7 August, 2020

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End The Curfew!

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

There was unreserved public support for stringent measures including a 24-hour curfew, at times all Island at times in four Districts. In large measure these initiatives have succeeded; and trains ran on time in Mussolini’s Italy. In the last seven days new cases average about four a day (presumably ‘quarantinees’) and deaths have stalled at eight. If new cases are ‘quarantinees’ use of the term Community Transmission is misleading. If the stringent curfew in four and meaningless part-time curfew in other districts is relaxed a spike is unlikely. Public education and restriction of public gatherings of more than five and prohibitions like Vesak celebrations will have to be enforced. Phased curfew relaxation in Colombo, Puttalam, Kalutara and Gampaha should begin at once and curfew in other districts eliminated altogether. Is there a guarantee of no more outbreaks? What a stupid question, of course not. That’s why a phased and controlled approach is needed.

The government has an obligation to weigh harm to people’s daily lives and damage to the economy versus the risk of renewed outbreaks if the curfew is rolled back. There is no official public discourse – I suppose that’s not the way they do things in the army. Pain is considerable in less well-off classes; hardest hit are the daily-paid – labourers, masons-carpenters-plumbers-electricians, street vendors, 3-wheeler wallas, workers in SMEs, and small contractors who flit from place to place on one-of jobs. I know many in these categories and their refrain is the same: “If we don’t work, our families don’t eat!” Another wept “I have six mouths to feed and have had zero income for weeks.” An angry groundswell is building up; big-shots, in between sips of scotch, have not weighed up the odds. 

Damage to the economy from the freeze on production and exports is colossal. One number says it all, the exchange rate; the US dollar spiked at Rs 194 a few days ago from Rs 175 in July 2019. It’s a little better now. The longer factories and businesses stay closed the harder to get up to steam again. The bootlegging-market that de-facto prohibition set off is growing. You thought Aapa Sira was the last of the imbeciles? Think again. Half-bottle of good arrack was on offer in the Nadimala and Kawdana areas for Rs 5000 for Aurudu. When prohibition is relaxed, the queue will stretch from Grandpass to Gallebuck.  Once it started, bootlegging in the US took years to bring under control. Actually, it was never eliminated, the cartels switched to drugs.

Verite Research’s Media Analysis (20 March to 5 April) provides a thorough English summary of Sinhala and Tamil press reports of pro and anti-government views on the COVID issue; it’s well worth a good read.

The middle-classes are not having it easy either. Vegetable, grocery, fish and fowl vending vans are expected to circulate but they are too few. Why are the authorities not encouraging competition and issuing a larger number of mobile vending licences? Are corrupt persons with decision making power making a buck out of licencing? In some closed-block communities, private security or Resident Committees limit vendor access without appreciating that competition brings better quality and lower prices.

Some political parties parade as expert opinion makers. One is the GMOA which is contesting elections on the Rajapaksa-alliance ticket. Its office-holders parade on TV as experts but it’s a political outfit intent on maximising its own electoral odds like any other. Don’t be fooled!

The most important reason for phasing out the curfew are threats to civil liberties and democracy. The current president has a history and preference for a military approach to all things. Absurdly, the Army Chief, not a top civilian, has been appointed boss of curfew decisions. Worryingly, Parliament stands dissolved. This is not an encouraging time for civilian and constitutional supremacy. Lal Wijenayake says in the e-magazine Malima of 5 March that the government has surreptitiously activated Clause 12 of the Public Security Act and been able to avoid bringing it to Parliament within 10 days as required by law. The President also declared that “judiciary, parliament and officers should not hinder the activities of the president”. This makes his autocratic intentions clear. Could this be a dress-rehearsal for worse to come?

Phase-out the curfew! 

Cooperate to defeat COVID-19

Restore supremacy of civilian power

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Latest comments

  • 3
    1

    This is Prof. Kumar David at his best. Clear, powerful, concise, persuasive writing.

    Yes, the worst is yet to come.

    • 0
      1

      I agree, SarathP.
      .
      The problem is that it isn’t displayed on the “Home” screen.
      I have known this to happen before. This was the “Top Story” yesterday. When replacing it there with this article,
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/president-gota-strikes-against-prominent-lawyer-while-tamed-basl-maintains-silence/
      .
      those handling the website have not remembered to place it either in “Opinion” or in “News”. This can still be seen if you go through either “Latest Comments” or through archives, where one learns that it came on after the article by Rusiripala Tennakoon, and before “Vote-Worthy Cremation Of Dead Muslims” by Ameer Ali.
      .
      At 16.42 hours (almost three hours ago – the time now being 19.41) I emailed Colombo Telegraph, and also the editor, Uvindu (since I’ve got his address in my email book). This has still not been displayed. Let’s hope it comes on.
      .
      Those who are regular readers of CT must learn how to navigate within the CT website. There are two other ways of navigating when you know that this has happened. Either google for Colombo Telegraph articles by Kumar David, or find one of his articles, and click on his name which is displayed in orange here. Below the title of the article (“End the Curfew!) and the symbols for Facebook, Twitter, etc. When his name is clicked on, all the articles with some relation to him get listed, but not in any order that I can discern.
      .
      The next problem is that KD has written hundreds of articles. I agree that he usually maintains a very high standard, but within that body, there are some articles which are “the best of him”.
      .
      I think that KD must be declared a “National Treasure”.
      .

      • 0
        0

        “Why are the authorities not encouraging competition and issuing a larger number of mobile vending licences? “

        Here Kumar David is at his best supporting free market competition.
        This is fully consitent with most of his poltics including supporting Fonseka in his presidential bid for being the US sponsored Pinochet of Sri Lanka.
        And yet he also pretends to be still a Marxist. So, the fact that he can pull off this Dr. Jekyll and Hyde act proves that he is not just a national treasure, but two national treasures.
        What if both are fake?

        • 0
          0

          Dear Bodin,
          .
          Most of those agitating for Marxism seem to me to be practitioners of a politics of envy. They focus on State Control so as to level down.
          .
          I know little of Marx, but I feel that there won’t be so many brilliant people coming from privileged backgrounds being enamored of Marxism unless there is more to the philosophy than what looks like your simplistic dismissal of it.
          .
          It is common sense to allow competition in this context. Wimal Weerawansa may be all for State Control. I believe that Marx looked for a withering away of the State. Please don’t respond to that statement because I’m not entering into an argument that I’m sure to lose! I just don’t know enough.
          .
          However, I do trust Professor David. To me he seems a consistent pragmatic Marxist! Please take him on, not me!

      • 0
        0

        Agree if its treasure to be ‘hunted’ and pulverised!

  • 0
    5

    People of the National candidate aka Common candidate project wants curfew removed because NGOs want to spread Covid-19. It looks muslims are helping.

    Some african country had a problem of storage complex where all the election paper stuff storage was burned right before the election. In sri lanka also some how had tried to set fire to the GOVT PRINTING PRESS. Same thing happened in Kurunegala hospital too. why was that. some one is a NERO, a crazy despot.

    Kaluthara has the highest number of COVID-19 infected. Out of that 73% are from Beruwala, definitely should be muslims. ( I do not know whether it is profiling as Berywala is muslims.

  • 8
    6

    What is this joker wearing a bow tie saying?
    \
    This website is a stinking shit hole run by bogus refugee media hacks who came to the West claiming persecution by the Mahinda Rajapakse government before 2015. They are thieves who wanted foreign asylum because they were too lazy to work in the home country. Karawe kurukuttas and Poddala bera karayas are examples of this fraud.
    \
    Those who currently write regularly there are anti Sinhala-Buddhist, Burgher, Tamil Christian and Wahabi assholes.
    \
    Shut this shit hole down. Very soon Pooton will be taken away from Halgolla, in a poo lorry .

  • 3
    0

    Phase curfew hour by hour, street by street. Stop the rush. control the banks and ATM. Critical organistions should be open day and night.

  • 1
    0

    Dear readers,
    .
    We sometimes take those working on CT for granted.
    I sent them this e-mail at

    16:42 (42 minutes ago). NOW at 5.40 pm , I’ve refreshed the home page (from another tab) but it’s still not there. Accidents always happen! This is an important article!!
    .
    To: colombotelegraph@gmail.com

    .
    .
    Dear Moderators,

    I’ve got at this article just now, but it just isn’t on the Home Page.

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/end-the-curfew/

    I know that you are overworked. I thought I’d let you know.

    Best wishes,

    Panini Edirisinhe
    .
    I think that we have to do what we can to help! We owe this website such a lot!
    .

    • 2
      0

      Dear Mr Sinhala Man,
      .

      even now it is still not on Home page.
      :
      I think CT should be well aware of the reason right ?.
      :
      We have added out posts one behind the other, because we support more CT and our beloved writers of Prof: KD and Ms THisaranee Goonasekara and other few.

      I think this Pasqual and the few are hired agents of Rajapakshes.
      Eagle Eye could also be one of the high man in their STASI service.
      :
      Thank you Mr SM, .. you are really a good COMMENTER to this page.
      Stay healthy !

      • 0
        0

        Dear babalath appu,
        .
        It is now on the “Home Page”.
        .
        I think that I can tell you that this is just “an accident”. These things happen!
        .
        You and I are “average guys”. This problem has arisen because Professor Kumar David is “an outstanding guy”. He is, without a doubt, a brilliant writer. When we write, there is an element of ego involved. With him, there isn’t.
        .
        I actually telephoned him, and told him about this problem. Obviously, he writes all this to be read – but he wasn’t too bothered by the problem. When this happens, it is upto us little fellows to inform and get it corrected. We should, because KD gives us so much wisdom for free!
        .
        Thisaranee is also a fine writer, but “nobody” has her contact details; I think that she insists on that privacy.

        • 0
          0

          PART 2 of 4
          .
          That’s an article that is only three hours old
          as I provide the link. How long can such websites last? They ask for donations. I have given them nothing, although I’m frequently directed there by my searches. To a less extent, this applies also to Colombo Telegraph.
          .
          As that article seems to predict, the Economy will be so badly hit that we may next go for “Herd Immunity”. Those who will catch the infection will be the “most vulnerable sections of society”. Our rate of infection is so low right now that I think our lockdown will soon be relaxed. We will sing “Hosannahs” to Gota. I have already glimpsed a report which says that our “Social Distancing Policies” have been the sixth most successful in the world. Our captive audiences will believe anything they are told on mass media. That has been achieved by cowing all opposition with “Police State” strategies. To start with, it was the politicised GMOA that was providing even the Medical leadership. At least that appears to have passed on to the more objective Dr Amal Jasinghe and the retired surgeon, Dr M.M. Janapriya, has been making his voice heard on this website.
          .
          However, one political objective may have been achieved. The “will of the individual” has been stomped on by the Jackboot. This article may have been inspired by the humanism of the author, but soon we will have to face up to the Political Implications.

    • 0
      0

      PART 1 of 4
      .
      Now that this article is visible once more,
      the responses will start coming in – but not pouring in, because those reading this on the Internet are not the persons worst affected. What this article has highlighted is that the downturn in the Economy is affecting the poorest people. I can see it here in Uva, but even if the entire country is uniformly locked down, we, in a food (especially vegetable) producing area would be not too badly off.
      .
      Those living in Colombo would feel it, but again, not in the Cinnamon Gardens. Professor David lives in Nedimala, which is an intermediate area. Some slums, but I’m sure that the Professor has a reasonably good dwelling. However, he’s a committed Marxist – by choice. Why he chose to study all the abstruse volumes of Marx and Engels is because he sympathised with those whom he saw to be suffering. Thus, we have in him, a highly cultured and kindly man who analyses this situation from a perspective that we cannot even comprehend.
      .
      However, let us not now close our eyes to the evils of what will probably now follow. An attempt at “Herd Immunisation.” I have googled and found this article in one of the few newspapers that try to be free of the pressures of the market place. They rely on neither advertising (if they do, they have to please the “capitalists” who provide the revenue, albeit somewhat subtly) or on expensive esoteric sales, or on subscriptions for Internet access to articles which you will see in the case of the Times of England.
      .
      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/17/herd-immunity-is-a-fatal-strategy-we-should-avoid-at-all-costs

    • 0
      0

      PART 3 of 4

      My rather naïve lawyer pupil interrupted the writing of this comment. I told him that the pinch he was feeling is nothing compared to what slum dwellers in Colombo are experiencing, but that when he says that we will get the government that we deserve, he too is to blame. He refused to go for strategic voting at the Presidential Election. “Hobson’s Choice” at elections. I corrected his English. The ancient ostler insisted that only the first horse could be taken. Others, on Colombo Telegraph, were also using the expression at the time of the Presidential Elections where we had 35 candidates to choose from and THREE PREFERENCES to play around with. This lawyer hasn’t even bothered to acquire computer literacy.
      .
      What was the response to Jeevan Hoole’s “spilling the beans” article?
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/was-the-presidential-election-free-and-fair-when-colombo-returning-officer-called-sajith-premadasa-the-son-of-a-donkey-asks-prof-hoole/
      .
      The responses don’t spell optimism, do they? Not one of the 34 defeated candidates could be persuaded to participate in the debate, just as none of them had publicised Professor David’s pleas for strategic voting. All displayed “kathires” (the single choice X mark) and
      not 1, 2, and 3.
      .
      So much, therefore for our intelligent, educated, and responsible population. Last night I sent off a strong letter of protest to the Anglican Bishop of Colombo and cohorts about how they had rigged this election:
      .
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/challenging-three-cheating-thomian-pharisees-and-not-doing-it-from-behind/
      .
      Few of the “Intellectuals” commented.

    • 0
      0

      PART 4 of 4

      Few of the “Intellectuals” commented. Some said they didn’t know what these schools were like. The “stakeholders” – teachers particularly, but also parents may not have known how to comment, or were plain scared. Others, like Professor David himself, considered their own alma mater too bourgeois to join in the discussion. There may have been justified in saying that all involved in such schools are “social climbers” in outlook. I kept telling myself that my concern was that the school in closest proximity to me was concerned. Don’t the Pastor Niemoeller words apply here?
      .
      https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/martin-niemoeller-first-they-came-for-the-socialists
      .
      I ended my letter stigmatising the Bishop as “the evil force behind all this fraudulence.” Isn’t it time to wake up to this trend everywhere in our society?
      .
      Let me wait for the trickle of comments from the English-literate in to this sensitive article.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe (NIC 48 3111 444V) aka “Sinhala_Man”
      .

  • 1
    0

    Instead of responding with racist junk, Kumar David’s article needs to be viewed with thought. Yes the fear of autocratic rule is a serious concern. Even some commenting here will understand its gravity only if it comes. But lets hope that is not the intention of the President.
    Ending the curfew now do not seem a good idea until the virus is cleared. The need of the hour is for all politicians to get together and support whatever good for the country.

  • 1
    0

    I too observe that this point of view expressed by the author, which was the lead article, now relegated to the archives. According to the assessment of the Prof. curfew can be lifted in a good part of the country altogether and in so called red zones a phased reduction. This follows that Parliamentary Elections can be held in this country within the foreseeable future. When it comes to Parliamentary Elections, to some, the country is in a bad state, unfit to hold elections whereas to a good many of them the country is in a good state to lift the curfew thus blowing hot and blowing cold. Whatever said and done our specialist doctors, medical administrators, other health workers such as Public Health Inspectors and others who helped them, particularly the Police and other armed forces did a wonderful job in containing the disease to this level. I believe that the best professional opinion on this can be given by the Director General of Health Services, his looks in the TV reveal that he had broken rest.

  • 1
    0

    Prof. Kumar David had also written to the Colombo Telegraph suggesting that the curfews must be lifted and the economy opened up as soon aas possible. Prof. KD had come to the conclusion many based on his personal assessment.
    This writer has given an eidemiological analysis and comes to the same conclusion as Prof. KD.
    But what is needed is a detail plan for pulling out the controls safely. Hope Prof. KD or some one addresses that question. If these controls are kept too long, people wuill get used to autocratic militarism and accept them. So, it is important to have provincial and general elections as soon as possible.

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