26 November, 2020

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A Need To Rethink Staying Out Of Government 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The east is a part of the country where the price paid by the people where the ethnicisation of politics is still a dominant factor is visible. The main road runs through Tamil and Muslim settlements which are often consecutive with a Tamil-majority area followed by a Muslim-majority one and vice versa. The difference in the level of physical development of these towns and villages becomes more evident as a result. One set is bustling and energetic, and at night the streets and shops are well lit, while the other is less so.

Recently there were demonstrations in the east against the appointment of a Muslim politician as the Governor of the Eastern Province. The concern articulated by the Tamil protestors was that they would be further marginalized as a result of this appointment. Prior to his appointment Governor M.L.A.M. Hizbullah was a Member of Parliament and former minister in the same province of which he is now governor. The Tamil concern is that he will be partisan in his decision making on issues where the interests of Tamils and Muslims diverge.

The relative success of the Muslim community in the east may be attributed at least in part to the willingness of its political parties to join governments and be partners with them. Other reasons include the language capabilities of the Muslim politicians who are usually fluent in all three languages unlike their Sinhala and Tamil counterparts who are often monolingual. A further reason for the neglect of the Tamil community is that the main Tamil parties which have not been prepared to join government coalitions. The last time they did join was in the late 1960s, and even then the alliance was short lived when the government of that time failed to deliver on the political reforms that the Tamil polity sought.

Political Patronage 

As a result of joining governments, Muslim political parties have been able to obtain ministerial positions in government and thereby are able to provide political patronage and governmental resources to their constituencies. They have been able to negotiate successfully in getting economic development and employment to their constituencies. By way of contrast, the Tamil political parties have remained in the opposition without joining the government. Their priority has been to obtain the political rights of their community.

Despite Governor Hizbullah’s pledge to be non-partisan between the communities in the east, political realities are likely to modify his pledge. He has stated that he will be governor only for a short period until the next general election which he is likely to contest. The governor was not successful in winning a seat at the last general election and came into the parliament on the national list. As the eastern vote is polarized on communal lines it is going to be difficult for him to be non-partisan if he wishes to succeed in winning a seat in parliament.

On the other hand, TNA leader R Sampanthan has changed the character of Tamil politics from being primarily oppositional to being one of responsible opposition. Especially during the recent political crisis, the TNA played the role of a responsible opposition which safeguarded the democratic process when it was in danger of breaking down. Instead of seeking to strike a hard bargain at a time when a single parliamentarian was trading for Rs 500 million, TNA leader Sampanthan’s commitment was to the democratic process, the upholding of the constitution and the rule of law. He and this party now need to show the Tamil people that their efforts were not in vain and beneficial to those who voted for them.

Politically Motivated 

President Maithripala Sirisena’s appointments of governors to the provinces appear to be motivated by the forthcoming provincial elections. Along with Governor Hizbullah, the president had appointed other governors who have had partisan political backgrounds and are active members of political parties that will be contesting future elections. In terms of the 13th Amendment the governors have powers that can undermine the powers of the elected chief ministers and ministers of the provinces.

Unfortunately, the president’s appointment of politically motivated governors will undermine the principle of devolution of powers. It highlights the need for reform of the constitution to reduce the powers of the governors to interfere in the administration of the provincial councils. The governor presently has power to review, veto and delay provincial legislation and public finance proposals of the board of ministers. In addition, even appointments to provincial public administration need to go through the governor. Constitutional reform is one of the priority agenda items for the government.

The continuing political and economic marginalization of the Tamil polity should induce a rethinking of traditional positions with regard to staying away from joining governments and engaging in coalition politics. They need to look at the relative success of the Muslim community due to the efforts of their political leaders. The most recent blow suffered by the Tamil polity is the loss of position of Leader of the Opposition, which TNA leader R Sampanthan enjoyed for more than three years until the political crisis that followed President Sirisena’s withdrawal from the government of national unity.

Negotiate Hard 

The TNA continues to hold to the position that the loss of the position of Opposition leader is an injustice to them. This is on account of President Sirisena’s dual role as head of the cabinet and holder of three ministerial portfolios and more than 40 government departments, while his party member former president Mahinda Rajapaksa simultaneously leads the opposition. The TNA has also questioned the validity of those members of parliament, including Opposition leader Rajapaksa, who have taken membership of the SLPP which is not registered as a party represented in parliament. However, in the absence of a legal initiative in the courts, this situation is unlikely to change.

Instead of leading the opposition, a more positive option for the TNA may be to join the government. The unwillingness to join governments caters to a nationalist mindset that says first there must be a vindication of the political rights of the Tamil people before governments can be joined. However, as a result there is a marginalization of the Tamil polity which leads to neglect of the communities at the grassroots level. The people do not get the economic and development resources that others who join the government succeed in bringing to their towns and villages.

In these circumstances, the Tamil polity needs to reconsider its unwillingness to engage in coalition politics. This is not necessarily as ministers as the Muslim politicians have successfully done. With Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe having taken over the portfolio of Northern Development, the TNA could ask to play a role in this even without joining the government. There could be supervisory executive committees that the TNA could join or even lead for the development of the north and east, if they negotiate hard enough with the government.

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Latest comments

  • 2
    1

    The answer is if the TNA joins ANY government of SL, the Leader of the Opposition Sinhala Party will whip up the racial HATRED and start attacking the Tamils. This phenomenon has been the down fall of the Paradise Island. It has been a paradise Island ONLY for the corrupt Politicians and their STOOGES. We need a NEW Construction that caters to the PROGRESS of the Country. otherwise we will be exploited by major powers.

    • 2
      0

      TNA though in the opposition was almost a part of the government. What did they achieve, forget the the political solution- did they get the political prisoners or the lands released? What ever the lands that were released were due to the continued agitation of the of those who lost their lands. What happened to prisoners they are still languishing
      TNA, it appears to have fought vigorously for the democracy of the Sinhalese only. This has been the pattern for the past 70 years. Paradise Lost.

  • 3
    0

    An excellent article….
    But we can not think in communal line any longer ..
    It’s a suicidal thanking.
    We are making a collective suicidal by this communal thinking
    Today world is competing faster…
    Tamil community has got somethings to offer….they have good educated people and generation to offer to this much needed professionals…
    Muslim ommunity has been good in business they do have something to offer to economy of this Nation..
    Sinhalese community too have much more to offer .they need skills and mind sets to make use all skills of all communities..
    If not we all make a collective suicidal..

    • 0
      1

      Jehan P is trying to intensify the religious differences among the Tamils (all Tamil speaking people irrespective of their religion caste or the date of arrival) and boost the political capital of UNP.
      I encourage unity among them and all to gradually migrate to NE, for , whichever way I look at it that is the ONLY way they can win a Homeland.for themselves. +50% of them presently living outside NE is the greatest, insurmountable stumbling block on the path to the Homeland. Tamils (all Tamil speaking people irrespective of their religion caste or the date of arrival) must give up their desire to live among the Sinhalese which has given rise to a superiority complex among the Sinhalese.

      Soma

      • 2
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        I repeat once again, without indefinite talks why not give North/ East to the Tamil speaking people on lease like how you gave a part of Srilanak to China. I am sure the 50% of the Tamils supposed to be out of north and east together with diaspora will return and make not only the Tamil areas but the whole of Srilanka a better place to live without pricking holes.

        • 0
          1

          Mr Anaga.
          I agree. I have always agreed. I want other 50% also to enjoy the good life. The greatest and the insurmountable stumbling block on the path is Tamil desire to live among the Sinhalese outside NE contrary to your belief. ( This incidentally have given rise to a superiority complex among the Sinhalese) If you are serious you must start educating those Tamils (all Tamil speaking people irrespective of their religion caste or the date of arrival) about the Sinhala demand to relocate them into the envisaged Homeland. The day I observe a slightest tendency among those Tamils to move out I will join you fighting for Tamil rights in the forefront. Why don’t you try to convince Sumathithran to begin with?

          Soma

        • 0
          0

          LOL

  • 1
    0

    If you a M.P. Of Parliment, why you want as – Governer, the Presiedent is fool. There were lot of people ( educated people) m why can’t he give this post to anther person? The must think about his duties, the world laughed —?

  • 0
    0

    Sinhala government was/is used and using the technique of divide and rule to destroy Tamils first and then the Muslims. Hezbollah’s appointment is very consistence with the policy followed from 1948 and the Appointment of Savendra as CoF of Rapist Army and Hakeem as the Education Minister in line with standardization fame Badiuddin. In 1970, Tamils topped in all university entrance Exams. They cancelled the Test results. Badiuddin Mohamed was appointed as Education Minister and standardization was introduced using him. One year ago, Tamils topped in the Administrative Service exam. Sinhala Buddhist government stopped using the test results to recruit administrative service. Now it has appointed Hakeem as the Education mister again. Tamils students & employees, who spent their time in the hardships they are facing in the North East, is now losing their due jobs and promotions. They appointed a Tamil Buddhist Governor in North. He is saying he need to talk to Kandy Ayatollah’ to stop the building Buddha statues in North. He apparently is discarding the NPC’s established procedures and the constitutional Guarantee for equal treatment for other religions. He is saying the Army is permanently there so they will be building Buddhists shrines within the area they forcefully occupied from Tamils. Not just Hezbollah’s appointment, but these all are done as revenge for TNA’s effort to restore democracy.
    Hezbollah is a person even rejected by Muslim Community though he demolished Hindu Kovils, Hindu Cemeteries to build Mosques and buildings for exclusively used by his Muslim cabals. Hezbollah’s solution for that rejections is “inundate East with racism to win the election”. Even Old Royals have not done the amount of the racism Hezbollah is pumping in. Old Royals are opposing the New Constitution as dividing the country, but yet to tell blood river will flow if the new constitution comes in.

  • 0
    0

    North East Tamils joined the government of Don Stephen in disenfranchising the other Tamils. But Jehan PhD feels that is not good enough contribution of Tamils to destroy Tamils. I guess Jehan PhD is suggesting that if TNA had singed a deed to join in the CB looting or $18B, 150,000 murders, standardization or even in Sinhala Only, then Don Stephen would not have disenfranchised the Tamils. The reality is just few month ago, Jehan PhD wrote here the Yahapalanaya should seek Lord Nesby’s help to defeat the Tamils call in UNHRC to seek justice for the 150,000 murders. Jehan PhD went to UNHRC to campaign against Revolution 34/1 and distributed his photos to Sinhala Community of his great deeds. He spread Sinhala Buddhism by taking bald heads repeatedly to North and ordering the students using army to listen to it. He yet has to organize a Hindu scholar lecturing in South to Sinhala Students on why Hinduism is better than Buddhism.

    From 1948, all Sinhala Buddhist racist governments have been destroying Tamils in North East and distributing the results in South to win the elections. At the start, Tamils went against LSSP, which was the only (or first and the last) Sinhala Party that time talking for Tamils. But Tamils closed down their political party and merged it with UNP, the enemy of the LSSP. Tamils supported Don Stephen’s government and took ministry positions in that. Tamil ministers ratified the constitution the way Don Stephen wanted. As the reward for Tamils saving Don Stephen from British prison cells, he disenfranchised and inserted wedge in the Tamil speaking community’s muscle with MMDA. That is why now Hezbollah is saying if there is political solution for Tamils that they want he cause Blood River to flow. What a racial harmony the Yahapalanaya government has promoted by its divide and rule.

  • 0
    0

    The Sinhala Only, Standardization… all were introduced in advantages ways to Islamic religion while destroying Tamils, but there is not any single legislation that can be sighted equivalent to those that can hurt who follow Islam religion, but not Hindus.

    It is only Tamil leaders and one time LSSP were the ones protected democracy in the Colombo Parliament from the time the Colonial government was disbanded. When JR removed Sirimavo’s civic rights Amirthalingam stood up inside the Parliament and later outside he shouldered physically her to safely get out of Parliament. That is a constructive Opposition Amirthalingam provided much more than Sumanthiran did in 2018. But Amirthalingam was impeached by JR from opposition leadership for the beyond meaningful opposition, but even to show humanitarian gesture.

    Jehan PhD blacking out the 70 years of tyrant Sinhala Buddhist’s history and blaming Tamils for their non-advancement as Tamil political parties stubbornly opposing Appe Aanduwas, but not take share in destroying Tamils – not being the axe handles like Kathirgamar, Thuraiappah, Kanagasooriar, G.G. P, Douglas, Karuna, Pillaiyan…. … Can Jehan PhD name one of the these axe handles, while they were used to destroy Tamils, were used to destroy Muslims community also, like Badiuddin, Hezbollah, Hakeem, Rishard…….? During the war, from Athulathmuthali to Old Brother Prince, special Muslims CID units, Muslim home guards, Razick Group were funded and used by government, in addition to Deva Karuna, the paramilitaries. Jehan PhD is thinking the Tamils are now complete wiped out. Jehan PhD is now saying to Sampanthar and Sumanthiran “you guy become the cinnamon peelers class and take the arrack and biryani we can throw you and vote for us, if you want to survive in politics.”
    Everybody knows why the Royals staged the Coup. Everybody knows why Jehan PhD buttering TNA to join Appe Aanduwa. March 2019 is coming. They are not sure what will happen there. If Sumanthiran join UNP now, after March, he is only a curry leave.

  • 1
    0

    The present UNP government is a minority government. and the government survive due to the support extended by TNA from outside..

    The moment TNA withdraws support the UNP government collapses.

    The opposition knows that this is the weakest link and relentlessly focuses their attack on this link and expects to defeat the government on this issue alone.

    TNA supporting the government is suicidal for the government more that TNA.

    The communal and racial hatred will come to the forefront and destroys the country

    It will be a liability for UNP and TNA in the coming general election as well.

    TNA and UNP will be routed after the next General election if they join hands.

    that will be the end of history.

  • 1
    1

    Siri Gamage
    Where are you? We need one from you.

    • 0
      0

      A stupid and sick attempt of self promotion?

      Why are people like Sirisena Gamage and Saimon Saparamadu competing with each other, and against other, to become the best writer in Sri Lanka? Doesn’t their apparently mediocre knowledge of English prose writing allow them to realise that they can’t even dream to gain that title?

      Obviously their souls are empty. Idiots.

  • 0
    0

    Mr Anaga.
    I agree. I have always agreed. I want other 50% also to enjoy the good life. The greatest and the insurmountable stumbling block on the path is Tamil desire to live among the Sinhalese outside NE contrary to your belief. ( This incidentally have given rise to a superiority complex among the Sinhalese) If you are serious you must start educating those Tamils (all Tamil speaking people irrespective of their religion caste or the date of arrival) about the Sinhala demand to relocate them into the envisaged Homeland. The day I observe a slightest tendency among those Tamils to move out I will join you fighting for Tamil rights in the forefront. Why don’t you try to convince Sumathithran to begin with?

    Soma

  • 0
    0

    Jehan Perera: Probably you di dnot think that much, TNA supported U”NP against UPFA thinking Ranil would give Orumiththa nadu. Their only wish was that and that was not allowed. Now their wish is to protect their Prominence in North as 16 seats and about 40 Tamils are over representation and they may lose some of those seats. So, they do not like Delimiataion or cutting down the no of MPs from 30 or so to 5 or 6. Now, most of the Tamils are living in the South. They lost Even Wellawaththa and those Tamils write now from western countries. That area is mostly muslims now.So, ask Tamils to claim Greater Colombo as part of the homeland.

  • 4
    1

    This man has only one ambition. That is to divide our little island along ethnic lines. He is funded by overseas bodies and agents who want that agenda promoted and achieved in Sri lanka.
    =
    The current opposition within the UNP to the so-called new constitution is an example of a working democracy. Sampanthan was sitting on the opposition leader’s chair for 3 1/2 years without opening his old mouth on any national issue. Is that the democracy this foreign agent is asking for?

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