21 January, 2022


More Droll Stories Of Gota’s Lockdown

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

It was a surprise that last week’s Droll Stories of Gota’s Lockdown attracted so many readers comments. These long and lonesome curfew days folks must be looking for things to do. They say Russia produces so many Grand Masters in chess because of its interminably long winter. I am going to entertain you again. These are clean; if our Editor relaxes his puritanical comments policy, I will relate tales to match Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron; yarns about seven young women and three men who fled Florence for the country town of Fiesole to escape the plague of 1353. Though called bawdy, vulgar and licentious, it is a classic. Anyway, what do you think is going on here under cover of lockdown and curfew?  [A serious note: The Decameron is a record of physical, psychological, and social effects of the previously unknown yersina pestis bacterium].

Did you know that to get into a bus or train to go work in the Colombo or Gampaha District one has to have a card certifying employment? Try his for a honk if you have a card printer and laminator. Invite your nephew to come to work; for the heck of it sign: “Manager, O Conner & Co”. I think there are scams going on. Those of you living outside the country will not believe this. On Saturday 17 May all bus and train services were cancelled because government servants don’t work the weekend. Jesus Christ, what about all the other poor sods!

Talk about social distancing. Buses in the outstations are packed at times. What do the Authorities make of this ridiculous inconsistency? For a revealing OMG-video of social distancing in Bombay. We ached under an all-island 34-hour curfew from Saturday (16) 8 pm to Monday 6 am and this outlandish routine will be indefinite. Perhaps some whiz in the Health Dept. discovered a virulent mutant SARS-cov2 Dimanche Zeylanicus which manifests only on Sundays! Or are we being drilled for life under military rule?

Why have they stopped teaching elementary physics in our medical schools? If you put a sealed container of water on the fire for 50 days and then break the seal, the explosive escape of steam will blow the roof. A govt. medical chap called Anil Jayasinghe (he has otherwise done a good job) and a medico-political charlatan Naveen de Zoysa expressed great fright that when liquor shops were opened after being locked down for 50 days. There was a hectic rush for the stuff that cheers. Grow up! Learn how markets forces function. My eleven-year old nephew is smarter, forecasting on Sunday “Uncle, there will a big rush when they open on Monday”. Between the two gentlemen, who the knave and who the fool?

Orders from upper class officials, comfortably ensconced in their sinecures, are fired at people who have lost their income. Here is an e-mail circulating from a much-respected captain but I do not have permission to quote his name. “I saw a line of poorly dressed people with sad long faces in the scorching sun; motionless, speechless personification of a soulless, solution-less plight. Waiting for the pawn-shop to open! That is the last straw; no one to borrow from, no one to assist, to the pawn-shop to feed the family. The lockdown and the curfew have beaten the majority; wage-earners, labourers, tuk-tuk wallahs and millions more”. 

Here is another quote. Ram Manikkalingam: “Can Sri Lanka live with a governance vacuum — no parliament, no cabinet and no Prime Minister?  There is a standoff between President and the Old Parliament. Parliament does not have the power to recall itself, President does not have power to hold elections and depends on the EC which cannot hold an election when it wishes to”. Article of14 May in Sunday Times. It’s all a topsy-turvy, humpty-dumpty merry-go-round; Sri Lanka has become midsummer night’s nightmare; it’s too grotesque to be funny. There is a disconnect, there is distrust. Fifty days ago, there was trust; but brutal harassment is changing that. People no longer believe such hardship is needed for the good of public health.

There was only one way out: To go to the Supreme Court. There are three cardinal questions SC will have to answer. After 2 June is the “old” parliament ‘recalled to life’ (whatever the legal jargon); in the prevailing exceptional circumstances who is empowered to fix and change election dates; thirdly, is the curfew now imposed on the nation illegal, sans parliamentary endorsement within 14 days. Whatever the SC determines on each issue half the country will agree, the other half will not. That matters not. If the court is seen to be unbiased and unintimidated by the executive, that’s good enough. (I hope not too big an IF). Some will grumble, but eventually an unbiased and unforced SC ruling will be accepted by all; there will be closure. 

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Latest comments

  • 8

    Dear Prof. KD,

    thanks very much for your analyses.
    I hope the jugdges will save us from being fallen into the fire.

  • 4

    By citing Ram Manikkalingam, Prof. David has spelt out an important conundrum that keeps us all tied up: “Can Sri Lanka live with a governance vacuum — no parliament, no cabinet and no Prime Minister? There is a standoff between President and the Old Parliament. Parliament does not have the power to recall itself, President does not have power to hold elections and depends on the EC which cannot hold an election when it wishes to”.

    It appears unfashionable to address the issue squarely because the Traditional Left played a leading role in bringing us here – Colvin’s celebrated argument (Aug. 1968) on Lord Pearce’s Privy Council verdict in Bribery Commissioner v. Ranasinghe. Jayewardene egged him on with glee.

    The dissatisfaction with the Soulbury Constitution was articulated, particularly by Dr. Colvin R. de Silva as Parliament not being supreme. Colvin ushered in the 1972 Constitution where Parliament’s supremacy was absolute – Parliament became the legislative, executive and judiciary lumped together. Jayewardene grabbed this with both hands to turn it into a Constitution where he alone was supreme, and here we are, almost.

    The Parliament was certainly supreme under the Soulbury Constitution, but for the limitations in Section 29, whose elimination has been disastrous. The Supreme Court should have declared the Citizenship and Sinhala Only Acts – to which the Left too was once opposed – ultra vires, but it failed. It is now hard to see where we are headed. We are living a long drawn out tragicomedy whose basic script the Left helped to write.

  • 3

    Prof Kumar- how about another lockdown drama – the proposed new International Cricket Stadium at Homagama at a colossal cost 40million USD?

    Due to Corona virus (well not entirely due to COVID19) the economy is in ruin, unemployment is on the hike, export industry is in ruin, no tourism industry, schools are shut, economy is shut, there is no foreign currency reserve, the government spokesman appealed for black money in FX to be repatriated to Sri Lanka.

    ….and they want to build a huge cricket stadium !!!!!

  • 2

    Prof, still catching up with part 1. Last time when I wrote “people do lie about their voting preference”, many here in CT had difficult time digesting. Today US Fox polls have Biden leading by 48 % to Trump,s 40%. Catch is 11% are NOT undecided, but say not the two but they prefer a third person. If you add Trump,s 40 plus 11 its 51% almost close to what actually he got last time. I remember Hillary having 8 to 10 % lead around same time, (5 months) from elections. I too know Ram well. Like Prof he is a master in political science and familiar with US politics. I am sure he was one among shell shocked, hearing Trump got elected.(Prof was one among few called for Trump correctly). In my opinion, come what may Rajapaksas will grab power, with or without, election, votes, constitution, parliament —–.etc—–etc.

  • 0


    Professor Kumar David may be wondering why the contrast between the plethora of comments on the previous article, and the paucity here, in the sequel.
    Is it I who am to blame, or the coward who posted this slander below the earlier article?
    Walter Bagehot / May 14, 2020
    “SM: Where are the millions that Nagananda cheated hundreds of people out of, amplified by your flatulent voice of encouragement?
    Now that the Thomian community is completely done with you trying to infiltrate the board at all costs (even to the extent of slandering your own brother on public fora such as this) have you switched careers to being a political analyst?”
    I felt that his slander of me was unprovoked and unjustified, and so I replied: “in style”. There were two more comments by him, which proved beyond any doubt that he knew nothing of the facts, but wanted the cheating to stand.
    The issue there may well be considered to be a storm in a tea-cup that few knew the shape or colour of to bother about. However, taken by itself, within that limited ambit, it was quite outrageous.

  • 0

    With National Politics in a state of chaos, petty autocrats elsewhere take the chance to damage the lives of thousands of people. I’m sure that ignoring the issues seemed the natural thing to do for many readers. The most salient facts were set out here, and there were enough comments to show how bad that cheating was, but was it of relevance to the entire country?
    Where is this coward Bagehot? He did make two more vague comments, but it was I who swelled the number with more than twenty comments which gave him numerous contradictory details. I’m grateful that the moderators thought me justified in pummelling Bagehot. It is not always that one can convincingly, and comprehensively prove that some guys are dirty cheats – and when that includes an Anglican Bishop, I think it should be significant.
    When sanctimonious guys moving in such supposedly exalted sections of society resort to downright cheating in conducting a trivial election, is it any wonder that it gets so bad with politicians from whom we don’t expect much sense of honour?
    Will the lily-livered, anonymous “Bagehot” comment here, please?

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