Plus - Letter to the editor

OPA should award medals of honour to the armed forces

By T. Gunaratne, Dehiwala

Reading Professor Priyan Dias’s letter (The Sunday Times, June 7) on the case of the three doctors who were allegedly found passing on misleading information from the war zone, one may assume that the writer’s main grouse was that the doctors had been suspended by the Ministry of Health, pending a formal inquiry to ascertain whether their behaviour while carrying out their public service duties had in any way brought disrepute to the country.

Anyone familiar with the public service in Sri Lanka, or that of any civilised country for that matter, would agree that an inquiry of this kind is quite the correct procedure in a situation of this nature, regardless of whether the medical officers concerned were “professionals” or not.

We should keep in mind at all times that no one is above the law. It is possible that disciplinary inquiries of this nature are alien to Sri Lanka’s institutions of higher education, especially among university professors and lecturers. One is forced to assume that Prof. Dias belongs to that esteemed academic system.

Prof. Dias goes on to criticise the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) for keeping silent on this matter, suggesting that the association had become racist and is ineffective. On the contrary, the GMOA has been very wise in not interfering with the course of justice. He then goes on to suggest that the Organisation of Professional Associations of Sri Lanka (OPA) give the three doctors medals of honour, should the GMOA fail to do so.

Whether or not the OPA has the credentials to present such honours, Prof. Dias’s letter raises an important question: Who is a professional in the Sri Lanka context?

The Sri Lanka Army, led by its officers and top brass, fought a very professional battle in defeating the LTTE, considered the best-equipped terror outfit in the world. Our armed services have been so successful that they have practically wiped the LTTE off the face of the earth. This is something even superpowers like the United States and powerful nations like the UK have not been able to achieve in their own battles against terrorists, or any enemy or entity they felt was getting in the way.

If the OPA is in a position to award medals of honour, going by the professor’s faith in the excellence of the OPA, perhaps the organisation should seriously consider awarding medals of honour to the three armed forces and the Defence Secretary.

Professionals, be they business, industrial or academic, must not forget that virtually all management principles were born in actual battles like the one recently concluded by the lagoon of Nanthikadal.

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