Colombo, Elections, Politics and Governance, Post-War

April 8: The best case scenario

The government wants a two thirds majority in order to replace the Constitution, it says. The UNP opposition hopes to form a coalition with other Opposition parties. It would be unhealthy for the body politic if the electorate were to grant the wish of either side. What would be healthy is for the Opposition to have a strong enough representation in the legislature so that a two thirds majority is out of reach for the government even by means of defections.

The most authoritarian administrations we have had have been those with a two thirds majority and the worst experiences we citizens have undergone, have been at the hands of governments enjoying a two thirds majority.  Of the three Constitutions we have had, those produced in 1972 and 1978 were far less enlightened and prudent than the one we started off with at Independence, the Soulbury constitution.

The government wishes a two thirds majority to ‘protect the country from foreign conspirators’. With the Executive in safely patriotic hands, this is surely far more a question of the right foreign policy — and foreign minister — than a two thirds majority in the legislature.

Does the government need a two thirds majority so as to effect ethnic reconciliation between our constituent communities by radically reforming the structure of the state? Hardly, because the President himself has ruled out a federal system and is unwilling to go beyond the 13th amendment making for provincial autonomy, minus police powers. Which may be fine, but this is already part of our existing Constitution.

What of the UNP’s favourite scenario, of a replay of 2001? After our last experience of Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister I do not think the electorate should or would risk a replay which would amount to an erosion of the gains of our military victory over the Tigers. This would be so if he were to become PM with the support of the TNA. Mr Wickremesinghe has already pledged irresponsibly on a visit to Jaffna, that he would remove all military camps except for Palali. That is not his decision to make even if he were to be elected PM, because the portfolio of defence remains in the hands of the Executive. Matters would be different if the UNP were able to secure a majority to form an administration with the DNA – or the DNA as well as the TNA—which scenarios are exceedingly unlikely.

The Coen brothers’ movie with Javier Bardem was called No Country for Old Men.  What should we begin to call this one? I mean the country, not the movie. What do you call a country in which an unarmed young woman, a woman who has not harmed anyone, is detained in a police station for writing a book, and a book which does not call for bloodshed? As Marvin Gaye, another non-home grown cultural inspiration, kept asking ‘What’s Going On’? Where, when and how will this end? It is against a backdrop of such preoccupations that I view the April 8th election.

The best case scenario is if the governing coalition were able to secure a two thirds majority not on its own volition or by means of defections, but solely by means of negotiation with the main Southern and North-Eastern Oppositions, namely the UNP and the TNA.  It would compel the incumbent to revise the present equation, include the aspirations and ideas of the opposition, thereby balancing the influence of the small chauvinist parties in the government’s ranks and establishing something close to a broad national consensus which could be reflected in the architecture of a new basic law; a new Constitution for a post-war Sri Lanka. Such an equation could not only revive the practice of serious multiparty deliberation in Sri Lankan politics, but also generate the synergies needed to restore rationality and propel reform.

Tamils Must Not Fall Into Political Trap

Tactically the Tamil politicians need to make three moves: unite under a single umbrella, reviving the Tamil United Front of 1972 (not the Tamil United Liberation Front of ’76); abandon the Vadukkodai resolution of 1976 and adopt instead as a moderate common platform, the May 1972 Six Points sent to the Constituent assembly by SJV Chelvanayagam (but ignored by Sirima Bandaranaike); and coordinate with the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and others in a bloc of minority parties which can work flexibly with both Southern formations.

The TNA’s demand that troop levels be reduced to the pre-1983 level, i.e. the pre-conflict level is absurd, because no sane defence policy can base itself on a return to the vulnerabilities of those times. Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is wrong to pledge the withdrawal of all military camps in the North except for Palali, because many of those were set up precisely to protect Palali. There is a pocket of hostility in Tamil Nadu, just a strip of water away. Future threats are of Fourth Generation War, i.e. small unit war by offshore networks, which could include an infiltration from overseas by a well trained and equipped terrorist cell (the Mumbai attack is a model) that can rocket or mortar Palali or use MANPADS against landing planes.

This is not to say there is no problem with our troop presence, but it lies elsewhere. Ours is a mono-ethnic, mono-lingual, mono-religious army. An entrenched troop presence in any part of India of its multiethnic army, the mailed fist of its secular state, is a very different proposition and far less contentious.  A Sinhala armed force in the North, if rotated back to base in the South, would not be as much of a problem as one replete with permanent housing for families.  If we go down that road will we hear the phrases ‘creating facts on the ground’ and ‘natural increase’, and can we afford to play act at being Israel without a superpower as our axiomatic subsidiser, supplier and supporter?

As the TNA and the newly elected MPs from the other Tamil parties  ready to assume their seats in the 2010 parliament, they must straighten out their relationship with the Tamil Diaspora. For the Sinhala people and the Sri Lankan state, the role of the Tamil Diaspora is clear: it is secessionist and actively engaged in soliciting western support for its goal. Its ideology is strategic Prabhakaranism without Tiger tactics. At best it is analogous to the relationship between Cuba and the Miami Cuban community — and the greater the pressure from Miami the tighter the defensive crackdown in Havana. Of course, the Tamil Diaspora doesn’t have the political clout of the Miami Cubans:  our giant neighbour is anxious to invest in our economy, not impose sanctions on it.

At worst the hawkish pro-secessionist majority of the Tamil Diaspora is the external, existential enemy of Sri Lanka as state and political community. But what of its relationship with the Tamils of and in Sri Lanka; the voter base of the Tamil parties including the TNA? For too long, the Diaspora tail has wagged the dog, and even the Tiger. The LTTE would have been able to disaggregate into small units, disperse and engage the advancing Sri Lankan forces in guerrilla warfare for a considerably longer period, had it not been for the Tigers’ need to play to the spectators of the Tamil Diaspora and meet its expectations; expectations which were themselves the phantasmagorical manifestations of overblown Tamil self-regard and self-centeredness. On the other hand the Tamil Diaspora was not able to fulfil any of the expectations of the Tigers and save them in their dying months, because those expectations were based on a myth of being a player or wielder of influence in the international system.

It would be unrealistic to expect the TNA to cut links with the Diaspora because these relationships are in fact, precisely that — relationships, in the sociological and familial sense. What is needed and possible is an inversion, where the Diaspora takes the cue from the elected Tamil representatives –who themselves must realise that they have to settle with Colombo, not London or even Delhi (as Prabhakaran and Perumal realised). Gajan Ponnambalam’s outfit has said that “There is legal space for the policy of ‘One Country, Two Nations’ and such a system embodies sovereignty whereas a ‘Nationality’ does not include same…sovereignty could only be attained when the Tamil Nation achieves the stage of a Nation with its own land”. (TamilNet 30.03.10) The more raucous such agit-prop for ‘sovereignty’ and ‘self determination’, the more determined and accelerated will be the State’s pre-emptive action to transform the realities on the ground, including the demographics, that permit such a slogan. Plainly put, the only way to stop the Sinhalese from settling in the Tamil majority areas is for the Tamils to settle with the Sinhalese.

Conversely the Sinhalese must realise that collective Tamil identity cannot be pounded into a composite Sri Lankan one as if by mortar and pestle.  Tamil compliance with a united Sri Lanka can be insisted upon by law and enforced by the state, but Tamil allegiance to a common Sri Lankan identity cannot be enforced; it can only be accomplished through the earning of Tamil consent. Both the Sinhalese (especially the Sinhala Buddhists) and the Tamils have to make concessions if they are to enjoy a benefits of a larger, common Sri Lankan identity. The TNA has made a positive shift to “One Country, with Two Nationalities”, rejecting Gajan Ponamblam’s “One Country, Two Nations”, but stood opposed to “the 13th Amendment and a political solution based on a unitary form of governance”. (TamilNet 30.03.10)

This simply will not work.

  • Pearl Thevanayagam

    The second generation Tamil diaspora have the advantage of better health education, travel social mobility which they would never have enjoyed had their parents stayed put in Sri Lanka. They are more vociferous in reclaiming their lost rights and they are now well-equipped to fight for these rights not unlike the Isrealis in Europe who would later dominate US trade and politics.

    The danger of the governments after the 1987 Indo-Lanka accord and its abyssmal failure which escalated the war is that it whipped up Sinhala nationalim at grass-root levels inciting hatred through propaganda, media censorship and denied access to the North and East.

    No amount of laws enacted would ameliorate the damage done to distance the Sinhalese from Tamils. Talk of abolishing the executive presidency started with Chandrika and since then it became just an election gimmick and no presidential candidate has the sincerity towards implementing it.

    Increasingly Sinhala politicians are openly narrowing the demands put out b y various Tamil political parties. Federalism is out of the question; union of states ditto and unitary state but a pipe dream.

    Changes in legislature and constitution under the present scenario mean nothing as we have seen. We are actually a democracy in name only and it would be appropriate to say we are ruled by martial law.

    The onlly redress in the current scenario is to compensate Tamils for their lost property since 1983, release all detainees in camps and send them to their original homes providing them with the international funds received , bring Tamil prisoners before the court of law as a matter of urgency and most of all do away with Emergency Regulations.

    This is not too much to ask is it?

  • Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

    Pearl,

    ‘They are more vociferous in reclaiming their lost rights and they are now well-equipped to fight for these rights not unlike the Isrealis in Europe who would later dominate US trade and politics.’

    This is dangerously delusional. If the Tamils were anything like the Israelis ( you mean jews) in europe, those huge demonstrations wouldn’t have counted for nothing in 2009.

    The Jews had the folliwng on their side: A Palestine under British colonial Occupation, the capacity therefore of Lord balfour to make his declaration and make good on it; the Holocaust and Western bad conscience.

    Nothing remotely like these operate today. The Brits are not our masters. No one can hand over any part of sri Lanka to anyone else. We are part of a rising Asia.

    Pearl, if you read Jason Burke’s two superb pieces in the Guardian and the Observer, you will see that the Tamil people on the ground have figured out the reality far better than the Diaspora or well meaning intellectuals like yourself.

    The danger is that these Diaspora-driven delusions will only provoke a backlash and open the door to the scrapping or crippling of the Provincial Councils and their effective replacement by the just promised Jana Sabhas at Grama Sevaka division level!

  • Sinsin

    A good analysis of the scenarios but it does not address a particular question that is uppermost in the mind of some voters: what is the driving force behind the need for the constitutional amendment: the needs of the voters or the needs of the rulers ?

    Pessimists like myself believe in the latter, the consequences of which will see us in the same situation as our good friends Iran and Burma.

  • justitia

    So, the army has to be permanently stationed in the north to counter a possible invasion from India – “small unit war by offshore networks”.
    This is a puerile argument for continued permanent repression of tamils in the north, by the army, assisted by the armed tamil mercenaries.
    “Both the Sinhalese (especially the Sinhalese Buddhists) and the Tamils have to make concessions………………………………………………………………………………………”
    What concessions?
    It is the duty of the state – even a sinhala majority one – to ensure the absolute equality of tamils ( and all minorities ) in every sense of the word, if it indeed practices democratic governance.
    It is the duty of tamils for the sake of their children and grandchildren to strive for same.
    Allowing Tamils to live as free and equal citizens is NOT a CONCESSION. It is the BIRTHRIGHT of all tamils – and all minorities.If this is ensured, tamils will not need anything else. There will be peace and contentment.
    Denial of this was the cause of the 30 year war.

  • ravi

    I don’t think anyone will want to rocket Palaly, while the power in Colombo. We don’t want a war in the soil of North and East. Anyone want to have fight can do it in the sea.

  • Grim Hope

    Dayan again shows his hatred toward Ranil. Even if he sees MR screwed up the whole country, he would say not to vote for Ranil. He is pretty much biased against Ranil he fails to see any reality at all. In Buddhism, it’s called “ditti gatha”. Definitely, we need a regime change from any point of view. From media freedom to economics, from good governance to being able to live without “state” terrorism, we definitely need this government to change to curtail the power of the president. As I have pointed out before, Dayan is a person who was with the LTTE like mindset not longer ago. If we use current government terms, he is a “traitor” as well.

  • Dayan you echo the hope of grim hope in this post. You agree that the UPFA will win the general elections. I believe it’s safe to say this positively. There can be no doubt of a UPFA victory. If we agree on this as a common consensus it would be much easier for a clear way forward.
    Some of my thoughts:
    During the presidential elections there were two candidates who lay claim to the same thing – winning the sovereignty of Sri Lanka. The more credible claimant won.
    So other than for a few opposition die-hard this was most obvious. I must admit even I got carried away by this wave of patriotism then for SF in Colombo and other urban cities in SL.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/usDollarRpt/idUSRISKLK20100402
    The general election is here and again the opposition does not provide the masses of Sri Lanka a clear reason why to vote for them. The UPFA meanwhile go on promising the sovereignty of the country and serve to meet the needs of the majority masses all around Sri Lanka.
    Until we have a strong enough opposition with clear reasons why people should vote for them there is no other result other than an UPFA majority in parliament.
    Immaterial to the ethnic problems in Sri Lanka, all races uneasily co-existed pre-LTTE. No one wants a return to war. The involved masses in our country especially all around the coastline believe in respecting the person who holds the biggest gun. The attitude of living for today.
    We had a great monsoon, the stomachs of the masses are full, and other infractions by the government are part of life to them. All of us will live our lives and pass on. So will other generations that follow. Sri Lanka the country has lived for 2,500 years, seen many invasions, natural disasters and survived. It will keep surviving.
    I believe that people like Pearl, you and even I will ensure that we don’t fall to the depths of a Banana Republic in the African Continent. Pearl, we think and write with our hearts, Sri Lanka’s being buggered by a corrupt government and an equally more corrupt and selfish opposition.

  • wijayapala

    Conversely the Sinhalese must realise that collective Tamil identity cannot be pounded into a composite Sri Lankan one as if by mortar and pestle. Tamil compliance with a united Sri Lanka can be insisted upon by law and enforced by the state, but Tamil allegiance to a common Sri Lankan identity cannot be enforced; it can only be accomplished through the earning of Tamil consent.

    Dayan should probably repeat his own words in front of a mirror, because they aren’t consistent with what he says a few paragraphs before:

    Future threats are of Fourth Generation War, i.e. small unit war by offshore networks, which could include an infiltration from overseas by a well trained and equipped terrorist cell (the Mumbai attack is a model) that can rocket or mortar Palali or use MANPADS against landing planes.

    One could take this more seriously if there had been a SINGLE such attack following May 2009. However, Aacharya says that 80,000 people have been displaced by the HSZs in Jaffna. Dayan has to realize that there are concrete reasons why the Army is not popular in Jaffna and how this is affecting Tamils’ perceptions of the govt.

  • SomeOne

    Dear Dayan J

    “…This is not to say there is no problem with our troop presence, but it lies elsewhere. Ours is a mono-ethnic, mono-lingual, mono-religious army….”

    Spot on, Dayan. There lies the whole problem.

    Every citizen of a country should feel that the country’s army represents himself or herself.

    This inability to form multiethnic armed forces summarises the situation. We had a multiethnic army just after British left our soil, I believe.

    Therefore, don’t blame tamils for every thing. All the Sinhala centric governments have already divided this country on the ground.

    No point in writing pages and pages on our issue. Attack the root of the problem and the wrong mind sets of people. Thanks

  • vino Gamage

    Peace and harmony in mind?

    1. a national flag with a lion holding a sword ??

    2. after forty months of aerial bombing, intense shelling, whitevanning and cordoning off the Northeast with journalists barred and while hundreds of thousands suffering in detention camps by denial of access to aid agents, a memorial with a gun:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuyNSWM3Fwk

    Did the design of the flag foretell what was to come?
    Our artefacts reflect our thinking(which determines our behaviour).

  • Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

    Wijayapala simply must explain the contradiction between my two paras. His evidence seems to be the absence of a single attack from may 2009 to date. That’s plain moronic: the Chechen suicide attacks have started up, including in Moscow , a few years after their conventional defeat. May 2009 isn’t even a year back. He is also being irresponsible: given the public mood today, and the dominant mindset of the state, imagine the reaction to any such attacks! Far better to pre-empt than to provoke such a situation.

  • Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

    Grim Hope, where did you come from man? When was I ‘with the LTTE mindset’? Anton Balasingham writing (as Bramagnanani) 15 years ago, said that ‘Dayan Jayatilleka was unique among ythose in the South for his pathological hatred of the Tigers’. So who is the expert on the matter ? You or Anton Balasingham?

    I have no ‘hatred’ of Ranil. The people will or will not vote for him irrespective of what I say. It seems however that even if MR screws up the country, the PEOPLE will not vote for Ranil just as they did not in 1999 when it looked like Chandrika had screwed up the country. Now if you folk loved the country, or democracy, or even the UNP more than you seem to love Ranil, get a leader who can secure the votes to defeat the incumbent administration.

    I mean, look, on the even of the election, how many people have bothered to watch his YA TV interview on GV, or write in ? He just cannot enthuse anyone. Even SF managed to rouse more interest and enthusiasm. The mistake was importing SF. Instead, find one from within the UNP.

  • Gizan

    @ Someone, Correct we had a multi ethnic, multi religious army/armed forces. Then there was an attempt by a group of Christian (probably burgher) to overthrow the govt. that never went very far, the coup that is.
    But it resulted in a mostly mono ethnic, mono religious and mono lingual force and continued to do so when the ‘enemy’ belonged to the other lingua.
    At the same time though there are some that belong to other ethnicities in the forces, but this is not nearly enough.

    In general….
    As a first show of solidarity, rather than going for all out reform-change-whatever u want to call it, the best thing the forces, civil society, police, govt and its representatives (and society on a whole) need to do is learn to speak Tamil!

    Its amazing that this is hardly given much prominence or discussion. although recent signs are hopefully.

    Asking for big changes so very fast is not only dreamy but absolves those asking for such change from their responsibility and accountability, because with big change there are big hurdles.

    so i guess the best thing to look for that small thing and work from the bottom up. there is absolutely no point in squarely blaming the govt for all the issues the country faces, its time the ppl of the nation showed they cared too. if the opposition does nt give a damn other than just wanting to rid of sri lanka of the rajapaksa’s, its time someone formed a new opposition that has a foothold in all societies. its not hard, just takes effort.

  • Heshan

    Here we go again. Dayan J is waxing eloquent on the outcome of an election whose conclusion is already foregone, and using all manner of subtleties to lay the blame for any adverse consequences on the UNP and the Tamils. Let us look at some prudent points:

    “Hardly, because the President himself has ruled out a federal system and is unwilling to go beyond the 13th amendment making for provincial autonomy, minus police powers. Which may be fine, but this is already part of our existing Constitution.”

    The above is actually an admission that power-sharing with the Tamils is a direct threat to the status quo as it is. Where the status quo more or less encompasses the Center and its right-wing nationalist fringe party allies. Einstein was fond of so-called thought experiments. We ourselves can benefit from them – they need not be related to physics either. So, let’s ask ourselves, which single FAMILY is it in Sri Lanka that benefits most from new development projects in the North and East? Was it the same FAMILY whose members could be found on the list of SHAREHOLDERS for Mihin Airlines? Lanka Logistics? 10%, 20%, 30%… a kickback here, a bribe there… incremental you say, in any case, the increments add up and at some point we are left with 500K USD deposits in unmarked bank lockers. 🙂

    “Mr Wickremesinghe has already pledged irresponsibly on a visit to Jaffna, that he would remove all military camps except for Palali.”

    In fact, removal of all such military camps INCLUDING the one at Palali is the optimal solution. One could come up with half a dozen reasons why such camps are utterly useless and serve no purpose. I will list only a few: (1) the camps enroach on prime agricultural land. (2) The camps are a reminder to the Tamils of the great Sinhala “conquest.” (3) The camps are a great inconvenience to the residents who live in the Jaffna Peninsula. (4) The camps are expensive – the money is far better suited to non-military expenditures.

    As for the Tamils, they should boycott this election also. In any case, whether they vote or not is irrelevant, as the outcome is already known.

  • ordinary lankan

    SomeOne said root problem …. someone said wrong mind set …. Can we explore the depths please?

    ever wondered why every analysis ends with a “they must” “they should” etc etc. These recommendatioons and advice however sagacious seems rather superfluous and a waste of time – not personal enough – NO disrespect to anyone I assure you all – but it seems that we need to find a genuine alternative

    Why not say what YOU will do – CAN YOU PUT YOUR HEART INTO THIS –

    Cannot govern others
    Without governing yourself
    But you can
    Pretend to do so
    Or advice others
    How to pretend better…
    Throw out all that rubbish
    Outa your head
    Be your own master
    Learn to take care
    Of your body and mind
    If you do this well
    Others will pick it up
    If they don’t
    That’s their call brother
    All politics (including political Buddhism)
    Is the grand province of self deception
    The perfection of samsara
    Why bother with suffering?
    If you can be happy
    This is the buddha’s secret
    Don’t try to improve samsara
    Let go – and move out
    Make way
    For the great rulers of this world
    Samsara is their stage – not yours
    Hang out with the audience
    Be close to yourself – be close to the people
    Can’t persuade the idiot he’s wrong
    Trying only makes two

  • SomeOne

    Dear Ordinary lankan,

    “Banatha Kiyanne??”. I heard plenty of them. In fact, it helped me a lot in my life.

    How far will your “bana” help other ordinary lankans in keeping their head cool?? Only GOD knows.

    Now, we will come to the point. It is the sole responsibility of the government in power to make the decision on the structure and mixture of the armed forces.

    Ordinary people like you and me have virtually no control over it. Also, I haven’t mentioned any thing like “they” and “we”. Cheers

  • Gamini G Mendis

    Once heroic General, Sarath Fonseka, turns into a political slime with contradictions. Taking the recent military victory over the LTTE as his sole credit and getting himself into the political arena, General Sarath Fonseka has disappointed direct and indirect contributors to win the war as a team. Eventually, opportunists from all the eroded opposition parties of Sri Lanka, has exploited his heroic image to resuscitate their political agenda .. This is exactly what the enemies of Sri Lanka wanted to see down here, in Sri Lanka .. T H E – D I V I S I O N .. !
    Who are paid here, and whose money is been invested to divide the Island nation .. After all, we should consider ourselves S H R I – L A N K A N S .. Think of it .. !

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Dr. Dayan J,

    I do not think that you can no longer carry the banner that you are a fully fledged Socialist or a Marxist for that matter. The Tamils battled hard over the years manifesting democratically that they as an ethnic group needed recognition in Sri Lanka; needless to state that, Sinhala Numerical strength and electoral systems rendered them meaningless and ineffective. So the Tamils were searching for a situation wherein then can be taken seriously by their Sinhala counterpart; VP provided that platform albeit the methods that he adopted should not be condoned by any civilised person. However, having created such a platform that could have been played as a bargaining tool for a viable political solution, VP was stuck in the elution of Eelam!

    You have eloquently written in these forums about the strength of the Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism in Sri Lanka that will eschew with their tooth and nail of any concessions endeavoured to the minorities let along for the Tamils. You are perfectly furnished in the knowledge that, without a suitable political counterbalance or a sort of a military balance, the Sri Lankan polity, whether it is UNP or SLFP lead alliances, cannot or will not come forth with any political accommodation of the minorities.

    Let’s take the aspects of Political Counterbalance and Military Counterbalance separately:
    We both know that the minorities in Sri Lanka cannot achieve a political counterbalance that will galvanise a majority of polity to legislate to accommodate the minorities equally. This cannot be achieved in the foreseeable future! On the other hand, VP, having achieved the military counterbalance, which would have worked in the interest of Sri Lanka and most importantly in the interest of the minorities. This is where I would like to focus on the CFA and its role in weakening the LTTE. There is no doubt in my mind that, during the CFA time, the LTTE cadres especially the senior leaders were exposed to vanity and they saw how their relations arriving from overseas owning expensive gadgets with bright future to get back to. The CFA held for long enough to instil a kind of lethargy in their fighting capacity. They began making plans for their children’s progress; the same aspirations any parents would have about their children. VP knew that, with Karuna split, his organisation was in the process in disintegration; it could have been brought to a state of compromise if RW had worked with CBK in unison.

    However, the point that I am trying to make here is that, you knowingly helped the MR regime to destroy the one and only platform that the Tamils would ever have that had a counterbalance albeit it was a creation of the LTTE! I was all along in favour of weakening the LTTE but never in favour of fully destroying them leaving the Tamils at the mercy of the Sinhala Buddhist Nationalists.! This is what you have helped to realise and now you have given the Tamil parties three choices:

    “Tactically the Tamil politicians need to make three moves: unite under a single umbrella, reviving the Tamil United Front of 1972 (not the Tamil United Liberation Front of ’76); abandon the Vadukkodai resolution of 1976 and adopt instead as a moderate common platform, the May 1972 Six Points sent to the Constituent assembly by SJV Chelvanayagam (but ignored by Sirima Bandaranaike); and coordinate with the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and others in a bloc of minority parties which can work flexibly with both Southern formations.”

    What effect would any of these have on the Sinhala polity, which is in everlasting mood of triumphalism to which you gave your full support! Yes, I am in favour of Tamils abandoning the Vaddukoddai Resolution; though it would be painful for the Tamils to do this especially at the behest of defeat, they should do it in the interest of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

    Your stand on the Military camps in the North & East is reprehensible; are you suggesting that, the Tamils must be left in a state of siege for the foreseeable future? What kind of life one can lead in the constant presence of military personal that is intrusive in every sense of the word? What possible rational that you can come up against confining the military in camps than allowing them to occupy schools and private dwellings? How long the military is expected to keep the high security zones? What a socialist you are indeed!

  • wijayapala

    Dear Dayan,

    Wijayapala simply must explain the contradiction between my two paras.

    Tamils will continue to believe that their destiny is coerced as long as those HSZs are there. You can forget about winning hearts and minds.

    If you still don’t get it, why don’t you explain to us how the two paragraphs are consistent with each other?

    His evidence seems to be the absence of a single attack from may 2009 to date. That’s plain moronic: the Chechen suicide attacks have started up, including in Moscow , a few years after their conventional defeat.

    Like the Chechens, whatever terrorists in Sri Lanka will target Colombo long before going after Palaly; it is a matter of a strategic vs tactical target. So kindly explain Dayan how HSZs in Jaffna will protect Colombo????

    Would you advocate smearing Colombo with these same HSZs to prevent such attacks?

    given the public mood today, and the dominant mindset of the state, imagine the reaction to any such attacks!

    In 1983 the deaths of 13 soldiers led to the murder of 3000 innocent Tamils (thank you UNP/JR). After that the LTTE committed far more gruesome atrocities: the massacre of over 180 Buddhist pilgrims at Anuradhapura, slaughter of 600 policemen in the East (thank you Karuna), Central Bank bombing…but there was no retaliation against the Tamils. Not even when Gotabhaya and Fonseka themselves were the target of suicide attacks.

    A new anti-Tamil pogrom would not require grassroots participation but rather direction from the state (like previous pogroms). Therefore the regime, not the HSZs will determine whether or not this sort of violence will take place again.

  • Sinhala_Voice

    I think what we have to understand is that Sri Lanka contains as citizens within it’s borders various:

    -Ethnic
    –Sub-Ethnic
    -World View + No World View
    -Economic Classes/Sectored

    People.

    The concept of SRI LANKAN IDENTITY as far as I am concerned lies in the RELATIONSHIP that one has with the STATE AGENCIES. This relationship is the ONLY thing we can make SRI LANKAN and should be the ONLY thing that is Sri Lankan.

    If we try to enforce an IDENTITY UPON an individual or a group they will resist and it will be a useless experiement and an endeavour.

    What instead we should do is to try to treat EVERYBODY, EVERY CITIZEN interact with the STATE in a PROCEDURALLY EQUAL MANNER in whatever language they are comfortable in.

    What I am dismayed about the Tamil population in Sri Lanka is that they NEVER EVER TALK about EQUALITY OF ALL CITIZENS in Sri Lanka and the need of the STATE to TREAT ALL it’s citizens equally in ALL areas under the CONTROL of the STATE. (Obviously, PRIVATE matters are beyond the control of the state or at least should be beyond the control of the state)

    From the beginning of the Tamil Movements it’s been EXACTLY that…A TAMIL MOVEMENT to gain TAMIL rights….SO are you surprised that there are not many OTHERS supporting to you ???Because, it does not INVOLVE the other. Even if does it exists in a NEGATIVE / OPPOSING way. Eg: The Sinhalese OPPOSE my Tamil Rights, The Sinhalese Take away my Tamil Rights…etc etc…..?????

    I would 110% that ALL citizens of Sri Lanka MUST be treated the same way PROCEDURALLY, Administratively, Legally before the courts and legislatively.
    The RIGHTS and THE RESPONSIBLITIES of EACH and EVERY INDIVIDUAL MUST be the same.

    Other than for CENSUS purposes or for some specific job application that requires that feature ones:
    Ethnicity, Caste, World View, Where you live and come from SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED ONLY the merit or the skills required or specified , identified should be used to select the person. This is HOW the modern world operates and it can be easily achieve in Sri Lanka.

    The POLITICS MUST be removed from GOVERNACE. And LAW and order RULE OF LAW MUST BE USED to Govern. Not popular consensus.

    Once again, the Tamils MUST stop trying to create HOMOGENEOUS area for Tamils in Sri Lanka in the Northern and the Eastern Province.

    The Sinhalese have not boycotted Tamil business, Tamil Doctors or Dentists. Even during the last 30 years of militant conflicts. People saw suicide attacks and still went to their Tamil Doctor to get a prescription for medicine.

    I think what is lacking is an appreciation of MULTICULTURAL living amongst the Tamil Community in the Northern and Eastern Province. Yes ! the 30 years of conflict did prevent that. And sure the Sinhala-Buddhists have done many things wrong.

    Now, we all have a chance to move on and make better relationships with the STATE.

    As you know from history the relationship between Sinhala people and the state has been at very low points. Eg: 1971 , 1989-90 where many people of Sinhala origin and Buddhist World View died.

    There has been and on going problems with minorities as well.

    I don’t think this is entirely due to racism. It is a QUESTION of MANAGEMENT of ISSUES. GOVERNANCE PROTOCOLS, People overiding these for POLITCAL GAINS when RULE OF LAW SHOULD BE USED.

    Once again it takes more than one person to TANGO

  • Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

    Luckily some of you guys aren’t in my lecture room or else it would have been so frustrating to get a point across.

    Where on earth did I say the High security Zones in jaffna should stay as and where they are? And when did I say there is a potential security threat only to Colombo and not jaffna? After all, Tamil nadu is closer jaffna than it is Colombo! I objected to Ranil pledging to remove ALL military camps, except for palaly. in is interview on YA TV he endorses the suggestion that we pull back to the jaffna fort. in the first place he would have no right to do any of this even if he were elected PM. Secondly, both Palaly and the Fort were utterly vulnerable, so it is necessary to secure them, not merely retreat into them alone. The military presence must be slimmed down and its profile lowered BUT any redeployment decisions must be made by the sri lankan military. Karu jayasuriya, a former volunteer military officer who served in jaffna would have understood this.

    Where on earth does Wijayapala get the idea that i meant another July 83? the Def Secy has already suggested the illegalisation of the TNA’s slogans of fedealism and self determination! The president has already flown the kite of jana sabhas, which Champika r says would be at grama Sevaka level! Gen Fonseka urged a 400, 000 strong army wih a presnce in every village! as Israel has shown there are plenty of ways of total occupation which do not include a July 83. That is the path i do not want the tamil politicians to provoke the Sinhala hawks into taking.

  • ravi

    If the Srilanka is sinHalese we are worried about two third majority government or not. I (mindless) hope there will be a situation that while the tamil diaspora and the government fight in Colombo the people in the north and east will have peace and tranquillity.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Sinhala_Voice,

    “I don’t think this is entirely due to racism. It is a QUESTION of MANAGEMENT of ISSUES. GOVERNANCE PROTOCOLS, People overiding these for POLITCAL GAINS when RULE OF LAW SHOULD BE USED.”

    I completely agree with your above statement; however, if you were a Tamil, would you trust the politicians given the history? I am all in favour of the Tamils having access to the Tamil language nation-wide and build a nation together as Sri Lankans but I cannot see that will ever materialise. It is the duty of the mainstream Sinhala polity to promote such a platform wherein the minorities espouse confidence. I cannot see this happening, and this is why I always favoured a negotiated settlement of some sort.

  • Burning_Issue

    “The military presence must be slimmed down and its profile lowered BUT any redeployment decisions must be made by the sri lankan military. Karu jayasuriya, a former volunteer military officer who served in jaffna would have understood this.”

    Wow; I did not realise that Sri Lanka is a military state! One can understand that, the state gets advice from the military, but decisions pertinent to military withdrawals rest with incumbent governments than on military!

  • justitia

    “The military presence has to be slimmed down and its profile lowered BUT any redeployment decisions have to be made by the sri lankan military” says Dayan Jatatilleke.
    In any democracy, military deployment, engagement etc. are made by the civilian government.
    This statement is to attribute/blame continued unwanted deployment to the military so that Mahinda Rajapakse can justify the continued repression of the northeastern tamils.
    Earler he said that the army occupation is necessary to counter threats from tamilnadu – to justify the permanent presence of the army in the north.
    Now he is cleverly putting the blame on the army and thus trying to ‘whitewash’ the government and his champion of democracy – Mahinda Rajapakse.

  • wijayapala

    Dayan says,

    Luckily some of you guys aren’t in my lecture room or else it would have been so frustrating to get a point across.

    A sign of a poor lecturer, perhaps someone who should stick with another line of work (diplomacy?).

    Secondly, both Palaly and the Fort were utterly vulnerable, so it is necessary to secure them, not merely retreat into them alone.

    Secure them from what? Why can’t the police handle that task?

    The military presence must be slimmed down and its profile lowered BUT any redeployment decisions must be made by the sri lankan military.

    That would make sense if Sri Lanka was still in a state of war. It isn’t, and in any case it seems Gotabhaya is more than happy to make decisions for the military.

    Where on earth does Wijayapala get the idea that i meant another July 83?

    I had gotten the impression that to justify the continuation of the HSZs, you would have to give a very bad scenario as an outcome of a future successful terrorist attack. Somehow you have made your own argument less convincing.

  • Sinhala_Voice

    If MILITARY presence is required in ANY province of Sri Lanka for it’s Territorial, National Security then it is up to the government and the executive team to do JUST that.

    If we have a situation where there is a group of people who take up arms and use violence for political purposes irrespective of their ethno-religious status there is NO OTHER OPTION other than deploying the ARMY. IF THE POLICE CAN NOT handle the situation.

    Surely, this day an age we don’t need large numbers. We need highly skilled people and INTELLIGENCE NETWORK to counter these type of behaviour.

    I guess the reasons for 1983 July riots was a MONUMENTAL FAILURE in INTELLIGENCE of the STATE apparatus. If you let it happen it will happen again.

    I guess a key component of NATIONAL SECURITY should be intelligence.

    Up to 2005 Sri Lankan state was REACTIVE. Only the Mahinda Rajapakse led administration was PROACTIVE. I believe this was very decisive in winning militarily against the LTTE.

    ALL LESSONS LEARNT OVER THE LAST 60 years of self rule needs to be applied to secure future peace, prosperity and security.

    Perhaps a LARGE BOOST TO STATE EDUCATION FUNDING AT ALL LEVELS CAN ACHIEVE THIS. INSTEAD OF MILITARY SPENDING.

  • Ravi

    If the Srilanka is sinHalese we are not worried about two third majority government or not. I (mindless) hope there will be a situation that while the tamil diaspora and the government fight in Colombo the people in the north and east will have peace and tranquillity.

  • Sinsin

    DJ,

    “as Israel has shown there are plenty of ways of total occupation which do not include a July 83. That is the path i do not want the tamil politicians to provoke the Sinhala hawks into taking.”

    Is it happening already?

    http://transcurrents.com/tc/2010/04/the_buddhist_shrine_of_kilinoc.html#more

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Wijayapala,

    I would like you to look at the link that Sinsin has posted on April 7, 2010 @ 12:34 pm. The fact is that, the Buddhist Shrine is built with a glowing finish while the IDPs languish in the camps. This does not bode well, does it?

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Sinhala_Voice,

    Please outline your views on the following:

    1. Do the Tamil speaking people in Sri Lanka have the right to exercise their language on civil matters including judiciary?

    2. If so, should it be confined to North & East or implemented nationally?

    Thanks

  • Sinhala_Voice

    Dear Burning_Issue,

    REGARDING BELOW:::>>>

    Dear Sinhala_Voice,

    Please outline your views on the following:

    1. Do the Tamil speaking people in Sri Lanka have the right to exercise their language on civil matters including judiciary?
    >>>YES. ANy person should have the right to deal with the state in English, Sinhala or Tamil. Necessary traslators, interpretors needs to be available. Again this is a resource issue. YES.

    2. If so, should it be confined to North & East or implemented nationally?

    The above principle MUST be available nationally. Eg. A Sinhalese charged in Jaffna has to have an interpretor in Sinhala to Tamil and/or English.
    Similarly, Tamil speaker in Matara needs to have a Tamil interpretor Sinhala to Tamil and/or English.

    The LAWS should be written in ENGLISH , SINHALA and TAMIL and their content and interpretation MUST be the same irrespective of any difference. THAT IS ONE MUST BE EQUAL IN ALL ASPECTS BEFORE THE LAW. (RULE OF LAW)

    Thanks

  • Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

    Dear Wijayapala,

    I think the voters will reply guys like you ( the Ranil-CFA Fan Club) today. Let’s hope the reply will not be too resounding, and if so, you types would have brought that upon all of us, for a long time to come.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Sinhala_Voice,

    Thanks for your post. If Sri Lanka had implemented what you have outlined from 1956; there would have been no platform for an organisation like LTTE to surface! There would be no basis for the Tamils to seek Self-Determination within North & East!

    I would say that, if such a situation were to be implemented, over a time, there would be enough officials who would be bilingual or even trilingual!

    I hope Sri Lanka would achieve what you described but I doubt it will happen in the new future.