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Military medical teams played a key role in mitigating the spread of Covid-19

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By conducting quarantine programs

With dedication and fearless commitment, military medical teams assisted the government by conducting quarantine programs to mitigate the spread of coronavirus outbreak in the country, Defence Secretary Maj. Gen. (Retd) Kamal Gunaratne said.

He said tri-services medical teams had proven their credibility of treating and saving the lives of wounded combatants throughout the Eelam war as the first respondents to any form of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, locally or overseas.

“The military medics, whether it is in a pitch battle or a disaster of any magnitude, have extended a highly credible service to the affected; both military and civilians, throughout the conflict from the first line to the depth,” he said.

The Defence Secretary said the role played by military medics was considered an essential service to support the government mechanism in countering any sort of conventional or non-traditional threat.

Maj. Gen. Gunaratne was the chief guest at the inaugural ceremony to launch the Masters of Science (MSc) Program in Military Medicine of the College of Military Medicine, held at the Army Hospital Auditorium, Narahenpita, on Thursday.

Delivering the keynote address, he said deployment of military medical staffers in United Nations missions gave them the opportunity of providing their services to various multinationals around the globe.

“We will be able to develop them to a multinational forum, which calls for participation from regional and global levels once the recognition is gained. It was a demanding necessity to gear them with a suitable academic background while enabling them to work under any conditions, where their services are needed”, he said while lauding the College of Military Medicine for introducing the Masters Program in Military Medicine.

The Defence Secretary also said the new initiative will help to groom the young generation tri-services medical sector with a wide range of knowledge to combat crucial situations in pandemics, armed conflicts, natural or man-made disasters both, locally and overseas.

The program, which is conducted in affiliation with the Colombo University under the patronage of the Health Ministry, covers medical and related studies including combat, clinical and preventive medicine, jointly by tri-services experts, military ethics and customs, disaster management and military psychiatry conducted by Sri Lanka Army, aviation medicine by Sri Lanka Air Force and diving and hyperbaric medicine by Sri Lanka Navy.

The Defence Secretary commended the commitment of Health Ministry Secretary Maj. Gen. Sanjeewa Munasinghe for introducing the program and pledged his fullest support to the College of Military Medicine and the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine, Colombo University.

Health and Indigenous Medicine Ministry Secretary Maj. Gen. Sanjeewa Munasinghe, Higher Education, Technology and Innovation Ministry Secretary Anura Dissanayake, Acting Chief of Defence Staff and Army Commander Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva, Navy Commander Vice Admiral Nishantha Ulugetenne, Air Force Commander Air Marshal Sumangala Dias, Chairman, University Grants Commission Prof. Sampath Amaratunga, Vice Chancellor, University of Colombo Prof. Chandrika Wijeyaratne, Director, Postgraduate Institute of Medicine Prof. Senaka Rajapakse, serving and retired senior tri-forces officers and the members of Postgraduate Institute of Medicine were also present.



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About Rs 3 bn paid as OT during past few months

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Overtime gravy train for CPC refinery workers:

By Saman Indrajith

About Rs. 3,000 million had been paid as overtime for the employees of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation oil refinery, during the past few months, Parliament was told yesterday.

Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said that he had asked for a detailed report as to whom and on what grounds the overtime payments had been made and it would be submitted to Parliament.

Fielding a question asked by Chief Opposition Whip, Kandy District SJB MP Lakshman Kiriella, Minister Wijesekera said instructions had been issued to regulate overtime.

MP Kiriella demanded to know why overtime had been paid to employees of an institution that had been shut down. “There are reports that over Rs 4,000 million has been paid as overtime to the workers of the refinery that was not functioning owing to the non-availability of crude oil. This is a crime,” Kiriella said.

Minister Wijesekera: “I made inquiries after I saw newspaper reports on payment of overtime to refinery workers. I inquired from the Finance Manager of the CPC. I was told that a sum between Rs 2.5 billion to Rs 3 billion had been paid as overtime. The refinery was not closed during the months of March and April. It was closed only during the last month. They had issued refined fuel on all seven days of the week continuously. When an institution operates full time in such a manner the employees would have to be paid for their overtime work. However, I admit that could have been done with some level of management in the payment process,” the Minister said.

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Wigneswaran claims RW accepted all his demands

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Head of the Thamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani (TMTK), C. V. Wigneswaran told the media recently that President Ranil Wickremesinghe had agreed to all demands he had made, including the release of Tamil ‘political prisoners’, to secure his vote during last month’s Parliament election, to elect a President.

He made this statement following a meeting with the President in Colombo to discuss the establishment of an all-party government.

“We have made several requests and if the President is ready to comply with them, we will consider taking part in the all party government,” he said.

“We met him when he was Prime Minister. Before the parliamentary vote to elect the President, I made these demands and he agreed to them. That is why I voted for him. Now, it is for him to keep his promises. I am here to remind him of this,” Wigenswaran said.

Wickremesinghe, as the Prime Minister in the yahapalana government, vehemently denied that there were Tamil ‘political prisoners’ in the country. (RK)

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MPs are not immune from country’s laws – SJB

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By Saman Indrajith

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa told Parliament yesterday that the MPs were not immune from the Penal Code despite the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act.

Premadasa said Cabinet Spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardane had claimed that incidents in Parliament could not be dealt with under the regular law.

“This claim sends the wrong message to people. Aren’t the provisions of the Penal Code or the Offences against Public Property Act applicable to the MPs? There were incidents in this Chamber during the 52-day coup conspiracy; some MPs damaged public property. There were investigations by the CID and also by Parliament.

The Secretary General announced the cost of the damage. When the process was on to prosecute those MPs responsible for the damage, political influence was exerted on the CID not to file cases against the culprits. It is against this background that Minister Gunawardane, in his position as the Cabinet spokesman, makes this false claim. His statement is sending a message saying that there is one law inside the Parliament and another outside it.

“He also claims that the Speaker decides whether these laws are applicable to Parliament or not,” Premadasa said.

Colombo District SJB MP Mujibur Rahuman said that people were already against the MPs and this new wrong message would further exacerbate their anger against elected members. “The Cabinet Spokesman says that the MPs have a different set of laws while the people are dealt with by the country’s laws. That is wrong. We are also liable for criminal offences that we commit,” Rahuman said.

“The CID conducted an investigation and was prepared to file cases, but that was prevented through political influence. The Cabinet Spokesman’s statement is fueling public hatred towards the MPs. Please, request the Cabinet Spokesman to refrain from making such statements,” he said.

Minister Gunawardane said that he was only responding to a question raised by a journalist and the question was about fairness of cracking down on protesters for destroying public property, during anti-government protests, when MPs, who damaged Parliament, property under the former government, are yet to be apprehended.

Minister Gunawardane said as a public representative in Parliament for the last 33 years he had only explained that the law would be implemented against those engaged in violent activities during peaceful protests.

“I said MPs had Parliament privileges and the Parliament law. I also explained that MPs attending Parliament cannot be arrested as they are engaged in legislative activities,” he said.

Chief Opposition Whip, Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella, said that the MPs had no such legal immunity. and Parliament privileges only cover MPs from being arrested while they are on their way to attend and when they leave Parliament. “Therefore, there is no law that says they are exempt from other laws of the country,” Kiriella said.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, agreeing with Chief Opposition Whip Kiriella, said that all other laws in the country applied to the MPs.

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