It is a matter for happiness that sanity has prevailed at long last and Mervyn Silva`s resignation as Deputy Media Minister has been accepted. The problem is now confined to the `highways`. (He has been appointed Deputy Minister of Highways.) Our roads are dangerous anyway with so many asphalt cowboys around and his appointment will not matter much!
Now, we learn that Mervyn resigned as Deputy Media Minister on Wednesday itself but, when inquiries were made by the media, he, true to form, chose to muddy the water. First, he said he had resigned and then he retracted his statement claiming that he would function as both Deputy Minister of Media and Deputy Minister of Highways thus prompting us to fire a salvo at President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
We wish we could make a garland of the brickbats we hurled at the President yesterday and offer it to him for having taken Mervyn off our back but the fact remains that he should have known better than to make that harebrained appointment. However, he deserves the credit for having rectified, albeit with some delay, a horrendous mistake which caused his government to incur much opprobrium. Some international outfits that did not utter a whimper of protest while the northern terrorists were committing heinous crimes against civilians including media personnel launched a campaign against Mervyn`s appointment, which became grist for their mill. They condemned it not out of any love for democracy or the media in this country but as part of a sinister campaign to give Sri Lanka a bad name.
We are also relieved to know that there is at least a single politician who is prepared to forego the pleasure of having a ministerial post. Sarath Amunugama is his name. Everybody thought he would be appointed a minister and, in fact, he deserved a ministry more than many others in the new Cabinet. But, he realised the President`s difficulty in expanding the Cabinet further and volunteered to do without a ministerial portfolio. His example is worthy of emulation.
The people of Kandy, we believe, must be regretting that they did not give Dr. Amunugama the highest number of preferential votes in that district.
Needed: The right medicine
The State run hospitals are experiencing a chronic shortage of drugs. And the health authorities are playing Sri Lanka`s national game passing the buck. They are quite adept at shirking their responsibilities and getting away with it by trotting out lame excuses.
Yesterday, we reported that Treasury Chief Dr. P. B. Jayasundera had put his technocratic finger on what really had caused the prevailing scarcity of drugs. He is reported to have blamed the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) for the situation and flayed some of its officials at a meeting. Our report said he had told them point blank that some SPC officials had not replenished stocks of drugs so that they could line their pockets through emergency purchases which carried commissions.
Now that the Treasury Chief has diagnosed the disease, the onus is on the new Minister of Health Maithreepala Sirisena to administer the right medicine. He must order a high level probe into Dr. Jayasundera`s allegation and nab the corrupt officials concerned. His refusal to do so will amount to connivance. But, the question is whether he wants to open a can of worms for his predecessor cum cabinet chum who seems to have slept on the job.
Health workers are an aggressive lot. They specialise in staging wildcat strikes at the drop of a hat and some of them even go so far as to remove oxygen tubes of patients in intensive care units in a bid to win their demands! Will they and their powerful belligerent union bosses bring pressure to bear on the new Health Minister to investigate the Treasury Chief`s allegation?