Most Sri Lankan mainstream media outlets buzzed with the news that Sri Lanka had been “ranked 9th” in the Global Response to Infectious Diseases, as the Gotabaya Rajapaksa Adminstration rushes to gear up for ‘operation normalcy’ in order to facilitate a parliamentary election during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Articles appeared in The Morning and Daily Mirror, claiming that “Sri Lanka Ranked 9th in Global Response to Infectious Diseases”.
The Morning newspaper owned by Derana CEO Dilith Jayaweera, and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s closest confidant claimed “Sri Lanka and its President Gotabaya Rajapaksa have been ranked 9th in the Global Response to Infectious Diseases (GRID) index.”
The Daily Mirror also cited the same “GRID” ranking on the front page of the newspaper. Neither of the publications made reference to the credibility of the index or what the data was based on.
Colombo Telegraph found that the source cited in those articles was the website www.cmawebline.org, which is the website of the Certified Management Accountants, Australia.
Former SEC Chairman who was indicted on financial misappropriation and money laundering charges and who is now a candidate on the SLPP nomination list Nalaka Godahewa is the President of the Sri Lanka Chapter of Certified Management Accountants, Australia.
Interestingly, Nalaka Godahewa is the President of its Sri Lanka chapter.
A simple Google search for GRID INDEX 2020 results in only two results in reference to COVID-19. One is a link to the website of the certified management accountants Australia. The second is to The Morning newspaper, owned by Jayaweera.
According to the CMA cites the website www.healthreviewglobal as the source of its information on Sri Lanka’s handling of the pandemic, a completely unknown organization. Colombo Telegraph conducted a brief investigation about the origins of the Health Review Global website cited by CMA to qualify Sri Lanka’s approach to tackling the crisis in the internet registry.
Our investigation revealed that the website had been created on March 19, 2020. (See photo below).
Instead of doing the necessary background checks, the Sri Lankan media jumped on the so-called GRID ranking circulated by the Rajapaksa Government’s chief purveyors of fake news led by Godahewa and Jayaweera and told the Sri Lankan public that their country was ranked 9th in the world for handling the pandemic.
In fact the London based think tank Deep Knowledge Group has ranked Sri Lanka #15 in the world in terms of COVID19 risk level.
The DKG also ranks Sri Lanka among the lowest in the list of safe countries in the Asia Pacific. (See image below)
Sri Lanka does not rank anywhere in the top 40 of the list of Top 40 COVID-19 SAFETY COUNTRIES RANKING published by Forbes.
Although highlighted in January and February this year by the opposition and civil society, the Government claimed that there was no risk posed to Sri Lanka, and went on to dissolve Parliament and call for early elections. The Government also commissioned its musical ambassador Iraj Weeraratne to create tourism promotion videos, thereby inviting the virus into an otherwise safe Sri Lanka.
Prominent ministers laughed at suggestions that elections be postponed, claiming that they wouldn’t postpone an election they are certain of winning.
The Government is keen to rush for early elections before its absolute mismanagement of the COVID-19 issue is highlighted in the media, most of which is presently well controlled by the Government.
Speaking on the basis of confidentiality to Colombo Telegraph, two senior government doctors said that, if mandatory quarantining has been efficiently carried out, and imposed earlier on, there would have been absolutely no spread of the virus within Sri Lanka. However it appears that the Government did not take these steps as it would then have prevented the Government from dissolving Parliament early, and proceedings with early elections.
Several doctors from several Government hospitals across the island, speaking on the basis of strict confidentiality fearing reprisals and victimization, also confirmed that many patients were dying of ‘COVID-like symptoms’, but were cremated without testing for COVID. They said that it was almost certain that these patients had contracted the virus, and should be considered as COVID-19 related deaths. If these were included, they said, the COVID-19 mortality rate would be many times higher than that reported by the Government.
Thus the creation of this FakeNews comes as the regime is determined to claim it is successfully handling the COVID-19 crisis, in the midst of obvious mismanagement of the crisis by the Government.
While frontline doctors and medical staff are risking their lives to deal with COVID-19, it is a further national disaster that the Government is suppressing, distorting, and fabricating information / data for petty political gain, thereby putting the lives of citizens generally, and frontline medical workers in particular, at further risk. (by Chamika Madiwake)