Jaffna and the Vanni today: The reality beneath the rhetoric

Photo credit: Indi Samarajiva, 2010

The drive along the A9 from Vavuniya to Killinochchi is brought to a temporary halt at the ‘exit-entry point’ at what used to be the forward defence line at Omanthai. On the side of the dusty dirt road, in a series of sheds, military personnel are stationed with the sole purpose of ensuring that both locals and international staff members of non-governmental and international non-governmental organisations and even UN agencies, possess the required clearances issued by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to cross into the North. All foreigners, that is those holding non-Sri Lankan passports, even tourists, have to obtain a MOD clearance to pass through Omanthai. One could be excused for thinking this was 2002, when entering the Vanni was much like entering a foreign territory. Yet it is 2011, more than a year and a half since the end of the war between the government and the LTTE. In 2011, more so than during the years of active armed conflict, increasing military control of civilian administration and control over the lives of civilians in the North have become an undeniable part of life in the North.

~~~

After a lapse of nearly two decades, Kilinochchi district has been brought under the civil administration… After the resettlement of the IDPs in these areas, it is learnt that civil administration have begun in full swing’[1]

The New Year heralded nothing more than the continuation of the bad old days in Jaffna, with the population living in fear of abductions, extra-judicial killings and robberies. Countering reports of a state of insecurity in Jaffna, several state officials, like the Government Agent, Emelda Sukumar and the Army Commander for Jaffna Maj. Gen. Hathurusinghe, dismissed them as smear campaigns by persons who were trying to suggest that Jaffna was still unsafe.[2] This was reiterated by President Mahinda Rajapakse, who at a recent meeting with the media said that ‘such stories were being propagated by certain frustrated elements who were averse to the return of peace and strove to rekindle racism’[3]. He also blamed the Tamil language newspapers for blowing the issue out of proportion and casting the country in a bad light, and pointed out that the situation in the North was no different to that in the South. In trying to assuage the fears of the public, Maj. Gen. Hathurusinghe said that the security forces, adhering to their main duty, which according to him is ‘to ensure peace and harmony in the peninsula while assisting the Police to maintain law and order’, would undertake twenty four hour bike patrols along with increased checks. What is most interesting in these government responses and denials is how they provide unintended evidence of the extent of militarization in the North. For instance, while the Police, the institution responsible for the maintenance of law and order during peacetime, maintained silence on the issue, it was the army that was issuing statements and responding to public concerns.

Militarization in the North is taking place in complex ways, at multiple levels. The most visible representation of it is the army checkpoint/office at every junction in every village, almost always housed on private property. In addition, new camps are also being constructed, for instance the Jaffna SLA 51 Division HQ which has been relocated from Subash Hotel in Jaffna town to Kopay, off Point Pedro road less than 5 kms from Jaffna town,[4] and the proposed army camp close to the Mandatheevu hospital.[5]

These are the obvious, and therefore perhaps the more benign signs of militarization. There are less visible and more insidious ways in which civil administration and civilian life in the North have become subject to military diktat. The circular dated 7 January 2011 issued by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) to the Government Agents of Jaffna, Killinochchi, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya and Mannar, which states that all selection lists, i.e. list of beneficiaries of programmes by NGOs and other service providers, must be finalized by a committee comprising of various civilian officials and ‘a representative of the Brigade Commander’ is merely one example of the extension of the tentacles of the military into yet another sphere. This, coupled with the interference of politicians in the provision of assistance at the local level, has stymied civil administration and ensured its inability to function effectively. The situation is further complicated by the fact that civilians, confronted with corrupt civil authorities and interfering politicians, seek the intervention of the only other entity in a position of power in the area, the military, to find a resolution. This therefore is a self-perpetuating vicious cycle, exposing systemic ailments such as politicization and the weak independence of the civil service, which in turn create a vacuum that is then occupied by the military. The irony is that the military has replaced in peacetime, the role played by the LTTE during the conflict years.

The dictates of the army seem to run far deeper in the Vanni with excessive scrutiny and surveillance, not only of community and non-governmental organisations, but also of any gathering of more than a handful of people. For instance, every inhabitant of the Vanni knows that the local SLA office/post has to be informed even if a handful of persons wish to gather to discuss a neighbourhood issue. In some cases the military personnel attend these events and observe the proceedings. Without denying the need to ensure beneficiaries are chosen from amongst the most vulnerable and needy, or that corruption is prevented, one fails to understand how the involvement of the military in this process can be justified in a ‘democratic’ country that is no longer at war.

The paradoxically named Civil Affairs Office (CAO), which is ‘manned’ by the military, is the best example of the entrenched presence and participation of the military in civil affairs in the North. Created during the period when residents of the peninsula had to obtain passes to travel to the South, this office has now morphed into a one-stop monitoring and surveillance unit of the army. For instance, all those who were held at the ‘rehabilitation’ centres are now being asked to register with the CAO and then report back to sign in every week, fortnightly or monthly, depending on the edict of the local commander, which is not based on any law or regulation.

In the interests of sharing their vision for the continued engagement of the military in the North, the government has also created a website titled ‘Civil-military co-ordination for Jaffna’ (http://www.cimicjaffna.lk/main.php). The ‘About Us’ page of this site states that ‘In a return to reconciliation, civilian life and in expediting the restoration of the traditional economic activities of the war affected populace, the military is now engaged in this transformational stage’ (emphasis mine). According to the site, the services the Army provides are varied, ranging from ‘fostering programmes for the (sic) displaced children and orphaned children’, livelihood support, fisheries and tourism. Of course there is no mention of the specific activities undertaken by the SLA in this regard or the methodology used. Since apparently the situation in the North, as pointed out by the President, is no different to that in the South, one waits with bated breath for the launch of similar sites such as ‘Civil-military Co-ordination in Colombo’.

Despite reports of the recruitment and training of Tamil police personnel who are meant to be posted to the North and East, on the streets of Jaffna one is more likely to encounter the army rather than the police, and that too soldiers who do not speak a word of Tamil. One also notes that the signposts and notices in many parts of the peninsula, such as at the army points at Kaithady bridge, Vallai junction, are in Sinhala only while the Military Police street sign boards in Mankulam are in Sinhala and English.

~~~

‘People need to be grieved; loss needs to be acknowledged publicly, because it helps to confer a sense of reality on the loss but also because it makes it known that this was a real life…The life doesn’t simply get erased. It gets imprinted and remembered. This strikes me as a dignified thing to do…Until we learn that other lives are equally grievable and have an equal demand on us to be grieved- especially the ones that we’ve helped to eliminate-I’m not sure we’ll really be on the way to overcoming the problem of dehumanization’[6]

In the current context, minorities are sceptical about government rhetoric on reconciliation. While the government demolishes LTTE cemeteries such as the one in Kopay and uses the land to build yet another army camp, the people will find it difficult to accept that the government is sincere about treating them as equal citizens. Recent actions by the army such as preventing Jaffna University students from attending the funeral of Pirapaharan’s mother Parvathi ammal, a civilian who played no role in the war, not only violated their civic rights but also illustrated insensitivity to the feelings of a community that is grappling to come to terms with its violent and complex past in order to move forward. Even more disturbing was the desecration of Parvathi ammal’s ashes by unknown persons who disturbed the pyre and placed on it carcasses of three dogs that had been shot to death. This incident, which was not reported in the English media, except in the Sunday Leader, took place despite the fact that on the day of the funeral there was a heightened presence of the army, police and military intelligence in the area. Contrast this with the large and well-tended memorial to fallen soldiers in the centre of Killinochchi town and the statute of the soldier in the army camp currently under construction at the Murukandy junction.

The relationship of the people of the North with the LTTE was, and remains, a highly complex and sensitive matter. We should remember that this relationship encompassed a nuanced spectrum of opinion within the Tamil community: from those who unequivocally supported both the LTTE’s ideological stance and methods, to those who, faced with a state unresponsive to their political aspirations, tolerated the LTTE in instrumental terms, to yet others, given the attitude of the LTTE in regard to dissent and political pluralism, simply had no choice whether or not to conform. Post-war, and post-LTTE, this is a matter that is best resolved, reconciled and come to terms with, within the Tamil community. The high profile insertion of the military into not only the civil administration, but also the civic, social and political space of the North, in a manner designed to impose a history, to control the collective memory, and intrude into post-war catharsis, is not only callous, but also myopic and ultimately self-defeating for the state. In other words, there is no better way to ensure the sustenance within the Tamil polity of the LTTE’s brand of hard-line nationalism, even without the LTTE.

~~~

Those who shed crocodile tears for people held at camps had conveniently forgotten that among terrorists masquerading as civilians were many women cadres’[7]

The plight of ex-combatants, about which this author has written previously on this site and will explore further in a forthcoming piece, deserves mention at this juncture, particularly in light of various comments that are being made about their status within society. In a recent piece titled ‘Fewer I dos [sic] for former female rebels’[8] human rights activist Sunila Abeysekera is quoted as saying that ‘Women cadres are seen as women who [value] marriage [less because they] took up arms’. She goes on to say that female ex-combatants are “‘struggling to find normalcy” due to such judgment and suspicion’. Moreover, according to Ms. Abeysekera, ‘Now (the) LTTE is not there, society is free to express themselves against people who have been linked with the LTTE. This problem is common for both men and women [ex-fighters].’ There are several problematic and erroneous assumptions in these comments which only serve to contribute to the dominant narrative the government is constructing about alleged former combatants (emphasis mine). As this author has written in a previous piece on Groundviews, many ‘surrendees’, as they’re called, were not combatants but those who worked in the LTTE administration while others were forcibly recruited even hours before the end of the war. Moreover, during the period they were held at the purported rehabilitation centres they inhabited a legal black hole unable to exercise their right to due process.

Contrary to the above report not all alleged former combatants are being treated with fear, judgment or suspicion by members of the community. In cases where they are, it appears to be mostly due to the fact that they are being asked to register, and then report regularly to sign in with the Civil Affairs Office. (In another example of the depth of militarization, the military gives instruction to the Grama Sevaka (GS) to require the alleged former combatants to register with the CAO, instructions which the GS implements diligently!). This identifies the alleged former combatants to the community as people who pose a potential threat, not due to their previous perceived or actual involvement with the LTTE, but because they are constantly monitored and their movements restricted by the security forces. People in the North are afraid that ‘if something happens’ the security forces will first seek the person who was released from the ‘rehabilitation’ centre and hence the community at times chooses to stay away from these persons for fear they too will draw the unwelcome attention of the security forces in some way.

~~~

Acts of commission and omission by the government convey to the people of the North that there is little possibility they will be treated as equal citizens and included as full members of a multi-ethnic polity. Instead they feel they live in an occupied territory. As the victor of the war, the government is attempting to impose its will on the Tamil people and force them to adopt a Sri Lankan identity that is overwhelmingly Sinhala Buddhist, and in the process quashing what the people view as their distinct language, culture, heritage, and history. This distinct and proudly held identity is not a threat to a pluralistic Sri Lankan state, but its insensitive and dismissive treatment penetrates the heart of the sense of dignity of Sri Lankan Tamils. The government’s strategy is generating anger, resentment and a sense of disenfranchisement amongst the Tamil people, which in the short-term will make reconciliation impossible, and in the long-term form the catalyst for another conflict. Instead of effecting social reconciliation and re-integration, it will, in the words of Judith Butler, only produce ‘outraged and humiliated and furious people’.


[1] ‘Sri Lanka: Civil Administration in Kilinochchi launched’, Asian Tribune 27 December 2009 at http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2009/12/27/sri-lanka-civil-administration-kilinochchi-launched .

[2]‘ Some groups are trying to distort the prevailing situation in Jaffna- Jaffna Commander’, 26 January 2011 at www.defence.lk/PrintPage.asp?fname=20110123_01

[3] Troublemakers in North identified: ‘Situation blown out of proportion’, Island, 13 January 2011.

[5] Thinakural, 25 December 2010.

[6] ‘Interview with Judith Butler’, The Believer Magazine, May 2003 at www.believermag.com/issues/200305/?read=interview_butler

[7] Shamindra Ferdinando, ‘Fresh LTTE threat emerges from IDP camps’, The Island, 31 August 2009.

  • TT

    More of militarization or re-colonization of the north is the question. There is no third option for SL.

    If militarization to be reduced, multiethnic re-colonization of the north must begin. Otherwise the military should stay.

    Sadly a free-wheeling north won’t work anymore.

    Since 1947 race centric political parties (“T” parties) won the north. They spew hatred and racism since 1944 (the formation of the first race centric party – ACTC). Their demands and actions became more and more extremist until 1976 when the Vadukoddai resolution was passed. All peaceful attempts to get “Tamil national aspirations” failed and violence was used.

    Tamil national aspirations needs to be defeated for the wellbeing of SL but allowing violence is not an option. So militarization is a must.

    The other way is to seperate the SL territory in the north from Tamil national aspirations by re-colonizing the north.

    If we demand something else (apart of these 2 options, more or less) we are only fooling ourselves.

    I 100% support militarization (and further militarization) of the north and it’s retaintion until the north turns multiethnic. Then militarization must reduce and eventually be as low as elsewhere. Not otherwise.

    • Vasala Rajasuriya

      I agree that the north of Sri Lanka should be as multi-ethnic and multi-religious as the south of the country. It is not acceptable to have Tamil-only domains. All different ethnic and religious groups must learn to mix and live with each other.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “More of militarization or re-colonization of the north is the question. There is no third option for SL.”

      But since long-term militarisation is needed only to enforce colonisation, the reality is these are not two options but one. Another option is to phase down militarisation, revamp the police force with more Tamils, disarm the EPDP and other illegal paramilitaries, and allow democracy to take its course.

      “If militarization to be reduced, multiethnic re-colonization of the north must begin. Otherwise the military should stay.”

      Why? A military is needed only to protect the state from armed attack.

      “Sadly a free-wheeling north won’t work anymore.”

      it should be as free-wheeling as the rest of the country, no more, no less.

      “Since 1947 race centric political parties (“T” parties) won the north. They spew hatred and racism since 1944 (the formation of the first race centric party – ACTC).”

      I had answered this point several times before, but I’ll repeat it once more, since you never have any counter-response. All you do is run away and repeat your mantra in a new thread. The strength of an idea is in its ability to be developed, sustained, and explained. If you cannot do so, it means you do not understand your own idea and are simply repeating by rote, or the idea itself is weak. I had said: “A party name in itself isn’t a sign of racism. If that were so, the SSC would be a racist club, as would the DBU and others. The YMCA and YMBA would be illegal, and so forth. Racism in the political context is the exclusion of certain races from a political stream or area. Is there any part of the manifesto of the TULF, TNA, EPDP, or other Tamil party that says non-Tamils cannot be members, or cannot participate in any part of the activities of those parties? Why, even DJ, a staunch supporter of the current administration, and a Sinhalese, was once a member of Vartharaja Perumal’s NE Provincial administration.”

      On whether the actions of the Tamils parties were racist as you claim, I said: “Really? Can you show any evidence of the promotion of such racism by Tamil political parties?” You were unable to answer, and disappeared as usual. Now, you will do the same. The result will be that on each and every thread on GV, you ideas will be shown as failures.

      “Their demands and actions became more and more extremist until 1976 when the Vadukoddai resolution was passed.”

      I had previously responded to this by asking you, “Can you quote any portion of the Vaddukoddai Resolution which is racist?” You were unable to, and resorted to misquoting the resolution by adding the word “only” alongside the word “Tamil”, wherever it was used in the resolution. When challenged on this, you ran away, confirming that the basis for most racism is basically fear.

      “All peaceful attempts to get “Tamil national aspirations” failed and violence was used.”

      So you admit that violence was the last resort of the Tamils?

      “Tamil national aspirations needs to be defeated for the wellbeing of SL”

      Can you tell us how exactly Tamil aspirations are detrimental to Sri Lanka as a whole or even to the Sinhalese?

      “but allowing violence is not an option. So militarization is a must.”

      But there is no violence at the moment, and there was no violence before until the Sinhalese used violence against the “peaceful attempts” (your words, not mine) of the Tamils.

      “The other way is to seperate the SL territory in the north from Tamil national aspirations by re-colonizing the north.”

      And the other way is to recognise Tamil aspirations as legitimate; which has already been done on paper via the 13th Amendment. All that remains is to implement that recognition.

      “If we demand something else (apart of these 2 options, more or less) we are only fooling ourselves.”

      How so?

      “I 100% support militarization (and further militarization) of the north and it’s retaintion until the north turns multiethnic. Then militarization must reduce and eventually be as low as elsewhere. Not otherwise.”

      We know you do, but since you cannot prove any evidence of colonisation or multi-ethnicity being of any use, you’re obviously supporting a fallacy :D

      Vasula: “I agree that the north of Sri Lanka should be as multi-ethnic and multi-religious as the south of the country. It is not acceptable to have Tamil-only domains. All different ethnic and religious groups must learn to mix and live with each other.”

      But there never were any Tamil-only domains, and no one is asking for them. The NE was simply majority-Tamil just as the south was majority-Sinhalese. Why do you want the north to also be majority-Sinhalese?

      • Vasala Rajasuriya

        The north doesn’t have to be a Sinhalese majority area. However, I feel that it needs to have a substantial non-Tamil population just like the South of the country has a substantial non-Sinhalese population.

        Colombo is a city with a majority Tamil-speaking population – so why can’t Jaffna be a city with a majority Sinhala-speaking population?

  • TT

    There should also be politico-military groups like EPDP to co-ordinate between the military and governance. Military must have a say in all development work since these can have defence implications.

    The beauty of it is, it is not very costly for SL. Over 90% of the defence spend comes back into the economy. However, the military must look for ways to reduce their costs by maintaining farms, etc.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “There should also be politico-military groups like EPDP to co-ordinate between the military and governance. Military must have a say in all development work since these can have defence implications.”

      Why? Are the civil servants and officials of the MoD incapable of doing their job, which is to coordinate between the military and the civil government? All defence policies are set by this ministry, not by the military. The EPDP has no knowledge whatsoever of defence matters, and have never been of any real use on the military front. The military had to protect them from the Tigers.

      “The beauty of it is, it is not very costly for SL. Over 90% of the defence spend comes back into the economy.”

      Really? Can you explain how expenditure on fuel, equipment, vehicles, food, uniforms, ammunition, housing, salaries, pensions, etc come back into the economy? These are complete losses.

      “However, the military must look for ways to reduce their costs by maintaining farms, etc.”

      Do you know how many farms would be necessary to cover the defence budget? :D

  • http://srilankalandoftheblind.blogspot.com/ PresiDunce Bean

    “The paradoxically named Civil Affairs Office (CAO), which is ‘manned’ by the military, is the best example of the entrenched presence and participation of the military in civil affairs in the North.”

    Reminds me of the “Ministry of Peace” (deals with war) in George Orwell’s ’1984.’

    also Ministry of Truth (propaganda)
    Ministry of Love (deals with torture)
    Ministry of Plenty (which governs Oceania)

    [Edited out]

  • Lankan Thinker

    TT,

    Your evidence of racism by the political parties that represent the Tamil people, particularly pre-1956 is unconvincing. For example, you conveniently gloss over the fact that the GG Ponambalam’s ACTC did not ask for 50% representation for Tamils alone – they asked for this for *all* minorities.

    Your claim that the election results prove that the Tamil parties are racist are also quite hollow. The fact that neither the SLFP or UNP could win in the North shows that your preferred ‘multi-ethnic parties’ were unable to present a manifesto that demonstrated to the people of these areas that they understood and cared about their problems. Every post-independence government has been run by your so-called ‘multi-ethnic’ parties which has consistently failed to deliver programmes of governance that could convince the electorate of the North that their needs were being considered. Instead, successive governments implemented policy to disempower the Tamil speaking minority – from the disenfranchisement of the Indian Tamil estate workers to the implementation of the Official Language Act of 1956.

    Ultimately, if the only way for the main stream parties to win elections in the North is by maintaining a military presence and artificially changing the demographics of the region, that in itself demonstrates that these parties have no credibility with the people of the North. Having to use the threat of military force against its own citizens is a demonstration that the government has failed to meet the needs and aspirations of those citizens.

    • TT

      LT,

      GGP’s demand was HIGHLY RACIST.

      Sinhalese were more than 65% of the population. How can their rights be limited to 50%? There were no 50% minority! Further there certainly was no “Tamil speaking people” making up 50% of the population!

      It goes directly against EQUAL INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS which is the cornerstone of democracy!

      Even the Brits rejected it due to these undemocratic racist nature of it.

      “election results should Tamil parties are racist”?

      Absurd! How cann it be?

      Their party names, composition, demands, aspirations should they are Tamil only mono ethnic race centred groups (or racists).

      Party names:
      1. TAMIL congress
      2. TAMIL kachchi
      3. TAMIL front
      4. TAMIL alliance
      5. TAMIL tigers

      Composition:
      Tamil ONLY. Apart from a handful instances of appointing (not electing) Muslims.

      Demands:
      Addressing TAMIL (only) grievences.

      Aspirations:
      TAMIL homelands
      TAMIL self determination
      TAMIL natioanlity
      TAMIL soverigty

      These are facts.

      This started happening since 1947 (if not before). That is, even before the UNP, SLFP ruled the country! Check the 1947 Jaffna district election results. So you cannot blame UNP, SLFP for this!

      I don’t fully deny the last bit. Multiethnic parties have failed to win the continuing support of the Tamil only north. At the same time the Tamil only north has not supported multiethnic politics consistently.

      This is not unique to the Tamil only north. The same can be seen in Tamil Nadu. There you get DRAVIDA and TAMIL race based parties. Its the same story there. BJP, IC, etc. failed to win Tamil Nadu Tamils support.

      One way to go about is to pursue this illusive support. But take a leaf from TN. It does NOT work.

      Even if it works, it is too costly and contrary to national security policies.

      Tamils had made up their minds even before Independence to vote for Tamil race parties instead of multiethnic parties.

      So the other option is the artificially change the ethnic composition of the north and station a large and powerful army. At least it works!

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        But TT, this point has already been answered in previous threads several times, but you fled instead of answering :D so I’ll repeat them here:

        “1. TAMIL (only) homelands”

        Where have Tamil political parties called for exclusive Tamil homelands?

        “2. TAMIL (only) grievences”

        Where have Tamil political parties claimed that grievances were only against Tamils? Rather, the 50-50 call was for equal representation for all minorities.

        “3. TAMIL (only) Elam”

        Can you show any such call for a Tamil-only Eelam, except by the Tigers?

        “4. TAMIL (only) aspirations”

        See my answer to number 2.

        “5. TAMIL (only) self-determiniation”

        As above.

        “6. TAMIL (only) soverignty”

        Same as above.

        “7. TAMIL (only) nationality”

        Ditto as above.

        “8. TAMIL (only) “arasu””“

        As above.

        So you see there aren’t any “onlys” in these issues, TT :D Are you unable to defend your argument without lying?

        I do hope you will stick to this thread this time without fleeing as usual :D

      • Lankan Thinker

        TT,

        Re: GGP’s demand – OK, there are differing opinions about whether GGP asked for 50% representation for Tamils or for all minorities. I agree that had he asked for this for Tamils alone it was highly racist. Whatever the case, I agree that the demand was undemocratic and the Soulbury Commission was right to reject it.

        Re: the ‘T’ parties – Repeating the claim that a party with the name ‘TAMIL’ in its name is by definition racist doesn’t make this true. Ultimately, none of the ‘T’ parties wielded legislative power in Sri Lanka and therefore their manifestoes, racist or not, were not implemented. However, the parties that *did* have legislative power did nothing to convince the people that the ‘T’ parties were unnecessary, i.e. that the so called multi-ethnic parties would govern in a way that would actually help the people, irrespective of their ethnicity. Instead, the parties in power formulated and implemented policy that actively violated the individual rights of Tamil speaking people (e.g., denying the right of Tamil estate workers from voting)

        I don’t fully deny the last bit. Multiethnic parties have failed to win the continuing support of the Tamil only north. At the same time the Tamil only north has not supported multiethnic politics consistently.

        But what have the so called multi-ethnic parties done to protect the Tamil individuals, or even show they care? If they cared, wouldn’t they have done more to prevent the events of July 1983? Or at least prosecuted those who instigated those riots? Even after the war, why is it the case that the government can’t publish a list of all those people held in detention so that their families can have some peace of mind as to whether their relatives are still alive? Instead, the multi-ethnic UPFA demonstrates how it cares about the Tamil people by supporting the EPDP – a group that have, by your own admission, ‘abuse and misuse power’.

        So the other option is the artificially change the ethnic composition of the north and station a large and powerful army. At least it works!

        Why not create the conditions where multi-ethnicity happens naturally? For example, by putting more resources into developing a bi-lingual (or even tri-lingual) population so that people can communicate with each other before being forced to live together.

        If the government wants to help poor people by providing state land, then this is fine – but it should be done in a transparent way that is blind to ethnicity, religion or anything else other than the level of income. The government should identify parcels of state land in all parts of the country and allow those applying for a land allocation to indicate a preference as to where they would like to move. This way, the purpose of government support for migration would be unambiguously about poverty alleviation and not racial politics.

      • Thiru Cumaran

        In reply to comment http://groundviews.org/2011/03/17/jaffna-and-the-vanni-today-the-reality-beneath-the-rhetoric/comment-page-1/#comment-29337 ,

        @TT

        Even though the Tamil National Alliance (Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi) has “Tamil” in it’s name, they allowed a Sinhala person (Podiappuhamy Piyasena) to contest under the party for Ampara and, subsequently, he won….

  • Vasala Rajasuriya

    “As the victor of the war, the government is attempting to impose its will on the Tamil people and force them to adopt a Sri Lankan identity that is overwhelmingly Sinhala Buddhist,”

    The ‘Sri Lankan identity’ is overwhelmingly Sinhala Buddhist though. If you took 10 people as representing Sri Lanka about 7 of them would be Sinhala Buddhist. About 2 of them would be Tamil (if we lump Indian origin Tamils and SL Tamil together). So I don’t see what the big deal is personally.

    • http://srilankalandoftheblind.blogspot.com/ PresiDunce Bean

      Dear Vasala Rajasuriya,have you heard of Dehumanization?

      Sociologists and historians often view dehumanization as central to some or all types of wars. Governments sometimes present “enemy” civilians or soldiers as less than human so that voters will be more likely to support a war they may otherwise consider mass murder. Dictatorships use the same process to prevent opposition by citizens. Such efforts often depend on preexisting racist, sectarian or otherwise biased beliefs, which governments play upon through various types of media, presenting “enemies” as barbaric, undeserving of rights, and a threat to the nation. Alternately, states sometimes present the enemy government or way of life as barbaric and its citizens as childlike and incapable of managing their own affairs. This is the case in the North and East today.

      http://www.psychwiki.com/wiki/Dehumanization

      • Vasala Rajasuriya

        Hi Dunce,

        If you think stating the facts is “dehumanization”, then so be it. But the truth is the Sinhalese form the vast majority of Sri Lankans and they will influence the “Sri Lankan identity” as their numbers will see fit. This is not a phenomenon unique to Sri Lanka.

    • wijayapala

      Dear Vasala Rajasuriya,

      So I don’t see what the big deal is personally.

      Perhaps if you were a Tamil, and not Sinhala Buddhist, you might personally see what the big deal is?

      • Vasala Rajasuriya

        Not really. England is predominantly white and Protestant – just like Sri Lanka is predominantly Sinhalese and Buddhist. I don’t see anyone complaining about the dominance of White English protestants.

      • Siri

        Is there any end to this debate? Most Buddhists are also Hindus, but Hindus are not Buddhists though Buddhism belongs more to India than to Sri Lanka. Instead of promoting ghettos, can we live together without territorial claims? Then we will understand one-another like in other ‘civilized’ countries. Tamils live happily in the south with the Sinhalese, so the Sinhalese can not be that bad. What we need is not political reform, but rehabilitation of the minds of extremists from BOTH SIDES.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Vasula, there isn’t any white English Protestant dominance in England.

      • Vasala Rajasuriya

        Yes there is David. They hold the vast majority of positions of power.

        The head of state has to be a follow of English Christianity (ie Anglican).

    • http://srilankalandoftheblind.blogspot.com/ PresiDunce Bean
    • wijayapala

      TT

      There should also be politico-military groups like EPDP to co-ordinate between the military and governance.

      How is that possible when the EPDP is responsible for misgovernance and underworld activity? Are you suggesting that the military should get involved in the EPDP’s corruption?

      • TT

        Wijayapala,

        That is the unfortunate part of these groups. They abuse and misuse power. Their “unproductive” acts should be punished.

        Unproductive acts are acts that achieve ONLY disruption, disrepute, violence or distaste without any defence or political gains against seperatists, terrorists, national security threats and/or disruptive elements.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        “That is the unfortunate part of these groups. They abuse and misuse power. Their “unproductive” acts should be punished.”

        But can you tell us what their “productive” acts are?

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      No, it isn’t, Vasula. Sinhala Buddhism is the identity of the Sinhalese Buddhists, not of SL. Just as the identity of the US isn’t Christian white, even though the majority are white Christians. SL needs to find an identity that reaches above race and religion.

      • Vasala Rajasuriya

        The point is, being the overwhelming majority in the island the Sinhalese will influence whatever “Sri Lankan identity” there is. The USA has a white Christian English speaking majority and that is reflected in their identity. It may be secular on paper but the religion of the majority – Christianity – holds a central role in the country’s politics and public affairs. The language of the majority – English – lords it over all other languages. And when it comes to political representation the white majority have a dominant position (Obama is an aberration 200+ years after independence). Same story for Britain.

  • Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

    This ‘multi ethnic’ Sri Lanka that is being advocated by some is a good thing. I ask them then if they are prepared to transform Sri Lanka into a secular state? Are they willing to embrace a new social order that reflects this thinking? This should begin with an overhaul of the constitution. If they don’t agree, then we know it’s a sinister move to make Sri Lanka into a mono-ethnic Sinhala Buddhist state intended to completely change the demography of the land which in fact is what successive Sinhalese governments have systematically and deliberately ventured to do and have succeeded. They just have a little more work to do in the last remnants of the Tamil heartland in the North.

    • Vasala Rajasuriya

      I think the more pertinent question is: Are Tamils ready to give up secession and live with the non-Tamil groups in the island? Are they willing to accept Sinhalese and Muslims in the north, just as Tamils are accepted in the south of the country? Are Tamils ready to give up their claim for a mono-ethnic homeland? The reason I say these are “more pertinent” is because Tamil nationalism has devastated the Sri Lankan Tamil community, and I think the future of the Tamil community lies in co-operation with the Sinhalese and not in confrontation.

      • Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

        Vasala
        Tamils have always been prepared to give up cessation, but not their right to self-determination under a unitary state; at the peace negotiations the idea of a separate state was dropped for a federal model by the Tamils. I wish you wouldn’t bring this “Tamils in the South” argument to try to prove your point. Then we have to go back to history when the East India Company brought the Tamil and the Sinhalese kingdoms together and Colombo with its harbour served as the political, commercial and financial capital. At independence Tamils truly wanted to live together with their Sinhalese brethren but Sinhala Buddhist supremacist ideology raised its ugly head and you know what happened; it went as far as getting rid of section 29(2) of the Soulbury constitution by forming a constituent assembly outside of parliament to remove the last safeguard for Tamils. You must agree that the North and the East were starved of financial resources and development of any kind and became a war zone for decades. I know what you mean by ‘cooperation’ as in a prison camp: just be subservient and blend into the Sri Lankan Sinhala order. Why not show true Sri Lankan magnanimity by advocating a federal model. Sinhalese have nothing to lose and everything to gain and there would be free movement of people giving them a choice as to where they want to live.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        “I think the more pertinent question is: Are Tamils ready to give up secession and live with the non-Tamil groups in the island?”

        I think the most pertinent question, Vasula, is: Do Sinhalese want Tamils to be a part of SL? For most of our post-independence history, the Sinhalese have made it very clear through enacting laws like Sinhala Only, failing to implement laws like the 13th Amendment, stripping upcountry Tamils of their citizenship, periodically carrying out pogroms against the Tamils, etc, that they do not wish the Tamil to be part of SL. So the Tamils took the hint at long last and asked for their own part of the country. Hardly unreasonable, no? So in that light, it’s upto the Sinhalese to make it very clear that the door is open for the Tamils by fully implementing the 13th, and it’s upto the Tamils to step in by ensuring that there’s no further call for separation, nor any inclination to violence. Both sides need to act, but clearly the Sinhalese have the power to act immediately, and they should.

        “Are they willing to accept Sinhalese and Muslims in the north, just as Tamils are accepted in the south of the country?”

        The Tamils were never against Sinhalese and Muslims in the North, Vasuala, and if you read the Vaddukoddai Resolution (which is basically the only document that can stand up as a constitution for a democratic Tamil Eelam), there is no rejection of Sinhalese, Muslim, or any other minorities in TE. What Tamils were and are opposed to is Sinhalese being sent north in numbers that will eventually outnumber the Tamils and prevent them electing representatives who can take their issues to parliament.

        “Are Tamils ready to give up their claim for a mono-ethnic homeland?”

        Can you show any evidence of such a claim by the Tamils or their political representatives?

        “The reason I say these are “more pertinent” is because Tamil nationalism has devastated the Sri Lankan Tamil community”,/em>

        It’s Tamil terrorism that has devastated them, Vasuala, not nationalism. And terrorism came out of militancy, and militancy from the futility of non-violence against a violent persecutor. Which is why I said that the Sinhalese need to answer the most pertinent of questions.

        “and I think the future of the Tamil community lies in co-operation with the Sinhalese and not in confrontation.”

        Certainly, but you cannot cooperate with an oppressor, and there’s no doubt that the Sinhalese have been oppressive in the past.

      • Vasala Rajasuriya

        David and Usha,

        We’ve all heard the same tired old story being trotted out time and time again. People have talked about it to death. But the plain old truth is that playing the victim card has not got the Tamil people anywhere. Basically, the violence of the Tamils has exhausted any Sinhalese sympathy. The way I see it, the Tamils can continue to play the victim card and cry wolf, but that will do absolutely nothing to extricate themselves from the mess they find themselves in. The end of the war marks game, set and match for the Sri Lankan state and the Sinhalese people in general. The Sri Lankan state and the Sinhalese as a people are in a position of strength at present. It is the Tamils who have to reorganize their priorities at this stage. Tamils are more than welcome to shed copious tears and create threads of outrage on the internet, but as to how that will help Tamil people on the ground in Sri Lanka is beyond me.

        And Usha – Chandrika offered the Tamils a confederal package but the “sole representatives” and the “elected representatives” of the Tamil people rejected it outright. Then think about what the “sole representatives” did with the Indo-Lanka Accord (an opportunity on a platter for the Tamil people). So lets not trot out that hoary old chestnut about the Sinhalese “agreeing to federalism” :)

        And David, to put it simply, if anyone finds it oppressive in Sri Lanka they are quite free leave the country. Many Sri Lankans of various backgrounds have availed themselves of this. I think in English the saying goes “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”…

    • TT

      You are jumping from one extreme to another.

      There are many non-secular nations that are not mono-ethnic! So making SL a secular nation is not a NECESSITY for a multi-ethnic SL. It can still be done.

      • Siri

        Dear Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah: Self-determination is good provided the term ‘self’ is not selfish. The Sinhalese, whatever their religion is, should be welcome in Jaffna and be invited to live with them without using vulgar terms such as colonisation. This way, there could be slef-determination of all the selves.

      • Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

        TT
        You say: “There are many non-secular nations that are not mono-ethnic! So making SL a secular nation is not a NECESSITY for a multi-ethnic SL. It can still be done.”
        I ask: How do you propose it can be done?
        Just read the last para of this article:
        “Acts of commission and omission by the government convey to the people of the North that there is little possibility they will be treated as equal citizens and included as full members of a multi-ethnic polity. Instead they feel they live in an occupied territory. As the victor of the war, the government is attempting to impose its will on the Tamil people and force them to adopt a Sri Lankan identity that is overwhelmingly Sinhala Buddhist, and in the process quashing what the people view as their distinct language, culture, heritage, and history. This distinct and proudly held identity is not a threat to a pluralistic Sri Lankan state, but its insensitive and dismissive treatment penetrates the heart of the sense of dignity of Sri Lankan Tamils. The government’s strategy is generating anger, resentment and a sense of disenfranchisement amongst the Tamil people, which in the short-term will make reconciliation impossible, and in the long-term form the catalyst for another conflict. Instead of effecting social reconciliation and re-integration, it will, in the words of Judith Butler, only produce ‘outraged and humiliated and furious people’.”

  • wijayapala

    Dear Vasala

    I don’t see anyone complaining about the dominance of White English protestants

    England is not a country. The UK is a country, though, where the Scottish minority demanded and received a devolved government for Scotland. Do you still insist on following the British example?

    • Vasala Rajasuriya

      Wijayapala,

      England *is* a country. So is Scotland. So is Wales. So is Northern Ireland.

      Together these four countries form the United Kingdom. Of the four countries England has the largest population and is the dominant country.

      The United Kingdom is a Unitary State.

  • Post DJBS Scenario

    During time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act – Orwell.

    Who are you? At least tell us something about you?

  • Ethirveerasingam

    Valkyrie,
    Thank you for an accurate analysis of the ground situation. You have painted the picture I saw and given voice to my thoughts. The post war situation is spiraling to a scenario worse than the prewar.

    • TT

      “The post war situation is spiraling to a scenario worse than the prewar.”

      The post war situation is spiraling to a scenario worse than the prewar for Tamil seperatists.

      Not for the others.

  • Siri

    Further to my my earlier comment, can I beg of journalists to write with a little voluntary restraint for the sake of humanity? We are at cross roads and the Sinhalese and Tamils are begining to understand their mistakes. Journalists can help them. What we have is not a political problem though it is a useful issue for politicians. Can we find political solution to a socio-economic problems?

  • xy

    I just wanted to point out again that Vasala wrote, “England is predominantly white and Protestant – just like Sri Lanka is predominantly Sinhalese and Buddhist. I don’t see anyone complaining about the dominance of White English protestants.” The fact that Vasala seems as blind to Sinhalese majoritarianism as s/he is to white protestant majoritarianism is extremely telling. Just in case people think that there really isn’t an issue with white dominance in England, I would like to bring up some very obvious issues of racially and religiously motivated crimes: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article569491.ece, and antisemitism: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/7315997/Trials-of-the-Diaspora-A-History-of-Anti-Semitism-in-England-by-Anthony-Julius-review.html.

    But of course white dominance always goes much deeper and systematic than just these conspicuous issues, and if you are white it is a lot easier to ignore them. Similarly Sinhalese dominance is conveniently ignorable for the Sinhalese majority. I guess you can say what you need to maintain your place on top of the food chain, but at least recognize that that is what you are doing. A true democracy is represented in the rights of ALL of its citizens. Militarization in the north is not in the best interest of the Tamils, nor is it in the best interest of the “harmony” of the country. I know self deception is a fun game to play here, but really just call a spade a spade.

    • Vasala Rajasuriya

      Dear XY

      Britain officially celebrates only Christian holy days

      The dominant language is English.

      The national anthem is “God save the Queen”

      The flag has a big Christian cross on it

      Head of State has to be Anglican Christian

      • xy

        ah thank you Vasala. You are helping to make my point further that white Protestant dominance is rife in England. If you would like to make the argument people have no problem with that, I would suggest that you slightly alter it to say that most white Christians in england have no problem. One of the things that comes with privilege is an easier access to ignorance of your privilege. I think you as well many Sinhalese enjoy that as well, no?

  • wijayapala

    TT,

    That is the unfortunate part of these groups. They abuse and misuse power.

    If they abuse and misuse power, ****then why are you advocating giving them power??????*****

  • wijayapala

    Dear Usha,

    at the peace negotiations the idea of a separate state was dropped for a federal model by the Tamils.

    The Tamils were not democratically represented at the so-called “peace negotiations.” There was only the LTTE which clearly revoked Anton Balasingham’s endorsement for federalism.

    You must agree that the North and the East were starved of financial resources and development of any kind and became a war zone for decades.

    Excellent point- could you please explain how federalism will ensure that these areas will receive resources and development?

    Why not show true Sri Lankan magnanimity by advocating a federal model. Sinhalese have nothing to lose

    If the Sinhalese had nothing to lose, they wouldn’t oppose federalism as much as they do. The experience of the Provincial Councils over the last 20 years shows that devolution is highly ineffective and inefficient and weakens governance, not strengthens it.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “If the Sinhalese had nothing to lose, they wouldn’t oppose federalism as much as they do.”

      Wijayapala, you’re assuming that emotions such as fear and sentiments such as racism are governed by logical thought processes; they’re not. Right here in this forum, we see people like TT calling for a return to Sinhala Only, and suggesting that the 13th must be repealed, in spite of the fact that allowing the Tamils equality will never be a loss to the Sinhalese. The fear of federalism is a fear that it will be the first step to separation of the NE. It’s not a totally unfounded fear of course, but an eventuality that can be prevented with some measures.

      “The experience of the Provincial Councils over the last 20 years shows that devolution is highly ineffective and inefficient and weakens governance, not strengthens it.”

      It has only been thus because of an inefficient means of implementing it — basically not true devolution, but a half-arsed version — and regular interference with the process from the center, coupled with corruption and inefficiency of the civil and government service of course. It’s not like the central government is very much more effective and efficient either. This is not an argument against federalism IMO.

      • wijayapala

        David,

        Wijayapala, you’re assuming that emotions such as fear and sentiments such as racism are governed by logical thought processes; they’re not.

        I understand the fears behind the Tamil demand for devolution, based on the injustices that you pointed out to Vasala (not to mention the Tamil version of racism), but that does not mean that devolution will actually be a “solution” to anything. It will not protect Tamils who live in Sinhala-majority areas, and it will not provide resources for the people in the N-E to rebuild.

        My thinking is based on the premise that the Sinhalese and Tamils are fundamentally the same in terms of their values, and hence their political cultures are not very different either. Whatever is given to the Tamils will be squandered by their leaders who will find someone else to scapegoat (in this specific case, the Sinhalese) for their failures. Have the Sinhala leaders behaved any differently?

        Right here in this forum, we see people like TT calling for a return to Sinhala Only, and suggesting that the 13th must be repealed,

        I am totally opposed to Sinhala Only- in my view, it was the original threat to the unitary state. As for the 13th Amendment, the only reason I don’t support repealing it right this minute is because of the slow progress in undoing the legacy of Sinhala Only.

        It’s not a totally unfounded fear of course, but an eventuality that can be prevented with some measures.

        You have conceded that federalism will not eliminate separatism as an ideal. So what good is it then?

        It has only been thus because of an inefficient means of implementing it — basically not true devolution, but a half-arsed version

        What is “true devolution,” given that there is no federation in existence where the central and regional governments do not squabble over politically salient resources and jurisdiction?

        The logic behind the current “half-arsed” version was to minimise the threat of separatism. Nobody wants it, yet a change in any direction will anger a section of the population. Thus we are stuck with it.

        It’s not like the central government is very much more effective and efficient either.

        But as you appeared to imply, it is more effective and efficient in relative terms. Hence my opposition to devolution.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        “but that does not mean that devolution will actually be a “solution” to anything. It will not protect Tamils who live in Sinhala-majority areas, and it will not provide resources for the people in the N-E to rebuild.”

        Devolution alone cannot be a solution for all ills, Wijayapala. But it can be the solution to some ills, not just for the Tamils, but for all Sri Lankans. Devolution brings governance closer to the hands of those that most benefit from it. It enables regional issues to be tackled regionally. Issues that cannot be handled at a local level are then bumped upwards to the bigger boys. It’s a more efficient and less wasteful form of governance than a centrist system where a lot of things are duplicated by bureaucracy.

        “My thinking is based on the premise that the Sinhalese and Tamils are fundamentally the same in terms of their values, and hence their political cultures are not very different either. Whatever is given to the Tamils will be squandered by their leaders who will find someone else to scapegoat (in this specific case, the Sinhalese) for their failures. Have the Sinhala leaders behaved any differently?”

        That maybe true, but since Tamil leaders have never had such an opportunity, it’s condescending to lump them with the Sinhalese leadership. It’s sort of like the white man’s burden argument.

        “I am totally opposed to Sinhala Only- in my view, it was the original threat to the unitary state. As for the 13th Amendment, the only reason I don’t support repealing it right this minute is because of the slow progress in undoing the legacy of Sinhala Only.”

        If there had been no Sinhala Only, there would have been no need for the 13th — or at least no need for the languange part of it. Until the latter is fully implemented, Sinhala Only will never fully disappear into the dustbin of history.

        “You have conceded that federalism will not eliminate separatism as an ideal. So what good is it then?”

        It’s not supposed to eliminate it; only full equality for the Tamils can do that. Basically, remove their reason for separation. Devolution gives them more self determination, and that goes a long way towards the goal of removing that ideal in the long term. Other failsafes and measures must be included at the time of constitutional change, of course, but the greatest measures must be in the hearts and minds, not in the law.

        “What is “true devolution,” given that there is no federation in existence where the central and regional governments do not squabble over politically salient resources and jurisdiction?”

        Well, when I said “true devolution”, I meant under the terms of the original Indo-Lanka Accord and the subsequent 13th, for now, since that is the only current unit of true devolution. Provincial High Courts and Councils must be empowered by the Supreme Court and the Parliament respectively to determine and pass provincial legislation. Politicians and lawmakers will always squabble, but that’s no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

        “The logic behind the current “half-arsed” version was to minimise the threat of separatism. Nobody wants it, yet a change in any direction will anger a section of the population. Thus we are stuck with it.”

        In the end, laws cannot prevent separation, no? Only legal separation. As I said before, the only real way to remove the ideals of separation is in the hearts and minds of the Tamils.

        “But as you appeared to imply, it is more effective and efficient in relative terms. Hence my opposition to devolution.”

        Only because the provincial councils and courts were not empowered. You have to devolve or not devolve; doing it halfway is neither here nor there and more wasteful than either.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Vasala

    The Sri Lankan state and the Sinhalese as a people are in a position of strength at present.

    So what will happen when they are no longer in a position of strength? Will you still endorse this “might is right” mentality?

    • wijayapala

      England *is* a country. So is Scotland. So is Wales. So is Northern Ireland.

      You appear to be correct. Does that mean Tamil Eelam is a country as well?

      • Vasala Rajasuriya

        Perhaps to a section of Tamils. But not to Sri Lanka or the international community.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      England, Scotland, Wales, and northern Ireland are not separate countries. They are all part of the United Kingdom. Sovereign countries have their own armed forces, their own foreign policy representatives with embassies in foreign countries, etc. There is no English Army or Scottish Air Force, no Embassy of Wales or Cardiff’s Ambassador to the UN, etc. Though once upon a time, Scotland, Wales and Ireland were England’s neighbours, they are now simply devolved states in one country, the only vestiges of nationhood they possess are a flag, an anthem, and their own sports teams.

      • http://srilankalandoftheblind.blogspot.com/ PresiDunce Bean

        Dear David,
        You very conveniently forgot the Scottish Parliament.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Parliament

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Not at all, dear Dunce. The Scottish Parliament is a devolved provincial government. It has no foreign ministry, no diplomatic service, and no representatives overseas. It is subservient to the British parliament on national and international matters. It’s equivalent to the Tamil Nadu government or the Florida state government or any other devolved unit in a federal system. Are you really this clueless, Mr Dunce?

      • http://srilankalandoftheblind.blogspot.com/ PresiDunce Bean

        Dear David, whom are you trying to fool?
        The Scottish Parliament, in place of a Prime Minister has a First Minister.There have been three elections to the Parliament, in 1999, 2003 and 2007.
        Popular arguments against the Parliament before the UK general election of 1997, levelled by the Conservative Party, were that the Parliament would create a “slippery slope” to Scottish independence, and provide the pro-independence Scottish National Party with a route to power. John Major, the Conservative Prime Minister before May 1997, famously claimed the Parliament would end “1000 years of British history”, although the Acts of Union uniting the two countries were still less than 300 years old at the time. The Labour Party met these criticisms by claiming that devolution would fatally undermine the SNP, and remedy the long-felt desire of Scots for a measure of self-government.
        You my dear David like most of the majority xenophobes are like former Prime ParleyMutt John Major and the Conservatives. Do you chaps also believe that devolution of power to the Tamils will cause the end of 2500 (or is it 3000) years of Sinhala Buddhist history???

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Parliament

        ps. don’t forget to read the link more carefully.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Dear Dunce, I don’t need to fool anyone. [Edited out] How does the Scottish parliament having a first minister instead of a PM make Scotland an independent nation? How does the Tory worry that granting Scotland self-determination would be the beginning of a move to independence confirm that Scotland is independent? If the latter were so, what say would the Tories have? Doesn’t this argument by the Tories — a similar one to that voiced by the Sinhalese right about federalism in SL — not confirm that Scotland is in reality a devolved state and not an independent nation?

        Do you believe that Scotland is an independent nation and not part of the United Kingdom? :D You must feel quite at home with people like Heshan who think Hitler won WW2!

        As for my feelings on SL federalism or other such devolution, have my exchanges with TT, Vasula, and Wijayapala passed right through your cavernous skull?

  • Belle

    TT,
    “GGP’s demand was HIGHLY RACIST.

    Sinhalese were more than 65% of the population. How can their rights be limited to 50%? There were no 50% minority! Further there certainly was no “Tamil speaking people” making up 50% of the population!

    It goes directly against EQUAL INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS which is the cornerstone of democracy!

    Even the Brits rejected it due to these undemocratic racist nature of it.”

    One-man-one-vote system delivers majoritarian rule. That’s why many post-colonial countries, including Sri Lanka, had to adopt supplementary mechanisms and laws to deliver the EQUAL INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS that is the cornerstone of democracy. That’s why many countries enshrine equal rights of various races, religions etc in their constitution–because universal franchise does not deliver equal rights on its own.

    Although GGP’s demand was not practical (since the majority would never have gone for it and there would have been riots), in abstract terms, it would have delivered equal rights. No group could have passed laws to help only themselves. Under the system that actually came into being, the majority community (the 65%) could pass any laws that gave them 100% of the rights. Whether they did or did not would depend entirely on their good will or nastiness. And we all know how that turned out, don’t we?

    Lord Soulbury called GGP’s proposal a mockery of democracy. The very fact that post-colonial countries had to include equal rights provisions in their Constitution itself makes a mockery of the one-man-one-vote system as standing for equal rights of individuals. The Brits themselves are now recognizing that they have to go out of their way to include more women and non-English in their political parties if they want to provide equal rights for individuals in their parliamentary system.

    Your understanding of equal rights is very interesting. For you, it is not “equal” for 65% percent of the population to settle for 50% access to rights. I presume that you consider it “equal” however for 65% to have access to 100% of rights, as in the passing of the Sinhala Only Act, and to reduce other individuals’ rights to zero? How was Buddhism given the foremost place if not by the 65% community grabbing 100% of power?

    So it is not racist for 65% of the population to grab 100% of rights, but it is racist for about 30% of the population (the minority communities) to want 50% access to rights?

    • TT

      Belle,

      There are no laws in any country that gives “equal rights to race/ethnic groups”!

      It is also unacceptable for 65% to have 100% rights. That is NOT equal individual rights.

      BTW there was no “Sinhala Only” Act. If you refer to the 1956 Official Language Act, it allowed “reasonable use of Tamil”.

      Anyway there is English Only in UK, Australia, USA, and many developed peaceful countries have one official/national language. That has not gone against EQUAL INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS.

      SL has complied with the UN declaration of 1992 on minority and indigenous rights!

      • Lankan Thinker

        TT,

        You have repeatedly rejected the characterisation of the 1956 Official Language Act as the “Sinhala Only Act” because it included a clause about “reasonable use of Tamil”.

        But isn’t it also the case that it took the 1958 Tamil Language (Special Provisions) Act to formally specify that Tamil could be used in education, administration (in the North and East) and public service examinations? Why the need for this second piece of legislation if the 1956 act *wasn’t* a “Sinhala Only” one?

        Since you are and advocate of repealing the 13th amendment, would you also repeal the 1958 Tamil Language (Special Provisions) Act?

      • TT

        Belle,

        That is because ITAK was not happy with “reasonable use”.

        Yes I propose to repeal this useless 13th amendment but the other act you mentioned should stay. The two are completely different in the content, process, wider participation, etc.

        I’m against 13th amendment not bcos it made Tamil an official/national language but because of other nonsense that hasn’t done any good to the country.

      • TT

        That was to LT.

      • Belle

        I’m re-posting this as there were problems with symbols in the original post.

        TT,

        “There are no laws in any country that gives “equal rights to race/ethnic groups”!”

        What about affirmative action policies in USA and Canada? An individual get a job on account of the race/ethnic group to which s/he belongs.

        Many countries enshrine laws against discrimination of individuals based on their race, language and religion in their Constitution. Rights of individuals are entailed in group rights. How does a country provide against such discrimination against individuals without ensuring that there is equal recognition of the ethnic group and culture to which s/he belongs? If this is not evident to you in terms of race, let’s apply it to laws against discrimination of gender. How is an individual woman to be protected against gender discrimination without the country having laws or policies that forbid gender discrimination against women as a group? Why do individual women fight for their rights by organizing as women’s groups? Many countries provide for the individual’s freedom of association and organization in practising and promoting his/her culture–this means that individuals can work in groups to fight (peacefully and legally) for their rights. So, yes, there are countries that have laws that give equal rights to racial/ethnic groups.

        “It is also unacceptable for 65% to have 100% rights. That is NOT equal individual rights. BTW there was no “Sinhala Only” Act. If you refer to the 1956 Official Language Act, it allowed “reasonable use of Tamil”.”

        You are taking recourse to reason towards an UNREASONABLE Act? I am very intrigued by the problem of how unreasonable people who formulated and passed such an unreasonable act can be expected to recognize what is “reasonable” use of Tamil!

        You can say that you think it is unacceptable for 65% of a nation to have 100% of the rights, but your defense of the 1956 Official Language Act, which mandates one language over others in a country where more than one language was a native language at the point when the nation came into existence, reveals your viewpoint on majoritarianism.

        “Anyway there is English Only in UK, Australia, USA, and many developed peaceful countries have one official/national language. That has not gone against EQUAL INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS.”

        UK, Australia and USA have no official or national languages on a federal level. Countries with only one official language are a minority, and in many of these instances, the official language, English and French, is not even native to the country but is used to unify a nation across native language barriers.

        “SL has complied with the UN declaration of 1992 on minority and indigenous rights!”

        And that would not be the only UN commitment that Sri Lanka signs and doesn’t honour. It’s easy to get out of breaking such promises by pleading national sovereignty whenever UN wants an investigation to check the honouring of these commitments, right? BTW, its’ “UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples”. Minority peoples are not covered by it.

    • TT

      DB,

      My bad for not regularly visiting here because I’m not in retirement which means my weekdays are busy and weekends are busier (with the craziest things you can imagine!).

      But I have not missed much as your comments are monotonous and lack new substance. ;)

      During school days there was this teledrama – kokila engei pogiran – I used to watch. Even if an episode is missed, nothing really is missed just like “missing” DB’s comments. :) (Now don’t make assumptions.) Nothing bad; just stating facts.

  • Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

    Vasala:

    “The Sri Lankan state and the Sinhalese as a people are in a position of strength at present.”

    This is provocative, a kind of language we don’t need. The government may have won the war but it hasn’t won the peace. Don’t be in a hurry to celebrate although we know you did!Tamils have now renounced violence. They will pursue their aspirations through peaceful means – through dialogue and diplomacy.

    “The violence of the Tamils have exhausted Sinhalese sympathy.”

    I see you attribute all the violence to Tamils. What about all the violence perpetrated on Tamils. My learned friend Vasala you forget who started it in the first place. LTTE was a product of Sinhala hegemony and Sinhala nationalism often manifested through discriminatory policies, violence and vandalism unleashed against Tamils. The need to defend oneself seemed a necessity – it was an act of self-preservation!

    “Chandrika offered the Tamils a confederal package but the “sole representatives” and the “elected representatives” of the Tamil people rejected it outright.”

    Vasala when did Chandrika offer a confederal package? Hear what the same Chandrika had to say recently about the issue: The former President, Chandrika Kumaratunga speaking to Kelum Bandara of the Daily Mirror expresses regret she hadn’t been a “dictator for six months” to push through a constitution which “sought to devolve power extensively.”

    http://www.lankanewspapers.com/news/2011/1/63592_space.html

    Sri Lanka was not genuine, never really accepted federalism; a national consensus of that kind was never reached on the Sri Lankan side, where as the LTTE had more than compromised its principles – Anton Balasingam writes in his book War and Peace, “the LTTE Leader Pirapaharan was willing to accept federalism based on internal self-determination” with the qualification that “if the element of internal self-determination was blocked or denied and that the demand for regional self rule is rejected” they “have no alternative other than to secede and form an independent state.”

    • Vasala Rajasuriya

      “This is provocative, a kind of language we don’t need. The government may have won the war but it hasn’t won the peace. Don’t be in a hurry to celebrate although we know you did!Tamils have now renounced violence. They will pursue their aspirations through peaceful means – through dialogue and diplomacy.”

      It certainly may be “provocative” to you Usha but it is the truth isn’t it? Many Tamils still do not want to accept that the LTTE has been defeated and actually believe that Prabhakaran is still somewhere out there. I already did my celebrating the day Prabhakaran died, and so did many other Sri Lankans.

      The Tamils have not renounced violence. What has happened is that Tamil violence was dealt a devastating blow by the Sri Lankan state. There was no and has not been a willful renunciation of violence on the part of Tamils. It is the physical might of the Sri Lankan state that brought an end to violence and gave space for “dialogue and diplomacy.” So one can say the Sri Lankan state has provided space for non-violent Tamils by defeating the LTTE.

      “I see you attribute all the violence to Tamils. What about all the violence perpetrated on Tamils. My learned friend Vasala you forget who started it in the first place. LTTE was a product of Sinhala hegemony and Sinhala nationalism often manifested through discriminatory policies, violence and vandalism unleashed against Tamils. The need to defend oneself seemed a necessity – it was an act of self-preservation!”

      No, I do not attribute all violence to the Tamils. What I am saying is that sympathy for Tamils is low among the Sinhalese population and that this is because of the behaviour of Tamils themselves, and the violence the “sole representatives” of the Tamils wreaked in the south of the country. Basically, Tamils were not the only victims in the war that raged over the last two decades and Tamils need to stop pretending as if they were the only victims. The LTTE, in my eyes, was a product of Tamil nationalism and Tamil exclusivism. It might be convenient to blame the Sinhalese for you, however.

      And it’s obvious to everyone just how well the LTTE defended the Tamil community and just how brilliant the “act of self-preservation was” — the Tamil community has been devastated over the last 2 decades.

      “Vasala when did Chandrika offer a confederal package?”

      You’re kidding right? You don’t remember her “Union of Regions” package? The reaction of the Sinhalese is not the point – the point is that the Tamil politicians rejected it outright, even though it went far beyond the Indo-Lanka Accord into confederal territory. Apparently it was “not enough”.

      The Indo-Lanka Accord, Chandrika and Ranil were perfect opportunities for the Tamils to reach a federal deal, but it was all sabotaged by the Tamils themselves. Ranil went out of his way to please the Tamil Tigers and got nothing in return. The LTTE – and not the SL state – walked away from every single peace talk. The truth is the “sole representatives” were never interested in federalism. Quoting something written by Anton Balasingham is not going to change that glaringly obvious fact.

      • Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

        “No, I do not attribute all violence to the Tamils. What I am saying is that sympathy for Tamils is low among the Sinhalese population and that this is because of the behaviour of Tamils themselves, and the violence the “sole representatives” of the Tamils wreaked in the south of the country.”

        Vasala I am truly sorry for what the Sinhalese people suffered in the South. You must agree the war was fought on Tamil soil and the war zone was the North and the East. It would take decades for that part of the island to recover, the death and devastation caused by Sri Lankan state fire power is enormous. So how do you think the Tamils feel, would they have any empathy for your government. I know you have it in you to show some sympathy. True reconciliation is acknowledging certain facts. Your government, you say has provided the the space for ‘non-violent’ Tamils, but that was a heavy price to pay. The real challenge for your government would be to give heart to the aspirations of those ‘non-violent’Tamils.

      • Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

        Vasala you say: “The Indo-Lanka Accord, Chandrika and Ranil were perfect opportunities for the Tamils to reach a federal deal, but it was all sabotaged by the Tamils themselves. Ranil went out of his way to please the Tamil Tigers and got nothing in return. The LTTE – and not the SL state – walked away from every single peace talk. The truth is the “sole representatives” were never interested in federalism. Quoting something written by Anton Balasingham is not going to change that glaringly obvious fact.”

        Vasala so if your governments were truly interested in a federal deal, it’s still not too late. If you don’t believe me when I say a southern consensus to that effect was never reached, why don’t you be the one to lead the move to bring about such a consensus.

        The rivalry between Sinhalese political parties and the way they out bid each other, on not giving concessions to the Tamils, to get the vote of the Sinhalese people has undermined and would undermine the possibility of a fair settlement. Unless farsighted Sinhalese statesmen come forward to bring fresh new impetus to finding a solution, the wounds will never heal.

      • Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

        The Way Forward in Sri Lanka: A need to analyse why insurgencies are born.

        Insurgencies are born when :

        1. genuine grievances are not addressed

        2.persecution discrimination, marginalization and violence is perpetrated against a community that produce a need to fight back

        3. one community imposes its will over the other

        4. one community has a stranglehold on power, where democracy has no meaning

        5. all peaceful means are exhausted

        6. there is an inequality where one community enjoys self-determination and the other doesn’t

        7. the marginalized community feels a need for self preservation

        8. that results in a need to defend the homeland

        Insurgencies grow when grievances are ignored for decades.

        For permanent peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka, there has to be a realization, an appreciation of this truth.

        Sinhala Statesmen must come forward with courage to address the above issues with a genuine interest to accommodate the aspirations of the Tamil speaking people and be magnanimous – the Federal Form of Government is the way forward not the 13th Amendment.

      • TT

        Insurgencies and wars can be stopped/won by SL in SL. This is a fact.

        Root causes of these must be elimintaed. Root causes of the 1971, 1989 and 1983-2009 violence were outdated economic policies, power hunger, mythical homelands and racist demands of a few. Timely elimination of trouble makers, multi-ethnicity in the north can resolve most powerful root causes of insurgencies and war in the SL context. SL has equal individual rights. Development takes place.

        Frustrations, etc. of the Diaspora need NOT be addressed by SL. These are irrelevant.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Then why is it, TT, that you’re unable to show any such claims that are racist under scrutiny — not even any portion of the Vaddukoddai Resolution, in spite of repeated demands that you do?

  • Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

    What truly happened nearly at the end of the peace negotiations:

    Typo error in previous post: should read

    The LTTE’s Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) proposal was not even considered. (Some features: Representatives from all ethnicities and the government were included in the interim administration, allowing for democratic elections within 5 years)By this time President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe were caught up in a bitter power struggle. In the new round of talks in 2006 between the LTTE and the new regime under Mahinda Rajapakse, the disarming of government backed paramilitaries was a priority for the LTTE which saw paramilitaries as instigating the violence while the Government of Sri Lanka wanted changes made to the Cease-fire Agreement (CFA) blaming the LTTE for CFA violations. In the end Sri Lanka showed the whole peace process was an exercise in futility when the new delegation appointed by Rajapakse called the Cease-fire Agreement illegal and in breach of the Sri Lankan constitution. People should be cautious not to blindly accept lopsided accounts of the peace process when every one knew reaching a southern consensus for a political settlement was an impossible task.

    • wijayapala

      Dear Usha,

      The LTTE’s Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA) proposal was not even considered.

      You really aren’t doing yourself any favor by defending the ISGA which was intended to empower the LTTE alone to the exclusion of everyone else. If you even remotely compare the ISGA to “federalism,” then it really shouldn’t come to any surprise why federalism is so distrusted in Sri Lanka.

      President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe were caught up in a bitter power struggle. In the new round of talks in 2006 between the LTTE and the new regime under Mahinda Rajapakse

      You skipped the part where the LTTE wanted Mahinda to win the election going so far as to forcibly prevent Tamils from voting for Ranil in 2005. Could you please share your thoughts on that?

      People should be cautious not to blindly accept lopsided accounts of the peace process when every one knew reaching a southern consensus for a political settlement was an impossible task.

      So… does that mean there was no alternative other than the military solution?

      Anton Balasingam writes in his book War and Peace, “the LTTE Leader Pirapaharan was willing to accept federalism based on internal self-determination”

      And as I already pointed out to you, Prabakaran had rejected federalism:

      http://wwwbahnhof.asiantribune.com/node/3779
      “While Balasingham opted to look at federalism, this stand was later rejected by LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran as a betrayal of the cause of Eelam according to several sources.”

      • Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

        Dear Wijepala

        The ISGA was drawn up by Tamil legal and political luminaries – intellectuals of Sri Lankan and International repute. Please go and read it – I did say it allowed for all ethnicities to be represented in the interim administration until democratic elections were held with international oversight. By the way do you suppose the LTTE was alone in the struggle for the right to self-determination for the Tamil people?

        Wijepala you say: “You skipped the part where the LTTE wanted Mahinda to win the election going so far as to forcibly prevent Tamils from voting for Ranil in 2005. Could you please share your thoughts on that?”

        I say: Helping Mahinda to win the elections was regrettable, but most didn’t need to be forced. Some Tamils thought sadly that they would get a better deal from Mahinda but others knew the hawkish Mahinda is a dangerous man.

        At that time I wrote: The stark truth is that by their non participation the Thamils have rejected the platforms of both presidential candidates with a “resounding no”. No one can ignore this most demonstrative and massive repudiation of Sinhala policies. It’s clear the president elect has no mandate to govern the Thamil speaking people.

        There should be a serious attempt for people to study the actual choices before the Thamil electorate. Having to choose from the devil and the deep blue sea, the Thamil electorate chose neither. It shows the Thamil electorate has come of age!

        They exercised their free will and fundamental right not to participate in a “farce”. Neither of the presidential candidates had anything to offer. In both cases the outcome presented a story of “gloom and doom” as neither had a message of “hope” for them.

        Who in their right mind would want to participate in an exercise so futile that would only endorse a system that perpetuates an in-equality? Only fools would fall repeatedly in to the same trap with their eyes open knowing they would fall further and further in to an abyss. The Thamil electorate has opened its eyes. They have become mature and aware of their rights and cannot be fooled any more by “phony vote grabbing Sinhala politicians with matching phony tales”.

        The Thamil speaking people in the North and East of Sri Lanka have aspirations like any other; they too want to reach for and achieve their full potential through the help of a government that cares for their welfare and would facilitate their path to progress. So they ditched both candidates who they knew were not going to take them on that path and never will.

        The message from the Thamil speaking people is loud and clear. Any peace solution must reflect this mass affirmation of the Thamil people’s desire to free themselves from such deceitful politicians.

      • Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

        Wijepala you say: “So… does that mean there was no alternative other than the military solution?”

        Wiyapala who do do you think went to war? When he saw that the APRC wasn’t proceeding the way he wanted, the hawkish Mahinda guided by his Chinthanaya prodded by his brother Gotabaya abrogated on the cease-fire and went to war before making sure there were no witnesses, no international media, no INGOS, no ICRC at the war zone.

        In an article “President Wants APRC River to Flow Backwards” DBS Jeyaraj writes as follows: “When President Rajapakse convened the All Party Conference (APC) and its related All Party Representative Committee (APRC) in 2006 he solemnly pledged that he would abide by its decision and implement them. A multi – ethnic panel of experts was appointed to assist the APRC. There were many who doubted President Rajapakse’s sincerity and suspected the APRC of being a time buying exercise till the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was concluded victoriously. Others felt that Rajapakse would utilise it to evolve and push through a weak scheme of devolution as his Political solution. The APRC under Prof. Tissa Vitarana’s dedicated leadership progressed positively and well. When the President and his Sinhala supremacist cohorts found the APRC proceeding smoothly they began adopting an obstructionist course. Blatant attempts were made to manipulate the APRC into delivering downgraded devolution both substance and unit wise. There emerged a cold war between the hawks and doves within the APRC. The President instead of maintaining impartial neutrality placed himself in the hard – line camp. Thus the nation and world at large witnessed the jocular sight of a President trying hard to sabotage the work of a committee appointed by him.

        Jeyaraj who has been always critical of the LTTE reveals here his frustrations at the “President and his Sinhala supremacist cohorts” and their shenanigans.

      • Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

        Wijepala you say: “While Balasingham opted to look at federalism, this stand was later rejected by LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran as a betrayal of the cause of Eelam according to several sources.”

        Read what i wrote earlier in this forum about the inability of the South to reach a consensus that undermined the peace process and no matter what the LTTE leader thought (he thought quite correctly, for he stood for the freedom of Tamil Eelam and gave his life for it) Balasingam was the chief delegate who articulated the message of the Tamils – ‘internal self determination’ under a unitary state. This was done you must appreciate in the interest of permanent peace.

        • wijayapala

          Dear Usha

          For some reason my response to your other points that debunked the lie that the Tamils wanted to boycott the 2005 election was posted further up above your posts. You’ll have to scroll up a bit to find it.

          In Canada, under an ‘equalization’ policy, the federal government makes additional payments to less wealthy Canadian provinces to equalize the provinces’ “fiscal capacity” i.e. their ability to generate tax revenues.

          It is a common theme for the Colombo NGO-wallahs to cite developed countries as examples for Sri Lanka to follow. What about in a developing country where all the provinces lack a “fiscal capacity?” Have you noticed that all federations in the developing world tend to be large countries, and that the federations that have Sri Lanka’s size are wealthy European countries?

          In your scenario, why would the federal government in Colombo give any payments to the N-E which may have an unfriendly government in the opposition?

          In Sri Lanka the presidents home province Hambantota is lucky, it is receiving preferential treatment with an airport, harbour and sports stadium!!!!!

          In all fairness to Mahinda, Hambantota had been neglected by every preceding government.

          I truly want Sri Lanka to become the wonder of Asia, not the nightmare of Asia.

          Sri Lanka was the nightmare of Asia when the LTTE is around, so we can both be happy that this period is over.

          would you agree that they used disproportionate force, and broke all basic international norms and laws and are responsible for a mass killing of civilians hither to unprecedented.

          How much force should the SLA have used then get rid of the LTTE? To end the suicide bombings and using Tamil children as cannon fodder?

        • TT

          Not true.

          The “south” came to a concensus but north didn’t really comply!

          The southern concesus included military elimination of the LTTE, unitary status and equal individual rights for all. There was near concensus on these in the south. Had the north accepted these………..

          (If you are looking for a “favourable” concesus to your views, bad luck.)

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “To be honest, I’d probably oppose 50-50 even more if things were reversed and the Sinhalese were the minority. I have the basic common sense that imposing something as undemocratic and racist as 50-50 on the majority community would only make them hate us as the privileged minority, and that such institutional gimmick solutions would not shield us from that hatred for long.”

      But you’ve still been unable to show prove 50-50 either undemocratic or racist; and as for it inciting Sinhalese hatred, that would be upto the Sinhalese leadership: even the BC Pact was seen as grounds for hatred and violence, as was the Vaddukoddai Resolution. It seems that the only reason you have for opposing 50-50 is a fear of Sinhalese hatred. Given that that same hatred was nevertheless vented on the Tamils, I hardly think 50-50 would have made it any worse. What it would have done, however, is prevent Sinhala Only, which was your original challenge to me.

      “That is rather tragic, as you are defeating the 13th Amendment by equating it with 50-50″

      Even if I had equated the 13th with 50-50 (which I haven’t; I clearly pointed out that the former — along with federalism — was an antidote to Sinhala Only while the latter was a preventive), how is my equation of the two to you on a blog, defeating the 13th? Do you believe that anything we say here has any effect in the real world?

      “Educate me then Professor, where are other “refuges” for the Sinhalese?”

      Why do the Sinhalese require a refuge, Wijayapala? And should I refer to you as Idiot Wijayapala, as your pal Heshan did, since you now seem to be descending in predictable fashion to your habit of sarcasm coupled with name-calling when your unprepared arguments are shredded?

      <em"And which of these places would have been willing to take in millions of Sinhalese if they had been chased out of the island?"

      Lol, do you have any evidence of such an attempt to chase millions of Sinhalese out of SL? This is what I meant about your Sinhalese paranoia.

      “I’d look forward to that. Maybe he’ll be better at getting his point across. Is Rajiv your only Sinhala friend?”

      Oh, I assure you I have many such friends; but I believe you asked me if any agreed with me on 50-50. Now that I have quoted one, are you in Heshanesque fashion moving the goalposts by suggesting that the testimony of one friend is insufficient? :D

      “On the contrary, the fact that even the colonial pillagers found 50-50 to be repulsive speaks volumes about that idea’s validity.”

      It speaks volumes only about its validity to the British. Also, can you show any evidence that they found the notion “repulsive”, as you claim, rather than merely unsatisfactory?

      “However, as I answered before, 50-50 was hardly an “extreme measure” given the context of colonial history, and as you pointed out above the British were hardly concerned with democracy and might as well have adopted 50-50.”

      So on one hand you suggest the Brit occupiers were bastions of democracy and freedom, and that their rejection of 50-50 determines its invalidity, but on the other hand agree that the Brits were none of the above, and that their rejection of 50-50 determines its invalidity. :D It seems you’ve already determined that 50-50 is invalid and are now casting desperately around for some way to substantiate that notion.

      Meanwhile, you conveniently avoid the veto component of 50-50, which is the only reason I suggested it. Do you feel that minorities should not have had a veto power? If you are capable of articulating an answer to that, we wouldn’t have to spend days arguing 50-50′s validity. I was hoping you were able to arrive at that without my having to point it out to you.

      “Prove it.”

      Isn’t my recognition of your motive proof of your transparency?

      “Where did I say that was my “only” problem?”

      Since that is the only reason you’ve articulated, shouldn’t I base my assumptions on that rather than attempt to divine your unspoken reasons?

      “You tell me- what else could I have compared the Citizenship Acts with? What other piece of legislation had prevented Sri Lankans from voting?”

      But the discussion isn’t about the Citizenship Act, but rather Sinhala Only and how to prevent it. Your bringing in of the former is merely an attempt to avoid scrutiny of the latter.

      “It truly takes an individual to defend the indefensible.”

      Is that why you’re defending Sinhala Only?

      “Excuse me, “social disenfranchisement?” Would you mind defining that very interesting term? (yahoo answers said, “Social disenfranchisement is made-up liberal speak for people who make less money but feel they are entitled to the exact same things as people who went to school, work hard and earn more,” but I’m sure your answer will be better)”

      You mean like the Sinhalese of the ’40s and ’50s who were uneducated and illiterate in English, but felt they were entitled to the same things as the educated, literate Tamils?

      “Sinhala-Only or not, I can hardly see how anyone should be entitled to a job requiring interaction with people speaking an unfamiliar language on a day-to-day basis.”

      I assume you mean the Sinhalese who were unfamiliar with English. Who said the Tamils felt entitled? All they were demanding was that they be given the same chances as the Sinhalese — the use of their mother tongue.

      “The Tamils did, all the way up through 1972.”

      So why weren’t the Sinhalese able to do the same?

      “Because, dear Heshan,”

      You do seem to be missing Heshan, no? Or rather the easy victories he gave you. I’m assure you that calling me by his name won’t make things any easier for you ;)

      “there were far fewer sources to learn English, and as I already told you they tended to be reserved for the elite in Sinhala society.”

      Which was why I suggested that the administration at the time should have paid more attention to improving Sinhalese access to English education instead of making the latter irrelevant to all.

      “If you’re still wondering why the dumb Sinhalese did not pick up English (as it was falling off the trees), how many other developing societies managed to Anglicize themselves?? Can you name any of the Asian Tigers that prospered with “English Only” and kept their vernacular languages out of the government??”

      But I didn’t suggest that English Only was the only solution, Wijayapala. Why are you insulting your own intellect by making uninformed comments? Since you somehow missed it, I’ll cut and paste it again. Hopefully you’ll get it this time. “However, it [English as the official language] obviously disenfranchised many in the less educated classes [note, I didn't suggest it affected only working class Tamils], and ways to address this would have been to make both local languages official alongside English, to increase English education, or both in various combinations, leading ultimately to a nation literate in English and using it on a everyday basis. A second option was to remove English and install both the local languages as official.”

      Since you did such a wonderful job showing me all the countries out there that have artificial minority vetoes built into their representation systems, you should have no problem with this question.

      I notice you once more avoid the fact that you were unable to show me any country that passed a legislation as bad as Sinhala Only that would require such a veto vote. Truly, you’ve picked up quite a few tips on guerrilla intellectualism from [Edited out] Heshan.

      “It doesn’t upset me so much when it is clear you bring up my ethnicity because you lack any substance to back your claims, especially when I have shown that non-Sinhalese like the British opposed 50-50 as well.”

      The British supported or rejected many things according to what they thought was useful to British rule. Your mistake (like that of many ethnically-committed debaters) is to presume that their reasons for rejection or approval must automatically coincide with your own, simply because you agree with their decision. Therefore, by that logic, if you believe the Brits were democratic and fair, you must also believe that selective laws such as Thesavalamai or Kandyan Law are democratic and fair; on the other hand, if you believe that the Brits were invading pirates, you must believe that such laws are also racist and unjust. I have never used your ethnically-mired arguments as an alternative for countering said arguments; so just think of it as a bonus.

      “You have yet to show a single democratic society that has adopted such communal representation, and you are singling me out because I don’t support it??”

      No, I’m singling you out because you demand I show evidence of a 50-50 equivalent outside SL, without showing a Sinhala-Only equivalent outside SL that would require such a preventive veto measure.

      “Would this be a bad time to tell you that the Jaffna Youth Congress had opposed 50-50 as well? Was it because the Sinhalaness of the Tamil youth was interfering with their objective thinking?”

      As I said before, you are assuming that because someone’s support or opposition coincides with your own, that their motives also coincide. You and I both oppose Sinhala Only, but for vastly different reasons. Is it therefore impossible that the Youth Congress opposition also had their own reasons which might be different from either of ours? Did the fact that GG denounced the earlier Youth Congress boycott of the Donoughmore Commission not occur to you as a reason for the Congress’s dislike of GG rather than 50-50? Didn’t the fact that Congress leader K Balasingham called for a federation with India instead of 50-50 not occur to you as a reason for opposing 50-50? Do you think such a federation would have been better than 50-50? I expected so much more from you in this debate, Wijayapala. I guess I made the mistake of awarding you more credit than you deserve, based solely on your performance against Heshan. I guess it’s like analysing the German Army according to their performance against France.

      “Thank you for finally acknowledging that 50-50 would not have prevented Sinhala Only”

      Lol where did I say that, Wijayapala? Your fantasies are really getting the better of you. You brought up the Citizenship Act and pointed to GG’s agreement with it as proof of a failure of 50-50 to prevent. I said that prevention requires a desire for prevention. If minorities were opposed to Sinhala Only (as they were and are), 50-50 would be the useful veto tool with which to prevent it and other racist Sinhalese laws. If minorities were not opposed to a law, why would they need a veto vote? The veto vote is a tool; no one is obliged to use it unless they want to.

      “although I should add that there were non-Tamil minorities who would have benefited from 50-50 and may not have supported Tamil opposition to Sinhala Only.”

      So you agree that 50-50 isn’t the heinous Tamil racist call that you earlier claimed it to be?

      “Thank you again for defending the indefensible.”

      Your gratitude, like your outrage, is misplaced. I wasn’t defending the Citizenship Act when I pointed out GG’s reasons behind agreeing to it. I was answering your query as to why he did so.

      “No need for a hypothetical situation. Limiting the example to the rights of Sinhala individuals vs Tamils, individual Tamil voters would have three times more voting power than individual Sinhala voters. Conversely, a Sinhala voter would be 1/3rd of a Tamil voter at elections.”

      Really? Are you saying that in a general election a Tamil voter’s vote would count for more than a Sinhalese vote? How? 50-50 had no effect on elections :D only on the passing of laws. The passing of laws isn’t voted on by popular ballot, but by representatives of the people in parliament. For one who was so familiar with apples and oranges, Wijayapala, you’ve made a career of mixing them up. The passing of laws in the legislature is not an individual right, but a collective right; therefore, 50-50 did not affect individual right but the collective rights of the Sinhalese and Tamils as a community or collective. No longer would the Sinhalese collective have more power over the Tamil collective simply by dint of superior numbers. No longer would any one community have more power than another. All communities or collectives would be equal in the legislature, and majority would be determined by political party alone.

      “Where did I say “modern” history? How did the Tamils in ancient times identify themselves as such, to the exclusion of other identifications?”

      What has Tamil or Sinhalese identity (or lack of it) in ancient times have to do with Tamil rights in the 20th and 21st centuries?

      “And clearly you don’t see how 50-50 would entrench bigotry, racism, and prejudice.”

      That is subject to how the leadership of the nation and the communities handled it. There is nothing racist or undemocratic about the BC pact or the Vaddukoddai Resolution, and yet the Sinhalese leadership have managed to make it an ethnically contentious issue as they have done with devolution. As I said before, should the Chinese or Indians decide that they should have multiple representatives in UN General Assembly because they have larger populations? Would their leaders be justified in claiming that they were being discriminated against?

      “And you also admitted that 50-50 would not have prevented racist laws!”

      Where have I admitted this? I’m afraid your lack of comprehension rather than my admittance has led you to see what you’d rather see instead of what I actually said. Have another shot at reading what I said. Slower, and with less froth. I said that prevention requires opposition for the prevention to work.

      “I already gave a far more democratic alternative of requiring a supermajority to pass laws that affect particular ethnic groups. I’m not opposed to increasing that requirement to 75% since you assume that all that Sinhala voters want to do is to oppress Tamils.”

      Please, Wijayapala. We have already been through this and it is accepted that barring a martian attack or some such improbability, the Sinhalese would always have a supermajority. Therefore, they will always have the power to pass racist laws if they wish, and there will be nothing the minorities can do about it except attempt armed secession. Therefore your supermajority is basically useless. Is that why you’re proposing it? And I assume nothing about the Sinhalese; I am simply going on past performance.

      “A less palatable solution would be to have 50-50 in a second chamber whose support would be needed to pass aforementioned laws.”

      This too is possible. As I said, the only part of 50-50 that is relevant is its veto power; as long as this is there you can call it 50-50 or 69 or whatever.

      “Except when the law reduces the rights of individuals of a particular community.”

      Even then it cannot control the minds of those individuals. Sinhala Only reduced the rights of Tamils, and controlled their access to the echlons of government, but it did not control their minds.

      “Sinhala Only was not a punitive action, but it certainly involved a lack of sensitivity to the Tamils that 50:50 similarly displayed to the Sinhalese. But then, pro-Sinhala sentiments was not GG’s strong point!”

      But earlier you said that Sinhala Only was a reaction to the 50-50 demand by GG. How is this not punitive, when 50-50 was never acceded to, and no action was therefore needed to remedy it? Racists such as GG, JRJ, and SWRD are never interested in anything outside of their ethnic voter base. This is why a veto power was needed.

      “Firstly, I already countered that point by showing you that Sinhala Only was the spark that started the fuse burning. There was no violence between Sinhalese and Tamils before 1956.”

      “The fuse was lit much earlier, you were clearly napping when I had educated you on the 1939 Nawalapitiya violence:”

      Really? I can find no sign of your so called “education”. OK, so there was a riot in 1939, apparently too minor to even be listed on any tally of race riots in SL. Are you suggesting that one riot before Sinhala Only and four after signify that the violence started before?

      “If there had been no war at all, then your argument that Sinhala Only had started it would be degraded from “debunked” to “non-existent.””

      But the point is there was a war, and while you seem to prefer the world of “what if”, I’m afraid we must consider reality. Nevertheless, I’m waiting for your response to my question on how the lack of a war could have changed the morality (or rather the lack of it) of Sinhala only. Do you also subscribe to the notion that when a woman is raped, if she doesn’t fight back, it’s not really rape?

      “And isn’t this exactly what you are doing in promoting 50-50 when there had been no previous history of anti-minority laws being made?”

      But you didn’t ask me to provide a solution to previous anti-minority laws (especially since the Brits made sure there weren’t any), but a prevention to Sinhala Only. The veto power of 50-50 is that prevention.

      By now I hope you realise the lack of logic you displayed when asking me to provide a prevention for an unforeseeable tragedy. The only way to provide that prevention is through the exercise of hindsight; and hindsight doesn’t take into account all of history but only the portion it is to prevent or circumvent.

      “Because the only argument of substance you appear to bring up is that it created the “ethnic conflict,” which I suspect you are conflating with the larger war that had taken place much later.”

      Were you in fact taking a nap when I said that Sinhala Only was wrong because it disenfranchised and alienated the Tamils and relegated them to second class citizens? I earlier pointed out, Wijayapala, that you only see the arguments that you find easy to deal with rather than the actual ones; and once more you demonstrate this.

      “Truly a revolting, loathsome distinction to justify discrimination against one community but not another. You seem to share the Sinhala nationalist belief that “imports” should be 2nd-class citizens;”

      Lol, am I talking to Wijayapala or TT? The latter used the very same argument to point out that Tamils in Boston are not demanding Tamil be made official. He displayed the same crocodile tears you now do when I broke the same news I’m now giving you. An immigrant community doesn’t have the right to their language as an official one, Wijayapala. That’s why Turkish is not an official language in spite of the fact that Turkish immigrant workers and their families started off what was once Germany’s largest immigrant community when they arrived in the late ’40s. It is the same reason Burghers don’t have the right to demand English as an official language, or the Malays Malay. The Jaffna Tamils (or SL Tamils or Ceylonese Tamils or whatever) are not an immigrant community. They are as indigenous as the Sinhalese.

      “the only difference is that they identify all Tamils as imports while you only label the upcountry Tamils as such. I reject your flaccid distinction between “national” and “imported” communities. The only true “indigenous” people are the Veddahs (and even that is open to debate).”

      Shouldn’t you also then reject the flaccid (and flatulent) distinction between the Sinhalese and the Tamils when it comes to national language rights?

      “You mentioned before that you are half-Tamil. I presume that this half is “indigenous” otherwise you wouldn’t be so disparaging of the “imports.””

      Can you quote any portion of my comments that disparage the upcountry Tamils? You might also note that I have said that the Burghers and Malays do not have the right to language. Do you find that comment about my own community also disparaging?

      “I never said that they had to be “exact replications,” but you haven’t even provided an approximation.”

      Given that you have been unable to provide an approximation to Sinhala Only, how is it you expect me to provide an approximation of the prevention to it?

      “You do understand the implications of the examples you brought up, right? How would you distinguish affirmative action and standardisation?”

      Both affirmative action and the BEE are acts of positive discrimination to redress past acts of racist oppression. Standardisation on the other hand didn’t redress a racist oppression, but actually was one.

      “Then as I already told you, why during negotiations did the ANC reject the white minority’s demand for “power-sharing” in the legislature that would have prevented the blacks from having an absolute majority?”

      Again, Wijayapala, I can find no sign of you having brought up the ANC or SA in this discussion before I did. Perhaps, like Alexander, you’re fighting your battles over again, particularly the ones with Heshan! When the ANC first rejected constitutional talks with the the white government, in 1991, it was over the refusal to fire the defence and police ministers, as well as the government’s refusal to curb violence in the black townships by the Inkatha. By 1993, power sharing had become a bargaining chip in the tussle over whether a future SA would retain autonomous areas, traditional areas, tribal privilege, white educational subsidies, the method of the drafting of the Bill of Rights (whether by an interim body or the eventual elected body) and various other issues. Primarily, the ANC was opposed to power-sharing because it catered to the “bantustan” Zulu homelands (based on tribal structure rather than democracy) and perhaps similar white homelands.

      “What about reservation? It doesn’t discriminate against the Brahmins?”

      Isn’t that too a case of positive discrimination for the other castes to redress past oppression rather than discrimination against the Brahmins?

      “Then why are you so shocked that the Sinhala leaders were more “community” oriented than “national,” Prof. Heshan, just as their Sinhala counterparts are? Is your normal reaction against being called out for not making any sense, to make even less sense??”

      Well, I assumed, TT, that you had the intellect to make sense of it. Forgive my mistake; let me try again in a more direct way, if I may. Sinhalese = heap big. Tamils = heap small. Chiefs decided by heap big tribe. Heap big tribe = heap big votes. So heap big Sinhalese votes = big Sinhalese chiefs. Chiefs must look after all braves, not only one tribe. Got it now, doc?

      Thank you for admitting its irrelevance.”

      Once more I see you’re forced to selectively quote me in order to give the impression of winning a point when you’re unable to do so legitimately. Bit like the Sinhalese bringing in Standardisation when they realised that the only way to get Sinhalse into uni was to slant the playing field :D

      The electoral college, while not an example of veto, is an example of proportional representation, which was my intent, based on your demand that I provide one. Thanks for admitting you have no counter to this.

      “We’ve been what? Dancing around that the minorities were constitutionally protected by Section 29?”

      More attempts at cheap brownie points, TT? Clause 2 of Section 29 was vague enough that there were many defences for Sinhala Only, such as those pointed out as invalid by GL Peiris — namely that a 2/3-approved amendment was constitutional. As I told you, appeals were made to the Privy Council and then the Supreme Court, but to no avail. If as you say, the protection was adequate, why do you think such appeals were unsuccessful for 16 years?

      “Explaining it doesn’t mean I’m defending it, as you were defending the Citizenship Acts.”

      Well, since your explanation hinges on defending it against my pointing out its negative aspects, how is it not a defence? in contrast, my so called “defence” the Citizenship Act was limited to explaining GG’s reasoning and the Act in the context of similar European Laws at the time. I can assure you I’m quite opposed to the Act.

      “Precisely- GG could call for 50-50 in the 1930s when the absence of democracy was normal, but not in post-independent times.”

      Did the fact that there was no Sinhalese oppression of the Tamils prior to independence as opposed to after drift by you as a more distinctive difference?

      “It was perfect not because it worked, but because the Sinhalese could never come up with an intellectual response to it that could garner at least some outside sympathy.”

      How could something that didn’t work be considered perfect, especially since the lack of a Sinhalese intellectual response was of no consequence to the Tamils? The federal demand was so ineffectual that the Tamils had to demand separation in ’73, eventually taking up arms to try and bring it about. I repeat, is your defining of the demand of federalism as perfect based on its ineffectuality?

      “That is why when the Indians invaded in 1987, they could force a federal-like 13th Amendment down our throats but not something absurd like 50-50.”

      What invasion? The IPKF came as a result of an international pact, and ended up fighting our enemies, the Tigers. It’s a pity that the 13th had to be strong-armed on us, but the fact that Sinhalese racism still can’t see the 13th as a necessary amendment, but as something forced on it, is evidence enough of the need of laws to protect the Tamils from the Sinhalese.

      “To answer your question why it didn’t work, part of the problem lay with Chelvanayakam’s approach. I mentioned before that part of the federalism appeal was that it was conceptually non-communal, but Chelva had to shoot himself in the foot by calling his party “Sri Lanka Tamil Rule Party” in Tamil contradicting the English “Federal Party.””

      Firstly, most Tamil/English translators see ITAK translated as Sri Lanka Tamil National Party rather than “Tamil Rule” party as you conveniently translated it. Secondly, if federalism isn’t communal, why are you opposed to it even today? Isn’t the truth that the ITAK was just an excuse for Sinhalese who wanted to hog all the power?

      “ITAK also never seemed to have figured out a way to dupe the Sinhalese that federalism would benefit them, the way that the NGOs are at least attempting today.”

      But you’ve been unable to show why federalism cannot benefit the Sinhalese, or indeed why all Sinhalese-majority provinces must be a part of federalism.

      • yapa

        Dear DB;

        “But you’ve still been unable to show prove 50-50 either undemocratic or racist;”

        I will prove 50 – 50 is both undemocratic and racist.

        I take the challenge. Give me a bit time until I am little bit free from the present discussion I am engaged in. What is your bet?

        Thanks!

      • yapa

        Dear DB;

        “But you’ve still been unable to show prove 50-50 either undemocratic or racist;”

        I will take the challenge to prove 50-50 is both undemocratic and racist. Give me a little bit time to be a bit free from the present discussion I am engaged in.

        What is your bet?

        • yapa

          Dear DB;

          Let me try to execute my promise to prove that 50 – 50 was both an undemocratic and a racist claim.

          You know DB, Rule of Law is one of the fundamental principles of Democracy, which I think was first introduced by the father of Democracy, Aristotle. The Rule of Law says:

          “No one is above law and all are ruled by the law. Every individual is equal before the law and equally entitled for the protection of the law.”

          Thus, Democracy proclaims that “everybody has equal individual rights”.

          Now consider the 50 – 50 demand of GGP and the Tamils.

          They demand 50% representation for the minorities.(However, we will have to keep in mind that this demand was done only by Tamils and the other minority communities did not advocate it.)

          However,total minority community in this country is about 24% and the majority Sinhala community was about 76% of the population.

          Even if we consider the whole minority community demanded 50 – 50, 1% of the minority get the representation of 50/24 = 2.083333 of the parliament.

          Representation of 1% of the majority is 50/76 = 0.657894 of the parliament.

          So the ratio of an individual representation between the minority and majority in the parliament is 2. 083333/ 0.657894 = 3.1666679

          That means an individual of a minority community is represented over three (03) times as an individual of the majority (Sinhala) community.

          So under the 50 50 demand a Tamil individual in this country is represented in the parliament more than three times as of an individual of the Sinhala community.

          So, do you say

          (1). Equal individual rights of all the individuals are protected under 50 – 50?

          (2). Tamil people do not get more representation on the basis of their race?

          On the basis of

          A) (1). above do you say 50 -50 is not undemocratic?

          B) (2), above do you say 50 -50 is not racist?

          Thanks!, DB, Anxiously looking forward for your response.

          Thanks!

          • yapa

            Dear All;

            I would like to disclose another popular/obvious myth in the political belief in Sri Lanka that is unduly disadvantage for the majority, still no one is concerned, just like in the case of above.

            I think we are suffering from an ailment, blind to detrimental obvious disadvantages myths to us. Sinhalese has a dark cover pasted on their eyes. They are blind and inactive to massive political wrongs done to them, and talking nonessential political theories they really don’t understand beyond the high soundness of the jargon used to preach them to us. Really “Sinhalaya Modaya” is a true story. They are inactive even until their limbs are separated in their own home.

            Thanks!

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            Yapa, there is no need to be anxious; however, there is a need to be prepared. Being a former teacher, I’m sure you will appreciate that need. Sadly, you are quite unprepared for this debate. I suggest you read through the discussion Wijayapala and I have been having over the last week or so. Once you’ve done that, you will realise that my nomination of 50-50 is based on collective right and proportional representation, both of which are not opposed to democratic principles. So your lengthy and complicated process about individual right (for a person who doesn’t like books and long words, you seem to require an overly complicated approach to a straightforward issue) is irrelevant. Occasionally, collective rights and individual rights clash, and that’s why there are courts to arbitrate.

            In short, 50-50 is neither undemocratic nor racist and does not violate any individual rights. Wijayapala has attempted to argue that it is in a much more clear manner than you, and failed so far. The voting power of the individual is neither increased nor decreased by 50-50. The right to pass a law is not an individual right, but a collective right. 50-50 decreases the Sinhalese collective right to 50% and increases the minority collective right to 50%, and as you know, no collective should have more power than another collective, regardless of size. The UN General Assembly too is based on this same principle.

            So instead of us wasting time debating what has already been debated, I suggest you find arguments not already covered by Wijayapala, or find new ways of putting forth those arguments.

          • http://[email protected] SD

            Dear David, Wijayapala,

            As an external observer, I have to say that thus far, I remain on the fence about 50-50, although I am very open to being convinced either way.

            On the one hand, I agree David, that it helps to prevent racist legislation through a minority veto. I think you’ve made a very clear case for it.

            On the other hand, I can, in a more vague sense, see the point Wijayapala and Yapa are making. Yapa’s argument appears to be that a Tamil individual receives 3 times the voting power of a Sinhalese individual. David’s counter argument, as I understand it, is that this only occurs if voting has a racial bias. For non-racist voting, it becomes irrelevant.

            However, I must confess to having a vague sense of unease here. Firstly, perhaps because it’s counter-intuitive. Or perhaps because the notion of 50-50 assumes racism by default? Also, does it not dilute the vote of a Sinhalese individual, irrelevant as it may be for non-racist legislation? Would I be correct in saying this, or am I suffering from some fundamental misapprehension?

            Now, given the past performance of Sinhalese voting, I think one has to concede that David has a valid point. But looking at it from a perspective which seeks to award dignity to the individual, and their ability to transcend racism, such legislation assumes the worst. I think this is Wijayapala’s counter-argument?

            My personal bias is towards the notion that legislation should strive to elevate and dignify individuals somehow, rather than assuming the worst or debasing them, although I accept that this is easier said than done. It is more rooted in idealism, than realism. Therefore, I’m also willing to concede that this may require a phased approach, given the less than just and dignified paths we have thus far followed. (Before the apologists activate themselves, the reasons for the way history played out might be understandable and one might be sympathetic to various perspectives, but the end results are nevertheless, unjust, which we must correct and prevent)

            But more importantly, have I understood your respective positions correctly?

          • yapa

            Dear SD;

            “On the other hand, I can, in a more vague sense, see the point Wijayapala and Yapa are making. Yapa’s argument appears to be that a Tamil individual receives 3 times the voting power of a Sinhalese individual. David’s counter argument, as I understand it, is that this only occurs if voting has a racial bias. For non-racist voting, it becomes irrelevant.”

            It is not 3 times voting power, it is three times representation power!
            If a Sinhalese individual has one MP in the parliament to represent him, A Tamil individual has Mps to represent him. A Tamil person can tell some grievance of him to to MPs while a Sinhalese has only one.

            There is no difference either it is racist voting or non-racist voting. It always has a advantageous racial bias towards minority.

            Thanks!

          • yapa

            Correction….

            “A Tamil individual has Mps to represent him”

            should be corrected as “a Tamil individual has 3 MPs to represent him”

            Thanks!

          • yapa

            Another correction…(sorry)

            “A Tamil person can tell some grievance of him to to MPs while a Sinhalese has only one.

            should be corrected as

            A Tamil person can tell some grievance of him to 03 MPs while a Sinhalese has only one.

            Thanks!

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            SD, as you would have no doubt by now noted for yourself, a request such as Wijayapala’s to prevent a historical event via the power of hindsight will always throw up moral issues, particularly when the said event is an unprecedent one. For instance, if the challenge was to prevent WW2 and the Holocaust, the simplest solution would be to have assassinated Hitler in the late ’20s. This would have been murder and immoral, but in the greater good. Similarly with 50-50.

            It is the veto vote in parliament that is important, and any system that guaranteed this would be acceptable. I had challenged Wijayapala to provide that alternative to 50-50 but he hasn’t.

            You are also correct in surmising that the minority veto came into play only in the question of laws seen to be racist and not in any others. Similarly the power of 50-50 is only in its ability to block; it doesn’t bequeath the minorities to pass laws detrimental to the majority. This has been clearly explained to Wijayapala, but he’s ignored it, preferring the easier defence of calling 50-50 racist and undemocratic. As does Yapa.

            I agree with you that my solution is based on the presumption of subsequent Sinhalese racism, but then we know what happened between independence and the ’80s. Also, Wijayapala’s challenge to me was to prevent what was probably the most heinous piece of legislation passed against the minorities, so there itself guilt has been presumed.

            Alas, scenarios such as Yapa’s of a Tamil petitioning two MPs instead of one is ridiculous given that 50-50 has no power beyond veto.

          • Off the Cuff

            Dear DB,

            I made a comment addressed to you on April 8, 2011 • 1:32 am
            For some reason the posting has moved way up in the discussion
            I am reposting it in the hope that it will appear correctly within the current discussion….

            What is 50 – 50 ?

            Yapa has made a clear case against 50 – 50.

            If the same parliamentary seat is contested by a group of people consisting of Minority and Majority candidates, a New electoral law has to be created stating that the Majority candidate MUST pole 320% as much votes as the Minority candidate. This percentage will change with time as it depends on the National ethnic proportion. If the constituency has 100,000 voters then any Minority candidate who obtains 24,000 votes will have to be declared the winner over the candidate who obtains 76,000 votes. A sure prescription for race riots don’t you think?

            The other alternative is to designate MINORITY ONLY seats. A 100 seats of a 200 seat parliament being demarcated as such. Which is as good as dividing the country on ethnic lines. Another sure prescription for race riots

            DB, how do you propose to maintain peace when a 74% majority is given short shrift to satisfy racist objectives?

            50 – 50 is inherently UNDEMOCRATIC. No sane person can justify it.

            A purported solution should not introduce hitherto non existent problems. That will happen for sure with short sighted policies like the 50-50.

            Your assumption that 50-50 can stop race related legislation is a fallacy. Proof if proof is needed can be seen from the Ceylon Citizenship Act which was passed with the Ceylon Tamils voting in it’s favour. The Sinhalese Left Parties opposed the Act.

            This Act was challenged in the Privy Council and was upheld as democratic by their Lordships. Here is a partial extract of the judgement.

            PRIVY COUNCIL APPEAL NO. 7 OF 1952

            …… Is it in the present case legislation on citizenship or is it legislation intended to make and making Indian Tamils liable to disabilities to which other communities are not liable ? It is as the Supreme Court observed a perfectly natural and legitimate function of the legislature of a country to determine the composition of its nationals. Standards of literacy, of property, of birth or of residence are as it seems to their Lordships standards which a legislature may think it right to adopt in legislation on citizenship and it is clear that such standards though they may operate to exclude the illiterate, the poor and the immigrant to a greater degree than they exclude other people do not create disabilities in a community as such since the community is not bound together as a community by its illiteracy, its poverty or its migratory character but by its face or its religion. The migratory habits of the Indian Tamils (see paragraphs 123 and 203 Soulbury Report) are facts which in their Lordships’ opinion are directly relevant to the question of their suitability as citizens of Ceylon and have nothing to do with them as a community.

            For all these reasons their Lordships have come to the conclusion that the Citizenship and Franchise Acts are intra vires of the Ceylon legislature and they therefore humbly advise Her Majesty that this appeal ought to be dismissed. The appellant must pay the costs of the appeal. Appeal dismissed.

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            Off The Cuff: “Yapa has made a clear case against 50 – 50.”

            Clear but inaccurate, because like Wijayala, he fails to see that there is no trespass on individual rights.

            Having 50% representation in the legislature can be brought about in various ways, and I’m sure that can be discussed. Whatever the method, the point we should be discussing isn’t how to install 50-50, but how to install a veto system for minorities. Also, the fact that your sole worry in establishing 50-50 is that it would lead to race riots, implies that the Sinhalese-led state is either unwilling or unable to maintain law and is in fact ruled by the mob. If that is so, what point is there discussing any act or law if they are all powerless in the face of the Sinhalese mob?

            “DB, how do you propose to maintain peace when a 74% majority is given short shrift to satisfy racist objectives?”

            Firstly, given that peace was not maintained even with Sinhala Only, the Citizenship Act, and Standardisation, and that the Tamils were left to the rule of the mob for decade after decade, what exactly is your point? Secondly, is SD the only person other than me who can see that a veto vote doesn’t award power to any one community? Is everyone just blind to this fact? How can a law that doesn’t give power to any one community be termed racist??

            “50 – 50 is inherently UNDEMOCRATIC. No sane person can justify it.”

            So everyone keeps saying, but seem unable to prove! Have you ever read Neal Ford’s The Productive Programmer? If so, you’d know about the Angry Monkey Experiment: Back in the 1960s (when scientists were allowed to do all kinds of crazy things), behavioral scientists conducted an experiment where they placed five monkeys in a room with a stepladder and a bunch of bananas hanging from the ceiling. The monkeys quickly figured out that they could climb the ladder and eat the bananas, but every time the monkeys got near the stepladder, the scientists would douse the entire room in ice cold water. You can guess what that generated: angry monkeys. Soon, none of the monkeys would go near the ladder. Then the scientists replaced one of the monkeys with a new monkey, who had not been subjected to the blasts of water. The first thing he did was make a beeline for the ladder, and all the other monkeys beat him up. He didn’t know why they were beating him up, but he quickly learned: don’t go near the ladder. Gradually, the scientists replaced the original monkeys until they had a group of monkeys who had never been doused with cold water, yet they would attack any monkey that approached the ladder. The point? In software, lots of practices on projects exist because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” In other words, because of angry monkeys. Perhaps we fear 50-50 not because it’s undemocratic, but because we’ve always been told that.

            “A purported solution should not introduce hitherto non existent problems. That will happen for sure with short sighted policies like the 50-50.”

            But those non-existant problems nevertheless eventually came into existance regardless of the fact that 50-50 was rejected. So you’re rejecting something that might work for something that we know didn’t work?

            “Your assumption that 50-50 can stop race related legislation is a fallacy. Proof if proof is needed can be seen from the Ceylon Citizenship Act which was passed with the Ceylon Tamils voting in it’s favour. The Sinhalese Left Parties opposed the Act.”

            It truly amazes me that you and Yapa feel it’s ok to enter a discussion midway without bothering to check what has been discussed previously, and expect to be indulged. As has been explained repeatedly to Wijayapala and ignored, is the fact that a veto vote cannot force someone to use it. It is a tool to be used if needed. If there wasn’t enough opposition within the minorities to make up the required 50% for use of the veto, it would be glaringly clear that perhaps the law in question wasn’t as heinous as made out; it would also prevent a minority simply using the veto out of racist sentiment rather than genuine concern. The point is, with the veto, there was room for a minority within the minority to garner enough support to use the veto. Without it, there was no such chance, and a law could never be opposed by a minority. In the case of the Citizenship Act, obviously GG and his constituency (the Colombo Tamils) weren’t opposed to it; but even if they were, they couldn’t have stopped it. On the other hand, if there had been a veto, the Upcountry Tamils might have had the chance to garner enough support for to block it.

            “This Act was challenged in the Privy Council and was upheld as democratic by their Lordships. Here is a partial extract of the judgement.”

            Exactly my point to Wijayapala: Section 29 of the Soulbury Constitution wasn’t clear enough (or not seen to be at the time) to provide refuge against racist legislation. Both Sinhala Only and the Citizenship Act were implemented in spite of appeals to the Privy Council and the Supreme Court. Prof GL Peiris recently argued in the Island paper that this was wrong, and that Section 29 –particularly Clause 2 — was a core right, and couldn’t be affected by amendments, regardless of their 2/3rds majority. Neither the Privy Council or the Supreme Court of SL saw this between independence and the introduction of the 1972 Constitution. In this light, don’t you agree that there was no constitutional safeguard against racism by the majority, and that a veto vote was the only alternative?

          • Off the Cuff

            David Blacker,

            Thank you for your response. This is just a short comment to clear a point about your 50-50 proposal, I will respond in detail later.

            After the 74% majority is reduced to a 50% representation in Parliament and the 26% collective minorities are elevated to a 50% representation, how do you propose to alocate the available 50% parliamentary seats amongst the Minorities?

            BTW do not assume that just because I have joined the discussion midway that I am not aware of what went before. Doing that is rather presumptious. This is a public forum and anybody can enter the discussion at anytime and leave at anytime. What amazes me is why some people start crying about it.

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            OTC, like so many others you seem more interested in the “how” rather than the “why”. Since Wijayapala’s hypothesis of time travel is anyway impossible, at least with our current technology, what matters most is deciding whether 50-50, and the veto at the heart of it, is necessary or not. Do you think a veto was unnecessary, given that Sinhala Only and the rest of the Sinhalese racist lineup was on the cards. Wijayapala, has ducked it, Yapa hasn’t even understood it; I await your answer.

            As for whether or not you’ve read the preceding discussion; if you had, why is it you’re repeating questions and arguments that have already been answered? If you had read the discussion, I’d expect you to then tackle my answers and not merely repeat the same old questions. What is presumptious is to presume you’re actually bringing up something new.

          • Off the Cuff

            David,

            Don’t try to Duck the Question

            You are asking for 50-50 and is prepared to define the representation that the majority should be allowed and the collective representation allowed for the minority.

            So why are you not prepared to give the proposed composition within the minority?

            My question is again a WHY and not a HOW.

            Why should not the same premise of 50-50 be carried further within that collective to prevent Lanka Tamil Domination of Minority views?

            Lanka Tamils
            Indian Tamils
            Moors
            Kaffirs
            Burghers
            Veddas
            Malays
            others if any

            Provide a complete proposal David not a half baked one

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            OTC, since you have already ducked both the core issue of this debate (how could Sinhala Only have been prevented) as well as my suggestion that you show the scientific evidence you claim exists, I feel in no way obliged to answer questions that you pose merely as distractions to the main debate. The makeup of the 50% minority representation can be discussed by those minorities and a satisfactory consensus arrived at. Since there has been no repressive laws proposed by one minority against another in SL, it is clear that this burning issue of yours is merely a red herring.

            What is in fact the real issue is whether a veto vote is the best way to prevent Sinhala Only (and perhaps other such racist laws). Perhaps before we even get into that, you should decide whether Sinhala Only should even have been prevented in the first place. Since people like Wijayapala, TT, Yapa, and you are unable to clearly articulate a position on this, it seems a bit silly to be discussing how 50-50 will come about. You seem very keen to discuss the minute details, but not the core problem. Cart before the horse anyone?

            My firm belief is that a veto is the logical preventive tool for racist laws in a centrist government system. The alternative is to devolve to a provincial level (as per the 13th Amendment) in order that refguge may be had from centist legislation. If you disagree, bring it on.

          • SD

            Dear OTC,

            Please also provide an analysis of the issues I’ve summarized here, which I believe is necessary if you wish to dismiss/accept 50-50:
            http://groundviews.org/2011/03/17/jaffna-and-the-vanni-today-the-reality-beneath-the-rhetoric/comment-page-1/#comment-30008

            I believe that if a simple, practical example can be provided that shows how 50-50 affects the individual on non-communal legislature, that would be the necessary (and sufficient) rebuttal to scuttle the idea. An example should preferably be of a simple practical format where, when passing law X , 50-50 legislature would disadvantage the individual in .

            The converse has already been demonstrated. That 50-50′s veto component is beneficial in preventing racist legislature, while being unable to create legislature of its own.

            This is the necessary component for a comprehensive rebuttal that can put this argument to rest.

          • Off the Cuff

            Dear SD,

            You have asked me to comment on your post to Wijepala here they are,

            David wants to keep the discussion at a hypothetical level and refuses to comment on how it can be realised and pointedly avoids questions in that regard. If it cannot be implemented on the ground it would just parallel a discussion on a time machine … a non starter.

            Minority rights can be safeguarded by democratic means. 50-50 is totally undemocratic and I believe no working Democracy exists on those lines. David has been unable to give a single online reference of any such Govt. The super-majority of 2/3 being one of them. This majority need not be at 2/3 but fixed at a level higher than the ethnic proportion of the majority which will ensure the requirement of minority support to pass laws on specified subjects.

            50-50 is a Trojan Horse it is not simply a tool to veto ethic related legislation. This is why I requested David to define how he proposes to allocate seats amongst the minority. He avoided an answer so I have asked him again pointedly, whether the same principle of 50-50 will be applied within the minority to ensure that minority opinion is not dominated by the Tamils.

            Taking a parliament of 98 members In a 50-50 situation
            the composition would be as follows.

            Sinhala ,49 Lanka Tamil 7, Indian Tamil 7, Muslim 7, Burgher 7, Malay 7, Kafir 7 & Veddah 7. This of course is probably not what David had in mind.

            Any chance of a simple majority stopping legislation aimed at only the Sri Lanka Tamils? So much for the ‘Veto’

            That’s how ludicrous David’s proposal is.

            Secondly lets look at the so called powerless Veto.

            A democratic parliament has to be dissolved if the Govt. is unable to pass its Budget. How easy is it to bring the Govt. down even for the flimsiest reason or no reason at all?

            Now it will be entertaining to see how David proposes to elect the MP’s peacefully.

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            OTC, why do you only want to stop legislation aimed at Tamils? As I said, first decide whether racism such as Sinhala Only should be stopped. Then decide whether it should be via veto or not. Then decide whether 50-50 gives that veto. As I said, cart before horse.

            If the fact that this is actually a hypothetical situation is obvious, if you actually thought it’s possible to go back in time and prevent Sinhala Only, then I really wonder what you’re doing out and about unsupervised.

            Finally, I never ever said that I want 50-50 implemented. This is what happens when you come in late and just assume what’s been discussed. Kohedha yannay, malley pol seems to be your motto :D

          • Off the Cuff

            David,

            Sorry David, you won’t succeed in side tracking the issues

            I have directly asked you why 50-50 should not be applied to the collective minority. You have avoided answering. Why?

            Was it your intention to DOMINATE minority opinion with Tamil opinion? Is that why you find it so difficult to give a STRAIGHT answer? Was your 50-50 proposal a Trojan Horse intended to Hijack the Minority? Looks like you are all for diluting the Sinhala Representation but is not prepared to do what you ask of the Sinhalese YOURSELF.

            There are many acceptable methods of safeguarding Minority rights (look around the Democratic world) but you propose a Trojan Horse.

            BTW you say OTC, why do you only want to stop legislation aimed at Tamils?

            Have a problem with the English Language?
            Where have I stated that?

            I can remember you castigating one of the contributors here on GV about introducing the word ‘ONLY’ while discussing the Vadukkodi Resolution, the background of which was openly and obscenely RACIST. Looks like you have contracted the same disease.

            BTW The Lanka Tamils were the Minority who stabbed the Indian Tamils in the Back and passed the Citizenship Act. The Indian Tamil MP’s supported by several SINHALA MPs voted AGAINST the bill. Without the Lanka Tamil vote the bill would have got defeated.

            What assurance does anyone have that such OPPORTUNISM will not resurface?

            I have stated in a previous post that the OLA as presented was an injustice perpetrated on the Tamil’s not because of ethnic reasons but because English as the only official Language imposed an identical disability on both communities. Addressing one without the other was unjust.

            The Language issue was solved in 1958 to the satisfaction of the Tamil MP’s. During the subsequent election the Tamil electorate endorsed it by voting overwhelmingly to send the same persons back to parliament. OLA is no longer a Tamil problem and undemocratic measures were not required to correct the injustice.

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            “I thought that you considered the Citizenship Act as REPRESSIVE”

            But the Jaffna Tamils didn’t propose the Citizenship Act, OTC, the Sinhalese did. So I maintain that no minority has passed a repressive law against another minority. If the Sinhalese hadn’t brought it before parliament it wouldn’t have happened. The Sinhalese then passed it off as anti-Marxist rather than anti-Tamil, which is my point that racist laws can’t be decided on ad hoc, depending on how it is worded. So trying to now blame it on the Tamils themselves is a bit idiotic.

            “No David the compossition of the Minority 50% cannot be left to the vagaries of a Tamil dominated Discussion. It also must be predefined at the outset on the same basis as the majorities 50%. Even the Veddhas, the Kaffirs, the Burghers and the Malays should have an EQUAL SAY within the MINORITY group. You want to reduce the Majority representation to 50%, so go ahead and apply the same principle and allow an equal say to the Minorities WITHIN the Minority Group. Afraid to free them from TAMIL DOMINATION within that group? Thats Democratic Right?”

            Lol I have no problem with how 50-50 is broken down within the minorities, OTC. To me it doesn’t matter. What matters to me is the veto power. You’re getting your sarong in a tangle over nothing again.

            “I have provided you the Scientific evidence how about you providing us with evidence of a working 50-50 Govt?”

            But you haven’t provided anything of the sort. Please read my response to that joke you’ve called evidence. I’m not obliged to show evidence of any working 50-50 system, since it is confined to being a preventive to Sinhala Only, a system which has never existed anywhere else in modern history, and has never needed a similar preventive. So if Sinhala Only never existed anywhere but SL, how will there be a 50-50 elsewhere? Why are you making a fool of yourself again?

            “BTW I wont duck any of your questions neither will I allow you to slur valid questions by calling them Red Herrings just because you have no answer. I will write my views and let the readership judge who is doing the Ducking.”

            Good for you, but I don’t need your permission to point out that your reasoning and arguments are fallacious. If you don’t want to be laughed at, come up with rational arguments and stop making unprovable claims such as their being scientific evidence of distinctive personality traits in specific races, and then going on to talk about dog breeding :D

            “The Language Act is no longer an issue. It was solved to the satisfaction of the Tamil representatives of Parliament and was approved by the Tamil Electorate by sending those same representatives back to parliament with an OVERWHELMING vote at the subsequent election.So WHY are you harping back on the past when the problem is dead?”

            This is why I told you and Yapa to read through the actual debate before making fools of yourselves. This debate started with Wijayapala asking me to provide a preventive for Sinhala Only. Did you think none of us knew that the law had been repealed until you bumbled along and announced it to us?

            There is no sidetracking, OTC; it is just that the track you are on is a different track to what I am on. And since you are a johnny-come-lately to this debate, I suggest you get on the right track.

            “I have directly asked you why 50-50 should not be applied to the collective minority. You have avoided answering. Why?”

            But I have answered it, and SD, as well as Wijayapala have in fact commented on my response. How have you missed it?

            “Was it your intention to DOMINATE minority opinion with Tamil opinion? Is that why you find it so difficult to give a STRAIGHT answer? Was your 50-50 proposal a Trojan Horse intended to Hijack the Minority? Looks like you are all for diluting the Sinhala Representation but is not prepared to do what you ask of the Sinhalese YOURSELF.”

            My goodness, what conspiracy theories! All because you fell asleep and missed my response :D Be a good boy and try again.

            “There are many acceptable methods of safeguarding Minority rights (look around the Democratic world) but you propose a Trojan Horse.”

            Really? Then why is it that you, Wijayapala, and Yapa can’t put your heads together and come up with one that would have prevented Sinhala Only?

            “What assurance does anyone have that such OPPORTUNISM will not resurface?”

            As SD pointed out, saying that people break the road rules isn’t an argument for not having road rules. I’m not saying that it will be impossible to pass racist legislation with the veto in place, but it will be very much harder to do so. The point is, the Sinhalese passed colonisation policies, stripped Tamils of citizenship, declared Sinhala Only, and applied Standardisation, and no one could stop them. So the existing safgeguards at the time were useless. You’re criticising the veto, but don’t have any other options.

            “I have stated in a previous post that the OLA as presented was an injustice perpetrated on the Tamil’s not because of ethnic reasons but because English as the only official Language imposed an identical disability on both communities.”

            If you had read through the debate as I advised you to, you’d know by now that English as an official language did NOT impose an identical diasbility on both communities, but mostly on the Sinhalese. At which point in this debate are you going to actually read through this and stop looking like an idiot? If Sinhala Only was not ethnic in nature, why did the Tamils oppose it?

            “OLA is no longer a Tamil problem and undemocratic measures were not required to correct the injustice.”

            But the challenge by Wijayapala to me was not to solve Sinhala Only, but to prevent it. However, while Sinhala Only has been repealed on paper, Tamil as an official language, or English as a link language has never been implemented. It is still quite common to walk into a government institution like a police station in the heart of Colombo and not be able to get a document in anything but Sinhalese.

          • Off the Cuff

            David, BalangodaMan, SD, Yapa, Wijayapala and others.

            What a Gem of a Statement from David a Champion of the Minorities …. April 12, 2011 • 2:40 am

            “But the Jaffna Tamils didn’t propose the Citizenship Act, OTC, the Sinhalese did. So I maintain that no minority has passed a repressive law against another minority. If the Sinhalese hadn’t brought it before parliament it wouldn’t have happened. The Sinhalese then passed it off as anti-Marxist rather than anti-Tamil, which is my point that racist laws can’t be decided on ad hoc, depending on how it is worded. So trying to now blame it on the Tamils themselves is a bit idiotic.”

            ….blaming the guy who manufactures the gun while absolving the guy who pulled the trigger is not Idiotic David?

            Provides a rare INSIGHT to your Character for ALL David, in spite of the professed stand and the sheep’s clothing you wear. Else how can you defend such a back stabbing, such an inhuman and horrendous act that made hundreds of thousands including women and children STATELESS.

            Just because the perpetrator’s were Ceylon Tamils you seem to think that those at the receiving end were Tamils of no significance? Why? Because they were Indian? It looks to me as if you consider Ceylon Tamils (Jaffna Tamils as you call them) SUPERIOR to TAMILS of Indian Origin. Is this not RACIST David?

            Wonder how BalangodaMan classifies you. Any comments BlangodaMan? Is he a RACIST in your Book?

            Running with the Goal Post again David? Shame.

            You considered the Citizenship Act as repressive.

            The Govt. AND the CEYLON TAMILS voted for it. The Ceylon Tamils stabbed the INDIAN TAMILS in the back. Whoever thought that TAMILS WILL DO THIS TO hundreds of thousands of FELLOW Tamil’s. How can the UNBELEIVABLE happen? They were a family sharing the SAME Language, the SAME Heritage, the SAME culture and the SAME ORIGIN.

            The INDIAN TAMILS and several SINHALA MPs Voted AGAINST IT.

            The ONLY REASON that the Act was Passed was the CEYLON TAMIL VOTE.

            Voting for a resolution means that you AGREE with it. The CEYLON TAMILS agreed with EVERY SINGLE WORD that was contained in that REPRESSIVE Act.

            The CEYLON TAMILS wanted a POLITICAL COMPETITOR REMOVED from parliament in order to Dominate Minority Views in Parliament. OPPORTUNISM subverted HUMANITY David the opportunism of the Ceylon Tamils.

            These CEYLON TAMIL MPs carry the FULL responsibility for the loss of Citizenship and the Franchise of the INDIAN TAMILS as without them the Citizenship Act would not have seen the light of day.

            You ask me how it could have been prevented which I have answered long ago and which SD have also brought to the attention of the readership ….you should head your own advise David before acting the goat.

            However I notice that you have avoided my question about the Govt. coming down if it cannot pass the budget. Is that the real reason for advocating 50-50?

            A tangled sarong can still cover nudity but the same cannot be said when the Knickers are in a twist … then the nudity is exhibited for all to see.
            That’s what you have done with your latest post David and “IDIOTIC” is too light an adjective to describe it.

            I will address your other points later.

            Good luck untwisting your Knickers.

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            “….blaming the guy who manufactures the gun while absolving the guy who pulled the trigger is not Idiotic David?”

            But the UNP manufactured the gun AND pulled the trigger, OTC, not the Jaffna Tamils. They then convinced the Jaffna Tamils that the action was because of Marxist trade union action in the plantations that would be detrimental to tea exports. So at best, GG was gullible. He didn’t propose the act or attempt to have it passed.

            However, you are suggesting that GG and the Jaffna Tamils pulled the trigger :D Did they also pull the trigger in July ’83? You remind me of American whites who blame the Jews for 9/11. I think it’s pretty clear who’s being idiotic.

            “Provides a rare INSIGHT to your Character for ALL David, in spite of the professed stand and the sheep’s clothing you wear. Else how can you defend such a back stabbing, such an inhuman and horrendous act that made hundreds of thousands including women and children STATELESS.”

            Where have I defended it? :D

            >em>”Just because the perpetrator’s were Ceylon Tamils you seem to think that those at the receiving end were Tamils of no significance? Why? Because they were Indian? It looks to me as if you consider Ceylon Tamils (Jaffna Tamils as you call them) SUPERIOR to TAMILS of Indian Origin. Is this not RACIST David?”

            Hmm really? Can you show me evidence that the Ceylon Tamils were the perpatrators of the Citizenship Act? Are you also going to say that the Muslims were the perpatrators of Sinhala Only? Lol, OTC, you put the Tiger apologists to shame. I suppose now that I’ve asked for proof, you will spens weeks with your “panu gathaya” pretending you didn’t say it, just like you’re now pretending that you didn’t say that certain personality traits were distinct to certain races? :D

            “The Govt. AND the CEYLON TAMILS voted for it. The Ceylon Tamils stabbed the INDIAN TAMILS in the back. Whoever thought that TAMILS WILL DO THIS TO hundreds of thousands of FELLOW Tamil’s. How can the UNBELEIVABLE happen? They were a family sharing the SAME Language, the SAME Heritage, the SAME culture and the SAME ORIGIN.”

            My goodness, how dramatic :D If the Jaffna Tamils are so wicked to have sided with the Sinhalese against the Upcountry Tamils, what do you reserve for the Sinhalese who have colonised the Northeast, stripped the Tamils of citizenship, carried out regular pogroms, brought in standardisation to keep them out of university, and Sinhala Only to keep them out of jobs? :D

            >em>”The INDIAN TAMILS and several SINHALA MPs Voted AGAINST IT.”

            But the majority of Sinhalese MPs voted FOR it :D

            “The ONLY REASON that the Act was Passed was the CEYLON TAMIL VOTE.

            How can it be the “only reason” when it was the UNP that proposed it and the majority of the votes for it were Sinhalese?

            “Voting for a resolution means that you AGREE with it. The CEYLON TAMILS agreed with EVERY SINGLE WORD that was contained in that REPRESSIVE Act.”

            That is true, but it was the Sinhalese who proposed it. So while the Jaffna Tamils are partially to blame for one racist act, the Sinhalese are SOLELY to blame for all the others :D

            “The CEYLON TAMILS wanted a POLITICAL COMPETITOR REMOVED from parliament in order to Dominate Minority Views in Parliament. OPPORTUNISM subverted HUMANITY David the opportunism of the Ceylon Tamils.”

            Really? Then why didn’t the Jaffna Tamils carry out similar actions against the Muslims who were far more powerful a lobby in parliament? Why did GG want 50% representation for ALL the minorities and not just the Jaffna Tamils? Try not to get carried away with your conspiracy theories, OTC :D

            “These CEYLON TAMIL MPs carry the FULL responsibility for the loss of Citizenship and the Franchise of the INDIAN TAMILS as without them the Citizenship Act would not have seen the light of day.”

            How can they carry the FULL responsibility when the Sinhalese UNP proposed the act, and the majority of MPS voting for the act were Sinhalese? Do you plan to overlook that small matter in order to scapegoat the Tamils for something the Sinhalese instigated? If the Sinhalese hadn’t proposed the act, no one would have had to vote for or against it.

            When it was proposed that the national anthem be sung only in Sinhalese, if Tamils hadn’t protested, would you have claimed that they held SOLE responsibility for it? :D Have you been drinking too much ra in the new year?

            “You ask me how it could have been prevented which I have answered long ago and which SD have also brought to the attention of the readership ….you should head your own advise David before acting the goat.”

            My, you seem to like animals a lot, OTC. Missing your family? I have read through and found no system proposed by you that could have prevented Sinhala Only in 1956. Try again, Billy.

            “However I notice that you have avoided my question about the Govt. coming down if it cannot pass the budget. Is that the real reason for advocating 50-50?”

            Did you also miss my question as to why the budget needed to be opposed if it wasn’t racist? Days ago I pointed out to you that it wasn’t necessary for the 50% minority in the legislature to be from minority parties and the opposition alone. Why can’t the ruling Sinhalese UNP or SLFP or whatever also have Tamil and other minority MPs in their ranks who make up that 50% and who would vote for the budget? Tamil MPs would only oppose a bill if it was oppressive to Tamils. Common sense really isn’t your strongpoint, is it Yapa, oops I mean OTC.

            “A tangled sarong can still cover nudity but the same cannot be said when the Knickers are in a twist … then the nudity is exhibited for all to see. That’s what you have done with your latest post David and “IDIOTIC” is too light an adjective to describe it.”

            Well, I’m afraid that if you’re too stupid to understand what I’m saying, ridicule is all that’s left to you ;)

            “I will address your other points later.”

            After you’ve untangled your sarong? Ha ha…

          • Off the Cuff

            David,

            You say in your post of April 12, 2011 • 2:40 am

            ….As SD pointed out, saying that people break the road rules isn’t an argument for not having road rules. I’m not saying that it will be impossible to pass racist legislation with the veto in place, but it will be very much harder to do so. The point is, the Sinhalese passed colonisation policies, stripped Tamils of citizenship, declared Sinhala Only, and applied Standardisation, and no one could stop them. So the existing safgeguards at the time were useless. You’re criticising the veto, but don’t have any other options.

            You have accepted that what you call a Veto and what I call a Trojan Horse to dominate Minority opinion with Tamil opinion cannot prevent what you term as Racist Legislation but would make it Difficult. My position has always remained that 50-50 is inherently unjust and has a hidden agenda beyond the purported protection of the Minority.

            The Sinhalese passed colonisation policies – Please provide evidence of RACIAL bias (if any) in those policies and the non involvement if any members of other ethnic groups in them. What are the reasons for classifying them as Racist?

            Stripped Tamils of Citizenship – The Ceylon Tamils did that. Can you show ONE Ceylon Tamil who opposed it? The Sinhalese did no such thing, Sinhalese voted AGAINST the bill too.

            Your cunning use of the word ‘Tamils’ is intended to HIDE the FACT that the SAFEGUARDS that were existing at that time was actually SUFFICIENT to stop that piece of Legislation and to hide the FACT that the Ceylon Tamils were the KEY PLAYER s involved in it. No wonder that Yapa was talking of Eels.

            Sinhalese did NOT bring the Citizenship legislation to parliament, the Govt. of the day did. Are you telling us that ALL members of that Govt were Sinhalese and that ALL Sinhalese voted for that Legislation? Look again David and show that the Govt. of the day were 100% Sinhalese and that the Citizenship Act was passed with a 100% Sinhalese Vote.

            You are not interested in Honesty David. It appears that your PRIMARY objective is putting forward your RACIAL agenda in front of the GV Readership. Having a hard time untwisting those knickers?

            Official Languages Act – Can you show that the faults were not remedied early and that those remedies were NOT ACCEPTED by the Tamil Electorate? If the Sinhalese were complete RACIST as you try so hard to show, how did the remedial legislation ever get through Parliament? Just by the MINORITY vote?

            Standardisation – I accept that the standardisation as practised at the beginning (language wise standardisation) was completely unjust. Like you point out breaking road rules cannot justify the making of rules. Standardisation is affirmative action which is required to give an opportunity to the underprivileged. The underprivileged can be from any ethnicity. Sometimes the majority community is underprivileged and sometimes the Minority community is underprivileged. Taking your current objections further it appears that if by chance the UNDRPRIVILEGED happens to be members of the MAJORITY community they would remain underprivileged in perpetuity as you would be against Affirmative Action to correct the imbalance.
            Affirmative action is a practice even in India, the USA etc. Is there any injustice in the Standardisation Policy towards the MINOROTIES in its current form? If so please state them. I Believe at the moment it favours the Jaffna district. Any claims to the contrary?

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            “You have accepted that what you call a Veto and what I call a Trojan Horse to dominate Minority opinion with Tamil opinion cannot prevent what you term as Racist Legislation but would make it Difficult. My position has always remained that 50-50 is inherently unjust and has a hidden agenda beyond the purported protection of the Minority.”

            Firstly, you have been unable to substantiate your claim that 50-50 is an attempt to dominate minority opinion by the Tamils. The fact that GG asked for 50% for ALL minorities and didn’t set out a dominating percentage for Tamils within that 50%, rubbishes your claim.

            Secondly, NO law can absolutely guarantee that it will prevent crime. The death sentence doesn’t prevent murders. International treaties do not prevent war. HOWEVER, they make such things very much harder, and they also provide recourse and a means to appeal after the fact.

            “The Sinhalese passed colonisation policies – Please provide evidence of RACIAL bias (if any) in those policies and the non involvement if any members of other ethnic groups in them. What are the reasons for classifying them as Racist?

            On the racial connotations of colonisation, please read through what your friend TT has written in the last months on this site; he is quite clear on the reasons behind colonisation — namely the dilution of Tamil majority within the NE — and why the GoSL should increase colonisation in the future. Of course, as with the Citizenship Act, he at various times pretends that it is in fact good for SL and necessary, and not at all racist, even though he has clearly articulated the fact that it is to prevent Tamils having a regional majority :D

            On the non-involvement of other minorities in colonisation, how exactly do I give you evidence of a negative? Shouldn’t you rather show evidence of minority involvement in colonisation?

            “Stripped Tamils of Citizenship – The Ceylon Tamils did that. Can you show ONE Ceylon Tamil who opposed it? The Sinhalese did no such thing, Sinhalese voted AGAINST the bill too.”

            As I asked you before, can you show evidence that the Ceylon/Jaffna Tamils initiated this act? Initiators must bear most of the blame. SOME Sinhalese MPs voted against the act, but the majority voted for it. According to Wikipedia “The Bill was opposed fiercely in Parliament by the Ceylon Indian Congress, which represented the Indian Tamils, and the Sinhalese leftist parties. The bill was also opposed by the All Ceylon Tamil Congress, which represented the Sri Lankan Tamils, including its leader G.G. Ponnambalam.” The initial bill indicated that Indian/Upcountry Tamils must prove their father was born in SL. Wiki goes onto say that a year later, “[SWRD] won the concurrence of G. G. Ponnambalam for the second citizenship act, which required ten years of residence in the Island as a condition for becoming citizens of the new nation.” The only reason leftist parties like the LSSP opposed the act was because the Indian Tamils had consistently voted for the party. Further, “The fear of left-wing politics began to grow in the minds of Sri Lankan politicians of the era. The Colonial government responded to the agitation of the Leftists by imprisoning N. M. Perera, Colvin R. de Silva and other Left leaders. Anti Marxist feelings were shared by the main-stream Sinhalese and Tamil leaders alike. (The criticism in the house was leveled by Tamil members of the upper chamber (senate), like Senator Natesan, who pointed out that Senanayake had supported the franchise of the Indian Tamils till recently, and had “caved in” more recently.” This suggests that whatever support GG and the Ceylon/Jaffna Tamils had for the act was based on anti-Marxism and not racism against the Indian/Upcountry Tamils, unlike the Sinhalese who initiated the act before leftist action began in the plantations.

            “Your cunning use of the word ‘Tamils’ is intended to HIDE the FACT that the SAFEGUARDS that were existing at that time was actually SUFFICIENT to stop that piece of Legislation and to hide the FACT that the Ceylon Tamils were the KEY PLAYER s involved in it. No wonder that Yapa was talking of Eels.”

            Lol OTC, repeating your lies won’t make them true, no matter what Goebbles said. The fact is that you’re unable to show that the Ceylon/Jaffna Tamils had any hand in initiating the act, and in contrast, all evidence shows that they initially opposed it, and only supported it when the Marxist factor came in and when the act was modified somewhat to come in line with similar laws in Europe at the time. And ant-racist legislation in the Soulbury Constitution wasn’t dependent on Jaffna/Ceylon Tamil opposition to any act, so the fact that the act went through is proof of the failure of constitutional safeguards and not of Jaffna/Ceylon Tamil anullment of such safeguards. Try again, OTC; you’re doing almost as well as Heshan in his attempt to prove that the Nazis won WW2 :D

            “Sinhalese did NOT bring the Citizenship legislation to parliament, the Govt. of the day did. Are you telling us that ALL members of that Govt were Sinhalese and that ALL Sinhalese voted for that Legislation? Look again David and show that the Govt. of the day were 100% Sinhalese and that the Citizenship Act was passed with a 100% Sinhalese Vote.”

            The GoSL of the day, and of today, and of every single day between independence and today has been Sinhalese majority, OTC, and minority representation was never large enough to oppose the 2/3rds majority necessary. The only time was with the Citizenship Act, and this too because it was portrayed as anti-Marxist and not an ethnic issue. Parliament did not require 100% Sinhalese concurrence, or 100% concurrence whatsoever. All it requires is 2/3rds, and well over 2/3rds of Sinhalese voted for all the racist legislation that has passed through parliament. That it is why the law cannot depend on the goodwill of the Sinhalese to do the right thing; they have proved consistently that they will not. Therefore a legislated veto, enshrined in the constitution, and not subject to electoral chance would have been the only way of stopping Sinhala Only legally.

            “You are not interested in Honesty David. It appears that your PRIMARY objective is putting forward your RACIAL agenda in front of the GV Readership. Having a hard time untwisting those knickers?”

            :D Boo hoo. My only agenda in this discussion is to come up with an effective way to prevent Sinhala Only, as challenged by Wijayapala. So far, the veto in 50-50 has been the only system that hasn’t been shaken by counter arguments. All the ideas presented by you, Wijayapala and, to some extent by SD, have gaping holes through which you could drive a Sinhala Only bulldozer.

            As I said umpteen times before, show me a system that works.

            “Official Languages Act – Can you show that the faults were not remedied early and that those remedies were NOT ACCEPTED by the Tamil Electorate? If the Sinhalese were complete RACIST as you try so hard to show, how did the remedial legislation ever get through Parliament? Just by the MINORITY vote?”

            I never said that the Sinhalese were complete racists. I have long maintained that the Tamils are just as racist. Similarly, I don’t believe that SWRD, JRJ, DSS, etc were particularly Tamil-hating either. They just saw communal politics, based on the fact that the Sinhalese were the overwhelming majority, as a shortcut to party votes. The remedial legislation was largely ineffective and useless and that’s why it got through parliament so easily. Nevertheless, the Tamils supported it because it was better than nothing. The fact that it was pointless and ineffective is evidenced by continued Tamil calls for federalism, the declaration of the Vaddukoddai Resolution, and India’s wording of the Indo-Lanka Accord and the subsequent 13th Amendment it initiated which gave Tamil official status. The fact that neither the initial remedial legislation nor the 1987 legislation has been implemented sufficiently in practice is the proof that the Sinhalese-dominated GoSL is still unwilling to depart from communal politics.

            “Standardisation – I accept that the standardisation as practised at the beginning (language wise standardisation) was completely unjust. Like you point out breaking road rules cannot justify the making of rules. Standardisation is affirmative action which is required to give an opportunity to the underprivileged. The underprivileged can be from any ethnicity. Sometimes the majority community is underprivileged and sometimes the Minority community is underprivileged. Taking your current objections further it appears that if by chance the UNDRPRIVILEGED happens to be members of the MAJORITY community they would remain underprivileged in perpetuity as you would be against Affirmative Action to correct the imbalance.
            Affirmative action is a practice even in India, the USA etc. Is there any injustice in the Standardisation Policy towards the MINOROTIES in its current form? If so please state them. I Believe at the moment it favours the Jaffna district. Any claims to the contrary?”

            Affirmative action sets out to redress impalances placed by racist (or class-oppressive) legislation or lack of implementation of fair legislation. So the BEE in South Africa, Reservation in India, or affirmative action in the USA, does this. However, there was no legislated or practiced repression of the Sinhalese based on language or other factors. English was a colonial introduction that repressed both Sinhalese and Tamil, however, the Tamils educated themselves sufficiently to overcome this while the Sinhalese did not, or could not. Therefore, that imbalance should have been redressed by increasing English education for Sinhalese after independence, the making of both Sinhalese and Tamil official languages alongside English, or the removal of English in favour of Sinhalese. Sinhala Only was repressive to Tamils, and affirmative action as carried out worldwide is never repressive. If it is in practice, as Wijayapala pointed out with the Indian Brahmins, then it’s being implemented incorrectly.

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            Correction, that should read: “Therefore, that imbalance should have been redressed by increasing English education for Sinhalese after independence, the making of both Sinhalese and Tamil official languages alongside English, or the removal of English in favour of Sinhalese and Tamil.”

          • Off the Cuff

            David,

            You say,

            Since there has been no repressive laws proposed by one minority against another in SL,

            Oh is that so?

            I thought that you considered the Citizenship Act as REPRESSIVE (though the Privy Council of UK did not think so). Go and have a look at who voted for it. The Sinhalese on their own did not have the required majority.

            That is what the Lanka Tamils did to the Indian Tamils (“Et Tu Brute”) even when they did not have the legislative power to enact laws on their own. So who can believe that you wont be repressive when you have the power. You see David, protection is needed before anything happens ….thats what you were saying for some time now.

            No David the compossition of the Minority 50% cannot be left to the vagaries of a Tamil dominated Discussion. It also must be predefined at the outset on the same basis as the majorities 50%. Even the Veddhas, the Kaffirs, the Burghers and the Malays should have an EQUAL SAY within the MINORITY group. You want to reduce the Majority representation to 50%, so go ahead and apply the same principle and allow an equal say to the Minorities WITHIN the Minority Group. Afraid to free them from TAMIL DOMINATION within that group? Thats Democratic Right?

            I have provided you the Scientific evidence how about you providing us with evidence of a working 50-50 Govt?

            BTW I wont duck any of your questions neither will I allow you to slur valid questions by calling them Red Herrings just because you have no answer. I will write my views and let the readership judge who is doing the Ducking.

            Here is some background on the Vadukkodi Resolution. Wonder whether that background had Racist undertones.

            http://groundviews.org/2011/03/18/jaffna-moments-of-nostalgia/comment-page-1/#comment-29913

            The Language Act is no longer an issue. It was solved to the satisfaction of the Tamil representatives of Parliament and was approved by the Tamil Electorate by sending those same representatives back to parliament with an OVERWHELMING vote at the subsequent election.

            So WHY are you harping back on the past when the problem is dead?

            Playing for Sympathy posing as a down trodden lot ?

          • yapa

            Dear DB;

            Really I couldn’t go through your debate with wijayapala. I don’t know whether wijayapala had put forward the same argument I made. If he had I don’t think there is any space for you to argue any further.

            Tell me how there is any alternatives to my argument. If you accept Rule of Law as a essential principle of Democracy and if you accept “Deductive Logic” leads to true conclusions when based on a true premise, I don’t know how there can be any any other alternative conclusion other than the one I arrived at.

            In that case the principles of logic should be wrong. UN charter or even a bigger hierarchy cannot stand against the principles of logic. That is one of the main “knowledge ” generating methodologies of human kind. Quoting a hierarchy you cannot negate a sound argument. IGP cannot issue an order to make Newton’s Laws wrong. Therefore if you are still very confident, please specifically address my argument (alone) and refute it. If you do it, you also will prove that “Socrates is a non mortal”. You will become a great universal personality.

            I used one of the two objective subjects in the world to arrive at my conclusion. You cannot disprove purely objective arguments with examples.

            Note:- 1. All men are mortal
            2. Socrates is a man
            Therefore,
            3. Socrates is a motal

            Dear DB; Can you refute the above argument citing examples?

            No dear DB, Never!, 50 – 50 demand is undemocratic and racist, despite all your pains put to argue against it. No chance!

            Thanks!

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            Yapa, if you read through my discussion with Wijayapala, you will find all your questions answered and be able to see how your arguments have already been countered. If you’re unwilling to make that commitment of time and effort, then I’m afraid neither can I. It is too tedious to repeat my arguments for your benefit.

            As for your unique approach to teaching, I must say I have great sympathy for your former students. Perhaps you taught a subject that has had no development in the last two decades. However, not everything is like that.

          • yapa

            Dear DB;

            You proved Socrates is a non mortal?

            Great!, We can have a dialogue with him in a five stat hotel in Colombo, about Deductive Reasoning over a cup of pure Ceylon Tea.

            You are a universal personality!, You can learn about Deductive Reasoning fro Socrates when you meet him. If possible please learn about it a bit before hand and see how it leads to “definite conclusions”.

            Your continuing discussion neglecting my advice will only result in becoming you a laughing stock, none can prevent it.

            Beware!, Think before leap!

            Thanks!

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            Yapa, refer my previous comment to you.

          • yapa

            Dear DB;

            I don’t have to. Please learn a bit about “Deductive Logic” and its characteristics arriving at “true conclusions” ( I stress “TRUE” for your special attention). If you want I can facilitate. Don’t try to play somersaults where gods don’t set there feet. I warn you in good faith, dear DB.

            Old dogs don’t bark for nothing, Dear DB. I am not trying to teach you.

            Thanks!

          • yapa

            Correction……..

            “I am not trying to teach you.”

            should be corrected as I am not trying to trick you.

            Thanks!

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            Not to worry, Yapa. You can neither teach me nor trick me. Once you have educated yourself on the discussion so far, feel free to join in. On the other hand, you may choose to prattle on about deductions, Socrates, and dogs in whatever order you like. You will be adding as much to the debate as the dog to the caravan.

          • yapa

            Dear DB;

            “As for your unique approach to teaching, I must say I have great sympathy for your former students. Perhaps you taught a subject that has had no development in the last two decades. However, not everything is like that.”

            As you have arose my anger a little bit by insulting my educational side, I think I should let you know a bit about it, because it is said that a cobra should not let women to use it to tie their firewood bundles.

            My subjects for the first degree at the University were
            Physics and Mathematics. I taught Physics and Applied Mathematics after my graduation. After my first degree I did several Post Graduate Degrees in various fields and presently continuing another Post Graduate4 Degree in a different field. I expect to pursue another one in another field after finishing this.

            Do you think my knowledge is outdated?

            Thanks!

          • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

            Yapa, why don’t you reread my previous comment and see if you have in fact answered what I was questioning.

          • yapa

            Dear DB:

            As you have reminded me of my former profession Teaching and need for presentation for it, I would like to tell you a personal secret (a pumporiyak) of mine.

            Even after about 23 years of giving up it for another profession, I still can go to a class room and do teach my subject(s) without any preparation. Please also note that I was not a Primary Teacher.

            (I also never had “Bookworm Syndrome!)

            Thanks!

      • wijayapala

        Dear David,

        And should I refer to you as Idiot Wijayapala, as your pal Heshan did,

        Be my guest, it would just further demonstrate that you and Heshan share the same brain, and that unfortunately you are not holding it at the moment.

        You do seem to be missing Heshan, no?

        YOU were the one who first injected his name into this debate, not me. You should be asking yourself that question.

        The passing of laws in the legislature is not an individual right, but a collective right;

        Could you please show a legislature that follows this principle?

        it is accepted that barring a martian attack or some such improbability, the Sinhalese would always have a supermajority

        Then how would you explain the fact that the MEP coalition won only slightly more than a majority of seats in the 1956 election on its Sinhala Only platform? How could the MEP have mustered a supermajority to pass Sinhala Only given that the LSSP and CP, which combined won 18% of the seats, had opposed it and that even the support of the archrival UNP would not have produced a supermajority?

        How is it that the only supermajorities won in pre-Mahinda elections- 1970 and 1977- involved economic and not communal issues?

        It speaks volumes only about its validity to the British.

        Crucial Muslim Support for Independence and Bandaranaike’s Assurances, By Latheef Farook
        http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=296622788990&topic=11898

        “The Muslims in general opposed any communalization of politics and always supported moves for communal harmony and peace. Yet inevitably forced by the political environment the All Ceylon Muslim Political Conference began under the guidance of Sir Mohamed Macan Markar to highlight and demand reforms to ensure that the rights and privileges of Muslims too were protected. The All Ceylon Muslim Political Conference which brought about unity among the political organizations went before the Soulbury Commission on 5 February 1945 and demanded that the communal representation to be replaced by a system which would safeguard their interests and rights under the new constitution.

        “Expressing the feelings of Muslims Sir Mohamed Macan Markar stated as follows:” I ask for adequate representation for Muslims, but I would not go so far as to support the 50-50 basis, because all questions of numbers and ratios, of a little more or little less, are subordinate to the main question, namely, good government. And what is good government? It may be summed up in two words; justice and fair play – justice between man and man and fair play to all communities. In pursuance of justice and fair play, I had neither desire then nor do I desire now, to see the majority community reduced to the position of a minority.

        Also, can you show any evidence that they found the notion “repulsive”, as you claim, rather than merely unsatisfactory?

        You’re absolutely right. When Soulbury himself referred to 50-50 as “a mockery of democracy,” he wasn’t suggesting at all that he found the idea repulsive. My mistake.

        The British supported or rejected many things according to what they thought was useful to British rule.

        In this case, Soulbury made the above statement in 1944 when it was amply clear that the British were not going to stick around.

        Your mistake (like that of many ethnically-committed debaters) is to presume that their reasons for rejection or approval must automatically coincide with your own,

        But given that you are claiming that I oppose 50-50 because you think I am a Sinhala communalist (demonstrating your inability to argue without using ad hominem attacks), how can you suggest that I believe that the British (and the Muslims, and the Jaffna Youth Congress) are also Sinhala communalists?

        So on one hand you suggest the Brit occupiers were bastions of democracy and freedom,

        Where did I state or suggest this? If anything, I showed how 50-50 was a continuation of the British legacy of communal representation (that was disrupted by the 1931 Constitution).

        But the discussion isn’t about the Citizenship Act, but rather Sinhala Only and how to prevent it. Your bringing in of the former is merely an attempt to avoid scrutiny of the latter.

        Wrong- the manner in how the Citizenship Acts were passed demonstrates how even minorities would support legislation against a particular minority, making the notion that 50-50 provided a veto against racist legislation hollow.

        ““The Tamils did, all the way up through 1972.”
        So why weren’t the Sinhalese able to do the same?

        Simply by asking that question, you are implying that Sinhala-Only did not “disenfranchise” (your words) the Tamils as you claimed it did.

        Didn’t the fact that Congress leader K Balasingham called for a federation with India instead of 50-50 not occur to you as a reason for opposing 50-50? Do you think such a federation would have been better than 50-50?

        JR Jayawardene himself proposed this federation in 1940. If the Sri Lankans at that time supported joining India, then clearly that route would have been infinitely more democratic than 50-50, which you are now conceding didn’t even have the support of all Tamils at that time. You aren’t doing a very good job finding non-Sinhalese aside from the ACTC who saw merit in 50-50.

        If minorities were opposed to Sinhala Only (as they were and are), 50-50 would be the useful veto tool with which to prevent it and other racist Sinhalese laws.

        How many of the Muslims’ political leaders opposed Sinhala Only, aside from Mr AMA Azeez?

        What has Tamil or Sinhalese identity (or lack of it) in ancient times have to do with Tamil rights in the 20th and 21st centuries?

        Because it demonstrates how fluid and impermanent such group identities are, which in turn makes the formal recognition of such identities in a polity a bad idea. As late as the 1920s (and arguably up to independence) the Kandyans insisted that they were a distinct nation and deserved to be officially recognised as such. Nobody paid attention to them more or less unleashed violence against them, and eventually this political identity fizzled out.

        “And clearly you don’t see how 50-50 would entrench bigotry, racism, and prejudice.”
        That is subject to how the leadership of the nation and the communities handled it.

        How would you expect any leadership to handle a system that discriminates against individuals of the majority community and had not even been endorsed by that community? If the Sinhala leaders had supported 50-50- going against the British, the Muslims, the non-ACTC Tamils, and everyone else who did not share your enlightened thinking- how long would it have taken for the Sinhala masses to find new leaders?

        But earlier you said that Sinhala Only was a reaction to the 50-50 demand by GG.

        I did not say that. “I’m afraid your lack of comprehension rather than my admittance has led you to see what you’d rather see instead of what I actually said. Have another shot at reading what I said. Slower, and with less froth.”

        OK, so there was a riot in 1939, apparently too minor to even be listed on any tally of race riots in SL.

        Actually, your understanding of communal violence appears to be limited to the tallies that had been posted on the internet by Tamil nationalists. They wouldn’t want to mention 1939 violence because of GG’s blatant role in instigating it and how a Tamil leader of his stature demonstrated such extreme anti-Sinhala sentiments.

        I can find no sign of you having brought up the ANC or SA in this discussion before I did.

        I first mentioned the failed “power-sharing” proposal in my response to you on March 24 @1:10am. Your response to that point was that the whites didn’t need a 50-50 solution if their rights were enshrined in the constitution, without addressing that the Soulbury Constitution did (ineffectively) protect minority rights under Section 29.

        When the ANC first rejected constitutional talks with the the white government, in 1991,

        Look further back to the 1980s, when the cracks in the apartheid system began to threaten the regime. The Botha regime was trying to improve its image but ran into problems when its 1983 constitution was condemned for not including the blacks. From that point onward, the magical terms of “power-sharing” and “consociationalism” started popping up in their rhetoric. The premise of this thinking was that “the group rather than the individual will provide the basis for political representation and be the primary repository of constitutional rights and protections.” (Robert Price, “The Apartheid State in Crisis,” p. 142) President Botha himself said in 1987:

        “It is not possible in a multicultural country like the Republic of South Africa to talk about the protection of individual rights unless one talks about the protection of its minority rights at the same time…it is impossible to talk about the protection of minority rights unless one talks about the protection of minority groups at the same time…it is also not possible to talk about the protection of minority groups and the prevention of domination unless groups enjoy statutory recognition and the relationship among them is regulated constitutionally.”

        Isn’t that too a case of positive discrimination for the other castes to redress past oppression rather than discrimination against the Brahmins?

        And that was the idea behind Sinhala Only and standardisation. That doesn’t change the fact that reservation discriminated against the Brahmins, regardless of the intent, just as the two above policies discriminated against the Tamils.

        Sinhalese = heap big. Tamils = heap small. Chiefs decided by heap big tribe. Heap big tribe = heap big votes. So heap big Sinhalese votes = big Sinhalese chiefs. Chiefs must look after all braves, not only one tribe. Got it now, doc?

        Nope, you’re still not making sense. Why don’t we let SomewhatDisgusted translate your gruntings?

        What invasion? The IPKF came as a result of an international pact…

        …that came after the Indian Air Force blatantly violated Sri Lankan sovereignty with the Parippu Drop.

        It’s a pity that the 13th had to be strong-armed on us,

        Yet the fact remains that 13A had a federal model, not a racist 50-50 style communal model.

        Firstly, most Tamil/English translators see ITAK translated as Sri Lanka Tamil National Party rather than “Tamil Rule” party as you conveniently translated it.

        How sad it is that you’ve lost track with your roots. “Arasu” in Tamil is equivalent to “rajya” in Sinhala or “raj” in Hindustani (as in “British Raj”). My Tamil-English dictionary translates the word first as “government” and secondly as “rule or reign.” The question remains why ITAK never gave this rendering in English and instead opted for “Federal Party,” as if assuming the Sinhalese were so dumb that they would not look at its Tamil name and would not see it as a communal party.

        Secondly, if federalism isn’t communal, why are you opposed to it even today?

        Federalism as a concept isn’t communal, but it has been used for communal ends as ITAK demonstrated. In any case, I already explained to you why federalism will not work in a small and developing country like Sri Lanka.

        But the point is there was a war, and while you seem to prefer the world of “what if”, I’m afraid we must consider reality.

        The problem though is that 50-50 is the biggest “what if” of all.

        Why do the Sinhalese require a refuge, Wijayapala?

        So you are shifting the goalposts yet again from whether Sri Lanka is the refuge of the Sinhalese to why the Sinhalese need a refuge?

        do you have any evidence of such an attempt to chase millions of Sinhalese out of SL?

        Ethnic cleansing is nothing new to Sri Lanka, hence the question was valid given the scenario of the Sinhalese being the minority and the Tamils the majority. Was or is there a “Sinhala Nadu” that Sinhalese could have fled to if they had faced a Black July followed by 26 years of war?

        Many Jaffna Tamils in the 1970s responded to standardisation by seeking education in Tamil Nadu. Could the Sinhalese have taken that route if they had been on the receiving end?

      • wijayapala

        Shouldn’t you also then reject the flaccid (and flatulent) distinction between the Sinhalese and the Tamils when it comes to national language rights?

        I’ve already stated quite clearly that Sinhala and Tamil both should have been official languages, but my reasoning is based on how widely they are spoken, NOT based on how “indigenous” they are.

        This is where the example of Malaysia (among others) is relevant. I could disagree all I want with its bhoomiputra policy and how it relegated non-Malays to secondary status, but the fact remains that Malaysia prospered and did not suffer a civil war (unless you count the Chinese-dominated communist insurgency) as a result.

        Similarly, Sinhala Only on its own did not automatically lead to the civil war, but rather the violence against the Tamils led to the war. If the politicians had ignored ITAK the same way they had ignored the earlier Kandyans, there would have been no appeal for a Tamil army to defend the Tamils.

        • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

          “Be my guest, it would just further demonstrate that you and Heshan share the same brain, and that unfortunately you are not holding it at the moment.”

          Well if Heshan and I share the same brain, it would be evident in my responses, and would not require you to refer to me as Heahan to give that impression. I never referred to you as Heshan, though I pointed out that your exposure to him as certainly coloured your style of debate; namely a tendency to insult, name-call and goal-shift. I was quite civil to you, and it’s a pity that your inability to do so in return has now led this debate into one of personal attack rather than the subject. I do hope you can get your emotions back under control so that the debate can continue.

          “You do seem to be missing Heshan, no?”

          “YOU were the one who first injected his name into this debate, not me. You should be asking yourself that question.”

          Refer my previous comment.

          “Could you please show a legislature that follows this principle?”

          Every single legislature in which representatives of the people pass laws is following this principle.

          “ Then how would you explain the fact that the MEP coalition won only slightly more than a majority of seats in the 1956 election on its Sinhala Only platform? How could the MEP have mustered a supermajority to pass Sinhala Only given that the LSSP and CP, which combined won 18% of the seats, had opposed it and that even the support of the archrival UNP would not have produced a supermajority?”

          As already explained to you, reliance on a vagary of chance isn’t a satisfactory method of preventing ethnic oppression. It must be constitutionally enshrined or subject to veto.

          “The Muslims in general opposed any communalization of politics and always supported moves for communal harmony and peace.”

          My response was to your using the Brit rejection as a sign of invalidity. Why are you now shifting the goalposts and bringing in the Muslims? Ultimately reactions to 50-50 in the ’30s and early ’40s are irrelevant given that no one could have foreseen an event such as Sinhala Only happening in another decade or two. I’d probably have opposed it myself as unnecessary. However, all that changes in hindsight. Which is why I hoped that you’d see the irrationality of your original premise.

          “You’re absolutely right. When Soulbury himself referred to 50-50 as “a mockery of democracy,” he wasn’t suggesting at all that he found the idea repulsive. My mistake. In this case, Soulbury made the above statement in 1944 when it was amply clear that the British were not going to stick around.”

          Since it was first rejected by the Brits in the mid ’30s and not the mid ’40s, can you refer to any such repulsion at the time of its proposal by GG and initial rejection? I believe that’s where the goalposts were at the time of my comment.

          “But given that you are claiming that I oppose 50-50 because you think I am a Sinhala communalist (demonstrating your inability to argue without using ad hominem attacks),”

          Lol I think you’re a Sinhalese communalist based on your articulated defence of Sinhala Only, not on your opposition to 50-50. Suggesting that you’re unable to see the pluses of a veto power because you’re paranoid about the Sinhalese position is not an ad hominem attack.

          “how can you suggest that I believe that the British (and the Muslims, and the Jaffna Youth Congress) are also Sinhala communalists?”

          Where did I say that? You suggested that Brit rejection of 50-50 was on democratic principle; and you then suggested that since the JYC also opposed 50-50, there motives were the same as those you’d applied to the Brits. Similarly, because you think GG was a racist, and because you think the Citizenship Act was racist, you think that GG’s support of the act was also based on racism. I pointed out the fallacy of that logic by suggesting other motives.

          “Where did I state or suggest this? If anything, I showed how 50-50 was a continuation of the British legacy of communal representation (that was disrupted by the 1931 Constitution).”

          You claimed that the Brits rejected 50-50 on democratic principles, and that rejection was proof of its lack of democracy, thereby suggesting that the Brits were governed by democratic tenents. When I pointed out they weren’t, you switched tacks to suggest that the Brits had anyway supported communalism, but had still rejected 50-50. Your arguments are not based on logic, Wijayapala, but on the opportunisms of debate.

          “Wrong- the manner in how the Citizenship Acts were passed demonstrates how even minorities would support legislation against a particular minority, making the notion that 50-50 provided a veto against racist legislation hollow.”

          But I never claimed that it was a veto against all racist legislation; merely against Sinhala Only, which was your challenge. How many times are you gonna shift them posts?

          “Simply by asking that question, you are implying that Sinhala-Only did not “disenfranchise” (your words) the Tamils as you claimed it did.”

          No, I’m merely questioning your logic. If you claimed the earth was flat and I asked you why no one fell off the edge, it doesn’t mean that I accept your premise; rather I’m questioning it.

          “JR Jayawardene himself proposed this federation in 1940.”

          So you accept that the JYC’s alternate proposal was the real reason for their opposition to GG, and not their disagreement with his principles?

          “How many of the Muslims’ political leaders opposed Sinhala Only, aside from Mr AMA Azeez?”

          What has that got to do with 50-50? If you feel Sinhala Only was fair and just, why did you ask how it could have been stopped?

          “Because it demonstrates how fluid and impermanent such group identities are, which in turn makes the formal recognition of such identities in a polity a bad idea. As late as the 1920s (and arguably up to independence) the Kandyans insisted that they were a distinct nation and deserved to be officially recognised as such. Nobody paid attention to them more or less unleashed violence against them, and eventually this political identity fizzled out.”

          No it doesn’t. It only proves that there was a progression to identity in the case of the Tamils, intensified by Sinhalese oppression.

          “How would you expect any leadership to handle a system that discriminates against individuals of the majority community and had not even been endorsed by that community?”

          But it does not discriminate against individuals.

          “If the Sinhala leaders had supported 50-50- going against the British, the Muslims, the non-ACTC Tamils, and everyone else who did not share your enlightened thinking- how long would it have taken for the Sinhala masses to find new leaders?”

          If the Sinhalese leaders had supported it why would the Brits have rejected it?

          “I did not say that.”

          I’m afraid you did. Would you like the exact quote?

          “Actually, your understanding of communal violence appears to be limited to the tallies that had been posted on the internet by Tamil nationalists. They wouldn’t want to mention 1939 violence because of GG’s blatant role in instigating it and how a Tamil leader of his stature demonstrated such extreme anti-Sinhala sentiments.”

          So you consider Wikipedia to be run by Tamil nationalists? :D I also note that you avoided the part about there being one riot 17 years before Sinhala Only and multiple ones after, suggesting that the conflict began only after Sinhala Only.

          “I first mentioned the failed “power-sharing” proposal in my response to you on March 24 @1:10am. Your response to that point was that the whites didn’t need a 50-50 solution if their rights were enshrined in the constitution, without addressing that the Soulbury Constitution did (ineffectively) protect minority rights under Section 29.”

          I note you once more have no answer to the question on why appeals to the Privy Council and Supreme Court had no affect between ’56 and ’72. How was Section 29 a protection if it didn’t protect?

          “It is not possible in a multicultural country like the Republic of South Africa to talk about the protection of individual rights unless one talks about the protection of its minority rights at the same time…it is impossible to talk about the protection of minority rights unless one talks about the protection of minority groups at the same time…it is also not possible to talk about the protection of minority groups and the prevention of domination unless groups enjoy statutory recognition and the relationship among them is regulated constitutionally.”

          And?

          “And that was the idea behind Sinhala Only and standardisation. That doesn’t change the fact that reservation discriminated against the Brahmins, regardless of the intent, just as the two above policies discriminated against the Tamils.

          But there was no discrimination against the Sinhalese that required redress via Sinhala Only and Standardisation. Positive discrimination via Reservation or Affirmative Action is not a descrimination against anyone because it merely seeks to rectify previous intentional imbalances.

          “Nope, you’re still not making sense. Why don’t we let SomewhatDisgusted translate your gruntings?”

          Well if you’re unable to grasp how majoritarian vote decides the national leadership, should you really be in this discussion??

          “that came after the Indian Air Force blatantly violated Sri Lankan sovereignty with the Parippu Drop.”

          The Parippu Drop was arguably an invasion, though invasions are in the context of occupation, the IPKF did not invade; they came under the terms of an international pact and left when requested to.

          “Yet the fact remains that 13A had a federal model, not a racist 50-50 style communal model.”

          What use would a veto power be on an already existant law? It has already been explained to you that veto cannot pass laws, only block them. Really, Wijayapala, your inability to grasp this is apalling. The 13th could provide a solution; 50-50 could only ever be a preventive. I wonder how long it’s gonna take you to recognise the distinction.

          “How sad it is that you’ve lost track with your roots. “Arasu” in Tamil is equivalent to “rajya” in Sinhala or “raj” in Hindustani (as in “British Raj”). My Tamil-English dictionary translates the word first as “government” and secondly as “rule or reign.””

          How sad it is that you’ve lost your common sense. Is it not logical that in the party title “Arasu” would take the form of “ruling” or “governing” rather than “rule” as you preferred, which gives a different context?

          “The question remains why ITAK never gave this rendering in English and instead opted for “Federal Party,” as if assuming the Sinhalese were so dumb that they would not look at its Tamil name and would not see it as a communal party.”

          I have no idea what their motive was, but it has no bearing on the federal demand.

          “Federalism as a concept isn’t communal, but it has been used for communal ends as ITAK demonstrated. In any case, I already explained to you why federalism will not work in a small and developing country like Sri Lanka.”

          Firstly, the “communal end” you refer to is a reaction to many Sinhalese communal actions, so it can’t be used to invalidate federalism any more than it can be used to invalidate the US Civil Rights movement or the anti-Apartheid movement. Secondly, you were unable to explain why federalism cannot work; you instead linked to lengthy articles that look at the problem purely from an economical perspective and without reference to minority rights. If you wish to use any part of those articles to argue against SL federalism, I will be happy to take you on.

          “The problem though is that 50-50 is the biggest “what if” of all.”

          The biggest “what if”, Wijayapala, was your challenge: what if we could go back and change history. Changing history is dependent on presumption: what if little Adolf one day becomes chancellor, etc.

          “So you are shifting the goalposts yet again from whether Sri Lanka is the refuge of the Sinhalese to why the Sinhalese need a refuge?”

          Not at all. You asked me where else Sinhalese could find refuge. I’m questioning your use of the word “refuge”, which suggests that Sinhalese are oppressed, part of the paranoid rhetoric of Sinhalese nationalism.

          “Ethnic cleansing is nothing new to Sri Lanka, hence the question was valid given the scenario of the Sinhalese being the minority and the Tamils the majority”.

          I didn’t ask you whether ethnic cleansing was new to SL. I asked you whether there was any sign of millions of Sinhalese being driven out to seek refuge in exile. Is there? And the Sinhalese are not a minority; or is this another of your “what ifs”?

          “Was or is there a “Sinhala Nadu” that Sinhalese could have fled to if they had faced a Black July followed by 26 years of war?”

          But there hasn’t been any anti-Sinhalese Black July or war.

          “Many Jaffna Tamils in the 1970s responded to standardisation by seeking education in Tamil Nadu. Could the Sinhalese have taken that route if they had been on the receiving end?”

          But the Sinhalese never were on the receiving end of state repression.

          “I’ve already stated quite clearly that Sinhala and Tamil both should have been official languages, but my reasoning is based on how widely they are spoken, NOT based on how “indigenous” they are.”

          I put it to you that they are thus widely spoken because of that indigenous factor.

          “This is where the example of Malaysia (among others) is relevant. I could disagree all I want with its bhoomiputra policy and how it relegated non-Malays to secondary status, but the fact remains that Malaysia prospered and did not suffer a civil war (unless you count the Chinese-dominated communist insurgency) as a result.”

          If the SL Tamils hadn’t revolted, we might have prospered too. But the point is that the SL Tamil nationalism was legitimate on the grounds that they are as indigenous to SL as the Sinhalese. The Malaysian Tamils are not. They were an imported community, imported not by the locals, unlike the Turks in Germany, but by a colonial power.

          “Similarly, Sinhala Only on its own did not automatically lead to the civil war, but rather the violence against the Tamils led to the war. If the politicians had ignored ITAK the same way they had ignored the earlier Kandyans, there would have been no appeal for a Tamil army to defend the Tamils.”

          More “what ifs”? The point is the violence against the Tamils was a reaction to their protest of Sinhala Only, which leads back to the latter being the root cause of the war.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Belle,

    Under the system that actually came into being, the majority community (the 65%) could pass any laws that gave them 100% of the rights.

    The problem with that reasoning is the assumption that the majority community is a monolithic bloc with no competing interests. The political history of the Sinhalese proves the contrary.

    Anyway I can’t blame you as many Sinhalese have made the same mistaken assumption about the Tamils all being an irretrievable monolithic bloc too!

    • Belle

      So how did the Sinhala Only Act get passed? How was Buddhism given a special place? How were these possible without the exercise of majoritarian power? What you’re forgetting is that liaisons can be built and deals made across competing interests.

      • yapa

        Dear Belle;

        Dear Belle;

        “So how did the Sinhala Only Act get passed?”

        Sinhala Only Act got passed, as a reaction to the unfair 50:50 demand of the Tamils and also due to the other threats posed to Sinhalese by the Tamils.

        “How was Buddhism given a special place? How were these possible without the exercise of majoritarian power? What you’re forgetting is that liaisons can be built and deals made across competing interests.”

        What is wrong in giving Buddhism a special place? Please explain. Isn’t exercising majority’s power,Democracy? Is there anything wrong in that?

        Thanks!

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Wijayapala, the point isn’t whether the Sinhalese are divided or not. The fact is that they united to pass the Sinhala Only act, and that is why majoritarianism is criticised.

        Yapa,this is the accepted international view of majoritarianism: “Majoritarianism is a traditional political philosophy or agenda which asserts that a majority (sometimes categorized by religion, language, social class or some other identifying factor) of the population is entitled to a certain degree of primacy in society, and has the right to make decisions that affect the society. This traditional view has come under growing criticism and democracies have increasingly included constraints in what the parliamentary majority can do, in order to protect citizens’ fundamental rights. Under a democratic majoritarian political structure, the majority would not exclude any minority from future participation in the democratic process. Majoritarianism is sometimes pejoratively referred to by its opponents as “ochlocracy” (literally, “mob rule”) or “tyranny of the majority”. Majoritarianism is often referred to as majority rule, but which may be referring to a majority class ruling over a minority class, while not referring to the decision process called majority rule.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Majoritarianism

      • yapa

        Dear DB;

        We were not suffering from “Majoritarianism”, but from “Minoritarianism”.

        The term has been used here in this country in a counter productive manner, to subjugate the majority. Here the minority Tamils have been privileged over the Majority,that was the reality here. So the need here is to talk about “Minoritarianism” not the Majoritarianism.

        Any good thing applied in wrong a context/situation,could act counter productively, and can aggravate the situation.

        Not that I did not know the concept, but I knew that it is irrelevant and counter productive here. That is why I asked Belle to explain. I have no faith in “Kokathat thailayas”, applicable to anything in anywhere at any time.

        Any good concept is bad in wrong contexts.

        Thanks!

    • yapa

      Dear Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah;

      By equating Tamils to LTTE, you put them into a very vulnerable/embarrassing situation. Do you accept if the world (including international community)look at Tamils and LTTE from the same eye?

      Irresponsibility paved way to devastation and the future will not be different for outcomes.

      Thanks!

  • Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

    Vasala
    “The Tamils have not renounced violence. What has happened is that Tamil violence was dealt a devastating blow by the Sri Lankan state.There was no and has not been a willful renunciation of violence on the part of Tamils. It is the physical might of the Sri Lankan state that brought an end to violence and gave space for “dialogue and diplomacy.” So one can say the Sri Lankan state has provided space for non-violent Tamils by defeating the LTTE.”

    I admire your spirit and patriotism in defending your government and being proud of their physical might – But Vasala if you have a bit of conscience, would you agree that they used disproportionate force, and broke all basic international norms and laws and are responsible for a mass killing of civilians hither to unprecedented. The wiki-leaks cable of American Ambassador Butenis would attest to that. She points a finger at your government, just google it:“President Mahinda Rajapakse bears much of the responsibility, along with his government, generals and some of his family for the mass killings that marked the end of the war with the Tamil Tigers….”

    • Vasala Rajasuriya

      Nope not at all Usha. I’m glad the government did what it did to get rid of the LTTE. The Tamil Tigers were given ample opportunity to bring about a peaceful solution but they chose war. They were the ones who walked away from ALL the peace talks. And the Tamil people did not voice their opposition. In fact, diaspora Tamils such as yourself were cheering on the Tamil Tigers. Difficult decisions had to be made and Prabhakaran the tyrant had to be removed. Mahinda did the right thing.

      • http://srilankalandoftheblind.blogspot.com/ PresiDunce Bean

        Dear Vasala Rajasuriya

        You said, “I’m glad the government did what it did to get rid of the LTTE.” BUT are you also glad that in the process thousands of innocent Tamil civilians were “Permanently Rehabilitated?” Can you justify the breaking of 20,000 plus eggs to make ONE omelette?

      • Vasala Rajasuriya

        If you have any hard evidence (not just random numbers pulled out of thin air) about “broken eggs” – please give it to the media. The Tamils themselves had the opportunity to save themselves from bloodshed, yet the majority seemed quite happy to back the LTTE. The Tamil diaspora wanted war and war alone. The LTTE was never interested in a negotiated settlement. When you make a decision you have to live with the consequences. If the US/Britain/France have the right to remove Gaddafi, so does SL have the right to remove Prabhakaran.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Vasala

    Chandrika offered the Tamils a confederal package but the “sole representatives” and the “elected representatives” of the Tamil people rejected it outright.

    Are you talking about the same “Union of Regions” proposal that was co-drafted by TULF’s Neelan Thiruchelvam???? Could you please show us how the Tamils’ elected representatives rejected a proposal that they themselves had drafted??

    • Vasala Rajasuriya

      Neelan wasn’t elected was he? He was a ‘pariah’ within the Tamil community. And guess who killed him?

  • jerry

    Re:Military take photo-registering of families in Jaffna?

    Sri Lankan Military is involved in registering of individuals and families in Jaffna. Every day on each area the army distributes forms printed on Sinhala and English to collect information and insist them to provide photos.
    Tamil National Alliance filed a case against Srilankan military photo-registering in Jaffna. Even though Tamil political parties oppose the registration the government ignores them and continue the registration.

  • jerry

    Re:Military take photo-registering of families in Jaffna?

    Sri Lankan Military is involved in registering of individuals and families in Jaffna. Every day on each area the army distributes forms printed on Sinhala and English to collect information and insist them to provide photos.
    Tamil National Alliance filed a case against Srilankan military photo-registering in Jaffna. Even though Tamil political parties oppose the registration the government ignores them and continue the registration.

  • Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

    Mandate for federal solution: TNA http://print.dailymirror.lk/news/front-page-news/38681.html

    Saturday, 19 March 2011 01:00
    By Kelum Bandara

    By voting overwhelmingly for the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) at Thursday’s election, the Tamil people in the North and East have demanded a political solution on federal lines, a party spokesman said yesterday.

    TNA front-liner Suresh Premachandran said his party had won 12 local bodies in these two provinces.

    “At election rallies, we asked our people for a mandate to fight for a federal solution. We have received a clear-cut majority vote now. We received similar results in these areas at previous elections too,” he said. The March 17 elections were held only in the districts of Mullaitivu, Mannar, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Ampara and Batticaloa.

  • Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

    Wijepala you said: “Excellent point- could you please explain how federalism will ensure that these areas will receive resources and development?”
    It depends on the federal model, the type of arrangement and how fair is the allocation of resources. I am not an expert.The Federal (central) government and the all the provincial governments/states would have to first divide their powers and responsibilities and share the tax revenues accordingly. In Canada, under an ‘equalization’ policy, the federal government makes additional payments to less wealthy Canadian provinces to equalize the provinces’ “fiscal capacity” i.e. their ability to generate tax revenues. In 2009-2010, six provinces received $14.2 billion in equalization payments from the federal government. In a capitalist free market system the provinces would have to take the initiative to develop the economy of their own province. Good governance is key. Provinces can invite private sector investment, take steps to improve the industrial, agricultural and manufacturing sectors including trade. The federal government would have to help pay for infrastructure development until the province can stand on its feet. In Sri Lanka the presidents home province Hambantota is lucky, it is receiving preferential treatment with an airport, harbour and sports stadium!!!!! The Hambantota economy will boom and I hope the same is true of the other provinces. I truly want Sri Lanka to become the wonder of Asia, not the nightmare of Asia.

    • Vasala Rajasuriya

      There is nothing wrong with Hambantota receiving the attention that Colombo has received since independence.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Usha

    The ISGA was drawn up by Tamil legal and political luminaries

    One of them was Mr Siva Pasupathy who was Attorney General in the UNP government that killed 3000 Tamils in 1983. Mr Pasupathy had drafted the first Prevention of Terrorism Act and was responsible for throwing hundreds of young Tamil men in prison.

    Are these the type of people you are proud to have in your cause???

    Please go and read it – I did say it allowed for all ethnicities to be represented in the interim administration until democratic elections were held with international oversight.

    But the LTTE (not the Tamils) was to have an absolute majority making the ethnic representation meaningless. It was a fascist proposal.

    Helping Mahinda to win the elections was regrettable, but most didn’t need to be forced.

    Then why had so many Tamils registered to vote, if they did not intend to vote? Why did Tamils living in Vavuniya and Eastern Province defy the LTTE boycott to vote for Ranil?

    I like your word choice “regrettable.” Would you say that the civilian deaths during the war also were simply “regrettable?”

    Some Tamils thought sadly that they would get a better deal from Mahinda but others knew the hawkish Mahinda is a dangerous man.

    If Mahinda was so dangerous, why did the LTTE want him to win the election? Isn’t it funny how the LTTE’s disenfranchisement of the Tamils in 2005 led to the election of the leader who would preside over the LTTE’s annihilation less than 4 years later? Karma sucks, doesn’t it?

    Wiyapala who do do you think went to war?

    It was the LTTE shrieking Iruthi Por in 2005 and 2006, not Chandrika, Ranil, nor even Mahinda. Too bad it was indeed the “final war” for the LTTE!

    DBS Jeyaraj writes as follows:

    He also wrote:

    “Dont blame others for the Tamil predicament. The current crisis is mainly due to Velupillai Prabhakaran. How many times have I written urging the LTTE to do “this” or not do “this”in the interests of the Tamil people? What did I get? Continuous bashing by tiger supporters, physical assaults, intimidation, threats, abusive telephone calls, emails, anonymous letters, vilification campaign, the stopping of the newspaper I edited etc.How many of you sanctimonious cats expressed solidarity then?

    “My right of free speech and free expression was severely curtailed by the LTTE and goons. Except for a few souls (For whom I have the greatest regard) no Tamil sympathised let alone supported me.”

    Did you happen to be one of the “sanctimonious cats” who refused to support DBS’s right to free speech, Usha?

    Balasingam was the chief delegate who articulated the message of the Tamils – ‘internal self determination’ under a unitary state.

    Balasingham never mentioned anything about “unitary state,” not even in his drunken stupors.

  • Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

    Wijepala you said: But the LTTE (not the Tamils) was to have an absolute majority making the ethnic representation meaningless. It was a fascist proposal.

    What do you mean by LTTE, (not Tamils)? LTTE represented the Tamils; the mandate upon which the LTTE acted was the Vaddukoddai Resolution which was unanimously adopted and won overwhelming approval at the elections. The end goal of the LTTE and the Tamils was the same, in that sense the Tamil were the LTTE, and LTTE were Tamils.

    When you talk of absolute majority, you forget who has/had absolute majority in parliament and ride/have ridden roughshod over Tamils? Do I need to spell it out?

    Vasala and Wijepala, I think we agree on one thing – We want the best for Sri Lanka. I might add I want all the people in the island to prosper, I hope you do too, I think you do. I am thankful to this forum for accommodating my views. I do not apologise for standing up for my cause. I think the more we have honest discourses we can find common ground. I have found David Blacker to have reasonable views.

    • http://srilankalandoftheblind.blogspot.com/ PresiDunce Bean

      Dear Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah,

      You said,”I have found David Blacker to have reasonable views.” Ha…ha…ha…I think that is the understatement of this century and the last. Just ask him about the ‘Lilly white’ armed forces who won the war with ‘zero casualties?’

      • Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

        PresiDunce Bean

        You said: About David Blacker – Ha…ha…ha…I think that is the understatement of this century and the last. Just ask him about the ‘Lilly white’ armed forces who won the war with ‘zero casualties?’

        Is this about his book? I must admit I haven’t read it. Was he in the SL army?

        I think David didn’t like the Tigers.

        I support the Tamil cause, but some huge mistakes were made. I accept!

        Pirabhaharan apologized to the Muslims.

        But don’t forget who started the violence. I hope everyone here would accept that.

    • yapa

      “What do you mean by LTTE, (not Tamils)? LTTE represented the Tamils; the mandate upon which the LTTE acted was the Vaddukoddai Resolution which was unanimously adopted and won overwhelming approval at the elections. The end goal of the LTTE and the Tamils was the same, in that sense the Tamil were the LTTE, and LTTE were Tamils.”

      This is a very good example for what the “Elite Class” of any society does to the common people.

      The Vaddukoddai Resolution was a set of decisions taken by the Elite Class” of the Tamils Society. I don’t think many of the common Tamil men and women even today know what it is. This elite’s proposal was implemented again by the elite Tamils through LTTE, using uneducated Tamil youth as the cannon fodder. Really LTTE was a project of the elite Tamils and common people was their targeted innocent victims. When this foul project of the elite Tamils is failed, they now even put the responsibility of the failure on the heads of the commons and try to wash their hands saying “Tamil were the LTTE, and LTTE were Tamils”.

      The attitude of Elite people in Tamil society or any other society is has no any difference. Common people are only a cat’s pow for them. Cat is to blame for his pain. How deceptive and dishonest you are!

      Thanks!

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “What do you mean by LTTE, (not Tamils)? LTTE represented the Tamils; the mandate upon which the LTTE acted was the Vaddukoddai Resolution which was unanimously adopted and won overwhelming approval at the elections.”

      This is quite untrue. The Vaddukoddai Resolution called for a democratic socialist state in which all communities would be equal and respected. In contrast, the LTTE’s cause was for their own monoethnic state, and they practiced this by evicting the Muslim minority from the North. They also clearly were not interested in plurality; wiping out all other separatist groups, a strategy that eventually led to their own doom. While the VR was voted for by the NE Tamils, the Tigers assumed power and stamped out all dissent.

      The Tamil cause was not the Tiger cause.

      • TT

        DB,

        This is most hilarious!

        “The Vaddukoddai Resolution called for a democratic socialist state in which all communities would be equal and respected.”

        Nowhere in the VR says this! Why fib?

        LTTE took up arms/escalated violence because Tamil Elam (the aim of the VR) could not be achieved peacefully. This is the case even today. Of course it doesn’t justify violence. Tamils should totally reject Tamil Elam. Or the possibility of TE should be frustrated.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        No one’s fibbing, TT. [Edited out.] Here is the part dealing with TE being founded as a democracy: that the constitution of TAMIL EELAM shall be based on the principle of democratic decentralization so as to ensure the non-domination of any religious or territorial community of TAMIL EELAM by any other section.

        [Edited out.]

        And here is the part about it being socialist: that Tamil Eelam shall be a Socialist State wherein the exploitation of man by man shall be forbidden, the dignity of labor shall be recognized, the means of production and distribution shall be subject to public ownership and control while permitting private enterprise in these branches within limit prescribed by law, economic development shall be on the basis of socialist planning and there shall be a ceiling on the total wealth that any individual of family may acquire.

        Upto two months ago, you hadn’t heard of the 13th Amendment, and had never read the Vaddukoddai Resolution; yet you saw fit to pass judgment on both and make up inaccurate quotes from the latter. Clearly, you still haven’t read the resolution :D [Edited out.] You had made it quite clear months ago. Is this because you spent your free time watching teledramas (your words, not mine) instead of learning anything of worth?

        Now that you’ve come out of hiding, do answer these 39 issues that are still pending, which you fled from earlier (perhaps GV will decide that these have no connection to the topic, but since TT continuously spews rhetoric of a racist and bigoted nature, I think it would bring clarity to the discussion if he were to clarify these issues). Here are the issues you were unable or unwilling to address:

        1. Unable to answer whether you believe Tamils are immigrants in SL or not.
        2. Unable to explain the difference between national and naturalised minorities.
        3. Unable to explain the difference between a UN declaration and a resolution.
        4. Unwilling to state which UN declarations outline minority rights.
        5. Unable to explain the difference between a homeland and a country.
        6. Unable to explain the obligations of being a signatory to a UN declaration.
        7. Unable to explain the effect of the Civil Rights movement on majoritarianism.
        8. Unwilling to state whether replacing Buddhism in the constitution would be fair.
        9. Unable to name any countries that haven’t given national minorities their language rights even though you claim they exist.
        10. Unable to explain what nationalism is.
        11. Unable to explain why Tamils must not have equal rights.
        12. Unable to explain the difference between racism and defending equality.
        13. Unable to quote any current Tamil leader as calling for separation, even though you claim they do.
        14. Unable to show how colonised territories were beneficial even though you claim they are.
        15. Unable to prove that all colonies resisted Tiger aggression even though you claim they did.
        16. Unable to show any sign of Tamil inclination to separation before 1956.
        17. Unable to show any evidence of Sinhalese being systematically driven out of the NE.
        18. Unable to show any evidence that colonisation fostered integration.
        19. Unwilling to acknowledge the distinction between natural immigration and internal colonisation.
        20. Unable to explain why the GoSL was unable to take and hold the East until 2008.
        21. Unable to explain the pathetic voter turnout in the North in 2010.
        22. Unable to prove that Tamils in the North vote only for Tamil parties.
        23. Unable to explain why the UPFA fielded a TMVP side in the last PC elections, even though you claim the East is multi-ethnic and that the GoSL believes in multi-ethnicity.
        24. Unable to quote any portion of the Sinhala Only Act that allows for use of Tamil.
        25. Unable to substantiate your claim that 68% of SL voted for Sinhala Only.
        26. Unable to substantiate your claim that most Muslims voted for Sinhala Only.
        27. Unable to explain how repealing the 13th Amendment will solve problems of hunger, poverty and unemployment.
        28. Unable to substantiate your claim that ALL of SL is affected by the above problems.
        29. Unable to explain why above problems haven’t been tackled for over sixty years.
        30. Unable to prove a lack of land resources in southern and north-central SL.
        31. Unable to prove that the North has more water resources than the east, south, or north-central areas of SL.
        32. Unable to name the untapped resources you claim exist in the NE that don’t exist in the south.
        33. Unwilling to acknowledge the role ethnicity plays in majoritarianism within a multi-ethnic society.
        34. Unable to prove how Sinhala Only saved millions of lives as you claim.
        35. Unable to show constitutional reasons for reform of local laws.
        36. Unwilling to acknowledge Tamils as human beings.
        37. Unable to justify why local laws must be changed when national laws remain unimplemented.
        38. Unable to prove how Thesawalamai Law violates individual rights.
        39. Unwilling to acknowledge the existence of collective rights for minorities.

      • TT

        DB,

        Reading the remaining part from what is edited out, you failed to provide ANY evidence that the Vadukoddai resolution “called for a democratic socialist state in which all communities would be equal and respected.”

        :)

        BTW I have answered all your other questions. Disagreement with your views does not mean no answer.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        But GV hasn’t censored any part of the Resolution that I’ve quoted above :D and the Resolution says in plain English that the proposed TE would be both democratic and socialist. Is it incomprehensible to you? My purpose isn’t to convince you, TT, since as above you will shamelessly deny that even black is white, but so that others will see that [you disregard facts - David, please no ad hominem comments that just bring out the worst in others]. I assure you this will be done in every thread you comment on ;)

        As for your claimed answers, do link to any that exist so that everyone can see for themselves.

      • TT

        DB,

        But still you failed to provide ANY evidence that the Vadukoddai resolution “called for a democratic socialist state in which all communities would be equal and respected.”.

        Now your questions have become statements!

        As usual personal attacks/mud slingings. :)

        Reminds me how CBK called Lasantha a “worm” when she could not face facts. :(

        In fact you yourself gave a link to my answers sometime back!

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        GV, how is pointing out that TT’s [edited out], and substantiating it with evidence of both, an ad hominem attack? Do you feel it is constructive to give credence to outrageous falsifications on forums such as these?

        • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

          Trust the readership to comprehend and come to their own understanding.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        How will they manage this when the content is censored, and even the protest censored?

        • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

          Just fine.

        • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

          Here’s an idea. A special section on your own blog to give the real deal, the unadulterated, uncensored, honest to god TRUTH. When here there’s a framework that is far from perfect but necessary and imposed. You could go the way of Heshan, but we hope not.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Apparently :D

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Sanjana, my concern isn’t that no one will know the truth. Obviously people who are interested will look up what the Vaddukoddai Resolution or the 13th Amendment or the Ten Commandments actually say. Therefore it’s unnecessary for me to dedicate a blog post to it. What grates is your tolerance of the most atrocious of falsehoods as long as they’re written in a polite and credible manner, but no tolerance for the pointing out of the lies, simply because it seems it is not acceptable to call someone a liar on this blog. This isn’t subjective opinion, but intentional misquoting of the constitution, amendments, resolutions, etc. I have no problem with people doing so, as long as it’s also acceptable to point it out.

        In the words of the Joker: “why so sanctimonious?”

        • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

          To paraphrase the words of Scarecrow, “Many here scream and they cry, much as you’re doing now.”

          We don’t equate civility with veracity, but in this forum believe it is necessary for conversation different to that which you so easily find elsewhere on the web. No one risked taking A Cause Untrue as fact, even though it was well written. If they did, as invariably at least one reader takes our Banyan News Wires seriously, then woe unto them. Conversely, no one should believe anything because it is politely suggested. The most heinous of crimes are the most logically explained, so you don’t really need to call out rude names at people for the falsehoods they promote. The beauty of the web is that those who care enough, will care to know enough and make up their own minds.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Lol Sanjana, if I was crying as you suggest, I would have left with the other two crybabies ;)

        I’m quite amused at your mention of my book, but rest assured no one took it as fact (especially since it says “fiction” on the spine in large letters), nor have I ever attempted to pass it off as factual, and I’ve yet to see anyone quote from it in a debate, so I fail to see your point.

        My point stands; namely that intentional misquotes and outright lies by some commentators are permitted on your blog, while you demand sources from others and edit out any attempts to point out the fact that people are lying. Personally I feel lying is far more rude and uncivil than calling someone a liar (and if you hadn’t censored my comment, anyone could have seen that I didn’t use any stronger a term than that). Isn’t your attitude a bit like TT claiming that majoritanianism is democratic but opposing it is racist?

        Feel free to bring up other comic book characters, but I’m just seeking clarity ;) It is of course your blog, and you’re under no obligation to set a level playing field, I just feel your censorship is affording the liars and bigots even more wiggle room than they deserve.

        • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

          No name calling. Simple.

  • wijayapala

    Wijayapala, the point isn’t whether the Sinhalese are divided or not. The fact is that they united to pass the Sinhala Only act, and that is why majoritarianism is criticised.

    That’s nice David, but what could have been done to prevent Sinhala Only in the first place?

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Do you mean the Sinhala Only Act or the Sinhala Only mindset?

      • wijayapala

        Do you mean the Sinhala Only Act or the Sinhala Only mindset?

        Both.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        The Act could have been prevented by 50-50 representation for minorities or other constitutional failsafes that would prevent majoritarianism in ethnic issues.

        The mindset is harder. How do you remove racism, prejudice, and bigotry? We can’t even do it on this blog.

      • TT

        DB,

        “The Act could have been prevented by 50-50 representation for minorities or other constitutional failsafes that would prevent majoritarianism in ethnic issues.”

        So you can only think of UNDEMOCRATIC means to stop it?

        That is rather sad.

        Gadafi comes to my mind when talking about undemocratic means (no matter how good they sound to the promoter of such views NO to ANY and ALL undemocratic means).

        Also note that the 1947 constitution was the ONLY SL constitution that was not severely protested against by Tamil politicians. They rejected the 1931, 1972 and 1978 constitutions!! The only one they didn’t protest so badly was the 1947 constitution. And that constitution allowed the citizenship act, official language act, etc.! :)

        What does it say? Even the MOST democratic of all constitutions of this country failed to protect Tamil-only interests.

        If you think there will be a better democrtic constitution than the 1947 one, dream on! You and I both know the answer.

        If you want undemocratic means, then you are inviting violence which is also ok. ;)

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        “So you can only think of UNDEMOCRATIC means to stop it? That is rather sad.”

        What is actually sad is that you were unable to substantiate your claim that 50-50 was undemocratic. I have challenged you on this several times and you’ve run away each time :D That’s ok, you can run but you can’t hide.

        “Gadafi comes to my mind when talking about undemocratic means (no matter how good they sound to the promoter of such views NO to ANY and ALL undemocratic means).”

        And yet you say YES to Sinhala Only :D

        “Also note that the 1947 constitution was the ONLY SL constitution that was not severely protested against by Tamil politicians. They rejected the 1931, 1972 and 1978 constitutions!! The only one they didn’t protest so badly was the 1947 constitution. And that constitution allowed the citizenship act, official language act, etc.!”

        Even the most democratic of tenets can be corrupted by unscrupulous people passing undemocratic acts such as Sinhala Only. Can you show any part of the ’47 constitution that lays out a Citizenship or Sinhala Only clause? If these were not there in ’47, what reason would there be for Tamil protest? You’ve in fact debunked your theory that Tamil opposition to the state has been racist; as you yourself have shown, protests were only when they were warranted :D ?

        “What does it say? Even the MOST democratic of all constitutions of this country failed to protect Tamil-only interests.”

        You seem quite perversely proud of the fact Sinhalese racism was able to corrupt democracy in SL.

        If you think there will be a better democrtic constitution than the 1947 one, dream on! You and I both know the answer.”

        But I never said that the ’47 constitution was undemocratic :D just that Sinhala Only, stripping of the upcountry Tamil citizenship, colonisation of the NE, etc was. None of these were constitutionally mandated.

        “If you want undemocratic means, then you are inviting violence which is also ok.”

        So you’re implying that undemocratic Sinhalese action invited violence? You’re quite right. ?

  • wijayapala

    Dear Usha,

    What do you mean by LTTE, (not Tamils)?

    The LTTE came to “represent” the Tamils by murdering anyone who got in its way. The Tigers killed more Tamils than any other community.

    I also showed how the Tamils wanted to vote for Ranil in 2005 but were not allowed to by the LTTE.

  • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com/ Mango

    Dear GV,
    As part of the ‘reconciliation process’ would it be possible to agree on certain mutually agreed, uncontroversial truths and facts to avoid the endless, sterile debates over the same old things? A sort of Groundviews FAQ ? :)

    For instance, DB’s statement about the Vadukoddai Resolution stating that a future Eelam will be ‘democratic, socialist and multi-ethnic’ is undeniably true.

    Somewhere else, Post DJBS Scenario claims as fact, Hilary Clinton’s (since corrected) false claim that rape was a ‘war tactic’ used by the SLA.

    This FAQ isn’t meant to whitewash atrocities committed by GoSL and the armed forces – there’s plenty of evidence of those!

    • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

      That’s actually a great idea, but we guess it’s a challenge already addressed by (a) commentators who are regulars here and also have been here for a long time who can point this out (b) sites like http://www.pact.lk can help (c) Wikipedia is always a click away (d) for those new to the forum, it may not be obvious that debates have taken place earlier on the same issues. Which we suppose group (a) can always point to? It’s just too much work to get an FAQ done ourselves, but perhaps a sort of community run wiki may in fact have broader value and application.

  • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

    For some reason the comments won’t sit in the correct order. Anyway:

    Usha, you said: “The ISGA was drawn up by Tamil legal and political luminaries – intellectuals of Sri Lankan and International repute. Please go and read it – I did say it allowed for all ethnicities to be represented in the interim administration until democratic elections were held with international oversight.”

    Do you seriously expect people to swallow such stuff? Here is the actual ISGA: http://www.idpsrilanka.lk/Doc/Related%20Articles/ISGA.pdf While it does say that Muslims and Sinhalese will be represented, and that the GoSL may appoint members to the authority, what is crucial is this: “The number of members will be determined to ensure: An absolute majority of the LTTE appointees in the ISGA.” Absolute majority, Usha, appointed by the Tigers. Muslim and Sinhalese representation was conditional to this. The chairman of the ISGA would be appointed by majority vote, and since the Tigers would hold an absolute majority, minority or GoSL concerns would be irrelevant. After this, the chairman would appoint the chief executive of the NE, not by election.

    In addition, contrary to what you say, Usha, the elections were never certain. Any elections would be after five years, and only “if no final settlement has been reached and implemented by the end of the said period of five years”. There was no guarantee that after five years of de facto Tamil Eelam under absolute Tiger rule, that a “final settlement” wouldn’t have been apparent.

    “By the way do you suppose the LTTE was alone in the struggle for the right to self-determination for the Tamil people?”

    They certainly weren’t alone when they started out ha ha. Any idea what happened to the rest?

    “I say: Helping Mahinda to win the elections was regrettable, but most didn’t need to be forced. Some Tamils thought sadly that they would get a better deal from Mahinda but others knew the hawkish Mahinda is a dangerous man.”

    Really? Any sign that such a significant voter base of pro-MR NE Tamils existed that made the Tiger-enforced boycott redundant?

    “At that time I wrote: The stark truth is that by their non participation the Thamils have rejected the platforms of both presidential candidates with a “resounding no”. No one can ignore this most demonstrative and massive repudiation of Sinhala policies. It’s clear the president elect has no mandate to govern the Thamil speaking people.”

    If that were so, Usha, why was it necessary for the Tigers to declare a boycott? Wouldn’t a clear and powerful message have been sent to the world if the Tigers had allowed voting and the Tamils had spontaneously proved their disinterest by not voting? Now, all we have is your word on this, and I’m afraid you’re not very representative of the NE Tamils.

    “There should be a serious attempt for people to study the actual choices before the Thamil electorate. Having to choose from the devil and the deep blue sea, the Thamil electorate chose neither. It shows the Thamil electorate has come of age!”

    But the NE Tamils didn’t choose anything, Usha. The choice was made for them by VP. If they had come of age as you claim, why was a boycott enforced to ensure non-participation?

    “They exercised their free will and fundamental right not to participate in a “farce”. Neither of the presidential candidates had anything to offer. In both cases the outcome presented a story of “gloom and doom” as neither had a message of “hope” for them.”

    How do you manage to convince yourself that an enforced boycott is free will?

    “Who in their right mind would want to participate in an exercise so futile that would only endorse a system that perpetuates an in-equality?”

    But RW was offering the Tamils a federal solution, Usha. How does such an offer become a system that perpetuates inequality?

    “Only fools would fall repeatedly in to the same trap with their eyes open knowing they would fall further and further in to an abyss. The Thamil electorate has opened its eyes. They have become mature and aware of their rights and cannot be fooled any more by “phony vote grabbing Sinhala politicians with matching phony tales”.”

    Again, if the Tamils had opened their eyes, Usha, why did the Tigers need to enforce a boycott? And why are you quoting yourself in a six-year-old letter (http://www.sangam.org/taraki/articles/2005/12-12_Letter_to_Radhika_Coomaraswamy_on_Tamils_and_Human_Rights.php )? Do you still believe that the Tigers were correct in allowing MR the presidency over Ranil W? If the Tigers hadn’t forced the NE Tamils to boycott, the NE might very well have got federalism with the Tigers intact. In other words, Tamil Eelam in everything but name. Do you still think it was the right decision?

    “The Thamil speaking people in the North and East of Sri Lanka have aspirations like any other; they too want to reach for and achieve their full potential through the help of a government that cares for their welfare and would facilitate their path to progress. So they ditched both candidates who they knew were not going to take them on that path and never will.”

    But they didn’t ditch both candidates, Usha. The Tigers picked MR, because they wanted a hawk at Temple Trees who would give them the war they wanted. RW was offering federalism, but the Tigers wanted Eelam. Now the NE Tamils have neither, and probably never will. Are you proud of the Tigers’ maturity now, Usha?

    “The message from the Thamil speaking people is loud and clear. Any peace solution must reflect this mass affirmation of the Thamil people’s desire to free themselves from such deceitful politicians.”

    Do you think MR’s solution, articulated at Nanthikadal in 2009, which recognised the Tamil desire for freedom, and the Sinhalese desire to prevent it, answers the Tiger message sent in that presidential election?

    “Wiyapala who do do you think went to war? When he saw that the APRC wasn’t proceeding the way he wanted, the hawkish Mahinda guided by his Chinthanaya prodded by his brother Gotabaya abrogated on the cease-fire and went to war before making sure there were no witnesses, no international media, no INGOS, no ICRC at the war zone.”

    But Usha, wasn’t it the Tigers who rejected the PTOMS and federalism and instead demanded an ISGA that had no chance of being acceded to by a democratic nation? Wasn’t it the Tigers who threatened the CFA and destabilised and ultimately toppled the UNP government by carrying out a campaign of assassination and terrorism throughout the CFA? Wasn’t it the Tigers who then prevented the only Sinhalese leader capable of and willing to see through a political solution from being elected? And once MR had been elected, Usha, wasn’t it the Tigers who continued their provocative aggression by targeting his brother and the Army commander with suicide bombers? Wasn’t it finally the Tigers who captured and held the Mavilaru sluice gates until MR was forced to act? And while all this was going on, Usha, wasn’t it the Tigers who evicted the Scandinavian monitors from the NE so that there were no witnesses to their CFA violations? So you see, Usha, at every step of the way, the Tigers chose this path for themselves, and you in the diaspora did nothing but support them every step of the way with money and praise as they led the people of the NE to Armageddon. I hope you’re proud, Usha. The Tiger leadership is dead, thank God, they deserve it, but you still live, and the blood of those thousands are still on your hands. You can try to wipe it off by blaming it on the Sinhalese, but it’s in the grooves of your skin, under your nails, and it will stain your people for generations. Are you still proud, Usha?

    “Jeyaraj who has been always critical of the LTTE reveals here his frustrations at the “President and his Sinhala supremacist cohorts” and their shenanigans.”

    What DBSJ says about MR pales into insignificance when compared to his criticism of the Tigers, Usha: “What cannot be cured must be endured. A dignified peace and equitable political settlement within a united but not necessarily unitary Sri Lanka was within our grasp. But the LTTE not only missed it but has messed up things badly and has reduced Tamils to this sorry state. The LTTE is no more but the remnants and the culture of tigerism it spawned continues to be a source of trouble. As Shakespeare said “the Evil that men do lives after them”. But do not lose heart. All is not lost. We have to consolidate ourselves and achieve an economic, social and cultural renaissance. Political equality will also follow albeit incrementally
    “Nichayam Iravukku Pagalundu” (There is definitely night after day) But until that day dawns we must be patient. In the words of Bharathy “Kattundom,Poruthiruppom.Kaalam Maarum””
    http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/1797

    “Read what i wrote earlier in this forum about the inability of the South to reach a consensus that undermined the peace process and no matter what the LTTE leader thought (he thought quite correctly, for he stood for the freedom of Tamil Eelam and gave his life for it)”

    Usha, read what I wrote earlier about the Tiger strategy to undermine the peace process in spite of the south’s consensus on a political solution. It was the continued Tiger aggression in the NE (flaunting the CFA, violating it, organising violent protests, carrying out acts of terrorism), the repeated targeting of military and government figures for assassination (including Kadirgama), etc that made the South realise, correctly, that there could be no solution except military one; not as long as the Tigers existed.

    “Balasingam was the chief delegate who articulated the message of the Tamils – ‘internal self determination’ under a unitary state. This was done you must appreciate in the interest of permanent peace.”

    This is contradictory to your previous statement that VP stood for Tamil Eelam. Are you saying that Balasingham articulated an option that that VP wasn’t in agreement with? The Tiger acts of aggression, the refusal of the PTOMS and federalism, and the toppling of the UNP is proof that the Tigers were more interested in power and Tamil Eelam than peace.

  • wijayapala

    David

    What is actually sad is that you were unable to substantiate your claim that 50-50 was undemocratic.

    Putting aside how 50-50 had given ammunition for every Sinhala racist to squeal about Tamil conspiracies, 50-50 was an undemocratic proposal because an individual Sinhala would have less voting power than an individual minority. It shouldn’t come to any surprise why even the British had rejected it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_man,_one_vote

    “Some states redrew their US House districts every ten years; many did not. Some never redrew them, except when it was mandated by a change in the number of seats to which that state was entitled in the House of Representatives. This led to a disproportionality in the influence of voters across the states. For example, if the 2nd congressional district eventually had a population of 1.5 million, but the 3rd had only 500,000, then, in effect—since each district elected the same number of congressmen—a voter in the 3rd district had three times the voting “power” of a 2nd-district voter.”

    The mindset is harder. How do you remove racism, prejudice, and bigotry?

    In this specific case, this mentality is largely the result of ignorance. Most Sinhalese know absolutely nothing about the Tamils aside from wars that had taken place 1000 or more years ago. It is a symptom of Sinhala ignorance of anything outside of Sri Lanka.

    That is why everyone, even the up-country Tamils view us as extremely gullible. If some Uncle or Politician tells us that there is a Tamil conspiracy to destroy Sri Lanka, we will eagerly lap it up without questioning it because nature abhors a vacuum (in this case, in our heads). Likewise if someone, perhaps a Tamil or White, tells us there is a Sinhala conspiracy to destroy Sri Lanka, there are large sections of us (most notably in civil society) who again will lap it up without questioning.

    Half-baked ideas like 50-50 (haha get it? 50-50 “half”-baked) would not accomplish anything to address this ignorance. It would just fuel the conspiracy theories.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Wijayapala, aren’t you falling into the same old trap that Sinhalese have waded into generation after generation? 50-50 would only prevent racist legislation; it could never allow Tamils to outvote Sinhalese, just prevent Sinhalese outvoting Tamils and passing racist laws such as Sinhala Only. If the law under vote wasn’t ethnic-related, what would it matter if a Sinhalese had “less” voting power than a Tamil? It only mattered if that Sinhalese was trying to pass a law the minorities didn’t like (remember 50% was for all minorities, not just Tamils). Eventually it would have resulted in politicians realising that racial campaigns were pointless.

      50-50 was a failsafe. It has become as contentious as federalism only because the Sinhalese are as ignorant of both as they are of the Tamils.

      The Tamils don’t think the Sinhalese are gullible, they just think the Tamils are smarter. As I said before, Tamils aren’t really any less racist than the Sinhalese.

      • yapa

        Dear DB;

        “50-50 would only prevent racist legislation; it could never allow Tamils to outvote Sinhalese, just prevent Sinhalese outvoting Tamils and passing racist laws such as Sinhala Only. If the law under vote wasn’t ethnic-related, what would it matter if a Sinhalese had “less” voting power than a Tamil? It only mattered if that Sinhalese was trying to pass a law the minorities didn’t like (remember 50% was for all minorities, not just Tamils). Eventually it would have resulted in politicians realising that racial campaigns were pointless.”

        What happened to your common sense DB? I think you seem to be suffering from “Book Worm Syndrome” since recent past. Inability to grasp simple truths (without the aid of colossal concepts) is the main symptom.

        If you don’t agree with what I say, please explain what you said above in simple language and show how you guarantee it works the way you mentioned above. (Are you just guessing so or what?)

        Thanks!

      • yapa

        Dear DB;

        “If the law under vote wasn’t ethnic-related, what would it matter if a Sinhalese had “less” voting power than a Tamil?”

        A newer version of definition of Democracy by DAVID BLACKER! Your name will be added to the names of the great people like Lincoln!

        We are very proud of you.

        Thanks!

      • wijayapala

        David,

        50-50 would only prevent racist legislation;

        You had asked how 50-50 was undemocratic and I answered. Why not take things one step further and not give Sinhalese any voting rights? The entire justification for South African apartheid is that the African majority would overwhelm and oppress the white minority. It is noteworthy that the ANC had rejected compromise solutions based on communal “power-sharing” resembling your 50-50 idea, and pushed for “one-man one vote” all the way to the end.

        Was the ANC wrong? Could you show any democracy out there that has implemented anything resembling 50-50 to protect minorities?

        If the law under vote wasn’t ethnic-related, what would it matter if a Sinhalese had “less” voting power than a Tamil?

        Because under such an explicitly communal system, all laws under vote would become “ethnic-related.”

        50-50 was a failsafe. It has become as contentious as federalism only because the Sinhalese are as ignorant of both as they are of the Tamils.

        I think even people living out in the villages have a better idea about how “federalism” would work in practice and affect them than the Colombo theorists like Rohan Edrisinha and Asanga Welikala who treat it like a magic pill- adding another layer of government, yet more inefficient and useless than the one already in place.

        Going back to 50-50, the fact that it had been proposed by someone who instigated a riot in 1939 by making extremely derogatory remarks about Sinhalese in Nawalapitiya (not Jaffna or another Tamil area) hardly contributed to its credibility among Sinhalese.

        The Tamils don’t think the Sinhalese are gullible,

        Read E. Valentine Daniel’s “Charred Lullabies” to see up-country Tamil views of Sinhalese (perhaps they see them as gullible as they interact with Sinhalese more than the N-E Tamils do). As I indicated, I agree that we tend to be gullible. I’m not ashamed to admit that.

        Personally I feel lying is far more rude and uncivil than calling someone a liar

        Sorry to jump in, but personally I think exposing the lies is more fun than calling the liar a liar.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Dear Yapa, I have explained the concept very simply and I think the average person can grasp it. Perhaps you should try reading it again. I’d be happy to explain any specifics you find unclear. Alternately, I could type it in Sinhalese for you if that helps.

        On the other hand, if concepts and abstract ideas are beyond your grasp, perhaps you should consider leaving the debate to those who can visualise a concept.

      • yapa

        Dear DB;

        “I’d be happy to explain any specifics you find unclear. Alternately, I could type it in Sinhalese for you if that helps.”

        I would prefer English, I can improve my English too. Still I don’t think it is a problem of the language. However, your “Theory of Democracy” is interesting!

        Thanks, DB!

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        I too don’t think it’s a problem of the language, Yapa ;)

      • yapa

        “I think even people living out in the villages have a better idea about how “federalism” would work in practice and affect them than the Colombo theorists like Rohan Edrisinha and Asanga Welikala who treat it like a magic pill- adding another layer of government, yet more inefficient and useless than the one already in place.”

        Their “hardware is made in Sri lanka, and software of English origin, I think that is the secret. Software does not know about hardware.

        Thanks!

    • yapa

      Dear wijayapala;

      ““The mindset is harder. How do you remove racism, prejudice, and bigotry?”

      In this specific case, this mentality is largely the result of ignorance. Most Sinhalese know absolutely nothing about the Tamils aside from wars that had taken place 1000 or more years ago. It is a symptom of Sinhala ignorance of anything outside of Sri Lanka.”

      Are you sure about your statement or are you telling this to keep your rapport with Tamils intact?

      I think you should not be so assertive about your statements (and others’ ignorance).

      I think honesty is the best policy!

      Thanks!

      • yapa

        Dear wijayapala;

        Don’t get my “rude remarks” that serious, I still value and like your views. By the way, don’t you miss your friend “Professor Heshan”?

        Thanks!

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Wijayapala, you say: “You had asked how 50-50 was undemocratic and I answered.”

      I had asked TT for evidence on it being undemocratic, not an opinion. As I already pointed out, 50-50 didn’t remove the Sinhalese community’s power, or make it less than that of the Tamil community; all it did was ensure that the Sinhalese community wouldn’t have more power than the Tamils, and you will I’m sure agree that no ethnic community — regardless of its numerical superiority — should have more power than another. 50-50 ensured all communities were politically equal. What you’re arguing for is the power of a one man one vote system, and claiming that 50-50 removes individual power based on numerical superiority. But we have seen from the world’s political history, that one man one vote systems are not the ultimate or definitive electoral system — the American electoral college is an example of this. Ethnic issues are collective issues, Wijayapala, not individual issues, which was what I was trying to explain to TT. While he clearly doesn’t have the intellect to grasp an abstract ideal, you clearly do. The passing of Sinhala Only by a majoritarian one man one vote system has made it very clear that such a system cannot be the final word in an ethnically divided electorate where there are contentious ethnic issues. The system failed in 1956 and a hundred thousand died as a result. You asked me what would have prevented Sinhala Only, and I have shown you. Do you have a better idea?

      “Why not take things one step further and not give Sinhalese any voting rights?”

      Why? Do you feel that if Sinhalese cannot have the majority right, they must have no rights? What’s wrong with equal rights?

      “The entire justification for South African apartheid is that the African majority would overwhelm and oppress the white minority. It is noteworthy that the ANC had rejected compromise solutions based on communal “power-sharing” resembling your 50-50 idea, and pushed for “one-man one vote” all the way to the end. Was the ANC wrong?”

      I don’t think they were right or wrong. Certainly one man one vote was advantageous to the blacks on numerical grounds. Why should they settle for 50-50? On the other hand, post-Apartheid South Africa has ensured that the white minority languages and other ethnic rights are protected, and as long as that constitutional guarantee is there, and implemented in practice, the whites can be satisfied that they as a minority don’t require 50-50 to ensure their rights.

      50-50 or any other disproportional representation is advantageous to a minority either to regain political equality or to suppress a majority, Wijayapala. During the American slavery era, the blacks outnumbered the whites in certain southern states such as Missisippi, and so a black man was considered to be only 5/7ths of a human being so that their votes wouldn’t outnumber the whites, and like Apartheid, it’s an example of a minority suppressing a majority. But this can be done only if the proportional system is set up to give the minority a majority of representation. 50-50 doesn’t do that. It only ensures equal representation.

      “Could you show any democracy out there that has implemented anything resembling 50-50 to protect minorities?”

      Could you show any democracy that has needed it? Disproportionate representation is necessary only if minority rights are not constitutionally protected. 50-50 is unnecessary today in SL, because minority rights are protected by the 13th and other amendments (at least theoretically). There was no such protection in 1956, and while Sinhala Only wasn’t democratic under today’s ethics, it certainly wasn’t unconstitutional at the time; and it is to redress this lack of protection that disproportionate representation was necessary.

      “Because under such an explicitly communal system, all laws under vote would become “ethnic-related.””

      How so? 50-50 affected only the legislature, and so when a law came before parliament — let’s say education reforms, or agricultureal development, or other national issues — how would the 50-50 issue make them ethnic-related? If a law or bill was unrelated to any ethnic slant, 50-50 would be irrelevant.

      “I think even people living out in the villages have a better idea about how “federalism” would work in practice and affect them than the Colombo theorists like Rohan Edrisinha and Asanga Welikala who treat it like a magic pill- adding another layer of government, yet more inefficient and useless than the one already in place.”

      Not at all; for instance many people thought federalism in SL would take the form of the Canadian model of an ethnic- or language-based two-state federalism, and the UNP was unable to articulate the actual framework to them, mostly because they were being shouted down by the JVP and others who were de-selling the idea thus. If rural Sinhalese had had it explained to them that rural devolution meant that their own provinces would be locally governed and in control of their own resources — issues that actually affected them, unlike happenings in the NE — they’d have viewed it quite differently. This was RW’s and the UNP’s failing.

      “Going back to 50-50, the fact that it had been proposed by someone who instigated a riot in 1939 by making extremely derogatory remarks about Sinhalese in Nawalapitiya (not Jaffna or another Tamil area) hardly contributed to its credibility among Sinhalese.”

      That maybe so, but it doesn’t change the value of the system any more than the value of devolution — federal or otherwise — isn’t devalued by its proponents being idiots as you claim.

      “Read E. Valentine Daniel’s “Charred Lullabies” to see up-country Tamil views of Sinhalese (perhaps they see them as gullible as they interact with Sinhalese more than the N-E Tamils do). As I indicated, I agree that we tend to be gullible. I’m not ashamed to admit that.”

      Perhaps I should have rephrased that. I don’t think the Tamils think the Sinhalese are gullible because the latter are ignorant of Tamils, the world, or its happenings; the Tamils think the Sinhalese are gullible because the Tamils think they are a smarter race than the Sinhalese. This is why the Tigers were able to sell the concept of the war for Tamil Eelam as achievable, and it’s the reason the Tamils swallowed that for three decades; it was inconceivable to them that their intelligent and cultured race could not outsmart the “Sinhala Modayas”; and they believed that it was just Sinhalese brawn that was keeping the Tamil brain down albeit temporarily. Ask Usha about the Tiger representative that spoke to them in the Philippines in 1986, and how he tackled the gatherings’ questions on how soon Eelam would be achieved. He promised that it was just around the corner, and the Tigers said that for 25 years, and the Tamils believed it. Even today you will see that the Tamil diaspora refuses to acknowledge that their Tigers were both outsmarted and outfought by the “coconut-plucking Sinhala Army”, and so they claim that it was Chinese super-weapons, and US satellite pictures, and Pakistani pilots, and Indian betrayal that beat them.

      “Sorry to jump in, but personally I think exposing the lies is more fun than calling the liar a liar.”

      It definitely is fun until you’re censored.

      • yapa

        Dear DB;

        “..the Tamils think the Sinhalese are gullible because the Tamils think they are a smarter race than the Sinhalese. This is why the Tigers were able to sell the concept of the war for Tamil Eelam as achievable, and it’s the reason the Tamils swallowed that for three decades; it was inconceivable to them that their intelligent and cultured race could not outsmart the “Sinhala Modayas”; and they believed that it was just Sinhalese brawn that was keeping the Tamil brain down albeit temporarily. Ask Usha about the Tiger representative that spoke to them in the Philippines in 1986, and how he tackled the gatherings’ questions on how soon Eelam would be achieved. He promised that it was just around the corner, and the Tigers said that for 25 years, and the Tamils believed it.”

        Dear DB, I will tell where the Tamils went wrong, using a story from Hindu Puranas.

        You know the God Vishnu wears a cobra as a necklace and rides a (Harley Davidson) Gurula Bird. According to the belief cobras are the favorite dish of Gurulas and cobras give away their lives to their legs whenever a sign of a Gurula is felt. That much is the innate fear hidden in the snake heart towards that flying vehicle.

        One day the Parameshwara Vishnu went to see his Gurula Bird, withot removing his cobra necklace. Seeing the Gurula, the cobra necklace still on the neck, called Gurula and wished him “Good morning Muchan!”

        That is what really happened to Tamils. Tangled around the British Colonial God’s neck, Tamils wished “Sinhala Gurula”, “Good morning Muchan Modaya”!

        Thanks!

      • yapa

        A bit of addition to my post above……..

        Tamils are still dong the same mistake, tangled around the “International Community’s Neck”.

        Thanks!

      • wijayapala

        David

        But we have seen from the world’s political history, that one man one vote systems are not the ultimate or definitive electoral system — the American electoral college is an example of this.

        And that is exactly why the electoral college is controversial in the US and not universally accepted. However, given that it favors people of certain states, and not ethnic groups, it hasn’t divided Americans the same way that race-based representation would.

        it is to redress this lack of protection that disproportionate representation was necessary.

        Why not instead have a constitutional mechanism where any legislation affecting minority rights requires a supermajority (2/3rds vote) to pass??

        Ethnic issues are collective issues, Wijayapala, not individual issues,

        But that doesn’t mean that racism can or should be fixed by racist solutions.

        The system failed in 1956 and a hundred thousand died as a result.

        The war did NOT start because of Sinhala Only. It started in an environment where the Tamils were no longer physically safe and that is why I believe we (Sinhalese) cannot blame the Tamils for it. The fact that this environment was mostly fostered not by the overtly racist SLFP, but by the UNP which had a large Tamil vote bank has largely been overlooked by the ethnic conflict pundits and sahibs.

        The consequence of Sinhala Only was popular acceptance among the Tamils for federalism. As you already know how anti-federalism I am, you can understand how much I regret that Sinhala Only had passed. Read on:

        You asked me what would have prevented Sinhala Only, and I have shown you.

        Thank you. I believe that if Mr Bandaranaike had been a real statesman (calling for making both languages official), and not a tool, then that would have prevented Sinhala Only in a much more reliable and long-term manner, and unlike 50-50 would not have stoked communalism.

        Could you show any democracy that has needed it?

        You are asking this after bringing up the example of the American South????

        That maybe so, but it doesn’t change the value of the system any more than the value of devolution — federal or otherwise — isn’t devalued by its proponents being idiots as you claim.

        I can accept that GG being a racist could not have lowered the value of 50-50 any further than it already was.

        As for federalism, I have never claimed that all or even most of its supporters are “idiots”- contrary to what you might think, disagreeing with me does not automatically make one an idiot! (is this where I can call you out as a “liar,” David? heh heh) Federalism might be dumb but that doesn’t mean that Tamils who support it are dumb.

        He promised that it was just around the corner, and the Tigers said that for 25 years, and the Tamils believed it.

        Yes, even the non-LTTE Tamil militants believed at the beginning that the war would be quick. Maybe the Tamils are just as naive as the Sinhalese.

      • wijayapala

        Yapa,

        You know the God Vishnu wears a cobra as a necklace and rides a (Harley Davidson) Gurula Bird.

        You’ve gotten your Hindu gods mixed up. Lord Shiva has the cobra and Lord Vishnu has the Garuda Bird. This is exactly what I meant by the hopeless Sinhala ignorance.

        By the way, don’t you miss your friend “Professor Heshan”?

        Thank you, yes I miss him very much and I blame Blacker for what happened as he did not give proper respect to Heshan. Now there is no more fun and I have to say serious things.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        “And that is exactly why the electoral college is controversial in the US and not universally accepted.”

        Oh, I’m in no way suggesting that 50-50 was a run-of-the-mill solution and that it would not have been controversial; but Sinhala Only was an extremist law and needed an extreme measure to prevent it. In normal democratic societies where there’s no chance of such bigoted legislation, normal democratic precautions are sufficient. But SL in the ’50s was hardly that.

        “However, given that it favors people of certain states, and not ethnic groups, it hasn’t divided Americans the same way that race-based representation would.”

        The point is SL is divided by ethnic issues even without 50-50; and if Sinhalese then feel put out by an attempt to reverse their racist laws, that’s tough. A lot of whites didn’t like it when the blacks won their civil rights and the Jim Crow laws were repealed, but that doesn’t mean that black rights should instead have been abandoned, does it? You have to do the right and just thing. And I believe that if the Sinhalese leadership had also seen 50-50 in that light and sold it to the masses as such, instead of acting like it was some heinous racism by the Tamils, the average Sinhalese would have accepted it.

        “Why not instead have a constitutional mechanism where any legislation affecting minority rights requires a supermajority (2/3rds vote) to pass??”

        That is an option, but what do you do if the Sinhalese have more than 2/3rds in parliament (as they did in the ’50s, and in fact do today)? You therefore need constitutional failsafes that are not dependent on circumstances, simply because there is no guarantee that the Tamils will have sufficient numbers to prevent a Sinhala Only. The 2/3 idea is fine in normal political situations, where politics are dictated by a majority. But ethnic rights can never be dictated by the chances of majoritarianism, simply because ethnic rights do not increase or decrease according to ballot. They are an absolute right.

        My thinking is that an ethnic community, regardless of size, has the same rights as any other ethnic group. These rights are not accorded according to numbers. Therefore the larger group cannot claim to have more rights than the smaller group. This is a universally accepted premise, and there’s nothing controversial about it. So defence of those rights cannot be dependent on a variable representation in the legislature. With your 2/3rds idea, the Tamils will always be forced to vote for Tamils, just to maintain the numbers in parliament, regardless of the policies of those candidates, and that handicaps democracy in the long run.

        “But that doesn’t mean that racism can or should be fixed by racist solutions.”

        But 50-50 isn’t racist, Wijayapala; it is a measure to counter majoritarian racism. As I explained to TT, opposing racism isn’t itself racist.

        “The war did NOT start because of Sinhala Only. It started in an environment where the Tamils were no longer physically safe and that is why I believe we (Sinhalese) cannot blame the Tamils for it. The fact that this environment was mostly fostered not by the overtly racist SLFP, but by the UNP which had a large Tamil vote bank has largely been overlooked by the ethnic conflict pundits and sahibs.”

        I’m not going to argue with you about whether the SLFP or the UNP was more racist; I think it’s sufficient to accept that racist acts perpetrated by the Sinhalese was the ultimate cause of the war. Much of the violence in the pogroms were sparked by Sinhalese leaders instigating the mobs by pointing to Tamil attempts to counter Sinhala Only (BC pact, Vaddukoddai, etc) as acts of tamil racism. Sinhala Only was certainly the beginning.

        “The consequence of Sinhala Only was popular acceptance among the Tamils for federalism. As you already know how anti-federalism I am, you can understand how much I regret that Sinhala Only had passed. Read on:”

        It’s disappointing to see that your primary opposition to what is probably the most bigoted and racist law ever passed in our independent history was its ability to make Tamils want a different political system. I had hoped that your opposition to the act would be because of its unjustness.

        “Thank you. I believe that if Mr Bandaranaike had been a real statesman (calling for making both languages official), and not a tool, then that would have prevented Sinhala Only in a much more reliable and long-term manner, and unlike 50-50 would not have stoked communalism.”

        I certainly agree, but then if pigs could fly onto my barbecue grill, I wouldn’t have to drive to the supermarket on Saturdays. What to do?

        “You are asking this after bringing up the example of the American South????”

        Surely you’re not suggesting that the American south was democratic?

        “I can accept that GG being a racist could not have lowered the value of 50-50 any further than it already was.”

        Who knows? We always correlate the demand to GG anyway. My point is, advocates don’t necessarily determine the quality of a policy.

        “As for federalism, I have never claimed that all or even most of its supporters are “idiots”- contrary to what you might think, disagreeing with me does not automatically make one an idiot!”

        Well since you were disparaging of the only two proponents of federalism you named, you can forgive me for assuming that you thought they were idiots.

        “Federalism might be dumb but that doesn’t mean that Tamils who support it are dumb.”

        I don’t think federalism is dumb; but neither am I really an advocate of it either. I do think devolution is a more efficient and less wasteful form of government than a centrist one, and that it brings governance closer to the electorate.

        “Yes, even the non-LTTE Tamil militants believed at the beginning that the war would be quick. Maybe the Tamils are just as naive as the Sinhalese.”

        My point was that the Tigers kept the promise hanging for 30 years. The other militants abandoned it.

      • yapa

        Dear wijayapala;

        I forgot to tell you, that day Vishnu hired that necklace from God Siva. Ha! Ha!!

        Thanks!

      • yapa

        Dear DB;

        “Oh, I’m in no way suggesting that 50-50 was a run-of-the-mill solution and that it would not have been controversial; but Sinhala Only was an extremist law and needed an extreme measure to prevent it.”

        Do you say if 50;50 was implemented in place of “Sinhala Only” wouldn’t that be bad like this, but good and reasonable?

        Tamils are not racists of demanding 50:50. Sinhalese are racists reacting to that demand?

        Tamils are not racists even for racial demands, because they are a minority, Is it?

        Do you think minority bias/racism is a good thing, while majoritarianism is bad?

        What a rational theory?

        As you said “Sinhal Modayas” in the past did not raise their voices in fear of stylish empty big words parroted by English speaking political pandiths/activists of this country, thinking that they would be exposed of their ignorance (of those Parrot Words). Today People very well know that such big political terms are just “Barava Kakuls” (Legs swollen with elephantiasis)and use critical thinking and plain language to gain correct political decisions rather than battling with empty big words and difficult to pronounce/comprehend theories.

        To day jargon preachers have no place, that is why there is no recognition for people like Marxists and Liberals among the people of this country. People of our village understood the political theories of our “Bempy Atha”, who ran for “Mambare post” several decades back than an eloquent speeche made by Dr. Colvin R De Silva in the election rally organized to support Bempy Atha.

        Thanks!

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        “Do you say if 50;50 was implemented in place of “Sinhala Only” wouldn’t that be bad like this, but good and reasonable?”

        If it had prevented Sinhala Only and the stripping of citizenship, how could it have been bad? It would seem bad only to people who think Sinhala Only and the Citizenship Act were correct and fair.

        “Tamils are not racists of demanding 50:50. Sinhalese are racists reacting to that demand?”

        Since 50-50 isn’t racist and Sinhala Only is, who do you think is right and wrong?

        “Tamils are not racists even for racial demands, because they are a minority, Is it?”

        But there haven’t been any Tamil racist demands, Yapa. I urged TT, Wijayapala, and now you to prove any Tamil demand prior to the war as racist. So far you’ve been unable to.

        “Do you think minority bias/racism is a good thing, while majoritarianism is bad?”

        I think any sort of racism is bad, but you’ve been unable to show any Tamil racist demands.
        What a rational theory?

        “As you said “Sinhal Modayas” in the past did not raise their voices in fear of stylish empty big words blah blah”

        No, because then, like now, they didn’t understand big words, and instead listened to the small words (words like “kill”, “hack” and “burn”) spoken by their leaders who understood the big words but preferred the small words.

        “To day jargon preachers have no place, that is why there is no recognition for people like Marxists and Liberals among the people of this country.”

        But then why are jargon preachers like the Mawbimay Pomenarian still in parliament? Isn’t it because instead of changing his jargon, he has changed his shoes?

        “People of our village understood the political theories of our “Bempy Atha”, who ran for “Mambare post” several decades back than an eloquent speech”

        But we are not in a village, Yapa, and if the sword is too sharp for you, better stay in the village with the other “motta pihi”.

        “Thank you!”

        As usual you’re welcome. Do come again.

      • yapa

        Dear DB;

        “Yapa, and if the sword is too sharp for you, better stay in the village with the other “motta pihi”.”

        No DB, I cannot. I want to sharpen my sward, that is the only advantage I can get from your posts! Ha! Ha!!

        (I am only joking, DB)

        Thanks!

  • Vasala Rajasuriya

    “Who in their right mind would want to participate in an exercise so futile that would only endorse a system that perpetuates an in-equality? Only fools would fall repeatedly in to the same trap with their eyes open knowing they would fall further and further in to an abyss. The Thamil electorate has opened its eyes. They have become mature and aware of their rights and cannot be fooled any more by “phony vote grabbing Sinhala politicians with matching phony tales”.”

    Well all power to the Tamil people to boycott Sri Lankan elections. They will see their representation in parliament plummet to zero, along with any little influence they have. It’s their loss, not anyone else’s. Perhaps you can start this campaign Usha? Convince the Tamil people stop voting in all Sri Lankan elections and “stand up for Tamil rights” that way?

  • justitia

    This discussion can go on and on.
    But I think what has happened is mostly documented/recorded and it is time to move on.
    What I desire is enforcement of Rule of Law and Human Rights.
    If this happens, most problems will disappear. This will be a new start for a nation which all citizens will be happy with.
    But I fear that this will not happen in the foreseeable future.

  • wijayapala

    David,

    I’m in no way suggesting that 50-50 was a run-of-the-mill solution and that it would not have been controversial; but Sinhala Only was an extremist law and needed an extreme measure to prevent it.

    As it turns out, 50-50 was proposed over a decade before Sinhala Only was. A proposal doesn’t have validity when it is intended to address an injustice that did not yet take place!

    And I believe that if the Sinhalese leadership had also seen 50-50 in that light and sold it to the masses as such, instead of acting like it was some heinous racism by the Tamils, the average Sinhalese would have accepted it.

    Why not instead simply expect the same Sinhala leadership not to pass legislation such as Sinhala Only to begin with????

    That is an option, but what do you do if the Sinhalese have more than 2/3rds in parliament (as they did in the ’50s, and in fact do today)?

    Now that we’re in the land of “what ifs,” what if you had 50-50 but the Sinhalese managed to bribe the Muslims into supporting Sinhala Only?

    But 50-50 isn’t racist,

    So Sinhalese individuals having less voting power than Tamils or Muslims, simply because of their ethnicity/language, is not racist?????

    I had hoped that your opposition to the act would be because of its unjustness.

    Please educate me then- what made Sinhala Only so awful, even worse than the Ceylon Citizenship Act of 1948??? Before 1956 Sri Lanka had an “English-Only” system that for some reason has evaded criticism from all the crusaders against unjustness. Have you ever asked yourself why the Tamil leaders never protested against English Only or tried to change it, even though most Tamils like most Sinhalese did not know English? Has it occurred to you that if the Tamil leadership had participated in or themselves launched a swabhasha campaign, we could have had “Sinhala & Tamil Only” instead?

    Here’s another question- how exactly did Sinhala Only affect the Tamils? One of the stock answers to that question has been “The Sinhalese received a greater advantage than the Tamils.” Now correct me if I’m wrong, but one of the more immediate effects was that the Tamils (more accurately, the Jaffna-Colombo elite section) lost the disproportionate representation they held in the civil service- their own advantage that they inherited from colonialism. Yet even with Sinhala Only, that section continued to have disproportionate university admissions until Standardisation in 1972! How did that occur if Sinhala Only had totally disenfranchised and dislocated the Tamils?????

    But ethnic rights can never be dictated by the chances of majoritarianism, simply because ethnic rights do not increase or decrease according to ballot. They are an absolute right.

    Says who? And individual rights are not “absolute?”

    We always correlate the demand to GG anyway.

    He was the one who proposed it, and to his credit he didn’t get whiny and disruptive when he didn’t get his way (maybe GG had learned from the 1939 experience). The fact that no one brought up 50-50 as a solution to anything afterwards- unlike federalism- demonstrates that it was not a real solution at the time it was proposed.

    Well since you were disparaging of the only two proponents of federalism you named, you can forgive me for assuming that you thought they were idiots.

    I really don’t comprehend the fun you find in name-calling. I cited Asanga and Rohan (if they don’t mind me addressing them on first-name basis) because they have written the most on federalism. They had a lot to say about how federalism applies to Canada and Switzerland but little about how it would actually work in Sri Lanka. Asanga came a bit closer with his piece on fiscal federalism- an extremely vital topic that for some reason the federalism-bleaters entirely ignored up until then- but even he didn’t explain how the various provinces outside Western Province would raise their own revenue to fund their expenditures. The fact that his paper was based on the premise that the LTTE supported federalism further ruined its credibility.

    I do think devolution is a more efficient and less wasteful form of government than a centrist one,

    Research has proven the opposite. If you are interested in this topic, and are not just one of the Colombo NGOish cheerleaders who never research the slogans they chant, I’ll provide references.

    and that it brings governance closer to the electorate.

    Yes, the Europeans have a BS magical term to describe this notion: subsidiarity (now you can go to these Colombo seminars and impress everyone).

    Devolution does not empower people at the local level but rather the elites at the local level. This is all fine and nice in Switzerland where everyone is rich but it doesn’t work in a country like Sri Lanka where people don’t vote for the best or even least worst candidate, but rather the one who can deliver the goods.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “As it turns out, 50-50 was proposed over a decade before Sinhala Only was. A proposal doesn’t have validity when it is intended to address an injustice that did not yet take place!”

      Come on, Wijayapala, you’re doing a Heshan now — ie moving the goalposts when you can’t keep the ball out. The debate wasn’t on the validity of 50-50, but on the prevention of Sinhala Only. You asked me what would have prevented Sinhala Only. Isn’t it therefore logical that prevention must come before and not subsequent to the problem in question? Subsequent legislation, such as the 13th, is an attempt at cure and not prevention.

      “Why not instead simply expect the same Sinhala leadership not to pass legislation such as Sinhala Only to begin with????”

      I think I made clear my belief in the Sinhalese leadership’s sense of justice is as strong as by belief in porcine aerobatics. And history shows that my scepticism is well founded. Sinhala Only was passed by that leadership, not as an act of revenge, but simply as an easy way to gather the majority vote.

      “Now that we’re in the land of “what ifs,” what if you had 50-50 but the Sinhalese managed to bribe the Muslims into supporting Sinhala Only?”

      Even in the land of what ifs, it’s sensible to deal in probabilities and not mere possibilities. Anything of course is possible; not everything is probable. A 2/3 Sinhalese majority isn’t just probable, it’s practically guaranteed. The possibility of a bribery of the Muslims is a bit of a stretch, no?

      “So Sinhalese individuals having less voting power than Tamils or Muslims, simply because of their ethnicity/language, is not racist?????”

      Surely Wijayapala, unlike TT, you can grasp the distinction between collective and individual rights. Ethnic rights are a collective right. 50-50 in no way reduced Sinhalese collective rights to below those of the Tamils. It kept them equal. How then can it be racist? 50-50 had no impact on individual rights. But since you’re against proportional representation in favour of individual right, I assume you must be against the proportional allocations of the 1973 Standardisation Policy?

      “Please educate me then- what made Sinhala Only so awful, even worse than the Ceylon Citizenship Act of 1948???”

      Please assure me that you’re not attempting to argue whether the Citizenship Act was better or worse than Sinhala Only. We might as well argue if biological weapons are better or worse than chemical ones. My surprise was that your only opposition to Sinhala Only was its ability to introduce a demand for federalism rather than its injustice. Am I correct in surmising that if this hadn’t led to federalism, you’d be quite happy to have a Sinhala Only country?

      “Before 1956 Sri Lanka had an “English-Only” system that for some reason has evaded criticism from all the crusaders against unjustness. Have you ever asked yourself why the Tamil leaders never protested against English Only or tried to change it, even though most Tamils like most Sinhalese did not know English? Has it occurred to you that if the Tamil leadership had participated in or themselves launched a swabhasha campaign, we could have had “Sinhala & Tamil Only” instead?”

      Whatever your view on the official use of English, you can’t argue that it was racist. Whatever its positive or negative effects, they were equal on both the Sinhalese and Tamils. It also was and is more practical and useful for SL to have an international language as our official language. There was no reason to remove it. However, it obviously disenfranchised many in the less educated classes, and ways to address this would have been to make both local languages official alongside English, to increase English education, or both in various combinations, leading ultimately to a nation literate in English and using it on a everyday basis. A second option was to remove English and install both the local languages as official. However, both these would have been pointless to the Sinhalese leadership since it gave no advantage to the Sinhalese, and a visible advantage over the Tamils and other minorities was needed as a shortcut to votes. So the Sinhalese abandoned what was good for the nation in favour of what was good for them: Sinhala Only.

      “Here’s another question- how exactly did Sinhala Only affect the Tamils? One of the stock answers to that question has been “The Sinhalese received a greater advantage than the Tamils.” Now correct me if I’m wrong, but one of the more immediate effects was that the Tamils (more accurately, the Jaffna-Colombo elite section) lost the disproportionate representation they held in the civil service- their own advantage that they inherited from colonialism.”

      That disproportionate advantage was based on ability, Wijayapala, not on ethnicity. Tamils valued education far more than the Sinhalese, and educated themselves in English. So instead of pulling themselves up to equal the Tamils in English education, the Sinhalese decided in one fell stroke to remove the Tamil advantage by removing the language they were educated in and bringing everything down to the level of the lowest common denomination.

      “Yet even with Sinhala Only, that section continued to have disproportionate university admissions until Standardisation in 1972! How did that occur if Sinhala Only had totally disenfranchised and dislocated the Tamils?????”

      Again, it’s because Tamils valued university education much more highly than the Sinhalese, and educated their children in English with the goal of getting them into the medical and engineering faculties where English was obviously an advantage, and then into those fields. These fields were only accessible to urban Sinhalese, since rural Sinhalese were less well educated in English, so obviously the Sinhalese were disproportionately represented. The wise way to get more Sinhalese in and in fact build the society in the long term would have been to increase English education for rural Sinhalese. Instead, the Sinhalese leadership took the shortcut and artificially imposed a quota system to redress the supposed injustice of more relevantly educated Tamils, in the process scuppering the chances of millions of Sinhalese in generations to come. We still haven’t recovered from it, and won’t for at least another generation.

      “Says who? And individual rights are not “absolute?””

      Says me. Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re one of a family of four, living in your own house, and your neighbours are a family of ten, living in a house the same size as yours. Obviously your neighbours have less individual right to their property than your family; and yet their collective right is the same as yours. Do you think your neighbours have the right to take part of your house to redress the supposed imbalance in individual right? And if tomorrow your family married and had children and increased to twelve in number, would your collective rights suddenly increase over your neighbours, simply because you now outnumbered them where you didn’t before? I don’t think so. It’s not a radical theory, Wijayapala. It’s a long established one. And that’s why collective or ethnic rights cannot depend on a variable.

      “He was the one who proposed it, and to his credit he didn’t get whiny and disruptive when he didn’t get his way (maybe GG had learned from the 1939 experience). The fact that no one brought up 50-50 as a solution to anything afterwards- unlike federalism- demonstrates that it was not a real solution at the time it was proposed.”

      What were the chances of a demonized policy such as 50-50 being accepted by a state that was against even the tiniest of minority rights?

      “I really don’t comprehend the fun you find in name-calling. I cited Asanga and Rohan (if they don’t mind me addressing them on first-name basis) because they have written the most on federalism.”

      You cited them as examples of ignorance of federalism. Why are you now getting sniffy when I suggested you were disparaging of them. Did you actually have a point in dropping their names? I ask because you seem to be going back on your assertion that the average farmer knew more about federalism than these two. It was your assertion not mine, Wijayapala, so I fail to see why you are now accusing me of name calling.

      “Research has proven the opposite. If you are interested in this topic, and are not just one of the Colombo NGOish cheerleaders who never research the slogans they chant, I’ll provide references.”

      Regardless of who or what I am and what my research practices are, you should provide any references to back up your theory that all devolution is wasteful and inefficient. When you do, I’ll show you that the actual waste and inefficiency comes from failure to implement the system fully.

      “Yes, the Europeans have a BS magical term to describe this notion: subsidiarity (now you can go to these Colombo seminars and impress everyone).”

      Sadly your debates with Heshan seem to have had a negative effect on your own debatory abilities.

      “Devolution does not empower people at the local level but rather the elites at the local level. This is all fine and nice in Switzerland where everyone is rich but it doesn’t work in a country like Sri Lanka where people don’t vote for the best or even least worst candidate, but rather the one who can deliver the goods.”

      Isn’t delivering the goods what it’s all about? And could you point to these local elites you suggest are being empowered?

      • wijayapala

        David,

        The debate wasn’t on the validity of 50-50, but on the prevention of Sinhala Only. You asked me what would have prevented Sinhala Only.

        And you gave an undemocratic answer. As I pointed out, you might have well suggested disenfranchising Sinhalese altogether. That would have more reliably prevented Sinhala Only, no?? No need for “validity” to constrain our answers!

        The possibility of a bribery of the Muslims is a bit of a stretch, no?

        Not when you look at how politics have transpired in Sri Lanka. Disenfranchising the Sinhalese altogether is a safer option.

        Surely Wijayapala, unlike TT, you can grasp the distinction between collective and individual rights.

        I can grasp how something like 50-50 promotes one right at the expense of the other. But aren’t we sidetracking the discussion by talking about 50-50′s validity?

        Please assure me that you’re not attempting to argue whether the Citizenship Act was better or worse than Sinhala Only.

        I suppose if you’re a Jaffna Vellala, then the Citizenship Act was nothing at all compared to Sinhala Only. An upcountry Tamil might have a different opinion, in case you care.

        Am I correct in surmising that if this hadn’t led to federalism, you’d be quite happy to have a Sinhala Only country?

        No I wouldn’t, but all the same I don’t think that Sinhala Only did as much damage as often claimed when you compare it with the previous English Only system.

        However, it obviously disenfranchised many in the less educated classes, and ways to address this would have been to make both local languages official alongside English, to increase English education, or both in various combinations, leading ultimately to a nation literate in English and using it on a everyday basis. A second option was to remove English and install both the local languages as official.

        So again I ask, why didn’t any Tamil leaders preempt Sinhala Only in the 1940s or early 50s with your above ideas?

        Tamils valued education far more than the Sinhalese,

        What is your evidence for this? How would that explain the low literacy levels among the upcountry Tamils? Or that eastern Tamils also were not overrepresented?

        and educated themselves in English.

        That is because the Tamils had more opportunities to learn both English and Tamil thanks to the American-inspired education system in Jaffna. The Sinhalese on the other hand had the elite “English-Only” schools or the much-neglected Sinhala medium schools. The result of this was a Sinhala society sharply divided between the English- and Sinhala-speakers- a division that has persisted even to today and has essentially been the foundation for Sinhala nationalist politics. The Tamils had their own divisions, by caste and region, but nothing resembling this linguistic fault line that the Sinhalese had.

        Let’s say you’re one of a family of four, living in your own house, and your neighbours are a family of ten, living in a house the same size as yours. Obviously your neighbours have less individual right to their property than your family; and yet their collective right is the same as yours.

        Poor example- property rights and basic civic rights are apples and oranges. In this case, the house is not owned by the family but by an individual, likely the breadwinner. That the houses have the same size are arbitrary for your example and have nothing whatsoever to do with property rights. The families have the right to purchase more or less property to suit their needs, if they can afford it.

        You on the other hand appear to be arguing that the larger family should be denied the right to purchase more property, because then it would have more than the smaller family and that would be “unequal.” I heard that the previous government in Northern Ireland argued along similar lines to deny certain property rights to Catholics.

        What were the chances of a demonized policy such as 50-50 being accepted by a state that was against even the tiniest of minority rights?

        Then why propose anything at all? Why federalism? You still haven’t answered why the post-independence leaders should have embraced 50-50, when even the British themselves did not.

        Did you actually have a point in dropping their names? I ask because you seem to be going back on your assertion that the average farmer knew more about federalism than these two.

        I think the average farmer knows more about how federalism will affect him than the Colombo NGO intellectuals do, although he may not be as conversant in the abstract minutiae and academic theory. I stand by that claim.

        Regardless of who or what I am and what my research practices are, you should provide any references to back up your theory that all devolution is wasteful and inefficient.

        To start:
        www2.ids.ac.uk/gdr/cfs/pdfs/Schneider.pdf
        http://www.duke.edu/~ew41/Research_files/fedandmacro_oct2000%20copy.pdf

        And could you point to these local elites you suggest are being empowered?

        That should be self-explanatory, although you should read the above articles before responding to my comments. Devolution transfers power from the central government to regional ones. That power is wielded not by the people themselves but rather by those who are elected to positions in the regional governments (if you are not familiar with that key distinction, I suggest reading Qadri Ismail’s book where he decries “representative” democracy). Local elites have the ability to use their resources to dominate such governments much more than they can for national governments, where their resources are stretched thin and they face much more competition. Have you ever wondered why, for example, the JVP does much better at national elections than local government elections, despite having an active local cadre base?

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        “And you gave an undemocratic answer. As I pointed out, you might have well suggested disenfranchising Sinhalese altogether. That would have more reliably prevented Sinhala Only, no?? No need for “validity” to constrain our answers!”

        Dear Wijayapala, you’re claiming that 50-50 is racist and undemocratic, just as TT did. I am merely asking you (and him) to substantiate that claim. If you cannot do so, then it is a subjective opinion. I, on the other hand think that 50-50 is democratic (and I have cited examples of the use of disproportionate representation in democratic nations), a legitimate tool when it comes to collective and/or collective rights. I have also shown that since it doesn’t reduce the power of any community to below that of another, it cannot be said to be racist, since it neither favours one community nor suppresses another.

        “Not when you look at how politics have transpired in Sri Lanka. Disenfranchising the Sinhalese altogether is a safer option.”

        Really? Can you show any such attempt by one community to coerce another into voting in favour or against racist legislation? Your suggestion that a proposed corrupt action is reason enough to fault the policy, is a desperate clutch at a straw, Wijayapala. As I told you before, why don’t we discuss probabilities like adults instead of getting into the areas of far-fetched fantasy that so many here do? Why do you feel it is necessary that Sinhalese have all of the power or none at all; is there no middle ground; no compromise; no sharing?

        “I can grasp how something like 50-50 promotes one right at the expense of the other. But aren’t we sidetracking the discussion by talking about 50-50?s validity?”

        The sidetracking I mentioned was because you were questioning the validity or quality of the policy, based on its date of introduction, when clearly its effectivity as a preventive measure necessitated its introduction prior to Sinhala Only, and not after, and was therefore not an issue of quality but of effectivity. If you wish to question the policy’s quality separate to the above issue, I see no problem with that.

        “I suppose if you’re a Jaffna Vellala, then the Citizenship Act was nothing at all compared to Sinhala Only. An upcountry Tamil might have a different opinion, in case you care.”

        Personally, I think Sinhala Only affected more people and more communities than the Citizenship Act, and therefore is more imporatant to any debate on the ethnic conflict, but yes, the Citizenship Act was pretty heinous too. but as I said, a comparison of the two wasn’t my intention. Would you be satisfied if I’d not called Sinhala Only the most unjust and racist law in our independent history and instead called it “one of the most”? My query, however, was about your opposition to the law being based primarily on the reaction it elicited from the Tamils, than the injustice and hardship it caused them.

        “No I wouldn’t, but all the same I don’t think that Sinhala Only did as much damage as often claimed when you compare it with the previous English Only system.”

        The damage caused by English Only was mostly because the Sinhalese were unwilling, or unable, to educate themselves in English to the extent that Tamils did, Wijayapala. English was a holdover of the colonial era, an era filled with many injustices, as I often pointed out to Heshan, but the point is, the sensible option was for the national leadership to throw muscle behind wholesale education of the Sinhalese masses that would have enabled them to catch up with the Tamils and easily relegate the latter to proportions in the civil and government service that would have been in line with their population scale. Instead, they decided to chop them down for quick Sinhalese votes. There was no way to avoid English Only in our first years of independence, since a system cannot switch overnight, however, there was no need for Sinhala Only. Look at India; they saw the advantages of English, bot for domestic as well as international use.

        “So again I ask, why didn’t any Tamil leaders preempt Sinhala Only in the 1940s or early 50s with your above ideas?”

        Why would they wish to disturb a status quo that was favourable to them in the short term, and favourable to the nation in the long term? The only people the system disenfranchised as a whole was the rural Sinhalese, so clearly the national leadership was duty bound to do something about it. The question is, why did they choose a policy that favoured the Sinhalese in the short term, at the cost of the Tamils, and doomed everybody in the long term; when they could very well have chosen policies that would have raised the Sinhalese up, not alienated the Tamils, and guaranteed SL’s future? And we know the answer: votes.

        “What is your evidence for this? How would that explain the low literacy levels among the upcountry Tamils? Or that eastern Tamils also were not overrepresented?”

        Surely that answer is clear? The upcountry Tamils were mostly working class plantation labour, and hardly interested in education the way the more demographically sound Jaffna Tamils were. Also, the East was far more agrarian than the North, populated by Tamils who weren’t as interested in higher education as their northern neighbours who were mostly living in the urbanised areas of the Jaffna Peninsula and large towns such as Trinco, Mullaitivu, etc. Most of the Tamils who entered the civil and government sectors, the engineering and medical fields, and the mercantile sector, were urban Tamils, and there was a larger proportion of urban to rural Tamils than there were urban to rural Sinhalese.

        “That is because the Tamils had more opportunities to learn both English and Tamil thanks to the American-inspired education system in Jaffna. The Sinhalese on the other hand had the elite “English-Only” schools or the much-neglected Sinhala medium schools. The result of this was a Sinhala society sharply divided between the English- and Sinhala-speakers- a division that has persisted even to today and has essentially been the foundation for Sinhala nationalist politics. The Tamils had their own divisions, by caste and region, but nothing resembling this linguistic fault line that the Sinhalese had.”

        I agree, and that is why I pointed out to Heshan that the Brits have a lot of responsibility to bear for the fault lines. However, Sinhala Only did nothing to bring those on the wrong side of the crack across to the right side. It simply moved the crack so that in the long term everyone was on the wrong side, and created a new crack that divided the minorities from everyone else.

        “Poor example- property rights and basic civic rights are apples and oranges. In this case, the house is not owned by the family but by an individual, likely the breadwinner. That the houses have the same size are arbitrary for your example and have nothing whatsoever to do with property rights. The families have the right to purchase more or less property to suit their needs, if they can afford it.”

        Try not to be obtuse, Wijayapala. When an example is used, one is still supposed to base one’s counter-argument on the subject itself, and not on the example provided! If I had used two boats instead of two houses, would you have pointed out that maritime laws are different to civic rights? The reason I said that the houses are the same size, and that no other property is available, is because electoral power is similarly limited to the 100% of the population; there is no other place to magically produce more electoral power or property. I was forced to resort to this impressionist example because you seem unable to grasp the abstract idea.

        “You on the other hand appear to be arguing that the larger family should be denied the right to purchase more property, because then it would have more than the smaller family and that would be “unequal.” I heard that the previous government in Northern Ireland argued along similar lines to deny certain property rights to Catholics.”

        Not at all. There is no purchasable property, Wijayapala. Electoral power is fixed by the existing electorate. My point is that collective power, like in my example of the houses, cannot be transferred according to changes in collective size. You will see this in action in the UN General Assembly or the Security Council, where each nation, regardless of size of population, has just one representative; that is the basis of collectivism, be it rights or representation. Is this so difficult to grasp?

        “Then why propose anything at all? Why federalism? You still haven’t answered why the post-independence leaders should have embraced 50-50, when even the British themselves did not.”

        Well, obviously the Tamils wanted something done to save them from Sinhala Only. Are you suggesting they should have done nothing? Since 50-50 had already been rejected, it was unlikely that it would now be accepted. Even if it had been accepted, how could it have repealed Sinhala Only, since 50-50 could only block legislation and not create it? Federalism seemed a logical demand. As for the British in the ’30s, what reason would they have seen for disproportionate minority representation, especially given that there was no fixed date for independence, if at all?

        “I think the average farmer knows more about how federalism will affect him than the Colombo NGO intellectuals do, although he may not be as conversant in the abstract minutiae and academic theory. I stand by that claim.”

        I would disagree, given that the people talking the loudest were the opponents of federalism who were debunking it, and according to you, those actually suggesting it didn’t really know how it would be applied in SL. There are many models of federalism, and so many variable systems of devolution that are possible; but none of this was spoken about by either side. At one end there was the US model of devolved states further devolved into counties or districts, and at the other end the Canadian model with two large states devolved according to language/ethnic lines. But in between is a plethora of possibilities, and the bottom line is each province could have decided for itself if it wanted devolution or not. Those that saw it as advantageous could go for it, and those that thought it was better to be governed from the centre could reject it. The fact that none of this was discussed in the public space was the great failing. The result is a half-arsed system where we have devolution on paper but no actual devolution. Pointless and wasteful.

        “That should be self-explanatory, although you should read the above articles before responding to my comments. Devolution transfers power from the central government to regional ones. That power is wielded not by the people themselves but rather by those who are elected to positions in the regional governments (if you are not familiar with that key distinction, I suggest reading Qadri Ismail’s book where he decries “representative” democracy).”

        I will certainly read the articles you’ve linked to and respond, but if your criticism of devolution is based on a criticism of representative democracy itself, I fail to see how centrist governance can itself be preferred since it too is based on representative democracy.

        “Local elites have the ability to use their resources to dominate such governments much more than they can for national governments, where their resources are stretched thin and they face much more competition.”

        Can you point out examples to substantiate this view?

        “Have you ever wondered why, for example, the JVP does much better at national elections than local government elections, despite having an active local cadre base?”

        There are various factors for this. First is that the JVP itself has very little in the form of policy themselves, and what little they do have is in the form of anti-policies. They see themselves as national watchdogs (or in the case of the NFF, lapdogs). Since most policy is still set at a national level and not provincial, the JVP can’t really make an impact at the devolved level. This is partly their own lack of political substance, and the systems failure to implement proper devolution where provincial policies will be set at the PC level. The TNA/ITAK on the other hand does well at the devolved level because their policies and platforms are limited mostly to regional issues in the NE, and not at the national level.

  • wijayapala

    Dear David,

    I, on the other hand think that 50-50 is democratic (and I have cited examples of the use of disproportionate representation in democratic nations), a legitimate tool when it comes to collective and/or collective rights.

    Correction: you cited one example in the American electoral college, and I responded that it does not weigh votes by ethnicity/race as you propose Sri Lanka should. The whites are not limited to only 50% representation in Congress and the minorities are not entitled to the other 50%. More importantly, nobody in the US is proposing such a wacky idea even given its history of racism which was far worse than anything Sri Lanka had.

    You are free to your own subjective opinion, but given your ability to find relevant real life examples, I’m afraid you are alone.

    Your suggestion that a proposed corrupt action is reason enough to fault the policy, is a desperate clutch at a straw, Wijayapala. As I told you before, why don’t we discuss probabilities like adults instead of getting into the areas of far-fetched fantasy that so many here do?

    But 50-50 is the most “far-fetched fantasy” of all.

    I think Sinhala Only affected more people and more communities than the Citizenship Act, and therefore is more imporatant to any debate on the ethnic conflict

    What you call the “ethnic conflict” really just involved the Sinhalese and the N-E Tamils; the N-E Muslims were caught in the middle and the upcountry Tamils were involved only when targeted by racist thugs. You haven’t explained how Sinhala Only affected non-English-speaking Tamils or Muslims.

    Why do you feel it is necessary that Sinhalese have all of the power or none at all;

    But the Sinhalese don’t have all the power; as I already pointed out to Usha, the historic 2005 presidential election proved that with Mahinda winning because the Tamils had been disenfranchised.

    Why would they wish to disturb a status quo that was favourable to them in the short term, and favourable to the nation in the long term?…The question is, why did they choose a policy that favoured the Sinhalese in the short term, at the cost of the Tamils, and doomed everybody in the long term;

    Sorry but I’m having a tough time following your train of logic. You’re saying that the Tamil leaders were perfectly justified in pursuing their own narrow communal interests, but not the Sinhala leaders?

    How was a system that made the majority community an underclass in the only country where they exist favorable to Sri Lanka in the long term?? And how did Sinhala Only doom everyone in the long term, given that it did not spawn Tamil militancy?

    there was a larger proportion of urban to rural Tamils than there were urban to rural Sinhalese.

    Sorry, but I don’t buy your argument that rural people are less interested in education simply because they are rural. And anyway that doesn’t explain some of the ratios that persisted all the way to 1971 (15 years after Sinhala Only), like the medical school class at Peradeniya that had 7 Sinhala graduates and 110 Tamils.

    Look at India; they saw the advantages of English, bot for domestic as well as international use.

    If Sri Lanka had followed India’s example, the official languages would have been Sinhala and English, but not Tamil.

    Malaysia has a “Malay Only” policy even though the ethnic Malays form just over 50% of the population. How come they turned out well, better than India?

    I was forced to resort to this impressionist example because you seem unable to grasp the abstract idea.

    I thought you were forced to resort to this example because you couldn’t find a real life case to back your claim.

    When an example is used, one is still supposed to base one’s counter-argument on the subject itself, and not on the example provided!

    But your example made no sense, which is why I criticised it.

    You will see this in action in the UN General Assembly or the Security Council, where each nation, regardless of size of population, has just one representative; that is the basis of collectivism, be it rights or representation.

    But the UNGA is not a country or even a federation. Each country is considered equal because they have sovereignty, which ethnic communities in Sri Lanka don’t have. Maybe this analogy would work if Sri Lanka was a confederation, with the “Sinhala nation” having equal representation in the confederal assembly as the “Tamil nation.”

    Since 50-50 had already been rejected, it was unlikely that it would now be accepted.

    Then how come the Tamils did not abandon federalism after it was rejected too?

    As for the British in the ’30s, what reason would they have seen for disproportionate minority representation, especially given that there was no fixed date for independence, if at all?

    Are you totally unaware that colonial Ceylon always had disproportionate minority representation, from the 1833 Colebrooke-Cameron system through the 1931 Donoughmore Constitution???

    the people talking the loudest were the opponents of federalism who were debunking it

    Really? I had gotten the opposite impression.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “Correction: you cited one example in the American electoral college, and I responded that it does not weigh votes by ethnicity/race as you propose Sri Lanka should.”

      Wijayapala, take a step back, a deep breath, or whatever it is you require to look at this objectively. You are once more shifting the goalposts. I can only assume that this is a result of long exposure to the Heshan brand of debate. You claimed that one man one vote systems are the basis of democracy; I pointed out that it isn’t and cited an example — the US electoral college. Now you suggest that one example isn’t enough, and that I must find an example in a democratic nation where there is a clash of ethnicities, and where collective representation is in use. Do you feel you’re being intellectually honest here? The fact is one man one vote isn’t written in stone, and proportional representation in the case of collective rights and representation is certainly democratic and in use.

      Have you ever asked yourself (or me) why I am suggesting 50-50 as a prevention of Sinhala Only? Are you incapable of stepping out of your ethnicity for a moment and seeing what lies at the core of 50-50? It isn’t about Tamil racism or Sinhalese disenfranchisement or a lack of democracy or any of the other non sequiturs that have been bandied about for generations. The core of 50-50 is simply this: the veto power of the minority. That’s it. The power to veto racist legislation such as Sinhala only. 50-50 guarantees this, and unless you can suggest another piece of legislation that enshrines this in a centrist governance system, federalism (or an equivalent form of devolution) is the only other option. Devolution along ethno-lingual borders will at least guarantee that within Tamil majority areas their rights will be protected.

      “The whites are not limited to only 50% representation in Congress and the minorities are not entitled to the other 50%.”

      Well, given that the white/black divide in the US isn’t language-based (unlike in SL), and that the white failure in race rights wasn’t due to passing of racist legislation (unlike the Sinhalese failure in SL) but the failure to implement the existing constitution and the Bill of Rights, how would 50-50 benefit blacks or any other minorities in the US? 50-50 cannot force someone to do anything, as I’ve now told you several times, but which somehow seems beyond your grasp; it can only prevent.

      “More importantly, nobody in the US is proposing such a wacky idea even given its history of racism which was far worse than anything Sri Lanka had.”

      Why do you require American endorsement for an SL law when we’ve never sought such an endorsement before?

      “You are free to your own subjective opinion, but given your ability to find relevant real life examples, I’m afraid you are alone.”

      Thank you, but if you’re expecting me to provide an example that replicates the situation in SL exactly in order to be valid, you’re also alone. Or possibly in the company of Heshan and TT.

      “But 50-50 is the most “far-fetched fantasy” of all.”

      How so? You’re suggesting a problem that has never occurred, in contrast to me providing a solution to an actual problem that occurred in 1956 and created an ethnic conflict that has yet to be resolved 50 years on.

      “What you call the “ethnic conflict” really just involved the Sinhalese and the N-E Tamils; the N-E Muslims were caught in the middle and the upcountry Tamils were involved only when targeted by racist thugs. You haven’t explained how Sinhala Only affected non-English-speaking Tamils or Muslims.”

      First of all, you seem to be persisting in this argument to prove that the Citizenship act was marginally worse than Sinhala Only. I asked you earlier if you would feel better if I called the latter “one of the most racist laws” instead of “the most racist law”. To me, showing the Citizenship Act to be as bad as Sinhala Only doesn’t diminish the evil of the latter; it merely compounds it. Secondly, it is possible that the law didn’t change anything for non-English-speaking Muslims and Tamils, but nevertheless it alienated them because while Sinhala Only addressed the non-English-speaking Sinhalese’s disenfranchisement under English-only, it didn’t do so for those Tamils and Muslims.

      “But the Sinhalese don’t have all the power; as I already pointed out to Usha, the historic 2005 presidential election proved that with Mahinda winning because the Tamils had been disenfranchised.”

      Dear Wijayapala, my disappointment with your intellect deepens with each comment you make. A presidential election is a popular-vote election, in which there are three choices at the minimum; candidate A, candidate B, or none of the above. Legislation in parliament isn’t passed by popular vote, but by representatives of the people who vote for Law A, against Law A, or abstain. There is no Law B they can vote for as an alternative. So if Sinhala Only were to be proposed, the only legislative measure that could prevent it would be by veto of the minority. So far, 50-50 is the only such proposed veto law that we have seen. Weren’t you earlier talking about comparing apples with oranges?

      “Sorry but I’m having a tough time following your train of logic. You’re saying that the Tamil leaders were perfectly justified in pursuing their own narrow communal interests, but not the Sinhala leaders?”

      Is the fact that the Tamil leaders were community leaders, and that the Sinhalese leaders were national leaders, that difficult to follow?

      “How was a system that made the majority community an underclass in the only country where they exist favorable to Sri Lanka in the long term??”

      First of all, Sinhalese don’t exist only in SL; SL is the only place where their language is in official use, and I don’t think that fact accords the speakers of that language any special privilege over the speakers of other languages. Second, they were an underclass only for lack of sufficient English education. If the national/Sinhalese leadership had made English education a priority, the Sinhalese would have quickly usurped the Tamils’ privileged position in the government and civil services. If that had been done started in the late ’40s and continued, today SL would have been highly literate in English, more attractive to investors, and have a population capable of taking on the world. Instead, we have graduates who can’t be hired even into the lowest levels of the local mercantile sector without extensive training. I’ve already pointed this out to you, Wijayapala.

      “And how did Sinhala Only doom everyone in the long term, given that it did not spawn Tamil militancy?”

      Again, I’ve already answered this, but I’ll repeat it since I fear you’re not even attempting to read, never mind understand, what I’m saying. It was Tamil reactions to Sinhala Only (federal demand, tarring of the “Sri” in number plates), and other subsequent racist actions by the GoSL that was used as excuses to incite Sinhalese mobs to violence against them in organised pogroms. It was a combination of these racist actions, and the Sinhalese violence against lawful Tamil resistance to said actions, that led to the call for separation via the Vaddukoddai Resolution. When this call was refused, and no action taken to address the issues pointed out by the Tamils, that they resorted to armed rebellion. So ipso facto Sinhalese Only (no doubt followed by other racist actions both legislative and direct) that spawned Tamil militancy.

      “Sorry, but I don’t buy your argument that rural people are less interested in education simply because they are rural.”

      I didn’t say they are, I said they were; and I didn’t say education, but higher education. Until the ’80s, SL was overwhelmingly agrarian-based in our industry, and the vast number of people made their living through jobs tied to plantations and farming. It therefore stands to reason, that these rural folk would be less interested in a career as a doctor, engineer, or civil servant than would the urban folk who needed university education, isn’t it?

      “And anyway that doesn’t explain some of the ratios that persisted all the way to 1971 (15 years after Sinhala Only), like the medical school class at Peradeniya that had 7 Sinhala graduates and 110 Tamils.”

      Don’t you think 15 years is roughly the period that it would take for a school generation to feel the affects of such a language change? Especially since many of the Christian schools continued to have an English medium into the late ’70s. I remember when I started to go to school in ’78, my school no longer had English as a medium, but I believe it was discontinued only around ’76 or ’77. Some schools continued it for longer.

      “If Sri Lanka had followed India’s example, the official languages would have been Sinhala and English, but not Tamil.”

      Don’t be silly. English and Hindi are the national languages of India, but there are 23 state languages, and each state can decide what its official language would be. So if we had followed India’s example, we would have English as the national language and Sinhalese and Tamil as provincial official languages, or Sinhalese and English as national languages, and Tamil as a provincial official language in the NE.

      “Malaysia has a “Malay Only” policy even though the ethnic Malays form just over 50% of the population. How come they turned out well, better than India?”

      Surely you don’t believe that language is the only issue that decides the success or failure of a nation? Indonesia also uses Malay as its sole official language, but isn’t as successful. Is this really what you wish to debate?

      “I thought you were forced to resort to this example because you couldn’t find a real life case to back your claim.”

      When you earlier asked me for an example of the use of 50-50 in a democratic nation, I asked you to show me a democratic nation that had passed a law like Sinhala Only, disenfranchising its national minority. You sensibly abandoned that avenue of reasoning when faced with that dilemma, but now return to demand that I produce such an example once more. The situation in SL in the ’50s was pretty unique, and required a unique preventive measure.

      “But your example made no sense, which is why I criticised it.”

      It makes no sense to you because you fail to grasp the character of the problem. Heshan required the SL problem to transform itself to become like Singapore in order that a Singaporean solution could be applied. For him the problem was inconvenient in its character, nevertheless he understood it. I fear you do not. For instance, you see the problem with Sinhala Only as being that it elicited a demand for first federalism and then separation from the Tamils. For you, as a Sinhalese, the tip of the iceberg, the part that affects you as a Sinhalese, is the limit of the problem. Unless you first grasp the problem, you can’t solve it.

      “But the UNGA is not a country or even a federation. Each country is considered equal because they have sovereignty, which ethnic communities in Sri Lanka don’t have. Maybe this analogy would work if Sri Lanka was a confederation, with the “Sinhala nation” having equal representation in the confederal assembly as the “Tamil nation.””

      Oh dear. In the UN representation is based on sovereign representation, Wijayapala, and in a 50-50 in SL, representation will be based on ethnic representation. Should I just take it that unless my examples are exact replicas of the situ in SL, I cannot use them?

      “Then how come the Tamils did not abandon federalism after it was rejected too?”

      Perhaps because the situation was more desperate than it was in the ’30s?

      “Are you totally unaware that colonial Ceylon always had disproportionate minority representation, from the 1833 Colebrooke-Cameron system through the 1931 Donoughmore Constitution???”

      What I am aware of, Wijayapala, is that neither of these colonial systems had a 50-50 ratio of representation between communities. And as I said, what reason would the Brits have had to approve something like that in an era where independence wasn’t even planned?

      “Really? I had gotten the opposite impression.”

      Maybe you were standing too far away.

      • wijayapala

        David,

        Wijayapala, take a step back, a deep breath, or whatever it is you require to look at this objectively.

        “Looking at this objectively” = blindly agreeing with everything you say??

        I get the impression that this debate is affecting you emotionally as you seem to be taking the universal rejection of the principle of 50-50 out on just me. Have you asked any of your friends their opinion of 50-50?

        The Soulbury commissioners for their part argued “any attempt by artificial means to convert a majority into a minority is not only inequitable, but doomed to failure” and that 50-50 was “a denial of the democratic principle.” But what the hell did they know?

        First of all, you seem to be persisting in this argument to prove that the Citizenship act was marginally worse than Sinhala Only.

        On the contrary, the Citizenship Acts were far far worse than Sinhala Only, outright denying the upcountry Tamils the right to vote! It was in a completely different league than Sinhala Only, which for all its unfairness did not affect minorities who learned Sinhala (such as Prabakaran’s own father) and became more versatile than their monolingual Sinhala counterparts.

        One of the most revealing aspects of the Citizenship Acts was that they had eventually been backed by GG Ponnambalam who had earlier proposed 50-50! Now how would you explain that? Can you really argue that 50-50 would have prevented racist legislation, when the Sinhalese leaders could have cut a similar deal with one of the minority leaders to screw the others?

        Have you ever asked yourself (or me) why I am suggesting 50-50 as a prevention of Sinhala Only?”

        Because you value collective rights over individual rights, whereas I do not understand how arbitrarily-defined groups that did not self-identify in history should be privileged over the individual?

        You had stated that “racism, prejudice, and bigotry” were the prevalent mindset behind Sinhala-Only. You have not explained how 50-50 would counter such sentiments. Instead you assume that this mindset is fixed and propose limiting the rights of Sinhala individuals as a solution. How do you think 50-50 would have affected the existing “racism, prejudice, and bigotry” in the Sinhala mindset? (hint: read what the Soulbury commissioners had to say)

        What I am aware of, Wijayapala, is that neither of these colonial systems had a 50-50 ratio of representation between communities. And as I said, what reason would the Brits have had to approve something like that in an era where independence wasn’t even planned?

        The 1833 system, which apparently was relatively liberal by colonial standards, allowed for 6 unofficial members within a 16-man Legislative Council of which there were 3 Europeans and one each from the Sinhala, Tamil, and Burgher communities. In other words, the Sinhalese had only 1/3 representation among the non-European members. The Sinhalese got 40% in 1889 when the Kandyans and Muslims each added a member and finally 50% in 1910.

        In light of this history, 50-50 was not a radical proposal intended to guard minority rights but rather a quite conservative notion well-grounded in colonial practice that was intended to preserve the privileges that the minorities had gained.

        The core of 50-50 is simply this: the veto power of the minority.

        GG Ponnambalam also justified 50-50 arguing that there were equal proportions of English-speaking Sinhalese and Tamils. I would not be surprised if Sinhala Only at least in part was a response to such linguistic chauvinism.

        You’re suggesting a problem that has never occurred, in contrast to me providing a solution to an actual problem that occurred in 1956 and created an ethnic conflict that has yet to be resolved 50 years on.

        But as I already pointed out, Sinhala-Only did not create the “ethnic conflict.” If anything, it was an “ethnic conflict” that led to Sinhala-Only.

        Secondly, it is possible that the law didn’t change anything for non-English-speaking Muslims and Tamils, but nevertheless it alienated them because while Sinhala Only addressed the non-English-speaking Sinhalese’s disenfranchisement under English-only, it didn’t do so for those Tamils and Muslims.

        But according to the logic of collective rights, Sinhala-Only was justified because the Sinhalese were underrepresented in university admissions and government employment. What about their “alienation?”

        It was Tamil reactions to Sinhala Only (federal demand, tarring of the “Sri” in number plates), and other subsequent racist actions by the GoSL that was used as excuses to incite Sinhalese mobs to violence against them in organised pogroms.

        So if there had been no organised violence in response to Tamil protests, then Sinhala Only would have been justified?

        “And anyway that doesn’t explain some of the ratios that persisted all the way to 1971 (15 years after Sinhala Only), like the medical school class at Peradeniya that had 7 Sinhala graduates and 110 Tamils.”
        Don’t you think 15 years is roughly the period that it would take for a school generation to feel the affects of such a language change?

        In other words, Sinhala Only did not have a detrimental effect on Tamils’ ability to receive an education?

        Surely you don’t believe that language is the only issue that decides the success or failure of a nation? Indonesia also uses Malay as its sole official language, but isn’t as successful. Is this really what you wish to debate?

        You apparently are arguing that language is the only issue by pinning all of Sri Lanka’s problems on Sinhala Only.

        When you earlier asked me for an example of the use of 50-50 in a democratic nation, I asked you to show me a democratic nation that had passed a law like Sinhala Only, disenfranchising its national minority. You sensibly abandoned that avenue of reasoning when faced with that dilemma,

        No I didn’t. I gave the example of Malaysia, to which you replied that language isn’t so important after all! And to remind you for the umpteenth time, Sinhala Only did NOT disenfranchise the Tamils.

        Do you feel you’re being intellectually honest here? The fact is one man one vote isn’t written in stone, and proportional representation in the case of collective rights and representation is certainly democratic and in use.

        Shouldn’t the person who can’t find a single example of collective rights being implemented anywhere resembling 50-50 be asking himself whether he’s being intellectually honest?

        Regarding proportional representation, the idea is that it gives no greater representation than the group’s proportion in society. In places in India where seats are reserved for scheduled castes or women, these groups don’t get more representation than their proportion (Krish can correct me if I’m wrong).

        Is the fact that the Tamil leaders were community leaders, and that the Sinhalese leaders were national leaders, that difficult to follow?

        I’m afraid it is. How come the Tamil leaders could not be “national” leaders, and the Sinhala leaders could not be “community” leaders? Is that rule written down somewhere????

        You claimed that one man one vote systems are the basis of democracy; I pointed out that it isn’t and cited an example — the US electoral college. Now you suggest that one example isn’t enough, and that I must find an example in a democratic nation where there is a clash of ethnicities, and where collective representation is in use.

        Correction: I pointed out that your one example of the US was irrelevant. “One man one vote” might not be set in stone, but it is still a fundamental principle behind universal suffrage and it prompted electoral reform in the US and UK, whose representative systems had preceded democracy.

        As you insist that the US electoral college is a relevant example, which group(s) does it give rights to? Who has the veto power that 50-50 gives to the minorities?

        Well, given that the white/black divide in the US isn’t language-based (unlike in SL), and that the white failure in race rights wasn’t due to passing of racist legislation

        Please stop shifting the goalposts. As you pointed out, 50-50 was not meant to be a solution to an existing problem but rather to a potential future problem. The correct analogy would be a country implementing 50-50 to ward off a future problem.

        Weren’t you the person who brought up Jim Crow, which took over 50 years to be declared unconstitutional and another 14 to be overruled by federal legislation? Apparently, one of the arguments against Sinhala Only was that it violated Section 29 of the Soulbury Constitution. Could you possibly shed light on why nobody challenged the constitutionality of Sinhala Only in the Supreme Court?

        “More importantly, nobody in the US is proposing such a wacky idea even given its history of racism which was far worse than anything Sri Lanka had.”
        Why do you require American endorsement for an SL law when we’ve never sought such an endorsement before?

        Let me rephrase: nobody in the world has implemented such a wacky idea in response to a future problem.

        First of all, Sinhalese don’t exist only in SL;

        Where else did they exist at the time of independence?

        If the national/Sinhalese leadership had made English education a priority, the Sinhalese would have quickly usurped the Tamils’ privileged position in the government and civil services. If that had been done started in the late ’40s and continued, today SL would have been highly literate in English, more attractive to investors, and have a population capable of taking on the world.

        Sorry, but I don’t see how a 70-year process beginning in the 1940s equates to “quickly usurping.” What if they had embarked on this education program while making Sinhala an official language?

        For you, as a Sinhalese, the tip of the iceberg, the part that affects you as a Sinhalese, is the limit of the problem. Unless you first grasp the problem, you can’t solve it.

        As I haven’t resorted to cheap baiting- claiming that you hold your views because you can’t see outside of your Burgher mindset- I ask that you refrain from the same.

        In the UN representation is based on sovereign representation, Wijayapala, and in a 50-50 in SL, representation will be based on ethnic representation. Should I just take it that unless my examples are exact replicas of the situ in SL, I cannot use them?

        No, you just can’t shift the goalposts. ;-) The UNGA is not a legislature and cannot pass legislation. I have no objection to a 50-50 body whose powers are limited to passing resolutions.

        “Then how come the Tamils did not abandon federalism after it was rejected too?”
        Perhaps because the situation was more desperate than it was in the ’30s?

        It is much more likely that the Tamils understood (but apparently you did not) that federalism or devolution was a far more legitimate demand than 50-50 as it is actually PRACTICED in other parts of the world. Although its motivations were communal- in response to a communal policy- federalism as a concept is not communal. It was the perfect response to Sinhala-Only, and I am not surprised at all that Chelvanayakam reportedly was pleased when SWRD Bandaranaike won the 1956 election.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        “Looking at this objectively” = blindly agreeing with everything you say??”

        Again, Wijayapala, why this strong preference for one extreme or another? Why must it be blind agreement or total disagreement; absolute power or none at all; Sinhala Only or no Sinhalese? This is what I mean by your lack of objectivity. You suggest that above that I am being emotional, but if you were honest you’ll realise that it is your own emotional investment in the concept of Sinhaleseness (evidenced by your comment on SL being the race’s last refuge when it is not, that 50-50 disenfrachises the race when it does not, etc) that results in subjectivity.

        “I get the impression that this debate is affecting you emotionally as you seem to be taking the universal rejection of the principle of 50-50 out on just me. Have you asked any of your friends their opinion of 50-50?”

        Why would I be affected emotionally by your rejection of a law that I have never defended or even suggested be passed until the beginning of this debate? As you well know, what I have in fact spoken strongly for is devolution via the 13th Amendment. To remind you of what started our debate, it was your query as to a preventive measure to Sinhala Only. A veto is that prevention. 50-50 gives that veto. Devolution is the alternative to a veto.

        On the subject of my Sinhalese friends, I was just discussing this a few days ago with RajivMW who sometimes comments on GV. He’s both a Sinhalese and a Buddhist and said (without any prompting from me) that he believes that 50-50 would have been correct for its veto value. Hopefully he’ll comment here in person soon so that you don’t have to take my word for it.

        “The Soulbury commissioners for their part argued “any attempt by artificial means to convert a majority into a minority is not only inequitable, but doomed to failure” and that 50-50 was “a denial of the democratic principle.” But what the hell did they know?”

        Given that the Brits had invaded a sovereign nation, occupied it for several centuries, stolen its resources, and denied its native inhabitants any form of democracy, I’m surprised you think they were adequate judges of the principles of democracy! However, as I asked before, what reason would Britain have to approve such an extreme measure in 1930s Ceylon when there was no likelihood of independence, never mind Sinhala Only?

        On the contrary, the Citizenship Acts were far far worse than Sinhala Only, outright denying the upcountry Tamils the right to vote!”

        Again this is purely subjective, Wijayapala, and a matter of opinion. I understand that your position on Sinhala Only requires you to diminish its import by pointing to a more convenient trespass, but this tactic is quite transparent. As you’ve said already, your only problem with Sinhala Only is that it elicited a Tamil reaction that you find unpalatable. If the upcountry Tamils had also called for federalism would you be also dismissing today the Citizenship Act as contemptiously as you do Sinhala Only? Just as the former was democratically wrong, the latter was morally wrong. May I once more remind you that this debate wasn’t about whether one law was better or worse than the other, rather what preventive measure could have been taken against Sinhala Only. In defence of the Citizenship Act (indefensible as it is), the restriction of citizenship to upcountry Tamils who had been resident for over ten years wasn’t too different to laws in Europe at the time regarding Turkish and other immigrant workers.

        “It was in a completely different league than Sinhala Only, which for all its unfairness did not affect minorities who learned Sinhala (such as Prabakaran’s own father) and became more versatile than their monolingual Sinhala counterparts.”

        Aside from the fact that by this comment you admit that Sinhala Only required Tamils to learn Sinhalese to avoid social disenfranchisement, I fear you are once more straying into the realms of fantasy. Do you really think that someone forced to learn a second language can ever really compete with someone educated in their mother tongue? Do you think you could have studied Tamil, completed school and uni and gone into a Tamil civil service and taken the required exams to stay abreast of your Tamil colleagues? Why didn’t the Sinhalese then learn English and also gain your claimed versatility instead of remaining monolingual and adjusting the law to help them? I know it upsets you when I point out that you’re allowing your ethnicity to dictate your viewpoint, but perhaps you should desist from allowing it to do so for the duration of this debate ;)

        “One of the most revealing aspects of the Citizenship Acts was that they had eventually been backed by GG Ponnambalam who had earlier proposed 50-50! Now how would you explain that? Can you really argue that 50-50 would have prevented racist legislation, when the Sinhalese leaders could have cut a similar deal with one of the minority leaders to screw the others?”

        Lol Wijayapala, I didn’t say 50-50 would have prevented racist laws if the Tamils were not opposed to said laws. For 50-50 to be a preventive, someone has to be actually trying to prevent something! Support for the act by Tamil leaders such as GG was mostly because of activities by Marxist unions in the plantations which were seen as a danger to the SL economy.

        “Because you value collective rights over individual rights,”

        Not at all. I believe both sets of rights are equally important and can coexist quite satisfactorily. Occasionally there might be some overlap, and that’s why we have courts to arbitrate. The problem is that many people (including you) allow their investment in their ethnicity to affect their ability to distinguish between the two. 50-50 has no affect on individual rights. If you think it does, I challenge you to put forth a hypothetical situation where a Sinhalese person’s individual rights are trespassed upon by 50-50.

        “whereas I do not understand how arbitrarily-defined groups that did not self-identify in history should be privileged over the individual?”

        Interesting. So you’re suggesting that Tamils are an arbitrarily defined ethnic group, and not an actual one, and that they never identified themselves as Tamil in modern history? Oh dear, Wijayapala, I had so much respect for you, but now it seems you’re not much more than an articulate TT!

        you had stated that “racism, prejudice, and bigotry” were the prevalent mindset behind Sinhala-Only. You have not explained how 50-50 would counter such sentiments.”

        But at the outset I had clearly stated that I didn’t know how to tackle bigotry, racism, and prejudice, and that 50-50 could only prevent the Sinhala Only Act. I know you didn’t miss this because I asked you to clarify whether you meant the act or the mindset and you did. Are you hoping to move the debate tangentially as you’re doing by bringing up the Citizenship Act?

        “Instead you assume that this mindset is fixed and propose limiting the rights of Sinhala individuals as a solution.”

        Not at all. I proposed preventing the legislature from passing racist laws. If you think it is the individual right of every Sinhalese to oppress the Tamils, you’re not alone in this forum. TT and Vasula think so too. I don’t though.

        “How do you think 50-50 would have affected the existing “racism, prejudice, and bigotry” in the Sinhala mindset? (hint: read what the Soulbury commissioners had to say)”

        As I told Heshan, a law cannot control thought, only action.

        “The 1833 system, which apparently was relatively liberal by colonial standards, allowed for 6 unofficial members within a 16-man Legislative Council of which there were 3 Europeans and one each from the Sinhala, Tamil, and Burgher communities. In other words, the Sinhalese had only 1/3 representation among the non-European members. The Sinhalese got 40% in 1889 when the Kandyans and Muslims each added a member and finally 50% in 1910.”

        So you’re pointing out that the Sinhalese never had more than 50% of the legislature between 1833 and independence. Not too different from 50-50 then. However, need I remind you that regardless of what the percentages were, the Brits had the final say on all laws?

        “In light of this history, 50-50 was not a radical proposal intended to guard minority rights but rather a quite conservative notion well-grounded in colonial practice that was intended to preserve the privileges that the minorities had gained.”

        You may well be right, but my interest in 50-50 is because of its veto component. As I said already, any other system which allowed the minorities a veto would be just as satisfactory.

        “GG Ponnambalam also justified 50-50 arguing that there were equal proportions of English-speaking Sinhalese and Tamils. I would not be surprised if Sinhala Only at least in part was a response to such linguistic chauvinism.”

        So you’re suggesting that 50-50 was a punitive action on the part of the Sinhalese, a collective punishment of all the Tamils for what GG had attempted two decades before?

        “But as I already pointed out, Sinhala-Only did not create the “ethnic conflict.” If anything, it was an “ethnic conflict” that led to Sinhala-Only.”

        Firstly, I already countered that point by showing you that Sinhala Only was the spark that started the fuse burning. There was no violence between Sinhalese and Tamils before 1956. Secondly, even if there had been such a conflict prior to 1956 (which there wasn’t), how did Sinhala Only address the conflict issues and/or solve them? Thirdly, even if Sinhala Only hadn’t eventually led to war (which it did), how does that change the fact that it was an unjust law? You seem to think that it is the reaction that determins the action.

        “But according to the logic of collective rights, Sinhala-Only was justified because the Sinhalese were underrepresented in university admissions and government employment. What about their “alienation?””

        But that underrepresentation wasn’t because of a law. There was no law that said SL would be English Only. It was simply a hold over from centuries of colonisation. This was compounded by a lack of English education amongst the Sinhalese, and a lack of interest in what little there was. The answer was to provide English education, or make both local languages official. There was no reason to make only Sinhalese official. We’ve been through this before, Wijayapala.

        “So if there had been no organised violence in response to Tamil protests, then Sinhala Only would have been justified?”

        No. What makes you think that?

        “In other words, Sinhala Only did not have a detrimental effect on Tamils’ ability to receive an education?”

        Of course not. Just as English Only didn’t affect the Sinhalese ability to receive an education. When the Sinhalese realised this, they brought in Standardisation in 1973 to keep Tamils out of the universities. What Sinhala Only did do overall was affect English education across all communities. It also made sure that a Tamil or English education was virtually useless as a qualification to enter the government or civil services.

        “You apparently are arguing that language is the only issue by pinning all of Sri Lanka’s problems on Sinhala Only.”

        Where have I pinned all of SL’s problems on Sinhala Only? I said it began with it.

        “When you earlier asked me for an example of the use of 50-50 in a democratic nation, I asked you to show me a democratic nation that had passed a law like Sinhala Only, disenfranchising its national minority. You sensibly abandoned that avenue of reasoning when faced with that dilemma,”

        “No I didn’t. I gave the example of Malaysia, to which you replied that language isn’t so important after all! And to remind you for the umpteenth time, Sinhala Only did NOT disenfranchise the Tamils.”

        But Tamils in Malaysia are not an indigenous or national minority, unlike the Malays. The Malaysian Tamils were imported by the Brits, like our upcountry Tamils. In contrast, the SL Tamils are as indigenous to the island as the Sinhalese.

        “Shouldn’t the person who can’t find a single example of collective rights being implemented anywhere resembling 50-50 be asking himself whether he’s being intellectually honest?”

        Dear Wijayapala, I asked you whether you were being intellectually honest in requiring that my examples be exact replications of the SL situ. I note you ignored that and quoted my question along with my comment on the use of proportional representation. I’m surprised you’re resorting to such Heshan-like tactics.

        But let’s move on. Do you not understand what a collective right is? You say I’ve not provided any examples. A nation’s right to defend its borders is a collective right. The right of a province or federal state to pass its own laws is a collective right. The right for an indigenous people to own traditional lands is a collective right. Affirmative action is based on collective right. The Black Economic Empowerment programme in South Africa is based on collective right. None of these are individual rights, and sometimes they overrule individual rights. As an example, Section 9 of the South African consitution is very clear about the right to equality, but the Bill of Rights says that “discrimination is unfair unless it is established that the discrimination is fair”, thus claiming that collective right sometimes but not always supersedes individual right. Here’s an everyday example: when a community feels it needs a new road, and when that road requires the use of private land, that private land is acquired at a community-set price. If the owner refuses to sell, the courts settle it, usually with regard to the price. The owner’s individual right to not sell the land is superseded by the commmunity’s collective right to infrastructure. I can go on if you still want to argue the nonexistence or invalidity of collective right.

        “Regarding proportional representation, the idea is that it gives no greater representation than the group’s proportion in society. In places in India where seats are reserved for scheduled castes or women, these groups don’t get more representation than their proportion (Krish can correct me if I’m wrong).”

        And they don’t require it because India isn’t in the habit of passing discriminatory laws against certain castes. SL on the other hand has passed such laws against minorities.

        “I’m afraid it is. How come the Tamil leaders could not be “national” leaders, and the Sinhala leaders could not be “community” leaders? Is that rule written down somewhere????”

        How come Miss Piggy isn’t a fighter pilot? Is that rule written somewhere too?

        “Correction: I pointed out that your one example of the US was irrelevant. “One man one vote” might not be set in stone, but it is still a fundamental principle behind universal suffrage and it prompted electoral reform in the US and UK, whose representative systems had preceded democracy.”

        It maybe irrelevant to the veto concept but not to that of proportional representation. Representative systems may have preceded democracy, but it wasn’t superseded by it. It exists as an integral part of democracy throughout the world and indeed in SL.

        “As you insist that the US electoral college is a relevant example, which group(s) does it give rights to? Who has the veto power that 50-50 gives to the minorities?”

        It gives rights to the individual states as collectives. I didn’t say that the electoral college was an example of a veto power, but that of proportional representation. As I said before, veto power is unnecessary if minority groups are constitutionally protected. They were not protected in 1950s SL. We’ve been

        “Please stop shifting the goalposts. As you pointed out, 50-50 was not meant to be a solution to an existing problem but rather to a potential future problem. The correct analogy would be a country implementing 50-50 to ward off a future problem.”

        Lol how would you discern a problem that hasn’t occurred? Wouldn’t that be another fantasy like your suggestion that the Sinhalese might bribe the Muslims? We can only see the correctness of 50-50 in hindsight and in the light of Sinhala Only.

        “Weren’t you the person who brought up Jim Crow, which took over 50 years to be declared unconstitutional and another 14 to be overruled by federal legislation?”

        And?

        “Apparently, one of the arguments against Sinhala Only was that it violated Section 29 of the Soulbury Constitution. Could you possibly shed light on why nobody challenged the constitutionality of Sinhala Only in the Supreme Court?”

        I believe appeals were made to the Privy Council and eventually the supreme court, but these were stalled both by the GoSL, the main opposition, and even Tamil nationalist elements. Eventually the 1972 constitution made the Soulbury constitution obsolete. But I’m curious, Wijayapala, if you believe Sinhala Only was unconstitutional, why are you defending it? And more to the point, why did you ask me what could have prevented it?

        “Let me rephrase: nobody in the world has implemented such a wacky idea in response to a future problem.”

        And as I’ve pointed out several times, no one else was faced with such a problem.

        “Where else did they exist at the time of independence?”

        There were hundreds of Sinhalese living in the UK, Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

        “Sorry, but I don’t see how a 70-year process beginning in the 1940s equates to “quickly usurping.””

        Possibly because I didn’t say it would take seventy years. I said the Sinhalese as a community would have overtaken the Tamils and that today we would be on a better footing.

        “What if they had embarked on this education program while making Sinhala an official language?”

        As I already told you, there was nothing wrong in making Sinhalese official; what was wrong in making only Sinhalese official. I explained all this to TT as well, weeks ago.

        “As I haven’t resorted to cheap baiting- claiming that you hold your views because you can’t see outside of your Burgher mindset- I ask that you refrain from the same.”

        You’re free to dismiss it as baiting if you wish, but that will be a pity. What has prevented the Sinhalese from solving the problem, and indeed preventing it in the first place, is your inability to shed yourselves of the paranoia of being an endangered species. It is this that prevents you from addressing anything that doesn’t directly affect you. So Sinhala Only is seen as counter-productive instead of unjust. Black July wasn’t repeated not because it was wrong, but because it fed the Tigers. Your arguments clearly reflect this, and that’s why I pointed out your inability to grasp the true nature of the problem. If you see any evidence of my so called Burgher mindset, please feel free to point it out. Keep in mind however that I’m a Burgher who has put my life on the line against the Tigers.

        “No, you just can’t shift the goalposts. ? The UNGA is not a legislature and cannot pass legislation. I have no objection to a 50-50 body whose powers are limited to passing resolutions.

        But 50-50 could not have passed any legislation either; just vetoed racist ones. Pointing out the goalposts isn’t moving them :D

        “It is much more likely that the Tamils understood (but apparently you did not) that federalism or devolution was a far more legitimate demand than 50-50 as it is actually PRACTICED in other parts of the world.”

        That isn’t logical, Wijayapala. The situation in the ’30s and that in the ’50s was completely different, so to compare the abandonment of one and the continued pursuit of the other in isolation, and thereby conclude that one was qualitatively better than the other is a fallacy. 50-50 could not change an existing law, federalism could provide refuge from it. So the pursuit of the latter was sensible.

        “Although its motivations were communal- in response to a communal policy- federalism as a concept is not communal. It was the perfect response to Sinhala-Only, and I am not surprised at all that Chelvanayakam reportedly was pleased when SWRD Bandaranaike won the 1956 election.”

        If it was perfect, why didn’t it work? It took Indian intervention thirty years later before Sinhala Only was chucked in the dustbin (at least in theory).

    • http://[email protected] SD

      Dear David, Wijayapala,

      Let me commend you both for a very interesting debate – there’s a lot to think about in what you both say. While I do have some questions of my own, I’d rather not interrupt in the middle of this useful exchange. Just wanted to express my appreciation.

      cheers!

  • wijayapala

    David,

    You suggest that above that I am being emotional, but if you were honest you’ll realise that it is your own emotional investment in the concept of Sinhaleseness

    To be honest, I’d probably oppose 50-50 even more if things were reversed and the Sinhalese were the minority. I have the basic common sense that imposing something as undemocratic and racist as 50-50 on the majority community would only make them hate us as the privileged minority, and that such institutional gimmick solutions would not shield us from that hatred for long.

    As you well know, what I have in fact spoken strongly for is devolution via the 13th Amendment.

    That is rather tragic, as you are defeating the 13th Amendment by equating it with 50-50 (and I’m sure your friend DJ won’t be too thrilled with it either). Not too different from how the NGO-wallahs nailed the coffin on federalism by claiming that the LTTE supported it! Hopefully nobody else will stumble across this comment.

    (evidenced by your comment on SL being the race’s last refuge when it is not,

    Educate me then Professor, where are other “refuges” for the Sinhalese?

    There were hundreds of Sinhalese living in the UK, Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

    And which of these places would have been willing to take in millions of Sinhalese if they had been chased out of the island?

    Hopefully he’ll comment here in person soon so that you don’t have to take my word for it.

    I’d look forward to that. Maybe he’ll be better at getting his point across. Is Rajiv your only Sinhala friend?

    Given that the Brits had invaded a sovereign nation, occupied it for several centuries, stolen its resources, and denied its native inhabitants any form of democracy, I’m surprised you think they were adequate judges of the principles of democracy!

    On the contrary, the fact that even the colonial pillagers found 50-50 to be repulsive speaks volumes about that idea’s validity.

    However, as I asked before, what reason would Britain have to approve such an extreme measure in 1930s Ceylon when there was no likelihood of independence, never mind Sinhala Only?

    However, as I answered before, 50-50 was hardly an “extreme measure” given the context of colonial history, and as you pointed out above the British were hardly concerned with democracy and might as well have adopted 50-50.

    Again this is purely subjective, Wijayapala, and a matter of opinion. I understand that your position on Sinhala Only requires you to diminish its import by pointing to a more convenient trespass, but this tactic is quite transparent.

    Prove it.

    As you’ve said already, your only problem with Sinhala Only is that it elicited a Tamil reaction that you find unpalatable.

    Where did I say that was my “only” problem?

    If the upcountry Tamils had also called for federalism would you be also dismissing today the Citizenship Act as contemptiously as you do Sinhala Only?

    You tell me- what else could I have compared the Citizenship Acts with? What other piece of legislation had prevented Sri Lankans from voting?

    In defence of the Citizenship Act (indefensible as it is),

    It truly takes an individual to defend the indefensible.

    Aside from the fact that by this comment you admit that Sinhala Only required Tamils to learn Sinhalese to avoid social disenfranchisement,

    Excuse me, “social disenfranchisement?” Would you mind defining that very interesting term? (yahoo answers said, “Social disenfranchisement is made-up liberal speak for people who make less money but feel they are entitled to the exact same things as people who went to school, work hard and earn more,” but I’m sure your answer will be better)

    Sinhala-Only or not, I can hardly see how anyone should be entitled to a job requiring interaction with people speaking an unfamiliar language on a day-to-day basis.

    Do you really think that someone forced to learn a second language can ever really compete with someone educated in their mother tongue?

    The Tamils did, all the way up through 1972.

    Why didn’t the Sinhalese then learn English and also gain your claimed versatility instead of remaining monolingual and adjusting the law to help them?

    Because, dear Heshan, there were far fewer sources to learn English, and as I already told you they tended to be reserved for the elite in Sinhala society.

    If you’re still wondering why the dumb Sinhalese did not pick up English (as it was falling off the trees), how many other developing societies managed to Anglicize themselves?? Can you name any of the Asian Tigers that prospered with “English Only” and kept their vernacular languages out of the government?? Since you did such a wonderful job showing me all the countries out there that have artificial minority vetoes built into their representation systems, you should have no problem with this question.

    I know it upsets you when I point out that you’re allowing your ethnicity to dictate your viewpoint, but perhaps you should desist from allowing it to do so for the duration of this debate

    It doesn’t upset me so much when it is clear you bring up my ethnicity because you lack any substance to back your claims, especially when I have shown that non-Sinhalese like the British opposed 50-50 as well. You have yet to show a single democratic society that has adopted such communal representation, and you are singling me out because I don’t support it??

    Would this be a bad time to tell you that the Jaffna Youth Congress had opposed 50-50 as well? Was it because the Sinhalaness of the Tamil youth was interfering with their objective thinking?

    I didn’t say 50-50 would have prevented racist laws if the Tamils were not opposed to said laws.

    Thank you for finally acknowledging that 50-50 would not have prevented Sinhala Only, although I should add that there were non-Tamil minorities who would have benefited from 50-50 and may not have supported Tamil opposition to Sinhala Only.

    Support for the act by Tamil leaders such as GG was mostly because of activities by Marxist unions in the plantations which were seen as a danger to the SL economy.

    Thank you again for defending the indefensible.

    50-50 has no affect on individual rights. If you think it does, I challenge you to put forth a hypothetical situation where a Sinhalese person’s individual rights are trespassed upon by 50-50.

    No need for a hypothetical situation. Limiting the example to the rights of Sinhala individuals vs Tamils, individual Tamil voters would have three times more voting power than individual Sinhala voters. Conversely, a Sinhala voter would be 1/3rd of a Tamil voter at elections.

    So you’re suggesting that Tamils are an arbitrarily defined ethnic group, and not an actual one, and that they never identified themselves as Tamil in modern history?

    Where did I say “modern” history? How did the Tamils in ancient times identify themselves as such, to the exclusion of other identifications?

    But at the outset I had clearly stated that I didn’t know how to tackle bigotry, racism, and prejudice, and that 50-50 could only prevent the Sinhala Only Act.

    And clearly you don’t see how 50-50 would entrench bigotry, racism, and prejudice.

    I proposed preventing the legislature from passing racist laws.

    And you also admitted that 50-50 would not have prevented racist laws! I already gave a far more democratic alternative of requiring a supermajority to pass laws that affect particular ethnic groups. I’m not opposed to increasing that requirement to 75% since you assume that all that Sinhala voters want to do is to oppress Tamils.

    A less palatable solution would be to have 50-50 in a second chamber whose support would be needed to pass aforementioned laws.

    As I told Heshan, a law cannot control thought, only action.

    Except when the law reduces the rights of individuals of a particular community.

    So you’re suggesting that 50-50 was a punitive action on the part of the Sinhalese, a collective punishment of all the Tamils for what GG had attempted two decades before?

    Sinhala Only was not a punitive action, but it certainly involved a lack of sensitivity to the Tamils that 50:50 similarly displayed to the Sinhalese. But then, pro-Sinhala sentiments was not GG’s strong point!

    Firstly, I already countered that point by showing you that Sinhala Only was the spark that started the fuse burning. There was no violence between Sinhalese and Tamils before 1956.

    The fuse was lit much earlier, you were clearly napping when I had educated you on the 1939 Nawalapitiya violence:

    http://www.jaffnahistory.com/The_First_Sinhala_Tamil_Riot.html

    Skip to the citations by Jane Russell and SWRD Bandaranaike. The more relevant bit of info though was Philip Gunawardena physically assaulting GG. I had not been aware of this and was trying to figure out when he made the transition from non-communal socialist (who had championed Sinhala and Tamil Only in 1936 with N.M. Perera) to anti-Tamil communalist by the late 1950s.

    Thirdly, even if Sinhala Only hadn’t eventually led to war (which it did), how does that change the fact that it was an unjust law?

    If there had been no war at all, then your argument that Sinhala Only had started it would be degraded from “debunked” to “non-existent.”

    You seem to think that it is the reaction that determins the action.

    And isn’t this exactly what you are doing in promoting 50-50 when there had been no previous history of anti-minority laws being made?

    “So if there had been no organised violence in response to Tamil protests, then Sinhala Only would have been justified?”
    No. What makes you think that?

    Because the only argument of substance you appear to bring up is that it created the “ethnic conflict,” which I suspect you are conflating with the larger war that had taken place much later.

    But Tamils in Malaysia are not an indigenous or national minority, unlike the Malays. The Malaysian Tamils were imported by the Brits, like our upcountry Tamils. In contrast, the SL Tamils are as indigenous to the island as the Sinhalese.

    Truly a revolting, loathsome distinction to justify discrimination against one community but not another. You seem to share the Sinhala nationalist belief that “imports” should be 2nd-class citizens; the only difference is that they identify all Tamils as imports while you only label the upcountry Tamils as such. I reject your flaccid distinction between “national” and “imported” communities. The only true “indigenous” people are the Veddahs (and even that is open to debate).

    You mentioned before that you are half-Tamil. I presume that this half is “indigenous” otherwise you wouldn’t be so disparaging of the “imports.”

    I asked you whether you were being intellectually honest in requiring that my examples be exact replications of the SL situ.

    I never said that they had to be “exact replications,” but you haven’t even provided an approximation.

    Affirmative action is based on collective right. The Black Economic Empowerment programme in South Africa is based on collective right.

    You do understand the implications of the examples you brought up, right? How would you distinguish affirmative action and standardisation?

    As an example, Section 9 of the South African consitution is very clear about the right to equality, but the Bill of Rights says that “discrimination is unfair unless it is established that the discrimination is fair”, thus claiming that collective right sometimes but not always supersedes individual right.

    Then as I already told you, why during negotiations did the ANC reject the white minority’s demand for “power-sharing” in the legislature that would have prevented the blacks from having an absolute majority?

    And they don’t require it because India isn’t in the habit of passing discriminatory laws against certain castes.

    What about reservation? It doesn’t discriminate against the Brahmins?

    “I’m afraid it is. How come the Tamil leaders could not be “national” leaders, and the Sinhala leaders could not be “community” leaders? Is that rule written down somewhere????”
    How come Miss Piggy isn’t a fighter pilot? Is that rule written somewhere too?

    Then why are you so shocked that the Sinhala leaders were more “community” oriented than “national,” Prof. Heshan, just as their Sinhala counterparts are? Is your normal reaction against being called out for not making any sense, to make even less sense??

    “Correction: I pointed out that your one example of the US was irrelevant. “One man one vote” might not be set in stone, but it is still a fundamental principle behind universal suffrage and it prompted electoral reform in the US and UK, whose representative systems had preceded democracy.”
    It maybe irrelevant to the veto concept
    I didn’t say that the electoral college was an example of a veto power

    Thank you for admitting its irrelevance.

    As I said before, veto power is unnecessary if minority groups are constitutionally protected. They were not protected in 1950s SL. We’ve been

    We’ve been what? Dancing around that the minorities were constitutionally protected by Section 29?

    But I’m curious, Wijayapala, if you believe Sinhala Only was unconstitutional, why are you defending it?

    Explaining it doesn’t mean I’m defending it, as you were defending the Citizenship Acts.

    The situation in the ’30s and that in the ’50s was completely different,

    Precisely- GG could call for 50-50 in the 1930s when the absence of democracy was normal, but not in post-independent times.

    “Although its motivations were communal- in response to a communal policy- federalism as a concept is not communal. It was the perfect response to Sinhala-Only, and I am not surprised at all that Chelvanayakam reportedly was pleased when SWRD Bandaranaike won the 1956 election.”
    If it was perfect, why didn’t it work? It took Indian intervention thirty years later before Sinhala Only was chucked in the dustbin (at least in theory).

    It was perfect not because it worked, but because the Sinhalese could never come up with an intellectual response to it that could garner at least some outside sympathy. That is why when the Indians invaded in 1987, they could force a federal-like 13th Amendment down our throats but not something absurd like 50-50.

    To answer your question why it didn’t work, part of the problem lay with Chelvanayakam’s approach. I mentioned before that part of the federalism appeal was that it was conceptually non-communal, but Chelva had to shoot himself in the foot by calling his party “Sri Lanka Tamil Rule Party” in Tamil contradicting the English “Federal Party.” ITAK also never seemed to have figured out a way to dupe the Sinhalese that federalism would benefit them, the way that the NGOs are at least attempting today.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear DB,

    What is 50 – 50 ?

    Yapa has made a clear case against 50 – 50.

    If the same parliamentary seat is contested by a group of people consisting of Minority and Majority candidates, a New electoral law has to be created stating that the Majority candidate MUST pole 320% as much votes as the Minority candidate. This percentage will change with time as it depends on the National ethnic proportion. If the constituency has 100,000 voters then any Minority candidate who obtains 24,000 votes will have to be declared the winner over the candidate who obtains 76,000 votes. A sure prescription for race riots don’t you think?

    The other alternative is to designate MINORITY ONLY seats. A 100 seats of a 200 seat parliament being demarcated as such. Which is as good as dividing the country on ethnic lines. Another sure prescription for race riots.

    DB, how do you propose to maintain peace when a 74% majority is given short shrift to satisfy racist objectives?

    50 – 50 is inherently UNDEMOCRATIC. No sane person can justify it.

    A purported solution should not introduce new non existent problems. That will happen for sure with short sighted policies like the 50-50.

    Your assumption that 50-50 can stop race related legislation is a fallacy. Proof if proof is needed can be seen from the Ceylon Citizenship Act which was passed with the help of the Ceylon Tamils.

    This Act was challenged in the Privy Council and was upheld as democratic by their Lordships. Here is a partial extract of the judgement.

    PRIVY COUNCIL APPEAL NO. 7 OF 1952

    …… Is it in the present case legislation on citizenship or is it legislation intended to make and making Indian Tamils liable to disabilities to which other communities are not liable ? It is as the Supreme Court observed a perfectly natural and legitimate function of the legislature of a country to determine the composition of its nationals. Standards of literacy, of property, of birth or of residence are as it seems to their Lordships standards which a legislature may think it right to adopt in legislation on citizenship and it is clear that such standards though they may operate to exclude the illiterate, the poor and the immigrant to a greater degree than they exclude other people do not create disabilities in a community as such since the community is not bound together as a community by its illiteracy, its poverty or its migratory character but by its face or its religion. The migratory habits of the Indian Tamils (see paragraphs 123 and 203 Soulbury Report) are facts which in their Lordships’ opinion are directly relevant to the question of their suitability as citizens of Ceylon and have nothing to do with them as a community.

    For all these reasons their Lordships have come to the conclusion that the Citizenship and Franchise Acts are intra vires of the Ceylon legislature and they therefore humbly advise Her Majesty that this appeal ought to be dismissed. The appellant must pay the costs of the appeal. Appeal dismissed.

  • wijayapala

    yapa & SD,

    Thanks for your input. I think both of you understand the fundamental problem with 50-50- that it sacrifices individual rights for communal rights- and I think yapa did a better job than me in breaking down exactly how an individual Tamil would have three times more representation than an individual Sinhala.

    This inherent inequality makes it highly questionable whether 50-50 would be a sustainable system; if a particular system of government is despised by the majority of any population, it would make no sense why anyone would advocate it as a solution to any problem. If we condemn a law because it alienates a minority, like Sinhala Only, then by what standard can we sanction a system that alienates a majority? Leadership would hardly be a factor, as any leader who would exhort the majority to accept such a system would quickly be replaced, either by vote or the old-fashioned way.

    The second major problem with 50-50 is that it would not guarantee that racist laws would be vetoed. Just as 50-50 assumes that all Sinhalese are anti-minority and thus must be contained, it also assumes that the minorities will vote as a single bloc to stop legislation affecting one of them. Post-independence Sri Lankan history proves otherwise, looking at GG’s own support for two of the three Citizenship Acts and all but one of the Muslim leaders’ tacit support for Sinhala Only.

    In short, 50-50 would have alienated the majority without significantly protecting the minorities. It really should come to no surprise why this sort of system of representation for a country has been universally rejected.

    • http://[email protected] SD

      Dear Wijayapala,

      I think you are right in saying that there is a sacrifice of individual rights in favour of communal rights. However, I’m not sure it’s correct to say that 50-50 alienates a majority, for the simple reason that David has outlined – it does not allow the passing of legislature, only the ability to veto it.

      As long as the decisions are not communal in nature, 50-50 (in theory), appears to have no effect. Why? Because the argument, as I understand it is, how will this matter if the legislation that is being passed is non-communal in nature? Does it matter whether it was a Sinhala individual or a Tamil individual who voted for it?

      That’s why I think the counter-argument that has been presented so far, on the dilution of the individual vote, while valid, is not altogether a show-stopper. A counter-argument is needed for the notion that: decisions non-ethnic in nature would automatically cancel out the dilution for the simple reason that race will not matter.

      I will readily admit that I have a vague sense of unease with the notion. However, I have not seen a clearly articulated reason that refutes it either. It needs to be shown that it affect non-ethnically biased decisions. Can someone provide a suitable example?

      I agree that it is a pre-emptive measure which assumes anti-minority sentiments on the part of the Sinhalese.

      Even if it could be shown that all it does is cancel out ethnic bias, and has no real effect on non-communal issues, I think you have made a good case for why the whole idea would never fly. Apart from the fact that it might nevertheless be subverted, I think that the perceived injustice will probably doom it to failure, even if there is no actual injustice. It is immediately counter-intuitive.

      So in this discussion, I think we have to separate the issue into 2 parts.
      1. The intellectual validity of it (I’m still not entirely convinced either-way, for the afore-mentioned reasons)
      2. The practical validity of it (I’m fairly convinced it’s invalid, but then, I don’t this argument was ever about its practical validity)

      • yapa

        Dear SD;

        It is true that there is a valid point in what you say, there is a vacuum to be filled. However, what we did was proving that 50 – 50, was not the correct piece for that jigso Puzzle. That piece was discarded. Can it at all fit the blank, when it is inherently undemocratic and racist, (even it has a practical value)? You will have to think from the beginning and look for a fresh solution.

        Dog shit may contain an undigested piece of food. But I don’t think we pick it up for consumption.

        When some thing is logically or mathematically disproved, it is disproved for ever.

        Thanks!

  • Krish

    Dear Wijayapala,

    Wonderful posts! Quick observations. Hope you get the time to respond! :)

    1. On Supermajority:
    “Why not instead have a constitutional mechanism where any legislation affecting minority rights requires a supermajority (2/3rds vote) to pass??”
    Good idea and it is already followed in most democracies in the world on various sensitive issues! But, how do you ensure that the ruling party doesn’t bribe someone from the opposition for this purpose? Isn’t people crossing over a problem in democracies in our part of the world? And I don’t agree with 50-50 principally, simply because nothing will ever get done if 2 sides (majority folks vs minorities with 50%) will always be loggerheads. In the case of SL, this is more likely to happen if 50-50 comes to effect.

    2. On reservation:

    DB: And they don’t require it because India isn’t in the habit of passing discriminatory laws against certain castes.
    WP: What about reservation? It doesn’t discriminate against the Brahmins?
    DB: Isn’t that too a case of positive discrimination for the other castes to redress past oppression rather than discrimination against the Brahmins?”

    While DB’s points are comprehensible, he misses the point that political parties in India, particularly in Tamil Nadu have followed strict anti-Brahmin policies/ideas and implemented several laws to that effect! In TN, you have 69% reservation in University/college admissions and jobs for (supposedly) backward communities, leaving Brahmin communities very little opportunities in education and jobs. Even priest jobs that Brahmins have been doing traditionally is phased out to others now. And parties like DMK virtually never nominate Brahmin candidates for any elections and if you remove Jayalalitha out of TN, there isn’t any Brahmins politically representing the community. The most unfortunate and untold truth of India’s reservation policy is that Brahmins have been sidelined and their power taken over other upper castes. Down-trodden communities (Dalits) still continue be down-trodden.

    Tamil politicians in TN in the last 40 years have been far more anti-Brahmin (yes, Tamil Brahmins are considered Aryans there) than you would think. I am supporting TT here I guess. But anyways…:)

    3. On Indian invasion:
    Wijayapala, I disagree with you and agree with Blacker. The invasion and parippu drop wasn’t to occupy SL (like Turkish occupation of CyprUs for example). Yes, sovereignty was violated but India didn’t intend to occupy and many lives weren’t lost. But, to start with, I am not sure if it is nice of a democracy like India to take sides in a conflict in it’s neighbouring country, that too in favour of LTTE no matter what the compulsions were. But that is beside the point.

    4. Regarding chasing millions of Sinhalese out of SL:
    It is very unlikely that Tamils given the current situation that they are in will ever be able to drive the Sinhalese out of SL. And, Tamil Nadu isn’t the only place where Tamils from SL seeking refuge. They went to Australia, Canada, England, US etc. Should such a thing happen to Sinhalese, these countries would help them too. 2 things to come to my mind:

    a) If Maldives eventually sinks, given the rising sea water level, they will go to completely different country. It could be SL or India.

    b) The fundamental paranoia of Sinhala right is that Sinhalas don’t have a significant presence outside SL. That’s why I frankly think that Sinhala language and Srilankans (of all ethnicity) should be given a special status in India for them to be able to/from move to India at will even while preserving SL’s status quo.

    And there is a greater need to build consensus and good-will among communities in SL. If there is anything that this debate between DB and Wijayapala shows, it is the level of difference and lack of mutual agreement. We should all go back to Suren Ragavan’s article again and keep suggesting more. :)

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Krish, 1 On Supermajority: a 2/3rds majority was obtained in parliament for the Citizenship Act, Sinhala Only, Standardisation, and the 1972 Constitution, thereby making it clear that this supermajority was useless in preventing racist laws being passed; wheras a veto could have. My point is that a 2/3rds majority against racist legislation can never be guaranteed as it will depend on the makeup of the legislature at the time. A constitutionally guaranteed veto power will not change according to each legislative.

      Your concern at the possibility of a stalemate between the majority and minority is unwarranted; why should there be any such stalemate if the law in point is not racist? For instance, if it is an education reform bill, or a defence policy, or a trade policy, there is no need for any stalemate if the law is not unjust to the minority. Members will vote with their parties or according to their individual principles.

      2 On Reservation: if what you say about descriminatory laws being passed against the Brahmins is true, then that is certainly wrong and should be rectified. However, do you feel that the principle and spirit of Reservation is discriminatory to Brahmins? If you don’t, then that’s my point in response to Wijayapala.

  • Krish

    Dear Wijayapala,

    I missed this from one of your earlier posts!

    “Regarding proportional representation, the idea is that it gives no greater representation than the group’s proportion in society. In places in India where seats are reserved for scheduled castes or women, these groups don’t get more representation than their proportion (Krish can correct me if I’m wrong).”

    You are 100% right! The scheduled castes were completely under-represented in India (politically) before electoral reservations were introduced. I don’t recollect reserved seats ever being proportionally more than their actual population. The reality is, in the non-reserved constituencies in India, most (almost all) parties won’t even nominate a SC guy for an election.

  • wijayapala

    SD

    You did not answer my point that 50-50 would not have guaranteed a veto of racist legislation.

    I think you are right in saying that there is a sacrifice of individual rights in favour of communal rights. However, I’m not sure it’s correct to say that 50-50 alienates a majority.
    “I agree that it is a pre-emptive measure which assumes anti-minority sentiments on the part of the Sinhalese.

    How would sacrificing individual rights not alienate the individuals of the community affected? How would a system that essentially demonises a community, as you acknowledged, not alienate it?

    A counter-argument is needed for the notion that: decisions non-ethnic in nature would automatically cancel out the dilution for the simple reason that race will not matter.

    But given that individual Tamils will have three times more representation than individual Sinhalese, even non-communal issues will become communalised because on any issue, a Tamil will have three times the say in how it should be resolved than a Sinhala.

    Can someone provide a suitable example?

    Herein lies the problem: all discussion on the effects of 50-50 types of representation can only take place at an abstract level, because no government out there has been stupid enough to implement them, even in plural societies such as Switzerland or Singapore that embrace pluralism.

    I think that the perceived injustice will probably doom it to failure, even if there is no actual injustice.

    What is the difference between “perceived” and “actual” injustice? Is it a “perception” or a “fact” that the underlying basis of 50-50 is that the Sinhalese are inherently racist? Would you say that “Separate but equal” was more of a perceived injustice or actual?

    Contrary to what David might believe, Sinhala Only was not pre-ordained simply because the Sinhalese happen to be the majority; SWRD Bandaranaike would have swept the 1956 election on a platform of “Sinhala and Tamil Only” because it would have been infinitely more preferable than the prevailing “English Only” system. Why SWRD took the narrower and confrontational path, or more critically why the UNP did not read the writing on the wall when the SLFP was established in 1951 and did nothing for language reform over the next 5 years to defang it will remain a historical mystery.

    So in this discussion, I think we have to separate the issue into 2 parts.

    In this case, the intellectual shortcomings of 50-50 are precisely what undermine its practical validity. You know, at the beginning of this discussion I was never clear whether David was seriously arguing for 50-50. He would often say that he just brought it up to answer my question how Sinhala Only could have been prevented. But then when I countered that denying the Sinhalese any representation at all would be a much safer guard against Sinhala oppression of minorities, he blew his top.

    The point I was making was that IF the minorities would vote just as the Sinhalese on “non-communal” issues, then why the need for Sinhala representation at all? David was upset with this “all or nothing” solution, but we can negotiate. Why not have 33% for Sinhalese, 33% for Tamils, and the remainder for the remainder? Any objections to that?

    The problem with this idea, as you may intuit, is that the minorities possibly may vote differently than the majority on non-communal issues. It is precisely this possibility that renders 50-50 invalid at the intellectual level.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Wijayapala, have you now agiven up the debate and chosen to address the gallery instead? Easier, no? Heshan used to do the same once he’d stalled. I can assure you that I’ve in no way blown my top or any other part of myself. In contrast, I find your emotional rantings quite amusing. You still remain locked into your ethnicity with the resultant “if I can’t win I’m taking my ball and going home” attitude displayed by your continued defence of having a Sinhalese majority or none at all. Like your buddies Heshan and TT, you’re now crowing about how you won. Unfortunately it is your arguments that have been demolished, and it is you that has abandoned the debate.

      As I told OTC, it is impossible to take time travel seriously, so your initial surmise was correct.

    • SD

      Dear Wijayapala,

      Good to see some progress being made on the discussion. I think this post helps to elucidate your own views, and hopefully, it will be possible to arrive at a consensus.

      RE: “You did not answer my point that 50-50 would not have guaranteed a veto of racist legislation.”

      The problem with that point, as with OTC’s point about minority representation, is I believe it suffers from the slippery slope fallacy. In example, it’s a bit like saying, since some people evade traffic laws, all traffic laws are a bad idea. The veto will not guarantee anything, but it could have helped, especially with regard to the premise of the argument – cancellation of Sinhala Only.

      RE: “…even non-communal issues will become communalised because on any issue…”

      Yes, as I’ve agreed, the implementation issues are daunting enough to nearly invalidate the practical application of the notion. David, what is your position on this? We may find that there’s not a lot of disagreement here after all.

      RE: “…Herein lies the problem: all discussion on the effects of 50-50 types of representation can only take place at an abstract level…

      Agreed again. It would be a very hard sell in practical terms, but then, so is federalism right at this moment. So were anti-apartheid laws elsewhere in the world. The point being, we have to analyze these two dimensions separately, in order to gauge whether the effort is worth it.

      RE: “…What is the difference between “perceived” and “actual” injustice? Is it a “perception” or a “fact” that the underlying basis of 50-50 is that the Sinhalese are inherently racist?…”

      I doubt that you are arguing that there’s a real difference between “perceived” and “actual” justice. For example, a racist is free to perceive it as being unjust that a black is allowed to share his bus, but that is no reflection on the justice of the issue.

      However, I agree with you that there is a problem with the basis of 50-50. At the core of it, there’s an underlying assumption of ill-will on the part of the Sinhalese. If not, this is where OTC’s argument becomes relevant (i.e. How do you prevent the domination of Tamils amongst the minorities?). Some sort of recursive solution might be possible, but I don’t see how it won’t quickly degenerate into an unmanageable mess. (Very susceptible to collusion and bribery among groups)

      But granted the assumption that it is explicitly to prevent a hegemony of the majority, then evidence is required to show that it is unjust by the majority. Otherwise, the notion turns into a win-win situation in general, which must be shown to be false before the notion can be refuted. I think that point needs to be made, so we can avoid arguing about “how” and “why” and focus on whether it’s a win-win or not.

      RE: “Why SWRD took the narrower and confrontational path, or more critically why the UNP did not read the writing on the wall when the SLFP was established in 1951 and did nothing for language reform over the next 5 years to defang it will remain a historical mystery.”

      Now that would be a discussion of great interest! I hope that others will provide input. The stories I’ve heard (I think Vittachi’s opinion? And elsewhere) include the one about at least a major part of these troubles being caused by the jostling for domination between Sinhala & Tamil elites. Didn’t Sinhala Only very easily knock the off Tamils from civil service? Would it not have uniformly advantaged parties benefiting from this in both the UNP and the SLFP, already riled by the post-colonial domination of Tamils, hence the lack of opposition?

      RE: “The point I was making was that IF the minorities would vote just as the Sinhalese on “non-communal” issues, then why the need for Sinhala representation at all? “

      That’s a good point. But I can think of several responses to it.

      1. If there are communal issues, and the Sinhalese have a stake in it, then non-representation is not an option, therefore, it is invalid to state it is.
      2. However, non representation of Sinhalese is fine for non-communal issues, since no communal thinking is involved (i.e. Already, the entire population is reduced to 225 representatives)
      3. There is no rule that a Sinhalese individual must vote for a Sinhalese candidate, thus allowing them to vote for a Tamil representative who represents his/her personal policies.

      The thing is Wijayapala, how would you counter-argue this point.
      That because of no. 2 above, it actually *encourages* individuals to see beyond ethnic borders, to disregard it as irrelevant, and to vote without reference to ethnicity. Would that not be the whole point of this exercise?

      Doesn’t the fact that we see the non-representation of Sinhalese as a “specific” problem, when the population is represented by 225 people anyway, indicate that we already have a communal bias to our thinking? This is something I came to realize about myself during this debate.

      I leave it to you and others to shed more light.

      • SD

        Dear Wijayapala,

        Further to my previous post.

        RE: “Doesn’t the fact that we see the non-representation of Sinhalese…”

        My apologies, I think I focused on the wrong issue and missed the point you were making. I see your point was not about non-representation of Sinhalese and ethnicity itself, but about the fact that a certain segment of a community gets more voting power when they “happen” to be of a certain ethnicity.

        I previously thought that the effect would cancel itself out, and ethnicity would be a non-issue, which is why I probably missed the point. I’m not too sure anymore. This will only work if we assumed that reducing 3 Sinhalese people to 1 vote only cancels out ethnic bias. But could it end up discounting or distorting other biases?

        Now, I’m not certain whether “non-ethnic” issues would be uniformly distributed across the population or not. On the one hand, why wouldn’t it be? On the other, why should it be? It would be interesting to understand, because I feel these things are beneficial to know in the larger context of community and individual rights.

        If it merely cancels ethnic bias, then 50-50 remains valid. If not, it would be an example of how it impinges on individual rights. That in turn would mean that 50-50 is not a win-win solution, merely a solution to a very specific problem, that of neutralizing any hegemony of an ethnic majority at some expense to individual rights.

        It also does nothing to prevent the hegemony of some other majority. i.e. The stupid over the intelligent, the rich over the poor etc. However, given that this appears to be the most “outstanding” issue that has unnecessarily dogged us and retarded our development as a society, I see no harm in exploring solutions.

        Anyway, I’m personally pretty confused at this point, so hope someone will bring in some much needed clarity :-)

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        SD, I’m happy to see you managing to inject some rationality into all the rhetoric.

        “Yes, as I’ve agreed, the implementation issues are daunting enough to nearly invalidate the practical application of the notion. David, what is your position on this? We may find that there’s not a lot of disagreement here after all.”

        I’ve addressed this several times, SD, to Wijayapala and OTC, and I believe to you too. 50-50 comes into play only in the face of communal/racist legislation. In all other instances it has no effect. Representatives will vote according to party policy or individual conscience. I pointed out that in an education policy, a trade policy, an urban development bill, or whatever non-communal issue, 50-50 will count as nil. So what is the problem? Can ANYONE give an example of how there will be a loggerhead between the majority and minority on non-racist issues? I have asked this repeatedly but not got an example from Wijayapala or OTC. I don’t really expect Yapa to even understand the question, so I don’t expect any input there. It is this deliberate avoidance of substantiating their cry of “Wolf!” that convinces me that Wijayapala et al are wrong, and that they know they are wrong. Perhaps, SD, you can put forth such a scenario since you seem to see some logic in Wijayapala’s argument?

        I notice that this debate has got very heated and emotional over the last weeks in contrast to its academic beginnings, and I acknowledge that I too am to blame for this by poking fun at Wijayapala. So let me list out in point form what I see as the unresolved issues in the debate, and perhaps everyone can zero in on these and voice their opinions. Perhaps that will calm everything down.

        1. Do we acknowledge that Sinhala Only is morally wrong, and should have been prevented from going into law. Wijayapala’s initial challenge to me to provide a preventive measure to the law gives me the impression that he saw a need to in fact prevent it. However, his only voiced opposition to it so far is that it sparked off the Tamil demand for federalism. Therefore, I feel his opposition is based on politics rather than morality, in contrast to his opposition to the Citizenship Act.

        2. If we believe that Sinhala Only is morally wrong, and should have been prevented, is a minority veto vote the correct preventive solution? If not, what is the correct preventive? In this, it must be remembered that the entire scenario is totally hypothetical and viewed only in hindsight; Sinhala Only doesn’t exist today, having been supplanted by the 13th Amendment on paper, therefore a solution to Sinhala Only is unnecessary today.

        3. If veto is the correct preventive, is 50-50 the best package for that veto? I must say here that I’m arguing for 50-50 because I see that it would have been the best platform for the veto. If someone can suggest an option, I’m listening. Earlier, Wijayapala suggested a higher house (I assume he means a House of Lords type of arrangement) but didn’t elaborate. I must also point out here that constitutional safeguards in the Soulbury Constitution such as Section 29, the Privy Council, and the Supreme Court, failed to prevent internal colonisation, the Citizenship Act, or Sinhala Only, and therefore something more exacting was needed. A 2/3 majority or supermajority is also insufficient because such a ratio is impossible to guarantee.

        4. Is 50-50 undemocratic and/or racist? I believe it is neither. I believe it is democratic because it doesn’t trespass on individual right (and I note that so far no one has been able to put forth a scenario in which individual rights are trespassed on by 50-50), nor does it empower the minority with the power to pass laws opposed by the majority. It is not racist, because it doesn’t discriminate for or against any one community or group of communities, but merely gives all communities equal standing in the legislature.

        5. Finally, if the the previous points have been satisfactorily cleared up, how do we tackle the possibility of future racist legislation by the Sinhalese majority; eg legislating that the national anthem be sung only in Sinhalese? Should there be a veto today? Or is full implementation of the 13th sufficient (including Tamil as official on a national level, provincial high courts empowered to pass provincial laws, and provincial councils in which minorities — in minority areas — will be a majority)?

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        One more thing: I believe there should be no communal representation in an ideal SL; no Sinhalese representation, and no Tamil representation. I hope one day we can arrive at that scenario. However, the fact remains that communal politics has been with us since independence, and is still there today. We’ve seen the Sinhalese majority pass horrendous legislation against the minorities, we’ve seen officials attempt to transport entire communities out of Colombo at the snap of a finger, and today we see regular attempts to push Sinhalese-Buddhist agendas and identity over the minorities. In effect, we see a majority that believes that the nation must reflect their own identity, beliefs, and needs above all others. It is because of this that I believe minorities must be represented sufficiently strongly to prevent this happening. When the day arrives in which the Sinhalese are no longer attempting to trample on the minorities, we will no longer need communal representation.

      • SD

        Dear David, Wijayapala

        RE: “Perhaps, SD, you can put forth such a scenario since you seem to see some logic in Wijayapala’s argument?”

        Ok. I’ll try to show an example of what I understood as the problem.
        Let’s say that electoral district A consists mostly of Sinhala Buddhists. In that particular district, let’s say there are several contesting candidates of varying ethnicities (which is ideally not applicable) and espousing various policies. Now, the divisional votes for a particular candidate expressing policy A, let’s say an educational policy which has nothing to do with ethnicity, garners a lot of support in that district. However, by the vagaries of chance, the majority support for that candidate is effectively cancelled out because the vote of a Sinhalese individual has been diluted to 1/3. Isn’t that possible?

        In the worst possible scenario, it could be that it is not the elected candidate, but a candidate supporting a completely different policy, but artificially elevated due to ethnicity, who now gets the seat. Isn’t that a valid example?

        If this is deemed an issue, that only weakens the case for 50-50 a little, but, not in some irredeemable way. The problem is, at some point and in some way or the other, this kind of fluke always invariably happens, when a population of 20 million is boiled down to a few parliamentary representatives. So, this disadvantage, assuming I have expressed it correctly and there are no counter-arguments, 50-50 compensates for by providing equal ethnic representation.

        At the end of the day, trade-offs are inevitable, there are no perfect solutions, and we must find the “least-bad” solution.

      • SD

        Dear David,

        To state my position on the specific issues you asked.

        1. Yes. I think it was morally wrong.

        2. A veto vote might have been a valid solution. However, as has already been discussed about 50-50, a lot of communal issues can arise during implementation, not necessarily due to the injustice in 50-50, but due to practicality. As you said, it’s partly a fear of the mob.

        There are other concerns, which I’ll mention next.

        3. I think a reasonably strong case has been made for 50-50, and in the event that viable alternatives are available, measures such as those might be the only counter to unnecessary Sinhalese domination. However, I await Wijayapala’s solution to the super-majority problem. I would favour a super-majority for the reasons Wijayapala mentioned – and we all seem to agree that communal representation is generally undesirable.

        4. I don’t think trying to prevent racism can be called racism. It assumes racism on the part of the Sinhalese yes, but there’s strong reason to believe it’s true. Wijayapala has tried to show not everything has been due to racist motivation. But then, the case for apologetics is weakened when the threat of eliminating the Tamil version of the national anthem for example, comes up. Further, the ideologies of people like Yapa, while individually harmless, scares the crap out of me when imagined in groups.

        Nevertheless, in the process of trying to fix these issues, I don’t think it’s a good idea to enshrine communalism in the constitution in the form of 50-50. Better alternatives would be the creation of anti-discriminatory laws, or any other generalizable form of law, which is not explicitly targeted at one group. (50-50 is very weak in this regard)

        Whether it’s undemocratic still seems to be under debate, but I would say that 50-50 becomes completely undemocratic only through a slippery-slope argument.

        5. The question that really deserves our attention. I’m hoping that whatever solution it is, it will be non-communal and secular. Which brings up another interesting test of majoritarianism. Ask OTC, Wijayapala or Yapa, whether they would be agreeable to making the country secular.

        Such is the nature of Sinhala-Buddhist paranoia. I don’t mean to stir up a hornet’s nest again, but remember, before arguing for non-communal solutions, analyze whether your core attitudes are in fact non-communal in nature. If not, why not?

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        SD, I’m afraid I don’t find this example valid: “Ok. I’ll try to show an example of what I understood as the problem.
        Let’s say that electoral district A consists mostly of Sinhala Buddhists. In that particular district, let’s say there are several contesting candidates of varying ethnicities (which is ideally not applicable) and espousing various policies. Now, the divisional votes for a particular candidate expressing policy A, let’s say an educational policy which has nothing to do with ethnicity, garners a lot of support in that district. However, by the vagaries of chance, the majority support for that candidate is effectively cancelled out because the vote of a Sinhalese individual has been diluted to 1/3. Isn’t that possible?”

        Isn’t it unlikely in the SL context that a candidate from — let’s say Gampaha — will be championing a national policy such as one on education, that isn’t part of his party’s policy? So even if our Gampaha Sinhalese candidate isn’t elected, it’s likely that his party will bring up the education bill. You’re also taking for granted that ethnic lines will fall along party lines. This doesn’t have to be so. There is no reason why the SLFP or UNP cannot also field Tamil or Muslim candidates so that they may still win a party majority in parliament while maintaining a 50-50 ethnic balance. There can be several ways to arrive at the 50-50 balance.

        What I was hoping for when I asked for an example, is a scenario where a non-ethnic issue is brought before parliament in the form of an act or bill and scuttled by the 50-50 system coming into play.

  • wijayapala

    Krish,

    Krish, 1 On Supermajority: a 2/3rds majority was obtained in parliament for the Citizenship Act, Sinhala Only, Standardisation, and the 1972 Constitution,

    My apologies for David feeding you wrong information. The Citizenship Acts and Sinhala Only- the most racist legislation- did not have supermajority support. Standardisation and the 1972 Constitution had supermajorities because Sri Lanka’s electoral system gave 60% of the seats to the SLFP even though it carried less than 40% of the vote (as bizarre as it sounds, the UNP actually won a slightly higher percentage of the popular vote!).

    The current proportional representation system in Sri Lanka makes it nearly impossible for a government to win a supermajority. You literally have to end a 26-year war to pull that off!

    But, how do you ensure that the ruling party doesn’t bribe someone from the opposition for this purpose? Isn’t people crossing over a problem in democracies in our part of the world?

    As I pointed out to David and SD, 50-50 wouldn’t prevent such bribing, especially when differences between the N-E Tamils, Upcountry Tamils, and Muslims could be exploited.

    And I don’t agree with 50-50 principally, simply because nothing will ever get done if 2 sides (majority folks vs minorities with 50%) will always be loggerheads. In the case of SL, this is more likely to happen if 50-50 comes to effect.

    Good point, I would just add that with 50-50, the Sinhalese almost certainly would blame the minorities for deadlock in government. It would be a recipe for disaster in communal relations.

    4. Regarding chasing millions of Sinhalese out of SL:
    It is very unlikely that Tamils given the current situation that they are in will ever be able to drive the Sinhalese out of SL.

    I know, and I would be the last person to suggest that the Tamils pose any kind of credible threat to the Sinhalese. I was trying to explain the facts behind Sinhala nationalism to David, which he hasn’t figured out even after living among Sinhalese for so long.

    And, Tamil Nadu isn’t the only place where Tamils from SL seeking refuge. They went to Australia, Canada, England, US etc.

    But most of them initially went to Tamil Nadu, and the ones who made it to the West had more resources and/or connections than most Tamils. I wouldn’t be surprised if 90% of the Tamil diaspora is Jaffna Vellala.

    b) The fundamental paranoia of Sinhala right is that Sinhalas don’t have a significant presence outside SL. That’s why I frankly think that Sinhala language and Srilankans (of all ethnicity) should be given a special status in India for them to be able to/from move to India at will even while preserving SL’s status quo.

    Again I am puzzled how you have figured this out but David hasn’t. Unfortunately, as I might have mentioned before giving the Sinhalese the ability to travel to India will not change their overall low numbers. They would be a drop in the bucket.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “My apologies for David feeding you wrong information. The Citizenship Acts and Sinhala Only- the most racist legislation- did not have supermajority support.”

      How were these passed without a 2/3rds majority then?

      “Standardisation and the 1972 Constitution had supermajorities because Sri Lanka’s electoral system gave 60% of the seats to the SLFP even though it carried less than 40% of the vote (as bizarre as it sounds, the UNP actually won a slightly higher percentage of the popular vote!).”

      So much for individual rights then, eh?

      It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the Sinhalese are paranoid because they think of themselves as being endangered. I already pointed this out a week ago, but again (like most things) you’ve missed it until Krish also pointed it out.

      Rather than talking to the gallery, which looks pathetically like whining, Wijayapala, why not respond to what I’ve said to you in the debate.

      • wijayapala

        Rather than talking to the gallery, which looks pathetically like whining, Wijayapala, why not respond to what I’ve said to you in the debate.

        Why should I respond to anyone who claims that I whine?

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Why should you respond to anyone at all?

  • wijayapala

    SD (& OTC),

    If not, this is where OTC’s argument becomes relevant (i.e. How do you prevent the domination of Tamils amongst the minorities?).

    To answer his question (that David apparently couldn’t), I believe that GG intended that 25% of the seats would go to the Tamils and the remainder for the other minorities. He did not provide a more detailed breakdown, possibly demonstrating that he did not really discuss this idea with the other minorities, which I suppose didn’t matter anyway as the Muslims rejected 50-50.

    The veto will not guarantee anything, but it could have helped, especially with regard to the premise of the argument – cancellation of Sinhala Only.

    And that is why I gave better suggestions that would not require nullifying individual rights and alienating the majority, such as the need for a supermajority to pass legislation affecting particular communities. Of course, the best solution against Sinhala Only would have been the UNP implementing Sinhala and Tamil Only after independence.

    RE: “…Herein lies the problem: all discussion on the effects of 50-50 types of representation can only take place at an abstract level…
    Agreed again. It would be a very hard sell in practical terms, but then, so is federalism right at this moment. So were anti-apartheid laws elsewhere in the world.

    I really wish you wouldn’t put 50-50 and federalism on the same pedestal. I made it clear that I don’t support federalism, but it would be hard for me to show how it would give the Tamils more rights than the Sinhalese have, and we can point to actual federations out there that have succeeded (as well as those that have failed). We can’t say the same about 50-50 and that is why it will always be abstract.

    I don’t understand what you meant by anti-apartheid laws as only one country, South Africa, had “apartheid” which ended with the 1994 elections. In any case, 50-50 amounts to a form of apartheid by separating the polity on communal lines, so it would be more accurate to say that apartheid laws are a tough sell for those they would disenfranchise.

    I doubt that you are arguing that there’s a real difference between “perceived” and “actual” justice. For example, a racist is free to perceive it as being unjust that a black is allowed to share his bus, but that is no reflection on the justice of the issue.

    But 60 years ago, it was certainly considered “unjust” to force whites in the USA to share buses with blacks, and 200 years ago it was “just” for blacks to be owned as slaves. Today it is considered just to breed animals in the most loathsome conditions and slaughter them for food, but 100 years from now our descendants might be scratching their heads how we could have been so unjust.

    But granted the assumption that it is explicitly to prevent a hegemony of the majority, then evidence is required to show that it is unjust by the majority. Otherwise, the notion turns into a win-win situation in general, which must be shown to be false before the notion can be refuted.

    How would 50-50 be a “win” for members of the majority community? I can see how the pro-devolutionists have argued that federalism is win-win, but the very numeric nature of 50-50 demonstrates a zero-sum game. (personally I see federalism more as lose-lose, which in all fairness implies that members of one community would not gain at the expense of others as a result)

    The stories I’ve heard (I think Vittachi’s opinion? And elsewhere) include the one about at least a major part of these troubles being caused by the jostling for domination between Sinhala & Tamil elites. Didn’t Sinhala Only very easily knock the off Tamils from civil service? Would it not have uniformly advantaged parties benefiting from this in both the UNP and the SLFP, already riled by the post-colonial domination of Tamils, hence the lack of opposition?

    Not exactly, but if you have evidence to the contrary I would like to see it. If the primary political lines were drawn on ethnicity after independence, then Sinhala Only should have been raised in 1948. I disagree with OTC that the Tamils controlled the Ceylon Civil Service; I believe at their height Tamils formed about 33% of the Service before independence. I do believe, however, that the Civil Service was primarily controlled by English-speakers who were the primary targets of Sinhala Only.

    Sinhala Only did not very easily knock out the Tamils because many of them adapted by learning Sinhala. By 1970 the Tamils comprised about 11% of the bureaucracy, somewhat lower than their national proportion but not a total wipeout (although the Jaffna Vellalas may have perceived a drop from 33% to 11% as a wipeout). The SLFP’s constituency was the primary beneficiary of Sinhala Only because it was almost entirely comprised of Sinhala monolinguals, whereas the UNP had more English-speakers or bilinguals.

    1. If there are communal issues, and the Sinhalese have a stake in it, then non-representation is not an option, therefore, it is invalid to state it is.

    Point taken.

    2. However, non representation of Sinhalese is fine for non-communal issues, since no communal thinking is involved (i.e. Already, the entire population is reduced to 225 representatives)

    Thank you for answering that simple question, as I was rather disappointed that David wasn’t able to. I do not understand what you meant about 225 representatives.

    3. There is no rule that a Sinhalese individual must vote for a Sinhalese candidate, thus allowing them to vote for a Tamil representative who represents his/her personal policies.

    In the ideal world that would be grand, like how many white Americans voted for Obama. However, that wasn’t GG’s intention:

    “His Excellency must have been aware more than anyone else that what was contemplated by all of us was…a re-demarcation, a re-delimitation of the electoral boundaries in this country in such a way as to permit members of the minority communities…to return Members belonging to their communities so that the major community should not be in a position to out-vote the other communities.”

    - From G.G.Ponnambalam’s “The Marathon Crusade for ‘FIFTY, FIFTY’ (Balanced Representation) in the State Council- 1939.” published in Chennai (where else?)

    That because of no. 2 above, it actually *encourages* individuals to see beyond ethnic borders, to disregard it as irrelevant, and to vote without reference to ethnicity. Would that not be the whole point of this exercise?

    I’m not sure that I see your point. If the whole point is to vote without reference to ethnicity, it would seem that a communal form of representation is the worst way to go about it. 50-50 was not intended to give Sinhalese and Tamils equal votes to return 50 Sinhalese and 50 minority representatives, but rather to skew the votes to reach this outcome.

    If you are discussing the issue of 225 representatives to show that ethnically Sinhala representatives have played a substandard role in representing their constituencies, then I would have to concede that as a valid point. I don’t believe that the Sinhala masses voted for SWRD in 1956 or JR in 1977 for the purpose of stomping the Tamils in communal violence afterwards. And, as I brought up previously, the elected representatives felt that swabhasha was not priority until 8 years after independence.

    Be that as it may, one of the foundations of democracy is having the freedom to vote for the candidate of your choice. Usually the choice is between a goat and a monkey, but if you’re not happy with that and you don’t think your neighbors are either, then you could contest yourself. Making a rule that you would be required to vote for a minority-origin candidate to have your voice heard would undermine this principle, and as I’ve said many times would provide infinite fodder for scapegoating the minorities for the failures that all governments eventually end in.

    Doesn’t the fact that we see the non-representation of Sinhalese as a “specific” problem, when the population is represented by 225 people anyway, indicate that we already have a communal bias to our thinking? This is something I came to realize about myself during this debate.

    I’m afraid I don’t follow. Representative democracy sucks but nobody has figured out an alternative so we’re stuck with it. I saw the non-representation of upcountry Tamils due to the Citizenship Acts as a problem, so I don’t understand what you mean by non-representation of Sinhalese as a specific problem.

    There is the final point I made which you did not answer- what if the minorities would not vote as the majority on non-communal issues? After all, it is inconceivable that all communities in the island (or anywhere else in the world) have the same socioeconomic dynamics. Would that undermine the basis for communal representation? Would that mean that these non-communal issues are really communal after all?

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “To answer his question (that David apparently couldn’t), I believe that GG intended that 25% of the seats would go to the Tamils and the remainder for the other minorities.”

      But I have answered it, Wijayapala. OTC’s question wasn’t about GG’s breakdown of the minority 50%, but mine. I told him that this could be figured out by consensus among the minorities. It seems that unless the word Sinhalese is used, the comment goes over your head.

      “And that is why I gave better suggestions that would not require nullifying individual rights and alienating the majority, such as the need for a supermajority to pass legislation affecting particular communities.”

      But none of your suggestions could have prevented Sinhala Only. How can ineffective solutions be called solutions?

      “Of course, the best solution against Sinhala Only would have been the UNP implementing Sinhala and Tamil Only after independence.”

      How could this have prevented Tamil being removed as an official language in favour of Sinhala Only?

      “I really wish you wouldn’t put 50-50 and federalism on the same pedestal. I made it clear that I don’t support federalism, but it would be hard for me to show how it would give the Tamils more rights than the Sinhalese have, and we can point to actual federations out there that have succeeded (as well as those that have failed). We can’t say the same about 50-50 and that is why it will always be abstract.”

      Firstly, 50-50 doesn’t give Tamils more rights than the Sinhalese; just the same rights. Secondly, the reason you can’t find examples of 50-50 anywhere else is because you also can’t find examples of Sinhala Only anywhere else either. So you’re demanding that a common preventive be found to a singular problem.

      “At the core of it, there’s an underlying assumption of ill-will on the part of the Sinhalese. If not, this is where OTC’s argument becomes relevant (i.e. How do you prevent the domination of Tamils amongst the minorities?).”

      As has been pointed out already, the assumption of Sinhalese ill will is not an assumption — it exists, as has been evidenced by a history of racist legislation. On the other hand, there is no such evidence of Tamil ill will to other minorities.

      “In any case, 50-50 amounts to a form of apartheid by separating the polity on communal lines, so it would be more accurate to say that apartheid laws are a tough sell for those they would disenfranchise.”

      But 50-50 doesn’t separate the polity; it prevents the majority oppressing the minority.

    • http://[email protected] SD

      Dear Wijayapala,

      RE: “There is the final point I made which you did not answer- what if the minorities would not vote as the majority on non-communal issues?”

      Yes, I realized that problem right after my post and posted a follow up. Hope that clarifies the issue. I think I can agree with you on this. I’m not sure a clear case can be made that only cancellation of ethnic bias occurs, since opinion on other issues could be skewed. David, would you agree?

      RE: “And that is why I gave better suggestions that would not require nullifying individual rights and alienating the majority, such as the need for a supermajority to pass legislation affecting particular communities.”

      I think nullifying is an invalid characterization. Reducing would be more accurate. As was argued earlier however, majoritarianism can end up affecting individual rights too. So there’s a trade-off eitherways. This needs to be more about a balance of forces I think – the middle path if you will.

      A super-majority idea could work too, in fact, as OTC suggested, perhaps a super majority with a sufficient margin to cancel out the majority. In a certain sense, a super-majority is 50-50 in reverse. If 50-50 were re-characterized to “for legislation affecting minorities, Sinhala voting power is downgraded to 50%”, it would be the same as the super-majority you suggest wouldn’t it? With the additional advantage of not affecting individual rights on non-communal issues and the rewording itself helping to prevent any racist characterization. David, what is your opinion? Would that be a suitable compromise? Also, how will it be decided that a super-majority is needed on a particular issue or not?

      RE: ” really wish you wouldn’t put 50-50 and federalism on the same pedestal.”

      All solutions involve some compromise or the other. One result of this debate, is that it gave me reason to reconsider 50-50, instead of dismissing it as racist almost reflexively. On reconsideration, I still don’t see why it’s as totally heinous as it’s usually represented to be, but in practice, I think that the perceived injustice as I mentioned, is enough to scuttle it.

      This is no reflection on GG of course.

      RE: “But 60 years ago, it was certainly considered “unjust” to force whites in the USA to share buses with blacks, and 200 years ago it was “just” for blacks to be owned as slaves.”

      I guess that’s the age old problem of moral relativism. My personal opinion on this, is that this distinction is a false one. It was as wrong to own blacks 200 years ago as it is today. You can build up an irrefutable case for why that’s the case, at least, one that a reasonably intelligent human being can understand, with a few minimal axioms.

      However, I don’t know what enables or prevents people from seeing the morality of an issue. The immorality of our present morality, is that it is often determined by expedience. Blacks were freed because it was advantageous to do so during the civil war. Only then, did the moral issues get highlighted.

      Moral awakening is clearly a gradual process, and as far as I can see, it is directly contingent on knowledge. Morals cannot come from God, there’s no better evidence than the bible. It cannot come by fiat, because that means an order “to kill a baby” could end up being moral, as in the Abraham story. The only source appears to be reason and knowledge. And the goal may be, as Sam Harris puts it – to maximize the well-being of sentient beings.

      In 200 years, I suspect your idea that it is immoral to kill animals may be vindicated. We will have a better idea of the suffering it causes. Our conceit may be further diminished as we better understand the cognitive powers of animals. Or at the very least, we may look for more humane ways to slaughter animals (which is already happening to some degree). Then again, that may not happen.

      As Michael Sandel put it – the moral issues we had 2000 years ago and the ones we have today are the same. We have to keep grappling with it to fine-tune our moral intuitions. In fact, the only moral awakening, might well be through this mere process of trying, than anything else.

      That’s why discussions such as these are worth the time. We end up gaining a better perspective, and a more fine-tuned awareness of the issues, from different angles.

      RE: “How would 50-50 be a “win” for members of the majority community?”

      Well, if it didn’t affect individual rights, and it solved the communal problem, then it might have been a win-win. However, I think sufficient reason has been presented to doubt that. But I do believe, that a slippery slope should be avoided – an imperfect solution is often better than no solution.

      I will address the rest of the issues later on.

    • Off the Cuff

      Wijayapala,

      your post dated April 10, 2011 • 7:22 am

      “I disagree with OTC that the Tamils controlled the Ceylon Civil Service; I believe at their height Tamils formed about 33% of the Service before independence.”

      If that were true the Brits would have been recruiting 66% Sinhalese to the Civil Service.

      The following Govt Depts had a high percentage of Tamils in them
      * Post & Telecom
      * Customs
      * Inland Revenue
      * Govt Electrical Undertakings
      * Courts
      I believe health was also one of them but not sure

  • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

    “I’m not sure a clear case can be made that only cancellation of ethnic bias occurs, since opinion on other issues could be skewed. David, would you agree?”

    Once more, can an example be provided where a non-racist issue can be skewed into a racist one? Is it a given then that no such example comes to mind, and that we all simply pretend it’s possible — like OTC’s claim that scientific evidence exists of certain races being more cruel or more kind than others, even though he cannot point to said evidence? And Yapa’s even more preposterous claim that no such evidence is needed since everyone knows it is so? From what I’ve seen, it is usually the opposite, where racist actions are passed off as non-racist. Eg: TT’s claim that colonisation of the North is beneficial to the nation and not at all racist or oppressive; Wijayapala’s claim that federalism is bad purely based on economics, with no regard to ethnic issues; the Citizenship Act which was portrayed as anti-Marxist rather than anti-Tamil; the war against the Tigers as purely anti-terrorist, and not part of any ethnic conflict; etc etc etc.

    “A super-majority idea could work too, in fact, as OTC suggested, perhaps a super majority with a sufficient margin to cancel out the majority. In a certain sense, a super-majority is 50-50 in reverse. If 50-50 were re-characterized to “for legislation affecting minorities, Sinhala voting power is downgraded to 50%”, it would be the same as the super-majority you suggest wouldn’t it? With the additional advantage of not affecting individual rights on non-communal issues and the rewording itself helping to prevent any racist characterization. David, what is your opinion? Would that be a suitable compromise? Also, how will it be decided that a super-majority is needed on a particular issue or not?”

    There you go. Who decides whether a bill is in fact ethnic in nature and requires the supermajority to come into play? Isn’t it likely that if a an ethnically contentious issue like colonisation or the singing of the national anthem comes before parliament, it will be portrayed as not racist and therefore unnecessary of the supermajority.

    Any so-called precaution that is dependent on the vagaries of chance, the makeup of the legislature at the time, the wording of the bill, etc, will be pointless because it is so easily circumvented.

  • http://[email protected] SD

    Dear David,

    RE: “What I was hoping for when I asked for an example, is a scenario where a non-ethnic issue is brought before parliament in the form of an act or bill and scuttled by the 50-50 system coming into play.”

    Hmm.. I think you’re right.

    So either my example is wrong and Wijayapala will have to provide a more convincing one, or I personally have to concede that there’s nothing really wrong with 50-50 (for the explicit goal of preventing a Sinhalese majority).

    OTC’s arguments are orthogonal to that, dealing with how 50-50 can be generalized to all communities. It doesn’t aim to do that. It is explicitly to prevent a Sinhalese hegemony, under the specific accusation of majoritarianism.

    If the accusation of majoritarianism cannot be convincingly refuted (which is clearly an uphill task), and the minorities wish to go ahead with 50-50 to prevent that, then it appears that there’s very little in terms of a moral counter-argument that a Sinhalese person can give, other than appeal to the disadvantages of communal representation in the long run.

    I somehow find that idea very depressing, because it is an admission of defeat that we can never hope to transcend the narrow confines of communalism.

    • Off the Cuff

      SD

      Its very difficult to keep track of postings on GV as comments appear in jumbled date order due to the many sub threads within the comments page. If I have omitted to respond to a posting please call my attention to it with a posting that appears at the bottom of the page.

      Re your comment on April 11, 2011 • 4:23 pm

      OTC’s arguments are orthogonal to that, dealing with how 50-50 can be generalized to all communities. It doesn’t aim to do that. It is explicitly to prevent a Sinhalese hegemony, under the specific accusation of majoritarianism.

      Not really SD why only the purported Sinhalese hegemony?
      If such hegemony is entrenched how did the legislation providing National Status for Tamil ever get through Parliament? The Lanka Tamils identify themselves as Tamil Speaking when that suits them. When an argument carries the weight of numbers. At other times they are Jaffna Tamils or Ceylon Tamils like when they were instrumental in passing the Citizenship Act. They were the ONLY reason why that Act became law.

      When 50-50 is discussed, Lanka Tamil hegemony should also be discussed and negated. The best way of doing this is to apply 50-50 across the board as I suggested. Then even the minor communities will have an equal say within the minority grouping and Lanka Tamil domination of minority opinion will get negated.

      A govt cannot be constituted without the flimsiest majority of one. Where does this ‘one’ come from? Hence 50-50 ensures that any govt is held at Ransom. This means that every legislation has to get the approval of the KING MAKER the SINGLE minority vote it does not matter what that legislation is, the ‘KING’ decides for all. Democracy would degenerate to an autocracy.

      The King can bring down the Govt in a snap. All he has to do is to vote against the Budget or vote for a No confidence motion.

      50-50 is argued as a device to stop majoritarianism. Its a Trojan Horse devised to seize control of the Govt. the 50% Sinhalese vote within the Govt. would be inconsequential and Parliament would be reduced to Naught. This situation cannot be corrected as such a Parliament would be powerless to amend the 50-50 and what I described would go on in perpetuity till the Govt is overthrown either by a Coup or a Civil War.

      • SD

        Dear OTC,

        I agree that’s it’s difficult to keep track of posts, especially since GVs recent history of comments is limited to 10 items. The only sure fire way is to use the RSS feed. You can provide the RSS link on the page to your favourite RSS reader or use Google’s online RSS reader. All comments will then be listed in order.”

        RE: “If such hegemony is entrenched how did the legislation providing National Status for Tamil ever get through Parliament?”

        But OTC, that act got through only after the heinous crimes of ’83, and the obvious need to compromise in the face of a violent armed rebellion. It was not done out of nobility and benevolence, but out of necessity. Can you name some actions taken by the Sinhalese on behalf of the minorities out of pure benevolence, so we can eliminate that kind of criticism?

        RE: “The Lanka Tamils identify themselves as Tamil Speaking when that suits them. When an argument carries the weight of numbers.

        I personally believe that the Jaffna Tamils are quite racist too, just like the Sinhalese and just like any other, tribal, ethnic group. But so what? That’s no excuse for ignoring 25% of the population who speak Tamil. I don’t see how that’s a valid argument.

        RE: “They were the ONLY reason why that Act became law.”

        But think about it this way, the act could not even have been dreamt of, let alone passed, if the majority Sinhala vote hadn’t endorsed it. So why blame the minority vote? Shouldn’t a greater share of responsibility go to the majority who initiated the proceedings? (I do acknowledge that it was utterly callous of a minority to not even understand the effect on another minority, but the point remains, they themselves could not have done nothing on their own)

        RE: “When 50-50 is discussed, Lanka Tamil hegemony should also be discussed and negated.”

        But what Lanka Tamil hegemony? Most Lanka Tamils fled, some remain, and I don’t see how they are in a position to have any kind of hegemony. Plus, their can’t really be a hegemony, because there’s a bigger hegemony in the form of the Sinhalese, who can always negate Tamil a hegemony. On the other hand, there’s on one to negate the Sinhalese hegemony is there?

        RE: “This means that every legislation has to get the approval of the KING MAKER the SINGLE minority vote it does not matter what that legislation is, the ‘KING’ decides for all.”

        OTC, I submit to you that you’re wrong on this. The implication appears to be that the current king maker, the Sinhalese, must remain unchallenged? What’s wrong with the Tamils being the king maker? And last but not least, as I mentioned earlier, how on earth can the Tamils ever muster up enough votes to make a king if the Sinhalese categorically oppose it? And if enough Sinhalese support it, what’s wrong with the remaining Tamils deciding on the king? Why should there be a racial element in deciding the king?

      • SD

        Dear OTC,

        Two corrections.
        I said “Most Tamils fled.” It should clearly be “Many Tamils fled”.

        Secondly, Can we please not use the term “King” and “King Makers”, even though it’s perfectly valid English? :D Just a pet dislike of mine, because it reminds me of MR being called “king”, and I detest that, because it goes to show how readily Sri Lankans are willing to fall back to a feudal age and grovel in front of a “king” as his loyal vassals.

        I think it’s reflective of a deeper malaise in our society – it may well be this servile submission to such hierarchy and authority that keeps perpetuating inequality, with a resulting, passive, acceptance of the unbridled power of third-rate politicians. We must crush such ideas, that I’m sure the powers that be would love to inculcate in our minds, any which way they can.

      • SD

        OTC,

        One last bit of clarification. When you look at Sinhalese and Tamil people, they don’t appear to be tremendously different in their attitudes – it’s basically somewhat tribal, and extremely self-engrossed.

        It’s this self-engrossment that causes the problem, especially more so when you are in a majority group. The Sinhalese are basically oblivious to the needs, inconveniences or general existence of the minorities, not because they want to persecute them, but because they are so large, numerous and self-engrossed.

        Let me clarify by way of an analogy. Think of the Sinhalese entity as a big lumbering Hippo which pompously heads over to a water hole, and proceeds to wallow in it, claiming that it was feeling very dirty because this invading Elephant (the British) had been occupying it for a very long time. Meanwhile, the Buffalo (Tamils), Antelope etc. (other minorities) want to splash about in the pool too. The Antelope and other animals defer to the Hippo’s large size and make room, but the Buffalo is having none of it, it sees no reason that the Hippo should consider itself special. The Hippo lumbers on regardless, entirely-engrossed in its own needs, convinced of its entitlement. It rolls around and alas, steps on the equally self-engrossed Buffalo, no less convinced of its own entitlement. The rest is history as we know it.

        Needless to say, things soon degenerate into irrelevant trivialities.
        Who came first, the Buffalo or the Hippo? Should the smaller Buffalo defer to the needs of the larger Hippo? The Hippo once used to roam the entire water hole and even enlarged it, but the Buffalo’s feats are not thus visible. The Hippo considers itself endangered, and claims that Buffaloes are a dime a dozen. The Buffalo doesn’t feel this way, and claims to be of an ancient and special variety. The Hippo sees nightmares of buffalo armies invading the water hole and fears another return of the Elephant. The Buffalo claims 1/3 of the waterhole for itself and so on and so forth.

        Now, this analogy is necessarily reductionist, because it portrays the Sinhalese and the Tamils as monolithic entities, but nevertheless, would you consider it a reasonable analogy of our situation?

        My argument is simple. The Hippo is large enough, and it need not feel threatened by any other animal in the water hole. The only thing the Hippo needs to do, is to be a bit sensitive to others in the water hole (clearly a tall order for a hippo) and consider them equal friends and partners.

        Your argument is that the Buffalo is splashing about, and agitating the other animals, without letting the Hippo wallow in peace. Unfortunately, the other animals continue to accuse the Hippo of insensitivity and callousness. I propose to you that the Hippo can keep the Buffalo in check, but there appears to be no one to keep the Hippo in check. The solution that David is suggesting, is to let the other animals get together and keep the Hippo in line, but the Hippo is so large, that it must further handicap itself to compensate.

        You appear to be distracted keeping the now cowed Buffalo in check. I personally don’t see the need for that any more. What we must do is to either rectify the Hippo’s behaviour, or to concede to a suggestion similar to what David is making. Clearly, there are pluses and minuses to both these solutions, but it is all contingent on how the Hippo behaves itself. So far, the signs continue to be disturbing.

      • Off the Cuff

        SD,

        I have made an inadvertant mistake in my post to you. I intended to refer to the 1958, Tamil Language (Special Provisions) Act but instead have misled you by refering to the National status of Tamil which of course came with the 1987 Constitution amendment.

        So how did the Tamil Language (Special Provisions) Act go through Parliament? without the majority vote?

        In a hung Parliament that 50-50 envisages the ‘King Maker’ is the vote that tilts the balance one way or the other. It does not mean a KING in a Literal sense. So though you detest it for other reasons (I dont disagree) the use of those two words convey a different meaning. Keep that in mind when you see me using it again unless you have a simple phrase that conveys the same meaning.

        I have conveyed my thinking clearly thus,

        A govt cannot be constituted without the flimsiest majority of one. Where does this ‘one’ come from? Hence 50-50 ensures that any govt is held at Ransom. This means that every legislation has to get the approval of the KING MAKER the SINGLE minority vote it does not matter what that legislation is, the ‘KING’ decides for all. Democracy would degenerate to an autocracy.

        The King can bring down the Govt in a snap. All he has to do is to vote against the Budget or vote for a No confidence motion.

        What is your view?

      • SD

        Dear OTC,

        RE: “So how did the Tamil Language (Special Provisions) Act go through Parliament? without the majority vote?”

        When did the ’58 riots occur OTC? That should give you the background for where this partial benevolence came from. Mind you, complete benevolence was not found till ’87, after the 1983 riot really messed things up. I asked you for a specific act of good-will and magnanimity, not one prompted by violence or remorse for violence.

        RE: “A govt cannot be constituted without the flimsiest majority of one. Where does this ‘one’ come from? Hence 50-50 ensures that any govt is held at Ransom.”

        Still don’t follow OTC. Maybe I’m not getting something. Can you provide a concrete example of how exactly this occurs? Currently, the Sinhalese is the lone, undisputed king-maker. The only thing you seem to be saying is that Tamils should not similarly be king-makers? Sorry, I just don’t follow.

        Also, the main issue remains unanswered: A Tamil hegemony can always be overthrown by a Sinhalese one, but there’s on one to negate the Sinhalese hegemony is there?

        What is the solution to that conundrum? David is suggesting 50-50. Can you suggest some better alternatives?

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        OTC, it’s unfortunate that you don’t read the responses to your comments. I made this same comment several days ago, and again today to both you and SD in separate responses.

        The reason your 70-30 system won’t work is because it requires a special voting system for ethnic matters (1/3 of the minority required to be in favour to pass, though I think it should be at least 2/3 to make sense) and a regular voting method (a simple majority) for regular matters; with someone having to decide whether its an ethnic matter or not. So if someone decided that Sinhala Only wasn’t about ethnicity but about something else (as they did with the Citizenship Act), it wouldn’t require that a particular percentage of the minority approve it. So who decides whether it’s an ethnic matter or not?

        With 50-50, it’s one system. So when the SLFP propose Sinhala Only, my belief is that the Tamil and other minority MPs (regard´less of party affiliation) would oppose it. But if a national water resources policy came up, or the budget, where minorities didn’t feel they were hard done by, they would vote according to their party affiliations or personal agendas.

        It’s pretty simple really.

        As I said, I’m not advocating 50-50, and in fact never have, as a political system; merely as a preventive to racist action by the Sinhalese, namely Sinhala Only. And that too because it’s the only effective way I can see to bring a veto into effect in 1n 1950s Ceylon. Supreme Courts, Privy Councils, Constitutional failsafes, etc, just did not work. That’s the simple fact. Section 29 of the Soulbury Constitution makes Sinhala Only illegal, with a Privy Council and the Supreme Court available for appeals. And yet, colonisation of the NE, the Citizenship Act, Sinhala Only, and regular government-instigated pogroms took place.

    • SD

      Dear David, OTC, Wijayapala

      After having invested some further thought into this, I realized that depending on one’s perspective, and the way the argument is put across, the validity of 50-50 changes in dramatic ways.

      One things that Wijayapala said really struck me – why not disenfranchise the Sinhalese altogether? As I mentioned, I felt there was something wrong with this picture somewhere, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. (I must be stooopid)

      I finally found the words to put it across in a way that I feel makes me altogether lose my stomach for 50-50. Here’s why and tell me what’s wrong with it.

      David is looking at 50-50 from the point of view of raising the minorities to have equal communal rights to the Sinhalese. A well-intentioned idea no doubt.

      Wijayapala, OTC and Yapa see it as a subversion of democracy, although when David inquires how it affects individual rights, there is no show-stopper reply, or at least, not one I felt was convincing enough.

      But I think that what they’ve been saying is correct. The Sinhalese outnumber minorities 3 to 1. In order to equate the Sinhalese vote to a minority vote, one must count only 1 in 3 votes. Put in another way. 2/3 of the Sinhalese might as well never have voted, because their vote doesn’t really count. Well, strictly speaking it does, but as I said, depending on the way you put it, it seems to change the whole situation – not counting 2/3 is equal to effectively disenfranchising that many.

      What this means in practice, is that 2/3 of 15 million, approximately 10 million people, which is half the population, has their vote altogether ignored. This is not a trivial number! It clearly affects individual rights, because such a large vote cannot be summarily dismissed in the name of communal equality, after all, it brings about a dramatic change in who is elected, and who is not.

      Would you agree with that perspective David?

      • yapa

        Dear SD;

        “David is looking at 50-50 from the point of view of raising the minorities to have equal communal rights to the Sinhalese. A well-intentioned idea no doubt.
        Wijayapala, OTC and Yapa see it as a subversion of democracy, although when David inquires how it affects individual rights, there is no show-stopper reply, or at least, not one I felt was convincing enough”.

        What should be stated, you have correctly stated and explained to the point I think.

        I also wanted to say something a bit similar to this, but I couldn’t do it.

        http://groundviews.org/2011/03/17/jaffna-and-the-vanni-today-the-reality-beneath-the-rhetoric/comment-page-1/#comment-29922

        I think your present post gives me an opportunity to use it as a stepping stone to express my idea.

        I think the “minority concept” in Sri Lanka has been misinterpreted and common notion about it is a misconception that can be and has been used to get undue advantages to a section of minorities.

        In countries like India, the groups identified as minorities and special arrangements made to compensate are not just “numerical minorities”. Essentially they are “marginalized minorities” like Daliths, untouchables. In a case like them it is correct if their voting power is weighted to empower them, as they have no equal individual rights like the privileged majority. Really India has taken many correcting measures to uplift the rights of these marginalized minorities. However, is this position of the minorities of our country?

        Except for the upcountry Tamils, I think the individual rights (or individual benefits) of the minorities of this country is either not less than that of majority Sinhalese or more than of them. Except the up country Tamil, many of the other minorities enjoy urban facilities while many of the Sinhalese majority, are deprived of them. Most of them live in rural areas with fewer benefits. So is there a necessity for “Sri Lanlan Minorities” to further empower to get to the same level as the majority?

        No, they are not marginalized and were not deprived of their equal individual rights.

        In a country, it is equal individual rights should be ensured, not the community rights or tribal rights or any other group rights. If the groups are not equal in size, “giving equal group rights” invariably violates the individual rights of the individuals of the majority groups. In such a case always there is a trade off between equal individual rights and equal community (communal?) rights. Violation of individual rights is a violation of democracy and hence implementing community right is impossibility.

        However, if some community in the numerical minority having more individual rights than the rest of the community (Jaffna Tamils as a community were very much more privileged than the majority Sinhalese then) initiated a campaign to claim equal community rights, can anybody say it is not treachery?

        I think minority Jaffna Tamils tried to take us for a ride.

        I think Sinhalese intellectually did not understand the treachery of Tamils when they demanded 50 – 50, but their intuition whispered the threat they were facing to their ears.

        Most of the time Sinhalese do not take their crucial decisions with their intellectual intelligence, but along with their emotional and spiritual intelligence too.

        When the President Rajapaksha said that “there are no minorities any more in this country”, I think he was right!

        He is a man with “Traditional Intelligence”!

        Thanks!

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Actually, I don’t agree at all, SD, and in fact I’d already addressed this issue in a comment to OTC when he first brought it up. Your scenario assumes that ethnic lines will fall along party lines; that minority candidates would be from minority parties. This doesn’t have to so, necessarily. Why can’t Sinhalese majority parties such as the SLFP, UNP, JVP, JHU, etc, field minority candidates too? This goes on the same lines as an affirmative action system, so if the UNP or SLFP want to win a majority they must make sure they field enough minority candidates to maintain 50-50 while winning a majority. Similarly, a Tamil majority party like ITAK will have to also field enough Muslim or other minority candidates to maintain whatever 50-50 breakdown is deemed the equation within the minority 50%.

        The ingenius part of it is that in order to win that majority and attact minority candidates and voters to their party, these former Sinhalese and Tamil majority parties will have to have platforms which are no longer specific to a particular ethnicity.

        All this goes back to my original premise that 50-50 is limited to the passing or vetoing of legislation, and nothing more. In a general or presidential election, the ballot is a popular one. 50-50 comes into play ONLY in the parliament where representatives are voting on bills. Here it doesn’t matter if an MP is Tamil or Sinhalese until a racist bill comes up.

      • Off the Cuff

        David,

        Now you are making some sense.

        However I cannot remember seeing a post from you, making an argument similar to what you have done on April 14, 2011 • 3:08 pm

        All your previous arguments were rubbish but apparently you have put more thought to it this time. This is why I wanted to discuss the ‘How’ more than the why.

        Now I wonder why 50-50 is needed at all.

        Why cant it be 70-30 (Demography is 74% – 26%) with a Constitutional safe guard of say a 80% Super majority for any legislation that impinges on minority rights? This time there is a 30% Minority representation though they wont belong to the same party. No ethnic legislation will go through unless 1/3 of the minority members support it. This will remove the undemocratic aspects of 50-50.

        The legislation that requires such a Super majority could be decided by the Supreme court and obtaining the Supreme Court views could be made mandatory on the Speaker on any Ethnically related matter where 25% of minority members request the Speaker for such a reference to the Supreme Court.

        Your thoughts David

      • SD

        Dear David,

        I think you are right. I guess we’re discussing implementation details now, and that’s a good thing, because it makes the picture a lot clearer. I guess the problem is not perspective, but the exact mechanism that’s used. I was looking at it from the (rather silly in retrospect) point of view of balancing the vote first and then selecting the candidates, whereas what needs to occur in practice is the balancing of representatives first and then carrying out the voting. It would appear that punishment (cancellation of votes) only occurs when too many Sinhalese candidates start to get a higher vote, which shouldn’t happen in a non-racist voting pattern.

        As you say, the only thing the existing Sinhalese parties need to do is to boost their minority candidates to 50%. Assuming a non-racially biased vote, this should spread the votes out evenly, and would be quite reasonable. The top candidates can then be selected.

        I guess once the two majority parties become multi-ethnic, the minority/ethnicity based parties will automatically disappear. This means TT’s cherished dream will come true wouldn’t it, all the ‘T’ parties will be gone ;-)

        Dear Yapa,

        RE: “What should be stated, you have correctly stated and explained to the point I think.”

        Well, it appears I was wrong.

        RE: “In a country, it is equal individual rights should be ensured, not the community rights or tribal rights or any other group rights.”

        But it has already been shown how depriving a person of language rights affects their individual rights, and that ensuring communal rights can be complementary to individual rights. So why not ensure community rights whenever possible?

        RE: “If the groups are not equal in size, “giving equal group rights” invariably violates the individual rights of the individuals of the majority groups.”

        How so? An example is yet to be provided how this occurs, so we can’t assert this position without providing clear examples and reasons.

        RE: “However, if some community in the numerical minority having more individual rights than the rest of the community (Jaffna Tamils as a community were very much more privileged than the majority Sinhalese then) initiated a campaign to claim equal community rights, can anybody say it is not treachery?”

        Yapa, I think our conversation need to be elevated a little beyond “paara ayine” babble, where talk about “traitors” and “patriots” might be acceptable. In this forum, the people general expect clear reasoning and arguments. I personally see nothing wrong with considering the Tamil community equal to the Sinhala community or the Burgher community, because not doing so means that you are somehow asserting that the Sinhalese are “superior” to Tamils and others. As per the dictionary definition, this is outright racism.

        RE: “Most of the time Sinhalese do not take their crucial decisions with their intellectual intelligence, but along with their emotional and spiritual intelligence too.”

        Oh dear, that might explain why some Sinhalese do dumb things like attacking innocent Tamils and causing riots :D I do hope that you’re not talking for the majority of the Sinhalese because you’re certainly not talking for me :-)

        Yapa, using vacuous terms like “emotional intelligence” and “spiritual intelligence” does nothing to advance a discussion. Human beings usually think through and articulate the reasons for their decisions. That’s how a group arrives at a consensus. That’s what separates us from dumb animals who only have intuitions and emotions.

        We can’t convince other human beings by saying “my intuition says so, but I can’t really give any valid reason”. I use my intuition in my personal life, but I don’t expect others to respect it for obvious reasons – I can’t give reasons! And doing things without being able to give clear reasons is again – best left to dumb animals.

      • yapa

        Dear SD;

        I have been thinking how smart you are to catch things from the wrong end. [Edited out] However, I had no time to continue it because, I had to show your never ending pit falls at the individual basis with your each post.

        I will try to understand what wrong has happened to you to have so much of mistakes in your psychological process of decision making.

        1. Pre-conceived Bias

        See the following part of your last post addressed to me.
        ………..
        RE: “What should be stated, you have correctly stated and explained to the point I think.”

        Well, it appears I was wrong.
        ……………..

        Just because I said what you had said were correct, you say “It appears I was wrong.”

        Isn’t this pre-conceived bias, prejudice?

        2. Inability to choose the correct attributes (causes)

        Consider the following part again.
        …………………………
        “RE: “Most of the time Sinhalese do not take their crucial decisions with their intellectual intelligence, but along with their emotional and spiritual intelligence too.”

        Oh dear, that might explain why some Sinhalese do dumb things like attacking innocent Tamils and causing riots :D I do hope that you’re not talking for the majority of the Sinhalese because you’re certainly not talking for me :-)

        Yapa, using vacuous terms like “emotional intelligence” and “spiritual intelligence” does nothing to advance a discussion. Human beings usually think through and articulate the reasons for their decisions. That’s how a group arrives at a consensus. That’s what separates us from dumb animals who only have intuitions and emotions.

        We can’t convince other human beings by saying “my intuition says so, but I can’t really give any valid reason”. I use my intuition in my personal life, but I don’t expect others to respect it for obvious reasons – I can’t give reasons! And doing things without being able to give clear reasons is again – best left to dumb animals.
        ………………..

        Keep aside Sinhalese; can you name any single community that take decision purely on “Intellectual Intelligence” or rationality?

        Do you say Tamils took their political decisions purely based on rationality?

        Through out the human history, show me a single nation, community or tribe took decisions purely on rationality.

        Keep aside a community, can you tell me any person (other than you, as indicated saying,” I do hope that you’re not talking for the majority of the Sinhalese because you’re certainly not talking for me :-)” who takes decisions totally alienated from on intuition, or EI or SI.

        You may be expressing your ambitions and aspirations, but it is not the reality.

        Why don’t you try to gift some of the valuable rationality to your so called animals, if you feel they are lacking that gift, you claim you have in abundance??

        3. Inability to understand the difference between Necessary and Essential Conditions

        Consider the following
        …………………..
        RE: “In a country, it is equal individual rights should be ensured, not the community rights or tribal rights or any other group rights.”

        But it has already been shown how depriving a person of language rights affects their individual rights, and that ensuring communal rights can be complementary to individual rights. So why not ensure community rights whenever possible?
        ……………………………

        Now you talk about communal rights as a remedy to language rights, as a complementary to individual rights.

        Don’t you think when the equal individual rights are ensured,there won’t be any deprivation of language rights, I mean I am talking in principle.

        You can see, community rights may be necessary, but not essential. Especially when equal individual rights are ensured communal language rights are not even necessary. It becomes redundant and an obstacle.

        4. Inability to understand Special from General

        RE: “If the groups are not equal in size, “giving equal group rights” invariably violates the individual rights of the individuals of the majority groups.”

        How so? An example is yet to be provided how this occurs, so we can’t assert this position without providing clear examples and reasons.
        …………..

        Really, you yourself have provided and explained a very clear example, but you forgot it in the interest of your inner liking to attack me.

        Why you said 2/3 rd of the Sinhalese, one million Sinhala voters would be deprived if “that” is implemented. Think back and see what is that “that”.

        It is no problem if the community sizes are similar (in general), but (especially) harmful to the majority communities if the sizes are different.

        “RE: “However, if some community in the numerical minority having more individual rights than the rest of the community (Jaffna Tamils as a community were very much more privileged than the majority Sinhalese then) initiated a campaign to claim equal community rights, can anybody say it is not treachery?”

        5. Bookworm Syndrome and Jargon Preaching

        Yapa, I think our conversation need to be elevated a little beyond “paara ayine” babble, where talk about “traitors” and “patriots” might be acceptable. In this forum, the people general expect clear reasoning and arguments. I personally see nothing wrong with considering the Tamil community equal to the Sinhala community or the Burgher community, because not doing so means that you are somehow asserting that the Sinhalese are “superior” to Tamils and others. As per the dictionary definition, this is outright racism.”
        ………………

        I know you prefer Jargon preaching and you are suffering from “Bookworm Syndrome” but still unable to see a simple issue correctly with all those mighty tools.

        Were mighty philosophical “Statesmen Politicians ” of this country could understand the mighty wrongs in “LTTE” cause with their mighty panels of renowned people with PhD’s and all that but the intuitive Rajapaksh who came from Medamulana, without having any formally accepted educational background? Didn’t many Political Pandiths say LTTE could not be defeated? Not Rgajapaksha Gamarala’s ““paara ayine”” talk was more meaningful than the “Group Rationality” of those Pandiths?

        Talking about ““paara ayine”” talks, has been used from the very beginning to keep the average masses away from discussing their problems and for elites to secure their vulnerable ideological positions in one “horse races”. Most of those elite talks with mighty words only have “Hunda”, but no “Gunda”.

        Thanks!

      • SD

        Dear Yapa,

        I have been similarly baffled by your inability to grasp elementary logic, and I can only conclude that you keep raising red-herrings and other irrelevant notions simply because you have no counter-argument to the key issues at hand. Or worse, because you are unable or unwilling to grasp what they are in the first place – your conclusions are foregone, all you need is a plausible sounding rationalization which you can sell to others. I’m sorry about that, but that is your own burden to bear :D

        RE: “Just because I said what you had said were correct, you say “It appears I was wrong.”

        Sigh. Once again, you display a fantastic degree of self-engrossment when you attribute conspiracy theories to what is plainly evident. I changed my view because of what David said Yapa, do you have a counter-argument to his statements? What is it? If not, what next? Aliens anal-probing Sinhala-Buddhists?

        RE: “Keep aside Sinhalese; can you name any single community that take decision purely on “Intellectual Intelligence” or rationality?”

        A strawman Yapa. The unfortunate impediments that we face in reality is no excuse for what we should aim to do. For example, the fact that some psychopaths rape and kill doesn’t mean we should not strive to avoid it. Similarly, just because some people can’t think or provide reasons, and act emotionally like little children, doesn’t mean we should embrace that as the new “kosher” way to do things. The ’83 riots and the LTTE are enough reasons to convince anyone that’s a dumb idea.

        RE: “Don’t you think when the equal individual rights are ensured,there won’t be any deprivation of language rights, I mean I am talking in principle.”

        Again, if you were asked to speak in Tamil, instead of Sinhalese, would you consider that a violation of individual rights? Why the double standards for Tamils only?

        RE: “Why you said 2/3 rd of the Sinhalese, one million Sinhala voters would be deprived if “that” is implemented. Think back and see what is that “that”.”

        Have you bothered to even read David’s counter-argument? I agree it is unnecessary, when all you want to do is to prove your own foregone conclusion :D

        RE: “Talking about ““paara ayine”” talks, has been used from the very beginning to keep the average masses away from discussing their problems and for elites to secure their vulnerable ideological positions in one “horse races”.”

        Again, a red-herring. You have no counter-argument for why it’s not racism for Sinhalese to consider themselves special, so you branch off on a bigoted rant, scapegoating “elites” for the deprivation of opportunities for the average masses, when given the opportunities for the masses to “discuss their problems” you avoid it and resort to bigotry instead.

        Rubbish.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        That’s it, SD. It all becomes perfectly clear when you see the thing as a whole rather than its component parts, eh? You seemed the least emotionally affected by this debate, and perhaps that’s what’s giving you the objectivity to see what I was seeing. I’m still quite disappointed that Wijayapala was unable to do so.

      • yapa

        Dear DB;

        “You seemed the least emotionally affected by this debate, and perhaps that’s what’s giving you the objectivity to see what I was seeing.”

        Isn’t that a case of monkey praising his brother’s tail while praising his own tail?

        Thanks, DB, but I am not happy you have not answered many of my posts.

        Thanks!

  • wijayapala

    SD,

    As you say, the only thing the existing Sinhalese parties need to do is to boost their minority candidates to 50%.

    Just when I was beginning to think you were understanding. So, Sinhala individuals should have less rights to directly contest elections than minority individuals? How about this wonderful idea: allow Sinhalese the same voting rights as anyone else, but only minorities can be allowed to contest. Does that seem fair?

    • SD

      Dear Wijayapala,

      RE: “So, Sinhala individuals should have less rights to directly contest elections than minority individuals?”

      Wijayapala, can you, in clear and preferably mathematical terms, outline the impact of 50-50 so that we can put this argument to rest? Your wording seems to suggest that all the arguments have been convincingly refuted, but all I see is that you have failed to provide a single convincing example of how 50-50 affects individual rights, or some sort of show-stopper argument that cannot be refuted. Why not attack the problem, and provide that argument, instead of alluding to hidden knowledge which is inaccessible to me? Believe me, I’m listening, and my vacillating position should be sufficient evidence of it.

      RE: “So, Sinhala individuals should have less rights to directly contest elections than minority individuals?”

      I agree that there’s a problem there. But you need to show me how that’s as big a problem as you make it out to be. All solutions have pluses and minuses. It would be ludicrous to say that 50-50 is impact-free, but you need to show how it can have severe negative impact.

      My response to this particular issue, I’ve already provided, but let me elucidate. In any election, only the top vote garnering candidates are selected. The others are ignored. Nevertheless, each person’s vote counts towards the party’s total vote tally. What 50-50 would entail, is an increase in the number of minority candidates fielded by each party. David has called this a sort of affirmative action.

      Now, can you explain to me, in light of a non-racist voting pattern, how this would severely affect the situation?

      Secondly, as you say, some Sinhalese candidates will get handicapped. But will Sinhalese candidates belonging to the top 50% be handicapped? When a non-racist voting pattern takes place, the votes should be evenly split between the top Sinhalese and minority candidates. A voting pattern skewed in favour of the Sinhalese, would automatically start eliminating candidates in the bottom rungs, not the top.

      RE: “How about this wonderful idea: allow Sinhalese the same voting rights as anyone else, but only minorities can be allowed to contest. Does that seem fair?”

      But Wijayapala, you have already conceded that it is invalid to bring in the hypothetical situation of a complete absence of Sinhala representation. Clearly, when communal issues come about, Sinhala representation is mandatory.

      • Off the Cuff

        SD

        Re: Your post of April 16, 2011 • 8:45 am

        “…When a non-racist voting pattern takes place,…” That’s a Very Big IF .. especially when you CONSTITUTIONALY allow only a 50% representation to a 74% population in Parliament. Hence I would modify Wijayapala’s statement as follows “So, Sinhala individuals should have less rights to directly contest elections and getting elected than minority individuals?”

        The nationalist parties would campaign using that apparent injustice and cause polarisation of the communities causing more division than what exists today.

        If such non racist voting can be assumed when electing representatives then it is ludicrous to assume that these representatives would vote in parliament with a racist bias. Hence such non racist voting pattern would negate the need for 50-50

        you say “What 50-50 would entail, is an increase in the number of minority candidates fielded by each party. David has called this a sort of affirmative action.

        Not True, the core premise of 50-50 is equal representation in parliament not equal number of candidates presented for an election.

        SD you seem to assume that it is just limited to the selection of candidates by a party and significantly David has not attempted to correct you.

        Constitutionally the 74% majority has to be reduced to 50% of parliamentary seats and a 26% minority has to be elevated to 50% of parliamentary seats. You may even find Minority candidates with less than 100 votes ousting Sinhala candidates with several thousand votes. See any parallel with earlier affirmative action? The unjust Media wise standardisation?

        For a 100 seat Parliament (should be an odd number but then 50 -50 is not possible) Each party will field 50 Sinhala Candidates

        UNP, SLFP, MEP, Bhumiputhra, JVP, JHU, TNA, TC, SLMC, (what is the position of the Independent candidates?) will have a total of 450 Sinhala Candidates if they contest all seats. Since the Nationalist parties would campaign highlighting the palpable injustice meted out to the majority who do you think will top the list? The danger that the extreme Nationalist parties among the Sinhalese getting all 50 seats will be very real.

      • SD

        Dear OTC,

        RE: “So, Sinhala individuals should have less rights to directly contest elections and getting elected than minority individuals?”

        Yes. That’s right. However, as far as I can see, only a racist voting pattern would result in this having a severe effect. This is precisely what 50-50 intends to punish.

        Think about it in reverse. What if more people voted for minority communities, ignoring the Sinhalese? Then, 50-50 would work in favour of the Sinhalese.

        RE: “If such non racist voting can be assumed when electing representatives then it is ludicrous to assume that these representatives would vote in parliament with a racist bias. Hence such non racist voting pattern would negate the need for 50-50″

        Jettison any pre-conceived bias you have against this and think for a moment in favour of 50-50. Take a random pool of candidates of varying ethnicities. Assume that ethnicity is irrelevant to voter choice. What would be the rough distribution of votes be amongst these candidates?

        Now, assume a racist voting pattern. What would be the distribution? Now what does 50-50 do? Negate such a pattern.

        In other words, it negates the advantage of playing communal politics – the very thing that has bedevilled our post-independence history.

        RE: “See any parallel with earlier affirmative action? The unjust Media wise standardisation?”

        You have a modicum of a point. However, media-wise standardization could have been rectified by elevating education opportunities for Sinhalese, as opposed to bringing down Tamils.

        On the other hand, you have still not provided an answer to: who or what will neutralize the hegemony of the Sinhalese? This is precisely the problem under discussion. As was clearly stated in the premises, 50-50 is needed only in order to deal with a monolithic entity, which has had a history of ethnically insensitive decisions for which there has been no mechanism to neutralize.

        RE: “The danger that the extreme Nationalist parties among the Sinhalese getting all 50 seats will be very real.”

        First of all, this is clearly unlikely. Second, and that’s the beauty of it, so what? They would be impotent to pass any laws detrimental to the minorities. 50-50 forces collaboration between ethnicities in order to play a non-zero sum game. In a worst case scenario, it results in a stalemate. It forces one to play non-ethnic politics to win – which, as I mentioned earlier, has been the very impediment which has dragged us back most severely, wouldn’t you agree?

        What issues remain unaddressed OTC?

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Thanks, SD, you’ve nailed it again. OTC, it only seems unfair and that Sinhalese are being restricted IF you think from within the narrow confines of communalism. Here is how it is:

        1. We assume that 50-50 is in place and that the legislature requires 50% minority representation. This doesn’t affect the executive of course.

        2. At a general elections, all parties strive to gain a majority while maintaining the 50% for minorities in parliament. To do so they must all field sufficient minority candidates to ensure that they can still gain that majority. If they do not wish to field minorities, they must understand that their only shot at the cabinet is via a coalition with a party that has minority candidates.

        3. Now let’s take the SLFP as an example. Let’s assume the party is going to field enough minority candidates, drawn regionally, or whatever. It doesn’t matter. Now the party will have a campaign platform which all its candidates, regardless of ethnicity, will support, as is usual. Now on election day, as far as the voter is concerned, he is voting for an SLFPer because he likes that party’s policies, and perhaps he likes the candidate. Why should it matter if said candidate is Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim or whatever? Bottom line is he is an SLFPer campaigning and standing on berhalf of the party.

        4. A pretty good byproduct of this is that the SLFP would not be able to campaign for policies that are racist because no minority person would then wish to support those policies. And after a victory, they would not be able to bring in previously hidden agendas without risking a veto, a crossover and subsequent loss of majority, or both. Similarly, ITAK, which would also have to field sufficient Muslim and other minority candidates if they wish to maintain the 50% breakdown within their half of 50-50 (and perhaps Sinhalese candidates if they wish to actually have a shot at forming a national government), would not be able to campaign on platforms advocating secession or other Tamil nationalist policies because potential non-Tamil ITAK candidates would not support such policies.

        5. In time we will have moved away from any form of communal politics, and once that political maturity has been achieved, the constitution could perhaps even be amended again to do away with a by then unnecessary 50-50 system.

        How can anyone object to this?

      • Off the Cuff

        SD,

        Your post of April 17, 2011 • 8:29 am

        Me: “So, Sinhala individuals should have less rights to directly contest elections and getting elected than minority individuals?”

        You: Yes. That’s right. However, as far as I can see, only a racist voting pattern would result in this having a severe effect. This is precisely what 50-50 intends to punish.

        Me: Is it not naive to envisage a Non Racist Voting pattern for a Racist proposal like 50-50?

        How about the encroachment on the Individual’s right to be able to stand for election and get elected on EQUAL terms as anyone else? It does not count?

        50-50 assumes Racism else there is no tool needed to counter it. So you cannot assume non racist voting at General elections and racist voting in Parliament at the same time.

        As I stated before, 50-50 is NOT about fielding equal number of candidates but about CONSTITUTIONALY reserving 50% of Parliamentary representation to a 24% Minority and reducing the parliamentary representation of a 74% majority to 50%, in perpetuity.

        David did not correct your misconception.

        It also means that a Govt can be brought down for the flimsiest of reasons or no reason at all. So how does one govern a country? This is why I suggested a 70-30 split, while ensuring protection for the minorities CONSTITUTIONALY.

        ME: “The danger that the extreme Nationalist parties among the Sinhalese getting all 50 seats will be very real.”

        You: First of all, this is clearly unlikely.

        Me: Why? What is clear to me is the opposite. Do you think that majority among the majority will not be swayed by a patently undemocratic proposal that will be portrayed by the extreme parties as Completely Racist and an attempt to take away their basic right of franchise with equality for all?
        Three majority votes counting as one Minority vote? How else do you propose to get 50% seats for a 24% population? By Counting Minority votes 3 times and the majority vote just once? Is that not a perversion of the term equality?

        You: Second, and that’s the beauty of it, so what? They would be impotent to pass any laws detrimental to the minorities.

        Me: But the Masses will not remain impotent for long. Can you propose a method of keeping them in check?

        No party can form a government, when extreme parties capture equal number of seats, do you see them as capable of compromise?

        ME: “See any parallel with earlier affirmative action? The unjust Media wise standardisation?”

        You: You have a modicum of a point. However, media-wise standardization could have been rectified by elevating education opportunities for Sinhalese, as opposed to bringing down Tamils.

        Me: I pointed out an unjust parallel to 50-50 as opposed to standardisation as it exists now. Standardisation was solved though Jaffna is considered an educationally disadvantaged district which it is not. The method you suggest though ideal, cannot be practised in a poor country like Lanka and the absence of funds was a primary reason for the necessity of standardisation.

        Affirmative action is a necessity to ensure equitable distribution of resources and should be dispensed with when its no longer required.

        So why can’t the Minorities be protected by other means without bringing down the Sinhalese? That too PERMANANTLY and forever.

        You: On the other hand, you have still not provided an answer to: who or what will neutralize the hegemony of the Sinhalese?

        Me: Overlooked my post of April 14, 2011 • 10:07 pm ?

        http://groundviews.org/2011/03/17/jaffna-and-the-vanni-today-the-reality-beneath-the-rhetoric/comment-page-1/#comment-30273http://groundviews.org/2011/03/17/jaffna-and-the-vanni-today-the-reality-beneath-the-rhetoric/comment-page-1/#comment-30273

      • Off the Cuff

        David,

        Re your post of April 17, 2011 • 1:56 pm

        This is my understanding of your proposal. please correct me if I am wrong

        1. The 76% Majority is allocated 50% seats in the legislature
        2. The 24% Minorities will also be allocated 50% seats.
        3. These allocations are written in to the Constitution.
        4. Due to one above, 15.2 million out of a 20 million population will be allocated 100 seats in a 200 seat legislature.
        5. Due to two, the remaining 4.8 million is also allocated 100 seats.
        6. Due to three, the imbalance of representation will be permanent and unalterable.

        Looking back at history I cannot remember a single instance of a member of the majority community being elected to represent any Minority dominated electorate. Please correct me if I am wrong.

        However there have been many instances over the years of candidates of the SLFP and the UNP (even in the current legislature) of members of the minority community being elected to represent majority community dominated areas.

        In simple terms this means that the Sinhalese had OVERCOME race barriers but the Tamils had never been able reciprocate.

        Why, would be a pertinent question to ask.

        Do the Tamils trust the Sinhalese to vote for a Sinhalese representative in their areas? Historically that trust has never existed. What legitimacy will they have to ask a Sinhala voter to elect him overlooking the Sinhala candidate?

        Minority dominated electorates are few, hence the major part of the minority candidates will have to come from the Sinhala areas. A very unlikely event when the Sinhala candidate draws attention to the Constitutional skulduggery to steal what they will perceive as their right.

        50-50 cannot be sold to the masses and is hence a non starter even if its discussed till the cows come home. It would be better to discuss a proposal that has a chance of being implemented.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        “Me: Is it not naive to envisage a Non Racist Voting pattern for a Racist proposal like 50-50?”

        But it’s your claim that it’s racist, OTC; you’ve been unable to prove it. So to base your argument on an assumption is a bit silly.

        “How about the encroachment on the Individual’s right to be able to stand for election and get elected on EQUAL terms as anyone else? It does not count?”

        The right to stand for election isn’t an individual right, OTC; it’s a civic right; and the latter isn’t absolute. Individual rights are. Nevertheless, there is NO encroachment on any individual’s chances of standing for election. Whatever gave you that idea? If, for instance, OTC, YOU wanted to stand for election from whatever area you hail from, under the 50-50 system, you still could. Nothing’s stopping you. Where you might be restricted is if you wish to stand as a member of a particular party, because if that party wishes to win a majority it would have to field sufficient minority candidates. There’s nothing stopping you running as an independent. Even today, if you woke up and decided you wanted to become a UNP candidate, do you think you could? Of course not. Each party picks and chooses which candidates it wishes to field, not simply because it’s everyone’s god-given right to run. So if the UNP told you to bugger off, would they be trespassing on your rights? :D The point is, most independents stand as much chance as a Tamil at a JHU meeting, but no one has the right to win, just to run. It’s the reason why nutjobs like Wickramabahu Karunaratne run as independents.

        “50-50 assumes Racism else there is no tool needed to counter it. So you cannot assume non racist voting at General elections and racist voting in Parliament at the same time.”

        The point is, OTC, it doesn’t matter a damn whether people cast racist votes or not. It’s upto them. If a party fields 50% Sinhalese and 50% minorities, campaigning in Sinhalese majority areas and all the Sinhalese just vote for the Sinhalese, those candidates will get elected, but the party won’t win a majority. Same goes for minority parties. So the party must campaign to convince its electorate to vote for party policies and not ethnicity. Or they must cunningly place their majority and minority candidates in electorates where their ethnicity will be an asset not a liability. Or do both. Or parties will have to form coalitions between majority and minority parties.

        There are many ways to make this happen if intelligence is applied, OTC.

        “As I stated before, 50-50 is NOT about fielding equal number of candidates but about CONSTITUTIONALY reserving 50% of Parliamentary representation to a 24% Minority and reducing the parliamentary representation of a 74% majority to 50%, in perpetuity.”

        This is not a misconception, OTC; this is it exactly. And there’s nothing wrong with it. As has been repeatedly stated, numerical superiority doesn’t require representational superiority. All communities are equal, regardless of size.

        “It also means that a Govt can be brought down for the flimsiest of reasons or no reason at all. So how does one govern a country?”

        Then why is it (I ask yet again — I’ve lost count of the number of times this question has been put) that no one can come up with EVEN ONE SITUATION where the government will be brought down, unless it is a racist situation? I doubt I’ll get an answer now either. It’s like asking the Eelamists to prove that 50,000 Tamils were killed at Mullivalikkai — they just go on as if it’s fact. Similarly, are you goiung to simply ASSUME that the government will be toppled when there is no reason for it?

        “This is why I suggested a 70-30 split, while ensuring protection for the minorities CONSTITUTIONALY.”

        But I already showed you why it won’t work like that, OTC. Since you obviously read only what suits you, I’ll repeat it in the vain hope that you’ll actually get it this time: “The reason your 70-30 system won’t work is because it requires a special voting system for ethnic matters (1/3 of the minority required to be in favour to pass, though I think it should be at least 2/3 to make sense) and a regular voting method (a simple majority) for regular matters; with someone having to decide whether its an ethnic matter or not. So if someone decided that Sinhala Only wasn’t about ethnicity but about something else (as they did with the Citizenship Act), it wouldn’t require that a particular percentage of the minority approve it. So who decides whether it’s an ethnic matter or not? With 50-50, it’s one system. So when the SLFP propose Sinhala Only, my belief is that the Tamil and other minority MPs (regard´less of party affiliation) would oppose it. But if a national water resources policy came up, or the budget, where minorities didn’t feel they were hard done by, they would vote according to their party affiliations or personal agendas.”

        Do you have no response to this?

        “Three majority votes counting as one Minority vote? How else do you propose to get 50% seats for a 24% population? By Counting Minority votes 3 times and the majority vote just once? Is that not a perversion of the term equality?”

        Still bludgeoning on with your bullshit, OTC? :D There is no 3 votes counting as one or any other such stupid rubbish. Every vote counts as one. No more. The 50% minority representation in parliament is gained by fielding a higher percentage of minority candidates than their ethnic percentage in the population. So the SLFP, UNP, JVP, etc fields as many minority candidates as Sinhalese. How many times have I to post this before it actually sticks between your ears?

        “But the Masses will not remain impotent for long. Can you propose a method of keeping them in check?”

        You mean like the police, the courts, and law and order in general? Or are we to assume that all laws must first be acceptable to the Tamil-killing mob?

        “No party can form a government, when extreme parties capture equal number of seats, do you see them as capable of compromise?”

        Of course they can form a government if they field sufficient minority candidates. If they stick to their guns and field only Sinhalese or Tamils, they must ally with other parties or lose the election. You will find that ideological compromise will come very easily when the alternative is to lose :D

        “So why can’t the Minorities be protected by other means without bringing down the Sinhalese? That too PERMANANTLY and forever.”

        What are these “other” means? All means of protecting the minorities have failed, and the only meaningful legislature passed in our independent history had to be strong-armed on us by a foreign nation.

      • http://[email protected] SD

        Dear OTC,

        It’s a pity that you joined the conversation half-way, because many of the issues you’ve raised have already been bludgeoned to death. But nevertheless, let’s go over them again for your benefit.

        RE: “Is it not naive to envisage a Non Racist Voting pattern for a Racist proposal like 50-50?”

        First, can you substantiate the statement “Racist proposal like 50-50″?
        It would appear that you are already prejudiced against it as a racist proposal, which is what is preventing you from considering its positive aspects, so we need to sort that issue out first.

        David has already made a good case for why it’s not racist. Preventing racism is in itself not a racist action, and secondly, no race’s rights are violated. What this brings about is communal equality. Therefore, you have to substantiate the “racist proposal” part.

        RE: “How about the encroachment on the Individual’s right to be able to stand for election and get elected on EQUAL terms as anyone else? It does not count?”

        I honestly won’t shed many tears over whether a Sinhala politician sees his life-long dream, of whizzing around in a land-cruiser at high speed so that the poor farmers who voted for him can step deferentially into the gutter, get shattered to pieces, in favour of a minority candidate doing the same damn thing. If you have a convincing counter-argument to the contrary, I’m listening.

        As has already been mentioned, the top 50% of the candidates will be entirely unaffected, and only the bottom half will have a problem. This form of affirmative action to ensure equal representation of other communities, necessarily entails sacrifices on the part of some, but the inability to guarantee equal terms for *each and every contestant*, numbering a few hundred and of the calibre mentioned above, seems a small price to pay in guaranteeing the well-being of entire communities.

        RE: “50-50 assumes Racism else there is no tool needed to counter it. So you cannot assume non racist voting at General elections and racist voting in Parliament at the same time.”

        Again, don’t see how. As has already been mentioned, people will rapidly learn that a racist voting pattern leads to a stalemate, and a non-zero sum game will necessitate non-racist voting patterns. The nice difference will be that people will no longer be able to vote in a racist pattern, with the same impunity they might be able to, today.

        RE: “As I stated before, 50-50 is NOT about fielding equal number of candidates but about CONSTITUTIONALY reserving 50% of Parliamentary representation to a 24% Minority and reducing the parliamentary representation of a 74% majority to 50%, in perpetuity.”

        But fielding an equal number of candidates should guarantee a more or less 50-50 presentation *if non-racist voting behaviour takes place*, shouldn’t it? And if racist voting takes place, 50-50 will cancel that bias. Secondly, why this notion of “perpetuity”? There’s absolutely no reason why such a system could not be abolished when all parties feel sufficiently comfortable that we as a society have overcome racism altogether, and truly value a multi-ethnic society over a Sinhala-dominated one.

        RE: “It also means that a Govt can be brought down for the flimsiest of reasons or no reason at all. So how does one govern a country? “

        Can you clarify why this would happen? The same number of representatives are present, how would this change the situation at all?

        RE: “Do you think that majority among the majority will not be swayed by a patently undemocratic proposal that will be portrayed by the extreme parties as Completely Racist and an attempt to take away their basic right of franchise with equality for all?”

        Please justify the above statement. As has been repeatedly shown
        1. No effect on democracy for non-racist voting patterns
        2. No effect on equality for non-racist voting patterns

        RE: “Three majority votes counting as one Minority vote? How else do you propose to get 50% seats for a 24% population?”

        By fielding more candidates.

        RE: “By Counting Minority votes 3 times and the majority vote just once? Is that not a perversion of the term equality”

        Only occurs if a racist voting pattern occurs, which should rightly be punished.

        RE: “But the Masses will not remain impotent for long. Can you propose a method of keeping them in check?”

        The masses will be protesting against what exactly? Their inability to overcome racism?

        RE: “So why can’t the Minorities be protected by other means without bringing down the Sinhalese? That too PERMANANTLY and forever.”

        That’s precisely what’s being discussed. As has been demonstrated no bringing down of Sinhalese occurs in a non-racist voting pattern And none of this needs to be permanent.

        Better solutions can be discussed, and that has been the topic of this discussion

        RE: “Overlooked my post of April 14, 2011 • 10:07 pm ?”

        But David has already answered that issue OTC – without guaranteeing a certain number of seats to the minorities, you can’t look to the vagaries of chance to counter-balance the majority. If you can suggest a mechanism to overcome that, then your proposal might well be better. Personally, I believe you should also address how your proposal will help people to transcend ethnically biased voting, which 50-50 does by forcing one to look past ethnic boundaries when voting.

        Last but not least, please read my post here. As I’ve mentioned, we can only discuss 50-50 at a conceptual level because it’ll never make it to law in the first place.

        At a conceptual level, I think 50-50 is an excellent way to stamp out racism in our country, by *forcing people to think in a non-racist way*, and more’s the pity that it didn’t get implemented so we could have saved 60 years of grief.

        Once we reach such a level of transcending ethnic bias, 50-50 becomes redundant, because an equilibrium has been reached and *no vote cancellation is occurring* (very important to understand if you don’t), and we can then get rid of it altogether.

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear SD,

        My reply to your post went to a wrong sub thread in GV. I am reposting it hoping that it will appear under your post in the correct subthread

        Your post of April 18, 2011 • 5:57 am

        Thank you.

        You: First, can you substantiate the statement “Racist proposal like 50-50??

        Me: Any device that targets a community to diminish or enhance the rights of that community based on RACE is racist. The numbers of the specific community is irrelevant.

        You: *if non-racist voting behaviour takes place*

        Me: If true, then the General Public do not possess any race bias (and so would the candidates) and 50-50 becomes irrelevant.

        If not true then the country would get strongly polarised in to two sections, with a currently non existent level of race bias.

        A heightened race bias cannot be kept in check by a Constitutional device (its like trying to contain the pressure of a volcano with a cork) and eventually the minority would suffer when the inevitable happens. I think the Muslims will steer clear of any involvement and so would the Indian origin Tamils, as both would recognise the danger that lurks.

        Rather than 50-50 preventing race bias it will be a catalyst towards heightened race tensions and everything else such heightened emotions will entail.

        Looking back at 50-50 after this discussion, I am glad it got rejected by the Brits when it did.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        OTC: “This is my understanding of your proposal. please correct me if I am wrong

        1. The 76% Majority is allocated 50% seats in the legislature
        2. The 24% Minorities will also be allocated 50% seats.
        3. These allocations are written in to the Constitution.
        4. Due to one above, 15.2 million out of a 20 million population will be allocated 100 seats in a 200 seat legislature.
        5. Due to two, the remaining 4.8 million is also allocated 100 seats.
        6. Due to three, the imbalance of representation will be permanent and unalterable.”

        1-5 is correct. If you had actually read and comprehended what I said, instead of forcing me to repeat ad nauseum, you’d have understood that contrary to what you suggest in point 6, nothing is unalterable. Once parties have realised that it is impossible to win with communalist policies and have moved on from communal politics to a more mature form of democracy, there would be no reason for 50-50 to remain in place. That is upto the legislature of the future.

        “Looking back at history I cannot remember a single instance of a member of the majority community being elected to represent any Minority dominated electorate. Please correct me if I am wrong.”

        Do you also remember how many majority candidates even attempted to run in minority areas? Do you actually think that individuals like Malinda Seneviratne from parties like the Hela Urumaya would be elected from places like the Jaffna District (yes, he tried!) given that parties policies? However, what you point out is in fact what I’m talking about. Gone will be the days when a party could win a general election by simply campaigning in the majority areas on platforms made up of policies that were only good for the majority. That was how Sinhala Only came about in the first place. If the SLFP of 1956 had had to ensure that half of its candidates were from the minorities, that would have been the end of Sinhala Only right there; it wouldn’t even have appeared before parliament. So with 50-50 in place, and an SLFP or UNP having to field 50% minority candidates, they would have to contest in minority electorates too if they wanted to win. It’s the same principle behind the electoral college in the US that ensures that a Republican presidential candidate must also campaign for less populated Democrat states instead of simply relying on the more populated Republican states to win him the election. It just gets better and better!

        “However there have been many instances over the years of candidates of the SLFP and the UNP (even in the current legislature) of members of the minority community being elected to represent majority community dominated areas. In simple terms this means that the Sinhalese had OVERCOME race barriers but the Tamils had never been able reciprocate.”

        Really? How many such candidates can you name — four, five, six, maybe? And which parties were those candidates representing — TULF, TNA, ITAK, EPDP, perhaps? And were they representing policies that had any opposition in Sinhalese areas? Were they calling for federalism, Eelam, merging of the NE, maybe? If in fact these handful of candidates were from Sinhalese-majority parties or minority parties in alliances with the Sinhalese parties, then clearly the Sinhalese were voting for the party policies and noth ethnicity. In other words, ethnicity became superfluous; which is exactly what 50-50 will guarantee across the board. On the other hand, Sinhalese candidates running in minority areas, like my friend Malinda, were representing policies that had no benefit to the minorities; so why is it surprising they failed to get elected? As I have already explained above, 50-50 will guarantee that party policies are beneficial to ALL communities; IF those parties want to win that is :D

        “Do the Tamils trust the Sinhalese to vote for a Sinhalese representative in their areas? Historically that trust has never existed.”

        Why do you think that trust has never existed? Do you think passing laws like Sinhala Only might have had a wee something to do with it? Once the Sinhalese parties start proving that they’re campaigning for the votes of ALL Sri Lankans and not just the majority (since upto now all they’ve needed is that majority), they will earn that trust. Until then they will have to field minority candidates in minority areas whom the minorities will trust even though they represent parties such as the SLFP and JVP.

        “What legitimacy will they have to ask a Sinhala voter to elect him overlooking the Sinhala candidate?”

        What further legitimacy is required other than policies which are fair and just to all communities?

        “Minority dominated electorates are few, hence the major part of the minority candidates will have to come from the Sinhala areas. A very unlikely event when the Sinhala candidate draws attention to the Constitutional skulduggery to steal what they will perceive as their right.”

        My poor OTC, is it so difficult an ordeal for you to pull yourself out of your communal upbringing and grasp the concept that SINHALESE AND TAMIL CANDIDATES WILL BOTH COME FROM THE SAME DAMN PARTY? SLFP = 50% Sinhalese candidates + 50% minority candidates; UNP = 50% Sinhalese candidates + 50% minority candidates; ITAK = 50% Sinhalese candidates + 50% minority candidates. Do you get it now???? If the Sinhalese UNP candidate starts backstabbing the Tamil UNP candidate during campaigning, HIS PARTY WILL LOSE THE FUCKING ELECTION. Hello? Anyone in there??? Knock, knock! Therefore, ALL candidates of a party, regardless of ethnicity, must campaign for their party policies and how they will apply to the specific electorates. Ethnicity will just not be part of campaigning anymore.

        “50-50 cannot be sold to the masses and is hence a non starter even if its discussed till the cows come home. It would be better to discuss a proposal that has a chance of being implemented.”

        So it’s mob rule, is it? The masses must be given the blood and racism they demand? So what use is ANY law or constitutional safeguard? In the end (according to you) the deciding factor is the communalist mob. The fact is even a strong-armed law such as the 13th was accepted. If federalism had been the law, it too would have been accepted. The merging of the NE was accepted. So even on this point, you’re just grasping at straws. You have been proven wrong in every area, OTC. Your last ditch is “the masses will not accept it”. The masses will eat the food if it is cooked tastily; we’re not giving them shit to eat, but nice healthy wholesome non-racist nutrition.

      • SD

        Dear OTC,

        RE: “Any device that targets a community to diminish or enhance the rights of that community based on RACE is racist. The numbers of the specific community is irrelevant.”

        Come on OTC, I honestly get the feeling that you are having a knee-jerk reaction here instead of actually thinking about this from a detached perspective. How can a move to enhance the rights of a community be racist? You mean to say that the movement to enhance the rights of blacks was racist? The fight against apartheid was racist? Just because the word “race” is involved, it doesn’t become racist.

        Secondly, no one has shown how the rights of the Sinhalese community is diminished, unless a racist voting pattern takes place.

        RE: “If true, then the General Public do not possess any race bias (and so would the candidates) and 50-50 becomes irrelevant.”

        Does not follow OTC. Indeed, if non-racist behaviour was taking place, 50-50 would have no effect and be redundant. However, if racist voting behaviour does take place, 50-50 very rightly punishes it.

        RE: “Rather than 50-50 preventing race bias it will be a catalyst towards heightened race tensions and everything else such heightened emotions will entail”

        Think about this very carefully. Heightened race tension will only occur if racism was a problem in the first place. Therefore, 50-50 changes nothing, but in fact, serves to neutralize the superior power of one particular hegemony. In the absence of such a mechanism, one hegemony remains unchallenged, and racism continues unhindered.

        RE: “Looking back at 50-50 after this discussion, I am glad it got rejected by the Brits when it did.”

        It appears that fear of the mob is the only reason you make this statement (and I may in fact, share that fear), not the actual downsides of 50-50, which remain thus far, unsubstantiated.

      • SD

        Dear David, OTC

        RE: “The masses will eat the food if it is cooked tastily; we’re not giving them shit to eat, but nice healthy wholesome non-racist nutrition.”

        As much as I agree with David in theory, in practice, I suspect we all agree this won’t fly. I only participated in it as an intellectual exercise (and indeed, it was an enlightening one, both in seeing the merits of the proposal, as well as observing the knee-jerk, hostile resistance to it).

        I would even go as far as to think that it may have been possible to make things work, despite the objections raised by Wijayapala about scapegoating minorities – an entirely realistic possibility – given how so many things are already being scapegoated on Tamils, and vice-versa. What Wijayapala doesn’t seem to see is that, while this scapegoating might have occurred, it might nevertheless have been reduced to impotent bleatings if the govt. had taken a strong stand on it, and we might have simultaneously avoided all that bad-blood with Tamils, and a resultant 30 year war. There’s always a cost-benefit analysis to be made, impartially and in a detached light, to truly gauge the merits/demerits of a proposal.

        However, there are clearly too many “what ifs” in this situation. In a certain sense, there is an air of historical inevitability in the events that occurred. Considering the insecurities of a post-colonial Sinhala-Buddhist identity crisis, and a similarly intense one in Tamils, we have a sufficiently volatile combination to ensure death and destruction, no matter what path is followed.

        If you want my honest opinion, and you may not like it, it’s the following.

        1. I don’t think communal equality can be ensured in the near term – there are simply too many variables working against it. For one thing, even historically, the Sinhalese have had a dominant presence, as evidenced by the hundreds of ruins scattered about in abundance. This creates a powerful psychological force that gives one the racist idea that “Sri Lanka belongs to the Sinhalese”, and it becomes doubly difficult in a society which is at the level of socio-economic development we are in (when even highly developed countries with all the resources in the world have trouble counter-acting primitive in-group/out-group dynamics).

        Add to this the notion of Sri Lanka being the last bastion of pure Theravada Buddhism, with its guardians, the Sinhalese people – having no other sanctuary on earth, and proceed to threaten its security further by creating a “Tamil Eelam”, and we have the necessary ingredients for a kind of mindless irrationality that is very hard to put a lid on.

        2. In the long-term, economic emancipation and education may result in an increase in sensitivity to minority issues, just as the aftermath of 1983 resulted in such an increase. However, all those sympathies have unfortunately withered in the wake of the LTTE’s unrelenting brutality. We can only hope that education and economic emancipation = higher sensitivity to communal issues, because if that doesn’t happen, all is lost by default.

        3. A lot of people who apply the latest models of communal equality and the like may be likely to forget that, at the time at which these problems were sparked off, the dialogue on racial equality and human rights were not at the same level of awareness it is today. Things were decidedly more primitive in light of a more modern understanding of rights, and this is why we must be a bit more forgiving of the mistakes of the past. (People like Belle consistently seem to fall into this trap)

        4. I do not believe that most Sinhalese people are supremacists or genuinely desire to harm others on the basis of ethnicity, but they are obnoxiously insensitive to the existence or needs of anyone but themselves. I do not seem any significantly different behaviour from Tamils, although I think the Sinhalese have a far greater responsibility in this regard. We should keep in mind that not every thing is a result of outright racism, but a lack of resources and the afore mentioned obliviousness (which could be called a lesser form of racism).

        5. I do not believe it’s fundamentally possible to counter-act the fact that 74% of the country consist of Sinhalese. This is a battle against human nature, in-group/out-group dynamics etc., and the only way to win it I think, is to construct an overarching identity that subsumes these other identities, such that loyalty to that “Sri Lankan” identity exceeds the loyalty to individual ethnic identities. This, I believe, is probably the most sustainable solution and the positive results of such identity campaigns manifest themselves very clearly. It would be very difficult to prevent the Sinhalese from dominating that identity, but I think that, with some compromise from minorities, it should be possible to arrive at a happy balance.

        I do not see any other solutions – 50-50, federalism or anything else, really guaranteeing success similar to no. 5, for the simple reason that no. 5 is unavoidable for any kind of utopian Sri Lanka. Ultimately, if co-existence without denial of opportunity for anyone can be achieved, I think education and socio-economic development will take care of the rest. In the end, is that not what we want to achieve?, and temporary stop-gap measures, based on community specific solutions, may hinder rather than help, that journey. It a way, that might sound like “Ohoma yang, ohoma yang”, but I’m suggesting that there should be a deeper principle at work in whatever we do :D

        I would like to hear your opinions and revise my views if necessary.

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear SD,

        I believed that you knew my views better than to accuse me of a Knee jerk response. Unfortunately it seems that you are trying to defend a position rather than countering valid objections.

        Let’s look at the examples in your post of April 19, 2011 • 11:12 am

        You ask How can a move to enhance the rights of a community be racist?

        It depends on the move. That’s why I maintain that Standardisation in Education as practised today is non racist but MEDIA VISE standardisation that was practised before was RACIST.

        I hope you can differentiate the two.

        You ask “You mean to say that the movement to enhance the rights of blacks was racist? The fight against apartheid was racist?”

        I think by now you know the answer. Both of your examples DID NOT infringe on the widely accepted basic rights of any other community. In 50-50 it DOES.

        Just because the word “race” is involved, it doesn’t become racist.

        Of course it doesn’t, where have I claimed the contrary?

        After reading your comment I think what I stated should be amended as follows.

        Any device that targets a community to diminish or enhance the rights of that community at the expense of another, based on RACE is racist. The numbers of the specific community is irrelevant.

        You say Secondly, no one has shown how the rights of the Sinhalese community is diminished, unless a racist voting pattern takes place.

        Very contradictory given that 50-50 envisages stopping Racist Legislation from Racist Legislators elected by Racist voters. If non of the above is true then how do you justify the need for 50-50 in the first place?

        The downside of 50-50 is the non recognition that over 15 million of the population should have an equal right to be represented in the legislature in the same proportion that anyone else is represented.

        The Soulbury Constitution had an effective safeguard that would have stopped the Citizenship Act in the form it was passed. It was passed because a section of the minority decided to VOTE for it without amending it. Even under 50-50 the result would be the same given the perfidy of GG and his party. David says GG was gullible and was led to believe the legislation was aimed at the communists. For that argument to hold water GG should have been a nincompoop instead of a Criminal Lawyer of Very High repute.

        The other example is the OLA. Could it have passed muster had an effective super majority was in place? Why cannot a Super majority be chosen that will affectively negate racist legislation? David says that then somebody has to decide. But I have proposed that if 1/3 of the Minority recognises a racist bill they could make the Speaker MANDATORILY refer such bill to the Supreme Courts before even taking it up in Parliament (the ratios can be modified to conform to minority opinion). Hence FIRSTLY the MINORITY decides and SECONDLY the Supreme Courts decides.

        Again the OLA and Citizenship Act are held up as examples as objections to the Supreme Court involvement. Why? The Judiciary is not the Third arm of Govt? Can any Govt. function without it? If a fault lies with the Judiciary why not address it in that sphere without making Quixotic decisions to apply band aid elsewhere?

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        SD, I agree with you about the inevitability of the Sinhalese racism of the ’50s and onward. It’s like the inevitability of Hitler and the Nazis. Sure, theoretically both could have been prevented by specific actions; but the circumstances necessary for such preventive actions to actually see reality were very unlikely. For instance the enlightenment necessary for the SL leadership to implement 50-50 would have negated the latter’s necessity in the first place. Sinhalese who were objective enough to agree to 50-50 would never have even considered a Sinhala Only law.

        That’s why I saw Wijayapala’s initial challenge to me as just that — an intellectual exercise. I look at this long debate in a similar light, which is why Wijayapala’s and OTC’s irrational opposition to 50-50 is so amusing; it’s not like there’s any likelihood of it being implemented then or now. The Sinhalese will not stand for anything that will change their hegemony in SL, nor accept any system that contradicts their belief that the Sinhalese race deserves a special spot over and above all other races.

        The fact that even moderates such as Wijayapala (and there’s no doubt he is a moderate) cannot break out of this mindset is a sad reality. However, we can take strength in the fact that 2011 is not 1956, and we no longer live on an insular island beyond the ripples of interntional norms and trends. Sinhalese racism will be offset by the gaze of the world as we undertake this bicycle ride into the future.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        “I think by now you know the answer. Both of your examples DID NOT infringe on the widely accepted basic rights of any other community. In 50-50 it DOES.”

        But it doesn’t, OTC. No basic rights are infringed on. I have asked you repeatedly to name any such rights, but you have been unable to.

        “Any device that targets a community to diminish or enhance the rights of that community at the expense of another, based on RACE is racist. The numbers of the specific community is irrelevant.”

        So then the anti-Apartheid laws that enfranchised the blacks and reduced the whites’ monopoly would have been racist. The right for a black man to sit anywhere in a bus in the USA and the removal of the right of the white man to have a whites-only section in public transport, or whites-only schools, must also have been racist, no? The right to be racist isn’t a right, OTC, and reducing that right to be racist is not racist itself.

        “Very contradictory given that 50-50 envisages stopping Racist Legislation from Racist Legislators elected by Racist voters. If non of the above is true then how do you justify the need for 50-50 in the first place?”

        The justification for 50-50 is to prevent Sinhala Only.

        “The downside of 50-50 is the non recognition that over 15 million of the population should have an equal right to be represented in the legislature in the same proportion that anyone else is represented.”

        They DO have an equal right to be represented. They DON’T have the right to be BETTER represented than numerically inferior communities. Representation isn’t based on size, as is evident from the UN General Assembly. China has just as many representatives as Luxembourg — one. If you hadn’t ebtered the debate halfway, you would have already known this and not looked foolish again.

        “The Soulbury Constitution had an effective safeguard that would have stopped the Citizenship Act in the form it was passed. It was passed because a section of the minority decided to VOTE for it without amending it. Even under 50-50 the result would be the same given the perfidy of GG and his party.”

        The Soulbury Constitution also had an “effective” safeguard against Sinhala Only; except it was ineffective. The Citizenship Act was passed FIRST because it was brought up and voted for by the Sinhalese. At this stage it was passed IN SPITE OF JAFFNA TAMIL OPPOSITION to it. I know, OTC, you prefer to ignore this inconvenient fact, but it’s true. So your claim that it was GG’s support that passed the act is at best ignorance and at worst just a simple lie. GG’s support only came a year later once the act had been amended and the Marxist action came into play. Either way, the point is the act was passed in spite of minority opposition. SJV Chelvanayagam took the matter to the Privy Council and the Supreme Court but had his appeal rejected. WHY? Because the Tamils supported the act? NO. Because “the citizenship act stipulated conditions well in line with those of European states.” So you can keep buggering on blindly on this claim that the Jaffna Tamils were behind the Citizenship Act, but it’s just not true.

        “David says GG was gullible and was led to believe the legislation was aimed at the communists. For that argument to hold water GG should have been a nincompoop instead of a Criminal Lawyer of Very High repute.”

        It’s always amusing to see such childishly revisionist analysis of history, using the benefit of hindsight. But the fact is that the Marxist activity in the plantation unions was seen as a threat to Ceylon’s exports and to the nation itself. Communism in the ’40s wasn’t viewed as we view it today. Local communist leaders were jailed simply for being communist. Even moderate Sinhalese who initially opposed the act changed their mind because they saw Marxism as a potent threat.

        “The other example is the OLA. Could it have passed muster had an effective super majority was in place? Why cannot a Super majority be chosen that will affectively negate racist legislation? David says that then somebody has to decide. But I have proposed that if 1/3 of the Minority recognises a racist bill they could make the Speaker MANDATORILY refer such bill to the Supreme Courts before even taking it up in Parliament (the ratios can be modified to conform to minority opinion). Hence FIRSTLY the MINORITY decides and SECONDLY the Supreme Courts decides.”

        But as has been repeatedly pointed out to you, OTC, both the Privy Council and the Supreme Court ruled that there was nothing wrong with the Citizenship Act. So how could they have been trusted to rule correctly on Sinhala Only? Firstly, you’re still leaving the decision on whether an act is racist or not to an individual or tribunal which may or may not agree with those minority MPs. Secondly, your fear that the GoSL could be hung or toppled is exacerbated under your system. Now instead of 50% being required to stall a bill, all that’s required is 1/3rd of 1/3rd. So it’s a system far more open to abuse and far less effective than 50-50. Fail, I’m afraid, OTC. Try again.

        “Again the OLA and Citizenship Act are held up as examples as objections to the Supreme Court involvement. Why? The Judiciary is not the Third arm of Govt? Can any Govt. function without it? If a fault lies with the Judiciary why not address it in that sphere without making Quixotic decisions to apply band aid elsewhere?”

        The point is the judiciary has failed to prevent racism in government, with rulings that are perfectly valid an based in international precedents. What is the point in having a legislature if it has no power except to take things to court? Why not then do away with parliament and have the judiciary pass all laws?

        Bottom line is we are in a parliamentary democracy that is based on representation, and unless you’re willing to do away with that system, you have to have measures that work within that system. 50-50 does so.

      • yapa

        Dear DB;

        I feel like your post of April 19, 2011 • 7:07 pm as an Epic of yourself. It talks about your wisdom, enlightenment, others’ ignorant follies and your firm determination to be with your noble objective despite mighty friction from others.

        Three hurrays for our noble hero. Ha! Ha!! You understand everything, others’ understand nothing. Ha! Ha!!

        Thanks!

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Thank YOU, Yapa :D

      • SD

        Dear David,

        RE: “The fact that even moderates such as Wijayapala (and there’s no doubt he is a moderate) cannot break out of this mindset is a sad reality.”

        I (and others) had occasion to come face to face with this reality a while back, following a heated 3000 post debate spanning 3 threads, and many months, regarding the truth of Buddhism, the need for secularism and the nature of the so-called “Mahavamsa mindset”, amongst other things.

        Again, after repeated reassurances that I was not campaigning for an actual removal of “Buddhism in foremost place”, and in merely seeking an acknowledgement for the undeniable justice of secularism, I was similarly disappointed by Wijayapala’s consistent evasion in admitting to the fact. That only went onto show that his religious convictions had already undermined his objectivity, lending credence to Christopher Hitchens’ favourite line – “religion poisons everything” :) It does seem to corrupt us at our most basic level of intellectual integrity, should we ever fall prey to its superficial charms of direction and meaning.

        RE: “Sinhalese racism will be offset by the gaze of the world as we undertake this bicycle ride into the future.”

        I don’t know about that David. There is the danger that western pressure (not to mention hypocrisy) and our own mulish reaction (and arguably greater hypocrisy) will envelope us even more in a semi-narcissistic, fully-jingoistic bubble that will only pop when we wake up, too late, to find ourselves in a localized “North Korea”. This is of course, the worse case scenario.

        My guess about the average scenario would be that “life will go on”, and the status quo will remain unchallenged, with a gradual dissipation of interest in this matter – the Tamils are spent, and there’s no one left to mount serious opposition. However, certain concessions have already been won, such as making Tamil an official language. Others might not be winnable in the near term, although I think the fight should continue, albeit in a more tactful form.

        Certain things may remain unjust, but in the long run, it may well work out for the best, as per the wishes of TT and the crowd. Once we are sufficiently developed socio-economically, it may be possible to take these issues up again, but it might be somewhat redundant because everyone would be sufficiently “Sinhalized” by then, hopefully to only a degree that’s necessary for that overarching national identity. I suspect that this is the unstated position of many people, the path of least resistance (and most comedic denial of morality), basically summarized as “ohoma yang”. Honestly though, I regret to say I do sympathize with this camp – perhaps there can only be so many expectations from a 3rd world country. Is it not indeed unrealistic to expect first world cultural sensitivity in a 3rd world society? (Not to say that the towel should be thrown in, but we need to fix the latter problem before the former one can be addressed)

        You have not mentioned your own position on this. What in your opinion is going to happen? and ought to happen?

      • SD

        Dear David, OTC,

        RE: “So it’s a system far more open to abuse and far less effective than 50-50. Fail, I’m afraid, OTC. Try again.”

        Actually, I was thinking that it might be made to work with
        1. A minimum guarantee of seats for minorities (say 30%)
        2. An escalation of an issue if more than 50% of the minorities perceive it as racist. (Clearly, there can be no arbiters in this process, as David has pointed out)
        3. Subsequent need for a super-majority before the legislation can be passed.

        Now, this would be an easier sell superficially, but it’s way more prone to abuse. This is a situation where 15% can block almost any legislation at mere whim, by forcing it to a super-majority vote, making the system nearly unworkable. Now this OTC, would be an example of a truly fragile government.

        50-50 on the other hand, promotes working across ethnic boundaries and negates the advantages of abuse. The most important difference is that the Sinhalese will have had a vested interested in voting for minority representatives who are truly multi-ethnic in outlook, and the minorities would have to have that same vested interest in electing Sinhala representatives. This is why 50-50 will remain superior to alternatives which merely lend themselves to abuse.

        So I have to agree with David, still no convincing alternative presented.

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear All,

        Please follow this link

        http://groundviews.org/2011/03/17/jaffna-and-the-vanni-today-the-reality-beneath-the-rhetoric/comment-page-1/#comment-30485

        to another sub thread where SD’s post of April 19, 2011 • 2:56 pm is located together with my answers

      • Off the Cuff

        SD,

        Re: your post of April 20, 2011 • 3:09 am

        “Now, this would be an easier sell superficially, but it’s way more prone to abuse. This is a situation where 15% can block almost any legislation at mere whim, by forcing it to a super-majority vote, making the system nearly unworkable. Now this OTC, would be an example of a truly fragile government”.

        SD, something within you is blocking out what we say and replacing it with what you want to say instead.

        How can it block ANY LEGISLATION AT WHIM?

        ONLY RACIAL LEGISLATION is subjected to a Super-majority, ALL other legislation requires only a simple majority.

        Yes the Racial Legislation can be blocked AT WHIM of the Minorities as I intended it to be.

        Do you find anything wrong with that?

      • Off the Cuff

        David,

        You do make ‘Gems of quotes’.
        Your ‘Wisdom’ is unparalleled.

        RE: your post of April 19, 2011 • 7:48 pm

        “Representation isn’t based on size, as is evident from the UN General Assembly. China has just as many representatives as Luxembourg — one”.

        Wow, what a quote it would have been if it were not so Quixotic.

        True the UN is a world body.

        Can you provide references to prove that it is also an elected body?

        Since you seem to have hidden knowledge that we mere mortals do not posses, how about posting a link here on GV pointing to a worldwide poll conducted to elect the representatives and the poll results?

        Unfortunately for the Democratic World, those who invented Democracy did not have the Wisdom of a David Blacker. What a Calamity such lack of wisdom caused the world.

        Thank you David for sharing your ‘Wisdom’.

      • http://somewhatdisgust[email protected] SD

        Dear OTC,

        RE: “SD, something within you is blocking out what we say and replacing it with what you want to say instead.”

        Not at all OTC. I explicitly stated my qualifiers – which is that the exact system you suggested cannot be made to work for the reason’s mentioned by David. Therefore, I went ahead with suggesting some modifications and pointed out the weaknesses in those modifications. So no, I’m not blocking out a thing you say, and have no reason to, because I have no horse running in this race.

        RE: “How can it block ANY LEGISLATION AT WHIM?

        ONLY RACIAL LEGISLATION is subjected to a Super-majority, ALL other legislation requires only a simple majority.

        Not relevant because of above objections. You need to address the objections raised by David first.

        At the end of the day OTC, I personally believe that all the necessary arguments have been laid out, and those who wish to accept them or contemplate them will do so.

        My personal assessment is that 50-50 has conceptual validity, and can be an effective system, when the explicit aim is to prevent racist legislation and promote communal equality. 50-50 is not necessary, altogether redundant, and can be somewhat detrimental to individual candidates in ideal situations where racism was never a problem.

        Others have the same data, so they can perform their own analysis and come to different conclusions even. If someone has a hitherto unrevealed show-stopper argument, now would be ab excellent time to reveal it. I personally haven’t seen any, and suspect that individual differences in perception may make the issue insurmountable, barring violence :-)

  • http://[email protected] SD

    Dear Yapa,

    RE: “You have not responded to my ideas about “numerical minority” and “marginalized minority” on the other thread. I would like to know your views on that as well.”

    I will respond to it in this thread, so you are not distracted from the central question in the other thread.

    In agreement with you about aiding the marginalized minority. But why did it happen on an ethnic basis? Are you suggesting that the Tamils in the arid Vanni were rolling in riches? Why not look after all marginalized minorities, regardless of ethnicity?

    • yapa

      Dear SD;

      “In agreement with you about aiding the marginalized minority. But why did it happen on an ethnic basis? Are you suggesting that the Tamils in the arid Vanni were rolling in riches? Why not look after all marginalized minorities, regardless of ethnicity?”

      I never said it should be done on ethnic basis and I would be happier if it is not done so. But I was suggesting marginalized minorities should be given preference over numerical (ethnic) minority. Marginalized minority may be ethnic based or not. Really I cited the Indian example and in India ethnic minority is more parallel with marginalized minority and hence the addressing ethnic minority would not be much different than addressing the marginalized majority. Further, practically it would be easier in that particular case.

      I prefer addressing marginalized minorities rather than ethnic minorities. Really my opposition came as a opposition to addressing the ethnic minorities in Sri lanka, when they are not marginalized. Adressing ethnic minorities in Sri Lanka the way in the discussion, that is to empower N&E Tamils (50 _ 50) I said, is not reasonable.

      Hence my point really was generally against the ethnic basis and only for only in the case that seemed to be reasonable, ie in the Indian context.

      Thanks!

      • http://[email protected] SD

        Dear Yapa,

        Yes, but the problem is that it was not marginalized minorities that were empowered, but an ethnic majority, as evidenced by Sinhala Only, Buddhism foremost, standardization and so on. You seem to agree.

        RE: “But I was suggesting marginalized minorities should be given preference over numerical (ethnic) minority.”

        Well, I think I can agree with that, but it’s a bit late isn’t it? We now have the added burden of rectifying the mistakes of the past, and ensure that such injustices do not repeated themselves. It would be so much easier if history just vanished and we could all start with a clean slate, but unless we show a willingness to go out of the way to rectify the mistakes of the past, why should they trust us to do the fair and right thing? That’s the problem :-(

        RE: “Marginalized minority may be ethnic based or not.”

        One step forward, two steps back? Are you now trying to justify the mistakes we’ve made by saying it was to empower the marginalized Sinhalese, when evidence clearly shows that most Tamils were equally marginalized? We have to admit to the wrongs that were done Yapa, that’s the first step to fixing them.

      • yapa

        “Yes, but the problem is that it was not marginalized minorities that were empowered, but an ethnic majority, as evidenced by Sinhala Only, Buddhism foremost, standardization and so on. You seem to agree.”

        I have never supported Sinhala Only, not because I am against it or not but because T I did not have a reasonable knowledge about it. I have said this earlier too. To my conscience I feel like it is not a favourable one. However, I believe that it came as a reactions to the Tamil Atrocities against Sinhalese like 60 – 50.

        “Well, I think I can agree with that, but it’s a bit late isn’t it? We now have the added burden of rectifying the mistakes of the past, and ensure that such injustices do not repeated themselves. It would be so much easier if history just vanished and we could all start with a clean slate, but unless we show a willingness to go out of the way to rectify the mistakes of the past, why should they trust us to do the fair and right thing? That’s the problem :-(”

        Really we cannot make History vanish. Therefore my opinion is to let it be as it is rather than meddling it in the name of what ever a good reason. Whether history is good or bad it is history and, what has happened has already happened and we are unable to change and hence has to take as it is to take as pillars of success. We should rectify the mistakes, but not the history.

        “One step forward, two steps back? Are you now trying to justify the mistakes we’ve made by saying it was to empower the marginalized Sinhalese, when evidence clearly shows that most Tamils were equally marginalized? We have to admit to the wrongs that were done Yapa, that’s the first step to fixing them.”

        My contention was empowering marginalized is justifiable whether they are Sinhalese or any other community. As mentioned in one of my posts I still believe empowering upcountry Tamils is still a priority, as they are the most marginalized community in our society. Further, strengthening Sinhalese if marginalized, I consider as a just and fair act related to “Equity”. I don’t see any wrong in this. However, your statement seems to indicate that strengthening marginalized is wrong if it is Sinhalese (Ethnic Majority) and right if it is ethnic minority. I see a contradiction here with what you have said in your earlier post, “In agreement with you about aiding the marginalized minority.But why did it happen on an ethnic basis?” (Quoted from your earlier post)

        Do you think I am “”One step forward, two steps back?”?

        Thanks!

  • wijayapala

    “RE: “So, Sinhala individuals should have less rights to directly contest elections than minority individuals?”
    I agree that there’s a problem there. But you need to show me how that’s as big a problem as you make it out to be.

    It is a big problem when you’re thinking like one of the NGO-wallah theorists tucked away in their hotel seminars, and not seeing the wider impact and the implications based on a sound knowledge of history.

    Given the general failures of Sri Lankan leadership over the last 60+ years, there is no reason at all to believe that the minorities will be better at governance than the Sinhalese (especially when looking at the ability of GG Ponnambalam and Amirthalingam to spark anti-Tamil riots). With this modified version of 50-50, where the Sinhalese may have equal voting rights but less rights to hold seats, the shortcomings of the minority leaders will be held to greater light. Therein lies a great danger- whoever has 50% of the power will likewise bear 50% of the blame for misusing it.

    To put it in simple English (given some of the refreshingly candid self-assessments of “stoopidity” here), the minorities will receive a disproportionate level of recriminations if anything goes wrong. For example, any Sinhala leader in the opposition could point to minority “conspiracies” if inequalities such as the underrepresentation of Sinhalese in government service or universities are not addressed. We are not dealing with some half-conceived political science model where individual rights = bad governance and minority overrepresentation would magically transform Sri Lanka into a first world country overnight. Anyone having the slightest knowledge about how racism actually works in Sri Lanka (or anyone else) and the associated scapegoating would understand this.

    • http://[email protected] SD

      Dear Wijayapala,

      RE: “It is a big problem when you’re thinking like one of the NGO-wallah theorists tucked away in their hotel seminars, and not seeing the wider impact and the implications based on a sound knowledge of history.”

      Ha, ha, ha Wijayapala. Your pathetic insistence on harping on the practical difficulties in implementing 50-50 (which we all know will never fly), and in presenting yourself as the chagrined realist irritated by the liberal-atheist-elitist-christian-box-wallah-agents, is only proof of the following.
      1. Your inability to conceptually refute 50-50.
      2. Your lack of intellectual honesty in admitting it
      3. The nature of the Sinhalese hegemony

      RE: “Therein lies a great danger- whoever has 50% of the power will likewise bear 50% of the blame for misusing it.”

      Actually, I do agree. That’s one of the reasons why I said 50-50 would never fly in practice, and one of the reasons why I suggested that the conceptual validity of it be separated from the practical validity of it, which you have conveniently avoided doing.

      RE: “To put it in simple English (given some of the refreshingly candid self-assessments of “stoopidity” here), “

      Do you think you might be able to grow up? and maybe even offer a similarly candid admission of intellectual dishonesty? Below the belt and absolutely pathetic, Wijayapala :D

      Ohoma yang, ohoma yang :D

      • wijayapala

        Dear SD,

        That’s one of the reasons why I said 50-50 would never fly in practice, and one of the reasons why I suggested that the conceptual validity of it be separated from the practical validity of it, which you have conveniently avoided doing.

        Thank you for the clarification. I do not believe one can easily separate “conceptual” and “practical” validity of things, as you do not appear to understand the flaws in a “concept” that has a fundamental contradiction.

        I’m happy to play your game though. Shall we agree to a division of labor? I’ve noticed that you often ask my take on matters of substance and history, so I’ll be responsible for these worthwhile issues. You seem to be more fascinated with non-substantial matters and speculative reasoning having no basis in reality; will you accept responsibility for these useless issues?

      • http://[email protected] SD

        Dear Wijayapala,

        RE: “I do not believe one can easily separate “conceptual” and “practical” validity of things, as you do not appear to understand the flaws in a “concept” that has a fundamental contradiction.”

        If that is the case, why did you spend hours and hours claiming that
        1. 50-50 violates individual rights
        2. 50-50 is racist
        3. 50-50 is undemocratic
        and a host of other nonsense which you have thus far failed to substantiate, and in light of that failure, refused to even acknowledge? :D

        And what is this “fundamental contradiction” that you are referring to? When are you going to start substantiating your statements, without merely alluding to mystic knowledge? I’m happy to put in the effort to understand your argument, just as I’ve put in the effort to understand David’s argument.

        RE: “You seem to be more fascinated with non-substantial matters and speculative reasoning having no basis in reality; will you accept responsibility for these useless issues?”

        Before we can discuss how to overcome the practical difficulties in implementing a solution Wijayapala, one must first discuss whether the concept itself is sound. Thus far, no one has demonstrated this to be the case. Now, trying to get onto the “but it would fail in practice” bandwagon¸ is not indicative of any honest intellectual effort.

        Barriers to practice can be overcome – just as apartheid was overcome, and slavery was overcome and other forms of discrimination were overcome, or feudalism replaced by democracy, theocracies by secularism etc. etc., when the concept itself is sound. Your argument makes you sound like the kind of guy who would throw in the towel before managing to progress past barbarism, citing history as the main impediment :D

        This is why I suggested earlier that we must first gauge whether the idea is sound enough to merit the effort in practice. I personally found this exercise enlightening, because I didn’t understand prior to this how 50-50 could indeed be conceptually valid and how it could bring about communal equality. At the very least, it can put to rest the canard that 50-50 is undemocratic.

        Do you, or do you not have an argument, which conceptually invalidates 50-50?

        If you do, I suggest we analyze the conceptual objections first. If you don’t, then we can discuss practical issues, and some of the historical issues you raise may doubtless prove to be significant impediments in practice.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear SD,

    Your post of April 18, 2011 • 5:57 am

    Thank you.

    You: First, can you substantiate the statement “Racist proposal like 50-50??

    Me: Any device that targets a community to diminish or enhance the rights of that community based on RACE is racist. The numbers of the specific community is irrelevant.

    You: *if non-racist voting behaviour takes place*

    Me: If true, then the General Public do not possess any race bias (and so would the candidates) and 50-50 becomes irrelevant.

    If not true then the country would get strongly polarised in to two sections, with a currently non existent level of race bias.

    A heightened race bias cannot be kept in check by a Constitutional device (its like trying to contain the pressure of a volcano with a cork) and eventually the minority would suffer when the inevitable happens.

    I think the Muslims will steer clear of any involvement and so would the Indian origin Tamils, as both would recognise the danger that lurks. If I am not mistaken, an Indian origin Tamil leader had said very wisely, that he would not be a party to reducing the majority to a minority (cannot remember who, but correct me if I am wrong).

    Rather than 50-50 preventing race bias it will be a catalyst towards heightened race tensions and everything else such heightened emotions will entail.

    Looking back at 50-50 after this discussion, I am glad it got rejected by the Brits when it did.

  • http://[email protected] SD

    Dear OTC,

    RE: “I think by now you know the answer. Both of your examples DID NOT infringe on the widely accepted basic rights of any other community. In 50-50 it DOES.”

    But once again OTC, this is mere assertion. When I asked you this question earlier you said it was because it was based on race but when I then pointed out that race was not a valid objection you once again circle around to mere assertion. So unless you can provide a clear reasoning process for how 50-50 affects basic rights, how am I to assume it’s more than some preconceived prejudice?

    RE: “Any device that targets a community to diminish or enhance the rights of that community at the expense of another, based on RACE is racist. The numbers of the specific community is irrelevant.”

    But this is what needs to be substantiated. As has been demonstrated, 50-50 is not at the expense of the other as you claim. It only becomes at the expense of the other under a racist voting pattern. And secondly, it is even more racist to not rectify an already racist situation, which 50-50 achieves with minimal impact.

    I suspect the confusion stems from the following (as it did for me).
    50-50 does not result in the diminishing of the Sinhala vote. This is the key point. All one needs to do is to increase the number of minority candidates who are taking part. Now what happens in a non-racist voting pattern? Votes are equally divided between the minority and majority because ethnicity should not be a factor. It appears that you believe that a Sinhala vote should go to a Sinhala candidate and a minority vote should go to a minority candidate, that is causing the confusion. Why can’t a Sinhala vote go to a minority candidate? What’s the problem with that? Shouldn’t that precisely be the voting pattern one should expect in a non-racist situation with equal representation of ethnicities?

    RE: “Very contradictory given that 50-50 envisages stopping Racist Legislation from Racist Legislators elected by Racist voters. If non of the above is true then how do you justify the need for 50-50 in the first place?”

    Because 50-50 neutralizes racism. You can be as racist as you want, but that will only result in a hung parliament. Any kind of progress requires cooperation, which will force people to look past ethnic boundaries

    RE: “The downside of 50-50 is the non recognition that over 15 million of the population should have an equal right to be represented in the legislature in the same proportion that anyone else is represented.”

    But this doesn’t happen OTC!! That’s the whole point! I didn’t understand it either until I realized that fielding an equal number of candidates, and in the light of a non-racist voting pattern, does not result in such vote cancellation. Again, a the notion that each ethnicity should vote for their own ethnic group results in this confusion. Racist voting should be punished, and 50-50 is excellent in doing that. Think about this carefully, and you’ll see the point.

    RE: “Even under 50-50 the result would be the same given the perfidy of GG and his party.”

    Maybe it’s your prejudice against GG that is causing you to be prejudiced against 50-50. But the fact that a murderer, criminal, hooligan or rapist had a bright idea (let’s say discovered relativity), doesn’t mean the idea itself is invalid. That’s why we have to divorce prejudice against the individual from prejudice against the concept.

    RE: “David says that then somebody has to decide. But I have proposed that if 1/3 of the Minority recognises a racist bill they could make the Speaker MANDATORILY refer such bill to the Supreme Courts before even taking it up in Parliament (the ratios can be modified to conform to minority opinion).”

    I don’t think this is a bad idea. In fact, coupled with a minimum amount of minority representation, it could be made to work, without the “perception” of majority handicap that 50-50 generates, although in reality 50-50 does not make this happen. Still, in practical terms, what you suggest would be a far easier sell.

    • http://[email protected] SD

      Dear OTC,

      I think this will help to lessen the confusion.

      Please provide for me a clear answer to the following questions, and that will be the key to this issue I think.

      Assume that the number of candidates fielded by parties are increased so that if 75 Sinhalese candidates are fielded, then 75 minority candidates are also fielded.

      Now, assume a non-racist voting pattern.

      1. What is the vote distribution you expect to see?
      2. In light of 1, what is the parliamentary representation you expect to see?
      3. What happens if a racist voting pattern occurs?

      Please provide clear answers, along with any objections, and then we can continue from there. I think you will find that things will take on a different perspective when you analyze the above questions.

    • Off the Cuff

      SD,

      I almost missed your post and was in the process of replying to David (his post appears correctly in the sub thread under my post to you while your post is apearing elsewhere under a new sub thread. I hope GV will look in to this confusing state of affairs. Hence I will post a link to this post in the earlier sub thread too.

      You say

      “50-50 does not result in the diminishing of the Sinhala vote. This is the key point. All one needs to do is to increase the number of minority candidates who are taking part”.

      Me:

      Apparently you have missed the problematic proposal in 50-50. The reason for my opposition and I believe what all others oppose too.

      50-50 Constitutionally Limits seats in the Legislature targeting the Majority community consisting of over 15 million and Constitutionally INCREASES representation to a group of less than 5 million. This has nothing to do with the NUMBER of candidates fielded. It is a perversion of Democracy and it is based on Race, the Sinhala race in this case. That’s not a mere assertion, it’s a statement of fact.

      Just look at a publicly quoted company. It will have a majority share holding and a minority share holding. Normally the company will be controlled by the majority share holders as they have the major stake in the companies future. Some joker within the minority share holding thinks that this state of affairs is unsatisfactory and proposes that the company constitution be changed to increase minority shareholders’ representation in the Board to 50% as some Board decisions are not to the liking of the minority shareholding. Would you be arguing for the minority shareholding?

      Can you justify the Minority shareholders position within that company?

      I cannot speak for others but I consider it a Basic right for my vote to be counted on equal terms with any other, irrespective of race. My vote must carry 1/20,000,000 weight in electing a representative to govern the country as much as anybody else’s irrespective of the race of my chosen candidate.

      It looks a perversion of fair play to have two sets of people with two different values assigned to their vote depending on the RACE of the candidate to whom the vote is cast. A majority vote counting as 0.00000007 and a minority vote counting as 0.00000021

      I would have voted for someone who had earned my respect be it Lukshman Kadirgamar or Muralidaran or a Mohamad or a Perera or a Silva etc if they were a candidate in my area but not for a Kumaran Padmanadan or Amirthalingam or Duminda Silva. My vote goes to the person who has earned my respect irrespective of Race or Cast or similar. Its my choice and if my choice happens to be a Sinhalese who has earned my respect the constitution cannot DEGRADE the WEIGHT attached to my vote by limiting the number of seats allocated to the Sinhalese.

      You say
      “But this is what needs to be substantiated. As has been demonstrated, 50-50 is not at the expense of the other as you claim”.

      I have already done that several times and mathematically this time.
      Though you and David says so, the fair play and natural justice of 50-50 has never been substantiated or demonstrated. You cannot argue for Democracy and 50-50 in the same breath. They are poles apart.

      You say
      “It only becomes at the expense of the other under a racist voting pattern. It only becomes at the expense of the other under a racist voting pattern”.

      That’s a very big assumption.

      If I were to vote for a Sinhalese for reasons other than RACE and if this person poles more votes than a Minority candidate that is elected but loses his seat simply because the CONSTITUTIONAL limitation of 50% seat allocation for the Sinhalese is already full, has not 50-50 taken away my vote from me and made my vote a NULL although I had no Race motive?

      Am I to be deprived of voting for a Sinhalese who is otherwise eminently qualified just because the candidate happens to be a Sinhalese? I think you need to rethink your argument. 50-50 entrenches Racism it does not defeat it.

      You say

      “You can be as racist as you want, but that will only result in a hung parliament”.

      No SD it will only result in providing an opportunity to the opportunist. Only one vote need to be “bought”. The King Maker so to speak. Many are available for sale if the present legislature and the past legislatures are anything to go by.

      BTW I am not prejudiced against GG. But being a Criminal Lawyer who was capable of tearing to pieces the finger print evidence of the first such case heard in Lanka and having had his Tertiary education overseas was unable to see what he was doing to the Indian origin Tamils? He was an opportunist who stabbed his own kind in the back, a million of them no less.

      So what makes you think that he was not looking for power instead of Pseudo concern for the Minority?

      • http://[email protected] SD

        Dear OTC,

        We can save ourselves a lot of grief and confusion, such as your argument that 50-50 entails your vote counting less than another’s, if you respond to this post: April 19, 2011 • 3:03 pm, which is a summarized version of the same issues I raised on April 17, 2011 • 8:29 am.

        That will be a suitable starting point for alleviating this confusion.

    • Off the Cuff

      SD,

      Re: your posts of April 19, 2011 • 3:03 pm and April 20, 2011 • 6:52 am

      I did see your post referred to, just before I submitted my post above. But still submitted mine as it contained serious questions about 50-50 that needed your answer before I replied the hypothetical situation that you posed.

      Let’s assume a non racist voting pattern.
      Hence the voter takes into account only suitability or otherwise of a candidate.
      Race being immaterial the voter will be swayed either way depending on the voter’s perception of the candidates character, his forthrightness and the policies for which the candidate stands. In other word the voter must be able to identify themselves with the Candidate.

      We have 150 candidates for 100 seats out of which only 50 places are available for the Sinhalese disregarding suitability.

      Notice the statement disregarding suitability

      The candidate RANKING at the end of the pole provides the voter choice.

      What would be your position if we find MORE than 50 SUITABLE candidates amongst the Sinhalese? And less than 50 suitable candidates amongst the minority? Remember that the final say regarding suitability is the voter’s not that of the party the candidate represents.

      What if the 51st ranking Sinhalese Candidate polls more than some of the minority candidates that secure a seat simply because the more suitable candidate has been locked out by the 50-50 Constitution?

      I would call that Racism.

      50-50 envisages blocking out the suitable candidates just because they belong to a Race and replacing them with unsuitable candidates solely on Racial lines.

      Wonder what your position is.

      In the light of the above, can you answer my previous post and the questions raised here?

      • http://[email protected] SD

        Dear OTC,

        RE: “What would be your position if we find MORE than 50 SUITABLE candidates amongst the Sinhalese? And less than 50 suitable candidates amongst the minority?”

        A weighty problem indeed, but somewhat lessened by the realization that the immediate challenge is to find 50 minority candidates who are far more qualified than Mervyn Silva, Anarkali and maybe even Pabha ;-)

        After a bit more consideration, I would be bold enough to state that, it should indeed be possible to find 50 such eminently qualified minority candidates, out of a total of 4 million or so options, who are quite suited to the task (although whether that 50 can beat the academic credentials of Mervyn Silva will remain in doubt). Worse, this may dash the hopes of either Anarkali or Pabha, but I’m personally prepared to take that gut-wrenching decision in the name of communal harmony.

        Jokes aside, and being so bold as to assume that none of us are going to lose sleep over whether or not we can find 50 qualified candidates from each camp, and keeping in mind that this is the only place where affirmative action is needed and that too, only in the form of each party fielding more minority candidates, the million dollar question remains unanswered: what would be the distribution of votes in a non-racist situation, assuming all candidates are reasonably qualified for the job in the first place?

        RE: “What if the 51st ranking Sinhalese Candidate polls more than some of the minority candidates that secure a seat simply because the more suitable candidate has been locked out by the 50-50 Constitution?

        I would call that Racism.”

        You may indeed. However, I find it to be of greater racism to negate the possibility of a racist law like Sinhala Only being passed, affecting millions in the process, on account of the offhand chance that the 51st Sinhalese aspirant’s hopes of owning a land-cruiser are dashed.

        I guess it’s a matter of perspective.

      • http://[email protected] SD

        Dear OTC,

        In case you think I’m entirely in disagreement with you, I’m not. There is validity to the point you raised (and I too acknowledged this earlier), but failure to prevent racism, and its subsequent effects on individual rights, can often be worse than the less acute problem you’ve highlighted.

        Last but not least, something like 50-50 should never be a measure in perpetuity as you mentioned, but something that can be phased out after a certain period of time, let’s say 30 years, when the voter base has matured enough to look past ethnic boundaries when voting. Consider it a sort of affirmative action for enabling political maturity. Keep in mind that it’s not just the Sinhalese who will be punished for racist voting, but Tamils too. No Tamil race based party can survive without fielding an adequate number of Sinhalese candidates.

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear SD,

        RE your posts of: April 20, 2011 • 11:47 am and April 20, 2011 • 12:12 pm

        You say,

        “A weighty problem indeed, but somewhat lessened by the realization that the immediate challenge is to find 50 minority candidates who are far more qualified than Mervyn Silva, Anarkali and maybe even Pabha ”

        Glad to note that you realise it is a weighty problem but sorry to note that the discussion on a hypothetical subject continues to get diluted by irrelevant extraneous matter.

        Going back to the weighty problem …it is not a question of finding the candidates but of the candidates themselves earning the trust of the voter to obtain sufficient votes to get elected.

        Keeping in mind that the voting was not coloured by any race consideration and the voter based his choice ONLY on suitability, what would be your position in the event the list giving the candidates ranking by votes poled has 75 Sinhalese within the first 100, in a contest for a 100 seat legislature?

        Do we trample on the voter’s right to elect a candidate of their choice by a Constitutional Device?

        How can a RACE based allocation of seats be justified when Race was not even considered by the voter?


        “ the million dollar question remains unanswered: what would be the distribution of votes in a non-racist situation, assuming all candidates are reasonably qualified for the job in the first place?

        That’s a hypothetical question, your guess is as good as mine.

        However you cannot rule out that a majority of the candidates in a list of ‘Ranking by Votes polled’ will get populated by a majority from the majority community coming on top.

        I have not seen any show stopper argument for 50-50.

        The proponents espouse it citing racist legislation, namely the Language bill the faults of which were rectified (without 50-50) by a subsequent bill two years hence and accepted by the Tamil voters who returned the same legislators to represent them at a subsequent election.

        On being challenged, the proponents fall back on a NON-racist voting pattern striving to prove that 50-50 is a non racist proposal.

        If a Non-racist voting pattern is assumed of a 20 million population, then the elected legislators would themselves be non racist and cannot be otherwise, as they are just a very small subset of the whole, who are non racist.

        If the Legislators themselves are non-racist what is the need of 50-50 in the first place?

        Reminds me of a song by Harry Bellafonte about a man who is asked to fetch water by his wife ……… “There is a hole in the bucket dear Liza dear Liza ,,there is a hole in the bucket dear Liza a Hole..”

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        “I have not seen any show stopper argument for 50-50.

        The proponents espouse it citing racist legislation, namely the Language bill the faults of which were rectified (without 50-50) by a subsequent bill two years hence”

        But the challenge made by Wijayapala which started this debate (and which you remain ignorant of after a month of debate) was not to rectify Sinhala Only but to prevent it. In spite of your claim that the so-called rectification of Sinhala Only was accepted by Tamils, the issue continued to remain in the forefront of Tamil complaints, and was articulated as grounds for separation in the Vaddukoddai Resolution. In addition, the elevation of Tamil to the same status as Sinhalese was one of the foremost points of the Indo-Lanka Accord and the 13th Amendment, and the failure to implement that portion of the latter two documents is still a major source of Tamil dicontent. Still trying to make out that Sinhala Only wasn’t that bad? :D

      • Off the Cuff

        Re: your post of April 26, 2011 • 2:01 am

        You say
        “In spite of your claim that the so-called rectification of Sinhala Only was accepted by Tamils, the issue continued to remain in the forefront of Tamil complaints,”

        Its not my claim David its history.

        The fact that Tamils have been complaining even after a solution acceptable to the Tamil Masses is provided indicates the CHARACTER of those who are agitating. The Tamil Masses are manipulated by the RACISTS who are not prepared to compromise EVEN in the face of MASS ACCEPTANCE. You have unwittingly touched on the root cause of the problem.

        Are you also attempting to rewrite history like the LTTE sympathisers did?
        What is your agenda?

        Here is what the Wiki has to say about the Language bill

        On 3 September 1958 the Tamil Language (Special Provisions) Act – which provided for the use of the Tamil language as a medium of instruction, as a medium of examination for admission to the Public Service, for use in state correspondence and for administrative purposes in the Northern and Eastern Provinces – was passed. The Left parties continued to demand parity of status until after the Tamil electorate voted overwhelmingly in the 1960 elections for the same leaders who had agreed to the compromise.

        Hope you can understand the above passage.

        You say,
        “and was articulated as grounds for separation in the Vaddukoddai Resolution.”

        Me:
        The background to the Vadukkodi Resolution was RACIST although you have tried your utmost to white wash it.

        Here is an extract from TamilSolidarity.org that proves my point.
        Many young people who attended these meetings remember how Mrs Amirthalingam promised to rip off the skin of the Sinhala people and wear it as slippers when they were elected. A number of Tamil youths were recruited to the militant organisations by attending these meetings

        Right-wing propaganda claimed that the Sinhala people have always been racist towards Tamils. They made no attempt whatsoever to explain how Sinhala workers and poor stood shoulder to shoulder with Tamil workers and poor to defend the rights of minorities.

        The above is a Tamil Opinion. Goes against most of the rubbish that you write.

        You say,
        “ In addition, the elevation of Tamil to the same status as Sinhalese was one of the foremost points of the Indo-Lanka Accord and the 13th Amendment, “

        Me:
        Have you accepted that the Sinhalese Dominated Govt kept their part of the bargain while the Tamils failed to honour their commitment to the Accord?

        You say,
        “and the failure to implement that portion of the latter two documents is still a major source of Tamil discontent”

        Me:
        Why dont you stop whining and do what Rosa Parks and Brown did in the USA?

        Tamil is a National Language and its part of the Supreme Law of Sri Lanka. You have the power to challenge the govt and force it to do what you want to do. The USA had anti segregation laws in the statute books but the Southern Govts ignored it until Rosa Parks and Brown decided to challenge the Southern Govts which they did so very successfully. If not for Rosa and Brown segregation would have continued in spite of the Laws within the US statute for quite a long time more.

        So it appears David, that NONE in your community, including you, have the drive or the SPUNK to take action even though there are plenty of eminent Tamil Lawyers in the country. You only WHINE but is actually weaker than the brave pregnant woman Rosa or the brave Children of Brown.

        Time for you to Walk the Talk and take your grievance to the Supreme Court. Just like the wheel chair bound doctor did that made it mandatory to provide wheel chair access in all buildings open to the public. We can see the changes even in local private banks. All because there was ONE man who had the GUTS to stand for his Rights.

        Do you have the guts David to do what a disabled person did in SL and a downtrodden pregnant woman and few children did in USA? Cant you find ONE person within your community to do a Rosa Parks?

        You say
        “Still trying to make out that Sinhala Only wasn’t that bad? “

        Your ability to read and understand what is written is wanting David, as you arrive at convoluted conclusions even in the face of explicit statements. Re-read what I have written before making a fool of yourself.

        Tamil has National status in Sri Lanka which it does not enjoy even in India with over 50 million Tamils living there. It has equal status to Sinhala. The only other country that provides National Status to Tamil is Singapore but that country has a STRICT policy of maintaining Population proportions in its Housing policy. So a Tamil cant get to live where they want to, if the ethnic proportion of Tamils in that area is already saturated to the Tamil ethnic proportion of the country’s population. Wonder why the Tamils in Singapore do not revolt?

        I have not seen any show stopper argument for 50-50 that you have espoused as being able to stop the Language Act. Proposing 50-50 as a solution is similar to proposing a Tamil only legislature by removing the frachise from the Sinhalese. The latter would be a sure fire solution but for the fact that it is silly and is akin to building palaces in the sky. 50-50 is no better.

        You have attempted to reply my post to SD of April 26, 2011 • 12:24 am by ignoring the points I have raised. Are you so bankrupt that you need a diversion to avoid addressing the points raised?

      • Off the Cuff

        My Post of April 27, 2011 • 12:27 am above
        is addressed to David Blacker

  • wijayapala

    That’s why I saw Wijayapala’s initial challenge to me as just that — an intellectual exercise…

    …right up until DB resorted to personal attacks simply because I didn’t agree with him, which convinced me that this most certainly was NOT an intellectual exercise on his part.

    Given that he had been on the receiving end of these tactics in defencewire and in a debate with Dushy Ranetunge on transcurrents, I expected more from him. Dushy had lost that debate (on how Wijeweera was killed) because he spent too much time name-dropping and trying to get under DB’s skin rather than presenting facts. Whatever respect I had for DB from following that debate has been dissipated here.

    • Krish

      Wijayapala,

      Just a couple of points as a response to your post!

      1. I guess David and you were having a great discussion/debate. No matter what your differences are, your debate should continue. Yes, I understand your frustration with DB on those personal attacks (which David himself acknowledged earlier). But I guess your collective hope of a better future of your country is bigger than those personal attacks or name calling. From that standpoint, you guys should continue your discussions even if you disagree on everything. :)

      2. I didn’t respond to David earlier simply because he was already debating too many folks and probably getting bogged down. While I admire his enthusiasm for sincerely responding besides his honourable service to his country and broad-minded thoughts, I simply didn’t want to join the bandwagon of folks disagreeing with him. Somehow I liked the approach of guys like SD who steer neutral in most conversations, although I reckon SD and you are having your own differences. Besides, at some point, you have to take your stand, which is where remaining neutral doesn’t help much either. :)

      In any case, differences are inevitable and you guys should still debate.

      Pardon me if I am being intrusive.

      best wishes
      Krish

      • wijayapala

        Krish,

        Yes, I understand your frustration with DB on those personal attacks (which David himself acknowledged earlier).

        Looks like David has retracted from his acknowledgment!

  • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

    I’m just gonna make a sort of common post here cos the debate’s fractured into so many sub-threads that I’m losing track of it all.

    OTC — my use of the UN General Assembly was as an example that representation doesn’t have to be according to numerical size. What has whether they were elected or not got to do with it? I also used the US electoral college as an example; you failed to respond to that. Do I take it you agree with that?

    Your use of a mercantile company’s shareholders as a parallel to the citizens of a country is also fallacious. Shareholders have earned their right by purchasing shares. So someone who has paid for more shares than another obviously has more rights than another. Citizens don’t have any such special rights because no one has done anything to earn that spot. They’ve just been born in that country.

    SD — I sorta think SL’s like the west was a hundred years ago. If we hadn’t been colonised, we’d probably have found our own way into tolerance and democracy. Instead we had it artificially shaped for us according to the development of British society. So when we gained independence our societry was still in the dark ages but with modern conventions thrust on us. Sort of like little kids suddenly in an adult but foreign world. So we had to redevelop all of that an it takes time. Add the complications of war and having to interact with the outside world that feels it can dictate to us, and it’s very complicated

    In the west, democracy only came after stability — after nations had formed into distinct entities and were no longer fighting wars to define themselves; after they had expanded and captured resources, and their existence was no longer a doubt. For the UK it didn’t happen until the first quarter of the 20th century. The US took as long as the late ’60s. In Asia and Africa, the removal of colonisation, suddenly thrust us into an unstable world where we were fighting each other to exist, figuring out who we were, and what we wanted to be. We still haven’t got there. So democracy isn’t the pressing need for billions — survival is.

    Wijayapala — I never made any personal attacks against you, whatsoever. I attacked your style of debate, which I found subjective, dishonest, and downright rude. I pointed out that your long exposure to debaters of that style had rubbed off on you. It was you that began name-calling. Now you’ve taken your ball and gone home and are still whining about it. If you actually have something to add to the debate, please do. If not, so what.

    • Off the Cuff

      David,

      RE your post of: April 21, 2011 • 8:07 pm

      You say,

      “the debate’s fractured into so many sub-threads that I’m losing track of it all ”

      I agree with you wholeheartedly here.
      Hope GV will look in to this problem soon.

      You:

      “ my use of the UN General Assembly was as an example that representation doesn’t have to be according to numerical size. What has whether they were elected or not got to do with it?

      Me:
      It has everything to do with it …. Governance of a country under democracy is done by an elected body and the UN is NOT an elected body. You cannot cite the UN as an example to show that size does not matter when electing a govt. You need to compare apples with apples not oranges.

      You:

      “ I also used the US electoral college as an example; you failed to respond to that. Do I take it you agree with that? “

      Me:
      The US Electoral College which is itself an elected body by popular vote elects the executive president of that country. It works for the US but I dont have to agree with it. The Electoral College usually reflects the popular vote, the vote by which they got elected in the first place. Wont know what the reactions of the US Voter would be if the EC went against their popular choice.

      Indirect voting would work as long as that falls in line with popular thinking but I would not want to even guess what the results would be if the EC rebels against the popular vote.

      Strictly looking at the EC within a democratic frame work I wont agree with it.

      You:

      “ Shareholders have earned their right by purchasing shares. “

      Me:
      Agreed.
      So does the voter who earns their right to chose a Govt by being born in a country.

      Every share in a company has a PARITY status with any other share irrespective of the status in life of the holder, nothing more and nothing less. Just like the PARITY status in a democratic vote irrespective of the status in life of the holder.

      Each such share counts as ONE vote when electing the Board of Directors just like a single vote being counted as ONE vote in electing a Govt.

      A group of such people together can collectively control more shares than a single individual with one share or another group with a lesser amount of collective shares. Example: a single wealthy individual with 1000 shares will carry less power in electing the Board of Directors than a collection of 2000 individuals with one share each.

      Hence irrespective of your objections, A broad based public company has many parallels with that of a democratically governed country.

  • http://[email protected] SD

    Dear David,

    RE: “I sorta think SL’s like the west was a hundred years ago. If we hadn’t been colonised, we’d probably have found our own way into tolerance and democracy.”

    I didn’t really see your post, due to a delay in it appearing in my RSS reader I guess.

    WRT to your comment, I tend to, if dejectedly, agree. One is forced to peg these things down to “growing pains”. Nothing quite drove that point home as seeing (supposedly educated) people wallowing in abject servility before “King Mahinda” – the very willingness to label him as such being the surest indication that we have failed to shed our feudal roots.

    I guess the hierarchical nature of our society only reinforces such beliefs. “Ane Sir”, “Mahaththaya”, “Ape Rajathuma” etc. on such a widespread scale are not signs of a society which has come to grips with individual equality. In fact, the gulf between the haves and have nots, the educated and the uneducated etc. are so vast, that it’s almost an understandable state of affairs, if nevertheless, unacceptable.

    Of course, there is some rage against this status quo, mostly against the so called “elites”. Both Yapa and Wijayapala do this quite often. I had subscribed to this idea at one point too – mainly due to the revulsion I had for the “bada-gosthara” policies of the Ranilistas during the crucial periods of the war, and even prior to that.

    However, after some further thought on this, I would argue, Milton Friedman style, that this rage is entirely misdirected. The real culprits in dire need of reformation are not the much reviled “elites”, ngo-wallahs or the poorer classes – but the middle classes – in other words, Yapa, Wijayapala and me.

    For one thing, it’s the middle classes that are best placed to affect voting outcomes. The poor people lack access to education and information, and largely look to their immediate “superiors”, the middle and upper middle classes, for guidance. The so called “elites” are such a minority, and so far removed from the “grass-roots”, that they might as well not exist.

    Clearly then, it’s the relatively larger but nevertheless small upper-middle class, and the far far larger, lower-middle classes that directly influence the voting patterns of the poorer classes, collectively overwhelming the so called “elites” – which is why Ranil loses, while scratching his egg-head in perplexed frustration as to why promising Samurdhi and a bath packet fails to garner him the necessary number of votes.

    It’s the middle classes who voted Sinhala-Only into being as well as changed it, who voted for Buddhism into foremost place, who voted for standardization, who subscribe to and spread traitor-patriot style thinking, who both created the war and ended the war, and who, most amusingly of course – will scapegoat it all on the “elites” :D

    The one’s that are presented as the culprits, the “elites”, western consumerist conspirators, space aliens and the poorer classes, are largely – irrelevant. They have no power to affect change.

    Consequently, it’s these same middle classes who can reject Mahavamsa myths, jettison stone age superstitions and religiosity, demand equality from elites (which they do), introduce equality to others (which they don’t), work to a conscientious work ethic, reject buffoon politicians, promote good politicians even if there’s no personal gain, and last but not least – engage in self-criticism to affect actual change.

    Instead, they slyly avoid being so much as mentioned in conversation, despite being the most dangerous bunch of hypocrites in this country.

    At least, that’s my thinking on it. Be glad to know what you and others think.