Release from lock down with stringent precautions observed


So we are allowed freedom from forced hibernation, all over our serendipitous island after two months of being crippled by a microscopic ball of fat covered protein. We can succeed in restarting our land if we follow simple rules of hygiene and distance ourselves from others and those in power continue making wise moves and deciding for the good of the country as a whole. Gratitude overflows in our hearts for them who worked so selflessly hard and saved us.

Row brewing in Britain

On Sunday and Monday 24 & 25 May, BBC news focussed on Dominic Cummings’ breaking of a lockdown rule. Cummings is a close aide of Boris Johnson and devoted helper, a Brexiteer and campaigner for Johnson’s election as PM. He is facing heavy flak for breaking rules that he himself laid down to stem the pandemic spread of Covid 19. Having symptoms, he drove from London to his parental home in Durham, 264 miles north east, to hand his son over for better care as his wife was ill with the disease. In all the press uproar; scathing accusations by the Labour Leader and Conservative Party backbenchers and other supporters, Johnson has been loyal to Cummings, using as justification "a father’s concern for his child". Opponents shout out that there can be no deviations; a law has to hold for all: the public and politicians holding power. The cry is for his scalp - resign or be dismissed from the high post of advisor to the Prime Minister - but Cummings seems to be retaining it, heavily backed by the PM.

On 25 Monday, Cummings held a press briefing in the garden of 10 Downing Street coming in late and trying to justify his breaking a lockdown restriction. He stammered and stuttered and cut a poor figure, while questions were loud, clear and pointed. No holding back just because the journos were questioning a close associate and ally of the Prime Minister.

Cass’s major thought was how different interviews and news reportage is in Sri Lanka. Now even more kowtowing and soft peddling criticism or questioning of Government VIPs. Remembered is that those who persisted in probing deals thought to be suspect ended up tortured or worse – dead. Innocents like rugby players were killed. Mercifully, there was greater freedom for critiquing during the yahapalayana regime, however wavering and unsuccessful it was.

Against this uproar in democratic Britain is the spectacle seen on late night news on 26 May where politicians rushed to a hospital in Battaramulla or wherever when they heard Minister M Thondaman had died. There was the Prime Minister in a mask but jostled by crowds and even hugged and kissed. Very touching if the VIP stampede was sincere sympathy for a man who died prematurely at 55. But to skeptic Cass it looked like political expediency and the Tamil vote beckoning. I hope they all got back to their homes by the time the curfew was imposed.

Recent incident of fake news

Cass surmises that she is not transgressing the truth when she categorises the falsity of the statement that ICC was funding the construction of a cricket stadium in Homagama, as fake news. And who broadcast this false assumption which can be equated to a lie? MP Gamanpila. He made matters worse by saying in true kindergarten fashion: I did not tell it. It was Bandula Gunawardena who told me. Two faults or sins rolled into one statement. Cass thought there were stringent rules against propagating fake news. Is it only with regard to governments in power or VVIPs that such falsities can be punished? And the hoi polloi. Anyway Gamanpila got his due deserts; he had to eat crow and also humble pie. Descended many steps from the pedestal he elevates himself to, by abjectly apologizing for the mistake made, albeit blaming another for its origin.

Aborted grandiose scheme

Thank goodness and the devathavas who surely look to the welfare of Sri Lanka, the project to build a new cricket field has been reduced to nothing, a non launched white elephant. Spend a fraction of what was to be spent - 40 m USDs - on upgrading one or more of the existing grounds. We saw Bandula Gunawardena diligently inspecting the proposed acreage. Did he have visions of his name being mounted as part of the name of the grounds in his electorate? All in the end: self-serving!

Fracas over father and daughter

Truth to tell that word fracas should be pluralized as there were recently three allegations of fathers giving special treatment to daughters/son. Hard working and admired Deputy IGP Ajith Rohana was accused of having smuggled his daughter home from Belarus, where she is studying medicine; and also the Elections Commissioner with regard to his son on a stint overseas. The direct accusation of these two fake news items was that their offspring skipped mandatory quarantine in a government designated centre due to clout of the parent. Fortunately both accusations were squashed. Not so the third.

Rajan Hoole - one the three members of the Elections Commission - is accused of bringing his overseas returned daughter to the EC Office without her having undergone proper quarantine, and thus endangering all in the office. The shrillness of the hoo ha was as if her stepping into her father’s office in the EC premises mowed all present with Covid 19! Dr Hoole too presented his point of view that she had undergone 14 days quarantine. No, in her case it had to be 21 days or 28, according to his critics.

On Monday 25 May night, TV news featured him expressing grave fears for the health and wellbeing of the Election Commission Officers because "one member of the EC" (EC consisting of only three) "brought his daughter to his office." He sounded as if she had been Covid 19 infected and freely splattering the virus around. I strongly got the message that this Commission Member is suspected of trying to sabotage holding elections on 20 June and this was his tactic.

Cass feels all in this country join her in sadness and anger that the contagion of Covid 19 kept in check by such vigilance of the high powered presidential task force, the health services, police and armed forces, shot so high with the influx of persons from Kuwait. An act of mercy kicks back on all. She and others champion Dr. Jasinghe’s caution and echo that persons from countries of high infection should not be brought back. We chuckle with guessing why Seychelles is given special treatment in being allowed in for medical treatment!! Like opening a BoC branch there!

And with that and the glad tidings of the lockdown in Colombo being lifted, Cassandra leaves you for a week. She is determined to stay locked down and shut-in. Enjoyed being within herself and too attractive to relinquish easily. Also, who knows who’s out there with the latest weapon of mass and individual destruction – a bit of virus laden spittle or snoot stuff! Oh my! Oh me! If VVIPs fear such, how much more should anyone’s spittle be avoided like a sure fire weapon. Thus ban all political speeches!

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