Anyone with an ounce of human compassion and respect for all life on earth would not have failed to be shocked, horrified and distressed when on Tuesday evening television news cameras showed scenes of dogs and cats in the throes of death at the Moratuwa University grounds after being darted with a deadly chemical by [...]


Moratu Uni VC gives dogs and cats the third degree


Anyone with an ounce of human compassion and respect for all life on earth would not have failed to be shocked, horrified and distressed when on Tuesday evening television news cameras showed scenes of dogs and cats in the throes of death at the Moratuwa University grounds after being darted with a deadly chemical by the university’s own security guards acting on the orders of the Vice Chancellor.

He had put out the contract to eliminate the stray menace from campus premises; awarded it to the university’s own security personnel but thereafter had not bothered to inquire how it was to be done. It was no concern of his how they executed his orders — whether it was to be by offering a doggy biscuit to each and every dog and saying, ‘come puppy, be a good boy now’ and coaxing it to jump aboard the Auschwitz truck that awaited to dispatch it to some unknown destination of a canine heaven or hell or whether the method employed was to wage chemical warfare with a chemical which is said to cause paralysis leading to a painful death.
What happened thereafter when the operation was carried out last week by the university’s security staff was a shocking example of man’s inhumanity to man’s best friend, whether pet or stray.

DOG IN THE THROES OF DEATH: Chemical warfare at Moratuwa’s Grove of Academy

None denies that strays can be a menace and a danger to the public at large. The present question is whether the methods employed to evict the canine and feline squatters were far too inhumane and cruel as befits a Buddhist nation that vows to uphold the first precept and pledges to refrain from killing any life form in any manner, for whatever purpose, with the recital made day in and night out.

So was the Moratuwa Vice Chancellor transgressing? Was he negligent when, in discharging his duty to keep the campus safe for the students from the stray menace by issuing the contract to his own security staff, he failed to inquire how it was to be carried out? Whether he did not exercise proper judgment in giving a set of security staff whose prime duty is to answer the door bell and keep awake at night? A staff who presumably had no expertise in dog removal or in the necessary veterinarian skills on how to tranquilise animals, decide on the correct drug that should be used and determine the optimum dosage that should be administered? Was he irresponsible when he kept shut eye to the methods they would employ ‘to do the needful’ as their paymaster had ordered? And thereby assuage his own conscience that any attendant sin by proxy would be deflected from him and absolve him of moral culpability? Did he think the end justified the means? And by passing the task to his staff, he could purge himself of moral sin and public outrage thus?

Read his own videoed confession made on Monday – the day after animal rights activists launched the protest after the secret video of the dog massacre at Moratu Uni went viral on social media on Saturday — where he admitted that he had given the order to his in-house security staff to execute ‘operation doggone’. In all fairness, let’s give the man a hearing:

In his videoed statement Prof. Ananda Kithsiri Wijenayaka Jayawardane, the 56-year-old Vice Chancellor of the Moratuwa University since 2011, had this to say in his defence:

FIRST he denied that Moratuwa University authorities were responsible for the deaths of the dogs and cats. But he admitted that he had given orders to the security personal in the campus to get rid of the dogs; and further admitted there were fatal accidents caused by his security personnel.

SECOND, he stated that he had given the operation to the security staff since it was part of their job not to allow any stray animals into the university facility. Perhaps in his professorial naiveté, he only expected them to shoo them away — gently and courteously to show the doggy gatecrashers the door out.

THIRDLY, he said that the threat to the students and following the complaints received from them, he decided to send the animals away. Perhaps he little realised that, when he issued the order to his university’s security, he was in effect ordering them to send the dogs away to kingdom come.

FOURTHLY, he defended his position and said, “I am not responsible for the dogs’ deaths.” And passed the bone of responsibility to the campus security, saying: “It is unfortunate that the security officers overdosed the animals when they attempted to sedate them. We are also unhappy about the fatal accident. The method that was used to sedate the animals could not be approved; and the university condemns such animal cruelty.”

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, whether this would not have been the same argument used by Adolf Hitler — had he not shot himself in the his Berlin bunker — at the Nuremburg Trials, claiming that he had only told his army generals to get rid of Jews in the Fatherland and in German occupied zones and had no idea that the method his generals would employ would be to have six million Jews gassed in Auschwitz and other concentration camps; and saying to the war crimes tribunal, in the same breath of his defense, “I am not responsible for the Jews deaths nor for the horrible way in which they met their deaths. It is unfortunate that my generals used this gassing method and I did not approve of it. In fact my Third Reich condemned it.”

FINALLY, he said, “we would take preventive measures to prevent such recurrence.” Though it will not bring the animals that were killed in such an inhumane manner, it is good to learn the Vice Chancellor does not hold himself to be the receptacle of all knowledge but admits he is still on the learning curve. And that is to his credit.

But can he really wash his hands of moral responsibility? Can he really claim ignorance? Perhaps he can but he should first explain the following?
ONE: Specialised dart guns cannot be purchased at a nearby supermarket. It has to be imported under special licence from abroad and of course it involves a financial cost.

TWO: The chemical used to paralyse the dogs and cats cannot be bought off the counter from the next door pharmacy but will require a prescription signed by an authorised doctor. When one cannot buy a mild amoxicillin to beat a simple chest cold without a doctor’s prescription, how was it that the securities personnel were able to procure a deadly chemical which is specifically used to paralyze one? And which comes at a heavy price?

MORATUWE UNI VICE CHANCELLOR: Jayawardane gave the order without realising consequences

THREE: If the security personnel misunderstood the Vice Chancellor’s order and assumed the job had to be done, whatever the cost, would they have gone to the extent of putting their hands to their pant pockets and come up with the necessary cash to finance the military style operation?

Would they have first submitted to the Moratuwa University authorities the cost of the entire operation and sought authorization for the extra expenses and ensured reimbursement for the funds expended to acquire the dart firing guns and the deadly chemical without rushing to engage in the mass killing of stray dogs and cats at their own expense?

If they did not submit a quotation beforehand for this extra-curricular activity, which does not come within the general ambit of security duties and thus would involve an extra charge, was it negligence on the part of the Vice Chancellor not to have first requested the security personnel to submit one and only then authorised the operation without issuing a blank cheque with the order to do the needful whatever he cost? If on the other hand, the security personnel did indeed submit a quotation for this extraordinary operation, would the quote not have listed a breakdown of the amounts that would have to be spent on purchasing the deadly paralyzing chemical agent and other expenses?

Don’t you think that the Vice Chancellor owes an explanation as to whether he was negligent in requiring a quote beforehand? Or whether he was given one and was thus fixed with the knowledge that chemicals were to be resorted to sedate the squatters on his campus green?

Perhaps it is a matter worthy of police probe. How this security people managed to procure specialised tranquiliser guns and deadly paralysing chemical agents which can be used to kill not only strays but humans as well? On the orders of some mafia don whose expressed wish to send his foes somewhere else? Perhaps for good?
But even as the Vice Chancellor Jayawardene repented the cruel killings and made haste to disown the heartless acts of those under his employ and direction, the State Veterinary Surgeons’ Association (SVSA) condemned the incident during a press conference held on Tuesday.

Dr. P. L. Kumarawadu, the SVSA Secretary, said any individual or a group can complain to the Veterinary Council of such sedation as it is not possible to carry out such a task without a veterinary surgeon.

He said according to the prevailing law it allows the killing of the stray animals using a standard method only under the guidance of a veterinary surgeon. However, the law doesn’t allow animal cruelty and therefore charges can be leveled against those responsible.

So what can be done to those who gave the orders and those who carried out this vile deed? Can they be arrested, be brought to justice to face charges of cruelty to animals?

Afraid not.
For, as the law stands, nothing can be done.
True, there is the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance of1907.True, too, that under this 100 year old law

(1) Any person who shall by any act or omission causes unnecessary pain or suffering to any animal or
(2) If any person kills any animal in an unnecessarily cruel manner

he shall be punished with a fine not exceeding a hundred rupees or with imprisonment for up to six months or both.
It’s not the fine that’s the problem. After all a hundred rupees would have been a hefty sum a century ago. The deterrent even today would be the six months jail.
The real problem is that it only applies to cruelty to domesticated animals and those captured. Not to stray dogs.

The 1907 Act describes an animal as referred in the Ordinance, as to mean any domestic or captured animal and includes any bird, fish or reptile in captivity.
But, sorry, it doesn’t apply to stray dogs or cats. Anyone is thus free to go out and do their worst on any mongrel prowling the streets, jab him with a poisoned dart and watch it writhe in agony and succumb in pain to a slow and agonizing death and no problem. Strays are fair game to be killed at will. For man to play God with its lives.

And if you are wondering then, how come six men were found guilty and jailed for five years six months ago for skinning a sea eagle, they were charged under the provisions of the Flora and Fauna Act which only applies to those in the wild. Not to stray dogs. Like none gives a damn to human beggars on the streets and callously leave them to their fate and poverty, stray dogs, too, are left to their own fate and misery.

The only redeeming grace to offer some sort of protection has taken years in the making and it has come in the form of a new Animal Welfare Act. It was introduced last year as a bill. It offers stray dogs and cats protection from inhumane cruel treatment on par with those domesticated or living in the jungles.
The relevant section (23) states that

“Any person who kills any animal in a cruel manner, shall commit an offence and shall on conviction after summary trial before a Magistrate be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand rupees or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both such fine and imprisonment.”
And in the Bill’s interpretation of what is an animal it states an “animal” means any living being other than a human being and includes a domestic animal, a farm animal, an animal in captivity, a wild animal, a companion animal, A STRAY ANIMAL and a food animal”.

Unfortunately it hasn’t still seen the light of day as an Act and thus for all intents and purposes, the law governing cruelty to animals still remains the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance of1907. And it does not apply to stray dogs or cats. Until the new Animal Welfare Bill is passed in Parliament, it will be open season for strays to be hunted down and disposed by sadists in the most cruelest and inhumane a manner.

The present ‘no kill policy on dogs’ was introduced by the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa during his second term of office and it is to his credit that the gas chamber in the municipality’s dog pound has remained unused even as former president J. R. Jayewardene’s policy on “No-Kill-Policy-On-Humans’ has rendered the gallows at Bogambara Prison to stay still and not swing since 1978.

This week, the Minister of Local Government Faiszer Musthapha under whose purview stray dogs roam, reiterated his firm stance on the killing of stray dogs. He said, “I have been constantly slammed over the killing of dogs. I state with responsibility, I have never authorised the killing of dogs and neither will I do so in the future. This is a Sinhala Buddhist country and it is against the policy of this country to kill dogs. We understand there is a problem regarding stray dogs. But killing dogs is not the solution.”

But Muslim Minister Musthapha who has transcended the age old Muslim phobia of dogs which were to be shunned in the dusty deserts of Arabia for being prone to heat induced rabies, and who creditably has acknowledged the Sinhala Buddhist ethos of the sanctity of life in all its forms, must now go beyond paying mere lip service and expressing his firm stance on the No Kill Policy On Dogs whilst at the same time passing the buck to provincial councils. He should take immediate steps to champion the Animal Welfare Bill in Parliament and expedite its enactment and thus make illegal inhumane and cruelty meted to stray dogs with impunity.
Until this Act is enacted, the Government’s law enforcing authorities will have no legal right to bring to the bar of justice man’s cruelty to stray animals that thunders in the heavens but must perforce stay silent in manmade courts due to lack of legal arms.

Dr. Neville’s hospital gift to the nation veiled in secret shroud

This Monday, the 17th of July, a great historical event took place in the suburbs of Malabe.
One that even President Maithripala Sirisena deemed worthy to grace by his exalted presence and to witness personally history in the making before his very eyes. It was the day a great philanthropist of Lanka bestowed to the nation his lifework valued at over Rs. 3.5 billion bucks. With no strings attached. Not out of reciprocal altruism but an act urged by pure altruism alone.

It may have been perhaps partially egged by a little arms twisting from various quarters but when Dr. Neville Fernando voluntarily handed over the hospital he had created with a Bank of Ceylon loan of Rs. 3.5 billion, the altruistic act alone was enough to summon the nation to rise and render a standing record ovation.
Here was a man who was not donating Rs 3.5 billion cash in a bag but donating a state of the art medical hospital to a nation direly in need of hospitals to cater to the sick. The Indians had built a hospital in the hills mainly to cater to the Indian Tamils of Lanka and when Indian Prime Minister Modi arrived recently to cut the pink ribbon of health and wish long life to those of Indian ancestry, all namaskars went to him on bended knees.

But when the 85-year-old Dr. Neville Fernando, who built his own hospital with borrowed money — and thus staked his own financial future on its success – and then, perhaps, due to forces beyond his control, finally surrendered his life time achievement award, it hardly raised a clap of gratitude but only invited another GMOA outburst..

They claimed that it was not a gift but what the doctor had done was only to lease out the hospital. Perhaps, for once, they are right.
On that historic day of July 17th when the good doctor demonstrated the largesse of his heart and stated that, “I am used to giving alms and today’s gift to the nation is but another instance” and reassured all concerned parties that the Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital had been donated to the Government free of cost” the subsequent qualification inscribed in the small print in the documents signed that day held, according to the good doctor himself, that “since he had obtained a Rs. 3.5 Billion loan from the Bank of Ceylon and had only paid a little over one billion rupees of it, the Bank had suggested that he use the term ‘lease’ in order to ensure that he met the terms of the loan and paid all his dues. “

DR. NEVLLE FERNANADO: Donates to the people his life achievement award worth over Rs. 3 billion. Seen here with President Sirisena.

Fair enough. Apparently the terms of the agreement officially signed before President Sirisena held that the Government would pay the salaries of the Teaching Hospital employees and that Dr. Neville Fernando would service the 2.5 billion loan owed to the Bank of Ceylon and settle it within 10 years. It would be done under a 10 year lease agreement at the expiry of which the Sri Lankan Government would hold it not as a lessee but freehold, as absolute owner. In the meantime, the Rs. 3.55 billion hospital would be sub leased to the Ministry of Health for a nominal lease rental of Rs. 83 per month. The land belongs to the UDA.

Interesting, but a little confusing, isn’t it? Especially when the Neville Fernando owned SAITM issued a statement on Wednesday that a tripartite agreement would soon be signed between Dr. Neville Fernando, the Government and the Bank of Ceylon soon to formally hand over the Teaching Hospital to the Government? But what in the world did all three parties sign in that highly publicized ceremony before Lanka’s Head of State on Monday? Now it has transpired that what they signed was a mere letter of intent and no binding formal legal document.

In the absence of any Yahapalana transparency surrounding even that ‘Letter of Intent’, a few questions need to be raised before the formal agreement is signed by all parties concerned.

n The land itself on which the hospital is based belongs to the UDA. Presumably it has leased out the land to Dr. Neville Fernando or to any of the various companies he may happen to own. What is the monthly lease rental?

n Dr. Neville has sub let it to the Ministry of Health for a nominal sum of Rs 1000 per year. Since the Bank of Ceylon insists, as it holds the mortgage over the hospital on account of its original 3.5 billion loan of which Rs. 2.5 billion still remains unpaid, what is the monthly lease rent the government – who will be the tenant for the next ten years of the hospital – be paying to the landlord Dr. Neville?

n Dr. Neville’s SAITM says in its Wednesday’s statement that “SAITM would like to clarify that the Sri Lankan Government has not made any form of payment to SAITM as compensation or lease, under the said agreement.” But of course admits that the transfer is on the basis of a lease agreement since the Bank of Ceylon insists upon it.

A lease agreement basically consists of two main components. A description of the property to be leased along with terms and conditions as to how the property so leased can be used and the monthly rental to be paid to the lessor, however nominal the sum maybe, to be stated in the legal lease agreement to give it legal validation for without consideration from either side – however minimal it maybe, such a contract loses legal force and will be rendered null and void. If no rent is to be paid to the lessor then it will have to be a deed of gift. So how much will the monthly rental be to Dr. Neville in return for his gratuitous gift to the nation?
So isn’t it best for the government, wedded as it is to transparency, to reveal the lease agreement in full? And thus clear the public mind and meet the calumnies hurled at this sensitive hour by the GMOA? And confide in the nation whether it will be paying the monthly interest on the remaining loan balance and the monthly capital repayment which, if calculated at 10 percent interest and 120 monthly repayment on the remaining debt of Rs 2.5 billion would amount to approximately Rs.40 million a month for the next ten years?

If that’s not the case, is it right for the nation to accept a free hospital gift worth over Rs. 3, 55 billion that would greatly benefit the nation’s ill, from an old 85 year old doctor and still encumber him with the burden – after having gifted his cash cow – of having to churn from his private udders 2.5 billion bucks within the next ten years?

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