Higher Education minister Lakshman Kiriella has justified his attempts to politically interfere with the Kelaniya University citing that the letter sent by him instructed the head of the political science department to grant the lecture position ‘only after checking the candidate’s relevant credentials.’
The statement also said, “it’s no secret that certain members belonging to the hierarchy of universities went to the extent of even taking part in television debates in their attempt to defeat Maithripala Sirisena. But, despite engaging in politics, steps were not taken to remove them from their positions. If they acted in accordance to their conscience, they should have ideally resigned from their positions themselves. Instead, they sought sympathy from the ‘yahapalana’ government, but engage in conspiring and also releasing letters sent by the minister to the media.”
Meanwhile, former President of the Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA) Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri said that interpreting article 19 of the university act, which reads as ‘The Minister shall be responsible for the general direction of university education and the administration of this Act,’ was completely hilarious.
“If you interpret it in the way the minister has interpreted it, then the minister is capable of anything. This justification is even more dangerous than the letter itself,” Dewasiri added.
The Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA), yesterday had raised concerns over President Maithripala Sirisena’s good governance policy, after Higher Education Minister Lakshman Kiriella tried to influence his way to get a supporter appointed as a lecturer to the Kelaniya University.
The association expressed disappointment to the President saying that the Minister’s letter was an indication that the current government was reinforcing political interference in the university’s system.
“We would like to bring to your attention to the fact that Minister Kiriella previously attempted to appoint a member to the Council of the University of Kelaniya. His conduct as the minister in charge of higher education is condemned as it is both unethical and irresponsible,” the letter stated.
FUTA while condemning the minister’s action as a political interference to the national university system, called on President Sirisena for an assurance that political interference of such would not take place in future.