Alleged sexual abuse: Officials or political circle coordinating secretaries the culprits?

MAF lashes out at Health Minister

The good name and image of respected Health Ministry officials, which have been maintained since independence, is now under threat of being tarnished following the Health Minister’s allegation that women face sexual abuse and harassment from officials when they seek new jobs, promotions and transfers, the Medical Administrators Forum (MAF) said in a statement yesterday.

"The Minister’s statement, which was published in most English and Sinhala newspapers and was also given publicity over the electronic media has not been denied so far.  Hence, we consider it a genuine ministerial statement.  The Minister of Health is a senior Cabinet member and also serves as general secretary of the ruling party".

The Minister has not specified the category of officials who are the culprits — whether it was meant to be health ministry officials working for the department or the officers of  his political circle such as the various coordinating secretaries.  Therefore, in the minds of readers it has created an ambiguity, the statement said.

"We would like to reiterate that all those who come for various needs irrespective of their gender meet with the Minister and the coordinating secretaries in most cases rather than officials.  It is therefore very important to specify who these officials are", it pointed out.

There was a recent statement by a respected cleric trade unionist that the Minister has deployed a number of official vehicles for personal use.  There were also media reports that a woman personal assistant is being given many comforts. It was alleged that three official vehicles with drivers and health laborers as domestic servants were provided to her at the tax payer’s expense, the statement asserted.

  The statement has asked Health Ministry Secretary, Dr, Nihal Jayathilaka, as the top-most administrative official in the ministry, to take corrective measures to clear the ambiguity created by the media statement. 

If incidents of this nature are actually happening, immediate action should be taken to punish the culprits without making mere public statements at the whims and fancies of various people, it said.

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