Kathmandu, January 15
Members of the high-level Mathema commission have criticised the government and the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmakers for not implementing an agreement reached with Dr Govinda KC, a senior orthopaedic surgeon, terming it a ‘betrayal’.
Dr KC, who is staging a hunger strike for 16th time in Ilam, has demanded that the government formulate the National Medical Education Bill based on the report submitted by the commission led by former Tribhuvan University Vice-chancellor Kedar Bhakta Mathema three years ago, among other things.
The government had signed a nine-point agreement with Dr KC on July 26, 2018 to end the latter’s 15th hunger strike. The agreement was signed at the direction of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who deputed NCP Deputy Parliamentary Party Leader Subash Chandra Nembang and NCP General Secretary Bishnu Paudel to sign the deal on his behalf.
But six months after the agreement, the parliamentary Education and Health Committee on January 7 endorsed a draft bill excluding some of the points in the agreement. Subsequently, the panel’s Chair Jaya Puri Gharti presented the bill in the House of Representatives on Sunday. The Parliament is likely to discuss the bill on Friday.
Talking to The Himalayan Times, Mathema and commission members Dr Madan Upadhaya and Dr Ramesh Kanta Adhikari said the government and parliamentarians should to fulfil Dr KC’s demands.
“The government had signed an agreement with a satyagrahi. So the bill should be drafted according to the agreement,” Mathema told THT. “This agreement was initiated by the PM for which we had congratulated him . Another NCP Co-chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal was also present with Oli while deciding to sign the agreement. It should be implemented.”
He said they were always in favour of parliamentary supremacy and not trying to influence the House, but just requesting the government and the Parliament to ensure better and quality medical education.
Mathema also wondered how the TU and Kathmandu University could issue affiliations to medical colleges beyond their monitoring capabilities. “The TU already has issued affiliations to 10 such colleges and the KU has 11 medical colleges under it,” said Mathema. “They are already facing difficulties in effectively supervising and monitoring these colleges. In fact, the universities cannot even monitor more than three medical colleges, let alone five proposed by the bill.”
Another member of the Mathema commission Dr Madan Upadhaya said it would be a disaster if the ruling party pushed the bill through the Parliament on the basis of majority. “This could be the biggest ever betrayal by the government to Dr KC,” he said.
Upadhyaya said the PM had committed to implementing the agreement during his discussions with Dr KC’s team in Baluwatar before deciding to sign the agreement. The PM had even assured ruling and opposition party members of implementing the pact. “But now he has retracted,” he said.
Upadhyaya also expressed surprise over the bill’s provision for a medical university that came out of the blue. “How can you write in a bill that you are going to open a university?” he said.
Upadhyaya also said that the PM had to face a huge moral question if he dishonoured an agreement.
Another member of the Mathema commission Dr Ramesh Kanta Adhikari said they were just suggesting that the agreement reached with Dr KC be implemented. “The agreement is for the betterment of the medical education sector,” he said.
A version of this article appears in print on January 16, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.