'Know Your Enemy'

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM May 1 2020
Editorial 'Know Your Enemy'

'Know Your Enemy' is derived from a 5th Century BC Chinese publication titled the 'Art of War,' authored by the ancient Chinese military strategist called Tsun Tzu.

In Sri Lanka's war against the Tamil terrorists and subsequently the LTTE, this was successfully practised by Generals Vijaya Wimalaratne and Denzil Kobbekaduwa in 'Operation Liberation' (26May1987-4July1987) before it 

was checkmated by Indian military intervention and by the current President (then Defence Secretary) Lieutenant Colonel Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, respectively, from April 2006 to 18 May,2009, culminating in the killing of LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabakharan in Mullaitivu.

All these four personnel who were near successful in combating terrorism were military personnel, driven and guided by correct political leadership.

In the case of Kobbekaduwa and Wimalaratne, it was President J.R. Jayewardene and Deputy Defence Minister and National Security Minister Laith Athulathmudal and in the case of Rajapaksa and Fonseka, it was the former's elder brother President (now Prime Minister) Mahinda Rajapaksa.

But since 27January of this year to date, Sri Lanka has been fighting a different kind of terrorism. A terrorism called 'coronavirus' or 'COVID-19' caused by a virus for which there is no cure at the moment and which could be fatal on the sick and the elderly.

However, this type of terrorism cannot be fought with guns and bombs, but by social distancing; by wearing protective gear, face masks in particular and by personal hygiene which may prevent the virus from entering one's body, until such time a cure is found, according to present medical evidence.

It's a different type of terrorism altogether. In as much as military strategy is needed to defeat conventional terrorism, what is required to defeat coronavirus terrorism, in particular COVID-19 terrorism, for which no cure has been found thus far, are a combination of medical and health strategies.

While the military and the police are conversant with tactics needed to be adopted to fight terrorism, as is known, such as LTTE or JVP terrorism, the outfit that is most conversant in fighting COVID-19 terrorism are the health and medical personnel.

This situation also brings to mind Tsun Tzu's book, 'The Art of War' written 2,600 years ago and his phrase, 'Know Your Enemy' in particular, where he said, 'If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. 

If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.'

Sri Lanka has been fighting the coronavirus with vigour, beginning with curfews imposed 42 days ago on 20March and still continuing. During these 42 days the authorities have arrested hundreds, if not thousands of curfew violators, together with their vehicles as the case may be.

Simultaneously the economy has suffered due to these curfews and; according to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) in its 2019 Annual Report released on Tuesday, it said, ''With approximately 60% of those employed being engaged in the informal sector and an estimated 1.9 million being daily wage earners, a large number of households is likely to be in a precarious position due to the efforts taken by the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to contain the pandemic.

Other vulnerable segments of the population, such as the elderly and the large number of people living just above the poverty threshold will be disproportionately affected by this episode.'

CBSL, for its part, to aid the GoSL in its battle with the coranavirus, since the beginning of last month to Wednesday, has printed Rs 283,972 million; 

much of which is demand pull inflationary, in that it has gone into the hands of the GoSL and by an extension,' to the masses,' therewith taking up GoSL's face value money printing debt to Rs -352,326.21million and reducing interest rates, among others.

Simultaneously in the 41-day period beginning at 10am on20March, to 10am yesterday, the Epidemiology Unit has reported has reported that the number of coronavirus cases receiving treatment in hospitals, excluding those who have died (seven) and recovered (139) has increased from  66 to 503.

Therefore, the GoSL will have to rethink new strategies to combat this new form of terrorism, while at the same time causing minimal damage to the economy, until such time a cure is found.

CEYLON TODAY | Published: 2:00 AM May 1 2020

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