22 June, 2021

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Covid – Let’s Migrate From “I did It Best” To “Let’s Do It Together”

By Lihini Fernando

Lihini Fernando

The present situation of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka is alarming to the extent that any common man  can easily arrive at the conclusion that the level of diligence and the control exercised by the government in handling the first wave of the pandemic has degenerated at an alarming rate.  

The government’s general approach to handling COVID-19 was nothing but “I did it best”, “We are the best to handle it in the world”, “We will be the first to vaccinate the entire population”. They continuously neglected to apply scientific or strategic thinking to assess the situation and manage the pandemic.

The COVID management in Sri Lanka initially was all about embracing the Chinese lady who was first identified with the virus. Then the pandemic became a political trump card for the General Election. Then it turned out to be a weapon to hurt the Muslim Community with the entire saga over burials.

Another manifestation of their lousy pandemic response was the Government’s reliance on an Ayurvedic Paniya developed by a witch doctor (aka Dhammika Paniya) without adopting a scientific approach and duly placing orders for the vaccine.

The vaccination drive too became a flop with the inability to source sufficient stocks for the second dosage and enormous gaps between the first and the second jabs. Even at present, we see that the COVID-19 task force is headed by Military personnel, and not by a Medical Specialist or a Virologist. The right person is not given the right position, to take the right decision.

The mafia of quarantine tourism, leading towards the importation of a foreign COVID-19 variant to the country, clearly arises from the shortsighted nature of the actions of this Government. I recall reading a controversial social media post written by William Dalrymple stating that Sri Lanka is indeed a transit point for those who want to flee from India, provided they have money and contacts, calling it his “Great Escape” to Sri Lanka.

It is alarming to note that only 6% of the COVID ITUKAMA fund has been utilized thus far, with the country grappling with a shortage of ICU Beds. Minister Sudarshini Fernandopulle states that in the coming days, the patient count can rise to over 10,000 per day.

Are we ready as a country to handle this pandemic in the event it escalates beyond its present status?

One can criticize the Government endlessly and it rightly deserves such criticism. Criticism alone, however, is not the solution.

The people of this country should not be the victims of inept politicians or political warfare. The people of this country deserve to be led by people with knowledge and education. When Sri Lanka invests billions of rupees to educate doctors, produce academics and empower professionals in various sectors, the country is run by unqualified politicians and some military personnel. Doesn’t this reflect a failed system and a failed country?

It is rather disheartening to note that the public healthcare system is collapsing. COVID-19-infected patients are now left in their houses as hospital beds are exceeding capacity and the duration to obtain an ambulance is over 4-5 hours (Source: MOH Doctors).

On 29th April, a COVID19 patient died at his home because there was no ambulance to take him to the hospital. A pregnant mother also became a victim. If Sri Lanka does not act fast, and think proactively, it is inevitable that we will turn out to be another India in the coming days. We are still in denial and distorting the truth regarding COVID-19 as has been the case with many other things in the country.

Trying to be World’s First in vaccinating the public or Using COVID-19 as the next election trump card for this government should not be the name of the game. The Opposition delivering fantastic oratorical speeches in parliament saying ‘we told you before’ should also not be the name of the game. People comparing the present government with the previous government and stating that we are better off now with this regime, though in hindsight they are worse off, is also not the name of the game.

Time has come to work collectively to resolve this Crisis. The nation is calling out to the politicians to work together, irrespective of their political differences. All 225 sitting in parliament are all elected representatives, be it the opposition or the government. They all are accountable to the people of this country. They all have a responsibility to act beyond their conventional framework.

It is unheard of in Sri Lankan politics, where the government and opposition collaborate and work together. But today I say so.

The people of this country are calling you all out!

Step up and be the change for our sake and not for your own sake.

Collaboration is the only way forward if Sri Lanka is to recover from this devastating situation be it the pandemic or the economic crisis.

The time has come for collective action, collective responsibility. The people of this country cannot change the ruler now, neither the MPs sitting in Parliament. We have no choice but to lead our lives with a set of rulers, who in the eyes of the common man are incapable, inept and uncouth. It is best the remaining educated or the sensible parliamentarians sitting in the opposition support the pandemic management process and the Government too seeks the assistance of the opposition, to work together and refix the economy and to build sustainable policies.

If Sri Lanka is to ever overcome this crisis, we need ‘Consensus-based Politics”, “Politics with Principles”, and long term sustainable policies devoid of political agendas. This can only be developed if parties collectively work together to arrive at broad policies be it economic, education, tourism, social welfare, foreign policies with  a “Sri Lanka First” approach without championing a party agenda.

Coming back to COVID, if the numbers continue to rise (God forbid not), the present centralized system that is in place will not be able to handle the patient numbers. It’s better to act proactively and strategize instead of ‘learning on the job’ and being reactive.

At present at the Local Government level, every electorate comprises of a Development Committee headed by a Parliamentarian of the ruling party. This Development Committee also comprises of the Opposition MPs’, Local Council Mayor / Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman, Provincial Council & Local Council Members, Government Officials of the Divisional Secretariats, Police, MOH Officers and all other bodies linked to the area. If the Government together with the Ministry of Health can devise a mechanism of setting up temporary treatment facilities in each area with the supervision of MOH Doctors, PHI’s, Medical staff, Mid-wives (Ideally a team to be based in each area), we can ensure that the people in these areas will be safer and taken care of. Funds for these facilities can be via the Central Government and the setup costs can be via Local Council Funds. Charity Organizations, Clubs in the area too can assist in the operational costs. This will be a better mechanism to secure the lives of the people versus being left at their homes with no care or a hospital bed.

Nevertheless, the focus of the government should also be to reduce the numbers of COVID-19 patients. Requesting the people to adhere to guidelines alone is not sufficient. The government must lay down a mechanism to ensure that people too are guided correctly. SL people today are fighting a survival battle, be it economic or health-related. They report to their workplace not by choice, but as a means of survival. The government has failed to build a transport system to ensure proper social distancing is maintained. We see overcrowded trains, buses. Aren’t these all breeding grounds for Corona? Where is the ‘so called’ strategy of the Government?

Sri Lanka is a country that is a victim of lapses. The problem, however, is that it will be too late when we learn our lessons the hard way.

“Let’s Fight this crisis together”, is all I can say at this moment because everyone sitting in Parliament has failed the people beyond comprehension and we are left with no other option.  

*The Writer is an Attorney at Law, Local Council Member representing the Moratuwa Municipal Council, a Women’s & Child Rights Activist and a fighter for Social Justice.

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Latest comments

  • 30
    1

    Dear Ms Fernando,
    .
    They are champions at such silly statements.Tjat they have in their blood. They are shameless. Something very important should have gone in their adolesence. I dont think DA Rajapkshe and his wife should be respected by building monuments on the costs of the tax payers funds.
    .
    Recalling what Ms CBK reitereated it ” uncultured, unethical bastards”. These terms are now proved by themselves for the second time within the last 15 months.
    :
    Recalling what MAFIA BOSS prevaricated to a press, prior to last PE – , let s wait to see how we revitalize it after gaining power ” These men are just talking to the gallery. Today, almost anyone who may have voted for these criminals are dead silent. They just behave like defeated dogs that hardly try to hide their tails behind the rear legs….. these mn are very irresponsible ………….. no plan at all.

    • 1
      7

      LM. What you need to bear in mind is that Rajapakshes have their prick and the balls where as you only have the balls.

  • 17
    2

    The high flying VIPs of the Rajapaksa clan and cronies and even some high flying clergies and Sangha were given Covid-19 vaccine in Welikada Prison shrouded in secrecy and mystery.

    The Govt doesn’t care about the citizens

    worth checking out the story

  • 23
    0

    “Let’s Fight this crisis together”, is all I can say at this moment because everyone sitting in Parliament has failed the people beyond comprehension and we are left with no other option.

    A very good article highlighting the focus of those in power. Military is to fight enemy but in this land military is fight to disadvantaged people and societies. The war with LTTE was continued for 30 years and finally ended after 30 years. Who claimed victory? Only One family. Even the military commander who lead the war throughout was jailed by the people who claimed victory. Is it possible to win the war by one family? Only fools can believe that. But it was believed by majority of the majority including doctorates, professors and Monks.
    Similarly, when Corona was brought to Sri Lanka initially by a Chinese tourist and in the first wave it was controlled the same family claimed their own victory. But in the second wave, they put the blame on the people and they refused to work together with others and still military is deciding what vaccine is good for them. Is it possible to fight together under family military dictatorship?

    • 1
      0

      Ajith ,
      “Let’s fight this crisis together.” In my view , the existence of this
      government itself is the result of “Let’s fight this crisis together”
      propaganda of a few and supported by the racist majority . Let’s
      call a spade a spade ! Why do people elect governments ? Why
      do empower such government with such mammoth power ? And
      if that is not enough , why get more power through backdoor deals
      with corrupt politicos ? All in the name of BETTER SERVICES WITH
      MORE POWER , IS IT NOT ? If that is the case , one must have the
      courage to challenge the government to DELIVER and not let them
      run away or beg for help now ! They are a bunch of Racist Champs ,
      it’s all there plain for the world to see and the Champs don’t care a
      damn , so , how can they expect full public support ? The public is
      already self-dependant anyway ! They said they came with Sinhala
      votes and that is how they still behave , why not let them carry on
      to the end and see how successful they are ! Give them a chance and
      do not interfere and get blamed ! And one more thing , if people can
      manage themselves why a government ?

  • 10
    0

    “Let’s Do It Together”. This was the “Political Approach” initiated by the PM on the very first appearance of this pandemic. He summoned a meeting of all political party (both Governing & Opposition) representatives to discuss ways and means of handling the situation of the present and future. This approach was not allowed to proceed. The President brushed aside that attempt (political togetherness) and resorted to his own capability and “sick mentality) of a “Military Approach” by appointing a “Task Force” headed by the Army Commander. All the other “Professional Bodies” (Medical & Scientific) that existed for handling such pandemic situations were sidelined to be a “Secondary” force that can only “Advise” but not directly tasked to enforce decision making authorities to act in compliance with dictates based on science. This, the action of the President, “I can do it” eroded the whole system that was in place and from there onwards the task of “Managing” the pandemic got out of control. That is how we saw the “Dissolution” of Professional and Scientific” Authoritative Bodies and appointing “HIS” own choice (mostly from Viyathmaga). The Political Party participation, the PM intended to establish, was also given a permanent “Death” nail, resulting in chaos in losing the “Cooperative Efforts” to handle this pandemic. To continue….

  • 8
    0

    continued… That was a brief history of “Mismanagement” (a direct result of the Militaristic approach and ego-based “I can do it” approach) that brought about a “Chaotic State” in handling the pandemic. In the midst of this chaos, the “Quack Doctors” together with “Media” stated to make hay while the sun shines. Surprisingly (but not to me) the “Political” (SLPP Ministers and even the Speaker) junta backed by another set of “Quack Professionals” and “Media”, backing the President, openly and brushing aside “Legal Accountability” issues, started a very “Lucrative” practice to make money. This “Practice” continues to date, without any “HINDERANCE” ignoring all the “Legal Accountabilities” that arise out of marketing “Fake” medications in the name of “COVID 19”. Today’s situation in S/L was well explained by a world renowned Professional Consultant – Prof. Sanjaya Perera, who said that there are 30,000 inflicted virus persons “Roaming” around without any detection and spreading the disease. On this Thursday, I watched a TV program titled “MAWATHA” attended to by all professionals who are well versed in handing the present

  • 6
    0

    ….present alarming situation and the ways and means of facing to arrest it. It is well worth watching it, available: youtube.com/watch?v=Krc19HucDwg. (It was a program aired by News 1st) Prof. Sanjaya Perera was a member of the Consultanting Team who presented the “Guide Lines” to open the Hon-Kong Airport and opening the schools in Germany. Why are we not inviting these types to prepare guidelines and execute plans to handle the pandemic and open the country soon. The simple and visible reason is the “EGO”, (I can do it, and “MY” men can handle it attitude) of a “ONE MAN SHOW”. It is time to give up this approach of “I can do it” and go for a “Cooperate Effort” to manage this pandemic and avoid a disastrous situation in the country. Yesterday, another “Pandith” of “Pohottuwa” – MP Gevidndu Kumaratunga, stated in Parliament (presenting statistics) that S/L is among to “TOP” in handling the pandemic. He has received many hundreds of “Filthy” comments in the “Social Media” posting and that is very encouraging at this moment. At last, the PEOPLE are beginning to understand and assess who these “Viyaththus” (Pandits) are

  • 3
    15

    madam

    Does it seem like you have nothing to say about our self-important medical community that is holding on to 600 k doses in their warehouses while people are dying in the streets?

    And Oh My Goodness they have approved the Pfizer jab, of which they have 0 stock. What a genius move. and Oh by the way they announce the Russian jab is going to be the main one while Russia is asking Chinese firms to produce it? (so it is clear that they may not have enough stock for a long time?

    in the name of so-called safety and helping the population these fools are putting their fellow citizens in danger.

    and instead of talking about that you are talking if Gota did it or did we do it ?

  • 17
    1

    …………The right person is not given the right position, to take the right decision…..
    The essayist has hit the nail on its head!

    It is all about Round Pegs in Square Holes and Square Pegs in Round Holes.

    • 15
      0

      Plato

      “It is all about Round Pegs in Square Holes and Square Pegs in Round Holes.”

      Are you saying 6.9 Million Sinhala/Buddhists are wrong?

      • 14
        1

        NV: That “6.9 Million” have and continue to be proving WRONG on a Daily Basis. Some of the “Commanders” of that “Buddhist Brigade” who led the “6.9 Million” are holding “Media Briefings” and exposing the “Round Pegs in Square Holes and Square Pegs in Round Holes”. These days, I am watching these “Media Briefings” and have given up Movies on Netflix. Enjoy the “DRAMA”.

        • 4
          1

          My beloved brother Simon,
          What happened to other Thattamamala.??? I see only pinguththaraya from Abhayarama is making his usual prevarications.Gangaramaya thug and all are perhaps no longer existent?He is on top of the shameless bugger list. Senile men don’t seem to know what their eyes could believe and what not. Where is Abeythissa mudalili? Wimal Buruwanse?And also Nagaya-carried -relics promoted man is dead silent. Let alone BBS alpha animal, where are they old today? 😌😌😌😌😌😌😌😌why dont they utter a single word against dollar value depreciation? Can they all continue misleading based on blant lies further? 😌😌😌😌😌😌 now ur kadamandiya folks would say, Gota makes effort but others dont let him do the due. I m satisfied if any any divine forces would take Galle born Dilith jayaweera out of our sights sooner than later.☹☹☹☹☹☹

          • 3
            0

            Dear LLM: Thanks. I am not going to Kadamandiya these days because of CORONA, but two days back Burampy Appuhamy visited me at home with a bag (Panmalla) full of “Myyokka” (Cassava). At that time I was “Enjoying” a Media Briefing by Muruththettuwe Ananda. He too joined me. He, after watching the “Briefing” said: “Me Hu………..Puthalata kanna Dena API thami apeye yanne”. (We who offer food for these M………..F……will end up in hell). Those two words starting with “F…….& P”, he murmured into my ears, because my wife was also watching that “Episode”. The rest of the conversation was very informative and cordial but encouraging to note how these village folks respond to the present situation. Aren’t these conversations more interesting than watching Netflix?

            • 0
              0

              Thanks and interesting. Were u known to Dilith jayaweera who went to alosius.?
              Mlechcha media giant s nade it happened. Those village people have always been like that. Those days , I mean 4 decades ago, my father waited until newspaper man turned up and rang the gate bell. Today readers became handful and what ever bei6 telecasted become their news.
              Tbd😐😐😐😐😐😐😐

  • 1
    2

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  • 7
    0

    “Let’s Fight this crisis together” My simple question is how?

    Certainly, citizens have to act responsibly, apart from that, it is up to the govt. to educate the public & provide the necessary support. The govt. has to come up with a strategy to vaccinate the public & have the infrastructure ready to deal with those infected. Do the hospitals have adequate beds & equipment, as well as, staff, in suitable quarantine wards?

    For a start, the health minister should be sacked. She has proved herself to be totally backward in thinking when she promoted divine intervention in dealing with the pandemic. Pity she didn’t jump into the sea to save SL. Wonder who held her back from doing so. As for the Minister for Pandemics, what is she doing about it?

    UK was one of the worst hit by the pandemic but, despite the initial bungling & the sleaze of Boris J & his cronies, the scientific community was able to advise the govt & the pandemic is very much under control. Israel too, has vaccinated the entire population & is one of the few countries that are open for tourism. So, rather than ‘us’ fighting ‘this crisis together’, why not ask the govt. to learn from countries which have done better?

    • 7
      5

      So, rather than ‘us’ fighting ‘this crisis together’, why not ask the govt. to learn from countries which have done better?
      True.
      New Zealand
      Vietnam
      Nicaragua
      Cuba
      Venezuela
      Far far better than Israel or UK.
      Have we heard of any but NZ from the above list.
      *
      It is not just Boris or Donald to blame. The public health systems have been run down since the ‘less government’ mantra took hold of the UK, US and then most of the world.

      • 1
        0

        The reasoning behind this is srilanka journalist s consider only US and UK when gathering their news. Cherry picking of current govt has put them deeper. They should respect Dr Fernandupulle and Prof TV leaving that myth controlled fake Prof Jayadumana. If Vietnam could do their best in containment of virus why cant we learn lessons from them? ☹☹☹☹☹☹☹

    • 5
      0

      Dear Raj-UK.
      ……….She has proved herself to be totally backward in thinking when she promoted divine intervention in dealing with the pandemic…….
      That was with the Muttiya, but even two days ago, she was on media, at a Hindu Kovil to get blessings on Covid.
      May be Ministry of Religious Affairs run the Health Ministry as well ??

      • 1
        0

        My View ,

        Ministry of Myth affairs is another ministry attached to the brothers.
        The Chinese don’t care what you do to your people for coming to
        power as long as you eat dog meat from China . If Ministry of Myth
        affairs need any assistance from China , they get it with a big bang !
        Soon Srilankans will have to check their Eye sight , Hearing and
        Tongue ability(it might have stuck in throat).

        • 0
          0

          Why ehy@
          I thought myth affairs is part of Buddhists affairs handled by mafia boss?
          The very same gallery would throw asuchi at MaRa et al to the very same manner that judge lenin Ratnayaka was treated. . Now all our predictions came to light also to village folks see it took just 15 months 😐😐😐😐😐

  • 2
    0

    Media reporting opposition leader begging in Western embassies for Covid Control help. PM proudly sent away American Ambassador went to inquire about the new situation of the Covid -19. What a low game these two political parties are playing. Who is really ruling who opposing? Who supposed ask for help? Who should attempt yo block those help? Can somebody explain why did Old King went to UNHRC? To ask help for Ranil-Vaalaiththodam’s government?
    India, America & Britain are only three countries supplying vaccines to world. But Lankawe is government is strongly against them and begging loan from China for assets sales. Apparently Lankawe is in a path of no return. Lankawe is centuries away from quitting dishonest tactics and becoming truly a democratic nation.

  • 1
    0

    Yes let’s do it together by pushing these 225+HE along with all the kings horses into parliament and setting it on fire. That way we will hit two birds with one stone political parasites and viruses.

    • 0
      0

      Yes they burned the constitutional proposal 2000 to keep Tamils out and keep EP in, without change. Then they voted together for 17A. Then 18A. then 19A, then 20 A. Now they want to do it together too. Did ever do anything alone from 1948? If you can do away with UNP Class, then SLFP class may not have to use racism for election victories.

  • 3
    0

    Lol apparently now the who has approved the sinopharm vaccine for emergency use. Now let us see what dance our expert panel does. What exciting excuses they come up with. It will be fun to watch. The biggest problem in sri lanka is not the politicians but the government services 🙄

  • 2
    0

    Sri Lanka now is a yes minister Demo-crazy. Its public servants are running wild it is more and more obvious.

    Unfortunately, it does seem like no one on earth can control them. It is now pretty obvious to me what actually happened with the Muslim burial issue.

    I remember once talking to an engineer about R Premadasa and how he ran the RDA (?) . The engineer was at the time shocked that Premadasa would not take no for an answer. Even though Premadasa was a fool who trusted the LTTE he had the right idea on how to control Govt Servants.

    I was hoping Gota would be something similar. but seems like he lacks the courage to challenge the establishment. Sad to say.

    • 0
      0

      I think that engineer was employed by the CECB not
      rda . but so now these so-called experts have been countermanded by the WHO. Who pays the price for their intransigence it is the average people. Why are they not asked to pay the price of lives lost for no reason ?

      When does this country learn?

  • 1
    0

    The headline should have been: I did it my way. Now let’s do it our way.

    • 0
      0

      Better still if it was ‘I’ bungled it doing the wrong way, now let the scientists do the right way’!

  • 1
    0

    SJ, Leaders are not trying to learn from other countries in humility but grabbing whatever is available which belongs to the whole population. If the impoverished population protests, they are punished not provided for.

    • 0
      0

      How many can they punish and for how long?
      Never say die.

  • 1
    0

    The Terminal malaise of Srilanka is the personnel appointed to handle specific tasks are not appointed based on what they know but whom they know. There is a dearth of intellectuals in Srilanka because of the corrupt and warped education system the country is dumped with. From the day one in school the kids were coached to tell lies and cheat in their studies at every corner of the way.

  • 0
    0

    They spent more time on discussion if burial or cremation having the WHO approval that the burial approval for Covid passion they should have used this time finding to control the virus and upgrade the safety standards individual perfection possible to improve safety (I did It best ). Now the concerned authority is shopping for non masked individuals and arrest. Instead taking the time to hurt the Muslim Community with the entire saga over burials.

    How long a masked to be used lets say one day if a person ask flue he has to change it Two or Three time a day this what dominant strain of Flue may be more contagious , “Changing masks, washing our hands, all those things are barriers to transmissibility,

  • 3
    1

    I guess Hitler and his men are still aiming for “winning the war (single handedly) with zero casualty”.

  • 1
    1

    ‘The time has come for collective action…….’
    .
    No it hasn’t. The present moment has always been the time for collective action but there has never been any. Do you really expect that your article, sensible though it is, will change anything at all?

  • 4
    1

    I guess Hitler and his men are still aiming at “winning the war (single handedly) with zero casualty”.

    • 0
      4

      Chiv

      You may not know this but Hitler is dead. only MODI is alive, This is the clown who said that the Chinese do not play cricket because that ate the bat?

      So what do they have to say for themselves?

      • 0
        0

        A14455 still not bad compared to zero casualty. Both are fools

  • 2
    0

    What can you expect from a leader who lacks education, intelligence, vision, competence, morality and decency. The need of the hour is an experienced leader – mature and farsighted, a leader respected by the international community as honest and dependable, who considers the country’s interest and not the popular vote as his first priority, to lead Sri Lanka out of this mess.

  • 1
    0

    Sri Lankans in one voice should demand the immediate resignation of Army Commander Shavendra as he has completely mismanaged Covid control. When he is so incapable of managing Covid, how can we depend on him to protect the country in case we have a security threat?

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