GMOA’s political project

Daily News Editorial

GMOA big gun Dr. Anuruddha Padeniya on Friday left no one in doubt about his political affiliations. He has from time to time betrayed the fact he is a Rajapaksa sympathizer, though not in explicit terms. But, during his speech, opposite the Fort Railway Station, on Friday, in the middle of the doctors’ strike Padeniya who is given to fiery speeches, like a politician in full cry, surpassed himself when he used uncouth language that was unbecoming of a member of the medical profession.

Laying into the Yahapalanaya government, Padeniya, in an obvious reference to the Health Minister and the Higher Education Minister, went onto describe them as amanayo for their unyielding stand on the SAITM issue. What is more, Padeniya also dealt a broadside even on the country’s justice system querying as to what is the point of having courts if it cannot deliver proper judgements. The image created by Padeniya on Friday is the furthest one could have of a member of the medical profession. It also revealed the GMOA to be just like any other Trade Union whose members gather at Lipton’s Circus shouting slogans.

Cartoon added by TW from internetImage result for gmoa cartoons

It has been the GMOA’s professed stand hat it did not support any political party but fought for the issues confronting the medical profession and the rights of patients. However the speech made by Padeniya and others in the GMOA on Friday left no doubt that the doctors’ Trade Union was working to a political agenda and were in fact foot soldiers of the Rajapaksas. The tone and tenor of some of its members and the hatred betrayed by its office bearers during press conferences and public speeches leaves little doubt as to where the sympathies of the GMOA lay. This is also confirmed in the doctors venturing out into extraneous issues such as ETCA which certainly is not the province of members of the medical profession.

The GMOA, has, all but shed any pretenses of being a Trade Union with no political affiliations and shown itself to be wedded to the campaign to bring the Rajapaksas back to power. It is no secret that prominent members of the GMOA enjoyed special privileges under Mahinda Rajapaksa, and what is more, the GMOA openly campaigned for the election of MR. It is also revealing how mute the GMOA was during the Rajapaksa presidency where no notable protest or demonstrations took place. It is time the GMOA’s true face was exposed.

SAITM was not the creation of the Yahapalanaya government but was established during the Rajapaksa era. Not only that, Mahinda Rajapaksa also requested that scholarships be awarded by SAITM to deserving students. What was the GMOA doing then? Did the likes of Padeniya let out fire and brimstone, like he did on Friday, when the SAITM was operating without let or hindrance under Rajapaksa. Or, as Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said, was the GMOA in mortal fear of Gota and was only now disporting themselves like cardboard heroes? Did the doctors make even a whimper of protest when the Kotalawala Defence Academy, that was under the then Defence Secretary, was given the license to confer medical degrees? Why only target SAITM? Do members of the GMOA fear a new class of doctors emerging from SAITM to challenge their dominance?

Like Minister Kiriella said, the GMOA has no right to interfere in Sri Lanka’s medical education. As it is, the country is badly hit by a dearth of medical practitioners and matters can only further aggravate, with all medical faculties in state universities closed as a result of the anti-SAITM protest. The GMOA should squarely take the blame for inciting students to take to the streets, blighting their future. Today, it is not just the medical students but even ordinary schoolchildren, with no inkling of the SAITM issue, too have been co-opted into the anti-SAITM campaign. Even a candlelight vigil was held the other day in Fort, with little children participating, giving the impression that SAITM is the biggest issue confronting the country. Obviously, a large sum of money has been pumped into the whole project which has taken on a virulent anti-government hue.

Now that the GMOA has unraveled itself in no uncertain terms, and shown its hand, the government should not compromise on SAITM or any other unreasonable demand by the doctors. It should certainly not be allowed to meddle into affairs not medical. We say this because the doctors are bound to come out with all guns firing when the ETCA is signed in the coming months. Members of the medical profession cannot tell the government how to run the country’s economy. Friday’s strike and protest meeting may well be a trial balloon with more agitations in the offing, led by the GMOA. The doctors are certainly going all out to cause public disaffection towards the government, with elections round the corner. There is nothing more that could direct the public ire on a government than the plight of poor patients going without treatment, as shown on television, every time the doctors go on strike.