GMOA's muscle flexing | Daily News


GMOA's muscle flexing

The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) which is always spoiling for a fight with the Government, and the Health Minister in particular, by taking up issues that have no relevance to the medical profession, has once again revealed its true face - that of being an appendage of the Joint Opposition and an organisation doing the bidding of the Rajapaksas.

The Government doctors have, time and again, agitated for causes and issues that are outside their ken, in the process causing hardship to the innocent patients with the aim of directing public disaffection towards the Government. The GMOA was in the vanguard of student protests against the establishment of the SAITM, although the private medical institute had its origins in the Rajapaksa era. That it kept mum over the Kotalawela Defence Academy which enrolled private medical students was ample proof that the GMOA was into a political game.

It, thereafter, staged strikes and crippled the health sector against the Government entering into trade agreements with India and Singapore. Here again is a subject that is outside the scope of the medical profession and we were constrained to raise issue in these spaces with the doctors as to what competence did they possess on matters relating to trade and investment and their status to dictate Government policy in this regard.

With the trade agreements, over which the GMOA was tearing its hair and gnashing its teeth, already in operation, the doctors have apparently opened another flank with which to bludgeon the Government. Yesterday, the GMOA members were due to launch a sick note campaign against the Counter Terrorism draft Bill and the salary anomalies of the executive grades in the public service. The doctors were planning to carry out a street protest in Colombo with the participation of 17 trade unions representing Administrative Service officers which was to culminate in a petition being handed over to the President.

Why pray, should members of the medical profession concern themselves with legislative matters which are the sole preserve of the elected Government in power? How can the Counter Terrorism law affect government doctors unless it has sinister plans in the offing? How can a Government conduct affairs of the State by caving into the demands of trade unions? Won't this lead to a state of anarchy? Here we have a group of educated professionals who are looked upon with respect and reverence by the public conducting themselves as juveniles in pursuit of a not so hidden political agenda.

Perhaps, the impending major elections have galvanized the doctors to look around for any issue they could lay their hands on to floor the Government. From the looks of things they are all out to strike while the iron is hot (pun intended). The estrangement of the President with the Government, no doubt, has given them this opportunity to turn in the knife, so to speak. They have certainly taken the battle to the Government as the countdown is already on. The latest campaign by the doctors, of course, is the culmination a series of other politically motivated actions mounted against the Government by this mafia.

Of course, the GMOA has shed all pretenses to being an apolitical body. Its President, no less, is often seen among the audience at the Eilya and Viyath Maga ‘do's of Gotabaya Rajapaksa touted as the next Presidential candidate from the SLPP. Not long ago, he (GMOA President) was also a speaker at an anti-Government trade union rally opposite the Fort Railway station where he bad mouthed two Government Ministers and also the judiciary for which he has been hauled up for Contempt.

A private television channel sponsored medical clinic, not long ago, featured members of the GMOA, treating patients to a background tune often heard serenading Mahinda Rajapaksa to the main stage. During the recent political crisis the GMOA wrote to the Ambassadors of the western countries pleading for the acceptance of the illegal Government.

No doubt, strikes by the GMOA will continue in intensity as D-Day draws near. There is nothing more appalling to the public than to see the suffering of the innocent patients in various poses of agony lying on the benches in Government hospitals. The pro-Rajapaksa TV channels will see to that and also get voice cuts laying the blame at the doorstep of the Government. Yesterday’s ‘sick note’ campaign is only a glimpse of things to come.

The Government should not compromise as it did not compromise on the trade agreements. A bunch of doctors cannot be allowed dictate to a Government on what course it should follow. There is speculation that some of the present GMOA hierarchy is poised to contest in the national election from the Pohottuwa, including its President. If true, this perhaps could be an explanation as to the frequency in which some of them appear on television, giving press conferences. This, in itself, is not objectionable. What, though, is the suffering inflicted on innocent patients by recourse to wildcat strikes. After all the patients too are among those who financed their education by way of indirect taxes.

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