29 October, 2020

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A Hard-Hitting Autopsy Of Post-War Sri Lanka

By M.R. Narayan Swamy

M.R. Narayan Swamy

In Sri Lanka, where President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime seems determined to undo key aspects of a 1987 pact with India touching upon the critical area of devolution of power, one would need courage – and deep political conviction – to write the book Dayan Jayatilleka has written. The so-called Tamil nationalists might dub him a closet man of the Sri Lankan state for having served it faithfully in his previous capacity as Colombo’s envoy to the UN in Geneva at the height of the war. But that exposure probably only redoubled his understanding of what is good for Sri Lanka, where the Tamil Tigers’ rout in 2009 hasn’t led, unfortunately, to a comprehensive peace most people would have desired.

What kind of a political framework is good for Sri Lanka? The debate rages on. There are many shades of opinion across the island nation, across its ethnic and religious divide. Should Sri Lanka be a Sinhalese/Buddhist-dominated society politically, even if it claims not to be one? Should it not be a land where different religions and ethnic groups enjoy equal rights — and respect one another? Is provincial autonomy a stepping stone to separation? Can the bloodied ethnic war of over a quarter century be expected to heal wounds dramatically, now that the Tigers are history? Can those Tamils, who served as the LTTE‘s political arm be trusted to play a role in mainstream Sri Lanka? Can the situation improve? Will the wounds heal? If yes, when?

Book Review: Long War, Cold Peace: Conflict and Crisis in Sri Lanka Author: Dayan Jayatilleka Publisher: Vijitha Yapa Publications, Columbo; 2013

A political activist-turned-academic-turned-political scientist, Dayan, as most of us have known him, brings together some of his powerful published writings with fresh candor to answer a string of questions related to the now vanquished LTTE, the war it waged, the counter war, and the politics of the Rajapaksa regime. It is important, he says, to learn the lessons of the conflict to prevent a recurrence. Sadly, as a nation, he says, “we have almost ceased to analyse, to think”.

The good thing about the book is that it does not follow a chronological order to relate the Sri Lanka agony – from 1983, the earlier period, the post-war scenario, the international dimension et al. Dayan is loud and clear. We know where he stands. A Marxist not at home with Sri Lanka’s (fragmented) Left, he laments that his country never had a Congress party or a “political leadership (read Nehru) that was westernized in cultural terms, modernist, while not being pro-Western in political terms”.

Historically, Dayan tells us, this is the best time to effect a political reconciliation between the Sinhalese and Tamils, “for a moderate compromise”. Unlike a section of his compatriots, Dayan underlines the importance of paying heed to Sri Lanka’s friends, “local and foreign”. Having won the war, Colombo can still lose the peace, he warns, if it fails to show generosity, flexibility, enlightenment and wisdom.

Having dealt with 193 countries in Geneva, he knows what the world wants: that Sri Lankan Tamils deserve and require equal rights. Dayan is all for a “full (even) if graduated implementation” of the India-backed 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution that would ensure “the fullest possible devolution of powers” to provinces — and to Tamils. “Long War, Cold Peace” could not have come out at a better time. Not everyone will agree with his autopsy. But no one will be able to ignore it. Read it, now!

*M.R. Narayan Swamy is a long-time Sri Lanka watcher. He can be reached on narayan.swamy@ians.in. This article is appeared on The Times of India.

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    DJ is one of the hypocrites who wants to serve little food to hungry dying people in the name of 13th Amendment and claim that malnourished food is good enough to lead healthy life for Tamils.He is shrewd enough to know that with 13A, nothing will be changed for Tamils politically while SL can gain all around in IC by implementing 13A. Unless the head of province is independent enough to formulate policies for local people in aspects relating to ecomonmy,education, health, law and order, this would serve no purpose for people there. However TNA decision to take part in NPC under 13A is a good starting point and somewhere down the line they can negotiate terms that are required for welfare of the province. Here we all hope, Justice CVW, to use his jurisprudence and his political acumen to serve people tirelessly for the peace and welfare of the people.

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      If DJ is a ‘hypocrite’ for advocating 13A (rather than federalism), what does that make Narayan Swamy who applauds it….and the Government of India which endorses it? :))

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        Dear Doc;
        You replied,
        “Narayan Swamy who applauds it and the Government of India which endorses”,
        as N S says ;
        “He, Who knows what the world wants: that Sri Lankan Tamils deserve and require equal rights”.

        Very good Calculation and imagination, I think.

        But It was accepted by cunning fox, President J R Jayawardaana like a coward , without the consent of all the Sri Lankans
        and Rajiv Gandhi paid from his life,

        BUT HE [you] DOES NOT KNOW WHAT THE INDIA WANTS COVERTLY.,[ or pretends, that do not understand].

        My dear sir, does it or dosn’t it?.

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        @ DJ, India was skeptical which feared its skeleton might be broken by supporting Tamil eelam in 1987 under Rajiv Gandhi leadership,( Thanks to bramhin lobby that was sorrounding him) unlike his mother who did not have such fears while dealing with Bangladesh partition in 71. So 13A was a partially vested brain-work of India , hence India supporting it, is no surprise to anyone; if you want to call India hypocrite, please add a word Congress led India, I am happily endorsing you.India betrayed Tamils in this aspect.They should have enforced federalism in Srilanka in 1987 similar to the one in India, which would have solved many problems long back.
        The reason why I call you ‘hypocrite’ is you know clearly that 13A will not bring any solace to suffering Tamils there,yet you showcase in every comments and articles that it is the best opportunity available to people.

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          Manisekeran,
          I agree with you. Federalism is the only solution or at least a form of government with federal features.

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        Dear Dr.DJ, You are neither the first nor the last or least to double the understanding of ”what is good for the country” only when you are thrown out of the power chair!! History has seen enough last days prophets of your calibre !! Why couldn’t you do it when in power in Geneva !!?

        Anyhow better late than never.

        Narayanswamy applauds, India endorses…so what !!? does it mean that your book is a resolution of the UN security council !!? Do you think that Indians and India are strangers to us !!?

        Answer to your question is very simple Dr.DJ, ”Birds of the same feather flocks together.These are nothing but opportunism and hypocrisy to show that you and your Indian friends are in Rome Now. But you are not real Romans.

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        What is important for a permanent solution that is healthy life for Tamils? Powers given to the Provinces cannot be repealed or amended by anyone other than those in Provinces. The Chief minister elected by the people of the province should have the overall power in decision making. All the administrative powers other than Nation security should be given to Provinces. Each province should provide the necessary man power to the National security.

        Does the 13 or 13A provide the necessary guarantee to the healthy function of the institution?
        Who will have the overall power? Is it Governor or Chief Minister?
        What guarantee is there in the constitution that the Central Government will not change the powers given to the provinces such as land and police?
        Can the central government will have the power to abolish provincial councils with two third majority?

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    The Regime is more concerned with hanging on to Dynasty rule for 30
    yrs. and the “Devolution Issue” will have to be dragged on to ensure
    its Vote base. This is MR & cabals agenda. MR personally has money to
    throw around to keep Dynasty supporters.

    Delaying tactics for the moment is “upsetting” the NPC elections by
    the EC declaring it null & void for the flaws that will be “engineered”
    to seek IC support for it, and have the election after the CW gathering.

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    “…Dayan is all for a “full (even) if graduated implementation” of the India-backed 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution that would ensure “the fullest possible devolution of powers” to provinces — and to Tamils…”

    Any person who has read 13A even once knows that it has nothing to do with devolution of power but is ‘rule by the all powerful Executive President under a unitary form of constitution through his representative, the Governor of the Provinces and as we see now a former high Armed Forces Officer is always the Governor with highly educated and liberal Ministers like Doglas and and Pillayan to assist them with democratic governance. (Of course 18A took away the little checks and balances over the all pervading powers of the President and gave the proverbial Garland of flowers to a monkey-thanks to Shiranee.B and Hakeem.R).Even before it was presented in the Parliament Amirthalingam,Sivasithamparam and Sampanthan brought to the notice of Indians at Delhi 13 flaws in it which JRJ promised to amend but never did it.(This letter has been tabled in the Parliament by Sampanthan . As Hisbullah when he was the Minister of Health in the Eastern Provincial Councial said even to appoint a labourer in the Hospital you need the permission of the Governor with the ultimate authority in the President. Now an effort is being made presumably at the initiative of the government to show that 13A gives too much of power to the Provinces even sans Police and Land powers.There is every possibility that they may, to satisfy India and I.C.(who for some strange reason want to gve the least of powers to Tamil citizens,irrespective of whether the deamand is made through violent or non-violent means) may give Police Powers to the extent of Apointment,transfer,disciplinary action etc.upto the rank of a Sub-Inspector or maximum an IP. and land power may be upto 25 acres of landand everything else in the hands of the Central Government and decalare to Dayan and the entire world that all powers under 13A has been given to the Provinces. What is necessary mainly is the mindset to share the power. It is possible even with the least of authority/power/law to give the maximum with innovative interpretation but in Sri Lanka it applies in the reverse as the rulers depend on ‘power’ and ‘power’ alone. At the most P.Cs may become bigger Municipal Councils.

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      “highly educated and liberal Ministers like Doglas” – what is his educational qualification? GCSE or GCE AL?

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        Probably the 8th standard in terms of formal education. However in terms of ‘ Street smartness’ , a DSc,

        Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

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          Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

          “However in terms of ‘ Street smartness’ , a DSc,”

          From an aspiring Chief Minister of NE provincial council to almost nobody in the clan’s political simple mathematics.

          He has been undermined so well people now ask, Douglas who.

          He did very well when VP was alive.

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        Is this at all important ?

        Wimal Weerawansa is said to have no Olevels. Nothing seems to prevent him becoming presidents number one salavage man.

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          Nothing seems to have prevented him becoming president s number one salvage man…

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    I wish to bring to the attention of CT readers and commentators, two reports on the same meeting pertaining to the 13th amendment and the NPC today (31st July’2013):

    ” There will be no problem if the TNA wins the elections in the Northern Province. If Mr.Wigneswaran becomes Chief Minister, we can have dialogue with him.

    The devil is not black as he is painted to be”, the President tolsd the media heads at Temple trees during a breakfast meeting today.

    Commenting on land and police powers the President said, ” The government has full authority over the Lands and Police powers. This has been clearly mentioned in the Constitution. As such we can talk to each ther and resolve any issues that may arise”- Daily Mirror.

    ” President Rajapakse stressed that no one could pressure pressure him to devolve police and land powers, when pointed out that India was relentlessly pushing for the implemention of the 13th Amendment and that Wigneswaran too was on record as having said that he would fight for police and land powers, President Rajapakse said that under no circumstances would he change his position.”-The Island

    To what extent can all what is reported in the media be believed?

    This is the dilemma all Sri Lankans face at this critical point in time.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

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    M.R. Narayan Swamy,

    The Tamil separatist war , that devastated Lanka for over 30 years was created by Big brother India (PM Indira & Co), to tame pro-west Lanka of JRJ & not because any love Indian Monkeys had for Lankan Tamils.
    Damn 30A & Indo-Lanka pact partially Junius Jayawardene’s brain child to catch the Rajiv the ace idiot & Donkeys & Monkeys of RAW/South Block ,ended up Rajiv the idiot being blown up by Indian made LTTE terrorists & rest is history now.
    India cannot live in dignity with it’s neighbors & all are enemies or skeptical of India, be it China, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh or Maldives, barring only lankd blocked Bhutan.

    It’s a matter of time when India needs genuine friends in neighborhood whe Super power China encircles India & pull the strings to get peace by peace out side Indian Union, as you know already Arunachal Pradesh people are given Chinese passports. It’s a lose lose game for weak Indian central govt., just wait & see, pot is boiling.

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    Little John with Little Brain, when china issued e-passport facility to Arunachal pradesh ( what is this BS e-passport? when actual Arunachal people hold indian passport), India retaliated it in Beijing by providing visa to chinese people to visit to these region. India is not that simple for china to play as they wish. Also uncle sam rejected China’s claim of Arunachal pradesh.

    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/china-shows-arunachal-pradesh-and-aksai-chin-as-its-territory/1035332/

    Also you people know that china has far more serious enemies than India? Likes of South Korea,Japan, Philippines, India surrounding it.
    Japan seeing Chinese hegemony started increasing its military capability and had bi-lateral strengthening with India?

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    13A is a farce. But even this minimal devolution (so to say) is denied by the racist Sinhala Buddhist regime. There has been a systematic decimation of Tamils from the day Srilanka attained independence. What was once a prosperous, well educated, peaceful community in entire South Asia has been turned to modern day Rodiyo by these racist, fundamentalist vultures.

    I can shed silent tears for the Tamils of Lanka and wish that they reclaim their independence and dignity at some point in future, like Jews.

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    MRN stays faithfully by his friend Colombo friend – and that is admirable. But the problem with DJ may be his credibility now badly wounded in that unenviable game of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. But there was indeed someone close to him – respected then and now for his principles, consistency and loyalty to his profession. He was not a purchasble commodity despite many known attempts to seduce him by the high and mighty with attractive offers of comforts of high office – either here or abroad. He was never the compromising type that is now seen by the dime a dozen. What he wrote and counselled was listened to and read with respect and seriousness by Presidents, Prime Ministers and policy-makers high in the sytem.

    Arguably, Dayan’s goose was cooked when he hobknobbed with the likes of Maru Sira – no academic he – but generally known as the Godfather of the criminal underworld of his time in the Keselwatte era. Not to mention Dayan’s brief honeymoon with Tamil radicals – willing embracing even Separatism. Then a failed attempt to get close to CBK (1994) found him later cloistered with Mahinda R and the lot. DJ, untrained and inexperienced in the sophistication and finesse of global diplomacy overplayed his enthusiasm in his desire to be the darling of the anti-West and anti-Israeli Arab and Latin American leftist regimes. He was monitored by those whom he offended who eventually had the influences to force MR to get rid of him. He was then in direct confrontation with the powerful Jewish lobby that eventually twisted MR’s arms to have him out of Geneva. That today the Rajapakse GoSL is the most pro-Israeli regime since JRJ – and that too lead by a many times President of the SL-Palestinian Friendship Association is remarkable and works against DJ’s assumed expertise in foreign affairs. As some temporary relief he was sent briefly to Paris. Now back in virtual limbo in a regime where one sees a tremendous shortage of learned men to man our poorly staffed Missions.

    This Delhi friend of his will acknowledge with his enormous reading, writing and learning, it appears, in the reckoning of the regime DJ is a spent force. He will, they probably calculate, continue to bark but he has lost his bite – where it matters most.

    Pandaranayagam

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      Mr Pandaranayagam, ‘That today the Rajapakse GoSL is the most pro-Israeli regime since JRJ –…led by a many times President of the SL-Palestinian Friendship Association is remarkable’, you say.
      I could think of rather stronger adjectives to replace yr last word with.

      When the same pro-Israeli President of the SLPF Assn was honoured by having a street named after him in the West Bank! – Ramallah — I thought truly this is an upside down world…to echo Eduardo G.

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        Thank you, Ms Manel for reminding me of this. Well I suppose the Israelis are far too intelligent not to name a road in Tel Aviv
        for one whose credibility is as high as what Idi Amin enjoyed.

        Pandaranayagam

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    ” Sri Lankan Tamils deserve and require equal rights “

    Sri Lankan Tamils DO have equal rights. If they do face difficulties it SHOULD BE emphasised that they are common to the other communities too.

    What the Tamils cannot demand is for exclusive privileges above and beyond such rights. No Sri Lankan worth his salt would agree to that.

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    ‘Anpu’ and Dr.RN, ‘highly educated and liberal ministers like Douglas and Pillayan’, Can’t you see that it was not written to mean that way? I think I should have used a mark of exclamation or said(joke)within brackets.

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      Thanks.

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