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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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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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