By Prof.Kirthi Tennakone
National Institute of Fundamental Studies
History tells us pandemics have devastatingly interrupted civilizations. They killed millions of humans and brought forth misery and poverty, but never wiped out a civilisation. Epidemics and pandemics begin, escalate and wane or re-emerge. However, the causative agent rarely disappears; it opts for a less vicious coexistence. Smallpox is the only epidemically potent disease that has been eliminated absolutely – not via natural processes but by the intervention of human intelligence.
Life has been created by natural forces endowing an essence for it to reproduce and undergo change. We ourselves and the virus exist because of this, which also enables the virus to adapt itself to the environment, survive and expand causing the pandemic. In ancient times, humans had to await the consequences of the same natural forces to face a pandemic – those who remained fit and immune survived and reproduced.
Today, human intelligent intervention makes things more favourable to us than to the virus, and helps many who lack the natural immunity survive. The eventuality of the present pandemic will be determined by the effort we make to combat it.
How pandemics originate
Persian philosopher Ibn Sina was probably the first to conjecture that living entities in the human body caused diseases. Later, Louis Pasteur proved infections occurred when microscopic organisms entered the body and proliferated and those microbes could pass from one individual to another.
Microbes do not emerge spontaneously; nor do they arrive from the sky. They exist everywhere in the environment as creations of biological evolution. Humans, animals and plants harbour them. Microbes associated with a given species, often symbiotic, pose no danger to the host, whose immunity prevents their undue proliferation. They are selective; those present in one species would not easily move to a different type of host and get established. Nevertheless, the complexity of living things allow exceptions. Occasionally a pathogen or innocuous microbes concealed in animals or found in the environment can jump to a human causing diseases.
An illness acquired from an animal is referred to as a zoonotic disease or a zoonosis. Sometimes, the zoonosis turns out be contagious. Almost all calamitous epidemics and pandemics have arisen from accidental transfer of a bacteria or a virus from an animal species to humans and subsequent evolution- their origin is zoonotic. Ebola, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and COVID-19 are zoonotic diseases. The zoonotic infections such as plague, smallpox, measles and swine flu caused first magnitude pandemics in the past.
Ebola Virus Disease: near pandemic situation 2014-2016
A previously unknown sickness broke out near the Ebola River in Congo in 1976, killing almost 80% of persons who contracted it. The cause of the disease, subsequently named Ebola, was found to be a virus endemically associated with bats. Although the virus does no harm to the bats, when transferred to humans via contact during hunting, a fatal condition, similar to a flu occurs. The exposure to body fluids of the infected persons passes the disease to the community. The Ebola outbreak 2014-2016, spread across West Africa. Some cases were also reported in Europe and the United States.
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS): The older cousins of COVID-19
Coronaviruses with crown like spikes on the surface exist everywhere. Until early 2000s, they were not considered a threat to humans. In 2002, a new contagious respiratory disease, SARS, emerged in China and spread rapidly to several other countries. International corporation; coordinated by WHO quickly elucidated the nature of the condition. The cause of the disease was identified to be a virus harboured by some bats, transferred to humans by palm civets. Handling civet cat meat in wet markets is believed to have caused the transmission of the pathogen to humans. The epidemic was effectively controlled by isolation of infected persons, use of masks, protective equipment, physical distancing and thermal sensing of passengers in airports. In July 2003, WHO declared SARS had been contained.
Another respiratory viral disease MERS first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 crossed continents due to air travel. The second major MERS outbreak occurred in South Korea in 2015. Compared to SARS, MERS is more virulent but less contagious, and spreads through close contacts of infected persons. The origin of MERS virus is zoonotic, bats being the primary source and camels the intermediate which transferred the pathogen to humans. The virus may have undergone genetic change in camels facilitating its adaptation to humans.
How pandemics evolve
Pandemics and epidemics begin when an infectious agent enters a community possessing no immunity to resist. A tragic example is measles epidemic in Fiji. In 1875, an Australian delegation carried the virus to the island whose natives were never exposed to the measles – a disease quite common in Asia and Europe. In a matter of months 30 percent of the population died!
Zoonotic viruses are particularly dangerous because humans are not exposed to them at the beginning. The absence of immunity allowed an epidemic in one locality to expand as a pandemic. Furthermore, when a virus originally found in an animal, genetically and associatively distant from humans, is harboured in an intermediate host closer to humans, some genetic intermingling could occur via processes referred to as recombination and re-assortment. This way, the virus acquires a foreignness needed to evade the human immune response and a kinship favourable for adaptation. Domesticated animals sometimes carry viruses originally derived from humans but genetically modified. A virus found in a wild animal co-infecting a domesticated one can copy genetic information from the latter producing a new kind of virus, adaptable to humans and also withstand host immunity.
The origin of the virus causing COVID-19 named SARS-Cov-2 has been traced to a bat species. The genetic make-up of SARS-Cov-2 tally nearly 95 percent with a virus found in so-called horseshoe bats. It is not conclusive whether the virus passed directly from a bat to humans or through an intermediate host. There exists no evidence to support the conspiracy theories that the virus leaked from a laboratory. Finding out how the virus came into being would shed light on how to control it effectively.
Once a pathogen enters a population devoid of immunity, the number of infected people begins to expand exponentially at a rate proportional to the population density reaching a peak. Thereafter, because of the decrease of susceptible persons owing to acquisition of immunity and deaths, the disease wanes.
Mathematical models predict above behaviour and point to the important concept of the effective reproduction number of a progressing epidemic. Effective reproduction number (RE) is the average number of people who acquire the infection from one infected individual at a given time. The idea of reproduction number was first introduced by the British Physician Ronald Ross, who took up mathematics to find a way to eradicate malaria. Ross showed that in order to control an epidemic RE needed to be kept below one. His suggestions for doing this paved the way for the eradication of malaria epidemics in Sri Lanka. In the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan, China RE has been in the range 3-5. Control measures such as physical distancing, wearing masks and isolation reduce RE, but the issue is reducing the number further to reach values below one. The mode of evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic is complicated by human migration by imposition and withdrawal of preventive measures.
Transmissibility and virulence
The virus is not after vengeance to be noxiously virulent and kill as many as possible; evolution in that direction renders no advantage because if a large majority of infected persons die, the virus will be deprived of hosts to feed on and reproduce.
The probability that someone will catch the infection from an infected person depends on the rate and quantity of the pathogen transmitted. A severe infection produces larger progeny of viruses; this has some advantage to the virus. Generally, pathogens compromise between transmissibility and virulence giving a higher weightage to the former. The transmissibility of COVID-19 is high because the infected shred the virus before symptoms fully develop. Contrastingly, in case of SARS; the infected release the pathogen at later stages when symptoms are readily identifiable enabling isolation; this is the main reason why SARS was contained and the COVID-19 transmission continues.
The virus aggressively attacking elderly and sparing younger could also be an advantage to the virus. Severely sick elderly patients release larger quantities of virus, infecting the younger who take care of them. The younger move about and infect others. The virus wants to procreate and exploits everything possible for that purpose!
Variations of the virus
Zoonotic viruses undergo major genetic changes via recombination or re-assortment and adapt to human system. Mutations enable them to fine-tune the traits favourable for adaptation by small genetic adjustments. When viruses replicate, their genetic code is sometimes copied erroneously, resulting in random variations. The process is analogous to typographical errors you make when you retype your essay. Even if you retype thousand times, you would not expect to find an improved version of the essay as result of random typographical errors. However, when a virus replicate trillions of times; a more adaptable one may originate and replicate endlessly – these are new strains of the virus. Recently, more contagious strains have been found to proliferate in the UK, Brazil and South Africa. The British Prime Minister announced that the variant identified in his country seemed to be more virulent.
Convergent evolution of strains
The three strains of the virus (United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa) seemed to have evolved independently. Yet, all the three variants have undergone similar changes in the spike protein, enabling the virus to attach to host cells more strongly; this is essential for efficient spreading. The qualities acquired indicate that mutations have got selected for the definite purpose of convergence to the same cause – to spread the disease fast.
Convergent evolution is quite common in nature. A prototypical example is the near identical streamlined body shapes of the shark and the dolphin. Shark is classified as a primitive fish, whereas the dolphin has been an evolutionarily modern four-legged mammal that lived on land adapted to the ocean. Both shark and dolphin independently evolved towards the optimum hydrodynamic body features to be able to swim fast.
Future of the Present Pandemic and Future Pandemics
It is too early to determine the degree of effectiveness of existing vaccines to new and emerging strains. Fortunately, some vaccines can be easily reprogrammed to provide immunity to new strains. The world will soon acquire the arsenal of weapons needed to fight it. Efficacious vaccines have been demonstrated, and many are in the pipeline. Antiviral drug research progresses although to date there exist no cure for COVID-19. The virtues of physical distancing, wearing masks, contact tracing and isolation are gaining acceptance. Hopefully wide vaccinations programmes and strict adherence to preventive measures will help subdue the pandemic; a concerted effort is imperative. As pointed out in the editorial The Island editorial of 21st January 2021 ensuring equitable access to vaccines is an urgency. This the factor determining what lies ahead and how the pandemic will halt.
Doing the needful forthwith is prudent because given sufficient time the virus might mutate in response to a single political decision implemented somewhere, irrespective of the geographical location.
The other issue would be the emergence of new pandemics in the future – most likely those of zoonotic origin. During the past two decades many such diseases have surfaced. Excessive interference with environment; clearing forests, maintaining millions of farm animals in unnatural conditions and climate change resulting from burning fossil fuels probably contribute this dangerous trend.
When humankind turns cruel to animals, destroy flora and engender environment, the return could be a pandemic!
Playing politics with science!
It is obvious that the only way out of this disastrous pandemic is through science––the use of vaccines that have been introduced in double quick time due to scientific ingenuity. It is the duty of politicians to refrain from playing politics with science.
By Dr Upul Wijayawardhana
If you thought it was only our politicians who played politics with science, you thought wrong. Admittedly, ours are pretty bad as evident from the Dhammika peniya episode. We had our Health Minister freely advertising the concoction by ingesting it in her office and wasting the valuable time of academics by instructing them to test it for efficacy. Getting a pretty bad attack of Covid-19 demonstrated the idiocy of her action but she continues unashamedly to be our Minister of Health!
A Professor of Pharmacology turned politician did likewise. Forgetting what he taught his students, he supported the untested therapies, the explanation given by one of his colleagues being that he behaved as a politician, not a scientist! By implication, even scientists can forget science when they become politicians! Funnily, he was rewarded by being appointed the Acting Minister of Health the day the Health Minister was discharged from hospital, which was rather bizarre considering that during the Minister’s prolonged period of hospital-stay there was no acting appointment! Perhaps, fearing that he might take the bread out of her mouth, the Minister returned to office within a few days of discharge.
Although the first wave of the Covid-19 epidemic was very effectively controlled, the loss of efficiency as regards the second wave was due no doubt to allowing non-scientific ideas to creep in. The refusal of permission for the burial of Covid-19 victims in spite of a group of top scientists recommending it, made us look foolish and turned international opinion against the country.
The clamour for vaccination is a welcome sign, more so because the UK is continually producing evidence for the extreme efficacy of vaccination.
The UK was the first country in the world to start vaccination and has already vaccinated more than 21 million of its 66 million population. It started with the Pfizer vaccine, closely followed by the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine. EU, which was a late starter, was critical of the Oxford AZ vaccine. The French President Emmanuel Macron is obviously guilty of playing politics with science as he was one of the vaccine’s most vociferous critics, calling it “quasi-ineffective” for the elderly. As a result of political comments of this nature, more than half of EU countries limited the Oxford AZ vaccine to those under 65 years, in spite of the European Medicines Agency approving it for all age groups.
Another political appointee, Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President, had a public spat with AstraZeneca over gaining more of its vaccine doses and introduced a border between Ireland and Northern Ireland; she was forced to reverse her decision, quickly. She then suggested the UK had compromised on “safety and efficacy” by approving the jab so early, despite the EMA reaching the same conclusions as the UK’s internationally-respected MHRA, which approved the Oxford AZ vaccine for all ages. Millions of doses of Oxford AZ vaccine, which they obtained in spite of criticism, remain unused in France and Germany. Why did they not have the generosity to give these to struggling countries like Sri Lanka?
Data released by Public Health England (PHE) shows that both the Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are highly effective in reducing COVID-19 infections among those 70 years and over. Since January, protection against symptomatic Covid-19, four weeks after the first dose, ranged between 57 and 61% for Pfizer and between 60 and 73% for the Oxford AZ vaccine.
In the over 80s, data suggest that a single dose of either vaccine is more than 80% effective in preventing hospitalisation, around 3 to 4 weeks after the jab. There is also evidence for 83% reduction in deaths from Covid-19 with the Pfizer vaccine and data for Oxford AZ vaccine is awaited.
European aversion to Oxford AZ vaccine is, no doubt, due to Brexit than to science. Very soon, all EU countries would be forced by science to allow all age groups to have the Oxford AZ vaccine which, by the way, is the cheapest vaccine that is easier to transport and store. Politicians who criticised Oxford AZ vaccine have had to eat humble pie but they will no doubt come out with some claim to justify their idiocy!
A Belgian minister, Budget State Secretary Eva De Bleeker, has angered vaccine manufacturers by revealing sensitive and confidential commercial information – the price that the EU has agreed to pay for the leading Covid-19 vaccines. Though her twitter message was deleted quickly, screenshots taken show that the EU agreed prices for the three vaccines used at present are as follows: Oxford/AstraZeneca: €$ 1.78, Pfizer/BioNTech : €$ 12 and Moderna: $18.
Moderna, a Bio-tech company, which has not been profitable so-far, is heading for wind-fall profits and the drug-giant Pfizer will get richer. No one seems to have followed the noble gesture of AstraZeneca, which agreed with the Oxford group to provide the vaccine on no-profit basis.
It is obvious that the only way out of this disastrous pandemic is through science––the use of vaccines that have been introduced in double quick time due to scientific ingenuity. It is the duty of politicians to refrain from playing politics with science.
As Dolly Parton sang with a rewrite of her famous song ‘Jolene’ whilst having her jab:
“Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, I’m begging of you, please don’t hesitate. Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, because once you’re dead, then that’s a bit too late.”
Who wants to live forever?
The haunting lyrics of The Queen song and the almost plaintive tone in Freddie Mercury’s oh so unique voice, when he sang this song (particularly in his live performance at Wembley), echo through my mind these days. There are two main reasons why longevity is foremost these days.
The first, of course, being the pandemic that is among us. It may be the first time that the civilian population of the entire world is facing the possibility of sudden death, not from incoming fire or even suicide bombers but from an insidious, unseen, minute germ!
The second reason why the length of our lives and prolonging it for as long as we possibly can have been entering my thoughts, is when I see the scramble to get the anti-virus vaccine that I observe in the Pearl. Now, most of us are Buddhists and somewhere in those teachings is a belief that we come into this world with a certain amount of AYUSHA or length of life, and that when that is over the end happens and there is no choice. At least, that is the basic interpretation of undoubtedly very complex teaching.
If that is the case, why this scramble for the vaccine? Why are we using privileged positions (connections to rulers and politicians), connections to doctors, and even the Mayors of certain cities to short-circuit the waiting lists? Older people are complaining that they are being denied the vaccine, why? Those people have probably achieved all their objectives in life, completed successful lives, seen grandchildren or even great-grandchildren, why do they want to deny some young man or woman starting out on life with all those milestones to reach, the vaccine, particularly if they are devoted to the teachings of the Buddha.
Is it selfishness, greed, and avarice, things we should avoid according to these self-same teachings, or is it simply one-up-man-ship and the need to be able to boast that they got the vaccine when the “ordinary” man is still standing in queues and probably infecting each other due to the total chaos and non-observance of Covid protocols in these places of administering the vaccine? Think about it dear readers, especially those of you who have completed productive and useful lives, brought up “successful” children, and as is the way in our society provided them with houses, lands, dowries, and other ways of sustenance. Do we really need to join this scramble for the vaccine? Or, use our position of privilege to probably deny some younger person, with a life to live, the chance of getting it. Is it even our ego (something else we should control and make less significant in our lives and decisions) that allows us to justify our long existence in this world? They need my superior intellect, does this world and this society, therefore I must live as long as possible! Or, is it simply the basic animal instinct to live as long as possible, something that we as humans with our superior brains should be able to think around?
Here in Aotearoa, we have re-entered a level 3 lockdown in our most heavily populated city and a level 2 lockdown for the rest of our country. This has been due to certain non-observance of Covid protocols by people of a clearly identified community, living in a certain part of the city of sails, as Auckland is also known. This is the second time that the community, living in that part of the city has brought about an escalation of the pandemic and stricter lockdowns. It has brought more economic misery and spelled the end of the road to more businesses and enterprises. Now, in the Pearl, we may have resorted to attacking those communities and even rioting. All that seems to have happened here are of course the usual vitriolic racist attacks on the internet and a government decision to vaccinate those areas of the city first, in an attempt to control the pandemic. Wow! in the pearl either all these people would have been rounded up and locked up in a camp in the Vanni or locked down under strict curfew with the threat of being shot if violated. The jury with regard to if the Pearl alternative or the Aotearoa alternative of these should have been used is still out …
Maybe some readers are interested in the outcome of the threat that is looming over us from the upcoming United Nations action in Geneva? I have been trying to get some feedback from “intellectuals” currently living in the Pearl, but they seem distracted, and a feeling of helplessness seems to prevail. The incumbent Foreign Minister seems to think that a humble Indian Ocean Island with what strictly speaking, can be considered a failed or at least failing economy, can dictate terms to the UN, behaving like the proverbial bull in a china shop. Maybe our “new best friend” China, probably aided and abetted by Russia has lent strength to his arm.
Even a “victory’ for Lanka at the UNHCR to this resolution should not be cheered too vociferously, as the countries ranged against us will have long term plans. Every step of this government will be monitored closely. The loss of our garment exporting privileges to the first world could result along with other economic sanctions that would make the cost of living in the Pearl even higher.
One rather interesting possibility seems to be travel bans on certain individuals and freezing of their assets held abroad. Now that could be stimulating, especially if the numbers involved are made public! However, if that was the case, I believe the attempt to rectify the situation would have been given to a more competent person than “the bull in the china shop”!
I cannot resist putting this out dear readers and I apologise profusely in advance. What if someone like Ranil W, was in charge of foreign affairs? Do you think we would have had a more professional approach and had a better chance in dealing with the complicated nuances of handling UN diplomacy, in the long term? At least we may have not insulted and possibly humiliated the visiting PM of one of our allies, Imran Khan of Pakistan! On the other hand, Mr. Khan, you may rest assured that even if you had addressed our parliament, no member would have understood anything you said or even been able to decipher your immaculate Oxbridge accent. It is only those of us who have shut ourselves out mentally from the shenanigans or gone into voluntary exile who watch with dismay, who would have savoured your words and briefly wondered …what if … ?
Thanks for quick vaccination; harmful dabblers in the occult should be severely dealt with
There has been much in the daily press on vaccination against Covid-19 in this fair isle of ours, or rather in Colombo and its suburbs
Let’s put aside complaints and say praise be!
Most of what was media-written was on the ensuing chaos of not knowing where to go for the jab; how to get a token; which age group will be given it (apart of course from VIPs and politicians who were close behind frontline health workers). Mercifully, the authorities righted the initial wrong of deciding on prioritizing the 30-65 age group and neglecting the over 65s, who were placed second in the priority list in more enlightened countries following WHO strictures. And so lots have got the jab and we anticipate a drastic drop in infection and Covid death rates. Cass contributed her fair share of criticism in this column but not stridently nor unreasonably. She had not seen the privileged list that passed off as Municipal workers on Tuesday 24 February at the Public Library, Colombo 7, arriving in Mercedes Benzes and SUVs. If she had, her ire would have emerged in pure vitriol! One friend said she enquired from several sophisticates in the queue how they got there, but received mumbled replies. So, a Rose by any other name, even Do-Gooder, smells as bad when it goes unjust! Things got much better and the service worked smoothly once the MOHs came into their own.
What Cass notes in summarizing the issue today is thanks and gratitude to the government and the Health Services particularly, for vaccinating so very many so quickly. People who wrote about this issue, Cass included, were all praise for the actual data takers and vaccine givers. In certain centres, the old and disabled were queued in a different line and vaccinated within an hour.
The gratitude Cass renders is because only part of the total amount of vaccine was gifted by India and the WHO. Our government booked early and paid for the rest, and of the Oxford kind. This vaccine is admittedly relatively cheaper, but it had to be paid for, which cost the government bore. We have to appreciate the massive organization entailed and excuse inevitable hiccups. This fact struck Cass as a feeling of much needed security and elimination of fear was felt, and all for free. Also when a friend in Melbourne wrote they were as yet awaiting vaccination.
Black Magic and witchcraft in Sri Lanka
If you thought as Cass did that we would never ever resemble a dark Congo tribe resorting to occult cures or a re-enactment of shades of supernatural superstitious beliefs in witchcraft as in Salem, Massachusetts, USA, in 1692 (where some young girls caught prancing naked cooked up lies about good women in the village being witches), you and Cass were both mistaken. We’ve had these in different styles right here in supposedly majority Buddhist Free Sri Lanka with other religions holding people together, in the 21st century with some of our own doing brilliantly well in advanced scientific disciplines all over the developed world. Cass, as you now know, was born and bred in the hills of Kandy with its most sacred Dalada Maligawa and picturesquely situated quaint temples in peaceful green valleys with the sound of evening pooja bells, joined by Kovil tinkles and Sunday sonorous Church gantara and the cry of the Muzeen. We never had a bali or thovil ceremony. If an inauspicious time descended on the village or a household, it was pirith chanted by Bhikkhus. So to Cass what has been happening very recently is even stranger than to those who have village cousins who dabble in mantra and kodivina with kattadiyas in action.
I refer here to the stupidly preposterous belief in Dhammika’s peniya as both a prophylactic and cure for pernicious Covid-19. Where is that charlatan veda – oops sorry- Kaliamma devala kapurala now? Safe with his ill-gotten gains, we suppose.
The latest voodoo story, but with such a tragic ending, is that of the 9-year-old Delgoda girl who suffered an emotional (rather than mental) aberration and was subject to exorcism by caning her mercilessly. The exorcist could not be a woman; she must certainly be a sadistic aberration herself. Can you believe that she applied oil on the girl and used the cane on her till the kid went unconscious? Was the cane an ordinary one? At first I could not believe the story read in the papers – how cane a person to death, but it was a child receiving the torture and who knows what sort of ‘weapon’ was used. The mother definitely must be punished more severely. Maternal love, even in the animal kingdom, will never allow harming an offspring, so how on earth did the mother watch all that caning. One shot would have torn Cass to the defence of her child, or for that matter any child, with talons extended and blood now not turned to milk as the Sinhala saying goes, but to vitriolic fury. The woman exorcist with supernatural powers and the mother are in police custody. Why doesn’t she do a Houdini and astound handsome Police high-up Ajit Rohana?
People claiming superhuman clairvoyance and divine power crop up everywhere. Cass accompanied a friend to consult a girl in the suburbs of Kandy to find out where her hub had ‘donated’ a fairly large sum of money. This girl had given clear directions to find a lost Persian cat to a third friend; hence the visit. She was a pretty, soft girl of around 18. Once Cass and the other entered the room, the girl changed, was in a near trance and speaking in an entirely different voice, pronounced the reason for seeking her help and said “Look for a man always dressed in long sleeves and thinning hair parted in the middle.” The friend was baffled and defeated by this long shot, but finally she met a man of this description – the father of a girl in her husband’s office. She did not ask for the money!
Such ‘powers’ are temporary; maybe like poltergeist manifestations in a teenager’s home. But going for cures to them is unthinkable. Buddhist bhikkhus and maybe bhikkhuunis, so also certain Christian priests (the bulk of lecherous Father Mathew intrudes here) do have powers of exorcism. A medical doctor is the best bet, in any case, including even mental upsets.
Imran Khan’s all too brief visit was a successful veni, vidi, vici in spite of being snubbed ungraciously over the address to Parliamentarians (what a weak, threadbare excuse was offered – C-19 precaution!) and missing out two of our cricket greats: Michael Tissera and Anura Tennakoon from the list of cricket folk to say Hi to the great Cricketer at lunch at Shangri La. What was the success apart from charming everyone and showing off what a Statesman can look like and carry himself off? Why – the Muslims of Sri Lanka conquered. Burial was theirs or so it seemed. But hold it, is it gazetted or is this ‘yes’ like the Prime Minister’s definite ‘can bury’ pronounced in Parliament and then brushed aside and explained by the Gaman as “he was merely expressing his thoughts.”
Main headline in The Island of Wednesday 3 March:” PCol report on Easter Sunday carnage: AG won’t be given ‘sensitive’ volumes.” Why on earth? Is it X-rated and the AG underage?
Picture on page I of same issue of Dr Rajitha Senaratne arriving at the Colombo High Court to appear in a case involving two persons who accused then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa of various crimes. We have long forgotten even a single word of what they said. They will not get off free is Cass’ bet unlike Aluthgamage, who emerged very recently from a court house free as a bird, accused of corruption, Cass recalls.
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