Never a dull moment in our paradise isle
with taking to the streets and inconveniencing the public as it readily concedes will happen when it blocks the city.
It is fast becoming a habit in this country that politicians or influential individuals when remanded or convicted go from the courts to hospital as though the courts of law and hospitals are linked by some peculiar kind of umbilical cord.
How is it that doctors are permitted to act with such incredible speed on such occasions but work at snail’s pace when genuine patients seek treatment at State medical institutions? Why is nothing being done by the government to stop such unseemly practices? Is it because politicians fear that some day they too may need to resort to such short cuts to comfort when their turn comes along?
If this government which speaks in such high moral tones cannot act to curb such crass practices, it is time that a public and especially patients who are deprived of needy treatment and are ill-treated whenever these so called doctors take to the streets, decide that enough is enough and deal with the GMOA with appropriate and proportionate retaliation.
It was not too long ago that some fuel filling stations refused to provide services to striking doctors. If all sectors providing similar services deny serving recalcitrant doctors until they start behaving like civilised professionals and not publicity seeking and money grabbing hoodlums the sooner they will learn that they cannot dictate terms often on matters that do not directly concern them.
What actually happened on this Black Friday I cannot, of course, say. But if these despicable doctors behaved with little or no concern for the public as they have done before then they deserve more than mere condemnation.
Unfortunately this government is so brittle and some of its leading lights possibly have connections with some medicine men and women, that little is done to clamp down on them.
One is reminded of the swift and meaningful action taken by President J. R. Jayewardene when doctors of the day threatened his government with trade union action. The previous night ‘ JR’ invoked the Public Security Act and declared the provision of medical facilities an essential service. The Act provided for the confiscation of the private property if necessary, of those who violated the law. That stopped the doctors in their tracks. They did not want to lose their assets.
Unfortunately loud- mouthed politicians and equally loud-mouthed and rather empty headed doctors work in tandem in a disgraceful display of political thuggery. None of them would have dared challenge JR had he been holding the reins of power.
Consider politicians such as Udaya Gammanpila who seem to have nothing to do but hold news conferences on every conceivable subject. Last week he made the strange claim that “Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka has put the lives of over 300,000 soldiers in danger by stating that he will provide evidence against military personnel who committed war crimes during the war,” one website reported.
“Speaking to the media at a press briefing today, MP Gammanpila stated that the only way to save the lives of the soldiers is to diagnose the field marshal as a mental patient”, the website added.
How the lives of “over 300,000” could be endangered is not only a mathematical inexactitude but downright silly unless Gammanpila is conceding that the entire armed forces have in fact committed war crimes, which I do not think is what Sarath Fonseka actually said or anybody believes.
It is this kind of hyperbolic nonsense that those like Gammanpila are capable of and, in this case, indirectly condemns all soldiers who they repeatedly glorify.
In these circumstances some might well ask who should actually be certified for mental disequilibrium not “diagnosed” as Gammanpila reportedly said, unless this loquacious politician can call on a GMOA doctor to do so.
It is this sort of political jocularity that makes one’s day. Last Sunday, for instance, this newspaper wrote that the education minister who apparently prefers the multi-barrelled name of Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, carried hilarious instances of employment provided by him to party or personal supporters.
In one instance a driver has been appointed to a school in a place called Naula in the Matale district. The problem is that the driver has nothing to drive except perhaps the headmaster crazy. The school has no vehicle.
Then again he is said to have appointed two cooks to a school in the Dambulla district. Now that school has two many cooks with nothing to cook. It has no kitchen. Perhaps the minister will soon deploy them to cook somebody else’s goose.
Since his UNP leader not so long ago promised a million jobs, this is probably the education minister’s contribution to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s worthy cause of solving the unemployment problem.
Such economic whizz kids are surely necessary. Now the education minister having educated himself on problem solving can proudly turn to his leader and say “Hail Ranil, I come bearing thee worthy news”.
The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) sticking to their plans to block roads leading to Colombo city on Friday. Pic by Amila Gamage