22 April, 2024


Jaffna: A University Sinking In Mediocrity And Sectarianism

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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Latest comments

  • 10

    Unfortunately the Tamils think each one is greater and intelligent than the other. Thus they never reach their destination.No wonde Prabaharan adopted other means.

    • 5

      And failed miserably at the feet of Singhala soldiers.

      • 8

        “And (VP) failed miserably at the feet of Singhala soldiers. “


        The successive Sinhala governments failed miserably for 30 years to defeat VP and the LTTE

        The Sinhala govt needed the might of the Indian , Chinese and Pakistani Army and ammunition and hardware, the intelligence organisation of UK and USA the double crossing of Karuna to defeat him and the “baby faced” LTTE

        • 6

          “The successive Sinhala governments failed miserably for 30 years to defeat VP and the LTTE”

          Wrong, we were on the verge of defeating the LTTE in 1987 when the IPKF intervened. Also, if the diaspora had not funded this terrorist outfit, the job would have been simple.

          • 3

            Also, the LTTE were continously agreeing peace talks while they re-armed. Successive governments bent over backwards to accomodate their demands but they wanted everything. Thanks to the diaspora and their greed, they now have nothing.

        • 2

          Successive Tamil generations failed to win the war and finally lost in 2009.

    • 2

      Prof. Sam Thiagalingam

      RE: Jaffna: A University Sinking In Mediocrity And Sectarianism

      “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?”

      Following the rules of hegemony.

      Tamils are Paras, just like their Para cousins, Para-Sinhala, Para-Muslims and other Paras, with an average IQ of 79.

      So, do not expect results much different from their Para-Cousins.


      National IQ Scores – Country Rankings

      The intelligence scores came from work carried out earlier this decade by Richard Lynn, a British psychologist, and Tatu Vanhanen, a Finnish political scientist, who analysed IQ studies from 113 countries, and from subsequent work by Jelte Wicherts, a Dutch psychologist.

      Countries are ranked highest to lowest national IQ score.

      ——– Country
      ———————– %
      1 Singapore 108
      2 South Korea 106
      3 Japan 105
      4 Italy 102
      5 Iceland 101
      5 Mongolia 101
      6 Switzerland 101
      28 Sri Lanka 79
      (Para-Sinhala, Para-Tamils, Para-Muslims etc.)

  • 10

    The Colombo Telegraph must be thanked for warning us about this grave threat to the educational future of the Tamils. This is a sorry plight for Jaffna where the light of education once shone brilliantly.

    Do the Tamil political leaders care?

    Greater openness would surely be a great blessing to uplift a war battered people. Is not the greatness and literary brilliance of the Tamil Sangam period etched in historical memory because of its tolerance of all religions and ideas?
    Will someone alert the President who may be in Jaffna today to cancel the recent VC election and call for a fresh election with Prof. Thiagalingam as a candidate? The entire country needs to be saved from obscurantism.

  • 9

    Thank you. I hope the President will take note and call for new elections.

    You have left out the story of Dr. Atputharajah, the Engineering Dean. Despite the red carpet laid out to Dr. Sivakumar at one time, there was a change of favourites when he was precipitously replaced by Dr. Atputharajah as Coordinator through a transfer for Atputharajah from Peradeniya, which is explicitly prohibited by the Universities Act. No authority but Parliament itself can waive provisions of the Act. Transfer also meant a non-competitive selection for Atputharjah without advertisement. Was Prof. Tharmaratnam who comes across as very intellectually sharp in this article, fast asleep when Atputharajah was transferred?

    Up to then, Atputharajah was cursing VC Arasaratnam, even on a trip to Malaysia. Why Sivakumar lost favor is unknown.

    Despite being unqualified for Senior Lecturer Gr. I and being appointed, Sivakumar applied for Professor/Assoc. Professor recently. The VC must have given the order to Prof. Sivasegaram who, representing the Council at the Selection Committee, came out with all his sharp teeth bared and ripped Sivakumar’s application apart. Rather surprising for man who himself cheated to be Senior Professor (according to Prof. Hoole) without the required. time served as professor.

    Atputharajah’s promotion to Professor, I hear, was approved although he too deserved not to be appointed on transfer without competition. This is all hot off the press. The two recommendations (positive for Atputharajah and negative for Sivakumar) will come before the Council this month.

    But does it matter when no one on the Council seems to have balls to resist this very masculine Vice Chancellor tougher than any man on the Council? As her term comes to an end, I must say that she has been the most successful VC of all time in Jaffna, turning on her charm among Sinhalese to make the UGC defend anything illegal she does, and snarling in Jaffna to make the most experienced Tamil men on the Council fear to open their mouths in her presence.

    • 0

      I think that this is a cheap anonymous trick to set a particular member of a selection committee against a candidate.

      It is not unfamiliar.
      Unsuccessful candidates seek explanations and some look for scapegoats.
      I remember a loser claiming that religion was reason for non-selection and named names, but beat a retreat when that did no work. Then there was another story blaming another and so on.
      Such actions have no good intention and serve purposes of self gratification.

      There are too many falsehoods in this CT sequel to its desperate bid to get a late application considered.
      I think that going into details of Selection Committee and Council proceedings is unethical for any member and mean advantage is taken of that weakness by unscrupulous characters.

      There are fora where pertinent issues are raised and responded to adequately.

      • 4

        For whatever reason, it is good to see you back again.

        Whenever a selection committee acts with reason, we need not worry too much. But those who hide behind a selection committee after signing for blatant falsehoods about a candidate, are surely answerable and these have been listed and answered.

        We can have little doubt that you and the VC thought long and hard on how to sell the UGC Secretary’s ‘advice’ or ‘response’ as a direction to exclude Thiagalingam as a candidate. There is nothing in the ‘advice’ to justify your reference to admitting him as a candidate as ‘illegal’.

        I have too much respect for your intelligence to treat this as inadvertent.

        • 6


          “We can have little doubt that you and the VC thought long and hard on how to sell the UGC Secretary’s ‘advice’ or ‘response’ as a direction to exclude Thiagalingam as a candidate. There is nothing in the ‘advice’ to justify your reference to admitting him as a candidate as ‘illegal’.”

          My questions remain: what is the level of most Council members if they are unable to understand a simple short letter from the UGC? What is their level if they understood the letter but allowed themselves to be manipulated by the VC and “SJ”?

          Is not “SJ” only a member of the Council like all the other members?

          Are not the UGC nominated members independent from the VC?

          In real life many boards, councils etc are controlled by the few but the UoJ Council should not be like the nearest village community group.

          • 2

            Lone Wolf.
            Thanks for the intelligent questions.
            I will desist from commenting on individuals.

            From what you would have seen on CT from the early days of this Council it was said to have a formidable army to resist manipulation.
            I fear that to certain vested interests, when have their way, the Council is competent; when they do not it becomes a den of conspiracy manipulated by one or two.

            BTW, what have you against village community groups?
            I know quite a few that are very democratic and competent.

            • 3

              THIS is the SJ that I admire so much.

              However, you don’t appear in this guise all the time, and I’m sorry to say that now I have begun to look for ambiguities in what you say.

              • 0

                Sorry to hear “…sorry to say that now I have begun to look for ambiguities in what you say.”

                Many students imagine ambiguities in the most straightforward of my questions, and end up messing up their responses.

                You may not have heard of the ‘hidden picture theorem’ stated to me by my long retired Japanese colleague Hiroshi Sato: “The more random the data the more easy is it to discern a pattern” (Rephrased by me)
                That taught me a lot about many a newfangled theory as well as conspiracy theories.

                I offer here its converse. Call it SJ’s Complexity Theorem if you like:
                The simpler the statement the more complex are its interpretations.
                (I am not the copyright type– plagiarism is permitted.)

            • 1


              “I will desist from commenting on individuals.”

              I will try to do the same in the future.

              “BTW, what have you against village community groups? I know quite a few that are very democratic and competent.”

              Unfortunately the various groups I know of are fine examples of one caste, one religion and one sex. The caste part explains why each village usually needs more than one group. There are groups for women also but the women need only development no culture or sports. The groups are dominated by a few leaders who claim to represent all the others.

              • 0

                My experience was with broader groups that transcend caste and gender.

                There is herd mentality I agree. But I will not generalize.
                It occurs in bodies with what seem community interests. There emerge leaders who can dominate.

                You would have seen herds on these pages at times with a shepherd. But that is another category. (One or two of them may not be herds but the same creature showing up in different names to say “Amen”.)

                The UoJ Council is not a group that voluntarily got together (or like ones herded together at one time).

                • 1


                  “My experience was with broader groups that transcend caste and gender.”

                  That is what I thought but we don’t have them here.

                  “There is herd mentality I agree. But I will not generalize. It occurs in bodies with what seem community interests.”

                  In rural Jaffna it is called culture, tradition and religion.

                  “There emerge leaders who can dominate.”

                  Leaders are needed but they should listen to the others. The others should challenge the leaders but they rarely do.

                  “You would have seen herds on these pages at times with a shepherd. But that is another category. (One or two of them may not be herds but the same creature showing up in different names to say “Amen”.)”


                  “The UoJ Council is not a group that voluntarily got together (or like ones herded together at one time).”

                  Yes but I do not understand their/your behavior. They/you are educated and there is no longer the threat of violence.

                  • 0

                    I do not expect anyone to understand any other’s behaviour unless one understands the basis of the actions.
                    I do not ask why some people do highly improper things here. I can at most question the propriety or decency based on common social norms.

                    I was threatened with murder in 1976 because I asked people to vote against SJVC. My response was that these guys only promise but never deliver. (Later, they did murder but I was not around. Twenty years on, the one who I suspect threatened me was a big businessman in Colombo.)
                    All along, I was not the one to be bullied or threatened into taking positions that I do not believe in.
                    I do not mind losing a few years of my life as I have lived long enough.

                    I do not speak for others whether I agree or disagree with them.
                    I say what I mean (only partly, when joking) and stand by it, until corrected by rational argument.
                    Anyone is free to read meanings into it. (“The author is dead” say postmodernists.)

    • 3

      Re: Red carpet to Sivakumaran

      There was no red carpet to Sivakumaran. VC want to get his services to prepare the immediate need of curriculum and instruction for new engineer faculty. The coordinator Sivakumaran completed both the task with the help of his other genuine wellwtshhers well wishers. Submitted the curriculum to senate in June 2013 the memorial day of Prof Thurai. Completed the full Client requirements for the infrastructure for new engineer faculty.finilised the design and build contract around 1500 million SLR. Ordered around 150 million worth of equipments. Aid these happened before Dr Atpu came in to seen.
      But this so called red carpet changed because of coordinator’s protest on the appointment of Prof Kandasamy as dean engineering. Heavy protes and pressure from Dr Anbu and Mr Arunan make coordinator to talk all the deans and council members including prof Kandasamy and VC

      Rest of the happenings are academic jealous and mafia

  • 11

    What else can you expect? Tamil or Sinhala they are all Sri Lankans. They cannot even keep a street clean, how can they run a university?

  • 8

    The report shows how corrupt the administration and most council members of Jaffna Uni are. Sad given how the North prided itself in its educational achievements in the past. The President should ask the Council to re-do the elections.

  • 5

    The entire Tamil community has sunken into sectarianism.

    Singhala students were chased out of violent Tamil mobs in Jaffna last year. Not a sound from Tamils.

    We all known where this sectarianism takes Tamils, again. We saw it in 1983 and 2009.


  • 0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/ [

  • 1

    I think it was announced two weeks ago that Prof Srisatkunarajah has been appointed by the President. A lot of people have already congratulated him on his facebook page (the post is public) and he has thanked them.

    • 2

      It is fake news. Probably Srisatkunarajah himself put it up on his facebook. Apparently newspapers in Jaffna also carried a story saying that Srisatkunarajah was appointed. But it is not true.

      • 1

        On Sunday Srisatku attended a function where he was the chief guest and described as the new Vice Chancellor.

  • 1

    That institution is the consolidated concentration of 65 years of Appe Aanduwa’s efforts to destroy Tamil education.

    It is much more deeply wedged placed than standardization or the Kanangara Scheme.

    Taller than Meethotamulla. A separate incinerator has to be installed clean it.

    • 3

      That’s right, even corruption, nepotism and caste amongst the Tamils is all the fault of the Singala Buddhists and their Mahavamsa mentality.

  • 8

    I am very concerned and thank CT for having brought this out.

    As a Tamil I want devolution. I want us to have the powers to run our own affairs. MR Sampanthan is trying hard to get us these powers. i want him to succeed.

    However, all that is undermined when we cannot run the university by ourselves (or even the Provincial Council if reports are correct). The Engineering Faculty is administratively corrupt and its leaders seem to be in the pay of companies dumping oil into our wells and covering up for the companies taking huge payments in exchange for cover-up reports.

    We must do something. Mr. Sampanthan must do something. Mr. Sampanthan says he is leaving the matter in the hands of his northern MPs. That is not being a leader. It is escaping his duties as leader. Tamils do not care that he is from Trinco. Elected our leader, he must lead and not hide.

    Mr. Sampanthan is being an escapist because the Northern TNA leader, Mr. Mavai Senathirajah, seems unable to even think. When some people supporting Mr. Vigneswaran, No. 2 with 11 votes, went to Mr. Senathirajah to get his support, he was thinking that No. 3, Mr. Velnampi, who got 9 votes is number 2 in rank.

    How they asked him when the voting was 17 for Srisatkunarajah, 11 for Vigneswaran, and 9 each for Velnampi and Raviraj? Mavai Senathirajah explained that when the Council voted between just Raviraj and Velnampi to get the third name, Velnampi came on top with 14 votes. So, he argued, Velnampi with 14 votes is ahead of Vigneswaran who got only 11! Those who went to canvass for Mr. Senathirajah’s support could not get him to understand why Vigneswaran was before Velnampi.

    It shows how low we have sunk. Mr.Sampanthan cannot afford to leave the party in the hands of Mr. Senathirajah if he is serious about devolution. Senthirajah to protect himself gives out nominations arbitrarily to those who will back him and not to those who can serve the public best.

    We need people who can think and govern. Mr. Sampanthan leaving northern affairs in the hands of a stupid man who reputedly could not pass his OLs, is to be more stupid than Senathirajah.


    We must have a fresh election with all six applicants on the ballot.

    • 3

      “Mavai Senathirajah explained that when the Council voted between just Raviraj and Velnampi to get the third name, Velnampi came on top with 14 votes. So, he argued, Velnampi with 14 votes is ahead of Vigneswaran who got only 11!”

      Is it actually true that he argued this way, or are you just making it up to make us laugh?

      • 1

        T 20
        Lobbying happens despite possible outcome, but lobbyists need stories to justify their lobbying– be it for a little personal favour or an International Inquiry.

        You and I may laugh, but there could be someone up there who believes the claim.

        • 4

          SJ: I hope Siva will come back and clarify. While laughable, this as logic from Mavai the Tamil nationalist is entirely plausible, is it not?

        • 1

          T 20
          Nothing is impossible some say.

          If there is something weaker than Tamil nationalist arithmetic it is Tamil Nationalist logic.

          If you want proof, read the comments here from Tamil nationalists hiding behind fancy names.

          Is the Siva you are waiting for someone up there or someone down here?

    • 8

      Dear Siva,

      I’m sure that we have near identical DNA, but I don’t know any Tamil. Also, I live in the South. Therefore I’m categorised as a Sinhalese.

      I recognise devolution as a possible solution to the problems we have, although we thereby get top heavy with politicians who gobble up quite a bit of our resources. There are many other Sinhalese who (if roused only!) will resort to violence if there was any possibility of Eelam (I’m not going to get so mad about it!).

      I’d certainly like to see Jaffna University run well. It would be good if there were some Sinhalese students also there. However, we have to respect your right to having a Tamil ethos in the National University there. It is a shame that the University seems to be run by a handful of people and doesn’t function as a “Centre of Excellence”. I have been following the debate going on there.

      I’m not an academic, although I’ve been in a University myself, and know some of the undercurrents in such places. I don’t think that I should say anything strident, but I agree with you that there should be a re-election with all six applicants being given fair consideration.

      Apparently President Sirisena has the final say. He is the most decent man whom you can have as President at the present time. Far too many pour scorn on the poor man. I don’t think that the people in the North should further confuse him with this so-called issue. If we act irresponsibly in this matter, we may have to pay a heavy price later.

      My plea too is “conduct that election again”.

      • 0

        If we have the same DNA, I am a congenital debater and you must be another and the chance of our agreeing is zilch.

        A process was followed and no lawful authority saw any flaw in rejecting the late application.
        An election was held seemingly properly, despite mudslinging on candidates by interested parties and not one of the champions of fair play, but perhaps SJ, uttering a word in protest.

        The delay in naming a VC can mean many things, not all of them desirable.
        Let us wait. That is part of the fun.
        People have waited for weeks on end to elect the Pope.
        There the Council decides and the Guy in the Sky does not mess around.
        Surely, UoJ deserves some respect and should be allowed some waiting.

        There is a rule by which the VC is selected from among ‘three wise men’ by the most powerful one.
        You and I cannot answer for him.
        If he wants a reelection who can stop him?
        (I will skip the capital H this time.)

        Why should intelligent people yelp like little pups to no end about something that is not in their control, unless they are the part of wheeler-dealer business.
        Capable wheeler-dealers are quiet. They will not waste time shouting ‘Jayawewa’ on this platform.

        ps. I think that you have chosen to believe stories that serve certain group interests, and this is not the place to discuss them.
        I am impressed what has been achieved in the past few years in the UoJ. There is some way to go. The new VC deserves all the support and not slander.
        Sorry, my experience is that this is not the place for serious detailed discussion of this subject– perhaps some day, somewhere in person.

        • 6

          “three wise men,” you say!
          None of the three understand the notion of conflict of interest to have excused themselves from discussions about a candidate for the job.

          “Let us wait.” you say!
          One of the wise men has already thanked those who congratulated him on the appointment, and he has thanked Him, too (note capital H).

        • 3

          Dear Prof. Sivasegaram,

          I certainly hope that we will meet, and soon, but to talk about other things. This seems a hopeless mess.

          There were many in the Engineering Faculty at Peradeniya – both students and staff – whom SOME of us who were reading for “The Story Book Degree” knew and respected. We tended to treat the Staff with immense respect and we weren’t going to get familiar with you. Now I have listened to you on Youtube, and I know that I have much to learn from you:


          Your comments on this forum are usually brilliant, but not on THIS subject.

          I’m in Uva at the moment, but I do spend some time every month close to Colombo. I believe that you, too, live in Flower Road, and it would be nice to meet you; even nicer if it is after a re-run of this election. If we see a fair election, I’m sure that the result would be accepted by all, irrespective of result. After all you, yourself have stated that you see nothing wrong with Prof. Sam Thiagalingam.

          And then there is so much we could discuss. I know that I have a lot to learn from you, but also, there were some queries that you made of me about language acquisition which I felt emanated from a genuine willingness to learn even from a guy like me.

          My Belgian neighbour is back here, and with him you could discuss so much more.

          • 0

            Dear SM
            To me the issue was simple and straightforward.
            I have stated and restated my position clearly enough.
            If it fails to impress you– I do not mean offence –that is your problem, not mine.

            I hate trial by media, unethical leak of half truths, personal attacks on people….
            Every statement is remoulded here at will like superclay.
            Even you once interpreted my comments as made on behalf of the UoJ Council.

            That is why I said “…this is not the place for serious detailed discussion of this subject– perhaps some day, somewhere in person.”

            I repeat, I have nothing to add to what I have said on the subject. If you insist I can recap; but you know it well.

            You raised the point: “you see nothing wrong with Prof. Sam Thiagalingam”.
            Yes. To me the issue is not the person, but the process.
            I tried hard to drive home that point.
            With people obsessed with something, no reasoning works. Then follow insult, slander, misuse of information etc.
            To some it is therapeutic. If it soothes raw ends of frayed nerves it is better than using a drug.

            So, my learning continues in new, unusual ways.
            Yet, I do not change my way of thinking to please friends, family or even a majority.
            I am open to reason, but do not yield to pressure.
            There is price to pay, which I have paid it all along.

            As I said lightly on these pages on an earlier occasion: “non je ne regrette rien”

  • 9

    After reading this essay and also the conduct of the Election for the post of VC IN fEB:2017 it could be seen that the present VC-University of Jaffna has a catcher in the Council who does her dirty work.Well he is the Jonah!

  • 7

    The Jaffna University malaise is caused by the same virus found in all other Lankan universities i.e., appointments based on political considerations. This causes inbreeding – no wonder the language/religious divide is prevalent.

    Remember Rtd Major General GA Chandrasiri as Governor of NP from 2009 – 2014 was the de facto Jaffna University VC during his tenure. Lecture were monitored and white vans used as a teaching tool.

    Two decades back Jaffna university was begging for applicants but today appointments are highly sought after.

    A silver lining over recent Jaffna University appointments is surfacing of dissent. Hopefully the inbred-mindset will also change.

    Rejection of an application because it arrived a day late by post is nit-picking. Rejection of an application because it was not channeled through the employer is sloppy – that is a problem for the applicant’s employer – if at all.

  • 1

    Editor, I think you are wrong on this point. Jaffna University should in fact be praised for having a Hindu Faculty giving diplomas in Astrology. It is in fact a brilliant stroke on the part of a University seeking to establish job-. oriented courses. Diplomas in Astrology will be a great boon to unemployed graduates and to unemployed in general.

    Look at the savings in foreign exchange. Nearly all our politicians, before an election, buy up Indian Rupees, and at heavy expense troop across the Palk Strait to seek the services of astrologers in Kerala.

    All they have to do now is to go to Jaffna University and have their fortunes read there. No loss of precious foreign exchange. It would also boost tourism in the war-torn north. Mark my word, very soon the Council would pass a resolution for a Faculty of Astrology, as a fortune-telling and fortune raising project, which could go up as a major asset on the stock market. The UGC would be on all fours to pass it.

    • 3

      Surely Per Ardua ad Astra has mis-written.

      Did not know that “Jaffna University Hindu Faculty” offer “Diploma in Astrology”. If true (hope it is not) then this “Hindu Faculty” is not about Hindu philosophy.

      Hinduism is practiced in many ways. Astrology was (and still) used to exploit people. Its main purpose was (and still is) used to prop up the insidious caste system.

      Some Hindus believe in animal sacrifice – occasionally humans well. Diploma in Animal Sacrifice?

      • 1


        “Diploma in Animal Sacrifice?”

        They should offer a doctorate in how to sacrifice animals to please the Gods. As a sign of reconciliation Muslims should also be encouraged to participate.

  • 6

    What a tragic situation.

  • 1

    This is true evidence that Tamils have more problems than so called Sinhala oppression. Unity within a caste and religious fractured society is hard to come by unless forced, as done by VP.

  • 5

    Having made a fairly general comment that it would be good to have re-election. I have subsequently looked at some of the links that substantiate the claims made in this editorial.

    Very well substantiated indeed! It is very difficult for Temporary Assistant Lecturers to fight many years in the Supreme Court. There’s a Ms Ravivanthani who has been doing it, and the matter has not yet been settled.

    This is not how a country ought to be run. We, Sinhalese, have always been fond of saying that if individuals from minority communities have a grievance the courts are there for redress. That must now be considered a wry joke considering how our judicial system works.

    Before we come to that, we have what Prof. Tharmaratnam has said. It looks as though those who want to keep the candidate from Boston out would have gone to any lengths to keep him out, even if he had been allowed to make his presentation. Must we really go back to that Aesop’s fable about how the lion found reasons for eating the lamb?

    To now not consider an application because it arrived two days late, but before any of the applications were opened is just plain ridiculous.

    We want the North to be with us, and without coercion by any of us who form the majority in this country. I certainly don’t want to meddle in what happens in an area where we ought always to have behaved more circumspectly.

    Please, people of the Northern Province, ensure that some of those who are waiting for excuses to harass you, are NOT allowed to do so. Please study this editorial, and all the links provided, very carefully. This concerns the fabric of our entire nation, but it would be good for YOU to solve these problems!

    • 3

      I’ve been looking for the ten year old story centering upon a then eleven year old girl named Nethmi Lavanya Yogarajah. There was one blog which had hundreds of responses from Tamils, and from many Sinhalese who said that this girl who was denied admission to Vishaka Vidyalaya in Bambalapitiya had the Courts system for redress if she felt that there was injustice. Others, like me said differently. That link didn’t work. I give below a link to a CT article on the same incident that I haven’t as yet studied:


      Here’s another:


      The really telling article appeared in Transcurrents.

      Now, it looks as though the Jaffna University Council is saying essentially the same thing on this issue: have recourse to judicial redress. But we can clearly see that the only clothes that the Council Members have on are those new ones made for the Emperor.

  • 12

    The whole thing is hopeless.

    The three names sent to the President are of those who could not judge that they should not have been part of the discussion on excluding the candidate for the job they themselves were competing for. That is pathetic.

    Suppose they run the election again. Would that help? Would the excluded external still be willing to let his name go forward? Even if he does, and even if he is appointed, he has to work with the deans and Council. No VC can work without a good team around them. And of the seven deans, five do not understand the meaning of conflict of interest. Nor does a vocal member of Council. The excluded external now knows the level of animosity shown towards him by those he will have to lead! It will be silly of him to take the job and come here now.

    Suppose the President orders a complete re-run of the process. Would that attract a new set of good candidates? I suppose not. Because we all know that the drama so far has registered a clear message that outsiders are not welcome here.

    Hence it is just hopeless and we are doomed.

    The way out may be the appointment of an interim competent authority for a year or two and impose direct rule from the UGC to clean up our administration before starting a fresh appointment process.

    • 0

      “The excluded external now knows the level of animosity shown towards him by those he will have to lead!”

      Kindly tell me if anyone in the UoJ establishment (including the Council) uttered a hostile word about the applicant concerned?
      I saw much personal support on CT, even from some who knew little about him. The few who argued for rejection did not indulge in any attack on him.

      The issue was whether to accept a late application or not.
      There was nothing personal.

      Had the application qualified for consideration and had the applicant come within the top three, will CT be debating the President or the VC now?
      I guess….
      No I will keep you guessing

      • 9

        // Kindly tell me if anyone in the UoJ establishment (including the Council) uttered a hostile word //

        Didn’t the internal candidates take part in the discussions that decided to exclude him?

        • 2


          “Didn’t the internal candidates take part in the discussions that decided to exclude him?”

          Yes they did and even the wife of one of them was there. Maybe they were all silent?

          The point “SJ” is making is that there was no “hostile word”.

          Is there no e-code or whatever taking up conflict of interest at Council and other meetings?

        • 0

          The point is that there was no adverse comment about the late applicant.

          Kindly tell me if anyone in the UoJ establishment (including the Council) uttered a hostile word.

          • 5

            The point is, internal candidates taking part in the discussions to exclude him is an expression of hostility, not only towards him but also anyone external; from those individuals and your Council as a whole. That you did not indulge in personal attacks does not gain you any moral high ground. They were candidates for a senior leadership position and should know what “conflict of interest” means — which they clearly didn’t. The rest of Council should have had the sense to exclude the deans who were candiadates from discussing the late applicant. Agree?

          • 0

            I never claim to be holier than any.
            A chage was made: “The excluded external now knows the level of animosity shown towards him by those he will have to lead!”

            I only questioned its validity.

          • 2


            “The point is that there was no adverse comment about the late applicant.”

            Late applicant? Late application might be a better choice of words:)

            The point that many others have is that the 5 candidates and one spouse should not have been there at all even if they were silent.

            If there are no written rules on what conflict of interest is the situation should be corrected ASAP.

            Jaffna College Trustees in the USA who finance Jaffna College and Uduvil Girl’s School have demanded the Directors of the Boards of the schools to reveal their potential conflicts of interest. The Trustees even explained what a conflict of interest is.

            Can the highly educated Council members many of whom have lived abroad honestly state that they never heard of conflict of interest?

            Would a university in UK allow a similar situation?

            • 0

              Dear LW
              Thanks for the correction, reminds me of the reference to late Mr Bandaranaike (before he passed away). Mrs B was punctual.

              I can only answer for myself.
              As I said earlier, I doubt a conflict of interest in substance.

              • 1


                “I can only answer for myself.”

                I agree.

                “As I said earlier, I doubt a conflict of interest in substance.”

                Maybe true but the “gang of 6” should have been excluded. This is part of the work of the chairperson.

  • 6


    Once again I thank you for what you have done. I am impressed by the copies of the various documents that you have attached. Even better would be to publish full minutes etc instead of just some pages.

  • 6

    Dr. S. Jeyakumaran and Dr. Nesiah,

    “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.”

    Thank you.

  • 5

    The socalled “Professor” Sivasegaram is the root cause for all these problems. He should be out of that council.

  • 3

    Read this funny thing that happened at the UOJ today….

    Current VC has called a special Senate meeting and had a farewell party. Many have boosted about her achievements. She has printed all her actions using the University funds. She should be questioned for financial misappropriation. There was no agenda. She and Mihunthan have told it seems not to target them behind the back. But the very same people talked about Prof Hool in that special meeting when Prof Hool was not there. Is it can be claimed that they are contradicting their own talks. They can go for next Provincial council election.

    This lady may come with another booklet to the council meeting on 22nd of April. I am sure Sivaseekara will try to read and enjoy it. He may say that “Prof Vasanthi Arasaratnam’s period should be engraved in golden letters in the History of Jaffna University.”

    Jaya wewa Sivaseekara ! Jaya wewa !!

    • 0

      aiya saami aavoji saami narikkombirukku vaangalliya.
      kuLLanari kombe kOththup pOdu saami puLLekuttikaachum nalla puththi varum.

      Synopsis. (A tribl woman’s dance song):
      Sir please can I sell you a jackal’s tooth*.
      It may perhaps make your children more intelligent”

      * narikkombu (really jackal’s tooth) is considered to bring good fortune.

      • 0

        Siva Sekara you are confusing this nice song in a bad way. When you have been bitten by a rat? See this song in the U tube address below


        After watching write comments. God sake please attend to the next council and keep your mouth shut. Next VC will not entertain you. Next time you better come in Saree & blouse and see….!!! I will teach you some new trick for you to become popular with new VC as well.

        • 0

          Thank you.
          I have watched it many times over. I saw the movie as a child 65 years ago.
          More than nice it was very political. I wonder if you noticed.

          The lines addressed the unjust and the greedy; I adopted them for the intellectually barren who lack in straight thinking and write only to offend.

        • 0

          half-man half-cat
          BTW, I see that you have strong transvestite tendencies.
          As a socially liberal thinker, I am defensive towards Thirunangais, eunuchs and all manner of alternate sexual identities.

          I will like to see you in your preferred attire. Others may too. Get hold of Editor CT and arrange for an album.

  • 2

    Prof Sivasegaram (SJ) pretended to be decent man and abide by rules. But his conduct in the council is shameful. He shouts and interrupts others. Just a simple question, whether he did not feel to question the Registrar or the VC why they raised the issue with the UGC of applying through the head when it is obvious that it is applicable only for people applying within Sri Lanka? What is the point in having autonomy when these wise men can’t understand the ridiculous nature of the question. What we understand is that the Mechanical Engineering in Peradeniya now changed a lot after Prof . Sivasegaram and the like minded people retired and left and culture had changed for the better .
    Why he did not raise the issue of the advertisement continues to insist on sending Registered post, when it is so obvious it is not relevant and meaningful when the world moved very far and there are people from abroad also would like to apply. What I am trying to point out, if he is genuinely concerned about the JU and its well being, his motive will be to see what went wrong and what type obstacles are in place which need to removed to encourage people to come and serve. He did not utter a word on these issues. Instead, he went on to defend the VC and others who continued to show total disregards for quality and excellence but promoted culture of subservient. After all these exposure, he has the audacity to claim that he was impressed with the achievement of the JC!! Now we know what a shameful joker he is. How come all the Unions JUTA, JUSTA, JUSU and JUEU did not see the improvement and called for the Council to include Dr. Thiyagalingam’s application. They do not know his potential or capacity but so desperate to have some one from outside a chance to turn the trend which is driving the University to doom. Prof. Sivasegaram has more wisdom than those who work and studies their!!! What a peculiar logic!!
    At last his revolutionary pretensions exposed to the core. Of course nothing much change unless a competent authority was appointed but he we cannot expect that to happen when all the Universities are going down the drain. But there are some decent councilors who need to think and reevaluate their role and not to allow the VC and Sivasegaram to bully them and take a stand instead begging the UGC and AG to give verdict. Use the autonomy to do the right thing not to build an unhealthier culture.

    • 1

      I feel sorry for you.
      Can I find some remedy for you? I know people who help.

  • 2

    Sad state of affairs. Should they not get rid of this under qualified woman to is VC before she does more damage?

  • 1

    If this university is offering a degree in astrology, then definitely the standard has declined. There is no scientific or logical basis for teaching such a subject. Furthermore, since the university is funded by taxpayers, it is a waste of their tax moneys, since the astrology “graduate” does not perform a useful function which generates revenue for society.

    Religious or class/ethnic background should not be a basis for hiring, although there should be some extra effort taken to hire women. As noted in the article, the primary strength of an applicant is directly proportional to the quantity of published works in peer-reviewed academic journals, particularly those journals which are prestigious. This is the universal standard.

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    The VC-Sivasegaram Script for misdirecting the Discussion on the UGC’s response (See Link)

    Having read out the UGC’s fairly innocuous advice, the VC followed with a triviality from the E-code that a foreigner appointed as VC would need to have his stay regularised by the Minister.

    What was to be Sivasegaram’s entrée was spoilt by Prof. Tharmaratnam taking the floor to explain the Postal Rule and the correctness of entertaining Thiagalingam’s application. Sivasegaram kept interrupting Prof. Tharmaratnam despite entreaties from councillors to let him speak.

    Sivasegaram finally made his debut as a sinner seeking forgiveness for opening the late application of Thiagalingam (though he was not the chairman of the evaluation committee).

    The script was again violated when Jeyakumaran reminded the Council about the postal rule. The VC poured more confusion by confounding career applications with tenders for goods and services and the University having to face lots of consequences for deviation from the E-code.

    Sivasegaram immediately followed with the fiction of ‘the ruling of the UGC’, and in succession with the inclusion of Thiagalingam’s name as ‘illegal and the Council will get into trouble’ and the ‘ruling’ of the UGC as based on the E-code. The E-code is only a guideline.

    Enough confusion had been created, and several councillors began to believe that to include Prof. Thiyagalingam would be to defy the UGC’s directive. They included Mano Sekaram (‘overrule the UGC ruling’), Mr. Kanagasabapathy, Dr. Mangaleswaran, Dr. Atputharajah and Prof. (Mrs.) Ramesh who endorsed Sivasegaram. According to some senior council members, the network got busy warning external council members that the UGC would sack them if they defied the UGC and accept Thiagalingam’s candidacy.

    In comparison to the servility of internal council members (deans, rectors etc.), external members Aru Thirumurugan and Rangarajah showed greater independence.

    • 0

      So there is at last a great leader in the Council.

      I think you have an excellent career as antiscience fiction writer.
      Best wishes.

      • 3

        I am shocked that this professor Sivasegaram who should be an example to our students is using such vocabulary in this public forum. He is unfit to be a teacher.

        • 1

          cheaTer (that is dyslexia)

          I had in mind foulplay (the opposite of fairplay).

          What word did you have in mind?

          Chee! You have a dirty dirty mind!

    • 1


      “Sivasegaram immediately followed with the fiction of ‘the ruling of the UGC’, and in succession with the inclusion of Thiagalingam’s name as ‘illegal and the Council will get into trouble’ and the ‘ruling’ of the UGC as based on the E-code.”

      I thank you for the details but would like to see evidence to support them. I assume that the events you describe have not been included in the minutes since there is no link. Correct?

      I reiterate that if most of the Council members did not understand or even read the letter from the UGC they are in the wrong place.

      • 0

        Lone Wolf,

        See the link just after UGC Secretary Dr. Priyantha Premakumara said in reply (see the attachment here*) for

        See footnote to the main article:”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.”

        You will see it all there

        • 0


          “You will see it all there.”

          Thank you for the relevant pages of the minutes.

          The minutes indeed confirm the information provided here in a comment by Fairplay. I was happy to see that so many members (more than I expected!) were active and surprised that so many (maybe even most of them?) apparently had nothing to say or were absent.

          More later.

      • 0

        To call something fiction one has to be absolutely certain of the facts.

        Fairplay is not an appropriate pseudonym it looks.

        • 1


          The Stooger of VC of UoJ Vasanti

  • 1

    Prof.Velnampy is a next Vice Chancellor

  • 0

    If it is so…. Again University is going to be in dark ages. “Saturn” is going to make bad iron works all around the University of Jaffna. Council made a big blunder in not choosing Dr.Raviraj in the second election. He would have been a better choice than this Iron Man…….

  • 0


    Very,Very unfair comment mate.SJ/Sekera/Sivasekaram maybe this and that.But please dont hit below the belt.
    A very gifted man;But I AM AFRAID THAT HE HAS BURNT HIS BOAT!

  • 0

    University in a Legal Pickle over VC Election

    The Council meeting on 25th Feb decided to have the VC’s election on 26th Feb and then to seek the AG’s opinion on thelegal objections raised by Prof Tharmaratnam to having the election without the 6th candidate, Prof. Thiagalingam https://www.colombotelegraph.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/full-discussion.pdf

    What was not recorded in the minutes was that the Council would send Tharmaratnam’s opinion to the AG. It was recorded instead to hold a special meeting on obtaining the AG’s opinion.

    In holding the election, the Council decided to ignore the legal position of Prof. Tharmaratnam citing Justice Basnayake: ‘where a letter fully and particularly directed to a person at his usual place of residence, is proved to have been put into the post office, this is equivalent to proof of a delivery onto the hands of that person’ (https://www.colombotelegraph.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/A.pdf )

    The Special Meeting mentioned was held on 3rd April, when as explained in the report it would normally have become irrelevant. The minutes for the meeting of 3rd April that would be discussed by the Council on 22nd April, leads with:

    Dr. S. Sivasegaram stated that the Council cannot send opinions of individual council members but collective resolutions (sic) opinion to seek any clarification. He further stated that any document going out of the Council should be approved by the Council. He added that any communication from individual member/s deviating from common decision (sic) should be taken up by the particular member/s with AGD if they wish so but not by the Council as its decision.

    It would have been simple enough for the VC to seek the AG’s opinion saying it was voiced by a member of the Council, but was probably warned that had the AG agreed, she would have been forced to cancel the election. (contd)

  • 0

    The rank absurdity of Sivasegaram’s statement is striking. He insists Tharmaratnam’s opinion cannot go to the AG as an opinion ‘approved’ by the Council; for then the Council should not have had the election. The only representation they could have made to the AG is their legal reason, if they could find one, for acting with disregard for Tharmararnam and Justice Basnayake. No one in the Council, not even Sivasegaram, was competent to write such an opinion.

    One member who could have written an opinion is Miss. Abimannasingham PC. The problem of Prof. Thiagalingam’s candidacy was put to her by the Vice Chancellor on 28th February and to this time she has not given a written legal opinion. She was present at the council meeting on 3rd April, but there is no record of her contributing to the discussion.

    The fact is that many members of the Council agreed with Tharmaratnam’s opinion on the applicability of the Postal Rule, but eventually no one stood up with him other than Jeyakumaran and Nesiah. They had been successfully intimidated by the VC and Sivasegaram drumming it into them about the UGC’s supposed directive to drop Thiagalingam. They forgot that the UGC is not the law, but it was rather their responsibility to use their faculties and determine the law.

    The VC’s term ends on 22nd April. The legacy she leaves behind is a university in a state of anarchy, where disregard for rules has become the norm. As one council member put it, ‘The minutes are routinely doctored, but we cannot challenge everything and put it to the vote where the VC can depend on the internal (academic) members.’ Ridiculous as it is, Sivasegaram’s statement will be routinely passed as one with which the Council concurred.

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