It’s Dangerous to Play Games at This Critical Juncture!
Needless to say it is politically juvenile for any political party to put the lives of the people at large in danger at a time when the COVID-19 epidemic is still raging despite it having currently been fairly taken under control.
The number of cases has been fluctuating ever since the corona virus disease was first detected, at the beginning of 2020, with the number going up at the end of that year peaking to 762 on 11 December and to 942 on 11 February 2021 with two main surges occurring thereafter in May-June with 2,386 cases on 15 May rising to 2,728 on 25 May and in June increasing to 3,410 on the fourth and in August rising to 6,228 and 7,075 on 11 August and 17 August, respectively.
The number of cases had come down to 4,596 on 28 August, to 4,221 by 31 August and to 626 on 7 November but again had increased to 745 on 19 November.
These changes are solely due to the behaviour of the general public, that is whether they follow the well thought out COVID-19 health guidelines or not.
In a situation where it is very difficult for the authorities to enforce the observance of these rules such as wearing the face mask correctly and keeping the one metre distance it is extremely unfortunate for political parties and trade unions to prompt the public to breach them.
It is clearly seen that mature political parties such as the United National Party and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna have reservations about doing so, and have been not so brash as to mount anti-Government protests and agitations at a time the country is faced with an unprecedented health disaster.
What the bounden duty of political parties opposed to the Government, when the country is reeling under multiple crises, is to offer constructive criticism at this gloomy hour.
Some confuse the scarcities and queues during the socialist experiment of the 1970s with those caused today by the economic crisis due to the corona virus pandemic that has spread worldwide!
However, it is noteworthy that trade unions that have played a significant role in winning the demands of their members such as the Public Services United Nurses Union have decided to desist from taking trade union action in the present situation, as it is not opportune to do so.
And any child will understand that a State Katina pinkama is quite different from an anti-Government protest meeting by a political party, in regard to the observance of the one metre rule to prevent the spread of the corona virus disease.
It is in this context the Ministry of Health has said that all necessary steps are being taken to prevent a possible surge in COVID cases that could be experienced consequent to the protest campaign by a political party in Colombo.
Deputy Director General of Health Services
Dr. Hemantha Herath told a news briefing at the Health Promotion Bureau recently that the possible rise in cases due to the protest would only be seen after 10 to 15 days.
“We, as health authorities do not wait until damage occurs but take all remedial measures to avert the damage before it turns worse,” Dr. Herath has said.
“Likewise, we will do our part as Health authorities to prevent a spike in cases due to the protest meeting,” he has added.
However, he made the point clear that if COVID cases would not increase in the next 10 to 15 days as expected because of their efforts, it doesn’t mean that such protests do not lead to rise in cases.
“We neither give consent nor condone such moves by political parties or any other organisations to launch such protests when the country is at a crucial juncture in terms of the pandemic,” he concludes.
The organisers of the protest had hoped that it would be the first step in bringing their Government to power. Regime change is undoubtedly part and parcel of a vibrant democracy but pray now is not the right moment however impatient a new opposition political party is; to cry for it right now is political indecency one would dare say!
Quite correctly, the Police who have been put under severe strain, on account of these acts of empty adventurism, have said they will take stern action against the organisers and participants at the protest rally.
Director General of Health Services, Asela Gunawardena has issued revised health guidelines applicable up to 30 November.
In a further development the State Minister for Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals, Prof. Channa Jayasumana has said along with 120,485 persons serving in the frontline including health services, security and the Police who are already receiving the booster vaccine, the third booster vaccine will be administered to 60-year-olds and above.
So, when the entire State machinery is making every endeavour to curb the corona virus disease that is telling on the country it is thoroughly immoral for a political party - not waiting for a while to even see if their criticism has been well received by the authorities - to try to hound out an elected President from office and scare a Government to surrender power at mid-term by taking to the streets and suddenly start holding mega propaganda events endangering the lives of the ordinary man, when there are ample legal means to do so.