Minister of Higher Education and Highways and Speaker of the House, Lakshman Kiriella has verbally abused a journalist who made a query about the authenticity of a letter allegedly sent by Kiriella ordering that a particular individual be appointed as a temporary lecturer to the Department of Political Science at the University of Kelaniya.
The said letter (CO/SA/02/NA/UE – 40) sent on February 08 by Kiriella to Head of the Department of Economics of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Kelaniya, Prof. Upali Hettiarachchi states that K.P.D.D. Amarasinghe of Watte Walawwa, Doranegama, Medawala, Harispaththuwa, is a person personally known to Kiriella and informs Prof. Hettiarachchi to inspect Amarasinghe’s qualifications and take steps to appoint Amarasinghe as a temporary lecturer of political science.
In an audio clip of the conversation that has since been doing the rounds, Kiriella can be heard going on a diatribe, a vitriol laced tirade against journalist at the Ada newspaper, Amith Maduranga.
Kiriella had stated that there were provisions in the Universities Act, which had afforded powers to him thereby granting him the authority to issue such a letter and make such an intervention.
A web-based online media organization has posted another such letter of recommendation sent by Kiriella, this time to the Registrar of the Rajarata University, informing the Registrar to consider recruiting a woman for the position of a minor worker provided that she has fulfilled her requirements in terms of the necessary qualifications for the job, in which case her age could be disregarded by the University.
Previously, writing to President Maithripala Sirisena, the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations (FUTA) expressed deep displeasure and disappointment regarding the sending of the former letter. Citing Kiriella’s use of language they deemed obscene, the Young Journalists’ Association condemned the rant against the journalist.
President of the FUTA, Dr. Rangika Halwathura and Kiriella were not available for a comment.