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I was not entirely surprised by the results of Saturday’s local government election. I had said I thought the government should be happy if it got 30% of the vote in the North. It got less in most places, but it managed at least 20% almost everywhere, which it should see as a good base on which to build. It also managed to do comparatively well in Kilinochchi, which is where it had concentrated its development efforts.

Interestingly, the TNA had allowed the TULF to context two of the three Pradeshiya Sabhas in Kilinochchi that voted last Saturday, and in both those the government got over 40% of the vote. In fact it did almost as well as the TULF in Poonakary, and had the SLMC contested together with the government, it might well have won. In Karachi on the other hand, where there were the greatest number of allegations of strong arm tactics, it did much worse. Whether or not elements in or close to government were responsible for whatever prompted the allegations, I hope this will serve to convince government that any trace of strong arm tactics can only be counter-productive.

In this context I reiterate what I told the TNA after the allegations that members of the forces had disrupted one of their meetings. They were obviously so pleased by the incident that, on the legal pcincipal of ‘Cui bono?’, it seemed that they must have been responsible. Equally obviously, though they understood how beneficial the incident had been – and indeed noted that, whereas that meeting had been poorly attended, their next meeting saw a much larger crowd – they were not behind what had happened, and I hoped that whoever had been responsible realized that the only possible beneficiaries were the TNA. Read the rest of this entry »

I am grateful to Sabaragamuwa University for organizing this Seminar on English, and in particular for allocating time to discussion of English medium education. Perhaps more importantly I should also place on record the contribution of this University to the programme of English medium education in the state system that commenced in 2001. The then Vice-Chancellor, Prof I K Perera, had no hesitation in approving my appointment, even while I was Acting Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Languages, as Coordinator for English at the Ministry of Education.

unimaginative bureaucrats

He very generously permitted me the leeway to work a couple of days each week at the Ministry, and also conduct workshops and travel widely to monitor the programme. And the Student Union of the Faculty, which had first persuaded me to take on the position of Dean with a petition signed by the students (a condition I had thought they would never manage to fulfil), made it clear that they felt I was amply fulfilling my responsibilities, when the unimaginative bureaucrats then running the University Grants Commission thought I was not performing my duties satisfactorily.

And I must also pay tribute here to the graduates of this University who worked for me at the Ministry, Dinusha Rambukpitiya (who was later a Lecturer here in Japanese), Amani Abeydeera and Lakmal Manatunga from 2001 to 2002, and later Shashikala Assella (who is now a Lecturer here in English) and Nadisha Deheragoda from 2004 to 2005. In addition to intelligent and imaginative work, they also kept me sane when I had to deal with the sometimes overwhelmingly negative attitude of the Ministry bureaucracy.

We also used several graduates from our second batch as assistants in book production and distribution, and I must thank Samantha Wijesirigunawardene in particular for travelling the length and breadth of the country, along with K G Kithsiri, to provide books to schools in even distant places that had taken up the challenge. I found the story of their travels fascinating, ranging from using the Trincomalee Horowupatana Road, which I had been told was far too dangerous a couple of years previously, to being taken for travelling salesmen and being offered appropriate diversions at the small guesthouses which was all the budget could afford. Read the rest of this entry »

Rajiva Wijesinha

July 2011
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