Gajalakshmi Paramasivam – 30 November 2015
How Valuable is the Expatriate?
An expatriate living in a richer country than our resident country seems more attractive to us than our own locals. Expatriates returning to the very home they/we abandoned accept such elevation blindly. I have witnessed it happen in Australia – and I am witnessing it happening in Sri Lanka. To my mind it is ‘foreign invasion’ – to the extent one is yet to make policy level contribution. One who feels ‘ownership’ will make policy level contribution. Others need to take credit / status only to the extent they/we earned it through the nation we left behind. That would confirm our respect for the Sovereignty of each nation/group.
In his Colombo Telegraph article ‘President Undermined Through Jaffna’s Purchased Professorships’ Dr. Sabapathy Krishnakumar –highlights:
[I am very happy that President Maithripala Sirisena and other members of the government have been repeatedly calling on expatriates to return and contribute:
· ‘My Government will establish a special bureau under my directive to coordinate the expatriate Sri Lankans who wish to return to the motherland and we will offer a red carpet welcome to them. I would like to remind them that now it is time for us to work in unity for the betterment of the country, casting side political differences’ – President M. Sirisena, Policy Statement from Parliament, 1 Sept. 2015.
· President Maithripala Sirisena from Thailand has called on Sri Lankan expatriates to return home and render their services as democracy has been restored. (TNLRN News Radio, 2 Nov. 2015)
· Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera on Thursday invited Sri Lankan diaspora to return to the island as dual citizens. (Lanka Business Online, June 12, 2015)
· The PM also joined the chorus at the dual citizenship ceremony on 17 Nov.]
· Dr. Sabapathy Krishnakumar says for his part – ‘However, laudable policy remains empty words as the government’s own officials undermine policy. We badly need the services of expatriates. With the education budgets promised a huge increase, we will have only new buildings and landscaped staff without teachers to teach as remarked by Rajan Hoole in his article on the scandalous state of our universities (Colombo Telegraph, 29 Oct. 2015). That well-intended money will be money down the drain unless the UGC wakes up and the President notes how he is being undermined.’
I have been serving the needy (as per my assessment) in Sri Lanka, since 2003 – AFTER completing my relative experience in Australian Public Life largely through the workplace and delivering the judgment as per my discovery – ‘that I found the official system in Australia, is lacking in investment in Equal Employment values’. Delivery of judgment at public level – confirms that we take no supervisors for our life up to that point. I did not plan it that way but discovered that legal actions to confirm this closure/completion at the point where I was working unsupervised, to deliver as per my position requirements, were confirmations that I was contributing to policy. Satisfaction of Position requirements is confirmation of Policy that the Position gives form to.
In concluding his article mentioned above, Dr. Rajan Hoole states:
[The UGC (University Grants Commission) needs to play a proactive role to see that justice is done if they are serious about the future of Jaffna University and ultimately of all universities. As we read the intention of Circulars 721 and 935, strict merit (allowing selection boards some leeway in assessing candidates from different universities) is the criterion for selection to probationary lecturer. Circular 935 says at the outset that it is ONLY meant to ‘relax’ the mandatory one year’s experience in C 721 by a presentation (a short lecture). It is clear that merit remains the selection criterion. However, anomalous interpretations of C 935 (b) have been used to undermine merit by making presentation the main criterion and introduce selection schemes that make a mockery of merit. This is an open licence to favouritism as has happened in Jaffna. Is it their reluctance to uphold merit that has led the UGC to play hide and seek with our reports? They need to clarify their position publicly. No one here wears a crown. If the UGC are mainly worried about new buildings and landscaping of universities, they are not doing their job. New departments and faculties without a core endowed with moral and scholarly merit are doomed to disaster.]
The last sentence applies also to Development Projects in Jaffna Society – the parallel of Jaffna University. Daily FT reports as follows in its article ‘10 special projects to boost living conditions in former conflict areas’ :
‘The 10 high impact projects include the construction of a bridge and causeway across the sea between Kayts and Karainagar town; the construction of a new passenger boat with a 100-passenger capacity like the kumudini boat; the construction of a jetty in Delft and the restoration of a jetty in Elluvaithivu, Kayts; the renovation of roads from Velanai to Kayts; the establishment of a clinical waste management system in five districts of the Northern Province; the establishment of the disposal system for human excreta in Vadamarachchi, Thenmarachchi and Valikamam in the Jaffna District; systematisation of the collection and segregation of solid waste in the Jaffna Municipal Council area; seaweed farming in the coastal areas in the northern Province; livelihood and income generation projects covering value addition and marketing of milk products, Vathiri leather industries and Karmarchi Ambal light engineering industries in Kopay.’
The village where we reside in Northern Sri Lanka, is similar in structure to many of the areas with fundamental needs mentioned above. A good proportion of these families are likely to groom their children towards University education. Yet, majority are emotionally driven, confirming that the Jaffna University’s service is yet to reach these areas. Not only the President – but the Expatriate Tamil in support of Tamil Self Governance also promised through their support for the LTTE, a better Jaffna through Tamil Eelam. Dr. Hoole states in this regard:
‘Pongu Thamil (Tamils Arise) is a movement pioneered in Jaffna University in 2001, whose worldwide meetings whipped up enthusiasm for Tamil Nationalism as symbolised by the LTTE.’
The LTTE means different values to different sections of our current society. To the extent these are feelings based – each one is valid. If by the LTTE – Dr Hoole is referring to LTTE’s stated Policy of Self-Governance – then I conclude that Dr. Hoole is ignoring a good proportion of the Jaffna Tamil Community itself. At emotional level most of us feel / felt for the LTTE as if they were family. But to the extent LTTE eliminated our own Politicians – members elected by us to represent us in Parliament – we have the duty as per the structures and systems that supported us to elevate and broaden our minds, to demote them or distance ourselves from them. I did the latter in the case of Australians who had supervisory positions above me but were practicing lower level policy, as per their convenience. When LTTE Leader accepted money to deny Tamils the right to express their Equality through votes – those driven by self-governance would have demoted them at least in their minds. I highlighted this Policy level conflict as follows, in my letter dated 25 November to the Sri Lanka Bar Association under the subject heading ‘RULE BY LAW, BY YOUR MEMBERS’ (http://austms.blogspot.com/).
[Earlier this year, your Association published the article ‘HOW DIFFERENT IS RULE BY LAW FROM RULE OF LAW?’
The opening line in that article which included the picture of former President of Sri Lanka, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa was:
‘Is the Law supreme and the Ruler subject to the Law, or is the Ruler supreme?’
The parallel of this question arose in my own mind yesterday, when Mr. Sankarshana Aindri Parathalingam PC, also (like Mr, Rajapaksa) assisted by his son Mr. Nishkan Parathalingam tried to exert superiority in the Civil Appellate High Court of Jaffna. The alarm bells started ringing within me – at ethical level – when I observed that Mr. Parathalingam who appears for me in another Appeal matter in Colombo, declared to the Jaffna Courts without any prior notice to me or my instructing solicitor in the Colombo matter, that he was appearing for my opposition in this Jaffna matter. These alarm bells are based on my true contribution to social values.
When I engaged Mr. Parathalingam PC to represent me in Court, there was a relationship formed on that basis – with him as my senior in Court for legal presentation in that Court. For presenting the Truth of my experience – I am of higher status. When we are conscious of our respective positions and their duties, we respect the Legal structure. To my mind, it is a network of relationships. As I said to an Associate in my Management Service, when explaining this ‘conflict of interest’ - I cannot be doctor to Yaman (Lord of Death) as well as to Life at the same time. Looks as if Mr. Parathalingam PC is able to, through Rule by Law.]
LTTE which promised self-governance Policy, compromised by dealing at cash-level. The three levels of expression are:
2. Human Resource
To my mind, the outcomes that happen would confirm my contribution at Policy level due to my feelings of ownership. In the above legal matter for instance – the value of our Jaffna case was raised to higher level through the presence of Mr. Parathalingam of Jaffna origin but living largely in Colombo as a clever ‘Expatriate’. I was thus able to identify with the Policy level return for my investment in Mr. Parathalingam through the Colombo case. The first major discovery I made of such workings of the system of Nature / Truth – was through the fall of Mr. John Howard, the former Prime Minister of Australia whom I sued on the basis of Racial Discrimination which is unlawful in Australia. The Legal Courts dismissed my complaints but the Court of Natural Justice upheld my investment at Policy level.
The way we read the outcomes would confirm to us the level of our contribution to the issue. One who contributes at primary level of money would go up and down with money profits and losses respectively. An 80 year old Australian Tamil who sought to raise funds from expatriate Tamils is saying that the locals in Northern Sri Lanka - have cheated him and that we need strong human resources. This is also the message of the President of Sri Lanka – that Sri Lanka needs its Expatriate mind to boost the value of Motherland. But unless those Expatriates have contributed to their Fatherlands at Policy level – they are likely to either spoil locals with easy money in return for status they can ‘show’ others or think they have been cheated as in the case of the above mentioned 80 year old. Dr. Sabapathy Krishnakumar refers to Expatriates as outsiders, in a positive way:
[ The North-East more than any other needs rebuilding and for that we need expatriates to return. But till recently, many ordinary persons were ensconced in powerful administrative positions for which they did not qualify. We now badly need bright outsiders to come in…….Dr. Murugar Gunasingam from Australia applied for the chair in history as did an internal historian. Only the latter’s application was processed and presented to the Council on 31 October, 2015 for approval by the VC. Things exploded when a Council member who had been informed by Gunasingam asked if there had been other applicants. The VC claimed that it had been done based on a circular and she has now been asked to produce it.]
Expatriate or not – an Australian is an outsider to the University of Jaffna unless the applicant had served a University at policy level. It’s not different to Academics trying their hand at Administration to which they are ‘outsiders’. Academics are outsiders to Administration unless they have demonstrated contribution to Policy through their Academic work. Likewise Administrators are outsiders to Academics until they contribute to Policy through the Administrative pathway. As in Research and Teaching – the core purposes of a University - one who discovers Truth through her/his pathway and publishes it independently – often at the risk of losing existing benefits, becomes an ‘owner’. Such a person is a natural policy contributor even if physically that person is outside the University structure – as a non-academic and of a different cultural makeup.
Dr. Sabapathy Krishnakumar highlights the case of Professor Ratnajeevan Hoole as follows: (Professor S.R.H. Hoole, my doctoral supervisor, has been knocking on our doors for years. The VC and her Selection Committee after 3 years of processing (which is illegal unless a new advertisement is done after 18 months inviting new applicants and allowing updating of the old application) found him short of points in teaching, in research and in national contributions. The USAB had ordered his appointment in Computer Science but the VC is still arguing that settled case. Even then, how was he short in national contributions after all that he did here? Indeed I am aware that he has more indexed journal papers in computer science than any other academic in Sri Lanka. (This was reported among the JUSTA cases and explicitly in the Colombo Telegraph on 6 March, 2014). He then applied last June for a Senior Lecturer position in Engineering since in another 3 years he would be well past his retirement age if he applied for professor. To this date he has not heard. It is 3 months since he returned to Sri Lanka on the government’s invitation, and, despite being the only person with a D.Sc. London degree in Sri Lanka, remains unemployed(except for the part-time appointment this week to the independent Elections Commission which recognizes his pioneering work for good governance, but still leaves him without full-time work, facing criminal charges).
Professor Hoole has long been reported to have challenged the University system of Sri Lanka. I also challenged the University of New South Wales – and to-date in terms status – I am a Pariah. Now I understand that I had to accept that Pariah status to contribute to a system that would facilitate all Pariahs to become Pundits in their communities. If this downgrading could happen in Australia which enjoys the reputation that it is a ‘good country’ one would expect worse from Sri Lanka and not better. Professor Hoole may have a London D Sc. , but has he demonstrated contribution to the Policy changes /improvements / good governance through his previous jobs? Clever Governance is not always Good Governance and v.v.
In Nations like Sri Lanka – and especially in Jaffna the Capital of Northern Sri Lanka, one’s contribution to Good Governance in a University, needs to be greater than one’s contribution to development of knowledge which in turn needs to be greater in value than the money value of structures that are ‘seen’ to be the University. The articles published by Professor Hoole do not confirm any ‘solutions’ that he has developed as per the specific structure of a University, including the Jaffna University. Knowing the structure as it exists and becoming a part of it is the key to Good Governance. It is that feeling of ownership that becomes our Guru in the development of solutions. This is also the difference between Rule by Law/Theory and Rule of Law/Theory. Jaffna has long been an exporter of learning skills and not an importer. It would be a shame if such tradition was broken by bringing in ‘outsiders’.
The Leader of the Opposition – the Hon Rajavarothiam Sampanthan highlighted in his response to the Budget:
[SriLankan Airlines – Hon. Speaker, the SriLankan Airlines has been badly managed since the management was taken back from Emirates. Their total debt stands at Rs.158 billion, of which 72 per cent relates to the last 3 years of the previous regime. This could be mainly due to corruption, cronyism and poor management…….This is the estimate of the degree of the loss that the country has suffered as a result of what happened at the SriLankan Airlines. Is it not necessary, Mr. Speaker, to take effective steps to avoid waste and extravagance and also to eradicate corruption?]
I applied for the position of CEO of Sri Lankan Airlines when the above mentioned management change happened. I had experience in the Airline when it was Air Lanka and I was trained by Singaporeans. More importantly I had already completed my management experience in Australia by contributing to Policy. There was no recognition from those responsible at Sri Lankan Airlines, of my eligibility to this position. However, the Energy I shared through my application raised my experience to Policy level when the current Government criticized Sri Lankan Airlines using also the areas I had worked in. The criticism was led by a legal expert and not by an airline expert with special emphasis in management.
Political interference in large Public institutions is nothing new in Sri Lanka. It is not unique to Universities. In Democracy, Operational Heads need to recognize Administrative Heads as their Equal partners and not as their juniors who could be ‘told’ what to do. Often clever Operational staff who ‘tell’ their Administrative staff – tend to accept being told by their seniors in Administrative positions.
Equal Opposition is essential in Democracy to complete the picture without time delay. Be it the University or the Airline, the ‘block’ to Good Governance is excessive cleverness which often prevents one from completing the picture by lowering one’s status to the next level. Clever people often are good at criticizing using theory as ‘outsiders’. They leave a big gap between their answers and the outcomes produced by the total contributions of all participants in that issue at that time of manifestation. We then have to keep asking the UN and its members for more and more Reconciliation facilities.