Senathirajah Outperforms SJV; Devananda Spins
Minister Douglas Devananda, addressing the press from Sridhar Theatre which he “nationalised” and occupies as his own, says that the Local Government Elections of 23 July have “abundantly proved the Tamil people’s confidence in the government.”
On the contrary, the election results were a rout for him and a resounding success for Mavai Senathirajah, a rare Mr. Clean in politics today, who worked quietly without the normal posters and public meetings to garner a percentage share of the vote which even S. J. V Chelvanayagam did not muster in 1977.
And this with massive electoral fraud by the PA-EPDP combined – buying votes, intimidation including assaults by the army, chasing off polling officials and election observers, etc. Even Prof. P. Balasundarmapillai, closely associated with Devananda as his advisor, admitted to me on 22 July in Colombo that “some of the allegations of rigging are true, some are exaggerations.”
Cautions For The TNA
Yet, despite the resounding success, there are warnings in this for the TNA which contested under the FP symbol. The turnout was low signifying the large number of voters who are dissatisfied with the TNA’s honeymoon with the LTTE.
The TNA has diminished credibility over some MPs’ association with the Shabra Ponzi scheme ruining many lives, running off with EPRLF money and joining the LTTE while former colleagues were murdered by the LTTE, children being handed over to the LTTE for training, etc. Senathirajah and Sampanthan have addressed this only partly by kicking out in 2010 then MPs Gajendran, Mrs. Sithambaranathan and Gajendrakumar (the LTTE’s core team in the TNA) before the last election of 2010, where they hardly secured 6000 votes between themselves. Gajendran’s drubbing in 2010 established that his 2004 high preferential vote was by ballot stuffing.
Further repairs were done in 2011 through deals with the TULF’s Anandasangaree and TELO’s Sivajilingam who were asked to contest Poonaryn and Valvettithurai under the TULF symbol where they performed well. All this paid off handsomely last week. But so long as the tainted MPs remain, Senathirajah cannot claim the moral high ground over Devananda in scams and murders.The Government “victory” being through intimidation, does not count; the FP did not even try.
PA-EPDP Mess Up: Running Jaffna As The LTTE Did
After the military victory of May 2009 the government had been on the upward swing. Few were surprised therefore when the EPDP captured the Jaffna Municipality in August 2009 and did pretty well at the parliamentary elections in April 2010. So enamoured with the government was a stalwart federalist who spent time in an LTTE jail that he chided his son for participating in the recent FUTA strike saying it is against the government. I too once admired Devananda – his gumption – in standing up to the LTTE and getting so many votes.
Where did such support vanish on the 23rd?
Explained a university teacher who, like others who spoke for this article, did not wish to be quoted out of absolute fear: “We gave them the Municipality. The UGC appointed all University Councillors from Douglas’ list. And they have ruined both institutions. They deny the mass killings in Mullaivaikal as if we are fools. A simple apology would have been enough. But they take us for granted.” Added a Dean, “Douglas has 600 armed cadres to feed. He needs to make money.”
So the LTTE’s Eelam Bank Executive Gowri Hubert now works out of Sridhar Theatre for Devananda’s Maheswary Trust with exclusive rights over building sand like the LTTE earlier. The LTTE’s preferred contractor in Mullaitivu, Ramathasan, was once with his dreaded brother, PLOTE’s Manickathasan, then with the LTTE, and now with Devananda. Many at Sridhar Theatre are former LTTE tyrants. They are consistent only in being with the winner to make money.
Sexual Molesters, Fraudsters And The Unqualified For Jaffna University
Devananda successfully recommended totally unaccomplished stooges to be VC. Jaffna’s Associate Professor N. Shanmugalingam sang in praise of Prabhakaran on LTTE TV and then on Devananda’s recommendation was appointed VC by President Rajapaksa and then sang for him. This despite a Council inquiry by The Very Rev. Justin Gnaparagasam for being found naked with a student in his office and several credible allegations like that by an elderly English Lecturer who almost jumped out of a trishaw in Colombo when he accosted her for sex while on official work.
The present VC, Vasanthy Arasaratnam as then Dean, was severely indicted by the Auditor General who queried Jaffna’s then VC, Associate Professor S. Mohanadas (also recommended by Devananda) about “Unauthorized payment for the procurement of Computer Network Facilities to the Medical Faculty” (His Ref. NE/JF/A/JU/2004), adding “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, unauthorised and fruitless.”
Mohanadas issued no punishment. The President has appointed Devananda’s friend Mohanadas to the UGC as the unofficial Tamil Member as if an Associate Professor with one foreign journal paper is the best the Tamils have. The UGC lists Mohanadas as “Professor” to hide the inappropriate presidential appointment.
Such appointments served the government and, in its time, the LTTE well because unqualified appointees are pliant. Others of equally inadequate capacity made common cause with these VC’s to become professors in violation of the ordinances, and together now dominate Jaffna’s Senate. The political authorities do not care if the people at the helm are academically very ordinary or womanisers or fraudsters so long as they are obedient. The university is in ruins as Devananda spreads his tentacles. Tamils are angry. ManyTamils think it is deliberate.
Tamils Not Ungrateful – Merely Want Responsive Government
It is obvious why the government which does not understand us Tamils was routed. The South talks of our ingratitude. But we are not LTTE lovers. We simply do not like corrupt, oppressive governments. Some of us did not oppose corrupt Tamil totalitarianism then, only to support corrupt Sinhalese totalitarianism now, even if fronted by a Tamil. We want the government to be responsive to our needs and feelings before it asks for our vote. We are not toilet paper to be used and thrown away.
Our institutions are to be built up, not used for politics. Does the President who ruins our best institutions through key appointments, really care for us? We are people with feelings, feelings reflected in our vote. He must work with us, the people and our representatives, not Devananda who brings him only ruin.
Corrupt Local Councils
Similarly the municipality recently violated all rules in awarding a massive building contract which after the noise had to be cancelled. In an emerging nexus between business and politicians to expand regardless of cultural considerations, hotels are authorised with Prof. Balasundarampillai’s dutiful support on yet to be explored archaeological territory at the last Jaffna King’s palace grounds. At the famous Mun Kumbaan Beach (Sand Dunes Beach) which also is under an EPDP Council, the dunes have been sold off and an LTTE cemetery razed to the ground for John Keells to build a supermarket.
Devananda’s Religious Card
Devananda had already played the religious card in denying Jaffna’s mayorship to Mangalanesan, a Christian well below Devananda’s Vellala caste, who had secured the highest preferential vote in the municipal elections. Devananda had assaulted Mangalanesan in front of his family when he protested and locked him up at Sridhar Theatre till the present mayor was safely installed.
He played the religious card again when I was up for appointment as VC in telling the President that if I were appointed, Hindus would be angry with him. Kandiah Neelakandan, Mrs. Kumar Ponnambalam and the present Dean of Medicine Prof. K. Sivapalan (who had vanished from the university for years to work full-time for the LTTE) echoed these sentiments.
Subsequently, says M. Sivajilingam, Neelakandan voted for the Bar Association’s resolution condemning the UN Report and Sivapalan testified at the LLRC against the LTTE. Devananda repeated the President’s claim that there were zero casualties in 2009.
Prof.S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole is UGC Coordinator For Engineering, University of Jaffna. This article appears in “The Sunday Leader” of July 31st 2011