22 May, 2024


Minister Kiriella Must Know A Thing Or Two

By Shyamon Jayasinghe

Shyamon Jayasinghe

Shyamon Jayasinghe

According to Derana (3/3/16), Higher Education Minister Lakshman Kiriella had been nasty and uncouth to a journalist who questioned him with regard to his controversial order to Head of the political science department at the Kelaniya University to appoint a lecturer to the University. The report states that the Minister had claimed he had the authority to direct the VC on a matter like this. He had castigated the journo in “unprintable language” and reminded him that the journo is simply a guy with a pen in his hand.

I am hoping the Derana report isn’t correct because I am one those who wrote relentlessly against the abuses of the Rajapaksa regime. January 8th was a great day of relief to writers like us,too. Everybody who has read the Colombo Telegraph columns knows my stand on this.

There are many things dead wrong about the Minister’s alleged behaviour. Bravo to FUTA for having put its foot forward and cried foul when Kiriella gave the direction. Lakshman Kiriella must know that the kind of order and direction he can give the University Board has necessarily to be restricted to general policy matters touching on government policy. He has no right to give directions relevant to the day-to-day running of Universities. If he doesn’t know this he should resign and hand over his portfolio to someone more intelligent. Kiriella should ask himself a test question: If the Minister can give directions regarding an administrative act then what is the whole purpose of University autonomy? Universities all over the world get this autonomy on a platter. Every University has its own culture. Universities are esteemed and dignified places of learning and research.

Lakshman KiriellaKiriella also states that the person he had recommended was “qualified.” Let us accept that for the moment. But what about other potential candidates for such a position? If they are far more qualified what should a University do? And what is the plight of the more qualified candidate who was rejected? This is far far away from Yahapalanaya. It is very close to the Marapalanaya, which the people rejected at the polls twice in succession.

One of the roots of Marapalanaya was the politician’s feeling of proprietorship of all in his jurisdiction. In that political culture the Minister virtually own the bodies and souls of employees under his Ministry. The expression “my car; my petrol”! explains that terribly false and ruinous belief. It is hoped that the President and Prime Minister will instill right political values among their Ministers and it seems Kiriella needs a big dose of that lesson.

The massive scale of abuse and corruption of the former regime partly stemmed from such an ingrained value among uneducated and ignorant Ministers. These politicos have travelled so many times to Western modern countries and they should have observed the superior political culture in such countries. In Australia, a Minister will be hooted out by students and berated by staff if he were to give directions like what Kiriella did. Universities and other autonomous bodies take pride in their independence. This helps them to run the institutions without the dysfunctional distortions that result from politicisation. Quality staff is produced and quality students are the general outcome in Universities in this part of the world.

This episode is a great demonstration of how staff and trade unions can stand up to protect their responsibilities. Trade unions can play a constructive role in preserving their institutions. Civil society in general must play a big role in preventing abuse of those in power who think that they are powerful mandarins because they have received one of 110 portfolios.

I refrain from elaborating on the filth allegedly used by the Minister because I like to see no evil. I only fear for Yahapalanaya if there are more episodes like this. The new order will strangely resemble the old.

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Latest comments

  • 9

    Dear Shyamon,

    The root cause of Kiriella’s action runs much deeper and it is systemic in our country. I would name this root cause as “f**king fingers of politician are everywhere”. This was the root cause why “independent commissions” were demanded with the need to ridding unwanted political interference in governing some critical administrative arms that facilitate the governance, law and order (Police Commission; Election Commission etc.,). Kiriella is a decent politician among the lot (people like S.B. would have easily taken a bribe of a few thousands to issue a letter like that), yet Kiriella also has come down to real moronic level by trying to interfere day-to-day functioning of university, which is the business of senate and the academics. The real unfortunate outcome is that Kiriella not only does not believe his action is super moronic, but he justified his action and asked the journalist who queried about the issue to read the “University Ordinance” (or something to that effect). This is what the politicians tell each other in the Cabinet or in their gathering. The present crop of the politicians simply asks in bewilderment: “If I cannot give employment to my supports in my ministry, why the heck we obtain the political power! Who the heck I will support with my power if not the supporters who ran my election campaign!” I have heard this sentiment expressed openly in TV debates and other public fora. Our moronic, harebrained, un or poorly educated, dime a dozen, cheap, lack luster politicians cannot understand the true meaning of “yahapalana”. Politicians who are described with all the above qualifiers think that their major role is to find ways to return the favours for their supporters or kith and kin. They simply do not know policy or a broader vision that can create millions of job! One of our octogenarian prime ministers read through the same speech twice in a row (two copies of same speech were in the folder given to him). This is the caliber of our politicians. They could not contribute to a discussion of such policy or a broader vision. They could not understand by interfering in to the day-to-day functioning of any institution or government department is the surest way of killing it. Policy direction versus day-today function is two different things. “F**king fingers of politician are everywhere” and this is very systemic in the thinking of or politicians and I feel really sorry for the country.

    • 5

      Thanks, Shyamon Jayasinghe for voicing the sentiments that I myself tried, with less patience, to voice a few days ago. I received some flack for doing so.

      Thanks even more to “Myth Buster” for having put Kiriella’s behaviour into its proper context. I see six responses so far, and all of them are valid, even that of “confu tao”, who I fear expects rather too much from the system. You see, get rid of Kiriella, and we get a worse in his place.

      How many, even of those in the University system of Sri Lanka today are likely to take the time to analyse the problems outlined by Amarasiri. Justice and Fairplay, as usual, has also been very rational. The comments of “BBS Rep” are also constructive. Maithri is a fine man, but he, too, has had to compromise in ways that are totally unacceptable.

      Some people got mad at me when I agreed with what “Plato” had said, in response to an earlier account of what Kiriella had said (which account included a recording of the shocking telephone conversation) about this being “a storm in a teacup”; I agreed because I know well enough that this is the way so much of the “day-to-day functioning” of life in Sri Lanka is. We have to change the system. In the process can we get Kiriella to change? I don’t know; he’s rather an old man, isn’t he?

      Well, he’d better change the way he responds when valid questions are asked, and Amarasiri has outlined the way in which Kiriella ought to assess himself. If LK cannot change, yes, it is time he thought of retirement!

  • 6

    Shyamon Jayasinghe

    “There are many things dead wrong about the Minister’s alleged behaviour. Bravo to FUTA for having put its foot forward and cried foul when Kiriella gave the direction. Lakshman Kiriella must know that the kind of order and direction he can give the University Board has necessarily to be restricted to general policy matters touching on government policy. He has no right to give directions relevant to the day-to-day running of Universities. “

    “If he doesn’t know this he should resign and hand over his portfolio to someone more intelligent. “

    Is it a slip of the tongue issue or an Intelligence Issue? How can we know? Let’s test him, give him a fair chance to explain. He should know.

    1. Intelligence test

    2. GMAT Test. Apparently this test tests for critical thinking and analytical skills.

    Graduate Management Admission Test


    The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT (/ˈdʒiːmæt/ (jee-mat))) is a computer adaptive test (CAT) intended to assess certain analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to a graduate management program, such as an MBA. The GMAT does not measure business knowledge or skill, nor does it measure intelligence.[4] According to the test owning company, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the GMAT assesses analytical writing and problem-solving abilities, while also addressing data sufficiency, logic, and critical reasoning skills that it believes to be vital to real-world business and management success. On June 5, 2012, GMAC introduced an integrated reasoning section to the exam that is designed to measure a test taker’s ability to evaluate data presented in new formats and multiple sources.

    Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA)
    The AWA consists of one 30-minute writing task—analysis of an argument. It is important to be able to analyze the reasoning behind a given argument and write a critique of that argument. The essay will be given two independent ratings and these ratings are averaged together to determine the test taker’s AWA score. One rating is given by a computerized reading evaluation and another is given by a person at GMAC who will read and score the essay themselves without knowledge of what the computerized score was. The automated essay-scoring engine is an electronic system that evaluates more than 50 structural and linguistic features, including organization of ideas, syntactic variety, and topical analysis. If the two ratings differ by more than one point, another evaluation by an expert reader is required to resolve the discrepancy and determine the final score.

    Integrated reasoning

    Integrated Reasoning (IR) is a relatively new section (introduced in June 2012) designed to measure a test taker’s ability to evaluate data presented in multiple formats from multiple sources. The skills being tested by the integrated reasoning section were identified in a survey of 740 management faculty worldwide as important for today’s incoming students.[15] The integrated reasoning section consists of 12 questions (which often consist of multiple parts themselves) in four different formats: graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, table analysis, and multi-source reasoning. Integrated reasoning scores range from 1-8. Like the Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA), this section is scored separately from the quantitative and verbal section. Performance on the IR and AWA sections do not contribute to the total GMAT score.

    The integrated reasoning section includes four question types: table analysis, graphics interpretation, multi-source reasoning, and two-part analysis.[15] In the table analysis section, test takers are presented with a sortable table of information, similar to a spreadsheet, which has to be analyzed. Each question will have several statements with opposite-answer options (e.g., true/false, yes/no), and test takers click on the correct option. Graphics interpretation questions ask test takers to interpret a graph or graphical image. Each question has fill-in-the-blank statements with pull-down menus; test takers must choose the options that make the statements accurate. Multi-source reasoning questions are accompanied by two to three sources of information presented on tabbed pages. Test takers click on the tabs and examine all the relevant information, which may be a combination of text, charts, and tables to answer either traditional multiple-choice or opposite-answer (e.g., yes/no, true/false) questions. Two-part analysis questions involve two components for a solution. Possible answers are given in a table format with a column for each component and rows with possible options. Test takers have to choose one response per column.

  • 6

    Hello Shyamon,

    Long time no see. Good to see you back. The country needs your kind urgently.

    You say, “I only fear for Yahapalanaya if there are more episodes like this. The new order will strangely resemble the old.”

    Perhaps you have not been watching the changing political climate in Sri Lanka since the heady days of toppling our so called “marapalanaya”. It all started with My3 appointing his brother to the very lucrative job as head of Sri Lanka Telecom. So many underhand deals have been done since then.

    My3 stacked his mega cabinet with known unelected rogues from the ‘Marapalanaya’ mob. Our friend Nagananda is doing his best to expose this evil practice called the ‘National List’ appointments.

    The latest is Ranil is trying to muzzle the media.

    Months ago I renamed ‘yahapalanaya’ ‘yakapalanaya’. Someone even more aptly named My3’s government as ‘yamapalanaya’.

    MR and his mafia are waiting behind the side screens. They are already sharpening their knives.

    Coming colours no good.

  • 5

    Shyamon, well written article and could not agree more with what you say. This guy is certainly not fit to carry the mantle of Education minister. It is obvious that he lacks education if he thinks he has the right to make appointments to the university. This is a clear example of political interference in the running of the university. It is a sad reflection on his interpretation of the University Act for political expediency. If he has an iota of integrity and decency remaining in his bowels he should resign and disappear from the political scene. The country does not need such imbeciles at this critical stage of developments. He should also be taught the basic ethical and integrity tenets relating to conflict of interest, distortion of the truth, deception and undue influence and abuse of authority.

  • 7

    Essentially this man Kiriella comes across as uncouth, ill-educated, and unregulated. He sounds much like a snob would do, in medieval times. Wonder if ever he had an education and if so, from which school has that been? He certainly is no decoration to his old school, whatever that worthy institution may be.

    We have come a long way since those dark medieval times of the snobs. Along the way we have put down various thugs and bullies – including that prince among them in the very recent past. Therefore it can be said in fairness to us – THE PUBLIC – that we aren’t exactly in the mood to tolerate any up- and-coming clones of the previous strong men in whatever ugly shape they may come.

    What must be understood is that we are a democratic country where the Ministers are the SERVANTS of the public. This Kiriella outburst is offensive, uncouth, totally devoid of style, finesse, or polish. It is in fact plain bilge and it hurts the sensibilities of the people of this country that such a man sits as the Minister in Charge of Higher Education.


    • 5

      Having said all of above, I truly admire the patience and the upbringing of the man who did the interview. He showed a lot of education.

      I think President Sirisena is the most cultured (and therefore the most “educated” man of this government. As such, he needs to call a halt to this carnage now beginning to happen far too regularly for comfort. He must know, there are two ways to lose a football match: (1). The opposition mauls you over
      (2). You kick into your own goal.

      This Yahapalana government is busy doing the latter.

    • 1

      Justice & Fairplay

      “Essentially this man Kiriella comes across as uncouth, ill-educated, and unregulated.”

      Let’s sponsor a bill that says:

      1. All MPs, must take an IQ test.

      2. All Ministers must take the IQ Test as well as the GMAT Test.

      People need to know that the MPs and Ministers have basic intelligence and basic common sense to sort through complex issues.

      It is about full disclose.

  • 5

    This episode is a follow up of the ‘not so nasty and uncouth’ threats made against certain journalists by the leader of the current regime.

    I am critical of the traditions followed by certain journalists in Sri Lanka. Many of them do not have the courtesy of verifying the accuracy of a news item, or to have the other side of the story heard, even when such opportunities are available at hand. Some of them are capable of creating stories, when they wish to bring down a person that they do not like. They may also do this to satisfy the whims and fancies of certain politicians and bureaucrats of the regime of the day. Even we have many editors who even approve publishing this kind of thrash.

    Once I questioned the main editor of a popular newspaper in Sri Lanka, about a story published about me. His only explanation was that he got that news from the Department of Defence. Then, when I asked to publish a brief correction to say my side of the story, this guy refused saying he cannot do so.

    Despite these negative aspects I still defend media freedom. The leaders of the government and politicians can be critical of journalists, but their actions should not be tantamount to pressuring them to give up their freedom of expression.

    Today I read that the current regime is trying to revive the former regime’s draconian media policy regarding news web sites. As I have said many a time before, what the civil society has currently gained in Sri Lanka is a temporary relief. This relief will be soon dead and buried by the current regime itself, or by those of the previous regime, unless the hard-won space for bourgeois democratic rights such as media freedom is kept alive through civil society action of the people of Sri Lanka.

    There is a saying in Sinhala (more Asian): Gura hitagena hujja karana kota golaya duva duva hujja karanava (If the teacher urinates while standing, then the student will urinate while running). When the leader of the regime openly threatens journalists, no wonder the followers behaving in a nastier manner!

  • 4

    Good to see a Vahapalanaya fanatic waking up to its antics.
    The action of Kiirella proves that higher education can be managed by “Ona Gonek).
    This is a Bull on the Highway.

  • 2

    This Kirella guy is a major joker is he thinks that the statute gives him the power to make junior or senior appointments to the university staff. He should be asked to resign. His basic problem is that power has gone to his head, a common fault of the SL politician. We were promised good government. Now there is a slide back to the days of MR made visible by a series of misdeeds. It is best this is stopped. People of Sri Lanka now know how to stop it. Look at what has happened to Emperor Mahinda who wanted to be in a chapter in the Mahavamsa. He has been dumped in a shit hole. Kiriella, the minion and RW and My3 will also meet a similar fate if they do not get their act in order. Taking sons on foreign jaunts, appointing a cousin as high commissioner show that the present government is also on the road to perdition. Better turn back.

  • 2

    Oh ! Justice & Fairplay, don’t insult our yahapalanaya Kiriwalla. he is our PM’s side kick. A good KGB (Kandyan Govigama Buddhist) alias Perera. ( name change was a simple fraud).

    Bo Page enough of your rhetorics. So during the 71 Insurrection were you being in a Convent ?

    Kirwalla in a mess.
    Pathalika involved in a Hit and Run had introduced a diver in his place.
    125000 acres of Paddyfileds to be turned into planting other crops.
    Indian rice waiting to be sold at Rs. 20.

    We supply Onions, drumsticks & chillies & Karaveddi..

  • 4

    To Lionel Bopage and other commentators.
    1. I avoid going to the other extreme and condemning the YP government as all black. My criticism is only with the objective of restraining the new leaders in government. The kind of horseplay by Kiriella can get the other Ministers all on slippery slope and one never knows where they will end unless Kiriella is nipped in the bud. Pres and PM should do that and civil organizations must protest
    2. Lionel refers to Ranil as having been uncouth to the Press. I disagree, as what Ranil did was simply to reprimand the press for its selective methods. Inasmuch as the media has a right to critique the government or Ministers etc the latter have a right to critique the media. It is a free for all and the audience will make its judgment. Beyond this no threat was issued-to my knowledge. No white vans operate
    3. As Lionel says our media leaders are immature and ignorant themselves and they play their own tricks.I think a Press Council is necessary and our TVs should carry out a program like the ABC’s Media Watch.
    4. The YP government has,on the whole, done well thus far and many vital reforms have been achieved. It must progress on the economic front to bring prosperity to our people. Toward this end we must protect the YP government and save it from its blemishes

  • 2

    Shyamon, a very welcome and timely intervention to prevent further deterioration of University autonomy. Nothing is further from the truth: “If the Minister can give directions regarding an administrative act then what is the whole purpose of University autonomy? Universities all over the world get this autonomy on a platter. Every University has its own culture. Universities are esteemed and dignified places of learning and research”. Hope the minister will pay heed to this or get out.Bensen

  • 3

    Thank You Mr Jayasinghe for your nicely crafted article.

    No smoke without fire! We had been warned before, and I remember well when the boo-boys rounded on Mr Emil van der Poorten when he chronicled an episode featuring this very Rottweiler of the Yahapalanaya kennels.

    ‘Luckies’ middle name is ‘Impunity’ which comes from a very local principle of ‘I will chose what interpretation of the law (or my masters diktat) that I wish to take. Dammit! I am a minister, No?

    The trouble is that the leaders signed up to Yahapalanaya BUT kept most of the same dogs from the old kennels. Not smart!

    So, all that WE the people can do is cry ‘who let the dogs out’….again!

    • 2

      Spring Koha

      Who is telling the truth?

      Here is a news item for you:


      Champika in hit-and-run drama

      In a dramatic turn of events, two young men who gave chase to a black Jeep which attempted to escape after running down two motorcyclists in Welikada last Sunday said that the driver of the jeep at the time of the accident was in fact Minister of Megapolis and Western Development, Patali Champika Ranawaka.

      Champika Ranawaka Refutes News Reports On Rajagiriya Accident

      Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Patali Champika Ranawaka made a statement regarding an automobile accident which occurred last Sunday, on his Facebook page.

      Explaining his version of the accident, Ranawaka stated that certain media institutions and social media were spreading biased news.

      He stated that law had been carried out and his driver who involved with the accident had been arrested and courts had suspended his driving license.

      The automobile accident happened at Rajagiriya on Sunday night when a motorbike driven by a youth collided with a jeep of the Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development.

      “Rajagiriya police is conducting investigations on this accident. Certain media are spreading false news that driver of the jeep ran away after the accident. Police had arrested the driver on the spot based on the statements of onlookers”, Ranawaka stated.

      Ranawaka had further noted that any investigation regarding the accident could be conducted according to the law of the country. He had also wished a speedy recovery to the youth who met with the accident.

      However, the other party states that jeep had crossed the junction when the traffic lights were red. They say that the youth could not control the motorbike since the jeep had unexpectedly crossed the junction, neglecting the traffic lights.

      Thursday, 03 March 2016 09:41

  • 3

    Mr. Jayasinghe: Your correctly attributed the mentality of these politicians in saying “My Car, My Petrol”. But under Yahapalanaya, let us tell them “Loud and Clear” that all of them have to run that car on “OUR ROAD” – That “ROAD” is common to all and have to be used as per “Public Policy” – Fair, Reasonable and in accordance with the Law and Order. I too saw the “edited” version of the conversation with the journalist that this Minister carried out. It was a DISGRACE on the whole of the Government and worst was that coming off a Minister in charge of Higher Education.

  • 0

    Look at Kiriella’s response:


    This is exactly what I wrote before (see my comment # 1 above). These morons think that asking a favour on behalf of his supporter is PERFECTLY OK. Do the ministers STOP at that? NO ! No !! NO!!! This moron will called the VC or Dean of the Faculty and will ask what happen to his request about his henchman. Then VC or Dean will be in a difficult position. If the minister’s request is not looked after, VC or dean have to provide a lengthy explanation to keep the minister in good terms. Especially, this is very important if the VC is seeking another round of tenure or the dean is ambitious about becoming the VC. The VC or Dean is perfectly aware that it is not worthwhile to sacrifice their potential gains for a principled stand of hiring the best to the position. The bottom line is that a letter for a henchman is not as innocuous as Kiriella would like us to believe. It carries a lot of weight and more often than not “merits” of the best candidate will be overlooked to honour Minister’s letter.
    This tendency of interfering day-today functioning of all the institutions MUST be stopped if merits gaining its proper place leading to higher efficiency and productivity of the country. It is not a simple innocuous letter on behalf of a political party supporter. It is about replacing merits with other sinister criteria so that in the long run country will suffer.

  • 1

    It is a disgrace to appoint some one of this caliber as the minister of higher education. It is no secret that people who end up as lawyers are mostly at the bottom of academic achievements.
    It is none other than the voters to be blamed for electing these intellectually retards.

  • 0

    Kirra must be wetting his Night Nappies now, that the anti Buddhist Yahapalana voice has spoken….

    • 1

      Kirra must be wetting his Night Nappies now, that the anti Buddhist Yahapalana voice has spoken….”

      What a strange statement? Cannot figure what this man is saying.

      Anti-buddhst? Who is anti-Buddhist? In fact the urgent call right now is for greater Buddhist virtues to be on display in society, where correct speech among others are actively practiced.

      Those who fight to “save Buddhism” are better off saving themselves. Buddhism is essentially GOODNESS and therefore cannot be destroyed. It is for all time.

  • 0


    • 0

      go back to school…

  • 0

    Kiriella is a lawyer.

    What are the requirements for the law college ?

    Ten failures from Ordinary level examination ?

  • 1

    “Ohuge’ Sudusukama Pariksha Kala Bala….”:-

    Is What Minister, Kiriella wrote in His letter in Sinhala.

    Aren’t People commenting on this letter, before reading the Sinhala Version, which has been incorrectly Translated?

    I am no admirer of Lakshman Kiriella, but he does not seem to be ordering, merely recommending, the Kelaniya University to consider this person for the Advertised Position!

    • 1

      Hamlet, the question here is not what Mr Kiriella wrote but more, what he spoke and how he spoke.

      If we cant agree that it was unacceptable and unbecoming, then we all need to take Mr Sumanasekera at his word and get back to school.

  • 1

    Sumansekera himself needs to go to school from the beginning

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