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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2958

Sri Lanka: an island on edge

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

When an aspiring kid wanted to learn music from a master of old school, we are told, that the former was usually subjected to a process of learning disharmony before mastering the art of harmony.

When we analysed the sequence of events that were said to have taken place before the brutal bombing campaign in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday and political ramifications that followed, ranging from cheap point-scoring to pointing to the pie in the sky, one may wonder the feasibility of applying the strategy that the old music masters used to adopt in the ancient times.

In short, start from the polar opposite in order to reach the desired goal, if it is going to be lasting, meaningful and above all, able to stand the test of time.

Since the Sri Lankans want trust, order, peace and security, way above the elusive goal of prosperity in the current circumstances, we could start from the polar opposites of the above, which were glaringly exposed during the past two weeks.

When the country is on edge and the people of all walks of life stare into the barrel of uncertainty and gloom, some politicians still seem to be indulging in delusional thinking, as if the crisis just came out of the blue and the solution was just round the corner.

I lost one of my distant cousins, when St Sebastian Church in Katuwapitiya, Negombo, was blown up; she lost her husband two years ago and the two kids, a teenager and a toddler, are now without parents. Similar stories that stem from other affected churches are equally heart-breaking.

In these circumstances, if a politician, amateur or otherwise, wanted to heap the ultimate scorn on hundreds of victims, he simply could do so by coming up with a price tag in the form of compensation as the top priority after the tragedy, while playing to the gallery. This is what actually happened in the early days following the calamity - before sanity broke out in the very camp, preceded by the amplified ridicule, of course.

When the tragedy struck, the international community had an overwhelmingly sympathy towards us. Even our Muslim friends, from Pakistan, India and the Middle East, were telling us how embarrassed they were, owing to the acts of a few. This was not situation when the LTTE went on similar rampages.

So, our elected rulers have a duty to reciprocate that spontaneous human gesture by flocking to a place on the moral high ground. It’s very simple. Just tell the world what really happened in a way the international community believe it, without being economical with the truth.

Stakes cannot be higher for us, especially when the second most important revenue source is on its knees. Since some of the measures that were taken in good faith, such as issuing visa on arrival, will have to be rolled back due to unbelievable abuse by certain elements, tourism promotion is going to face some inevitable hurdles in the near future – when we can least afford them.

Adding insult to injury, some countries issued travel advisories against visiting Sri Lanka – for obvious reasons. That means potential tourists will not find it easy to get the insurance cover when visiting the island.

The cumulative impact on hundreds of thousands of ordinary people is truly shocking, especially when no contingency plans are in place. On top of that, rising oil price, uncertainty in the Middle East, our eternal obligations to creditors, power crisis and looming full-blown trade war between the US and China are not going to create any meaningful factor in our favor.

The present crisis clearly shows that the decision makers were mimicking an ostrich, when the choice should have been a hawk. With two major elections in the offing, people will not be prepared to elect individuals, who had been caught napping – or vulnerable for being so by the accident of design.

- Asian Tribune -

Sri Lanka: an island on edge
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