Normally I would have turned to the Commonwealth summit that concluded in London a few days ago and any worthwhile contribution Sri Lanka leaders made besides having the London Vihara’s loku hamuduruwa anointing President Sirisena’s head in traditional style possibly with some special oil. As one Sri Lankan wag told me they should have saved [...]


Laughable, Mr Musthapha and merry-making in Mirissa


Normally I would have turned to the Commonwealth summit that concluded in London a few days ago and any worthwhile contribution Sri Lanka leaders made besides having the London Vihara’s loku hamuduruwa anointing President Sirisena’s head in traditional style possibly with some special oil.

As one Sri Lankan wag told me they should have saved some oil for the president’s backbone now that he had told everyone in Sri Lanka who wants to give an ear to the ranting of politicians that he had a backbone and that he had a sword in hand to deal with the recalcitrant. What happened to his ex-caliber I don’t really know but the application of some blessed oil on his backbone might well be needed on the spine what with all sorts of kachal in the party founded by the late Mr. Bandaranaike which Sirisena has managed to mostly dismantle.

That is not all. As he is reported to have said in London he expects to get into pads for a second inning. It was not said whether he mentioned this while sharing a bittara appa or two with those who had gathered to pick all the pearls of wisdom from the head of state. Whether the loku hamuduruwo of the Chiswick Vihara applied oil to the heads of the presidential progeny he does not know as the President’s media unit maintain a deafening silence on family movements and temporary life in the Hyde Park Hilton.

While Maithripala Sirisena was engaged in a Hamletian soliloquy in the balcony of his suite at the Hilton wondering whether to say or not to say that he would make a bid for a second term, things were happening in a faraway tourist hideout along the southern coast of Sri Lanka called Mirissa.

Unlike the Commonwealth Summit that attracted little international attention outside that organisation’s membership the Mirissa fiasco drew more world media attention because the victims were foreign, subject to sexual harassment and physical assault by locals. The news spread like wild-fire as they say with the so-called social media picking up this story and other such happenings in Mirissa and elsewhere and splattering it all over like rotten eggs thrown at politicians. This added to the public cry for stern action against the perpetrators.

The Coastal Conservation Department acted fast enough to want to demolish unauthorised structures that have sprung up in different parts of Sri Lanka’s coast. Some might say that this should have been done earlier. But now that the CCD has demolished some and intend to do so to other unauthorised places some masquerading as tourist spots.

From all reports the attacks were vicious and some of the victims may have had to seek medical treatment. Into this condemnable incident that has served as another slur on our tourist image at a time when the country is trying to attract more tourists to fill our depleted coffers, in steps Minister Faiszer Musthapha like Sir Galahad ready to slay those who bring down those structures.

Of course there is a rider to this. If small entrepreneurs are making a living out of their business ventures Musthapha appeals to the CCD to spare them even if they are operating in illegal structures. No doubt the authority or authorities that wish to clear the beaches of these illegal structures have the power to do so and backed by law. What Musthapha seems to want is to let some of those structures to continue functioning as bars and restaurants.

What is the logic of all this. If people are making a living out of their business from illegal structure or whatever, they should be left alone to make their living in whichever way they could. That is a hell story to pass on to their grandchildren! At least some of those who could not pass GCE ‘O’ level had the great fortune to become politicians and enter parliament and live on public money.

Others went into different areas of business such as dealing in drugs and other criminal activities. They were doing it for a livelihood too. But unfortunately they were breaking the law and some have ended up behind bars.

If one extends Musthapha’s curious rationalisation then even those poor chaps languishing in prison hospital beds should have been excused and summarily dismissed with a kiss on the cheeks and a bow to go with it.

They were the ‘big ones’, those who ran the show. But what of the ones that are peddling drugs on the beach around tourist spots. To go by reports they not only sell them to tourists but also to school children and others in Sri Lanka. The chain appears to end around these areas where there are willing customers or others being introduced to drugs often of unknown origin.

It is well-known that the drug business, a flourishing trade on the beach has been highlighted by media reports.
Are they too to be left alone because they are engaged in their own livelihood. If everybody from the big crooks to the smallest are to be left alone where does the law stand in the country?

Has this particular beach bar embroiled in the fiasco ever applied for the licence to run such an establishment. If so who turned it down and why? If it did not apply, why not? Was it expecting local politicians and some from further away to give it ‘protection’ so that officials would leave it untouched even though it was breaking the law.

If one is to extend Musthapha’s argument which seems hardly legal for a president’s counsel then the law might take a back seat and let the livelihood makers of different types and political connections run the country. Not that some of them don’t do so even now.

The big question is why is Minister Musthapha speaking on behalf of this illegal structure run as a bar and restaurant near which this sexual and physical attacks on the Dutch tourists happened. Why did the minister telephone the director of the CCD to let the structure stand if it is being demolished with a bad motive, whatever that is meant to mean.

This is what a main stream media newspaper reported:
“The minister said the department (CCD) could remove any illegal construction on the coastal belt, however if the motive is to hamper the livelihood of small entrepreneurs, he is against the move.

He further explained that the tourism industry is dominating the service sector in and around Mirissa as such the removal of such places would lead to many employment issues among the area residents.

The minister said it was not the unity government’s principle to let down the small entrepreneurs, therefore the authorities should consider the grievances of the masses before reaching any harsh decision”.

I must say for Minister Musthapha that if nothing else he provides a laugh. Talking of this Government’s principles, I thought one of them is not to interfere with the law and let it take its own course. Here is a minister who telephones an official responsible for administering the law and virtually tells him to lay off.
If tourism is dominating the Mirissa area local thugs possible backed by politicians harass and attack tourists.

Perhaps the minister learnt these novel ways of promoting tourism on his journey’s round the world.
Had I more time I would have added some further comments. But that might have to wait for another day.

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