In a far more carefree world, today would have been full of light-hearted laughter. COVID-19 has put paid to all the pranks. Even Comedy Central has grown dull with heavy commentary on the mess world politicians are making of a global pandemic. The exceptions to the rule are few.
Yesterday, when all our troubles seemed so far away, Sri Lanka was ahead of a losing game. With a technocratic president and a militarised bureaucracy in place, we seemed set to flatten both SARSCOV-2 as well as the rising curve. Perhaps we still are – by dint of some divine or climatic favour, hard work by expert hands and much more clearheaded planning. Or maybe not, because some balls have been dropped? Only time will tell.
One thing is sure. In the midst of the crisis, government has slipped in an extra item off its own agenda. A peculiar attention to detail as to who gets its special blessing this viral season. Once where we accepted at face value its humanitarian concern for prisoners in close quarters, we now take its care for the cloistered with a pinch of salt – or something far bitterer. After a presidential pardon saw a convicted mass murderer being given his liberty last week, that cat is out of the bag.
As usual, Sri Lanka was divided on this contentious issue. On social media at least, there was a strangely muted outcry against the ethicality of it all. The usual suspects – civil activists, libertarians, NGO crusader types – were predictably up in arms. That they were largely shouted down by the chauvinistic-minded over Facebook-wall barricades came as no great surprise.
Where Colombo was once abuzz with indignation over a similar presidential pardon under the previous dispensation, perhaps the biggest shock was the stunning silence of the big guns in the city and suburbs!
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April 01, 2020