Leave preemptive rhetoric aside | Daily News

Leave preemptive rhetoric aside

Work on the longest underground irrigation canal got underway this week in Anuradhapura with the President inaugurating the scheme. The canal will provide water to 1,200 irrigation tanks. Sri Lanka which has had a history of irrigation unparalleled in any other country, is seeing but a glimpse of the revival of past grandeur.

What a past that has been. The Yoda Ela is known to have had an intentionally engineered gradient of half an inch for every 17 miles. Also, this country has no naturally occurring lakes. All the tanks that inspired the epic agricultural feats of the past were manmade.

It is in this country that a minister in the last government was heard to observe that his goal is to eliminate all rice paddies and convert them into land for factories. It took five years, but it is good to know that the present rulers are people who have their wits about them.

It is probably why the attacks on the present Government are gaining in volume each day and are proliferating in all media. Those who dreamed of stalling agriculture and making this nation the arid hub for factories that produce nothing — the ‘Volkswagen’ factory in Kuliyapitiya comes to mind — are perturbed that we are channeling our most productive resources and talents in an attempt to dig ourselves out from the twin assaults of Covid and the repercussions of five years of stagnation we had as a legacy from the past regime.

This is a radical departure from their blueprint which was to make us automatons that danced to the tune blared to us from across our shores. These people are aghast that there is a Government capable of the simple act of thinking for itself.

It is also setting itself ambitious goals. This country hopes to be the first in Asia to inoculate all its citizens against Covid. There are some noteworthy developments that merit reiteration here. Health authorities have announced that we will not get enmeshed in vaccine wars.

This makes perfect sense because we only have to look towards Germany where Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that she is willing to try every vaccine including the Russian Sputnik V on German citizens, as long as it is given approval by the European Medicines Authority (EMA). This announcement has some of the more conventional, hide-bound commentators in a state of shock. But the Chancellor is calm and totally dispassionate about her decision.

Likewise in Sri Lanka, some ‘experts’ on pharmacological matters have said some things with a nasty edge about the contemplated vaccine programmes. They say it is unwise to expose citizens to a vaccine from a certain country, or at least it is unwise to force people to take jabs made in this part of the world.

This sort of preemptive rhetoric is highly unnecessary and uncalled for. As the German Chancellor has said, as long as the vaccines are approved, it does not matter where they come from. The Government is discussing the possibility of producing the Sputnik V vaccine here under licence. This has not prevented authorities from importing and using the AstraZeneca and vaccinations available in the West. These have been used on most frontline medical personnel — a move that is all the more important in a fortnight in which we lost the life of a young frontline physician to Covid.

Provincial quarantine facilities are being developed to repatriate some of the Sri Lankan workers from abroad. This is striking because social media are awash with footage of certain persons who have been measuring the distance between their beds and the walls in certain quarantine facilities.

One such person says that there is a width of a shoe — as he measured it — between the edge of his bed and one of the walls in the room he was allotted. There will always be people who think quarantine is a vacation courtesy of the Government.

The usual political elements are behind them giving fuel to this morass of social media garbage strewn around in a bid to undermine the fact that this country was one of the 10 best performing in the world according to the Lowy Institute, a respected Australian think-tank whose survey was quoted in mainstream global media, including the wire services.

If the disruptive elements cannot sow public discord against the success of the Covid prevention programmes of the Government, they will at the very least try to create vaccine wars, trying to put one country’s vaccine assistance programme against another’s. These are childish games, and it has to be stressed that the State is paying good money for some of these vaccines while the envisaged inoculation programmes for the free vaccines are also going to cost the country foreign exchange. Therefore, nobody in this country is in a mood for failure — least of all the authorities. It is suspected that those who are praying for failure are the very people who float these vaccine-war theories, because they hope there is a breakdown somewhere so that they could score a few scarce political points.