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SLMC hijacked by unionists; public interest ignored: Rajitha

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by Saman Indrajith

Former Health Minister and SJB Kalutara District MP Dr Rajitha Senaratne told Parliament on Tuesday that the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) had been hijacked by medical unionists, posing a threat to academic and professional standards of doctors as well as Sri Lanka’s standing in international forums in the years to come.

Participating in a debate on two regulations under the Medical Ordinance, Dr Senaratne said the SLMC had been set up to protect the health care seekers by ensuring the maintenance of academic and professional standards, discipline and ethical practices.

“While we were in the government we did not interfere with the matters of the SLMC. We let them function the way it wanted to because the SLMC is not there for the sake of medical practitioners and professionals but for the sake of the people. It is there to accept complaints on medical practice, ethical violations by medical practitioners and to ensure maintenance of standards. The medical council is no longer appointed by vote but as per the need of individuals. Trade unions have infiltrated the council. Prof. Colvin Gunaratne resigned from the council because he foresaw this situation. There is one GMOA member there blocking appointments and another with the powers of influencing transfers of doctors. The incumbent health minister will understand the danger very soon.

“Today, the Associations of Medical Specialists have issued a statement on the present crisis in the SLMC. I quote from their statement: We the Associations of Medical Specialists are gravely concerned of the recent developments at the SLMC which we have come to know through mass media. Medical specialists have noticed gradual deterioration of the autonomy and forthrightness of this supreme institution which is to safeguard medical ethics and standards of medical education in this country. We noticed that the current crisis is strongly linked to trade union initialization of the SLMC. There is an imminent threat of the trade unions taking the reins over the SLMC which would mark the beginning of the end of the ethical practice of medicine in Sri Lanka. We also notice that the Hon. Minister of Health has basically been held to ransom with a trade union action notice to get the Assistant Registrar of the SLMC suspended. To our knowledge this is the first time in the history of SLMC where the Minister of Health has used his/her power to suspend a SLMC official”. There ends the quotation.

“This is the current situation. Look at the situation in medical faculties. If the government fails to improve the situation in the medical faculties, we will face a bigger problem in 2023 when the World Federation of Medical Education will remove all recognition of the countries which do not maintain standards. The recognition the Lankan medical practitioners have in EU countries, the US, Australia would be removed. The Ministry should get its act together and improve the situation in medical faculties and get the SLMC free from unionists. I request the Prime Minister to take this matter into serious consideration and strengthen the hands of the Health Minister to save the medical profession and medical education in this country.”



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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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