SJB ignorant on Covid-19 battle | Sunday Observer

SJB ignorant on Covid-19 battle

12 June, 2021
MP Dr. Harsha de Silva
MP Dr. Harsha de Silva

The amount of debt the government is supposed to have run up became the topic for SJB MP Harsha de Silva at a recent press conference. He says the new government borrowed Rs. 2 trillion worth in one year, which is twice the amount that the UNP borrowed in a similar period when in power. He then says with great flourish, “What did these yodayas do with this money?’.

It’s just as well he used the word yodayas. It’s more than apparent that his pygmy size intellect shows him up as puny — and most anyone in this government as a giant — in comparison. What’s galling is that all these allegations about debt. are being made as if nothing unusual has happened, in the middle of a pandemic.

This guy puts Marshal Pétain to shame. Marshal Pétain in October1940 made a speech to the French people after meeting Adolf Hitler — in which he declared: “I am today setting out along the road of collaboration”. The rest is history. He was marked as the worst kind of traitor.

Not giving the people the true picture about the pandemic and the struggle faced by the government in importing vaccines is tantamount to collaborating with the enemy. The enemy is unseen. It’s all the more reason there is a responsibility cast on every Member of Parliament to ensure that the correct facts about the virus and its ravages reach the people.

It’s unknown to this writer if the amount cited by Silva as the government’s quantum of debt in the past two years is correct. Even if it was, there is no way he can pretend that he is unaware of the colossal spending the State had to incur for vaccines and for Covid prevention.


In addition to that, the world economy is at a virtual standstill, which means that the country’s inward remittances are at minimal levels. Does he have to be told that tourism earnings, remittances from workers in the Middle East and elsewhere, and the export income are all down to abysmal levels through no fault of the government’s?

It means that when the coffers are depleted, the regimein power would have to borrow just in order to tide over and keep the engines of the economy running. It’s as if a householder has lost his regular source of income. He would have to borrow, just to ensure that his family won’t starve. He would of course have to hope that in better times he can pay off the debt.

It’s not much different when it concerns a national economy, but this alleged “economist” doesn’t seem to have a clue. The man has to be excused. He is no economist and probably doesn’t know the first thing about a national economy, because he is merely a statistician, period.

Be that as it may he doesn’t have to be a traitor, because the government’s fight against the virus is tantamount to a war effort. He doesn’t have to belittle that by saying something as blatantly opportunistic as ‘what did they do with the money (that was borrowed)?”

The government had to borrow money from the World Bank to bring down the vaccines.

The Government of Sri Lanka and the World Bank signed an $80.5 million additional financing facility to help Sri Lanka access and distribute Covid-19 vaccines and to strengthen the country’s vaccination system and pandemic response, it was reported.

As a Member of Parliament, this person cannot be unaware of these facts and the level of irresponsibility in making statements of this nature boggles the mind.

He makes a sweeping statement without any attempt to ascertain what State spending amounted to in the midst of the crisis which has shut down the economy — something that didn’t happen when the country faced a war situation for over three decades.


The problem this nation is facing is in the woeful lack of ethical partisans. De Silva is an embodiment of that trend. Though there are differences of opinion in many countries about the steps that have been taken by each government to face the pandemic, there is the general understanding that matters of funding for vaccines, and for Covid prevention are out of bounds in this regard.

This is for good reason. The government cannot fight on multiple fronts and when most of its energies are necessarily focussed on fighting Covid, there is the understanding that there can be no peacetime type cavils about where the funds came from, and how vaccine initiatives are being financially backed up.

For example, in India, the government took the extraordinary measure of accepting aid from countries such as Bangladesh. Over 40 countries have committed to provide India urgently required medical supplies like oxygen-related equipment and critical medicines to help it deal with an unprecedented second wave of the coronavirus pandemic according to a report.

The Indian opposition did not hold press conferences to say this is a “shame on the Indian government.” Any fourth grader would know that India was an adverse country, and that it was a matter of national pride to manage all crises domestically. But in the face of the enormity of the Covid battle, all such policies were summarily abandoned. The opposition concurred.

That’s ethical partisanship. Political cretins — that should be qualified to read intellectual cretins — of the type of Harsha de Silva are unaware of the basics of this type of political bipartisanship in a time of crisis.

But then, ethical partisanship must be an alien concept in a party that is customarily full of backstabbers that would put Brutus to shame. The party rankers discovered recently that Champika Ranawaka has been leading a clandestine campaign to derail the party leader Premadasa.

It was not a frontal challenge, but a cloak and dagger effort. This seems to be the modus operandi of the SJB leadership. Theirs is the politics of the fifth standard playground, where there are no adults in the arena.


Harsha de Silva is not an adult in politics. He is a petulant kid, not particularly good at anything. There is a single word for it — mediocrity.

That has been a hallmark of this person, and that’s ok, each person is entitled to his own personal ludicrousness. But, there should be an effort to hide all that kid level one-upmanship when there is a crisis of the magnitude of the pandemic facing the people of this country.

Certainly, the opposition has to function even in the throes of this crisis. No country has asked its opposition to close shop and disappear — that wasn’t even considered. But this is a time for ethical partisanship, just in case Harsha de Silva is able to understand plain English. There are National Governments in times of crises, and there are War Cabinets.

More than one world leader has called the fight against the pandemic a war on an unseen enemy. Nobody expects the likes of Harsha de Silva to be in a War Cabinet. That would be akin to having a Pomeranian officiating a wedding ceremony. So out of depth, so hilarious.

But at the very least, these people can be cognisant about the fact that there is an obligation to be truthful and fair about the realbreadth of the crisis the government is facing, so that the people would know why there is a drain on the exchequer.

Correction, the people already know it. The people are aware that a crisis response is not an easy one, and that’s why they are making all the sacrifices.

One suspects that if de Silva and the likes made these statements in public, and not in the safety of a conference hall with only the press in attendance, there would be vigilantes who would pick the man up and throw him in with the garbage, where he deserves to be at least in the duration of this pandemic, after which the people can choose to dust him up and release him wherever he wants to gambol off in the sunset …