Entertainment guaranteed in this island paradise

It is a tragic contradiction that such a paradise can be home to individuals who care nothing for anyone or anything outside of their immediate family. 

by Stewart Sloan
The views expressed are the author's own

(December 22, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lanka, the tear-drop shaped jewel in the Indian Ocean, a paradise of warm sandy beaches, green lush mountains, sacred temples, a history going back thousands of years, and one of the most corrupt governments in the world.

It is a tragic contradiction that such a paradise can be home to individuals who care nothing for anyone or anything outside of their immediate family. An indication of the amount of the corruption might be gauged by the fact that Chandrika Bandaranaike spent more money on the curtains for her apartment in London than she earned in her entire presidency.

Anyone interested in the country and keeping abreast of the rampant corruption need to not spend months, weeks or even days in studying the local newspapers; the last 24 hours tells the interested reader all he or she might wish to know.

For example, a senior nursing officer who had been found guilty of financial fraud has been appointed as the head Nurse of a National Hospital. This is despite the fact that she had been found guilty of no less than seven charges of fraud, one of which was dropped later. In any normal society this person would have been dismissed and sent to jail in disgrace. According to the disciplinary inquiry report there is no recommendation of dismissal, she was merely "firmly advised not to engage in frauds in future".

In another case a top Government official assaulted the employees of a Night Club in Bambalapitiya Police Area and allegedly crashed into two police vehicles while escaping. Typically, as it happens in Sri Lanka, the Bambalapitiya Police has been unable to apprehend him due to undue influence from top government officials.

And yet the fun continues. In another case a Senior Inspector of Police, the Officer-in-Charge of the Nochchiyagama police, Crimes Investigations Unit, opened fire at an unlicensed restaurant because the noise from the establishment was making it difficult for his children to study. The newspaper article stated that the Inspector General of Police was aware of the case and had called for inquiries. In the meantime two questions beg answers. Why was the restaurant operating without a license and why, when the identity of the errant police officer is known, has he not been arrested for discharging his firearm in public and reckless endangerment?

And last but by no means least: university students were assaulted, stripped naked and chased through the streets during the past few days. Who did this dastardly deed? Neo-Nazi's, communist agitators, remnants of the LTTE, no, it was none other than Sri Lanka's very own Minister of Higher Education, S. B. Dissanayake. Will the students or their parents attempt to file reports at the nearest police stations? Would the reports even be accepted and if by some miracle they were, would any action be taken? I doubt it very much.

So, Dear Tourist, come, visit Sri Lanka today. But stay clear of the hospitals, nightclubs, unlicensed restaurants and universities. If nothing else it will be certainly be entertaining.

 Stewart Sloan is the author of three novels and a collection of anecdotes about the Royal Hong Kong Police Force whom he served as a civilian from 1987 to 1997. He works as an editorial assistant for a regional human rights NGO in Hong Kong.

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