28 October, 2020

Blog

Building On The NPC And CHOGM: Successes Defang The Chauvinists For Keeps!

By Kumar David

Prof Kumar David

Prof Kumar David

The Northern Province conducted its Provincial Council (PC) elections smoothly, the TNA scored a resounding victory and the NPC Administration has been installed with Wigneswaran as Chief Minister. This notwithstanding blood curdling warnings from BBS, like minded extremists and Gota, their de facto patron, foretelling division of the country, demanding cancellation of elections, and vowing to repeal of the Thirteenth Amendment (13A). The army did its bit to disrupt proceedings including, an at once comical and sinister foray, into the newspaper printing business; but again to no avail. The lesson to draw is that chauvinism is not as strong as thought. Extremism could not work up the muscle to get the elections annulled, failed to draw tens of thousands to rallies, nor were there marches of any notable size or militancy.

Let us reflect on this welcome but unexpected turn of events as it yields pointers on how to defang the chauvinist viper more effectively. First allow me to enumerate the reasons for this happy conjuncture. The list is in what seems to me the order of priority.

a)     The influence of the international community (IC) over local polity is far greater than analysts have been prone to grant. Therefore the IC must further increase pressure till Colombo is compelled to entirely desist from rights violations and trampling on judicial independence.

b)     The NP election victory was a tidal wave; therefore the regime had no option but to bow down. True, it was forced to hold the elections because of CHOGM, but after the results it had no option but to accept the verdict of the people, CHOGM or no CHOGM.

c)     The TNA conducted itself with tactical wisdom and succeeded in reassuring the Sinhalese that it wanted a fair deal for the Tamils and had no sinister plot up its sleeve.

d)     A majority of Sinhalese, at least after the event, think it fair and just that the Tamils should have their own elected PC in the Northern Province.

e)     Most Sinhalese do not buy Gota’s ‘tiger lurking under every bush’ gonibilla yarn. Fear of secession has passed after the elimination of the LTTE.

These are the reasons why the mood in the country changed for the better, and to repeat myself, chauvinism was forced to retreat. The NPC Administration is getting down to the job (let us see how it fares). At first it seemed Rajapakse had scored a triumph by pulling off CHOGM (see Rajan Philips “CHOGM a victory for President Rajapakse” in Sunday Island, 27 October) and was comfortable in his seat. The buoyant mood has since been dented and the government has become jittery; panicky closure of universities, deportation of Australian and New Zealand parliamentarians, and the embarrassment of issuing and then rescinding visas for the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute. Manmohan Singh’s absence is the biggest disappointment so far, but the bigger disaster would be if the move to deny Rajapakse the Commonwealth Headship gains traction; but I think this won’t materialise.

Hence there is good reason to expect Rajapakse to conduct himself in future rather better than during his previous years in office as he now has to project an at least semi decent image. But there is still too much uncertainty to say anything definitive.

The IC can call the shots

It is not as simple as: “Rajapakse was keen on CHOGM and thereafter a two year presidency of the Commonwealth, so he put his head down and did as he was told”. No, it is crucial to appreciate that the power of the IC is substantial, not momentary. Lanka cannot survive by playing off China against the Rest, or gaming between Delhi and Beijing. The Indian Express has faulted Manmohan Singh for “opening the door to our backyard to China” and the Lankan regime may be tempted to game in the Indian backyard. This will be a disaster as our continued survival depends on a favourable international environment and the regime can be destabilised if it does not evolve a minimal working relationship with the IC at large. It is a matter for regret that the IC has been reluctant to exert muscle and twist Colombo’s arm more forcefully than it has so far on behalf of human rights and democracy.

British PM David Cameron is determined to visit Jaffna; I believe the first foreign leader to do so, and may be joined by others. Cameron was under pressure either to boycott the summit or to “have some very tough words” with Mahinda Rajapakse. The Lankan regime is thick-skinned and deceitful and will not be troubled by anyone’s tough words. It will make promises it has no intention of keeping. But a Cameron et al visit can be useful if the TNA uses the opportunity wisely. It should not limit itself to Northern development and war crimes issues, but also raise rule of law and judicial independence concerns on behalf of the whole country. This possibility has been spotted by Lankan officials who have declared: “He (Cameron) is trying to interfere in our internal affairs, seeking to placate his domestic opposition”.

Cameron is on record saying; “I’m not happy with their human rights record. I’m not happy with what they’ve done following the conflict and we’ll have some very frank conversations to make those points”. British High Commissioner John Rankin has insisted: “London’s concern is not limited to war crimes, but also rule of law and we expect Sri Lanka to demonstrate its willingness to respect Commonwealth values as Colombo takes over as Chairperson-in-office of the 53-member bloc after the summit”. He added “Sri Lanka must probe allegations by Britain’s Channel 4, which accused the country’s forces of executing surrendering Tamil rebels and shelling civilians in no-fire zones during the civil war”. But this regime and military may be too crafty and cunning for suddhas to figure out.

Can chauvinism be defanged?

CHOGM has so far been a triumph for the President and the remaining serious headwind is the unlikely threat to deny him Commonwealth Headship. It has also been positive in other ways; for example the government has been compelled to accredit Channel-4, the station which aired the cold blooded murder of LTTE prisoners by the army. (The team could still be kicked out at Katunayake on arrival). The campaign by monks, Gota and the army to stop Northern PC elections fizzled out and white van incidents, violations of human rights and assailing journalists have declined. Chauvinism had so little impact that the President could afford to ignore threats. Hence it is time to re-evaluate the influence of chauvinism in the political domain. The anti-Muslim campaign too seems to have abated. If chauvinist loonies get up to tricks during CHOGM they will be smashed. Therefore something of a win-win situation for President, Tamils and democrats has materialised due to the regime’s desire to overcome its pariah status in the international community in the run up to CHOGM.

Arising from this changed landscape and this favourable conjuncture there is a possibility of implementing ethnic reconciliation and people-based economic and social development programmes in the North. There is a popular and stable provincial administration in the North, and in the wake of the CHOGM success, Rajapakse should be feeling more secure. This is a situation in with both sides can make concessions without needing to look over their shoulders at extremists. Will the regime grab the opportunity and make a bold decision to cooperate with the NPC? Keep your fingers crossed.

Chief Minister Wigneswaran, for his part, has been bending over backwards to please the government and there will be no serious obstruction from the Tamil side to reconciliation and sensible economic programmes. Actually there has never been obstruction because Tamils have been on the losing side for 50 years. The trouble makers have been Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinists and regimes which have been afraid to tame them. Post May 2009 was an opportunity for wise political leadership to prevail, but Lanka is not blessed with this priceless commodity. A new window has opened and the government is feeling a little snug.

What could foul everything up is if the national economy runs into serious difficulties or if Colombo gets into a serious spat with Delhi and/or Tamil Nadu in this pre (Indian) election period. The signs are that Lanka’s debt and budget deficit problems are continuing to worsen. Corruption is eroding not only the social but also the economic fabric of the nation and it is not abating. It is not likely that Rajapakse will do anything to reverse either trend. The nation’s highest court steadfastly plays poodle. None of this is good news. Though the post-CHOGM and post-NPC circumstances are favourable the ethos of those in power may have ossified beyond salvation. Regarding the relationship with India, post the Manhohan Singh boycott, there have been no signals yet how Colombo intends to play its cards in the next period up to the Indian elections. The complication for the Rajapakses is that a BJP led government would be more hostile to them than the Congress led alliance has been so far.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Therefore the IC must further increase pressure till Colombo is compelled to entirely desist from rights violations and trampling on judicial independence.

    Why should the IC stop at that? Why not push things even further and create Tamil Eelam? TGTE wants it, BTF wants it, the Canadian Tamils want it? After all these are the guys who are pulling the strings isn’t it?

    c) The TNA conducted itself with tactical wisdom and succeeded in reassuring the Sinhalese that it wanted a fair deal for the Tamils and had no sinister plot up its sleeve.

    What is your basis for drawing this conclusion? Where is the poll that Sinhalese have any trust in TNA?

    Fear of secession has passed after the elimination of the LTTE.

    Are you writing a fairy tale?

    Who says LTTE is eliminated and who says one needs LTTE to secede! While the army is no more, the funding apparatus, the ideological apparatus are functioning in full swing and now even more widespread than before.

    It would be wonderful if 15% of the population or whatever the number is, could create an independent state with no Sinhalese in 35% of land and 60% of the coast plus with half of that population living in other half of the country. Who says one cannot both have the cake and eat it too? Why should the diaspora who now have made inroads into political parties of powerful states stop pushing towards such a deal?

    • 0
      0

      The Rajapakse regime’s SHIT hit the fan big time during the CHOGM circus in Colombo. So too did the shit of Kamlesh Sharma and the British Colonial relic called the Commonwealth of Nations, better known as the Common Poverty of Nations.
      Time has come for Lankan citizens who have to foot the bill of Prince Charles 65th Birthday party in his post-colony in the form of the rising cost of living – to hold BOTH the Rajapassa military dictatorship and the Common Poverty of Nations including Sharma, ACCOUNTABLE.
      A review of Rajapassa’s leadership of this British Colonial relic must be held and unless there is REAL progress on HR in Sri Lanka including demilitarization, restoration of proper Chief Justice, implementaiton of 17 Amendment, Right to Information Act, Bill to prevent Hate speech as well as, investigations of war crimes at Nandi Kadel, Rajapassa should be stripped of being head. If this does not happen Commonwealth of Clowns that boost third world dictators must be CLOSED DOWN forever!

    • 0
      0

      Navin, It is suspicion that you express that exists between the Tamil and Sinhala people, and that is what is keeping us apart. The suspicion is aggravated by deliberate instigations from racists on both sides. It is the people and not their political representatives who must work on establishing reconciliation. The TNA has some good men who we can trust. We must help them. On the government side I can think of a few like Rajiva, Vasu, Dew, but the block is from Gotabhaya and Mahinda himself. I am hoping that the side developments during CHOGM will create space to sort the issue. I am pessimistic though.

  • 0
    0

    I think 90% of the Sinhalese people do not subscribe to the views of these bigots. Unfortunately the people remain silent and these fanatics are allowed to dance the devil and ruin the country. The media too latches onto these self elected defenders of the faith and pulicises their views giving them undue importance. The people respect the yellow robe so they hesitate to oppose these imposters.

    Such extremist are found in all religons. It is the duty of civil society to challenge these imposters and put them in their proper place. The moderate religous clergy must speak up against these deviants. When the leaders and people worship these ritten maniacs it makes matters worse and they become uncontrollable.

  • 0
    0

    One day PReqach that Damalas are Sinhalayos.

    Next- day preach how to Screw up Sinhalayas by Stupid Demalas.

    You are a stupid idiot. That is why you don’t use your brain, that helped you to become an engineering Senior ? Lecturer – in your day to day life.

    • 0
      0

      Jim Softly, Insults do not make an argument.

  • 0
    0

    Cameron, Aung San Suu Kyi and Jaffna

    I have to add a few more lines to what KD has written.

    The British premier … vowed in a meeting with Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to have some “very tough conversations” with President Mahinda Rajapakse’s government.

    “My decision is the right thing for us to do… and have some very tough conversations with the Sri Lankan government,” Cameron said after hosting Myanmar opposition leader Suu Kyi in London on Wednesday.
    “I’m not happy with their human rights record. I’m not happy with what they’ve done following the conflict and we’ll have some very frank conversations to make those points,” he said according to a transcript of his comments made available to AFP Friday – October 25. 2013

    Suu Kyi appeared to endorse Cameron’s decision, but noted that he should engage “all other stake holders and not just the government”.
    Added Cameron: “VERY WISE WORDS . I’ll be going to the north of the country as well, and I think what Aung Sun Suu Kyi has said is absolutely true.”

    The gracious lady was so great as to say, engage all other stakeholders. Cameron responded with equal grace. But the Sri Lankan powers that be trashed all sentiments and expectations. The Tamil stakeholders were not allowed to so much as meet the Prime Minister. This act speaks for the EQUAL RIGHTS enjoyed by the Tamils.

    • 0
      0

      Please go read what “British” media says about Suu Kyi and Rohingyas before you start using Suu Kyi to bash Sinhalese.

      In recent days, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, having just been awarded a prestigious human rights prize by the EU, sat down with the BBC in London and in her beguilingly gentle fashion denied the ethnic cleansing of one of the world’s most vulnerable minorities.

      In a manner reminiscent of Burmese President Thein Sein, a master in the art of evasive platitudes, the usually eloquent democracy activist issued a series of slippery answers in response to repeated questions on the issue from journalist Mishal Husain.

      http://www.independent.co.uk/

    • 0
      0

      Siva

      Does your Aunse is a back licker of the western word? Remember it is also well known fact too.

      The way he jumps up and down, the British Camel thinks he still rules Sri Lanka. Camel’s desperate last attempt to retain the power.

  • 0
    0

    Papa David,for Christ sake can’t you make it shorter?

    • 0
      0

      Maxi

      I am glad I was not one of Papas student. Would have been a big [Edited out]. I think the Bible is shorter than this garbage.

  • 0
    0

    President Rajapaksa doesn’t really understand the relationship between India and the West. President needs lots of help at home, but he has turned everyone against him in Sri Lanka and also in the world. President Rajapaksa is becoming like Prabhakaran who listened to nobody and trusted nobody. The world leaders have started to tighten the noose. The Rajapaksa brothers think that they are smarter and powerful than India and the West, they are fooling themselves. Not only they hate Tamils, but starting to hate their own people, because those decent Singalese belong to the UNP or the JVP. Rajapaksa brothers should get ready for the toughest time; I don’t think they can escape this time. It is over. You have to be a bloody fool to turn against your own people and the world and then expect to rule the country and chair the Commonwealth.

    The next UNHRC meeting will deliver the verdict for the Rajapaksa brothers. I believe that the Rajapaksa brothers will choose to go 100% dictatorship as North Korea after the UNURC resolution. This will create a huge outcry in Sri Lanka and open a door for India to invade Sri Lanka. Invading Sri Lanka is a better, easier and cheaper option for India than leaving it too long and going to war with China. Prabhakaran continued his stupidity and hoped the West will come, likewise President Rajapaksa would continue his stupidity and hope the Chinese will come and save him. But they won’t come, because they won’t go against India and the West, because they are smart.

  • 0
    0

    KD has his own refreshing analysis of ‘everything’. Of course they are consistently inaccurate!!

  • 0
    0

    Well, barely 2 years after Cameron’s forefathers left Ceylon, the Vellalar leader Chelvanayagam screams “genocide”. He then demands exclusive use of 40% of the real estate so the Vellalar “feels secure” with the low castes securely inside the caste prison.

    It turns out to be a hoax of course. It so happens D.S. Senanayake was settling landless Tamils and Moslems in the Moneragala district. Was Chelva a moron who didn’t know north central from the east? He probably was a dimwit. Although his rivarly with GGP was a bigger issue. DS Senanayake had formed an alliance with GGP he wanted to destroy. He does what has become habbit in Tamil circles – being the biggest Tamil bigot to win the election.

    Not only Chevla destroyed the amity built between DS/GGP that could have potentially become a lasting partnership he fractured the political left along communal lines. The broken polircal left still broken because of the biggoted nature of primarily of Tamil left.

    Someone here said we dont have “equal rights”. Althoguh as it happens anywhere else in the world narrow minded bigots gets automatically marginalised don’t they really? One cannot wear Tamil nationalist hat in one hand then ask equal rights in the other – thats just crazy.

    • 0
      0

      He was no GIFT from Malaya to Sri Lanka.

      • 0
        0

        Thava- Ram

        I am glad about that but he has all signs of the [Edited out]

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 0
    0

    Vibhushana

    “Althoguh as it happens anywhere else in the world narrow minded bigots gets automatically marginalised don’t they really?”

    Is it a good reason for the International community to marginalise Sinhala/Buddhists within South Asian region?

    • 0
      0

      Very good reason indeed to marginalize these NARROW MINDED Sinhala Budhists in SA !

  • 0
    0

    narrow minded Sinhala Budhist BIGOTS…..

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.