question of adding feathers to one’s cap
By Wilson Gnanadass
A sudden decision to remove a top government official on the
grounds that he has failed to substantially prove his
educational qualifications has stirred the hornet’s nest.
Chairman, Urban Development Authority (UDA) D.S. Jayaweera who
claimed he obtained a Ph D, from a leading University in the
United States, but could not produce a certificate for evidence
was last week removed from the management post he has been
holding for months. The removal was a sequel to a recommendation
by the Parliamentary Committee on High Posts, headed by Prime
Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, to Urban Development and
Water Supply Minister Dinesh Gunewardene.
To the utter dismay of the entire country the very government
that considered him unfit for a top post because of his
falsehood, immediately absorbed him into the finance ministry as
one of the advisors. Jayaweera at present functions as the
Deputy Director Planning Ministry of Transport attaché in the
Therefore doubt is cast on those who were responsible for his
removal and fingers are pointed at the same and questions are
raised as to whether the removal has any ulterior motive.
While the removal was justified by the government on the basis
that Jayaweera failed to submit his Ph D certificate when
required, The Nation learns his punishment was after he refused
to toe the line with top UDA officials over some unlawful
However, the fact remains he has failed to produce his
certificate after claiming to have obtained a Ph D from the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Minister Dinesh Gunewardene in his letter addressed to Jayaweera
dated September 5, 2006 says his dishonesty has brought
disrepute to the UDA and the office he has been holding. The
Minister further says that the Parliamentary Committee on High
Posts has found him unsuitable to hold a high post in view of
the fact that he has misled the said committee by providing
false information regarding his educational qualifications, as
having a Ph D.
Minister Gunawardena in his letter has said, “In view of the
above, I, Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Urban Development and
Water Supply am compelled to invoke Section 4 (4) (c) of the
Urban Development Act No. 41 of 1978 and hereby remove you from
the post of Chairman, Urban Development Authority with immediate
The Minister’s letter has also been copied to the Secretary to
the President, Secretary to the Prime Minister, Secretary to the
Ministry of Urban Development and Water Supply, Auditor General,
Director General UDA and Secretary to the Board of Management of
Jayaweera was appointed as Chairman of the UDA on December 7,
At the consultation committee meeting of the ministry of Urban
Development and Water Supply held in Parliament on August 10,
2006 the issue of submission of false information regarding
Jayaweera’s education was raised.
Subsequently the same issue was also raised before the Committee
on Public Enterprises (COPE) held on August 24, 2006.
Thereafter the High Posts Committee chaired by Prime Minister
Ratnasiri Wickramanayake examined the complaint received against
Jayaweera for providing false information regarding his
educational qualifications as having a Ph D.
Having first denied the charges, Jayaweera has subsequently
accepted that he forwarded false information. Thereafter he had
also tendered an apology to the Committee held on July 4, 2006.
Later on he was requested to tender a written document.
The High Posts Committee at its 17th meeting held on August 22,
2006, took up this issue under item No. 3 of the minutes and
decided tough action.The committee deliberated and resolved that
the written apology tendered by Jayaweera was unacceptable and
that he was unsuitable to hold any high post.Therefore the
committee unanimously resolved to inform Urban Development and
Water Supply Minister Dinesh Gunewardene that Jayaweera has
misled the High Posts Committee by providing false information
regarding his educational qualifications and hence he was found
unsuitable to hold the post as Chairman.
Following this the Minister sent him a letter informing him that
he was removed from his post with immediate effect.
This incident was similar to the one involving the removal of
the late Upali Wijewardene from his post as Chairman, Greater
Colombo Economic Commission (GCEC) by the then President J.R.
Jayawardene on a recommendation made also by the Parliamentary
Committee on High Posts.However, this decision was taken not
because Wijewardene was dishonest but because he himself was an
industrialist and that the High Posts Committee thought it was
not proper for a leading industrialist to head the GCEC.
The fact that Jayaweera failed to substantiate his claim that he
was holding a Ph D with documental evidence was not just
unearthed yesterday or the day before. This fact was brought to
the notice of Parliament and of course the Parliamentary
Committee on High Posts, about two years ago by the then
Transport Minister Felix Perera. Jayaweera was Assistant
Secretary to the Transport Ministry.
However until last month not a single finger had been raised
against him or pointed at for his alleged dishonesty, in lying
to the State regarding his educational background. Questions are
raised as to why suddenly he had been taken to task though he
stands guilty of deception, which is certainly a serious
The Nation learns Minister Gunewardene himself had come under
severe pressure before taking a decision to remove Jayaweera. It
is also learnt that the Minister had been requested by many top
citizens not to remove Jayaweera. The bone fide of the
government is also now seriously questioned for absorbing
Jayaweera directly to the finance ministry after the High Posts
Committee determined that Jayaweera was unfit for high posts.
Truth beneath the surface
However, sources from within the UDA disclosed on the condition
of anonymity that though Jayaweera was found guilty of failing
to prove his educational qualifications, he was a ‘straight
man’. Sources say the UDA decided to take Jayaweera to task
because he refused to be party to an agreement allegedly reached
between the Ministry and a Korean company regarding the purchase
of four acres of land in Kotte. It is said the Ministry in
connivance with the Korean company had allegedly attempted to
purchase the prime land in Kotte, without a bank guarantee and
Jayaweera had been approached for his consent. But he had flatly
refused to place his signature on the agreement.
Sources say Jayaweera’s rebuttal, to sign the document and be
party to an alleged scandal, may have angered the top Ministry
officials thereby prompting them thereafter to bring the ‘Ph D
case’ up again to pin him down.
Did not obtain certificate
Chairman, Urban Development Authority (UDA) D.S. Jayaweera,
justified his claim by saying though he did not obtain a
certificate he did submit his thesis to the MIT, which he said
He says when the officials at MIT accepted his thesis and
commended it, the obvious inference was that he was going to be
conferred with a Ph D.
He says he did not at any stage indicate in his Curriculum Vitae
that he has obtained a Ph D. According to him he obtained his
Masters degree in Town and Country Planning from Moratuwa
University in 1984 and a Science degree from the Colombo
University in 1992. His first degree has been from Sri
Jayawardenepura University on Development Studies - Statistics
Special in 1972.
“In 1996, I went to the US and enrolled myself with the MIT.
After doing some modules I submitted my proposal for a Ph D in
1997 and it was accepted.
“In 1999, I submitted my thesis and it was well received. Only
thing for some logistical reasons I could not go for the
convocation. Then when I had to submit my CV to Parliament I
requested from the MIT for the transcript. I received the
transcript from the MIT in October 2005 but the transcript did
not mention my doctorate.
“Anyway, I have not done anything wrong. I am not sure whether
the punishment I have got is for this reason. I know it is for
something else. It was Minister Gunewardene who begged me for
four days to undertake this post. Otherwise I could have gone to
Washington to accept a post at the World Bank,” he added.
Corrupt officials should be removed
Urban Development Minister Dinesh Gunewardene, is of the view
all corrupt officials should be removed from the administration
to create a better society. He said this was the first
experience in his entire political career where he had to take
such a drastic action against a top government official.
“Tomorrow somebody else will come up with a fake certificate,
and are they expected to work in such places and hold high
offices? This is wrong and if I had not taken this decision I
would not have done a service to the country. I could not be
dishonest to Parliament,” he said.
“In fact, when I queried from him at first he denied it. He said
he did have his Ph D. But later when I wanted to see the
documents he said he had already submitted it to Parliament.
“Then when he was grilled by the High Post Committee he admitted
he did not obtain a Ph D. Now this is dishonesty. He should not
have lied to the nation and especially to his conscience,” the
Minister told The Nation.
Citing an earlier occasion where Upali Wijewardene was removed
from his post as GCEC Chairman, the Minister said this must have
been the second such incident to have occurred in Sri Lanka.
“You see, even though Wijewardene was the late President’s
nephew, he was removed. So we must follow this type of
discipline,” he said.