19 November, 2018

Blog

The Missing Millions From Singapore?

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof.  S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

C.V. Wigneswaran’s Accusation – Leading Nowhere

The NP Chief Minister in declaring open a housing scheme by a chartable member of the public in Achchuvely about a month ago, made a startling claim. He said in public from the stage that:

A foundation in Singapore had donated Rs. 90 million for the furtherance of Tamil studies and so far the university has seen only Rs. 30,000 of it.

As proof of his source, he pointed to Aru Thirumurugan who has present, and is and has been a member of the University of Jaffna Council for at least three terms. This was reported to me by T. Thayalan, the Sunday Times and Uthayan Correspondent who was present.

Fear Psychosis

It is a testament to Jaffna’s continuing fear psychosis despite the war’s end that, not even after the CM’s public revelation, has the matter led anywhere as it should in a healthy society. If we truly are a democracy with working institutions, it would have been raised at least at the University Council. People fear that if they point to wrongdoings, they will be made to suffer.

My Note to the UGC on the Singapore Bequest

My mind went back to the time I was the Vice Chancellor of the University of Jaffna. On 4 May 2006, when my relations who had made the bequest expressed concern to me over the use of the money, I promptly wrote to the UGC Chairman Prof. Gamini Samaranayake:

“One of my relatives in Singapore died in 1975 leaving much of his property to be given to University of Jaffna to be spent on Tamil studies, Tamil music studies and the library, after providing for his widow. The latter provision hindered an immediate transfer of funds and the funds were carefully managed by Trustees, one of whom is my cousin Vijendran Alfreds. Mr. Alfreds has informed me that the money was carefully managed and after making provisions for the widow, they dealt with Prof. S. Mohanadas carefully through lawyers, and in January of this year transferred S$1 million (close to SLRs. 67 million). As this huge bequest was not reported to the UGC up to the time I was on the UGC as required by the Universities Act, as Council Members are not aware of this huge gift and as there has been no public announcement of this unusual gift from an expatriate Jaffna man, I please ask that the UGC look into this and ensure that everything is in order. I make no accusations but ask as Vice Chancellor at a time when odd things are going on in the administration of the University only that the UGC ensure that there is transparency any time a gift like this is made and that an old man’s last wishes are correctly implemented by the money going where it was intended.”

After writing to the UGC Chairman, I assumed that the UGC will do the right thing, and put that matter out of my mind – until the CM’s speech, and widely circulating stories that the Agriculture Faculty buildings in Kilinochchi built by the LTTE cost yet another Rs. 650 million to “rebuild” with locks costing more than doors.

Auditor General’s Indictment

I am now very worried. Under the university regime of that period that is still continuing, the Auditor General strongly indicted the then Dean Medicine (who is presently the VC). His report is dated 08 June 2004 and titled “Unauthorized payment for the procurement of Computer Network Facilities to the Medical Faculty” (His Ref. NE/JF/A/JU/2004). It was given to me as a Member of the UGC. It says

The Dean … has deviated from the procurement procedure … and ordered equipment at a total cost of Rs. 3,000,000 whereas the procurement by a Dean is limited to Rs. 100,000. When the availability of grants was Rs. 963,000 order was placed for Rs. 3,000,000. No tender/quotation was called … to obtain the lowest and efficient bid. A sum of Rs. 722,550 … had been paid without any supporting documents. … The price quoted by Delven Computer had been reduced to half of the original prices after negotiation made subsequently. It shows that the price had been quoted arbitrarily. .. All equipment purchased was not installed. … The entire expenditure incurred could be considered irregular, unauthorized and fruitless.”

Incredibly, the expense was retroactively authorized by the Finance Committee after the AG’s indictment and the matter hushed up, an Assistant Bursar of that time informs me. Clearly more people were involved.

The UGC – Encouraging Lawlessness

I have since learnt of the UGC’s irresponsible position on unlawful universities. The present Chairman in his affidavit dated 21 Oct. 2015 on a matter where two universities disobeyed orders by the UGC in the now concluded case USAB 873, incredibly says:

“Universities are separate legal entities and the UGC has not given the power [sic.] to compel Higher Educational Institutions to do things by the Universities Act No. 16 of 1978.”

The powers for the UGC to compel unlawful universities are amply illustrated in the Universities Act. The parlous state of our universities and their pilfered finances is revealed not only by this UGC attitude but also by the lack of grammar in an affidavit.

Obviouly the UGC thinks it can do nothing but has gone to Jaffna to punish the culprits behind the student riots – thinking all the while that it has no power to do anything! Perhaps it is for the holiday they will enjoy at a 5-star hotel.

The opposition seemed clueless about the UGC’s stand on its powers although MEP leader Dinesh Gunawardena said in Parliament that If the officials of Jaffna University had refrained from making an intervention to bring the Jaffna student riots situation under control, “the University Grants Commission should take disciplinary action against them.” Good luck Mr. Gunawardena!

Public Giving – What we Must Do

Public giving is what all private western universities thrive on. As we try to revive our educational system and speak of privatization as a means to quality, people must feel encouraged that their giving will really help our universities and not go to line private pockets. The Sunday Leader (1Feb. 2015) has with documents blamed University of Colombo “for allowing former Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake to acquire a valuable residence in Colombo 7 on forged documents which was a gift to the university by an eminent Gynaecologist.” This was the residence of Dr. Siva Chinnathambi, at No.11, Hewa Avenue, Colombo 7.

Unless there is some guarantee that our bequests will not be embezzled, no one will give. No one should! There is a lot of noise about the frauds in government that have been going on. We who grumble that our new government is doing nothing, must do something ourselves. The Council of the university has first responsibility. It has failed us. The UGC is our next line of defence. It too has failed us. Now the Minister of Higher Education must act.

We members of the public must do our bit, pressuring the Minister and the government to honour the mandate that we the public gave them to clean up. And to honour the memory of the generous dead by ensuring that their hard earned savings are used as they intended.

Post Script: The Government Gazette of 15 July, 2016 gives the Auditor General’s indictment of the university.

Section 2:2:4 refers to the non-rendition of “Detailed reports on donations received from foreign countries/embassies.”

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Latest comments

  • 11
    11

    Chief Minister C V Wigneswaran is a controversial and a questionable figure and has put down the Tamils to such a demeaning level.

    He has not accomplished the fundamental task of passing the entire 105 statutes needed to effectively govern the provincial council. According to information, only three or four of the 105 statutes have been passed. I understand that right thinking persons helped CVW by giving him all the drafted statues, but he is proving his incompetence by not approving them in the NCP. It is a downright disgrace.

    Instead, his leadership has wasted time in passing resolutions after resolutions that have the urgent needs of the people. CVW is dancing to the tune of maverick Sivajilingam.

    Due to not passing the statutes, CVW has empowered the government to administer the areas that NCP is not statutorily empowered due to the failures of CVW.

    The civil society and the Tamil media is silent on this issue.

    Instead of doing the much needed provincial level work, NCP is engaging itself in the municipal council work. Tree planting on the roadsides of A9 road in Kaithady/Navatkuli speaks volume of the NCP’s pathetic status.

    When we are unable to administer a Provincial Council, how on earth we could run a Federal State or a Separate state? CVW is a naked testimony of down right failure.

    CVW nakedly displays the vacuum and incompetence and it is time the Tamils think wisely to question CVW likes.

    • 10
      4

      Correction:

      Instead, his leadership has wasted time in passing resolutions after resolutions that do not have the urgent needs of the people. CVW is dancing to the tune of maverick Sivajilingam.

      • 7
        6

        It is well known that people in glass houses should not throw stones at others. When someone calls another as a controversial and questionable figure, he must be absoluteley certain that this description does not also fit him, thereby giving credibility to his views and not make him look a fool.

        As far as Wigneswaran is concerned, he was thrust into this post unwillingly, but that should be no reason that his performance must be lacking. His integrity is unquestionable as there is no allegations against him of any financial misappropriation such as from housing associations or Hindu temples.

        He is also known to have self respect and will not betray for the sake of position or perks. Has he ever gone behind anyone to appoint him as their agent to collect money and pocket it. Has he ever approached any President of Srilanka to get publicity for himself and favours to obtain material gains.

        He is a forthright person, and anyone who is so will be taken to task as controversial. Lee Kwan Yew said “It is better to be correct than be politically correct”. Does anyone want him to be dishonest about the suffering of Tamils in order to be on the good books of Srilankan government.

        Amonng the silent majority of Tamil diaspora in UK, Wigneswaran commands high respect than any of Srilankan Tamil politicians. Norhtern provincial council will never be allowed to function under any regime. If interference and sabotage was overt under previous government, it is covert under present one.

        • 5
          5

          Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam

          Let me fearlessly reassert that CM Mr Wigneswaran is ‘a controversial and questionable figure’ within the assertions made in my comments above. I am prepared to write an open letter on this to receive a response from him.

          You have prevaricated and brought in issues that I did not raise. I did not question his financial integrity for you to make insinuating comments and I respect you for backing him on this score.

          You have failed to respond to the specific issues I have raised about CVW as CM and assume that you concur with with all what I have stated. You comment: ‘Northern provincial council will never be allowed to function under any regime’ is easily made to point the finger at others without dissecting ourselves. Real prevarication indeed.

          Leave aside the Mahinda regime. It is the down right failure of your mentor CVW for the failure of the NPC.

          We have an important meeting with the leaders of silent majority of the Tamils in the Tamil Diaspora tomorrow. We welcome you to present your case on the insinuations and your prop ups for CV. Please visit Pavitt Hall, Union Road, HA0 4AU and ask the manager for the direction for the venue for the meeting which is stone throw away. The meeting will commence at 6.30pm.

          • 4
            3

            First of all silent majority do not have leaders, they think and act themselves, and they will exercise their views correctly as they do not have any hidden agenda, they have self respect and they cannot be bought over for money or positions. However there is a bunch of publicity seekers, opportunists and of questionable integrity, who are claiming to represent Tamil diaspora.

            Secondly the Tamil diaspora must unequivocally support decisions of Tamils in Srilanka taken either by themselves or through their elected representatives. It is those in the Tamil diaspora who are tireless self promoters who do not want to go along with it. I belong to the true silent majority and therefore I do not wish to associate in any thing with these so called leaders.

            • 4
              3

              Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam

              Well said on supporting people’s electoral decisions back home.

              But I wish to state our meeting today is a quiet one of silent midsets discussing practical ways of helping our people to uplift their socio-economic status. These meetings always produce results and each one of us contribute whatever way to help our people.

              All those present today support the decision of our people to form a unity government that has given the opening for us to do the work we are undertaking without any undue interference from anyone including the government.

              I see that you struggle to rationalise issues to get into well intended debates and unduly claim to represent the silent diaspora by upholding nonsensical insinuations and harangue.

              Unfortunately it appears that you live with the bandwagon of hypocrites who bamboozle to gain petty sadistic and parochial thrills on nonsensical claims without any justification.We see this across the board.

          • 5
            0

            jayadevan

            ” I did not question his financial integrity for you to make insinuating comments”

            i think Dr is questioning yours.What he seems to be saying is you are not fit to throw stones at others due to some housing associations and temples with which you were associated.

            As for wiggie,let the tamil people decide his fate when they vote next.

            his popularity with the sinhalese will be inversely related to his popularity with tamils.Both don’t go in the same direction.sumanthiran and sambanthan are finding that out the hard way.One of my good sinhala friends was lambasting wiggie to me saying that he thinks he is it,thinking too much of himself as very important figure.That means he will get elected again i think because he is unpopular with snhalese.

            The most important factor is modi likes wiggie.In him i think he sees another hindu eccentric just like him.Modi will only listen to him,he coudn’t care a fart for what sambanthan has to say.As far as modi is concerned real leader of the tamils is wiggie.

            • 4
              3

              shankar

              ‘i think Dr is questioning yours.What he seems to be saying is you are not fit to throw stones at others due to some housing associations and temples with which you were associated’. – I well understood the numskull’s insinuation. The very attitude that is pervading in the so called Tamil intelligentsia that getting thrilled by harping falsehood to get thrill to its bottom end.

              • 2
                2

                What makes you think that I accused you, unless you have guilty conscience. You have demonstrated your low breeding. No one can hide truth as it will come out one day. Please Stop attacking others as it will bounce back at you.

                • 2
                  2

                  Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam

                  What a pathetic defense for your downright insinuation.

                  It you think your foolhardy comment which is the reflection of the the dirty campaign carried by the gutless few who subscribe to your standard of thinking and values could not be understood, there won’t be difference between you and me.

                  You should have defended yourself with Shankar who was direct in his response which I adduced as insinuation well before him. Probably you did not understand the meaning of ‘insinuation’ and it appears to be your habitual preoccupation to sidetrack issues and to take gutless stand on what you blatantly said.

                  It is your guilt that comes now as a downright cover up to exonerate yourself.

                  Be warned, if any further scurrilous and unjustified comments are made against me in the future, such falsehood and slander will lead to libel consequences as I done in the past.

                  It is clear you are a UK resident. It is not difficult to trace you wherever you are in the UK.

        • 1
          0

          Dear self proclaimed phd dimwits.ask yourself, what is the duty of an Eelam Tamil. Eelam Tamils should follow the path of our eternal leader Hon Prabhakaran. Have you forgotten that? there are too many good for nothing , smally endowed jerkers giving Eelam Tamils advice. keep it for yourself and roll it up where it deserved to be.
          do as thalaivar told. Eelam cause and strategy is decided by our national leader, follow their path. if not, dont pretend like you the champions of Tamils. only.champions of tamils are heroic fighters of Tamil Eelam

    • 7
      3

      RJ,
      Thank you for your comment.

      “He has not accomplished the fundamental task of passing the entire 105 statutes needed to effectively govern the provincial council.”

      Could you please let us know more about this statutes? You said the same thing on Neruku ner/IBC TamilTV.

      “Lanka Fulfilled Only 11 % of Pledges to UNHRC and 20% of Pledges to LLRC”, Says Study http://www.veriteresearch.org/research-spreport-archives.cfm

      What do you say on this?
      Thank you

      • 11
        5

        Anpu

        In order for the NCP to be fully functional on all 37 subjects under the 13th amendment, it has to adopt laws (statues) on its floor.

        This is a very simple exercise. The very statues passed by the other provincial governments with the alteration to provincial name of NPC the statues can be simply adopted.

        These alterations were done for CVW by a local NGO and some concerned individuals. The legal luminary CVW could not understand the importance of passing them. He may have been good at passing sentences (?) when he was a judge but regrettably not good at passing laws.

        He is sitting duck and talking about all kinds of issues without knowing he and his Councillors are paid to serve in the NCP and passing the statues is one of their fundamental functions.

        According to information, some say 105 statues and few other say it is 300. For the inefficient CM, numbers on statutory matters are not important.He knows to gallivant with his fiddle stick.

        For your information, under the inefficient CVW’s leadership 230 resolutions have been passed to keep his Tamil Diaspora clans happy. In contrast, only 4 statues have been passed so far. Even the Northern media is silent on this, probably they can’t understand the real issues.

        When he was elected, I thought we Tamils had a breakthrough. But I regret now. I very much doubt his capacity as a judge to preside over legal matters.

        Even the international acclaim he had soon after he was elected has evaporated. He was not entertained at No: 10 by David Cameron when he visited London recently. Instead, he went to the FCO for a meeting.

        With regard to your quote: “Lanka Fulfilled Only 11 % of Pledges to UNHRC and 20% of Pledges to LLRC”. Yes, there must be more progress on these areas but as Tamils we too must without fear debate about our own failures and find ways to overcome them. We are good at ducking and diving on very issues we need to frankly engage.

        • 5
          2

          Thanks RJ,

          “With regard to your quote: “Lanka Fulfilled Only 11 % of Pledges to UNHRC and 20% of Pledges to LLRC”. Yes, there must be more progress on these areas but as Tamils we too must without fear debate about our own failures and find ways to overcome them. We are good at ducking and diving on very issues we need to frankly engage.”

          Successive govts did not implement 13.
          This govt implemented only 11% of UNHRC.
          Only 20% of LLRC is implemented.

          The above does not bother you.

          Are you saying TNA is not engaging?

          • 7
            4

            Anpu

            With regard to the 13th amendment. This is the only constitutional achievement out of the long bloody war. !3th amendment was weakened because of Tamils own politics. The underwriter (India) was kicked in the teeth and the present day NCP is our own making of our failure.

            At least there is realization at present in the South that 13th amendment must be strengthened. Indications are the two tier conflicting governance will be revised with the jettisoning of the concurrent list that gave undue powers to the governors.

            The issues are wide ranging. Let us start with the constitutional process to achieve something through consensus without confrontation. I welcome TNA’s stand on this.

            With regard to the accountability issues, the process must be strengthened. Between constitutional and accountability issues my preference is to work on the constitutional reform first without delay and achieve what we can to create a conducive climate and then work on the accountability issues.

            The accountability is the international agenda. Cambodian investigations are still going on. International justice on the massacre of the Turkish minority during WW1 was only delivered few months ago.

            We must thread a brick building process without pitching ourselves to fight for everything at a go. We paid heavy price for our emotive approach and let us learn lessons from our past failures.

    • 4
      2

      Chief Minister Wigneswaran is the only Tamil leaders challenging Sri Lankan government on state terrorism, illegal forces occupation of Tamils’ lands, demanding foreign diplomats and leaders for an international independent investigation as many Tamils distrust TNA.

      Tamils should continue to struggle for accountability and Justice before the victims perish. WWI and other wars took place in ancient times, no advanced technology at that time. Tamils genocide is exposed all over the world and Tamils’ struggle for freedom is available in youtube and so on. UK Tamils should demand British government that gave independence as merged nation, depriving Tamils’ rights and disrespecting Tamils sovereignty. British government should release a report on Eelam genocide, like Sir John Silcot’s report on Iraq invasion and investigate British leaders collaboration to the genocidal regime.

      Tamils in the UK could file lawsuits demanding justice for the Tamil victims. Tamils are victims as a result of British colonialism that handed over political power to the greedy and Apartheid Sinhala Buddhist leaders.

      • 2
        0

        Ohm Shivaya Namaha

        Shiva! Pl. initiate the legal challenge as you suggest to ensure the battle is won for the Tamils.

        The British Judiciary will award you the Tamil Eelam in the golden platter.

        Please move fast before Britain Brexit. Once Britain is out from the EU you will not be able to appeal to the EU.

        Please do not think like Modawanse.

  • 7
    3

    “After writing to the UGC Chairman, I assumed that the UGC will do the right thing, and put that matter out of my mind”

    if you can’t do a job properly,don’t do it at all.If you are so busy that you can’t follow up something like 90 million rupees,then you should have delegated it to someone else who has a little more time than your busy shedule.

  • 6
    0

    I skimmed through all of this, and it is mind-boggling.

    I hope that some people who are better qualified than is doing this, will take a better look at this. It is not just what Professor who has written, also the pages and pages from The Gazette to which he has given a link. Before you get to the section on Jaffna University, you have all that stuff about the Armed Forces. One of the things that it indicates, is the extent to which these soldiers continue to dominate life in this country.

    We have made such a mess of this country! Educating the growing generations has therefore become a priority. Perhaps it should become our chief priority. Before making this comment, I took a look at that other article on the National Institute of Education. It appears to be equally shocking.

    By the way, what Professor Hoole says about bad grammar seems to apply to everything in The Gazette. Presumably, in case of ambiguity or contradiction, it is the Sinhalese version that has to be relied upon. As for me, I am getting to be an old man, without a computer at this moment. This comment of mine, I am dictating into a tablet. Quite often, after posting the comment, I find that some strange words ( always correctly spelled) have crept in. I should not be faulted for this, because I am managing with the meager personal resources that I have. What has got highlighted in Professor Hoole’s article is the misuse of huge amounts of public resources.

  • 4
    0

    The present parlous state of our universities is testimony to the low esteem in which they are held by all decent people. This is just another ‘unresolved’ matter. Many would-be benefactors anguish over bequests to Sri Lankan institutions ending up diverted to fatten some crooked politician or proxy.

    Take heed all those of you who are thinking of leaving your hard-earned assets to institutions that are badly managed, who think that transparency is best for bathroom windows, who practice profligacy, and some who are clearly not fit for purpose.

    This is sad, because our universities need, more than ever, all the help they can get. Perhaps, one day, they will get the message and put their house in order.

  • 6
    0

    What a revelation. I was under the impression according many reader comments in the past that only Sinhala politicians and their henchmen are the only thieves in Sri Lanka. According to this news item, the thieves of similar caliber are in the Tamil speaking minorities too. Once a thief, will always will be a thief. These corrupt politicians and their honchos from both sides of the ethnic divide have been stealing from the coffers of citizens of Sri Lanka since 1953. These Sinhala and Tamil politicians think, it is their birthright. Squandering national assets and setting one community against the other have made them enormously rich. As a Sinhala Buddhist let me repeat what I have said before;
    “STEALING FROM CITIZENS OF THE COUNTRY IS EQUIVALENT TO STEALING FROM THE BEGGING BOWL OF LORD BUDDHA” I don’t think it is necessary to elaborate further on consequences.

  • 7
    1

    The Singapore Bequest
    I am somewhat curious as to why Mr Vijendran Alfreds had to “carefully manage” the massive fund (S$1 million, close to SLRs. 67 million)— after making provisions for the widow —for around three decades to deal with Prof. S. Mohanadas carefully through lawyers to transfer the money to the UoJ.

  • 5
    1

    sekera.

    I also smell a rat!

  • 0
    0

    Chief Minister Wig,

    “The NP Chief Minister in declaring open a housing scheme by a chartable member of the public in Achchuvely about a month ago, made a startling claim. He said in public from the stage that:

    A foundation in Singapore had donated Rs. 90 million for the furtherance of Tamil studies and so far the university has seen only Rs. 30,000 of it.

    As proof of his source, he pointed to Aru Thirumurugan who has present, and is and has been a member of the University of Jaffna Council for at least three terms. This was reported to me by T. Thayalan, the Sunday Times and Uthayan Correspondent who was present.”

    Should you as a retired judge not know what to do in a case like this? Is it not your duty to make a complaint with the relevant authorities? Why don’t you act?

  • 0
    1

    Dr Jeevan,

    Thank you for taking up various problems.

    “My mind went back to the time I was the Vice Chancellor of the University of Jaffna. On 4 May 2006, when my relations who had made the bequest expressed concern to me over the use of the money,”

    Today 1 million SGD is worth more than 100 million rupees. Where did they transfer the money? Did they ever ask where it went? Unless the money is forgotten in a bank account there should be evidence of who has withdrawn it and when.

    Is this not a case for the police to investigate instead of the UGC?

    • 1
      0

      LW
      Also see my comment above
      (sekera
      July 28, 2016 at 1:12 am)

  • 0
    0

    It appears that an amount of about Rs 100 million, received from Singapore, donated to the University of Jaffna(UJ) by a well wisher was either mishandled or swindled.

    The UJ and the University Governing council (UCG) should do the following;

    1. Trace the “Singapore money” from the point of receiving till now.
    2. Ask the Chief Finance Officer of UJ to submit a report about it.
    3. Appoint an independnt external audit firm to check the report.
    4. The auditor should do an audit trail and submit his report.
    5. The auditor should confirm if the money was spent for the purpose it was sent.

    The UJ and the UGC should introduce such a Financial system for all trust money received in future and report quarterly to the donors, Vice Chancellor and the UGC.

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