15 August, 2020

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On Behalf Of Returning Exiles

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Invitation for Exiles to return

Now we have the dawn of a new era for exiles – in my case after almost 4 years abroad. The Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the Wall Street Journal and Ministers such as Mangala Samaraweera, Rajitha Senaratne and Gayantha Karunatilake have invited those of us writers in exile to return. White vans have been stopped. Thank you.

Concrete Steps Required from the Attorney General

But a lot more is required besides open invitations. In my own case I wrote of election malpractices of the previous regime in Kayts on election day – not allowing opponents to campaign, Rajapaksa posters at the polling booth, police and other vehicles running around Kayts without number plates, polling card being purchased from voters by the EPDP, etc. (Given the times those times the article seems to have been removed from its original website and may be found elsewhere ). This article recognized where the Rajapakses were taking the country well before the South had woken up to it.

If I had lied, the remedy was to file for defamation. Instead the police compliantly took down a complaint that the electorate was enraged by my questioning their ballot and that I was inciting a riot. It became a criminal charge – a so called B-report which required my immediate arrest. I fled. There is an open warrant against me. Notice has been served on the authorities at Katunayake Airport to arrest me should I arrive, albeit with a wrong name and identity card showing how badly proficient workers are needed in Sri Lanka to fix things. (Even the warrant did not get my name right. There I was Shanmugavel Cool, instead of Samuel Hoole. I wonder if the EPDP was being quietly sabotaged by the people forced to work for it).

The government has promised a return to good governance and the rule of law. Based merely on the invitation of ministers through speeches if I returned, as I badly want to, the rule of law requires my arrest upon arrival whereas good governance requires that such oppressive orders not be followed through.

It is clear that an invitation to return is insufficient. But we can have both, good governance and the rule of law. The Attorney General has to be ordered to review cases like this and lift untenable arrest orders which were clearly politically motivated. Until that is done, invitations to return would be like Mary Howitt’s poem of 1829: “ ‘Will you walk into my parlour?’ said the Spider to the Fly.”

Reluctance to Return

Colombo Telegraph (“Requests Made For Exiled Journos To Return But No Action Taken” Jan. 24, 2015) also makes the case that words of invitation are insufficient. But in the comments from readers that follow the article there is a lot of unfortunate causticity against exiles who have suffered much – that we are used to the good life, we cried foul to claim political asylum, we will not return, etc.

Yes, not all of us will return; my guess is not even the majority of us. Once bitten, twice shy indeed. We have settled into stable lives. Those who have bought houses cannot just walk away from mortgages and would be naturally reluctant to do short sales on their houses when in a hurry to pull out as I was in 1995. The children would have settled with great difficulty into a new curriculum and it might be impossible to ask them to return. Other children might be in university and need our support to pay their tuition fees. I am halfway through teaching courses and have doctoral students depending on me for financial support and guidance – I would need time to get others to take over in an orderly way without disruption. Etc, etc.

And do we have jobs when we return? For how long can we live on our savings?

The point is that it is not fair to expect us all to drop everything and return. Those who choose to stay on are not traitors in any way. They are simply human, perhaps even good parents who need to give stability to their families.

Those who will return

I plead for understanding. Yes many of us will not return. A few of us will and must be attracted back. Sri Lanka as a nation has much to gain from those who suffered to have a good Sri Lanka.

In my own case I have set up shop abroad three times. First it was to study and settled own as Sri Lanka deteriorated. I returned in 1995 elated that Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga came back promising a new Sri Lanka. I felt duty bound to at least offer symbolic support to her cause by returning. I did not want my children to grow up not knowing the home I loved. It cost me a lot but never once did I regret that.

Then the Tigers issued death threats against me when I was appointed VC of University of Jaffna in 2005 and I had to run. This time I did not buy a house and felt I was in a temporary abode and returned quickly after the war when there were invitations to return. President Mahinda Rajapaksa issued a written directive for my wife and me to be reinstated based on judicial orders that had been ignored, but that directive was never implemented by the UGC. I have always wondered what gave the UGC the courage to defy a presidential directive and whether there was a wink from the top. This was a short lived return from exile in 2010 after my news article described above.

Again I have bought a house on mortgage after my wife insisted that we cannot live in an apartment like last time when our daughters are of marriageable age. I have PhD students half-way through. The cost of return will therefore be high: financially for obvious reasons, professionally as the credit for doctoral students will go to others who take them over and in many other ways after I have supported them through external funds almost to the end.

But home is where my heart is. And Sri Lanka’s future is in people who want to live in Sri Lanka and make a home of it.

The point is that even for the few of us who want to return and will return, the government must lift all legal barriers to our return and reinstate us as promised in its 100-point, 100-day program. Anything less will make its invitations to return empty.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    2

    Reasons for not returning :

    (1) Financial, the Government jobs that can be done as a service for the Country using our skills, do not pay enough to educate our Children.

    (2) The existing rules and regulations in the Government sector soon make most people moribund and unable to achieve any progress.

    (3) Today’s society is brainwashed into looking for “supplementary” incomes and doing an honest job for what you are paid is virtually out of the question. If one does so one is often the subject of ridicule.

    (4) There is no recourse to sue for libel or obtain compensation when some irresponsible Media channel acts on the instructions of a third party, publishes a damaging story and destroys any project that may be in its infant stage.

    These matters have to be addressed if Sri Lanka wishes to attract the correct type of exile back.

    • 3
      1

      Hello Don !
      1.Yes, I understand your problem.Eevn though thousands of children of workers and peasants are studying here,IT WILL BE VERY VERY DIFFICULT TO EDUCATE HOOLES CHILDREN IN SL.It would be better if the academics like Hoole, who got their free education in SL,and served their western masters for decades, are paid in DOLLARS once they come back.
      2.You don’t seem to know which side of your bread is buttered.PLEASE ,consult Hoole,the master.He will tell you who to praise,when to praise and how to get things done.Do you think that Hoole would have gotten h is VC post in 2005,without begging Douglas?The only stupid mistake Hoole made was, he praised D before LLRC and it is in the record.Otherwise ,you could simply say I never met DD.
      3.Supplenetary income?Come on!, that is not a problem.You know what Rajan Hoole,who belongs to the same clan is doing?.Writing HR reports.Dont think that you will have do lots of research and investigations to write HR reports.All what you need is some words like,”informed sources,reliable sources,hear say” etc.etc. Do you know what happened to Kandiah Thayapararaja ?According to UTHR report 34,he was killed in Septembet 2009. The truth is ,KT is living in India.It is a lucrative business and you will get paid in DOLLARS too.
      4.Yes,its true.Otherwise,Hooles would have been sued long time ago and would have stopped writing lies.

      • 2
        1

        You have forgotten the thousands of dollars they spent to further educate themselves and the hours that they spent to gain the valuable experiences overseas. They are prepared to share everything in Sri Lanka for free.
        You also forgot the amount of tax they and their parents paid into the coffers of Sri Lanka. Those monies were used to torture them harass them etc.
        True they were educated in SL. If SL cannot use them properly what else you expect. Stay and get killed.
        If you are short of money just open RPs coffers supplement with KP Karuna and the lot. They are all in front of you. You will get billions.

  • 10
    10

    Shame on you Hoole!.You went after the same EPDP and begged Douglas for his recommendation to become the VC .There is a syaing in Tamil “nakkira naaikku sekkenna sivalinkamenna”(for a licking dog it doenst matter whether it is cake or steak). You are a nakkira naai.You will lick anybody’s feet.That was why when you were appointed as the VC in 2006, after licking D’s [Edited out],Tigers didnt let you “serve” the people in Jaffna.Tigers even branded you as a traitor.

    Now you are getting ready to lick Maithri’s and Ranil’s feet.But,they are very smart and its too late ,since you have now been exposed.There was a time innocent people thought that you are a gentleman.Now when they hear your name they start to nauseate.
    Some people even say ,we have seen many opportunists in our life,but not like this [Edited out] Hoole.

    • 5
      8

      Personal abuse is the last refuge of the imbecile !

      Please don’t turn a serious comment into an exchange of abuse. You Tigers lost your war, compromise, integrate and learn to life in civil society or GET OUT.

      • 10
        1

        Well, personal abuse is one. But, one shouldn’t be a hypocrite. Jeevan Hoole has basic qualifications to be at a high academic position, but he tried to go through the back door himself. He cannot preach on righteousness. Ramany didn’t talk about pro- or anti- Tiger. Actually, by saying “You Tigers lost your war, compromise, integrate and learn to life in civil society or GET OUT”, it is really who go against your own advice, that, “Personal abuse is the last refuge of the imbecile! Please don’t turn a serious comment into an exchange of abuse.” How can you say Ramany is supporting Tigers?

    • 5
      1

      “Sekkenna Sivalinkamenna” means ‘Grinding Mill or a Sivan-Phallus’.

    • 2
      1

      I was at Jaffna when the VC elections happened in which Prof. Hoole participated. The post was advertised, he stood for elections, was voted within the first three by the Jaffna University Council. By the Universities act and pre MR practices he should have been appointed VC because of excellence. It was because he is an internationally known human rights expert, that both the govt and the LTTE got scared of his voice and rose to suppress if not silence it. That is why they did not want him as VC and spoilt his appointment. The Professors who voted for him twice and under imminent threat were also made to look like fools. Sad day for all Tamils! They might as well not have had those sad elections.

      Why do you then call him names or say falsely that he came by the back door? You only betray your pitiable ignorance on academic matters by that and that too is very sad.

      True Tamils always respect true scholars and men of integrity like Prof. Hoole and would vote again for him sh.

    • 2
      1

      I was at Jaffna when the VC elections happened in which Prof. Hoole participated. The post was advertised, he stood for elections, was voted within the first three by the Jaffna University Council. By the Universities act and pre MR practices he should have been appointed VC because of excellence. It was because he is an internationally known human rights expert, that both the govt and the LTTE got scared of his voice and rose to suppress if not silence it. That is why they did not want him as VC and spoilt his appointment caring little for scholarship or justice. The Professors who voted for him twice and both times under imminent threat were also made to look like fools. Sad day for all Tamils! They might as well not have had those sad elections. Even engineering in Jaffna would be flying high by now.

      Why do you then call him names or say so very falsely that he came by the back door? You only betray your pitiable ignorance on academic matters by that and that too is very sad my dear fellow.

      True Tamils always respect true scholars and men of integrity like Prof. Hoole and we would vote again for him should he contest again.

  • 7
    0

    Those Sri Lankan expatriates who can contribute to the benefit of this country should be so allowed. Towards that extent thousands of dual citizenship applications are lying idle with the immigration authorities. Only a hanful who had some connections with the powerful got the dual citizenship somehow. The denial for the vast majority was on the basis of some security concern which cannot be understood by normal folks. What I felt was that this was a racket to control the grant of dual citizenship and thereby earn a quick buck.

    I would like to highlight a case in point. A person who had done field duties many moons ago in Sri Lanka left for US and became a don in one of the Universities of California. After his retirement he came back to Sri Lanka because he was a dual citizen in good time. Today he is associated with one of our Univrsities and is engaged in some mechanism that helps to clean water better in the North Central Province so as to prevent all kinds of kidney diseases etc. Had he been got caught to the embargo placed Sri Lanka would have lost his services.

    Through these columns I urge those concerned to lift the embargo.

  • 1
    0

    That’s right

  • 3
    5

    You are a misfit in sri lanka. please do not come, as you will want the vc post at the Jaffna university. you will also find fault with the Chief minister the TNA st johns,chundikuli girls college and the vasity admin, and many more.

  • 5
    1

    While the exiles return with their coffers filled
    They will embrace a master’s skill
    Promoting mastery in every drill
    To multiply their notion of the western will
    Making the downtrodden masses of the victimised spills
    A third kind of a slavery in their factory mills

    • 2
      3

      Just stop your kill
      With your ‘Jack and Jill’!
      Don’t move, stand still;
      Even better chill.

      Throw away your quill;
      Poetry is a rill
      Not a mound or a hill
      For you to till

      Stop trying to swill
      Through your gill
      Stick to your pill
      Write no more; nil.

      Lest a reader send you a bill!

      (The End. I tried my best using the alphabets you left untouched!)

      • 2
        1

        Quaero

        “Stop trying to swill
        Through your gill”

        Does only trill
        But doesn’t mean anything instilled

  • 4
    3

    What are you talking about , during the MM era you went back for a job appointment in jaffna university but you didn’t get it and left the country
    First you flee you blamed the LTTE then EPDP
    No one know the reason when you left the country. You are an opportunity hunter
    [Edited out]

  • 1
    4

    There is a difference between personal abuse and collective abuse !

    I am abusing all Tiger Supporters and to delude yourself that RK (which in the unlikely event is this posters right name) is not one, is another exercise in dumb political correctness.

  • 6
    3

    Sir [Edited out]

    I’m happy once you return Sri Lanka, and worked for country’s development, once proper invitation made by new government and sure about releasing all judicial barriers.
    Sri Lanka education system must involve valuable people like you in the upcoming all programs.

  • 21
    0

    According my past experience, I would be the biggest fool if I return back to
    Sri Lanka.I loved to work for my birth country since I got my PhD way back in
    1988.But I was SYSTEMATICALLY denied.On the other hand, I got the Australian
    Citizenship way back in 2004 on the basis of my off shore academic-research
    contributions.I am totally aware about the fact that many will feel that my
    presence would be a threat to them in the academic world of Sri Lanka.I am
    happy that I have contributed enough to the various branches of
    Bioanthropology & Bioarcheology by staying away from the academia of Sri
    Lanka. I do agree with Prof.Samuel Hoole about the past traumatic episodes
    that all of us suffered there.No country will reach the success in higher
    education and research as long as the involvement of “uneducated political
    mafia” controls the universities.I am totally indebted to Indians and
    Australians who stood by me during my hardships and granted me the chances
    to expose my hidden talent in academic -research.Like me , many generations
    lost their golden eras.Personal egos of politicians and non flexibility of the
    militants have destroyed the future of talented academicians and the progress
    of the nation. Now it is TOOOOOOOO LATE unless some favorable amendments are
    put in for a TRUE ACTION.based on COURAGE.Merely oral assurances won’t do.

  • 2
    0

    I too hope our journos return but I am sure that after this many years in exile, most of them had obtained foreign citizenship to enable ply their trade without hindrance. If only we could offer them Dual Citizenship this country would be enriched with skill, diversity. professionalism and also fame and fortune acquired from their stint abroad.

  • 4
    0

    It is a shame to have driven highly skilled people away for petty gains to a few scheming people who do not care for their country. There are many scholars in exile who are currently working on problems very relevant to Sri Lanka. Because of their professional experience they see very clearly from afar many gaping problems which are in many cases not even spotted by the local academics yet.

    Exile-scholars have networks in their home countries for fruitful collaboration.

    The government should give residence visas at least for those scholars who wish to work hands-on towards solving problems that are hurting Sri Lanka.

    Exiles care as much as those inside.

  • 5
    0

    Its a shame to lose such talent. But the author is right, an open invite alone without serious changes on the ground is insufficient for anyone sensible to return.

  • 4
    0

    It is the time our country should welcome outstanding professors like Hoole. Many universities have lack of human capacities to produce competitive graduates and gone worse under the hands of poor academics. So to make change and improve system the talents should back to country.

  • 17
    0

    I sincerely feel that, like in the developed countries, the higher
    education and research fields should be kept apolitical.A highly educated
    talented person irrespective of his / her caste, community, ethnicity and religion should head the ministry of higher education ….not the fellows who were once upon a
    time Rowdies,Drug Peddlers,Pimps & Criminals later become politicians ..and start dictating terms on the educated ones.Change is a universal phenomenon..change for the betterment.Patriotism comes through dedication, hard work, progress, equality and COMMITMENT not in any other way. At least at this juncture we require a wake up call and work together for a progress and not for the selfish motivation.

  • 1
    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/

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