Memory loss, balconies and toilet doors -- only in Sri Lanka
| by Stewart Sloan
( July 12, 2013, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka Guardian) There is one thing you can say about Sri Lanka and that is, just when you think things cannot get any stranger they do! Recent stories in the newspaper would appear to bear this out.
Perhaps not the strangest of news was the recent report from the inquiry into the shooting of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, allegedly by Duminda Silva. In giving evidence one of the Police Constables present at the scene of the shooting testified that he had 'heard' that after Duminda shot Premachandra he then shot himself in the head after "brutally assaulting a woman". Talk about a busy schedule, what stamina the man must have! And what on earth was the Magistrate doing by allowing hearsay evidence. Under normal circumstances, in any jurisdiction, hearsay evidence will only be accepted in the case of a dying declaration. Perhaps the fact that the Constable had dared to testify affectively signed his death warrant?
Then of course we have to look at the miraculous recovery of Duminda himself. A few months ago the lawyers representing him at the inquiry reported that several eminent physicians stated that he was grievously ill and partially paralysed. They reported that his brain function was down to 40% and full recovery was not expected. Perhaps this was why Mahinda Rajapaksa allowed him to re-enter parliament. Apparently the loss of 60% of his brain is not considered a barrier to him fulfilling his functions as a Sri Lankan politician. It might also explain as to why he was seen disco dancing at a local nightclub. Let's face it, at his age what man in his right mind would be seen disco dancing?
Moving on; one of the most recent stories to hit the press was that of the Sri Lankan cricketer, Ramith Rambukwella, trying to open the door of a British Airway airplane in mid-flight in the belief that it was the toilet. Hmmm, I would have thought that the difference was quite obvious but who am I to say. Despite the fact that I get drunk on a regular basis I have never had any trouble distinguishing the toilet door from the front door, but then, I'm Scottish. Several reports hit the press simultaneously: he was drunk, he was not drunk just confused, and saving the best one for last: he was sleepwalking. Ramith Rambukwella is of course the son of the Minister for Mass Media and Information, Keheliya Rambukwella who was himself in the news a few months ago. On a business trip to Australia Daddy managed to drink himself into a stupor and found that he'd locked himself out of his hotel room. He decided to climb over the balcony of the adjoining room to let himself back in. Unfortunately he was in such a state that he fell. Fortunately he was only on the second floor so he survived with only a broken leg. He is currently prosecuting the hotel management for incompetency.
There have been reports that Sri Lanka Cricket is considering an inquiry and action against Ramith for causing embarrassment to the sport and the team but in a country where the President's son was allowed to beat up a referee and get away with it I don't think Ramith has anything to worry about.
So, like father like son. Let's just hope they never travel together, I don't think the airline or hotel industries could handle the shock.
Stewart Sloan is the author of four 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.