There was confusion in Parliament yesterday over the Government’s position regarding its policy on mandatory cremation of COVID-19 victims after State Minister of Primary Health Services, Pandemics and COVID Prevention Sudharshini Fernandopulle, said that the decision on the matter would be made by a technical committee that comes under the Ministry of Health.
“The Health Ministry does not take personal decisions on policy matter, but it is done through a technical committee. We have to present this to the technical committee, and we will have to act according to their decision,” Fernandopulle said, a day after Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa told the House that the Government would allow burials. The State Minister made the remark after SJB MP Mujibur Rahuman asked when the government was planning to issue the Gazette notification revoking its cremation-only policy.
Following Fernandopulle’s comments SJB MP Rauff Hakeem questioned as to who in the “so-called” expert committee was blocking this.
“Yesterday the Prime Minister made a very categorical statement that burials will be permitted. I said this is a better late than never, mature decision by a mature leader. He understands not only the predicament of minorities but how it’s affecting reconciliation in the country. This is causing unnecessary racial tensions in the country and we are dragging the whole country into a total abyss by this conduct,” Hakeem said.
He said the issue had been going back and forth repeatedly to a committee full of pseudo-scientists.
“The Justice Minister Ali Sabry knows that Muslims on both sides have been agitating for this, and finally the Prime Minister has given a solemn undertaking in this House. Who is better than the Prime Minister to decide on this for the government? The government must not drag its feet on this issue, which has now gone to Geneva – and none of us want this to happen. Please take a mature and considerate decision, and do not insult the Prime Minister for God’s sake,” Hakeem said.