Thursday, September 28, 2023

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Sri Lanka’s New Trinity of Evil: Dengue, Drugs and Sex Crimes

Inept implementation deadlier than dengue, drugs and sex crimes

By: Krishantha Prasad Cooray

Quite apart from the challenge of guiding Sri Lanka through tempestuous economic and political waters, the government has the additional and unenviable task of combatting a three-headed monster: Dengue, Drugs and Sexual Crimes.  

The Government is clearly concerned. The relevant warnings have been issued. Committees have been appointed. The problem seems to be in execution. This has long been one of the biggest issues to plague Sri Lanka. There have been leaders. There have been decision-makers. However, when it comes to putting plans into action things seem to fall apart. 

The right people are not in the right places. There is expertise but it is not being mobilised. Incompetent or slothful individuals are given the task of executing. There’s a woeful lack of empathy for the suffering of the masses. 

While officials twiddle their thumbs seemingly oblivious to what’s happening and utterly unconcerned by the tragedy that’s unfolding around them, the people continue to be tormented by these three threats. The rising incidence of Dengue is nearing pandemic proportions, drugs and drug-related crime and violence are rampant, and every single day there are reports of sexual violence especially crimes perpetrated against children. The last, let’s not forget, falls under the category of the least reported of crimes. The true story would be of tragic proportions. Unfortunately, it seems to be felt only by the victims and their loved ones and not those who are mandated to prevent it from happening in the first place. 

One must ask ‘where is law enforcement?’ ‘Where is the justice system?’ Just the other day, a lawmaker, no less was nabbed trying to smuggle in millions worth of gold bars and electronic devices. A lawmaker, let me repeat! 

The overall outcome of this sloth or incompetence or both is a society where the most vulnerable segments are further exposed to wanton violence. Small wonder, then, that professionals want to leave the country. Why should anyone who has half a chance of migrating remain in a country where they and their loved ones are at risk? It’s not the economic issues alone that’s driving this new emigration wave. 

Not everyone can leave. Parents are understandably anxious. There are in fact at their wit’s end. What’s the plan, they want to know. Where’s the execution, they want to know.

The laws are in place. The plans are in place. Things are not getting done. And yet, things are not totally hopeless. There’s nothing to stop the President from empathising with those who are suffering and those whose anxieties have reached a critical point. Words will not do it. What’s needed are sound plans executed by professionals. If this is not done right away, the three key monsters at the gate, namely drugs, dengue and sexual abuse, will wreck havoc on one and all. Obviously this will have serious repercussions on the government and the political leadership.  

Let me repeat: dengue, drugs and sexual abuse. Three key factors that have a corrosive impact on Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans. The danger is clear. What’s done or not done will determine what Sri Lanka’s future will look like. Right now it doesn’t look at all rosy.

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