Colombo, Constitutional Reform, Development, Diaspora, Foreign Relations, International Relations, Jaffna, Media and Communications, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance, Post-War

Interview with Prof. Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David, an electrical engineer by training, regular columnist in traditional print media and a frequent commentator on Groundviews, talks about what’s left of leftist politics in Sri Lanka, the end of war and its impact on Tamil diaspora juxtaposed against th autocratic and essentially one-party rule in Sri Lanka.

I also asked him about the growing web and Internet censorship, which in a recent column he had referred to as a disturbing retrogression into a Lanka Internet Dark Age (LIDA).

  • Mohan

    Kumar David said that the referendum in the Diaspora was ‘Useless’.
    One thing he should know that more than 99% of the Diaspora Tamils now have one voice.
    Now Kumar David cannot say that the Diaspora Tamils have different views towards self rule.
    Of course, there is around less than 1% of the Diaspora Tamil population which is approached by the SriLankan government to bring discredit to the unity. Now the world knows that less than 1% of the Tamils are with the Rajapakse brothers.

  • why not ask the Tamils still trapped in Sri Lanka what they expect and what they want? And if they say that they want a separate country for Tamils, then immediately ask among this supposed to be 99% united for self governance, how many of them wanting to go to the Tamils homeland to live there and to develop their own country? I suspect then the interests of the home comers will not be that high.
    Why not holding a ballot to assess the willingness of the Tamils to go back to their homeland? I am not approached by any Rajapaksa’s but I deny parroting what is being propagated by some stake holders of Tamil’s crisis globally. We were ditched by our politicians our freedom fighters and even the LTTE just for the purpose of their own existence.
    THE FIRST QUESTION I WOULD EVER ASK ANY “TAMIL” WHO WANT EELAM WOULD BE “IS HE PREPARED TO GO AND LIVE THERE WITH HIS FAMILY?

    • Raj

      You cannot ask one group if they like separation, you need to ask all. I know if you were asked if you want a separate state in UK or Canada, you will of course say yes:-)

  • yapa
  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Mohan,

    How many voted?
    How many abstained?
    What is the total Lankan Tamil Diaspora population?

  • Saro

    What happened to the Sinhalese hero of the war is an indication of what is happening to ordinary Tamils and Muslims behind the cameras of independent journalists. Those minorities are at the mercy of the Sinhalese military and military assisted paramilitaries. The diaspora, too, is not acting independently as their actions are reactions to the ill treatment meted out to their families and friends by the Sinhala Buddhist government and its state institutions.

  • dingiri

    Is anyone surprised that 99% of them have voted for Eelam? I wonder how many would vote for it if there was a proviso that they can only demand no more than what was proportionate with to their numbers? Would they ever agree to a deal where they would get no more land per capita than what a Sinhalese would get in the south? They coplain about Sinhala nationalism but Tamil nationalism borders on Supremacism where they demand a lebensraum with four times as much land as they propose to give the Sinhalese!

    “Traditional exclusive homeland from time immemorial” – When the archaelogical and epigraphic evidence of what they claim points to the opposite!

  • Groundtruth

    An interesting interview with Prof. Kumar David. It takes two of the same type to outdo each other and that is what obatins after the end of the LTTE, a ruthless dictatorial, no-time-for-dialogue governance under cover of continuing emergency which is far easier to manage than a democratic form of governance which also pays, by its iannte nature, attention to the other side, including criticism and even (non-violent) opposition. His prognosis in this respect is quite understandable. That is why a 2/3 rd majority for the President will be counter-productive especially as he has not been open about why he wants it. It may well lead to a Chinese or Myanmar style governments. Just holding elections is not democracy as it is only a means to serve a meaningful end, not self serving.

    On the Tamil question, where war crimes and gross crimes are committed against a people there is provision for the right to self-determination by the affected people under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ratified by ALL UN Member countries! That inclueds Sri Lanka too.

  • justitia

    Saro is correct.
    The immediate desire of tamils in sri lanka is to live without harassment, arbitary arrests, extortions, thuggery, intimidation, occasional killings & disappearances, relese of their kith and kin from detention if no indictments have been filed against them, enable their resettlement quickly,
    remove military rule in the northeast, allow livelihoods without restrictions, enable all to vote in the coming election, enable efficient educational infrastructure and teachers for their children, appoint tamil speaking supervisary public servants in the northeast and enable them thus to live in PEACE.
    Is this too much to ask for? Are these not essential in a democracy?
    If all this is allowed, then the ‘eelam’ cry may be stilled forever.
    If, instead, suppression of tamils’ birthrights and repression of their modes of living and survival continue, sri lanka will never prosper as a whole. Only the corrupt politicians and their cronys will.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Mohan,

    “One thing he should know that more than 99% of the Diaspora Tamils now have one voice.” Thats what you wrote on March 3, 2010 @ 5:44 pm

    How come you dont have the following figures?

    How many voted?
    How many abstained?
    What is the total Lankan Tamil Diaspora population?

  • Observer

    since we’re talking about the diaspora mentality the following paper was quite insightful. nothing that the average analyst acutely aware of sri lankan matters already didn’t know previously, but this paper puts all the facts together in a methodical fashion. which is refreshing compared to hearing things from journalists who fly in, spend few weeks in lanka and start on the wrong end.

    http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=6545&l=1

  • Heshan

    A possible JVP uprising? I highly doubt it. The JVP of the present is a joke. It has to a– kiss whichever ruling party is in power at the time, just to *remain* in existence.

    What can really bring about accelerated regime change at this point in time is international pressure, e.g. international sanctions. The tsunami, the war, political corruption – the Southern voter is a tough nut to crack. It will take something with much more momentum.

  • Haviesfan

    Thank you, Sanjana, for giving us these wonderful interviews and for maintaining a crucial venue for the exchange of ideas. Please keep up the good work so that all Sri Lankans irrespective of race, gender, religion, language, caste, and sexual orientation can participate in the creation of a more just nation; it’s going to be a long road but as long as there are passionate activists like you, it’s a goal well within our reach.

  • Nagalingam Ethirveerasingam

    Prof Kumar David in the last 10 mts of the interview provide an excellent intellectual analysis of the current options that Thamils both in and outside Sri Lanka should come to terms with. Many in the diaspora as well as on the ground would agree with Prof David’s conclusions except that they may not agree that TNA is the party, as constituted now, that would lead them to autonomous federal solution.

    If the Parliament approves such a solution with a two-third majority and the people approve it at a referendum, a substantial majority of the Thamil diaspora and Thamil voters will, in my assessment, accept such a resolution of the National Question.

    However, Rohan Edrisinghe, in his last interview with Sanjana, stated (I am paraphrasing) that the majority of the Sinhala voters will not agree for a federal solution now that the Thamils have lost their coercive force. If Rohan is proved right, whichever Thamil party that pushed for Prof Kumar’s suggestion will become redundant. Such an outcome will spark a resurgence of the conflict with a united Diaspora and the Thamil community in the NorthEast.

    Prof Kumar is right in predicting that the Diaspora will take part in reconstruction and development when such a solution as he proposes is a legal reality. Sooner the rehabilitation, resolution, reconstruction and reconciliation take place, the sooner democracy and peace will return to all communities.