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‘Health Minister’s arbitrary sacking of SLMC president, members violated all accepted norms’



by Steve A. Morrell

Two eminent professors who served as presidents of the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) at one time lashed out at Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi for arbitrarily dismissing Prof. Harendra de Silva, the head of the regulatory body and four other members of the council on “unfounded allegations”.

“The SLMC has now been victimized by political misrepresentation and relegated to professional non recognition”, says senior professors Lalitha Mendis and Colvin Gunaratne.

The Minister’s arbitrary action in sacking the president and four council members violated all accepted norms, they asserted.

“It was ultra vires (beyond the powers) and contrary to the edicts laid down in the Medical Ordinance”, they told a news conference in Colombo on Thursday.

Prof. Mendis, who was the former Dean of the Colombo University’s Medical Faculty, said the SLMC is the apex body set up in 1926 with the key objective of ensuring the public received a high standard of treatment from the country’s medical profession.

She said that the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) was trying to wrest control of the SLMC and rule the roost, which is detrimental to the independence of the statutory body.

Prof. Mendis said the Minister of Health is the appointing authority of the SLMC president and four council members for a five-year tenure. However, under no circumstances can the nominees be dismissed by the incumbent Minister.

Asked whether it was possible that the Minister’s decision was influenced by a section of medical professionals, Professor Colvin Gunaratne, said the Minister was misguided by the politics of such individuals.

Asserting that the SLMC has been victimized by the Minister, he said that attempts to seek a discussion with her (Minister) were ignored.

Three letters were sent to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on the burning SLMC issue but there was no response. An appointment was also sought with him to explain the position but it has still not been forthcoming, the eminent medical specialist said.

Two former SLMC members, Dr. Sarath Gamini Silva and Dr. Nanda Amarasekara, Professor Mohan De Silva, Dr. Ghambheera Harsichandra, Dr. Amina Liyanage and Dr. Srilal de Silva also addressed the news conference.

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Pakistan Navy ship arrives in Colombo



Pakistan Navy Ship (PNS) Taimur arrived, at the port of Colombo, on a formal visit, yesterday morning (12). The visiting ship was welcomed by the Sri Lanka Navy, in compliance with naval traditions.The 134m-long ship is commanded by Captain M. Yasir Tahir and it is manned by 169 as the ship’s complement.

The Commanding Officer of PNS Taimur is scheduled to call on Commander Western Naval Area, at the Western Naval Command Headquarters, today. The ship is expected to remain in the island, until 15th August, and the crew of the ship will take part in several programmes, organized by the Sri Lanka Navy, to promote cooperation and goodwill between the two navies.

PNS Taimur is also expected to conduct a naval exercise with the Sri Lanka Navy in western seas on its departure on 15th August.

Meanwhile, PNS Tughril, an identical warship belonging to the Pakistan Navy, arrived in Sri Lanka on an official visit on 13th December 2021 and conducted a successful naval exercise with SLNS Sindurala off the western coast on 16th December. Naval exercises of this nature with regional navies will enable each partner to overcome common maritime challenges in the future, through enhanced cooperation.

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Stalin reads riot act to govt. over proposal to allow schoolchildren to work part time



By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Alliance of Trade Unions and Mass Organisations yesterday warned that the government’s decision to allow schoolchildren, between the ages of 16 and 20, to work part time, would have disastrous consequences.Addressing the media on 11 Aug., General Secretary of the Ceylon Teachers’ Union, Joseph Stalin, said that the government was planning to amend laws, allowing schoolchildren to work in the private sector for 20 hours a week.

“Now, this may look like a progressive idea. A lot of families are

struggling and if another family member can chip in, it would be a great help. I am sure a lot of children feel the same way. It is also true that there may be children who will find great jobs and horn their skills,” he said.However, these proposals have come at a time when education is in crisis and the schools are on the verge of collapse.

“During the last two and a half years, most children have learnt nothing. But children who go to elite schools are doing better. These schools have systems in place, but most others don’t. Children who do not go to tier one schools have suffered and most children who do not go to such elite schools will not find part time work that will prepare them for the jobs of the future,” he said. “It’s not easy to balance school work with vocation training, especially physically intensive work. Most people will drop out and social mobility will further stagnate. Fix the education system first and create a more level playing field,” Stalin said.

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Harsha: Will RW use Emergency to steamroller his economic reforms?



By Saman Indrajith

SJB MP Harsha de Silva yesterday asked President Ranil Wickremesinghe whether the latter was planning to use Emergency powers to suppress the people who might oppose his economic reform agenda.

“It is being asked why the government wants to continue the State of Emergency. The anti-government protesters have gone home. There is no unrest. There are those who say that the President wants to keep the Emergency laws to carry out economic reforms. Does that mean the President will use these laws to scare people into submission if they do not accept his economic reforms? I don’t think people can be intimidated. I want the President to answer this question,” he said.

MP de Silva said that the government did not have public support and that it was obvious that the spectre of the Rajapaksas was haunting the government.

“I agree that Wickremesinghe was appointed constitutionally. We have to work within the Constitution. However, the 134 votes he received on 20 July were not realistic. They have managed to manipulate the Constitution, but the government doesn’t have the support of the people. The problem is can the government win the support of the people,” he said.The SJB lawmaker added that Sri Lanka needed to restructure its debt. However, the country had not even started the process.

“One of the consultants we hired, Lazard, says that we have to start with China because it is new to debt restructuring. But we have not done so. Not only that, we have in fact started a diplomatic issue with China. What’s the front page news today? Can this government solve this sensitive international issue? Can it carry out the necessary economic reforms?” he asked.

MP de Silva said that the government had to work with the people and that it had to be honest with them. The government needed to present a common programme on which an all party government could be established.

“In 2020, we said that the government was on the wrong path and that we needed to seek IMF assistance. The government didn’t listen. We need an all-party programme to go before the IMF and get a decent deal. Today, I present to Parliament an economic recovery plan we have prepared. When we decided to throw our weight behind SLPP MP Dullas Alahapperuma, I was entrusted with the task of making an economic plan. We have run it through experts too. I ask the MPs to look at this and suggest improvements.”

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