Minister of Higher Education Lakshman Kiriella who is embroiled in a fresh controversy for using his political influence to make a university appointment has gone berserk using foul language and accusing a journalist of the ‘Ada’ newspaper, Amith Maduranga, of partial reporting.
Kiriella, told Maduranga to first read the University Act, where according to Kiriella he has the power to make such appointments. The journalist came under abuse when he contacted the minister to verify the authenticity of the letter reportedly sent by Kiriella to the head of the political science department of the Kelaniya University.
Continuing his verbal diarrhoea, Kiriella also went on to say that they did not throw out pro-Rajapaksa supporters from the university, even though they spoke against Maithripala Sirisena during the election.
“Before questioning us, you better first read the university act,” he said in Sinhala using words such as ‘thamuse’ and far more abusive words.
“Are you’ll journalists? You’ll are not journalists. I have all the power to make such appointments but I am not even using them to the maximum,” he said, while continuing to verbally abuse the journalist.
Kiriella’s media office yesterday in a statement claimed that in accordance to article 19 of the university act, the minister had the authority to make recommendations.
Article 19 of the Universities Act says; “The Minister shall be responsible for the general direction of university education and the administration of this Act”
Meanwhile, former President of the Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA) Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri yesterday said that interpreting article 19 of the university act, which reads as ‘The Minister shall be responsible for the general direction of university education and the administration of this Act,’ was completely hilarious.
“If you interpret it in the way the minister has interpreted it, then the minister is capable of anything. This justification is even more dangerous than the letter itself,” Dewasiri added.
The Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA), had raised concerns over President Maithripala Sirisena’s good governance policy, after Higher Education Minister Lakshman Kiriella tried to influence his way to get a supporter appointed as a lecturer to the Kelaniya University.
The association expressed disappointment to the President saying that the Minister’s letter was an indication that the current government was reinforcing political interference in the university’s system.
“We would like to bring to your attention to the fact that Minister Kiriella previously attempted to appoint a member to the Council of the University of Kelaniya. His conduct as the minister in charge of higher education is condemned as it is both unethical and irresponsible,” the letter stated.
FUTA while condemning the minister’s action as a political interference to the national university system, called on President Sirisena for an assurance that political interference of such would not take place in future.