Needed: A memorial at Meethotamulla

Island Editorial

Japan is a predominantly Buddhist country and most of her people believe in nirvana. The generous Japanese taxpayers can rest assured that they will definitely attain the supreme bliss someday. (Non-Buddhists among them will go straight to heaven!) For, they have acquired enough merit all these years by helping the hapless Sri Lankans, who are exploited and cheated by a bunch of wily, greedy politicians who are helping themselves to public funds.

Nearly seven decades have elapsed since the British colonialists left this country, but successive governments have failed to manage even municipal waste. Besides, a heavy shower usually turns the capital into a billabong of sorts within minutes. But for generous financial assistance from friendly nations such as Japan for rehabilitating dilapidated sewers etc we would have had to wade through muck in Colombo. So much for the achievements of the governments led by the two main parties, which have finally come together and made a bigger mess of the affairs of the state! 

Theme Cartoon googled and added by TW

Luckily, the Japanese people are too considerate and solicitous to demand that their government refrain from spending their tax money to help a country which votes crooks into power and inflicts suffering on itself willingly. They cannot be unaware that Sri Lankan politicians spend colossal amounts of public funds on their luxury vehicles while begging for foreign aid. Their tolerance and munificence are praiseworthy.

It is being argued in some quarters that Japan has been so exceedingly bountiful to Sri Lanka because the latter courageously leapt to its defence in San Francisco in the aftermath of the WWII and refused reparation thus making it embarrassing for other nations to demand their pound of flesh each. That may be so, but we believe, it would have cost Japan much less to make reparation to the entire world than to provide financial assistance to this country all these decades.

No sooner had the Meethotamulla disaster occurred than Japan offered its help to manage the garbage crisis. It lost no time in rushing a team of experts, who have handed over their report to the government after studying the disaster site; they have analysed the situation and recommended ways and means of solving the problem once and for all. They have pointed out that the Japanese, too, used to protest against massive garbage dumps in the 1960s and successive governments worked hard and succeeded in solving that problem. In other words, Sri Lanka is still where Japan was half a decade ago as regards waste disposal thanks to the corruption-ridden, inefficient governments it has been burdened with.

We are not short of politicians who wrap themselves in the flag and boast of what they call their outstanding service to the nation. They never miss an opportunity to wax eloquent on the virtues of patriotism and urge others to ask what they can do for the country and not what the country can do for them. Will these great patriots explain why they have failed to tackle even the garbage problem let alone build the national economy?

Since the Meethotamulla tragedy, government leaders have been running around like headless chickens. Instead of getting their act together, they are flaying their holier-than-thou opponents, who are also responsible for the mess the country has got into.

One of the recommendations made by the visiting Japanese experts is to stabilise the Meethotamulla garbage mountain immediately to prevent another collapse and then reduce its size gradually through waste recycling etc. It behoves the government to heed expert advice and take necessary steps to mitigate the crisis.

Opinion is divided on the number of people who perished in the Meethotamulla disaster though the government says it is 32. The actual number could be higher, we reckon. We suggest that after the garbage dump is removed or reduced to a manageable level a huge memorial be erected so that not only the victims but also the monumental failure on the part of the present-day political leaders to remove garbage and ensure public safety will be remembered forever.

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