Abolish SAITM, says Patali

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

The SAITM private medical degree-awarding institution should be abolished with immediate effect, even prior to the Supreme Court order, Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said. Addressing the media at the Party Office in Battaramulla yesterday. Ranawaka stressed that SAITM should be legally abolished as a permanent measure and not as a temporary one pending the Supreme Court decision. completely abolished. Minister Ranawaka emphasised the necessity of ensuring justice for the students recruited for the medical degree the during past eight years. He further stressed that the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) should prepare a special mechanism to provide facilities for SAITM students who have qualified with the required z-score level to follow a medical degree in Sri Lanka to become a doctor after completing their degree. Students who have not qualified to follow a medical degree should be directed to follow any other courses or measures should be taken to teimburse their money.

The Minister proposed to use the SAITM building and other facilities for the Medical Faculty which has already been proposed to be established by the University of Moratuwa.

Minister Ranawaka said that it was fruitless to to continue with SAITM by seeking taking court orders, since this has already become a major issue.

Minister Ranawaka charged that some political forces are attempting to gain political mileage from this issue.

“Even former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is also attempting to do that,” Minister Ranawaka said.

“Around 7,000 students currently studying at government medical faculties have boycotted lectures for about six to seven months. Around 1,600 students who have completed their final year examinations are waiting for their clinical training while another 1,600 students are currently receiving clinical training at government hospitals,” the Minister said.

“Another 1,600 students who completed their clinical training are now waiting their appointments. Nearly 12,000 students who have entered government medical faculties after obtaining the best results at the O/L and A/L examinations under very competitive circumstances expect to be a doctor. Therefore, everyone should talk more about the fate of these 12,000 students than 1000 students studying at SAITM,” Minister Ranawaka said.

He further claimed that the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) is a powerful professional association with a large number of medical professionals.

“The SLMC has the legal authority to regulate medical education in the country. Therefore,the government should immdiately come to an agreement with the SLMC to solve this issue.

The SAITM issue cannot be solved on the streets or at hospitals and it can only be solved through a transparent agreement between the Government and the SLMC followed by a in depth analysis of the issue,” the Minister said.

Minister Ranawaka charged that the architect of SAITM was former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“When I opposed the establishment of SAITM in 2012,the former President asked me to discuss the matter with then Higher Education Minister S.B Dissanayake, claiming that it was the Higher Education Minister’s decision.Then I met Minister S.B.Dissanayake at his home and we discussed the matter with him for a long time. I then realised that the SAITM was established as a sample medical faculty to determine the social response with the intention of establishing three more medical faculties for Basil, Gotabhaya and Namal,” Minister Ranawaka alleged.

The Minister further revealed that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa paid a large amount of compensation by bringing the Military Hospital to the premises where SAITM owner Neville Fernando’s Central Hospital was situated.

“The Narahenpita Military Hospital was expanded. After that, Neville Fernando sold his land.A Rs.600 million loan was granted to Neville Fernando by the Bank of Ceylon,”Minister Ranawaka said. “This is how Mahinda extended political support for the establishment of SAITM,” Minister Ranawaka alleged.

“This issue should be solved by protecting the country’s free education system,” he said.

“The SAITM issue cannot be solved only through a legal procedure since it has become a social and political issue in the country. This issue could result in a tragedy like what we eperienced in 88/89. Therefore, we urge the President and the Prime Minister to come to an immediate agreement with the SLMC without putting the doctors, students and the whole country in to trouble,” Minister Ranawaka added.