Three Musketeers redux

Image from The Nation

Close to four decades ago, Richard Lester’s film, “Three Musketeers” was one I still remember  enjoying. A different genre of comedy from that of politically inspired Chaplin films, “Three Musketeers” was swashbuckling, fun, simple and of course with bawdy humour at times.

A few days ago, I had a mail in my “Inbox” that reminded me of those “three musketeers” for some odd reason. The title of that mail read, “Arumugam Thondaman, Mano Ganesan, Radha Krishnan join hands for Sabaragamuwa PC”. It was a media release and concluded saying, “Under the current electoral system, we (i.e., the three of them) have reasonable opportunity to obtain our representation only if we go together beyond party lines.” Somewhere in between, the statement says, “DPF being a vibrant party in the opposition, will continue to oppose the government. We will continue to work with UNP, NSSP and USP and other opposition parties.”

The statement was from DPF leader Mano Ganesan’s office. Thus it was more an explanation on why Ganesan was getting into a “masala” front than anything else. “We recognize the participations of CWC and UPF in the government. Our joint exercise is only to seek Tamil democratic representation.” The excuse for the joint front is very plain and lame. Its just an attempt for a possible increase in plantation sector Tamil representation. Not in parliament. But in the Sabaragamuwa PC.

Why seek an increase in representation in PCs ? There is no political reason given. No programme offered. Just possible increase in numbers for the three of them ! Thus to visualise the three on election campaigning in Sabaragamuwa – Ganesan speaking – Radhakrishnan waiting for his turn to speak – Arumugam Thondaman presiding the meeting – what would they tell their people in asking for votes ? They would probably agree to tell the plantation sector, they are all of common origin, common stock and therefore they need the bulk of the votes for better representation. “What for ?” could be an issue for those people who vote, but not for the three leaders looking for power.

Ganesan in a different T-shirt may get on the “Platform for Freedom”, with Wickramasinghe, Vickramabahu, Siritunge and others to oppose this “corrupt, brutal and undemocratic” Rajapaksa regime, as he says he would. What would he tell those same people in Sabaragamuwa from this different platform with different faces, about the Rajapaksa regime ? That Arumugam Thondaman though a cabinet minister in this Rajapaksa government, is a great Tamil leader and therefore people should topple the Rajapaksas and not Thondaman ?

Ganesan does have a right to stand for his nationalistic politics. He has a right to stand for their identity, as all others. He should in all means speak for the plantation Tamil community, a deprived segment of our people. That is not disputed. What is disputed is, how Ganesan is going about, doing it. Radha Krishnan’s Upcountry People’s Front is a non entity, even in plantation sector politics. Ganesan’s route to popular power politics will not be through piggy backing Thondaman and his CWC either. It will not be through manipulations and not through short circuits. Today, for the Tamils of Indian origin in the plantation sector, to have their socio political aspirations met, they need to break off from the shackles of the CWC and its leadership. They need a new political programme outside the CWC, that could challenge the unbelievably corrupt, incredibly dictatorial Thondaman.

Present plantation sector polity is not what they were during the early phase of Savumyamoorthy Thondaman’s leadership. There is some socio economic mobility in their society. A greater migration to towns and cities for alternate employment is now felt, from these estates. Growth within estates have also given hope of a better economic life to most. While their still backward ideology, their cultural bondage with the CWC and Thondamans, have not ruptured deep enough to help them look for political alternatives, there certainly is uncertainty on how the CWC would lead them. The tightly knit organisation looking into daily issues of workers, with a tight hold onto their personal life as well that was, has also loosened up. There was one Chandrasekeran who emerged from this rupture, but ruined himself thereafter. There is yet space for another Chandrasekeran, this time, if he or she can adopt to a political life within the larger canvas that Arumugam Thondaman has failed to capitalise on.

When past parliamentary elections are scanned, it shows the CWC had only piggy backed with either the UNP, or the UPFA and not contested on its own even in the Nuwara Eliya (NE) district. NE can possibly return 04 CWC MPs out of the 07, on the strength of its membership, if the CWC can regain its past glory. But now, they can not, for sure. Therefore even within alliances, where Sinhala votes from electorates like Hanguranketha, Walapane and Kotmale also add on, the CWC have not been able to have more than 03 MPs including Arumugam Thondaman. All through the last 23 years, since the 1989 February parliamentary elections, the CWC has not contested on its own at 06 parliamentary elections held to date. They have, going into alliances got only 02 to 03 MPs, a single ministerial portfolio for Arumugam Thondaman and at times a deputy minister’s post with a few other lesser positions as perks.

On common knowledge, all of that State power has allowed for a small coterie of men with kickbacks in a massive corrupt world, to keep Arumugam Thondaman in power. He is alleged to be into massive deals with plantation companies, even on collective bargaining. To be in the government, he even compromises on worker rights. In short, Arumugam Thondaman today is commonly called the “idol of everything immoral”. Ganesan cannot be ignorant on any of that. Is this the politics Ganesan says they could together have good representation from, if they give up on party allegiances ? Is this the politics Ganesan would court, just to have one or two PC members to the SG provincial council ?

Yes it is and it would be another experiment for the two men, who are ever desperate in being powerful. For Arumugam Thondaman, it would be an alliance worth trying under his party symbol, to see if he could muster enough votes to bargain power in future, instead of piggy backing one of the two main Sinhala political power blocs. For Ganesan, it would be an alliance he could have  representation in districts he has to date, failed to encroach. And that’s power, again, though without politics and principles.

This new “Sinna durai” tactics may have some provincial luck. Provincial politics does allow for such alliances still. But it would not be of any use in mainstream national politics, where both Arumugam Thondaman and Ganesan would want to wield some bargaining power.

This State does not have space for “minority politics” any more. It has now been turned into a complete Sinhala State, centralised beyond the Constitution. It can not and would not think or act, other than in Sinhala. All its appendages, its power limbs have been completely politicised, they don’t move without orders from the political regime. The State and the Sinhala regime now function as one. Therefore all ethnic minority and political parties and groups, who coalesce with this State and its political regime, have to play according to the needs of the regime and NOT on what they would want to represent.

In short, clear and in unambiguous terms, this regime has virtually destroyed all minority politics, whether ethnic or ideological. There is no more SLMC, no more CWC, no more “Left” politics on independent platforms that can impact on society. The Muslim identity that late Ashroff wanted to give political meaning to, is now in doldrums. That doesn’t have any meaning politically and the SLMC he created has no existence outside the UPFA. It is the same with all other minority blocs. Devananda and Sangaree too will not have any space in Tamil politics, on their own. They have to be with the Rajapaksa regime to say they represent the Tamil people. So is it with all those “Left” parties. They have to be with the UPFA to say, they are “anti UNP”, which is their only slogan of survival.

Today, there is ONLY ONE minority political alliance, the TNA, that still can negotiate independently. Tamil politics as projected by the TNA does still retain its identity and meaning, as it was not compromised to fall in line with this regime. Not even under Delhi pressure. It still stands independently with a set of demands that comprise a political programme, and it still lives politically, compelling even the Delhi administration to concede to their right to play politics independently. The TNA thus remain the historical presence of the Northern and Vanni Tamil people and outside this regime. Of all minority politics in this country, it is the Northern Tamil politics that still survives to pressure, lobby and bargain.

Fundamentally, the Rajapaksa regime has divided this country into two political entities. Into a Sinhala society that usurps political power to live beyond its own Constitution and the Northern and Vanni Tamil society that would not compromise politically. Ganesan would therefore have to choose between these two major power blocs and not between two provincial heads in forming a scriptless, “masala” front that could be anything, something or nothing, after the PC elections.

  • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    Kusal Perera,

    “Three blind mice! See how they run!”, would have been a more apt comparison.

    The TNA is tottering on clay feet, because it is trying to find a place under the sun on unrealistic, false and irrelevant premises. Its composition is its major liability. If it reviews its position in the context of current realities confronting the Tamils and attracts better men/women to its ranks, it may survive and is thrive as a political entity. This wish is unlikely to materialize as the seed for its destruction is within the TNA. The government can afford to ignore the TNA for these reasons. Time is on its side.

    However, its writ will very likely run only in peninsular Jaffna, in the medium term. Its long term prospects in Jaffna are also in doubt, in the face of the develpment strategy the government has adopted. An increasing number of Tamils are recognizing that development is coming to their doorstep in abundance, for the first time since independence. If the economic benefits also follow in abundance and the government ensures good governance, the TNA will meet its maker-VP. It is at present irrelevant to the Tamils in the north and east and the country at large, although it may continue to win elections for the lack of alternatives in a political system we rather pretentiously and pompously, yet continue to call a democracy.

    A viable opposition, with new faces and representing a new type of politics in Sri Lanka has to emerge. All portends are it will from amidst the present chaos and confusion. The defeat of the LTTE has provided an opportunity for the people to notice how values, governance and the political system have been debased over sixty years. The demand for corrections is already being heard. This demand will become louder with time and cannot be ignored. The governing party, which seems to be closer to vast numbers of people who electorally matter, may be the first to respond to this demand, as it will have the most to lose otherwise. I think we are on the right track, although everything seems wrong at the moment.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • Dev

      No comment of Rajasingham Narendran is complete without a jab at TNA .
      The Tamil people are intelligent enough to decide for themselves !

      The Tamil people (together with the rest of the country) awaits this economic miracle promised by Mahinda and co and so gladly cheered by the likes of you LOL
      The last I heard the country has lost millions investing in Greek bonds and was begging the IMP for more money !

      • http://www.hotmail.co.uk cyril

        The ‘economic development’ of the North will not dampen the Tamil people’s desire for self-governance as they have achieved a developed nationalist consciousness through a long-drawn out political and bloody armed struggle. The latter led by the LTTE lost its moral high ground when it turned into a campaign of terror against Sinhala, Muslim and their own people and elected representatives resulting in the loss of closest allies and international support. Thus the LTTE dug their own grave and the Rajapaksa regime seized the opportunity to crush them militarily. But the Tamil people as expressed in the most recent elections have not given up their desire for self-governance and the ITAK/TNA represents that desire. The self-respect and dignity of a people who identify themselves as nation cannot be bought by economic development. The Rajapaksa regime can buy buy individuals but not the people.

    • Kusal

      Dr. Narendran,
      There is a very serious interpretational issue on “DEVELOPMENT” that you say is coming to the “door step” of Tamil people, IN ABUNDANCE ! I believe you have not been in Sri Lanka during the last couple of decades, except as a visitor (don’t want to call you a tourist)
      For me, there can not be any DEVELOPMENT in a country where there is absolutely NO LAW & ORDER situation. Where there is plunder & looting over and above mega corruption.
      1. Share market has been heavily manipulated and looted
      2. EPF money is swindled in billions
      3. Corruption has seeped into all aspect of governance that it has come to be taken as the staple diet of This regime.
      4. Media is still threatened, coerced and curbed
      Where law & order is concerned, ruling party politicians are the main offenders now in most rape and murder cases.
      – Tamil youth held as LTTE SUSPECTS have no access to justice and FairPlay. Their protests are brutally suppressed. One was tortured to death and even the body was not given to parents for last rites.
      – Youth go missing and there are no decent investigations either
      – officially, according to the police spokesperson, 900 plus cases of rape against women have been reported and 700 had been underage children. ALL during the first 06 months of this year.
      These are DEVELOPMENTS that would not stop at the door step. They’ll come to your bedroom as well !
      Kusal Perera

      • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

        Dear Kusal Perera,

        Thanks for your prompt response. I am very much in Sri Lanka for the past two years and spend most of my time in Jaffna. I have also spent a lot of time in the Vanni, including Mullaitivu. I ghave also visited the east several times. I have been unfortunate to see the aftermath of the war. I am also a witness and victim of what happened in Sri Lanka, from 1956 onwards.

        Having clarified that issue, I have to also say that I have had the opportunity to see and live in many parts of the world.

        Development has always involved a chaotic and corrupt phase from the time of the industrial revolution. Even, in the pre-industrial agrarian phase there were many social ills, principally the cruel exploitation of man by man. In recent times, South Korea has gone through and largely come out of the corruption phase. Malaysia is almost out of it. China and India are yet weighed down by theis problem. Singapore is one country that was able to develop without getting embroiled in corrption. This was largely due to the leadership of one man-Lee Kuan Yew.

        Further, development and reasonable affluence are preludes to democratic values and good governance being demanded for and supplied.
        A people who have to worry about their daily bread, will not be concerned about issues of democracy and good governance. This is a fact that you and many political writers like you ignore. The demand for democracy and good governance today, is being voiced by the elite and the political elements who undermined everything that was decent in this country through perverse constututions and unmitigated misrule. It is yet not a demand coming from the masses. The demand for these ideals, would come only when the people reach a particular level of affluence. The very factors that fuel development, will be circumscribed by the results of the affluence they spur! This is what we have to learn from world history. However much we may complain this is the reality. We have to continue to complain as that also contributes to the establishment of an accountable and vibrant democracy.

        World economic history clearly shows that it is the robber barons, the adventurers, the exploiters, the corrupt, the ruthless and others of a similar type, who seed development. The money they mobilze, apparently is the greese that makes the development mechanism run smooth and fast. Even at an individual level, it is the bootlegging money that Joseph Kennedy made during the prohibition era in the USA that helped produce John F and the other eminent Kennedy clan! This is unfortunate, but true. Saints do not seed material development and recent problems in the western world, show that this phenomenon yet has a role to play even in the so-called western democracies. Development of the modern material type, is fueled largely by greed or by abundant natural resources!

        While I wish we had leaders in Sri Lanka, who can emulate Lee Kuan Yew, I am ready to accept realities. Lee Kuan Yew, was clever and erudite enough to understand that a free-for- all democracy will not work in a multi-ethnic Singapore and designed a guided democracy of sorts, which established social discipline and favoured a meritocracy.

        Please do not also infer that the war debiltated people and lands in the north and east do not need development first. A people hungry for many vital things to sustain life, need development of all sorts, before they need politics of the sort peddled in Sri Lanka. Please tell the young women in the north and east who have to sell their bodies to feed their children that they do not need development. There are many others like them- men, women and children- who are crying out for a decent livelihood to rebuild their lives. As Bira has pointed out there are the dirt poor in the south who also need developmentnow. For these unfortunate and miserable people, only development can open the gates to a better life.

        Many are peddling the theme, you do, including the TNA, without understanding the relationship between development and livelihood opportunities. The infra-structure development taking place all over Sri Lanka at present, whatever the alleged corruption and inefficiencies involved, is a God-send in the short, medium and long term. This development will ultimately bring about a more meaningful and better democracy, rule of law and good governance.

        Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • Bira

    What a poor story Kusal Perera.

    You show, throughout your article, that all you want is division, seperation between the ethnicities through politicians, and that you are mad that most political parties have have now got together under the Rajapaksse banner.

    It is not why or how Perera, it is the getting together of all SriLankans that matters. It may not feel right or wrong right now, but we do not have the luxury or the time to go in to polemics and block people of all hues of politics and ethnicities if they want to come together. What we need now is a National Government in any name; it does not need to be under the Rajapakse name, although we have one country now under his name; names and colours, even your political leanings don’t mater.

    What is your problem about Ganeshan, Thondaman, Hakeem, or anybody else getting together? Even with Rajapakse?

    How come you seem to be gloating about the TNA not joining an alliance with the others above including Rajapakse?

    Isn’t this the same TNA who threw the innocent Tamils to the murderous ‘mercy’ of Tigers by saying that the ‘LTTE are the sole representatives of the Tamils?’ The same TNA who kept quiet when Tigers were abducting Tamil Children for war, assaulting and even killing their parents when they protested, looked the other way when some of those parents committed suicide?; used civilians as forced recruites during the last stages of the war to fight, so that the number of civilians killed ballooned? never highlighted that the medicines and food sent by the GOSL for civilians were robbed by the Tigers for their own use, so that the Tamils they (Tigers)were fighting for, were actually dying of hunger nad disease? You too are guilty don’t you think?

    The list goes on Kusal Perera.

    The TNA never were, and never will be, friends of Tamils. And you, were maybe not, and I hope will be, a friend of mTamils. I grew up with Tamils and always will be their friend. I have a ‘Almost Court Martialled’ record for refusing to drop bombs on the Nallur Temple, a long time back, for which I will be be ever proud.

    When Read of your and other people’s writings, and I dispare. You seem to promote one language or one Political party- no, I am wrong, the minorities. Kusal, please go to the dirt-poor hinterland in the southern Sinhalese areas my friend. You Might want to commit suicide.

    You sound like you have taken up the ‘Tamil cause” up recently. It’s ok. Lots of other people have done it as well. Shall we take up the whole cause of the whole country? Shall we try to help all the citizens, and ignore the POLITICS? Ganeshan to Rajapakse do not matter. Are you prepeared to to take the challenge.

    Pls let me know kusal perera. You sound like a very dishonest guy.

  • niran anketell

    Excellent article, but I disagree on Mr. Perera’s characterization of the TNA as a predominantly Northern Tamil alliance. The TNA remains the dominant political alliance representing the Tamils in the East where it has a large support base from which it returned 5 members to Parliament, and where it was the dominant party in LG elections in majority Tamil areas. Its leader also hails from the East. It is very much a Northern and Eastern Tamil alliance.

    • Kusal

      Niran,
      I wouldn’t mind accepting your conclusion that the TNA “remains the dominant political alliance representing the Tamils in the East where it has a large support base from which it returned 5 members to Parliament”. Yes on elected representation, it is.
      Yet my issue actually is the Tamil political lobby, the political axis. This has always been “Jaffna centred”. It was that, even during the war where, the North had the privileged focus on every issue. East seems to be getting “dragged along”.
      Trincomalee town, geo politically is a compromised centre to claim a unified Tamil N-E. For that reason being a very senior politician, Sampanthan is the TNA leader. But I wouldn’t know if any from Batticoloa would ever get that mantle.
      Anyway, for purpose of this article and its argument, yes, TNA is for all Tamil people and their aspirations.
      Kual

      • niran anketell

        Thank you for your response. If the Jaffna centrism that you identify must be called out, then that is how it must be called out. The claim must be that Vanni Tamils, Mannar Tamils, Battticaloa Tamils etc are all subordinated hierarchically to Jaffna politicians – Vellahlah JT politicians at that – who will always claim to lead. I think it’s dangerous to extrapolate a North – East divide from a perceived Jaffna centrism, because it is inaccurate, and also because it plays nicely into the divide and conquer stratagems that are being implemented.

  • niran anketell

    **disagree with

  • Pacha Epa

    An interesting discussion, indeed, somewhat skewed by the intrusion of less-than-objective comments about the TNA.

    I cannot agree about the so-called “development” taking place in ANY part of the country: it is little except a trail of excuses to rob the public purse by way of “commissions” and other less subtle means of plunder. Those chickens are already coming home to roost.

    Mano Ganesan appears to lapse into principled behaviour from time to time only to get back in the groove of blatantly opportunist politics soon enough!

    Bad enough the “Sinhala Bauddha” bunch without the minority bottom-feeders! What a sorry pass for the alleged “Miracle of Asia.”

  • silva

    ”in the face of the develpment strategy the government has adopted” ??

    ”Those who seek to do developmental work in the north point out that they have to travel all the way to Colombo, sometimes on several occasions, to get the necessary approval for work to be done in the north. Sometimes those they deal with in the Presidential Task Force are ignorant of the ground situation in the specific locality in which the work is going to be done. Sometimes when the reality of the situation is explained to them, they are prepared to change their minds. But it takes a lot of meetings with them, and lot of travel to Colombo, to make this happen. The irony of these situations is that the government is not providing the money for the work to be done. This money comes from international donors for the rehabilitation of the people of the north. But decision makers in Colombo decide what should be done without reference to the wishes of the people of the area’’National Peace Council of Sri Lanka, 25 June 2012, http://www.peace-srilanka.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=502:dispelling-perceptions-of-uncaring-government-in-the-north&catid=16:news

  • silva

    ”The nineteen person-Presidential Task Force implementing the government’s “Northern Spring” program has not a single Tamil member and does no consultation with the local communities involved or with their elected representatives, (mostly TNA). Here is what the LLRC says in that regard “The Government should ensure that development activities should be carried out in consultation and with the participation of the local people. Such a transparent approach in administration would make the people feel an ownership to the development activities, as well as give them a sense of participation in nation building (LLRC Final Report 8.207) – LLRC report, an inconvenient truth? , 5 January 2012, http://www.dailymirror.lk/opinion/15903-llrc-report-an-inconvenient-truth.html

  • Minority

    I think the minority parties have realised the futility of sitting in a dead duck parliment and are now moving to the periphery closer to the people. So far the power of the people has not come into the equation and they are stomaching all the hogwash discharged by the politicians. Time is coming when enough will be enough and our so called leaders will have to get off their pedestals and come out of their mansions.

  • http://www.hotmail.co.uk cyril

    Dr Narendran,

    Since the Spartacus’ Rebellion there is ample historical evidence that human beings desire for freedom from oppression has no direct correlation to material existence. ‘Man does not live by bread alone’ (Bible). An oppressed people not only struggles for daily bread but also for their human dignity and desire for freedom. That is the fundamental difference between human beings and animals. The elite in society articulates the general will of the people and the NE Tamil people have expressed their will in numerous elections. What the Tamil elite has articulated is a nationalist sentiment as the Sinhala elite did in 1956 and laid the grounds for a Sinhala-Buddhist State. This State has been built excluding the Tamils from exercising real political power. In this context, it is the development of the Tamil collective consciousness which is not necessarily dependant on the level of economic development that brought about the struggle to assert their political rights. The 30-year war may have reduced them to economic poverty and development is necessary to uplift them from their misery but not at the expense of or in exchange for their political rights.

    • Nithyananthan

      Agreed, substance is meaningful. Thanks Mr. cyril, Nithy!

    • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

      Dear Cyril,

      Mass hunger, deprivation, oppresion and exploitation can spur sand revolutions. There is no doubt about that. Unfortunately, the Tamils in the north and east have experienced much worse than that at the hands of their so-called saviours and been already sacrificed at the alter of ‘utter Stupidity’. Please go and tell the war-affected in the Vanni that,”Man cannot live by bread alone” and see the result! Go and tell this slogan to the poor widows and orphans in Jaffna and see the result. Go and tell this to the people whose livelihood and lives have been destroyed by the war and be the recipient of choice words in utter filth, if not blows with the old broom.

      Further whatever ‘nationalistic conciousness’was aroused among the Tamils in response to GOSL misrule at one time by the FP, TULF, the militant groups and the TNA, has been proved utterly counter-productive and the war-affected Tamils have seen the devastating results. The words, “Nationalistic conciousness” does not hold any meaning or hope for the war-affected, any more. I am critical of the TNA and the vocal Diaspora groups because they want to carry on in their old merry/bloody way, without caring tuppence for ground realities.

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • wijayapala

      Dear cyril

      The elite in society articulates the general will of the people and the NE Tamil people have expressed their will in numerous elections. What the Tamil elite has articulated is a nationalist sentiment as the Sinhala elite did in 1956 and laid the grounds for a Sinhala-Buddhist State.

      You say the elite articulate the general will; I say that the elite often will manipulate the general will of the people in order for the elite to stay in power. The Sinhala elite in 1956 could easily have satisfied the general will of the Sinhalese by having both Sinhala and Tamil as the official languages.

      • Happy Heathen

        wijayapala
        July 20, 2012 • 9:43 am

        Exactly, so the rural ‘yakkas’ would remain mono-lingual for generations without being able to converse with their Tamil, Muslim or Singhalse neighbour.
        For me it was essentially a decision propagating class interest than a one meant to appease Sinhala masses.

  • InSights

    Just like the LTTE splitting, the TNA’s North Vs East split is inevitable. It will be interesting to know where Sambandan claims his ancestral roots are – not his political roots. In Tamil circles the Jaffna Vs Batticaloa; Jaffna Vs Indian; even Jaffna Vs Wanni distinctions are very strong.

    The lack of an untainted political alternative for Tamils is certainly a major reason for the TNA’s success. So far the TNA has not come up with a viable economic plan. They may look for ‘foreign funding’ but at what cost? Will it lead to a puppet regime? The TNA seems to be capitalising on the lack of information among the Tamil population, particularly those in the Wanni.

  • Cas Shivas

    Dr.Narendren was against ltte.They used violent means to achieve their goal having been born by the very violence of the successive governments of Sri Lanka.He is against the TNA as well although thousands and thousands in the Northeast have voted for them in the General Election and returned 13 of them to the Parliament(inspite of ltte being not there).Mr.N should respect the verdict of these people who democratically elected them in an undemocratic country.SL is not an ideal country.The writer has given enough examples.Even Ministers descend to the level of inciting their supporters to attack Courts of Law. Mr.N says that the time is on the side of this government. For what good reasons one wonders.

    In the field of Development Northern Province is one region where there is no Development Bank. Even during the so called peace time not a single M.P. from TNA was invited to attend the District Development Committee meetings held in the District Secretariats. It was always Basil (at that time he was not even the Minister for Development, and even Douglas, in spite of being a Minister was not allowed to open his mouth) and the government members along with the Arm3ed Forces Representatives who took all decisions. The development they are talking about swimming pools and some roads are mainly from the service sector (Banks-26%) who have opened a large number of branches and collection centres in the North to collect the money from the frugal Jaffna man who receives money from his kith and kin who were chased out of the country in 1983 by an earlier government. Due to the land grabbing, Army cantonments and HSZ jaffna man can not cultivate his own fertile soil. Even Mr.Mavai Senathirajah can not return to his house in the HSZ in Maviddapuram inspite of a Supreme Court Order delivered during Sarath Nandana Silva’s period as the Chief Justice.During the CFA period General Sathish Nambiar was commissioned by the government to produce a report on HSZ. He said that it is possible to do it incrementally with the ltte Artillery positions being moved away from Palaly. Now there are no artillery positions or ltte.But the govt. needs these lands and more for the Armed forces for the expected regrouping of the ltte at some future time.Due to the land grabbing in the East(and attack on their places of worship elsewhere) even SLMC is opposed by their former supporters and are forced to contest under UPFA banner in the Eastern P.C. Elections. We are told that the Govt. was not prepared to carve out a Tamil speaking District in Amparai and appoint a Muslim/Tamil speaking G.A. there.
    Yes, Trincomalee is a uniting force between Batti and Jaffna.It gave the Federal Party its first M.P., Mr.Rajavarothayam. Inspite of JR offering minister’s post several times Sampanthan never accepted it. Alas Trinco has been taken over by the Sinhalese through State aided colonisation and from 4.7 % in 1881 climbed to almost 33% today.
    I hope Mano Ganesan will continue to do his Human Rights work and assist the relatives of those disappeared by the ‘unidentified’ inspite of his bad company.

    • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

      Cas Shivas,

      I have been reading Michael Ondaatge’s book, ‘Anil’s Ghost’, the past few days. The following words (Page 119)referring to a war/rebellion zone children’s ward in a hospital, exactly reflect what I think about the situation in Sri lanka. They resonated within me.

      ” There were not too many fathers around them. He watched the children, who were unaware of their parents’ arms. Fifty yards away in Emergency he heard grown men scream for their mothers as they were dying. ‘Wait for me!’ ‘I know you are here!’ This was when he stopped believing in man’s rule on earth. He turned away from every person who stood up for war. Or the principle of one’s land, or pride od ownership, or even personal rights. All of these motives ended up somehow in the arms of careless power. One was no worse and no better than the enemy.”

      I have seen the deadly harvest from repeating cycles of vicious actions and worse reactions. I have seen the suffering, pain , despair and utter hopelessness of the victims o the last war. I am seeing right here in Jaffna, the devastating effects of war on societal norms and values. I am seeing the war-affected making a tremendous effort to overcome their unimaginable burdens, to recover their basic human dignity, amidst many odds.

      We need lasting peace now to survive as humans and then as a people speaking Tamil and living a Tamil culture. This is in itself a very big battle. The TNA reflects the thought processes of VP/LTTE- a child of its parent the TULF and its own creator- VP/LTTE . It is yet lost in a past that has placed the Tamils where they are at present. If this past were to repeat again, there will not be a distinct people called ‘Sri Lankan Tamils’. The TNA has to re-think its strategy and lead the Tamils into a visionary future. Whatever, the difficulties, the Tamils here, have to be a part and a parcel of Sri Lanka. We have seek different solutions to our present problems. Old medicines are outdated now.

      The TNA consists almost totally of cheap politicians. There are no leaders in the horizon. My quarrel with the TNA is about its inability to adjust and work in the new circumstances. It approach is already laying the foundations for more problems for the Tamils and alienating the Sinhalese who were convinced at the end of the war that the Tamils had been wronged in many ways. This is a tragedy. I have no hesitation in calling the TNA- the Tamil National Ailment!

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran