Editorial

How about ‘One Voice’ [before ‘One country, one law’]?

Summary

You can decide, you can amend your decision, you can do a 180 degree turn, but be clear about it!

A new constitution is currently being drafted. We are yet to know what the goodies are. Well, the baddies too, if one wants to put it that way. Public recommendations have been solicited. Maybe they are pouring in. Maybe not. It’s not as though stuff like constitutions, amendments, executive powers keep the vast majority of the people awake at night.

Anyway, among the promises is a country that has a single and clear set of laws. In other words, in the spirit of the promised ‘inclusive nationalism,’ there won’t be ethnic, religion or region based laws that supersede all else.

We will have to wait on all that.  

For now, we have a problem of multiple voices. Well, it’s not always a bad thing, but when it comes to governance and policy, it can be messy. We have the Minister of Justice Ali Sabry bringing a proposal to permit burial of Muslims who have died of the coronavirus. Legit. Cabinet did not decide. Legit. Sabry either makes an incomplete statement or is misquoted. A story does the rounds regarding a decision being taken when this is not the case. Mischievous. Wimal Weerawansa, Sabry’s cabinet colleague, says ‘no cabinet decision,’ reiterating a statement issued by the Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella.

In the meantime, there’s agitation. Why special treatment for Muslims, people ask. If, for example, Buddhists went along with the overall safety protocols by submitting to restrictions of final rites (paasakoola is offered at the home of the diseased, quite a distance from the corpse), why can’t the Muslims be accommodative, it is asked.

There’s science that’s been cited and interestingly, it goes both ways: burial is risky and burial is not risky. One errs on the side of caution in pandemic situations, needless to say.  

‘If it’s all part of god’s plan and if god unleashed the virus or looked the other way while the devil did his work, if god didn’t protect the faithful and let them die, would god be upset over non-burial?’ the cynics have asked. Logic, however, is not relevant to faith or the faithful.

A decision either way will prompt objections: there are those who suspect the government is pandering to the demands of Muslims (as ‘thanks’ for voting for the 20th Amendment and in anticipation of ‘ayes’ for a new constitution) and those who will say ‘there…see…we told you…this government is racist and is all about majoritarianism.’  You can never win, that’s for sure.
It is up to the health authorities to give policy direction. The overall safety of the entire population is at stake.

Be that as it may, for better or worse, sickness or good health, in life and for life as opposed to death, CAN THE GOVERNMENT SPEAK IN ONE VOICE?

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