Hemantha’s proposal to bring Indian doctors irks GMOA

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) President Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya yesterday warned attempts to protect the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) would cause further turmoil.

The GMOA wouldn’t give up its efforts to abolish the SAITM project under any circumstances, Dr Padeniya said, urging the public to be wary of false propaganda.

Dr Padeniya was responding to attorney-at-law Hemantha Warnakulasuriya, PC, who lambasted the GMOA yesterday on Sirasa ‘Pathikada’ anchored by Bandula

Jayasekera. The GMOA chief urged the public to be wary of government efforts to isolate the trade union.

Warnakulasuriya urged the government to arrest top GMOA official Dr Nalinda Herath for provoking undergraduates to take up arms.

Recalling his experience as Sri Lanka’s ambassador in Italy during the previous Rajapaksa administration when the mission faced LTTE inspired protests, Warnakulasuriya called for toughest possible action against all those who had been involved in the recent raid on the health ministry.

Comparing the LTTE and the JVP with the GMOA, Warnakulasuriya said that the doctors shouldn’t be allowed to succeed against the backdrop of the former failing to overwhelm the government.

Expressing concern that the police had so far managed to arrest only five persons wanted in connection with mayhem at the health ministry, the lawyer demanded that President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe should go all out against the miscreants.

At the onset of the live interview, Warnakulasuriya said that he, too, backed the campaign against the SAITM though he subsequently changed his stance.

Warnakulasuriya threw his weight behind recent police crackdown on undergraduates while alleging that the government lacked the backbone to meet the challenge. Recollecting the deployment of the Indian Army in 1987 to fight the LTTE, Warnakulasuriya urged the government to bring down 5,000 Indian doctors to tame the GMOA. The former Ambassador said that Sri Lanka could depend on Indian doctors. The lawyer asserted that they could be brought down under an agreement with India and deployed across the country.

Alleging that the GMOA had been aggressively pursuing a political agenda and was functioning as cat’s paw of political elements hell-bent on undermining the government, Warnakulasuriya praised Health Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne and Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella for their efforts in support of the SAITM.

The President’s Counsel said that all sectors had been in turmoil for want of cohesive action and fresh laws were required to counter the growing threat.

The destruction of public property shouldn’t be allowed and those responsible punished regardless of their status, he said.

Warnakulasuriya chided the government for not having the guts to meet the GMOA challenge.

Dr Herath on Monday warned of trade union action unless the government took immediate measures to release those who had been arrested in connection with the incidents at the health ministry. Addressing the media after visiting those who had been remanded at Welikada prison, Dr Herath said they wouldn’t abandon their campaign.

The GMOA leadership visited Welikada on Monday morning where the doctors and student leaders agreed to pursue their campaign.

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