Physician Heal Thyself

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Yesterday this newspaper carried several articles pertaining to the country’s fuel crisis due to Sri Lanka being bankrupt for US dollars.

This will focus on two of those, one published under the heading “40 filling stations closed due to unrest” and the other, “Aircraft refuelling may grind to a halt.”

Earlier, complementing the reason behind the “40 filling stations closed due to unrest” story, this newspaper in its Monday’s issue published an article under the heading “Angry Mobs Torch Fuel Station Owner’s Home.”

To quote excerpts, “An angry mob set fire to the house of the owner of an IOC filling station at Kekirawa as the fuel station ran out of fuel.” No one was hurt in the incident. The owner was not in the vicinity of the fracas.

The fuel station running out of gas is not the fault of the owner. Nonetheless, the consumers, vented their anger and frustration by attacking the next closest target, the owner’s house, whilst surprisingly sparing his fuel station.

 According to Monday’s news item, the fuel station owner’s house was a two storeyed building. Kekirawa is a poor, rural, farming town located in the Anuradhapura District in the North Central Province.

The fact that the angry farmers didn’t set fire to the fuel station, the closest and obvious target, but instead vented their frustrations on the owner’s house, which, however, should have had been their second target and not the first, is an indication, that, apart from emotions running high derived due to the absence of fuel, the attack on the owner’s house and not his fuel station, the closest of the two targets, is a reflection of the rich-poor, class struggle.

The lesson, beginning with the French Revolution, which took place 233 years ago in 1789, is, deprive the masses of the bare necessities of life, at that time bread, and in the Kekirawa context, from a superficial perspective, fuel, discounting other shortages and queues for the other basic necessities of life, record high inflation and cost of living and power cuts, not only in Kekirawa, but countrywide for months, the Government, jointly led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa (SLPP) and UNP leader and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe, are opening the floodgates of anarchy to rule the roost, if no quick solution is found.

The problem, the lack of dollars to import those bare essentials, as Sri Lanka is an import-dependent economy, is due to corruption, stemming from the near 10-year Presidency of Mahinda Rajapaksa, beginning on 17 November 2005 and ending on 8 January 2015.

During the 15 days to today that Wickremesinghe has been serving as Premier, it’s he, who’s in the limelight from the Government’s side and not the Rajapaksas, a first in the annals of Sri Lanka’s 74-year-old history of independence, where it’s the number two of the country and not the number one, who’s calling the shots.

Meanwhile, the “other” article published yesterday under the heading “Aircraft refuelling may grind to a halt – CPC TUs,” to quote excerpts, “Refuelling of aircraft at BIA and Mattala has been drastically reduced and may come completely to a halt by Tuesday for the lack of jet fuel.”

Mattala Airport is one of several white elephants built with public commercial money (dollars) by Mahinda. However, BIA is a recognised international airport. Therefore, the authorities must focus all their resources to keep BIA afloat.

Sri Lanka being poor of dollars reflected by social unrest and an economic crisis is the symptom of the disease and its sustainable treatment lies in the hands of the international community (IC) headed by the West and Japan.

But before it could be treated, Sri Lanka too, has to play its part to the satisfaction of the IC, by rooting out the lacunas in the law that allow for such misdeeds and by punishing the wrongdoers, regardless of their status. Otherwise, the much needed succour from the IC may not be forthcoming to Sri Lanka’s peril.