22 October, 2017

Electing A VC At Jaffna University: A Window Into Erosion Of Quality In Sri Lankan University System

Colombo Telegraph continues its exposure of corruption in Jaffna University which is ruinous for the development of the region and indeed the nation. By turning a blind eye to it, the Government and the education authorities, are by default, creating a climate where the entire system of education threatens to become toxic. In most universities where there is space for change, a change of vice chancellor is an opportunity to welcome new ideas, new academic culture and new administrative practices to the precincts of higher education. This does not mean that it is only an external candidate who can breathe fresh air into the university and the manner in which it functions; rather, the university and its decision making bodies should be open and willing to consider external candidates and act in a flexible manner so that decision on an application sent from a far away place like the USA is not solely based on whether or not the application sent by a candidate reached the university before the deadline.

One of the principal functions that determine this decision is the spirit and freedom in which a new vice chancellor is selected. Unfortunately, we do not see anything that could be considered encouraging and hospitable in the procedure followed in the election of the new Vice Chancellor of University of Jaffna. The agenda (click here to view the file) for the special meeting of the University Council scheduled for the 26th of February 2017 and the minutes of the previous meeting held in late January (click here and read section 14) shows that an external candidate with an excellent academic record in his field has not been included in the slate of candidates for the election on the grounds that his application reached the university a day or two late. Colombo Telegraph has addressed the issue in its report (click here to read the report) published on the 13th of February 2017. Not to leave any room for speculation, we give the reader official records of matters due for decision on 25th and 26th January 2017 at the Council.

Natural justice to both Prof. S. Thiagalingam (whose application posted early from the US arrived a day or two late), the university community and the region’s people requires overlooking the minor postal delay in the receipt of his application to the position of Jaffna Vice Chancellor (VC) sent from the USA and treat it with the spirit of openness. Importantly, Prof. V. Tharmaratnam (Chair), members Prof. S. Sivasegaram and Prof. R. Ravirajan who formed the Evaluation Committee, went through the applications painstakingly on Friday 27th January after opening them the same day. They saw no issue in the small delay in Prof. Thiagalingam’s application which had arrived ten days earlier. They found it an application eminently worthy of consideration and scheduled it along with the others (Click here to read the Report of the Evaluation Committee).

The advertisement for the post of vice chancellor on 25th November 2016 had an ambiguity (click here to view the advertisement). In one place the advertisement says to be sent to reach…before 3.00 PM on 16th January 2017. This was done by Prof. Thiagalingam. The last sentence says applications received after the closing date will not be considered. The advertisement also states that the application should be either hand delivered or sent by registered post. It is noteworthy here that Prof. Thiagalingam, unlike the internal candidates, did not have the option of hand delivering the application as he was based in Boston, USA.

At the Council meeting held on the 28th of January, a day after the Evaluation Committee scheduled Prof. Thiagalingam’s and five other applications for consideration, the Vice Chancellor highlighted merely the last sentence above. The Council was not informed about the report of the evaluation committee, a committee appointed by the council itself to ensure quality in choice. Nor were its members asked to explain their decision to include Thiagalingam – there was no discussion on his credentials at that meeting of the Council.

Dr. N. Jeyakumaran, a member of the University Council, said that the application should be accepted as it was posted in the USA on 27th December 2016. Prof. Tharmaratnam argued that since the application was posted in the USA on the 27th of December 2016, the applicant could not be very much faulted for this delay.

Then comes a tricky claim in the alleged minutes (click here to view the relevant section – read section 14), the kind of which is always suspect: “Most members emphasized that this application cannot be legally accepted since it has not reached the office on time.” There was neither a legal discussion nor a vote. As most members were not lawyers, what the Council in fact decided was to seek legal opinion (see below). What is worse, five deans who were applicants for the VC’s position were present for the discussion instead of recusing themselves over their conflict of interest, or being asked to leave by the Chairman. The one notable speech was by the Dean of Technology, himself a candidate, advising rejection. Little else of note was said. Some of these details have been excluded unintentionally or otherwise from the minutes.

It was then the Vice Chancellor put forward legal arguments for the rejection of Thiagalingam’s application.

  1. According to procurement procedure, bids received after the closing date and time will be rejected.
  2. The application was not forwarded through the head of his institution.
  3. The applicant has not mentioned his citizenship

This was neither a legal argument nor did it account for the special needs of a university that must be flexible to attract quality. Reason 1. above treats the university as a trading agency trying to stock its warehouse and the Vice Chancellor as a mere commodity. Reason 2. as is well-known only applies to applicants from the local public sector. Reason 3. does not apply as it was not asked for in the application form. At this point the Council decided to seek advice from the legal officer of the UGC on the three points above.

In this climate of uncertainty, Prof. Sivasegaram advised the Council to “take decisions since there are legally acceptable reasons to reject [Thiagalingam’s] application.” Although it is unclear what decisions Prof. Sivasegaram advised the Council to take, it should be noted that he signed the report prepared by the Evaluation Committee the previous day and granted his approval to include Prof. Thiagalingam in the list of candidates scheduled for consideration by the Council.

The VC then reported that an absent council member Miss. Abimannasingham PC communicated another bit of legal advice over the phone that the late application ‘cannot be accepted’ because the advertisement says that the application should reach the registrar’s office by a certain date and time. But most lawyers would tell you that the advertisement does not create a rigid law barring the institution from considering a late application as Miss. Abimannasingham apparently suggested. The VC then recorded that the other five applications be sent to council members. Thiagalingam was thus excluded by a sleight of hand without actually saying so. The council members are themselves vague about what had happened.

Academic sources say that Prof. Tharmaratnam, when asked why he did not speak up, said that Miss. Abimannasingham was a lawyer while he was not, though he had argued his own case in the Supreme Court. He dismissed what allegedly came from Miss. Abimannasingham without being argued out, and written down, as not legal advice. He said there was nothing for him to say until he had consulted legal references and had thought about it. What the VC claims the Council has done is wrong – that was to drop Thiagalingam by stealth on such facetious grounds. If there were one good legal argument the VC had, why include duds 1, 2 and 3 above? Some members of the public questioned the role of the Vice Chancellor in the decision making process. They argue that as an outgoing Vice Chancellor, Prof. Vasanthy Arasaratnam should have recused herself from all discussions on the appointment of a new Vice Chancellor and allowed the rest of the Council to make a decision on Prof. Thiagalingam’s application. Given that there are serious allegations of irregularities in recruitment during her tenure some note that she may not like an independent candidate becoming the next VC as he or she may order probes into those allegations.

Why this charade?

To many, the desire to keep out Prof. Thiagalingam may look strange. The current VC has imposed her stamp on the University for six years. Candidates 1 – 4 (click here), have enjoyed her patronage or had served her. Candidate 2 is reported to have played a crucial role in 2011 by introducing her to the EPDP leader Mr. Douglas Devananda which was important in making her VC, but had for a time visibly cooled towards his protege. 1 and 4 had closely supported the rigging of the 2014 VC election with Mr. Devananda’s involvement (click here to view the story), Candidate 3 somewhat evasively. Candidate 4 had brought a dummy candidate from Oluvil as part of the plan executed by the EPDP. Some members of the academic staff say that Candidate 5 is the most independent, adding that even with Candidate 2 they could work, though Colombo Telegraph learns that several teams of the academic staff at the University are campaigning for the other three candidates as well.

Candidate 1 has most visibly enjoyed the VC’s patronage. She installed him as Dean of Graduate Studies, enabling his wife to step into the position of Dean, Agriculture. The wife was appointed as Chairman of the Search Committee by the Council on 12th November, along with Prof. R. Ravirajan and Prof (Fr.) Pilendran (click here to view the names of the members). Candidate 1’s wife no doubt knew that her husband would be an applicant (date of application 9 Jan. 2017) and should have recused herself. Over the two months it had, the committee was not able to persuade any external candidates to apply.

The other point not lost on academics is that Prof. Thiagalingam started his career in Biochemistry, the same field as the VC’s, obtained his PhD from the prestigious Johns Hopkins University on DNA repair mechanisms and is currently Associate Professor in the Biomedical Genetics Section, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine.

How appointment of eminent academics is blocked here is evident in the cases of Dr. Siddharthan Maunaguru, also a PhD from Johns Hopkins University, on the facile premise that as a doctor of Anthropology, he was unfit to teach Sociology (click here to read the report). Prof. S.R.H. Hoole DSc Lond., FIEEE USA, to avoid delay in processing for professor, applied for senior lecturer I in Electrical Engineering and was found unsuitable by the Selection Committee. The Council emphatically rejected this supposed finding and in July 2016 asked for the selection board, which is chaired by the VC, to reconsider the matter. After unaccountable delays, the Council Minutes of the meeting on 21 Dec. 2016, produced verbatim, records as follows:

“The Council having considered the report of selection committee on the clarification made by the Council on the selection of Post of Lecturer Gr.I in Electrical and Electronic Engineering accepted (emphasis ours) that expertise of Mr. Hoole is not adequate to teach the existing under graduate programme in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.”

Also recorded in the minutes of the same meeting (21.12. 2016) for approval at the upcoming council meeting (25.2.2017) is, ‘the Council approved the following observations of the Selection Committee’, among which was included as reason for dismissing Prof. Hoole’s application: ‘he has not sent the application through the Head of the Institution, i.e. the Rector of Michigan State University’. It is the same fictitious legal advice adduced against Prof. Thiagalingam.

Why this has to change

If one has time, money, patience and energy to challenge the deceit practised by the universities in the courts, much of the self-serving legal advice they use would be thrown out. But then who cares?, not the universities, their deans or vice chancellors, not the UGC and not our political leaders. They had their way, they bought time and they have nothing to lose. Meanwhile our educational standards sink and the young are denied hope. They become as cynical as their mentors, and in time brutal and destructive. Do we want to condemn the young to such a fate?
As for Prof. Thiagalingam’s case it is almost pointless dabbling in legal arguments. Many of our institutions, including the Examinations Department go by the postal date and not the date of receipt of an application. We often take refuge in legal arguments and rules when we lack common sense and a proper measure of charity.

Prof. Thiagalingam had acted in good faith and with good intention and we would be destructive cynics to question that. Keeping these in mind, the Council should create good traditions of openness and hospitality by removing obstacles barring Prof. Thiagalingam’s candidacy. A straightforward way of doing it is for the Council to postpone the closing date. That would be unquestionably legal. University of Jaffna Teachers’ Association (UJTA), the union that represents the academic staff of the University and Jaffna University Science Teachers’ Association (JUSTA) have already appealed to the University Council to consider Prof. Thiagalingam’s candidacy (click here to view the letters – links to the letters given at the end of the story). There is still time for the Council to set things right and make University of Jaffna a place that welcomes talent from the outside. Let’s hope they will set a good example to the rest of the universities and other institutions in Sri Lanka.

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Latest comments

  • 1
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    Nalini,

    Perhaps the non-Tamil members tend to think that the University of Jaffna is a Tamil university and they should not interfere in its administration. But that is wrong and unacceptable. If you are a council member you need to speak up regardless of your identity.

    I hope the Muslim and Sinhala gentlemen will question the other members if and when they go wrong.

    It appears from the comments above the council can no longer cite the postal delay to reject Prof. Thiagalingam’s application.

  • 1
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    Principles of Reasonableness and Good Faith in the Case Above

    Relevant to the case are the Common Law principles of Reasonableness and Good Faith: “A public body invested with statutory powers…must take care not to exceed or abuse its powers…must keep within the limits of the authority committed to it. It must act in Good Faith. And it must act reasonably.” (Administrative Law, H.W.R. Wade, Oxford 1977)

    Halsbury’s Laws of Canada speaks of jurisdictional errors that could result in the jurisdictional authority’s (e.g. the University’s) loss of jurisdiction: e.g. acting in bad faith, basing the decision on extraneous matters, failing to take relevant factors into account, breaching the provisions of natural justice.

    https://www.lexisnexis.ca/pdf/products/LexisNexis_Reference_Card_Administrative_Law.pdf

    The VC in her briefing to the Council relied on extraneous Points 2 and 3 which, though irrelevant to Preliminary Question 1 – the alleged Postal Delay – were lumped with it to apparently strengthen the erroneous position on Question 1. In fact all three questions were addressed erroneously.

    The Applicant has acted reasonably in having posted his application well on time (Postal Rule), which entitled him to the Legitimate Expectation that his application would be processed. In quashing the Applicant’s Legitimate Expectation, by its refusal, the Council has acted in Bad Faith. Its unreasonableness is compounded by the following:

    1. The five deans contesting the election failing to recuse themselves from, and the Chairman (VC) allowing their presence during, the discussion of Thiagalingam’s candidacy, despite their immediate conflict of interest.

    2. The Chairman seeking legal advice over the phone from a source that too may have significant conflicts of interest, hurriedly announcing it to the Council, and pushing through a decision to exclude Thiagalingam, which was neither clearly understood by Council members nor explained to them.

    • 1
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      Good point on reasonableness. I am also glad that you have tried to look at this issue from the applicant’s point of view. That is very important.

  • 2
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    A Gleam of Hope

    Thanks to the publicity by Colombo Telegraph (CT) and many others who have lobbied and worked silently, there is a gleam of hope for the University of Jaffna.

    In a letter dated 20th February, Sam Thiagalingam explained to members of the Council that he applied for the vice chancellorship of his alma mater – the University of Jaffna – to make recompense for the free education this country gave him, and in response to President Sirisena’s call to expatriates to return and serve, for which the Government pledged to remove all obstacles. In this context, ST was perturbed to learn about the fate of his application through reports in CT.

    In a reply to Thiagalingam, copied to all council members, Prof. Mikunthan, one of five deans contesting the VC’s position, wrote last night (20th) that he welcomed ST’s application in response to the President’s call to expatriates to contribute to the betterment of this country, and had no objection to its being duly processed. He wished for the election to be fair edifying.

    We reliably learn that two other contestant deans R. Vigneswaran and S. Raviraj will soon follow with letters along similar lines if they have not done so already. It is expected that the remaining two candidates would respond similarly.

    The irony is not lost here that had ST’s application been simply accepted, a few days hence he might have been a forgotten candidate. By making an issue of it, the Administration has created a wave for change that will not ebb soon. Many members of the university community are actively discussing ways to use this opportunity and bring about change.

  • 2
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    We salute and thank the Deans, the so called Academics who set an example and showed the world that our academics are not so bankrupt and have not forgotten all human laws. We trust other council members too will accept and act quickly to request all the council to include ST’s name in the agenda to make a presentation on the 25th and also do the needful to invite ST to have his presentation on the same day, through SKYPE so that nothing gets lost regarding the election.
    You all will be honoured for your integrity.

  • 2
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    Running Commentary.

    I have followed every commentary[Ball-by Ball,I would say!]on this issue.Fine arguments.Thank you.In the process you have exposed the small minds who control affairs of the UOJ. Let Justice prevail!

    • 0
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      I have also followed as much as is possible from guys in the South of the country who are concerned that a Sri Lankan University is in this sort of mess.

      We have to affirm our commitment to reconcilliation and to the unity by ensuring that the University is properly administered. The University is in the North of the country and it must keep that identity, while admitting students of all communities – which it does.

      However, we cannot look on with indifference while all sorts of petty personal politics are getting played out. Yes, Justice demands that all suitable candidates be seriously considered. On the face of it, it looks as though Prof. Sam Thiagalingam is in the best position to put things right. Let us demand of the government that it acts through the proper channels, in this case The University Grants Commission, to ensure that this all important appointment is not manipulated.

      It may be that if we are unconcerned things will deteriorate further, and then, as usual, we will bemoan what is happening in “our country”. I shall try to collect my thoughts and try to say something more coherent.

  • 0
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    Thanks Running Commentary,
    It is a great news. CT has contributed a lot for this change at the Jaffna University. Finally, They have realized that it is difficult to cheat in this modern IT era.

    • 0
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      I too hope that justice will prevail, as well as the law upheld.

      • 3
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        SJ,

        Are you on Facebook? A young law academic at Jaffna University says on Facebook that Prof. Thiagalingam’s application could be accepted on the grounds of reasonableness as long as the Council is convinced that he has taken all the necessary measures to make sure that his application reach the recipient before the deadline. In saying this, the little Guru has quite refuted his madam Guru on whose advice the VC argued that the law was against Prof. Thiagalingam’s application.

        Maybe you should consider joining Facebook – the new court where the ball is being played now. A cancer killer Councillor is also playing the ball in that forum in the same thread. But his positions are a contrast to your positions in the CT court.

        • 0
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          Thanks, but no thanks.
          I can be (or perhaps am) stupid, but not that stupid to waste time on Facebook.

      • 3
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        The law upheld. My foot! The problem with Sivasegaram is “the law” and “ethics” are what he thinks they are. Two examples.

        1. Four students from Trinco did not get their letters of Peradeniya admission in time because of battles. They turned up late after their seats were reallocated. The Faculty Board led by Sivasegaram refused them a place saying if the then 320 places were increased, it would lead to reduced standards. I went to the press and got them admitted. Sivasegaram with other professors wrote to the Institute of Engineers not to admit me because I lacked ethics. I was, as a Fellow, after inquiry.

        2. When I taught human rights for engineers under the approved topic “the software engineer and society” he with 3 other professors charged me formally: “Inclusion of extraneous material in Examination Paper No. 472 and Publication of a newspaper article on human rights without the knowledge of the authorities.” The inquiry was on 04.10.2002 by Harindranath Dunuwille (Council Member, Lawyer and former Mayor of Kandy).

        Quoting from Dunuwille’s report (15.11.2002), “The teaching of and examining the students in Human Rights, it was alleged, was a breach regulation.” Dunuwille asked by what rule. “What do you mean?” asked Sivasegaram, his jaw dropping. Dunuwille replied, “You know, like in this rule book, regulation number such and such.” He could not understand that rules must be by an authority having the power to make rules. Dunuwille concludes “but the Complainants were unable to specify the regulation.” He goes on, “As for the allegation of the publication of a newspaper article, in the absence of a regulation prohibiting it, no recommendation can be made.”

        Sivasegaram writes above of ethics and rules: “Sivasegaram plays by the rules: as inflexible as the rules you may say.”

        These rules are all as conveniently cooked up in his mind to have his dictatorial way.

        • 4
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          Well played, Prof. Sivasegaram. Object to the late admission of 4 poor Tamil students from Tinco for being late with good cause – exactly like here – all in the name of some principle nobody understands.

          This is exactly the way to win favor with your masters – attack a Tamil on their behalf. No wonder Dean Pathirana who teaches Production in Sinhala and keeps out Tamils from that department put your papers through for Senior Professor although you lacked the qualifications. Touché.

          • 0
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            One who sticks to rules will object when students are to enter ell into the term.
            It should not have anything to do with the ethnicity of any student.
            It is fine for one to raise an objection when there is an irregularity; but one should abide by the final ruling and not play foul.
            If there is selective treatment based on any kind of identity, that would be improper.
            As for your speculation, there is no cure for prejudice.

            • 0
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              Sivasegaram, please stop bluffing. When the matter was raised at the Engineering Faculty Board, you did not talk about students coming well into the term. Well, they came finally with further delays from you and did well. Their coming late was not the problem.

              What I remember is your arguing angrily to silence those who disagreed, words to the effect, “If we agree to 324 now instead of our usual 320, next year the UGC will force us to take 324.”

              Such a small mind! The problem is that you did not have the heart to feel for the 4 Tamil students.

              The 320 limit is for normal times. If there are reasonable circumstances to waive the rules, waive we must. It is the same issue with the Jaffna VC.

      • 2
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        As a post script to my above comment, I will give what Harindranath Dunuwille says in his inquiry report dated 15 Nov. 2002 to the Peradeniya Council into my teaching human rights:

        “[T]he role of Universities today is much wider than in the days of Sir Ivor Jennings. The demands of society too are different to what [they were] half a century ago. Universities produce graduates including those who become professionals, and they have to be equipped to serve the community as leaders and experts. Today, it is our experience the majority does not fit the bill. An enlightened and liberal approach is very necessary to lift the quality of those that go through the portals of our seats of higher learning, making them employable and competitive with graduates of other Universities, both local and foreign. Students must cross Departmental and Faculty boundaries in order to get an all-round education through elective subjects. The benefits of such inter-action are so multifaceted they need no elaboration.”

        Professor Sivasegaram serves as an external member of the Jaffna Council. The idea of being external is to be able to have an outside advisory and supervisory view of the decisions by the internal members of the Council, namely the VC and Deans. And yet, he teaches mechanical engineering as an effective internal member, earning money. It is called running with the hare and hunting with the hound. Worse, he is the only PhD-holder in that department and is effectively its Head.

        Does Sivasegaram have the ethics make-up to be a Council member? Does he have the modern vision that Dunuwille writes of? When his students on selection committees are influenced to sign off on all his wrong-doings, what kind of engineers will Jaffna produce?

        It is so corrupting that the Council should take note.

        • 1
          1

          Yes, if credibility is to be maintained it is imperative that Prof.Sam Thiagalingam’s application should be considered. I know that I can’t add really valuable arguments, but I will try to put forward my “average Sinhalese” comment elsewhere after thinking it out.

          Professor Jeevan Hoole has quoted a person whom he has clearly identified as

          “Harindranath Dunuwille (Council Member, Lawyer and former Mayor of Kandy)”.

          This unfortunate debate seems to be centred upon personalities, and Prof. Sivasekaram seems to think that some of the time we are too solemn. But this is a serious matter.

          As “Singham” has at the top of the second page or comments that this is a situation that should concern ALL Sri Lankans.

          A relevant (?) digression would be to say that there are people of some standing in the South ARE concerned. Well, this is just to say that I don’t “know” Harindra Dunuwille at all, but I remember him playing cricket for Trinity in the mid 1970s. He was an impossibly talented all-rounder at school level who struck terror into our school team (of which I was NOT a member), scored a century against if I remember correctly. At International Level, later, he proved himself a mesmerising spin bowler, his hard-hitting batting being merely useful.

          He appears to have been a principled politician:

          http://www.harindradunuwille.lk/p/biography.html

          He has quit “Yahapalanaya”, in disgust apparently:

          http://www.vivalanka.com/newspage/2218389ai-video-harindranath-dunuwille-quits-unp-pathadumbara-organiser

          Yes, while we know little at first-hand of what goes on in Jaffna University, it is becoming ever clearer that the enormously intelligent and versatile Prof. Sivasekaram/SJ/sekera etc. is allowing himself to get terribly emotionally involved in all of this – AGAINST the best candidate. He once said that I am prone to be “patronising” – and, of course, as rather a non-entity I cannot afford to do so when dealing with a person of Prof. S’s eminence.

          It could, I guess, be complained that Prof. Jeevan Hoole also gets quite emotional – but he’s backing the more rational stands, and seems NEVER to comment anonymously.

          So, let me hope that Prof. Sivasekaram at least allows this applicant from Boston, Prof. Sam Thillainathan, to be interviewed.

          We would like to see in Jaffna a University that we could ALL be proud of!

          • 1
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            Sinhala-Man,

            “So, let me hope that Prof. Sivasekaram at least allows this applicant from Boston, Prof. Sam Thillainathan, to be interviewed.”

            Dr. Sivasegaram is not alone going to decide on this. After all the media attention the details on this decision will be out fast.

            I will now have to spend time and try to identify the members of the council I still don’t know of.

        • 0
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          Is there any restriction on who may or may not take visiting lectures?

          I am certain that the person concerned would have been happier teaching students in Peradeniya, where he is still very much wanted.
          There are no external or internal members in a University Council. There are ex-officio members and UGC nominees.

          If an ‘internal person’ is an issue, then retired dons of the university should not be serving on its Council, as they are far more likely to have vested interests than a visiting lecturer.
          There are perhaps none in the UoJ Council that the writer knows of?
          If so, it could be a matter for the UGC to ponder.

          • 0
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            Such a small mind. Sivasegaram cannot see the key difference.

            At Peradeniya to appoint him as a Visitor, the decision would be taken by a Council where he is not a member. They would vote no if the appointment is not appropriate.

            At Jaffna he is a member of the Council and would influence his own appointment. The Dean and Head would sign any request to appoint when it concerns a Council member. We have already seen in my own non-appointment how his students signed on to lies put to them by the VC and the Shadow-VC.

            It is called conflict of interest.

        • 0
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          Dr. Hoole,

          “It is so corrupting that the Council should take note.”

          Why do the members of the Council allow it? Any idea? Is Dr. Sivasegaram really running the show with the VC while most other members are silent or absent? Should the members not discuss and vote?

          The members are educated and should know the rules and their responsibility. Dr. Sivasegaram can hardly be the only member who can English.

          Who and when will decide if Dr.Thiagalingam is welcome? Is it not too late already to invite him?

  • 2
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    The Attack Begins

    The Head of the Department of Law has spoken through Facebook circa 2.00 PM yesterday 21st. He cited Reasonableness as a basis for accepting Prof. Thiagalingam’s application. He has signalled agreement with what appeared in Colombo Telegraph under these responses earlier at 11.00 AM. The response was the fruit of a long running collective discussion to clarify the matter when things looked very bleak after the Council meeting on 28th January. The VC turned down the application and she has been reportedly supported by the UGC’s legal department.

    The Head too was reportedly consulted on 28th January. A discussion in the Law Dept. or consultation with colleagues should have turned up the criterion of reasonableness with which many practicing lawyers are familiar. Why this long silence? The second paragraph of the Head’s posting is important as a warning to those who want to give the University new hope.

    He says, while we could welcome those who have contributed to this university despite having gone abroad, those who went abroad and haven’t taken the slightest notice of us, and will come only if they could occupy the throne, are dangerous. Now that the legal issue is cleared, we discern the Head’s line taking shape as an ugly campaign against Thiagalingam.

    Firstly, we do not hire vice chancellors for sentimental reasons. We go by their professional record and their ability to fulfill needs that would make this University a better institution, to give our students a place under the sun. The reality is that most members of the public and staff welcome people coming from abroad to give us better opportunities. That is why the privileged spend heavy sums to send their children abroad. Another reality, people are generally skeptical about our deans and academics.

  • 2
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    Two More Deans Support Thiagalingam’s Candidacy

    Yesterday’s post at 12.43 PM quoted from Prof. Mihunthan’s letter supporting the candidacy of Prof. Thiagalingam for the VC’s position

    As reported yesterday, we confirm that two more deans have followed suit. In letters to Thiagalingam copied to the Council,

    Prof. R. Vigneswaran, Dean, Science, has said:

    “I have no objection to consider Prof. Thiyagalingam’s application for the post of Vice – Chancellor, University of Jaffna since his request is reasonable and justifiable.”

    Prof. S. Raviraj, Dean, Medicine has said:

    “I received the request mail from Prof.Sam Thiagalingam to my mail today. I have already informed few of the external Council members last week regarding my positive response in this matter. I feel Prof.Sam Thiagalingam’s request is reasonable.

    “I have no objection over his request.

    “My feeling is the election/selection for Vice Chancellor will be more fair if we accept the request of Prof.Sam Thiagalingam.”

  • 3
    1

    Having followed in amused silence the running commentary with its fair share of Coleman balls, I will continue to enjoy the fun as I decided earlier, even with half-truths galore and commentator playing umpire.

    But nothing has made my day in recent times like the miraculous transformation of two ‘villains’ into angels (or is it a story of creepy crawlies becoming colourful butterflies?) by choosing to playing ball with the powers that be behind CT stories.

    I think that comments on such magical events belong to another playground or rather a well.

    • 2
      3

      Villains portrayed as Angels? I see only Prof. Sivaegaram doing this to himself.

      This self-proclaimed inflexible man of principles and rules, a.k.a. Prof. Sivasegaram, should know that it is fraud against the state from state coffers when a) he accepts a senior professor’s salary without the qualifications for it and b) approves as a Jaffna council member a job for himself as a Jaffna visiting professor.

      • 3
        2

        Are you commenting on the story line or are you picking on someone to deflect attention from the miracle?

        Do not spoil the fun.

      • 0
        0

        Accountant-Auditor,

        “a) he accepts a senior professor’s salary without the qualifications for it and b) approves as a Jaffna council member a job for himself as a Jaffna visiting professor.”

        Where to complain? The UGC?

      • 2
        0

        Why can’t we stick to the subject of the title?

        Let us look at the following quotations from the above article.

        What is the task or responsibility of the Evaluation Committee? Can the committee or any member of it advice or take decision or considered on anything outside evaluating the qualities of the candidates? Date of delivery of the application to the registrar is outside the task of this committee.

        ” Prof. V. Tharmaratnam (Chair), members Prof. S. Sivasegaram and Prof. R. Ravirajan who formed the Evaluation Committee, went through the applications painstakingly on Friday 27th January after opening them the same day. They saw no issue in the small delay in Prof. Thiagalingam’s application which had arrived ten days earlier. They found it an application eminently worthy of consideration and scheduled it along with the others”

        At the Council Meting held on 28th Jan
        “The Council was not informed about the report of the evaluation committee, a committee appointed by the council itself to ensure quality in choice. Nor were its members asked to explain their decision to include Thiagalingam – there was no discussion on his credentials at that meeting of the Council”

        “It was then the Vice Chancellor put forward legal arguments for the rejection of Thiagalingam’s application.

        1. According to procurement procedure, bids received after the closing date and time will be rejected.
        2. The application was not forwarded through the head of his institution.
        3. The applicant has not mentioned his citizenship”

        “In this climate of uncertainty, Prof. Sivasegaram advised the Council to “take decisions since there are legally acceptable reasons to reject [Thiagalingam’s] application.” Although it is unclear what decisions Prof. Sivasegaram advised the Council to take, it should be noted that he signed the report prepared by the Evaluation Committee the previous day and granted his approval to include Prof. Thiagalingam in the list of candidates scheduled for consideration by the Council.”

        Prof Sivasegaram’s reported above advice of “take decisions since there are legally acceptable reasons to reject [Thiagalingam’s] application.” is outside his responsibility and therefore must be REJECTED. He is not in the committee to advice on LEGAL matters.

        Evaluation

  • 3
    1

    Mr. SJ,
    When reading what happened to the 4 students at Peredeniya is shocking and to know how Sivasekaram has been making himself as though he is a great man, but who knows only to write critical comments and bully others around in the University with his ability to talk and write well in English which the current young lecturers lack, make one Angry and portray HIM as a villain of those days, like ‘Nambiyar’ in Tamil cinema.

    Of course all the educated in his generation could articulate that kind of communication. His behaviour, reminds me of the picture that appeared in tamil daily’valampuri’, of the 125 MLAs bowing, keeping their hands clamped in front of ‘the so called ‘SASIKALA’ from A.D.M.K. who is in jail for the fowl play. SJ has made himself a great man among the people of the Jaffna University whose English is poor, bullying them. etc
    On the whole what has he done, except barring others from coming.
    As the Deans who are contesting and someone in the facebook pointed out let us accept him, and let the council members decide.

    Let the Academics show their ability in teaching and producing quality students. Let the lecturers be in the University even afte lecture hours and encourage students to clear their doubts or do more references. The way things are remind us this place as a den of snakes. Let us have some integrity to safeguard this place, turn it into a place of sanity, Guiding the students and setting a good example to students, spending more time like Counselors….
    What is this VC’s POST for ?

    • 0
      1

      “fowl play”
      It is very popular in Tamilnadu villages.

      Dear Saro,
      Nobody is convinced by language skills— and mine are modest —but by the content. Otherwise the long tales on the CT would have carried the day.

      “Let the lecturers be in the University even afte lecture hours and encourage students to clear their doubts or do more references.” That was and is still to a less degree the way things are at Peradeniya.
      Happily, it is now happening at E’Fac Kilinochchi, with superb teamwork.

      The way things are remind us this place as a den of snakes.
      Sad, but true: There are plenty on these pages.

  • 1
    0

    With your wit you can argue A ghost as an angel, SJ. You are used to enjoying the power as a shadow Vice-chancellor as you are boasting of your self, doing all the barking.
    Before everyone discover, you pretend to be an angel in the next council meeting and save your color.

    • 0
      1

      “a shadow Vice-chancellor”
      Can I put it on my CV?

      Dear chap, I am no angel, but a mere fun lover.
      The angels hailed today were the devils to the bandwagon yesterday.
      I am just amazed at the speed of metamorphosis— a creepy crawly thing takes a week or so to become a butterfly.

      This is instant metamorphosis. It is magic, a miracle! Hallelujah! Even I am tempted to believe in Him/Her/It.

      Relax, and relish the fun.

      BTW, everybody, I have to spend the next 48 h with Jacques Clouseau on his mission to resolve the mystery of the packet that lost its way.

      I know you will miss me.
      But I will return to this spot with the next episode of Clouseau.
      The frog well is drying up and most frogs as well as toads are already here.

  • 3
    0

    S.J…

    I think you have not learned to open a face book account. just google and see how you can do things… If you also come up in the face book you can play a genuine hard ball. Now lawyer’s match is over and he lost badly as many Giants played this time. I am sure if you sekara face your real face in your face book another hard ball can be played. Many are awaiting. Please wear a good Helmet and go for the next University council. also do not forget to clip the belt as well. Or else you have to apply enough Grease and become a grease man. Best wishes

    • 0
      0

      “Please wear a good Helmet and go for the next University council.”

      Do you think that thugs in the Council will reveal their true selves?
      Thanks for the warning. I will take my water-pistol.

      • 1
        0

        SJ,

        “Do you think that thugs in the Council will reveal their true selves?”

        Have you not been clearly accused of being among the Council thugs yourself?

        • 0
          0

          If so, what is the threat to me about? Did you read Anbe Sivam’s graceful comment?
          You do not mind that kind of rowdyism I guess.

          I only carry my water pistol.

      • 0
        0

        Is this Marxist, deadbeat revolutionary threatening violence? Even if he does not mean violence, it sure is scary and the police need to be brought in. He is, after all, the only thug we know of on the Council with a violent temper.

  • 5
    0

    SJ/sekera/Sivasekeram,has been caught with his pants down!

    To curry favour he will go to any length.Thanks Dr.Hoole for exposing this character.

  • 2
    0

    “Then comes a tricky claim in the alleged minutes (click here to view the relevant section – read section 14), the kind of which is always suspect: “Most members emphasized that this application cannot be legally accepted since it has not reached the office on time.” There was neither a legal discussion nor a vote. As most members were not lawyers, what the Council in fact decided was to seek legal opinion (see below). What is worse, five deans who were applicants for the VC’s position were present for the discussion instead of recusing themselves over their conflict of interest, or being asked to leave by the Chairman. The one notable speech was by the Dean of Technology, himself a candidate, advising rejection. Little else of note was said. Some of these details have been excluded unintentionally or otherwise from the minutes.”

    Who is in charge of approving the minutes? If they don’t represent the reality of a meeting they are pointless fiction.

    • 0
      0

      The Registrar is in charge as Secretary to the Council. The VC then meddles by editing the final product!

  • 4
    0

    See this….

    Appointment of Vice-Chancellor University of Cambridge

    The mission of the University of Cambridge is to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence.

    Candidates should have:

    • Strong academic credibility, intellectual curiosity and sympathy for the values and culture of the University, including its students and their concerns;
    • Experience of working, with a high degree of success, in a senior position in a large and complex organization;
    • Commitment to and substantial experience of fundraising and development activities, including internationally;
    • The capacity to play a leading part in national and international policy-making in higher education.

    Candidates should also be able to demonstrate:

    • Outstanding and inspiring leadership with strong interpersonal and influencing skills. Leadership in this context will include the motivation of individuals, the senior team of officers and the University community as a whole;
    • The ability to generate and develop trust in a diverse, devolved and collegiate academic institution;
    • The ability to articulate and implement a strong sense of vision and purpose for the University as a whole and to frame strategies for its development that are purposeful, command broad support and which are designed to ensure its continued eminence over the next period;
    • The ability and presence to promote the University to a diverse set of audiences regionally, nationally and internationally;
    • The energy and stamina to cope with high personal and institutional demands;
    • An enthusiasm and respect for the academic environment embodied in the University of Cambridge along with a personal commitment to the values of fairness, transparency, diversity and equality.

    • 2
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      Dr Jeyakumaran,

      “Appointment of Vice-Chancellor University of Cambridge”

      Thank you for this information but I feel that it is totally irrelevant.

      University of Cambridge will attract qualified top academics while University of Jaffna has to do with what is available.

      Many (half? three out of six?) of the VC candidates, the VC, several Jaffna lecturers and even members of the Council have been accused of different wrongdoings. In other countries with stronger tradition of good governance they would have been investigated a long time ago then punished by a court or politely requested to resign or retire and never to come back.

  • 1
    0

    One has to be fair and decent even if they desire a position. More than 70 Academics and Professionals, many of them renowned worldwide in their respective fields have contributed their time and knowledge to the University’s Engineering Faculty. This is a direct link from the University website:

    http://www.eng.jfn.ac.lk/content/complete-curriculum-developed-faculty-engineering

    If one were to believe Colombo Telegraph and a former VC aspirant and his supporters, Prof Sivasegaram is the only man running a corrupt and crooked show.

    Are all the professionals listed so blind and lacking in any ethics to be a part of it? Enough of Colombo Telegraphs attempts to destabilise and undermine the University. Fight Fair but do not stoop so low for any position.

    I hope the University does not get cowed down. It should do what is right without fear or favour.

    Finally, in Traditional Tamil society unlike the Church inspired Western culture, High Positions are best received on INVITATION; not by smearing and undermining people. High Level academics should await and get their position with respect.

    p.s Frogs and Princes // I’ll refrain from articulating what is in my mind.

    • 1
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      VM, There has undoubtedly been a great deal of good will for an engineering faculty in Jaffna for decades. To build up a first rate institution, complaints must be investigated and justice done. Using innuendo to attack persons who have complained of wrongdoing does not help your reputation.

      Complaints have been very specific. JUSTA’s reports were buried under a Grievance Committee. You have obviously referred somewhat insultingly to Prof S.R.H. Hoole. When a person of his attainments was refused unanimously by your selection committee, the Council was thoroughly dissatisfied and sent back the report. You found new pretexts to repeat your folly instead of admitting wrong and made yourselves even more ridiculous. That itself is very revealing. When you insult people you have mistreated, that says a lot about you.

      Your reference to traditional Tamil society and contrasting it to Western Christian society shows your bankruptcy. One of the common criticisms is that people here are not appointed on merit. They are appointed because they are somebody’s so and so and how persons were appointed without advertisement to keep others, possibly more capable, out; how your coordinator brought in because he was somebody’s so and so, sat on an interview board and turned down another better qualified. JUSTA’s reports give instances of these. Unless you can answer specific allegations, don’t hide behind innuendo and culture. This kind of canker does not go away with time. It breeds and corrupts for many, many years. That is why integrity in recruitment cannot be played with.

    • 1
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      VM writes “More than 70 Academics and Professionals … have contributed their time and knowledge to the University’s Engineering Faculty. … Are all the professionals listed so blind and lacking in any ethics to be a part of it?”

      Sorry VM. What is going on in Kilinochchi is a corrupt and crooked show. Any decent academic asked to help, will help even if all Jaffna academics are rotten. Such help by 70 academics no way means the faculty is a decent place.

      Curriculum development involves looking at the accreditation criteria and who there is to teach, and then tailoring the curriculum to fit optimally the criteria. Asking people abroad to write the ideal curriculum will not work when some departments have no full-time PhD. What makes quality is not the curriculum as stated but the curriculum as taught. No wonder that Dean Atputharajah boasted at an educational conference that they teach bulb design for three semesters, and do what engineers do in making the Kilinochchi jungles into a town! The students are short-changed.

      Even after I pointed it out, Atputharajah boasts of “his academic carrier” in the university website. M. Vignarajah, Senior Lecturer, boasts that, “He has taughted” in the Faculty of Engineering at Peradeniya.

      Get the 70 academics to teach a little English, starting with the Dean.

      Thank God we are not in VM’s “Traditional Tamil society unlike the Church inspired Western culture.” I was made VC, but not listed. After the Courts declared I was VC and should be listed and paid, it was not done. I went to the press. The UGC ordered payment and I was paid last month. The board listing VCs till then untruthfully listed Kumaravadivel as Acting VC although he simply covered my duties as VC. It was promptly “removed for repairs.” The website continued the lie till I complained and then it was deleted instead of corrected.

      The Hindu Kumaravadivel will be happily elevated in status. But the only Christian VC ever will never be listed.

      • 0
        0

        I now understand why Dr. Atpu was INVITED to be Dean by transfer from Peradeniya even though the Universities Act says no transfer to academic staff. This must be VM’s Hindu law which is bigger than the Act and Church law.

        After you mentioned Dr. Atpu’s carrier last time, the joke is that Dr. Atpu’s father chops firewood and carries it around, so Dr. Atpu thinks his career must involve a carrier like in Hindu Dharma where he must follow his father. Hindu law also explains all this cheating — Kulathiley aahumaam Kunam — your qualities are from your caste.

        The talk is that the new Hindu Faculty may not have 15 students. They are so desperate to have it that no one is asking questions. Good luck University of Jaffna. You new Hindu Faculty can teach even more crookery tricks according to the Dharma

        • 0
          0

          Agnostic Abe,

          “Hindu law also explains all this cheating — Kulathiley aahumaam Kunam — your qualities are from your caste.”

          I don’t believe this and maybe we should not talk about caste. People from all the castes seem to have similar problems with ethics. Not all of us but many.

          I asked earlier here in a comment about what the “casteism” of a certain VC candidate means but received no reply.

          According to reliable sources at least two VC candidates/deans belong to castes that traditionally were not engaged in being agriculturalists. In my opinion these two share the qualities of the others.

          • 0
            0

            I agree fully with Lone Wolf (not just mostly) on this matter.

            However, I would like Dr. Atputharajah and the system to address Agnostic Abe’s poser from their own perspective and ethos — starting a Hindu Faculty, telling the UGC Chairman that I cannot be hired because I am a Christian and I am against the caste fanatic Navalar.

            We have seen this communalism of the university in the comments too — e.g., VM for one. Perhaps Dr. Atputharajah will now understand how I felt when I was told that I cannot be hired because of my religion.

            In ordinary English, Agnostic Abe has hung the beggars on their own nail.

            Does the system reject the adage and the intrinsic qualities of each caste(an adage owed to Krishna in the Gita which I have quoted before)? Or will the university teach it to the youth who will go through the portals of the Faculty of Astrology or whatever nonsense, and condemn Dr. Atputharajah to a band of people who are bad from birth by birth?

            These are the real beliefs of our people. Even a mission school principal repeated this adage to parents who complained to him about a violent oppressed caste master, asking them “He has shown his caste qualities. What can I do?” A Telugu Brahmin friend of mine at Carnegie Mellon would constantly tell me that I am Sudrayoni and proudly claim that he is Brahmayoni!

            We need to choose! We cannot go on claiming to be a modern people with high minded standards while living in a feudalistic past with feudal beliefs.

            Anyone who would preach to me — can you honestly say that caste discrimination is not a reality among us? Please do not say Christians also practice caste. It is a too worn out excuse to carry on as we do

      • 0
        0

        Dr Jeevan Hoole,

        “I was made VC, but not listed. After the Courts declared I was VC and should be listed and paid, it was not done. I went to the press. The UGC ordered payment and I was paid last month.”

        Congratulations again. First the court case was dismissed and now you have been paid. Did you receive any interest?

        • 0
          0

          No interest. The court case (USAB 873) was dismissed without inquiry as to my application for Senior Professor of Computer Science on the grounds it was out of time, but that part of the case where I asked to have my appointment as VC upheld and paid. relief was granted.

          I was VC and worked as VC in 2006. The USAB recognized this and ordered payment on 2 Feb. 2016. The payment came in Jan. 2017!

          The money is now nothing. If I have been paid at the right time, I could have bought twice and more that what it will buy now.

          I suppose I could fight for inflationary adjustment now. But I am tired but very happy at least that my tenure as VC/Jaffna has been recognized and I have been paid something.

          The remaining issue is to get R. Kumaravadivel removed as Acting VC for the period I was VC and have that publicly recognized.

        • 0
          0

          I replied but when I said post, CT hung up on me. Since it has not appeared fr some time, I will briefly repeat.

          My USAB Appeal 873 had two parts a) Toe find that my rejection for the post of Prof. of Computer Science was wrong and b) To find that I was a properly appointed VC in 2006 and order payment of salary and that I be recognized as past VC in all university documents.

          a) was thrown out saying I had not come within three months.

          Relief was granted for b). I was made VC in March 2006 and functioned till July 2006. Order by the USAB was made on 2 Feb. 2016. I was paid in Jan. 2017.

          If I had been paid in 2006, I could have bought a lot more then than now. Even if I had been paid in Feb. 2016, at the 15% interest I am entitled to, it means I have lost Rs. 15,000 for every lakh I was owed. Perhaps this is a matter for a personal lawsuit in the civil courts.

          It is huge personal loss. But I am glad that my having been VC is now officially recognized.

          What remains is to remove the name of R. Kumaravadivel who was never Acting VC but is listed as such.

    • 2
      0

      To VM – Continued: The 70 who helped are decent folk but not all. I do not need to repeat the crooked antics amply described here. Let me add a little. On 17 July 2016 when my rejection for Senior Lecturer came to the Council without a reason, Atputharajah pushed to have the decision accepted. He brought with him at Council lunch time one N. Ravichandran. Ravichandran graduated with Atputharajah (1997) but was introduced individually to some members as a clever first class student of mine who knows all about me and can tell everything. He had left Peradeniya before I joined. His website shows him to be a nonprogressing Associate Professor at Clemson University who has not published a journal paper since 2012.

      Atputharajah then tried another lie. He claimed that I had written in the papers that Kilinochchi women are prostitutes and if I were recruited the women would rise up in arms. I have written about the EPDP running prostitution rings but never have I said that Kilinochchi women are prostitutes. I have written about powerless women being exploited as prostitutes. I have written in an ASEE paper that the location of the Engineering in Kilinchchi is bad because without recreational facilities in the area, “this writer’s experience at the University of Moratuwa in the 1970s was that the use of prostitutes and poor women of the neighborhood who were easily exploited by the relatively upper class engineering students, had become very common among students for want of any healthy social diversion in the evenings.”

      Atputharajah has great difficulties understanding a simple English sentence.

      It looks like Jaffna is attracting people who are stuck, council members who should not work for the university but want to make a buck, people unable to find jobs in the west after their PhD because of poor English, etc. They want no one inside to expose their crooked goings on.

      • 0
        0

        Dr Jeevan Hoole,

        “His website shows him to be a nonprogressing Associate Professor at Clemson University who has not published a journal paper since 2012.”

        I am sure he can find help with his papers in Jaffna where many academics publish an enormous amount of journal and other papers.

        “this writer’s experience at the University of Moratuwa in the 1970s was that the use of prostitutes and poor women of the neighborhood who were easily exploited by the relatively upper class engineering students, had become very common among students for want of any healthy social diversion in the evenings.”

        You are inviting more rant! Never mind. I stopped reading it.

        “It looks like Jaffna is attracting people who are stuck, council members who should not work for the university but want to make a buck, people unable to find jobs in the west after their PhD because of poor English, etc. They want no one inside to expose their crooked goings on.”

        I mostly share your opinion.

      • 0
        0

        All these 70-something mainly Tamil experts have been giving their time to the new engineering faculty. They are truly to be praised for their caring.

        However, would they still be enthusiastic if they knew that the majority of the new engineering class are Sinhalese and that the faculty is one more attempt to take over traditional Tamil homelands? Can we see the numbers? We now have Tamils teaching Sinhalese. It is not sustainable. Soon the staff too will be Sinhalese. The East is gone. Soon we will not have a place to run to when there are communal riots again.

        To the students at Kilinochchi, be they Tamil or Sinhalese or Muslim, this is my advice. If you can get a loan, go and buy yourself a place in a regional engineering college in Tamil Nadu. You will come out better.

        At Kilinochchi you are not learning much doing bulb design for three semesters from the teachers who have “taughted” you. I used to think that Indian academic standards were less rigorous. No longer do I think so after seeing what is going on in Kilinochchi.

        The first thing an educated person must know is an international language to pick up information through and communicate in. Coming out of Jaffna you will be illiterate. Worse, you will become nasty people if your followed your teachers as normal students do.

    • 0
      0

      see your recruits to Jaffna / Kilinotchi Eng Faculty….

      All are with low Z Score (Low IQ…..)

      Why then all are going to Moratuva and Pera….??????

      SivasegaraDog is just barking… That’s it !!!!!

      Sivam

  • 0
    0

    There are differences: The application should reach the office …..
    and the application must reach the office …..

    Did they mention this statement in the advertisement: The application will be rejected after this particular date.

    The other argument is that the application has been posted 3 weeks in advance. Why this delay? People are nowadays submitting application on the closing date by online or email. Please create an “online system” in this modern world.

    The other fact is : Dr Thiagalingam is not yet elected and he is only a candidate. He may be not successful in this election process. This is more a “election process” rather than a “selection process” ( or interview process). Let the council to elect a best candidate

  • 2
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    Bullying of Aberrant Candidates?

    No event, even the gravitas of a vice chancellor’s election, is complete without comic relief. But the three candidates at the receiving end did not see it that way; they were subject to fits of nerves. Out of the blue came Prof. Sivasegaram’s missive and hit them like a missile: “A good Vice Chancellor will not yield to bullying of any kind and adhere to rules and procedure.”

    The main points in Sivasegaram’s missive are:
    1. His ‘resentment’ at two breaches of procedure, namely Thiagalingam’s letter to councillors and the three’s reply to him – supporting his candidacy.
    2. Thiagalingam’s canvassing of opinion was ‘unethical’ and the deans’ response was ‘not quite in order.’
    3. They [should] have sent their responses to the Chairman (VC) to circulate at her discretion.

    The missive is full of negatives, improper interference in the Council and his resentment of conduct such as theirs.

    The author is reputed for throwing at others rules he cannot source and even breaching his own, as above – i.e. his direct communication with the offenders instead of through the VC.

    Senior councillors dismissed Sivasegaram’s letter as arrant nonsense, which the VC wouldn’t have dared to write to councillors.

    A contesting candidate must canvass.

    If the three candidates had to signal their acceptance of Thiagalingam’s candidacy through the VC, it may not have seen the light of day.

    When not speaking for the Council, members are free to voice their private opinions anywhere. Sivasegaram is trying to make the Council a prison where letters in and out are censored by the VC. Will the VC as chairman stand up for the councillors assailed?

    The grapevine says that the remaining two contestants will not oppose Thiagalingam’s candidacy in council, although Srisatkunarajah has done so previously.

    • 2
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      Sivasegaram’s letter to the Deans sounds very authoritarian. Bordering on Fascist threat. He does not seem to want people to become humane. If Sivasegaram is so concerned about ethics, manners etc, maybe he will find all the candidates unfit especially the internal ones. Probably he will have to make the painful decision of abstaining from voting or making his vote invalid and even quitting the Council as one of those five unethical people would be chairing the Council.

      • 0
        0

        Singham,

        “Sivasegaram’s letter to the Deans sounds very authoritarian.”

        What letter and where can I find it?

        “If Sivasegaram is so concerned about ethics, manners etc, maybe he will find all the candidates unfit especially the internal ones.”

        Sivasegaram has despite his omnipotence understood that a strong VC will not need his services. Another weak VC is better for him.

        Why the Council allows Sivasegaram to continue with his interference is beyond my understanding.

        • 0
          0

          Running commentary has provided a summary of Sivasegaram’s letter above. He seems like big bully.

          • 0
            0

            Singham,

            “Running commentary has provided a summary of Sivasegaram’s letter above.”

            I am hoping for a copy of the letter.

            “He seems like big bully.”

            Yes. We should persuade him to concentrate on fiction, poetry and empowering the low caste masses to fight for their rights. That should keep him busy.

            • 0
              0

              “…empowering the low caste masses to fight for their rights.”
              Your interest inspires me.

              Do join me in the only just cause that people have shown interest in fighting for on these pages.
              You could use “depressed caste” rather than “low caste” as the former reflects reality.

              Your upper case Jaffna Tamil Hindu-Christian allies here may not be comfortable with your joining me, not because of me but because of the cause that we are to fight for.

              • 0
                0

                SJ,

                “You could use “depressed caste” rather than “low caste” as the former reflects reality.”

                How about calling them oppressed castes? Best would be to avoid the word caste. Just call them the oppressed people?

                “Your upper case Jaffna Tamil Hindu-Christian allies here may not be comfortable with your joining me, not because of me but because of the cause that we are to fight for.”

                I know.

  • 0
    0

    This webidrama is still going on!

    “…If the three candidates had to signal their acceptance of Thiagalingam’s candidacy…”

    The three (or five) candidates should NOT be involved in any discussion on the sixth candidate’s application AT ALL. They should express regret over taking part in the decision to exclude the sixth applicant and keep quiet. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  • 5
    0

    A few questions for the University of Jaffna:

    1. What are eligibility criteria for a vice chancellor as per the university act?
    Does vision for for the university and the community it serves, constitute important criteria for eligibility?
    Should an understanding of what is wrong and what is right with the university at present, and post-war society at large , be important criteria?
    3. What are the expectations of the community / country from the Jaffna University?
    4. Does the University Council as presently constituted, understand the needs of the university and community expectations.
    Should the university be an ever expanding degree mill?
    How well have past Vice Chancellors performed since the inception of this University?
    7.Has any objective assessment on the University, departments and individual academics been made in the past five years?
    What are the defined/identified objectives for the Jaffna University for the next five years and the longer term?

    • 5
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      Sorry Old Chum, you must be pretty old, having little idea of what our educators have been up to in recent years. Prof. Balasundarampillai who wanted a Hindu Faculty in a Hindu University has almost had his way. Under him recruitment to the staff got corrupted so much that it would take generations or need a revolution to recover. The latest is that he is campaigning for a candidate who has promised to make him Chancellor if he wins.

      Where that is leading us to you could guess. The Council and Senate approved a Hindu Faculty without any debate. In the name of increasing admissions, we will have full faculties of students who are rejected for nearly all the other courses. Their products would in time become professors, senators, councillors and vice chancellors.

      What is more?, the Hindu Faculty will teach Astrology, which might soon rise to prominence as the most job-oriented course in the University. Our politicians who go to Kerala to consult astrologers would come to Jaffna University instead. That would be a great saving in foreign exchange. We may indeed produce more astrologers than doctors and engineers. Is that not a great vision? What more objective assessment do you need?

      • 3
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        Hilarious, except that this is the last nail in the coffin!

      • 1
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        Old Star Gazer,

        “the Hindu Faculty will teach Astrology”

        Are there competent lecturers in this area? Who will be Head of Astrology?

        • 0
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          Are there competent lecturers in this area? It does not matter in Jaffna. Who will be head? Any street-side practitioner because formal degrees are not required for traditional arts to be Lecturer and he or a VC-catcher can be made Acting Head.

          Soon Jaffna will issue PhDs in Astrology and such Lecturer can be made permanent. He and the other staff will get their students to pay for their articles in predatory journals and become professors. Then they will get more consulting income as colleagues consult Professor-Astrologers as to when to hand in their VC and other job applications. The University will get 10% of that income as per rules. There will be 2 more Council seats. We are already I think the biggest Council with only 7000 students. We can get into Guinness records and improve our rank.

          It is win-win all round.

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            I love this.

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          Jets T,

          How about Mahinda Rajapakse’s former astrologer- a proven failure?

          Dr.RN

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            Dr. Rajasingham Narendran,

            “How about Mahinda Rajapakse’s former astrologer- a proven failure?”

            He must be qualified enough to become a VC in the future.

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              Jeya T.

              The public coined the motto ‘ Failures are the pillars of success’ for the Pembrook Acedemy in Colombo. It gave birth to the concept of tuition factories.

              The U of J, if it continues on the slippery slope it does now, will indeed elevate an utter failure to be a VC. Who could be a greater failure than a failed astroger and potential applicants would run into the thousands?

              Dr.RN

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    Dear Running Commentary,

    You are playing a very important role. This is NOT a parochial “Northern Issue”. It is very important that everywhere on this island regains faith in the existence of human values.

    Please continue with your commentary.

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      Sinhala-Man,

      “Please continue with your commentary.”

      Yes! My feeling is that we will see more scanned letters and minutes here soon.

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    Thank You! CT and commenters for exposing the corruption.

    It’s sad that so many “educated” people of Jaffna, lack basic ethics and decency. The “education” they got is all technical and not liberal. It’s time to introduce humanities/ethics courses as a mandatory requirement to all majors including Medicine, Engineering and Science students. It might be even better if they start at the O/L, A/L years. It will also depend on who is there to teach this.

    I have a question to all of you commenting on this topic;
    Even if by some miracle the the application of this academic from Boston is considered, what chance does he have for a fair selection process? The same people who used a petty reason to keep his application out will find some other lame excuse to keep him out of this post. Am I right? What safeguards are there to prevent this?

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    Thank you Running Commentary @February 23, 2017 at 10:38 am.

    Sivasegaram and his rules! He can write any rude letter to any of his fellow council members and that is ethical.

    However, in Minute 2.17 of the Council documents titled “C/415/5.7.2 Post of Senior Lecturer Gr. I in Electrical & Electronic Engineering Faculty of Engineering” has the VC defending Sivasegaram when he is questioned by Dr. Nesiah by shutting off discussion

    Nesiah has said “Dr. Sivasegaram has a long history of conflict with Prof. Hoole when they were at the Faculty of Engineering at Peradeniya” and asks whether it is disqualifying him from the Selection Committee.

    Dr. Nesiah wanted to inquire from Dr. Sivasegaram, goes the minute, whether he has a conflict of interest.

    The VC quickly jumps in to save her man: “The Chairperson said that a Council Member cannot inquire another Council Member [sic.]”

    But it seems that Sivasegaram can inquire from others and write to them as if he is writing to his servant boy.

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      Dr. Hoole,

      “The VC quickly jumps in to save her man: “The Chairperson said that a Council Member cannot inquire another Council Member [sic.]”

      How can there be a healthy discussion if questions and debate are forbidden?

      The more I hear the more I feel that the Council is dysfunctional.

      Was there no reaction from any other Council member?

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    …..The VC quickly jumps in to save her man…..
    Prof: Hoole this is very interesting.
    Would the minutes of the episode say that the VC fighted for Sivasegaram!

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    Rejection of Thiagalingam’s Application is a Breach of Best Principles of the Law

    Although the rejection of Prof Thiagalingam’s application on 28th January was attributed to the Council, a host of legal reasons have since surfaced why the Council acted illegally and in bad faith. Moreover, the silence of the Administration to this patent miscarriage of law for over three weeks is astounding. One is the well-known postal rule that has been addressed. On the question of Reasonableness, which again supports the applicant, it took the Head of the Law Department who was consulted early on, three weeks to acknowledge this point in Tamil on Facebook, after it featured in public discussion.

    There are even finer points that are well-documented (e.g. Wade). The condition ‘Applications / nominations received after the closing date will not be considered,’ is a breach of the law. It is a well-established principle that ‘[The] duty [of the University] was merely to exercise discretion in in each case, and not to shut the door indiscriminately either on all applicants or on applicants who did not conform to some particular requirement.’ Rules are contingency-based, and the University was duty bound to exercise its discretion once Thiagalingam had appealed.

    The e-Code used by the universities stipulates that applications received late should also be date-stamped and kept in custody, as was done with that in question. The important point is that late receipt cannot, by itself, be a reason for rejection, as the University and its legal advisors seem to hold. Why did these simple considerations fail to surface in a university that awards degrees in law?

    All eyes are on Prof. Tharmaratnam who will, as he had let it be known, argue the case before the Council tomorrow. A formidable opponent, as his detractors would find.

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      “Head of the Law Department who was consulted early on, three weeks to acknowledge this point in Tamil on Facebook”

      That is unfair.
      Why should he comment at some speed defined by you, and what is wrong with commenting in Tamil?

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    One responds to a letter to him confidentially– one Council Member to another. Leaking it— Seriously, is it the conduct of good VC material?
    Selective reproduction and interpretation has occurred in public space. Were there threatening words?
    It may have been slightly more honourable to reproduce the whole text of any one response (subject to the 300 word limit) in one or several parts.
    But that is too much to expect of mischief makers.

    I may add, without naming, that one of the three authors of the plea to consider the late application had apparently explained to some Council colleagues that he yielded to bullying at various levels..

    ps.
    “…VC fighted for Sivasegaram” (Good matter for ‘Mind Your Language’)
    ————————————————————————————————-

    On another matter:
    You gleefully said somewhere something like “caught with his pants down”.
    I respond to you on it out of respect for you, who along with Agnos, Pygmalion and one or two others, including Native Vedda within limits, have remained civilized in your strong responses to me without resorting to personal attack.

    Someone got his knickers in a twist by trying to constantly belittle someone else’s position at Imperial College. Enough has been said by VM on the matter many days ago.

    The charge that one opposed the more than three weeks late admission of four students to pander to Sinhalese communalists, in the end, strengthens the position that the person concerned has been very particular about rules.
    I am sure that there were several instances where Sinhalese students were at the receiving end of his sticking to rules.
    Will some Sinhalese communalist kindly do some research on his ‘Tamil communalism’ to complete the picture.

    As for your ‘pants down story’ itself, the person concerned has done his research and discovered some acts of a highly conspiratorial nature. Whose pants will be down when the whole story comes out may surprise you. But you have to wait a while– even perhaps a different place and a different time.

    I can assure that, despite all manner of speculation, the one accused of cheating to has a clean record of not even attempting anything improper or irregular– be at work, extra curricular interests, social life or personal matters. Weird minds imagine in weird ways.
    If any honest or decent person directly confronts him with the charge, he may be more forthcoming.
    He is not known to have acted out of spite even towards some of his worst attackers thus far, but in the imagination of just one character.

    He laughs at wicked attacks.

    I will laugh aloud in that spirit to further falsehoods, and will no comment further and prolong the joy of sick minds.

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    Somehow, excerpts from the minutes seem to miss out the more interesting bits.
    Bu the secretive Council member will not let out the full story.

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    (From the frog well page for latecomers)

    Inspector Clouseau was not very cheerful.
    “Mon home, all of them told me that the lady with the funny hat was the culprit. But I know that everybody is always wrong. But to make them happy, I started my inquiry with her.”

    What follows is his narrative:
    Tears in her eyes she said “They blame me for what Goddess Kali did.”
    “Did Goddess Kali hide the packet?”
    “Not her…Believe me, it was I who asked the Yankee to apply.”
    “Why on earth bonne dame?”
    Hesitantly she admitted, “I want to go down in history as the best VC that my university had in this century.”
    “How will this yankee doodle help?” I asked
    With a sly smile she said “If he succeeds me the Mafia who pestered me will make life miserable for him and he will make a mess. There will be chaos.”
    “Do you expect to be called back?”
    “Don’t be stupid Jaques!”
    “Then?”
    “The mess will take another civil war for campus life to return to normal. You think that I want to preside over that? No way!” and she proceeded “Nobody with anything upstairs will want to touch the job, and I will be the best VC this place knew for may be another hundred or even three hundred years.”
    Then she started sobbing. “Mother Kali has let me down badly, despite my daily pooja!”
    I was interested in the packet. “Who do you suspect did the job?”
    “It had to be a candidate, and I suspect…” and she stopped abruptly.
    Jaques moaned in grief. “I could not get another word out of her.”
    But, as usual, he cheered up soon after to say “I have got a clue now” and ventured out on his next episode.

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    A rabbit has been caughted by SJ.
    He insists it has three legs.

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    Episode-2
    Jacques Clouseau gathered around him the suspects hinted at by the Lady with the Funny Hat– not his normal style, more like an Agatha Christie climax, but Jaques was pressed for time.

    The suspects were seated in a circle with Jaques right in the middle, walking in little circles, baton in hand. “Which of you?” he roared “Tell me or I will lock all of you in the toilet until the match is over.”

    The two new converts to Cosa Nostra sheepishly stared at each other. The secret believer glanced at the two doubters didn’t sign the confession paper drafted by Mr Right to Disinformation (RTD). One was looking up, wondering if it was MahaKali’ job. He muttered something, which Jaques noticed but wanted to observe the others as well. The second doubter threw an accusing stare at the secret believer which the latter ignored with his characteristic smile.

    A moment later a new convert began to have doubts about joining the Cosa Nostra as its code of conduct made his tummy turn in discomfort. He put up his hand and got excused to go to the loo, but in the company of a local policeman who spoke a language that Jaques couldn’t understand. The infirm new convert returned with four pieces of toilet paper which were passed to the rest without Jaques noticing.
    Jaques’ patience was running out. He thundered “Which of you le salauds? They responded in unison “It was RTD”

    The Lady with the Funny Hat rushed in, “That is impossible! It is not in his interest!”
    Jaques was baffled. Perhaps the Lady was misleading him.

    Without hesitation he dashed out to get RTD, now peeping through a slit in the floorboard.

    I will get back to you when I get Jaques.

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      RTD… that’s cool, inspector!

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      SJ,

      Thank you for the second episode. What has happened to the “frog well page”? Down the drain?

      I have some concerns about the level you are expecting from your readers. Many of us will not understand your stories because of a lack of background knowledge.

      Agatha Christie, Clouseau, Cosa Nostra??

      How about adding links to Wikipedia to help the readers?

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