Avoiding a repeat of what happened 100 years ago?
Posted on January 24th, 2013

By Udaya Gammanpila-Courtesy: Ceylon Today

There was an animosity towards Muslims in the Sinhala society exactly 100 years ago.  The ultimate result was widespread Sinhala “”…” Muslim clashes in 1915.  Muslim resistance towards Buddhist processions in Gampola and Kandy were only the trigger, not the cause.  Grabbing Sinhala lands with the support of the British Government, acquiring lands through mortgages associated with loans with excessive interest rates, dominating retail trade with the support of the government, and supporting the British Government against Sinhala uprisings, were among the causes for the riots.

As someone who has studied the Sinhala “”…” Muslim clashes in 1915, I strongly feel a repetition of that disaster is imminent.  The promotion of Halal products, unauthorized mosques and organizing competitions to learn Islam for non-Muslim children are among the present day causes.  The latest addition to the list is the Law Entrance Exam results.

Law Entrance Exam

The Law Entrance Exam has been held annually since 1875, and there is a well-established pattern in examination results.  Although the exam was originally held only in English, it was made trilingual after Sinhala was made the official language.  The examination results in 2011 showed an abnormal growth in the number of Muslim students who passed in the Tamil Medium.  The results of the 2012 examination show a further increase in this growth.

The average number of Muslim students who passed the exam from 2003 to 2010 is 7.  However, it has rocketed to 51 in 2011 and 78 in 2012.  Only four percent of the Tamil medium candidates passed the examination in 2010.  It increased to 12% in 2011.  Conversely, only 2.4% of Sinhala medium students have passed the examination.

There may be two reasons for this unusual scenario.  Leaking the question paper could be the first reason.  There are several possible leaking points which include drafting the paper, translation of the paper from English to Sinhala and Tamil, type settings, proof reading and printing.  There is a possibility of leaking the paper to a student by any person involved in this process.  Since both parties would protect the secret, such leakages would never surface.

The students are not the only group who are interested in seeing the question paper in advance.   The other group is the tutors who hold preparatory classes for the students.  Towards the end of the course, every tutor provides possible questions and model answers for the students.  If a particular tutor’s questions can be found in the examination paper, he will be able to attract more students for future classes.  Hence, the tutors are in the bad habit of purchasing question papers making excessive cash payments.  One such example is the leaking of the Sinhala medium science paper during the O/L Examination in December 2012.  A tutor had purchased a spoiled printed paper containing 19 questions, from a labourer at the printing press.  He included those questions without any change in his model question paper given to his students.  Since the tutors give these questions to hundreds of students in public, such incidents cannot be maintained as secrets.

The second possibility is that the examiners for the Tamil medium could have given very high marks.   Tamil medium students had a very low passing rate in the recent past.  In 2004, there were only three students who passed the examination.  Similarly, only four students passed the examination in 2007.  In this backdrop, there is a suspicion that Tamil examiners may have been compelled to be lavish with their markings with a view to produce more Tamil medium lawyers.

Not a new trend

This is not a new trend.  During the 1960s, there was an unusual growth in university admissions from the Tamil medium.  For instance, in 1969, 28% of entrants to science faculties were from the Jaffna Districts, although the Jaffna population constituted only seven percent of the country’s population.  This was a consequence of the examiners of the Tamil medium giving marks for the papers they corrected.  As a solution to this injustice, the government decided to allocate a quota for each medium, based on the ethnic ratio.  This solution was heavily criticized by the minority groups.  Hence, the government in 1972 introduced a new scheme, based on district population and the degree of development in each district.

There may be other reasons in addition to the two possibilities explained above.  My suspicion is the paper had been leaked to a tutor.  According to unconfirmed sources, the pass rate of students attending a class in Wellawatte, conducted by a Muslim tutor, had been extraordinary.  If a tutor has an unusual pass rate, there is always a great possibility of the paper being leaked.  A firm conclusion can be arrived at only after analyzing the pass ratio of students of each tutor and their historical data.

If this is a result of lavish allocation of marks, it can be found by plotting Bell Shape Charts or Standard Deviation for each medium.  If the examiners for the Tamil medium have given lavish marks, the peak of the Bell Shape Chart will move towards the right.  If there is no such incident, the peaks of the charts for all mediums will be close to each other.

Investigation to determine the first reason should be conducted by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).  Similarly, the Examination Department should investigate the possibility of the second reason.  It should be mentioned the CID has already commenced an investigation on an initiative of the Bodu Bala Sena and the Collective of Law Entrance Students.  This has to a large extent eased the tension among the Sinhalese law entrance students.

Conspiracy launched by Rauff Hakeem?

Unfortunately, some Sinhala nationalists jumped to the conclusion the result favourable to Muslim students was a conspiracy launched by Rauff Hakeem in his capacity as the Minister of Justice.  They may have thought of getting some political mileage out of the issue.  However, such allegations without proper study or background knowledge do not accrue any mileage for anybody.  I have no faith in Hakeem or his party, considering their notorious past.  However, there is no basis for this allegation, whatsoever.  When we allege that Hakeem was responsible for this mess, the true culprit can safely hide behind Hakeem, distracting the investigation.

Hakeem has three functions in respect of the Law College.  Firstly, he can appoint six members to the Council for Legal Education, which is the governing body for the Law College.  However, there is no Muslim among his appointees and eminent Sinhala nationalist Manohara de Silva PC, is among them.  Further, there are nine other members, including the Chief Justice, the Attorney General and Judges of the Supreme Court.  Moreover, this Council cannot influence the examination directly as it is conducted by the Department of Examinations.

Secondly, the minister can give directives to the Council on policy matters in terms of Section 7A of the Council for Legal Education Ordinance.  He has so far not used this power.  Thirdly, the minister’s concurrence is required for by-laws to be approved by the Council and it is his responsibility to place those before the Parliament for approval.

Unfortunately, Hakeem’s behaviour in this issue has been extremely irresponsible.  He has added fuel to the fire by responding to the statements made by “ƒ”¹…”some’ Sinhala nationalists in a baseless manner.

According to websites, Hakeem had said in a speech the higher pass rate of Muslim students is a result of their skill.  His statement does not explain why Muslims who sat for the examination in the Sinhala and English medium do not possess the same skill.  Further, he has not explained how Muslims acquire this skill, because the vast majority of Muslims in Sri Lanka are descendants of Sinhalese and Tamils who embraced Islam through marriages.  Hence, they belonged to the same genetic group of Sinhalese and Tamils.

Ramzi Bawa is the President of Collective of Law Entrance Students, who sat for the exam in the Sinhala medium and failed to pass it.  Hakeem should explain to the nation why Ramzi does not possess the exclusive skill of Muslims mentioned by him.

As far as I can see, there is a genuine problem which cannot be hidden within emotional allegations and counter-allegations.  If the community leaders attempt to ignore this issue, this tension will escalate to clashes between the Sinhalese and Muslims.  Leaders of both communities should behave in a responsible manner to avoid a repetition of the ugly incidents that took place almost 100 years ago.

My first recommendation is to double the intake for the Law College as was done in 1991, to ease the tension.  This will create an atmosphere where the Law College can register the new students.  The ideal solution is to conduct the exam again.  In order to do that, the authorities should possess hard evidence of misconduct.  Unfortunately, the authorities are yet to find such evidence and the Law College cannot withhold registrations indefinitely.  However, the CID should continue with its investigation, because I strongly believe this unusual pattern is a result of the paper leakage.  The CID should identify the culprits in order to ensure this kind of manipulation will not be repeated in the future.

 

11 Responses to “Avoiding a repeat of what happened 100 years ago?”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Well said!

    “Thirdly, the minister’s concurrence is required for by-laws to be approved by the Council and it is his responsibility to place those before the Parliament for approval.

    Unfortunately, Hakeem’s behaviour in this issue has been extremely irresponsible. He has added fuel to the fire by responding to the statements made by ‘some’ Sinhala nationalists in a baseless manner.

    Ramzi Bawa is the President of Collective of Law Entrance Students, who sat for the exam in the Sinhala medium and failed to pass it. Hakeem should explain to the nation why Ramzi does not possess the exclusive skill of Muslims mentioned by him.

    This explains it all !!

    Don’t blame Sinhala nationalists. DISCRIMINATED Sinhala students don’t care about Sinhala nationalism. All they want is a FAIR entrance exam. Just give it to them without escalating the problem.

    Fearing 1915 (or 1983) is NOT a reason to TOLERATE injustice. Both 1915 and 1983 episodes ended up giving victory to SL.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    In 1915, the invaders wrongfully blamed Sinhala nationalists and jailed them. What happened? They became even more powerful and years later became winners and formed a government!!!

    In 1983, Sinhalese nationalists were WRONGLY blames for a riot caused by Tamils and Muslims to go to Canada freely. Some justified the war saying it is it return for the riot. What happened? Sinhalese nationalists became more powerful and won the war in fantastic style in 2009, again 26 years later.

    Do the right thing WITHOUT FEAR (of 1915) or FAVOUR.

  3. Senevirath Says:

    Repitition of1915 is imminent
    Read these facts to know about them
    8thcentury massercres in Sind .9th masercres of Spanish cristions around Servile.in 10th persecutions of nonmuslims under caliph al Hakim 11th jewsof granada and Fezand hidnus. 12thAlmohads oh Noth Africa spread terror . in 13th christians of damuscus or sold for slavery .in14 and 15th the infamous tamerlane killed thousand s and thousands.
    4000 christians were buried alive At Tus there werw 10000 victims 10000 were killed inSaray 90000 in Bagdad at Isfahan 7000
    ARE WE NOT IN DANGER…
    SENEVIRATNE

  4. Senevirath Says:

    Repitition of1915 is imminent
    Read these facts to know about them
    8thcentury massercres in Sind .9th masercres of Spanish cristions around Servile.in 10th persecutions of nonmuslims under caliph al Hakim 11th jewsof granada and Fezand hidnus. 12thAlmohads oh Noth Africa spread terror . in 13th christians of damuscus or sold for slavery .in14 and 15th the infamous tamerlane killed thousand s and thousands.
    4000 christians were buried alive At Tus there werw 10000 victims 10000 were killed inSaray 90000 in Bagdad at Isfahan 7000
    ARE WE NOT IN DANGER…
    SENEVIRATNE

  5. Leela Says:

    Read Koran 3:28, It compels Muslims to help fellow Muslims and not to take others as friends.
    Leela

  6. Muhandiram Says:

    “because the vast majority of Muslims in Sri Lanka are descendants of Sinhalese and Tamils who embraced Islam through marriages. Hence, they belonged to the same genetic group of Sinhalese and Tamils”.

    finally we are fighting with our own siblings.

  7. R.M.W Says:

    Soon there will be no space in the country, no water to drink, no air to breathe, at the rate these reproduction machines, reproducing. In fact, more rapidly than cockroaches! At this rate Lanka will end up like Pakistan or Bangladesh!

    First they exterminated the entire Buddhists living along the Silk Road and eradicated their heritage and tolerant life style. Now there are killing each other as there are no more Buddhists left to kill.
    Buddhist tolerance is used to pacify the Buddhism and use it against them, in order to create an ‘Allah’ loving country.

    There is one way to reclaim our values, save our trees, rights of the creatures living in the island’ and reprocess our heritage of free thinking. Or, these stupid Buddhist idiots have start eating Halal meats and operate their female children of their clits, along with beheading them for adultery in case of any sexual misconduct. Indeed the future new Muslim nation could employ them as production machines and make it a packed desert so they can kill each other to their hearts content! For by this point of time there are no Buddhists left for they have gone the way the Silk Road Buddhist went!

    There is only one way we can come out of this impasse! 1915 is nothing if we do not do something about our present situation, now!!!

    One family one child policy should be implemented, stringently!

  8. Lorenzo Says:

    Exterminated INNOCENT Buddhists in Nalanda, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, etc. would LOVE 1915 compared to what happened to them!!

    Our biggest enemy is NOT 1915 but the Islamic EPIDEMIC.

    During the ceasefire some tigers in donkey clothing told us to VOID WAR AT ALL COST!! We said NO. War is WAY BETTER THAN surrender to Tamil racists.

    Now we say 1915 is way better than surrendering to Wahabis. Our armed forces are capable to handle ANY problem. Otherwise people will!

  9. Christie Says:

    Where was the writer when Tamils cheated local and UK and other exams. Tamils and Indians are world renowned for cheationg at examas and coming up with bogus certificates from educational institutions specially from India. I am sure thge writer is well ware of this.

  10. Christie Says:

    The writer says he has studied the issue of 1915 clashes. I wonder what sources he used to study, may be the writings by Tamils and other Indians in the US, UK, Canada and Austrlia. He may have read material by most educated Ponna Ramachandran.

    By 1915 most of the land belonging to Sinhalese and Muslims were taken by the British to The oppressed always fight among themselves like the clashes between the Sinhalses and Muslims today. The best examples are the clashes between the natives of US, Canada, Australia and the US and then oppressed in India.

    It is time the non Indians of the island nation unite and rise against the Indian Imperialism and colonialism.

  11. Christie Says:

    By 1915 most of the land belonging to Sinhalese and Muslims were taken by the British to grow Coffeee followed by Tea. The lands wrer acquired under the 1840 Crown Lands Oridinances. The landless Sinhalese and Muslims were cornered into small barren land ghettos. The lands were taken by British guns and Indian Sepoys. ( Iam not suer whether the Sepoys were Vellars or Maratis)

    So what would you expect to happen between the poor oppressed, the seeds for clashes has been sawed by the British and Indian Imperialists and the Indian colonial parasites.

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