Update: parts of this are stupid. Apparently paperwork for dead people is important. Who knew. Important for pensions, property, and closure, by the way.
Sri Lanka has government television. Not GOTV as in Fox News or Sinclair Broadcasting. Those are both private enterprises that just happen to follow the GOvernment Party talking points. Rupavahini, on the other hand is physically owned by the Government. I don’t watch Rupuvahini, but today I picked up the Sunday Leader and the story just made me sick. The Government is apparently slanting its news to pretend that President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (Queen B for short) was in charge after the Tsunami. In reality the Queen was 1) out of the country and 2) useless when the Tsunami hit. What did she do? Declare a holiday, hold meetings, and create paperwork for dead people.
This is from the Sunday Leader and based on unsourced leaks, so take with salt. The story, however, is unsurprising.
“The government has decided to block and monitor all statements made to the media by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe regarding the tsunami disaster or the relief operations that follow, highly placed senior government sources said.
Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera who announced the decision last Wednesday to his officials at a closed door meeting at his ministry has further ordered the Media Monitoring Unit [wtf?] that functions under his ministry to strictly monitor the publicity given be the state media to the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) [a loose translation is Racist Commie Bastards].
At this meeting Samaraweera had informed the officials that the objective of this exercise was to promote the idea [idea as in ‘something that is not real’] that it was President Kumaratunga who spearheaded the relief operation immediately after the tsunami [by phone from London?] and not Prime Minister Rajapakse along with Wickremesinghe as mentioned in most of the private media [because it’s true].”
If we’re going by the party line, let’s see what the government website has to say. The PRIU (Presidents Resource, blah blah, wasting time, meetings Unit) is commendable for giving school-children the chance to learn HTML by designing their website.
On her way back from the airport the President flew over the affected areas to personally view the severity of the devastation. She also ordered the immediate release of Rs. 90 million from the treasury for relief work in nine districts.
President Kumaratunga met with the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse, Ministers Ratnasiri Wickremanayake and Ferial Ashraff ministry secretaries, service chiefs and the IGP where she was briefed of the situation. In a separate meeting the President met the Leader of the Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe and leaders of political parties.
Friday, December 31 has been declared a National Day of Mourning with multi religious services planned.
Further the Ministry of Justice has made arrangements to lay to rest the bodies of unidentified persons. Before the burials these persons will be photographed, finger printed and allocated a number.
The Justice Ministry has arranged with the Air Force to provide air transport to all City Coroners to the affected areas such as Galle, Matara, Hambantota, Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Jaffna to make the judicial pronouncements after consultation with the local Police authorities before the burials.
So, let’s parse this article. These are the decisive actions the Queen took upon her arrival in Sri Lanka.
- Took a tour
- Spent Money
- Called Meetings
- Declared a Holiday
- Created Paperwork for Dead People
- Dispatched Emergency Coroners to officially kill people
This is Chandrika Banadaranaike Kumaratunga in charge. Endless meetings, holidays, and paperwork for dead people. Her first real action was to give each dead person a photograph, fingerprint file and a number. Why don’t we get the dead bodies off the beach first? If I’m dead and someone comes at me with one more form to fill out then I am definitely in hell.
The last thing Sri Lanka needed at that point was meetings and paperwork. Sri Lanka needed action. The Queen had to to take the government response to inept to absurd by not only creating useless paperwork, but creating useless paperwork for people that were already dead. I guess the Tsunami didn’t fill out the proper forms. I think you need a B15 to destroy Galle. Why not put doctors on those flights? Where is the food, water and shelter? At least she declared a holiday. I think I’ll go to the beach.
Here’s a little quote from the Sydney Morning Herald about Chandrika’s innovative disaster management plan – Cover Ass. Call Meeting. Repeat.
Sri Lanka’s President, Chandrika Kumaratunga, has been given a low score, too. “I’d rate her a B+ so far, and that’s because I had low expectations,” says one senior foreign diplomat in Colombo [At University I think she would get a C-]. Kumaratunga was visiting London when the tsunami hit. On her return, one of her first moves was to demand that her Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapakse, stop grabbing the limelight by touring affected areas. Her brother, Anura Bandaranaike, responsible for tourism – a sector devastated by the tsunami – remains overseas, and his duties have been temporarily reassigned.
Kumaratunga has established no fewer than three committees to co-ordinate recovery and rehabilitation planning. Their precise responsibilities seem to overlap. Colombo’s response took several days to evolve after the disaster, with its operations centre only becoming fully operational four days after the tsunami. “I wish, even now, there would be less meetings, fewer task forces and more action,” says Jezimma Ismail, the chancellor of a university in one of the hardest hit areas, Batticaloa.
Despite these shortcomings, I think that Queen Kumaratunga can still be of great assistance to Sri Lanka. A few thousand years ago Sri Lanka was hit by a Tsunami type event, causing havoc to the coastline. The King Kelani-Tissa spoke with his astrologer and ascertained that the destruction was punishment for his having killed a monk years ago. In order to pay for his sins and save his people the King had to give what was most precious to him as an offering to the Sea. His daughter. The Princess Vihara Maha Devi was but on a boat and sent out to sea. The sea water, which had flowed into the city of Kelaniya, immediately receded.
Maybe Chandrika should take a little cruise.