Auspicious prelude to creation of a New Constitution
By Rohana R. Wasala
The Sinhalese in independent Sri Lanka have been nationalistic, but never narrowly communalistic; they have never illtreated non-Sinhala minorities on the basis of race or religion. Those who are wallowing in a sea of misinformation having been swept there by tides of hostile propaganda over the decades, may bristle at this, but the truth must be stated. The nationalism of the Sinhalese is not a construct of the last colonial era. Contrary to what Eurocentric theorists, their local clones, imperialist lackeys and their modern dupes believe, it is an inclusive nationalism. In their long history, the nationalism of the Sinhalese has been synonymous with patriotism or the love of their country, their island homeland. The JVP of 1971 and 1987-89 shed blood in the name of the country, not in the name of a race or a religion unlike respectively the defeated LTTE and the recent NTJ. To point this out is not being communalistic; it is only reacting to a false criticism. The racists and the extremists among the minorities raise false allegations of communalism against the majority community to justify their own communalism.
Today, even a section of the Sinhalese polity, including some young members of the FB generation, seem to think that to be a nationalist is the same as being a racist. That misconception is largely because they are not well enough informed about their own true history and truly admirable, multifaceted heritage, a legacy that is enjoyed by all communities in common: the still functional parts of the ancient hydraulic system, archaeological remains that attract foreign tourists and earn foreign exchange for the public coffers,and many other treasures. But anti-national individuals and agencies still censor Anagarika Dharmapala, the pioneer national revivalist of the colonial era, as a hate figure for ideologically rekindling, around the beginning of the 20th century, the nationalist spirit of the patriotic Sinhalese that had been choked in the course of a number of popular uprisings by force of arms by colonial invaders following the 1815 British intrigue. All the Sinhalese leaders who caused the 1948, 1956, 1972, 2009, and 2019 restorative revolutionary watersheds to happen were inspired by Dharmapala and were opposed by the real racists and received little support from non-Buddhist religious extremists.
The ‘divide and rule’ policy of the British imperialists was naturally to the greater disadvantage of the majority community than to the minorities, who in fact stood to gain from it. The British exploited the minorities to weaken the historical defenders of the land. It may be plausibly argued that they used them as tacit allies to restrain the Sinhalese from rebellion, in return for privileged treatment (although this was limited to an elite that politically mattered to them, while the majority of the dispossessed mixed masses consisting of common Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims shared the rigours of colonial exploitation without discrimination).
Particularly, the racist leaders of the Tamil minority feared that a parliamentary system of government where the Sinhalese would hold power because of their numerical superiority would mean a loss of their privileged status (hence the notorious 50-50 seat allocation demand of G.G. Ponnambalam which was contemptuously rejected by the Soulbury Commissioners in 1946. All the overtures that Sinhalese leaders, from D.S. Senanayake to Gotabaya Rajapaksa, made to the few but powerful racists (among the minority politicians) who somehow manage to hoodwink their people and persuade them to vote for them have failed to convince them to cooperate wholeheartedly with the majority in making unitary Sri Lanka a strong sovereign state where they harbour equal stakes and enjoy equal rights and share equal responsibilities.
The false allegation of Sinhala communalism finds a convenient platform in the demand for the constitutional emasculation of the institution of the executive presidency (if complete abolition is not possible). This is because it is usually a Sinhalese who stands a chance of getting elected as president by the pan-Sri Lanka electorate. These minority politicians (the extremist few, not all minority politicians) propagate the idea that all Sinhalese are communalists, and that every president will be biased against their people. But this is a fallacy. Though, at present, there is no likelihood of a minority politician becoming president because the minority polities are still mostly under the sway of racists and religious extremists, it is not an impossibility. If the non-racist, non-extremist politicians that there are among them are allowed to emerge dominant, they certainly will find more favour with the average Sinhalese voters than a conceited Premadasa or a clueless Sirisena, and a correspondingly modest and knowledgeable Tamil or Muslim president will no longer be just a dream. There are many examples from the past to illustrate the possibility of such an eventuality, but this is not the time for dwelling on the subject.
Unwarranted dilution of the powers of the executive presidency was what was achieved by the controversial 19A, which, effectively divided people’s sovereign power between the President, the Prime Minister and the Speaker. It was a three-headed monster, as a government minister recently said. As a result of it the sovereign people had to put up with a severely dysfunctional parliament that brought disaster to the country for an interminable four and a half years before it was finally dissolved by the President and a fresh Parliament elected. The potential for the continuation of such a corrupt malfunctioning parliament is greater when the executive power of the President to dissolve it is curtailed or is completely taken away. That provides a situation open to exploitation by the Rishads and Hakeems of this world.
editorial/October 20, 2020 made the following comment, which suggests the despicable way they are ready to cock a snook at the sovereignty of the people:
‘Bathiudeen brought down the hurriedly formed Sirisena-Rajapaksa government, in 2018, by refusing to vote with it in Parliament. That administration crashed, unable to raise a simple majority in the House. This time around, Bathiudeen can give the present regime the kiss of death by voting for the 20A. If he and his four MPs vote for 20A, as expected, those who claim that he and the government have struck a secret deal will be vindicated. The only way the government can avert such a situation is to engineer the crossover of some other Opposition MPs so that it does not have to depend on Bathiudeen…..’
Who is this Bathiudeen? He was one of the Muslims forcibly evacuated from the North as a result of Prabhakaran’s ethnic cleansing policy. When Bathiudeen came down to Colombo he was a penniless youth with nothing but the worn out clothes on his body, it is said. Today, he is a billionaire with palatial houses here and there, and thousands of acres of land in his possession, with some more lands given to his relatives. He was able to help himself to such great wealth and also indulge in philanthropy at the expense of the state because he became a politician and managed to join the winning side continuously from the previous MR government to the end of Yahapalanaya, and battened on the suffering of the fellow members of his own displaced community. During the near decade in power, he was charged by environmental groups with the devastating deforestation of the Wilpattu forest reserve; he was rumoured to be complicit in importing cocaine hidden among goods in CWE containers, illegally exploiting the ilmenite containing mineral sand deposits at Pulmudai for personal profits, abusing the CWE to propagate extremist Islamist ideology, and he was even accused of having connections with the Jihadists who carried out the Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels. When the police finally started looking for him to arrest him on the charge of having abused state/public property by transporting by SLTB buses some 10,000 voters from their new places of residence to their old (for casting their vote a second time it was alleged in the media) on the day of the presidential election in November last year. How is it that an extremely unscrupulous, originally insignificant penurious politician has been allowed to invest himself with such power as The Island editorial has described?
This is because the minority communalists who stick that label on the majority have been empowered by the existing faulty electoral system being abused, and the majority community effectively disenfranchised in the process. Having to strike a deal with political criminals or to ‘engineer the crossover of some other Opposition MPs’ as The Island editorial suggests in order to get 20A or any other nationally important piece of legislation through parliament, is a wretched proposition for any sovereign nation even to contemplate. But, isn’t there any prospect for the nation to reverse this unfortunate self inflicted anomaly? In my opinion, there is. It is to get rid of our own fear of adopting strategies that might run the risk of being attacked as racist, Sinhala Supremacist, discriminatory towards minorities, contrary to international standards, etc. We have to learn not to give a fig to such unfounded accusations.
At present, the Sinhalese are scrupulously guiltless in this respect. Still they are treated as if they were the worst racists, human rights violaters, xenophobes, chauvinists in the world. Sometimes their own leaders criticise them for being jaatiwadin, or racists as Premadasa and Sirisena have already done:
Former President Sirisena was heard, at the Easter Sunday Attacks inquiry recently, referring to racists among the Sinhalese. In a Twitter message, which was only in English and Tamil, but not in Sinhala, during the presidential election campaigning period, SJB leader Premadasa charged that Muslims were subjected to discrimination at the hands of the Sinhalese! He toured the North, presumably to show the northern Tamils that he was a champion of Tamil rights. He was given a heroic welcome in Jaffna and he garnered many Tamil votes, too. But it is not that they fell for stratagems; they knew that he was ready to betray his own people for a mess of (electoral) pottage.
Could a person who doesn’t care about his own kind be concerned about other people?
The alleged Sinhala racists are none other than the few monks and some young Sinhala activists who are merely reacting to proven cases of harassment, aggression, and subversion against them by some extremist elements from among the minorities. Considerable numbers of young Tamils and Muslims are also among their supporters. Had the successive governments taken them seriously, the slaughter of innocents on April 21 could have been avoided. They represent millions, but are they taken notice of? Are they given proper media coverage? Global media (international TV channels such as Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC, etc) broadcast distorted news about them.
There’s no place for them on the You Tube, either.
The true situation in the country is different from what is usually reported in these media. Why did the nationalists win very nearly two thirds of parliamentary seats, with the racists and religious extremists getting fewer than what they usually win? The result surprised even the nationalists. This shows that the Sinhalese electorate can decide the future of the country by themselves. But they naturally prefer to do so with the participation of the minorities. If the Sinhalese MPs in parliament forget their partisan divisions and remember the patriotism of their ancestors who shed their blood to save their motherland for all its inhabitants, they will voluntarily help the government to muster the two thirds majority required or even more for introducing a completely new constitution when the time comes for that.
Not less than the survival of the unitary state, the nation, the dominant Buddhist culture and the island territory is at stake. The America-led West and India seem to have found a deus ex machina opportunity to further crank up pressure on economically doddering Sri Lanka in the fast expanding mysterious Brandix Covid-19 cluster and in a court judgement given in UK that is favourable to the LTTE rump still active there: It was reported in the media on Wednesday (October 21, 2020) that UK’s Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission has concluded that the Home Office decision to keep the LTTE as a proscribed terrorist organisation was flawed and unlawful. So, the British parliament is likely to lift the ban on the organization in that country. Britain is one of the forty countries that proscribed the terror outfit. As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, this will make little difference to the status quo, because the UK has practically always allowed its members to behave as if there was no ban on it.
So, all MPs in parliament, please forget your party, ethnic, religious and interpersonal differences in the name of our motherland. At the time of writing, the ad hoc 20A is to be put to the vote. It will be passed with necessary amendments. It is good if this was carried out without the government having to strike secret deals with communalists or to engineer crossovers from the Opposition (which would be a slap in the face of the voting public). The more momentous responsibility that you are going to fulfill is to create a sound new constitution for our country that will save our nation from squabbling geopolitical powers who are promoting their own separate national interests at our expense, leaving us in perpetual political instability and endless economic misery. You Hon. MPs, especially the fresh thinking young ones, owe our resplendent island homeland no less.
(PS: The 20A was passed in parliament with 156 voting for it and only 65 against. The votes cast in favour exceeds the required two thirds majority by 6 votes. It is obvious that the government did not have to make undue special overtures towards Muslim MPs. There were only 6 Muslim votes but they were not critical, they were dispensable. It is clear that the Muslim MPs thrust themselves on the government side without being asked. Probably, they did this on the prior instructions of Hakeem (and Rishad as well). I think so because, about two weeks ago, Hakeem told media men that he wouldn’t vote for 20A but that the other members of his party would probably do so. The government had better be careful: Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. Only Faustian bargains can be made with fundamentalists. No reasonable democratic dialogue is possible with Islamists. The government, it seems, was short of only 2 votes for acquiring the required number of votes, which was 150. Those two votes came from Tamil MP Aravind Kumar and SJB’s Diana Gamage. The latter violated her leader’s injunction, for which she must be praised. In my opinion, it is obvious that the former president, Sirisena, didn’t take part in the voting, not because the controversial NGO drafted and promoted 19A was passed under his presidency, but because he couldn’t any longer get associated with the hypocrisy of its defenders.
The drafting of a completely new constitution commenced two or three weeks ago. The process will get into top gear now. The multiethnic drafting committee is headed by the renowned PC Romesh de Silva, and includes other legal luminaries such as Manohara de Silva and experts in related fields such as geologist and geopolitical analyst and commentator Prof. Gerald H. Peiris. They who love Sri Lanka as their beloved motherland can be expected to collectively produce a document that will be as much acceptable to the minorities as it is to the majority.)
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Islamophobia and the threat to democratic development
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.
Pakistan’s love of Sri Lanka
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!.
Covid-19 health rules disregarded at entertainment venues?
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!