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Lady Ridgeway Hospital: A haven for sick children in Sri Lanka

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125 YEAR BIRTH ANNIVERSARY:

By Dr. B. J. C. Perera

Specialist Consultant Paediatrician

I wrote an article in The Island newspaper, under the aforesaid title, 12 years ago, on Monday 09th June 2008. I have retained that title but content of this article is different. It’s worth looking at this hospital from a more current perspective particularly since the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children (LRH) is celebrating its 125-year jubilee in October 2020.

The LRH had very humble beginnings. At the outset, 125 years ago, it was constructed from public donations; rupees 46,000/- to be exact, as a small 50 bedded hospital. Lo and behold, today, this magnificent edifice, with over 1,000 beds, is the largest children’s hospital in the world, I repeat, in the whole world. It has stood the test of time as the final port of call and a veritable haven for sick children of our homeland. It is the National Referral Centre for this entire nation. The hospital functions sans any and every mundane consideration such as ethnicity, caste, creed and wealth of children who are brought there. This glorious medical facility is one that is solely devoted to sick children. If there is anything fanciful that is needed to be done in Sri Lanka for a sick child, it could be done in this hospital. It now caters to every type of malady that affects children. You name any specialty for the care of a sick child; it is available here. Everything is provided entirely free-of-charge and it is the crowning glory and the feather in the cap of the paediatric component of our Free National Health Service, the pride of Sri Lanka.

 

To date, I have been a doctor for exactly 50 years and a Specialist Consultant Paediatrician for 42 years. Out of that long period of half a century of service to the nation, I have spent 16 years in the hospitals of Kandy, Badulla, Ratnapura, Kurunegala and Kalubowila. Compared to that, and in contrast, I have worked in the Lady Ridgeway Hospital, in different capacities, for a total of 17 years. My service at LRH culminated with my retirement from the Ministry of Health in 2007. In lighter vein, I have been properly ‘themparadufied’ in our health sector, both public and private. I have most definitely, seen it all.

Those really were the days, around half a century ago, when during my medical student apprenticeship and internship, I saw how Mother Nature used to take the lives of our children with all kinds of infectious diseases. The wards at LRH were full with cases of meningitis, pneumonia, whooping cough, diphtheria, polio, diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera, measles, tetanus, tuberculosis, chicken pox, hepatitis, amoebiasis and even rabies. In fact, this is a list of just only a few of them. Add to it, the ravages of under-nutrition leading to marasmus and kwashiorkor, extensive vitamin and micronutrient deficiencies and major uncorrectible congenital heart abnormalities, and what did we have? A hospital bursting at its seams with sick children. It was practically a place that spelt out the real meaning of human susceptibility to disease and even mortality. During certain times it was indeed a bit of a hell on earth. The deaths were totalling up to some very significant numbers. By today’s standards, they had very few things they could do for intractable heart failure, liver failure and kidney failure. All types of paediatric malignancies and cancers were practically untreatable. The doctors and Specialist Consultants, as well as all other grades of staff of yore fought as hard as ever, tooth and nail, to save all those severely ill children who were brought to the LRH. However, most unfortunately and ever so very often, to no avail whatsoever. The dice was dreadfully loaded against those unfortunate children, as well as against the healthcare workers who had to look after them. In those halcyon days, each ward had a Consultant, a Senior House Officer and just two interns; a totally inadequate number of medical personnel to cater to the intense daily needs. Work was absolutely horrendous. It was not unusual to see many dead bodies of ill-fated children being wheeled out of the wards regularly, day in and day out. It was such a distressing and depressing landscape. There was hardly any light at the end of the tunnel. Yet for all that, the staff fought on bravely and relentlessly to save the precious lives of little children. To their eternal credit, they managed to save quite a few of the very seriously ill ones too.

Then, over many a decade, especially over the last few of them, the tide gradually turned. Successful vaccination almost totally removed some of the deaths and disabilities caused by a plethora of nasty infections. Many medical advances provided ways and means of dealing with former killer diseases. Improvements in heart surgery made it possible to treat at least a majority of congenital heart defects. When I finally reached the out-and-out hub of Paediatrics, which LRH was, in 1995, as a Specialist Consultant in charge of a unit, just about 25 years after my own internship at LRH, the scenery and settings had changed so much and well beyond belief that it was almost unrecognisable. In my ward I even had the absolute luxury of the services of a Senior Registrar, one who just needed two further years of training abroad before becoming a Consultant, four Postgraduate Registrars waiting to sit for the Final MD in Paediatrics Examination and four intern house physicians. The academic level of all those individuals who cared for my patients was absolutely top-class. They were right up-to-date in the sphere of scholarly paediatrics. They were all very fine and dedicated young doctors who would never ever allow a child to die without a steadfast and committed fight.

The advances in surgery were almost unbelievable. To top it all, around the time that I finally reached LRH as a Specialist Consultant, we had the services of several very fine Paediatric Surgeons whose handiwork in the Operating Theatres were almost too good to be true. Some of the recoveries from incredible surgical tragedies were really like those from the pages of volume of fiction. They were the work of gifted artists who wielded the scalpel with telling effect. One little anecdote that comes to mind is the surgical prowess of one particular general surgeon in lung operations. He was, and still is, quite a maestro at it. In those days that I was in charge of a unit, because of my personal interest in childhood respiratory disorders, we used to get quite a number of children with major lung problems which sometimes needed expert surgery. The usual practice was to send them off to the Colombo General Hospital Thoracic Unit for surgery. Lung surgery in children is a very tricky business. Things could go wrong at the drop of a hat. I somehow got to know that this particular young surgeon at LRH was so very good at it and I used to plead with him to get the surgery done at LRH itself. I used to say “Aney, please, please, PLEASE.., do it for me as a personal favour”. The very fine man that he was, and still is for that matter, he never ever refused. He has surgically taken off lobes of lungs and even the whole lung sometimes of my ill patients. True to life, those children recovered without any problems in about a week to 10 days. We never had even a single death after extensive lung surgery. They went home to a normal fruitful life and an entirely normal life-span. Just for the record, one could remove a major portion of the two lungs and still be able to lead a normal life with even a well-functioning half a lung. When I used to thank the surgeon profusely for doing it for me, he used to just smile and even feel a bit embarrassed.

It was all in a day’s work for him but for us, it was an absolute life-saver for our patients. In fact, that surgeon is still in active service at LRH. That is the quality of the Paediatric Surgeons that we have even today, with no exceptions whatsoever. Their commitment is truly wonderful. They will not let an unfortunate child suffer unnecessarily. They will fight on with every available means, daytime as well as well into the middle of the night, to save the lives of children to whom they had practically committed their professional lives. I have seen with my own eyes, these surgical colleagues leaving their families and their own little children at home to come to LRH in the middle of the night to perform life-saving surgical operations on our little patients.

Now, fast forward to 2020!!!! After my retirement in 2007, I now work only in the Private Sector and there are several instances where I have had to send patients to LRH for further investigation and treatment. One particular little tale comes to mind rather forcefully. A frantic mother of one of my regular patients telephoned me around mid-day, just about a couple of weeks ago because her little pre-schooler had taken an overdose of some medicines. My immediate advice over the phone was “please do not take the child anywhere other than to LRH. Do not go to any other place but rush him to LRH. Do not even bring him to me. I am just asking you to take the child to the very best place in the whole island”. They rushed him there and the staff attended to him pronto. He had what we call a stomach-wash performed on him, then they instilled some activated charcoal into the stomach, did some baseline blood tests and kept him in the ward. He did not turn even a hair and recovered within a couple of days. Incidentally, I think the mother threw my name around a bit and when the Consultant of the ward got to know, he had said “I trained under Dr BJC and we have done exactly what he would have done in the circumstances”. He was one of my Postgraduate Registrars and it was extremely nice of him to say those things. Of course, the mother and the relatives of the child were ever so pleased.

There were many other patients whom I had sent to LRH over several years and I have always asked them how it was at LRH when they came to me again. Every single time the mothers have said “It was a bit inconvenient for us but the child got star-class treatment and that really is what matters” or something basically to that effect. It has always warmed the cockles of my heart to hear such complimentary statements. My heart and soul have always been with LRH and anything unsavoury and disparaging said about that hospital would really hurt me to the core. We did care so much for the little children admitted under us and it is so good to see that those who have come after us do care as much, and are dedicated to the cause of providing the very best possible care for the patients as well.

Well, the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children, the mother of all hospitals in our resplendent isle, is 125 years old. If walls could talk, the walls of LRH would have all kinds of stories to tell. She would say how she had seen the worst of many diseases that affected children and also how things have changed over a century and a quarter of her existence. She would have a perpetual smile on her face in view of the progress achieved in caring for sick children, especially over the last few decades.

The lady needs to be feted and acclaimed on her 125th Birth Anniversary. The administrative staff, the doctors and all other grades of workers of LRH have planned a fitting celebration for her on the 01st of October 2020. In a glittering ceremony due to be graced by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Minister of Health of Sri Lanka Pavithra Wanniarachchi MP; they will acknowledge the priceless role played by LRH towards the healthcare of Sri Lankan Children. The ceremony will include the laying of the foundation stone for a new nine-storey building, opening of the new bone marrow transplant unit, opening of the new Operation Theatre Complex, official issuing of the hospital logo, formal release of the hospital song written by Dr. Rathnasri Wijesinghe with music compiled by Dr. Rohana Weerasinghe, and the commissioning of the new website for the hospital. These latest developments would help to make an excellent place for sick children, even a little bit of a better place for them.

All these would be a fitting and splendid accolade to an illustrious medical facility that is absolutely like no other. May she go from strength to strength and continue to be a dazzling beacon of excellence in healthcare for our children in this Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

Viva Lady Ridgeway Hospital, please do take a bow on your 125-year Birth Anniversary. It is the very least you so richly deserve, for the commitment that you have shown for the sick children of our beautiful Motherland. You are indeed a majestic haven of excellence for them.



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Solidarity and Aragalaya: A few thoughts from an educationist’s perspective

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by Harshana Rambukwella

Very little in Sri Lanka at the moment inspires hope. We are facing an existential crisis that was inconceivable just six months ago. Sri Lanka is also, ironically, just a year away from marking the 75th year of its independence. As we reflect on these seven decades of postcolonial nation building, and as we confront a future of extreme precarity, our scorecard as a country is not a proud one. Much blood has been spilt in the name of postcolonial nation building and the ethno-nationalist conflict that shaped almost three decades of that history and two youth rebellions against the state speak to a history of division and enmity. While our current predicament cannot be entirely attributed to this conflictual history alone, it surely played more than a small role in shaping our present misery. It is within this context that I want to offer this brief set of reflections on what I feel is an unprecedented form of solidarity that has emerged in Sri Lanka as the aragalaya took shape. While I do not want to romanticize this solidarity because it is a highly contingent phenomenon and is shaped by the extreme nature of the current political and economic conditions, it offers us as a society, but more specifically as educators, something to reflect on as we try to imagine our role in a society that faces a painful process of rebuilding and recovery (though my hope is that such rebuilding and recovery does not mean the repetition of the tired old neo-liberal script we have followed for decades).

Before I explore what I mean by solidarity within the aragalaya, let me briefly reflect on solidarity as a concept. Solidarity is a term sometimes deployed in geopolitics. Particularly in this time of global turmoil where not just Sri Lanka, but many other countries are experiencing serious economic challenges, we see nations expressing solidarity with or towards other nations. However, such solidarity is almost always shaped by instrumental motives. This is what we might call a form of ‘vertical’ solidarity where more powerful and wealthy nations extend a ‘helping hand’ to their more unfortunate counterparts. Therefore, when India says ‘neighbourhood first’ and expresses solidarity with Sri Lanka in this time of trouble one can easily discern this as a hierarchical gesture shaped by instrumental motives. It is in reality, India’s strategic geopolitical interests that largely dominate this narrative of solidarity though one cannot disregard the critical importance of the assistance extended by India and other such ‘powerful’ nations in this time of national distress.

Another form in which solidarity manifests is through what some scholars have termed ‘enchanted’ solidarities. This is literally and metaphorically a distant form of solidarity where intellectuals, activists and others extend solidarity towards a struggle they perceive as deserving their support but without truly understanding the context in which they are intervening. This has often happened with ‘first world’ academics and intellectuals expressing solidarity towards ‘third world’ struggles which they felt were ideologically aligned with their beliefs. One example is how many liberal and leftist intellectuals supported the rise of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, believing it to be an anti-imperial liberation movement, only to become disillusioned with the movement as they began to see the full horror of the repression and violence unleashed by the Khmer regime. I think if we reflect on Sri Lanka’s postcolonial history, we can also find many such moments where enchanted solidarities were expressed towards various movements from people in the ‘metropolitan’ center with little understanding of the nuances of the politics on the ground.

Premised against both vertical and enchanted solidarities, scholars have also proposed what is called ‘disenchanted solidarity’. By this they mean a situation where diverse groups, sometimes with very different political and ideological agendas, come together to fight for a common cause. They are often critically conscious of their differences but face a common precarity that pushes them together to struggle and align in ways that were not possible before. Often such moments are also underwritten by anger, though the sources of anger or the objects towards which the anger is directed could be different. I would like to read the aragalaya through this lens of disenchanted solidarity. Particularly at the height of the Galle Face ‘Gota go gama’ protests – before the brutish May 9th attack symbolically ‘killed’ something of the ‘innocence’ of the struggle – there was a sense in which the different groups represented in that space were expressing solidarity towards a singular goal – getting rid of the Rajapakasas and a political system they saw as deeply corrupt – there was anger and a gathering of disenchanted solidarities. For many middle-class people, the aragalaya was a way in which to express their frustration at the lack of the basic necessities of life – be it gas, electricity and fuel – and how a corrupt political class had robbed them of their future. For those with longer histories of political activism such as the IUSF (the Inter University Students Federation) or youth activists from the Frontline Socialist Party or the JVPs youth wing or the many trade unions that supported the aragalaya, this moment in some ways represented the culmination, and perhaps even a vindication, of their longstanding struggles against a political, social and economic order that they consider fundamentally unfair and exploitative. Of course, within this larger narrative, there were and continue to be pragmatic political calculations, particularly from groups affiliated with political parties. At the same time, we also witnessed ethnic and religious minorities, often historically marginalized in Sri Lanka’s social and political mainstream finding a rare space to express their anger at the ways in which they have been discriminated against. However, the argalaya gave them a rare space to do so by channeling their anger as a form of solidarity towards the common goal of getting rid of the Rajapaksa dynasty and the corrupt political system as a whole.

But at the same time, we also saw the tenuous nature of these disenchanted solidarities in the aftermath of the 9th May attack on ‘Gota go gama’. Initially we saw another spectacular display of organic and spontaneous solidarity when health workers and office workers abandoned their workstations and rushed to ‘Gota go gama’ when news of the attack broke. But by the evening of that day the story had turned more insidious with a wave of attacks against the properties of politicians and others thought to have been involved in the attack against the peaceful aragayala participants. While we may understand and even empathize with this backlash, its violent nature and what appeared to be other instrumental motives driving it, such as the looting and revenge attacks, made it difficult to associate it with the moral principles that had animated the aragalaya thus far.

Thereafter, at the current moment I am writing, the aragalaya also appears to have lost some of its vital energy as the political configuration has shifted and the tragi-comedy of Sri Lanka’s realpolitik with its underhand deals and political mechanizations seems to have regained the upper hand.

However, what does this mean? Does it mean post May 9th the aragalaya has lost its meaning and purpose or can we push our analysis a little deeper. At this point I would like to introduce one final way in which scholars have discussed solidarity which I feel is appropriate to understand the aragalaya and the spirit that underwrote it and continues to underwrite it. This is what some scholars have called ‘deep solidarity’ – a situation where in today’s neo-liberal context where the vast majority of the population come to a realization of their common social and economic predicament and realize their common enemy is the symbolic ‘one percent’ or an insidious nexus between crony capital and political power that disempowers them. This is of course an idealistic conception but one which I feel holds true at least partially to this moment in Sri Lanka. People from widely varying social and economic strata, from different religious persuasions and people with wildly different ideological and political beliefs have been suddenly pushed together. They are all standing in the never-ending petrol and diesel queues, they are desperately hunting for the next cylinder of gas and increasingly many of them are going hungry. The privileges and the divisions that once defined them, no longer seem to be so ‘real’ and the one stark reality confronting them is a form of existential annihilation. I believe within the aragalaya we can glimpse traces of this deep solidarity and as an educationist I think it is our vital task to think of creative ways in which we might sustain this solidarity, grow it and nurture it, so that we can at least ‘imagine’ a better future. These are idealistic sentiments, but at least for me, such hope, is a political and pedagogical necessity of the current moment.

Harshana Rambukwella is attached to the Postgraduate Institute of English at the Open University of Sri Lanka

Kuppi is a politics and pedagogy happening on the margins of the lecture hall that parodies, subverts, and simultaneously reaffirms social hierarchies

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No solutions to nation’s problems from draft constitutional amendment

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by jehan perera

The three-wheel taxi driver did not need much encouragement to talk about the hardships in his life, starting with spending two days in the petrol queue to get his quota. He said that he had a practice of giving his three children a small packet of biscuits and a small carton of milk every morning. But now with the cost tripling, he could only buy one packet of biscuits and his three children had to share it. This is because their beloved country is facing one debacle after another for no fault of those kids or the larger nation. The latest is the failure of the government to make headway in accessing either IMF funding or other funding on any significant scale. Several countries have made donations, but these are in the millions whereas Sri Lanka requires billions if it is to come out of its vicious cycle of a dollar shortage.

There was much anticipation that the appointment of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would bring in the billions that are desperately needed by the country if it is to obtain the fuel, food and medicines to keep the people healthy and the economy moving. But things have not worked out in this manner. The pickings have been slim and sparse. The IMF has given the reasons after the ten day visit by its staff to Sri Lanka. They have specifically referred to “reducing corruption vulnerabilities” in their concluding statement at the end of their visit. The international community in the form of multilateral donors and Western governments have prioritized political stability and a corruption-free administration prior to providing Sri Lanka with the financial assistance it requires.

The pressing need in the country is for the government to show there is political stability and zero tolerance for corruption in dealing with the prevailing crisis. It is not enough for government leaders to give verbal assurances on these matters. There needs to be political arrangements that convince the international community, and the people of Sri Lanka, that the government is committed to this cause. Several foreign governments have said that they will consider larger scale assistance to Sri Lanka, once the IMF agreement is operational. So far the government has not been successful in convincing the international community that its own accountability systems are reliable. This is the main reason why the country is only obtaining millions in aid and not billions.

INDEPENDENT COMMISSIONS

The draft 22nd Amendment that is now before the parliament (which will become the 21st Amendment should it be passed) would be a good place for the government to show its commitment. The cabinet has approved the draft which has three main sections, impacting upon the establishment of the constitutional council, the powers of the president and dual citizenship. However, the cabinet-approved draft is a far cry from what is proposed by the opposition political parties and civil society groups. It is watered down to the point of being ineffective. Indeed, it appears to be designed to fail as it is unlikely to gain the support of different political parties and factions within those parties whose support is necessary if the 2/3 majority is to be obtained.

In the first place, the draft constitutional amendment does not reduce the president’s power in any significant manner. The amendment is drafted in a way that the reduction of presidential powers will only occur with the next president. The president now in office, who has publicly admitted failure on his part, continues to be empowered to appoint and sack the prime minister and cabinet ministers at his arbitrary discretion. He is also empowered to appoint and dismiss the secretaries to ministries, who are the highest-ranking public service officials. In short, the executive arms of the government are obliged to do the president’s bidding or risk their jobs. This indicates the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, whose party has only a single seat in parliament, has no independent strength, but is there at the will and pleasure of the president.

In the second instance, the draft amendment was expected to set up a system of checks and balances for accountability and anti-corruption purposes. The pioneering effort in this regard was the 17th Amendment of 2001 that made provisions for a constitutional council and independent commissions. According to it, the members of all state bodies tasked with accountability and anti-corruption functions, such as the Bribery and Corruption Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Police Commission, the Public Service Commission and the appointees to the higher judiciary were to be appointed through the constitutional council. The 17th Amendment made provision for seven of the ten members of the constitutional council to be from civil society.

DEATH BLOW

Unfortunately, in a manner designed to deal a death blow to the concept of checks and balances, the draft amendment sets up a constitutional council with the proportions in reverse to that of the 17th Amendment. It reveals a mindset in the political leadership that fears de-politicisation of decision making. Seven of the ten members will be appointed by the political parties and the president in a way in which the majority of members will be government appointees. Only three will be from civil society. This ensures a majority representation in the Council for government politicians, and the ensures government dominance over the political members. The composition of the constitutional council proposed in the Bill undermines the independence of the institutions to which appointments are made through the Council who will be unable to stem the wildly growing tide of corruption in the country.

It is no wonder that the furious people in the endless queues for petrol and diesel should believe that there is corruption at play in the continuing shortage of basic commodities. The government promised that ships would come in laden with fuel a week ago. Then, inexplicably, the information was disseminated that no ships were on the horizon. In any other country, except in a country like no other, the concerned leaders would have resigned. Due to the lack of fuel, perishable farm produce rots in rural farmhouses and markets in urban centres are empty and prices are rocketing up. In the meantime, the media has exposed rackets where the privileged, politically powerful and super rich, are given special access to fuel. It is patently clear that the government has failed to deliver on the results that were expected. The situation is getting worse in terms of corrupt practices.

To the credit of the Sri Lankan people, they are being patient. The bonds of social solidarity still prevail. But the anger at the self-seeking and incompetent political leaders is reaching the boiling point, as it did on 09 May. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa pledged to set up an interim government in consultation with party leaders in parliament. However, he did not do so but appointed UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister and thereby ended efforts of other parliamentarians to form a national unity government. The president’s pledge, made in the aftermath of the cataclysmic and unexpected violence that took place that day, was to reduce his presidential powers, transfer those powers to parliament and to appoint an all-party and interim government of no more than 15 ministers. These pledges remain unfulfilled and need to be implemented to be followed by elections as soon as the situation stabilises.

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Kehelgamuwa’s football skills and President Premadasa’s political sagacity

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By Hema Arachi

T.B. Kehelgamuwa, the cricketer who needs no plaudits from anyone, is well known. He represented then Ceylon and, later, Sri Lanka as a fearsome fast bowler during the pre-Test era. His contemporaries still talk about Kehel with great respect. Once S Skanda Kumar, the well-known cricketer, cricket commentator and former High Commissioner for Sri Lanka to Australia, proudly told me about his playing cricket with Kehelgamuwa. Bandu Samarasinghe, a Sri Lanka film star, on a TV programme vividly demonstrated how he faced Kehelgamuwa in a Sara Trophy game. That was the top-level tournament in the country.

This note is to share my watching Kehelgamuwa playing soccer when he was not so young. Then, though his grey hair was visible, he ran fast and played hard like a teenager. This was during President Ranasinghe Premadasa’s tenure. Returning from The Netherlands, after my postgraduate studies, I lived in Pelawatta, near the Sri Lanka Parliament and my workplace – International Irrigation Management Institute headquarters. I used to enjoy walking on Parliament grounds. That day was unique because the game between the President’s soccer team, comprising parliamentarians, and the Sri Lanka Police team, was played there.

President Premadasa was well known for his political sagacity, especially in manipulating any situation in his favour. For instance, the day Anura Bandaranayake became the Opposition Leader, Premadasa, praised Anura stating, “Anura is the best Opposition Leader we have.” He further requested that Anura join the ruling party and become a minister and also marry a girl from a prominent ruling party family. But within weeks, he was critical of Anura. One day an Opposition member asked him, “You said Anura was our best Opposition leader a few weeks ago but now criticise.” His reply was this: “Yes, I said so because Anura is the best Opposition leader for us, the ruling party, not for the Opposition. For the Opposition, the best leader is Sarath Muththetuwegama!”

A few weeks before the scheduled encounter between the Parliamentarians and the Police football team, there was a game between the Parliamentarians and the Colombo Municipality team. Premadasa captained the Parliamentarians and kicked the winning goal. I remember a cartoon in a newspaper where the Municipality team goalkeeper withdrew so that Premadasa could score the goal at his will.

During the game against the Police, Premadasa did not play but visibly played the role of the coach of the Parliamentarian team. Unlike the Municipality players, the Police played the game seriously. Kehelgamuwa represented the Police team that scored five goals by halftime, and the Parliamentarian team was nil. At halftime, Premadasa replaced the Parliamentarian goalkeeper with Jayawickerama Perera. Yet, the Police team recorded a sound victory.

I thought Premadasa was upset due to this defeat for his team. But no. Premadasa claimed victory: “I am happy that my team won the game by beating the Parliamentarians today! Being the Executive President, I do not belong to the Parliament. However, as the Commander-in-Chief, the Police come under my purview, so my team won today!”

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