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

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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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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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