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GL gives comprehensive account of new VC selection process

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By Saman Indrajith

Education Minister Prof G.L. Peiris told Parliament yesterday that the government had introduced a transparent and fair method to select university Vice Chancellors.

Responding to a question raised by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, Prof Peiris said that the government had set up a five-member committee to select eligible applicants. The committee comprises experts from the administrative service.

Prof Peiris said that under the previous system, the names from the applicants for the post of Vice Chancellor had been selected by a vote at University Councils. There had been room for irregularities under that system, he said, adding that there had been instances where university Council Members were under pressure to vote for certain candidates.

Three applicants who got the highest votes would be sent to the President to select a person of his choice, Prof. Peris said.

The Minister said that under the new system candidates would face evaluations at two phases. Those who had rendered an outstanding service to the university system would get priority under the new system. The candidates would, according to the marks in evaluations conducted by the five-member committees would be selected. The government had no intention of changing the newly introduced mechanism, the Minister said.

Prof. Peiris disagreed with Opposition leader Premadasa’s observation that the new mechanism of selecting Vice Chancellors would amount to a contravention of Section 34 (1) –A of the Universities Act No 16 of 1978 and Universities (Amendment) Act No 7 of 1985.

The government had not given the Vice Chancellor or Acting Vice Chancellor posts to its friends and supporters, the Minister said.

Opposition Leader Premadasa asked whether the Minister could table the marking schemes and the number marks obtained by those who had applied for the post of Vice Chancellor at the universities of Jaffna, Uva, Kelaniya, Sabaragamuwa, Wayamba and Aesthetic University, and the Minister said that he would do so.

Opposition Leader Premadasa said that recently a Vice Chancellor had been selected to the Aesthetic University under the new mechanism and he was an expert in agriculture sciences and not aesthetic subjects. Prof Peiris said that selection had been made on consideration of the candidate’s administrative skills and there was no mandatory provision that the Vice Chancellors should be selected from a particular discipline.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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