Friday 13 November 2020


Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

13 November  2020




Covid 19 & Amendment 19

From time to time, we learn about laws that come into conflict with our beliefs. When they are largely at policy level, and do not affect our daily lives most of us tend to be indifferent to them. If left unchecked, practice becomes the law albeit unwritten law. If it were belief based it would be healthy. If it is one of convenience  - it would cause serious damage to wellbeing of our society.

As per Ceylon Today report ‘Health sector should decide – Ven. Narampanawe Anandanayake Thera’:

[Deputy Secretary of the Asgiriya Chapter, Chief Incumbent of the Asgiriya Pirivena Venerable Narampanawe Anandanayake Thera said the decision to bury or cremate COVID-19 infected bodies should come from the health authorities and not depend on the religious background but should be based on protective methods recommended by the health sector.

If burying such a body is a threat to those who are living, such religious recommendations have to be set aside and the body should be cremated, the Nayaka Thera said and added that it should not be turned into a problem based on either Buddhism, Islam or Hinduism.]

Below is a question and answer session with me taking both sides in turn as Common Sri Lankan:

Q: Who is the head of National Operations Centre for Prevention of COVID-19 Outbreak (NOCPCO?

A: Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva

Q: Is Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva a Health expert?

A: No

Q: Did the Buddhist clergy question the above appointment by the President?

A: No

Q: In terms of priorities  - what happened when the above appointment happened?

A: Medical Belief was brought under army command

Q: When would that order of priority be right in Democracy?

A: When the People are more fearful of Criminal and Terrorism attacks than they are of diseases, including those like Covid19 that carry  high risk of death.

Q: Did the pandemic cause delay in parliamentary elections?

A: Yes

Q: Was that not a warning?

A: May be

Q: Did the Covid19 problem  peak in October?

A: Yes

Q: Was Amendment 19 to the  Sri Lankan Constitution repealed in October?

A: Yes

Q: Were the makers of Amendment 19 considered to be more civil minded than the ones who killed it?

A: May be

Q: Did the People protest against demise of Amendment 19?

A: Some did  in Court and through the media

Q: Did the voters who overwhelmingly voted to kill Amendment 19, earn through belief – more protection from Covid19 than from some fellow Sri Lankans of diverse culture?

 A: No

Q: Are some Muslims who have little knowledge of the written or spoken law of Buddhist government entitled to be driven by their belief when it comes to funeral ceremonies?

A: Yes

Q: Is that not an entitlement  covered by Article 14(1) (e ) of the constitution which states: [Every citizen is entitled to the freedom, either by himself or in association with others, and either in public or in private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching;]

A: Yes

Q: Is that not the parallel of  Prescriptive land title through adverse possession over a long period of time?

A: May be

Q: Do you appreciate that as per  Prescriptive land title – two elements have to be satisfied – (1) the possession ought to be older than the reasonable time during which an owner by law would possess and (2) possession has to be adverse – as in opposition in democratic parliament

A: Seems so

Q: On that basis – is it not time to have laws that would uphold belief of minorities in opposition to majority whose representatives make laws?

A: Yes that is needed to protect the Sovereign power of belief in Sri Lanka

Note:  Wikipedia reports as follows in relation to deportations of ‘Windrush’ migrants to the UK on the claim that they did not have legal papers even though they had lived in the UK over a long period of time :”In 2013 Caribbean leaders had put the deportations on the agenda at the Commonwealth meeting in Sri Lanka and in April 2016 Caribbean governments told Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, that immigrants who had spent most of their lives in the UK were facing deportation and their concerns were passed on at the time to the Home Office.

[On 29 April 2018, Rudd resigned as Home Secretary, saying in her resignation letter that she had "inadvertently misled the Home Affairs Select Committee [...] on the issue of illegal immigration". Later that day, Sajid Javid was named as her successor.

Shortly before, Javid, while still Communities Secretary, had said in a Sunday Telegraph interview "I was really concerned when I first started hearing and reading about some of the issues ... My parents came to this country ... just like the Windrush generation ... When I heard about the Windrush issue I thought, 'That could be my mum, it could be my dad, it could be my uncle... it could be me.']

Q: Would you agree that we have a similar situation of Belief v Executive power as interpreted by officials who rule over individual members of minority communities?

A: May be

Q: Would you agree that (1) the above manifestation was a warning to Sri Lankan government of 2013 ? (2) Tamils who are mentally deported to India by Sinhalese would have identified with the pain of loss of identity – as Mr Sajid Javid  - of  Panjabi origin - had declared ?

A: May be

Q: Given that the People of the UK upheld  Belief above the written rule of law – would you recommend that we need to learn and prevent such sins – like a preventive vaccine?

 A: Not sure

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