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Specialists take their fuel woes to Health Ministry Secretary

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Many medical specialists were finding it difficult to report to work due to severe shortage of fuel, President of the Association of Medical Specialists (AMS) Dr. LakKumar Fernando said yesterday.

He said AMS had sent a letter on the difficult issue to Health Ministry Secretary Dr. S.H. Munasinghe on Saturday.

“This is more so in the peripheries where certain cities have not had fuel in their localities for many days. This situation is likely to deteriorate in the coming days,” Dr. Fernando said.

It is not possible for doctors to enter gas stations with special permits when there are so many others in queues. People who have been waiting in queues for hours naturally get angry and tense when preferential treatment is given to anyone, Dr. Fernando said.

“Such situations can lead to public unrest creating further chaos. Along with the multitude of other essential services in our country, we feel that healthcare service providers should also be considered as a high priority regarding access to fuel during this crisis. Therefore, we strongly feel that the responsibility of devising a practical, plausible mechanism to facilitate our members to get a quota of fuel to travel to his/her workplace lies with the Ministry of health. Please consider that it will be a must to provide and ensure an uninterrupted healthcare service throughout the country,” Dr. Fernando said.

The AMS President informed the Health Ministry Secretary that until such a mechanism is established, AMS members will be compelled to inform their respective hospital directors about their inability to attend needy patients physically and to provide telephone or online advice/consultation when required purely due to lack of fuel to report to work.

“Even though this is highly unacceptable in any clinical setting, we don’t see any other practical alternative to this problem in the near future. Further, it is important to note that most of the hospitals in our country have not been able to provide onsite, official accommodation to all specialist medical officers and hence they are compelled to reside away from the hospital,” he said.

The AMS also asked the Secretary to the Ministry of Health to grant them an appointment to discuss this issue.

“This is not an attempt to ‘misuse’ our position but an effort to mitigate a crisis in order to save lives of patients as well as the good name of the national health care delivery system. Failure to address this issue on an urgent basis would compel us to discharge us from clinical responsibilities due to constraints beyond our control. Please treat this matter on an urgent basis,” he said.



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Speaker proposes how to steer SL out of crisis

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Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena has handed over a set of proposals to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, spelling out how to resolve country’s economic crisis.The proposals made by the Speaker pertain to a number of important sectors and highlight the importance of providing relief to low income groups.

The Speaker has said Sri Lankans working or doing business overseas or foreign investors depositing USD 100,000 with the Central Bank for a period of two years should be paid a 10% interest per annum in Sri Lankan rupees and allowed to credit the interest to any account preferred by the depositor. He also proposes that the government issue a vehicle import licence worth USD 25,000, six months after an individual makes a fixed deposit while also allowing him to pay a standard tax of USD 10,000 to the government for that vehicle.Speaker Abeywardena has proposed how to reduce energy costs, release adequate stocks of LP gas to the market, boost domestic production food production, stabilise the banking system.

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MR had not decided to resign on 09 May, says Weerasekra

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

SLPP MP Rear Admiral (retd.) Sarath Weerasekera says Prime Minster Mahinda Rajapaksa had not decided to resign on 09 May 09 although the SLPP MPs had been asked to bring supporters to Temple Trees for a meeting.Weerasekera said so when The Island asked him why he had skipped the Temple Trees meeting.One-time Public Security Minister said that the then PM Rajapaksa had, during a conversation with him on 08 May had denied reports that the latter was planning to resign the following day. MP Namal Rajapaksa, however, had asked a group of MPs and others to bring supporters to express support for the PM, MP Weerasekera said.

Weerasekera said he had been among those contacted by MP Namal Rajapaksa.The former Navy Chief of Staff said that the failure on the part of law enforcement authorities and the military to respond swiftly and decisively to a threat of breach of law and order had led to a disaster at time global attention was on Sri Lanka due to the deteriorating financial situation.MP Weerasekera questioned why police had refrained from firing at least once into the air when mobs arrived at some MPs’ houses, which were destroyed. For over 48 hours mobs had ruled the country, the MP alleged, demanding an explanation why shoot-on-sight orders had not been issued as soon as mobs started to attack MPs’ houses.MP Weerasekera said that serious accusations made by SLPP members, particularly Wimal Weerawansa, Dr. Ramesh Pathirana and Mahindananda Aluthgamage couldn’t be ignored. They accused some sections of the SLPP of conspiring to unleash violence and the police and the armed forces turning a blind eye to countrywide retaliatory attacks.

Newly-appointed Public Security Minister Tiran Alles said that he would order a thorough probe into the May 09 incidents. Minister Alles said so when The Island asked him what he would do against the backdrop of allegations of the police facilitating attacks on protesting public in the Kollupitiya and Fort police areas.MPs, Weerawansa and Dr. Ramesh Pathirana alleged in Parliament that Maj. Gen. Jagath Alwis, Secretary to the Ministry of Public Administration and C. D. Wickremaratne, Inspector General of Police prevented Deshabandu Tennakoon, Senior DIG, Colombo from mob attacks on the protesting public.

Former Minister Weerasekera said that the government, the SLPP and the police should come clean on this matter. MP Weerasekera said that the government mishandled the challenge posed by those who cleverly exploited the economic crisis. “Perhaps one of the major blunders was allowing the public to block roads. Now, it has become a style. Interested parties also exploit the media and social media. The government seems clueless,” MP Weerasekera said, urging the government to review the developments.MP Mahindananda Aluthgamage, too, told The Island, the top SLPP leadership ignored repeated warnings. The former Agriculture Minister questioned whether those who had advised the Cabinet of Ministers chaired by the President deliberately deceived them.

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Lankan-born Cassandra elected to Australian Parliament

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She beat another candidate of Sri Lankan origin, Ranj Perera

Cassandra Fernando of Sri Lankan descent has been elected to the Australian Parliament.Cassandra, an advocate for essential workers and the Federal Labor Candidate for Holt.She migrated to Australia with her family when she was 11.She began working at Woolies Dandenong Plaza as a teenager. She now represents workers in the retail and fast food industries, fighting to improve their pay and conditions. She has also volunteered to tutor migrants and refugees from non-English speaking backgrounds so they can make the best of every opportunity.

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