30 September, 2020

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If Parliament Breaks Constitution, Should Tamils Also?

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

He that Steals an Egg will Steal and Ox

By the time this piece appears in print on Sunday 13th, Parliament would have decided on the CJ issue; to either vote for her impeachment or obey the courts’ determination that the Parliamentary Select Committee’s finding is null and void.

If Parliament chooses to impeach the CJ, it would be a brazen violation of the constitution and kill any democratic semblance the country has maintained despite the killing of 70,000 Tamils and myriad journalists, the curtailment of the press, buying of MPs, election violence, and many cabinet members being implicated in murder. The sixth amendment fiasco of 1983 that disfranchised Tamils and provoked Tamil militancy, seems unnecessary if we dismember the constitution now.

President Rajapaksa’s main plank was that he had saved the country from Tamil separatism. If the impeachment happens as predicted, it would do exactly what Rajapaksa claims he prevented. For if Parliament does not obey the constitution, why would Tamils want to obey the constitution that prohibits separatism in Art. 20.157(2)? The present crisis, with the ill treatment that the Rajapaksas give Tamils, is a strong argument against the Rajapaksa legacy which really makes Tamils want to separate. It should give pause to the Rajapaksas as they think of over-turning the constitution on the road to the anarchy they have charted in reaching for unlimited power.

Float or Sink Together

A people does well and does good when living collectively with other peoples. The right thing must be done this weekend; but I have little hope. The Tamils and Sinhalese will float or sink together, depending on the outcome.

In 2008/9 the Sinhalese broadly seemed to have lost all democratic values and ready to allow the government a free hand, even to kill Tamil civilians. The BASL resolution against the UN Report to Ban Ki-Moon was a symptom of that time. Few sane voices were heard. That margin given to the Rajapaksas to do anything to defeat the LTTE led us to this current impasse. Like most people, they could not help arrogating more power when they were given carte blanche.

Change

This present moment holds the potential for change. The Sinhalese polity is now more cognizant of the dangers from the blank cheque it gave Rajapaka to fill. Suddenly almost every commentator is in agreement on the enormity of the current situation and the regime ruling over us. Even the few intellectuals who were working with the Rajapaksas like Dayan Jayatilleke and Rajiva Wijesingha have publicly come out against the impeachment, the former calling it “a Perfect Blunder.” Although the impeachment of the CJ would be yet another nail in the coffin of Sri Lanka’s democracy, it may yet be an important step in the long-term as it has coalesced an understanding that reasserts the integrity of the Constitution and rule of law.

R. Sampanthan: Jaffna Development

Mr. R. Sampanthan is firmly entrenched as Tamil leader. He is not a separatist and his leadership is wise. He does not object to the reasonable presence of the army and his views are widely accepted by Tamils in Sri Lanka. There is some criticism that the TNA is like an Elders’ Home, for example, or that no parliamentarian has visited the detained university students. But generally Sampanthan can carry the Tamil people with him in any agreement.

Occasional signs of development are seen in Jaffna because the government has crafted its entire Tamil policy believing that economic tidbits are an acceptable substitute for political dignity. Only a few Tamil entrepreneurs have had the confidence to return – Gnanam’s Studio and Subash Hotel for example. Without dignity, even good things fail to satisfy. The magnificent 4-storey Tilko Hotel has come up next to the Post Office. But people think the Sinhalese are colonizing and ask why multi-storey buildings are refused for the university as impracticable and, according to S.B. Dissanayake, too expensive in terms of electricity bills for elevators. Planned high rise flats in Chundikuli at some Rs. 14 mn each are also seen as colonization. The raised plush roads are blocking the free flow of water, and people forced to pay spot fines for mosquito breeding ask if they are to drink the water in their compounds. The hurried repairs to Hospital Road and the extension of Palaly Road from Ariyakulam to Vembadi are dismissed as political stunts for the opening of a new 4-storey block at the hospital on Pongal by the President – an event suddenly cancelled because of the political and physical climate.

Showing Muscle at Jaffna University

Instead of reaching a political settlement with Sampanthan, the government is on the foolhardy mission of demonstrating power with economic crumbs. Higher Education’s S.B. Dissanayake has threatened their own EPDP VC, boasting to the Sunday Times “I have told the university authorities that, willingly or unwillingly, we will have to close the university, even for one year, if campus activities are not normalized.”

On Monday the harassed VC promised Deans that she had been privately assured by Dissanayake that if they reopened he would get the students released by Pongal. She added pressure threatening to resign if the university is not reopened, and then repeated it to the media. She started off on the wrong foot on her first day when she castigated students for disrespecting her, the VC, by coming in T-shirts. Moreover anyone with EPDP associations like her is viewed with disdain in Jaffna. Thus students have adamantly refused to attend classes, issuing caustic comments against her in private.

But the Deans were persuaded and the university reopened for classes on Jan. 8. A few students came and went off seeing few others there. The authorities hope that once students from outside Jaffna see the newspaper notices announcing the reopening, some would report, and more would return if examinations are held on Jan 16.

To defuse matters a meeting was held on Jan. 10 at the university between the Council and the parents of those arrested and then released. Indicating where government lawlessness is leading, a heated argument arose between two EPDP Councillors – while Shereen Xavier spoke of law and order, Sripathy countered that when there is neither justice nor law and order in the country, there is no need for the university to observe rules and regulations. The parents were lost.

Army in Peacetime: Rape and EPDP Pretences

The army in the meantime is reportedly visiting some Kilinochchi students in their homes, persuading them to report, thereby visibly interfering in civilian matters. A retarded woman escaped from the Thellippalai hospital, and the police and GS took her to Moolai where she was refused admission. She was then dropped off at the junction of the Vaddukoddai and Moolai Roads, an isolated area except for soldiers. She disappeared on Dec. 8 and a few days later her body was recovered from a well. A judicial report declared her to have been raped. Following adverse publicity from a four-year-old’s rape and murder in Mandaitivu under the EPDP and navy, the EPDP made a charade of demanding why the culprit had not been caught and then, as if to pacify their protectors, tried to change the Jaffna Municipality’s lyric by inserting a section praising Buddhism. The EPDP’s detractor, Uthayan newspaper, on Jan. 10 had two employees delivering newspapers to agents attacked. One escaped riding into a police station but the other had his bones broken and motorbike burnt.

As the bumbling army denies it is occupying civilian lands and injecting itself into civilian matters, its prevarication was bared when French Ambassador Christine Robichon and her delegation testified this week that they personally observed the army’s intrusive dealings.

Holding to Promises

On Friday, Parliament will have an opportunity to do the wise and right thing on impeachment. Failing that, as likely, their resolution will go to Rajapaksa. In 2010, he pledged a commitment to human rights, peace, pluralism and equality. He must read his old speeches as he plays Solomon – for, the rule of law is foundational to all these things.

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    A group of Tamil Christians led by SJV Chelva and GG Ponnambalam joined with anti-Hindu castes in Madras to create a separate Tamil country. Those who opposed to this plan supported MahindaR.

    Under JRJ 1978 Bahubootha (crazy) constitution and election system only crooks can become MPs and MPs is from the Colombo party leaders list. With this set up MR used all the tricks and saved SL from Tamil separatism using his brother Gotabhaya.

    Therefore people support him, but that does not mean people support his manifestly wrong acts even though the society is so corrupt and MR cannot alone stop it. But the govt does not show any willingness to stop corruption.

    99% of those who opposed govt and 100% of NGOs trying to derail govt are Christian-based. You are also a Christian, Tamil and English-speaking who benefited from free education that SJVC and GGP and Naganathan, Thiruchelvams opposed.
    Low caste Tamils got some thing because of Sinhala people govts.

    Unless you give up separatism which you support secretly you cannot expect what you preach.

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      Take this as a challenge Mr. Wijeyawickrema…. Can you name the Chrsistian leaders of Fedral Party/Tamils Liberation Front/Tamils United Liberation Front other than SJV Chelavanayagam and I will name 5 non-Christian leaders at equal or higher level. There are rumors that Prabaharan himself is a christian. Are you one of them? Put up or shut up.

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        Rohan,

        There were several Tamil Christian leaders in the Federal Party. Naganathan was one. Samuel James Chelvanayakam was another. These two were the leaders and founders in 1949. Nesiah was another although he did not contest the polls.

        The Federal Party lost the polls in the Tamil heartland in 1952. Chelvanayakam himself lost his seat in Kankesanturai to the Communist Party candidate. What provided a major fillip to the party fortunes was the rabid opportunism, racism and linguistic chauvanism of S.W.R.D Bandaranaike in 1956.

        In the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) led by Amirthalingam, the church leadership worked from behind the scenes. The 1977 TULF landslide in the North had much to do with the organizational support of both the Roman Catholic and Church of South India institutions. Xavier of Jaffna, Soosaithasan of Mannar and Joseph Pararajasingham of Batticaloa were key TULF members. The Bishops of Mannar and Jaffna were staunch backers of the TULF. It would be pertinent to add that what provided momentum to the TULF was the hardline Sinhalese policies of Sirimavo Bandaranaike in the 1970s.

        With the LTTE, we had Anton Stanislaus Balasingham as de facto number 2. As per the 2012 census, Christians, Roman Catholic and Protestant, are about 14% of the Tamil population in Sri Lanka. But their political clout has to a certain extent declined at the grass roots with the defeat of the LTTE in 2009. Sumantiran is the last of the Tamil Christian hardliners.

        Its time to move beyond that communal angle and emphasis affinity with progressive anti-Rajapakse strands amongst the Sinhalese. Tamil communalism has failed us as a people. Its time to integrate. Hinduism emphasizes inclusivism. Lets reach out to the Buddhists and Muslims, not oppose blindly and raise the communal cry as Hoole often does. Hatred will take us no where.

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          linguistic chauvanism of S.W.R.D Bandaranaike in 1956.

          Tamilian:

          Only unifying force among Tamils is TAMIL which a Language. In that sense, If SWRD wanted only Sinhala why it was wrong.

          Tamils are living all over the world and talk every language in the world and talk about Tamil in Sri Lanka. Why is that ?

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    Sambandan lead TNA broke away from the constitution and docked on to Praba’s version . Now Sambandan is trying to return.

    The above is the general consesus of the great majority of the inhabitant population.

    They also think that the reason Mr Sambandan put,Sumanthiran ,the new kid on the block to defend the Constitution and the CJ is that he has no LTTE baggage, although he clearly has a conflict of interest.

    If TNA supporting Hools ,both local and overseas want Sambandan as the CM they also should show that they want to dock on to the real thing and allow the GOSL to hold elections.

    Tiger puppies or feral cats in the Campus,is not a conducive envronment for free and fair elections.

    Besides, there are non Tamil politicians who are working tirelessly to help the inhabitants in the North.

    They need protection from LTTE supporters, especially when TNA MPs like Sidarthan allow explosives to be kept in their electoral offices.

    That way the GOSL can hold Elections according to the Constitution.

    But Hools can’t have it both ways.

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    //Besides, there are non Tamil politicians who are working tirelessly to help the inhabitants in the North.//

    Name a few?

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    I am sorry to see the moderate Mr Wijewickrema somewhat out of his tree here. GGP was not a Christian. The time SJV/GGP they held fort is different to the post-2006 MR period by half a century. The DMK wave of the 1950s quietly petered out with the passage of time as Nehru judiciously met many of their demands without risking Separation there. The DMK ruled from CN Annadurai’s time till now – sometimes under different leaderships and names but retaining the DMK nomenclature.

    I am sorry Tamil Christians are marked for attack by Mr CW although I find it curious Hoole – here, there and everywhere these days – titles his regular articles now in a manner to arouse the Sinhalese. While here he speculates if Tamils will resist the Constitution in another recent piece he irresponsibly asks if Tamils are loyal to the country.

    Incidentally, why did not the Lankan Sinhala and English media give prominence to Father Emmanuel’s recent accomadative interview where he fondly referred to the Sinhalese as “his brothers” and made reference to the Buddhist-Christian partnerships he worked hard to create while he served in Kandy? Is the analogy of dog bites man is not news but man bites do is very much at work here.

    The imaginary bogey of separatism – an understandable Sinhala fear – will not go away until Tamils are restored their right to enjoy running their local affairs of looking after themselves. The minority radical youth among them will always view unpleasant alternatives so long as the National Question is allowed to remain on fire indefinitely. Excesses of the more truant elements of the army in the North-East in dealing with the public will only go to fuel the fire.

    Senguttuvan

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    Ratnajeevan Hoole had earlier published several vitriolic anti-Hindu articles for which he had been roundly condemned by many Tamils. Many accused him of religious hatred against Tamil Hinduism. Hoole now makes the case for Tamils to oppose the constitution. This is michevious as it comes from a Tamil who is no longer resident in Sri Lanka.

    Tamils in Sri Lanka have more important concerns such as their livelihood, their security and the future. Its time to lie low and not dabble in cheap sectarian political gimmicks. 85% of the Tamils are Hindus and despite our perception of substantial discrimination independence, need to live with the 70% Sinhalese Buddhist majority in Sri Lanka.

    All this is not to deny the brazen unconstitutional moves of the President. Mahinda Rajapakse is a demagogue and is politically dishonest. His a barely veiled family kleptocracy. But let us oppose that as Sri Lankans, not as Tamil secessionists. In short, I ask Hoole to desist from whipping up the flames of racial hatred as he is often wont to do. We will in turn focus on more constructive solutions.

    One such constructive move would be to work towards the removal of the Executive Presidency,a move that most Sri Lankans would now support after the Mahinda unilateral attempts to crush any one with a different opinion.

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      //But let us oppose that as Sri Lankans, not as Tamil secessionists. //

      Well said!

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    First, Professori Hoole must be reminded that, of the courts’ determination he refers as the Parliamentary Select Committee’s finding is null and void, is now named as a bias judgement that brought disrepute to the Court of Appeal by the majority (5) of Appeal Court judges. That is what majority judges there intimated to the President of the Appeal Court Justice Skandarajah in writing. I am sure, more details of this bias judgement and Haultsdrop coups and conspiracies would come to light in due course when the CJ is fired and locked out of her chambers in the next few days.

    Crux of the matter is, with a margin from the UN or not, Rajapakse had vanquished separatist LTTE. And for that reason separatists like Hooles didn’t go the way Amirthalingam, Thiruchelvam and et al did but saved their skin. If I remember right rump LTTE put Tamil deaths at 150,000 and not 70,000 as Hoole says. But, anyone interested to know the true figures can read it at the dept of census and statistics website done by Tamils officers.

    Hoole is a first class bigot and an ace racist. He is a known anti Buddhist. All his speeches and writing are demagogic and not of intellectual type and always embedded with hate filled racist ideals but a third rate trouble maker. He has no guts to face a real life situation. When Hoole had to confront Devananda, he ran like a rabbit. He is nothing like that Gunarathnam.

    This chauvinist should not be allowed near this island. Reading comments by many anti government Tamils in Sinhala garb and those that back SF in 2010, Hoole thinks majority Sri Lanka oppose MR now. He is indeed living in a fool’s paradise.

    Without telling MR to read his old speeches, I think it’s better for Hooles if only they read that Waddukkodai declaration of May 14th, 1976 and analyse what went wrong for Tamils. But, it looks as if they are preparing to sing the same old song.
    Leela

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    It appears to me Justice Sri Skandarajah dutifully carried out his functions without fear or favour. That other judges ganged up
    against him tastelessly is symbolic of our times and is nothing but an
    effort to curry favours with the ruling clique. In the culture now encouraged by the regime, it will be difficult for judicial officers from the minority communities to carry on with their functions without pressure and intimidation. So much for the independence of our
    judicial process.

    Senguttuvan

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    what tamils should do is to break the backbones of hybrid mongrels.

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    NOTHING CAN BE ACHIEVED BY TERRORIZING.

    NOWADAYS EVEN AN INFANT TERRORIZES THE PARENT INTO SUBMISSION.

    ONE SHOULD STAND UP TO TERRORISM.

    IT APPEARS THE GOVERNMENT WHO TOOK THE VOTES FROM THE PEOPLE AND GOT INTO PARLIAMENT HAS STARTED TERRORIZING THE VERY SAME PEOPLE WHO PUT THEM INTO THE PARLIAMENT.

    THE SAME WAY THE VERY SAME PEOPLE SHOULD GET THEM OUT AND PUNISH THEM FOR ALL THE WRONG DONE.

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