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A view from the ‘crow’s nest’

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A long watch: War Captivity and Return in Sri Lanka

Reviewed by Ransiri Menike Silva

I have just been released, for the second time from the grip of ‘A Long Watch’ after an interval of about two years, and found it as arresting as before but this time with an added awareness and sensitivity that had eluded me the first time. Authentic accounts of escapee prisoners of war (POW’s) had always interested me, irrespective of the era or the nationality. But this was different. It was OUR story revealed by a senior ranking Naval officer who had been captured by the LTTE and held prisoner for eight years.

My first introduction to it took place some years ago. I was visiting my brother, a retired Naval officer, to find him in animated conversation with a lady visitor. At the end of her stay, she left behind some papers which my brother waved at me saying that it was the manuscript of a book being compiled for publication about the Naval officer Ajith Boyagoda who had been a prisoner of the LTTE for eight years. As my brother was also a well-known writer, she had requested his comments. This was Sunila Galappatti who had interviewed Boyagoda.

I was excited at the thought of reading it when it was published, but it reached the public only a long while later. I grabbed several copies of it, when at a leading bookshop I found it leaning contentedly against my own book, ‘The Blue Door’, on a crowded shelf.

It is a well compiled book with short informative chapters whenever possible, which gives the impression that the narrator is speaking to you direct and not through a third party. For this novelty in presentation, Sunila Galappatti has to be congratulated and applauded for it is she who listened to his story, gently drawing out lurking details, some extremely painful, to set them in a proper sequence that could be absorbed in its entirety without a break. An onerous task performed with dedication that reveals Sunila’s versatile literary skills.

The narrative leads gradually up from his youth to the point of his capture by the enemy, along with a few others and not by himself. This fact has been deliberately omitted from the twisted, falsified versions touted in order to (wrongfully) convince the public that he went over willingly. It is ironic that this same little group of captives were together during their incarceration and released almost together, thereby forming a bond that has continued to this day through direct contact with one another whenever possible.

From the point of his capture, the story undergoes a change of mood. The overnight change in their status, from free men to captives, causes a subtle alteration in the character of individuals, each affected in a different way.

The fluctuations in their daily routine caused by the sudden unpredictable moves indulged in by their captors, is an added obstacle to any form of acceptance of their situation. These involved being shepherded into trucks, sometimes blind-folded, and driven in the night for long hours through unknown territory to be deposited in yet another camp. Hearing a familiar bark in two different locations convinced Boyagoda that the journey taken through a long circuitous route was a ruse to give the prisoners the impression that it was a long distance away and not the short direct one it really was.

Surreptitiously exchanging facts about the LTTE among themselves, the Sinhala prisoners became aware of the fact that some of their fellow captives were themselves unwilling slaves of the LTTE movement. Arrested on fake charges these civilians were inducted into their labour force which had many gaping vacancies. (Shades of the South!)

The majority of people, in both the North and the South, are ignorant about the origins of the LTTE movement, which was a fight against the caste system practiced by the Hindus, which debarred low caste people from entering a Kovil even for religious worship.

Velupillai Prabhakaran belonged to a low caste, and began to realize the unfairness of it and the implications it had on the majority of the citizens, on reaching adolescence. Exposure to Christianity where all men are considered equal had him converting to that faith.

After that, his eye focused on one target; the annihilation of all High Caste Hindus. Gathering a band of like-minded youth around him they created as much destruction as they could.

At this time, across the seas in Tamil Nadu a secret movement had been formed with the aim of creating a Tamil Homeland, with Jaffna as their chosen site.

Hearing of Prabhakaran’s activities they decided to use him as their cat’s paw. Taking him and his supporters to Tamil Nadu they indoctrinated them with their ideas while also giving them military training, thereby subtly moulding them into the shape required. They were brought back to Jaffna with the main target of a Tamil Homeland implanted firmly in their immature brains, the original anti-caste goal pushed to the sidelines.

Prabhakaran was instigated into assassinating Alfred Duraiappah after which he was rowed away to a haven in Tamil Nadu. Many years later he returned as an adult, with an over inflated ego and besotted by an insatiable greed for power. He even distanced himself from his own family who refused to be converted to his new way of thinking, his father remaining a loyal clerk in the Jaffna Kachcheri, who had served under my brother when he was the Government Agent there.

His activities attracted western powers who considered him the perfect tool for the manipulation of their own hidden interests and so stepped in the USA, the UK, Norway and others assisted by Anton Balasingham who had acquired a ‘white’ wife through dubious means. It was only after Jaffna was over-run completely by the Government Forces that it revealed to what horrendous extent they had assisted.

An entire city had been created underground with housing, car parks, offices, residential areas and a highly advanced fully equipped hospital with vital drugs and qualified medical staff.

Air power was assured with ground to air missiles, air planes, trained pilots and a proper airstrip that our own helicopter pilots had spied from above.

The Sea Tigers had their diving and other underwater training at a vast swimming pool. A special, secluded heavily guarded area was also set aside for King Prabhakaran to indulge in jogging and other health enhancing activities. My family and I saw these as ‘tourists’ soon after the destruction of the LTTE and before they were rightfully reduced to rubble by our Army.

All these developments had taken place with the full knowledge of succeeding governments in power at the time which had had underhand dealings with the enemy under the guise of ‘Peace Pact’, ‘Peace Accord’ and other such fanciful labels. The LTTE was also rewarded substantially when at the request of the President in power at the time, they eliminated those whom he believed were a threat to his position of TOP DOG in the country.

The lower ranks were not spared either, with 600 young policemen being offered on a golden platter to Prabhakaran.

“Into the Valley of Death

Rode the six hundred”

It was Boyagoda’s misfortune to be a participant in a disturbing situation when a highly placed ‘officer’ of the LTTE patted jeeps and other valuable equipment and declared sarcastically “Gifts from Premadasa.” That was the infamous era of the ‘Premadasa Yugaya’ which is now being glorified by his son who is threatening to inflict upon us the same once again.

Boyagoda’s captors and fellow prisoners comprised a collection of ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’, which gave birth to an intimacy in relationship between individuals irrespective of age or position in life, though an unexpected hurdle was encountered in the incompatibility between the generations. The detailed descriptions of the terrible tortures they had to endure is searing as some are inhumanly savage. Yet this is nothing new to us who are aware of the interrogating tactics of Police Forces everywhere. Although they themselves were not too brutally tortured physically, occasional muffled screams would reach them from some unlocatable source convincing them that hidden torture chambers existed elsewhere.

Their apparent journey through a dark unending tunnel despaired them until a faint glimmer at the far end appeared with the involvement of the ICRC. That was when Boyagoda had a new status thrust upon him, that of ‘SHOW’ prisoner. As public eye-wash he was ordered to have a proper bath (a luxury!) then spruced up in new attire and given a good feed before being displayed to groups of media men, university students, merchants and other curious folk, with cameramen working overtime.

After each such exhibition he was whisked away, divested of the false costume and dropped back in the same cesspit he had wallowed in, prior to the charade, in which he had been an enforced actor.

Being the highest ranking officer of the government forces they held on a leash, he became the LTTE’s chief bargaining tool. This transparent ruse did not fool the ICRC which was an independent institution and tolerated no spies in disguise at their meetings with the prisoners thereby enabling Boyagoda to speak freely. He revealed the terrible conditions under which they were forced to exist – not live, and appealed for help. Positive results followed. Their next visit saw them loaded with ‘goodies’ for the prisoners; books, magazines, outdated newspapers, letters from their families, clothes, extra nourishment, medicines etc.

By this time Boyagoda had undergone a significant change. His eye-sight and hearing had deteriorated badly along with his mental faculties. He was weak, almost a walking skeleton and physically inactive. Announcing their discovery to the outside world the ICRC invited assistance from whoever was interested in helping them. It was then that Boyagoda began receiving monthly issues of Newsweek and National Geographic Magazines which Vijitha Yapa had gifted as a two year subscription in Boyagoda’s name. Thank you Yapa for that act of unreserved generosity, a true Dana in the Buddhist sense.

Later the ICRC also succeeded in arranging meetings between the prisoners and their immediate families, which carried with it the faint possibility of release through an exchange of prisoners. This did not affect Boyagoda, who was fully aware of his unchanging position – that of main bargaining tool of the LTTE. Finally, after eight long excruciating years in captivity he was chosen for release, but ironically not as a personal reward but in exchange fora very important LTTE member they wished to have back.

Now another phase of Boyagoda’s life begins. His transition from captive to free man is as excruciatingly painful as the ordeal he had endured in reverse order eight years earlier.

He was unable to adapt himself to ‘normal’ life either socially or domestically. He did not belong anywhere and was a stranger even in his own home. At first, he would walk around the house searching for a member of the household to obtain permission to use the toilet. The poignancy of this impacted most forcefully on me, being almost moved to tears by the deep sadness it generated.

His professional life was equally devastating. The Navy he rightfully belonged to, did not want him, as his presence was an embarrassment to them. They were keen on ridding themselves of him whom they believed to be a traitor. Much had changed in the period between his capture and his release. There had been an escalation in violence which affected the priorities in duty and performance. An added ordeal was the mid-ocean smuggling of drugs and other dangerous things which forced them to be extra vigilant. Had there been informers? Perhaps, but they would never be able to identify them. Personnel death rate was high.

So they mistrusted anything that had even a brush-stroke of the enemy daubed on them. They could not afford to be negligent. Such situations are inevitable in a state of war and have to be accepted.

When he was released he was sick; malnourished and weak with an unsettled mind. But instead of giving him the vital care he needed, he was treated like a flea infested mongrel. Even some wives of Navy personnel whom I know, were firmly convinced that Boyagoga had gone across to the enemy willingly, with the LTTE according him a high position and also financially supporting his family in his absence. Seeped in self-righteous misconceptions they shunned the devastated family of their colleague who were treated like lepers. Learning of this shocking behavior on the part of people I knew, I lost all regard for them. To such pitiable people, I have only this to say, remember the words of Jesus Christ – “Let him who has not sinned cast the first stone.” But on reflection I have the feeling that these bigoted buffoons may even refuse to acknowledge the existence of Jesus Christ!

The same clique of Navy personnel who were captured along with and shared their period of incarceration together with Boyagoda were released about the same time as he. The Navy welcomed them back in to the service where they ran into one another at Naval Head Quarters, and still keep in touch after retirement.

Now here is an interesting conjecture. Many, including the Navy had vehemently denied the existence of these people, so how come they suddenly manifest themselves in human form now? I suppose one has to trek to the Himalayas to get a solution from the hermit ascetics there!

The excellent training given to its cadets by the Navy was proved by the ‘Old Guard’, Boyagoda’s colleagues and friends who stood loyally by him as they had done with his family throughout his incarceration. Treated like something ‘the cat brought in’ he would on occasion be hauled out of obscurity whenever it suited various groups of people, mainly the politically motivated ones. Suddenly he would find himself hauled up to the main stage sharing it with prominent personalities. A (comic) repetition of his former role of ‘SHOW PRISONER’!

The personal revelations and reflections recorded in the book was an eye-opener for me. My attitude to life was changed by the over-all view I had gathered, even though I had myself weathered many a storm in my own life.

This is not only a ‘must read’ book but also one to be ‘re-read’ many times over. It should also be shared, lent, gifted, passed around and talked about at every turn. I am grateful to the great duo; Commodore Ajith Boyagoda and Sunila Galappatti for gifting us this panorama of life, the over-all view one gets from the ‘Crow’s Nest’ of a ship.

And now to end this on a hilarious note. Those of our vintage will remember the infamous IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Force) deal, with its ‘Parippu Drop’, struck between our President, J.R. Jayawardena and the Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. The entire country was against it, even inciting schoolboys to parade the streets in protest. At a ceremonial parade for the visiting dignitary, a young Naval rating had suddenly raised his rifle and brought it down in an attempt to hit Rajiv Gandhi and failed. Years later, this boy had confessed to his senior officers that he still regretted missing his target that day, which had been J.R. and not Rajiv!


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Islamophobia and the threat to democratic development

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There’s an ill more dangerous and pervasive than the Coronavirus that’s currently sweeping Sri Lanka. That is the fear to express one’s convictions. Across the public sector of the country in particular many persons holding high office are stringently regulating and controlling the voices of their consciences and this bodes ill for all and the country.

The corrupting impact of fear was discussed in this column a couple of weeks ago when dealing with the military coup in Myanmar. It stands to the enduring credit of ousted Myanmarese Head of Government Aung San Suu Kyi that she, perhaps for the first time in the history of modern political thought, singled out fear, and not power, as the principal cause of corruption within the individual; powerful or otherwise.

To be sure, power corrupts but the corrupting impact of fear is graver and more devastating. For instance, the fear in a person holding ministerial office or in a senior public sector official, that he would lose position and power as a result of speaking out his convictions and sincere beliefs on matters of the first importance, would lead to a country’s ills going unaddressed and uncorrected.

Besides, the individual concerned would be devaluing himself in the eyes of all irrevocably and revealing himself to be a person who would be willing to compromise his moral integrity for petty worldly gain or a ‘mess of pottage’. This happens all the while in Lankan public life. Some of those who have wielded and are wielding immense power in Sri Lanka leave very much to be desired from these standards.

It could be said that fear has prevented Sri Lanka from growing in every vital respect over the decades and has earned for itself the notoriety of being a directionless country.

All these ills and more are contained in the current controversy in Sri Lanka over the disposal of the bodies of Covid victims, for example. The Sri Lankan polity has no choice but to abide by scientific advice on this question. Since authorities of the standing of even the WHO have declared that the burial of the bodies of those dying of Covid could not prove to be injurious to the wider public, the Sri Lankan health authorities could go ahead and sanction the burying of the bodies concerned. What’s preventing the local authorities from taking this course since they claim to be on the side of science? Who or what are they fearing? This is the issue that’s crying out to be probed and answered.

Considering the need for absolute truthfulness and honesty on the part of all relevant persons and quarters in matters such as these, the latter have no choice but to resign from their positions if they are prevented from following the dictates of their consciences. If they are firmly convinced that burials could bring no harm, they are obliged to take up the position that burials should be allowed.

If any ‘higher authority’ is preventing them from allowing burials, our ministers and officials are conscience-bound to renounce their positions in protest, rather than behave compromisingly and engage in ‘double think’ and ‘double talk’. By adopting the latter course they are helping none but keeping the country in a state of chronic uncertainty, which is a handy recipe for social instabiliy and division.

In the Sri Lankan context, the failure on the part of the quarters that matter to follow scientific advice on the burials question could result in the aggravation of Islamophobia, or hatred of the practitioners of Islam, in the country. Sri Lanka could do without this latter phobia and hatred on account of its implications for national stability and development. The 30 year war against separatist forces was all about the prevention by military means of ‘nation-breaking’. The disastrous results for Sri Lanka from this war are continuing to weigh it down and are part of the international offensive against Sri Lanka in the UNHCR.

However, Islamophobia is an almost world wide phenomenon. It was greatly strengthened during Donald Trump’s presidential tenure in the US. While in office Trump resorted to the divisive ruling strategy of quite a few populist authoritarian rulers of the South. Essentially, the manoeuvre is to divide and rule by pandering to the racial prejudices of majority communities.

It has happened continually in Sri Lanka. In the initial post-independence years and for several decades after, it was a case of some populist politicians of the South whipping-up anti-Tamil sentiments. Some Tamil politicians did likewise in respect of the majority community. No doubt, both such quarters have done Sri Lanka immeasurable harm. By failing to follow scientific advice on the burial question and by not doing what is right, Sri Lanka’s current authorities are opening themselves to the charge that they are pandering to religious extremists among the majority community.

The murderous, destructive course of action adopted by some extremist sections among Muslim communities world wide, including of course Sri Lanka, has not earned the condemnation it deserves from moderate Muslims who make-up the preponderant majority in the Muslim community. It is up to moderate opinion in the latter collectivity to come out more strongly and persuasively against religious extremists in their midst. It will prove to have a cementing and unifying impact among communities.

It is not sufficiently appreciated by governments in the global South in particular that by voicing for religious and racial unity and by working consistently towards it, they would be strengthening democratic development, which is an essential condition for a country’s growth in all senses.

A ‘divided house’ is doomed to fall; this is the lesson of history. ‘National security’ cannot be had without human security and peaceful living among communities is central to the latter. There cannot be any ‘double talk’ or ‘politically correct’ opinions on this question. Truth and falsehood are the only valid categories of thought and speech.

Those in authority everywhere claiming to be democratic need to adopt a scientific outlook on this issue as well. Studies conducted on plural societies in South Asia, for example, reveal that the promotion of friendly, cordial ties among communities invariably brings about healing among estranged groups and produces social peace. This is the truth that is waiting to be acted upon.

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Pakistan’s love of Sri Lanka

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By Sanjeewa Jayaweera

It was on 3rd January 1972 that our family arrived in Karachi from Moscow. Our departure from Moscow had been delayed for a few weeks due to the military confrontation between Pakistan and India. It ended on 16th December 1971. After that, international flights were not permitted for some time.

The contrast between Moscow and Karachi was unbelievable. First and foremost, Moscow’s temperature was near minus 40 degrees centigrade, while in Karachi, it was sunny and a warm 28 degrees centigrade. However, what struck us most was the extreme warmth with which the airport authorities greeted our family. As my father was a diplomat, we were quickly ushered to the airport’s VIP Lounge. We were in transit on our way to Rawalpindi, the airport serving the capital of Islamabad.

We quickly realized that the word “we are from Sri Lanka” opened all doors just as saying “open sesame” gained entry to Aladdin’s cave! The broad smile, extreme courtesy, and genuine warmth we received from the Pakistani people were unbelievable.

This was all to do with Mrs Sirima Bandaranaike’s decision to allow Pakistani aircraft to land in Colombo to refuel on the way to Dhaka in East Pakistan during the military confrontation between Pakistan and India. It was a brave decision by Mrs Bandaranaike (Mrs B), and the successive governments and Sri Lanka people are still enjoying the fruits of it. Pakistan has been a steadfast and loyal supporter of our country. They have come to our assistance time and again in times of great need when many have turned their back on us. They have indeed been an “all-weather” friend of our country.

Getting back to 1972, I was an early beneficiary of Pakistani people’s love for Sri Lankans. I failed the entrance exam to gain entry to the only English medium school in Islamabad! However, when I met the Principal, along with my father, he said, “Sanjeewa, although you failed the entrance exam, I will this time make an exception as Sri Lankans are our dear friends.” After that, the joke around the family dinner table was that I owed my education in Pakistan to Mrs B!

At school, my brother and I were extended a warm welcome and always greeted “our good friends from Sri Lanka.” I felt when playing cricket for our college; our runs were cheered more loudly than of others.

One particular incident that I remember well was when the Embassy received a telex from the Foreign inistry. It requested that our High Commissioner seek an immediate meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Zulifikar Ali Bhutto (ZB), and convey a message from Mrs B. The message requested that an urgent shipment of rice be dispatched to Sri Lanka as there would be an imminent rice shortage. As the Ambassador was not in the station, the responsibility devolved on my father.

It usually takes about a week or more to get an audience with the Prime Minister (PM) of a foreign country due to their busy schedule. However, given the urgency, my father spoke to the Foreign Ministry’s Permanent Sectary, who fortunately was our neighbour and sought an urgent appointment. My father received a call from the PM’s secretary around 10 P.M asking him to come over to the PM’s residence. My father met ZB around midnight. ZB was about to retire to bed and, as such, was in his pyjamas and gown enjoying a cigar! He had greeted my father and had asked, “Mr Jayaweera, what can we do for great friend Madam Bandaranaike?. My father conveyed the message from Colombo and quietly mentioned that there would be riots in the country if there is no rice!

ZB had immediately got the Food Commissioner of Pakistan on the line and said, “I want a shipload of rice to be in Colombo within the next 72 hours!” The Food Commissioner reverted within a few minutes, saying that nothing was available and the last export shipment had left the port only a few hours ago to another country. ZB had instructed to turn the ship around and send it to Colombo. This despite protests from the Food Commissioner about terms and conditions of the Letter of Credit prohibiting non-delivery. Sri Lanka got its delivery of rice!

The next was the visit of Mrs B to Pakistan. On arrival in Rawalpindi airport, she was given a hero’s welcome, which Pakistan had previously only offered to President Gaddafi of Libya, who financially backed Pakistan with his oil money. That day, I missed school and accompanied my parents to the airport. On our way, we witnessed thousands of people had gathered by the roadside to welcome Mrs B.

When we walked to the airport’s tarmac, thousands of people were standing in temporary stands waving Sri Lanka and Pakistan flags and chanting “Sri Lanka Pakistan Zindabad.” The noise emanating from the crowd was as loud and passionate as the cheering that the Pakistani cricket team received during a test match. It was electric!

I believe she was only the second head of state given the privilege of addressing both assemblies of Parliament. The other being Gaddafi. There was genuine affection from Mrs B amongst the people of Pakistan.

I always remember the indefatigable efforts of Mr Abdul Haffez Kardar, a cabinet minister and the President of the Pakistan Cricket Board. From around 1973 onwards, he passionately championed Sri Lanka’s cause to be admitted as a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and granted test status. Every year, he would propose at the ICC’s annual meeting, but England and Australia’s veto kept us out until 1981.

I always felt that our Cricket Board made a mistake by not inviting Pakistan to play our inaugural test match. We should have appreciated Mr Kardar and Pakistan’s efforts. In 1974 the Pakistan board invited our team for a tour involving three test matches and a few first-class games. Most of those who played in our first test match was part of that tour, and no doubt gained significant exposure playing against a highly talented Pakistani team.

Several Pakistani greats were part of the Pakistan and India team that played a match soon after the Central Bank bomb in Colombo to prove that it was safe to play cricket in Colombo. It was a magnificent gesture by both Pakistan and India. Our greatest cricket triumph was in Pakistan when we won the World Cup in 1996. I am sure the players and those who watched the match on TV will remember the passionate support our team received that night from the Pakistani crowd. It was like playing at home!

I also recall reading about how the Pakistani government air freighted several Multi Barrell artillery guns and ammunition to Sri Lanka when the A rmy camp in Jaffna was under severe threat from the LTTE. This was even more important than the shipload of rice that ZB sent. This was crucial as most other countries refused to sell arms to our country during the war.

Time and again, Pakistan has steadfastly supported our country’s cause at the UNHCR. No doubt this year, too, their diplomats will work tirelessly to assist our country.

We extend a warm welcome to Mr Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He is a truly inspirational individual who was undoubtedly an excellent cricketer. Since retirement from cricket, he has decided to get involved in politics, and after several years of patiently building up his support base, he won the last parliamentary elections. I hope that just as much as he galvanized Sri Lankan cricketers, his political journey would act as a catalyst for people like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene to get involved in politics. Cricket has been called a “gentleman’s game.” Whilst politics is far from it!.

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Covid-19 health rules disregarded at entertainment venues?

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Believe me, seeing certain videos, on social media, depicting action, on the dance floor, at some of these entertainment venues, got me wondering whether this Coronavirus pandemic is REAL!

To those having a good time, at these particular venues, and, I guess, the management, as well, what the world is experiencing now doesn’t seem to be their concerned.

Obviously, such irresponsible behaviour could create more problems for those who are battling to halt the spread of Covid-19, and the new viriant of Covid, in our part of the world.

The videos, on display, on social media, show certain venues, packed to capacity – with hardly anyone wearing a mask, and social distancing…only a dream..

How can one think of social distancing while gyrating, on a dance floor, that is over crowded!

If this trend continues, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Coronavirus makes its presence felt…at such venues.

And, then, what happens to the entertainment scene, and those involved in this field, especially the musicians? No work, whatsoever!

Lots of countries have closed nightclubs, and venues, where people gather, in order to curtail the spread of this deadly virus that has already claimed the lives of thousands.

Thailand did it and the country is still having lots of restrictions, where entertainment is concerned, and that is probably the reason why Thailand has been able to control the spread of the Coronavirus.

With a population of over 69 million, they have had (so far), a little over 25,000 cases, and 83 deaths, while we, with a population of around 21 million, have over 80,000 cases, and more than 450 deaths.

I’m not saying we should do away with entertainment – totally – but we need to follow a format, connected with the ‘new normal,’ where masks and social distancing are mandatory requirements at these venues. And, dancing, I believe, should be banned, at least temporarily, as one can’t maintain the required social distance, while on the dance floor, especially after drinks.

Police spokesman DIG Ajith Rohana keeps emphasising, on TV, radio, and in the newspapers, the need to adhere to the health regulations, now in force, and that those who fail to do so would be penalised.

He has also stated that plainclothes officers would move around to apprehend such offenders.

Perhaps, he should instruct his officers to pay surprise visits to some of these entertainment venues.

He would certainly have more than a bus load of offenders to be whisked off for PCR/Rapid Antigen tests!

I need to quote what Dr. H.T. Wickremasinghe said in his article, published in The Island of Tuesday, February 16th, 2021:

“…let me conclude, while emphasising the need to continue our general public health measures, such as wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding crowded gatherings, to reduce the risk of contact with an infected person.

“There is no science to beat common sense.”

But…do some of our folks have this thing called COMMON SENSE!

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