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GMOF blames it all on Pavitra



Minister asked to clarify Dr. Godahewa’s claim of deliberate delay in Sinopharm use

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Government Medical Officers’ Forum (GMOF) President Dr. Rukshan Bellana says Health Minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi should accept the blame for the poor management of the health sector during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic crisis.

 Dr. Bellana, in a brief interview with The Island, yesterday (26) discussed how the mismanagement on the part of the Health Minister contributed to the rapid deterioration of the situation. “The whole operation is in chaos,” Dr. Bellana said, urging the government to take remedial measures immediately or face the consequences.

 Asked whether it was fair to hold one person responsible for whatever the shortcomings or failures when the government’s effort was being handled at different levels, including President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Army Commander General Shavendra Silva and DGHS (Director General Health Services) Dr Asela Gunawardena, Dr. Bellana emphasized the role and responsibilities of the Health Minister couldn’t be compared with that of political and military leaders.

 Referring to a statement issued by the Health Ministry on May 21, Dr. Bellana said that Minister Wanniarachchi had accused the social media of carrying out an organized campaign against the ongoing inoculation drive. Dr. Bellana questioned the Minister’s strategy in warning the social media for what she called lies and propaganda whereas the inoculation campaign was under heavy fire from many quarters.

 Dr. Bellana asked who would take the responsibility for not managing the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine? Of 1,264,000 doses (500,000 donated by New Delhi, 500,000 bought also from the same source-Serum Institute, Pune, and the rest through Covax initiative), received in three stocks up to March 7, 925,000 were used in the first round. “Now, the government is struggling to procure over 600,000 Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines at any cost. This is a joke,” Dr. Bellana said, urging the cabinet of ministers to review the Health Ministry response to the threat.

 Dr. Bellana alleged that Minister Wanniarachchi felt comfortable in dealing with the GMOA. How come the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) and Association of Medical Specialists weren’t given sufficient opportunity to take up issues or included in discussions opened for the GMOA.

 Dr. Bellana said that Minister Wanniarachchi should pave the way for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to name a new Health Minister by stepping down on her own. Recalling the then MP and Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader Udaya Gammanpila’s declaration that all ministers should be properly graded and sacked forthwith in case they failed to meet their responsibilities, Dr. Bellana said Minister Wanniarachchi should be dealt with.

 The Health Ministry said that an investigation was underway into ongoing slandering campaign undertaken by the social media. The Ministry emphasized that there is no basis for accusations that whatever the type of Covid-19 vaccines could be procured for money through Ministry officials and those close to the Minister.

 Dr. Bellana said that the Executive Committee of the GMOF after having discussed the continuing deterioration of the Covid-19 battle decided to seek President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s intervention. The GMOF alleged that (1) Minister Wanniarachchi instead of giving leadership to the health staff divided them, (2) Minister Wanniarachchi being a cat’s paw of one union (GMOF was referring to the GMOA), (3) fails to work with relevant sectors, (4) Fails to unite senior officials of the Ministry, (5) Promotes myths instead of following proper procedures (6) Paves the way for corruption in the battle against Covid-19, (7) Appoints the retired instead of those suitable serving the health service, (8) Politically victimises workers, (9) Turns a blind eye to doctors promoting lies on television and (10) turns the inoculation drive to a joke.

 Dr. Bellana said that the Health Minister should set the record straight. If the Minister believed she couldn’t perform as expected due to interference, then she should expose them.

 Dr. Bellana pointed out that State Minister Dr. Nalaka Godahewa recently acknowledged that the situation deteriorated due to nearly six weeks delay in using 600,000 Sinopharm doses in the government’s hands since March 30. Dr, Godahewa said that deaths could have been prevented if the Chinese vaccine was used in time. What would the Health Minister say to the State Minister’s statement? Was the delay deliberate as speculated by Dr Godahewa, Dr Bellana asked.

 In a letter addressed to President Rajapaksa, the GMOF, having compared those who held the Health portfolio over the past 20 years or so with the incumbent, asserted that Minister Wanniarachchi is the worst.

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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman




Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand




At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night



President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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