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




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.


Foreign qualified medical students protest



A group of foreign medical degree holders protested opposite the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (23) requesting that tangible measures be taken to conduct the Examination for Registration to Practice Medicine (ERPM) without further delay.

They alleged that over 1,500 students had been deprived of the opportunity to sit the examination due to the fault of the Sri Lanka Medical Council, which is now under investigation by a committee, appointed by Health Minister Pavitra Wanniarachchi.

Photo: A section of the protesting students (pic by Thushara Atapattu)

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SJB insists referendum necessary besides 2/3 majority in Parliament



Supreme Court moved against 20A

By Chitra Weerarathne

General Secretary of the Samagi Jana Balavegaya Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, yesterday (23) filed a petition in the Supreme Court stating that the proposed 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution was inconsistent with the Constitution. It requires a two-thirds majority in Parliament and approval by people at a referendum for passage, the SJV has argued.

The SJB says 20A violates people’s sovereignty and franchise enshrined in Article (3) and (4) of the Constitution.

The petitioner has argued that the provisions in clause 55 of the Bill are inconsistent with the public trust doctrine and the principle of checks and balances and would prejudicially affect public finance.

 The clause 54 of the Bill seeks to repeal Article 156 A of the Constitution, which provides constitutional recognition to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or corruption, the petition says.

 The petition says 20A seeks to repeal the prohibition on dual citizens being elected to Parliament and to the post of President.

The power of the Auditor General to audit the state institutions has been curtailed, the petition says, arguing that it could be detrimental to the economy.

It will be detrimental to the country if the Constitutional Council is replaced by a Parliamentary Council, the SJB General Secretary’s has contended in his petition.

Clause 20 (2) of the proposed 20A has restricted the powers of the Election Commission as regards the conduct of elections, the petitioner has argued.

The 20A states that an omission by the President could no longer be challenged through a fundamental rights violation petitions in the Supreme Court, the petitioner has said, adding that the Bill seeks to further enhance the powers of the President by allowing him to unilaterally remove the Prime Minister. The President would not be accountable to Parliament, the petition says.

The 20A would repeal Article 70/ (1) of the Constitution and enable the President to dissolve Parliament even immediately after a general election, the SJB General Secretary argues.

The respondent to the petition is the Attorney General.

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Lawyer Hijaz’s foundation received funds from banned foreign outfit – CID tells court



By A.J.A.A beynayake and Kasuni Rebecca

The CID yesterday informed the Colombo Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage that Save the Pearls Trust run by lawyer Hijaz Hisbullah, now in custody for allegedly aiding and abetting one of the Easter Sunday bombers, had received Rs.13 million from a banned organisation named the Caliphate of Qatar.

The CID told court that according to the bank accounts of the trust the money had been received by it during the last few years and the police had launched an investigation to ascertain whether the funds had been used for terrorist activities.

The CID told court the investigation had been launched under the Money Laundering Act and a psychologist’s opinion had been sought on the book titled “Navarasam” found in a madrasa (school teaching Islam) run by Save the Pearls Trust in Puttalam.

The Magistrate order the CID to submit to court a Sinhala translation of the book and examine whether the contents of the book promoted terrorism.

The case will be taken up again on October 7.

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