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Jaffna College is not a game of kiddi and thatchi for the Diaspora

“Jaffna College was founded in 1872 by the people of the Jaffna District a few years after Batticotta Seminary was closed by the American missionaries. Those who had Jaffna College in their clutches in recent years kept the founding realities of the college under cover and, even as recently as four years ago, a retired principal who had served for nearly two decades stated in a feature published in a US media that Jaffna College was founded by the American missionaries and was profuse in his gratitude to them.”

by Victor Karunairajan

(March 28, Toronto, Sri Lanka Guardian) A false impression has been circulated among certain circles of the Jaffna College Alumni overseas that only those who have been past students can be members of the school’s Board of Directors. It has originated from Singapore and evidently its author has not checked his facts properly or has based his assumption on material that is either fallacious or fraudulently fabricated with the intention to deceive the college community, and even more the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India (JDCSI). The author even referred to possible court action against the Board of Directors, him as he claimed having received a favourable legal opinion to the effect.

No sooner he made such a charge, an alumnus from Down Under announced he too had consulted lawyers and was advised that there was a good case against the Jaffna College Board of Directors. As if not to be left out, a medic from the United Kingdom responded to the Singaporean indicating that he was supporting him. Within a day, a Canadian alumnus coos concurrence; no doubt a Kumbal Govinda spectacle. So badly informed was the Aussie alumnus he thought Jaffna College was owned by the Trustees of Jaffna College Funds in the US. One must surely wonder on what basis he obtained his legal opinion.

He was present at the Melbourne meeting of the Jaffna College alumni last December where the Trustees issue was spelt out very clearly and it was presumed everyone at that gathering knew that the Trustees of Jaffna College Funds are a fiduciary organization who were only the keepers and managers of Jaffna College funds.

None of them seem to have taken the trouble to check whether their assumption on such a key matter as the composition of the Board of Directors of such a well known educational institution was correct. They appear to have gone by an undercurrent of animosity and acrimony against the JDCSI that has primary responsibility to ensure that the founding ideals and values of Jaffna College are maintained just like in the case of the Church Missionary Society (CMS) that manages St John’s College and prior to the take-over of schools, several Hindu Schools and Colleges that were managed by the Hindu Board of Education.

Jaffna Central College, Vembadi Girls College and Hartley College came under the Methodist Church and Kopay Christian College was a CMS school. Among the JDCSI schools were Union College, Drieberg College, American Mission Boys and Girls Colleges and Memorial College. This is all very much part of our history and heritage. One has to be appreciative of historical events and also how in our society there prevailed a great deal of harmony and understanding among the various schools.

Obviously egged and urged by certain elements that have lost their clout with Jaffna College having in their days exploited this great institution to hilt for themselves, their kith and kin, they think Jaffna College is for sale; if not, for seize hook or by crook. These are the forces that are supporting the Church of the American Ceylon Mission (CACM) that is employing the Appropriation by Occupation tactics to take over the properties of the JDCSI all because a certain Father Jeyanesan did not become bishop of this church and lacks the humility and nature such an office demands. Unfortunately, this will not be possible with Jaffna College because she is a legally enacted institution and not something rabble-roused and formed like the CACM.

These advocates of deception and duplicity or puppets of such come from the Diaspora who have established for themselves comfortable lives in their new lands and are increasingly becoming more and more unfamiliar with the problems and needs of our people in Sri Lanka. They must still be dreaming of their idyllic lives in Sri Lanka especially when they were boys and brats playing kiddi and thatchi those days and all the freedom and joys of community and extended family life that are all seriously restricted in the comfort zone of their current well heeled lifestyles. In the absence of these and the humdrum monotonous nature of their affluence, they seem to seek a bit of thrill and domination at the cost of our already much beleaguered and even terribly endangered folks in Sri Lanka.

While our kith and kin in Sri Lanka are virtually begging various organizations worldwide to help them out of their miseries on several fronts, our own well-placed first generation migrants in such countries as Singapore, Australia, United Kingdom and Canada and some others too are spending no doubt lavishly on lawyers and any action consequent to that in such a direction would only lead to more distress to our people. Are they so smart that they are not smart enough to understand and appreciate the fundamentals of needy circumstances and the constant terror situations that have become endemic in Sri Lanka?

Has someone sat down even to have an idea of what Father Jeyanesan is paying to lawyers with all his harassing and nuisance court actions against the JDCSI? They are in their millions and all these were collected overseas in the name of the JDCSI as needed to help widows, orphans and the displaced. Have any of these persons raised this serious fraud that has been committed on the community? Now, some more people want to feed lawyers even more, or have the thrill of being seen as some kind of champions but not at all concerned about the end product that is most likely to be disastrous.

The man who fathered the CACM is wanted in court in Jaffna and an arrest warrant has been issued against him. Recently his Boer friend with a lifetime involvement in Jaffna visited Sri Lanka to seek how he could help him to overcome the ignominy of being arrested on arrival in the country. Someone from his camp, who himself has defrauded the JDCSI to the tune of millions, even suggested ways and means of overcoming this utterly humiliating situation for Father Jeyanesan as if he was doing a favour to the JDCSI. How injudicious and imprudent some people can be even after swindling the community with blatant and barefaced impunity! How can some of our people overseas be supportive of their fiddles and frauds?

Jaffna College was founded in 1872 by the people of the Jaffna District a few years after Batticotta Seminary was closed by the American missionaries. Those who had Jaffna College in their clutches in recent years kept the founding realities of the college under cover and, even as recently as four years ago, a retired principal who had served for nearly two decades stated in a feature published in a US media that Jaffna College was founded by the American missionaries and was profuse in his gratitude to them. The reality was that the missionaries denied to the community what would have become a great university in Asia.

The attack on the Jaffna College Board of Directors is actually an indirect salvo on the JDCSI about which this writer has expressed serious concerns on many occasions. But prior to this bombardment, it would have done a world of good had the advocates of blatant misinformation checked their assumptions thoroughly. Or were they so sure, most people if not all will sail along with their words and thus have their way that certainly would be against the interests of Jaffna College?

Their contention is that according to the Constitution of the Jaffna College Board of Directors those serving on the Board should be past students of Jaffna College. This is a false assumption. During the Annual General Meeting of the Jaffna College Board of Directors, July 8, 2006, a member of the Board proposed that to be a member of the Board of Directors, he or she should be an alumnus of Jaffna College and that conflict of interests and disclosure policy applies to all of its members. As would be generally in order, subject to the procedural process that would be necessary to incorporate them into the constitution as defined in Article XVII, these proposals were accepted.
However, they were not incorporated. Article XVII reads as follows:

(a) Any article of this constitution may be by the Board of Directors repealed or amended and a new provision in lieu thereof may be substituted for or added to any of the then existing articles, provided, first, that notice of such amendments shall have been given at a previous meeting of the Board held not more than one year and that all changes shall be voted for by two-thirds of the Directors present at any meeting at which the alterations shall have been moved and discussed, and such two-thirds majority shall constitute a clear majority of the Board and provided, that the object for which the College was founded shall be respected.

(b) Any bye-law can be changed by a simple majority provided notice has been given of such a change to all members of the Board.

It should be noted that the alumnus qualification to be on the Board never came up again either at any subsequent meetings of the Executive Committee or the Annual General Meeting of the Board of Directors. In other words, such a requirement does not exist.
Jaffna College is a great institution and it has even greater challenges ahead to face immediately and in the years to come. When the alumni should be addressing to these, it is tragic some trivial and petty issues are being sought purely because some forces that had their good times now want to attack these two institutions, the other being the JDCSI, just because they lost their hold on them. Furthermore, the Church of the American Ceylon Mission (CACM) are being the purveyors of violent demonstrations against the JDCSI and are also accused of defrauding this church to the amount of millions collected in its name in the US, Europe and Israel and elsewhere too.

Does the Diaspora intend to support and promote such violent forces and contribute towards even greater chaos among our people? I would hardly think laws in Singapore, Australia, United States or any other country where our people have made their new homes will allow the Diaspora to dabble in the affairs of Sri Lanka that could cause serious problems, even rioting and attacks on persons and properties. When certain assumptions are widely circulated, it is a good policy to stay close to the truth and the intentions should be honourable and for good resolutions. Jaffna College is not for any bidders of any kind whether Australian, American or Singaporean or anybody. People of the Jaffna District have the primary responsible for its welfare and equally, they are the beneficiaries of the educational efforts of this institution; anything else and in any other form is unacceptable.

(Note: Kiddi and thatchi are popular village games played in Jaffna mainly for fun and merriment.)
- Sri Lanka Guardian


Anonymous said...

Jaffna College is also not a game of Kiddi and thatche for the JDCSI leader who has hijacked the whole process of being elected as the bishop of JDCSI. If the election was conducted as per the constitution, member voices would have been heard and a bishop would have been elected democratically and CACM would not be around.
Unfortunately Mr. Karunairajan would not write about that for obvious reasons...Majority in JDCSI know who he is, only those who don't know him would take him seriously. He doesn't have the integrity to comment on these things given his past.

Anonymous said...

Hope JDCSI & CACM make Jaffna college as their battle gounds

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