Respectful advice to H.E. the President, Mahinda Rajapaksa

The message was loud and clear. I took a van to Vavuniya where I had some work when I was perhaps due in court and after that I came to Colombo and flew to London on Sunday 7th as my articles came out. I was in a panic as web editions were out on Saturday night but … Thank God.
by S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

(August 15, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) As I enjoy a well-deserved rest in London, having fled there because of harassment and threat of arrest, TamilNet has issued a description of my travails with inaccuracies and the claim that I have fallen out with the President.

This is not surprising that when I was a candidate for Vice Chancellor of Jaffna, both Douglas Devananda and the Tamil Diaspora as represented by the New York Ilankai Tamil Sangam were campaigning against me using my Christian background and the same newspaper report in the Uthayan. The extremes of the right and left at some point coalesce.

However, I must say that I have never worked for the President or the PA. My relationship with President Rajapaksa has been as a public servant with the customary courtesy due to each other. Except for bumping into him at UGC and Education Ministry functions when he was Prime Minister, my real person to person contact was when I was elected one of three finalist candidates for VC and he invited me to tell me of my impending appointment as would be necessary to ensure it would not be turned down before making it.

After I was displaced as VC by LTTE threats and Tamil Sangam dribble in 2006, I was in the US in contact with my department at Peradeniya and the UGC and returned towards my three years’ release from Peradeniya in December 2008 only to be told that I was vacated from my post. I returned to the US.

As the war drew to a close and the President and G. L. Peiris made public announcements calling displaced Sri Lankans to return, I spoke to my friend Carlo Fonseka and he contacted the President who gave the assurance that I would be reinstated if I were there on the ground. So my wife and I did return on September 2, 2010 and the President issued a directive on September 13, to have us both reinstated in the system and appointed to Jaffna as ordered by the USAB in my case and in my wife’s case because the Human Rights Commission had declared her rights violated through her termination. This has not been done.

In the meantime on my own I applied for the Jaffna VC position and became one of the finalists despite Douglas Devananda working through his stooges on the Council to prevent my election. The President invited me to Temple Trees and promised me the appointment the next morning but as it delayed, I was told that he would make the appointment after the Local Government elections as Douglas was his only ally in Jaffna and it would ruin the PA’s chances if I was appointed. Finally Douglas’ candidate Vasanthy Arasaratnam was appointed without any warning and the election results have been a disaster for the President. I have never argued with him or raised it with him.

In the meantime I was in the position of Coordinator for Engineering “until further notice” but during my 9 months as Coordinator I had not been invited to any meeting in Jaffna on Engineering by the VCs who were stooges of Douglas Devananda nor had any of my recommendations even been responded to. At a Council meeting in May, Council Member Ramathasan who is not supposed to do any contract work for the university but does, claimed that I am enjoying the facilities of the university without doing any work – whereas I had left behind very comfortable offices with state-of-the art facilities in the US and now had to post even my letters to the UGC at my own expense because the university would not. My reports to the UGC testify to the work I did. My salary every month was obtained after complaining to the Labour Office.

Ramathasan in contrast was doing Rs. 300 million worth of illegal university work and living off the public. The Council then proceeded to discuss writing to the UGC that my services are not necessary. My wife had already been left unemployed for a year.

I have dependent children and feeling vulnerable, resigned in June with three months’ notice and began looking for work in Sri Lanka and abroad. Then my article on the local government elections appeared and Douglas used the government apparatus foolishly placed in his hands by the authorities to use a judge, Joy Mahadeva, who attends political functions like the Chankili Statue Opening with Douglas, to hear from the bench his criminal charge against me when there is no criminal defamation in our books. An MP attests that she had asked him to make her a High Court Judge. Would Douglas now help her is the big question.

The so called summons, which I am advised, is simply a notice to appear with no legal force, had reference B/157/2011 without a charge – only the B reference indicated a criminal charge. How can it be a criminal charge when criminal defamation is not on the statutes? A clue lies in that part of Douglas’ complaint that he and the Kayts voters were angered. So is it based on a charge of incitement to riot? I do not know because I did not attend court.

Many – including Douglas’ supporters, even Sinhalese in government – told me that he is a dangerous man to cross, against whom there are credible reports that he has murdered people such as my relations the Bojan sisters. A presidential confidante has been warned by someone in military intelligence that they cannot save that person if Douglas tried something. A government minister during the elections on a trip to the islands with an NGO person lamented to her about Douglas thus: “For the sake of elections, we need to work with a murderer.”

The message was loud and clear. I took a van to Vavuniya where I had some work when I was perhaps due in court and after that I came to Colombo and flew to London on Sunday 7th as my articles came out. I was in a panic as web editions were out on Saturday night but … Thank God.

Tarrin Constantine a businessman in London states in writing that this criminal charge is the handiwork of Solicitor Rengan Devarajan who he says is a habitual alcoholic drinking even at work. He was asked to vacate his offices by his British landlord for defaulting on rent, has cleared office cheques through his personal account and owes tens of thousands of pounds to people including Constantine. He is hiding with Devananda after clients who were deported because he was drunk and failed to turn up at crucial hearings, had their relatives looking for him. His uncle in Jaffna, English teacher Panchacharam who was at Hindu College, laments that Devarajan was born into their family. Such is the quality of people sheltered by Douglas.

Devarajan has now joined Jaffna University’s Douglas Council, appointed two weeks ago after the last one lapsed. Although the Universities Act places the onus of appointing the Council on the UGC, the list from Douglas was announced by the UGC Chairman and placed later before the UGC with mistakes for pro forma approval. Even the pretence of adherence to the law is now gone. Ironically a very low caste principal was also on the list and the VC objected to Douglas that he was enrolled for the PhD degree. But the Council has always had degree candidates on the grounds that academic decisions are the Senate’s. Was caste then the real objection? (In my time I managed to get a highly qualified carpenter-caste person on to the list but he declined saying he would not be accepted). The principal escaped the hatchet when the UGC Chairman rushed and announced the list to avoid pressure as nominations from the unions and others started coming in.

Tamils have about 20% Christians and the Jaffna Secretariat area containing the university (covering Jaffna town, Nallur, Chundikuli Columbuthurai, Navanthurai and Pasaiyoor) has about 56% Christians. The Council before Douglas has therefore had 3 Christian appointed members out of 13 to maintain the balance. But after Douglas started making the Council, this has been reduced to 1. There is no Christian among the 12 ex-officio members and no Muslim although their population is growing in Jaffna.

The Council is something to watch because Douglas and Ramathasan chaired a meeting about a week ago at Ramathasan’s Euroville offices on building up the Engineering Faculty. Is Euroville now going to get the contract for the Engineering Faculty? Is that why I had to go? Will Devarajan come up with an argument for why Council members can work for the university?

Wishing the President well, I have to offer some advice with all due respect after the electoral debacle of last month. EPDP analysts are reported to believe that contesting as PA was the cause of the defeat while the President reportedly has blamed it on his accepting “that fellow” Devananda’s nominees. These are naïve analyses. The reality is that the Tamil people have been robbed of their dignity by Douglas and the government and yielded the TNA its massive win without campaigning. Some of the reasons:

1) The several robberies and murders in Jaffna which even General Hathurusinghe has placed on the EPDP. When EPDP cadres were prosecuted, the Chavakacheri judge who heard the case was transferred. And yet, the EPDP is the public face of government.
2) Trying to buy votes through distribution of goodies flouting election laws. Misusing even our Mobitel phones to campaign.
3) When the President’s security service personnel, government ministers, presidential advisers and almost everyone in Jaffna believes that Douglas Devananda is a murderer, the government still deals with us through him. A couple of days ago when a friend asked a minister why they are standing by when I am being chased off, he said further elections are due and nothing can be done till they are over. Is the message of the Tamil voter still not clear?
4) Douglas summoning medical directors, vice chancellors, the GA and everyone in authority to meetings as though he is the relevant minister and all of them running when summoned in fear of their lives. When people ask for roads to be widened, engineers are summoned to Sridhar Theatre and need to wait while Devananda shows off how important people need to wait for him. (The new Council appointees had their first meeting with Devananda last Tuesday night at Sridhar theatre).
5) The non-appointments of the best persons available to the university, the only major national institution in Jaffna. How can a written directive to appoint me and my wife to the academic staff without delay be ignored for almost a year despite court orders and a shortage of good staff? (A petition by over 50 senior academic staff including Council members has been signed asking the VC to obey court orders and not deprive the university of good teachers). Remember that in normal circumstances political stooges will never go against the president unless they are promised protection. There is also my non-appointment as VC as promised and the appointment instead of a person who was indicted by the Auditor General for financial mismanagement and violation of procedure costing the government several millions and who falsely claimed in her application to have a subject specialised Indian first degree when India has no subject specialised bachelor’s degrees.
6) The UGC not appointing the best persons available to the Council of Jaffna as specified in the Universities Act and instead Devananda appointing crooks and the very ordinary. The UGC’s unofficial Tamil member is also not the best the Tamils have.

7) The UGC passing Circular 876 asking universities to recruit from the Minister’s list. Are non-PA citizens not entitled to government jobs? Is that not a violation of our rights? The University of Jaffna gets only people approved by Douglas. Because of the way the VC is appointed she cannot now turn down other Douglas appointments. Actually doing this makes a mockery of the President’s speeches on making Sri Lanka an educational hub and our universities – centers of excellence.

Winning over the Tamil people is easy. Free us from the clutches of monsters like Devananda who corrupt even the judiciary. Treat us like humans for a change and do not assume that we will vote for free shoes at election time.

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