Saturday, December 04, 2021
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Politics Behind Muslim Burial

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Dr. Ameer Ali

No scientist or epidemiologist anywhere in the world has so far proved with solid evidence that corona virus would spread from buried corona-killed corpses. Only in Sri Lanka a so-called committee of health experts belonging to the establishment, expressed an opinion that because of high water level in the ground that virus has the potential to spread, if those died from it are buried. Hence, they recommended indiscriminate cremation hitting directly at religious sensitivity of Muslims. No amount of protest from local Muslims or from Muslim organizations abroad, and not even advice from WHO to the contrary could convince President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government to relent. The President maintains that unless the experts committee shows the green light he will not budge. This is the strongest demonstration yet of the one-country-one-law mantra.

In the meantime, the Muslim Minister of Justice fails to see the injustice committed to his community, and the Mufti or the chief shepherd preaches his herd how to bury the ashes after cremation. If you cannot change them join them appears to be the preferred course of action to these leaders. The community on the other hand is not prepared to listen.

The whole episode has nothing to do with science and epidemiology but with politics. The opinion expressed by the experts committee was manna from heaven to Buddhist supremacists who, since 2009 and especially after the Easter Massacre of 2019, are bent on seeking revenge on Muslim community. These supremacists are a pillar of strength to the Rajapaksa regime. Their ideology of a hegemonic Buddhist Sri Lanka dominates the thinking and philosophy of the professionals in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Viyathmaga. It is that ideology which is the quintessence of today’s jathika chintanaya. Only a few days ago, when a rumour was spreading that the government was about to reconsider its decision to cremate Muslim bodies, an ageing Gunadasa Amarasekera, one of the architects of this ideology warned the government of relenting to Muslim demand. A couple of days ago Rev. Gnanasara in his usual anti-Muslim tone also reminded the law makers in the parliament of one-country-one-law.

There is no sign that the virus is going to disappear for at least another couple of years although its spread could be controlled through vaccination. Even then how cheaply and easily would Sri Lankans have access to that vaccine is unsure because of the country’s financial difficulties. Authorities are already opening the country for business, because Basil Rajapaksa feels that profit should not be allowed to suffer because of public health. Thus, based on pseudo-science and backed by jatika chintanaya cremation of Muslim bodies would continue under the pretext of an emergency. If the Mufti continues to preach his compromised solution of Islamically burying the ash, he could win the hearts and minds of the rulers but certainly not of his community.

The issue of cremating Muslim bodies and the proposed ban on cow slaughter are ideologically motivated and very soon one may expect Muslim personal laws also to fall under the ideology’s axe. It would be interesting how the Muslim Minister of justice would handle that issue when it comes before parliament. Meanwhile, the protagonists of this ideology would be watching closely at what their ‘predator’ friend China is doing to Uighur Muslims in Xinxiang. Leaked reports show how those Muslims are force fed with pig meat and their women shaved and the hair is used as raw material for manufacturing industrial products. Already the Chinese government has destroyed several mosques and Muslim burial places in the name of development. One could only hope that the situation in Sri Lanka would not descend to that barbaric level. Sri Lanka’s exceptionally successful management of multiculturalism before the colonial period was unique in the entire region of Asia.
However, what options do Muslims have to avoid further calamities? First of all, they should give up the idea that by going along with the ruling regime they could save their skin and survive peacefully under traumatic conditions. At the same time, there is no guarantee that they will have better prospects by joining the current opposition, because SJB and its parent UNP will also eventually fall prey to the current pernicious ideology to capture power. Therefore, Muslims and for that matter even Tamils should seek a third alternative. It should be an alternative that seeks to bring back democracy with all its innate qualities and preserve the country’s pluralist polity and culture. Thankfully, there is a significant cluster of saner and influential minds within the majority Sinhala Buddhists, including sections of the Sangha, who are wanting that to happen. It is the task of the Muslim intelligentsia to approach and join hands with them, introduce them to the community and work with them for a better Sri Lanka. It is not a change that is going to happen soon, but the foundations should be laid now for the future. The populist image of the current regime is bound to suffer in the face of looming economic disaster.

Muslim community is caught up in the current predicament because of its own ethnic politics. Both SLMC and ACMC should be dissolved forthwith and the community becomes part of a multi-ethnic, patriotic and democratic political party. If a ruling government is democratic, treats every community and citizen equally and protects the independence of judiciary, what does it matter whether Muslims and Tamils or for that matter even Sinhalese are represented in the legislature by their own men and women or by other community members? It is time to think afresh and outside the circle.


හිස්බුල්ලා පෙන්නලා බිල්ලා මවනවා

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(යොහාන් භාසුර)


ශානි අබේසේකර සහ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා වැනි පුද්ගලයන් පෙන්වා බිල්ලන් මවා ජාතිවාදය වපුරවමින් රට විනාශ නොකරන ලෙස සමඟ ජනබලවේග මන්ත්‍රී හරීන් ප්‍රනාන්දු මහතා පාර්ලිමේන්තු විවාදයට එක්වෙමින් පැවසීය.  එහිදී මන්ත්‍රී හරීන් ප්‍රනාන්දු මහතා වැඩිදුරටත් මෙසේ ද පැවසීය.

“ශානි අබේසේකර, හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා පෙන්වලා මේ රටේ බිල්ලො මවනවා වෙනුවට අලුත් ගමනක් යන්න ඕන නම් දේශපාලන වශයෙන් අපි සර් කියන්න කැමති මිනිස්සු ගන්න”

“ලංකාවට ගණිකා වෘත්තිය ගේන, අපේ ලංකාව තරම්වත් ආර්ථිකයක් නැති සංචාරකයො ගෙනල්ලා යාල වස්සලා. සීගිරිය පොළොන්නරුවට ගේන්න හදලා. මේ කරන විනාශයට විරුද්ධව ඔබතුමාලත් හිට ගනී කියලා හිතනවා”

“ගරු මුලාසනය හොඹවන මන්ත්‍රීතුමනි, අවාසනාවකට, එක රටක් එක නීතියක් කියන විට මට මතක් වෙන්නේ අපි වැස්ස දවසකට ත්‍රීවිල් එකක යනවා වගේ. කොයි වෙලාවෙ මොන වළේ වැටෙයිද? කොයි වෙලාවේ ත්‍රීවිල් එක නවතීද? කොයි වෙලාවේ අපිව තෙමෙයිද? හරියට තීන්දුවක් නොමැතිව විශ්වාසයක් නොමැතිව බලාගෙන ඉන්න අවදියක එක රටක් එක නීතියක් ගැනත් පුංචි ප්‍රශ්නයක් තියෙනවා”

“ජනාධිපති සමාව දෙන රැල්ලක් පටන් අරන්. ඔය රැල්ල එන්නෙ මොන පොල් පැළේ කන්නද කියලත් අපි හොඳට දන්නවා”

“මේ රටේ මිනිස්සු හිතුවේ අවුරුද්දක් යනකොට කොහොමද නීතිය කියලා ඇහුවම අතිවිශිෂ්ටයි සර් කියයි කියලා. අද මේ ලංකාවේ තියෙනවා අමුතු නීති රාශියක්. රාජපක්‍ෂ නීතිය, ගජමිතුරු නීතිය, කෝවිඩි නීතිය, දුප්පතුන්ගේ නීතිය, යුක්රේන් ජාතිකයන්ට දෙන නීතිය”

“සර් නෙවිඩාලෝ කියනවා. මේක යුක්රේන භාෂාවෙන් සර් ෆේල් කියන එක. ආපු පළමු ගුවන් යානයේම කෙල්ලො 18 දෙනෙක්ටම මාස තුනක වීසා දීලා. මේකට හේතුව තමයි දේශපාලනයේ ප්‍රාදේශීය සභාවකවත් හිටපු නැති කෙනෙක් ජනාධිපති වීම. සිස්ටම් වෙනස් කරන්න ආවට සිස්ටම් එක තේරෙන්නේ නෑ”

“අද රට පාලනය කරන්නේ කවුද? සර්ගේ සාපේ අපි කියන්නේ ‘ස’ සාපේ. පස්දෙනෙක් තමයි රට පාලනය කරන්නේ”

“උදයංග වීරතුංග, සංචාරක බුබුලේ ඉන්න ඕන කෙනා මාස් එකක් දාන්නෙ නැතුව මාධ්‍ය සාකච්ඡා තියෙනවා. හොඳ නළුවා විල්සන් කරූ හිරේ යනවා. ලැජ්ජයි, කැතයි...”

“අපිට ගැහුවා මහ බැකුවෙන් බිලියන 10 ක් ගැහුවා කියලා. එක ෂොට් එකෙන් සීනිවලින් ගැහුවා බිලියන 10 ක්. මහබැංකු හොරකම වෙනුවෙන් බිලියන 10 ක සංචිතයක් තියාගත්තා. එහෙම තිබුණා”

“මිනිස්සු 64,000 ක් එන්න බැරිව දුක්විදිනවා. හිතලා බලන්න, ටෙලිකොම් එකේ සන්නාම නාමය වෙනස් කරන්න බිලියන දෙකක් වියදම් කරනවා”

“මෙතුමන්ලා ජයග්‍රහණය කරන්න හදන්නෙ ජාතිවාදයෙන්මයි. මම හිටගන්නේ ජාතිකවාදයත් එක්ක. අලීස් අබී්‍ර මහත්තයා අධිකරණ ඇමති කළාට අලීස් අබී්‍ර මහත්තයා පිටින් තමයි ඔක්කෝම යන්නේ. ඔබතුමා මුස්ලිම් ජාතිකයෙක් නිසා ඔබතුමාලම පත්කළ ආණ්ඩුව ඔබතුමාට වටකරගෙන ගහනවා. අපි ගහන්නේ නෑ. අපිගාව තියෙන්නේ ජාතිකවාදයයි”

“හර්ෂණ රාජකරුණා මන්ත්‍රීතුමාගෙන් අහනවා ඔබේ ජාතිය මොකක්ද? ශ්‍රී ලාංකික, ආගම මොකක්ද? බුද්ධාගම. මගේ ජාතිය මොකක්ද? ශ්‍රී ලාංකික, ආගම රෝමානු කතෝලික, ඔබේ ජාතිය මොකක්ද? ශ්‍රී ලාංකික, ඔබ මුස්ලිම්. මේක දේශපාලනය කරගෙන තමන්ගේ බඩගෝස්තරය නිසා ජාතිවාදය අවුස්සමින් ඉන්නවා”

“හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා කියන්නේ ගල්කිස්ස සාන්ත තෝමස් විදුහලේ කීර්තිමත් ශිෂ්‍යයෙක්. ප්‍රධාන ශිෂ්‍යනායක. ශ්‍රී ලංකා වෝටර්පෝලෝ කණ්ඩායමට ක්‍රීඩා කළා. සාන්ත තෝමස් වෝටර්පෝලෝ කණ්ඩායමේ නායකයෙක්. මෙතන තෝමියන්ස්ලා ඉන්නවා එක්කෙනෙක් කථා කරන්නේ නෑ මොකද මුස්ලිම් නිසා”

“හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලට තියෙන චෝදනාව මොකක්ද? පුත්තලම පැත්තෙ පාසලකට ගිහිල්ලා මොනවද දේශනා කරයි කියලා. හැබැයි ඒ පාසලේ විදුහල්පතිගෙන්, ගුරුවරයෙක්ගෙන් හෝ ළමයකුගෙන්වත් සාක්‍ෂියක් අරන් නෑ”

“එතුමාව 8 වැනිදා උපාවියට ගේනවා. අපිට ආරංචියි අලුත් චෝදනාවක් දානවා කියලා. ත්‍රස්තවාදය වැළැක්වීමේ පනතින් ජනාධිපතිගේ අත්සනින් තමයි එතුමාව ඇතුළට ගත්තේ” යයිද හරීන් ප්‍රනාන්දු මහතා පැවසීය.


CID dont produce Hizbullah , say positive for Covid 19

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The Criminal Invesitgations Department which were scheduled to produce detained Attorney at Law Hejaaz Hizbullah this afternoon before the Fort magistrate , did not produce him and informed court that he had been tested positive for Covid 19.

Mr. Hizbullahs wife , attorneys and the Court were informed by officers of the CID that he would be produced today at 2. 00 PM at the Fort Magistrates court. Officers of the CID informed court staff that they intend producing Hizbullah following which Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage had made order that the case be taken up at 2. 00 PM today.

The news of production came after Mr. Romesh De Silva PC supported a writ application for lawyers access and made representations on behalf of Mr. Hizbullah.

Earlier a writ application was filed before the court of appeal seeking access to detainee Hejaaz Hizbullah for lawyers. Lawyers said they have had no access confidential to Mr. Hizbullah since the time of his arrest. Mr Romesh De Silva PC with Shanaka Cooray, Niran Anketell, Harith De Mel instructed by Sanath Wijeywardena appeared on behalf of the Petitioner in the writ case. Lawyers for Mr. Hizbullah awaited his production until they were informed of the renewed position of the CID.

The court staff informed journalists present at around 3.00PM that Mr. Hizbullah would not be produced. Mr. Hizbullah was arrested a year after the easter Sunday attack for allegedly having phone calls with an easter sunday terrorist.

Mr. Hizbullahs lawyes filed papers before court stating that the said terrorist was a client of Mr.Hizbullah whom he represented in two land matters.


Analysing Sumanthiran: A Reality Check On Hejaaz, Muslim Politicians & Lawyers

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On 09/12/2020, at the Committee Stage Debate in the Parliament on the Appropriation (2021) Bill, Honourable Member of Parliament Mr. M.A. Sumanthiran made some terse remarks given the limited time allotted to him.
He justified the need for an international inquiry and international judicial process to look into serious crimes committed in this country which has an impact on international law. In order to drive home his point, he alluded to several instances and, euphemistically made reference to the “depths to which your judicial system has sunk”. As a recent example he cited Mr. Hejaaz Hizbullah, an Attorney at Law who is currently in detention. Mr. M.A. Sumanthiran said, “a brilliant young lawyer denied justice for eight months. All kinds of false allegations were made against him.”  Further, he drew attention to the fact that if there were any grounds for prosecution, they should have filed charges against him. The Opposition Member of Parliament questioned the Minister of Justice Mr. Ali Sabry “what were you doing for eight months?”  
Voicing concern over the sacrosanct Attorney/Client communication, he pointed out that two of the client briefs of Attorney Mr. Hejaaz Hisbullah were taken away. He also deplored the fact that Hejaaz had not been given proper access to his lawyer. Mr. Sumanthiran then emphatically asked the million-dollar question, “if you treat a lawyer like that how do we expect you to treat anybody else?”

Silencing The Voice

Like Mr. Sumanthiran not many Muslim politicians dare to express themselves in Parliament. One may question, why not? The answer is in the lack of cohesiveness between the Muslim politicians, at least on matters of common interest. It is very rare. Some are gagged by the influence of external factors, political slavery. Ironically, among them are also those probably not really aware why the hell they are sitting in Parliament – day dreaming!  
As for the handful of the handful who wish to speak, the moment they do say something relating to the detention of Hejaaz and the many others or on any matter relating to the Easter Sunday attack, they would be accused of aiding and abetting extremism. Many government members in Parliament, deliberately do not allow the person to speak by drowning his voice with louder noise of interruptions and unruly behaviour.

Hot on the heels of such accusations are the notorious spin doctors, the media. They would build up a misleading or deceptive story incriminating the politician to create a negative impact of that person. Other vested interests, in this grand agenda, would pick it up from there and give their own interpretation, modify and reframe the allegations exacerbating the negative public opinion created. By this method the voice of the few who have the nerve to speak are often silenced or overwhelmed by disturbance. Freedom of expression, leave alone outside the Parliament, even under the Parliamentary Privileges has been stultified in our august assembly by vested interests.

Psychological Torture
Mr. Hejaaz Hizbullah is not alone. Like him there are so many others under detention orders unable to make sense of what is in store for them. Neither charged nor released, they are in a continuous state of suspense. Just like a live bird in a skewer over fire.  It does not want to die burning but, yet, it does not have the freedom to fly away. This state of affairs naturally causes much anxiety and depression not only to those who are detained in this manner but also to the near and dear ones. This is plain and simple mental torture violating the fundamental right against torture enshrined in the constitution besides the international ratifications.

(1) The Charter of the United Nations in relation to obligation of States under the Charter states in Article 55 (c):

“universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”

(2) The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 banning torture mentions in Article 5:

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

(3) The ban is further enshrined in Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

(4) The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment adopted in 1984 defines torture, in Article 1.1:

“For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person …”

Article 2.2

“No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

The infamous PTA

The infamous and dreaded Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act, No. 48 of 1979 as amended provides the legality for such incarceration. The PTA was a law enacted to prevent terrorism but it is alleged that many people with no connection to terrorism have been arrested and detained under its provisions.  

Imagine the sorry predicament of an Attorney who is supposed to work for the advancement of civil liberties, fearing for his own civil liberty.  Is it something to laugh at or a signification of a continuously corroding system? The constant reminder of what happened to Hejaaz hangs like the Sword of Damocles over the head of Muslim lawyers. They were in other words indirectly pressurized into silence except for some selected Attorneys. Who would want to face the situation that Hejaaz Hizbullah is in? This form of pressure is not sustainable because with the passage of time, people do bounce back when the level of tolerance is exceeded.

Fear Psychosis At Work – Lawyers

With the arrest of Hejaaz, the Muslims lawyers felt an unprecedented sense of insecurity in their professional and personal life. Such was the threat of the PTA and its tool of unpredictable detention. Members of the legal profession are supposed to be in a privileged status because they are part of ‘the administration of justice and essential for the maintenance of law and order and the preservation and advancement of civil liberties and the maintenance in general of the rule of law’. (Professional Ethics, A.R.B. Amerasinghe, Page 43)

We also witnessed the most unfortunate split among lawyers on the matter of Hejaaz. Can it be considered fair if the public questions the depth to which the legal profession has sunk. (See: Gota’s ‘Sinhala-only’ lawyers mount offensive to keep Attorney Hejaaz Hizbullah in illegal detention, Colombo Telegraph: 02/05/2020).

Such unprofessionalism was openly noticed among some of the doctors too, who failed to speak out on Dr. Shafi’s issue, the so called ‘wanda pethi’ and so many other stupidest allegations made.

It is a shame to see professionalism being a pawn to racism and racist agendas. Professional ethics and conduct demand a level higher than the conduct of an average person. “The legal profession has a responsibility to ensure that its guiding principles are conceived in the public interest and not in furtherance of parochial or self-interest concerns of the Bar and its members.” (ibid, Page 43).

Unaware of the pressure, limitations and fear that had mentally terrorised most of the Muslim lawyers, the Muslim community was often accusing the Muslims lawyers for maintaining silence at times they were supposed to speak out.

In the words of Crampton J. in Rex v. O’Connell:

“This court in which we sit is a temple of justice; and the advocate at the bar, as well as the judges upon the benches, are equally ministers in that temple. The object of all equally should be the attainment of justice; now justice is to be reached through the ascertainment of the truth…”

It is time that the legal fraternity get their act together and function in furtherance of justice, equity and fairness. Let the lawyers stand up as true and good professionals and be an example to other professions as well. The Bar Association of Sri Lanka as the premier institution of the legal profession may have a major role to play in this area o


To Burn Or To Bury? The Deadly Question

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To burn or to bury? That has become the bedeviling Covid-19 question in Sri Lanka with no respect for the dead and no empathy for those who are left to mourn. According to WHO guidelines, Covid-19 victim’s bodies are not infectious, unless other complications are involved – such as hemorrhagic fevers (Ebola, Marburg) or cholera. In general, dead bodies themselves are not infectious, but body fluids are and they secrete even after death. So, there is universal insistence on and compliance with the protocols for handing dead bodies, not only by funeral workers but also by families. But the question, whether cremation or burial, is a redundant question and it has been unnecessarily overwrought. But only in Sri Lanka, and chiefly by the  government itself.

For perspective, there have been public protests against cremating Covid-19 victims in Kerala and in West Bengal. So, one can argue either way if being argumentative is the be all and end all of patriotism. To their credit, the Indian federal and state governments have allowed both cremation and burial, leaving it to the family but with all hazmat protocols and precautions.
In Sri Lanka, it gets ridiculous. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has apparently asked the Maldivian government if Maldives could help by providing burial funerals for Sri Lankan Muslims who die from Covid-19 infection. That would be a first for any country. Already four UN Special Rapporteurs, not counting the ones at UNHRC, have called on Sri Lanka not to ban Muslim burials but allow them in accordance with WHO guidelines. Is Sri Lanka on course to run afoul of every UN Rapporteur? And why?

Fear Mongering

The fear mongering, not the prudent concern, about groundwater contamination is another fallopian nonsense. As with Caesarian sterilization, as with the Millennium Compact (which the US has now revoked), the government has dug itself another hole while banning graves for Covid-19 victims. If it is feared that graves will contaminate groundwater, it is fair to ask, what about contamination from sceptic tanks? Sanitary flows, landfill leachate, open defecation are potential pathogen carriers, but not necessarily of the coronavirus. Are drones going to be flown around to catch people answering the nature’s call in the most natural way?

Whether burial or cremation, there are safety protocols to be followed even in normal circumstances. There should be a sense of proportion. If a thousand non-infected, non-Covid-19, bodies are cremated at one location, over one week, and not far from a residential area, no one is going to be amused. In fact, there will be hellish fury. Even a hundred bodies will cause concerns, petitions, and protests. Similarly, if a thousand bodies are buried in a very short period, in a small cemetery, and close to wells or surface waterbodies, that would be a matter for grave concern. No one is talking about mass burials or mass cremations in Sri Lanka. The numbers are small, but the shouting is deafening.

Until late October, even while the burial debate was already in full flames, the total number of Covid-19 deaths was still under 20. Even if all of them were buried in one cemetery, that should not have been a matter for concern. The current death total is 160 and rising. But not all of Covid-19 victims are Muslims, or Christians, requiring a burial. They are a minority in life, in Sri Lanka, and so in death. And not all burials are going to be at the same location. In fact, it will not be a good idea to select a central location for all burials. So, if burials are allowed to take place the way they have been for centuries, the sky will not fall and the ground water is not going to be poisoned.

Proportionality and risk assessment are among the key considerations that guide the selection and location of public facilities, and that includes cemeteries and crematoriums. While cemeteries and crematoriums serve a spiritual purpose, their operations and maintenance come under more mundane considerations like public safety and environmental protection.

The Environmental Agency in England has addressed these matters in the context of Covid-19 and the potential risks from increased burials. Notably, the agency has waived the normal permit requirement for local authorities or cemetery operators undertaking new cemetery development or expanding existing cemeteries to accommodate the increased burials during Covid19. It has only provided guidelines for addressing groundwater risks for new cemeteries, but risks due to the increased number of burials, not due to Covid-19. The Agency is not concerned about Covid-19 infection in burials, but only the number of burials relative to their locations.

England alone has had over 57,000 people die due to Covid-19 so far, and the vast majority of them have been buried. Sri Lanka’s death toll is 160, and a majority of them are cremated. What higher risk would Sri Lanka face by allowing a few dozens of Covid-19 burials at most, than what England and all other countries allowing vastly larger number of burials are facing and dealing with? How did Sri Lanka, and this government particularly, get into such a grave hole, while protesting burials?  

A cabal government?

According to the National People’s Power (NPP) MP Dr Harini Amarasuriya, “a cabal of state officials and their close associates in the business community have been making important government decisions bypassing the prime minister and the cabinet of ministers.” This has been evident for quite some time, and what is also clear is that there is more than one cabal, and that the cabals have got the ear of the President and isolated him from everyone else –  including cabinet of ministers (which is not saying much), even the Rajapaksa family, and most of all its political godfather – the Prime Minister himself.

The cabals are not limited to state officials and business eople, and include professionals who use their trade union muscle to compensate for their professional inadequacies. The GMOA is the most notorious villain of the piece, but it may not be the only one. In the upshot, the government is unnecessarily complicating matters more than what they already are and they may invariably have to be. The government has become its own arsonist, setting up more fires without putting down any. And letting crisis after crisis to crop up with no end in sight. The burn or bury question is one such crisis. Avoidable and unnecessary.

The latest manifestations of this cabal power are the ultra vires sacking of the national Medical Council, a statutory body established in 1926, and the upcoming electrocution of the Public Utilities Commission, another statutory body . Before these was the eruption out of nowhere of prison riots which were ministerially attributed to hidden hands; but there are no hidden hands, only the government’s bloodied hands. And in the most bizarre topping to this cabal state of governance, three government ministers, two of them medical professionals, have been publicly partaking in homemade potions of a purportedly Covid-19 vaccine or cure. All of this and more in the middle of a global pandemic and economic shutdowns.

Not surprisingly, the economy shrank by a whopping 16.3% in Q-2 of 2020, recovering to grow by 1.5% in Q-3, and contracting overall by 5.3% for the first nine months. Hardly the situation for making rosy projections for 2021. And Covid-19 is not letting up at all. It keeps its infections climbing with apparent vengeance after lying low, or undetected, till early October. Infections and deaths have since multiplied ten times and are at the fearsome inflection point for a potentially exponential breakout. This is not a call for panic, but for signs that the government understands what the stakes are and what it takes to get things under control. The signs are anything but!


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