27 May, 2020

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Reclaim Opportunity To Work Together

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The unprecedented 24 hour curfew is stretching to its second successive week. This first week is ending after more than a week of semi-lockdown where work from home was encouraged. The government appears to be taking no chances to ensure that it will rid the country of the threat of coronavirus infection. About 7000 curfew violators have been arrested. The hardships to the general population are significant with appeals coming from around the country that those who are daily wage earners and living on the margins have no reserves either of cash or food to fall back on.

Highlighting the extent of the crisis former Minister of Economic Reforms, Dr Harsha de Silva has written, “Out of the 8 million people employed in Sri Lanka, only 3 million get a monthly paycheck. 1.7 million people rely on daily wages and 2.5 million people are self-employed. They are struggling to survive with the Covid-19 curfew and no savings to help them in this dire situation. Absolute poverty line is Rs 5000 a week for a family of four. We need cash transfers between Rs 8 billion- 20 billion per week urgently.”

During the relaxation of the curfew last week for eight hours, the government saw that half measures can be self-defeating especially in the big cities. The moment the curfew was relaxed, tens of thousands of people poured out on to the streets. They did so to purchase the groceries, medicine and other basic necessities to face the coming round of curfew days. But as a result the condition of social distancing that is required to prevent the spread of the Covid virus was breached. When hundreds of people have to stand in line for hours that stretched to five and six to get into a supermarket, they invariably began to jostle with each other.

With the passage of time the system of direct delivery of essential foodstuffs and medicines has improved significantly. The government has been efficient in ensuring that traders to do not take undue advantage of the prevailing market scarcities following upon the movement restrictions. Those who obtain curfew passes to engage in direct door to door sales have to subscribe to police regulations. The police have discouraged the uncontrolled sale of vegetables and fruit and have compelled the traders to put their produce into standard bags to be sold at uniform prices. While this restricts variety, it enables families to obtain the essentials for their meals at reasonable prices.

Civil Society 

In addition to mobilizing the private sector, the government has also reached out to social service organisations to ensure that those who are marginalized and vulnerable, and might be missed, are also supported during these days of lockdown and curfew. A Presidential Task Force has been set up which has identified vulnerable groups that need to be specifically looked after. These are children’s homes, elders’ homes, rehabilitation centres, probation centres, safe houses for women and centres for people with disabilities. In a time of crisis, these are the groups that could fall between the cracks.

While many of these institutions run with state support they also depend on the people living in nearby communities to support them on a charitable basis. In Sri Lanka, where sharing is a part of the traditional culture, and almsgivings in memory of the dear departed are a key feature of social life, a significant proportion of costs of meals can be met through donations under normal circumstances. In addition, people of goodwill often make generous donations to such institutions to mark birthdays, the beginning of a new job and other special occurrences. However, with the lockdown these donations are less forthcoming.

It is in this context that the Presidential Task Force has proposed to convene a consortium of civil society representatives to coordinate a humanitarian response where social service organisations will coordinate with the government’s divisional secretariats and other government officials. The purpose is to respond to the emergency health, nutrition and medical needs of the people in those vulnerable sectors. Civil society organisations whose mandate is educational and training-oriented have been trying to switch their work on the ground to delivering humanitarian aid utilizing the networks of partner organisations and grassroots groups they have been engaging with.

Rethink Life 

The coronavirus crisis is providing civil society organisations with the need to engage positively with the government to assist the people. Civil society has been defined to occupy the space that is not covered by the government and the private sector. The examples of space that needs to be filled would be the institutions that the Presidential Task Force has identified as needing special assistance in this time of crisis. Although the government has its own children’s homes, elders’ homes and other homes for vulnerable sections of the population, there are more people who need to be assisted than the government can cope with.

But along with its role in supporting the state, civil society also acts as a monitor and critic of the use of state power. The recent presidential pardon given to an army officer convicted by the courts of killing eight civilians including a child as young as five in the north of the country during a time of ceasefire has come as a shock. It has also been subjected to severe criticism by civil society organisations that focus on human rights issues. It is unfortunate that this controversial decision should have been made at a time when the coronavirus pandemic, devastating as it is, has presented an opportunity for the country to rally together against a common enemy that does not distinguish between religion, ethnicity or social class. The opportunity and need to work together must not be lost.

The post-Covid world will be a very different one that will compel us to rethink notions of the common good, social welfare and the role of the state in protecting and nurturing all its citizens. The lesson of the coronavirus is that none of us can be secure if all of us are not secure. The government, the private sector, civil society and the polity as a whole would do well to consider this time to be one in which to forge bonds across religion, ethnicity and class divides. In these times of terrific stress and fear worldwide where thousands are falling prey daily to this deadly disease, there is a need to generate hope for the future and Sri Lanka can play its part.

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Latest comments

  • 21
    6

    Tell your president to withdraw the pardon given to the butcher and murderer Ratnayake if he is serious about reuniting the country. what is so evident is that he is being divisive and discriminating against the minorities by pandering to the wishes of the maniacal buddhist segment and the forces. I doubt whether this guy has any intention of uniting the country. The same tune with a new fiddle. God help Sri Lanka.

    • 8
      3

      SLPP is messing up and refusing to do more Covid 19 tests to prevent the truth from coming out… they are putting the lives of our Sri Lanka citizens in danger for political gain.
      They should work with the WHO, South Korea and Japan to get help with the virus response.

      If they keep running after China even after learning they gave faulty test kits to Spain the people should send them home…

    • 7
      14

      Jehan Perera,

      RE Reclaim Opportunity To Work Together

      Will COVID-19 be the great equalizer?

      Right now they should work apart, personal distance, and learn to work together, against the invisible, but egalitarian COVID-19.

      Will the saffron clad Para-monks, who hijacked Buddhism, installed themselves as the 3rd Gem of the Triple Gem, distorted Buddhism, insulted Buddha, synthesized Buddha-Agama, Buddha’s Religion, in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho , go along with it and lose their hegemony over the imbeciles, measured mean IQ 79? …. No, No, No.

      The invisible enemy, that is very egalitarian, is making a fool of the President Gon Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and their monk -prostrating cronies, who did not test or control the Chinese arrivals, was loose in checking the foreign arrivals, let the schoolboys have the cricket match, let the monks have the pilgrimage to the butterfly mountain, and the faithful have the Katchuteevu festival with 3,000 from India. and 7,000 from Sri Lanka for a virus exchange. Today both Sri Lanka and India have curfews.

      Let’s hope that the current lock-downs, even though late, works. Better late than never.

      The egalitarian COVID-19 does not prostrate to the monks, Priests, Ulama, or the politicians, small or large,

    • 9
      0

      wattage umba

      Well said and I have nothing more to add.
      During the colonial days, this was one country because our masters knew us only as Ceylonese as they being foreigners could not differentiate between Sinhalese and Tamils. So we all were Ceylonese (Sri Lankans). Now the country is for all means divided. The only way to reunite is to go back 72 years and hand back the country.

      In cricket, one must have an independent umpire for the game to be fair. A player of the team cannot be also an umpire!

    • 7
      1

      Jehan Perera,,

      RE: Reclaim Opportunity To Work Together

      Another 10 COVID-19 infected patients were reported in Sri Lanka as at 7.30 pm today, increasing the total number of cases to 142, the Health Ministry said.

      Looks like the imbeciles, mean measured IQ 79, are working together to spread the virus.

      The virus is still circulating and spreading. Are the imbeciles getting it?

      March 17, 2020: We have no problem with with Corona virus, President Gon Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The imbeciles politicians did not understand.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_coronavirus_pandemic_in_Sri_Lanka

      The 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Sri Lanka is an ongoing viral pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a novel infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). As of 31 March 2020, 142 confirmed cases have been reported in the country with 2 deaths. On 3 March 2020, the first reported case involving a Sri Lankan origin outside Sri Lanka was reported in Italy. As of 23 March 2020, 45 quarantine centres have been built in the country by the Sri Lanka Army as a preventive measure to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.[Nearly 3500 people have been under quarantine in 45 quarantine centres which also include 31 foreigners from 14 countries.

      Do the people understand now? Do the politicians understand now? Better late than never. They all need to be educated.

      PS. Do not prostrate to monks and have pirith noolas. It is just pissing in the wind. Priests, Ulama cannot help you, but personal distancing .Test, test, test, and keep apart.

  • 7
    3

    the arrival of the cursed coronavirus a magnanimous gift to every part of the world from the owners of this sad sorry once upon a time pre 1956 successful isle must be looked like a gift to the cursed bankrupt nations on this planet.
    =
    as the curfew hours are so long the poverty-stricken masses of my one time home still my motherland are the ones who have been hit below their flimsy belts as do billions of their comrades living all around the globe.
    =
    the Presidential Task Force of 40 should be only honestly involved in bringing relief to the struggling masses and not feathering their own nests by corrupt means.@?
    =
    sadly the head of this task force appointed by his own so-called blood pf an elder brother is known worldwide as a corrupt mongrel of a mogul who has built himself as a doer and a fixer for illegal monies.
    he by birth is a direct member of the rotten to the core money oozing rajapuka kith and kin who have built themselves quite a negative reputation as thieves of the funds that legally and rightfully belong to the people of this cursed sad sorry bankrupt Koda uda country.
    =
    this is now a god gifted opportunity to all the rich, along with the below the belt poor nations to join hands and make many a sincere effort to eradicate and eliminate the word poverty from all the published dictionaries.?
    =
    I know very well that this will never happen and this is only a wishful dream on my part.
    =
    cheers, R. J.

    • 1
      0

      That’s right. We dont have to bother with medicines, masks and science. We can just sit and pray and leave it all up to God/gods. Is that how we got rid of Polio? https://www.historyofvaccines.org/timeline/polio

      • 1
        0

        Adrian Aged 13 3/4

        “We can just sit and pray and leave it all up to God/gods.”

        That’s what 6,924,255 voters (the majority of the majority pure Sinhala/Buddhists) did on 16 November 2019.

  • 2
    2

    Jehan ,
    What happened to MCC 400 million Aid ? Is it still available ?
    Is it as risky as it was reported to public ?
    I think we desperately need aid .
    We have to put on hold our political difference and other political issues for now and think how The country can Survive .

    People need urgent relief, and we can not blame anyone at this moment.
    Minister Bandulla has been honest and revealed that we can not afford anymore external loans , so where do we stand ?

  • 7
    0

    Gotabaya is trying to kick Mahinda and his sons becoming President by promoting Sharvendra. Sharvendra will be contesting the next Presidential Election after Gota decides to leave. This act of Gota is a technical knockout to Mahinda’s Family Rule. Gota screwed Viyath Maga stooges after coming to power through them. Now he is on his way to screw Mahinda and his children. This is “Gota Maga”.

    • 7
      2

      Before that something else is going to happen. History is going to repeat itself. There are more than fifty occasions in the past history of Sri Lanka where the ruler was deposed or killed and usurper taking over. China prefers Mahinda to Gota and there is a possibility that Mahinda with support of China will kick Gota out and be the President.

  • 7
    1

    When in crisis only Gota calls for unity. When he needs foreign investments he calls for Tamil expatriates to invest in Sri Lanka. He calls himself a Buddhist but never follows the preachings of Buddha He pardoned a criminal who murders several people including a child in Mirusivil when the court has sentenced him for trial for capital punishment, But he did not want to release political prisoners who are not prosecuted. It is because of they ree all Tamils He plays a game of Dr. Jakel and Mr. Hyde. How long will he do it? He using coronavirus to stabilize the Mahinda dynasty. The country is paying for the Karma committed by its political leaders. More to happen

  • 7
    1

    “About 7000 curfew violators have been arrested.”
    That is amazing! Arsonists who set fire to shops, factories and houses during curfew hours are never arrested in this country. Only those who walk around peacefully on some urgent errand or in quest of something important are arrested.

  • 1
    5

    Hey Sam Fernando,
    This is a response to your reply to my comment about the use of Sinhalese indigenous medicine to combat the Coronavirus, which appeared elsewhere on March,30.
    .
    Compared to our Sinhalese indigenous medicine, Western Scientists are still in their kindergarten.
    For example, viruses cannot be seen with your naked eye, right? You need a microscope or a nanoscope to see them. The first fever virus was discovered by Scientists only in 1901, right?
    But, long before, Western Science was even born, our Sinhalese forefathers were aware that unseen, unidentified, unknown beings (organisms) could make people sick.
    They called such mysterious diseases “Deyiyange Leda” (Gods’ Diseases) which were considered as contagious.
    So, they have isolated the patient in a room, and, depending on the type of the “Deyiyange Lede,” hung a branch of Kohomba or Mango on the main door-frame to be visible, in order to keep the visitors away.
    Family members have also used a plant based external vaccine.
    Our tens of thousands of years old, ancient “self cum social isolation method” was named by Western Scientists as “quarantine” and the unseen beings were called “viruses.”
    Our Sinhalese forefathers were the first to introduce “quarantine” to the world.
    And the medicine, its practices and surgeries were first introduced to the world by our first King Maha Rawana.
    This is only a 0.001% of our Sinhalese medicine system.
    We have many secret formulae and practices for any diseases, which should be protected as secrets.
    The world’s first Scientist was Lord Buddha.
    He was the Founder of the Earth Science (he talked about the Universe/Solar system/Cosmic rays), Life Science (Evolution) and Physical Science (Law of cause and effect).
    We, Sinhalese Buddhists, follow Lord Buddha’s teachings, which is based on the above Three Universal Truths or Sciences.

    • 0
      1

      Champawati,

      Buddha who invented all the medicines had made something to Lord Naseby too? Jehan PhD’s guru has no place to go after Angoda is converted to Corona. So Jehan PhD stahelthly giving up him, little by little. If you have some medicine to Lord Naseby, we can create unity between Jehan PhD and Lord Naseby once again, without race, country, religion, political policy, Language; even not minding Jehan PhD’s SWRD’s Socialism………. Jehan PhD wrote all kind of essay to declare that the whole Resolution 30/1 was implemented fully, to fool Lankaweyans and then went to UNHRC with Tilak to threaten there that Lanakwe will leave UNHRC if they asked to implement it. All Black Artists are painting them white during to convert the UOJ students to Buddhism, in the name religious reconciliation.

  • 1
    6

    These Civil Society Dudes are more worried about the recently released Rathnayaka, Human Rights violations of Curfew Breakers ,and Mr Rauf Hakkem’s right to bury Corona dead according to his Mullah’s wishes.

    Where can they find time to help the Tri Forces . Police and the Health workers to fight the Corona Virus?.

    Pity Dr Harsha didn’t publish those Poverty Stats of our Poor Dalits, when his Boss Dr Rani and his Cabinet were dishing out Free Car Permits worth up to LKR 34 Million to their mates in Kotte.

    Plus an extra LKR 100,000 a month each for 225 for nearly 5 years just to keep quiet about Dr Rani’s new Constitution..

    Dr Harsha’s mates like Mangala Samare now warns of dire consequences for Prez Nanasena spending our money without the approval of of those guardians in Kotte,. which seems to me to more lethal than the Corona’s Lung infections.

    Will Dr Harsha put the Money where his Mouth is?.

    Will Dr Harsha break ranks with his mates and tell the Prez to look after those Dalits of his. regardless of Mangala Samare’s Constitutional Threats.

    And promise to back the Prez if the next UNP Government try to do a Ranaviru on him for killing the Constitution…

    • 1
      0

      KASmaalam K.A. Sumanasekera

      “Where can they find time to help the Tri Forces . Police and the Health workers to fight the Corona Virus?.”

      What are you blabbering about?
      Single handed Shavendra and single handed Kamal are in charge of obliterating Corona. Gota claimed to have prevented Corona entering this island.
      For Keheliya Rambukwella Corona is nothing when compared with LTTE.

  • 1
    1

    Preaching is very easy. But, doing it managing it is not that easy. Protestants are crying out loud about Tamils and muslims.
    Why don’t you prey ?

  • 1
    2

    Sri Lankan civilians seem to be very selfish and self centered. If not, when there is a curfew for health reasons, why these idiots roam around. Over 1700 vehicles are impounded and about 7000 people are arrested. Selfish can preach from overseas and from their office. that is all. Do it and see how hard it is.

    • 1
      1

      ” Over 1700 vehicles are impounded and about 7000 people are arrested. “ Arrested by who ? Those who took Gobi to Nedungerni Jungle & shot and shot the Tamil army soldier whom they made to shoot Gobi and then arrested Jayakumari and 6 years daughter as hiding Gobi to revive LTTE and then arrested the Father Naveen and other human right activist as LTTEyers and at then ended blaming the Colombo diplomats as White Kottiya for asking them to release the human right activist?
      Moda Softy start to talk something honest & right, please!

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