By V. Anandasangaree –
The country as a whole is in a much confused state, if not at least various ethnic groups are. We men and women are merely watching while our puzzled children, unaware of their future are playing cricket and football. Patriotism in us is gradually fading. I may be pardoned for saying that search for power is the order of the day. The country’s interest is the last priority for some and their first priority is to capture power. Some, just a few in each ethnic groups, think that the leadership was bestowed on them by divine power, forgetting the fact that only circumstances and not divine power that made them leaders. I refrain from spelling out what the circumstances are. I do not know whether my views will be acceptable to the others but as for me I am thoroughly disgusted with what had happened and what is happening now. Various events that had taken place in the country in the political field are very disturbing and I feel that certain things will have to be brought out to the notice of the public or at least to remind the public which is very easily misled and also gets swayed by sentiments.
To mention a few incidents, I wish to start with the demand for a change of government, which received good response from the public irrespective of their ethnicity, although not to the full satisfaction of the people who choose their leaders and the governments. Those who were in power in the past had often failed to administer the government in the proper way. Several commissions and omissions had taken place unnoticed or unchallenged. Most people do not realize that the commissions and omissions on the part of certain political parties and the governments at times, had very serious repercussions on the country’s administration. I wish to give a few examples in support of my claim. Resignation of some members from Parliament or crossing over to the opposite side had brought a lot of changes in the country. Two incidents that took place in Sri Lanka relating to Parliamentary democracy has no parallel in any other modern democracy. Extending the term of Parliament, strictly speaking, is unlawful. The long established convention is that “ No Parliament can extend its own term of office except under an emergency situation like a war etc. Our legislature also had its term extended during the 2nd world war.
The TULF which is still strictly committed to democratic norms, directed its entire group of TULF Parliamentarians numbering 18 to vacate their seats in protest against the extension of the term of office of Parliament on the grounds that the mandate of six years given by the voters had come to an end and that the members had no right to go beyond the six year term. The whole world acclaimed the action of the TULF as a great democratic feat. The specialty in this case was that these 18 seats remained vacant for a full term of next six years. The credit for this goes to the TULF which stood firmly committed to democratic norms. Of those 18 members only three of us Mr. R.Sampanthan Mr. P.Soosaithasan and myself are living today.
The other incident was a tragic one, little known to the outside world. In all probabilities, I feel that even the diplomatic community is not aware of this incident that should have been condemned as most undemocratic and suitable action taken. Their remaining silent in this matter compels me to assume so. Unfortunately the government at that time took it lightly or just ignored it. Furthermore this incident took place some years back.
The incident referred to concerns the formation of an alliance of four political parties, at the request of a few leading Tamil Civilians. On 20th December 2001 the alliance was formed and named as Tamil National Alliance (TNA) comprised of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) ACTC,TELO and EPRLF, all agreeing to contest the elections on the TULF ticket and its symbol “Rising Sun”. At the general election 2002 the TNA won 14 seats. I got over 36 thousand votes and came first out of nine members, who won from various political parties in the Jaffna electoral district.
Things did not happen as anticipated. Contrary to our expectations the formation of the TNA had proved detrimental to the cause. It is very unfortunate that one from the TULF who won at this election and had earlier been nominated twice on the national list, had a clandestine deal with a leader of an armed group. His action caused much embarrassment and confusion resulting in a split in the TULF which got isolated and the ITAK taking its place in the TNA. The new formation of the TNA with the ITAK as its member won all the 22 seats with large scale impersonation threat and intimidation provided by the leader of the armed group.
The request by the defeated candidates of the TULF and the monitoring teams to declare this election null and void and to hold fresh poll was turned down, because there is no provision in the election law for such legal action. The failure of the government to take action resulted in confirming this election as valid but regrettably the activities of a democratic party got greatly interrupted.
The TULF now feels that this not the time to worry over matters that are irrelevant to the Tamil problem, since there is a general feeling that it is the general interest of the Tamils that is now suffering due to the disunity among the Tamil groups and Tamil political parties. The TNA although not properly functioning for a lengthy period is misusing the term TNA for the sole benefit and promotion of the ITAK. The TNA’s other constituent partners, due to the discrimination by the TNA, have lost their credibility as parties representing the Tamils through the TNA. A moral duty is now cast on the leadership of the TNA to get united themselves and to bring all other Tamil parties committed to look after the interest of the Tamil speaking people under one banner, failing which the TULF has a duty by the founders of the TULF such as M/s S.J.V.Chelvanayagam, G.G.Ponnambalam, S.Thondaman, A.Amirthalingam, M. Sivasithambaram and many such others, to take the initiative to bring all interested in Tamil rights, under one banner.
*V. Anandasangaree – Secretary General-TULF