The Sunday Leader

Politicos And Medicos Make Sri Lanka A Joke

by Gamini Weerakoon

Sri Lanka may justifiably be called Nutty Lanka considering the ludicrous conduct in public of some of our monks, politicians and government officials. Two weeks ago some opposition politicians took on the role of being ‘gurus’ to monks making them or those clad in Saffron robes like monks, go on ‘pindapaatha’ with begging bowls traditionally used to collect alms in the form of a meal. But they collected not alms in the form of meals but coins and currency notes in their begging bowls – an event unprecedented in the history of Buddhism. And the money donated to the monks, we are told, will go not to the monks, but make up for fines imposed by the High Court on two accused convicted for misappropriating Rs. 600 million in state funds.

All this political religious high jinks in the land of ‘Pure (pirisidhu) Theravada Buddhism’! The Mahanayakes and other high priests have not yet commented on this novel form of Pindapaatha or political begging, but it is time they did for the sake of Buddhism.

Political Pindapaatha

The first conundrum to be resolved will be: How does this all square up with the Vinaya – the disciplinary framework for the Sangha based on canonical texts called the Vinaya Pitaka? This is an issue that has to be decided soon by venerable monks because some politicians may don robes and go in Pindapaatha even to collect their deposits to contest elections and for other pleasures. The Buddhist public will be far more generous with monks than lay beggars.

With the debate for a new constitution now picking up, Opposition politicians led by Mahinda Rajapaksa – that intrepid guardian of Sinhala Buddhism in the tradition of Dutu Gemunu the Great – are having doubts about supporting the proposed constitution because they fear that the ‘foremost place’ accorded to Buddhism in two previous constitutions will be done away. Undoubtedly they want this provision entrenched much more firmly and maybe the new pindapaatha ways of collecting cash as performed last week may be a way of doing so, just like distributing ‘Sil Redi’ worth Rs. 600 million at state expense to boost religious fervour on the eve of the presidential election.

The Mahanayakes of all three chapters too recently declared that a new constitution was not required because it would create more conflicts in the country.

However we hope that they would make a pronouncement soon on the new form of pindapaatha introduced by leading Opposition members not only because it has divided Buddhists into two camps and some cynical observers saying that Sri Lanka would be better known as Nutty Lanka.


Docs going nuts

Another contributory factor to Nutty Lanka is a section of the medical profession running riot on the streets of Colombo for over a year on the issue of a private medical college called SAITM and demanding its abolition for their benefit. Not only on the streets but even indoors, insanity has prevailed. Doctors, professors and even parents of students have advised students to keep away from classes for one whole year! Ever heard of teachers and parents advising students to keep away from class?

Last week the medical men, ignoring the sick in hospitals, came in motorcades to Colombo to jam the streets, bring traffic in the capital to a halt by blocking the vital junction at Lipton Circus with their duty free vehicles. How far they were successful in creating this medical chaos and mayhem on that regrettable day has not been estimated, but one reported incident of an ambulance being blocked and preventing entry into hospital with a sick patient deserves the organisers being struck off the roll of medical practitioners.

After one year of SAITM-ITIS the people are tired, bored, sick and angry but the madness continues. The docs are attempting to keep up their insanity going by seeking trade union solidarity. Some unions have obliged with token strikes. And now teachers and principals are being wooed to join anti-SAITM protests. Principals and teachers have been invited to participate in anti-SAITM protests.

Both these categories have smeared their once respected profession: one category being caught red-handed taking bribes for school admissions and the other being tuition ‘mudalalies’ not teaching students in the class room but at private tuition classes for mind boggling fees. If they desert schools and classrooms to join in the frolic of the medicos, parents should know how to deal with them. The young Minister of Education, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam should not spare the rod and spoil principals and teachers.

On Thursday many TV channels showed the sorrow, anger and infuriation of people in the provinces, most of them extremely sick and incapacitated patients stranded in OPDs venting their spleen on doctors. The government cannot afford to permit this blackmail to go on. Not only is the possibility of patients reacting with violence but the government is being blamed for letting this public harassment go on. The cocky young medical men seem to be confident in carrying out this public harassment with impunity. The government has to act if necessary by invoking emergency regulations. It is apparent that this politically inspired blackmail is ultimately directed at a general strike aimed to topple the government in accordance to the declarations of Mahinda Rajapaksa.


Long running comedy

The SAITM comedy has gone on for too long a time with its tentacles spreading out. It has to be curtailed and the issue confined to the Minister of Health and the Medical Council, as it should. President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe having obtained 3/4th majorities in Parliament on many controversial legislations should attempt to enact a new law to stop this plague debilitating the nation any further.

10 Comments for “Politicos And Medicos Make Sri Lanka A Joke”

  1. Mai

    GMOA with its cost free and duty free Docs are not concerned to develop our beloved country by not allowing private medical colleges (pmc) to be establIshed here. GMOA and their bankrupt political supporters giving Mad-ivial reasons. They wanted our children to go to other developing countries to pursue medical studies and make such countries to be developed while our Country going to dogs. If SLMC, GMOA and others are not cooperating to establish PMCs in our Country, Government should enact legislation for PMCs to get recognition from reputed overseas authorities and all medical students to get clinical training from government hospitals. Let’s us see a flourishing Sri Lanka soon.

  2. Frustrated Voter

    We have seen reports of how in the past JR tackled a situation caused by doctors by threatening to confiscate their properties. Why can’t the present Government
    take such action without making the already suffering public to face more suffering?

  3. What immediately needed is not a new constitution ….but a DHARMA SANGAAYANA to protect Buddhism from its so called guardians!!

  4. New laws will take time, but Sri Lanka Medical Council still needs to obey the laws already in existence. Simple solution is for SLMC to obey the court order and give internship training to SAITM MBBS which is their constitutional right. Then if trade unions like GMOA start their dance, govt. can take necessary action. The tragedy is that SLMC is infiltrated by GMOA, all funded by vested interests. Insane.

  5. gamarala

    The issue is simple. Close down SAITM which is a financial enterprise and confine medical education to universities.

  6. Sylvia Haik

    How long before this unruly mob, egged on by our former President Mahinda Rajapakse, ban doctors qualified in superior foreign universities, from practicing in Sri Lanka hospitals? He is such a sore loser that he is prepared to gamble the lives of the innocent poor, to satisfy his overblown ego.

  7. Welcome the suggestion of G.W. The frolic of these doctors’ who conduct these daring campaigns should be nipped in the bud. During the time of Hon.JR, the doctors planned a strike and the wise President JR so sooner heard of it, issued a gazette notification making their service an “Essential”. With this order, the plans of the doctors went awry. Why cannot the present leader follow it?

  8. Nimal

    We are going down a slope where corruption and stupidity is everywhere in the country.Problems are endless and the politicians are only there to feather their beds but not to serve the people and they never consult the people on any issue that is affecting us but these hypocrites go the monks for approvals and blessing.
    We need a new progressive party to serve the people and put the country right.
    Tried to get an appointment with our local MP without success for over 2 months and it seem he hardly visits the constituency.This is a tragedy to us and these rascals will use our tax money and put us in to debt for generations and bugger off with the commissions and live in the land of suddas. First they will send the kids and follow them and some come back even for more so that their siblings could continue with the robberies for generations to come.
    They fool the people with their association with monks just to as a whitewash.
    We need a new party with honorable people or we will be a fail state for generations.

  9. Medical Council is government body and has to be under Minister of Health, not independent. SLMC deans in it are under UGC and Minister of Higher education, and not independent except to discipline their boycotters, now doing letter writing false promises to students saying abolishing SAITM. How can they abolish legal SAITM already granted MBBS which judicial verdict says to receive internship. Government may take over, but it cannot abolish what it has already approved, without about 1000 doctors in training having their constitutional rights violated. SLMC is corrupt and court said it violated Medical Ordinance and we agree. Karl Marx legacy to the now decapitated SLMC is seen in slogans of Medical College tent at clock tower gate of NHSL as the last battle they fight, from the 1917 revolution “Internationale unites the human race, so comrades come rally, the last fight we must face” Is this medical education? SLMC wants to set separate entry standards to destroy SAITM with no authority, when UGC determines entry criteria for those who have already entered MBBS to be registered. Then GMOA also will have to go and sit A/L to continue SLMC or come off register. Insane intellectuals.

  10. Dadaddaaggyaggydaaggyddddsd

    Politicians are protecting their vested interests.
    Doctors are demanding standard practices where SAITM is not willing.

    Sirisena & Ranil pre-occupied with their hidden agendas are clueless.

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