Jaffna: A University Sinking In Mediocrity And Sectarianism

Filed under: Colombo Telegraph,News,STORIES |

Perversion of Tamil Aspirations

There was a time the Tamils prided themselves in contrast to the Sinhalese polity’s image as mired in religious and ethnic obscurantism. This image was highlighted in the Vaddukoddai Resolution of 1976. The Tamil militant struggle, whatever its internal divisions, was strictly secular and those with left leanings were agnostic or even atheistic. 

Prof. Sam Thiagalingam

After many years of war dominated by a totalitarian political culture that paralysed the Tamil Community, those who wanted to revive it, so as to become vibrant and creative, feel that the University could play a crucial role towards this end. But unfortunately our experience shows it to be failing the community. It is rather fostering very corrupt practices and feels too afraid and insecure to open up, which is essential to cultivate strong and independent voices that would make the University truly vigorous.

Post war, sectarianism has arrived with a vengeance. The sectarianism on the surface would suggest discrimination in favour of a religion, but that is very misleading. The reality however is rank favouritism and corruption covering behind an air of religious piety. What is even worse, Jaffna University appears to set the lead in this regard. This feature illustrates the trend with documentary references. The victims are usually persons with no social connections or influence, most frequently Hindus. It is with a sense of this reality that many concerned with the North’s educational future welcomed Prof. Saambasivamoorthy Thiagalingam, a Hindu alumnus of the University of Jaffna from Boston, USA contesting for the vice chancellor’s position in Jaffna as offering hope. The University badly needed a breath of fresh air, and an opening that would welcome scholars who left the country to come regularly and contribute to raise, the currently plummeting, academic standards in Jaffna; to encourage others and to focus on assisting the University to become a well-respected academic and research institution.

The need for this change was the content of resolutions by the Jaffna University Teachers’ Association, Jaffna University Science Teachers’ Association, the Employees Union and the Jaffna University Students’ Union. Their demand was only to allow him to contest rather than to appoint him as Vice Chancellor. Even if he is not elected, it is important for the University to appreciate his willingness to serve and encourage him to contribute in whatever way he could support the University. That would have shown the University to be open to new ideas, expertise and talent, in service of the community.     

However, the strength of the opposition to Thiagalingam, came from the core represented by those who have controlled the University for many years and had been leaders in the present culture that protects their power interests. They were clear about what was at stake. The Dean who later topped the VC election, who should have recused himself from the council discussion on the matter on 28th January because of his conflict of interest, was the only candidate to openly oppose Thiagalingam’s candidacy on account of the postal delay. Many well-wishers were thoroughly astounded that Thiagalingam’s application sent by registered post, as required, should be rejected because of an unforeseen postal delay of a day or two (See Colombo Telegraph Report I, Report II and Report III on these developments ).

Comedy of the UGC’s Advice and the Autonomous Council’s Erection of Non-existent Barriers

In line with the Council decision on 28th January, the Registrar had written to the University Grants Commission (UGC) for its advice on the status of Prof. Thiagalingam’s application and the VC’s objection that Thiagalingam had not applied through his head of department as required by the E-code.

UGC Secretary Dr. Priyantha Premakumara said in reply (see the attachment here*) merely that the University is not legally bound to accept applications that came after the closing date. That is to say, the Council is not legally liable if it refused to accept Thiagalingam’s application. Though the advice was wrong, because of the Postal Rule (see Prof. Tharmaratnam’s address on this matter here), his was meant to be a cautious reply. This opinion should have been printed out and shared with the council members in advance. It was only read out on 25th February, the day before the scheduled election, and was grossly misconstrued by councillors with help from the VC and Prof. S. Sivasegaram, who said that entertaining Thiagalingam’s application would be illegal.

Dr. Premakumara did not talk about illegality although several council members would have been confused when it was read out without some explanation. However, he clearly indicated that if the Council thought Thiagalingam an appropriate candidate, they were welcome to entertain his application, late or otherwise. Dr. Premakumara’s reference to the E-code was with regard to the objection that Thiagalingam did not apply through his head of department. He indicated that this objection is applicable mainly to persons employed in universities and higher educational institutions within the country and not to outsiders who applied to these.

The VC, who undoubtedly understood Premakumara, confused the issue by talking about strict deadlines for tenders for goods or works, adding that the University would face lots of problems if it deviates from the E –code, which was followed by Prof. Sivasegaram on the illegality of considering Thiagalingam. He said that the Council would get into trouble if it did. He interpreted Dr. Premakumara as rejecting Thiagalingam based on the E-code.

Enough confusion had been created, and several councillors began to believe and feel anxious that to include Prof. Thiagalingam as a candidate would be to defy the UGC’s directive. The Council wasted a lot of time discussing two points: the acceptability of Thiagalingam’s application and if he had followed correct procedure as given in our old E-code. The latter was ridiculous as Dr. Premakumara indicted. On the acceptability of the application, the UGC simply asked the Council to go ahead if they thought it in our interest. The last is what the Council should have discussed. If it thought we needed more participation from outsiders, they should have talked about measures to avoid a repetition of what happened to Thiagalingam, by replacing archaic ways of applying by the advantages of modern communications.

The Election

The VC’s election was finally held on the next day, 26th February. Three council members, Dr. S. Jeyakumaran, Prof. V. Tharmaratnam and Dr. D. Nesiah voted under protest after getting the Council to accept that they reserved the right to pursue legal recourse. Prof. Tharmaratnam had addressed the Council the previous day giving well-constructed legal reasons why Prof. Thiagalingam’s candidacy be recognised. While he spoke, Prof. S. Sivasegaram filibustered and interrupted the speaker at almost every sentence. On the day of the voting, the councillors who were anxious to avoid a division about holding the election, agreed that the three who dissented could pursue their action and that a record of what Prof. Tharmaratnam said would be sent to the Attorney General, and if the latter agreed with Prof. Tharmaratnam, the election would be cancelled. (See attachment on the minutes of the election. The record omitted the Council’s commitment to send Prof. Tharmaratnam’s speech to the Attorney General. Note also that the three candidates closest to the Vice Chancellor fared worst).

On 3rd April the VC called a special council meeting. Although the result of the election was sent to the UGC about 2nd March, nothing has been heard up to now (16th April). The first item on the agenda was about writing to the Attorney General about the VC’s election. She pretended not to be aware that the decision that the contents of Prof. Tharmaratnam’s address be conveyed to the AG was already taken by the Council on 25th February. The situation was rather humorous, as by mid-March, the President should normally have selected one among the three leading names for VC. Prof. Tharmaratnam asked if his legal arguments had been thrown into the waste paper basket. Prof. Sivasegaram suggested that the Council should draft the letter carefully. Prof. Tharmaratnam did not respond to this piece of inanity. The Council however agreed that the three dissidents could pursue their course of challenging the rejection of Prof. Thiagalingam.

Nevertheless, Dr. S. Jeyakumaran and Dr. Nesiah had already written to the President citing the points made by Prof. Tharmaratnam and asking for a fresh election to be held including Prof. Thiagalingam as a candidate. A written document containing the points made by Prof. Tharmaratnam was also sent to the President’s office (see document here). We may note that on 20th March, Dr. Devanesan Nesiah was among the ten on whom President Sirisena conferred the Deshamanya Award in recognition of his distinguished service of a highly meritorious nature to the nation.

After the VC Election

Had the election process been uncontroversial and the names of the candidates been untarnished by the roles some had earlier played, the President would normally have appointed the candidate with the highest votes as the VC. The controversy started at the very top. The Vice Chancellor recorded in the Council minutes of 28th January that the Council rejected Thiagalingam’s candidacy after quoting Prof. Sivasegaram, her own opinion and the purported legal advice of Miss. Abimannasingam. Prof. Sivasegaram had the previous day, as a member of the evaluation committee, been party to the scheduling of Thiagalingam as a candidate, apparently before the boss cracked the whip. (see our report) 

The delay in the appointment after the purported election began a new round of canvassing by hopefuls spending time meeting politicians in Colombo and Jaffna. The canvassing itself was an indication of the partisan direction the University was taking.

An overseas guest of State Minister for Education V.S. Radhakrishnan was in the office of a leading politician, and happened to hear a top VC candidate expatiate on the desirability of his being installed. He insisted that a VC must be a Hindu. All three leading candidates being Hindu, he spelt out that he was an ardent devotee of Shiva. The listener wondered whether the speaker was trying to discount one of the three who faced ritual exclusion as a devotee of Shiva on account of his caste. It was then rumoured that the latter had found favour in the SLFP.

Hindu identity politics received a new boost in the University after a section of the Tamil students clashed with Sinhalese students on 16th July 2016 over the latter’s wish to perform Kandyan dance at a freshers’ welcome. The Valampuri newspaper, whose editor is one of the convenors of the Tamil People’s Council led by the Chief Minister of Northern Provincial Council and several educators then aggressively insisted that only Hindu culture and ritual should have a place in the premises by drawing on the Navalar-Ramanathan legacy. Suddenly it had become normal, particularly among staff, to say that this is a Hindu University.

In January 2017, the Hindu identity project took a further decisive step when the Senate and Council, without debate, approved a proposal for a Faculty of Hindu Studies in Jaffna, when even Kelaniya University has only a department of Pali and Buddhist studies. Jaffna University presently has only separate departments of Hindu and Christian Civilization for which the student demand is very low. The new faculty in Jaffna proposes also to award diplomas in Astrology (see minutes here).

Such developments are not dictated by student demand, but are rather dictated by university power politics, by a loosely knit group that controls the University’s ideological milieu. It decides whom to exclude and whom to embrace. Caste is a marginal, but not an absolute qualification. Persons on the margins of Hindu society could be coopted if they support and advance the ideology. By excluding most persons with intelligence and ability, who cannot stomach the narrowness demanded, it would drive the University and society towards mediocrity. By observing no rules or restraints it becomes oppressive.

How it perpetuates its hold is best illustrated by looking at some cases of academic recruitment.

Cases of Academic Recruitment

One feature that has become prominent in the desire to reinforce partisan ideology is rank favouritism. Candidates who apply and are marked as unwanted are simply ignored. Even if they happen to make it to an interview, selection committee reports are thoroughly doctored to justify exclusion (we will later deal with one that takes the cake).Many of the cases taken up for inquiry by the Jaffna University Science Teachers’ Association could be found in its report ‘Discriminating Against Excellence: Abuses in Recruitment Practices at the University of Jaffna’ (DAE), published on 27 July, 2014 and available here.

A prominent case of how the best oppressed caste students are offered a stark choice between cooptation or rejection, isolation and marginalisation is well-illustrated in the case of Mr. Thanges Paramsothy (see the attachment here). He was the outstanding candidate among those interviewed in 2010 for the position of Lecturer in Sociology. Being a first class from Peradeniya, active in field work and research, he shone significantly above candidates from Jaffna. His research topics include ‘Caste and Social Exclusion’, and ‘Casteless or Caste-Blind, Dynamics of concealed caste discrimination, social exclusion and protest?’ Some of these published in reputed Indian journals. Led by Prof. Shanmugalingam, who was then vice chancellor, he was questioned at length about his findings. Several members of the selection board objected to his findings on caste exclusion. He was not selected and is marked for exclusion in the academic community, unless the kind lady who is now the head of sociology finds the strength to assert herself. Mr. Thanges must suffer because he refused to be coopted to write fiction about his people.

Nearly all those adversely affected are struggling to make a living. When a powerful institution like the University and its leading administrators, employ lying and deceit to block persons who have worked hard and shown considerable merit in order to get favourites in, it is not just dishonouring the character of the University, but causing needless trauma to those whom the University should be proud of and whose goodwill it must retain.

Ms. Ravivathani (see the attachment here), a gold-medallist and all-rounder was on merit the only candidate selected as a temporary lecturer in 2012. There was no question that she was the leading candidate. But the selection board headed by the VC and the Dean of Management in 2014 selected Miss. T, whose experience in teaching and research were exaggerated in the schedule given to the Council and Selection Board. The VC endorsed the selection by her signature after not being present for the bulk of Ms. Ravivathani’s interview and presentation. The VC had in fact left the board room and gone for the opening ceremony of the refurbished Registrar’s office which was widely witnessed, and returned after Ms. Ravivathani’s interview ended. This shows arrogance and cocksureness in the use of power. Ms. Ravivathani in mid-2014 filed a fundamental rights petition in the Supreme Court. The extract (see the attachment here) from the VC’s submission to the Supreme Court dated 30th October shows that Ravivathani had indeed a strong case and adds considerably to the veracity of what she alleged.

It could be easily established that the Vice Chancellor lied under oath to the Supreme Court that she left the interview to talk to the UGC Chairman. She describes the exaggerated claims about the experience of the selected candidate as an oversight that was found at the interview, but fails to explain why it was not minuted and conveyed to the Council which is the final authority on selection. She clarified the exaggerated research claims as papers that were being worked on. The Council was not told any of these and had only the original schedules. Moreover the VC’s response to the Human Rights Commission (see the attachment here) earlier in June, claims to the contrary that all documents were checked at the interview for correctness of the information given.

The case seemed quite straightforward. If the Court ruled in Ravivathani’s favour, the University would have had to take her in as the reserve candidate. But the case has dragged on. It was fixed for hearing on 23rd September 2016 and we learn was postponed because the University’s counsel was not present and her counsel too was not there to press for an early date. The next date was 24th March 2017. Her Counsel came late this time and was not present again when the case was called. The next date is in October.

A hearing on 24th March would have been awkward for the Dean of Management, who is principally responsible for the favouritism, as he is one of the three names sent to the President for the VC’s appointment. What it shows is that vice chancellors and deans could lie through their teeth to cover their abuses and the UGC and the higher establishment in the way they function would protect the abusers rather than the victims. There is almost no room for justice. The University Services Appeals Board is usually too weak. So far the Vice Chancellor has not been obliged to face the victim in court. 

Among several other cases recorded by JUSTA, the victims, wisely as would now seem to them, decided not to seek legal recourse. Nilani Kanesharatnam (GPA 372) (see the link here) was by far the best candidate for Zoology in 2013 She was active in research with Dr. Easwaramohan. The candidate selected on the VC’s insistence was a graduate from Peradeniya with GPA 344, with little evidence of research in interest. Such was the awe for the VC that neither the Dean of Science (one among the three names for VC) nor anyone else in the department who praised Nilani up to that point, stood up for her, (link) [F]. She became a virtual paraiyah after being rejected to please the VC, and was traumatised for a long time.

Miss. Jeevaki Gunesingam, with a first class from Jaffna and a GPA of 3.80 was the leading candidate for the lecturership in Computer Science in May 2012. However, the selection board ruled that, “No selection is made since the presentation skill, subject knowledge and overall performance of the candidates are not satisfactory”. (see attachment here) Such was the Computer Science Department’s low estimation of its own first classes. The candidates were given a strong hint not to apply again. Interviews were held in November 2013, and with the strong candidates having been shooed off, the selection committee selected a Second Upper from 2001 for the position meant for fresh graduates showing promise.

Engineering and shoots of the new culture

The University advertised a chair in Electrical Engineering about 2002 for the new Engineering Faculty. The Vice Chancellor then was Prof. Balasundarampillai who has championed in public for a Hindu Faculty for the University of Jaffna. The only applicant for the chair was a senior professor of electrical engineering from Peradeniya, who was also a Christian. The application was not processed. But Prof. Balasundarampillai on inquiry said that they had changed their mind and now wanted a professor of civil engineering to put up the buildings. He cancelled the advertisement despite a UGC ruling that an advertisement cannot be cancelled after applications had been received. The University then advertised a chair in civil engineering, for which there were no applicants. They then advertised for senior lecturer Grade I in Civil Engineering. The Only applicant was Dr. Sahayam, an Indian Tamil Christian. Dr. Sahayam said that he did not hear from the University (see the link here).

Doctors Sivakumar and Sahayam were almost contemporaries doing engineering at Peradeniya and Moratuwa respectively. Owing to the 1983 communal violence, Sahayam had to finish his degree in Madras (see DAE). Sivakumar was taken in as a coordinator for the faculty of engineering and was interviewed and absorbed into the new faculty in November 2012 as Senior Lecturer Grade I for which he was not qualified as it required 6 years of service after obtaining the qualifications for Senior Lecturer Grade II (Circular 721), the Ph.D. degree in this case. In 2012 when he was appointed, it was only 4 years after his doctorate in 2008. It appears doubtful that there was an open advertisement as Sahayam was looking out for it and did not see one. On the selection board the Dean of Engineering was represented by Prof. Kandasamy, Dean of Science, and Head Civil Engineering was represented by Prof. Srisatkunarajah, Head, Mathematics and Statistics.

The same selection board interviewed Sahayam in March 2013 and said ‘no selection made’ although they had given Sivakumar a higher position than he was entitled to. Sahayam was interviewed again on 5th May 2014, with Sivakumar also on the selection board, which sent Sahayam off with the observation ‘subject knowledge, teaching skill, research ability and overall performance are not satisfactory.’ It was virtually telling him not to come again. The reader could peruse the credentials of Sivakumar (see the attachment here) and Sahayam (see the attachmet here) that are annexed. It is evident (see DAE) that Sahayam, based on the certified record, commanded a significantly more robust body of civil engineering knowledge than Sivakumar. Sahayam has at least three papers in refereed journals (two foreign and one local) flowing mainly from his PhD research (‘Optimum Geometry for Naturally Armoring Breakwaters’ in the Journal of Coastal Research, USA, 1998, and ‘Stability of round heads of naturally armouring breakwaters’, in ‘Breakwaters, Coastal Structures and Coastlines’, Institution of Civil Engineers, London, 2001). By contrast, Sivakumar did not have a single paper in a refereed journal (as opposed to conference proceedings), none from his PhD research. This is a comment on the qualitative standing of the PhDs of the two engineers, one from Queen’s University, Canada, and the other from Moratuwa.

When the Engineering and Agriculture faculties were opened in Kilinochchi in January 2014, it symbolised how selections and administrative decisions were advancing the grip of the dominant ideology being imposed. Sivakumar is credited by his colleagues of having brought in Brahmin priests to perform devil-chasing the previous night, prior to the 90 minute Brahmanical opening ceremony. In the prevailing state of things, it gave his career a leg up. But in a fickle world of university preferment, more akin to a game of snakes and ladders, one is never sure.

More Fun

The fun did not stop there. Prof. Jeevan Hoole, who was then a senior professor in electrical engineering at Peradeniya, Fellow of IEEE and a DSc London had been applying for a suitable position in Jaffna from about 2002, like Dr. Sahayam. Nearing 65 years, in September 2015, he applied for Senior Lecturer Grade I, to avoid the time delay involved in processing a professor application. Even though the faculty needed staff, he was interviewed nearly a year later just before the advertisement expired. The selection committee decided ‘no selection made’. In July2016, the Council was stupefied at the selection committee’s blatant manipulation and contempt for the trust placed on it to be fair and objective. The Council asked it to look at the matter again and give reasons for their decision.

Meanwhile Dr. Nesiah protested to the Council that Prof. Sivasegaram who was on the selection board had a long-running conflict with Hoole at Peradeniya, and in fairness he should have recused himself from the selection committee. This reasonable request was contemptuously ignored.

The selection committee took a good long five months to meet again and the Vice Chancellor announced that the selection committee justifies its reasons. The report was presented to the Council on 23rd December (see attachment 1 and 2

The second paragraph of the report is downright silly, the same charge made against Prof. Thiagalingam that he had not applied through the Head of his institution was earlier made against Prof. Hoole and already ruled as inapplicable by the UGC Secretary to applicants from abroad.

The third paragraph claimed as a fact, contrary to what Hoole had said in his application and interview, that he would be unfit to teach in Jaffna as he had not taught common electrical engineering subjects for a long time, which is untrue (see attachment here). Leading from this the fourth para concluded that he is not needed in Jaffna. It would be a very poor scholar who would be found unfit to teach routine undergraduate subjects, and Prof. Hoole’s research record and steady stream of publications in prestigious fora show that he is not a poor scholar. If in doubt, the committee, out of courtesy and fairness could have asked Prof. Hoole what he taught. What it did suggests that they were conjuring up excuses to please themselves or someone who was cracking the whip.

What is even worse, four out of the six on the selection committee were in rank Hoole’s junior colleagues at Peradeniya. Dr. Atputharajah and Prof. Ekanayake were from the same department, Dr. Thiruvaran is one whom he helped to get a placement for his postgraduate studies. We need not speculate what is going on, but it is certainly something very nasty and offensive. The culture that has taken root will not allow the faculty to grow into a healthy institution unless the tendency revealed is quickly checked.

Finally, over the candidacy of Prof. Thiagalingam, the council members were very nervous about going against the UGC’s advice. One feature in that advice was that to charge Thiagalingam with an offence for not applying through his head, was rubbish.

Hoole was charged with the same thing in the selection committee report. It was presented to the Council, and it seems to be implicitly assumed that it was passed. If so would the Council, even if it is unconcerned with fairness, stir itself over having given offence by disregarding the UGC’s advice?

The University is spending several billions of rupees a year. But what kind of service are we giving the public and students who come to us when registrars and vice chancellors penalise talent by erecting non-existent barriers, by insisting on non-existent rules about outsiders having to apply through their heads?

How did the Registrar write that silly letter for the UGC’s opinion on two matters the University could easily have sorted out, and how did the VC allow it? One was about Thiagalingam’s application and the other, applying through the Head.  The Postal Rule was known to at least two women administrators. Having been a law unto themselves, they are too lazy, and too insecure, to ask. Do we not have a law faculty, who should know?

No one is now answerable for how the prospect for our youth is blighted. As we emphasised, sectarianism and showy piety have become symbols to capture and assert power. If our administrators care more, Ms. Ravivathani need not spend several lakhs and waste years of her life hanging around court for justice that remains out of reach. JUSTA sent its documents to the Chairman, UGC. JUSTA was warned by a senior FUTA official that the Chairman had a poor opinion of JUSTA, and believed that its reports on abuses were a Christian conspiracy. No one looking at the cases with an open mind would form that impression.

It points to an effective campaign by the ideological lobby in Jaffna, for whom religion is merely a cover for abuse. The UGC Chairman is entitled to his opinion, but if it allows him to direct his actions, without an objective assessment of the reports of abuse, he is guilty of arrogance and incompetence and religious prejudice. That illustrates what is wrong with a country where justice remains out of reach to the poor and defenceless. 

As a first step to set things right at the University of Jaffna, the President of the country should cancel the election for the post of Vice Chancellor held in February where an external candidate was denied entry and require the University Council to hold fresh elections where the external candidate should be allowed contest. That would give the Council an opportunity to themselves remove the rot that has set in and hardened, about which they plead helplessness in private.

*In response to requests by readers, we are making available a more complete account of the council discussion of the UGC’s advice at the corresponding link

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139 Responses to Jaffna: A University Sinking In Mediocrity And Sectarianism

  1. 0
    5
    Utterances by an individual are personal opinions. What matters is the final ruling of the organization. Decisions are collective, and dissenters (if decent) abide by decisions. Dissent can be recorded in any organization, for future reference, but not for public view, except where minutes are required to be made available for a legitimate purpose. No decent member of an organization will make statements on behalf of the organization or quote proceedings without prior approval. Running Commentaries may be OK for mud wrestling, but not meetings of Faculty, Senate, Council etc.

    SJ
    April 21, 2017 at 2:26 am
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      Even in home front decisions should be collective. Otherwise it will lead to Divorce. In divorce cases, lawyers advise the wife to allow his husband to chat with the child a day or two per week. Still wife records decent when husband harasses her son or daughter too much during that one or two days. Here too in the council if You Sekara harass the other members during their each time of expression by troubling or shouting you other members will dissent any decisions. Sekara please God sake do not harass people make them angry anymore. We all have to live happly as in a family with wife and child. Shanmugam

      Shanmugam
      April 21, 2017 at 8:30 pm
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      So will say the people like Sivasegaram whose behavior is shameful and do not want others to know how they behave Councillor

      K
      April 22, 2017 at 3:13 pm
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      How does on respond to questions like “when did you stop smoking hashish”?

      SJ
      April 24, 2017 at 3:27 pm
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  2. 5
    0
    One has to raise the question why the President or the UGC has announced the appointment of a new VC although it has been almost two months since the Council voted. It suggests that even the higher authorities are of the view that the election is questionable. Although Uthayan and some Jaffna newspapers say Srisatkunarajah is the VC, many in Jaffna are saying that Srisatkunarajah used his contacts in these papers to publish a false news item about his appointment. Tharmaratnam’s write-up is very powerful. It is a well-argued piece of writing that people including the President cannot ignore. If court case is filed the UGC will be in deep trouble.

    Manithan
    April 21, 2017 at 9:58 am
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      Are you not inclined to accept one of the following: (i)There is a conspiracy by MS and VA to prolong the term of the present VC for another 3 years; (ii) MS is consulting his legal officers to make sense of a letter from you may know who; (iii) Goddess Kali has waylaid the postman; (iv) It is not ‘avurudu nakath’ yet; and (v) Enough of this tomfoolery. If you cannot make a choice you do not belong here. After all the excitement and fireworks on the CT we need a break. Que sera sera.

      SJ
      April 21, 2017 at 1:25 pm
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  3. 4
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    Que Sera sera[Sekera] Whatever will be will be The futures not ours to see Que sera,sera[sekera] What will be will be Que sera sjjjjj… When Doris Day sang this song many moons ago she must have had the foresight that many would want to know the outcome of the election for the post of VC-UOJ. held in Feb:2017. Two options[A/C-Power Steering] and Leather Seats. 1] The present VC GETS ANOTHER TERM[God forbid!] 2] Fresh election including the application of Prof:Sam Thiagalingam.

    Plato.
    April 21, 2017 at 3:14 pm
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  4. 4
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    I echo Plato’s sentiments. The point is not who will be VC, but the process as CT has consistently emphasized. I spoke to friends in Colombo who are following up. The UGC is pressing for the appointment of Srisatkunarajah. The Prez called for the file and for the intelligent reports this morning. No news of appointment till 4.00. No vc from Sunday. No one will tell if the prez will want a repoll with Thiagalingam or make an appointment. No word on whether AG responded to Tharmaratnam’s paper. Prez decision will decide if JU gets new start or continue with old ways.

    JU Ex Emploee
    April 21, 2017 at 7:42 pm
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      A meal of hoppers: that’ll get the Prez to make good decision!

      Tee Twenty
      April 22, 2017 at 1:44 pm
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    2
    No appointment has been made. The chairman of the UGC has requested the current VC Prof. Vasanthy Arasaratnam in writing to continue as the VC till a new appointment is made.

    Announcer
    April 22, 2017 at 8:57 pm
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      Announcer, “No appointment has been made. The chairman of the UGC has requested the current VC Prof. Vasanthy Arasaratnam in writing to continue as the VC till a new appointment is made.” If this is true I suggest that in addition to RTI requests some Council members record the meetings with their smart devices. According to the minutes the VC thinks that Council minutes are confidential. CT “Jaffna Desk” please request the minutes and publish them to show that the VC is wrong. Even a new VC deserves the above.

      Lone Wolf
      April 22, 2017 at 10:00 pm
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        LW Stealthy access to a confidential document does not make the document not confidential. Many a law is observed in the breach, but still the law stands. The only bad thing about ensuring fair access through RTI is that the “Jaffna Desk” may go out of business.

        SJ
        April 23, 2017 at 5:04 pm
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          SJ, “Stealthy access to a confidential document does not make the document not confidential.” I agree but we still have our eternal debate about what is confidential and why. Better not to start again. “The only bad thing about ensuring fair access through RTI is that the “Jaffna Desk” may go out of business.” I was going to suggest that you join the “Jaffna Desk”. Did not somebody say that if you can’t beat them you should join them?

          Lone Wolf
          April 26, 2017 at 11:03 am
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    Announcer Well,Well,Well.If this is authentic,this is the first option as I said above. SJ/Sekera also continues to fight another day. But what beats me is that why the bloody hell should this country have an Executive Presidency if a concrete decision cannot be taken to resolve this issue?

    Plato.
    April 22, 2017 at 10:39 pm
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      Here comes confirmation: http://www.sundaytimes.lk/170423/news/delay-in-appointing-jaffna-university-vice-chancellor-238133.html “Political interference has allegedly delayed the appointment of a new vice chancellor to the Jaffna University and the current vice chancellor has been given an extension to continue until one of three nominees is appointed.” Why only mention “political interference”? What about the letters to the AG, letters to the President and protests in the media? “Professor Vasanthy Arasaratnam, the current vice chancellor of the Jaffna University who was due to retire last month, has been informed this week of the extension of her service.” OK. Let us continue the protests!

      Lone Wolf
      April 23, 2017 at 6:19 am
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    Dear President, You have made basically all Cabinet decisions and documentation available through RTI requests. http://www.sundaytimes.lk/170423/news/rti-president-gives-people-access-to-cabinet-decisions-238165.html “In a note presented by President Maithripala Sirisena and approved by the Cabinet recently, the President has informed all Ministers that all Cabinet decisions and Memoranda not falling within excepted categories under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, No 12 of 2016, have to be made available to a citizen upon request.” A lot of these documents will be published on the website of the Cabinet Office due to the proactive disclosure requirements of the RTI Act without any request. “However, with changes brought about by the passing of the RTI Act, President Sirisena has noted that when requests are received from a ‘citizen’ in accordance with RTI Regulations and Rules, necessary action needs to be taken by the Secretary to the Cabinet. He has also pointed out that in conformity with proactive disclosure obligations under the RTI regime, Cabinet decisions and other facts required to be published therein are carried on the website of the Cabinet Office.” Please arrange RTI training for the VC of UoJ and a certain member (members?) of the UoJ Council who continue to confuse their personal opinions on confidentiality with the force of the law. Remind them of the fact that there is no possibility to opt out due to personal opinions and that they are not above the law. How can a VC that publicly opposes the requirements of the RTI Act objectively serve as the Information Officer of UoJ assuming that an IO has not been appointed? For more information read the Council minutes and comments here on CT. Thank you.

    Lone Wolf
    April 23, 2017 at 6:42 am
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    //One to get permission to reply to the mass media.[…] Secondly he is requesting the council to behave with a code of conduct.// If this is true, it is an excellent step. They need to learn to reply — to external critique as well as appeals from our community here. And it is a very good idea to have a Code of Conduct, which could start with good habits like turning off mobile phones at meetings, arriving on time etc. to more serious things like recognising conflict of interest and not turning up in electronic forums anonymously and mock people who show genuine interest in our institution. I hope DD’s report is accurate and welcome the move.

    Luxman
    April 23, 2017 at 12:00 pm
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      Can you not see that Sivasegaram’s memos are just a distraction? The important fact is that the VC has secured an extension of her term. What the readers above and the three dissidents in the Council have asked for is to cancel the election and hold a fresh one with Thiyagalingam as candidate. If the former VC as acting VC has to hold a fresh election she would be up to all her old tricks. You could see that the University needs a breath of fresh air and there is a mafia with VA and several deans and heads all out to make sure this does not happen. VA’s blocking Thiagalingam with two stupid reasons was illegal and the UGC Secretary has more or less said so. Then she and Sivasegaram successfully conspired to deceive the Council that the UGC had in fact issued a directive to drop Thiagalingam. The UGC knows all this and has yet made VA Acting VC. We need to pull out all stops to ensure that the election is cancelled and a fresh one held under fair conditions

      Fairplay
      April 23, 2017 at 12:31 pm
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        You may be right it is all a distraction, but I have hope that it is probable there is recognition that it is a good idea to reply to the community properly. The call for change, I repeat, is from ALL of us here on campus via our unions. They owe us a reply. I like to think that the sustained pressure here is yielding results. Remember, after so many exchanges and distractions on previous threads, SJ eventually conceded something along the lines: “maybe it would have been nice if she had stepped down when becoming aware that the husband was also applying for the job.” He tries all tricks in the book to have his way by being dismissive and making distracting comments, but we have to persevere. “adi mEl adi adiththaal ammiyum nakarum” my grandmother used to say!

        Luxman
        April 23, 2017 at 2:31 pm
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        The election should not be held under the direction of Prof VA. The UGC should appoint someone else like a competent authority to conduct the elections. It is better to advertise the position again so that the well-wishers of the University can persuade stronger and better candidates within the SL university system and candidates from other countries to apply for this position.

        Manu
        April 23, 2017 at 7:29 pm
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      Luxman, “//One to get permission to reply to the mass media.” Maybe he means replying to the comments here? “[…] Secondly he is requesting the council to behave with a code of conduct.//” That must be his code of silence that is according to him needed for healthy discussion.

      Lone Wolf
      April 25, 2017 at 9:57 pm
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    A proper and fair re-poll will surely be the solution to all problems. As simple as that!

    Sinhala_Man
    April 23, 2017 at 12:11 pm
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      do you think council select Prof:Sam Thiagalingam.? if the majority of council is corrupted no point whoever contest

      Kutti Aliya
      April 23, 2017 at 4:45 pm
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        SM & KA Have you considered the prospect of the “non-corrupt?” minority rigging the voting? Having seen the spate of distortions that continues to this day, anything is possible— Carry on lobbying.

        SJ
        April 24, 2017 at 4:03 pm
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    What is the next course of Action? a]Will the University community continue to put up with the VC and her select group of Council Member[s] until Saturn gets into retrograde motion in late June 2017? b]Wait until Dr.Sivasekeram mends his ways? One cannot change a style of a Lifetime! Should the Student community and the Unions be told that the power to change and for change is in their hands?

    Plato.
    April 23, 2017 at 7:05 pm
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    Jaffna University needs a competent authority from outside now. Overthow this incompetent and corrupt and dishonest Vasanthy and clan to open its eyes and progress.The academics must take a serious and wise stand for this university will soon be their children’s. She has insulted us like dogs for too long if you did not worship her. The staff and students should demand it from the UGC. Exercise your voice and be rid of this injustice and oppression you are facing.Dream a better future for you and the University. Why should we be treated like jokers by bad people like Mihunthan, Sivasegaram and Vasanthy Arasaratnam greedy for power. Ketta kudiye kedum, patta kaalile padum if you don’t fight off this curse. COMPETENT AUTHORITY FOR JAFFNA UNIVERSITY

    Nakkeera Vasagam
    April 24, 2017 at 9:10 am
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    The LTTE TIGERS and the EPDP whatever are deeply entrenched at Jaffna university. It is their thinking that is philosophy here given words to by a so called rich Marxist. They have all made big money. People like LTTE’s lecturers Mihunthan are even being voted for 3 VC candidates. There was an MP here Thamilchelvan’s tea boy who was and is still a close friend of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s. He jumps straighet from the LTTE into Rajapaksa’s hands and is with GG’s son. There are people who like the pied-piper attracted little children into the LTTE promising them big action. It is these fellows who have been running the Universities with props like Vasanthi Arasaratnam. The current authorities in the university are a threat to all the students here and are not interested in their education, jobs or Jaffna’s future. They have no idea of such things. They are also Dangerous people who routinely intimidate the academics and students and others. They tear up our applications right in front of us and trash them whether we are Senior Professors or not. Kumaravadivel had so much backing from the tigers that he was a threat to our safety. His son is influencing for the LTTE for Srisatkunarajah. President Sirisena must break these forces once and for all by appointing a new, student-focused and strong competent authority. We academics have lived in fear and very humiliating conditions for so many years now. We as academics need an environment where we can think free and express ourselves honestly and without fear of punishment for Jaffna to get its old glory back as an educated place. Jaffna University is not a wayside boutique. UGC Chairman is promoting Vasanthy Arasaratnam still when all are crying foul! She may be a great charmer but she is dishonest and poor in logic. Home Science Institutions are not the ideal place to breed VCs. Give us a real VC/Competent authority for Jaffna please.

    Incompetent Authorities
    April 24, 2017 at 10:22 am
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      “Give us a Competent Authority for Jaffna”— that was the programme of a group two years ago. Is this a new try? Do you think that Jaffna deserves a strong dictator in the mould of the “pediyans”? It was tried once, why not again!

      SJ
      April 24, 2017 at 3:56 pm
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        SJ is exposing himself while trying to deride what he does not like. When JUSTA tried to meet the new Council the first time it met in 2015, it was SJ who was in the boots of a dictator trying to shoo them off contemptuously. A link to some of the JUSTA’s cases is given in the article above. The selection process for academics was abused to new extremes. The VC now serving an extended term was the first to corrupt the Science Faculty, which had been fairly clean in its recruitment (see the case of Nilani Kanesharatnam above). Several of the selection committee outcomes were decided in advance. The VC absented herself from the interview of the leading candidate for Financial Management and signed her rejection. In the case of the leading candidate for Computer Science, Jeevaki, she said recently that the VC was falling asleep during the interview, leaving her nonplussed, and then signed off “No selection is made since the presentation skill, subject knowledge and overall performance of the candidates are not satisfactory”. The attitude is one of contempt for those who deserve and expect fair treatment, and for the well-being of the University. Corruption in Management and Arts have been carried to new limits. Engineering in Jaffna, which comes from noble standards set by Prof. E.O.E. Pereira, has been corrupted at birth. The prospective Hindu Faculty and the Dept. of Translation studies would mainly serve as low quality power bases to advance rottenness. SJ knows all this well.

        Fairplay
        April 24, 2017 at 8:57 pm
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          I am one of the candidates affected by the actions of the administrators of the University of Jaffna. It has been my dream to teach at the University of Jaffna since I was a school student. I feel very upset every time I think about what the administrators of the university did to me. They continue to crush my dream through unfair means. Is it because I was not born into a socially important family? I am thankful to the Jaffna University Science Teachers’ Association for their work. It is because of people like them I still have some faith in our university system.

          Discriminated
          April 24, 2017 at 11:35 pm
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        I don’t understand why SJ is all out thr way defending Miss? Vasanti Arasaratnam the former VC and all her misconduct. Why SJ is hanging the saree of Miss Vasanti the Dishonest VC like all other stooges in university of Jaffna doing for their positions and promotions It is better SJ resign from council and maintains his name. As one of his student I feel very odd on his actions in council and in UoJ

        Sloga
        April 25, 2017 at 3:40 pm
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          Dear Sloga, At last you have asked this simple question from me. As my wife is not supporting me I am very close to Miss Vasanthi… That is the truth my dear. Can you keep quite here after. As you are my student you should know me and what I did in those days in Peradeniya during the very cold time. Now though Jaffna is hot Vasanthi is making me cold ! Sivasekaram.

          Sivasekaram
          April 25, 2017 at 9:01 pm
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            CT Is this someone needing help– or another of my admirers who by deed poll changed his name to sound like mine? (The Sinhalese are particular about the spelling of their surnames for caste considerations. But Tamils do not care as long as the numbers add up to the lucky total. This spelling I should warn may not be as lucky as mine.) Yet, good to know that one is adored. What is his problem? ED? Send me his contact details and I will refer him to a good shrink as well. (Remember to tell him that a shrink is not one who shrinks parts of the body). As for the plate of **** served here. The Mafiosi may relish it.

            SJ
            April 26, 2017 at 1:57 am
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            Oh Jee! So it is s*****d ol’ Kanthasamy that has donned a clone of my name. I think that the lines “kullanarik kombE kOththup pOdu saami pullE kuttikaachchum nalla puththi varum aiyaa saami, aavOji saami…” need repeating– O kantha saami! (Synopsis: Sir, wear the jackal tooth on a string, at least the children may have a sound mind.)

            SJ
            April 26, 2017 at 2:12 am
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            Kandasamy, now posing as one “Sivasekaram”, it is time that you “outed”. If you need help, the shrink will ask for your true identity.

            SJ
            April 26, 2017 at 11:57 am
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    Stop Being Foolish In defending the University’s action, SJ is making a song and dance about CT campaigning for the acceptance of a late application. This is a serious distortion. Where the law is concerned the relevant fact is that in applying for the position of VC, Prof. Thiagalingam has acted REASONABLY and, as Prof. Tharmaratnam has pointed out, has a reasonable expectation that the application would be duly processed. It caused no obstacle to procedures in Jaffna University. The application with others was opened only about ten days after arrival by the evaluation committee and duly scheduled. Until then Sivasegaram saw no problem. Why should anyone? It was only after the Lady gave him a knock that from the next day he started shouting ‘illegal’. Let me quote briefly from a lesson in law. “In mandate and societas the transactions were not merely bonae fidei, not merely, that is, acts implying good faith between the participators, but involved an obvious relation of trust and confidence, even of fraternity. In both cases a participant could sue for performance of a promise not merely because of a tangible loss sustained in reliance upon it, but because of reasonable expectations defeated by its non-performance. But reasonable expectation has a much greater importance apart from any relation of trust and confidence.” (Prof. Radin on Fundamental Concepts of the Roman law, Part 4 http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3953&context=californialawreview ) Note the emphasis on reasonable expectation. Jaffna University would indeed look very foolish if this matter were to go to any respectable court. SJ could ask Prof. Tharmaratnam, the Law Dept. or Miss. Abimannasingham to give the Council a lecture on this so that they need not make fools of themselves.

    Fairplay
    April 25, 2017 at 1:27 pm
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    Why cannot to include Dr.Guruparan… who is spontaneously shouting for Human Rights violation every where to talk about it…. being the Head, Dept of Law at the UOJ. He should say the correct position in this regard rather than writing “Kirantham” in his face book…. Mounaguru

    Mounaguru
    April 25, 2017 at 9:20 pm
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      You need common sense and not a professor of law or any decipline to advice on accepting a late application from a far way place. Any one blindly adamant on legality for trivial things suffers from some sort of pervasive developmental disorder. The problem is the sufferer often is unaware of his or her behaviour unless consults a professional qualified and experienced in such diagnosis. We have seen before that strict adherence would have rejected Srivasa Ramanujan from doing research at Madras University and thereby lost the greatest mathematician of the last century for ever. His story tells us not only how we, including the learned, block the bright youngsters from disadvantaged or oppressed masses from reaching their potential by sticking to silly interpretation of rules, casteism and prejudices. Can anyone answer why young Ramanujan was not detected at school, university or at home by teachers, lecturers or neighbours though he started deriving complicated equations very early in his childhood? The answer will lead to the understanding of the minds of those in the University Council. I am not personal to any individual but to the whole membership.

      Saro
      April 27, 2017 at 12:31 am
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        Saro, I perfectly agree with you. For a man or woman with ordinary common sense, the matter is very simple. No one has a flattering opinion of Jaffna University. The only hope of uplifting standards there is to get a large number of people and alumni who have gone abroad and done well involved with the University. The powers that be at the University are doing everything to keep the doors shut. To reject an applicant of the standing of Prof. Thiagalingam for the trivial and immaterial reason of a minor postal delay, shows a deep-rooted sickness. Some of the cases in the write-up above show a surprising degree of malice. There is no way around it. As imperfect and fickle as it is in this country, it is the law that makes some impression on the politicians, councillors, the UGC and the Government. You have to go by that route and if that too fails, we know that the system is beyond redemption and have to resign ourselves to the worst for the time being. Showing that the system is incapable of delivery would open some doors.

        Fairplay
        April 27, 2017 at 8:55 am
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          Fairplay, You have to go by that route and if that too fails, we know that the system is beyond redemption and have to resign ourselves to the worst for the time being.” Well, for the legal route, too, there are exceptions. Among the educated it can be weighed and analysed to opt for the most beneficial outcome. In this case the application was posted in good time before any of the other applicants and seasonal festivity added to the delay, which could not have been foreseen by the distant applicant. The selection committee must have appropriately considered these compelling reasons and rightly included Prof Thiagalingam’s name in their list. Specially Tamils won’t promote openness or recognise the ingenuity of fellow Tamil. That is obvious from the way our politicians or leaders including Sir P Ramanathan and the learned have been oppressing the disadvantaged in our community. Look, not a single Tamil or for that matter an Indian spotted Ramanujan, only a ‘foreign’ white traced his mathematical work and another white elevated him to the world arena. No amount of writing or pleadings will awaken the majority of UGC and those sinned will go round the cirle so only option left is to appeal to the ‘foreign’ or non-Tamil president of Sri Lanka. This is the only way you can do justice to UoJ and Sri Lanka.

          Saro
          April 27, 2017 at 2:05 pm
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    Sloga. I could assure you SJ/sekera/Sivasekaram is not involved in Heat Transfer with the VC.Jaffna.Mao-Tse-Tung once said that we must swim however deep the river is. Lets say,a river is flowing at a constant velocity of v.Lets also say that SJ is standing[or squatting?] on one side of the bank wondering or [wandering?] how to reach the opposite side[in a straight line] where Pygmalion is seated having Fish[Plaice,Cod or Haddock] with CHIPS. What should SJ do? He should travel at an angle against the flow of the river to reach Pygamalion.Has he done it? NO. So, what can I DO?

    Pygmalion
    April 27, 2017 at 12:06 am
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      Pygs You should know better about me: Even for a prank I will not utter foul obscene things like the “aiya saami” guy and others whose droppings you wisely advised me to avoid. (See the comment below the misspelled name of my alias. The same scoundrel, I suspect, earlier stole my gravatar. I spotted it soon enough to inform CT and delete another plate of ****. Then I changed my gravatar) To reach you, I will do just one thing. I will get you a second helping on my side of the river. (I do not want your F&C as I avoid fatty food.) I promise that you will instantly leap across the water.

      SJ
      April 27, 2017 at 2:45 am
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    Please, Prof. SJ, we’d like to continue respecting you. Please stop this talk of a “late application”. It was posted well in time. O.K. blame the postal services. THEN it is only rational to blame those who opened the envelopes ten days later as well. The fact is that Prof. Sam Thiagalingam’s application was opened with the others. Let him be interviewed. He doesn’t have to be selected, but there has to be fair play. This is happening in Jaffna. I don’t live in the North. However, this is part of our country, and I have consistently been saying that we must ensure fair play for ALL who dwell on this island. I think that you know that to be the case. I appeal to you to stop defending the untenable. Actually (amazingly, considering the intelligence you display in other matters) the evidence is piling up that you have instigating this cheating (sorry to be using the word again!). Hold fresh elections!

    Sinhala_Man
    April 27, 2017 at 8:26 am
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      SM I repeat, I am no Prof anything; and do not know who the “we” includes (not the Mafia I hope). I have explained my stand many times over, while your evidence piled up the way it happened in Meethotamulla. If the price to pay for sticking to my stand is losing the respect of any who want their way at any cost, so be it. Although no gambler, I will take the risk. But remember, respect is a two way process. If you want to use the word ‘cheating’ do please by all means, as it is still a free country. (Note: Prof Mahalingam famously answered a not-very-clever question thus: “You can take moments about any point you like, it is still a free country.) But then, I have more right to call a late application a late application. Believe me, I know the real cheats and their accomplices, some who out of desperation sink to absolutely low levels and you took no notice as you were perhaps otherwise preoccupied. BTW I am not authorized to hold any fresh elections— not even the Elections Commission in this matter!

      SJ
      April 27, 2017 at 11:45 am
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    SJ. Well,a problem on Relative Velocity is now a problem on Projectiles. I need to consult S.L.Loney [ Dynamics] to work out the Velocity and Angle of the leap[The Great Leap Forward].Would you be Static[s] at your end of the river. If in doubt Pl.consult S.L.Loney[Statics].But if you too decide to be Dynamic either vertically or horizontally I WOULD RUN THE RISK OF LOSING OUT ON MY F&C. Anyway,this will be a new experience for me: Doing a Jump at an angle! Come or go Chicago!

    Pygmalion
    April 27, 2017 at 10:31 am
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      Pygs You can swim cross if you like. I do get distracted. But tell me when you finish what is on your plate. I will stay put. BTW, do you still have your copy of SL Loney? Mine changed many hands and went out of sight.

      SJ
      April 27, 2017 at 11:04 am
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    The only Text Book that I own now is Pure Mathematics by G.H.Hardy used[?] or mostly unused at Pera: So many distractions came my way.In retrospect,I compare it to a Kavadi Dancer who broke loose from the strings on his back and went hither and thither and beserk!

    Pygmalion
    April 27, 2017 at 12:27 pm
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      It is good to break loose of all strings.

      SJ
      April 27, 2017 at 1:15 pm
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    SJ…. Can you go through all the comments in Jaffna University pages. It is certain that you can easily write up your own autobiography. You try and sort out about your problems or personality disorder. Every one is making a joke out of your actions. I read Reader’s Digest often especially “Laughter is the Best Medicine”. but nowadays because of this comments on you I have enough medicine. Please do not behave like a Buffoon. You are still a Professor at kilinotchi. My E Kisses to you….. from…. American Lady

    American Lady
    April 27, 2017 at 3:07 pm
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      American female, are you sure that you are a lady? E-kissing a stranger is very unladylike.

      SJ
      April 27, 2017 at 7:55 pm
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