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Lady Ridgeway Hospital: A haven for sick children in Sri Lanka

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125 YEAR BIRTH ANNIVERSARY:

By Dr. B. J. C. Perera

Specialist Consultant Paediatrician

I wrote an article in The Island newspaper, under the aforesaid title, 12 years ago, on Monday 09th June 2008. I have retained that title but content of this article is different. It’s worth looking at this hospital from a more current perspective particularly since the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children (LRH) is celebrating its 125-year jubilee in October 2020.

The LRH had very humble beginnings. At the outset, 125 years ago, it was constructed from public donations; rupees 46,000/- to be exact, as a small 50 bedded hospital. Lo and behold, today, this magnificent edifice, with over 1,000 beds, is the largest children’s hospital in the world, I repeat, in the whole world. It has stood the test of time as the final port of call and a veritable haven for sick children of our homeland. It is the National Referral Centre for this entire nation. The hospital functions sans any and every mundane consideration such as ethnicity, caste, creed and wealth of children who are brought there. This glorious medical facility is one that is solely devoted to sick children. If there is anything fanciful that is needed to be done in Sri Lanka for a sick child, it could be done in this hospital. It now caters to every type of malady that affects children. You name any specialty for the care of a sick child; it is available here. Everything is provided entirely free-of-charge and it is the crowning glory and the feather in the cap of the paediatric component of our Free National Health Service, the pride of Sri Lanka.

 

To date, I have been a doctor for exactly 50 years and a Specialist Consultant Paediatrician for 42 years. Out of that long period of half a century of service to the nation, I have spent 16 years in the hospitals of Kandy, Badulla, Ratnapura, Kurunegala and Kalubowila. Compared to that, and in contrast, I have worked in the Lady Ridgeway Hospital, in different capacities, for a total of 17 years. My service at LRH culminated with my retirement from the Ministry of Health in 2007. In lighter vein, I have been properly ‘themparadufied’ in our health sector, both public and private. I have most definitely, seen it all.

Those really were the days, around half a century ago, when during my medical student apprenticeship and internship, I saw how Mother Nature used to take the lives of our children with all kinds of infectious diseases. The wards at LRH were full with cases of meningitis, pneumonia, whooping cough, diphtheria, polio, diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera, measles, tetanus, tuberculosis, chicken pox, hepatitis, amoebiasis and even rabies. In fact, this is a list of just only a few of them. Add to it, the ravages of under-nutrition leading to marasmus and kwashiorkor, extensive vitamin and micronutrient deficiencies and major uncorrectible congenital heart abnormalities, and what did we have? A hospital bursting at its seams with sick children. It was practically a place that spelt out the real meaning of human susceptibility to disease and even mortality. During certain times it was indeed a bit of a hell on earth. The deaths were totalling up to some very significant numbers. By today’s standards, they had very few things they could do for intractable heart failure, liver failure and kidney failure. All types of paediatric malignancies and cancers were practically untreatable. The doctors and Specialist Consultants, as well as all other grades of staff of yore fought as hard as ever, tooth and nail, to save all those severely ill children who were brought to the LRH. However, most unfortunately and ever so very often, to no avail whatsoever. The dice was dreadfully loaded against those unfortunate children, as well as against the healthcare workers who had to look after them. In those halcyon days, each ward had a Consultant, a Senior House Officer and just two interns; a totally inadequate number of medical personnel to cater to the intense daily needs. Work was absolutely horrendous. It was not unusual to see many dead bodies of ill-fated children being wheeled out of the wards regularly, day in and day out. It was such a distressing and depressing landscape. There was hardly any light at the end of the tunnel. Yet for all that, the staff fought on bravely and relentlessly to save the precious lives of little children. To their eternal credit, they managed to save quite a few of the very seriously ill ones too.

Then, over many a decade, especially over the last few of them, the tide gradually turned. Successful vaccination almost totally removed some of the deaths and disabilities caused by a plethora of nasty infections. Many medical advances provided ways and means of dealing with former killer diseases. Improvements in heart surgery made it possible to treat at least a majority of congenital heart defects. When I finally reached the out-and-out hub of Paediatrics, which LRH was, in 1995, as a Specialist Consultant in charge of a unit, just about 25 years after my own internship at LRH, the scenery and settings had changed so much and well beyond belief that it was almost unrecognisable. In my ward I even had the absolute luxury of the services of a Senior Registrar, one who just needed two further years of training abroad before becoming a Consultant, four Postgraduate Registrars waiting to sit for the Final MD in Paediatrics Examination and four intern house physicians. The academic level of all those individuals who cared for my patients was absolutely top-class. They were right up-to-date in the sphere of scholarly paediatrics. They were all very fine and dedicated young doctors who would never ever allow a child to die without a steadfast and committed fight.

The advances in surgery were almost unbelievable. To top it all, around the time that I finally reached LRH as a Specialist Consultant, we had the services of several very fine Paediatric Surgeons whose handiwork in the Operating Theatres were almost too good to be true. Some of the recoveries from incredible surgical tragedies were really like those from the pages of volume of fiction. They were the work of gifted artists who wielded the scalpel with telling effect. One little anecdote that comes to mind is the surgical prowess of one particular general surgeon in lung operations. He was, and still is, quite a maestro at it. In those days that I was in charge of a unit, because of my personal interest in childhood respiratory disorders, we used to get quite a number of children with major lung problems which sometimes needed expert surgery. The usual practice was to send them off to the Colombo General Hospital Thoracic Unit for surgery. Lung surgery in children is a very tricky business. Things could go wrong at the drop of a hat. I somehow got to know that this particular young surgeon at LRH was so very good at it and I used to plead with him to get the surgery done at LRH itself. I used to say “Aney, please, please, PLEASE.., do it for me as a personal favour”. The very fine man that he was, and still is for that matter, he never ever refused. He has surgically taken off lobes of lungs and even the whole lung sometimes of my ill patients. True to life, those children recovered without any problems in about a week to 10 days. We never had even a single death after extensive lung surgery. They went home to a normal fruitful life and an entirely normal life-span. Just for the record, one could remove a major portion of the two lungs and still be able to lead a normal life with even a well-functioning half a lung. When I used to thank the surgeon profusely for doing it for me, he used to just smile and even feel a bit embarrassed.

It was all in a day’s work for him but for us, it was an absolute life-saver for our patients. In fact, that surgeon is still in active service at LRH. That is the quality of the Paediatric Surgeons that we have even today, with no exceptions whatsoever. Their commitment is truly wonderful. They will not let an unfortunate child suffer unnecessarily. They will fight on with every available means, daytime as well as well into the middle of the night, to save the lives of children to whom they had practically committed their professional lives. I have seen with my own eyes, these surgical colleagues leaving their families and their own little children at home to come to LRH in the middle of the night to perform life-saving surgical operations on our little patients.

Now, fast forward to 2020!!!! After my retirement in 2007, I now work only in the Private Sector and there are several instances where I have had to send patients to LRH for further investigation and treatment. One particular little tale comes to mind rather forcefully. A frantic mother of one of my regular patients telephoned me around mid-day, just about a couple of weeks ago because her little pre-schooler had taken an overdose of some medicines. My immediate advice over the phone was “please do not take the child anywhere other than to LRH. Do not go to any other place but rush him to LRH. Do not even bring him to me. I am just asking you to take the child to the very best place in the whole island”. They rushed him there and the staff attended to him pronto. He had what we call a stomach-wash performed on him, then they instilled some activated charcoal into the stomach, did some baseline blood tests and kept him in the ward. He did not turn even a hair and recovered within a couple of days. Incidentally, I think the mother threw my name around a bit and when the Consultant of the ward got to know, he had said “I trained under Dr BJC and we have done exactly what he would have done in the circumstances”. He was one of my Postgraduate Registrars and it was extremely nice of him to say those things. Of course, the mother and the relatives of the child were ever so pleased.

There were many other patients whom I had sent to LRH over several years and I have always asked them how it was at LRH when they came to me again. Every single time the mothers have said “It was a bit inconvenient for us but the child got star-class treatment and that really is what matters” or something basically to that effect. It has always warmed the cockles of my heart to hear such complimentary statements. My heart and soul have always been with LRH and anything unsavoury and disparaging said about that hospital would really hurt me to the core. We did care so much for the little children admitted under us and it is so good to see that those who have come after us do care as much, and are dedicated to the cause of providing the very best possible care for the patients as well.

Well, the Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children, the mother of all hospitals in our resplendent isle, is 125 years old. If walls could talk, the walls of LRH would have all kinds of stories to tell. She would say how she had seen the worst of many diseases that affected children and also how things have changed over a century and a quarter of her existence. She would have a perpetual smile on her face in view of the progress achieved in caring for sick children, especially over the last few decades.

The lady needs to be feted and acclaimed on her 125th Birth Anniversary. The administrative staff, the doctors and all other grades of workers of LRH have planned a fitting celebration for her on the 01st of October 2020. In a glittering ceremony due to be graced by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and Minister of Health of Sri Lanka Pavithra Wanniarachchi MP; they will acknowledge the priceless role played by LRH towards the healthcare of Sri Lankan Children. The ceremony will include the laying of the foundation stone for a new nine-storey building, opening of the new bone marrow transplant unit, opening of the new Operation Theatre Complex, official issuing of the hospital logo, formal release of the hospital song written by Dr. Rathnasri Wijesinghe with music compiled by Dr. Rohana Weerasinghe, and the commissioning of the new website for the hospital. These latest developments would help to make an excellent place for sick children, even a little bit of a better place for them.

All these would be a fitting and splendid accolade to an illustrious medical facility that is absolutely like no other. May she go from strength to strength and continue to be a dazzling beacon of excellence in healthcare for our children in this Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

Viva Lady Ridgeway Hospital, please do take a bow on your 125-year Birth Anniversary. It is the very least you so richly deserve, for the commitment that you have shown for the sick children of our beautiful Motherland. You are indeed a majestic haven of excellence for them.

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Neuro-science that underlies Buddhist philosophy

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Dr Channa Ratnatunga

Buddhist philosophy does not mention the Brain, only the mind or citta. It does not mean that the organ i.e. the brain was unknown at the time. Recorded in the Maha-Vagga, ’the book of Discipline’ of the Tripitaka, one Jeevaka Kohombacha a reputed physician was trephining the skull, presumably to drain blood accumulated within the skull. He would have known how it could affect brain/mind function.

In the Western front, it was Galen who was thought to be the 1st to attempt changing the existent opinion, in 200AD; he held that it was the brain and not the heart that was the seat of ‘intelligence’.

We have now moved on far beyond. I thought it appropriate to place Buddhist philosophy on a more scientific footing by correlating it with current Neuro-biology of Neuroscience. The data is both subjective and objective as a science.

‘The Reptilian Brain ’

A portion of the brain of all vertebrates, becoming more prominent in mammals, more than birds and reptiles is the reptilian brain. It is now described as the Limbic system. It deals with a whole lot of reflexes which deals with survival. For a species, the typical instinctual behaviours are involved with it: flight-fight reaction, aggression, dominance, territoriality and ritual displays. In mammals, specially the higher groups, which include Chimpanzees, Gorillas and man, it subscribes to most emotional responses for survival, procreation and other basic needs of fulfillment i.e. of thirst and hunger. Links through the hormones and the autonomic nervous system, permits fulfillment of the different roles it is responsible for.

Structurally they are constituted by the sensorial input through the Thalamus (other than smell), Hippocampus, Amygdala, hypo-thalamus and the Cingulate Gyrus of the Brain (see diagram) below.

All emotional responses, are kept controlled by the pre-frontal cortex often described as ‘the leader of the Orchestra’.

Hence inbuilt into all of us by millennia of selection are reflexes for survival. Social anthropology teaches us that security of survival is enhanced by belonging to a society. After all, we are inbuilt to be, a social animal. Dominance in the society, needs suppression of competition to get the cream of both the spoils for; food and procreation. Both Tribalism and a hierarchy, is born and needs to be sustained. Anger, greed, theft, promiscuity and other ill-gotten traits are hence a part of our inbuilt armamentarium. Most are inherited by being installed on our limbic system (in the human brain). The degree of pre frontal lobe control to keep checked these primitive urges is what Buddhist philosophy is all about.

Current studies of neuroscience, using; functional MRI and other imaging and electrical recording procedures have shown that Mindful Meditation enlarges the prefrontal cortex (i.e. more cells, synapses in this area) of the brain. Mindfulness skills are now recognized in the west, as premium in many areas of human endeavour. In fact, it is hailed as the ‘way to go for evolution for the human kind!

As long as we have the Limbic system installed for survival, we will continue to volitionally (think, speak and act) behave to survive, permitting the karmic energy to be formed. Maybe the survival apparatus was installed to maintain sentient life-forms in the universe, a part of nature (could even be a natural law i.e. like gravitation). The Buddha discovered it and showed a way to avoid it, so securing avoidance of karmic generation.

With this background permit me to speculate on the philosophy we have tried to give a more solid scientific background.

The ultimate truth of human existence, we all seek: the ultimate reality, has to be within Nature, bound by laws, known and; as yet unknown that govern it.

Nature as we know it consists of the physical universe as we know it, the dark matter we are not yet familiar with, energy and dark energy associated with it and the sentient life forms that inhabit, so far in at least on our planet.

Science so far has not made inroads into the nature of sentient life forms, other than to define their detailed physical structure, the nature of their behaviour, their evolution by natural selection (Darwin). It is not known what forces form life forms; why they grow? Why the varied circumstances of their individual existence; what their designated purpose is and where they go after death. Into this vacuum, walks religion!

Having said this, all the tribalistic institutions, ceremonies, incantations, etc. that have since developed around a variety of prophets, are at best, a means of keeping man, a social animal, controlled. Society is competitive and to maintain a semblance organization within, laws have to be promulgated. The unknown, have at various times been deified, i.e. the sun, fire, a creator, a destroyer, etc. The Latin saying by Petronius; ‘Timor primus in Orbe, Deos fecit’ (Fear caused Gods first on Earth) has much to say for itself, as does the pithy advice of the Persian philosopher poet Omar-Khayam, referring to the sky and presumably deities, ‘lift not thy hands to it for help, as it rolls impotently on as thou and I’. Security offered by herd behaviour of a tribe, or as offered by supernatural power or being, in trying circumstances is a human need and faith helps. Religion Modern society needs to be re-thought, as to its place.

Returning to the subject of this essay, Newton (Laws of Motion), Einstein (Laws of Gravity), Maxwell (Laws of Electro-Magnetism), the strong and weak force of atomic structure, and others have propounded physical laws for, that govern matter and the known energy forms that exist in the Universe. Based on the accuracy of the application of such laws, man has set foot on the moon. Science prides itself on accuracy and being evidence-based.

If sentient life-forms too are part of nature, the detailed laws have yet to be postulated by science. Unlike the study of matter, a need to understand the ‘nature of existence of life-forms’ has not yet been undertaken by the scientific community. After all, survival and procreation to live on the harsh environment that exists at the time seems to be their only purpose.

To hypothesise, speculatively, could it be that Siddhartha Gautama, by meditative practice of a high order, enlarging his pre-frontal cortex of the brain, broke into ‘the insightful realization of how life forms are governed: it’s laws in nature’.

As evidence-based data has to be adduced for this possibility, I will now place evidence, as to these conclusions, speculative no doubt.

It is claimed that he realised the truth of reincarnation, i.e. rebirth, samsara and the sorrow. We sow and we reap, and the Karmic law will enact Samsara for eons to come.

Rebirth will account for the protean differences that exist in human form, circumstances, talents, life events (Narada Mahathera’s text reproduced in The Island last Poya Day (01 Oct). Stevenson’s1 detailed scientific enquiry on children who could recollect past lives, birth marks attributed to trauma provides anecdotal evidence.

The scientific value of past life regression (PLR) by psychiatrists using hypnosis on selected subjects, Near Death Experiences (NDE) is difficult to assess. For instance, it has been shown that diminished blood flow to the brain as experienced in certain circumstances can simulate NDE.

This leaves the practising Buddhist to focus on meditation to see the veracity of the truth of rebirth. That rebirth is sorrow, I think can be realized, as death in most life forms be it animal or insect, is painful. According to Buddhism, to be born in a human life-form with pre-frontal decision making ability is a great opportunity to negate rebirth and sorrow. This opportunity is yours.

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What’s the Plan?

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We have a new government in Aotearoa; we even have a Sri Lankan born MP! The landslide victory of her party was so marked that some said that even an inanimate object put up as a candidate for the labour party, under Jacinda magic, would have won. Not fair methinks on this young lady who apparently worked her electorate very hard. There is a celebratory dinner to be held for her next month. I look forward to attending that and gleaning a few more facts for my readers. On the other hand I may be banned by the cohorts of her countrymen forming barriers (protective or offensive) around her.

So, the new Government has big plans. Improve the availability of houses, especially for first home buyers since the National Party when they governed allowed foreign investors to buy up multiple properties with small deposits and then making the tenants effectively pay the mortgage, creating a massive shortage of houses. There was also a rather grandiose plan named Kiwibuild that was supposed to “create houses” at low cost and in no time for those who desperately needed them. There is also Child poverty in NZ, believe it or not. Ranging from children not having lunches to take to school, to not having shoes to wear to school and older children leaving school early to work and earn money to support their families. This of course almost exclusively among the Maori and Pacific Islander communities.

Unemployment is also rampant Covid19 is being touted as the excuse but to be frank we were heading for an economic slump before Covid in Aotearoa. This level of unemployment is blamed on the work ethic or lack thereof among the Maori and Pacific Island communities but there is a deeper connotation to this. It was recently found out that the big fishing companies in NZ have been flying in crews for their trawlers from Russia for 25 years! These fishermen fly in during the Russian Winter and crew on the massive sea going trawlers. This was only highlighted because a whole lot of these fisher folk got Covid 19 while in quarantine. The official story is that for 25 years they have been unable to train or find people who can work on these ships from among the people in NZ. If you buy that, I’ll throw the harbour bridge in free!

What is pretty obvious is that big business in NZ is allowed to prosper regardless of the economic implications of them doing so. They are allowed to use and employ foreign sources purely on a profitability basis with no concern for the domestic economy or the strengthening of same. There are lots of semi monopolies, supermarkets being a prime example. All the major supermarkets are owned by two parent companies. Is it a wonder that groceries are so ridiculously expensive in NZ when compared to Australia? Are we denizens of Aotearoa really expected to believe that an oligopolistic enterprise is charging fair prices? Let’s hope the Labour Government with its huge majority that we have just appointed, looks into these matters.

The thing about the traditional Kiwi is that they spend money. They do not save everything to be able to give houses to their children or dowries! Now that they are “trapped” in their islands, they are spending the money they would have used for foreign travel for domestic tourism. They are also spending on improving their houses and property and of course retail therapy. The NZ economy is still not floundering. In fact, it is buzzing, how long that will last is of course the multi-billion-dollar question!

The Pearl doesn’t look that good does it? No income from the housemaids, tourism at a standstill and even the garment factories under fire. The big hotels are closed except for those who have

been able to wrangle a contract to house those being quarantined. I know for a fact the tragedy of the boutique hotels and other mid-sized tourism ventures. All forms of spending must be curtailed, so, the “wheeler” drivers must be destitute. I don’t even want to think about those paying off leases and mortgages.

Now I see many articles to the papers these days. Written by people with qualifications that would take up the first 500 words of the articles I write, and designations that would account for the balance, size of my articles I mean. Some write them like scientific dissertations, other dabble in humour and innuendo, however I have read nothing so far that has any content that shows us a pathway out of the economic morass that the Pearl is in.

Borrowing has its limits and it has connotations that scare the living daylights out of me. Printing money can of course go on and be used to pay wages in the grossly overstaffed Government institutions that are currently closed and distribute largesse to the selected few. If there are any younger readers of what I write, do you know that the Sri Lanka Currency was Rs15 = US$1, when I started working. Can you even believe it? The last time I checked I was not a thousand years old!

How are we going to stop chaos and mayhem hitting the streets? When people cannot feed their families what are they going to do? WHAT IS THE PLAN? If we are going to grow our own food in our back gardens, use our hotels as storage facilities for the produce, re-export and sell off all those ludicrously expensive automobiles that our politicians gad around in, sell our elephants to zoos, find oil off the coast of Mannar or whatever the hell we have to do, shouldn’t we START doing it now?!! Waiting until the proverbial s— hits the fan and then ordering the army out into the streets under martial law may not work O, people of the Pearl.

Maybe, the plan is to fall back on the good old tea industry. Rubber and coconut seem to have been totally decimated. For your information the tea industry that used lay the golden egg has been so mismanaged by brain dead proponents of management theory and with plantations largely handed over to our rival India for management, what else can you expect. The export trade is so fragmented and totally without principals or ethics that any buyer worth his salt has only to fish around among the many exporters to get the rock bottom price for what he wants. Others have used political influence and robbed the funds demarcated for that wonderful institution the Tea Promotion Bureau (a concept far ahead of its time) and built their own family dynasties and brands. That horse or goose is well dead and long buried.

My question to the brand-new government of Aotearoa which has a massive majority in parliament and the not so new Government of Sri Lanka which now has the 20th amendment to the constitution passed, is WHAT IS THE PLAN? It better be good and it better be quick, because the people are going to be very desperate real soon. It is solely down to the leadership and there are no excuses!

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Executive presidency or premiership?

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Better option:

by Dr Upul Wijayawardhana

I have been fascinated by politics all my life though not directly involved in it unlike some others in my family. I have devoted some of the free time COVID-19 pandemic has given me to pondering the merits and demerits of the executive presidency and whether it is less democratic than an executive premiership. For a long time, there has been a clamour for the abolition of the executive presidency, but since the election of President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa opinion seems to have reversed. The SLPP sought a mandate to abolish 19A and, using the unexpected two-third’s majority, it enacted 20A ensuring reversal to an executive presidency.

On gaining Independence we opted to be a dominion with a Governor-General representing the British Crown; he had some room for manipulation although the Prime minister held the reins of power. In 1972, we became a republic, and the prime minister became even more powerful and a titular President was appointed! J. R. Jayewardene changed all this. Elected with a massive majority in 1977, JR metamorphosed from Prime Minister into an executive president. JR started well, pulling the country out of the economic hellhole created by the Sirima Bandaranaike government, but intoxication with unbridled power affected him.

JR brought about this radical change of having an elected Executive President for good reasons and opted for the French presidential system rather than the American system. Some may argue that JR should have gone for the American system because his main argument was that a presidential system which could produce results quicker was more suited to a developing country. In the American system, Cabinet positions are held by non-elected technocrats. Perhaps, like in the US, had we allowed the elected representatives to debate issues in Parliament, formulate laws governing the country and sit on committees overseeing the appointments for senior posts and performing the function of oversight of their work, a greater purpose may have been served. It would also have prevented politics from turning into a money-making business. The President could have chosen experts in various fields with proven track records to run various ministries to usher in rapid development. Perhaps, this is the sort of radical change we need that warrants serious consideration by those who are tasked with the onerous duty of formulating a new constitution.

JR opted for the French system where all the ministers including the prime minister are elected representatives. The phrase some commentators use ‘Prime Minister is reduced to the status of a peon’ is ludicrous and may well stem from the unguarded statement made by Ranasinghe Premadasa, the first non-executive prime minister. Instead of being impatient, he should have worked towards defining the role of the prime minister in the new system. Of course, JR’s ill-judged remark that he could do anything other than changing the gender, albeit in jest, also contributed to the growing suspicions about the presidency.

All executive presidents, elected directly by the voter at tremendous expense, vowed to abolish the executive presidency just to please the voters but none even attempted to do so. But Gota was an exception, never making such a promise. Further, during the short period he had been in office he had behaved very differently to his predecessors. He has shown that he is there to work, not for the glamour of office. Therefore, I would argue that what matters more than the office is the person who occupies it. This imparts even a greater responsibility on the voter to elect the right person.

In any country, either the president or the prime minister would have to be powerful. In the UK, the ‘Mother of all Parliaments’, Boris Johnson holds power and makes all the important decisions. It is only rarely that Parliament acts to change his decisions. Ranil considered himself to be the executive prime minister and set up various units at Temple Trees, and some of them were not lawful. This too highlights my view that it is not the office that matters but who holds the office.

If not for the powerful presidency, we would still have been fighting terrorism. How the Opposition mocked the war efforts is a long-gone memory. The worst possible scenario is where the power is shared, as happened during the ill-fated yahapalana regime. What is transpiring before the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the Easter Sunday attacks amply illustrates how security of the country was neglected

The passage of 20A is a turning point in the history of our country. By giving the mandate for this to the SLPP, the voters have opted for a presidential system of government and it is my humble opinion that this was almost entirely due to the statesmanlike behaviour of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. During his campaign he never attacked his opponents but proved his ability to perform any responsibility he was tasked with. On being elected, he dispensed with glamorous frivolities and got down to hard work. He has faced many challenges with vigour and has been successful so far.

What makes Gota different from all other ‘chief executives’ of Sri Lanka is that he is the first non-politician to hols this coveted position. Perhaps, that is what we needed. I do hope he would set the example for what a good executive president should be so that the electorate would not regret the momentous decision it made. I do hope that he would introduce a new Constitution, which gives due place to technocrats and usher in true reconciliation by ensuring that we obey one law as one nation as well as getting rid of race and faith based political parties which have been the bane of unity. The only purpose these parties have served is sowing the seeds of division and disunity whilst making some leaders rich and powerful.

I do hope Gota would prove that the executive presidency is the better option.

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