Enough is enough. Period. The time has come to label the GMOA as the newest terror in town. As the Sunday Times editorial said last week:  ‘The GMOA’s use of hapless patients is no different to when the LTTE used civilians as human shields.’ The only difference is this. Whilst the intransigent Tamil Tigers used [...]


GMOA’s 8 billion ransom demand to free poor and sick held hostage


Enough is enough. Period. The time has come to label the GMOA as the newest terror in town.

As the Sunday Times editorial said last week:  ‘The GMOA’s use of hapless patients is no different to when the LTTE used civilians as human shields.’

The only difference is this.

Whilst the intransigent Tamil Tigers used the barrel of the gun with ruthlessness in their futile attempt to separate the island mass and create a utopian Eelam on Lankan soil, the belligerent Government doctors’ trade union use their stethoscope tubes without scruple or remorse to coerce the Government to grant their demands. And have no qualms of placing in peril the lives of the poor and the sick.

The Tigers’ threat was to press the trigger against the innocent heads of the Tamil populace to cow down a nation to give into its demands.  The doctors’ threat is to deny the use of the medical profession’s much fangled ear, diaphragm, bell and chest piece tube to the poor and sick who need their succour most at that worst hour when they hang suspended between life and imminent death.

Both are lethal weapons. The gun when it’s fired. The stethoscope when it’s denied. And if the doctors were to place the symbolic stethoscope of their profession to the ground and give ear, they may well hear the rumblings of a nation that will soon erupt in quakes to engulf them all.

The manner in which the GMOA holds this country’s sick and the poor as hostages to advance sans limit doctors’ fortunes and demand a ransom of 8 billion bucks annually to be paid to their 17,000 strong brigands who have the power over the life and death of their patients, hasn’t only shocked the nation but exhausted the coffer of its long patience and brought its tightrope of tolerance to the end of its tether.

Last Friday, the GMOA went on strike again. It was nothing new. It has been their practice for the last three years, ever since the Sirisena government was elected to office, to resort to strikes and hold the sick to ransom.

And what were their demands this time around whilst they held those whose only wealth was their health to ransom?

A kappan of 8 billion bucks to treat their fellow beings. The same people who, through indirect taxes, had financed these doctors’ education and elevated them to the exalted level to play god or act as terrorists empowered with the unquestioned right to determine the fate of another human solely to earn an extra buck no black caped judge possesses when he is called upon to pass the death sentence on a man found guilty of murder or rape.

And what’s the breakdown of this Rs 8 billion demand? It’s the first in the list of ten commandments issued as an ultimatum to the Government to pay up or else they will hold the nation’s poor and sick as hostages.

And it’s all to do with a travelling allowance. It is called by the fancy title of Disturbance, Availability and Transport (DAT). Already government doctors are paid a travelling allowance of Rs. 35,000 a month at a total cost of over Rs 7 billion. The GMOA wants it doubled to 70,000 or 85,000 a month. The National Salaries and Cadre Commission states that there are 18,508 doctors serving. Therefore, the current annual expenditure on paying the DAT allowance is Rs 7.7 billion. The new GMOA demand was to ask for it to be doubled. So that doctors can have a better drive to their destination or else their keep – the poor and sick – will meet a quicker exit from this world.

If the nation’s treasury has unlimited money at its disposal, if it has an orchard of kapruk trees where money grows on its boughs, no problem. And no one will grumble. The reality, of course, is different.

How many died as a result of the doctors strike last Friday, how many the GMOA doctors  may have condemned to death by their wild cat strikes will, alas, never be known.

Those seriously ill who turned up at the hospitals with the greatest difficulty and were turned away advised to come the following day by some nurse on duty since ‘no show’ by striking doctors, may well have died at home due to lack of medical treatment and care. Their deaths and the cause of their deaths would only be known to their sorrowing family and friends.  And thus never became a statistic in any investigation that their deaths were due to the doctors’ strike. The heartbreak and pain of such needless deaths would only be known to those who suffered the loss of their beloved as a result of GMOA doctors’ relentless mercenary quest to ask, and to ask in this mentally twisted fashion, for more.

Pause here to consider how times have changed. How doctors who  swore to uphold the time-honoured ethics and practices of the Hippocratic oath — which upon qualification they still must take but uphold now in name only — now follow the terrorist code that the end, if it brings them money and power, justifies the means even if means mass murder.

Contrast this new Taliban school of terrorist thought with the noblesse of the old. Even whilst doctors of today enjoy duty free cars and are now clamouring to double their travel allowance at a further 8 billion buck cost to the nation; and are totally prepared sans qualm, sans remorse to risk the life of the poor and sick of Lanka to achieve their monetary goals in pursuit of self advancement, consider a para published last year in August in the Sri Lanka Medical Association’s publication which reveals the nobility, the humility, the compassion  of the medical profession that earned the public’s respect and gratitude. Written by a senior and veteran physician, the well known Dr Rajendran states therein “When I was a member of the GMOA, we did not own even a duty free bicycle. But we continued to work and be on call 23 hours a day despite the low salaries that were paid compared to those working in the mercantile sector. There was no private practice then and no overtime. There were no major epidemics then like the present Dengue epidemic. Even then, for obvious reasons, token or indefinite strikes were not thought of by the doctors.”

Not the kind of tablets that Dr. Padeniya brings down from his mountain top as present GMOA president and prescribes to his membership, is it? What he and his fellow members of the GMOA’s executive committee now write in their prescriptions as a placebo for the nation’s ill is a pill of a political generic kind.

Even after last Friday’s heartless strike against the innocents, which may have caused the death of many in homes unknown, GMOA president Padeniya was hell bent on his mission to strike again and again. Having turned the image of the doctors union from being angels of healing to devils of death, he vowed to unleash wave after wave of terror strikes to force the Government to give into his demands.

Even as their 24-hour island wide token strike on Friday came to an end at 8 a.m. last Saturday, a strike  which successfully crippled the health service throughout the country, including the Out Patient Department (OPD) treatment in most government hospitals, severely inconveniencing thousands of patients, Dr Padeniya, who specialises in caring for infant children and who has his own lucrative private practice,  moonlighting  as he does at many private hospitals after his morning stint at the government hospital was quick off the mark to warn the Government that it should brace itself to expect a wave of similar strikes if it failed to provide solutions to the issues they raised.

But will it be the government that will fall victim to his terror threat? No, as President said this week (see box story): Your strike actions will not hurt the Government.  “It will only hurt the sick.”

And who will that sick be? Certainly not the very rich and politicians, including the Minister of Health, who fly off to Singapore or the United States, even to get a checkup done or a cold cured. Certainly not the rich who have the finances to afford to seek treatment at private hospitals. Certainly not  the parents who bring their children to seek the medical help of Dr. Padeniya which he offers at Rs. 2,000 bucks a channeled visit each time they knock on his channeled door? Is it executive members of the mercantile sector who are covered by company funded medical insurance schemes?

The patients who will suffer again and again with these doctors’ strikes that Dr. Padeniya engineers time and time again are those who, living on the poverty line,  are dealt a devastating medical blow and have to seek treatment at a government hospital only to find no doctor on call.

When Dr. Death strikes, he strikes at the very heart of the nation’s poor. And the grim reaper’s scythe falls on the les miserables of this nation. It’s always the poor who have to bear the brunt for others to enjoy their perks and privileges.

But there seems to be no end to the GMOA’s agenda to create terror in the country. They obviously do not like the alarming trend of their growing militancy to be questioned or criticised by anyone. The newest terror tactic deployed is now levelled against the media. To label any journalist who criticise their actions and publicly name him as a traitor acting gain the interest of the motherland.

Last week the Sunday Observer reported the Dr. Padeniaya had announced that the GMOA under his command and direction was in the process of compiling a ‘traitors list of journalists’. The news report is as follows:

“President of the Government Medical Officers’ Association, Dr Anuruddha Padeniya, incensed by the fact that he was forced to admit that only about half of the private practitioners had participated in the token strike, retorted that the trade union was currently in the process of compiling a ‘traitors’ list of journalists working against the interests of the motherland.

“We have created a point scheme. In Psychiatry, there is a method to identify people who betray the country. We are going to launch this list and keep it online with the materials you publish. So we can display that you are carrying out a contract,” he threatened a reporter over the telephone last Friday. The journalist reported that the article had not even been published yet, but Dr Padeniya responded that there was ‘no point’, because journalists at the Sunday Observer were supportive of selling the country. “You should be ashamed of doing such a job. If I were you, I would stay home and cultivate rather than work for a paper like yours,” the GMOA president charged during the conversation.

“I know you must be recording this. That is good. Let others in your newspaper also listen to this,” Dr Padeniya added.”

The penalty for a traitor, in most countries around the world, is death. So it is in Lanka as contained in its penal code.

The motherland is an abstract concept. It’s not the soil or its sod or its river, stream or canal. It’s the people who live upon it. And even as Dr Padeniaya shaves this Sunday morning before his mirror he should ask his reflected image: who is the traitor acting against the people of this country? Is it the medical mafia who put at risk thousands of lives of the poor and sick of this motherland by their remorseless strikes to deny their right to health or is it the media who question and criticise and say to this medical mob ‘oh when doctors strike the poor, the sick will cry, and perhaps some will die but why, oh why, for are they to be blamed for their leaders’ shame in their failure to address and give redress to the grievances of the downtrodden masses who have no name?

Once doctors were the pillars of society. A doctor in the house was an honoured guest at any party. Today they are trash. Thanks to Dr. Padeniya who leads the GMOA on their political course to create anarchy in this country.

And talking of his statement with regard to compiling a traitors lists of journalists, that ‘In Psychiatry, there is a method to identify people who betray the country. We are going to launch this list and keep it online with the materials you publish,” one has only to consider the prima facie proof that something has snapped and their thinking has gone wonky, revealed in the statement made by the GMOA that their previous campaign of strike action which denied medical treatment to all Lankans and put at risk their lives, were done to “protect the patient’s right to life.

You’re not hurting the Govt: You’re only hurting the poorPresident Sirisena to GMOA:

PRESIDENT SIRISENA: Makes striking appeal to the GMOA to think of the nation’s poor

President Sirisena this week lashed out at the GMOA’s strike last Friday and their new threats to lash waves after waves of similar nationwide strikes, including a threat made that they will unleash a strike this country has never seen before.
He said:

“If the doctors think that this strike action will in anyway hurt this government, it is a misapprehension. Strikes will not hurt us. Strikes will not hurt the Government. These strikes only hurt the innocent poor masses. I appeal to the doctors to strike on behalf of patients’ rights. If there are no medicines to treat them, then strike saying there are no medicines.

“If there are no instruments and facilities to treat them, then by all means strike saying there are no instruments and facilities to treat patients. If there are shortcomings in the free health service, then show them and go on strike to get it corrected.

“All these strikes only affect the poor. The down and out. The rich do not come to government hospitals. Those who have money don’t come to government hospitals. All these strikes only hit the poor.”

How true.
The GMOA has made their opposition to the FTA signed by the Government with Singapore recently and called for its abrogation as one of the main strike demands; and has trespassed upon a province it has no right to step upon. Strike action based on such intrusions risking the lives of patients, may ironically pave the way for the public to demand of the Government to bring in foreign doctors to treat Lanka’s sick in order to overcome GMOA intransigence.

And the winner of the ‘Kiss of  the Year’ award goes to …

POLL WINNER: Lankan Prime Minister Ranil lands a peck on the cheek of award-winning actress Pooja a’la mode French PM Macron and Croatian President Kolinda

GOAL WIINER: French Prime Minister Macron steals the Worlds Cup Football final with a winning kiss from Croatia’s President Kolinda

Ranil’s smacker a’la mode Macron-Kolinda wows the crowd
OOH LA LA! The Prime Minister was in dashing form when he planted a smacker on the cheeks of South Indian actress Pooja Umashankar when she won the best actress of the year award for her role as Maria in the film Sarigama at the Sarasaviya Film Festival held last week.

It was a smooch a’la mode the Macron and Kolinda kiss which happened at the World Cup Football final in France just three weeks ago when France played against Croatia and won the cup and enabled the French Prime Minister to steal a kiss from the Croatian President Kolinda.

Pooja, whose mother Sandhya is Sinhalese while her father H.R. Umashankar is an Indian Kannadiga Brahmin from Karnataka not only won her best actress award but won the prime-ministerial eye when even before she shook the extended hand she first did a twirl before shaking it.

But there was more to come. She managed to melt the normally stiff, stuffy and aloof Ranil and make him come out of his shell and closet to do the honours when she offered her cheeks for it to be kissed. To be graced by a prime ministerial peck.

And the ever chivalrous knight Ranil couldn’t make him snub the fair maiden’s offer — an offer he couldn’t refuse — even though it may have made his home front be painted green.

But, no doubt his explanation would have been accepted with maithrie and karuna when he said: Sometimes a man’s got to do what a gentleman ought and must do.

PS: For Lankan prudes who frowned upon the innocent scene, let them be told of the history of the Order of the Garter. Britain’s King Edward III was dancing with Joan of Kent, his first cousin and daughter-in-law. Her garter slipped down to her ankle, causing people around her to mock her.

In an act of chivalry, Edward placed the garter around his own leg saying, in Middle French, “Shame on him who thinks evil of it. Those who laugh at this today, will be proud to wear it tomorrow, because this band will be worn with such honour that those mocking now will be looking for it with much eagerness.”

And the moral of the story: Evil to him who thinks evil.

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