‘Tell me anything on Covid-19 instead of media’ - President | Sunday Observer

‘Tell me anything on Covid-19 instead of media’ - President

5 June, 2021

The above statement by the President is so important and crucial when the country and the world is going through a most difficult patch in the annals of history due to the health crisis where in some parts of the world humans are dying at an unprecedented rate.

The President’s statement should be properly understood and interpreted as coming from a person struggling with other world leaders to save the lives of the people dying of the unknown, unseen and uncontrolled virus spreading freely due to their carelessness.

Indeed, the duty of all citizens, including professionals, journalists, politicians, Government and the Opposition, critics and all concerned citizens to know their limits, duties and parameters until the end of the difficult that period we are bound to achieve one day.


Still, we are neither disciplined, nor behaving properly. The President needs help from every segment of the society to win the war on this fast spreading, dreadful virus.

While one group is making all attempts to control the pandemic and its impact on the human race, some attempt to take advantage of the situation for personal, political and professional uplift with the most selfish motives.

Undoubtedly, the success of eradicating the pandemic depends on the joint efforts and operations in the most organised and scientific methods for the end to be a success story-the ambition of the majority-and one wonders whether some have different views with different agendas.

We were successful in controlling the first wave, but messed up in the second and third waves through our own behaviour. The President is trying his best with his group led by the political front and the able Army Commander struggling hard with his team seeking a vision for the campaign and it seems a vision is in sight.

The assistance of the Opposition and independent activists including the media is an essential component, reminding one of the contributions made by the traditional Left Opposition during the post war malaria and smallpox situations, as opposed to the modern leftists and Opposition that are making irresponsible statements with no constructive propositions, directions or guidelines to see an end to the agony which is brewing so rapidly.

Media, being the fourth pillar of democracy, has to be careful when there is a national and international calamity.

This is the time the media should act with a sense of responsibility, avoiding exaggerations, misrepresentations, and misreporting for personal and professional gains breaking the accepted norms and policies of journalism, a noble profession the journalists are engaged in.

Through careful observations, we find that most journalists and some professionals are doubtful whether to unveil the genuine and straight forward truth to the world, and the President may be justified in his contention and it is time for them to change the stunts, themselves being independent professionals answerable to the people and not to the President.

In the resolution of the crisis, the help of the journalist and the professional is imperative and it is time they change their tactics for the sake of the country. The world is helpless to help others, with many parts of it not having received a single dose of vaccine. Are we not fortunate in that sense, being helped to a certain extent, despite our foreign policy and relations are not up to the expected standard?. We are not satisfied at all of the way the pandemic is fought, and many steps taken by the governance. But this is not the time to change governance or resist the efforts by the professionals and the dedicated health workers wanting a vision and scientific directions, as in Israel and the United Kingdom, successful today in combating the menace with minimum deaths and the pandemic arrested.

Fortunately, the Army and Security Forces are doing an excellent job with no proper vision but following instructions to the last word. We come across irresponsible voice cuts, statements, and advice from pseudo scientists, and officials with conflicting and different views enjoying talking to media like parrots criticising and finding fault of anything and everything for publicity which is dangerous and misleading.


The President’s statement is prompted by a statement made by some groups after having met the President at a crucial meeting giving conflicting views to the media, proposing lock downs and other steps.

Groups and professionals must speak with one voice and should be responsible to the nation at this difficult hour of danger. This applies to the media, which should be more careful and responsible in their dealings with the dangerous Covid-19 pandemic in this difficult hour.

Honestly, the GMOA, OPA, BASL, and other professional organisations, on which we had utmost faith, have let us down becoming mere hollow talk shops that only like to give voice cuts.

We presume it is time for the President to take over the reins without giving instructions and getting things done via the Army, which is doing an excellent job in carrying out orders with no proper vision and long-term scientific and planned strategy. Please learn from our mistakes and the success stories of our dear friends.

The current situation is not satisfactory with 44 deaths, 4,000 new cases, 1,133 deaths all so far, 2,959 positive cases missing and unable to find the origins of 30 percent of cases, and 10,000 hidden somewhere unknown according to rough calculations which is alarming and a dangerous situation but a reality to bear and take note of, with forecast of deaths of 100 a day and one million cases soon if the situation continues, which is frightening with 88,000 detections in the Western Province alone.

Let us learn from our mistakes and follow other countries that succeeded in the fight against the pandemic.

Let us take two countries known and having close relations with us, Israel and the United Kingdom, where the death toll and the pandemic have been highest and now under control.Sri Lanka is hesitant to go for a full lockdown for obvious reasons understood as the country is obviously unable to withstand the consequences.

This is the time the unions and active professional groups should come forward, learning from the two examples we have shown with proven success stories.


We are so worried and angry on the dead silence of the professional organisations such as the OPA, BASL and other professional bodies, leading fat cat companies forcing 400 percent profits, and super rich with enormous undeclared wealth not realising they must have a country to earn and enjoy more if they wish to in future.

Israel, with 839,308 cases, and 6397 deaths in January 2021 is now zero deaths, and the UK, with 4,460,446 cases and 1, 27,716 deaths on May 21, has no new cases or deaths. These are not miracles. It is hard scientific and systemic explorations we should a follow, and to adopt our own methods with variants according to our environment.

It is time for the country to be on a war footing until the issue is completely resolved consolidating efforts and harnessing the efforts of all in one direction, with professional and scientific methods. Our close friend the Minister of Health may be tired and exhausted and it is advisable it to be given to a health professional and strategist – the outspoken Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle with a little bit of freedom to act. We are not in a part of the governance nor holding any positions, but concerned professionals who love the country are equal to our life.


Resolution is possible if and when the proper and scientific methods are applied, through listening to the genuine educated and experienced professionals.

It is time to revisit our foreign policy and relations with the world when we are depending mostly on China, always prepared to help us as a good friend even though our policy is otherwise.

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister has had discussions with the Chinese Ambassador Qi Zhenhong who has agreed to donate 500,000 doses of ‘’Sinopharm’’ which is great as the success of Israel has been widespread vaccination and simultaneously taking additional measures. Other measures are innovations, on which they are experts. Initially the death toll was high as they live long up to 100 years average, becoming prone to be victims of Covid-19 easily.

Therefore, it is advisable to concentrate on vaccinations initially and go back to basics which is easy to practise when lockdown is difficult – but a necessity under the circumstances.

Now that the State has decided to go through the difficult process of lockdown instead of the slow process at the cost of economic downturn, which the country may not be able to bear.

The Government must take steps to extract funds from the extra rich and “fat cat’’ companies to provide the poor with daily wages, and regulate the agriculture sector and definitely there will be no opposition from the public. The attack on the virus must come from all sides.


We must reactivate our friendships with the world through the inactive and inefficient network of Ambassadors most whom are not pushy and up to standard to deliver goods to the nation. They have to be activated and urged to get more and more vaccines as examples have proved that the vaccines are working.

We do not think the vaccine program that has been launched have been successful, sufficient, effectual and efficient at all. It has not been done well, scientifically on time and it should have been given to a person of the calibre of Dr. Gunasena who appears to be doing an excellent job or Professor Tissa Witharana - a world renowned scientist in this area.

The President appears to be an honest, hardworking personality lacking a vision for the war on Covid-19 in the absence of proper and genuine advisors and this writer wishes he reads articles of this nature written genuinely and impartially expecting no benefits.

We believe he spends more and more time on the Covid-19 pandemic until full eradiation which is possible if cards are played well.

We also appreciate the efforts made by the Prime Minister with seen and unforeseen constraints, in trying to find funds from the Chinese Government that has given a positive response by giving 500,000 doses of ‘Sinopharm’ and substantial loans on low interests, indicating that foreign relations play a pivotal role in the process of resolution of the pandemic crisis when many countries are without any assistance and vaccinations in sight.

The vaccination program should have been given to Pro. Tissa Witharana and Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle to manage as they speak sense and are acting professionally. It is still not too late to make changes.

There are promises to give us more vaccines of which we must get the full use of as it has been proved that vaccination is a way out, learning from the experiences of Israel and the United Kingdom. Why not? Israel and the UK have won by being innovative, scientific, and methodical and why cannot we succeed in the war by following them while evolving our own techniques.

We need funds to withstand lockdowns and purchase vaccines. It is a good idea to make our own vaccine with the help of China or Russia and give the responsibility to a person such as Pro. Tissa Vitharana, a world reputed scientist on the subject.

Israel is a friendly country of ours that became a world power and a leader in water supply systems, innovations and agriculture. The initial death toll in Israel and the UK, that had been extremely high, is almost zero today due to their hard work, scientific approach and proper strategy.

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Sarath Wijesinghe, President’s Counsel, former Ambassador to UAE and Israel and President Ambassadors’ Forum