24 June, 2019

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Last Night Dinner At SB’s Residence: MR To Appoint UGC Chairperson’s Husband As The VC Of University Of Colombo

The government seems to be heading for a yet another confrontation with university academics, this time over the highly controversial appointment of the Vice Chancellor (VC)  of University of Colombo.  It is reported that the President Mahinda Rajapaksa, under pressure within the family,  is yet again considering appointing Dr. Kumara Hirimburegama, as the VC. According to the sources from the pro government SLFP university teachers’ union, academics of all the faculties of Colombo University will join in trade union action against what they consider a blatant political interference in universality autonomy by appointing a lesser qualified applicant for the post ignoring the most qualified person among the candidates.  Moreover, academics have pointed out that Dr. Kumara Hirimburegama being the husband of Prof. Kshanika Hirimburegama, the Chairperson, University Grants Commission (UGC), in the event of his appointment to the post, a serious conflict of interest will emerge given the UGC Chairperson’s ability to use her official authority to interfere in the running the affairs of the University of Colombo.

Mahinda Rajapaksa

These facts have been revealed consequent to a dinner meeting hosted by  the Minister of Higher Education, S.B. Dissanayake at his residence in the evening of May 22nd. It is reported that the dinner had been organized under the President’s directive with the objective of reconciling the two warring pro-government sections within the University of Colombo which have fiercely lobbied the President to appoint the candidate of their choice, namely either Dr. Kumara Hirimburegama or Dr. Prathibha Mahanamahewa.

While Prof. Kshanika Hirimburegama and her husband had represented their faction at the dinner, Prof.  Premakumara de Silva, the President of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party teachers’ union and the Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC), Student Affairs, University of Colombo had   lead the pro- Mahanamahewa faction with a few more members of the SLFP teachers union in attendance. Reportedly, the two factions had traded serious accusations against each other, the arguments being tense and hostile at times. It is reported that the discussion ended without reaching a point of reconciliation. While Prof.  Premakumara de Silva had threatened to resign from the post of DVC, members of the SLFP teachers’ union had pointed out that the above proposed appointment will lead to the strengthening of the position of FUTA yet again as the FUTA is bound to launch a trade union action over this appointment and that the SLFP Teachers’ Union would not stand in its way. It is this same SLFP teachers’ union that campaigned earlier to solicit the support of the Defense Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa to get Dr. Mahanamahewa appointed to the post in vain.

The feud between the Hirimburegama faction and the SLFP University Teachers’’ Union

According to our sources, Prof. Premakumara de Silva had been initially a loyalist of Prof. Kshanika Hirimburegama when she was the Vice Chancellor, and both together were actively involved in undermining the FUTA strike. However, later Prof. Hirimburegama fell out with Prof. Premakumara de Silva and resisted the proposal of the Minister of Higher Education to appoint Prof. Premakumara de Silva as the DVC. However, the Minster’s authority finally prevailed upon and Prof. de Silva was appointed as the DVC by Prof. Kshanika Hirimburegama on the eve of leaving the VC post to take up the post of Chairperson, UGC. With the SLFP  university teachers’ union putting their full weight behind the candidacy of Dr. Mahanamahewa for the post of VC, the animosity between the Hirimburegama faction and the SLFP  university teachers’ union got intensified and hence the effort on the part of the government to reconcile the two parties before appointing  Dr. Kumara Hirimburegama as the VC. However this effort is said to have failed and now the SLFP university teachers’ union is said to be organizing itself to put their full weight behind the candidacy of Professor Lakshman Dissanayake for the post of VC and appeal to the President not to appoint Dr. Hirimburegama as it will lead to a situation where the academics will overwhelmingly rise up against that decision thus disrupting the life of the university.

Minister Dissanayake had revealed to the SLFP university teachers’ union that the President’s decision to appoint Dr. Kumara Hirimburegama is taken despite his objections to such a decision. The Minister had further added that while his first choice would be Senior Professor Lakshman Dissanayake, if the latter is to be sidelined  he would still prefer Dr. Mahanamaheava to Dr. Hirimburegama.

Playing  the card  of FUTA bogey and misleading the President

It has also been revealed that in the effort to get Dr. Kumara Hirimburegama appointed for the post, capitalizing on the President’s well known antipathy to the FUTA, the President has been purposely mislead by an interested party through a well planned misinformation and disinformation campaign.  The highlight of this has been portraying Professor Lakshman Dissanayake as a FUTA activist or a Fonseka loyalist. To this effect, fraudulently produced photographs using photo-shop technology, combining photos of  Professor Lakshman Dissanayaka from other occasions with those from FUTA general activities and Sarath Fonseka’s election campaign are said to have been submitted to the President.

Academics point out that the President who was formerly a trade unionist himself and the Minister of Labour should not consider as if it is crime to be a member of FUTA, the largest Union of the university academics representing thousands of members many of whom have supported to bring the Rajapaksa regime to power on two occasions.  With its very long history FUTA has been the sole representative of the entire university community in the country. Many members of the SLFP university teacher’s union themselves are members of FUTA affiliated sister unions. It is imperative that all self-respecting university academics should be members of FUTA and as such the FUTA is not an anti-government union.

Academics also point out that on the other hand Professor Lakshman Dissanayake is only a general member of  FUTA affiliated sister union of the Faculty of Arts, like almost all of the academics at the Faculty including many senior academics. It has also been pointed out that Professor Lakshman Dissanayake was not even in the country during the campaign of Sarath Fonseka of which Dr. Prathibha Mahanamahewa was an active campaigner. Another fraudulent argument put forward by the Hirimburegama faction is that Professor Lakshman Dissanayake has time to serve only one term as the Vice Chancellor if he is appointed to the post and because of that he will play havoc as the Vice Chancellor. It is reported that this information regarding the remaining period of service is also totally false and has been fabricated  to discredit the candidacy of Professor Lakshman Dissanayake. Academics are surprised that such blatant fabrication of lies have been carried out by persons who are holding high offices with a view to purposely mislead the President.

Our sources report that academics at the University of Colombo are closely watching the situation and they earnestly hope that the government would not embark on the war path with the university academics by going ahead with the appointment of a lesser qualified person to the post of Vice Chancellor of this  leading university of the country or subjecting it to the family rule

On an earlier occasion Colombo Telegraph reported how the candidates for the post of VC  fared at the voting by the Governing Council of the University of Colombo. Of the three candidates, Dr. Kumara Hirimburegama, reportedly a grade II senior lecturer got 13 votes as against the 15 votes earned by the candidate with the highest votes, namely, presently Senior Professor  Lakshman Dissanayake

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Latest comments

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    what happens if an idiot sits on the VC’s chair.

    VC post is like a governor, I suppose, just ceremonial – white elephants or fat pigs doing nothing, at least in Sri Lanka.

    Academics are in the old boys club. What they have to the upliftment of the university when they were appointed ? nothing.

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      I wish our academics would reach the efficiencies of Europeans when it goes for fulfilling their daily agendas. This part of the Europe (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), it is not easy to get on within the teams if you are not capable of doing your best, as assigned to you. Why the lankans academics cant reach the levels yet – not comprehensible.

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      To answer your question “what happens if an idiot sits on the VC’s chair”

      It ll be no difference what we are compelled to see under the MR administration. So that means people are now used to bend their heads and just stay indifferent.

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    Dear friends,
    Dont be surprised when this same Melagoda appointed as the next vc of your university. Shanika is promoting her as the next heir. Both ladies are the curse to your university.

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    All these female rest house lecturer positions are 100% correct. Take Ranjith bandara he is a rapist. But well protected and well lookafter. Somebody exposede Sri Lankan Professors and how lw level people they are. No PhDs and no publications…etc. Mahinda appoint Mervin next time as Education Minister. These Profs worship him as well. What low level Sri Lankan academics. Colombo University Arts faculty family Dept and its corruptive emiritus (Grand father) destroyed your whole University. We soon expose his all wrong doings and how he recurited all lecturers through out door connections.

    • 0
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      What about Kumara Hiriburegama

      • 0
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        Kumara’s Longest [Edited out]

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      We are all aware of his appointments, since he himself appoint that Mohan Peris (MP) replacing Dr. SB as the country^s CJ. No matter any crime investigations related to MP are being investigated, just to revenge the lady- for personal grudge/attack.. I really dont why the masses in the country still believe that MR is the so called guide for the nation, have no idea – did not read the results of any recently held opinion polls.

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    As far as I know Dr. Anis from your Arts faculty has been maintaining a good relationship with UGC chairwoman Prof. Kshanika Hirimpuregama. But we heard that he and the UGC chairwoman had a very heated argument at SB’s residence before the dinner. Was it true? Was it a pre-planned drama by both academics or was it a true nature of argument? Don’t say that these type of things are natural not only in Sri Lankan politics but also natural in the university system of this country. If it was a real argument, I think that the academics those who are supporting the genuine cause of this issue must appreciate such bold and straightforward academics.

  • 0
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    MR appointed NEXT Shirani Bandaranayake. So Pl Kumara Hiriburegama Be careful. You might go to Jail in Next couple of years

  • 0
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    What a pathetic situation to appoint this IDIOT who is a well know for [Edited out]

  • 0
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    Hey Dr. Nirmal (FUTA Chairman) Where are you? We want to see your leadership or Get [Edited out]

  • 0
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    What a horrible situation. Basil Rajapaksha, Gotabaya Rajapaksha, Lalith Weerathunga, Namal Rajapaksha, Gamini Senarath, FUTA, Mr. Nihal Hewage, Ajitha along with Premakumara and SLFP Teachers association and all Ministers including SB dissanayake TOTALLY against this appointment.

    But MR decided to appoint this [Edited out]

    May be MR is thinking to kill two birds with one stone

    God bless

    • 0
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      This is how this [Edited out] Adambara Thatha looking to get more attention. This is nothing but another Publicity stunt to divert peoples attention from the real economic difficulties they face.

      Pis…u pak….a commedy master looking to get some cheap publicity by appointing an outcast to show his fake big head. Nothing else.

      Very soon this condom theory maha eka will bring a lawsuit against Kumara Hirimburegama over some other issue.

      Wait and see how this Threesome marriage going to work.

  • 0
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    Never expect proper appointments from a fraudulently elected President. It was General Fonseka who was elected as the President which was taken away from him by deceiving the public. All sectors of the country is now suffering due to this.

  • 0
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    Hoooo Hooooo Hoooo. FUTA and Sri Lankan low level fake Professors. Mahinda needs more to these fake jokers. Appoint Mervin as Minister. Already Kalaniya low level Lecturers worshipping to him. You see the countries these lecturers go to do PhD. Malaysia any body apply they admit to Phd even without first degree Malaysian Universities get people to PhD and without any training give PhD. Hooo Hoooo. Mahinda recheck qualifications of Sri Lankan jokers (Professors. Sudan and Ethiopia better than this.

  • 0
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    If Our president take a decision,it always correct.No one’s wants to worry about that###

  • 0
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    it wiil be help to#119 happen good thing..

  • 0
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    if our president take a decision ,It’s Always correct .There is no one’s to worry about that.

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    The decisions that were adopted at the special general meeting of Colombo University Federation of Teachers’ Associations (CUFTA), held on May 27th, 2013.
    ——————

    The members of the CUFTA unanimously decided that the appointment Dr. K. Hirimburegama as the Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo is unacceptable as:

    That the appointment was not based on merit as the most suitable candidate has been overlooked.
    The credentials of the appointed candidate is not suitable to hold the prestigious position of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo, the oldest and the most well known University in Sri Lanka.
    The question of autonomy as the appointed candidate happens to be the husband of the UGC Chairperson.

    Following decisions were made at this emergency meeting and unanimously endorsed by the members at present:

    Not to accept or acknowledge the appointment of Dr. K. Hirimburegama as the Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo and to refrain from participating in any official functions he attends.
    It was decided to give him two weeks’ time period to step down. Depending on the outcome at the end of this two week period, the next course of action will be decided at another SGM.
    To write to Dr. K. Hirimburegama informing the decision of the union.
    Canvass among non-union members to make them aware of the decision taken by CUFTA.
    Draft a statement and distribute it among all the academic members of the University of Colombo.
    Draft a petition to His Excellency the President signed by the members of the Academic staff of the University of Colombo stating that we are not prepared to accept Dr. K. Hirimburegama as the vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo
    Boycott the Senate meeting on the 29th May 2013 and canvass the members of the Medical Faculty to refrain them from attending the Senate meeting.
    Hold a discussion with all the Deans and head of the Departments of the University of Colombo to create awareness among them regarding the CUFTA’s stand.
    Issue a press statement regarding the position of CUFTA on this matter

    CUFTA Executive Committee.

  • 0
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    We are sorry, the comment language is English – CT

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    C’bo Uni. teachers to strike if new VC doesn’t quit
    May 27, 2013, 10:36 pm

    The Colombo University Teachers’ Association (CUTA) yesterday threatened to launch an all-out strike if the newly appointed Vice Chancellor does not step down from the post within two weeks, or if President Mahinda Rajapaksa does not justify his appointment.

    CUTA committee member and President of the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri told The Island that the teachers were opposed to the new VC, Dr. Wijaya Kumara Hirimburegama, claiming that the appointment was politically motivated and unethical as his wife was serving as the Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC).

    “We decided, at yesterday’s meeting, to boycott all meetings and communication with the new VC,” Dr. Dewasiri said adding that they would not accept memos or letters from the newly appointed VC.

    He said that three academics, including Dean of the Kothelawala Defence Univeristy’s Law Faculty Dr. Prathiba Mahanamahewa, former Arts Faculty Dean Prof. Lakshman Dissanayake and Science Faculty’s Dr. Wijaya Kumara Hirimburegama applied for the post, but Prof. Lakshman Dissanayake obtained the majority of votes at the Council meeting.

    The three names were sent to the President through the UGC, Dr. Dewasiri said.

    “Our association believes that Prof. Lakshman Dissanayake is the most qualified person to handle the post,” Dr. Dewasiri said.

    The senior academic said that the CUTA will inform President Rajapaksa of their decision and they would go for an all out strike if President does not provide a solution.

    The Colombo University announced yesterday that Dr. Wijaya Kumara Hirimburegama was appointed as the new Vice Chancellor of the Colombo University by President Mahinda Rajapaksa with immediate effect.

    island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=80021

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