Junior medical intern threatens DG of Health Services over tender issue

Culprit attached to Minister Sirisena’s personal staff


by Suresh Perera

A shocking incident where a politically-appointed junior medical intern had allegedly threatened Director-General of Health Services, Dr. Ajith Mendis over a tender issue is expected to be reported to Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena on his return from a private visit overseas, The Sunday Island learns.

Health officials remained tight lipped on the intern’s outburst due to his close affiliation with the Minister himself, but sources who asked not to be named, alleged that the junior intern had been harsh and threatened the DG after he was advised not to interfere with a tender for the import of surgical gloves.

The intern, believed to be a close relative of another Cabinet Minister, had reportedly attempted to influence the tender in favour of a certain bidder. On being informed of this unethical practice, Dr. Mendis had, on summoning him, told the young man to keep clear as such actions were detrimental to the good image of the office he (the DG) holds, the sources said.

Dr. Mendis had politely explained that he had no evidence of any malpractices but it was in the best interests of the Health Ministry itself to be above suspicion. The intern was asked to work within his official scope of duties as he had no right to meddle with tenders, these sources said.

Infuriated by these remarks, the intern had retorted, "Are you suggesting that I took money?" to which Dr. Mendis had replied, "I didn’t say that. I only advised you not to interfere with tender procedures which is not your job", the sources asserted.

As he had raised his voice and tried to argue, the DG had asked him to leave his office. On coming outside, the junior intern was heard saying, "He is just Ajith outside this office. I am from the south and I know how to deal with him", these sources claimed.

The incident had left health officials aghast as Dr. Mendis is the senior-most administrator in this vital sector in Sri Lanka as the Director-General of Health Services. This unwarranted behavior not only amounted to insubordination but was also viewed as a veiled threat on the DG, according to these sources.

Described as a ‘coordinating secretary’ attached to Minister Maithripala Sirisena’s personal staff, this junior intern, these sources asserted, is also identified with a Company floated recently to supply medical products to buyers.

"We will be taking up this matter with the Minister on Monday", Health Ministry Secretary Dr. Ravinda Ruberu said.

"When I asked Dr. Mendis, he said there was an argument", he noted. The DG doesn’t want to talk about it until the Minister is informed.As the Minister is away now, the issue will be taken up on his return to the country, Dr. Ruberu said.

Repeated attempts over the past three days to contact Dr. Mendis for comment were futile. Calls to his mobile phone and a SMS also went unanswered.

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