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Labour standards, human rights?

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Stranded garment workers in Jordan

By Gomi Senadhira

(Specialist in Trade and Development Issues)

Recent news items about the tear gas attack by the Jordanian police on stranded Sri Lankan garment workers in Amman has once again turned the spotlight on the problems faced by the migrant garment workers in Jordan. Unfortunately, the United States and the European Union, the two main proponents of the use of trade policy instruments to uphold the basic labour standards and human rights continue to turn a blind eye to gross violation of the basic rights of these poor migrant garment workers working under conditions similar to those of indentured labourers.

The tear gas attack, last month, by the Jordanian police on Sri Lankan garment workers stuck in their overcrowded dorms without adequate food and water, thousands of miles away from their families and loved ones, illustrates the plight of the migrant garment workers in Jordan. According to the available reports, these workers along with migrant workers from several other Asian countries laid off by their employers with the onset of COVID 19, had remained unemployed for the last five months. Naturally, all of them want to go back to their countries immediately but are unable to do so due to the non-availability of flights.

In the case of Sri Lankan workers, three staff members from the embassy had visited a hostel attached to the garment factories to look into their welfare were held hostage by the workers for over five hours. During the five-hours period the hostages were even forced to eat the food the stranded workers have been eating for the past five months. Finally, the Jordanian police intervened to rescue the hostages had attacked the workers, and had even fired tear gas on them.

 

The Incident and Sri Lanka Bashing

by the Usual Suspects

This incident had triggered fresh round of Sri Lanka bashing by the usual suspects. “Migrant workers … looking to be repatriated to Sri Lanka were teargassed earlier today, as they stand a protest outside the Sri Lankan embassy in the country. Jordanian police reportedly intervened after an escalation between Sri Lankan Embassy authorities and protesters, with the workers fleeing after being tear-gassed” reported the “Tamil Guardian”.

Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice (Sri Lanka bashing business of Charu Lata Hogg et el) tried to hog the limelight by launching an email campaign against the government as illustrated in their post below;

To maximise the damage, these groups have also used websites like that of the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) for their campaign. The CCC in its blog on “How the Coronavirus affects garment workers in supply chains” tagged the Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AFWA) Sri Lanka Coordinator’s discussion on the Globe Tamil’s Facebook page about the situation of Sri Lankan garment workers in Jordan. Quoting AFWP, the CCC also reported “Sri Lankan migrant (garment) workers …. in Jordan, have not been paid wages since April and are not receiving adequate food and water. When they tried to meet Sri Lankan embassy officials, workers were brutally beaten and tear-gassed…. over 20 workers have been hospitalised…. Meanwhile, … women’s rights groups in Sri Lanka and relatives of the stranded migrant workers are currently protesting in front of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) demanding urgent support for Sri Lankan garment workers in Jordan.”

These were deliberate attempt to defame the government of Sri Lanka as a government which is insensitive to the plight of the poor migrant garment workers. One cannot expect anything better from them. So, we can leave aside the issue of Sri Lanka bashing by these people. Even then, the question “why are Sri Lankan workers in Jordan going hungry?” is a valid one. It needs to be answered. Actually, we need an answer slightly more detailed question, that is;

“Why are stranded migrant garment workers in Jordan going hungry, not been paid wages, brutally beaten and tear-gassed?”

Before I try to do that, let me start with a true story of a migrant worker in the Middle East. Many years ago, when I was posted in Kuwait, my neighbour, a highly paid Filipino engineer, experienced a minor car accident. He had stopped at a traffic light when the car behind him took a little too long to stop and “bumped” his rear bumper. The driver admitted that he misjudged stopping distance. My neighbour requested that the Kuwaiti arrange to pay for the repairs as it was his fault. “No. It was your fault. This is my country. If you were not here, this accident wouldn’t have happened. So, it’s your fault.” the Kuwaiti said very firmly before he drove away into the sunset.

So, as our friendly Kuwaiti said, this teargas attack was the migrant garment workers’ fault. If they were not there this wouldn’t have happened. Actually, I too believe, they should have never been there. Or for that matter, there shouldn’t be a garment industry in Jordan in the first place, for them to be employed in. Jordan, after all, doesn’t have indigenous experience in garment manufacturing or trading, doesn’t grow cotton, or produce textiles. In Jordan, the female participation rate in labour force is very low (garment workforces are predominantly female) and the salaries are relatively high. In other words, Jordan doesn’t have any of those “factors of production” which provide a comparative advantage for her to develop a garment industry. Hence, Jordan is not a country that would usually attract investments from the global garment industry. Not even from those “fly-by-night” types. Yet, garment production has become a major component of Jordan’s export. How did they achieve that miracle?

 

The U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement

(USJFTA) and the Sweatshops

The Jordanian garment industry is a creation of highly generous tariff and other concessions extended by the United States and the European Union and cheap migrant labour from South and Southeast Asia (countries which do not have such preferential tariff in the American market) working under conditions equivalent to those of indentured labourers

The American tariff concession to Jordan, through the United States – Jordan Free Trade Agreement (UJFTA), provide Jordan substantial tariff advantages in certain product categories over more competitive countries in South and Southeast Asia. When the agreement was signed, one of the main incentives for signing it was the possibility of reducing the high level of unemployment in Jordan, which was impacting on her economic, political, and social stability. Given the high female unemployment, the development of the garment industry was touted as an important means of realising that objective.

Though the Jordanian garment industry grew rapidly as a result of the FTA and reached all -important billion-dollar mark by 2006 it did not reduce the unemployment rate in the country as the Jordanian women were not willing to work in garment factories. The industry grew by employing a large migrant workforce (from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, China, India, or Nepal) who were working under conditions similar to those of indentured labourers. In May 2006, the National Labor Committee (NLC), an American advocacy group for workers’ rights, published a report exposing a series of labour rights and labour law violations in Jordanian garment factories, some of which were at the level of serious human rights abuses. These include, among others, compulsory work shifts that extended from 38 to even 72 hours, inhumane living conditions, beatings, torture, and even rape of young female workers by factory managers.

This report was given wide publicity by American media. “…dismal conditions — of 20-hour days, of not being paid for months and of being hit by supervisors and jailed when they complain…” reported The New York Times. The NLC report also published a list of major brands/ companies that were sourcing from the factories described in its report. It included Wal-Mart, Disney, Jones Apparel, K-Mart, Gloria Vanderbilt, Kohl’s, JC Penney, Liz Clairborne, Victoria’s Secret, Perry Ellis, and Mossimo. This had a devastating impact, particularly on the buyers.

The Jordanian Government was highly concerned about the possibility of losing market share or even the entire industry and acted rapidly to address the allegations. It admitted some weaknesses in the system and, with the assistance of the USAID commissioned a third party report to verify the NLC report. Apparently, his report while confirming many of the NLC’s allegations, had watered down the gravity of most of them. For example, the allegations about sexual harassment, the USAID funded report has stated “could not be confirmed”.

The International Labour Organization too continuously promoted the Jordanian garment industry with major international buyers through their promotional materials and business forums despite many credible reports about inhumane living conditions, beatings, torture, and even rape of young female workers.

To assist Jordan to improve the image of the garment industry, particularly in the eyes of the buyers, the International Labour Organization and the International Finance Corporation, with generous assistance from western donor agencies, set up a shop called, Better Work Jordan (BWJ). The BWJ produced a promotional video on Jordan’s garment industry (Jordan’s Garment Industry: Migrating to Better Work – ILO) painting a rosy picture of the industry. The video even shows an election in a factory to elect worker representatives and comments “it is the first democratic opportunity in which they (the workers) have participated.” In other words, they never had such opportunities in their own countries, namely, Sri Lanka, India, or Bangladesh. This ILO video fails to mention that these migrant workers are not allowed to be full members of the trade unions or whether Jordan has ratified the core ILO convention on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise! How can the ILO justify the application of such double standards, half-truths, and lies to promote the Jordanian garment industry? How can the ILO deliberately mislead buyers? More importantly, how can the ILO mislead these poor workers (particularly young vulnerable girls) with such claims, so that they migrate thousands of miles for “better jobs” and to go hungry, get teargassed, beaten up, and even get raped?

 

Forced labour and modern day slaves

Due to the seriousness of these allegations Jordan was also placed in the US forced labour list and the country report on Jordan confirmed; “Chinese, Bangladeshi, Indian, Sri Lankan, Nepali, and Indonesian men and women encounter conditions indicative of forced labor in a few of the Jordanian garment sector’s factories, including unlawful withholding of passports, delayed payment of wages, forced overtime, and, to a lesser extent, verbal and physical abuse.”

In August 2019, Bangkok based Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW), presented a research report on the working and living conditions for the migrant garment workers in Jordan. The conditions reported were not much different from what was reported in the National Labor Committee report in 2006. The report also claimed, “…in Jordan, woman migrants routinely face sexual harassment and physical assaults by male supervisors.” In an interview with a Bangladesh newspaper on the GAATW report, Bangladeshi workers’ rights activist Nazma Akter correctly summed up the situation in Jordan when she said, “(in) Jordan migrant workers were often treated as modern day slaves.”

Why do major global brands continue to source from Jordan?

Despite such reports, the Jordanian garment industry continues to thrive due to the availability of the preferential tariff in the United States and the European Union and easily manageable indentured workforce. Then, what about those lofty CSR standards of the major buyers. Why do they continue to buy from Jordan? That because the International Labour Organisation the necessary cover at the Annual Buyers’ Forums organised by the Better Work Jordan. Yes, in Jordan the ILO even organise annual business forums! These forums bring together major international buyers, as well as local and international garment sector stakeholders. At these meetings, the ILO- BWJ assures the buyers that the Jordan’s garment industry is a wonderful place for the workers. If not for the ILO’s continued assurances, most of the major international buyers would have walked out of Jordan many years ago.

 

BWJ’s unified contract

At the Annual Better Work Jordan Buyers’ Forum in 2015, a new unified contract for all migrant workers in Jordan’s garment sector designed by the ILO experts, was proudly unveiled in the presence of the Jordanian trade minister and the American Ambassador. By 2020 the migrant garment workers in Jordan should be covered by these contracts which requires the employer to provide return air ticket as well as with accommodation and meals until his/her travel proceedings are completed. Largely as a result of these measures Jordan was removed from the forced labor list in 2016.

Now, the factories have terminated some of these contracts, and the workers have not been paid wages for many months and they are held up in the hostels without adequate food and water, beaten and teargassed by the Jordanian police, doesn’t ILO- Better Work Jordan to has responsibility to intervene and assist these workers. These workers should be adequately compensated, provided safe accommodation, food, water and medical assistance until their travel proceedings are completed. The ILO and the IFC as the promoters of these contracts and the industry have a greater responsibility and (certainly) more resources than governments of the labour exporting countries to look after these workers’ welfare. After all, if not for them or the BWJ these workers would not have been there to go hungry and to be teargassed.

. The Government of Jordan also has a major responsibility. That certainly does not include brutal police actions. This is not the first time these workers were beaten and teargassed by the Jordanian police. The United States and the European Union have a responsibility to ensure that their attempts to link trade, labour and human rights policies are not mere rhetoric. The buyers also should demonstrate that there is no deviation between rhetoric and reality of what they call “corporate social responsibility” principles. Under the prevailing conditions, those countries and the organisations are in a position to provide assistance to these workers, more than the governments of Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh or Cambodia.

Then the organisations like the Clean Clothes Campaign should have a better fact-check and refrain from adding credibility to fake news circulated by Hogg and others. They should direct their appeals to the governments and the organizations which are responsible for the plight of these migrant workers. For example; the European Commission, the United States, the Jordanian government, the ILO, the leading international clothing brands and the large garment factories which employed these poor workers

 

Way forward

Finally, as and when supply chains restart fully, they should be radically restructured. Production should be taken to factories closer to where workers live. The supply chains should not be based on models that force workers to migrate thousands of miles away from their homes, that too after paying many thousand rupees, takas, renminbis or rials, to work as indentured labourers, to go hungry and get beaten. The trade instruments,like FTAs, should not be used to suppress human rights and labour rights of these poor workers.


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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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