With this corona epidemic, Sri Lankans, as a nation, have reached a decisive stage. The government has taken steps to extend the strict travel restrictions imposed to control the current epidemic, until 07 June. The time has come for all citizens of the country to understand the seriousness of the disaster.
In this situation, Sri Lankans need to get together, keeping in mind that “Unity, Understanding and Helping each other” is the mantra for Covid-19, for any country. We have witnessed that whatever disaster that crops up, people panic and try to do something different. And when things settle (after the disaster) you can see the “same person” with “No-sense”.
So, the role of educating and empowering people on this is a must. In this situation, it is important to see how you can use different strategies. Hence it is worthwhile to discuss one of the best practices of New Zealand. The largest live music concert, since Covid-19 came into the scene, was recently held at New Zealand’s largest stadium, attended by over 50,000 people. The concert was free from any social isolation and wearing masks, and this can be considered as a great opportunity to showcase New Zealand’s success in controlling the virus.
A key feature, one can observe in New Zealand, is that the higher authorities made decisions by taking the opinions of health professionals and experts in the health sector. Another key aspect is how the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, communicated the national strategy, in connection with the disaster, to the people at the outset of the epidemic. In that message, Prime Minister Jacinda said that the epidemic was a “difficult time for all” and called on the people in the country to “be kind, compassionate, and understanding.” This message was properly communicated, with the media, including social media (all cooperated despite, their own political agenda, by looking at the context of the national disaster – one lesson to our politicians) Interestingly, a well-known Māori proverb “He waka eke noa” (We are in this together) also became their inspiration to rally behind their government as they fought against the virus. (The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of mainland New Zealand, who originated with settlers from eastern Polynesia, and arrived in New Zealand, in several waves of waka voyages, between roughly 1320 and 1350). This is a clear example of how the country used its traditions for better collaboration.
The time has come for us to think differently, – learn, and act with responsibility in the face of this crisis. “Blaming each other” must be stopped and the situation must be understood with more responsibility. If “health promotion” can be used effectively as a country and a nation, it will undoubtedly be the main factor for long-term sustainable development for any country. At the moment, we could not see any integrated communication strategy.
We should be innovative, taking into account that most countries like to go back to some of their traditions and use some of the values of there traditions by looking at the holistic picture of the country. Like “He waka eke noa” we should have our own (marketing) communication strategy to educate and empower people.
Anyway, the country needs to understand the “value of people” who respect the love of tradition.
“A love for tradition has never weakened a nation, indeed it has strengthened nations in their hour of peril”-
Prof. Nalin Abeysekera
MPs can show their colours
I refer to this article, ‘Covid bonanza for….’ by Shamnidra Ferdinando.
It was obvious that the LC could not easily be cancelled. It will be interesting to know when the LC was actually opened; before or after Cabinet approval? The answer will be revealing.
Now that the vehicles will come in, come hell or high water with burning ships, there is a simple solution.
If the government is sincere in its intentions to reverse this totally unnecessary expenditure, which the country cannot afford, scraping the bottom of the vangediya as it is, then the vehicles can be sold in the open market, in a transparent manner and at a profit, too, and the wasted funds reimbursed to the Treasury. Personally, I know this will not happen, seeing what we are helplessly seeing being enacted in the country yesterday, today and alarmingly, tomorrow, too.
The next best option is for those MPs who oppose this criminal waste of public funds, to work out a method by which they can sell the vehicles presented to them by the starving masses, in a transparent manner and utilise the proceeds again in a transparent manner to uplift the lives of the millions of poor citizens in their electorates.
ACabinet given opportunity for Members of Parliament to show their true, even if highly faded and smudged, colours!
Gazette Bill in blatant conflict with Constitution
The Colombo Port City Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Bill had been gazetted on March 24 after Cabinet approval, and placed in the order paper of Parliament on April 9. Normally, before placing a Bill on the order paper of the Parliament, it goes through the levels of the Legal Draftsman, Attorney General, Ministry of Justice, and the Cabinet of Ministers.
According to a news item that appeared in the Daily News, on April 27, the Attorney General has informed the Presidential Secretary that the Port City Economic Commission Draft Bill is not inconsistent with the Constitution. But the same Attorney General has advanced the submissions and amendments in court, during the hearing of 18 petitions filed by members of civil society alleging the Bill is inconsistent with the Constitution.
The Supreme Court has found more than one third of its clauses are conflicting with the Constitution – the supreme law of Sri Lanka. Thus, it has been proved the Gazette Bill was in blatant conflict with the Constitution.
High officials of the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General and the Legal Draftsman who are supposed to have been involved in the drafting of this Bill are professionals of recognized capability. They are committed to follow the best practices of their professions and should adhere to standards in procedural manuals and professional codes of conduct and ethics. They are bound by the oath taken by them in line with the Constitution and the accountability of the offices they hold. They also would have been supported by several legal eagles and experienced politicians in the Cabinet.
Citizens are confused as to how on earth such a Bill, in blatant conflict with the Constitution, could have been approved by the Attorney General and be drafted by the Legal Draftsman. 149 Members of Parliament have voted to amend 26 clauses of 75 clauses of the Legal Draftsman’s Bill. This is tantamount to a No Confidence Motion on the Legal Draftsman.
Probe into expressway construction and floods
The news item appearing in your issue of 10th June, regarding the Expressway Construction and Floods, is of interest to me, as I had handled Road Projects when attached to the then Department of Public Works [PWD] and later the Ministry for Highways.
It’s stated that Minister Johnston Fernando had instructed his Ministry Secretary to investigate immediately, whether there was any truth in the claim that some areas in Gampaha were inundated owing to the construction work, in the first phase of the Central Expressway, from Kadawatha to Mirigama; and continues to say ‘Yahapalana adjustments to the construction master plan may have lead to the present situation’, which could be insinuated as placing the blame on the previous Yahapalana government. This is the usual blame-game adopted by bankrupt politicians. It will not be surprising if the present government will be blamed when a new government is formed, for mismanagement of projects carried out now.
As far as I know, while construction is on, there comes up certain problems, which may necessitate altering or deviating from the original design. Hence the responsibility lies entirely on the Engineer, and not on any politician or government in power. Here the integrity of the Engineer counts. Sad to say, there have been accusations where professionals have given way to political pressure and projects have become failures. I would like to quote Moeller’s theory “One of the major reasons for a country to be subjected to bad governance is when its professionals do not speak out, but worst still, these professionals actually gang up with those committing anarchy for their own benefit. What the professionals do not realize is that in the long term, they too would be subjected to the worst treatment by these despotic dictators whom they were keen to protect. Moeller’s theory being proved time and again consorting with an autocratic regime is a worst act of treason against one’s own country and its people”
To the credit of Minister Johnston Fernando, he also mentions the likelihood of this flooding by saying “We must keep in mind that the highest rainfall in the known history was reported from this area”. Whatever, the findings of the investigations be, the accusation should be taken as fault finding of Engineers, and they should now come forward to protect their prestigious profession and give reasons, which lay, incompetent politicians, do not have the capacity to understand. Hope the Sri Lanka Institute of Engineers will expose the viles of politicians to steer this country in the correct direction. This goes for other professions as well.
G. A. D. SIRIMAL
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