The panic tactic doesn't work | Daily News


 

The panic tactic doesn't work

The Stock Exchange rally and the noises made in Parliament attempting to embarrass the Minister of Health are in stark contrast. There is no going around the fact that it appears that MP Lakshman Kiriella and others appear to be rather gleeful that there was a Covid outbreak, which they saw as being an escalation to a next level of the pandemic.

But the Health Minister was right when she was cautiously optimistic. When she says that a cluster has been contained, the Opposition blames her when another one emerges. They harangue her for having played down the pandemic and celebrated too early.

She had done nothing of the sort. The health authorities are only too aware that the pandemic is far from over. There is every chance that sporadic clusters would emerge, but that is not to say that the virus is raging in society at large.

The Health Minister is entitled to state this fact in parliament, but each time a cluster appears and there is some anxiety as a result of it, opposition politicians predict a doomsday scenario, and blame the minister.

Fortunately, those who invest their monies in the bourse are much more sophisticated and have read the signals properly. The initial reaction of a downward spiral is all too understandable but, the Market rally two days subsequent to that is a sign of an astute reading of the signals, and is a general reflection of sentiment in most quarters that the government has a successful strategy to tie down sporadic clusters.

Lakshman Kiriella is hardly the person to venture granting a certificate to anyone planning any serious crisis curtailment strategy. This is the MP who famously said in parliament that any bovine can go to war and stood by his colleague who proffered that the forces are 'going to Pamankada thinking it's Alimankada.'

The people have not necessarily forgotten this level of cynical discouragement and insensitivity. Trained ears would take anything Kiriella says with a grain of salt, especially when it pertains to an important matter, such as fighting a pandemic that has ravaged economies all over the world, and is not showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon.

This government acquired the ability to control the contagion cluster by cluster by taking control of the larger picture at the beginning. But, there is the usual overreaction and the absurd attempts at rumour mongering that goes with it each time.

One person was arrested for circulating a panic inducing communique on social media with a forged presidential secretariat letterhead as a prop. Sick antics and overreactions based sometimes on calculations for personal and political gain abound.

In that context, the reaction in the Stock Market is laudable as it indicates that there is a sophistication that is evident in assessing events and their repercussions, which discounts the type of scare mongering that's resorted to by certain opposition parliamentarians. Most scare mongering, the truth be told, is targeted at wrecking economies and slowing down business.

The Opposition can do better than try to create panic. The MPs could at the very least ruminate about the disasters they caused when they were faced with crisis when in power. Hardly a day goes by without somebody in the then government or some top official blaming someone else for the debacle that was the Easter Sunday calamity.

Former MP Sagala Ratnayake has weighed in recently and blamed the former president for various acts of omission. Cognizant of the order of chaos they created, the collective opposition no matter which party they represent, should be careful when they try to pick holes in the crisis management strategy of the present government.

They should remind themselves that they are not in power. There is no likelihood of factional infighting getting in the way of focused crisis control that's properly coordinated and delegated, that obtains now. This government is different, and by now the Opposition should get that.

People should be vigilant, but by and large the emergence of clusters at times is almost inevitable. There could be contributory reasons for such occurrences, such as unexpected breaches of the isolation regimen when persons return home from abroad.

This could be due to one or two miscreants or it could be due to a particular PHI being remiss in his duties or some such eventuality, for which the people cannot be blamed. The favourite cry of the Opposition seems to be that the government signaled that everything is over.

The government wants business as usual because there is an economy to sustain, but that does not mean that people have been given carte blanche to return to absolute normalcy. It's a fine balance that has to be maintained, and the signals should not be of chaos or indifference as was the case when Opposition politicians such as Kiriella let out a belly laugh at a press conference when asked about the Easter Sunday calamity.

The frontline workers are also not to be discouraged and that's a cardinal rule as well. On successive occasions they have functioned admirably in the line of duty. Health care workers and the army as well as those who man the essential services are all heroes in these times, and perhaps picky opposition politicians can register some appreciation for these people when they get the urge in future to knock-down the government's crisis management response.