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SLMC sackings: GMOA reiterates accusations, backs Minister Pavithra

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… election likely in March

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Reiterating its support for the controversial sacking of five members of the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC), the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) yesterday (16) claimed that the group got to know about what was really going on only after some of its members received appointments therein.

The GMOA-backed members in the SLMC include four elected representatives, namely Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya, Dr. Naveen de Zoysa, Dr. Nalinda Herath and Dr. Harris Pathirage. 

Dr. Pathirage, however, has since quit the Council citing personal reasons. The vacancy hasn’t been filled yet. Sources emphasised that all of them contested as medical officers and not as members of the GMOA and were elected.

GMOA Secretary Dr. Senal Fernando, in a brief statement issued yesterday alleged that the SLMC had registered those without required educational qualifications and even those who had not sat its examination. Dr. Fernando claimed that thousands sans qualifications had received recognition.

GMOA officials told The Island that those who had been sacked by Minister Pavitra Wanniarachchi following a proper inquiry were all political appointees. In the absence of a laid out procedure to remove those who had been appointed by the Minister whoever held that post reserved the right to take action, sources said, adding that the GMOA was ready to face legal challenge in that regard.

Minister Wanniarachchi removed SLMC Chairman Specialist Consultant Pediatrician, Prof. Harendra de Silva, Prof. Narada Warnasuriya, Dr. Pushpika Ubesiri, Dr. Upul Gunasekara and Dr. Sunil Ratnapriya subsequent to an inquiry conducted by a panel of doctors-two of them happened to be members of the GMOA.

Sources said that the Attorney General’s Department and three President’s Counsel were also consulted before the Minister acted. Those who had challenged the move conveniently forgot that Dr. Rajitha Senaratne made the appointments in his capacity as the Minister and Pavitra Wanniarachchi did the same.

Sources said that with the consensus reached on election of four specialists at the next round, there would be 12 elected members with one each from Medical Faculties, one representing AMPs, Dental et al. Sources said that the total number of members, including those appointed by the minister could be as many as 30. Elections were likely in March 2021.

A senior GMOA official said that in case those who challenged the minster’s action resorted to legal action the proceedings could be quite revealing. The official challenged those who had been defending appointments made during the previous administration to state their stand on accusations pertaining to acceptance of students sans AL qualifications.

The GMOA emphasized that it did not move against political appointees clandestinely. “We requested Minister Wanniarachchi to take action in writing,” a senior Association spokesperson said, warning opponents not to suspect their resolve to clean up the SLMC.



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Death threats won’t deter us – EC Chairman

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Nimal Punchihewa (Chairman ECSL) picture by PRIYAN DE SILVA
Chairman of the Election Commission of Sri Lanka Nimal Punchihewa told The Island that members of  the election commission won’t be deterred by death threats.
He said that members of the commission  M M Mohamed,  K P P Pathirana and S B Diwarathne have been repeatedly threatened and the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators.
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Three people dead after torrential rain in New Zealand

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At least three people have died due to flash flodding in Auckland (picture BBC)

BBC reported that at least three people have died and one is missing after New Zealand’s largest city experienced its “wettest day on record” on Friday.

Auckland is said to have received 75% of its usual summer rainfall in just 15 hours.

A local state of emergency was declared as authorities managed evacuations and widespread flooding.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins thanked emergency services for their swift response to the disaster.The new prime minister travelled to Auckland, where he also expressed his condolences to the loved ones of those who died in the floods.

“The loss of life underscores the sheer scale of this weather event and how quickly it turned tragic”, he said in a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The downpour flooded the airport, shifted houses and resulted in power cuts to homes for hours.

New Zealand’s defence forces were mobilised to assist with evacuations and emergency shelters were set up across the city.

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Parliament prorogued on Friday night

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President says cabinet agreeable to fully implementing 13 A until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment

Parliament was prorogued from midnight Friday (27) by President Ranil Wickremesinghe under powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution, parliamentary sources said on Friday.

The Department of Government Printing was due to issue the relevant notification on Friday night but it was not out as this edition went to print.However the President’ Media Division (PMD) confirmed the prorogation on Friday evening saying that President Wickremesinghe “is expected” to make a policy statement based on the decisions taken after the 75th Independence anniversary when parliament recommences on Feb.8.

A separate bulletin said that the president had informed the party leaders Conference on Reconciliation that the cabinet was agreeable to “fully implementing (the) 13th Amendment until party leaders decide whether or not to abolish the Amendment.”

Parliamentary sources explained that a prorogation which is a temporary recess of parliament, should not extend to a period of more than two months, However, such date for summoning parliament may be advanced by another presidential proclamation provided it is summoned for a date not less than three days from the date of such fresh proclamation.

Political observers believe that the prorogation is related to the president’s effort to secure as wide a consensus as possible on the National Question. They dismissed speculation that it is related to the scheduled local elections. This issue was clarified by the PMD bulletin.

When parliament is prorogued, the proclamation should notify the date of the commencement of the new session of parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.During the prorogation the speaker continues to function and MPs retain their membership of the legislature even though they do not attend meetings of the House.

The effect of a prorogation is to suspend all current business before the House and all proceedings pending at the time are quashed except impeachments.A Bill, motion or question of the same substance cannot be introduced for a second time during the same session. However, it could be carried forward at a subsequent session after a prorogation.

“All matters which having been duly brought before parliament, have not been disposed of at the time of the prorogation, may be proceeded with during the next session,” states the paragraph (4) of article 70 of the constitution.

In the light of this constitutional provision, a prorogation does not result in an end to pending business. Thus, a pending matter may be proceeded with from that stage onwards after the commencement of the new session.

At the beginning of a new session all items of business which were in the order paper need to be re-listed, if it is desired to continue with them.At the end of a prorogation a new session begins and is ceremonially declared open by the president.

He is empowered under the constitution to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each session of parliament and to preside at ceremonial sittings of parliament in terms of the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 33 of the constitution.The president is empowered to make a statement of government policy at the commencement of each new session. In the past, it was known as the Throne Speech which was delivered by the Governor-General.

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