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When grit prevails over disability

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Wheelchair tennis 

His life didn’t flash before his eyes when the mine exploded under his feet. The only thought that crossed his mind was a sense of regret at his tour of duty coming to an abrupt end while his work was left undone. It was the year 2008 and in another year the war would be over. However, Lasantha Ranaweera didn’t know that. He was in the thick of it, having turned down multiple training opportunities so he could witness the end of the war. But while returning to base in Periyamadu, in the wee hours of May 18, 2008, which happened to be Vesak Poya day, he stepped on the mine. His leg was amputated, but it didn’t snuff out his spirit. Ranaweera went on to become a wheelchair tennis pro. This is his story and that of his comrades.

By Sajitha Prematunge

Pics by Kamal Wanniarachchi

When Jagath Welikala went to the airport on the request of Sri Lanka Tennis Association, presumably to pick up a tennis player, a Brit lugging a wheelchair, instead of a tennis racket, was the last thing the veteran tennis coach expected. Englishman Mark Bullock arrived in Sri Lanka in 2002 to introduce a special kind of sport; wheelchair tennis.

The programme kicked off with 50 all military amputees. The number was later cut down to 20. Welikala was elected to coach the team and Australian coach Kathy Fahim conducted a two-week crash course in wheelchair tennis. “Then I simply followed it up,” said Welikala. By mid-September the same year, a four-member team won the D Division in the Thailand Open 2002. Bullock, then the International Tennis Federation, Wheelchair Tennis Development Officer, facilitated Welikala’s one-month training in the Netherlands with world’s number one coach at the time, Aad Zwan. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) donated three wheelchairs and funded Australian and New Zealand wheelchair tournaments.

Two received ‘wild card’ entries into the Para Olympics 2004 in Athens, Greece. The SLTA team also won the Indian Open 2007, Australian B Division 2004, New Zealand B Division 2004, Belgium Open 2016, Malaysian Open 2017, Thailand Open 2017, Taipei Open 2018 and World Cup qualifiers 2018, held in Malaysia, along the way. Over the years, the Sri Lankan team has beaten US, Spainish, German, Italian, Slovakian Moroccan, Israeli, Swiss, Argentinian, Croatian, Russian, Canadian, Malaysian, Thai and Japanese players during World Cup matches. Their winning streak culminated in Lasantha Ranaweera and Suresh Dharmasena winning the bronze at the 3rd Asian Games, Indonesia in 2018.

War injuries break people, consequently, Welikala often had to double as a counsellor to the soldier-tennis players training under him. “But, all, after they became a part of the programme, wound up married.” This, no doubt, stands testimony to the success of the programme. “There’s a definite improvement in psychology.” Welikala ventured that, in a way it is therapeutic. “It’s something to look forward to in life.” But more importantly, Welikala points out that they are not friendless. “They are rated international and have friends all over the world.”

Welikala’s own achievements include being elected a member of Coaches’ Commission for the term between 2010 and 2012 and placed second best coach of the year. He started coaching regular tennis in 1985. Now he is the only Sri Lankan coach who specializes in wheelchair tennis, having trained 40 players so far. What’s unique about the Sri Lankan wheelchair tennis programme is that the players are all amputees, wounded in action, competing with players, most of who have been disabled by birth or childhood and have been playing wheelchair tennis for many decades, in A-grade wheelchairs.

“Back when we started, we didn’t have proper equipment. All the wheelchairs were locally assembled, until ITF donated the first three wheelchairs,” said Welikala. The team recently received three Malaysian-made wheelchairs at the cost of Rs. 500,000 each, courtesy of SLTA. “A state-of-the-art wheelchair would cost somewhere around three million. With that kind of equipment players can play well into their 50s,” said Lasantha Ranaweera.

The 36 -year-old, originally from Makandura enlisted in August 2003 and was assigned to Gajaba Regiment. After stepping on a landmine, his leg was amputated on May 19, 2008. From Anuradhapura he was brought to Colombo, where he recuperated for three months. Ranaweera spent four more months in Ranaviru Sevana and returned to service at his regiment. He spent two years with the sports team, during which he tried every sport available for an amputee like him, from basketball, badminton, table tennis, archery to the 24 kilometre marathon. Considering the zeal with which he applied himself to sport, it is quite surprising that he has not played any sport prior to his amputation.

He joined the SLTA wheelchair tennis team in 2011 and by 2013 he was in such fine form that he was able to bring home a medal on his first tour, coming third in Thai Open doubles. He has played seven Thai and nine Malaysian tournaments. Ranaweera placed eighth in the World Cup 2016 held in Japan. He has beaten every other local player in the game, although he is the third highest ranking Sri Lankan in ITF ranking.

Ranaweera admits that he couldn’t have come this far if it weren’t for the support of his family. He was married in 2007. But due to complications resulting from the blast the Ranaweeras could not have kids for 12 years. “It was a huge sacrifice on my wife’s part to stick around. But with treatment, it finally paid off. She always knew I’d make a name for myself in sports, so she was always encouraging.” Today Ranaweera is happy that the others finished the war for him, so his now one-year-old kid could live in peace.

After the war we had to face a more formidable enemy, this time in the form of a pandemic. As in any other field, COVID-19 has been a huge setback for these wheelchair tennis players. The longer they remain idle and the less tournaments they play, the higher the risk that other playing opponents may overtake them in the ITF ranking. “Training is not the issue, we need more tournaments, we need to travel,” pointed out Welikala. “If we don’t do tours, our ranking goes down,” added Ranaweera. “Age is irrelevant when it comes to wheelchair tennis,” said amputee Suresh Dharmasena. Take Stéphane Houdet for example, not only do such players have the best of equipment to their advantage, they also play often as possible to keep their ranking up. “Houdet is 49, yet he’s ranked in the ITF top 10. If we can manage at least 17 or 18 tours a year we can stay in the world top 20. This year we’ve played only three so far.”

Thirty-one-year-old Dharmasena from Kahatagasdigiliya has been playing Wheelchair Tennis since 2011. Unlike Ranaweera, Dharmasena was wounded during the latter part of the war. Dharmasena enlisted in July 2007 and was assigned to the Artillery Regiment. At the height of war, he was stationed in Puthukkudiyiruppu. It was February 21, 2009. Civilians were fleeing the war zone in droves, for two days, by boat across the Chalai lagoon, when the LTTE infiltrated the area and opened fire. Most were killed or injured. Dharmasena and others were pulling the wounded out when they were hit by mortar. Dharmasena was able to jump out of the way, which saved his life, but he fell on an anti-personnel mine.

“When four of your friends are down with various wounds, ranging in degrees of seriousness, and another lying dead a few feet away, your own predicament tends to escape you. Violence becomes mundane in war.” Wise words for a still young soldier. He was patched up at a makeshift hospital, but he knew that his foot was badly damaged all the way to the boot line. It had to be amputated. Dark thoughts of never being able to marry, have kids and make a family did cross his mind but had to be kept at bay for the sake of his family. After recuperating for four months at the Ranaviru Senvana, Dharmasena was fitted with a prosthetic. A month of training later, he was stationed at Panagoda Camp.

“I’ve always liked sports,” said Dharmasena, on the merits of which he got into the army. “After the amputation I used to watch kids in the village play volleyball.” Before his injury volleyball was his forte. Watching them, Dharmasena remembers being dejected at the prospect of never being able to play again. It was Brigadier Shiran Abeysekara who suggested that Dharmasena try his hand at wheelchair tennis. He joined the SLTA wheelchair tennis team in October 2011. “It looks easier than it is, but it uses only the upper body and on the first day your hand starts to blister. Any civilian would have quit. But the Army had my back. The word ‘can’t’ is not in the Army dictionary.” Wheelchair tennis, backed by the discipline that was inculcated in him by the Army, presented him with something he couldn’t refuse – the idea that he was not an invalid, that he could play any sport. He trained well into the night, woke up early and trained some more, till his ITF ranking shot up to Sri Lanka’s highest.

With 30 tours behind him and between 40 to 50 trophies stacked away back at home, Dharmasena readily admits that he couldn’t have done it without his wife. It takes courage for a traditional Sri Lankan woman to accept a disabled person for husband. And Dharmasena’s wife, Samurdika, did it with grace, maintaining that she would marry no other, until the in-laws had to budge. “Now they can’t do without me,” snickers Dharmasena. Like the typical traditional Sri Lankan wife, she makes a vow every time he is to play a tournament. However, she also makes it a point to go over each match, why he lost, the opponent’s weak points and notes it all down with the expertise of a seasoned coach. Whenever he is to face the same opponent again, they pore over this ‘playbook’, just so to know how to defeat his opponent’. And after a win she never fails to welcome him back home with much fanfare.

Gamini Dissanayake, aged 42, is the only remaining player out of the original 50. He took part in the two-week training course conducted by Kathy Fahim at the inception of the programme. Originally from Ampara, Dissanayake commutes daily from home in Awissawella for training. As the other players, Dissanayake could not have devoted such time and energy without the unstinting support of his family. Dissanayake has three kids; a 16 -year-old daughter and two sons, 14 and 11 years old.

He joined the Army in 1996 and was wounded in action in 2000, when he stepped on a mine in Muhamalai.

 

Dissanayake has played wheelchair tennis for 15 years. He said tennis had helped him to overcome his injury, both physically and psychologically.

Dharmasena said that his titles were many including SSC Open 2010, AITA Open Wheelchair Tennis Tournament 2011, Westende Wheelchair Tournament 2016, Malaysia Open 2016, Labuan Open 2018, Sri Lanka Open in the years 2013, 2018 and 2020 in singles and BII Indonesia Open 2011, AITA Open Wheelchair Tennis Tournament 2011, Westende Wheelchair Tournament 2016, Labuan Open 2018, Sri Lankan Open in the years 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, SSC Open in the years 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2017 in doubles and bronze in World Cup 2012. He has some 130 trophies attesting to his formidability.

Ranaweera and Dharmasena look forward to the next Paralympics, slated for August 2021, and the Asian Games in 2022. Dissanayake hopeS to retire after the Paralympics and Asian Games. This is the last generation of wheelchair tennis players that the military might produce. Dharmasena is concerned about what will happen to the sport after they retire. He hopes that someone would come forward to provide food and lodging to children from remote corners of the country, interested in picking the game up. Because unlike them, who were provided for by the ASrmy, children from low income households may not be able to afford the equipment.

In fact, SLTA has already launched a low key programme to track down potential talent. “Until the end of the war, we had a steady influx of players, through the intervention of the Army,” said SLTA Director Administration, Gayanga Weerasekara. Since the war ended, there have been no disabled willing to take up the sport. Now the SLTA is venturing into remote areas and orphanages in search of talent. “If anyone’s interested call up SLTA,” said Weerasekara. “People with any kind of disability could take up the sport.” He explained that internationally the sport is categorized according to the disability and as such, there is a lot of scope for aspiring wheelchair tennis players. Weerasekara said that they were actively looking for funding and that they have been lucky so far, to have received funding from companies such as the Colombo International Container Terminals (CICT). He is also hopeful that the new Sports Minister, Namal Rajapaksa would support the sport.

Weerasekara pointed out that players like Ranaweera, Dharmasena and Dissanayake would have wasted years of youth in some Army camp office and later been dependent on a pension, had they not discovered the sport. “We were able to provide them with a whole new career. Grand slam players are paid in dollars.” Weerasekara explained that wheelchair tennis provides endless opportunities for disabled children. “There is a certain therapeutic aspect to wheelchair tennis, that disabled children can benefit from. For example, it is an outdoor game. It is a very social game, too when it comes to doubles.

Weerasekara said that the local players had not known anything about the sport before their injuries as opposed to most international players who are disabled by birth or at a young age. Moreover, due to funding issues they had not been able to do as many tours as they needed. “Under such circumstances, it is to their credit that they were able to qualify for world events such as the Paralympics. These players have sacrificed their limbs for this country, and the least anyone could do is sponsor them,” said Weerasekara, inviting any interested party to sponsor the players.


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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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