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Rajeewa Jayaweera: beloved brother, friend, confidante, mentor, and comrade in arms

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by Sanjeewa Jayaweera

“No Chutta, I don’t need your help today. I will let you know when I need it.” were the last words that Aiya spoke to me. Usually, his tone was brusque and matter of fact. That day it was soft and endearing. I was a bit surprised but happy. I often wish I had the intuition to guess something was amiss.

It is now three months since my brother passed away. The intense grief and the sense of tragic loss that my three sisters and I feel have not abated. The heaviness in our hearts is still there.

As in most cases of suicide, many have posed the question “Why did he do this?” Many of his closest friends were bewildered. They did not detect any sign of depression or unhappiness. Neither did I. He was not depressed but indeed weary of life.

His letter to me, which unfortunately found its way to media outlets, websites and social media conveyed his apprehension about a couple of health issues that might impact the quality of his life in the future.

As his brother and closest confidant, I believe his following comments reveal his mindset. In his letter to me, he said, “In the final analysis, I have lived my life in full. I now see little or no reason to continue as the many negatives far outweigh few positives left. Therefore, I look forward to my departure.” In another post he said, “Left in my own time, achieving most if not all I wanted, now tired of it all and with no further reasons to stay on”. He did not elaborate as to why he felt “tired of it all” but followed the motto of Michelle Obama “When others go low, we go high”.

When I recently visited his grave, I saw a post in the cemetery that said, “Death is a delightful hiding place for men who are weary of life”. Many who desperately try to prolong their life in this world despite various challenges would find it hard to understand this. However, I do not.

Aiya was the second of five children, was born in 1956, a few days before the eighth-independence celebration day of Sri Lanka (Ceylon then). My sisters often used to tease my mother saying Aiya was her favourite! He was fortunate to get overseas exposure in his early years in Singapore and then India.

When the family returned to Sri Lanka in 1962, he and I were admitted to Nalanda Vidyalaya. Despite returning Foreign Service Officers having the option of choosing any school, my father had wanted us to be exposed to children from different backgrounds and not just the elite. Although Aiya was at Nalanda only for eight years before proceeding overseas, I believe his thinking on social issues impacting our country was somewhat fashioned by the value system that prevailed in schools such as Nalanda and Ananda at that time.

Our family proceeded overseas in 1970 and experienced the biting winter in Russia. After just one year, our father sought and got a transfer to the warmer climate of Pakistan.

After passing his GCE Ordinary Level exam in Islamabad, Rajeewa wanted to move to Karachi to do his Advanced Level exam. The reason was that Islamabad despite being the capital city, was a sleepy little town with no social life! Despite Ammi’s reluctance as he was only 17 years, he prevailed. Even then, Aiya was his own man!

In 1975 he moved with the rest of the family to West Germany. In 1980 he Graduated from the School of Economics specializing in the Catering and Hotel Trade in Dortmund. Only a few weeks before his death, he fondly reminisced on challenges he faced in having to learn the German language and maintain his grades. He said that in the first two years, several students left, but he persevered although he had to study twice as hard to ensure continuance at the institute because of the language problem. But he did it! He worked at several hotels in West Germany as part of his internship, and his stint at the Steinberger Hotel in Bonn from 1975 to 1977 exposed him to hosting of State Banquets for dignitaries like the Shah of Iran and other world figures. The disciplines he learnt were to stand him in good stead even in later years of his life when organizing official functions and dinners. All his life, he was able to know good wines from mediocre ones. He well understood the art of perfect entertaining.

He returned to Sri Lanka in 1980 and worked in the hotel trade till 1986 when he went to work in Mosul in Iraq. On his return, he decided to switch careers and joined Air Lanka in 1989 as a Marketing Executive. He quickly proved his capabilities and was appointed as the Manager of Marketing Communications in 1992. After that, he did stints in Oman, Chennai and then France as the Country Manager. In Chennai, he was Manager of the whole of Southern India.

He returned from France in 2005 and after resigning from Sri Lankan Airlines he joined Qatar Airlines as the Regional Manager for Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, and Myanmar. In 2010 he rejoined Sri Lankan Airlines on a two-year contract and was appointed as the Country Manager for Germany. However, his contract was prematurely terminated by the Sri Lankan Board in May 2011.

The reason was that Rajeewa refused a request by a VVIP who had a penchant for the welfare of airline flight attendants! He was told to arrange for an officer of the Sri Lankan Airlines Frankfurt office to meet two flight attendants who were returning by train from Berlin. They were then to be assisted and placed on board the train going to the Frankfurt airport.

As the day concerned was a Sunday, Rajeewa said that in Germany it was not possible to ask staff to work and as such he could not accede to the request. He also believed the ladies concerned were seasoned travellers and that there was no reason for them to be met and assisted. The net result was that his contract was terminated shortly after.

He was not a person who suffered fools gladly. He was known to be a firm administrator who discharged his responsibilities diligently and efficiently. A former boss of his at Sri Lankan Airlines told me recently that most of Rajeewa’s overseas postings were to places where contentious issues had to be resolved and that there was no better person than him to be assigned.

 

He always got the job done. He was forthright and not a “YES” man. He said what he had to say quite openly irrespective of the consequences. This forthrightness, at times, negatively impacted his career as well as his personal relationships. At times because of this, people did not always see the softer side of him.

His devotion to his parents was exemplary. He checked all their requirements and attended to them even, from overseas. When he was in France, my parents spent every summer with him and despite his hectic schedule he would take them sightseeing during the weekends to various locations. Both my parents were of the view that the time spent in Paris with Aiya were some of the happiest they have had.

When Ammi passed away, we soon realized that Thathi was neglecting himself. The cooked meals sent by Rajeewa were not being consumed. He, soon took charge and employed two attendants to look after him and spent about four to five hours every day, ensuring that Thathi was shaved, bathed, exercised and fed. All this was done diligently under his supervision. He ran the household with military precision! The menu for 21 meals for the week was on a magi board! I remember him telling me “Chutta, with your workload at JKH you don’t have the time. I will do the needful.”

My brother has written three articles about the different phases of his relationship with our father. As a teenager, he rebelled and was at odds with Thathi’s thinking. However, he was the one who was the proudest of our father’s achievements and personal attributes.

When visiting Germany during Thathi’s tenure as Ambassador, Rajeewa discovered that he was planning to order a Volkswagen Golf as his private vehicle to be brought back to Sri Lanka at the end of his assignment. Vainly he protested telling Thathi that most returning Ambassadors brought back Mercedes Benzes or BMWs from stints abroad as they could be brought in duty-free. Thathi’s reply was that he was buying a car to take him and Ammi from point A to point B and a small car was more than adequate. Rajeewa found such attitudes challenging and did not always understand such actions!

Twenty-seven years later, when Rajeewa retired from full-time work and relocated to Sri Lanka, he had to decide on a car and opted for a small Toyota Aqua despite being financially able to afford a higher-grade car. Chatting over a drink about the choice of the vehicle, and he said that he now understood Thathi’s thinking and principled way of life. He also said that he now fully appreciated one of our father’s often-repeated phrases “Class is something that you are born with and not what you acquire. It is not based on how much money you have in your bank accounts or the assets you own.”

As a brother, he was my friend, confidant, mentor, and comrade in arms! He was never intrusive. The advice given was on a take it or leave it basis and nearly always only when sought. I always knew that he was there for me and likewise, that I was there for him. When I look back it was, he who always helped me, and my greatest regret is that I did not have the opportunity to reciprocate. He rarely asked for any help.

He took great pleasure in my success at John Keells. I still recall how, after three years working as an accountant, a senior director, decided to join a competitor. He offered me a job at his new place of employment and promised a two-fold salary increase and a fully maintained official vehicle! I was delighted. However, before accepting the offer, I sought Aiya’s guidance over a drink. When I mentioned the job offer and details of the prospective employer, his reaction was “Chutta, you are an idiot if you don’t know the difference between the JKH brand and that of the other!”. That was the end of the discussion. When I was appointed a director at JKH four years later, Aiya jokingly asked me “Hope you remember our conversation”!

When I returned to Sri Lanka from London, I was a bachelor living near to Aiya’s. He used to provide me with meals and pick me up and drop me at work until I got my car six months later. When I got married, he told my wife, “Deepthi, you don’t need to cook lunch as you are working. I will continue to provide meals for both of you”. Such was the amazingly soft and considerate side of him.

Rajeewa was a proud Sri Lankan. In several articles, he expressed his displeasure as to how certain western countries were attempting to hold Sri Lanka to account to standards which they themselves do not adhere to. He was also critical of the role played by India in the late 1970s and 1980s in promoting terrorism in our country.

In one of the boxes, he left behind for me is a personal letter from The Rt. Hon. The Lord Naseby PC to Rajeewa. The letter was enclosed in the copy of Lord Naseby’s book “Sri Lanka – Paradise Lost Paradise Regained.”

The final paragraph of the letter reads as follows “I hope you enjoy the read: maybe if I am lucky it will turn out in itself to be the match to light the lamp that takes Sri Lanka forward to be better understood by the West and admired by others. I look forward to reading your review in due course.” It was unfortunate that he did not have the time to review the book written by a person whom he admired greatly and felt indebted for having spoken passionately on behalf of our country.

The decision to gift Rs. 1 million to the domestic as well as Rs. 500,000 to the Presidential Fund for COVID are examples of his generosity and his sense of duty. In the covering letter sent to the President’s Fund, he had stated that as a beneficiary of free education received, he felt that it was his duty to donate despite having paid Income tax for several decades.

He paid his Income Tax for the year 2019/20 just a few weeks before his death. He wanted me to compute the income tax payment for quarter 1 of 2020/21. He got annoyed when I told him that it was too early to calculate and in any case the payment is due only in August. Upon enquiry, I found that he had settled all his credit card dues. He wanted to ensure that he owed neither the state nor anyone else anything.

I believe that it was as a regular contributor to the Sunday Island and the Island from 2013 onwards that he found his niche in life. It gave him a purpose as all his articles were well researched and supported by facts. He was a fearless and a non-partisan writer in a country where most hide and use non de plumes when expressing opinions on controversial issues impacting the country.

He had contributed over 325 articles since 2013. I reproduce below some of the tributes paid to him by fellow scribes and readers of his articles.

“A trenchant, well-informed writer, his contributions that included incisive political analysis, were without fear or favour. He was the most knowledgeable writer on Sri Lankan Airlines in the Sri Lankan press drawing from an information bank in his head and using his ability to dig deep into the affairs of the airline which he had served long” – Manik Silva – Editor of Sunday Island

“Of course, Rajeewa Jayaweera was not my friend. I never saw him in person, nor heard him, but I had once seen his picture in a web publication. However, I saw him well enough through his writings as a fellow contributor to The Island, and experienced a latent relationship with him as a person whose intellectual grasp of our country’s burning issues, and whose concerns and attitudes relating to them generally matched mine; I felt as if I had known him closely as a friend for some time. I was impressed by the meticulous attention he paid to his language in expressing his ideas precisely (a characteristic in truth-tellers)”. –Rohana Wasala

“The well-researched analysis, on many topics, too numerous to list were factual, objectively composed and fair to everyone. He was a prolific writer on matters of public interest, providing knowledge and insights to inform and enrich our lives. His writings were always non-partisan. He wrote on all sorts of public issues, ranging from corruption, in public places, to civil aviation. He was at his best on diplomatic issues, and foreign affairs, given his family background”. – Dr D Chandrarathna

“He will be remembered by many as a courageous writer who put vital and scandalous information of Sri Lankan Airlines into the public domain, through the media. I always remember this impeccably dressed handsome marketeer who turned to be a prolific writer, placing his authority in a topic he knew like the back of his hand” – Ranjith Samaranayake

“The unbroken thread that ran through his essays was impartiality. Political angles did not influence his writings. He offered no respect to the dishonest, and those professionals who failed to preserve the national interest and dignity in office. He was fearless in the expression of his beliefs, convictions and conclusions, and was undaunted by reaction and reproach. He wrote without fear and prejudice. There was much to learn and absorb from his writings, particularly because intense research underpinned his analyses and conclusions. Reading him was a process of enlightenment, enrichment and education” – SDIG (Retired) Merril Gunaratne

“I genuinely miss Rajeewa. I probably saw the best in his incisive mind and greatly talented personality. I always looked forward to reading whatever he wrote, and we had lively discussions on topics of the day.”

–Goolbai Gunasekara

I think the tributes encapsulate Rajeewa’s contribution as a journalist and the respect with which others of similar ilk held him.

Many have asked me why he chose the Independence Square? It was a close friend of his who explained that it was symbolic. It was his “independence” from a life of which he was truly weary.


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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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