Posted on May 2nd, 2020

Janaki Chandraratna

This comment is in reference to the recent calls to end the Covid 19 lockdown in Sri Lanka. I was surprised at such demands made on the govt. when the country is still grappling with the unprecedented world pandemic. In particular, this request is in spite of the fact that lockdown is the only solution demonstrated all over the world, that could be used to contain the virus, in the absence of a vaccine.

To put it mildly, it reflects an under-estimation of the virus and a disregard to major religious and cultural beliefs where the sanctity of life supersedes material economic gains. Balancing economic growth and controlling the spread of the virus are two main concerns of any government that faces the current pandemic. Towards this end the Sri Lankan govt. needs to be commended for the timely staggered release of lockdown procedures and the assistance given to the deprived sectors of the community to cushion Covid 19 impact, despite the depressed economy.

It is significant that this malign call, which has the support of the opposition parties, can be seen as a sinister move to undermine the govt.’s effort to control the virus, with a view to forcing the govt. to recall the dissolved parliament. The call to end lockdowns are also seen in countries with neo-liberal economies like the United States and the United Kingdom where the priority is for economic growth against social justice and welfare. In fact, this is the reason why the USA and UK were late in imposing lockdowns and have become today’s epicenters of the virus. As of 28 April 2020, the USA had reported 988,419 confirmed cases with 56,201 deaths. Corresponding numbers for Britain were 57,149 and 21,092 respectively. In comparison, Sri Lankan figures are 588 confirmed cases and 7 deaths, thanks to the vision and dedication of the govt., armed forces, and health professionals. I am certain Sri Lankans would not want to get rid of lockdowns and embrace economic development endangering human lives.

One reason for the latest spike of 60 new contacts on 26 April is for not adhering to the rule of social distancing, which is an alien concept to Sri Lankan social values. It is time that we Sri Lankans learn to adopt the recommended behaviors and mannerisms accepted in the rest of the world to combat the virus for the safety of our nation.

It is also time to seek new procedures for the scheduled parliamentary elections, as the numbers of confirmed cases are so low and nowhere close to that of South Korea, where an election was held at the peak of the virus spread. The use of electronic media, postal services for the propagation of election manifestoes, staggered voting on district basis, pre-organized assistance for the aged and other physically challenged persons to election booths, physical distancing, and hygiene procedures could be measures we need to adopt from South Korean experience. In fact, the non-use of expensive vast political party meetings characterized by unrest and intimidations, at times with murders would be a blessing for the country. We need to get rid of the affiliations we have to blue, green, red, purple, etc. and cast our valuable votes based on the credibility of the candidates and election manifestoes that reflect the respective party policies, programs/projects that are supported with proper financial analyses and practical timelines. There is nothing ‘unfair’ about this type of electioneering and in fact, Australians have very successfully run heir elections on these procedures for many years, so much so that the electors hardly ever see their candidates in person or at large election meetings. It is hoped these procedures would continue to be the new norm for future Sri Lankan elections.

Janaki Chandraratna

One Response to “LOCKDOWN MAYHEM”

  1. dhane Says:

    The people of all ages in Sri Lanka specially the voters are fed up fooling by UNP, JVP, TNA, and SJP and awaiting vote correctly to save the country this time for ever.

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