Countrywide strike threatened over FCID ‘harassing’ GMOA

GMOA Secretary questioned over booklet on Indian malpractice; its president to be summoned

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Alleging that the government had unleashed the police on the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA), its Secretary Dr. Nalinda Herath yesterday told The Island that the association had decided to launch a countrywide strike without giving notice unless harassment stopped forthwith.

Dr. Herath claimed that senior GMOA officials were being targeted in the wake of the organisation stepping up protests against the proposed Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA).

Dr. Herath said the GMOA and other organisations campaigning against ECTA held a major protest in Colombo last Thursday. The following day officers of the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) questioned Dr. Herath for about one hour on the publication of a book titled, Establishment of Specialist registry and introduction of an evaluation procedure for foreign medical specialists.

Dr. Herath said the book had been launched in consultation with the Health Ministry as well as the Attorney General’s Department to highlight the urgent need to prevent unqualified Indian doctors functioning here as specialists. Responding to a query, Dr. Herath said that the association wouldn’t hesitate to launch a countrywide strike.

Recently, the 4th Commerce Secretary level meeting between India and Sri Lanka took place in New Delhi and there a new framework called ETCA that would take the existing India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISLFTA) to the next level, was discussed. "Our proposed framework envisages exclusion of professional labour liberalization by Sri Lanka other than in two sub sectors, viz., ship builders and IT professionals," a government spokesperson said. The official said that there was no basis for GMOA’s concerns.

According to Dr. Herath, GMOA President Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya, too, was expected to be questioned by the police.

GMOA official Dr. Naveen Soysa said Indian authorities and the Sri Lankan government had fabricated a kidney transplant racket in keeping with their overall project to discredit local doctors. Obviously, ongoing investigation into some printing mistake in the booklet could certainly be part of the same project, the official added.

The GMOA intends to make representations to President Maithripala Sirisena soon after his return from an official visit to Germany. President Sirisena is scheduled to leave today (Feb. 15).

The GMOA alleged that the police had initiated the probe following a complaint lodged by an associate of a powerful minister.

Dr. Herath said the government obviously wanted to bring them to heel through intimidating key officer bearers.

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