By Chandra Jayaratne –
Mr. Prime Minister,
Are Security Planners of High Political Office Holders Unconcerned Of the Inconveniences Caused to the Public by their Overzealous Security Arrangements?
Is it being totally unconcerned of the inconveniences caused to citizens at public events?; Or is it the sheer arrogance of power and positions?; Or is it a need to massage the small minded ego needs?; Or is it to signal the reality of the uncaring nature of political high officeholders? ; That makes the security arrangements for the purported benefit of one person and his family, drive the rights, needs and expectations of the voting common citizens, to be ignored and be of no concern of the security planners? Even if the security planners have no such concerns and driving commitments, should not the political high office holders, voted in to office by the common citizens, be aware and conscious of consequential inconveniences to the public by the security arrangements; and be motivated to take affirmative leadership steps and to direct and mentor the security planners to take steps to minimize such inconveniences?
The internationally renowned conductor Maestro Jacopo Sipari di Pescasseroli, conducted the ‘Homage to Great Italian Opera’ with the “first instruments” of the Festival Internazionale di Mezza Estate and soprano Silvana Froli, sharing the stage with the National Unity Orchestra of Sri Lanka and reputed local artists the De Lanerolle Brothers on June 6 at Nelum Pokuna. The performance that evening was hailed by all in attendance as exceptional opportunity, matching the best international offerings in opera.
The only bad taste in the mouth that evening came from the overzealous and absurdly unnecessary security arrangements, which totally inconvenienced those attending the performance as invites of the Italian Embassy. The Embassy sponsorship of this unique event won the hosts many an accolade of the attendees.
The website on “Nelum Pokuna” records under its Q & A – “Parkin passilites”- “No issue, they have enough space for parking”.
The parking of vehicles by invitees that evening were prohibited in the parking bay outside the “Nelum Pokuna” entrance and also a long way down the road along the Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha. In addition, the large parking area, normally open on all occasions, right of the entrance gate, capable of parking hundreds of vehicles, was declared a no parking area by the security officials manning the entrance gate. In addition, the area near the entrance steps which is also generally open for parking on normal days was zoned off as no parking, along with the VIP Entrance Area. Thus parking by invitees was available only alongside the Nelum Pokuna boundary, with space in addition for very limited number vehicles in the area past the out gate. The road way from the in gate to the out gate, normally released for parking was also a prohibited area for parking. So visitors had only limited options for parking and even then it meant along walk to the Theatre, especially on an evening with predicted rain showers.
The mere reservation of the VIP entrance for the contingent of VIP vehicles to accompany the Chief Guest and his spouse, along the accompanying security vehicles would have more than adequately served the security needs of the attending VIP. This would have released all other areas unnecessarily made no parking areas for the common or garden invitees to park vehicles.
All vehicles coming in from the entrance gate were directed with crude and brusque hand signals, whistles and shouting out loud, by the VIP security staff until these vehicles were taken out of the theatre premises. There were of course some exceptionally polite security officers, who readily joined in the lament with the vehicle owners, recognizing the absurdly unfair, unnecessary and uncaring nature of the arrangements; and some of them even joined in the chorus of the vehicle owners cursing the uncaring political big wig and his unconcerned security planners.
Mr. Prime Minister, it is possibly too late in the day of the governance regime, which came in to power promising a positive change in governance style, along with promises to be caring and conscious of rights, needs and expectations of common voters, to signal to voters the delivery of the promise: nevertheless it is possibly not too late to make a change and demonstrate that leaders are somewhat concerned of and are willing to caringly take steps to prevent overzealous security officials from going beyond the required limits. This type of leadership actions can at least mitigate the risks of loosing many thousand more votes of angry voters, negatively impacted by uncaring, arrogant and egoistic needs massaging security arrangements.