R Sampanthan is a Member of Parliament and leader of the Tamil National Alliance andIllankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi.

The recently concluded Local Government (LG) elections provided evidence, if evidence was needed, of a divided polity. Amidst accusations of violence, intimidation, and killings, the Tamil people voted, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) emerged triumphant, resilient, re-asserting its dominance in the North. The UPFA-led Government swept away the rest of the polls, as expected. Expected: lacks excitement, unexciting, stale news; given the absence of any serious opposition, given the resources at its command, given the power it wields. For those genuinely committed to democracy, the TNA’s victory is one which is most welcome, deserves celebration. For the Government, the outcome provides a wonderful argument: ‘there is multi-party democracy in post-war Sri Lanka.’

In a post-LTTE era, the electoral verdict in favour of the TNA especially in the North – once a proxy of the separatist-LTTE but one which has in recent times articulated the need for a political solution within a united Sri Lanka – is a verdict which should awaken one to the seriousness of the issues ranging from resettlement, rehabilitation to accountability and most importantly, devolution. This is where the above argument of the Government is put to test: ‘yes, there is democracy, but what do you do with it?’

The result then has obvious implications on the debate and discourse surrounding the nature of the political solution expected to transform ‘post-war Sri Lanka’ into ‘post-conflict Sri Lanka’; an issue which is of immediate concern, given the TNA’s withdrawal from talks. In doing so, the TNA has made its stance clear. It asked the government ‘to meaningfully define and state the Government’s response to three issues’ within two weeks ‘to carry forward any future dialogue’: 1) the structure of governance; 2) the division of subjects and functions between the centre and the devolved units, and; 3) fiscal and financial powers. TNA; buoyed by its victory, confident. A Government; irked, fuming.

A number of factors need to be borne in mind.

The immense popularity of the Government should not be underestimated. It has achieved massive electoral victories, largely as a consequence of giving the necessary political leadership to defeat the LTTE, a menace that brought unimaginable suffering to the people. Any sustainable political solution cannot be introduced within a matter of weeks, or months, through discussions with a single political party (Sustainable: how sustainable are political solutions, how sustainable should they be?). There ought to be a wider political dialogue, a broader public discussion, about the most suitable, most feasible, form of political solution that is acceptable to all peoples within the State, if the real desire is for a sustainable political solution.

Also, what should not be forgotten is how the TNA is perceived by a majority of the people: as a party that stands for separation, or one that stands for something less, something less than separation, but with an eye towards separation, the avowed goal of the LTTE whose interests the TNA represented in Parliament before the end of the armed conflict; as a party which is solely concerned with issues affecting the Tamil people, especially in the North and East, and one which does not care about what happens elsewhere in the country. All this creates doubt in the minds of the majority, and in a context whereby pressure is being exerted by political and other elements in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere, the pull-out by the TNA is viewed as one which has ‘underlying designs’, or is a ‘trap’, or an act with a clearly ‘projected endgame’. As Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka has forcefully argued:

“The projected endgame is clear. As the manhandling of Sri Lankan pilgrims in Tamil Nadu reveals, the design is to provoke ethnic violence in Sri Lanka, in the form of something which can be magnified as another July ‘83 or an impending July ‘83. In a variant or accompaniment of this tactic, the TNA’s ultimatum may be followed within months by a civil disobedience movement, which hopes to trigger a violent crackdown, which can then be magnified by the Western media. The global opinion having been created (Channel 4 etc) and the diplomatic trap having already been laid, any such episode will cause a global tsunami against Sri Lanka, resulting in the reversal of our historic military victory and the creation under external auspices and as an external protectorate” (in ‘The TNA’s Brinkmanship & the Trap for Sri Lanka’, The Sunday Island, 6 August, 2011).

But isn’t there an alternative perspective too? Isn’t this sense of fear, this doom and gloom, partly self-made? Wasn’t what the TNA did by pulling out from talks acceptable or understandable? It is certainly understandable, inevitable. Why so?

It is necessary to understand that the demands made by the TNA do not amount to a demand for a final, concrete political solution (if they do, then the TNA should be naïve). It is a demand made from the Government to state its (the Government’s) position on certain fundamental issues relating to what the Government has, for quite some time, been pointing out: the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution (as Prof. Sumanasiri Liyanage very correctly points out in ‘Whither Government-TNA talks?’, The Island, 9 August 2011). Not only the TNA, but even the people have a right to know the clear stand of the Government on the three issues listed by the TNA in its statement. The unwillingness and/or inability of the Government to spell out its position shows, unfortunately, that it has no firm or clear policy about a political solution. The absence of a clear policy makes any process of dialogue and discussion farcical.

Also, the demands are being made from a Government of a country, which ought to have formed its opinion about the questions raised at least two years after the war. History shows that numerous Reports have been compiled, Parliamentary Select Committees (PSCs) appointed, All-Party Representative Committees convened, having spent so much time, energy and resources. Many responsible members of the Government have been involved in the above process. Cannot a Government, with so much experience behind it, still form a firm opinion on the matters listed by the TNA? If the Government is in search of reports as a basis for discussions, it only needs to take into account the impressive work done in the form of the Committee A and B Reports of the APRC (the famous ‘Majority’ and ‘Minority’ Reports). All this, in turn, makes the establishment of a new PSC a disingenuous exercise, unless the Government is capable of setting out its position clearly.

Furthermore, what one forgets is the broader political context in which the TNA-withdrawal takes place. What is this context?

It is one wherein people witnessed the hasty introduction of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution; an act which threatened any hope that there can be a serious or meaningful solution based on notions of equality of citizenship, independent institutions, the effective protection of human rights and the rule of law. It is also a context wherein one sees an alarming and disturbing trend: a Government acting only when it is confronted with some political or diplomatic pressure, acting when coerced. It is a context in which one notices the rush to change the demography of the Northern parts of the country (about which Tamil politicians have raised very serious concerns); where the Government has shown that it would even go to the extent of changing the names of villages, for instance; and whereby accusations are leveled of plans made by the Government not to resettle the displaced of Puthumathalan, Mullivaikal West etc. in their original villages (TNA-statement of 4 August 2011).

Equally seriously, it is a context which needs to take into account the dangerous suggestions made in the print media, replicating the levels of intolerance that have surfaced in society after witnessing the electoral victories of the TNA. One suggestion goes as follows: there is a ‘virus’, there are those who are brainwashed by theories of traditional homelands; such people exist within Sri Lanka; one could only get rid of that ‘virus’ by debarring those who hold such views from ‘employment and activities’ and by removing all publications advocating such views (Susantha Goonetilleka in ‘Local Government Elections: Lessons Learnt’, Daily Mirror, 2 August, 2011). In other words, one cannot entertain any theory that challenges the majoritarian theory. Being brainwashed is good only if such brainwashing is convenient to the ideology of the majority. If not, there is no place for you, no employment, no books to read, no activities to engage in.

While there is undoubtedly the need to be seriously mindful of the violent articulation of separatism, it is hoped that the Government does not take the above kind of suggestions seriously. Not only is the implementation of such suggestions impractical, they are extremely dangerous. A society in which the people subscribe to a sole, single historical narrative can only be sought to be created by the barbaric policy of ethnic cleansing, and thereby creating a mono-ethnic State. What ethnic cleansing amounts to in law, its repercussions, its consequences – these are matters about which responsible members of society, academics and politicians should know better.

Finally, this overarching context within which the TNA pulls out from talks needs to take into account the following argument raised by responsible members of the Government; that the mandate the Government, or the President, has received is one against devolution (see interview with Minister Basil Rajapaksa, ‘President has a bigger mandate against devolution’, Daily Mirror, 28 July 2011). If then, questions need to be raised about the very rationale of carrying out talks with the TNA, for the very process amounts to an act of deception.

This is why one cannot unfortunately accept the following kind of argument raised, for example, by Ambassador Jayatilleka:

“There is no need for deadlock over the answers to the questions submitted by the TNA because those questions should be regarded as having already been answered. Those answers are in the Sri Lankan Constitution. A realist, neorealist or ‘constructivist-realist’ takes hold that the war, the outcome and the dimensions and limits of that outcome dictate neither upward nor downward revision of the Constitution but its full implementation, which was impossible because of the existence of the LTTE” (in ‘Breaking the Deadlock, Avoiding a Breakdown’, Daily Mirror, 9 August, 2011).

Firstly, if the questions have been answered and if the answers are in the Constitution, then surely, the Government is not aware of that: since the response of the Government to the TNA’s demands contradicts the position articulated by Ambassador Jayatilleka.

Secondly, it is precisely because the Government’s answer is not in the Constitution that it is asking for time. In that sense, the Government is sadly not one which is either ‘realist’, ‘neorealist’ or ‘constructive-realist’ by any means, for it has in no way shown any sign that there is going to be full implementation of the Constitution (i.e. full implementation of the 13th Amendment; unless ‘full’, today, is considered to mean ‘minus land/police powers’). Yes, the full implementation of the 13th Amendment was ‘impossible because of the existence of the LTTE’, but full implementation has in any case not taken place even after May 2009. This is a well known fact, and Ambassador Jayatilleka would know this very well, for it was he who had to pay the dear price for advocating the full implementation of the 13th Amendment soon after the conclusion of the war. In short: there is no serious reason to hold discussions concerning devolution if the Government believes that its mandate is one against devolution.

For the process of discussion to be meaningful, the Government needs to set out its clear stance. If not, it needs to point out that it needs some time (a specific time-period) to give a firm response to the questions raised by the TNA. Therefore, the decision taken by the TNA doesn’t cause great alarm. It was to be expected, and given the broader political context, it helps unravel the real intentions of the Government too. The ‘reversal of our historic military victory’ is one which needs to be avoided. But it is submitted that the plea should be directed, first and foremost, not at anyone else, but at the Government.

  • Well said Mr Senaratne! You have certainly spoken for many moderate citizens.

    Thank you

    Sincerely
    Thilina Rajapakse

  • silva

    Kelana

    Thank you for wiriting this.

    I’d like to add that the continuing atrocities in the Northeast shows NO change in the attitude of this government.

    As for Jayatilleka, he has never felt sorry for those continuing to undergo oppression in the Northeast. In fact he is writing to support the government and to screen off the people in the South from seeing the reality in the Northeast.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Good one, Kalana 🙂

    • Dessert Fox

      Very good gesture by Dayan this is called ‘Kissing the Hand You Cannot Bite’. Happanda beri atha imba ne?

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Kalana, the fact that the government should have unambiguously responded to the TNA — and should do so –to the effect that the answers to their questions are in the Constitution, surely does not mean the TNA was either correct or prudent in issuing a public ultimatum replete with a short time line.

    Secondly, I have also stated that there could be modifications to the 13th amendment, provided they were not of a magnitude that would be deemed to necessitate a referendum, and were mutually agreed upon ‘swaps’ (eg police powers for a reshuffling of the concurrent list).

    Thirdly, matters would have been greatly helped if the ambiguity of GoSL towards the 13th amendment had not been anticipated, mirrored or reinforced by that of the TNA, which has yet to accept it as the baseline or axis of a solution! At least the GoSL pays lip-service to it, while the TNA does not!

  • luxmy

    Though the TNA have been asking for an answer from the government from March, when it gave the ‘ultimatum’ it could have avoided additional jarring by making the ultimatum earlier with ”four weeks”instead of ”two weeks”.

  • luxmy

    http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers46/paper4558.html:
    Sri Lanka: Indian Delegates go Home Empty Handed, Kumar David, 15 June 2011: ‘’The umpteenth Indian delegation (Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, National Security Advisor Shiva Shankar Menon and Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar) came to Colombo and duly went back empty handed and funny as a comic strip! President Rajapakse handed them a flat ‘Nyet’ and for once in a lifetime he spoke the truth. “If I make any devolutionary concessions to the Tamils, 13A Plus, Minus, Divided or Subtracted, it will be curtains for me.”

  • silva

    Justice not agreed upon:

    http://groundviews.org/2009/02/08/rajapaksrized-chauvinism-in-flowery-prose-sri-lankan-diplomat%E2%80%99s-outright-humiliation-of-sri-lankan-tamils/

    Rajapaksrized Chauvinism in Flowery prose: Sri Lankan Diplomat’s outright humiliation of Sri Lankan Tamils, Maitree de Silva, 8 Feb 2009:

    ”This article concerns the article by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, currently the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN in Geneva. He quintessentially represents the perfect diplomat of the government’s stance on the ethnic conflict.

    Comments:

    M.Govintharaja: Your reply is why Federalism cannot be introduced or accepted. Can you give a reply why Federalism will not work in Sri Lanka.

    Dayan Jayatilleka: It won’t work because it cannot make it to first base; it cannot be introduced. Parliamentarians are sensitive to public opinion, and will not vote in favour, therefore it will not obtain a two-thirds in Parliament. If the courts refer it to the people at a referendum it will be shot down in flames.

    Ethirveerasingam: I like to share conversations I had with Lalith Athulathmudali and Ranil Wickremasinghe 12 years later.
    On Feb 4th 1985,…. Finally I asked him why not his party with more than two-thirds of majority in parliament propose a federal constitution. He said that SLFP will oppose it. I said that as they have only 7 or 8 MPs their vote will not make any difference, especially with the TULF and CWC votes to add to the UNP. He said proposing a federal constitution, “Will be political suicide.” My older brother later said that, a majority of the UNP MPs will not support, let alone the majority Sinhala voters.
    On May 13, 1997, after an hour of discussion I asked him why not the UNP propose a federal consittuion. He said: “We are a political party. Like any other political party, we will not do anything that will not get us into power, nor would we do anything when we are in power to lose power.”

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      I still stand by what I said at the time. Note however, that neither of the mainstream parties would say the same about the 13th amendment and its implementation, as they do about federalism. Neither would disown it or find it electorally radioactive. Therefore, the ONLY solution is to negotiate the implementation of the 13th amendment which is already on the books, with mutually agreed upon revisions if needed, which would not require a referendum.

      • silva

        ”electorally radioactive” ideas will be invented for a very long time to come by Sinhalese politicians without goodwill and humanity. They can always find a few wordsmiths to produce verbal smokescreens preventing the South from seeing the ground reality in the Northeast.

  • Nagalingam Ethirveerasingam

    Kalana Senevaratne
    Thank you for a clear analysis and the quote from
    Minister Basil Rajapaksa, ‘President has a bigger mandate against devolution’, Daily Mirror, 28 July 2011).” He is right. I have notes of quotes from a meeting with BR before MR was elected President. But that has to wait. I like to continue humanitarian work for another year or two.

    Luxmi
    Thanks for the quote from the President: “If I make any devolutionary concessions to the Tamils, 13A Plus, Minus, Divided or Subtracted, it will be curtains for me.” He is right.

    Silva and Kalana
    Sri Lanka leaders carry out the wishes of the majority of voters and their opinion leaders irrespective of party affiliations. Many years of experience has shown that the majority will not change under any conditions and that the Sri Lanka leaders are unable or unwilling to lead the majority to accept any form of political structure that is acceptable to a majority from each of the communities.

    • silva

      http://llrclk.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/submission-c-g-weeramantry.pdf

      “Zeno the Stoic’s follower Iambulus (ca.250 Be) …
      described a Blessed Isle in the Indian Ocean (perhaps Ceylon):
      there, he reported, all men were equal, not only in rights but in
      ability and intelligence; all worked equally, and shared equally
      in the product; all took equal part, turn by turn, in
      administering the government; neither wealth nor poverty
      existed there, nor any war of the classes; nature produced fruit
      abundantly of her own accord, and men lived in harmony and
      universal love. ”
      Will Durant: The Story of Civilis ation, Vol.2, pp. 563-4

      So unless man is manipulated by mythology, malicious texts, etc. he is reasonably good to each other.

      Some wordsmiths identified by this government to smokescreen what is actually brought out by fact-finding interviews, eye witnesses, audios and videos from the Northeast are young enough to ward off peace and prosperity from this land for a long time to come.

    • silva

      Why aren’t we emphasising the positives enough, esp when the negaives like Jayatillekas and Wijesinhas hog the social media?

      http://llrclk.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/submission-c-g-weeramantry.pdf

      Against this background we, in Sri Lanka, now have a unique opportunity to win this peace in a manner which will reverberate the world over as one of the outstanding instances in history of peace rising triumphant from the ashes of war. We have the necessary historical and cultural background to achieve this and we must rise to the occasion. At a time when the whole world is weary of war and tension, our example can revive hope in the future.

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Messrs Ethirveerasingham and Silva, let us neither dodge the issue nor distort what Kalana has written.

      His point is that while I support 13A and have consistently done so, the GoSL does not seem to. Fair enough.

      As for the two of you however, please answer the question as to whether the TNA is willing to accept and adhere to the 13th amendment.

      I have designated as ‘electorally radioactive’, that which would go beyond it; not the 13th amendment which has been around since 1988.

      The GoSL and the UNP pay lipservice , perhaps fitfully, to it.

      Are there any takers on the Tamil side?

      If so, surely the best way to corner the extremists and marginalise them– or even expose the GoSL’s alleged insincerity — is to simply negotiate the implementation of the 13th amendment, with mututally agreed upon revisions if needed. No other political issue regarding devolution, should come up in negotiations.

  • PitastharaPuthraya

    If there has been any leader in the post-independent Sri Lanka who could have given a lasting solution to the ethnic problem by devolution of meaningful power by convincing the Sinhals Public using his image of the only Sinhalese Buddhist leader, who rescued Sinhala Buddhism from it’s annihilation it was Mahinda Rajapaksha.

    I do not buy Dayan Jayathilake’s argument that MR can not go before the voters after promising the Tamils a proper devolution package.

    If his government could do things which a UNP government can not even dream of doing such as selling the lands to foreigners without it being noticed by the sinhalese public, MR could have convinced the Sinhalese Buddhists why devolution of power is needed to solve this ethinic problem if he really beleives in it.

    The problem is he does not beleive in devoultion of power as a solution to this problem. He is a cunning politician as he has been ever since he came to the political scene. What he is doing now is buying the time by giving various bogus excuses.

    His ideology is no different from that of other nationlist like JHU in his government.

    Therefore, what TNA, UNP and JVP is doing by asking the MR to come out with his own suggestions before sitting on any committe or antying is correct.

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      PPuthraya, or P for short (I hope you don’t mind me calling you P), the question of a MR being unable to go before the electorate with a ‘proper devolution package for the Tamils’ does not arise, because there already is a ‘proper devolution package’, namely the 13th amendment. It only has to be implemented. All that has to be negotiated are modifications and a time line. What I suggest that MR is unable or unwilling to do is to go before the voters seeking support for a proposal which goes beyond the 13th amendment, especially when the voters still recall the TNA’s questionable support for the LTTE. The point is that no one among the majority trusts the TNA to responsibly wield powers beyond the 13th amendment, and most or many may not even feel comfortable with them in charge of the Northern PC until their political attitudes change, given the bitter experience with Vardarajahperumal. The TNA’s recent stance does not indicate such a change of attitude.

    • luxmy

      A leader has a vision for his or her country and states that publicly and lets his followers comment on it. MR has a vision for his family and thus is a follower of the voters. He does all the positive things(building the South) and all the negative things(destroying the Northeast which many Sinhala media and some English don’t report) that will buy the votes.

    • luxmy

      Mahinda, the mandate-seeker:

      Sri Lanka Looks to the Future, Mahinda Rajapakse, Wall Street Journal, 3 February 2010:
      ”… But this victory is merely the start for Sri Lanka. After removing terrorism from our country, I sought a full mandate from my people. Now I shall seek to work to build our nation for all of them. …”

      http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article2285774.ece?homepage=true
      22 July 2011, Asked about the absence of an enduring political solution 26 months after the war with the LTTE ended, the Sri Lankan President told me: “I have asked my party and others to propose a Parliamentary Select Committee to look into a political solution, any amendments to the Constitution. Whatever the Parliamentary Committee recommends to me, I will accept – and ultimately it has to go to Parliament.”

      Mahinda Chintanaya has no chintanaya on good governance ?

      • Luxmy

        BR
        ”Minister Basil Rajapaksa has been quoted in the Tamil language newspapers today as having said that a Parliamentary Select Committee is the best method to find a political solution to the national question. He says that in this way, we can find a political solution that is acceptable to all communities in the country, and has invited the Tamil people to have faith in this process” – http://transcurrents.com/news-views/archives/2945

        GR
        Gotabaya Rajapaksa, brother of His Excellency the President and an important policy-maker in the Government, has been quoted in the “Headlines Today” (Daily Mirror, Wednesday, August 10th, 2011, Page 4), that there was little scope of going beyond the current levels of devolution – http://transcurrents.com/news-views/archives/2945

  • luxmy

    Mhhh… endless interparliamentary conferences ….
    the oppressed cannot raise their heads ….

    http://cpa.informz.net/cpa/archives/archive_1134894.html
    Parliamentarians fight mismanagement, corruption and abuse of power to prevent conflict
    ”…. The group was composed of Parliamentarians from Cyprus, Pakistan, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Guyana, Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka.”

    http://cpa.informz.net/cpa/data/images/concludingstatement.pdf
    PARLIAMENT, AID EFFECTIVENESS AND CONFLICT PREVENTION
    They recognized that Parliamentarians have a
    leading role in conflict prevention and building a durable peace. Parliament must
    therefore be strengthened by improving democratic governance, particularly its oversight
    functions and systems for ensuring accountability by the executive, including the budget
    process and public sector financial management. Parliament must also raise standards of
    natural resource management, a leading cause of tension in many states today, by
    ensuring that there are fair and equitable systems for the distribution of benefits to all
    segments of the nation.

    • luxmy

      http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=14340
      A publication of the Institute for Constitutional Studies, ‘Twenty Two Years of Devolution – An Evaluation of the Working of Provincial Councils(PCs) in Sri Lanka’, launched on 21 December 2010 says:
      ‘’… Recentralization is the hallmark of the system. Today, PCs have become a means by which the centre controls regional resources. They have also become the avenues through which the centre consolidates its political power. ”

  • The Muslims in Sri Lanka(SL) are asians who have aadopted Islam as their religion. They are not Arabs. In India and SL, Muslims are simply a religious group and not an ethnic community.

    Whatever their origin be, the Muslims in SL have integrated with either the Tamil or Sinhala ethnic groups, speaking Tamil or Sinhala as their mother tongue. So their ethnic rights will be either as Tamils or Sinhalese.

    The muslims in SL therefore have no separate stake in any ethnic solution, though the racist governments in SL “pop up” muslim cabinet ministers to claim a stake during the times of political discuassions between Tamil and Sinhala political parties.

    This time the “pop up” minister is Rauf Hakeem, the minister of Justice who has not yet brought the war criminals to court.

    The hidden agenda olf the Sinhala racist governments had always been to sow misinformation and reap a harvest of confusion and destabilise progress towards any political solution.

    such dirty and divisive strategy was also used by apartheid South Africa.

    Unwanted and irrelevant muslim representation in the last GOSL – LTTE talks, thrusted in by Mahinda RFajapakse, broke down the taLks, leading to a Tamil genocidal war by the state.

    • yapa

      Mr.Sam Thambipillai;

      You again have started the foul campaign to deceive the world with distorted facts. Being Asian is a reason for Sri Lankan Muslims to loose their separate ethnicity? On the other hand how did you cut off their relationship to Arabic world?

      Any person who is not blind or dishonest understands the distinction of Muslim culture and hence their separate ethnicity. No theories, no books are necessary to understand this simple fact. You ask any ten year Muslim child whether he/she is a Tamil or Sinhalese, if you get a single “yes” answer(I emphasize, a single “yes” )for thousand questions, I will stop writing in this blog.

      It is not necessary to exchange thousands of arguments to decide the ethnicity of Muslims of Sri Lanka. If you have time for endless writing and enjoy writing what ever it is not considering whether it has a sense or not you can write unending exchange of essays about Muslims’ ethnicity or whatever it is. My friend wijayapala also is wondering with various arguments to deny the distinct Muslim ethnicity while the obvious reality is under his nose.

      I cannot think of the intellectual capacity of a person who cannot understand the difference between Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims in Sri Lanka. I think many adults have the “Emperor’s Clothe Syndrome”.

      Thanks!

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Yapa,

        Excellent post

    • Jayathilaka

      @Nagalingam EthirveerasingamI agree with you on Muslims in Sri Lanka. Muslims are either sinhalese muslims or Tamil muslims like we have sinhala catholics and tamil catholics. Claiming muslims as a seperate ethnicity is an attempt by shortsighted and racist sinhala pliticians to undermine their tamil ethnicity. Even some tries to make them arabized claiming muslims’ language is arabic, which is not the case.Still one can admire the muslims in SL for retaining their love for their mothertounge but they are forgeting their identity as tamils. I truly believe SL should function as two ligustic areas.

      • Ethirveerasingam

        Jayathilaka
        I did not make any comments on the Muslims. I think it was Sam Thambipillai who wrote about them.
        I have the greatest respect for Muslims. I always envied many of my school and professional friends and their Tamil language and poetry skills. Muslims have a special identity that is distinct from Tamil and Sinhala identities. I respect them for it. If Muslims wish to be identified as a separate ethnic group I will respect their wishes.

      • yapa

        Dear Jayathilaka

        “I truly believe SL should function as two ligustic areas.”

        Don’t tend to believe things with that ease.

        Thanks!

  • PitastharaPuthraya

    Dayan Jayathilake or DJ for short (I hope you don’t mind calling you DJ).

    What is the differeence between ‘devolution package’ on paper and a ‘devolution package’ non-existant especially when you know that the GoSL is not going to implement it?

    Since the land and police powers are already in the 13th amendment it is only a matter of implementation. You need to have a political will to do that. The question is whether MR has that will.

    If MR really beleives in ‘devolution’ as a ‘solution’ what he can do is to educate the public about its importance using his ‘popularity’. Instead what he and his collegues are doing is making the public more nervous about the whole issue of ‘devolution. I think it is being done with ulterior motives. One day they would be able to tell the ‘others’ that they can not do anything because the majority does not like them to do it.

    In other words, any man with common sense can see that GoSL (Rajapakshas) is against any form of devolution. They can not say it in public because of the pressure from outside. What I do not understand is people like DJ, who has been a speaker for left wing politics for years, if not decades, are protecting these right wing nationalist using their talents. Sombody may call this ‘intellectual- prostitution’.

    DJ, as a political scientist, you should know that TNA or any tamil politician can not trust the Sinhala Politicians in the south given the history of communal politics in this country. Unless you are ‘self-deceived’ by your own personal interest you should be able to understand the TNA’s mind and their limitations in a situation where ‘devolution’ is implemented.

    If you really belive in something you need to take some ‘conscious risks’. As you very well know there are no 100% error free solutions for these complex political problems. Only thing you need is to beleive in the correctness of your assumptions and you should also be able to make others believe in you.

    This is not happening in SL today.

    Sad thing is that people like DJ have also become victim to this political tomfoolery consciously or unconsciously.

    • luxmy

      Thank you, PP.

      http://www.ambafrance-lk.org/spip.php?article839
      Address by Christine Robichon, Ambassador of France, at the Peradeniya University Research Sessions (PURSE) – 2010, 16th December 2010 :
      ”There is not much foreign friends can do. This is the responsibility of Sri Lankan people, their political leadership, in the government and in the opposition, and also their civil society, and this is where academics and researchers have an important role to play, particularly those who are working in the fields of history, law, economy, sociology and political sciences.”

  • jay

    Mr. Sam Thambi,

    It doesn’t matter whether Muslims are different ethnicity or religious group, In Sri lanka Muslims have their own identity even though Muslims integrated with Tamil and Sinhala, they see them selves different from other two, they also have a long tradition and a way of life in our country,living in large numbers and as a community in the east, we should ensure their sense of ownership and security. If they have fears of being dominated or their values being deprived that should be addressed, it is the failure of Tamil polity to accommodate the aspirations of Muslims, also the equal blame should go to Muslim polity of playing oppourtunistic, When you are playing oppourtunistic politics you can’t stand and claim your share of national pie. However the TNA principally agreed that the Muslim’s demands should be addressed in the final solution. We should stop playing narrow nationalistic politics then what is the difference between us and the parties like JHU. Our Policies should encourage liberals of all quarter and ethno-religious harmony.

  • jay

    Ambassador Jeyatilake seems to be good at myth making, sadly, this kind of myth can be sold in south. This is the typical kind of politics in Sri lanka

  • luxmy

    Ralph W Stockman : The test of tolerance comes when we are in a majority; the test of courage comes when we are in a minority.

  • rodger

    http://print.dailymirror.lk/opinion1/51370.html

    President has a bigger mandate against devolution, 28 July 2011:

    Basil Rajapakse said: ‘’Then the President has a bigger mandate not to give these powers.’’

  • samuthra

    Dayan always has a convoluted argument. He keep on saying that Sinhala majority will not accept any power devolution or power sharing with the Tamils. For this reason, both main parties will not support any power devolution. Therefore, Tamils should not ask for anything because they have lost the war and weak at the negotiating table. But, try to get the maximum out of what is in the statue book, 13 A. His other argument is that Sinhala majority is very suspicious about TNA and doesn’t trust them; therefore, anything TNA put on the table will be rejected.
    What he says may be the ground realities. But, he always avoids two central issues; Tamils, overwhelmingly support and desire to share power such that they can make decisions which affect their lives. If that is not possible, they have clearly demonstrated their desire to have the right for self-determination. How does he intend to address these? His argument is Tamils have lost the war, they have to accept whatever given. Other issue of majority Sinhala public opinion against power devolution; he never analysis or suggest how to change this opinion. This opinion by the majority is cultivated and maintained by the two main political parties ( for political reason) and by the media supported the main parties and extremists ( or controlled by the Govt.). There is no attempt by people like Dayan to tell them the much wider picture and inform about the benefit for the country to reaching an amicable power sharing settlement. I haven’t seen or heard a single speech by the regime addressing the Sinhala majority on this issue after the war.
    He is asking about takers for 13A in the Tamil side. It is clear that TNA has accepted 13A as part of a road map, otherwise they won’t be discussing this with the Govt., in their talks with the Govt. Also, it is in the statue book . 13A is not an issue. The issue is the process. Tamils have no faith in the process. We have gone thro numerous committees, agreement, reports amendment to constitution etc., Non of these are implemented or honoured.
    Rather than preaching the Tamils what to do, he better start telling the majority the wider reality, as he is part of the current regime!!!!

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Dear Pitisara ( or PeePee), Samuthra et al,

      Let us keep it simple. Five basic points:

      1. It is not logically possible to envisage a reform more advanced than that which the combination of Rajiv, MGR, Dixit, the IPKF, a Govt with a 2/3rds majority AND an undefeated Eelam militancy were able to secure: the 13th amendment! So why waste anybody’s time seeking to move beyond it? Such unrealistic greed can only work in one direction: unravelling.

      2. An outright statement by the TNA that it accaepts supports and will work within the 13th amendment as the final status solution, and wishes solely to discuss modalities and a time table for its full implementation ( albeit with mututally agreed upon minor modifications), will surely pre-empt any dilatory tactics by this or a future government by way of APRCs, APCs, PSCs etc .

      3. Try getting a single leading figure of the opposition UNP, by which I mean the current or likley next leaders, to promise to go beyond the 13th amendment! If the Govt and opposition are unwilling to do so, the only game in town in the foreseeable future is to subscribe to the 13th amendment.

      4. Try producing a single public opinion polling result for the past 15 years which shows a plurality willing to go beyond 13A.

      5. So, 13 A is as good as it gets and as good as its gonna get. Use it or lose it! Focusing on 13 A, as I do, is useful because someday, some leader or administration — including perhaps this one– is going to implement it, but will not/will be unable to go further.

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Samuthra wants to know how we will “address2 …”self determination”. Well, the Sri Lankan state under any administration will address it following the ‘ best practices’ in Asia on that matter, when ‘self determination’ jeopardises the unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country: Kashmir, Baluchistan, Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam, Tibet, Mindanao… Get the picture?

      • jay

        Mr.Ambassador why the “best practices” in Asia? What is the best practice of Asia? Do you believe that 13A is the best solution to solve the ethnic problem? Why a proposal for federal constitution will be shot down in a referendum? Should it be shot down? Don’t you know the separation is the agenda of very few? Don’t you think that 3 questions raised by TNA is to confirm the commitment of government to the 13A?

      • Luxmy

        ”…… when ‘self determination’ jeopardises the unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country….” ??

        ”unity”, ”territorial integrity”, ”sovereignty”, etc are not the bottomline.
        The bottomline is good governance – respects fundamental rights of ALL citizens.
        1. If this is respected, the result will most probably be unity, territorial integrity, sovereignty, ………
        2. If it is not respected, self-determination should determine the extent of ”unity”, ”territorial integrity”, ”sovereignty”, etc.

        We cannot afford not to sow the good seeds of logic in the minds of the future generation and we cannot afford to sow the seeds of illogic.

      • Dr.DJ

        This threadbare argument OF THE sovereignty of a country being preeminent above all considerations pertaining to the legitimate rights of a SOVEREIGN PEOPLE has, at best, a convoluted, a twisted, logic to it and detracts from the fact that the legitimate rights of a sovereign race are being denied them by attempts to establish this overarching importance to” national sovereignty”. Does “national sovereignty” considerations then give the rulers Carte Blanche rights as it were to ride roughshod over a people’s dignity and rights by seeking refuge, ad infinitum, behind the rationale of “national sovereignty interests”.

        To me ” national security and sovereignty interests’ are excuses totally lacking in persuasive logic.Everyone knows they are mere pseudonyms for “majoritarian self interest” to the exclusion of all legitimate rights of all other minority groups. It is this denial of their rights that was the crucible in which racially tinted political extremism, even armed resistance to this majoritarian stranglehold,was conceived, and birthed.

        Trace the genesis of the metamorphosis in Tamil politics that has brought it to its unyielding stance of today. Who and what triggered that metamorphosis? An ugly and bloody history answers that question adequately for those who have the integrity and the guts to acknowledge the truth of the answer.

        As another post on “Groundviews” observes , the government has more than an adequate number of spin doctors who are adept at coming up with verbose justifications for what in effect are moves exclusively designed to ensure consolidation of its own power.

        Luxmy, in posts above, says a mouthful each time she comes online.

        My way of putting it is that all this prevarication, [now moving on from endless committees, commissions and what-have-you,] is in effect a manifestation of the incredible extent to which the government can be callously unmindful of the sufferings, the urgency to meaningfully address the just demands of a honourable people. As paraphrased elsewhere, the Rajapaksa trio knows that it will be “curtains” for them, especially for MR, if he as much as makes a move towards implementing even the 13A, let alone a plus 13A. No that he has or ever had any intention of doing so.

        Fully well being aware of this fact, are apologists of and for the government wasting their exceptional journalistic talents to prop up what is morally indefensible, politically crooked, ethically repulsive
        by stooping so low as to sell themselves to become mere wordsmiths, paid apologists, to drown out the cries of a race that has enough and more of suffering to last another 50 generations to come.

        This is a shame of gigantic proportions and it’s amazing that these apologists can shamelessly continue to play an active part on many prominent blogs such as this site.

        Where do you see yourself in this scheme of things? On the human side of the fence? Conscience can be very truthful in such matters.One can also choose to walk on the wrong side of history.

  • rodger

    What is the argument?

    For 18 months following May 2009, the President has been saying ”what ethnic problem? Only economic problem”.

    Talks with TNA(who were excluded from APRC) were started only after a great deal of pressure from a section in the South and international community. The government reluctantly agreed on the dates for the sessions, postponing them a number of times with ”MoU” not to disclose what transpires in the sessions.

    Truly speaking, TNA should have laid down conditions at the beginning ”only in the presence of a third party”(it could have been one or more members national or international figures)

    If resolution is sincerely desired it should be mediated by a third body – an intractable and a complex ethnic conflict like ours can be resolved only by a third party according to man’s experience of the last several decades. But previous governments have been resisting third party mediation – ”facilitation” (by Norway) was agreed to in 2002 to get foreign aid and not for resolving the conflict – no attempt was made by the then government MPs to build the non-existent peace constituency in the South that has been hostile enough for decades driving ethnic outbidding.

    What went on during the whole course of APRC sittings (leave alone the report and the musings over it) will make a remarkable drama(one of the episodes involves Lord Naseby coming and staying in a hotel and the President and Prof Vitharana exchanging ”notes” and pausing for camera). As is the seven months of GoSL-TNA talks. Only root cause of all these dramas is absence of will to resolve the conflict.

  • rodger

    ”Gradualist” selling of the future of the country to China will go on as long as China offers veto at Security Council. Is the President’s lack of goodwill and humanity towards the ethnic minorities blinding the rest of the country?

    Those who love a united country will have it easily by letting the Northeast develop itself for 5 years – 13A minus the Governor. Northeast will firmly believe that it will benefit by being part of a united country in the long run. At present the Northeast is too destroyed to be left in the hands of the Presidential Task Force, the Governor, the Army, the Navy, etc

  • Renu

    As some civil societies are trying to get the youth from different communities together to develop peace constituency (which is actually no substitute for politicians’ thoughts, words and deeds) Jayatillekas and Wijesinhas are frantically filling up the social media pages to oppose it?

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      To OPPOSE it? Moi? Do you have a comprehension problem Renu? I have been consistently supporting, when I haven’t been actively applauding, Asanga Welikala (‘Publius’), Kalana Senaratna, Chaminda Weerawardana, Shakya Lahiru Padmalal, Indi Samarajiva, Celina Cramer, Harini Weerasekara, Thilina rajapaksa, Harendra Alwis, Malathy Knight…and of course Kumar Sangakkara’s speech and those who endorse it.

  • Luxmy

    If 63+ years haven’t taught us lessons:
    “The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public area,
    but the small clearing in each heart.

  • PitastharaPuthraya

    Dear DJ,

    Basically what you say is that 13A is the maximum devolution, which can be envisaged at this point in time as the ‘majority’ will not allow any politician to go beyond it.

    I want to remind you that even this ‘hallowed’ 13A has never been endorsed by the majority in any referendum. It was introduced by then GoSL as it was thought at that time as the best possible solution to the ethnic problem. (I conscioulsy omitted the politics behind the introduction of 13A). I do not want to tell you what happened in Colombo and how many people got killed in the immediate aftermath of signing the Indo-Lanka peace accord. Inspite of all those negative factors we should thank then JRJ’s government for making a devoultion pakage a law first time in the history of independent Sri Lanka (although not implemented fully due to unwillingness of the Sinhala politicians ever since). Today we can talk about it as a base line of devolution of power to Tamils. Imagine a situation where there has not been such devoultion package in existance. People like DJ would say that since majority will not endorse any form power devolution. Nothing can be given to Tamils’ They have to satisfy with the status-quo.

    DJ, what you and people like you, are doing is providing a ‘pseudo’ intellectual background for the oppertunistic politicians to hide behind.

    Forget about the majority, as we know that they have been brain-washed by the continous barrage of one-sided propaganda by the Sinhalese Buddhist Nationalists for too long to think clearly without prejudice and fear about the Tamils and their aspirations.

    Tell me what you think about this. Are you satisfied with 13A? Do you think it will satisfy the Tamil Political aspirations? Are you still a left wing maverick as we know you for years? Or just another intellectual in the calibre of GLP?

    If you really beleive in something would you let the Majority a free hand to decide something giving the lame excuse that majority decides. Or would you fight tooth and nail to eductate the majority to change their thinking?

    Don’t you think that the thinking of the majority can be changed by correct education?

    You are challenging us to produce a single UNP poliiticians who is willinng to go beyond 13A. I do not think that you are so naive to understand the Sri Lankan politics DJ. When MR is riding high with his populist national agenda with his image constantly bombarding the Sinhala Buddhist Collective Mind as a tough anti-separatist, anti-fedaralism and anti-devoultion bulwark do you think a UNP leader with the ever falling vote bank in the Sinahal Buddhist south would project himself as a pro-devolution, pro-tamil, pro-separatist, pro-LTTE figur given the infamous history of UNP vis a vis ‘peace accord with the LTTE’ or “Ali-Koti Givisuma”

    You statement that any future Sri Lankan leader will not/will be unable go further than 13A looks like to me a more than a mere statement. I suspect it is more of a wish isn’t it?

    It seems that the way that you uphold the actions of other Asian governments regarding their speartist problems as ‘best practice in Asia’ it is no wonder you are employed as an diplomat by the Rajapakshas. Can you put all these situations namely Kashmir, Baluchistan, Tibet, etc in a single basket? Do you agree with what Indian government is doing with Kashmir? (Of course you do!) Is it Kashmir a part and parcel of India? If Kashmir was ruled by a Muslim Maharajah what would have happened to it? Don’t you think that it really belongs to Pakistan or at least their claim to it as ‘controversial’.

    The way that the intellecutals supporting the government adivce the Rajapakshas there is no wonder that the Sri Lanka will not be able to solve this problem in the coming future. We are definietly going to leave it for the future generation.

    The Rajapaksha Troika is so typical (like many other authoritative regimes in the past and the present) that they employ people who say what they want to hear. Others are pushed aside branding as ‘traitor’.Therefore, they will face the same fate as anyother in their shoes by listening only praise and as a result of with thinking they are invinsible. What will happen to Rajapakshas in the future will be an inadvertant result of the their ‘intellectual’ advisers.

    It was only a child who shouted that the King is naked.

  • Nagalingam Ethirveerasingam

    Amb. Jayatilleke
    “As for the two of you however, please answer the question as to whether the TNA is willing to accept and adhere to the 13th amendment.”
    “I have designated as ‘electorally radioactive’, that which would go beyond it; not the 13th amendment which has been around since 1988.” …”
    “Are there any takers on the Tamil side?”

    Amb. J’s comments were answered by Roger, PP, Samuthra.

    I think What Amb. J was referring to is the Sinhala electorate when he said “electorally radioactive”. Most of the Thamil electorate and the Thamil Diaspora will also consider radioactive anything less than federalism. And for substantial numbers of Thamils in and out of Sri Lanka anything less than a separate state or a solution not based on the VR or the Thimbu Principles will be “radioactive”. Let us therefore leave out, for now, those with views in the extremities of the spectrum of a political solution irrespective of the numbers that support “radioactive” views.

    I am assuming that Amb. J is referring to the 13th amendment as originally approved in JR’s Parliament is what he wants me to convince TNA to accept as the starting point. I can only do so if I am convinced that the 1988 13 A is without “radio-activeness” now. We all know its radio-activeness then and the resultant “fall-out”. Is it still radioactive? It is common knowledge that the 1988 13 A was passed through Parliament because JR had the letters of resignation of the UNP MPs. But I am willing to assume that that was not the reason the UNP MPs voted for the 13th A in 1988. Everyone know that the 1988 13th A was not put to the people at a referendum and JR took the Supreme Court route. It was common knowledge that in 1988 the 13th A would not pass AT A REFERENDUM of the people because it was “radioactive”. As the LTTE is no longer a an armed force to be reckoned with in or out of Sri Lanka, the main reason why the 1988 13th A will not be implemented is that the GSL and substantial majority of the Sinhala voters want it expunged from the constitution or dilute it beyond recognition, with the support of the TNA if possible, to get a semblance of Thamils’ acquiescence.

    Let us assume that the 1988 13th A is the “Middle Path” as Amb. J seem to infer. Can he get the government he serves to put the 1988 13TH A to the people to RE-AFFIRM at a referendum which were denied to them by JR in 1988? Can he also get the government he serves not to renew the ER. If this happens no one need to convince the Thamils and the TNA, Sinhalese or Muslims to accept or reject the 13th amendment of 1988. IF the people reaffirm the 1988 13th A, after a NE provincial election, there can be a dialogue between the Centre and the Provinces, with a time frame, to eliminate the concurrent list and allow the Provinces to elect their own Governor.

    The condition to the proposal above is, in the event that the majority of the people do not affirm it at a referendum, the United Nations should conduct a referendum of the Thamil people to determine whether the Tamil people want a separate state or prefer to stay within a Unitary Sri Lanka.