The Sunday Leader

Thoughts On Ascending Hemlines

In a rare demonstration of unanimity the wrath of the Sri Lankan nation was brought to bear on the North Western Provincial Councillor Ananda Sarath Kumara who is alleged to have punished a teacher of his daughter by making her kneel before him in the presence of others. The reverence Sri Lankans have for teachers and their contempt for politicians were shown very well in this incident. Students, teacher trade unions and all sorts of people expressed their disgust and even the president of the country phoned the teacher to express his sympathy and assure her that justice will be done.

North Western Provincial Councilor Ananda Sarath Kumara taken to court. No politician or for that matter any one has the right to impose punishments on others except by going through the due processes of the law.

Certainly no politician or for that matter any one has the right to impose punishments on others except by going through the due processes of the law. But in this case what was the politician protesting about? He apparently was angered by the order of the teacher to make his daughter lower the hem line of her uniform.

Monsoon contemplations

Being confined to our hansiputuwa by the lashing of the South West Monsoon and the absence of budget taxis and ‘phut-phuts’ to get to our water hole by noon, our thoughts drifted to fluctuating hemlines in the past six decades.

We are not being frivolous when we point out that the politician was keeping up with Sri Lankan sartorial trends in the past decades. Girls’ school uniform hemlines have been ascending from near ankle length in the fifties to very naughty levels of the present day which may have irked the prissy teacher. We wish to note the plunging necklines (not of uniforms) and rising hemlines have been the trend in sartorial fashions the world over. Therefore, technically, can the politician be faulted on the issue of hemlines? Of course we wish to reiterate that he had no business to walk into a school with thugs and make the teacher kneel down before him.

While on the subject of sartorial fashions, we caught sight of ‘Bradby Fashions’ spread across newspapers last week. Hemlines seem to be on the ascendency. Even jeans, trousers or whatever you call them seen at the Bradby were not what schoolmarms or principals would have approved. Remember some time ago certain principals ordered young mothers not to turn up in such garb at school gates to pick up their kindergarten kids?

Reid Avenue school?

While on the subject of the Bradby Shield we want to pick a bone with our fellow scribes for referring to ‘Reid Avenue boys’. For heaven’s sake, times have changed and it is no longer Reid Avenue. It has been renamed Philip Gunewardene Mawatha, after that flaming Marxist revolutionary whose children went to Royal College.

Perhaps ‘Bradby’ is easy on the tongue as ‘rugby’ or is it loyalty to an old school principal? Another point of interest was the ‘ho-ha’ about Trinity performing the ‘Hakka’ at the commencement of the game. Not an original thing at all, we thought. It seems to have infuriated some Royalists. Being from neither school but a better school we consider ourselves impartial on the issue and suggest that the Royalists do something more original such as performing a ‘Yakka’ alongside the Trinity ‘Hakka’.

Codes of ethics

The latest social affliction of Sri Lankans is the call for codes of ethics. With two codes of ethics already in the statute books for journalists a third code is being formulated. The need for a new code for journalists has not been officially explained but apparently there is some hidden purpose. There is a trite term in Sinhala that can be used for this attempt: Asbandumak – a blind fold.

Only time will reveal the sinister purpose. With another unwanted code to be imposed on them, journalists quite naturally called for a code of ethics for politicians who are the font of most evil. And now some politicians are calling for a code of ethics for themselves. A code of ethics is usually designed for particular professions giving moral guidance on how they should conduct themselves in their professional duties.

There should be an accepted professional body sitting in judgment on professional conduct. If not any code of ethics is not worth the paper it is written on. Who will sit in judgment over the conduct of politicians? There are no professional bodies, only party bosses and their henchmen who are known to have violated most ethical principles. Thus will any such code serve a purpose?

This sudden urge to call for codes of ethics reminds us of another Sri Lankan societal affliction sometime ago: The call for ‘national policies’ on a wide variety subjects. There were calls for a: National Science Policy; National Education Policy; National Health Policy etc. Some of these policies were enacted such as the National Science Policy. But has this country benefited from it at all? Science is in the doldrums. Far better than codes of ethics the government could do much better by enforcing the existing laws of the country without fear or favour.

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