15 November, 2018

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Belief In The Worth Of Teachers At S. Thomas’ Colleges

By Panini Edirisinhe

Panini Edirisinhe

Panini Edirisinhe

There has been much recent discussion of the role of Private Schools and their place in the social fabric of Sri Lanka. The touching story of the Kuliyapitiya Boy, Rahul, clearly illustrated the effectiveness with which a private Anglican school was able to resolve an issue that the country was agonising over.

These Anglican schools are among the best in the country, yet I see them beset with many a vexed question in their running. The greatest anxiety appears to be regarding the staffing of these schools. The school at Mt Lavinia has the fewest such problems and I see this as being because there is a neat and clear system of administration. The OBA is active and has two members on the fifteen member Board of Governors, while the Staff elect one member. How these elections are to take place is clearly laid out here.

These are rules that can be changed by the Board itself, but it is good that they are rarely tampered with, although my intention is to draw attention to some sections which need, urgently, to be changed.

The very special role that these schools used to play is reflected in this Ordinance which can be changed only by An Act of Parliament, and amending it is hardly ever considered.

S. Thomas' Colleges, GurutalawaIn early January 2016, the Staff of the College at Mt Lavinia unanimously elected Mr Channa Asela de Silva, as their Representative on the Board, with no interference from the Administration. There often is a contest for this election and only an Anglican who is not an employee can be elected. This year, nobody ran against Channa who had been an exemplary teacher of Mathematics and had retired early to continue his teaching privately.

Long before the Annual General Meeting of the OBA on Friday, the 13th of February, all members of the OBA received profiles of the six proposed and seconded candidates. The conduct of the elections with printed ballot papers, ballot boxes etc. could hardly have been improved upon.

However, there have by now arisen a multitude of problems over how the three Branch Schools elect two Board Members to represent them – one to represent the three OBAs, and the other to represent the “Tutorial and Administrative Staffs” of the three schools. The OBAs are at least conscious of their rights, but the Staff Representatives have always been “appointed” in questionable ways, although “the election shall be by secret ballot”. I had been discussing the conduct of these elections informally with the present Bishop of Colombo even before he had been formally inducted.

The elections for the Branch Schools this year were pushed back almost as far as possible, to “The Ides of March” (the 15th of March 2016); the new Board Members are to serve four years beginning on April Fools’ Day. I wrote formally to the Bishop, the Secretary to the Board, and the three Headmasters, “with copies to the staffs of the relevant schools” as long ago as the 23rd of November, stating that I could be considered a candidate, and asking what procedure was to be followed. I kept inquiring from the Headmasters on various occasions, but there was no official intimation of any sort.

The Headmaster of the Gurutalawa school is currently overseas, and he held the elections very fairly and impartially in early February 2016. It now appears that they alone, for the third successive time, held an election transparently and by secret ballot. I happen to live very close to the Bandarawela school, and I kept trying to persuade the Headmaster to have proper elections; those he promised but refused to divulge details. There were three declared candidates: Mr Chrishmal Warnasuriya, Mr Christopher Gonawela, and myself. I have spoken to both the others today, the 16th of March, and we are all agreed that our primary goal was not our personal election, but ensuring that the contest was conducted properly.

When I consulted a leading lawyer, who, like me had been a student in three of the four Thomian schools, on the 1st of March, he told me that I couldn’t define myself in to being a candidate, and that at this election, given the poor wording of the Rules, only the voters had rights. I immediately wrote to the Headmasters in Bandarawela and Kollupitiya telling them that given such an interpretation of the Rules, I would patiently sit it out for them to conduct fair elections.

The Headmasters of all three schools are Anglican priests and I have met them all and cordially discussed these elections with them, but I regret to state that it was only the election at Gurutalawa that I was satisfied with. I have a particularly affable relationship with the Headmaster at Bandarawela, but now it is with his “performance” that I am most dis-satisfied with.

When the e-mail I sent him got returned, I sent him a text message. As a measure of the inexplicablity of his conduct here are the texts of two Dialog sms messages:
Friday, 04/03/2016 4.20 p.m from me to Fr Christopher Balraj (his mobile number:+9477xxxxxxx):

“Please check ur email address. What I sent you 2 days ago has bounced & no sign of delivery. Also the school website seems inaccessible. Not really a complaint.”

His response from the same phone on Saturday, 05/03/2016 at 8.15 a.m.

“All email with school Managed by moratuwa uni has been blocked by SLT because the uni has not made the payments due to SLT I am told”

I am currently in Colombo, having left Bandarawela satisfied that a staff meeting was at last being held, on Thursday, the 10th March, to decide the election in a fitting way. Alas, many members of the Bandarawela staff are now furious. They had been told that Board Member to represent the staff had to be elected, but that the Bandarawela school would merely follow the lead given by the other two schools. Two delegates had, however, to be nominated. The Secretary to the school, a retired non-commissioned officer of the Airforce, agreed to represent the Administrative Staff. As for the Tutorial Staff, senior teacher after senior teacher, when requested to go, absolutely refused to go, saying that they had seen farcical elections enough during their service, and that this time they wanted a proper election. Finally, one of the few Old Boys on the staff had agreed to travel down to Kollupitiya on the Ides of March.

Reports I now receive suggest that there’s even more fury after the staff heard what had happened. It had been the Secretary-delegate, who had proposed the name of a man who had never been known to be a candidate, although the mandate he received at the Staff Meeting had been to agree to what came from the other two schools. Kollupitiya seconded. Gurutalawa just looked foolishly on. Obviously, making things even worse was the fact that a man with absolutely no academic qualifications (no, not even O. Levels) has been named the Staff Representative!

I have already received a protest letter sent by one of the other “declared” candidates and I have spoken briefly with both. Where do we go from here? I just don’t know; at least we can console ourselves that this reflects many other things in our world today!

I have been as objective as possible and avoided naming names. However, if any reader were to pose questions I shall respond with as many details as I am certain of. As Old Boys (aged ones, really), we desire no more than seeing the current teachers of the schools treated with respect; and I, for one, will not be satisfied with less!

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Latest comments

  • 7
    19

    Do we really need to write this on CT dont you feel CT website needs to focus more on current issues facing the country?

    • 22
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      My point of view our country is facing lot of issues. But among them Education sector and teachers of schools are facing lot of issues.So your argument is completely wrong.

    • 9
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      An online newspaper like the “Colombo Telegraph” is an ideal forum to discuss the future well-being of the 4 St. Thomas’ Colleges, in this information age. Most Thomians – old boys as well as present students – must be it’s readers.Then again, it’s now public knowledge how the children of the former president interfered with the management of St. Thomas’College, Mt. Lavinia. Concerned citizens – especially those who have children – do not like such things to happen again in the 4 St. Thomas’ Colleges in question.

      • 13
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        It is unfortunate that there are no authors to write about problems and issues of my Thumpane Central which was a great initiation CWW Kannangara. At the time when I was at Uni, there were number of Central College students (and another bunch of them who moved to Ananda, Naalanda after 7th year scholarships), but I don’t remember a single Thomian in Engineering faculty.
        But we have to admit that lot of lawyers, entrepreneurs who control the country are from these leading Catholic schools.. and we Central college engineers struggling to manage CEB transformers and large coal power plant.

        • 4
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          don’t you have scientist from CC??
          they make hay better than CEB.
          American/Brit/ Venkatraman Ramakrishna- Nobel Chemistry
          royal society

        • 4
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          Dear Alahakoon,

          Your cry echoes that of Lanka; please see here the response of an Englishman: W.S. Senior:

          http://www.poetryatlas.com/poetry/poem/4354/the-call-of-lanka.html

          Will these five Anglican priests emulate him? Two have said “No”.

          Thank you so much crying out. These schools serve a privileged group and there was only the concept of “noblesse oblige” to justify their existence. There is little purpose in my hunting for the names of one individual here, and another there in an effort to disprove what you say, which is that these schools, I should say “our schools” with their Old Boy networks, now serve only to exploit through the use of inherited wealth (your reference to entrepreneurs), and mutual backscratching.

          More and more, mutual backscratching is what the legal system has been doing. Of course, we allow a few of the most successful of the hoi polloi to climb in to our privileged fold, provided they subscribe to Tawney’s tadpole philosophy:

          ‘It is possible that intelligent tadpoles reconcile themselves to the inconvenience of their position that, though most of them will live and die as tadpoles and nothing more, the more fortunate of the species will one day shed their tails, distend their mouths and stomach, hop nimbly on to dry land and croak addresses to their former friends on the virtues by means of which tadpoles of character and capacity rise to be frogs.’

          You have complained about what happens in the field of engineering; and it has got so bad that even the safety valve provided by tadpole philosophy has ceased to exist, bringing with it the danger of violent upheaval. What I have highlighted is the way in which Maha Vidyalaya products are brought in to the schools and reduced to the level of helots denied even the dignity accorded to them by the 1930 (Ordinance Days) Colonial thinking.

          Add to that the fact that now the real social contrast in the S. Thomas’ schools is between the two Colombo schools and these two Uva schools, from where there is no genuine representative (I’m sure that you’ll realise that Mrs Sirimavo B.’s articulate brother Clifford was genuinely able to straddle the difference, but the now illegitimately elected man cannot compare with him).

          I’m sure that you are intelligent enough to realise that I cannot here write an entire book on the subject; nor do I have the capacity to do so. Hope comes from the Kollupitiya Kolla writing yesterday on March 30, 2016 at 3:42; he is an Old Boy Parent who knows that the teachers currently there “are unaware of their rights” and knows that it is wrong for them to be kept in this sort of servitude. He has said, ” For my part I will make others aware of this as much as possible.” He’s got find somebody who will write about the plight of the school there.

          This is a damning indictment of the Anglican Church; FIVE clerics control S. Thomas’: the Bishop and four Heads of Schools. This time round two Heads, Balraj and Rodrigo have clearly cheated. Billimoria and Nihal Fernando have done what we have a RIGHT to expect from “Clergy” – nothing really more. Dhiloraj Ranjit Canagasabey has gone off to Zambia – for a month at least he’s going to be away from Sri Lanka. He directly appoints the majority of Members; will he cheat one more on the Board? They’ll never try this stunt with the three elected from Mt. Lavinia – because the rules are simple.

          These three Branch Schools need to be given SIX in all; but we have to now fight for this ONE member to be properly elected. I need somebody who will write a short new article. WE cannot cheat; an individual has to take responsibility for it.

      • 4
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        Bandula Idamegama is a classic example for the mentality of the present govt which has become an “achcharuwa” now. For every damn failure, simply put the blame on previous govt. It is a well known fact that no outsiders could interfere with STC admin affairs. Just because former President’s sons attended STC that does not mean their farther could put his hands to run the college. I was once happened to be at a meeting where the head priest of Aquinas, Borella was present. He explained very well how admin affairs of the said school carries out and how Anura B was denied admission though SWRD was an illustrious past pupil of STC. So, Bandula, better find a reasonable reason instead of attacking ex-P for everything.

        • 3
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          Lying to the public, and the plundering of the national kitty constitute violations of 2 of the five key presepts of Buddhism. On top of that, they murdered their political dissenters and journalists too.

          • 1
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            Koheda yanne. Malle pol. Your comment has absolutely no relevance to this article or the criticism to your earlier comment other than to stir up crap. Also why bring Buddhism into it.

        • 1
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          Lying to the public and the plundering of the national kitty constitute violations of 2 of the five key presepts of Buddhism. On top of that, they murdered their political dissenters and journalists too.

        • 1
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          The ex-president’s political career was destroyed both by his siblings and chidren.

    • 8
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      Panini Edirisinhe aka Sinhala_Man,

      RE: Belief In The Worth Of Teachers At S. Thomas’ Colleges

      “Have you cottoned on to my own post, using my own name” Panini Edirisinhe?

      Amarasiri had no idea it was you! (I had a friend called Pani, called water in Hindi. Panini is thought to have been born in Shalatula, a town near Attock, on the Indus river in present day Pakistan.)

      Your post was a very good post, exposing the decadence that has set in the country, and even infected St. Thomas’s College. However, I have only so many hours in the day to comment in the very interesting posts.

      1. “Gurutalawa just looked foolishly on. Obviously, making things even worse was the fact that a man with absolutely no academic qualifications (no, not even O. Levels) has been named the Staff Representative!”

      2. “I have already received a protest letter sent by one of the other “declared” candidates and I have spoken briefly with both. Where do we go from here? I just don’t know; at least we can console ourselves that this reflects many other things in our world today!”

      3. “I have been as objective as possible and avoided naming names. However, if any reader were to pose questions I shall respond with as many details as I am certain of.”

      So what can be done? Expose, expose and expose. Transparency is needed.

      If they do not want to disclose the qualifications of the other candidates, can you make a request that all candidates will be required to take an Intelligence Common Sense test, to make sure they can make common sense decisions and think on their feet? After all you have an Engineering Degree from Peradeniya, and you must have gone past the GCE OL and GCE AL, in order to compare Apples to Apples, with the others.

      Will they go for an Intelligence Test? Amarasiri has his doubts.

      So, you may need to settle for mediocrity.

      PS. Ask then if they will settle for a GMAT Test? Tell them them that they all are very likely to perform better than the Saudi Wahhabi Graduates.

      Regression Plot: The regression plot for GMAT scores and L&V’s (2012) Estimated National IQs is shown below.

      Regression Plot: The regression plot for GMAT scores and L&V’s (2012) Estimated National IQs is shown below.

      https://humanvarietiesdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/gmatregressionplot.png

      .

      • 5
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        Dear Amarasiri,

        Yes, I was missing you, but it’s a bit early for me to be providing details for where people have gone wrong.

        “Will they go for an Intelligence Test?” Yes, I couldn’t agree more! It’s not a string of letters that counts, but I must clear these areas for YOU!:

        Starting with myself, you had said,
        “After all you have an Engineering Degree from Peradeniya.” I’m afraid I’ll have to be specific here – and come back to you with c.v. like details later, since what is important is to get people to THINK! There are some things that will still feel strange to you when revealed about two days from now. “Peace Lover” has already got his perspectives right, and I won’t be so sadistic as to maul Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam. I’ve been told that he has suffered much, and I have been requested to be kind to him.

        I was trained as an English teacher to start with: 1969 to 1970.
        Peradeniya University was 1982 to 1985(external G.A.Q. of 1979 held in December 1980, results released after 51 weeks, not acted upon for a whole year, thereafter) – English Special Degree 2nd Upper, winning the Leigh Smith Prize 1988, Assistant Lecturer, 1986. I get the feeling that you are still based in Peradeniya, so you could check with Walter Perera, Arjuna Parakrama (who has ALL my contact details), Lilamani de Silva, Carmen Wickremagamage, Sumathy Sivamohan, and there may be a few others.

        As for the other “candidates”: I guess you know that Chrishmal is a high profile lawyer, with quite a few letters to his name (easily checked on the Net). Christo Gonawela: after A.Levels has got very thorough knowledge of certain areas of Chemistry. his business is “Unitracholdings Ltd” – they are distributors of raw plastic – not entirely a substance we deal with.

        The guy who inveigled – very high level of intelligence of a sort – but let that come later, after the Establishment either has its say, or decides to ignore. You WILL understand then!

        About my name, though; you are right: I was NOT named after anyone or anything Italian. My father was himself a teacher, and was conscious of Panini’s (roughly) 4th Century B.C. work on Sanskrit Grammar, which laid the foundation for Modern Linguistics, and in a sense, Computing.

        I know that you don’t really need convincing, but yes, the “Expose, expose and expose” must come a few days later, but I have such immense respect for didn’t want to keep you in the dark, wasting time ferreting because “(you) I have only so many hours in the day . . .” You know, many otherwise perceptive readers were sure you weren’t ONE human being, but a composite character of some sort!

        Many thanks for the message!

        • 6
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          Sinhala_Man

          “I was trained as an English teacher to start with: 1969 to 1970. Peradeniya University was 1982 to 1985(external G.A.Q. of 1979 held in December 1980, results released after 51 weeks, not acted upon for a whole year, thereafter) – English Special Degree 2nd Upper, winning the Leigh Smith Prize 1988, Assistant Lecturer, 1986.”

          Sorry for the error, mixing you up with another Peradeniya Engineering Graduate, but at least got Peradeniya correct.

          In this day and age where most of the information is stored on servers, efficient accessibility by computers is needed. It the skill and intellect to access, read and comprehend the information, that makes it valuable. This cuts down on the inefficiencies to physically going to a library, or pulling out the books even from your own bookshelf.

          So, in this day and age, those who can read and comprehend the subject matter are at a tremendous comparative advantage compared to those who cannot read and comprehend. Therefore, teaching and training students, and the populace to read and comprehend, whether from books or the internet, give a tremendous advantage.

          Since most of the information is now available in English, those lack English proficiency, will be at a great disadvantage, compared to the others who have that proficiency. Just look at India and Sri Lanka for comparison. Both populations have approximately the same native intelligence, but the Indian Central Schools teach in English, whereas the Sri Lankan Schools teach in Tamil or Sinhala.

          On the other hand, Sri Lanka has free education and is blessed with a high literacy rate. The next level should be to get this literacy extended to English, the current global language.

          Many studies have pointed out the IQ, has the genetic component this is 80% of the score, and Environmental component that is 20% of the score. In a competitive world, Nations need to optimize, what they have got. The best return was said to be produced by education, secular education with life skills needed in today’s world, and overloading with religious education, appears to have a negative correlation with education and critical thinking skills.

          IQ and the Wealth of Nations

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IQ_and_the_Wealth_of_Nations

          The authors argue that differences in national income (in the form of per capita gross domestic product) are correlated with differences in the average national intelligence quotient (IQ). They further argue that differences in average national IQs constitute one important factor, but not the only one, contributing to differences in national wealth and rates of economic growth. Critical responses have included questioning of the methodology and of the incompleteness of the data, as well as of the conclusions.

          Regression Plot: The regression plot for GMAT scores and L&V’s (2012) Estimated National IQs is shown below.
          https://humanvarietiesdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/gmatregressionplot.png .

          PS. I have heard that around the time you were at Peradeniya, an IQ study was carried out for all the Peradeniya students in Science, Physical and Biological, Engineering, Medicine, Dental, Agriculture and Arts faculties. Do you know anything about this? How can one access this data?

  • 22
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    My question to the author Mr Panini Edirisinghe, who if I’m not mistaken is a son of respected Engr. David Edirisinghe, and a qualified teacher, is as to why he did not bring this into the public domain several years ago when the charlatan Meril Aluwihare got himself fraudulently elected to the Board of Governors (I believe for two consecutive terms) through the good offices of the fraudulent then headmaster Chandrasekara at STC Bandarawela and the dictatorial Casie Chetty at Prep School Kollupitiya – both of whom had to eventually leave in relative disgrace after long periods of empire-building at their respective institutions. At the time, I am aware that Edirisinghe tried to visit the schools at Bandarawela and Kollupitiya to speak to the staff and make them aware of their rights – only to be shown the exit by the Headmasters before anyone got wind of his arrival!

    Aluwihare (who as far as I know has never held a job in his life) then proceeded to abuse the position on the board to massage his own ego, although I am reliably informed he was once dealt a good ‘kaney’ by a big chap at the OTSC who Aluwihare had mistakenly crossed.

    However Edirisinghe is either missing or appears to not want to see the biggest threat to the continuity of this entire cycle – that is the previously esteemed office of the Bishop of Colombo and his mad desire to control the schools that are the jewels in the ever diminishing and tarnished crown of the Anglican church in Sri Lanka (S. Thomas and Trinity being chief among them as Panini himself I believe has pointed out in a comment under a pseudonym yesterday).

    The rot evidently began during the tenure of Bishop Kenneth Fernando who tried to make his son in law the warden of S. Thomas’ College (the Eksith Fernando case) and the appointment of a crackpot lawyer with none of the required background in education (Casie Chetty at STC Kollupitiya – whose illegal appointment in 1995 could not be legally challenged due to the old boys union of that school having been set up by his predecessor as a flaccid body that merely toed the line, Casie’s subsequent regular clampdowns on the Old Boys union itself, and the Eksith case that drew all the public attention away from him).

    Things became worse under Bishop ‘tricky Chicky’ Chikera, who swiftly placed a few cronies on the board (chief amongst them Prof. GL Peiris, who was also instrumental in propping up his former law student Casie Chetty at Prep), headed by the zombie Rajan Asirwatham (who in traditional style brought to the Board his proven lack of efficacy at KPMG and disasters at Browns) who allowed Chicky to reign in style. Like his bosom buddy ‘tricky Lalith’ Kotalawala, Chikera fashioned himself the liberal saviour of the Anglican church whilst ensuring that (his rival school and first employer) STC ML was clipped of its wings, whilst overseeing the forced exit of the Belgian Jew that saved the Gurutalawa School from certain death. Casie Chetty won him over despite Chickys initial dislike, although Chetty was eventually stabbed in the back when his dream of becoming Warden of StC ML (indeed the only reason he left the legal practice to take over the Kollupitiya school) was shattered with the appointment of David Puddefoot.

    Mr Edirisinghe may refuse to admit or accept that his self-professed friend, the present Bishop is the most devious of the lot- beneath the demure facade the master manipulator. He has installed at all four Thomian schools men of the cloth (the first time in the history of all four in the same era) who are eventually under his command and whose future in the church hierarchy depend on their deference to him. Whilst I have no knowledge of or opinion on the head of the Bandarawela school, I am aware that the other three heads are of good calibre, and two (if not all three) of them are old Thomians of the Mount Lavinia school. However, like all men of the cloth (of any religion) they are ultimately human, have failings, and a lust for power. The only way to realize this is to toe the line of the Bishop, who has successfully managed to populate each school with his former parishioners, relatives, and friends that will feed back to him what is going on in the event he feels any of the heads are getting out of hand! Staff politics at all of the institutions has risen to levels never seen before, on a level only seen at the most mismanaged government schools, whilst staff are unaware of their rights and parents too are under the delusion that they should not expect much from the schools whilst covering all deficits via tuition classes/private sports coaching. Any genuine intention the heads of any of these schools may have are lost in their inexperience in managing people (this is not like managing a parish) and the inability for straightforward staff to report their concerns to them for fear of penalty. These fears were set in place at the branch schools by the likes of Casie Chetty and Chandrasekara.

    I do not know of any immediate solutions, save an administrative overhaul, installing some genuine old boys with business acumen and common sense (preferably with foreign exposure or educational institution exposure) on to the staff (especially a requirement at the Gurutalawa, Bandarawela and Kollupitiya schools). The entire board of governors needs to be reconstituted in a powerful manner, as they are responsible for institutions that oversee over 8,000 boys and girls. Mr. Edirisinghe would be a good choice as a nominee from what I know of him at a few casual meetings and what others have said. I do not know Crishmal Warnasuriya personally, however I know he is one of the few who openly stood up to the dictator Casie Chetty who single-handedly destroyed the Kollupitiya school (and its infrastructure) and saw it through to the end even after the Old boys union had been banned from the school premises. For this tenacity I am aware he won himself some detractors, led chiefly by Casie Chettys buddys in the Thomian system or board (such as Kavinda Abeysinghe) or the former Secretary of the STC ML OBA – a power hungry and overzealous blowhard who went so far as to change the constitution of the OBA to allow himself to be brought onto the board – however he was voted out in style at the OBA meeting last month and indicated that some sanity exists at least among the Mount Lavinia old boys. Warnasuriya also has many supporters at both schools and in the church from those I have spoken to, and my reading of him at Old boy meetings and appearances on TV indicate he has a incisive mind that probably scares many of those hoping to bend the rules in their favor or who do not have the mental capacity to keep up (which is a lot of them)- another potential choice for the above position. I do not know about Mr. Christopher Gonawala.

    Trinity College Kandy should alone be commended for finally realizing the folly of relying on men in robes after the Shantha Francis debacle and appointing Andrew Fowler Watt who has proved himself an able administrator at the British school in Colombo.

    One only hopes that such sanity will eventually find itself into the Thomian system that at present is on a fast downhill slope due to narcissistic, devious, power hungry Bishops. Let us hope those who still have faith in the future of our colleges will at least now stand up for what is right, for all we have and are.

    ESTO PERPETUA

    • 5
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      I must point out that the above comment is NOT by me. I have never been a Thomian. I am the original Old Codger.

  • 1
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    My question to the author Mr Panini Edirisinghe, who if I’m not mistaken is a son of respected Kandy Engr. David Edirisinghe, and a qualified teacher, is as to why he did not bring this into the public domain when these problems FIRST cropped up several years ago, when the fraud and charlatan Meril Aluwihare got himself fraudulently elected to the Board of Governors (I believe for two consecutive terms) through the good offices of the fraudulent then headmaster Chandrasekara at STC Bandarawela and the dictatorial Casie Chetty at Prep School Kollupitiya – both of whom had to eventually leave in relative disgrace after long periods of empire-building at their respectful institutions. At the time, I am aware that Edirisinghe tried to visit the schools at Bandarawela and Kollupitiya to speak to the staff and make them aware of their rights only to be shown the exit by the Headmasters before anyone got wind of his arrival!

    Aluwihare (who as far as I know has never held a job in his life) then proceeded to abuse the position on the board to massage his own ego, although I am reliably informed he was once dealt a good kaney by a big chap at the OTSC who had had enough of his idiocy.

    However Edirisinghe is either missing or appears to not want to see the biggest threat to the continuity of this entire cycle – the previously esteemed office of the Bishop of Colombo and their mad desire to control the schools that are the jewels in the ever diminishing and tarnished crown of the Anglican church in Sri Lanka (S. Thomas and Trinity being chief among them as Panini himself I believe has pointed out in a comment under a pseudonym yesterday).

    The rot evidently began during the tenure of Bishop Kenneth Fernando who tried to make his son in law the subwarden of S. Thomas’ College (the Eksith Fernando case) and the appointment of a crackpot lawyer with none of the required background in education (Casie Chetty at STC Kollupitiya – whose illegal appointment in 1995 could not be legally challenged due to the old boys union of that school having been set up by his predecessor as a flaccid body that merely toed the line, Casie’s subsequent regular clampdowns on the Old Boys union itself, and that Eksith’s case drew all the public attention away from him).
    Things became worse under Bishop ‘tricky Chicky’ Chikera, who swiftly moved to place mainly his cronies on the board (chief amongst them Prof. GL Peiris, who was also instrumental in propping up his former law student Casie Chetty at Prep), headed by the zombie Rajan Asirwatham (who in traditional style brought to the Board his proven lack of efficacy at KPMG and disasters at Browns) who really did…sweet nothing. Like his bosom buddy ‘tricky Lalith’ Kotalawala, Chikera fashioned himself the liberal saviour of the Anglican church whilst ensuring that (his rival school and first employer) STC ML was clipped of its wings, whilst overseeing the forced exit of the Belgian Jew that saved the Gurutalawa School from certain death. Casie Chetty won him over despite their initial mutual dislike, although Chetty was eventually stabbed in the back when his dream of becoming Warden of StC ML (indeed the only reason he left the legal practice to take over the Kollupitiya school) was shattered with the appointment of David Puddefoot.

    Mr Edirisinghe may refuse to admit or accept that his self-professed friend, the present Bishop is the most devious of the lot- beneath the demure facade the master manipulator. He has installed at all four Thomian schools men of the cloth (the first time in the history of all four in the same era) who are eventually under his command and whose future in the church hierarchy depend on their deference to him. Whilst I have no knowledge of or opinion on the head of the Bandarawela school, I am aware that the other three heads are of good calibre, and two (if not all three) of them are old Thomians of the Mount Lavinia school. However, like all men of the cloth (of any religion) they are ultimately human, have failings, and a lust for power. The only way to realize this is to toe the line of the Bishop, who has successfully managed to populate each school with his former parishioners, relatives, and friends that will feed back to him what is going on in the event he feels any of the heads are getting out of hand! Staff politics at all of the institutions has risen to levels never seen before, on a level only seen at the most mismanaged government schools, whilst staff are unaware of their rights and parents too are under the delusion that they should not expect much from the schools whilst covering all deficits via tuition classes/private sports coaching. Any genuine intention the heads of any of these schools may have are lost in their inexperience in managing people (this is not like managing a parish) and the inability for straightforward staff to report their concerns to them for fear of penalty. These fears were set in place at the branch schools by the likes of Casie Chetty and Chandrasekara.

    I do not know of any immediate solutions, save an administrative overhaul, installing some genuine old boys with business acumen and common sense (preferably with foreign exposure or educational institution exposure) on to the staff (especially a requirement at the Gurutalawa, Bandarawela and Kollupitiya schools). The entire board of governors needs to be reconstituted in a powerful manner, as they are responsible for institutions that oversee over 8,000 boys and girls. Mr. Edirisinghe would be a good choice as a nominee from what I know of him at a few casual meetings and what others have said. I do not know Crishmal Warnasuriya personally, however I know he is one of the few who openly stood up to the dictator Casie Chetty who single-handedly destroyed the Kollupitiya school (and its infrastructure) and saw it through to the end even after the Old boys union had been banned from the school premises. For this tenacity he won himself some detractors, led chiefly by Casie Chettys buddys in the Thomian system or board (such as Kavinda Abeysinghe) or the former Secretary of the STC ML OBA – a power hungry and overzealous blowhard who went so far as to change the constitution of the OBA to allow himself to be brought onto the board – however he was voted out in style at the OBA meeting last month and indicated that some sanity exists at least among the Mount Lavinia old boys. Warnasuriya also has many supporters at both schools and in the church from those I have spoken to, and my reading of him at Old boy meetings and appearances on TV indicate he has a incisive mind that probably scares many of those hoping to bend the rules in their favor or who do not have the mental capacity to keep up (which is a lot of them)- another potential choice for the above position. I do not know about Mr. Christopher Gonawala.

    Trinity College Kandy should alone be commended for finally realizing the folly of relying on men in robes after the Shantha Francis debacle and appointing Andrew Fowler Watt who has proved himself an able administrator at the British school in Colombo.

    One only hopes that such sanity will eventually find itself into the Thomian system that at present is on a fast downhill slope due to narcissistic, devious, power hungry Bishops. Let us hope those who still have faith in the future of our colleges will at least now stand up for what is right, for all we have and are.

    ESTO PERPETUA

  • 2
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    Thus spoke the two year Thomian, AKA “Sinhala Man”. Before you could attack me, I wish to state that I am a fourteen year Royalist.

    • 15
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      Whats the rationale behind your comment Dr Sankaralingam?

      • 12
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        Peace Lover

        ” Thus spoke the two year Thomian, AKA “Sinhala Man”. Before you could attack me, I wish to state that I am a fourteen year Royalist.”

        “Whats the rationale behind your comment Dr Sankaralingam?”

        If one uses common sense, simple arithmetic and simple algebra, one may infer that,

        two year Thomian = fourteen year Royalist.

        Looks like St. Thomas’s College gives greater value in education.

        Why spend 14 years, if one can get the same education in 2 years?

      • 9
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        That he went to no fee paying government school assisted by his pop pulling the government strings

    • 9
      1

      Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam

      “I wish to state that I am a fourteen year Royalist.”

      Amarasiri was wondering which school teaches Stupidity is a Virtue.

      The answerv is blowin in the wind….

  • 12
    3

    I am an atheist but I have the greatest admiration for the Christian ethics of some people. In the 80’s the Warden of St. Thomas’ Gurutalawa was a Patrick Gunewardene (the brother of former Miss Ceylon, Yvonne Gunewardene). During the height of the conflict with LTTE, a nearby estate owner and a philanthropist, paid for and boarded two young Tamil boys, children of one of the estate workers. They had nothing to do with the LTTE but innocent like the boy with the alleged AIDs. Some of the teachers threatened to leave unless the Tamil boys were removed. They even wrote petitions but Mr. Gunewardene stood firm as he believed in justice and fair play.

    • 7
      5

      Haik,
      “Some of the teachers threatened to leave unless the Tamil boys were removed.”
      This clearly show the mistrust towards Tamils when opting violence to achieve goals. You can’t blame those teachers. Need to blame the terror perpetrators. Did Gunawardena know the real background? or was he taking a chance? If something bad happened would he have taken the responsibility?

      • 7
        3

        Nuisance the stupid I

        “You can’t blame those teachers. Need to blame the terror perpetrators.”

        You can’t blame the copycat terror perpetrators need to blame the teachers.

        JVP taught LTTE as how best to terrorize the entire nation from North to South.

        Blame Rohana Wijeyweera, Somawansa Amarasinghe, …..

        • 3
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          Vedda
          I don’t have to call you stupid. You show that with your posts! Specially in reply to my posts.
          How stupid are these Tamil terrorists to follow JVP very well knowing the final fate of that Sinhalese terror group?

          • 2
            3

            If you call Vedda a stupid man – there should not be words in the entire world to call you who you are. You had been naive- you will stay naive- your comments have no substance just counter texts as Gonmanpila argued to any lines between. Good luck Pera Alma mater.. actualy your product by Pera should be re examined…. it has been a greater embarracement actually.

            • 3
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              sama,
              Why don’t you rebuttal me on the context of my post rather than writing irrelevant trash?
              Are you really from Peradeniya??? I doubt

              • 2
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                Nuisance the stupid I

                What is the difference between you and a knife?

                • 2
                  2

                  These are the types of irrelevant responses I talk about. Never gives intelligent counter responses. I don’t have to say stupid it shows!

                • 4
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                  Native Vedda, A knife could be honed, but there’s no chance with this idiot.

                  • 2
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                    Sylvia, the messages have got through to me, at least!

              • 4
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                Hi Eusense. Despite all these comments, I don’t think you are stupid, just misinformed. Go on, write something sensible, if you can, and show them you are not stupid.

        • 4
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          Native Vedda

          “Blame Rohana Wijeyweera, Somawansa Amarasinghe, ….. “

          Somawansa Amarasinghe, was on stage with Mahnda Rajapakda, this week, and looks like they want to terrorize the Nation again.

  • 10
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    What I gathered from reading this article and the comments made thereon,is that the kind of shenanigans which are associated with the country’s electoral politics and the politicos who contest them, seem to have now crept in to the management philosophy of the four St. Thomas’ Colleges too. In the good old days, these private Anglican schools were looked up to by the whole country,as decent places where very high standards were diligently maintained, in the areas of management, education, sports and extra-curricular activities etc. Indeed, they used to be admired and respected by the whole nation, as schools, where students were groomed into decent future citizens. But, alas, this does not seem to be the case anymore. Hope the elections referred to in this article will be fairly and transparently conducted by whoever is responsible for them.

  • 11
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    Mr.Edirisinghe has got the guts to expose the shortcomings of the system and ought to be commended for it. Let’s hope that this expose`will set the cogs of the machine in motion resulting in a fairer, honest and uncorrupt administration.

  • 3
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    I thought this Dude is on about St Thomas in Kotte……

  • 11
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    I cant talk about Mr Casie Chetty as I left before he came on board but J S L Fernando was a gem of a head master and in 1983 riots there were interested ‘parties’ who wanted the Tamil Medium section closed but J S L Fernando true to his Christian principles stood firm and said ‘even if there is just one boy I will keep the Tamil medium at Prep may God bless his soul

  • 15
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    Manipulation of elections to the Board Of Governors for the positions of staff representatives / OBA representatives from the branch schools has been historically noted when the branch schools were headed by laymen
    However with the appointment of clergy to lead all S. Thomas’ Colleges it was expected that the school heads would take the moral high ground in setting standards of governance so as to correct the wrongs done by the previous head masters.

    However, the current actions of the heads of S. Thomas’s College, Bandarawela and S. Thomas’s Prep School, Colpetty does not contribute to these expectations.

    In this context it is the responsibility of the Bishop and the Board of Governors to address these short comings and ensure free and fair elections are held for the positions under discussion . Such elections at the school level in electing their nominee may have to be supervised by a representative of the BOG to make things happen in a democratic manner in meeting the noble objectives set by the BOG..

    It may be in order for calling of fresh elections for these positions to comply with best practices.

    I do not want to comment on the suitability of any of the nominees as it would be very subjective and its best left to the electorate but what’s important is the conduct of a free and fair elections at the School level to reflect the majority preference of the staff in selecting their nominee.

    • 12
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      Dear Mr Gonawela,

      Thanks for your comment. It was somewhat regretfully that I went public with this issue; I wish to thank all those who have responded, and I assure you that I will respond to all – including those like Alahakoon who have not schooled at S. Thomas’. We have an important role to play in society, and we must be able to give some justification for the privileges that we enjoy.

      For the time being, Mr Gonawela, I will speak only for myself. Certain private messages that I have received I will keep to myself, and I certainly will not divulge confidences that have been placed in me. “Liverpool Sudda”, I am glad that some Thomians understand the need for re-thinking when we find deception on the scale that we now see. One very great man, who was my class-mate, will not enter in to public discussion but has told me that “The responses are good. When your facts are sound, the responses are subdued. No one has questioned your integrity.”

      What I will tell all stakeholders (for me that is all Sri Lankans, including those abroad like Dr Sankarapillai) is that your observations are appreciated, but the ball is now in the court of the Board of Governors, with all three candidates having written to its key members, and to the three Headmasters. Do voice your concerns, but please give us time for our own private consultations over the week-end. Our hope is that all this will be amicably resolved – and the sooner the better.

      My birth and education have been entirely at S. Thomas’ (that’s a dig at you, Gnana!), but my concern is that there has to be Justice for all 22 million Sri Lankans (I hope that our numbers will not increase beyond all control! At least Christo and I realise that we are in the ‘Departure Lounge’!!). I hope that while maintaining certain standards at S. Thomas’, we will be able to contribute, maybe passively, to enhancing standards in all schools. I actually will have to visit some remote schools in May and June to see what progress they are making with regard to English. We do want to think globally, but aiming to change the world will be to take ourselves too seriously. But what we have started we will see through; just the limited objective of ensuring that the “worth of teachers” is understood by all.

      For meaningful education in Sri Lanka, we say: Esto Perpetua!

      • 3
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        Patrick, Loku Paliya, Najeem and Others,

        I started @ STPS Bandarwela in 1971 @ Blanchard, and grew up to be @ Corya, Wijewadana Peiris, Edirisinghe Dorms before my parents relocated themselves to Bandarawela, and thus I became a day scholar.

        My life @ STP, STCS, and STC Bandarawela has been fruitful and full of adventure as teenagers. growing to be men of the future society in the late 80s.,

        Thanks for your support as always, our alma mater,

        Esto Perpetua!

        Long Live STCS Bandarawela ( as we used to know it)

  • 11
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    When Mr Edirisinghe says that”The very special role that these schools used to play is reflected in this Ordinance which can be changed only by An Act of Parliament, and amending it is hardly ever considered.”is the key to this issue.Why don’t you motivate the STCML-OBA to do so because changing times need new thinking.The main problem stems from non STCML wardens being appointed.The fact that they wear the robe is immaterial what is their interest?
    We had lovely chaps as masters specially Arisen Ahubudu,Moko,Edo and Bulto to name a few.I shall always treasure my days in that outdated institution.ESTO PERPETUA and all power to your arm Mr Edirisighe,don’t give up the fight!

  • 6
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    Old Codger.

    I began with Warden Canon R.S.DE Saram[Kungen-whoever coined that!] and finished with Warden C.H.Davidson[Poeta].I must thank my stars for that! Nicknames at STC withstood Time and Age.Headmaster-Lower school,then during my salad days,Rev:Barnabas was referred to as Barnaiya and his wife Barnichi!

    I was told that the present Bishop of Colombo,who controls the college is not a Thomian,but has had his Education at St.Michaels college-Batticaloa.
    I admit all Bishops cannot be products of STC.but the OBA could play a more positive role.

    • 11
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      You should realize that I wasn’t taking a dig at the Bishop’s schooling, nor am I interested in it. It is the insidiousness displayed through the office they hold that gets me.

  • 10
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    On the current staff representative issue we seem to be only highlighting the probable administration flaws of the relevant school heads, but have totally forgotten or ignored the common factor of the current staff rep issue or a similar issue of the 2012 OBA rep which is one and the same person who has created this sad situation in his selfish desire to be elected OBA rep in 2012 and now staff rep in 2016 on both occasions by trying to jump the queue for nominated / elected position.

    A quick visit to 2012 OBA elections would be interesting to recall since at that election the secretary of the STC Colpetty OBA suggested an amicable solution to the then problem of the current cheating staff representative having jumped the queue to be elected OBA rep at the expense of STCG.

    It was then agreed that the OBA rep from STCB will hold the position for 2 years and resign thereby making way for the STCG OBA rep to serve the balance 2 years. Regretfully this undertaking was also dishonoured; and the then OBA rep from STCG (current elected staff rep) continued to serve the full 4 year term.

    Regretfully the greed of one person for position at all cost is tarnishing the images of ALL the S. Thomas’s Colleges and the Board of Governors who are partly to blame for the current crisis with the relevant schools not following expected norms of good governors and the Board of Governors not having the courage to take corrective action including the acceptance of such fraudulently appointed nominees on the STC Board of Governors.

    It is high time now for the STC BOG to come clean and hold fresh elections for the position of staff representative without any further delay.

    • 3
      1

      Dear “Good Governors”,

      There is a typo in the 3rd paragraph which I had hoped that you would correct. It should have read:

      “and the then OBA rep from STCB (current elected staff rep) continued to serve the full 4 year term.”

      I’m sorry, I haven’t yet mastered the art of turning “STCB” in to BOLD using HTML tags.

      The confusion underscores the importance of rationalising these “Rules”:

      http://www.stcg62group.org/PDF/College/05_Rules_of_STC_Board_of_Governors.pdf

      “1.2 A representative nominated by the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, who shall be ex-officio a member of the Board.”

      That has to do with the Colonial Era. If we do want to recall that period, much better to sing the “Missionary Hymn”, occasionally, and discuss its merits ( and how dated the sentiments are) with students in the schools, rather than fill the Board with persons representing something that sounds as crazy as that:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7DNoPsMWL4

      I hope that readers will spend three minutes listening to that hymn. The music is by Johann Sebastian Bach. After that was over, “O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded” is getting played, as I type.

      The Bishop is allowed to pack the Board with his supporters; if he wanted to sneak a person in, he could easily do so without depriving the teachers of somebody who would listen to them:

      1.8 Two persons nominated by the Lord Bishop of Colombo who shall be members of the Church of Ceylon or of a Church in communion with that Church.

      1.9 Such other persons not exceeding four in number who shall be co-opted by resolution of the Board ensuring that at least eighty percent of the members shall be members of the Church of Ceylon or of a church in communion with that church as required by Section 3 (1) (b) of the S.Thomas’ College Board of Governors Ordinance No. 7 of 1930.

      This is the current composition of the Board:

      http://www.stcg62group.org/PDF/College/06_Members_of_Board_of_Governors.pdf

      1.7 One person who shall be a member of the Church of Ceylon or of a Church in communion with that church nominated by the Lord Bishop of Colombo from among the Officers and Teachers of the Universities or other Higher 9.

      Prof. Amal Kumarage – Member of Church of Ceylon – Nominated by Bishop from officers or Teachers of Universities or Higher Educational Institutions (Rule No.1.7) Educational Institutions.

      Now that is a very important slot, occupied by a fine man who is committed to Education:

      This is him discussing Universities – nine minutes in Sinhala:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DucJG-_DIw

      Thirteen minutes in English on Drivers and Transportation; when a student at Gurutalawa he used to bicycle daily to school from Bogahakumbura (now that is one of the remotest places in the country, even today):

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ad2UAqPBKrU

      This is over an hour, in Sinhala:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSSXJETtLFY

      He also writes well:

      http://www.sundaytimes.lk/150315/news/the-attempted-great-highway-robbery-140034.html

      Prof. Kumarage hasn’t attended a meeting for more than a year; what’s the point, if their conduct is as ludicrous as this. He was quite right when he described it to me as “a Club”. Incidentally, he’s not “a Member of Church of Ceylon”. He’s a Baptist – and a lay preacher.

      My point is that the Board itself can revise its Rules. It is the Ordinance that has to be amended by Parliament. For three schools to elect two members in the crazy way that has been outlined is ridiculous. And then to cheat, on that as well!

      The most important stakeholders in the school are the students (incidentally, the school does not BELONG to anybody); should there be parent representation? There are arguments for and against. I can’t prescribe on that.

      Well, its up to Thomian Old Boys and Parents to write in. The Bandarawela teachers stuck their necks out as much as possible; even this may have been more than was judicious, given the vengeful nature of this lot of Christians.

      As for me, I shall continue to be “injudicious”, until justice is done; but a Lawyer Old Boy will have to come forward to argue for the annulment of the election in question. It will be an easy case to win, but it will take time and money, and in the end, even after being victorious, we will be told that it was “Conduct Unbecoming”.

      I fear that few regular readers and committed Old Boys have read all this, or do they think that it is not their business to write in?

  • 10
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    Another reason this election is not valid is because person who has been elected as the branch schools Staff representative is presently serving at the BOG as the OBA representative of the branch schools and his 4 year term comes to an end only in September 2016. After the 2012 fiasco this person was appointed to the board sometime in September 2012.

    The appointment of this Staff representative will be on the 1st of April 2016. The question is, can a person serve in two positions on the board?

    Okay. He can resign as the branch schools OBA representative before end March and take up the new role. In that case the branch schools will have to nominate a person to serve the remainder of his term, meaning until September. In which case what is the position of the OBA representative who has been elected, again fraudulently?

    How did the board Secretary mess up things to such an extent?

    • 10
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      The board secretary is Rajan Asirwatham. And you are surprised that he has messed things up? Ha ha! A good laugh!

      The question the branch school Old Boys should put in public is as to fully obtain the details of what (if any- and I suspect there are none) contributions this fraudulent representative (did he even attend those schools, or was he a staff member of any of those schools? What standing does he have in society to hold such a post?) has made in his illegal tenure on the board. Such individuals should be publicly named and shamed for the benefit of all.

  • 4
    1

    We are made to understand that the election for the OBA representative of the branch schools were flawed. The board rule is that the electoral college will be made up of the Presidents and the Secretaries of the three branch schools totaling six votes. In the event the President is the headmaster of the school then he be replaced by the Senior Vice President. If I am not mistaken the three OBAs have an understanding and a twelve year period is taken on a rotation where each OBA will have its turn of four years. Accordingly we understand it is Gurutalawa’s turn this time and it was the STCG nominee who was declared elected.

    However the question is was the electoral college properly constituted? STCG has been represented by the Senior VP and the Treasurer. STPS by two ordinary committee members and no representation from the Bandarawela school.

    The OBAs should fight this out. It will be good to involve the Mount OBA into this as it is quite possible that it could happen to Mount as well sometime if this goes unchecked.

  • 9
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    Bagehot,

    You talk of laughing, but you appear to be incensed. Being the Poya Holiday, I’ve been looking at other articles on Education, and I came across this:

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/meet-the-lawyers-who-won-the-fight-for-kuliyapitiya-and-all-children-with-hivaids/

    It looks as though Panini Edirisinhe AKA “Sinhala Man” had thrown down the gauntlet prior to this present article; equally clearly the board does not appear to be picking it up.

    “Well, let me throw this challenge to the Bishop and the BoG . . . etc”

    There are links from there to certain other posts by Sinhala Man.

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/a-school-at-last-for-the-kuliyapitiya-boy/#comments

    There may be a few reasons why he’s not given ALL the facts yet. He may be giving the board a chance to retract; or he may not be sure of all the facts, although his response there to a query by JH displays stupendous knowledge of all aspects of Education.

    Or, he may be trying to assess the depth of concern of the public about this issue. I have noticed many clear sighted comments by you on a range of subjects. On the other hand I may not have been thinking actively enough.

    However that may be, I suggest you start on that link to what probably represents Mr. Edirisinghe’s spontaneous response to the news –

    and what do the Board and the Bishop say?

    • 5
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      Parrot

      My only interest is the future of the School, of which I am a fourth generation product. It is nothing to me as to WHO wins what battle for the board position – only that the board consists of those who truly deserve to hold it. Jokers like Asirwatham and the like have been mere walking dead for so long that the heads of the schools have been allowed to run riot, and, in turn, run those fine institutions into the ground. They should all be held criminally liable for their negligence, and that includes every Bishop in the last 25 years.

      • 1
        1

        Dear Bagehot,

        Thanks for your clear comments, and it may be that lots of people, like Parrot, are puzzled by some of the things that I’ve not disclosed here. They will get cleared up, I’m sure.

        Yes, and a big thank you to “Old Codger Redux”. It transpired that he had inadvertently used the pseudonym used by another; see how adroitly both the “original” and the “Redux” version have handled this, and with what dignity they stand before us.

        Some of the key persons in this cheating drama I know well, others slightly. The fact is that most of us want S. Thomas’ to continue as a “Private School”. If we get the 1930 Ordinance annulled (I’ve not worked this one out clearly yet), and cut all links with the Anglican Church, whom do we put in its place? I don’t have the competence to answer that, but this discussion may have to be initiated by others. I can be the forgotten catalyst.

        That the Board has been ineffective is true. Among the Bishops, I remember Archibald; well I’m not asking that we go back to Brits and Scots – but Archibald confirmed me, and nationalities apart, and his pronunciation of “father” (it was “faadhuh) too is fondly remembered; he had been a saintly man. Harold de Soysa, and Abeynaike, too, exemplary. The next Bishop of whom that can be said was Jabez Gnanpragasam, “the reluctant Bishop”.

        Well, I can’t fight the whole world at once. The others – well none has been personally an out and out crook except Shantha Francis of Kurunegala, but let me say this clearly, “Old Codger Redux” said this in that original long post which accidentally got put on twice: “However, like all men of the cloth (of any religion) they are ultimately human, have failings, and a lust for power.”

        I know that I owe it to make a comprehensive response to “Old Codger Redux”. Let me hope I meet him again; I just can’t place him, although he speaks of “a few casual meetings and what others have said.”

        I can’t help feeling that this article of mine (which has somehow been getting hidden on the “Home” display of CT for the past 24 hours, and which didn’t attract some of the regular readers who didn’t know that Panini Edirisinhe = “Sinhala_Man” (I had to attract the attention of Amarasiri, but where are “Spring Koha”, and “Justice and Fairplay” , “Native Veddah”, “Izeth Hussain”?) Possibly none of them are Thomians and didn’t ever read this article.

        However, after a period when it looked as though none of this would get aired, I’m now confident that the comments of those acute and balanced minds will get on to this, if presented by a slightly better-known guy than me. As for the odious Viraj Kariawasam, you have yet to swallow the bitter medicine, but on the other hand I’m getting on in years myself, so let him think me “a miserable failure”; his good opinion is not worth striving for.

        I hope that this particular comment makes sense to other readers; I fear it may not, and may be Parrot is right: yes, I am also (by dithering) allowing the cornered BoG to escape, but not all of them are really Rajapaksa-like crooks.

        Oh, and let me add this: on the 22nd of January, 2016, there was a confirmation service at Haputale. A smile and a just a few words about the need for a fair election were exchanged by me with Bishop Dhiloraj Canagasabey. And after the Ides of March fiasco, I e-mailed Rev. Christopher Balraj; a pretty long mail that was, but it bounced – bills not paid to SLT, obviously! But it was copied to the Bishop, Asirwatham and Rev. Dushantha Rodrigo: it was long, but it was clear saying things like:

        “Let others talk about the legalities; I have only one word to describe what you have done: D-I-S-G-U-S-T, moral outrage. If you are in a position to review this, my simple, unambiguous request: persuade the rest of the “Establishment” to re-run the election.”

        However, there’s this man whom I have never actually met, asking me to write direct to the Bishop:

        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/t-kandasamy-intellectually-a-giant-and-as-a-man-kind-fatherly-exemplary/#comments

        As of Thursday morning (this moment of writing), it is the last comment on that article.

        Thanks so much to all those who have supported the call for Justice.

        “village man” you got it dead right:

        My point of view our country is facing lot of issues. But among them Education sector and teachers of schools are facing lot of issues.

        This concerns the entire country; I had so many calls upbraiding me for bringing it to the “public Domain”. I don’t think that village man is a Thomian, but he is a decent countryman: S. Thomas’ must justify its existence to your satisfaction.

        Thanks, I depart for at least half a day! Au revoir!

  • 1
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    To All those who made worthwhile comments to the Original Article ” Belief In The Worth Of Teachers At S. Thomas’ Colleges” By Mr Panini Edirisinghe.
    —————————————————————–

    Whilst comments coming from all corners of society of veracity and perversion from repute and from obloquy are being read and interpreted in the best form by all Thomians true and sundry, it is also worthwhile to make note of the stimulus modality of some of the responses penned down.

    Bandula Idamegama to me sounded as if he was commenting “over the top” thus not relating to the original article by Mr. Panini Edirisinghe. Compounded is the fact that he assumes to be superior because he has followed an “engineering degree” @ Pera which makes him an exteriority of today’s thinking is a total myth in my circumjacence. If Bandula still pursues him to be superior for what he is, I guess I’ve no option but to challenge him to face me in an “Academic” duet.

    Whilst I shall neither dispute nor endorse the points raised by “Old Codger” who is no doubt an ardent Thomian, I fully endorse your suggestion to install some genuine old boys with business acumen and common sense (preferably with foreign exposure or educational institution exposure) on to the staff (especially a requirement at the Gurutalawa, Bandarawela and Kollupitiya schools).

    In fact I indicted my desire to be considered for the position of the Head master of STC Bandarawela, a position for which I was willing give up my career as a University Lecturer, but the Bishop of Colombo Subtly turned me down without reason.

    Al that said, Let me reflect back on the original article by Mr. Panini Edirisinghe, on “The Belief in the worth of Teachers @ STC”, wherein he elaborates many a problem, but “sine responso”

    As a well experienced academician with a mastery knowledge of how the STC Board deliberates, Mr. Edirisinghe should bring forth more constructive suggestions on the way forward, rather than lamenting of “what has been”.

    Whilst I was told that he was a great teacher, I was under the supervision of Mr. Mithra Edirisibghe as an administrator @ STPS B’wela (I was a boarder @ STPS, STCS, B’wela, and later on at STC) for a total of 13 years between two St Thomas’ Colleges.

    The Lord is my Shepherd, and ESTO PERPETUA,

    Preethi Wanasinghe, Ph.D.

  • 3
    7

    This is nothing but bitter rivalry between the Edirisinghe brothers. Both of them have been fighting each other from their childhood and continue to be at each others throat even in their late days of life.

    It may be true that the elder is not educated as the younger mentioned and that is the very reason for this rivalry. The elder one was very successful in life whereas the younger one is a miserable failure. He doesn’t want to blame his attitude for his failure in life but is comfortable blaming everybody around.

    This man making an attempt to get into a position at the STC BOG is certainly not with an intention of doing good for the Thomian schools, which he is not capable anyway, but just to boast around at his circle that he holds this position.

    There had been absolutely nothing wrong with the procedure of this election but this man sees everything in a wrong way since it didn’t happen in his favor.

    It’s simply a waste people spending time commenting on this article.

    • 7
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      Viraj Kariyawasam, hope it is not Akila Viraj by any chance, noh?

      I don’t think you are aware of the rules of the STC Ordinance if you think the ‘election’ was held in a fair manner. This is a matter that is actually in violation of the law of the land- and can be taken up in court. If the vote is not annulled immediately, I do hope someone does, for the good of the Schools and the continuity of our alma mater.

      That said, I have no idea about the motives of any individual in this game. I do know that the Edirisinghe currently on the Board has done nothing to further interests of the branch schools he ‘represents’. The fact he has still not replied to Old Codger’s post is interesting. On the other hand, I feel you must be one of Asirwatham and Co’s ilk, fools on the Board who have done nothing to support any of the schools other than bigging themselves up through their ‘board position’. The whole bally lot of them should be taken to court, especially for the negligence in handling the Gurutalawa and Colpetty schools, and the mishandling of the entire Puddefoot saga.

    • 4
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      In reference to your response the statements made there in may seem to be having an element of truth but the rivalry between two runs deep down and is now come in to the open as battle between right and wrong and certainly right must prevail at all cost even if it be between siblings. There is no space for wrong doers in today society!!!

      I must repudiate your commence on the manner the relevant elections were held since your comments clearly shows a lack of awareness of what transpired.

      In the event you are a Thomian you may get clarity in this regard from either members / office bearers of the relevant OBAs and also staff which in all probability you will not able to obatin from the relevant Head Masters.

  • 5
    2

    Dear Viraj Kariyawasam,

    Common sense tells me that you are NOT actually the Minister of Education, but you seem to know something about me, yet I don’t know anything about you. You are right, although I’m qualified I have not moved with such august personalities. Nor do I want to.

    Do you really think that I want to “boast around at (my) circle that I hold this position”? I’m not conscious of any such desire, but at least I’m sophisticated enough to know that there may be subconscious longings which I’m not aware of. On the other hand, it is far more likely that you are judging me by your own set of values.

    No, I will not try to abrade your motives in launching this attack on me; not one that I didn’t expect it is true, but I thought it would come from some guy I knew. Could you please disclose your identity since your comments are so very personal.

    As you see, I’m capable of a measured response, so I can hardly be a guy who’s failed in everything and “is comfortable blaming everybody around.” As I said, let’s leave my personality alone; please focus on the issue: “Who selects the Teacher Representative on the Board of Governors, and through what process?”

    Note also, that both the other declared candidates have commented on the disgraceful conduct of elections on the Ides of March: “Kargi” is Chrishmal Warnasuriya (although I haven’t actually phoned him after he put his comments on), and Christo Gonawela has used his own name. There was some civilised rivalry among us, but we were all more keen on a clean election being held than on winning. Please note the praise I have showered on the Gurutalawa Headmaster; actually he held the election very early, AFTER both the other candidates had visited the school, and BEFORE I visited it for the AGM of the OBA on the 15th of February. It was Christo Gonawela who headed that poll; I was third and last! I think that that happened because I hadn’t visited the school, but I haven’t, upto now, even mentioned it, and I’m not complaining even now. Those are the vagaries of elections. All three declared candidates PLAYED FAIR! How does that square with the slander that you are trying to spread?

    You worm, how dare you say “There had been absolutely nothing wrong with the procedure of this election”. Yes, that makes me angry, since I have objectively laid out all the facts. I wasn’t going to make this observation until a few days later, and until the Board had a chance to review the situation. Have you read the Rules of the Board of Governors? The main article has a link to them. Perhaps you lacked the literacy to refer to them. A “secret ballot” was called for. Please think that one out.

    Fellow Thomians, we make great claims for ourselves; it is your bounden duty to study the Ordinance and the Rules that govern our schools, and it is very necessary that you comment. I think that it would have been much better for us to have NOT brought this in to the public domain, but I had exhausted all other possibilities. More of that at a later date.

    Lastly, Viraj, how dare you intrude in to our family affairs and talk of “bitter rivalry between the Edirisinghe brothers”. For your information my only brother, Mithra, and I, had a long and cordial chat on Sunday, the 20th March 2016; if you want me to be more specific, from noon until 3.00 p.m.

    I have not indulged in slander; I have presented to the public an objective account of how two Headmasters, of STC Bandarawela and STPS Kollupitiya have behaved dishonestly, and tried to bring dishonour to our family. I got back to Bandarawela on Tuesday, the 22nd, spoke to Rev. . . . – no, that is none of your business! I don’t know what diabolical role YOU are playing in this. Since you have indulged in so much slander, which, of course, is very easy, could you please relate what you know of the “procedure” on the “Ides of March 2016” to what the Rules say? It won’t be easy! As for me, I will keep an open mind, and examine carefully what you have to say on that subject.

    However, as Bagehot had said, “Such individuals (as you) should be publicly named and shamed for the benefit of all.”

  • 1
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    Dear Viraj,Bagehot and Mr. Edisinghe,

    Viraj: I’ve no clue of your comments about any bitter rivalry between the Edirisinghe brothers. In fact Mithra has a better business acumen than Mr. Panini for no other reason than being Involved.

    Your comments about “This man making an attempt to get into a position at the STC BOG is certainly not with an intention of doing good for the Thomian schools, which he is not capable anyway” is a total misinterpretation of facts and more of an indication that you are clueless about the way how the Anglican Board of Governors of STC makes their decisions.

    Lest all, please can you pinpoint as to whom you refers as “this man” in your response, and I shall respond to you as a true Thomian.

    True to a Thomian,

    Cheers,

    Preethi Wanasinghe, Ph.D.

  • 0
    1

    Didn’t I tell you guys that this is a waste of time.

    The Board has finalized the names of those elected and both the Staff Rep and the OBA rep will start their 4 year term on the 1st of April 2016. How much ever you guys scream the Board will only do what they want and they have done that in the past and have done it this time as well. They know that there will be some noise for a while and then it will die down and they go their merry way.

    • 3
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      Viraj Kariyawasam,

      You say, “they go their merry way”. This is with reference to a school! What happens to the children for whom schools exist?

      “They” presumably refers to the Lord Bishop of Colombo who is the Chairman of the Board of Governors, and the four Heads of the S. Thomas’ Schools.

      Actually, there has been no complaint about the Warden of Mt. Lavinia, or the Headmaster of the Gurutalawa. VK, or AVK, we do not know: but if you continue to adopt this flippant attitude there could certainly be serious consequences for the entire education system.

      Personalities are not important here: you have said that the man smuggled in (seemingly) by three clerics “is not educated”; the Board may try to “do what they want”, but are you so sure that they will succeed?

      When Wilberforce wished to abolish slavery, your spiritual ancestors must have thought it a “waste of time”. So, too, when Gandhi wanted to emancipate India, and when Mandela wanted dignity for his people. Guys like you and the cheating clerics are on the wrong side of History.

      It is probable that you have actually studied in the Bandarawela school. What sort of miserable failure have you been, and in what sort of hell hole are you stuck?

      This article will soon be invisible on the home page, so there may be no more comments; but when we get down to writing something new, and that gets seen, you you can be quite sure that there will be comments from people who are concerned about education, and about ethics. Clearly, you understand neither.

  • 0
    1

    Dear. Panini Edirisinghe

    This matter has lost stem now. As I told before the Board did what they wanted to do and will keep doing what they want as they know very well that those who bark will not go beyond barking. So why should they bother?

    Do you think there will be a Wilberforce or a Gandhi or a Mandela here to fight this out? Why don’t you take up the role and initiate action if you are so convinced that there is a worthy case here that can be won? I bet you won’t go beyond talking.

    Yes. I was in the Bandarawela school for a short while in the seventies and moved to Guru then to Mount.

    • 1
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      Dear Viraj Kariawasam,

      I’m sure that your three comments are all sincere but the first one sounded really nasty. I don’t think that you really know me; I feel that you may have seen me looking a bit bedraggled at times, and that’s it.

      Now to the point you’ve made on March 27, 2016 at 1:00 saying that there won’t be in Sri Lanka, anybody like the three people I’ve mentioned. I had just picked out the names of three people who had made a huge difference to the world. When doing so I was aware of this weakness of Gandhi’s: brahmacharya. He was so concerned with himself; did he not consider the effect of his experiments on those young girls?

      I have today Googled for the weaknesses of the other two; for the chronologically earliest, there is this:

      “Thus while he championed the cause of enslaved Africans abroad, Wilberforce supported repressive measures against rebellious workers at home.”

      I’m not providing you with one specific reference because I feel that this criticism of the man is justified. However, I think that we must place him in his historical perspective.

      As for Mandela, I think that he was great, and I don’t think I see any real faults in him, although I’ve looked at things like this:

      https://bloodyagent.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/mandelas-love-child-i-just-want-to-meet-my-father-before-he-dies/

      Why have I made these observations? It is because you appear to imagine that for a person to make a contribution he needs to be perfect. (I hope we are arguing at a level where I don’t have to write “he/ she” all the time.) No, we all have our limitations, but when we are discussing the sort of issues before us, our personalities don’t count.

      It looks as though in your second and third observations, you, too, are very critical of the way the Board acts, but you feel that they will continue to succeed in steamrolling destructively. You may be right about my being doomed to “fail miserably” again. However, what has happened this time just can’t result in the continuing triumph of the forces of evil.

      My resources are limited, so I don’t know how far this action of mine will go. No, you can’t dare me in to doing anything silly, but at the same time, I’m pretty sure that you don’t realise just how stubborn I can be.

      You obviously know Rev. Harold Goodchild; he now lives, aged 92, a little way from Hatton: I don’t think it fair to list the 057- xxxxxx CDMA phone that he carries around with him. Ask him about what happened on the 22nd of February 1965. He remembers clearly the day because it was the birthday of Baden-Powell (who is no great hero of mine!). I defied all the senior students when they went on a rampage, but at the same time I refused to sneak.

      This leads to a much more important point. Even after growing up we often see the guys who were our teachers as very much larger than life characters. Let’s focus on S.L.A. Ratnayake, whose wife had been a “Dias-Edirisinhe”. My father was a “de Alwis Edrisinhe” from Baddegama, who had himself decided to restore the first ‘i” in the name. I don’t think that we were very closely related, but we used to visit the walawwa at Kitulampitiya every vacation when “we” spent a few days with his sister in Madawalamulla only a mile away (Galle, this was). He used to take only about two of the seven children each time. He died in 1963; he had wanted to move the entire family back to Galle by 1970, the latest.

      My mother survived him by almost 44 years; we had no relatives in the Uva Province, but it is “home” to us, although all of us were “boarders” in various schools. Please work out for yourself the ramifications of that. My mother became a very important member of the “SLA Kitchen Cabinet”. I think that I’m the only one in the family who has ever looked at all this with something like objectivity.

      SLA was a truly decent and kindly man; he was 55 when he took over the school, and for twenty years he reigned with amazing energy. The Bandarawela school owes its “success” to his dynamism, but the streak of megalomania in him led to the ruin of the Keble ethos. Even more tragically, his obsession with the grandiose spelt doom for Gurutalawa. YOU ought to understand that! Others may not. My own elder daughter had the first five years of her schooling at Guru.

      You’d probably have been at Guru in Illangakone’s time (the one Headmaster there whom I didn’t know intimately). Guru just didn’t have a man with SLA’s staying power. Were you there in Patrick G.’s time as well? Sylvia Haik, above, has referred to what was good in him. Yes, he was a man with principles, but he allowed others too much leeway. The school swelled, Bala Gunasekeram had to slim it – with tragic consequences for him.

      To get back to SLA: few could have had as much genuine love for him as I – but it was “Cordelia-like”. With English standards falling drastically, SLA is today regarded by many as a great scholar of English. He wasn’t. You seem to know that my progress was truncated, but academically, I’m sound – at my level, admittedly. I taught “elocution” to little kids at STPS, B’wela for a couple of years while I was doing an ATCL in Speech and Drama. I had before this had a hand in training some of the best-known English teachers in the B’wela school: persons quite a few years older than I. My knowledge of phonology was above average. One day SLA blithely walked in and proceeded to test the knowledge of the kids; he had taught speech at some Teacher Training College. I realised with horror that he was yet another guy who imagined that there are only 45 sounds in English – the phonemes. He had no idea what allophones were.

      Some of this could get quoted out of context. Therefore let me state emphatically that SLA was a wonderful Christian gentleman, and that the boundless energy he possessed ought to have been channelled by the BOG towards persuading him to ensure the success of BOTH the Uva schools simultaneously. Instead, Guru was deprived of students like you, who attended all three schools. The stuffed shirts on the BoG are very much to blame. Below our discussion, I observe already the view of an outsider, which indicates that there are Bandarawela residents who see through to the extent of the decline of Keble’s STPS, although they may not be able to adequately analyse it.

      If I have sensed aright that you are sophisticated enough to understand all this, I shall say more. But you are right: this article is off display on the home page; it has run out of “steam” (sic).

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    I’m not from STC Bandarawela but I live nearby,and it is crystal clear that the present bunch of students thinks that they are from another planet,discipline is not there & they are so arrogant over nothing ; though they know nothing (even their English is very poor at present which happens to be their strength earlier).
    All the above problems might be because of these idiots in management not knowing the values of teachers. This happens to be a top school in Bandarawela but now it is almost in the rock bottom,way behind the government schools.Happy that the truth came out somehow,and hope for a better school and better students who can live on earth in the near future.

  • 2
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    Dear Panini Edirisinghe,

    Contents of your comment are most certainly interesting to read. Yes S.L.A. was a great man indeed and I was fortunate to have schooled at Bandarawela during his tenure at least for a short while.

    But the point is that you are going away from the main issue. As you have admitted, you don’t have the means to fight this out. Same here. Let’s hope someone will.

    It will be great if you can now reveal matters which you claim to know as that would help the “WHOEVER” who will come forward to fight this out. Many are disturbed and furious over what has happened and are keen in putting things right. But who? The only person I can think of is “Mr. WHOEVER” If you can reveal what you have said you will, that might help the “WHOEVER”

  • 1
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    Many thanks, Viraj.

    I agree absolutely with you now. So, let’s focus on the present. I think that I have revealed almost all that I know, except for certain names and details which will damage people who are already vulnerable:

    We need to educate the next generation; we need good teachers. This applies to the entire world, but we must focus on our little place. Actually, Old Codger estimates that 8,000 students study in the S. Thomas’ schools. If you and I can do something to make the education of that many better, that’s great. However, it will be slow, hard work.

    Please see this:

    http://www.stcg62group.org/PDF/College/06_Members_of_Board_of_Governors.pdf

    After election the person elected is known as the person representing:

    “Tutorial & Administration Staff of STC Kollupitiya, Bandarawela &
    Gurutalawa (Rule No.1.5.2)”

    Incidentally, I don’t know why No. 6 isn’t Mr Channa Asela de Silva. It may be that Mr. R. Renganathan is a good man and they want to keep him. Yes, Renga is good; he was about three years junior to me at Guru.

    Please study:

    http://www.stcg62group.org/PDF/College/05_Rules_of_STC_Board_of_Governors.pdf

    focussing on the words in this section:

    1.5.2
    One person elected by an electoral college under the Chairmanship
    of the Hony. Secretary of the Board of Governors consisting of representatives of the Staff made up as follows:

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    It says, “Staff” not “Headmasters”:

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Two from the tutorial and administrative staffs of each of the Branch schools at Gurutalawa, Bandarawela and Kollupitiya

    1.5.3 The following conditions shall be applicable to the aforesaid elections referred to in 1.5.1 and 1.5.2.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The wording is unsatisfactory; they should be replaced with words that are more precise. But their intent is clear: that is why you say that “Many are disturbed and furious over what has happened …”

    The words “election” and “secret ballot” appear; the intended meaning is clear. Isn’t all this getting dreary and boring! Doesn’t it remind you of this Aesop’s Fable:

    http://www.taleswithmorals.com/aesop-fable-the-wolf-and-the-lamb.htm

    Aesop has told us what word would best describe the Members of the BoG and the Headmasters: “tyrants”.

    So, now the least we can do is to express our disgust at what happened.

    You want me to “reveal”. Well I’m back in B’wela. Basically, the facts given by me twelve days ago, are remarkably accurate. The Staff Meeting on Thursday morning was for the tutorial staff of the middle and upper schools, numbering more than sixty. The names of the “four candidates” were not mentioned. The Secretary, Mr Steevan Tambimuttu, was not named as a delegate at the Meeting. Also the tutorial delegate, Mr Sunanda Ratnayake, had been persuaded at some time later.

    The staff knew who was elected only in the afternoon of the Ides of March: how? Sorry, I don’t want to mention names.

    On the other hand, could somebody give the World the facts about how this was handled by Colpetty. At least I have recorded these facts here. And they must be facts because they have not been contradicted.

    Viraj, I’m sorry; that’s all that I can tell you, and now I must address “Old Codger” directly. Meanwhile could others who are reading this, whether Thomians or not, please voice your protests.

    Oh, something that has surprised me: The Bandarawela OBA has also begun voicing its displeasure over the way the “elections” were handled. Some of them are mildly critical of me for taking all this in to the “public domain”, but they say that I had already done everything possible to first get this addressed within the Thomian system. Yes, I know most are concerned because this has happened in their Beloved Old School.

    With me it’s different. I’ve been calling myself “Sinhala_Man”, but really before all else, I’m a “sentient living being”, then a “rather foolish human”, then “a citizen of Sri Lanka” – this is getting pretentious and boring isn’t it? Anyway, as for the issues: I’ve been a teacher, and I’m concerned about the rights of teachers everywhere, and about ALL the schools in Sri Lanka.

    Basically, by expressing outrage we may be able to persuade the Bishop and the Members of the Board (all of whom are mostly good people) to conduct a fresh poll, and may be re-elect the same man who was declared elected on the Ides of March. And yes, he and I bear the same genes because biologically we are brothers. Why did the rest of S. Thomas’ leave it to me to respond to all this?

    Please take over from me!

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      Well what is the point in giving up the fight now? Especially since many in the old boy community appear incensed? The kollupitiya ‘elections’ were conducted in an even bigger shambolic manner than the Bandarawela mainly due to the presence of the Bishop’s implants as alleged by Old Codger above. Such implants control the school that the headmaster appears to be fast losing grip on (if indeed he ever had it in the first place). Most of the staff have no idea what is going on, but many of us who are Old Boy parents do as the teachers speak to us and voice their displeasure. I do not think it is going to do any good for you to go silent about this now.

      • 3
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        Dear Kollupitiya Kolla,

        As Viraj Kariawasam has pointed out on March 27, 2016 at 1:00, “This matter has lost steam now”.

        I dare not write another article on the same subject; it’ll become a joke. If you could write an article about the situation in the Kollupitiya School (of course you have to reveal your name and put your photograph on), I will follow up.

        I’ve worked hard and consistently at this. The Kollupitiya School is like a fortress. Not a single name of a teacher could be found on the Internet, until I found the names of 24 Senior teachers here on Facebook:

        https://www.facebook.com/STPSSL/photos/ms.c.eJxl0MENwFAIAtCNGgX12~;0X66GHpnB9EUzIyCb3oAPJbl75ycZfCjmrsioFSx0VuFgPw5rtpktlXEZ~;zapsamph0iIM3YfRJrem0npsH0I35LvYA~;oWVoU~-.bps.a.10153387242148553.1073741826.55234493552/10153387250803553/?type=3&theater

        Starting early January 2016, I posted letters to all of them, on separate days, enclosing in each three copies of the common letter that I wrote to the Headmasters of the three schools, and the Bishop, and Rajan Asiriwatham. Of course all had to be posted to the school and may have been intercepted. It was hard work for me, but no risk, because in sending that original letter on the 23rd of November 2015, I had stated at the bottom “Copies to the staff of the relevant school”. What is important is consistency, telling only the truth (implicitly acknowledging that there are many things that one doesn’t know), saying the same thing to all people irrespective of their race, language or religion, and being willing to run the gauntlet.

        Can you do this for “us”, please? “Us” is the entire country (let’s not give ourselves delusions of grandeur and imagining that we can change the entire world). Let somebody from the Kollupitiya school come forward and do an exposé which is a joint effort of a small group.

        I’m working entirely on my own. But I’m not a guy without skills. In 1990, they had nobody in the schools to take on responsibility, and I was interviewed for Sub-warden, Mt Lavinia, to succeed Neville de Alwis. Then somebody wasn’t satisfied with the fact that my Christianity wasn’t conventional enough.

        Next Colpetty: I know that JSL F’do was an excellent Headmaster, but he was getting old. In the days when Keble (my Godfather) owned both schools he had been asked to teach two years in Bandarawela, with my father. Well, by 1993 he was getting very old and some on the BoG were determined to replace the by-now-aged man. They forced him to advertise for a replacement who would take over the school after understudying him for a year. The Board ASKED me to apply. I waited three weeks after applying, then phoned JSL. I was paying for the call, so I timed it. 26 seconds. He said, “yes, he had got my application (and he knew who I was);”. I said that I was coming to Colombo, “could I meet him?” “No, I can’t be met.”

        He wanted somebody whom he had taught: so the appointment of Casie Chetty – who was “unqualified” in the same way as “Eksith Fernando”.

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        Before all this, there had been Bala Gunesekeram at Gurutalawa. He had been an Engineering lecturer at Pera University when I was a student, but I had avoided getting to know him because he had this reputation for being an evangelising Christian. But he knew about me:

        He requested that I meet him at Guru. A meeting that I will never forget. He told me that he had taken the school on to put it right, and then he wanted to move on. He had dealt with all the crooks, and he said that some of the biggest problems came from guys who exploited the fact they they had been “Thomians”. He wanted me to take over, but said that it was clear that I wanted to be abroad a little longer, and since my children were small, that was another problem. This was a dangerous job, and if little orphans were left behind it would be dangerous. His children were grown-ups.

        He wanted my c.v., nevertheless. Three weeks later, after I had set out for Oman, he had presented my c.v. to the Board. A further five weeks later, he and his wife were murdered – shot in the early hours of the morning. The wife died immediately; he survived a few hours – and talked. They never took action on what he said.

        The Defence Minister at the time was Ranjan Wijeratne, an Old Boy. It was the time of the JVP insurrection. The actual assassins he got bumped off. But it was an inside job – “never solved”.

        Then they wanted me at Bandarawela, and at Guru. I can give you details of why they were subverted, but I don’t think it advisable. I’ll become a joke. But google this if you must:

        “Illegal Appointment of a Principal Panini Edirisinghe”

        and Christo Gonawela, another of the three candidates, seven years younger only than me, but one of my pupils (who has now started ignoring my calls – or if got at through his private secretary says he’s too busy: ringing his mobile again: 11.25 a.m. today), sent me this some time ago:

        http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/5107

        The 1983 government regulations say the Head of a Private School has to be a graduate with 10 years’ teaching experience. The BoG insists that it be a Protestant Christian. Then employ young Christian Graduates as teachers, and promote one of then as Deputy Head – properly so appointed by the Board. He can be sent to one of the other schools as the “Principal” (that’s the word the government uses), when the need arises.

        Have you never wondered why there are no “Vice-Principals” in these schools? One Headmaster, R.R.R. Herathge of Bandarawela (who his pupils think was fantastic – the fact that he made lots of money they think is “Okay”!) actually told me, when the Board was asking him to take me on as a Board appointed “Deputy”, (he was posing as my “friend” at the time), that HE could give me an appointment himself (then I could be sacked by HIM), and further said that no Head of a school would be so foolish as to appoint a Christian Graduate, especially one who knew English, as a teacher: it would be a time-bomb! By the way, as far as I know, there still is a case in the Badulla courts for Herathge to return some millions to the school – but he now prospers as Head (or whatever he is called), of CIS, (Kandy Branch). Whilst I am a pauper, who’s never even visited a “Developed Country”. I am an old man now; if you care for the country and for future generations, please DO something, and I will respond with lots of material.

        Isn’t it significant that there is no response to all this from the Bishop, the Board, or the school Heads. And nobody has questioned my integrity.

        I began writing this some time ago, after composing half a comment to the story of Wijedasa Rajapaksha wanting to put in to the Constitution that “Religious Leaders cannot be criticised – even in Parliament!”

        On Good Friday, the 25th, at 5.43 p.m. I had sent Bishop Dhilo this sms to his mobile phone, 077XXXXX, (it would be unfair to give you his mobile number which he gave me as he was elected Bishop, when he thought he could put things right):

        “I have sent you a personal email to your “anglican@sltnt.lk” address.

        Please let’s settle this problem.

        May I ring you 5 minutes after sending this?

        Panini”

        Sent in the evening, because all Anglican clergy do 3 hour services from 9.00 a.m. to noon on Good Friday. [Roman Catholics have their services in the afternoon]

        I made two calls: 5:52 p.m. and 5:53 p.m. No response.

        I was advised by an outstanding Peace Advocate, whose father was an Anglican Priest to wait until Tuesday, because clergy are very busy during Holy Week. Ultimately it was only today (Wednesday) at 9.51 a.m. that I sent the Bishop this sms:

        Dear Bishop Dhilo, I’ve been told that you are extremely busy, and going to Zambia, but could we please have a brief chat. I will ring in 5 minutes.”

        Called at 9.55 a.m.; 9.56 (It was answered in Chinese (sic)! After about 5 sentences in Chinese, one short English sentence with a Chinese accent: “This number cannot be contacted now” or something like that.

        Desperate, I called again: 9.57, 9.58, 9.59. 10.00 a.m. Then waited.

        Called again, 10.29, 10.30, 10.31 – again the Chinese followed by English – got a few others to listen to that response. Those people just won’t believe in INTELLECTUAL dishonesty of the Bishop – I’m sure he’s straight with money.

        Rang again, at 11.29 a.m while proof reading this long “harangue”: mobile said the person I’m trying to call is overseas.

        Bishop Dhilo was parish priest in Bandarawela for many years (I was in Oman, but home for vacations) and got quite close to our family. Later he was Archdeacon Nuwara-Eliya, but built the new “Archdeacon Palace” on Kahattewela Road, Bandarawela, less than a mile from my home. Also, he bought the land just behind and built his personal house there – at three levels – he wants to retire here to this wonderful climate. Nothing wrong in that; I’m sure he spent his own money, and it is a sensible arrangement, since the house will get looked after by the current Archdeacon and his caretaker. A practical arrangement which is to be praised.

        Dhilo’s mother-in-law lives with him still. She was a VERY dedicated English teacher for many years at the village “Ambegoda Sri Sumana Vidyalaya” – her husband, Rev. Harold Fernando, having been the Methodist priest in Bandarawela – this was around 1970. I met Dhilo many times as soon as he was elected Bishop (and our family all attended his induction in the Cathedral). I explained all the problems that existed in these schools. Once put it in writing, 5 pages, and met him with two copies. We sat down while he read through it, with him asking the occasional question. He’s not a bad man, but he NOW wants only sycophants around him. Just won’t meet me.

        If I write any more nobody will read it.

        It’s one of you who must write the next article.

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          Panini

          Thanks. I do not feel that who I am is of any consequence at this juncture. But your long and detailed history is very interesting.

          I must set your mind at rest on one matter (as I am intimately acquainted with folks who were first hand witnesses of the entire scenario): J.S.L. Fernando NEVER taught Casie Chetty (JSL left STCML long before Casie Chetty was born) and was vehemently opposed to that appointment. In turn, Casie Chetty (by his own admission to me) had never stepped foot inside the Prep School premises prior to his appointment as understudy. The decision was manipulated by the Board and then Bishop, to whom Casie Chetty was very close. In fairness, they also probably taught that appointing a young lawyer would bring about some new ideas and fresh thinking (they couldn’t have been further wrong). Nevermind that this was completely illegal (as pointed out by Old Codger earlier). In short, the removal of JSL who hoped to hold “the job for life” was under duress, and towards the end of his tenure he was extremely short tempered due to having all his power wrested from him. No wonder then that he snapped at you when you asked to meet – the man was apparently told by the Board that he could not give any input in to the choice of successor.

          Some staff at the Kollupitiya school confirm your letter reached them, but nobody can understand much of what is in it, possibly because they are unaware of their rights (or your English needs to be simpler). I have not seen the letter so I cannot comment.

          If you have given up, let us hope that at least someone else does take this forward. For my part I will make others aware of this as much as possible.

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            Dear Kollupitiya Kolla,

            Many thanks; you know my name, and now I’m telling you that I teach IELTS and am a British Council Registration Centre, you will easily be able to get my e-mail address and mobile numbers from the Internet, please contact me.

            I’m inserting this paragraph after re-reading your very balanced and fair comment. You end by saying that you will “make others aware of this as much as possible.”

            My apologies to all: I thought that Casie Chetty had studied at Colpetty. Yes, that necessitates a HUGE rethinking. Actually, after I was passed over, Rajan Asirwatham and I had a chat; he told me that S. Thomas’ had been very unfair by me, and that I should look elsewhere for my future.

            I got back in to Government Service, and then ran in to the Director/ English, Mrs V.S.M. Yatawatte, who prided herself on restoring “Sinhala-kama to the English Department of the Education Ministry.” She also found that I had a Second Upper in the same degree that she had a Second Lower in; of course she’d got herself a Master’s after that. She was pretty good at “testing”. But this really is blaming others instead of facing up to my own shortcomings! Sorry, Viraj, especially!

            I have many hard copies of my Nov. 23rd letter with me, but of course, what I will send you is an attachment. On the soft copy they couldn’t merely click on the link to see the two all important documents: the 1930 Ordnance and the Board’s Rules. They would have had to type all that (or some of it) in to the browser. In the Uva schools only a few teachers are computer literate (how can today’s kids be taught by such teachers – solution, implement a programme to give them that literacy). I know Casie was anti-computers, but aren’t the Colpetty teachers slightly more sophisticated than those up here?

            As for the level of English used, I’ve been a village teacher. I have used very simple structures; the few words that they may not have known are these: “pertaining, reposed, formulated, confidentiality, consonance, hypothetical, transitionary (changed in later emails to transitional), profile, credentials, solicit”.

            No, the real problem would have been not being able to get at the links by clicking. It would have been done if they had felt that there was a possibility of fair elections.

            I met Rev. Dushyantha Rodrigo about two years ago: he immediately placed me; possibly he was chaplain at Guru when Bala was Head. During the past six months I’ve met him thrice – the first and last times at the Maharagama Anglican Church; he has to perform some administrative functions there. The first time he said that it was a matter for the teachers. The second time was when I attended the low-key Carol Service at Colpetty, the day before the major one at Mt Lavinia. The main feature was blind children from Ratmalana who sang. At the end, I greeted Dushantha and asked if I could distribute my sheets. He said please don’t because the teachers didn’t know about the elections. I left almost immediately, but it wouldn’t have made much difference; there were so few teachers. There’d been an important end-of-term function just hours before: Prize Giving? The last time I met him, he promised fair-play. I have sent him a number of important e-mails.

            It is good to hear that some letters got through. That feed-back is valuable. Given the gravity of the issues I feel that “going public” was justified.

            Casie, Casie, what an eccentric! The father a rationalist; the son a regular delegate to the Diocesan Council. Totally honest with money, knowing everybody in the school by name, even the service staff, but a snob like no other! You obviously don’t have to be told that he never carried a mobile phone or had an e-mail address. Actually, I was just ahead of Chrishmal in the queue to congratulate Dushantha after the latter’s induction: December 2014? Prof. G.L. Peiris was two behind Chrishmal when he told me how he had presented a computer to the school and Casie had said it was “a monster”. Chrishmal: “No, Mr C-Ch”, it’s called a computer”.

            In 2012, I was fortunate to get in to the school, just the day before the elections. Casie was in the compound, seeable from the entrance.

            I told the security, “no, no, I only want to speak to the Headmaster, there”.

            ‘Oh, do you know him . . . .” I was through. Casie recognised me, took me to the office, sat down. I can’t remember if he kept me standing, or whether I sat myself. I proffered the letter I had brought for him, and told him what. . . . He knew.

            “I don’t think that you are a suitable person for the BoG. Please leave.” I didn’t have my wits about me to put the letter on the table. Left.

            To complete my relation of that episode, the next morning, very early, I got to the Bishop’s Office, Bauddhaloka Mawatha, asking that the election be stopped. Dhilo was in England, asleep, obviously, the coldest morning of the year (22nd January it was). This year it was held as late as possible. My behaviour was exemplary; the words extra-polite, but my fury was obvious to the ladies there – as they had confided later to – . . . sorry, I won’t mention unnecessary names. Rev. Perry Brohier, not Archdeacon then, was there, in charge. I said quite a few choice things to him: “ye generation of vipers . . . etc.”

            Rev. Dr Rienzie Perera (wonderful man!) spoke to me about 2.00 p.m. Said he’d seen me seated there, could he do something for me. I think I told him something about the matter (he NOW knows), but told him that I knew he couldn’t help. I left only when they closed the office.

            I think it was the next day that I met the then Archdeacon, Ven. Chryshantha Mendis (wife from Bandarawela). He said that he was no longer on the Board . . ..

            So, that was it. I did meet Dhilo again. That may have been when he read through five pages of what I had written, but just before that, I had told him something about the exasperating Ramaswamy. That’s my occasional gardener. Two days previously he had been assaulted mercilessly by the Assistant Parish Priest in Bandarawela. I knew that the matter had been reported to Dhilo. He was saying how could he take action when nobody ever put anything down in writing! Incidentally, the five pages were not “complaint”. They were constructive suggestions about re-structuring the Board.

            Irony: please see the 20th and last comment here:

            https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/t-kandasamy-intellectually-a-giant-and-as-a-man-kind-fatherly-exemplary/

            More recently, perhaps two years ago, he said something about “how to run the schools when Headmasters elect Board Members!”

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              It is true that modern day teachers lack in the basic skills needed to teach modern day children. I don’t see how any person can truly be called “educated’ who doesn’t know the elements of sentence structure, or who doesn’t understand the nature of a relative clause, a passive construction,
              and so on.Furthermore, if one is going to discuss literature, including what students write themselves, and to come to understanding, and to come to understand how it is written and why,
              there conceptual tools are indispensable. For this purpose, I think traditional grammar so-called (say, the grammar of Jespersen) remains today a very impressive and useful basis for such teaching.I can’t see any reason for teaching structural grammars of English, or for teaching transformational
              grammar in the manner of some instructional books that I have seen.

              On a separate note, I hear (reliably) that Casie Chetty is now being trained on how to use a computer and how to use a cellphone, as it is a requirement for a private company he is doing some legal consultancy for. What a hypocrite to have deprived those children all these years.

              • 2
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                Thanks, Duruthu Wijeysuriya,

                Clearly you understand much, AND, you are a decent guy.

                With regard to “grammar”; yes an adult learning a foreign language may have to formally learn some of the rules before he acquires the intuitive knowledge which he must have to handle the language.

                However, I feel that “the Kaduwa” is the biggest problem in Sri Lanka. It is such an important social marker that learners are afraid to use the language. Knowing some rules of grammar may only inhibit them more. But that’s a huge subject.

                Why not post some comments at the end as well? No, Casie may not have been such a hypocrite. “Snob+Prig” is terrible. He may not have realised what an ass he was seen to be.

                As for me, since everybody “knows” that I’m an ass, it doesn’t matter!

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    Well, Viraj has exposed himself in the Thomian circle at long last, being schooled for a brief period @ STPS (I assume) for short period.

    A also presume that Viraj as a respondent to Mr. Edirisinghe’s original article on “Belief In The Worth Of Teachers At S. Thomas’ Colleges” had little or no resonance with the other followers of of the original writing.
    All these have led to nothing but variegation of personal perceptions, but not essentially relating to the Thomian perspective which is essentially the “big picture” that all Thomians should perceive to be.

    Best Regards,

    Darshana W

    • 1
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      Thanks, Preethi, your many comments are greatly appreciated.

      It is few who consistently follow up. I have just posted a long response to “Kollupitiya Kolla”. I hope he gets somebody to write the next response. He may, for many reasons, not be in a position to run the risk of writing it himself.

      But just a few words to you if I may: it doesn’t matter how long anybody schooled or where. Your contribution is not just to this little school. Ultimately it will benefit all of humanity, in ways which you will never know – and you would have become the forgotten catalyst.

      Immanuel Kant spoke of the “Categorical Imperative”: a right action has to The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason.
      Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/t/tseliot132678.htmlbe done because it is right – not expecting a reward either in heaven or here in this life.

      I’ve been told by Prof. Mahinda Palihawadana, that re-birth is not of central importance to Buddhism. Isn’t the Buddha saying the same thing when he says it is difficult to overcome “Thannaha”?

      http://mahindapalihawadana.webs.com/

      Study it: he had been persuaded to get all that going by his many pupils – he is a humble man.

      T.S. Eliot from Murder in the Cathedral:

      “The last temptation is the greatest treason: to do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

  • 1
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    Dear Panini Edirisinghe,

    You say you have said everything you know but I am sorry to say this. There is nothing worthwhile in what ever you have said to initiate judicial action by “Mr. Whoever”. You are talking about what happened inside the schools and what should have happened and etc. There are no rules defined for these and hence these facts will have no impact. A judicial action based on this can be easily defended.

    You are talking about not adhering to the secret ballot which too wouldn’t be taken that seriously in law. It’s a minor issue.

    The election of the OBA representative of course has solid ground for judicial action. Facts are crystal clear. I don’t know how the OBAs will address this. We’ll have to wait and see.

    So, unless you can come out with meaningful facts for judicial action I doubt “Mr. Whoever” will stick his neck out to fight this.

    • 0
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      Many thanks, Viraj, for talking sense.

      In 2016, there is no MORAL problem posed by the election of Prabhath Jayasundera of the Guru OBA. There was a definite “gentlemen’s agreement” put in place by Upali Panidtharatne, who was OBA rep twice, first from Guru (the year 2000), then by Bandarawela in 2004. In 2001 there was a major change in the EXCO of Guru. Clifford Ratwatte (brother of Sirimavo Bandaranaike) was thrown out, and with that they stopped supporting Upali (who was two years junior to me). Prabhath is a fine man who is getting on to the BoG for the right reasons.

      When I told Dhilo in 2011 or so, that Upali was dead Dhilo was taken aback. (Else his funeral would have been attended: ALL Sri Lankans attend funerals, but ignore guys when they are alive!)

      Chandrasekera used Upali’s non-presence on Planet Earth to cheat at the OBA rep elections in 2012.

      Why did Upali lose support at Guru? There’s a fine man, a brilliant man, now old, Bandu Wanigasekera. He told me that Upali couldn’t be forgiven because it was he who foisted Geethal Mendis (still living) on Gurutalawa. He DID’T! Upali tried hard to get ME appointed Headmaster: I will not dwell on why that failed, because the forces that prevented my appointed have now realised their mistake – and have repented.

      It’s not legalities that we should bother with. Public Opinion counts for so much, and now we have the Internet. Young people ought to be able to use it so much more effectively than old guys like me – or the actual, admirable, “Old Codger Redux”, whose identity I still don’t know.

      Do you realise that the Anglican Church in Sri Lanka now has only 35,000 members?

  • 0
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    Dear Panini Edirisinghe,

    Your latest comment clearly shows that you are actually not aware of what really happened at the elections. You should probably talk to proper people and get your facts right before bringing such things to the public. It’s true that there were problems at the BOG elections needing some sort of addressing but those are quite different to what you have been talking. I’ll leave it to you to find what really happened. It will be worth talking about with only real facts.

    However, I just wish to pose one simple question to you.

    Would you have accepted this as a fair election if you had been elected in place of your brother in the same way he was elected on the 15th of March?

  • 0
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    A simple emphatic answer to your question: No.

    I had written a lot more, when the computer began to play tricks. I am glad. I’m writing too much about myself, and you, too, are getting involved in pettifogging.

    I’ve had a long chat with OBA Rep-Elect, Prabhath Jayasundera.

    If there are significant mistakes in my presentation of “facts”, please point out. I’m not enjoying all this controversy.

    Colpetty, I’ve checked on what CT will accept. A photograph and valid name are necessary. It is CT that provided that very appropriate photograph of the portal of Guru. Please write a quite short account, giving a link to this article. The comments will obviously come in now that fundamental issues are getting raised. Please leave personalities out.

  • 1
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    Panini Edirisighe

    Appreciate your simple answer to my question.

    I would like to know on what grounds would you have NOT accepted the election fair?

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