29 October, 2020

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Defence Secretary Defends Majority Domination, Denies Devolution

By Laksiri Fernando

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

The interview given to the Daily Mirror (4 July 2013) by the Secretary of Defence, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, may be candid as the reporter has prefaced, but not helpful to resolve the post-conflict issues or reconciliation in Sri Lanka. Moreover they raise questions about his political/military ambitions which should be concerns for the democracy in the country. He was fairly a good Defence Secretary during the war but not after. Instead of defending the country or the people as a total he now defends the majority domination of his own ethnic community over the minorities, identifying himself as a ‘Sinhala Buddhist.’

During the interview he once wanted “to take the country as one citizenry” without ethnic distinctions and then claiming “these issues arise only because you are either Tamil or a Muslim and blame a Sinhalese government.” Like the JHU or the BBS he belongs to a breed of extremists who wanted to deny that the minorities have any grievances as minorities. This smacks the international understanding of the issue globally, the UN even having a specific Declaration (1992) and many other mechanisms in the protection of minorities. If one wants to identify the key human rights issue in Sri Lanka today then that is undoubtedly the minority rights issue.

Denial of Minority Grievances

He took pains to claim that all problems are the same for all communities and the minorities do not at all have any grievances without even realising that the country’s Defence Secretary talking in this manner itself is offensive for the minority communities both ethnic and religious. To support his point of view he wagged the age old arguments asking the questions back “who are the top businessmen in this country? Is there a restriction in terms of education for the minorities in this country? Is there any sort of restriction for a Muslim or a Tamil to enter university?” and so on.

What he has conveniently suppressed were the facts that nearly a million Tamil plantation workers were denied the citizenship in 1949, only the Sinhala language was made the official language in 1956 and standardization schemes in 1970s disadvantaged the Tamil youth to enter the universities, not to speak of the BBS type goons with whom he has close connections today physically attacked the minorities and particularly the Tamils in 1958, 1977, 1979, 1981 and 1983 with considerable loss of life. As the Defence Secretary he is duty bound to protect the security of the minorities same as the majority community and in this connection should know the history without ethnic prejudices.

He also should know that the accord of foremost place to Buddhism in the Constitution is a denial of equality for minority religions. There is no dispute with him on my part however that what the LTTE indulged in as terrorists is equally or more horrendous but that could not be an excuse to deny the reasonable demands of the minorities in the country, whether Tamils, Muslims or Christians. He and/or his brother President should take the direct responsibility for the recent attacks on the religious and business establishments of particularly the Muslim community and there are all indications that these incidents happened with their full awareness if not approval. It is very clear that he is not expressing his views impartially but on behalf of the Sinhala extremists. The following is an example in noting the last sentence particularly.

Also it must not be forgotten that in many developing countries, most of these issues are not confined to the minorities. It is not that they go through these issues alone and it is not that they face these issues because they are minorities. Upon close analysis, at times, it would be clear that the majority community faces these issues more acutely than the minority communities.

He has asked the question “When 78% of this country comprises Sinhalese how does such a vast landmass in the North become 98% Tamil. Isn’t this unnatural?” In the first place his figures are utterly wrong when he says that the Sinhalese percentage is 78 per cent. According to the recent census figures (2012) it is 74.9 per cent and in 1981 it was 73.9 and in 1946, 69.4. This cannot be a typographical error since the same figure appears twice and the figures given for the Tamils and Muslims are 10 and 8 per cents respectively.

The fact that the Northern Province is predominantly Tamil is a historical reality while he is correct in saying that there had been efforts on the part of the LTTE to drive away the Muslims and also the Sinhalese although the Sinhalese presence in the province was not that high even before the conflict. But most alarming is his conclusion. He has said “If normalcy prevailed this entire situation would have changed. It is nothing but true and correct that in the North and East there must be the same percentage of the majority community (My emphasis).

It is necessary to ask whether this is the government policy in ‘resolving the ethnic problem’ by converting the North and the East as majority Sinhalese provinces?

It is alarming to see that this proposal has come from the Defence Secretary who is the brother of the President and who has large numbers of armed forces stationed in these two provinces. If he is only a public servant he should not have come up with these suggestions or the interpretations or rather the misinterpretations that he has given on the ethnic question. He has talked a lot on demographic matters quite prejudicially and incorrectly. No need to say that any effort at forceful population transfers to alter the ethnic balance in the North or the East borders on racism.

Against Devolution

His main assault in the interview has been on devolution in the background of extremist sections clamouring for the complete abolition of the 13th Amendment and devolution at the verge of the promised elections to the NPC. There is no question in my mind that the Indian involvement in the 13th Amendment, which was necessary under the circumstances in 1987, is a disadvantage in defending it among the average citizen in the country. However, if we are not frogs in a narrow well, we also should understand that many overlapping political issues in the world are resolved through mutual understanding and agreements between neighbouring countries.

Devolution should be there not because of India but because it is the right thing to do in the direction of resolving the ethnic question as well as democratizing the country. It is not an administrative device or it shouldn’t be so. It is not a panacea either. It is a mechanism for giving the people in the provinces including the ethnic communities necessary autonomy or self-governance in managing their affairs on an agreed basis. If there have been some failures on the part of the Provincial Councils that have been primarily due to the half-hearted policies at the Centre and not allocating enough funds for their affairs.

Our failure to device devolution, even after the BC and DC Pacts or revise the 13th Amendment in a positive manner after the Indian mediation, is not India’s fault but our own. Although the Defence Secretary has blamed J. R. Jayewardene for antagonizing India in the ‘80s now he is doing the same and much worse by being a demagogue for the extremist nationalist sections of the country. If Mahinda Jajapaksa had taken steps to implement the recommendations of his own appointed APRC then by now the Indian element of the devolution could have been taken away. No one disagrees that better solutions are ‘home grown’ ones if at all possible and willing.

On the specific issue of the importance of constituting the NPC for the Tamil issue he has argued that “If this is the argument and if this is the theory- that devolution would solve the problem, I want to know how it solves the issues of the Tamils living in the Central Province who live without any concerns under a Sinhalese Chief Minister.” It appears that the Defence Secretary does not have the common sense or the patience to realize that in resolving or in trying to resolve a problem in one area or a sector does not necessarily mean that all the problems in others area would automatically be resolved. This is why bipartisan or bi-ethnic (cross-ethnic) approaches are necessary in provincial administration and some have even suggested committee system of government of the Donoughmore type. In contrast, the Defence Secretary’s approach seems to be like a ‘total solution or none at all.’

In denying the validity of devolution in Sri Lanka, the Defence Secretary has taken the example of Singapore. At the begging of the 19th Century, Singapore was just an ‘entre port’ with few thousand people. It is now a ‘city-state’ with around 700 sq. km. and little over 5 million people. Nearly 200 sq. km are reclaimed. Over 2 million people are not born in Singapore and others are first or second generation migrants. No one is asking for devolution for the Colombo city! Of course the ethnic groups are intermingled or intermixed in this small place and even that is in relative terms. That could be an inspiration but not a model solution for Sri Lanka. If the Defence Secretary intends, even in his dreams, to implement population transfers to look Sri Lanka like Singapore, then it would tantamount to Hitler’s policy (in reverse order) after conquering Poland in 1939, ‘a new order of ethnographic conditions.’

If the Defence Secretary has concerns about giving police powers to the provinces it may be a valid concern in terms of defence. But while being a Secretary to a Ministry, and also accusing the minority politicians for messing up the ethnic issue, for him to come up with erroneous demographic interpretations and accusing the minority communities on behalf of the majority community is not suitable for a public servant. How can the people think as ‘one nation,’ as he claimed to be the solution for the country’s problems, when the most powerful Defence Secretary talks on behalf of the majority community? It appears that he has very clear political ambitions and if that is so he should resign or he should be removed. He can even contest the PM position in the NPC on behalf of the SLFP or the UPFA.

Or otherwise there can be valid suspicions that he keeps the defence portfolio in order to prepare for a military takeover aligning with the Sinhalese extremist groups like the JHU and the BBS.

On the question of recent spate violence against the Muslim and Christian communities, within a background of much boasted peace and stability after the end of the war in May 2009, the Defence Secretary has said “I’m not defending the Bodu Bala Sena but most of these things were not done by them; it was rather because of local tensions within these areas.”

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    Dr, Laksiri, I was your stuent in University of clombo.
    [Edited out]

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      Mr. Gothabaya actual picture come out.It shows he is not a professional secretory even in war time.Mostly war decisions took by Gen. SF.That is lead to victory of war.Still Tamil diaspora strong voice in the international forum.An administrative officer must more discipline in act & talk. Vass Gunawardena, White van, Grease Yakka,Azad Sally custody,BBS & Time Magazine all matters unofficially link or credit to Defense.
      His political comments not acceptable as professional secretory.One of the most respectable secretory Mr. Lalith Weeratunge also falling or force to this category after public tweet interview.They can learn lot from Bradman Weerakoon,Ananda Tissade alwis or Dr. Sarath Amunugama.

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        What did the effeicient Bradman Weerakoon,Ananda Tissade alwis or Dr. Sarath Amunugama do during LTTE terrorism for 20 years or for the development work that has that been done during the last 4 years! Give credit whoever deserves and not for talk.

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      Gotbaya Rajapassa’s livelihood is kickbacks from militarization of Lanka and majoritarian SInhala Buddhist Nationalism to DIVDE DISTRACT and rule Sri Lanka Sinhalay Modayas as a military dictatorship so he can avoid a war crimes trial and his family loot the National wealth.

      The Rajapassa regime is distorting and destroying Buddhism in Lanka and giving a bad name to a peaceful and tolerant religion.

      TIme for Sinhala Buddhists to wake up and stop the destructions and perversion and TALIBANIZATION of Buddhism in Lanka by the Rajapassa regime . to DIVDE and Distract and RULE
      Time for the Maha Sanga Nayakas to take a stand to save Sinhala Buddhism from the Rajapasss military dictatrship which is distorting Buddhism.

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    Now that there is so much of contra-views to a Public Servants version
    of State Policy, should he not be held to account in a court of law for
    contravening regulations? Who will bell the cat?
    It matters if Democracy is to exist in the distant future here.

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    From a man singing praises of the Rajapakses to a man now finding fault the jump is a bit too hard to believe and has to do with much larger reason…

    We do not buy ur versions bcos people who read ur articles previously and read them now are too intelligent to know ur game

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      asoka,

      What is his game? Why are so surprised to see someone like Dr. Laksiri Fernando who supported the MR regime during the war and taking a different position democratically in the context of minority right?

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    “He took pains to claim that all problems are the same for all communities and the minorities do not at all have any grievances without even realising that the country’s Defence Secretary talking in this manner itself is offensive for the minority communities both ethnic and religious.”
    So he is not entitled to freedom of expressionbecause minoritiesdon’t like it!

    what kind of a professor are you?

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      I am afraid, you are not intelligent enough to understand Dr. Laksiri Fernando’s comments.

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        Laksiri writes his personal opinions to satisfy his paymasters. Since residing in a foreign country he has ceased to think as a Sri Lankan. Laksiri and his kith and kin should learn to live according to his theories wherever they are. Let Sri Lankans decide how they should live in Sri lanka.

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    Laksiri’ main gripe is Sinhalams are only 74.9 %..

    Still can anyone justify to keep only 2% of them in a vast land mass in the North,which has nearly a quarter of the total coast of the Island .

    Can India or her new mentor the US argue against, the facts that the Defence Sec has laid out clearly?.

    .

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      Who has stopped people from the South moving into North and East by the own will? You can say LTTE did; fare enough but what is the problem now? Why do the Sinhala want fully financed resettlements when the minorities have to fend for themselves? The TNA have never said that the N&E is exclusively for the Tamils.

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        Why should there be a TNA? A completely Tamil ethnic based political party! They definitely want Tamil enclaves in the North and East.
        Over 50% of the Tamils in Sri lanka live and work in Colombo and the South. As such it is quite acceptable for 50% of Sinhala and others communities to live in the North and East if they want to do so. It is a Sri lankans right to live and work wherever they want in Sri lanka. TNA MP’s are nothing but remnants of LTTE terrorist morons. They should get rid of all ethnic and religious based political parties.

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          lanka peiris

          “They definitely want Tamil enclaves in the North and East.”

          Whats wrong having their own ghettos?

          Why do the Sinhala/Buddhists want a Sinhla/Buddhist ghetto in the Indian ocean?

          “It is a Sri lankans right to live and work wherever they want in Sri lanka.”

          Who are these Sri Lankans? Could you define the word Sri Lankan so that I could learn some thing new.

          “It is a Sri lankans right to live and work wherever they want in Sri lanka.”

          Don’t forget their responsibilities when you insist on their rights.

          “TNA MP’s are nothing but remnants of LTTE terrorist morons. They should get rid of all ethnic and religious based political parties.”

          They should, but it appears they won’t. The only way forward is to ban all religions, banish all people from this island, and give our ancestral land back to my people.

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      Hey Lee Potter Leela ( now uder the guise of K A Sumansekera) your talking nuts when you say

      ” Sinhalams are only 74.9 %..Still can anyone justify to keep only 2% of them in a vast land mass in the North,which has nearly a quarter of the total coast of the Island “

      who is restricting them like that ,please elaborate and not go into hiding when questins are asked

      What people are up against is Govt sponsored colonisations with the sole intention of changing the demogrpahics of the North and Eadst of Sri Lanka,Allowing Southern tourists into HSZ zones to take pics and souvenirs while not allowing the home owners with houses inside HSZ even to visit their places at times,now thats whats wrong Leela uncle

      Nor is it right to plant a Buddha statue under state patronage when ever you see a Bo tree in the North and East,when Buddha himself was against such idol worship!

      NO ONE will ever protest of the Sinhalese or anyothers settle in the North and East under their own choice (in fact many have done so in Jaffna now and an own businesses and hotels too and run the Jaffna Colombo buses too),its the same way Tamils and Muslims by their hard work settled in colombo which of course made you and your ponna brothers jealous!

      hope you will reply back and not run away like a dog with its tails tucked between the legs!

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        Dear Peace Lover,

        What is wrong with a Statue Of Buddha under a Banyan Tree?.

        Don’t they go hand in hand?.

        Don’t we have Lord Ganesh , Jesus Christ , alongside our Lord Buddha in many street corners in many parts of our Multicultural Colombo, where our Native Sinhalam have become a small minority?.

        Have your idol LTTE proxy Sambandan or his buddies have ever said that Sinhalese are welcome and cordially invited to settle anywher in the Norh and Jaffna in particular, the same way as they do in the South where they learn, earn and live quite comfortable lives?.

        You say Sinhalese run motels , businesses and even buses in Jaffna.

        Didn’t your mate the ex militant Premachandran, say to the media recently , that there won’t be any Expressway to Jaffna under their watch.

        Didn’t he say that our Chinese friends are not allowed in part of the land from Vavniya to Pt Pedro.?.

        And he hasn’t even got the land titles yet!

        Or do you read only Lankaenews, Uthayan and Tamilnet?.

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          I dont think anyone will protest Buddhist temples coming up by way of devotees building them,what people dont like is govt enforced Buddhism

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          hey Leela

          certainly there is nothing wrong with a Buddha statue coming up under a tree or anywhere else as long as its done by devotees and not forcibly being planted by the Govt!you talk bull when you say Kovils and Churches are mushrooming in the SOuth,they were all built by the devotees and not Govt sponsored ones,so ls get it in your head

          Your refering to Premachandran fellow saying he wont allow expressways in the north or chinese,please GIVE US THE REFERANCE TO THAT,DO IT NOW PLEASE

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    GoRa is working on his own agenda…..he has no choice but to keep Sinhala Buddhists votes with him…..just in case, he is not a person who can work under kids like NaRa……
    :-)

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    Kotta is a American citizion , how he can be a defence secretary to Sri Lanka ? is it vaild?

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    Dear Dr, Laksiri Fernando,

    SYMPTOMS: Two Examples of Symptoms

    1. “What he has conveniently suppressed were the facts that nearly a million Tamil plantation workers were denied the citizenship in 1949, only the Sinhala language was made the official language in 1956 and standardization schemes in 1970s disadvantaged the Tamil youth to enter the universities, not to speak of the BBS type goons with whom he has close connections today physically attacked the minorities and particularly the Tamils in 1958, 1977, 1979, 1981 and 1983 with considerable loss of life. As the Defence Secretary he is duty bound to protect the security of the minorities same as the majority community and in this connection should know the history without ethnic prejudices.”

    2. “On the question of recent spate violence against the Muslim and Christian communities, within a background of much boasted peace and stability after the end of the war in May 2009, the Defence Secretary has said “I’m not defending the Bodu Bala Sena but most of these things were not done by them; it was rather because of local tensions within these areas.”

    CAUSES OF THE SYMPTOMS:

    The Need for a Sinhala Buddhist Racist Society with Buddhist Monk Hegemony, maintained by Monk-King Axis, promoted by Racist Buddhist Monk Mahanama in the 5th Century CE with Myths.

    There is no need to protect the Sinhala Buddhist civilization that is NOT Egalitarian and that serves the Monk Hegemony, because that is NOT the Buddhist philosophy that sprang out from Hinduism and Jainism and preached by Buddha.

    The need is to save an Egalitarian Sri Lankan Society. Unfortunately LSSP and CP were not successful and Gota , BBS and company is wrecking it.

    There is no need to save Sinhala Buddhism? Why? Tamil Buddhists?

    1. Buddhism was imported from India around 300 BC. The people were Animist, Jain and Hindu. Therefore, there is no need to protect Buddhism any more than Animist, Jain and Hindu beliefs.

    2. Sinhala gene pools is the southern Indian gene pool. It is protected and represented in the Tamil and Muslim Gene pools as well as in the Sinhala gene pool.

    3. So what is not common is Buddhism. It is Buddhism that is dividing the people. The problem lies with Monk Mahanama and the Mahanama Myths.

    4. There was a civilization Before Buddhism. King Ravana was Hindu and had a civilization, if Ramayana is true.

    Why did SOME people buy Mahanama Myths?his myths? Did the LSSP and CP supporters buy these Myths?

    One can fool some of the people some of the time. However, it is hard to fool all the people all the time.

    In Sri Lanka Buddhism is about Monk Hegemony. Not much different from the Catholic Church Hegemony. Read about Martin Luther. Read about the Wahhabi-Saudi Axis that was promoted by the British to destabilize Ottoman Empire- the Great Game.

    In Sri Lanka, it was the Monk-King Axis. In Saudi Arabia Mullah-King Axis. Turkey got rid of it and became secular, thanks to Kamal Ataturk.

    Sri Lanka needs a Martin Luther Monk to Reform Buddhist Racism and Terrorism, exploited by the Politicians, that has nothing to do with the Enlightened Buddha’s teachings, and a Sri Lanka Kamal Araturk for separation of Temple and State. All we had were opportunists. That is why we are in this sad situation. Curse the Soulbury commission for giving independence too early and not putting sufficient checks and balances. Look at the US constitution, the French constitution and the Turkish Constitutions, still going strong.

    Why Monk Mahanama. The Tamils were invading. They were Hindu. However the Sinhala were Hindu too before that. Without Buddhism we would have got Sinhala Hindus and Tamil Hindus. No Monks to get in the way. There will be Nirvana, Rebirth and Sansara, delivered by Priests instead of Hegemonic monks. Remember, Buddha, and his parents were born Hindus. Buddhism came out of Hinduism and Jainism, The Hindu priests and the Kings would have kept the peace, better than the Monks.

    So, Buddhism was the curse of Lanka. It was not the Sinhala or Tamil.

    Sri Lanka had Tamil Kings. Sri Wickrama Rajasinha was Tamil. Bandaranaika hailed from India. No problem there, but the opportunist became a traitor to his own genes, like the current opportunists.

    Bali Indonesia is 94% Hindu and peaceful.

    Do you STILL believe in the Monk Mahanama MYTH that Vijaya’s grandfather was a lion? Test the Gene pool of the Sinhala.
    Buddhas visited Lanka 10 times, attained Nirvanna on the day Vijaya landed etc. Myths? Childish Stories!

    Do you believe in Santa Claus coming from the North Pole driven by reindeer on Christmas Eve?

    There are many other Myths. Here the focus is on Mahanams Myths and Sri Lanka Buddhist Myths, that the BBS followers are after. The cause of Buddhist Terrorism. Yes, expose them, just the same way Martin Luther exposed the Catholic Church Indulgences.

    Next time Buddhists go to Daham Pasala, need to make a collection of the Myths, and check them with facts. Ask who benefits, and whose self-interest n is being served.

    DeJa Vu….

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    Still you have MahanamaPhobia.

    we assume that ,You are suffering from Inferiority complex.

    Buddhism doesn’t have any Any Hindu or Jain beliefs.

    And you can follow your Martin Luthers Religion and worship him as your god, or build churches and convert any body who likes to follow
    A GRATE SADIST.
    Who are You [ A SADIST] compaering to, Who was Monk MahaaNaama .

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      Julumapitiya Amaraya,

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahavamsa

      Tissue of Absurdities Mahanama Phobia. Vijaya’s grandfather was a lion etc.

      Monk Mahanama is the Author of Tissue of Absurdities.

      a German scholar of Indology who has published studies on the Buddha and translated many Pali texts, considers this story a “pure invention”.

      The Mahavamsa (Sinhala: මහාවංසය [ˈmahavaŋʃəyə]; Pali: Mahāvaṃsa, trans. “Great Chronicle”; abbrev. Mhv.[1] or Mhvs.[2]) is a historical poem written in the Pali language, of the Kings of Sri Lanka. The first version of it covered the period from the coming of King Vijaya of the Rarh region of ancient Bengal in 543 BCE to the reign of King Mahasena (334–361).

      The combined work, sometimes referred to collectively as the Mahavamsa, provides a continuous historical record of over two millennia, and is considered one of the world’s longest unbroken historical accounts[citation needed]. It is one of the few documents containing material relating to the Nāgas and Yakkhas, the dwellers of Lanka prior to the legendary arrival of Vijaya

      This date of Vijaya’s arrival is thought to have been artificially fixed to coincide with the Ceylonese date for the death of Buddha, that is 543 BCE. The story of Vijaya’s arrival was also written much later after it had occurred, as the Mahavansa is thought to have been written in 6 CE to 1877 CE by Buddhist monks.[12][13]

      The historical accuracy of Mahinda converting the Sri Lankan king to Buddhism is also debated. Professor Hermann Oldenberg, a German scholar of Indology who has published studies on the Buddha and translated many Pali texts, considers this story a “pure invention”. V. A. Smith (Author of Asoka and Early history of India) also refers to this story as “a tissue of absurdities”. V. A. Smith and Professor Hermann came to this conclusion due to Ashoka not mentioning the handing over of his son, Mahinda, to the temple to become a Buddhist missionary and Mahinda’s role in converting the Sri Lankan king to Buddhism, in his 13th year Rock Edicts. Particularly the Rock-Edict XIII.[14]

      There is also an inconsistency with the year on which Ashoka sent Buddhist missionaries to Sri Lanka. According to the Mahavamsa the missionaries arrived in 255 BCE, but according to Ashoka’s Rock-Edict XIII it was 5 years earlier in 260 BCE.[14]

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    Luksiri’s new home turf has nearly half a million Srcilankans,Nearly a Million Vietnamese.and Indians are growing at a great rate of knots,

    Do they have exclusive home turfs?.

    Aboriginal people welcome the White invaders standing on the beach in Melbourne.

    Do they have an exclusive Home Turf?.

    Laksiri is okay with the Reliogion side.

    But what about the Viets and non Christian Srilankans?.

    Doesn’t theGovt there bring people to settle in remote towns to make them viable?.

    Last but not least can the Viets and Srilankans learn in their native dialect to get a degree and become an Engineer or Doctor or Lawyer?.

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    The comments show how the Sinhala people have been brainwashed from 2005 onwards and created a Sinhal Buddhist hysteria thanks to the utterances of GR, Hela Karumaya ,and other similar voices. The problem facing the people now is whether there is a legitimate Government in Sri Lanka which speaks in one voice it’s policies on matters relevant to good governance.The socalled Head of the Government keeps mum allowing lesser pundiths to spell out state policies on many matters.This puts the public in a quandry not knowing where the country is heading economically, socialy, politicaly and with relations to foreign affairs. This has to end if saner counse is to prevail.The need of the hour is to put a charismatic leader who is enlightened in matters of governance in the high chair.

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      “The need of the hour is to put a charismatic leader who is enlightened in matters of governance in the high chair.”
      Can the writer identify such an individual?

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    Dear Dr. LF,

    In his speech delivered after swearing in as the Executive President of SL in November 2005, Prez MR stated that there would be no minorities in SL. If comment based on that statement Defence Secretary GR’s emphasis on majority and minority communities is totally wrong.

    Forget about the Indian Model and India when addressing the “minority” issues in Sri Lanka. There are other customs and traditions among “ethnic” and “ethno-religious” communities of SL. Sinhalese and Tamils follow the astrological guide and celebrate New Year in April. In paddy cultivation Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities follow the “Yala” and “Maha” seasons.

    However, in regard to matrimony in Sinhala Buddhist, Sinhala Christian and Tamil Hindu and Tamil Christian communities, polygamy has no place in their customs but Muslims are permitted to marry more wives. Sinhala and Tamil Communities abide by the civil law in matters pertaining to marriages (no harems!!!) but Muslims? (Is it Sharia Law or custom???)

    My point in emphasizing the cultural aspect is that apart from the issues of state language and state religion, there are no burning issues of “minorities”. It is apparent that Prof. LF is “conveniently” overlooking the strong statements made by Prime Ministers of Australia, where Prof. LF is a citizen. Without mixing words they stated that those who decide to settle down Australia, must accept Australian Laws and those who do not like can get out.

    SL has no place for those “Sri Lankans” who rely on India, USA, UK, Commonwealth, UNO or Middle East and CNN, Al Jazeera and BBC to get their internal problems highlighted and addressed. We have to decide on one state language essentially and one state religion only if the legislature decides that SL should not be a secular state. The slogan of socialists that “two languages one state and one language two states” is not valid anymore like the socialists and socialism.

    I am not a politician nor I am a political scientist but I believe that the present constitution of SL permits citizens to express their opinion. I am doing this as a true Sri Lankan with my both feet firmly on Sri Lankan soil. Both Tamil and Sinhala diaspora of USA, Europe and Australia are preaching “hatred” while enjoying the “freedom of expression” in the countries they live comfortably.

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      Dear Professional,

      The fact of the matter is whatever we say or think the existence of majorities and minorities is the reality in this world. I agree that we however should not overblow the issue, by word or deed. Nevertheless we should be able to discuss it.

      I have expressed my misgivings from the beginning about President’s statement on ‘there would be no minorities’ in 2005 and thereafter while supporting him in his major policies. He never explained what he meant and it appears that different people interpret it differently. If you interpret it to mean that no one should treat the Tamils or Muslims as minorities or differently, that is a positive policy. But if you interpret it to imply that we should eliminate the separate existence of them through assimilation; that is an unacceptable policy. I don’t have any objection of GR using the terms of ‘majority’ and ‘minority’ but it of course overtly contradicts what MR stated.

      I appreciate your efforts to highlight commonalities between various communities and that is one way of going about reconciliation. However, I cannot agree with you that “there are no burning issues of minorities now.” Let me give you one example. I (and others) have been highlighting the issue of non-formation of the Northern Provincial Council after the end of the war. So much of delay was unacceptable. Then came the efforts to dilute the 13th Amendment and/or as GR advocated complete abolition. If you consider these are not burning issues I think you are either prejudiced or living in a dream world. It is good that the President has now decided to hold the elections. I trust that he should do it without amending the 13A.

      You have referred to some statements by Australian Prime Ministers (plural) without any connection that I can see. But Australia is a country which accepts multiculturalism and protects minority rights. Just few days ago a new Cabinet took oath and a Muslim minister used Koran for his swearing in. But in Sri Lanka under the present regime the National Anthem cannot be sung in Tamil! Have you forgotten about it? You take issue that I now live in Australia and criticise Sri Lanka. I am not criticising Sri Lanka but the government. I migrated abroad in 1984 but decided to come and serve the country in 1997. That was partly an Australian contribution to Sri Lanka! I came back to Australia only after retirement. I mainly consider myself to be a citizen of the world. Of course Sri Lanka is my beloved country. I in fact lament for my country.

      You believe that the present Constitution permits citizens to express their opinion. Yes, it does in Article 14. But how many times it has been violated? I agree that there are some improvements. But why can’t we get together and eliminate the violations? I can write from Sydney. I’ll try my best not to be offensive to anyone. But I have a question to you: Why do you use a pseudonym? Why don’t you use your full freedom of expression? It will be useful for others.

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        “But Australia is a country which accepts multiculturalism and protects minority rights. Just few days ago a new Cabinet took oath and a Muslim minister used Koran for his swearing in. But in Sri Lanka under the present regime the National Anthem cannot be sung in Tamil! Have you forgotten about it?”

        Can you sing Australian National Anthem in Sinhala?

        “I mainly consider myself to be a citizen of the world. Of course Sri Lanka is my beloved country. I in fact lament for my country.”

        We also lament for our country while living in Sri Lanka.

        “But I have a question to you: Why do you use a pseudonym? Why don’t you use your full freedom of expression? It will be useful for others.”

        I will. But I am waiting for the day the Right Access Information and Whistle Blowers Protection Bills are approved by the parliament.

        Thanks for responses.

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    Rajapakses engaged in Good Cop, Bad Cop. PSC thrown in for good measure. ‘How to Confuse Enemies and Influence People’. Make as many contradictory statements as possible, but the final goal is a Rajapakse led Sinhala Buddhist Hegemony.

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    The writer reiterates long rectified impediments supposed to have affected the minorities in the past. Besides, he should know that the Sinhala people do not call themselves Sinhala Buddhists. This coinage of words is used to divide the Sinhala people. If this person is so gravely concerned about the rights of the minorities he should spell out lucidly the specifics of any lapses in this regard so that the Defense Secretary is given an opportunity to rectify them. The historical special place given to Buddhism should not be an issue. Ask an average non Buddhist whether it is so. It is very unethical to concoct stories that might endanger peace.

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    Today political stage no good leaders who is honesty & can lead to economic revolution.Still MR is leading some areas.The present leader must need intellectual relation & follow the advise of them. BUT IT IS VERY HARD TO HIM.Only solution is removing the kit &kin from political & administrative stage.One time he is the best discipline family in political stage.But his sons spoil the entire images.Ranil having all the values of qualities but not a good patient listener.Have to remove all old age politicians.

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    Dear Laksiri,
    It is a worth Article,

    The following are good points Laksiri,

    He was fairly a good Defence Secretary during the war but not after.

    Like the JHU or the BBS he belongs to a breed of extremists who wanted to deny that the minorities have any grievances as minorities.

    If one wants to identify the key human rights issue in Sri Lanka today then that is undoubtedly the minority rights issue.

    It is necessary to ask whether this is the government policy in ‘resolving the ethnic problem’ by converting the North and the East as majority Sinhalese provinces?

    Devolution should be there not because of India but because it is the right thing to do in the direction of resolving the ethnic question as well as democratizing the country.

    It appears that the Defence Secretary does not have the common sense or the patience to realize that in resolving or in trying to resolve a problem in one area or a sector does not necessarily mean that all the problems in others area would automatically be resolved. This is why bipartisan or bi-ethnic (cross-ethnic) approaches are necessary in provincial administration and some have even suggested committee system of government of the Donoughmore type. In contrast, the Defence Secretary’s approach seems to be like a ‘total solution or none at all.’

    How can the people think as ‘one nation,’ as he claimed to be the solution for the country’s problems, when the most powerful Defence Secretary talks on behalf of the majority community?

    Or otherwise there can be valid suspicions that he keeps the defence portfolio in order to prepare for a military takeover aligning with the Sinhalese extremist groups like the JHU and the BBS.

    I really enjoyed Laksiri reading this.

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    Absence of logic is the hallmark of this article. When Defense Secretary talks of the current status of the minorities the writer goes back half a century or more. He should have answered the questions raised by the Defense Secretary on the current status of minorities in business and education as of now. The hackneyed arguments of disenfranchising plantation Tamils, standardization and the place of Buddhism have been adequately met decades back.
    Just to remind the learned professor- In most countries franchise is dependent on citizenship and the issue of the citizenship of Plantation Tamils was decided before independence. The issue was amicably settled with the Indian government. It is relevant to quote the Privy Council determination on this. Quote “The British Privy Council, which was the final Court of Appeal, in the case of Kodakan Pillai v Madanayake [1953] All England Reports 833, responded to these submissions as follows: “It is a perfectly natural and legitimate function of a country to determine the composition of its nationals……the migratory habits of the Indian Tamils are facts….. which are directly relevant to their suitability to be citizens of Ceylon and have nothing to do with them as a community”
    I hope as person swears by the RULE OF LAW will not reject the Privy Council determination as discrimination.
    Indian Tamils who did not have citizenship were not eligible to vote. Do our workers in the Middle East even with many years of residence in those countries entitled to vote in those countries?
    As far as Standardization was concerned it was not an act of penalizing Tamil students but an affirmative action to rectify a disadvantage experienced by Sinhala students. Anyway standardization on a media basis lasted only a couple of years. May I refer to the study by the prestigious Marga Institute on the the status of University admissions of the Tamil stream just before the 1983 riots.
    Table 7- University Admissions by ethnicity- 1981/82
    Arts -oriental studies 16.3
    Law 24.0
    Physical Sciences 33.5
    Biological Sciences 26.1
    Medicine 25.3
    Engineering 28.5

    Even with the Standardization in 1975 the percentage of Tamil Students entering the University exceeded their population ratio.
    Table 6 University Admissions 1975
    Medicine & Dental Surgery 22.1 % Engineering & Science 19.3 %
    It must be noted the population of Sri Lanka Tamils plus Indian Tamils in 1981 was 18.2 %
    Sri Lankan Tamils were 12.7 of the population. It is well known that only a handful of Indian Tamil students enter the University. If this is taken in to account it is noted that the Ceylon Tamil Student intake was more than double their population ratio.

    The writer’s remark on the foremost place of Buddhism is pathetic. This is a condition coming from the days of the Kandyan convention. Buddhism with close upon 70 percent adherents in the country is not a State religion. In Islamic countries not only Islam is the State religion but it pervades the laws of the country. In UK the Queen is the Head of both the Church and the State. There are only a few strictly secular countries in the world and in most of them historical compulsions were the reason for such separation of state and religion eg. USA and India.

    The writer is totally biased and/or is working on an alien agenda. It is regrettable that his distorted arguments cannot be adequately met in a short blog.
    His final statement that the Defense Secretary is preparing for a military takeover is malicious and has not being even mentioned by any of the opposition parties
    including the TNA or the Diaspora. This is a dangerous allegation but a great example of media freedom.

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      So-called Vichara says, “Absence of logic is the hallmark of this article. When Defense Secretary talks of the current status of the minorities the writer goes back half a century or more.”

      What logic Vichara is talking about? What is wrong in ‘going back to half a century or more’ when Vichara goes back to the Kandyan Convention (1815) to justify the ‘foremost place for Buddhism? Discrimination is there here and now unless we address them genuinely. I have given the most historic injustices. To speak of some examples of the current status: Why can’t the Tamils sing the National Anthem in Tamil? Why was the NPC election delayed by four years after the end of the war? Why did the government want to dilute the 13th before the NPC election after holding all other elections under the 13?

      Yes I repeat my final warning: “It appears that he has very clear political ambitions and if that is so he should resign or he should be removed…Or otherwise there can be valid suspicions that he keeps the defence portfolio in order to prepare for a military takeover aligning with the Sinhalese extremist groups like the JHU and the BBS.”

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    It is a very good analysis. Bensen

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    Dr your comment on gota is on persannal issue . It will take ages for you to lern the ground realitty . Do not play just for INGO $

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    you are totally wrong ,he is the best secretary and only man has capacity understand what is in the mind of Tamil terrorist and their future plans.

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    I am glad that Dr L..F. has replied without again hiding behind history. The lack of logic is your ‘malle pol’ response to the simple question raised by the Defense Secy i.e. : “who are the top businessmen in this country? Is there a restriction in terms of education for the minorities in this country? Is there any sort of restriction for a Muslim or a Tamil to enter university?”. Why is Dr.L.F live in the present and response to those questions? The only conclusion is that he is unable to give a candid answer and going back to history. Worse is he resorts to ad hominem which is the shield of a person lacking credible answers.
    In his current response he brings in some trivial issues without replying to my explanations on the three issues regarding franchise, standardization and Buddhism. Learned Doctor must accept the explanation or rebut them.
    Let us look at the current status of discrimination allude to by him.
    Why can’t the Tamils sing the National Anthem in Tamil?
    The purpose of a national anthem is to instill patriotism and nationalism in the citizens. Nationalism is best instilled in a single language. That is why India with a number of rich official languages has its national anthem only in Bengali. Malaysia has different state anthems but only one national anthem which is in Malay. If the people agree that the National anthem be in Tamil let it be so. But it should be the only national anthem.

    Why was the NPC election delayed by four years after the end of the war?
    It is because the people had to be resettled in their original habitat so that they become entitled to vote. Even today the Muslim and Sinhalese population evicted have not being resettled in Jaffna.
    Why did the government want to dilute the 13th before the NPC election after holding all other elections under the 13?
    It is because the provisions in the13th Amendment which restrict the powers of the Central Government of a Unitary State have to be removed before an anti unitary and anti national Provincial Council is established.
    Dr.L.F. is trying to create a ‘goni billa’out of the Defense Secretary. The persons who would have set up a military dictatorship in the country would have had the active support of Dr.LF in the recent past.

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    Oh Vichara!

    ‘Malle Pol’ thinking is on your part asking me to answer some questions of DS when he himself should have answered them as he was the interviewee before the Daily Mirror. I was not. As a critic, I did comment that these are some age old questions, or better said tricks, to claim all problems are the same. That is sufficient for an intelligent reader.

    But for your benefit, let me say that the people who ask the question “who are the top businessmen in this country?” do invariably have resentment against the Tamil and Muslim businessmen. Some people even go beyond the resentment for action and that is exactly what happened when BBS goons attacked several ‘No Limit’ establishments.

    If you take the proportion of Tamil medium schools for Tamil speaking population, Tamil teachers for Tamil medium students and number of fully equipped schools in the North and the East etc. on a comparative basis, the question: “Is there any restrictions in terms of education for the minorities in this country?” would be answered. Even if you allude that the war was the reason, still there are restrictions that policy makers like DS have to admit and rectify. On his part there was no sensitivity to the minority question at all. It is the same in your case.

    “Is there any restrictions in terms of education for a Muslim or a Tamil to enter university?” Well, I frankly cannot give you a full answer but my information is that there are disadvantages to enter at least to some preferred universities. UGC should answer this after an investigation by an independent panel. But there are definitely some restrictions after they enter. Let me tell you what I knew of before my retirement at the University of Colombo. Tamil medium students enter but often they have to follow Sinhala medium or English medium classes. If they want to follow special degrees some have to go to Peradeniya.

    In my way of thinking, raising these kinds of questions and even answering them in polemical fashion, I underline ‘polemical fashion,’ are not very good for the country. They are more divisive and negative. This is one reason why I limited my critic to historically established matters. But you were extremely pushy, perhaps mistakenly believing everything is hunky dory. There was lot of negative and divisive ways of raising and answering questions in DS’ interview.

    Do you still want me to deal with the ‘foremost place for Buddhism’ in the Constitution? If so this is my challenge. Come in your real name and write to the Colombo Telegraph criticising my article I will respond. Don’t hide behind a pseudonym. You can also answer why the government is now backtracking on diluting the 13th Amendment.

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      DS may have said it, but you are the one that took umbrage at it and took up the so called historical discrimination.Those are distortions of facts which I did not expect from a University don, Regarding sensitivity to minority issues, what is called for is enlightened sensitivity not synthetic sensitivity used as a marketing gimmick.
      You are inventing another anti Sinhalese slogan claiming that their is resentment against Tamil and Muslim businesses. To justify this you cite one isolated incident. What a scientific conclusion? If there is resentment even against this one firm it would have gone out of business by now.
      As a person who has been involved with education at the highest level you should have been more specific on the problems of Tamil students in the field of education. Tamil students being sent to Peradeniya should be considered a privilege.
      I do no consider everything is hunky dory. Far from it. But I consider criticism must be based on facts and not on distortion of facts. Facts are sacred.
      Your challenge that I should reveal my name is frivolous.Have you noted that in this blog out of 40 only a very few are under their real names. I can reveal that I am not an ex University don and does not have a Doctorate.
      A name is irrelevant to have an intelligent dialogue on a subject. I am sure you have heard of the saying that ‘What is important is not who said it but what has been said.”
      So please have your say on the place of Buddhism. If you wish me to talk about the backtracking on 13A please clarify.
      Before that do not evade responding on my comments on your distortions on franchise and standardization.

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    The writer is promoting law of the jungle by ambiguous statements. Yes, some of his thoughts are okay on ideal circumstances and highly developed democracies like USA. Yet he fail to describe how Americans have failed democracy by invading countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. Also they created havoc in Serbia and Sudan on unilateral action. On the other hand we have to recognize that the DS have a bigger problem in hand to maintain peace in the country and also not allowing unscrupulous elements to use the so called freedoms to create chaos in the country. With all said and done the Tamil parties have so far done nothing to reconcile and bring dividends of peace in the country. They always blame the government. How about them doing something for the benefit of their own people now that the treat of LTTE is not there on their heads.

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