| by Victor Cherubim
( April 05, 2012, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) There is euphoria about the Olympics to be hosted in London come summer. Unlike the last Olympiad held in Athens, Greece, or the Commonwealth Games in India, where the final touches were not completed until the opening at some irrecoverable cost, the Olympic Village at Stratford, East London, is all set and ready, or as we usually say, in Sri Lanka, “okkoma set kala”.
It has been given the green light of readiness, inspected and passed as fit for purpose, by the UK Olympic Committee, as if athletes, the participants, and even the spectators are all on their marks, ready to take-off. Not a day passes further, without some innovation taking place in the Village. Not a moment too, goes unnoticed, without either of the leading Mayoral contenders with sights set for their election in May, both Labour’s Ken and Tory’s Boris, sparring literally outside the Olympic rink, – as who may deliver the laurel crown for London, after a span of some 64 odd years since its last hosting.
Months ahead of the actual opening date of 27 July 2012, the Games have perhaps come under starters’ orders. The sleepy, deserted marshes of the Lee Valley, its neighbouring townships are now ablaze with high-rise buildings. This area which sadly was once blighted by the war, has now been transformed, almost mesmerised into a fairyland, with the sparkle of light from the myriad of light bulbs adorning the Olympic Stadium at night, the buzz of activity in the grounds, on the tracks, in the pool, by day. The Westfield Shopping Mall, not far from the Village, already overcrowded with sightseers and say-the-least shoppers, who may hardly experience the double dip recession, which we are told could be round the corner, are able to throw money like confetti, as if there was no tomorrow.
What is the secret of this success? Is it real or a myth, I asked a Cockney Eastender.
What I heard will surprise anyone wishing to think of coming here.
“What with all the unemployment, the mind boggling debt, the influx of East Europeans taking our jobs, the pawnshops and the loan sharks, is there anything English in England today?” he said.
Luckily we have the Olympics to boost our spirits, better still, we have Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s Stores, with stacks of shelves to sell booze in cartons at rock bottom prices, sometimes with offers” buy one, get one free.” I wondered, whether it was a reason for the quiet enjoyment at one’s home, with the “off licence” corner shop without customers and the pub across town putting up its shutters.
What I heard, was happening in London, threw me off balance? There appears to be a thriving business outside “hole in the wall” cash-points. Gangs of out of work robbers join in tandem to fleece unsuspecting users, by cloning cash-cards, queuing up outside supermarkets, in bright daylight in the high streets, posing as would be customers, looking over the shoulders to memorise “pin numbers, for cash.
The tactics is well rehearsed, it seems, not to retrieve the cash cards that are swallowed up by cashpoint machines, but to get or “advise” users to repeatedly cancel transactions and “recommend” the well known naivety and/or the sympathies of card-users, to attempt repeatedly keying their pin numbers, in the hope of somehow securing back their lost cards.
The game-plan is, whilst customers give up and go in disgust in search for reporting the incident of loss of their cards, to the nearest bank or use their mobiles to notify their banks, the gangs are back on the prowl and use with impunity the same card- machine with “cloned “cards and the already saved pin numbers, to collect as much “dosh” as they can within minutes of the first transaction of the swallowed card.
New rules to protect citizens from not only terrorists, but also from these robber gangs have we are informed, been “kicked into the long grass.” Instead, we hear the numbers of police on the beat being reduced, in favour of undercover surveillance and the possible use of the forces and helicopters to monitor crime during the Olympics.
The comforting feeling is that there is always a Plan B up the sleeve of the UK Government for London, in time for the Olympics. It is equally the hope that there will be a Plan B for the Government of Sri Lanka, after the Geneva debacle.
The Big Stick and the Carrot policy, of those purporting to be the saviours of human rights in Sri Lanka, can and will be countered by what is reasonable and feasible to implement of the LLRC recommendations, by the Plan B of Sri Lanka, according not to the whim and fancies of the world, but what is applicable for peace and prosperity in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka may not be hosting the Olympics, but thankfully we will hope to keep our cashpoints uncloned and clean, by zero tolerance on crime.
( The writer is a freelance journalist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org )