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19th December, 2004  Volume 11, Issue 23

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    

Politics

The Chandrika who never studied at Sorbonne

President Chandrika Kumaratunga in her student day in 
Paris, Mahinda Wijesekera and Prof. G. L. Peiris

President Chandrika Kumaratunga at a public rally to celebrate 10 years in office cast serious doubts on the educational qualifications of Professor G.L. Peiris last week.

Commenting on the contempt of court judgement on UNP MP, S.B. Dissanayake, the President said she has asked the CID to investigate whether the educational certificates of Professor Peiris were forgeries.

"Actually, we are checking whether he has a professorship. I told the CID to check whether he has a certificate to prove his legal qualifications or whether this is a forgery," the President said at the rally.

Since the President has now by her  own admission thought it important enough to direct the CID to investigate the qualifications of Professor Peiris, it should necessarily follow that verification should also be made of President Chandrika Kumaratunga's own educational qualifications. 

Letter From Sorbonne stating Chandrika was not a student in that university, The letter from the institute in Aix-En-Provence stating Chandrika was there for one year and The letter from University Pantheon, Assas Paris II stating Chandrika was not a student there

Official bio-data of Chandrika stating she has a Political Science Degree from the University of Paris and Letter from the Old Students Association of 'Sciences Po' stating Chandrika did a course in International Relations

She also cast doubts on the attorney-at-law qualification of UNP MP Mahinda Wijesekera and said Ranil Wickremesinghe barely scraped through his law exam.

The President in her official bio data released to the media has claimed she has a Political Science Degree from the University of Paris. The claim is she was a graduate from the highly prestigious Sorbonne.

The Sunday Leader  in 2000 exposed Kumaratunga for her big lie and stated categorically that she never attended Sorbonne or graduated from the university of Paris. That it was yet another barefaced lie by the President.

She made other grandiose claims of educational attainment as well, most of which were figments of her very fertile imagination.

The Sunday Leader also investigated Kumaratunga's allegations on the educational qualifications of both Professor Peiris and Wijesekera and found them to be yet more lies.

Wijesekera, we found has qualified as an attorney-at-law from the Sri Lanka Law College.

As for Professor Peiris, who has even taught the present Acting Chief Justice, Shiranee Bandaranayake, was also Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo, Dean of the Law Faculty and a Rhodes Scholar. And yes, a fully-fledged professor.

The Sunday Leader had the opportunity of examining all those certificates.

But it is the President's certificates that are elusive with not even an advanced level certificate to be found leave alone a Political Science Degree from the University of Paris.

We reproduce once again, our investigation on Kumaratunga's educational qualifications for the benefit of the people of Sri Lanka and the diplomatic community given her own public pronouncements and leave it to them to judge whether or not Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga is a liar and a fraud who should be investigated by the CID. 

By Lasantha Wickrematunge

President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga is facing the prospect of being branded a great pretender.

Apart from the serious legal consequences that follow for holding out as genuine that which is false, it is a reflection on the very character of an individual to pretend to be a great academic achiever, when the reality is otherwise.

Any person could mislead the public as to the actual educational attainments not only by the subtle use of language but allowing to pass as correct, attribution of factually incorrect qualifications in various publications, especially when such publications are brought to the notice of the individual,

Thus, a person can be a pretender to great academic achievements not only by acts of commission such as the preparation of the bio-data with false data, but also by acts of omission such as a non denial when the publication of a false qualification is notified, especially in publications well within the control of the individual concerned.

To the public at large, the purpose of a politician holding out his or her academic achievements is to impress upon them that the politician in question is a person of great intellect worthy of election to high public office through the people's ballot.

Indeed, it is with the similar intention of impressing a prospective employer that any individual applying for a job includes all of his/her achievements in the bio-data.

It is for the same purpose, an individual highlights the colleges of education and universities attended, for the very names of prestigious universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Sorbonne. Yale, Stanford and Harvard add weight to a person's academic record.

Mind you, this government knows the importance of this principle only too well and Edmond Jayasinghe is living testimony to that fact.

Jayasinghe was forced to resign as Chairman, Lake House, Secretary, Media Ministry and Director, AirLanka for falsifying his dates of birth.

The repercussions in the case of false qualifications, naturally would be far greater than the use of a false date of birth.

It is in that context, The Sunday Leader wrote to President Chandrika Kumaratunga on March 14 and inquired after her educational qualifications in view of the President's official bio data being at variance with the information in the possession of this newspaper.

With the Presidential Secretariat taking up the position it does not forward correspondence from "Worms" to the President, The Sunday Leader last week published a full page article drawing the attention of Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga to her official bio data as released by the Government Information Department as well as published reports in other media including the state press.

Through such publication, The Sunday Leader requested the President to inform this newspaper whether she had inadvertently included in her official bio data qualifications she was not entitled to. The same question was posed with regards to the media reports on her academic achievements.

This newspaper said it will lay the issue to rest if the President shows that the information in our possession was inaccurate. The Sunday Leader even offered to present the information in its possession for the President's perusal. And be rest assured, the only reason The Sunday Leader has taken this issue up is because it strives to establish standards for Sri Lanka which democracies such as the U.S.A. and U.K. expect from their leaders.

The President however has not responded to our repeated queries and we presume thereby that her official bio data and the published reports are correct.

To recap briefly, the educational qualifications of President Kumaratunga as released by the Government Information Department and published in the book, Tenth Parliament states as follows:

- Degree in Political Science (University of Paris)

- PhD studies in Development Economics (University of Paris)

- Diploma in Group Leadership EPHE (University of Paris)

- Studies in LLB Law Degree

- Training in political journalism with the Le-Monde in Paris.

- Schooling (Sic) at St. Bridget's Convent, Colombo.

Then the state controlled Daily News of November 11, 1994 in an article titled "Chandrika groomed for greatness" states interalia - "After her successful French language and culture course, Chandrika just 22 was admitted to the Sorbonne University in Paris - one of the oldest seats of learning in France."

"At Sorbonne, she read for her degree in politics, economics and philosophy," the report adds.

Likewise the state controlled Silumina of November 13, 1994 in another special full page article with photographs from Chandrika's family album, states Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga received a political science degree from Sorbonne University in France, an economics degree from the Oxford University in England in addition to receiving a diploma for group leadership.

References to Kumaratunga holding a PhD were made in an article in the Femina magazine of December 15, 1999 where journalist Sathya Saran had interviewed the President. A similar reference to a PhD was made in the Commonwealth Heads Of State Magazine in 1995.

Now for the reality.

To start with, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga has no PhD from anywhere. The Peradeniya University, not long after Kumaratunga assumed the presidency, received a proposal to grant her an honorary doctorate but it was soon decided to drop the matter.

Of course though the various publications cited have referred to Kumaratunga having a PhD, reports which have not been denied, the official bio data of Kumaratunga released by her speaks only of "PhD Studies in Development Economics at the University of Paris."

It is important to note here that Kumaratunga speaks of "PhD studies," giving the impression she had studied extensively for a PhD, but there is no time frame given.

And as for the undenied economics degree from Oxford University in England, that is another figment of a very fertile imagination. Kumaratunga has as much claim to an economics degree from Oxford as A. J. Ranasinghe has to a law degree from Harvard.

But more important is Kumaratunga's claim in the official bio data that she has a Political Science Degree from the University of Paris.

It is important to note here that 'Sorbonne' forms part of the 'University of Paris,' and Kumaratunga has also not denied reports in the state media that she is a graduate from 'Sorbonne.' And it is also the popular perception in the country that Chandrika is a 'Sorbonne' graduate.

In this backdrop, research into Kumaratunga's education in France becomes significant.

Young Chandrika Bandaranaike received a scholarship from the Institute of French Studies and left for France in 1967.

Kumaratunga was a student in France until 1971 since she also states in her bio data that she was the "Additional Principal Director, Land Reforms Commission," from 1972-1976. That is to say she was a student in France for four years.

In France, the academic year is from September to June.

Be that as it may, upon arriving in France, Chandrika travelled to the south and enrolled as a student in the Institute D'Etudes Politiques, at 25, rue Gaston de Saporta 13625 Aix-ex-Provence cedex 1. This institute answers to the telephone number 0442170198 and has 0442170196 as its fax number.

Incidentally it is to this institute, Kumaratunga paid a much publicised visit as Head of State in November 1996 where she received a honorary medal from the university's president.

Accompanied by a Sri Lanka press contingent, Kumaratunga was also to meet with an old music teacher, Pierre Dupin at Air-En-Provence, South of France.

Interestingly however, despite the media presence, Kumaratunga did not during that visit to France pay a visit to the 'Sorbonne' in the University of Paris.

What Chandrika did at the Institute D'Etudes Politiques in Aix-En-Provence was follow a nine month course in the French language and culture.

The Sunday Leader is in possession of a letter written by the institute confirming the fact, Kumaratunga was there for just one year.

An English translation of the letter written in French is given below:

"Sir,

In reply to your request, I confirm that Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike was a student at our Institute during the University year 1967/68. At the end of her first year she left us to continue her studies in Paris.

With best wishes,

Pierre Langeron."

The question arises where in Paris Kumaratunga proceeded to study.

Given the popular public perception and undenied published reports, the obvious answer is 'Sorbonne.' In any event the 'University of Paris' as per the official bio data.

But in fact, Kumaratunga was neither a student at Sorbonne nor did she obtain a political science degree from that university.

To prove this fact, The Sunday Leader has yet another letter from the 'University' Paris 1 Pantheon - Sorbonne, Department de Science Politque. 1 rue Victor Cousin,. 75005, Paris.

It is to be noted here that in researching Kumaratunga's education record, queries were made based both on her maiden name as well as her married name.

The letter written by Sorbonne in French was signed by J. Matiesco and an English translation is given below.

Sir,

Following your fax of 22/11/1999 and having researched our archives, I can state exactly to you that the name of Miss Chandrika BANDARANAIKE Kumaratunga does not feature amongst our old students.

In 1970-1977 the political science degree did not exist at the Sorbonne.

Education in political science is also offered by the Institute of Political Studies, 27 Rue Saint-Guillaume 75007 Paris, Tel 0145495050 and also in the Provincial IEP (IEP) Aix-Marseille 25 rue Gaston de Saporta 13625 Aixen Provence Cedex 01).

Sincere good wishes,
The secretary of the Second Year,
J. Matiesco.

Since Sorbonne was referred to as Universite' Paris I Pantheon, to be doubly sure, a query was also made from the Universite Pantheon ASSAS Paris II.

This is an English translation of what that university had to say under the signature of Ms. Nadine Billion from the 'Educational Services':

Sir,

With regards to your letter dated January 20, 2000 concerning Ms. Chandrika Bandaranaike, I have the pleasure of informing you that after going through the records of the university Pantheon-Assas Paris II, no file under that name was found.

I would like to take this opportunity to convey to you my highest consideration.

Sgd.,
Nadine Billion.

Further research showed that where Chandrika did study in Paris after her one year stint at Aix-En-Provence, was at the Institute D'Etudes Politiques de Paris and not at the 'University of Paris,' which includes Sorbonne.

This Institute of Political Studies is also popularly known as 'Sciences Po' and in a booklet of the institute, under the heading "Some well known alumni of Sciences Po" gives the name "Chandrika Kumaratunga - President of Sri Lanka."

In this institute, the available evidence shows Chandrika as having studied for a course in international relations. Her reference number was 50259.

The period for which Chandrika did this course was two years and was titled "Relations internationales." She successfully completed this course of study and received a diploma in 1970.

The Sunday Leader is in possession of a letter written by MME A. Chantelauze from the Association of Former Students of Sciences Po, testifying to this fact. The address of the Association is 224 Souievard Saint-Germain, 75007 Paris. The telephone number is 0145486162 and answers to the fax 0145442027.

In that letter in French written on an official letterhead, it is stated thus:

"Miss Chandrika Bandaranaike, born June 1945, Course on International Relations at Sciences Po 1970- (Institute of Political Science, Paris)

We do not have any more information or any other Diplomas: Sorry, we cannot be of any more help."

Sgd. 
A. Chantelauze.

Thus, it is patently obvious Chandrika has no Political Science Degree from the University of Paris, as claimed, or from Sorbonne. The question is whether she has a degree at all. The evidence unearthed seems to have proved otherwise.

According to the Old Students Association of 'Science Po,' what Chandrika did obtain was a Diploma in International Relations.

In French of course, different terminology is used to define educational qualifications and queries were made by an old student of 'Sciences Po' itself on this terminology.

The former student, Jerome Tolot did a three year diploma (in French Diplome) at Sciences Po. He said a 'licence' is the equivalent to an English degree obtained at a university after three years.

Another law graduate from Paris University who spent six years studying there had stated that the two year course at Sciences Po was not a full degree in the English sense even if the course at Aix-En-Provence was added.

In other words, the diploma for international relations received by Chandrika is not a 'Licence.' Possibly the President may have a different interpretation, which we are ready to publish.

The bottom line is Chandrika Bandaranaike did not receive a degree from the University of Paris as claimed in her official bio data nor was she a student at Sorbonne. The Institute, Chandrika attended falls under the category of "Grandes Ecoles" (Higher School) as opposed to a state university.

In fact, according to Chandrika, in a period of three student years in Paris she had obtained a Political Science Degree from the University of Paris, obtained a diploma in group leadership and done her PhD studies in development economics, all from the same university. Now we know otherwise.

Chandrika returned to the country and look up a posting in 1972 as admitted by her in the Land Reforms Commission. Since this was a government appointment, of which government Chandrika's mother was prime minister, she did not have to go through the motions of interviews where one is called upon to produce certificates to substantiate one's academic qualifications. Incidentally Presidential Secretary, K. Balapatabendi was also attached to the LRC during this period.

Furthermore, Kumaratunga in her bio data also states she did "studies in LLB Law Degree." That statement too appears to be clearly designed to mislead the public by giving the impression she had done LLB studies to a great extent.

The LLB course was initially for three years with examinations divided into the first in laws and the final.

What Chandrika did was attend some law classes at Aquinas College but did not pass the examination.

Therefore for a Head of State to say in her official bio data that she did LLB studies without having passed a single examination in that course is to say the least, misleading. That is similar to a student who attends O Level classes for a few months, drops out and writes in his bio data that he did "O'level studies."

But that is Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga for you, the great achiever. According to her that is.


Donors await budget implementation

Jeremy Carter, Peter Harrold,  Alessandro Pio and Akio Suda 

By Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema

With the budget heat subsiding, all eyes are now on the all-important part of building the country's economy - the implementation of the policies highlighted in the UPFA government's maiden budget.

The 2005 budget as pointed out by economic analysts was better than expected and exhibited a lot of growth potential for the country's economy, but the real test as they said was in the implementation.

This sentiment was also shared by the donor agencies - "looks good in print, but if implemented and sustained would help uplift the skewed economy."

Eight months after assuming office, the government has now shown interest in resuming discussions to get the US$ 81 million tranche of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF)  Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF), held back since 2003.

Senior Resident Representative, IMF, Jeremy Carter observed that the IMF is expecting a government mission to discuss the PRGF in early 2005.

The PRGF has been on hold since 2003 and according to Carter, Sri Lanka is four disbursements behind.

Discussions

Carter pointed out that discussions to resume the tranche would be based on three areas - how the government plans to implement its budget proposals, how the government plans to manage its strategic enterprises and its strategy for poverty reduction.

"The government has indicated its interest to begin negotiations," he said.

The amount that would be disbursed in case negotiations prove successful, is yet to be decided.

Carter noted that apart from the PRGF, which is the IMF's exclusive concessionary facility, there is no other form of assistance in the pipeline.

Sharing the same sentiments as analysts, Carter also asserted that they like the targets outlined in the 2005 budget, but added success would depend on implementation.

"It is also important that revenue targets are met," he said.

The executive board of the IMF approved in 2003 a three-year arrangement under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility and Extended Fund Facility amounting to SDR 413.4 million (about US$567 million) for Sri Lanka, which will support the government's economic programme for 2003-06. Of this amount, SDR 269 million (about US$369 million) is available under the PRGF, and SDR 144.4 million (about US$198 million) is available under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF). The decision will enable Sri Lanka to draw SDR 59.06 million (about US$81 million) from the IMF every six months.

The second disbursement was due to be released in October 2003 and the third in April this year.

WB aid on hold

Budgetary support from the World Bank too is yet on hold.

According to World Bank officials, budgetary support, which has been provided under the Poverty Reduction Support Credit (PRSC), requires a sound macroeconomic framework. The officials added they rely on the IMF to provide an assessment of this.

The PRSC is a new lending instrument of the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA). It is designed to assist with the policy and institutional reforms countries have formulated to implement their own Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRS).

The Bank is currently awaiting a revision of the PRS by the UPFA to provide continued budgetary support. The credit is in the order of US$125 million. However, the exact amount will depend on the strength of the reform programme and progress in the peace process.

However, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank and the government of Japan have signed agreements to lend their support to the government's poverty alleviation and education reforms.

The ADB and the government recently signed the second part of an US$ 80 million loan package to address the immediate rehabilitation needs of almost two million conflict-affected people in the north and east of the country. The first part of the loan, US$ 50 million was signed on January 14, in Colombo.

The package provides funding for the ongoing Conflict Affected Areas Rehabilitation Project, ADB's first response to the needs assessment of conflict-affected areas it carried out with the government's development partners early in 2003.

ADB project

The project is expected to focus most of its activities on the most-severely conflict-affected districts. In these areas it will rehabilitate essential infrastructure, including 200 km of national highways and rehabilitate rural power supply to over 25 villages.

The Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government Ministry will have overall responsibility for the project. The North-East Provincial Council will coordinate the project on a day-to-day basis. Within this structure the Road Development Authority will manage the road rehabilitation component, and the Ceylon Electricity Board, the rural electrification component.

"The project will help a large number of rural communities restore viable living conditions, especially for those who are returning to their homes following displacement by the conflict," Country Head, ADB, Alessandro Pio said.

ADB's loan package consists of $50 million from its concessional Asian Development Fund (ADF) and $30 million from its ordinary capital resources (OCR).

The OCR loan has a 32-year term, including a grace period of eight years. Interest is determined in accordance with ADB's LIBOR-based lending facility.

ADB has also approved a US$ 35 million loan to further improve quality and relevance of the secondary education system in Sri Lanka. The new project will upgrade around 1,100 1AB and 1C schools not supported under ADB's ongoing Secondary Education Modernisation Project (SEMP 1) and other earlier ADB funded projects. The two main objectives of the project are: 1) support the government's strategy to improve the quality, equity, and management efficiency of secondary education and make it more responsive to labour market requirements and 2) increase equity of access to quality education and promote education for social cohesion.

The ADB pointed out that despite positive achievements in basic education, low investment in education results in disparities in educational quality. The pass rates at GCE (OL) and (AL) examinations have been low. Only 40% of ordinary level students qualify for advanced level, 50% fail in mathematics and 70% fail in English subject. Regional disparities in the pass rates are also evident.

Analysis

The bank's analysis  of  the education sector shows that about 140, 000 school leavers enter the labour market every year and a large number are unemployed, indicating the need to improve the role of secondary schools in preparing students for work. In fact, 18% of those with GCE advanced level qualifications are unemployed because of the mismatch between the conventional education system and labour market requirements.

"The project will upgrade target schools that do not meet an acceptable standard in terms of physical facilities, teaching and learning resources, teachers' skills and school management. This will reduce disparities across regions, gender, and ethnicity and work towards the goal of ensuring that every school is capable of successfully teaching the required subjects, increasing the percentage of students that pass GCE (OL) and GCE (AL) examinations in future," Pio said.

The total project cost is estimated at $47 million, of which $ 10.3 million will come from the government and $1.7 million from the beneficiaries.  The ADB loan which will meet 74.4% of the total cost, comes from its concessionary Asian Development Fund and carries a 32-year term, including a grace period of eight years.

The Ministry of Education will be the executing agency for the project, which is due for completion in December 2009.

Credit facility

The World Bank last week approved a credit facility of US$ 75 million for a housing reconstruction programme, which is expected to benefit conflict affected families of all ethnic groups.

The programme is also expected to be a significant economic boost for the north-east through the generation of employment opportunities for skilled and unskilled labour.

Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Akio Suda signed an agreement to provide a sum of US$ 66,233 (approximately Rs. 6.9 million) towards a project for sustainable human development and poverty alleviation through agriculture in the Puttalam District.

The government, which has shown much interest in developing the small and medium scale enterprise sector as part of its pro-poor economy policy, seem to be receiving the support of the donor agencies.

Be that as it may, it is now up to the government to put the grants received to good use and reduce the income disparity prevalent in the country.

Govt. to discuss loan facilities - Amunugama

Finance Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama observed that there was no question about approaching the donors as the government meets with them on a regular basis.

"We have quarterly meetings with the donors and we have a special group to hold these meetings," he said.

The IMF and the World Bank, according to Dr. Amunugama have received the Budget 2005 and made their own analysis.

Dr. Amunugama explained that the government till its maiden budget, did not discuss any loan facilities with the donors.

Now that the government has presented its maiden budget and passed it in parliament, Dr. Amunugama said that the discussions on the IMF's PRGF and the World Bank's RPSC loan facilities would be discussed in the early part of 2005 when the government and donors meet.


Inflation up and up

According to the December Monetary Policy Review, inflation continues to be on an upward trend as reflected in the increases in all consumer price indices.  The annual average change in the Colombo Consumers' Price Index (CCPI) rose from 6.1 per cent in October 2004 to 6.8 per cent in November, while on a point-to-point basis the CCPI rose from 12.1 per cent in October to 13.1 per cent in November.  A similar trend was seen in the Sri Lanka Consumers' Price Index (SLCPI) with the annual average change rising from 4.1 per cent in September to 5.4 per cent in October and the point-to-point change increasing from 14.4 per cent to 15.2 per cent.  The pressure on prices from supply side factors such as the drought, which adversely affected domestic food production and high import prices, particularly of petroleum imports is expected to ease with the improvement in weather conditions and the decline in international oil prices.


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