17 November, 2019

Blog

Beyond 50:50

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

The jury is in on the Presidential election. Here’s how it went down, according to an interesting source which can hardly be described as anti-Tamil, or Sinhala racist. Listen to Mr. Erik Solheim:

“…The election victory was possible due to massive support from all Sri Lankan minorities. Mr. Rajapaksa won 90 out of 160 electoral districts and came out on top in nearly all Sinhala-dominated provinces. Mr. Rajapaksa roughly won the Sinhalese vote by 55 per cent. This was compensated for by Mr. Sirisena winning around 80 per cent of the Tamil vote and an even bigger share of Muslim votes. For this was payback time…” (‘Can The Unknown Angel Deliver?’ Erik Solheim, the Hindu, Jan 15th, 2015)

So Mahinda Rajapaksa indubitably won the majority of the majority of the island’s citizens: 55% of 70%. He lost. The winner failed to win a majority of the majority. He won. To a great many, this structural asymmetry makes the mandate look and feel like a doughnut.

Mr. MA Sumanthiran a liberal and a moderate Tamil nationalist, spells it out still more clearly in the Sunday Leader:

“This election has shown that Maithripala Sirisena’s victory was assured by those people who are numerically in the minority and therefore the weight of their votes equal to the weight of the vote from the majority community.”

This is at the core of the larger argument which he rolls out as follows:

“Basically, the communities that are smaller in number must also have equal access to power. That is the whole issue of majoritarianism. This election has shown that Maithripala Sirisena’s victory was assured by those people who are numerically in the minority and therefore the weight of their votes equal to the weight of the vote from the majority community.

What we expect is that people would be treated equally as equal citizens and that means even as communities, not as individuals, but collectively as different communities also people should have equal access to decision making processes and state powers. And we expect that this particular phenomenon of this election of those communities making the decisive vote would cause difference in approach and the government in power will be conscious that this is not a homogeneous society but consist of different people. As different people, we must build the nation together.” (‘We All Gave to Accommodate Each Other’, MA Sumanthiran, the Sunday Leader, January 11th, 2015)

What Mr. Sumanthiran is saying is very simple. The Tamil struggle is not for equal rights as citizens—something which, by his airy dismissal, he implicitly concedes has already been achieved. It is for something else. It is for the political equality of the majority and the minority/ minorities. How this can possibly be the case in a democracy one fails to understand. It must be said however, that Mr. Sumanthiran is not merely frank, but well within the tradition of Tamil nationalism and its pre-Independence claim of 50:50—rejected by DS Senanayake—namely that the combined minorities should have equal political weight, or a share of state power equal to the majority.

What is startlingly clear is that at this presidential election 2015, the minorities achieved that outcome. They outweighed the political weight of the majority of the majority.

Then there are the domestic geopolitical and geo-strategic dimensions of the electoral outcome as symbolized by the (post) electoral map. It sure reminds me of the crab-claw like Tamil Eelam map publicized by the EROS, the terrorist outfit that bombed Maradana in 1987 causing a large number of civilian casualties. That map was based not on the concept of ethnic Tamil nationhood but on that of the ‘Tamil speaking people’, which embraced the Northern and Eastern Tamils, the Muslims and the hill country Tamils of recent Indian origin.

Little wonder then that Velupillai Prabhakaran’s staunchest ally in Tamil Nadu termed 9th January 2015 as the happiest day of his life: “Today is the happiest day in my life and every Tamil family is celebrating the fall of Mahinda Rajapaksa,” Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Vaiko said in Thanjavur on Friday…Mr. Vaiko claimed that Mr. Rajapaksa has been thrown out by Sri Lanka’s voters, with an overwhelming majority in the Tamil-dominated North and East going against him…” (‘It’s the happiest day of My Life’: Vaiko on Sri Lanka Poll Verdict, L. Renganathan, The Hindu, January 9th 2015).

Now none of this would really matter in a first world society in which the issue of national identity has been historically resolved for the most part. Not so in the far more unevenly developed ex-colonial societies of Asia, Africa and Latin America, still under hegemonic pressure from the West. Ideally it shouldn’t matter in Sri Lanka either, but here’s the rub. In the North and East which voted against Mahinda Rajapaksa, if a referendum were held tomorrow in which the question was “Is your preference for President Sirisena or a separate Tamil Eelam?” one isn’t sure how the vote would turn out. (Well, to be honest, I am fairly sure how it would turn out.) Therefore, the problem is not that President Sirisena’s victory was decided by the huge majorities in the North and East which is mainly Tamil speaking, or that those were revanchist votes against Mahinda Rajapaksa rather than for Maithripala Sirisena but precisely because those areas have a dualistic, almost schizoid political identity—one does not know whether or not they are committed to the single, indissoluble, indivisible, united, political community.

The map of the election results corresponds uncannily not only to the Tamil Eelam map of the EROS, but more interestingly to the idea presented by the late Prof Samuel P. Huntington in his ‘The Clash of Civilizations and the Re-making of World Order’ He posited the grand thesis that the post-Cold War world would be driven not by ideologies or even national interest but by a clash of various civilizational constellations which he went on to itemize. This much is well-known. What is little known is his allied thesis of civilizational ‘fault lines’ and his contention that conflict takes place along the fault lines of various civilizational zones or systems.

What is least known among local readers is that he made mention of Sri Lanka. He said that the conflict in Sri Lanka was on the ‘fault line’ between the Indic-Hindu civilizational zone or sphere of influence and the Buddhist civilizational zone or sphere of influence.

What the map of the electoral result in Sri Lanka and the areas won by President Sirisena and outgoing President Rajapaksa corresponds to is pretty much the fault lines of the Indic-Hindu civilizational sphere of influence (the North and East, the plantations and in part, Colombo city) and the Buddhist sphere of civilizational influence on the island.

Beginning with Lebanon in 1958 and in the 1970s, manifesting itself in Malaysia in the late ’60s and currently sweeping through the Arab societies with Sunni-Shia minority/majority composition, there is a mountain range of evidence of the polarizations caused by such asymmetries embedded in the power bases of regimes, compounded by such uneven domestic geopolitical patterning and cross-border interfacing, and accentuated by the centrifugal dynamics of weakened central state structures. With the abolition or drastic truncation of the executive presidential system (“look Ma, I shrunk the State”), and the kaleidoscopic process of political re-composition that is already underway, the convergence of these factors on the North-South/external-internal axis of Sri Lanka’s politics may transmute into irreconcilable “antagonistic contradictions” which President Sirisena, an ex-Maoist will surely need all his old knowledge of Maoist philosophy to “correctly handle”.

Just as the removal of the civic rights of Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike did not help the stability of the system or sustained economic growth in the 1980s and indeed shunted the contradictions onto extra-systemic lines, both ethnic and ideological, any vicious act of framing Mahinda Rajapaksa for a ridiculous putsch attempt will not help bridge the deficit in the new administration’s mandate. Notwithstanding the co-optation of the SLFP MPs, the JVP and the JHU as a protective body armor around an essentially UNP government now in unelected occupation of Temple Trees, such a myopic move will only add to the systemic and structural sources of instability.

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Latest comments

  • 35
    8

    DJ is shocked and angered by the regime change brought on through purely honest and democratic means, a thing that he assumed was impossible. He did not expect at all that his invincible hero would bite the dust and eat humble pie and so feels silly after being taken utterly by surprise. According to him, it is all the fault of the minorities, who have no bloody business to wield so much power! Therefore, something must be done soon to snatch away their clout by fair means or foul!

    He argues that the Tamil people could actually use this power to vote for and get Eelam in a referendum by including in his calculation the Muslim voters also who have never asked for Eelam. As a political analyst he should know that there will be no clamour for Eelam if there is peace, justice, equality and dignity for all citizens. Eelam is just the bogeyman for hardliners in the majority community like Dayan Jayatilleke who want to continue treating the minorities as second class citizens.

    There are plenty of reasons why there will never be an Eelam. It will take up too much time and space to list them all. DJ is just a rabble-rouser with a PhD who can write in English. Take away the PhD and the English and he would be just a clone of Wimal Weerawansa.

    • 13
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      Estate Labourer
      Fantastic – take a bow: “DJ is just a rabble-rouser with a PhD who can write in English. Take away the PhD and the English and he would be just a clone of Wimal Weerawansa.”

      Fantastic. Never was a truer word said….

      … and as for you Dayan, please accept defeat and bow OUT. If I were you, I’d return the PhD, wear an amudey and go cook buth for the Medamulana Maha Hora.

    • 11
      2

      I agree. This man, D.J, have no respect for minorities. Minorities want to live peacefully and with dignity. What is wrong for the minorities to manage their affairs with dignity in the places where they are in majority without harming human rights and self respect of other races? Since he can write English well and having a Phd, he may be thinking he can write any rubbish.

    • 0
      0

      Your comments are just as good as as your stage name. Pathetic.

  • 14
    5

    This “Dr.” is a person, “Educated” on “Borrowed” information. He utterly lacks the very vital element and virtue of knowledge based INTELLECT. His analysis very much based on a person like Erick Solheim, a well known for his “Divisional” policy, is a good indication to asses the level of his “Intellect” levels, I cannot understand why anyone has to analyse and interpret the election results on “communal based” data.This is a “UNITARY STATE” and its’ citizens belonging to all ethnic groups are entitled to vote freely to any candidate they wish.That is a democratic right and no one has a right whatsoever to analyse based on a “communal basis”. This analysis again is to set in motion a mind set to “DIVIDE” the country into two camps and bring in the “HORROR” of a another war situation. So as suggested, we have to avoid commenting on these articles; but it is also important to expose these underground task force well in advance of an attack.

  • 20
    4

    I’m really surprised that an article like this is written by a man once i thought a free minded scholar. DJ changes is color like a chameleon.His cynical expressions in this article shows that he’s trying to join the Nationalist movement to fight against the lawful rights of the Srilankan minority people.In a democratic system every ethnic group has the right to vote for the person whom they think suitable to lead the country. It’s the results that matters not what community voted in favor of a elected person. By dissecting the election results DJ is trying to cause commotion between the majority and the minority. After being in the dark for decades, the minority people of Srilanka are starting to get a glimmer of hope with the elction of the new President. I request people like DJ not to shatter their hope by writing hate provoking article like this.

  • 9
    22

    Excellent article Dayan. Very interesting indeed. A real eye opener.
    Thank you very much.

    • 15
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      I think your eyes are still closed.

      • 3
        2

        All Tamil Terrorist LTTE supporters and Jihadhists go crazy everytime DJ or Mahindapala writes a good article on CT. LOL … Loosers…

        Wait and see what will happen to UNP puppets in months time. UPFA will be back in power and MR will have a big say.

    • 0
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      Kamal

      Dayan used to write to impress his wife, not anymore.

      Therefore now he writes to amuse himself.

      Don’t take him seriously.

  • 11
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    Loony -Dayan

    I am fairly sure how it would turn out.) Therefore, the problem is not that President Sirisena’s victory was decided by the huge majorities in the North and East which is mainly Tamil speaking, or that those were revanchist votes against Mahinda Rajapaksa rather than for Maithripala Sirisena but precisely because those areas have a dualistic, almost schizoid political identity—one does not know whether or not they are committed to the single, indissoluble, indivisible, united, political community.

    **** You really are an illiterate. The Tamils whose vote finally broke the back of the Hambanthotta Thug sholud be taken as Anti Mahintha and not Pro MS. The priority for the Tamils was to get rid of the Devil who has caused so much misery and untold harm to Tamils and that is why they voted for MS . Whether we stay within United Sri Lanka depends on what is on offer from MS. The minimum we require is first of all for you lot to recognise thar we are two different people with distinct Language Religion and a Home Land. We will be happy to stay withing a United Sri Lanka similar to the Indian Model.
    We must be able decide our own destiny and avoid the horrors of ” Krishanthi”. Our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers must be able to walk the Street without fear and for that to happen the Army must be confined to Barracks with a Tamil Police force headed by a Tamil who is appointed by the elected CM. Nothing else will do and the choice is yours and we will never Trust a Sinhalse to be in charge of our Security. NEVER.

  • 11
    2

    Who would expect the educated and intellectually well-endowed son of that great liberal journalist-giant Mervyn de Silva to forcibly enter the snake-pit of communalism – now that he has been to most places in our own unprincipled political landscape. And this, alas, perhaps for economic and other forms of survival is in itself an indictment of our wonky system of politics and governance. On the other hand, his intellectual identical twin Rajiv W, fortunately for him, made the right jump at the right time and is now somewhere – interim or otherwise. It may be cruel to state the fact blood is thicker than water that cousin Ranil W seems to have forgotten old wounds and taken the English Professori to his fold. But well done!
    That’s the way to go – meritocracy and country before prejudice. Did Uncle Sam try to patch up things with the nephew before the fine Gentleman-Parliament guru went to meet his maker. No such humane consideration for our friend – who often went out of his way to get into Ranil’s nerves.

    Feebly citing Erik Solheim, Sumanthiran along racial lines is not what is expected of a man of learning – pretending to be neutral at a time of the country’s volatile history as now. Nor misinterpreting the intentions of GGP’s 50/50 – that usually strikes a ready chord in the extremist Sinhala psyche. It is the duty of the learned is to educate the country what GGP tried to suggest was 50% of the seats in Parliament then to Sinhalese (Buddhists?) and the balance to ALL other communities – Tamils, Muslims, Burghers and Sinhala Christians. If GGP’s suggestion was not torpedoed both by Jennings, Soulbury and Whitehall our Parliament will continue to have a Sinhala majority while the minorities would have averted being “overwhelmed” which was the fear in GGPs mind then. And there would have been no FP, TULF, LTTE or the dreaded Prabakaran who held sway for 30 years against
    a vastly numerically, weapons and resources rich tri-forces monolith that could not bring him to submission in the fight from land, sea and air.

    But, worry not. An educated man has a place somewhere, if not economically developed Singapore. That is where, BTW, is holed that other “expert” Rohan Guneratne – whose world too now lies shattered.
    Looks like Dickens’s dictum of “the best of times and the worse of times” now hits the Professors (poor Tissa Vitharna, Nalin de S and the like) and those men and women of learning in this Resplendant Isle who happily rode the Rajapakse wagon. Together with the change of leaders in governance we will also see a new set of Astrologers, Anjanam eliya men, kattadiyas et al from now on trying to fleece on the weaknesses of Sirisena and his merry men (and women)in the new team.

    R. Varathan

  • 10
    3

    So what. The numerical minority Sri Lankan ethnicities joined the right thinking 45% of majority ethnic Sinhalese to defeat tMR. It was needed one way or the other and the whole country owes a huge debt minority ethnic Sri Lankans for saving this country. DJ, that is what matters. Not all your lament about choosing the wrong side to bat, thinking that it was going to win. Shame on you.

  • 5
    3

    Dayan J
    Oh, when will you realise how shallow you are and stop this nonsensical focus on ethicity? Sri Lanka sorely needs to move on from what politicians had opportunistically embedded into its fabric, realising of course how much it will favour them in each attempt at the polls. Why don’t you simply accept that Rajapaksa lost, fair and square, but he wasn’t (allegedly) about to concede without a fight, which series of acts are now the focus of a CID investigation.

    We need to move on, to where we consider every citizen of Sri Lanka as brethren, leaving each to observe and honour their respective cultures, traditions and religious beliefs without let or hindrance. I dream, I am sure, but we need to move on to the point where it should not be a surprise to anyone to see a Sumanthiran or Sambanthan or a Wigneswaran emerge as Prime Minister under a revised constitution freed of any racial or religious affiliation.

    If you care to, please read these gems extracted below from another columnist in today’s CT, and if your pride or arrogance doesn’t get in the way, learn from her and resolve to be more of a protagonist for ethic harmony than the divisive one that you doubtless have been and are today: https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/when-democracy-stood-upon-razors-edge/

    “Undoubtedly, something has altered in the mood of the country. Impunity, perpetuated by the top echelons of the previous regime, proved contagious. It filtered down to the smallest village. The politics of racism and hate also percolated down to the grassroots from the highest levels of the defeated administration. They steered the racist discourse. The country followed suit. Racism and intolerance only enters mainstream political discourse when it is actively endorsed and encouraged by the political leadership. At all other times it tends to be relegated to the fringes of the political debate.”

  • 7
    2

    First of all dr. Dayan, you need a course in mathematics, 55 percent is 55/100 and NOT 55/70, How stupid can one be to publish something like this with false Facts and numbers – , or this is just done deliberately to mislead to majority i guess. Did you Forget the 45 percent of the majority who voted for the president, and dont Forget the massive use of state media misleading the public which would definitely account to the 5 percent or maybe even more and ofcourse the rigged votes, Taken all that into account MS has also won the majority of the majority, and only someone as ignorant as you will not accept this fact, in your racist mind no matter what the outcome of the election you would intepret it and produce it the way it suits you. So please stop misleading the People by putting up such articles. I Think its time to think as sri lankans and stop using These Terms minorities and majorities, stop talking about it. We are all sri lankans and humans for god sake. Please stop instigating Racism dr. Dayan, Thats the last Thing Sri Lanka Needs. Shame on you!

    • 1
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      Peace not war,

      Dr. DJ said 55% of the majority 70%. I think you got the message wrong. Pls read couple of times to understand and then comment in a more intelligent manner.

      Thanks

  • 3
    1

    This is a good example of a responsible high profile Sri lanka Administration showing the mind frame of the top structure of Administration. Good for the world to understand how the Administration forced groups like EROS to revolt in support of minorities. Is there anybody who will not understand how Sri Lanka treated Tamil minorities from the time of Independence and how ideas for division spread among majority and minority.

  • 5
    2

    Dr. DJ you are no better than another Dr. who supported MR – a man of your ilk Dr. Mervyn Silva! By the way, are you not also a Silva? Who changed colours to Jayatilleke? So both you Dr. Dayan Silva and Dr. Mervyn Silva are of the same kind who flocked together to the same tree (MR). The tree has fallen and now a patron of SLFP a post given to someone released to pastures to graze at leisure and curl up and die. MR is gone, no nomination to him from SLFP to him at the next General Election. So either like Dr. Mervyn Silva turn against MR (Mervyn has filed charges against MR brothers with Bribery Commission) or please curl up and die!

    By the way what happened to your proclamation that you will no longer write in English? Shame on you!!

  • 7
    2

    Poor Dayan he wrote before the election that he is confident MR will win, he supported this with complex statistical analysis, perhaps Dayan also advised MR to call the election two years ahead of his term.

    Now , like the astrologer Dayan is in a soup. As usual he wants to blame the the Tamils yet again.

    Dayan falls short of providing a solution how to neutralise the Minority vote, he knows what the solution is, but he can’t. Spell it out.

    How do you make Malinda the king of the South.

    (a) give Tamils the separate state Tamil Eelam ,Mahinda can be king of the south. The down side is that Mahinda won’t be able to play the LTTE card. Will the majority of the majority still vote for him. Bandula can be the ambassador.
    (b) give Mahinda a separate state. Hambantota , with its dysfunctional airport and harbour and an express way that is not going any where. Mahinda king for life and Bandula foreign secretary for life.

    L

  • 7
    1

    DJ is stuck without a proper job. Who cares about Soldheim’s take on things?
    More importantly who cares about Dayan’s opinions?

  • 6
    1

    Dr. Jayatilleka has made a very strong case for Tamil Eelam on the basis of democratic principles and the legal principle of self-determination enshrined in international law.

    The overwhelming majority of the Tamils voted for Sirisena which Jayatilleke equates to a vote for Eelam should a referendum be held. If that is so, the Tamil people have collectively voted for independence and given the internationally recognized principle of self-determination, are entitled to self-rule. It is up to the Sinhala political establishment to negotiate how this right of self-determination should now be exercised-internal or external.

    Also by bringing in Samuel Huntington’s interpretation , Jayatilleke has made the case that the Tamil are not just a nation distinct from the Sinhalese but a civilization distinct from the Sinhalese Buddhist civilization.

    I suppose this is what is called ‘shooting your own goal’

  • 6
    1

    DJ,i had high regards for you,but not after this article,you have shown your true colours

  • 7
    1

    Dayan:
    Give it a rest. You are really loosing your marbles.You have espoused so many contradictory causes these many years and now you have become an agent provocateur.What are you angling for now a pogrom against the Tamils by the Mahinda-Sinhalese?
    I think it is time for you keep silent…

  • 4
    1

    There is just a little inconvenient truth: 45% of the Sinhalese voters, in particular those from the urban, better educated areas, chose Sirisena over the Rajapaksas. If that number had been less by a few percentage points, minority votes would have had no impact. So why choose to focus on the minority votes as the determinant?

    Of course a small percentage of urban racists, including you, chose Rajapaksa, but why is that a problem for that 45%, or the minorities?

    If people choose to be willfully blind, the onus is on them to get enlightened.

    “The Tamil struggle is not for equal rights as citizens—something which, by his airy dismissal, he implicitly concedes has already been achieved.”

    Not at all, idiot DJ.

    Many Sinhalese, including the JVP, have been suggesting that if only Tamils had been agitating for equal rights as opposed to group rights and ‘traditional homelands,’ there would be no problem.

    Minorities don’t enjoy equal rights in a country where Buddhism is enthroned in the constitution, in place of secularism. And the very fact that the majority of the majority that voted for the Rajapaksas remains largely racist, supporting atrocities including white van abductions, mass murder and rape against defenseless minorities, even those rights that are guaranteed on paper, such as making Tamil an official language, or the right to the physical security of person, the right to free assembly, etc., cannot be implemented in practice. So asymmetric considerations become absolutely necessary.

    Get Lost, moronic DJ. Many Sinhalese people themselves would be nauseated by your racist claptrap.

  • 8
    1

    Now I know why this Buffon is hated so much here?
    Is he advocating that Tamil and Muslim votes should weigh less in Sri Lanka?
    He must have got his PhD from the same university Mervyn Silva got his.

  • 5
    0

    I hope and pray that this has been a learning experience for all parties concerned. I expect to see a clarification if not an apology from Mahinda Rajapakse regarding comments he made in his hometown.

    You cannot have it both ways you cannot say the minorities did not influence if not change this election – the minorities have not remained silent and have not remained neutral in this election – I say listen to their voices – is this racist? The Minorities have spoken.

    What the SLFP and the UNP now has to do is to use this opportunity to do some soul searching and to start saying ‘I feel your pain’.

    It does not auger well for reconciliation, however to call anyone racist, less ‘donkey’ ‘noob’ ‘racist pig’ etc. This behaviour may not be prohibited by Maithripalanaya but civility will be is very much appreciated.

  • 4
    1

    If not for large-scale voter bribery and abuse of the state apparatuses – CTB Buses, the ITN, the Rupawahiniand the Lake Hose newspapers – and the work of the kept press, My3 would have secured a majority of the majority too. Let the law of the land take its course when the MR clique is indicted for planning and unsuccessfully attempting to execute a palace coup to subvert the people’s mandate which My3 democratically won against many odds. Dayan,you can’t and we will not let you to, bamboozle the Sinhalese majority with your verbal pyrotechnics. In a political sense, you really are a clone of Wimal Weerawansa. Now thanks to the Internet, the mobile phone and the social networking sites,the opinion leaders even at the grassroots level enjoy unfettered access to information. And as a result, the quality of our people’s political literacy has seen a tremendous improvement. Our 3 Mn strong expatriate community too is a crucial factor in the equation. They indeed are in the process of getting rid of their island mentality.

  • 4
    1

    I have a mesage for all the forward looking people.

    The so called forward looking people who form 47% ( not all for reconciliation but for reasons of their own) of the majority must read the Article in the Guardian which accurately reflects the mood of the Nation similar to what I said.

    MR has alreday served notice from his Grave that 5.7 million ( majortity amongst Simhalese) voted for him and he will serve their interest and he will not allow any peaceful Co Existanace where the minorities are given powers to run their affairs.
    When MS addresses the thorny issue of Tamil Rights the 5.7 milllion strong army will obey MRs orders and that will spell trouble. The backward peole will once again regain power.
    The only thing that will save this Nation is fisrt of all for MR to be found guilty by UNHCR and be jetted off to the HAGUE and keep the threat of Sanctions to change the mindset of the Backward people.

  • 1
    1

    When MR declares war as he has threatened to do when MS addresses the issue of Tamil Rights SHARMINI SERASINGHE can for the Women Brigade and head the army of FORWARD looking people and use her CHARMS and change the face of Sinhala Lank and the Nation will owe her a sense of Gratitude including the Backward Tamils. I will go along with that.

  • 6
    1

    Dayan, there is a difference between equal rights to all citizens and political equality. You are mischeviously twisting Sumanthiran’s statement to advance your own philosophy which in fact strengthens the argument of the Sinhala extremists that Tamils should not enjoy equal rights as citizens of Sri Lanka. There had been and continues to be discrimination against the Tamils. This cannot be denied. There won’t be a Tamil problem today if not for this discriminaion. That should be accepted by intellectuals like you. Of course, it is true that the Tamil problem had been further complicated and remains unresolved because of the uncompromising attitude of the Tamil leaders.

    Tamils of Sri Lanka are a people and the argument for self-determination whether internal or external cannot be easily brushed aside. Sumanthiran is dead right on this point. That call for self-determination could be made ineffective only if the Sinhalese dominated Sri Lankan government comes forward to treat the Tamils equally.

    What is needed today to resolve the grievances of the Tamils is to ensure equal treatment of all citizens by means of practical steps. One of the first steps should be the removal of the constitutional provision that ensures primacy to the Buddhist religion. The fear of the Tamils about Sinhala colonization is real. That fear could be removed by an immediate halt to all Sinhala colonzations now taking place in the North East under the guise of finding accommodation for the troops and their families. Tamils see vast acres of state and private lands being apportioned or appropriated allegedly for the use of the three Armed Forces in the North and East. Hundreds of acres of state lands have been set aside in the Batticaloa-Trincomalee area for the Navy. Tamil people and even Muslims in the East naturally ask why this sudden need for such large extents of land for the SL Navy. Similarly cantonments are being built for the Sri Lankan Army in the North including in such places as Mullaitivu. These are besides the acquisition of private properties for the use of the Armed Forces in the North. There is truth in TNA’s allegations on this subject. That is the reason why the whole Tamil population voted out Mahinda Rajapakse despite his attempts to restore normalcy in the North East and to develop infra-structure. Until such fears are removed, Tamils will continue to elect TNA and other Tamil nationalist parties.

    Removing the fears of Tamils and ensuring their equal rights should be the priority if one wants to create an atmosphere where Tamils will be willing to join the mainstream national parties and strengthen the unity of the country. If this is done Tamils will certainly reject Tamil ethnic based parties like TNA and join mainstream parties whether right or left. I personally want the Sinhala left parties to realize this and fight to ensure the equal rights of the Tamils. A true left movement that incorporates Tamils in their midst is the need today. I am not sure whether new left parties such as the JVP are yet ready and willing to do this. I doubt whether they will come forward to do this given the historic political backlash suffered among the Sinhalese by the LSSP and CP in the fifties and sixties when they promoted and championed the two language policy. I see the problem lying in the Parliamentary democratic system we inherited from the British. Bandaranaike cunningly made use of that to cut down any chance of the left parties coming to power in the crucial 1956 election with his Sinhala only cry. Tamil parties with their stupid cry for Federalism or fifty-fifty did not help the left parties either. Frustrated left leaders were forced to give up their call for language parity and were compelled to join hands with SLFP. They were last truly national parties that accommodated Tamils.

  • 5
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    For a political scientist Dayan seems very ignorant of the structures of many modern states that accommodate different peoples within a single border. Switzerland, Canada, and Britain are all essentially federal states. So too is our big neighbour India. By simplifying Tamils and Muslims to mere minorities and ignoring their history on the island, he is promoting a nationalist ideal that has caused conflict since independence. Isn’t it time to stop, accept that these people have a history and a culture of their own and they are co-inhabitants of this beautiful island, and that claiming this is solely a Buddhist island is not helpful to achieving lasting peace?

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    If anyone needs rehabilitation it would be DJ. The election was won by Maithreepala Sirisena(MS) 51.28% of the vorte. Mahinda Rajapksa(MR) only got 47.58% of the votes. MS managed to get majority of the minority vote… it is a good thing.. finally there is a President who has been trusted by the broad spectrum of people. People like DJ who have some personal axes to grind lives with his capillary vision and cannot see the peoples’ verdict in Black and White. He wants to paint it with as many colours as he can put his hands on. If the Tamils were not prevented from voting, by MR’s bribes to LTTE, MR would not have won in 2005. In 2010, MR was given a another chance as the defat of the LTTE was still fresh on peoples’ minds. With advertisements aimed at frightening people, MR tired to sell the memories of the heinous war to get political advantage. It is well known to everyone except to DJ, how MR direct terms said to the people that a vote for MS is a vote for reinstating LTTE and war in Sri Lanka. Conspiracy from the West, International vested interest supporting MS, secret LTTE- MS pacts etc were one of the favourite topics of MR, in his election campaign. The desperation of MR to be firmly attached to the Presidency was so much so, he resorted to all sorts of public resource abuse, violence , deception, incentives, bribes, astrologers, state media, imported mouth pieces , Salman Khan, Kumar Gunarathnam… and also MR even had a MS look a like decoy dressed to depict MS’s attire, with the bullet proof protective vest that MS wore on the advice of Sarath Fonseka. So no amount of pick and choose, copy and paste comments from anyone can undermine the historical importance of the win by MS to change Sri Lanka for better once and for all. In doing this MS should be more vigilant about the tigers who appear disguised in sheepskin.

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    Dayan likes to be the trouble-maker, doesn’t he? It’s as if he wants to provoke the ethnic division and the instability he warns against. All his apparently learned essay is written with no acknowledgment that a) MR won many Sinhala votes as a result of the years of state media propaganda and the unfair use of state resources and intimidation during the election campaign or that b) Sirisena won in part because of wide, cross-ethnic anger at corruption and abuses of power. In Dayan’s world, none of that is worth mentioning – all that matters are terrifying maps of Eelam. Let’s hope his increasing marginalisation from the rest of Sri Lankan political discourse continues.

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