, with complete absence of kindness to animals.
There are many more animal or species ministries that can be offered to build up this Rajavasala Sathva Kattiya, once the 20A is passed, and the ministries can flow from the Rajapaksa pen. There is much space for more than one serpent or Sarpa Amathi – who will spread themselves all over the country, and crawl around and strike down with venom those who dare talk of the disasters that lie ahead post 20A. There can be many cockroach and mosquito ministers, too, who will help spread the Covid 20 — that can be far more dangerous than today’s Covid-19.
Let’s give a bow to the Age of Animal Ministries or Sathva Amathya Yugaya.
Where is Sajith’s leadership?
By Dr UPUL WIJAYAWARDHANA
The Leader of the opposition is a vital link in democracy and, as the name implies, is expected to give leadership. Unfortunately, the behaviour of Sajith Premadasa is casting doubts as to whether he is giving that leadership.
Even when he challenged Ranil for the leadership of the UNP, he was happy to put up a fight for some time and then give up. His disappearance into the wilderness after losing the presidential election and issuing a statement that he would devote the rest of his life to looking after leopards, perplexed many. Egged on by a coterie of Ranil-haters, he split the UNP but still wanted to grab the HQ of the party, an aspiration he quickly gave up after the last general election, probably because the UNP did unexpectedly bad.
There is no doubt that the biggest challenge he faces is opposing the introduction of the 20th amendment. If the ugly scenes in the parliament, when 20A was tabled, on 22nd September is anything to go by, many would be in for disappointment. “The ongoing campaign against 20A is characterised by a severe trust deficit, which the Opposition has failed to overcome.”: This forewarning in the editorial “Diyawanna Post Office” (The Island, 22 September) seems to ring true. I greatly doubt the opposition enhanced its image with this behaviour and the contempt of the voters towards Members of Parliament surely would increase.
What was displayed was not leadership but gang-leadership. Instead of obeying the rulings of the Speaker and forging a strong opposition in a democratic manner, what we saw was rowdy behaviour. To add insult to injury, they were demanding the cameras be aimed at them, so that the whole country could witness their rowdiness!
I too am against some aspects of 20A, like removing the limitation of Cabinet size and letting dual citizenship holders enter parliament, but have done so by just means; having voiced them through this newspaper.
In addition, Sajith failed miserably as a leader when he did not take any action against the national list MP Harin Fernando, who made a totally unsubstantiated allegation against Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith. He told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry investigating the Easter Sunday attacks that the Cardinal shifted the Sunday Mass to Saturday as he was aware of the terrorist attack. As a catholic himself, Harin should have verified facts before he made such a serious accusation. In spite of having had to admit his folly to the commission, on his way out, Harin made sarcastic remarks to journalists. It is impossible even to speculate what earthly purpose these insults are meant to serve. If it is to regain the support of the Buddhist voters, it certainly is an exercise in futility as most Sri Lankans hold Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith in high esteem for his exemplary leadership following the Easter Sunday attacks.
Sajith should have taken immediate action, as this is a repeat offence; having taken Harin to the Cardinal for an apology on the previous occasion. Instead, he said in high-brow Sinhala “abhyantara kathikawathaka yedenewa”, meaning an internal conversation is taking place. Sajith seems to be under the impression that using serious sounding words would satisfy the masses and solves problems.
Unfortunately, Sajith’s lack of leadership qualities are becoming more obvious by the day. Perhaps, there is a chance for Ruwan Wijewardena, if he plays his cards right!
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