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Jasinghe’s sudden exit as DGHS raises eyebrows: No word on successor yet

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BY SURESH PERERA

The out-of-the-blue exit of Dr. Anil Jasinghe as the Director-General of Health Services (DGHS) has left Sri Lanka’s top-most medical administrative position vacant at a critical time concerted Covid-19 preventive measures are in place to thwart a possible second wave of the dreaded disease, officials said.

The unexpected move to foist Jasinghe, a seasoned medical administrator, as Secretary to the Environment Ministry, has raised eyebrows particularly in the backdrop of the full-blown campaign he spearheaded to keep the nation safe during the dark days of the near two-month lockdown.

“Jasinghe has been kicked upstairs”, health officials chuckled.

“What can a top-notch Specialist Consultant cum medical administrator, who has proven his mettle as the power behind the anti Covid-19 thrust, do in the midst of environmentalists?”, they asked.

It is true that being appointed Secretary to a Ministry translates into a promotion, but a senior medical administrator should have been considered for a job where his expertise and professionalism could have made a meaningful contribution especially at a time the country is facing a grave health crisis, they noted.

It is being whispered in the Health Ministry’s corridors that Jasinghe’s spectacular rise as the ‘man of the match’ during the height of the corona pandemic didn’t go down well amongst those who believe in finding ways of not doing what should be done, officials asserted.

Jasinghe, who served as the director of the Colombo South Teaching Hospital and the National Hospital of Sri Lanka at one time, was instrumental in establishing the Trauma Secretariat under the Ministry of Health and became its Founder Head. The formation of the Secretariat paved the way for a systematic approach in management of trauma.

The next-in-line for the top DGHS slot is Dr. Amal Harsha De Silva, a Specialist Consultant, who is the senior-most medical administrator with 35 years plus in the service.

However, as De Silva has still not been named as the successor even a week after Jasinghe’s exit, there is speculation that another aspirant is being earmarked for the top job, the officials claimed.

De Silva, who now serves as a senior Deputy Director General of Health (DDG), has the distinction of initially working in hospitals in the periphery and later serving as Provincial Director and Regional Director in the health service.

“His wide exposure as a medical administrator remains unparalleled, but the million dollar question is whether he will be given what he deserves”, the officials said.



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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?

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… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.

 

 

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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others

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The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.

 

 

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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area

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Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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