16 October, 2019

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Removal Of The Vice Chancellor Of University Of Jaffna And Politicization Of Higher Education

By Dr. N. Sivapalan, Dr. S. Arivalzahan, Dr. P. Iyngaran, Dr. N. Ramaruban, M. Thiruvarangan and Dr. Rajan Hoole –

When the decision to sack Professor Ratnam Vigneswaran from the post of Vice Chancellor of the University of Jaffna surfaced in the public domain in May this year, many academics and well-wishers of the University were shocked by this unprecedented development. Prior to the announcement, the former Vice Chancellor was not even called for an inquiry by the University Grants Commission or any of the authorities responsible for higher education in the country. The letter announcing his removal did not explain why he was sacked from his position. The President’s decision to sack the Vice Chancellor of a university without even the courtesy of an explanation owed to a person who holds high office as a leader in the field of education demeans and demoralizes practitioners of education. It places under threat junior-level academics and other employees of the public university system who have looked upon universities as places that nurture and respect freedom of expression. 

Professor Ratnam Vigneswaran

Even before the announcement of the appointment of Competent Authority, some academic and non-academic staff of the University of Jaffna said that Professor Vigneswaran’s removal owed to abuse of power on his part or the administrative malpractices that took place under his watch. Others opined that the participation of Professor Vigneswaran in events like the unveiling of a new Pongu Thamil memorial plaque in place of the one that was put up nearly 20 years ago and his failure to stop the installation, inside the main campus, of a memorial structure commemorating the tragic end of the war in Mullivaikal in 2009 were the reasons for his removal. Some even claimed that the decision to sack the Vice Chancellor was made at a previous meeting of the National Security Council. 

At a meeting with the Minister of City Planning, Water Supply and Higher Education, a delegation from the Federation of the University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) pointed out that “the procedure followed in removing the VC of Jaffna University [went beyond the powers of the UGC in the Universities Act].” The Minister, in reply, had said that “the entire process was purely based on national security and based on clear evidence received”. A recent affidavit by Professor Mohan de Silva, Chairman of the University Grants Commission to the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, suggests that Professor Vigneswaran’s removal from the post of Vice Chancellor had nothing to do with abuse of power or corruption on his part but was a politically motivated, authoritarian decision reeking of majoritarianism made at the instigation of the military. This decision, which has not been discussed adequately in public forums or by the academic community in the country, has serious ramifications for the University of Jaffna and grave implications for the entire public university system in Sri Lanka at whose heart lies the principle of academic freedom. 

Militarization of Higher Education

The response given by the Minister of Higher Education to the FUTA delegation and the affidavit submitted by the Chairman of the University Grants Commission are startling testimonies to the entrenched militarization and surveillance of academic spaces in the northern and eastern regions of the country. It is unambiguous from the affidavit that the University Grants Commission and/or its Chairman receive information regarding activities that take place at University of Jaffna and Eastern University of Sri Lanka from the top-brass of the country’s military apparatus like the Directorate of Military Intelligence of the Sri Lankan Army and the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army and that reports submitted by these officers are discussed at meetings of the University Grants Commission. The Chairman of the University Grants Commission has declined to make some these reports accessible to Prof Vigneswaran who is a petitioner in a Supreme Court case challenging his removal from the post of Vice Chancellor where the Chairman of the University Grants Commission is named a respondent. The Chairman claims that these documents contain “sensitive and classified information”. This kind of nexus between the University Grants Commission, the Ministry of Higher Education and the military in removing a sitting Vice Chancellor without any explanation is deeply alarming and an academic movement cutting across ethnic and regional boundaries is necessary to preserve the space available at universities for protest, dissent and democratic action.

One can infer from the affidavit that Professor Vigneswaran was removed from the Vice Chancellor’s position for participating in an event called Thamil Amutham where a reconstructed Pongu Thamil Memorial Monument carrying Tamil nationalist proclamations was unveiled and for not taking any action to remove the Mullivaikal memorial monument from the Main Campus. The original Pongu Thamil Monument has been standing in the same place for almost 20 years under the Vice Chancellorship of several persons. Professor Vigneswaran only participated in the unveiling of a reconstructed plaque. The original can still be seen by the side of the reconstructed one. It appears from the affidavit that the process to sack Professor Vigneswaran was triggered by the military and its intelligence unit and a section of the media. Point 10 of the UGC Chairman’s affidavit implies that Professor Vigneswaran allowed space for the propagation of the activities of the LTTE inside the University of Jaffna. The same accusation was made against Eastern University of Sri Lanka as well.

Those who have known Professor Vigneswaran are aware that he never actively participated in activities organized by the LTTE even when the Movement was in its heyday. Like many academics in the North, he has been sympathetic to the Tamil community’s struggle for political rights. Even Prof Rajaratnam Kumaravadivel who presently serves on the University Grants Commission and Prof Kathirkamanathan Kandasamy who was appointed as Competent Authority presumably at the recommendation of the University Grants Commission following the removal of Prof Vigneswaran were both signatories to a memorandum issued in 2011 which affirms the foundational principles of Tamil nationalism: 

These were the nationhood of the Tamils, their right to self-determination and the framing of the North and East regions of Sri Lanka as the Tamil homeland. These same affirmations endorsed by Profs. Kumaravadivel and Kandasamy are those that feature prominently in the Pongu Thamil Monument which was unveiled by Prof Vigneswaran in 2018. 

Professor Vigneswaran also worked closely with academics in the South as Chairperson of the Jaffna University Teachers’ Association (JUTA). It was during his tenure as Chairperson of the JUTA that the Federation of the University Teachers’ Associations organized a public meeting in Jaffna demanding the government to take robust measures to strengthen and develop the higher education sector of the country. The following year he served as the Vice Chairperson of the FUTA. 

In 2016, two days before Professor Vigneswaran assumed duties as Dean of the Faculty of Science, there was a clash between a section of the Tamil students and a section of the Sinhala students over the performance of Kandyan dance at an event held in the Faculty. Upon assuming duties as Dean, Professor Vigneswaran organized a workshop on reconciliation and cultural diversity with the support of the National Peace Council to create an atmosphere of goodwill among the students. His proactive leadership role in assuaging the tensions between the two groups and enabling an environment where the students could pursue their academic activities without ethnic animosity should be put on record. 

After becoming the Vice Chancellor of the University of Jaffna, Vigneswaran attended almost all events organized by the academic community of the University to which he was invited. He did this with a view to administering the University smoothly without any conflicts. He was perhaps the first sitting Vice Chancellor to attend the annual commemoration event for those who died during the last stages of the war in 2009. Many students and staff of the University and the larger community appreciated his presence at this memorial event. He attended the Thamil Amutham event in 2018 as it was organized by the students of the University of Jaffna. He, however, refrained from attending the Great Heroes’ Day events commemorating slain LTTE cadres when he was the Vice Chancellor. Even if one may for ideological reasons, question the participation of Vigneswaran in some of these events, it is not the UGC or the military’s prerogative to decide what events a Vice Chancellor can be permitted to attend or what political views a Vice Chancellor can be permitted hold. It is a threat to his freedom as an individual academic and head of an academic institution. 

Politics of Memorialization at the University of Jaffna

While the war-torn society that is still coming to terms with the traumatic experiences of past violence and awaits an appropriate solution to the national question, memorialization, it cannot be denied, is an important and cathartic political and social activity. At the University of Jaffna, memorialization has been a contested issue riddled with contradictions, absences and exclusions. Although the LTTE martyrs are commemorated annually by the students and staff of the University, no memorialization events for militants of the other Tamil armed movements take place. Whereas the end of the war in Mullivaikal is observed annually, the academic community has organized no event so far to mark the eviction of the Muslims from the North by the LTTE. The organizers of the Rajani Thiranagama Memorial Event in 2014 were denied space inside the university to organize an event to remember the life and work of this eminent academic and human rights activist gunned down by the Tigers. Her portrait is still excluded from the Senior Common Room of the Faculty of Arts where the portraits of most deceased dons who served the University of Jaffna are on display. Although one should interrogate these exclusions and absences around memorialization at the University of Jaffna, banning memorial events organized by the students and the academic community by using the authority vested in the Vice Chancellor will only aggravate the collective trauma of the community and may even push the students to resort to actions that are harmful to both themselves and larger society. The memorialization event organized by the students to commemorate the victims of the Easter Sunday attacks indicates that the undergraduates of the University of Jaffna are concerned about issues of national significance as well. 

Those who hold important administrative positions at universities located in conflict zones have to approach sensitive events associated with memorialization and democratic, non-violent political resistance carefully without alienating the students who organize them. At many universities in the South commemoration events are organized annually by the students to memorialize the JVP insurgents who took arms against the state. The state does not police these spaces in a stringent manner as it does at the University of Jaffna. Even the Northern Provincial Council organized commemoration events in the past for the ones who died during the final phases of the war. During the previous government, undergraduates of the University of Jaffna who commemorated the LTTE cadres who died during the militancy were assaulted by the military. Now, under the present dispensation, the Vice Chancellor of the University has been removed from his position in a humiliating manner for not clearing away a memorial monument constructed by the students. The UGC’s inability on both occasions to ensure academic freedom and a space free of interference by the military shows that it is just another arm of the Sinhala majoritarian apparatuses of the Sri Lankan state. By giving in to the chauvinistic pressures from the military, its intelligence division and certain sections of the media, the UGC and the Ministry of Higher Education have failed in their responsibilities to the only public university in the North and the communities that that university serves. 

University of Jaffna has been a venue for Tamil nationalist activity since the late 1970s, though there was space within the University to articulate views critical of nationalism and the authoritarian activities of the Tamil militants till 1990 when the LTTE brought Jaffna peninsula under its control. Many Tamil nationalist mobilizations and events took place inside the University of Jaffna during the tenures of many of Professor Vigneswaran’s predecessors. A monument for the slain Tamil militants was constructed inside the Main Campus during the tenure of one of them. None of them was sacked from the post of Vice Chancellor. Why target Vigneswaran who has acted no differently?

A space seems to be opening up again within the University during the post-war years for self-introspection and frank conversations about the violence and exclusions done in the name of Tamil nationalism on Tamils and other communities, what self-determination and autonomy mean to the different ethnic, religious and cultural groups that inhabit the North and the contradictions and inequalities that appear along lines of caste, class and gender in the region. For the academic community and the larger society to participate in these conversations and discussions on militarization, accountability for war crimes and other forms of oppression coming from the majoritarian state, and to contribute positively to discussions on inter-ethnic reconciliation and coexistence on fair and equitable terms, the University of Jaffna should remain a place free of authoritarianism. 

When students and academics were being killed by all sides to the conflict in the late 1980s, in order to keep the universities functioning, Prof. Arjuna Aluvihare, the then Chairman of the UGC, had to assert the values of universities while avoiding naming who was a terrorist and who was not. Higher Education Minister A.C.S. Hameed understood this. Each party to the ongoing terror had its own narrative which it changed according to convenience. 

In such a crisis-ridden polity without any stable values, how can the UGC punish people without due process, solely on untested allegations contained in Military Intelligence reports? In past instances of charges made against individuals by the Military or Police under the PTA, the courts have thrown these out as concocted or not sufficiently established. And Vice Chancellor Vigneswaran was denied the right of reply before an impartial tribunal. Is this the standard being set by leaders of our Higher Educational System?

Justice should be the cornerstone of the university system. The Universities Act does not permit any employee to be punished in the absence of proof endorsed by a recognized tribunal, certainly not Military Intelligence. We see today a great deal of polarization in the country and little hope of the return of sanity. The UGC and the Ministry of Higher Education functioning in the present manner is likely to herald a severe crisis in the nationwide university sector.  

N. Sivapalan, S. Arivalzahan, P. Iyngaran, N. Ramaruban and M. Thiruvarangan are academic staff attached to the University of Jaffna. Rajan Hoole is a retired academic from the University of Jaffna. 

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Latest comments

  • 23
    20

    The reason why Prof. Srisatkunarajah the overwhelming preference of the Council was denied appointment as VC was highly political, and seemed based on planned disinformation delivered to persons in key positions.
    It seems strange that none of the champions of morality bothered to protest at the time.
    *
    Prof. Vigneswaran has filed legal action I understand, and I would rather await the outcome.

    • 25
      12

      SJ, Would you say that you played no part in any of the controversies surrounding University appointments.
      .
      You may not be the correct person to champion morality.

      • 11
        6

        Dear Thappu,
        .
        I don’t understand the politics of the Northern Province.
        How can I? I first visited Jaffna in 1968 and spent a happy week there. More recently, after all the carnage of war was over, I made two trips of two days each. The second was with a group of mostly non-English speaking Sinhalese who meant well, but who couldn’t help but think that the whole of Sri Lanka belonged to us, Sri Lankans, and who all put up at the Buddhist temple in Jaffna. I don’t know a word of Tamil, and whatever I know of the “problems” that you face, I have learnt from English-speaking Tamils, and from whatever I read here.
        .
        I first “knew” Prof. Sivasekeram in Peradeniya University from 1982 onwards, when I knew who he was, but never spoke to him, since I was only an undergraduate in the Arts Faculty, while he was one of a number of brilliant men based on the “other side of the river”, in Meewatura – and he was a much respected Professor of Engineering.
        .
        When I now read his comments (he never really writes the full articles that I wish he would), I’m struck by how quick-witted, intelligent and rational he is, plus he displays a wealth of knowledge, including a wonderful mastery of English. I take up so much space, and get boring; had he got to state what I’m now struggling to say, he would have done so in fewer than fifty words.
        .
        All that is true, but it was, as you quite rightly state, only on this appointment of a Vice-Chancellor for Jaffna University that he has behaved not just childishly and churlishly, but actually quite deviously.

      • 8
        6

        PART TWO
        .
        I remember all too clearly how there appeared to be a possibility for a Jaffna man who had not been part of the mess that Jaffna University has become to return to Sri Lanka from Boston, USA, to be the Vice-Chancellor. I even remember his name, Prof Sam Thiagalingam, and his photograph. He was not even interviewed, the reason being so very technical. He had posted his application well in time (about three weeks early is the impression that I have), and it was in before any of the envelopes containing applications were even opened. Yet, our postal services had delivered the letter only two days after the official dead-line. What a prolonged campaign Prof. Sivasekeram waged to prevent Thiagalingam even from being interviewed. He told us all sorts of things like it being necessary for people to be disciplined etc.
        .
        There are some of us in the South who would like to see normalcy returning to our entire country, the way things appeared to me when I first enjoyed the hospitality of the people of Jaffna in 1968. There are many such, who think as I do, in the South. However, few dare to speak out. The maverick behaviour of a few Tamils has made it difficult for us to maintain our stance. The major political parties will keep speaking ambiguously. Nagananda is obsessed with his New Constitution which will get rid of unnecessary politicians, and that will include Provincial Councils. That grouping is honest – I am interacting with them. Nagananda may not be the person finally contesting; there’s Dr Colonne and retired Auditor-General Gamini Wijesinghe.
        .
        However, you must stop playing politics.

      • 14
        5

        Mr always wrong
        Ask those in the habit of doing such things.

        • 1
          0

          Grama Sevaga will rats brain will behave like this to bring Sri Lanka to the lowest leve. He is not suitable to be a President not even as a peon.

    • 4
      15

      This university is funded by the government so the government can do anything it wants. Otherwise the government should stop funding.

      • 4
        0

        What is government? What does it made of? How they find? Does that fund from their one pocket?
        All from each and every public.

        When the government make the decision they should consider the public interest.

        When it’s related to the organization, the decision must made by the higher official, “in this case UGC”

      • 3
        0

        Thanthai Chelva

        “This university is funded by the government so the government can do anything it wants. “

        Where does the government get funds?
        In whose name does the government manage treasury and University?
        Who elect the government? Is it Government for Government sake or is the government to serve the people?

        It is essential you pulled your head (wherever it may be) before you start typing in this forum.

    • 9
      2

      SJ -please can you clarify whom you mock as “champions of morality” — is it the authors of this article?

      • 5
        15

        CC
        Those concerned know, and those who followed stories on CT know.
        That is all what matters.

    • 12
      3

      Jaffna people are only good at (Math) calculations, but screw up big time when it comes to working in the collective interests of their society. Only in Jaffna, a hen lays an egg in the afternoon. It does it for the Katubedde engineering student coming home for the week-end by the afternoon Yal Devi. When his good-for-nothing older brother languishing at home had asked his Amma for an omelette in the morning, she had said the hen didn’t lay an egg that morning.

      • 5
        3

        Do Jaffna students take the Yal Devi nowadays?
        Back to the drawing board and redesign the joke(?)

    • 1
      1

      SJ:

      According to the law, it is not necessary to appoint the overwhelming preference of the Council as the VC. If his excellency the President should appoint overwhelming preference of the Council as the VC, then no need to recommend 3 names to the President and no need to even send the names to the President. Council itself can appoint the new VC. What a pity to see that you as a retired university academics couldn’t understand this basic law of the country.

      • 3
        0

        If it is only legality that is the issue, why are people indulging in trial by Internet, and uncalled for the mudslinging?
        *
        Prof. V. has filed action and let us await the outcome.

  • 14
    2

    Sorry to say..
    In Sri Lanka they do not follow any acamdiec convention or tradition.
    Mighty is ways weight.
    All.dirty politics

  • 6
    1

    Nobody has a clear picture of the whole story. Section 34 (1) (c) of the Universities Act of 1978 quoted verbatim is as follows. “The Vice-Chancellor of a University may be removed from office by the President, after consultation with the Commission.” It does not say that he can be removed for misconduct and had it been so it needs an inquiry providing an opportunity for the holder of the post to defend himself. Now the President himself is one of the many focussed in a radar for not taking timely action on intelligence reports to prevent the 4/21 attacks. Should the intelligence, particularly if it comes from a foreign country that the Jaffna University under its VC is festering an attitude way out of normal behaviour indicating that at a given point it may resort to terrorism what must the President do? Clearly intelligence assessments cannot be revealed to the public and the minister too need be on guard and he too may not know the extent of the threat submitted to the authorities. This is a paradox. Here two chaps who held authority are to be charged for murder for not acting upon intelligence reports 394 times. It is clear that almost all instances extremist behaviour is reported but not the transition from extremism to terrorism. This point of view was expressed by the PM when he gave evidence before the Parliamentary Select Committee. Was the VC mollycoddling a set of fellows who display extreme views and there is a real threat that it can turn into a terrorist outfit? It is a million dollar question and instead of presupposing things let the Courts decide the standards applicable in these matters, now that the matters has invoked judicial scrutiny.

    • 4
      0

      “Clearly intelligence assessments cannot be revealed to the public and the minister too need to be in guard and he too may not know the extent of the threat submitted to authorities”.

      It is now time to set right the flawed Section 34 (1) (c) of the Universities Act of 1978 to be set right.

      • 8
        0

        U
        You are dead right about this and hopefully other flawed aspects of the Universities Act.
        They should have been remedied ages ago.
        People who abuse the system to serve self interest are quick to claim mortal high ground it when their manipulations misfire.

    • 8
      16

      The law is absolutely clear as are past judgements. There is nothing called unfettered discretion.

      • 2
        0

        Yes Prof. Good to see that you are dotting the i and crossing the t as usual. Is action taken on intelligence reports unfettered discretion? Prof. Don’t forget that the former defence secretary and the IGP on compulsory leave are to be charged for murder for ignoring intelligence reports and they have to suffer the agony. Intelligence reports, I am told, can be treated as expert evidence. If they are ignored and if a single grenade explodes? All will then point fingers at the authorities for not taking action and some official/s will have to pay the price as usual. As I told before this is a dilemma. As this matter is under judicial scrutiny let the courts decide what matter takes priority over the other.

    • 2
      3

      This President is the worst President in the history of Sri Lanka.

  • 5
    1

    As things are, courts cannot decide on matters probed and reported upon by military intelligence.
    If Gotabaya becomes president, the university may well be administered by the military through a ‘puppet’ vice-chancellor, even ‘imported’ from the south.

    • 2
      1

      J
      The case is against ‘unlawful dismissal’ I think.

  • 1
    4

    If the UGC Chairman’s Affidavit is an absolute truth, we Sri Lankans has to seriously worry about our weaknesses of our own military intelligence once again (firstly for missing and not taking proper action for Easter Deaths) as this removed Vice Chancellor was in the position only for one and a half years and if the intelligence could not have known about him at the time of appointment by His Excellency. As any man with commen sence will know that our military intelligence is not weak but those in power are manipulating the military intelligence to escape the judiciary. Many say this was purely of RK & Son’s well planned job.

    Sivam

  • 4
    2

    As Sivam says we are not involved in business. I hate the phrase “RK & Son’s”. We all are Professionals. Other than that we are only involved in managing a Temple, a Madam and an INGO. So please do not involve us.

    RKG

  • 3
    0

    The university students must study, it’s funny to say so. They are there to gain knowledge, know manners and how to serve themselves, their families and the country. One may ask how is that while the leaders of this country always put their families first and the country behind only students are expected to mind their business. Well, it’s if they want to keep themselves out of trouble or arrests or shooting.
    The university academics must teach, do research and keep themselves out of contentious issues. It’s not a free country and the military can get away with anything. You may know what it means if you know the number of criminal cases that they were involved in specially during and after the war.

  • 5
    0

    I like to hear from the Legal community About this case. Now that UGC has told the court that the UGC recommended to the President the removal of the VC based on Military Intelligence the SC has the responsibility and right to determine the truth of the Military Intelligence Report. The legal experts should inform the public the torturous path the dismissal of the VC will take.

    • 11
      4

      Sivam & NE
      The following the text can be deconstructed in a hundred ways without recourse to postmodernism:
      “A recent affidavit by Professor Mohan de Silva, Chairman of the University Grants Commission to the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, suggests that Professor Vigneswaran’s removal from the post of Vice Chancellor had nothing to do with abuse of power or corruption on his part but was a politically motivated, authoritarian decision reeking of majoritarianism made at the instigation of the military.”
      *
      So, what exactly was the UGC Chairmans ‘affidavit’?
      I remember another ‘affidavit’ from long ago that proved to be a fib.
      *
      The uncalled for snipes at people who have nothing to do with the dismissal, suggests another agenda.
      BTW, the next VC is due to be elected soon.

  • 6
    10

    Let me elaborate on my statement that there is no unfettered discretion. Judgements have ensured that there is nothing wrong with Section 34 (1) (c) of the Universities Act because it assumes that administrators act rationally with reason.

    Here is one of many relevant judgements:
    S.C. F.R. Application No. 891/2009 by S. EVA WANASUNDERA PC, J., B.P.ALUVIHARE PC, J. AND K. T. CHITRASIRI J.

    Relevant Part
    Pertinent Facts as stated in the judgementIn the mean time, the 1st Respondent, the Minister removed all the Council Members and appointed new members to the Council by orders dated 20.10.2009 and 21.10.2009. which were published in Gazette Notification ( Extraordinary Nos. 1624/12 and 1625/12 stating that he is acting in accordance with the powers granted to him by law under Secs. 11 and 10 of the Homeopathy Act. Sec.11 reads: 11(1) The Minister may , without assigning any reason, remove from office, by Order published in the gazette, any appointed or elected member of the Council. In the exercise of his powers under the preceding provisions of this Section the Minister may act either on his own motion or on any recommending made to him by the Council under sub-section (2). Such Order shall take effect on the date of such publication.

    Extract from JudgementIn the case of Douglas A. Nethsinghe Vs Ratnasuru Wickremanayake – SC Application 770/99, SC Minutes of 13.07.2001, Justice Mark Fernando gave the judicial interpretation to the phrase, “ without assigning any reason “ and held that “ such is subject to Article 12 of the Constitution “, and that the Petitioner in that case could not have been removed without assigning a reason. In earlier cases such as Bandara Vs Premachandra 1994 1 SLR 301, De Silva Vs. Atukorale, Minister of Lands,Irrigation and Mahaweli Development and another 1993 1 SLR 283, and Premachandra Vs Major Montague Jayawickrema and another 1994 2 SLR 90 also it was held that the application of the pleasure principle included in many statutes, should be interpreted to mean that such provision made in the statute is subject to Article 12 of the Constitution. The said authorities have specifically rejected the notion of unfettered discretion given to those who are empowered to act in such capacity and held that discretions are conferred on public functionaries in trust for the public, to be used for the good of the public, and propriety of the exercise of such discretions is to be judged by reference to the purposes for which they were so entrusted. It is clear that the Supreme Court has held that the discretion should be exercised in conformity with the general tenor and policy of the statute and for proper purposes and that it should never be exercised unreasonably.

    • 2
      0

      Yes Prof. Discretion should never be exercised unreasonably. The issue is whether action taken on an Intelligence Report is unreasonable action. Let the courts decide on that too.

  • 7
    0

    In other words, Sri Lanka now has a “Military” government.
    “Military Intelligence” depends on decisions made by military personnel, most of whom have no qualifications higher than ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels.
    Perceptions of such individuals can result in removal of Heads of Universities, without due process in Courts of Law.
    Law enforcement bodies such as Police are bypassed.
    P.S
    Will this happen, or be allowed to happen in the south?

    • 3
      0

      Informed sources tell me that Intelligence in Sri Lanka (SIS) is all manned by personnel akin to the Police service and not Military. Military too has there own intelligence outfit but the real player is the SIS which supplied info to the authorities. The Attorney General’s Department claims that two officials ignored 394 warnings by the SIS and therefore they must be charged for murder. THIS IS AN INCIDENT THAT HAPPENED IN THE SOUTH. You have a real point. If these guys tell that you are no good then you are doomed. It is like that the Government Analyst pronouncing that the Talcum powder container that one carries did not contain such a powder but heroin. Since the matter is in the hands of the court let it decide what the yardstick should be.

  • 16
    4

    This article was written to bring to light the humiliation inflicted on an administrator of a higher educational institute at the instigation of the military. Please don’t use the comments section for character assassination of individuals and spreading narratives based on speculation. Thanks.

    • 1
      0

      Anything and everything is not Military. As I have told before in several commentaries Sri Lanka transformed from a Military State to a Police State after 2015 Jan 8. The outfit that provides Intelligence reports even directly to the President is State Intelligence Services (So I am told) and that is not a military outfit. This was setup during the Presidency of CBK. Now don’t tell that humiliation was inflicted at the instigation of the Police. As revealed in the Select Committee What about the IGP under compulsory leave who was assessing the veracity and weight of the SIS reports? He is to be charged for MURDER for ignoring the SIS reports by the Attorney General.

  • 9
    6

    MT
    Thank you. But kinddly note that humiliation has been inflicted on several academics who were the top choice of University Councils for the post of VC: They were not appointed because they would not stoop to running after politicians in high places.
    In the case of Prof. Srisatkunarajah (the overwhelming UoJ Council preference for the post of VC), there were those who systematically character assassinated him on these pages. What was worse was that, after the Council voted, evil lies were told about him to the highest authority.
    There were those who endorsed all of it by their shameful silence. They now take the ‘moral high ground’ .
    I do not want to go into ugly details of manipulations by interested parties that I witnessed in the past five years, as it will only provoke mudslinging against all and sundry by interested parties.
    Thus I would rather await the outcome of the court case.
    *
    But let us something right:
    I guess that you have seen who character assassinates whom on these pages (not just on this occasion), and have come to rational conclusions.
    The crude attackers are perhaps true to their false faith unlike the seemingly polished ones.

  • 8
    5

    The removal of the VC is very clearly arbitrary and may prove illegal. Similar must have happened in the past and discriminatory against some other personalities. Those cannot be justification for the present however, except perhaps pointing out some internal intrigues harmful to academic rights and freedoms equally (or little less!) as UGC or government decisions. In the present case, if there were reports that some of the activities of the VC were questionable, the task of the UGC in the first place should have been to discuss those matters with the VC himself. Right or wrong, the participation in activities within the premises of the university is VC’s discretion. The whole episode, like similar in the South, again and again raises the questions of academic freedom, equality of academics and university autonomy. These should be safeguarded both from outside as well as inside.

  • 1
    4

    SJ
    What you did to for UoJ so far?

    • 4
      2

      G
      Would it make a difference to you?

    • 2
      4

      Guru:

      Instead of asking SJ, what did he do to UOJ? You should ask, What did he do at Peradeniya except his teaching. Any R&D works? Any independent research other than 15 yrs of Post-Doc under a supervisor? or Has he established any research lab by his own?
      Person doing teaching ONLY can be called as Tutor, not Professor !!

  • 8
    0

    A word of caution.

    There are people who present themselves as cool, democratic, open-minded and non-hierarchical to those who have degrees from prestigious universities abroad, those who are outspoken, those who can speak very good English and are cosmopolitan in outlook, those who are in commanding positions and those who have good journalistic skills. The same people show a very different face to people who do not have connections in important places, those who come from ordinary families, those who come from marginalized social backgrounds, those who are generally quiet and do not show open resistance and those who are from rural areas.

    Before making judgement about people all of us should do a lot of homework.

  • 0
    0

    What if the real reason wasn’t the one as speculated in this write-up?

    Let’s say some individuates or organizations from outside of SL wanted to donate funds with good will to start “whatever community related” studies involved with scholars in SL universities and would that be considered as a suspicious activity? Does a VC from SL University have the mandate to get involved with any sort of that activity? Even though this hypothetical scenario might not be related to this article, sooner or later administrators have to set a policy on this matter and let relevant parties to know about all policies from perhaps a “Donors” page on University’s official webpage.

    • 3
      0

      anon
      No VC can act on his/her own in such matters.
      The Council is answerable and should approve any such funding or project.
      As for this article, it has an altogether different agenda.

  • 11
    4

    Since there have been widespread talk about the corruption, bribe, misuse of power & academic malpractice to promote or appoint his associates by Prof.Vigneswaran, he should be taken in the hands of the CID and his involvement of the above activities (other than national security) should also be clearly investigated. Since, these 5 agents of Vigneswaran (who are the authors of this article) seem to know more about his actions related to corruptions and misuse of power, they also should be taken into the custody by the security forces in order to clarify the situation. If severe actions are taken against these culprits, then that would be a great lesson for those who think of involving in corruption in public institutions.

  • 6
    1

    It happen to me as the Deputy- Vice Chancellor of University of Colombo as well. I was not given a charge sheet or even called for an inquiry by the University or Grants Commission or any of the authorities responsible for higher education. The letter announcing my removal did not explain why I was sacked from DVC position.It happen under the last regime and this regime has also been following same path. The path of ‘good governance’.

    • 0
      0

      I wonder what Intelligence report was there during that time excepting for female intuition that was prevalent at that time. It could well be a case of Hell hath no fury than a woman scorned.

  • 11
    0

    It is very sad to note that Prof.Kumaravadivel from UGC decides the events in the Uni of Jaffna. Appointment of Prof.K.Kanthasamy as CA was an absolutely wrong decision since Prof.Kanthasamy never proved himself as an efficient administrator, and he has no experience as a Vice Chancellor even. All his childish actions are directed by Prof.Kumaravadivel and his all time hero Guruparan. It is a total shame that Prof.Kanthasamy called Head/Dance during her lecture in RAFA via his official land phone and threatened her in order to support the illegal promotion of Mrs Suhanya Aravinthan who cheated the University by obtaining a Dance degree from India for her promotion to Snr.Lecturer in Music. Kanthasamy kept Mrs.Suhanya and her husband (who is a Bank manager outside the University premises) in his office (Office of the VC) till the commencement of the last senate meeting and then after the senate till 8 pm. Prof.Kanthasamy has been trying to appoint a lady as Snr Lecturer in his Physics Department using her fake documents submitted to confirm her service in Malaysia (where her passport says she was in Jaffna teaching in a school in Urubpirai) and trying to charge the Head/Physics for opposing his master plan with the connivance of two council members. Who is going to take all these matters to the bribery commission and uphold justice to community?

  • 1
    0

    Are these incidents true?

    • 1
      0

      R
      How gullible are you?

  • 6
    5

    Universities Act states that the VC may be removed from the office by the President after consultation with the Commission. The ‘consultation’ between the Head of State and the apex funding body on removing a VC should be a very serious one looking at all aspects and consequences of the removal process. Among other things, the ‘consultation’ part helps transparency and fair treatment and tries to maintain a balance of power.

    Similarly in the appointment of the VC also these are somewhat maintained due to the fact that the President is given freedom to choose one from the list of three elected by the Council but is restricted to choose only from that list.

    According to the affidavit submitted by the Chairman, UGC, he received a report from the Commander of the Army dated 25.02.2019 about the steps taken on or around 11.02.2019 to complete the Mulliwaikkal memorial (Point 14). The UGC Chairman took steps to inform the Secretary to the President and the UGC Chairman personally submitted all relevant documents after considering this and other matters given in the affidavit. He quotes a letter dated 05.03.2019 in this regard (Point 15).

    Point 16 of the affidavit by the Chairman states that steps were taken by him to apprise the Commission of the said situation and the matter was discussed at the meeting of the Commission on 21.03.20119.

    The Act requires consultation with the Commission and not with the Chairman alone. There is nothing wrong with the Chairman conveying the decision of the Commission, but he should do it after discussion in a Commission meeting. Commission was apprised after the Chairman had written to the Secretary of the President and personally submitting all relevant documents.

    The transparency, fairness and the balance, the Act tries to impose, seem to be missing.

    • 7
      5

      The transparency, fairness and the balance, the Act tries to impose, totally missed in the selection boards, senate and council meetings multiple times during the tenure of Vigneswaran. Those who were accused for sexual abuse against the university girls and given out of bounds by the previous council were energized, cases against them were left unattended deliberately by the University for more than 6 months and their bans were lifted, Money played everywhere. It is really disgusting to discuss about all the under table dealings of Vigneswaran during his period for power and money, but very appalling to see his beneficiaries are giving voice to safeguard him and worshiping him as a human right activist for what they had gained through him. All the academic who wrote this article, Shame on you!!!

  • 8
    8

    This article is absolutely right that sacking the VC without inquiry and/or not showing basic decency of giving him a reason for removal from office is wrong. Just wrong. Nobody, especially the head of a public institution, should be treated in such a humiliating way. Even worse, a member of Council (I think SJ is still on Council?) comes in this forum and laments that Professor Vigneswaran was not their first choice anyway.
    *
    Irrespective of how they voted two years ago, the Council has a responsibility / duty of care to defend the Vice Chancellor.
    *
    Instead they seem to be going ahead with a replacement — if SJ’s comment that new person will be elected soon is to be believed. What if they appoint someone and the courts later find in favour of Professor Vigneswaran? They don’t seem to have thought that through, have they?
    *
    The Council’s stance (if the views of SJ’s are representative) is utterly shameful. If they had balls they should send three names to the President, and all three should be Professor Vigneswaran’s. If UGC don’t like it, everyone on Council should resign in protest thereby sending a strong message that university autonomy is important. That is the way to regain what our universities lost starting from the times of Stanley Kalpage/JRJ.

    • 3
      8

      K
      The point that I made was that those who lament one irregular process kept their mouth shut on an earlier occasion when slanderous tale carrying was used against a person who was the overwhelming choice of the Council.
      It is about the double standards of vested interests in matters of justice and fairplay.
      I was unhappy about the way Prof Vigneswaran was made VC; I am unhappy about the way he was removed. There is nothing personal in either.
      Unlike a few now championing his cause today, I never resorted to attacks on Prof Vigneswaran on these pages; nor have I commented on his performance as VC, because, in my view CT (or for that matter the print media) is not the forum for such discussion.

      • 5
        0

        SJ:

        According to the regulations, his excellency the President can appoint anyone from the list of 3 choices, it is not mandatory to appoint the overwhelming choice of the council. This has happened several times in the past at the UOJ and in other Sri Lankan universities. Don’t bring that issue here and mix it with this unlawful dismissal. Yes, Prof. Vigneswaran’s performance as VC couldn’t be discussed at the CT and couldn’t be discussed by retired university Tutors.

      • 2
        3

        SJ
        Do you think the relatives of those who were killed in Mullivaikal will be able to show sympathy towards Mahinda Rajapaksa when he is treated unfairly by someone else? Do you think they will be able to cry, shout and take to the streets in support of him? Some may be able to, not everyone.
        *
        The above article is apparently based on an affidavit. Did the UGC chairman/the President of SL issue a statement/affidavit which indicates at least directly that the overwhelming choice of the council was not given the job because they received slanderous comments about that person? Is there any rule that says the first choice of the council should be appointed? Is there 100% proof that the council’s first preference is the most perfect of all the candidates and is it always certain the council’s judgement of persons can never go wrong? Do you think people who generally fight for justice and fairplay should subscribe to the view that the Council’s first choice always be made the VC? Are justice and fairplay irreconcilable with the president having the right to choose one of the three names recommended by the council? You may have absolute faith in the wisdom of the members of the Council but not everyone. Because of the way some council members are appointed and because of the way they conduct themselves, they cant be taken seriously by everyone.
        *
        Those who hold important positions cannot escape the scrutiny of the media and the public. Can you say the performance of a Finance Minister cannot be commented upon in the media and the right place is Parliament or the meetings conducted at the ministry? Council members may find it difficult to comment on the performance of the VC in the print media. That is understandable. They have a forum – the council meetings – where they can critique and provide guidance. Where can others go?

        • 1
          1

          P’s D
          Re your first point:
          Ask those who sucked up to those responsible for the tragedy of Mullivaikkal to secure positions for themselves.
          *
          I have already summed up my position.
          I did not the way the VC came, and did not like the way he went.
          If it is a matter of legitimacy, let the appropriate Court decide.
          The write up, not unusually for CT, goes on to sling mud at all and sundry, and the chorus follows up with falsehoods.
          *
          If you have doubts about Council conduct on any issue, use RTI to verify.

          • 0
            0

            SJ

            A candidate for appointment in Physics has submitted fake documentation signed by a person who is not authorized to issue such a letter. Above all, in that fake letter, job title of the signatory was not mentioned. Still, you are trying to justify that fraud and trying to nitpick on Head / Physics.

            How much money did you and the Physics Professor PR
            get for covering-up this fraud activity. Is that in lakhs or in millions?

            You talk about foolish RTI here !

      • 2
        3

        SJ: By your logic, before being critical about something unfair, one should have expressed criticism of something else that is unfair. It follows that, when applied recursively, nobody can criticize anything. Bollocks. QED.

        • 5
          3

          Not at all.
          It is your logic that is a little twisted.
          When people who preserved silence on gross injustice if not party to the injustice scream “Thief! Thief!” questions arise.
          Even now what we see are attempts to justify that injustice and vile methods, not a word of regret.

    • 3
      0

      Why the Ex.VC wouldn’t ask for an injunction at court to stop any new appointments until his problem is settled? I don’t know the developments at UOJ after he was removed..

  • 1
    4

    N. Keeran:

    Is SJ a council member? Couldn’t he dare to comment with his real name? What a shame to the University of Jaffna ! Even a council member don’t have the backbone to comment here with his real name.

    • 8
      2

      R
      Check yours for a start.

  • 10
    4

    The dogs barked against Vigneswaran when he came to power through the back door are now wagging the tail just because of the appointment of their relative Ahilan in the Sociology Department. This is like another big boss where things can change over-night.

    • 5
      3

      Some people seem to be so rattled because under Prof Vigneswaran’s leadership some well-qualified people with solid publications and international exposure were recruited to the Faculty of Arts. Some aspiring VCs in other faculties are also rattled by these appointments. But don’t worry – these chaps are not very keen on becoming administrators. But, yes, they will make a lot noise at meetings and ask good questions. Probably one of the few good things Prof V did as VC was withstanding the pressure exerted on him by the academic mafia inside the Arts Faculty to stop these appointments.

  • 3
    0

    The Dons must be honest, open and maintain high integrity. How can you teach students if you are unfair, dishonest and misuse your power. University of Jaffna is being ranked very poorly as a university and is more like a high school. They should avoid dirty politics and be a gentlemen. The selection panels should be very independent. The majority of selection panel members should be from other Universities. They appoint their own selection panel members and make unfair appointments. The panel should be very independent, open and transparent

    • 0
      0

      John
      The authors of the article are all part of that university community.
      Based on your picture, draw your own conclusions.

  • 3
    5

    Really time has come for the government and the defense line to investigate the reasons and the background why these 6 academics of different background have come up together once again blaming the national security forces for the reason of firing a highly corrupted dishonest person by his excellency the President of the country by the power vested by the constitution, at this point. Everyone reading this article should keep in mind that these 6 culprits tried all the possible erratic and atrocious ways to bring Prof.Vigneswaran into power 2 years ago, irregularly pushed Council’s prime choice Prof.Srisatkunarajah out mentioning the reason of defense report. There were beyond the screen incidents where students who failed mathematics for more than 3 years were motivated, to act against Prof.Srisatkunarajah gaining power, by some academics who wrote this article. Now a similar defense report and all the abuses by Vigneswaran in his administration just for money threw him out of power in front of his agents. If we dont wake up now, then this would be a base for challenging the national security of the country in the future.

  • 3
    5

    Ramanan,
    I wish to know how Prof V did withstand the pressure exerted on him by the academic mafia inside the Arts Faculty to stop the predetermined appointments?
    Keeran,
    Yes, SJ (Sivasegaram) is an emeritus council member, always functions as a faithful advocate for all the VC’s, regardless of justice. He got the privilege of changing his dress in Prof.Vasanthy Arasaratnam’s private room next to her office. He is given a permanent room in the University guest house for free by the dismissed VC Prof.Vigneswaran and the present CA Prof.Kanthasamy. We should always believe that SJ is a person for neutrality and always stand for justice in and out of the council !!!!!!! This is how University education of the tamil community is administered by fakes.

  • 7
    1

    Rav**g ***
    Why are you accusing Prof. V. of doing improper things of the kind you suggest? What have you got against him?
    *
    Kindly tell your ’emeritus’ council member friend that the evil one seeks to find in others is probably one’s true self.
    BTW, ask him where the private room is please, in case he was there.
    Thanks for the amusement.

    • 5
      4

      SJ,

      First an admission: I participated in the Mission to some extent. The Mission was first about installing “Sam” and when that became Mission Impossible the goal was to block the worst VC candidates worst of course being subjective. The secondary Mission was accomplished when Prof V. was appointed by the President. Unfortunately Mission Control partly lost control of V.

      As you have pointed out a VC should be appointed. The people behind the article probably support V. and his SC petition hoping that VC elections can be avoided for some time. The Council being what it is today we are bound to see the return of the worst candidates. In addition to supporting V. there must be attempts to find a new “Sam”.

      Pretty obvious?

      Is the “Private Room” a toilet?

      • 3
        4

        Thanks TSSC.
        I decline to comment on the Council, but for saying that voting was clean and fair the last time.
        All the dirty electioneering happened on these pages.
        Avoiding elections for some time is the game that everyone is at these days.
        The mafia tried other games too like smuggling its agents into the Council.
        Their methods lack finesse. But they may with some luck find a person who knows better than to rely on US Mail.
        *
        There are two toilets, both ‘public’, unless the ’emeritus’ ****ter knows another.

        • 8
          0

          Are you then going to treat anyone other than your preferred person as being put forward by the mafia (in your words). Given such bias you show, how can a potential candidat prove to you her independence from the mafia? And to be more specific, did you feel ST was encouraged by the mafia to apply — and didnt have an independent mind / ambition of his own?

          • 0
            0

            F–
            Why are you letting your imagination run riot?
            My comment was a response to TSSC.
            He suggested that “there must be attempts to find a new “Sam”.”
            Check with him. He may have a clue!

            • 3
              0

              SJ — I understand you were responding, but your bias clearly shows. I think only a stupid person (other than the preferred one) will apply to this position now, thereby demonstrating sufficient stupidity to be rejected! You win.

              • 0
                0

                F–
                Why are you letting your imagination run riot?

        • 1
          0

          SJ

          Who smuggled you into the Council? Was that done by another emeritus Tutor RK? Has RK supervised any MSc or MPhil or PhD students? Has he got any research grants either? He has a set of notes prepared during the Dutch time and he just write that notes in the board. You all are Emirates Tutors !!!

  • 1
    2

    Why did the Government appoint retired university Tutors like SJ to the Council? Do they want to change the universities as tuition centers?

    • 2
      0

      Running short of ideas?
      Try swear words.

      • 0
        0

        SJ

        Not swear words, wrote real stories !

        • 0
          0

          You mean fairy tales!
          Poor sod, when every little plot that you hatch falls apart you have to vent your fury on someone!
          Search within for the cause of your string of failures.

    • 4
      0

      Toyota – Mitsubishi Free Cars aka Post Doc 15 Yrs
      You say that SJ is in the Jaffna University Council? You seem to be close to someone in UGC.
      You say that SJ is a retired university Tutor. Which university and in what subject?

  • 4
    0

    why did they appoint Kandasamy as a CA?. Kandasamy was a retired academic and they should have appoint some independent retired academic from other Universities in Sri lanka. The new VC should be from other Sri Lankan or overseas academic to avoid corruption, favoritism, bias and malpractices. Prof Thurairajah was the only exceptional VC ( from another University in Sri lanka) and he did the Job without any series issues. VC should be very independent, unbiased person with high integrity. If you have a VC from the same university, he/she will be always bias and do dirty politics with his/her own mafia colleagues. Please try to get a new VC from outside Jaffna University Community and make the University a world class university.

    • 4
      1

      BTW, Prof T had plenty of trouble from the forerunners to the mafia.
      They could not bend him.
      *
      Prof Arthanayake was made CA of Eastern University and did a good job of cleaning up the place.
      Can you please suggest an independent person for CA, now that Prof. T is long gone?
      Peradeniya had mostly its products as VCs.
      Moratuwa does the same.
      Colombo does the same.
      Jaffna missed a good VC, thanks to a gang of conspirators.
      There are no simple formulae to solve problems.

      • 0
        0

        SJ

        Why do you ask to suggest an independent person for CA? Are you the authorized person to search and appoint CA to the UOJ? You are thinking high about you. You are a simple tutor at Pera !

        Do you publicly agree that current CA recommended by RK is a useless person? Remember he is also a product of Peradeniya !

        You are the person barked and shouted at the Council to block the appointment of a Professor to the UOJ Engineering Faculty without recognizing that the applicant had Professorship at the Michigan State University and also at Peradeniya. He was also a product of Peradeniya and had higher doctorate in Engineering. You are now leaving crocodile tears as if you are trying to develop UOJ.

        If you go out of the Council, 99 % of the UOJ problems will be solved. Do that first, if you really like to develop UOJ !

        • 0
          0

          C
          I was not asking, but responding to a rather daft suggestion from a slightly less confused person.
          You need better language skills.
          Besides, with a confused frame of mind it is tough to bark well on another’s behalf.
          *
          Instead, try some good humor. Should work.
          If it is not within reach, seek help.

          • 0
            0

            SJ

            Persons who got Lecturer/ Professor positions at Pera Engineering Faculty through the influence of his father-in-law are talking about the integrity, academic standard and appointment of good VC who is a product of UOJ and so.

            Good job emeritus Tutor !

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