Sunil Perera of Gypsys fame, several years ago, composed and sang a popular song which went somewhat like this– “me rate minissu thanikara kelinne pissu”, which translated, means, “the people of this country have gone mad.” Looking around Sri Lanka today, one wonders whether it is more apt today than ever before. A random look [...]


Government must wake up before it is too late


Sunil Perera of Gypsys fame, several years ago, composed and sang a popular song which went somewhat like this– “me rate minissu thanikara kelinne pissu”, which translated, means, “the people of this country have gone mad.” Looking around Sri Lanka today, one wonders whether it is more apt today than ever before. A random look at a few instances of this madness may give an insight into the crisis faced by the country today.

Government must wake up before it is too late

The first manifestation of this madness came on April 21, 2019, when a group of terrorists unleashed a series of suicide bombings on people attending church services for Easter, as well as on tourists in leading hotels in the country.

Barely had the country begun to digest the enormity of the tragedy that shocked the public, came the news that the intelligence services had received information on April 4, 2019, of an impending attack, but no preventive action was taken, based on such intelligence. Investigations are still ongoing as to how this happened.

Close on the heels of the security failure coming into the public domain, came the news that Government agencies dealing with the subject had been appraised of the activities of Zahran’s group and their questionable behaviour, by the Muslim community themselves in 2011, and several times thereafter, at regular intervals, but no action had been taken. If necessary action had been taken, this group would have been apprehended long before they resorted to violence.

The most recent reports indicate that an open warrant had been issued on Zahran but. after the arrest of DIG Nalaka Silva. steps had not been taken to execute the warrant. This is one example of the numerous instances of institutional failure that the country is saddled with in varous spheres. Why was the carrying out of a task, in the normal course of duty, dependent on the presence or absence of a single individual.

While the Catholic and Christian community has shown exemplary restraint, in the face of this tragedy, other evil forces have moved into exploit the situation and cause mayhem, without adequate action being taken by the Government to restrain such forces. In a note to this writer, a Christian friend encapsulates the feelings of despair felt by citizens. To use his own words: “The Christians, after being attacked by the Jihadist indoctrinated persons, acted on the principle of forgiveness and love for one’s enemies, according to the teachings of the Holy Bible. But, what some callous citizens are doing is, trying to become the ethnic representatives of the affected Christians and maliciously urging community members not to engage in any business with the entire Muslim community. Javid, for decades, Muslim traders in Aluthgama have sub-contracted stitching handbags, readymade clothes etc. to village families, and never defaulted payments.”

In the first two weeks after the April 21, 2019 incidents, sections of the media acted in a manner that fuelled fears, uncertainty and insecurity among the public. Repeatedly, almost on a daily basis, the media depicted the suicide bombers’ movements, as captured on CCTV cameras, as well as the search operations carried out by the security forces, in a manner that created the impression that the country was in a state of chaos and anarchy. This may well have contributed to the reluctance of parents to send children to school, despite the assurances of the security establishment, that all steps had been taken to ensure the safety of the students.

Once the Government suddenly woke up to the detrimental role of the media, in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday killings, and made an appeal not to telecast pictures of weapons recovered in search operations, the media simply turned tables on the Government and depicted it as censorship, rather than a simple appeal.

In the meantime, Ven Gnansara Thera, fresh from his Presidential pardon for the offence of ‘Contempt of Court’, goes his merry way, spewing hate and targeting Muslims. His fellow travellers in the social media act in the same manner, creating a climate of insecurity for the Muslims and more particularly, their ladies, who are subject to various forms of harassment and humiliation in public places. In one of several instances, a dozen Muslim teachers, clad in hijab, were prevented from entering the Tamil Maha Vidyalaya in Puwakpitiya, Avissawella, by protesting parents. The parents demanded the teachers wear the sari to school.

Reports of several other incidents came to light, compelling the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) to call a halt to such harassment. HRCSL Chairperson Dr Deepika Udagama expressed strong concern on the situation and said people have to be ensured the liberty to enter places that are accessible by the general public, if they do not act in an illegal manner.

She went on to state that the prevention of people accessing public places, who do not act against the state of emergency and the common Law of the country, goes against Article 12 and 14 (1) (h) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka. “It breaches the rights of equality and the right to move freely within the country,” the Commission a statement.

Previously, the HRCSL had affirmed a teacher’s right to wear the abhaya to school, and went on to point out that national schools are bound by the Constitution and cannot violate the absolute right to religious freedom, under Article 10.

In another manifestation of the country going crazy is the demand of the Ven Athureliya Thera for the President to remove Minister Rishad Bathuideen, Governors Azath Sally and M L M Hizbullah, and embarking on a fast unto death, until the President complies. While the Ven monk is entitled to make such demands, resorting to a fast unto death is hardly the way to achieve his objectives, in a democratic society.

The Ven monk has several options available to him, in order to compel the President or the Government, to act. He is an advisor to the President and therefore, can advise the President to take action. He is a Member of Parliament of the United National Party and therefore, can canvass his opinion within the Parliamentary group or in Parliament. If this fails, he can resign from his Party and the Parliament, as a means of highlighting his demands.

However, resorting to a fast unto death to achieve political goals, can create a bad precedent in a democracy, and can lead to an epidemic of fasts unto death, which will reduce Sri Lanka to a democracy where governance related decisions are taken on the basis of fasts unto death.

Another symptom of the lack of sanity affecting the country is the case of some Muslims in Kekirawa breaking down a mosque. In the history of Sri Lanka, this maybe a first, where adherents of a particular faith, break down their own place of worship, based on some expression of disagreement. This again is a clear violation of the Law, and how the Law enforcement authorities allowed such an act to be done with brazen impunity, is a matter to be probed.

While Sri Lankan citizens are coping with this madness, the Government seems to be allowing things to drift, in the hope that things will sort themselves out, with the effluxion of time. The one instance where the Government has acted satisfactorily is in its efforts to dismantle the terror network, thereby fulfilling its duty to ensure the safety and security of the people and country. In other areas, the Government has clearly been remiss and forgotten that its primary duty is to govern and prevent the country descending into chaos. The Government needs to wake up before it is too late. (

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