20 September, 2018

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Jaffna – Beginning To Awake As Provincial Elections Seem Nearing

Jaffna Lulled

After the Local Government Elections and the deals and counter deals made for the Chairmanship of LG Bodies, Jaffna had been quiet. Lulled into boredom, as it were. 

Any visceral activity threatening the sense of quietude was in the courts where the Tamil Congress has been faring badly. Its unsuccessful Jaffna mayoral candidate V. Manivannan is out on Rs. 50,000 bail after threatening to launch attacks on a Member of the Election Commission. 

V. Manivannan’s Woes

Worse has befallen Manivannan. The Court of Appeal’s case number CA 218/2018 asks for the removal of Manivannan from being a JMC representative. That suit alleges Manivannan’s ineligibility to be a member of the Jaffna Municipal Council (JMC) based on residence. To challenge the election of anybody in Jaffna, cases need to be filed in the High Court in Jaffna within a period of a month or two. After that, it has to be done at the Court of Appeals. Seeking to give everything a communal slant, the Tamil Congress alleged that the case was filed in Colombo to get Sinhalese judges to preside. Some lawyers felt that the charge constituted Contempt of Court.

Court papers show that Manivannan was not registered as a voter inside the Jaffna Municipal Council area, and to all appearances had no eligibility to be so registered – the either-or clause to be eligible to be a candidate  His party had published photographs of his voting elsewhere (in Kokkuvil West). His nomination papers had the fudged Jaffna address of Sir Pon Ramanathan Veethy for him with no house number. In court, he claimed an address in Vannarponnai within the JMC but was not registered as a resident there on the householders’ list. The chief householder at the Vannarponnai address was or had been a Tamil Congress candidate. For his identity card issued by the JMC after it met in March 2018, he had given his Kokkuvil address where he had his vote. On top of this there are allegations of a forged deed being produced in court to prove residence – the date of the deed to a property purchased after the elections altered to a day before the elections.

Based on this evidence the court issued an interim stay order preventing the former Tamil Congress star from functioning as a JMC Member. “What if he had become Mayor and the Mayor is debarred from functioning as a member? It was irresponsible to have put him forward as a candidate,” exclaimed a Senior Citizen and G.G. Ponnambalam admirer.

A similar case (CA217/2018), has led to a stay order preventing the EPDP’s Velummylum Kuhenthiran from functioning as JMC Member. His address has been filed in nomination papers as 223 Stanley Road, Jaffna which is the address of Sridhar Theatre which has  been forcibly occupied by the EPDP and which occupation is being challenged in a separate case. Kuhenthiran is a Sri Lanka-Canada dual citizen,

Plaintiffs in both election cases were represented by Sumanthiran. It shows why he is attracting so much flak. 

Stubborn Ineptitude

Said a wag, “Tamil Congress’ TMPF leader, Chief Minister Wigneswaran, despite his Supreme Court experience, did not know how to sack properly a minister who was implicated in corruption. The firing was improper because the Chief Minister could not remove him but had to recommend his removal to the Governor. Now the legality of the sacked minister’s replacement is being brought into question because if the firing was improper, his replacement broke the 4-minister limit on a Provincial Council. It seems a pattern of incompetency. We have a bunch of TNPF lawyers who are unable to do a simple nomination right.”

The NPC Opposition Leader Thavarajah adds, “The Governor has graciously offered a solution – for the CM to recommend the removal now even at this late stage  and make the number of permissible ministers right. But the CM does not want to admit error. He will not make that recommendation.”

Out of the Doldrums with Elections on the Horizon

When queried, Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole of the Election Commission told this reporter that all parties in parliament have agreed to finalize the provincial delimitation report in two months and, taking them at the word, the Commission at its meeting on 03 Sept. had asked staff to get ready for elections in January, assuming that the commitment would be kept.

With Chief Minister Wigneswaran probably readying to launch a mass movement, Jaffna’s political firmament is shifting. His mass movement embraces mainly the Ponnambalam Tamil Congress and the EPRLF (Suresh Wing). Where PLOTE will go is uncertain. 

TNA’s M.A. Sumanthiran, as reported in Colombo Telegraph, spoke in the Sinhalese language on the subject of Constitutional Reform in Galle. Reform is a matter of urgency since the TNA’s future depends on whether they can show returns on their cooperation with the government.

In that speech, Sumanthiran insisted that the Sinhalese majority must accept a new constitution:  “In a country with a permanent majority it is important to share powers of governance in such a way that all peoples have equal citizenship rights. Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese majority must itself acknowledge the injustice of simple majoritarian rule and clamour for reform and justice for other peoples.” 

This meeting in Galle was the seventh of a series of meetings to pitch for a new constitution. Alluding to the compromises required for peace, he said, “All the problems of the Tamil People would not be solved by a new Constitution, but a new Constitution is a fundamental necessity.”

It was, observers agreed, a good speech rallying people to support a new inclusive constitution. However, The Virakesari (31 Aug.) reported Sumanthiran as saying federalism may not be necessary to have a constitution advancing the equality of all citizens. 

The Tamil press emphasized Sumanthiran’s move away from federalism. The Sinhalese press stressed Sumanthiran’s charge of communal domination by the Sinhalese. It was journalistic sensationalism. Overall, however, may observers this writer spoke to saw Sumanthiran’s position as balanced and sensible.

Sumanthiran the Traitor?

Seemingly readying for elections, Suresh Premachandran’s brother Dr. Sarveswaran, presently Minister of Education in the Provincial Government, fired the first salvo in the Northern Provincial Council,  finding fault with Sumanthiran for compromising on what he called “samashti,” that is federalism. Sarveswaran revived and threw the LTTE-era thurohi (traitor) label at Sumanthiran and  accused the ITAK/TNA of letting down the Tamils by compromising with the government. 

Queried by the press yesterday, 3 September, Sumanthiran responded aggressively: “You are focusing on a small bit of my 40 minute speech which has been taken out of context by a person in the NPC who is called a Minister. Never in my life did I stand at a junction and remove people’s heads or betray Tamil youth by nodding. When people so endangered came running to Colombo I sheltered them.” It was a not-so-oblique reference understood by anyone who lived through the harrowing experience of war and seeing EPLF cadre wearing sacks over their heads and nodding as the army paraded suspected LTTE cades before collaborators. It was an allusion to a time when the EPRLF (Suresh Wing) earned the title “Mandayan Kulu”, that is, the group that puts a bullet into people’s heads.

It was a window to the hysterical politics that will emerge as elections near. 

Son of the Soil — Gurukularajah

The ITAK too is in preparation. Recall Thambyrajah Gurukularajah who was removed  by Chief Minister Wigneswaran as Minister of Education prior to Sarveswaran being made Minister. Gurukularajah’s offence was being slow to act when a complaint of a teacher going about on his motorbike with a female student was put to him. Unfortunately Gurukularajah’s impeccable reputation was tarnished when he was removed at the same time as when the financial corruption scandal came to light and another minister was also removed. 

Gurukularajah’s family physcially moved from Jaffna in the 1960s and settled in Paranthan where his father, The Rev. Thambyrajah, established Navajeevanam, a home for homeless boys. After graduating through Madras Christian College, Gurukularajah became a teacher in Kilinochchi and  rose to be Director of Education there. He helped people during the Mullivaikal Msssacres and did yeoman service  to the suffering people. 

He works closely with the UK Charity called KiliPeople, providing several services to the people of Kilinochchi, such as resettlement, job creation, educational training etc.

Gurukularajah was recently awarded in London the coveted title “Son of the Soil,” by Kilipeople. Said a friend of the family, “This surely will warm the heart of his centenarian mother who moved out of Paranthan only during the war and presently lives in Colombo. Gurukularajah is restored fully. He is ready for elections, and for many more years of service in his father’s foot-steps,” said a staunch supporter.

Hot Button Issues

As the provincial elections near, the emergence of land settlement and development as key issues is clear. It was recently that the President promised to remove soldiers from all occupied schools. The army told the president they had three schools occupied in Mullaitivu but there are many more. However, even if they are de-occupied, a key question is whether there are children to be educated there at a time when many schools face a lack of students because of depopulation following the war. Resettlement becomes very important therefore for Tamil revival.

The government’s plans to develop the North left out all MPs but that has  been rectified. Sumanthiran chaired the recent meeting of MPs in Jaffna with government officials.

At the meeting two days ago, Additional GA Muralitharan informed the MPs as follows: “Almost everyone displaced after 2006 has been resettled. What challenges us is addressing the needs of those displaced before 1990. Their lands are in the process of being released. This amounts to 4000 acres. For the present, we have been allocated Rs. 250 million, a mere 5% of the previously received figure of Rs. 6,500 million. 

“Because of the neglect since prior to 1990, the needs are many and diverse: everything from removing the jungle overgrowth to providing housing, lavatories, streets, schools – everything. In 2015 we identified the need for 33,000 houses but we got only 6000. 

“Fifteen hundred refugees have returned from India to their homes. There are another 15,000 in India who need to be accommodated. We still need 27,000 houses more. They will not come until they see the needs of those who have already returned being addressed. Beyond building houses, there is the need to repair many houses.

“In Jaffna District 4,500 acres of land remain occupied by the army. Out of the 2,900 ex-combatants, only 90 are gainfully employed. The need is great. But with just 5% of the previous allocation, very little can be done.”

The previously quoted observer said, “The people must elect those who will actively engage in development rather than hysterical politics. Or we Tamils have no future. The Sinhalese must strengthen the hand of those making compromises for peace, and ensure that they have results to show the Tamil people and strengthen the process of peace-making.” (Story filed by Vishaakha Navaratnam from Jaffna)

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Latest comments

  • 2
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    It doesnt matter how much we bribe the Tamils with development, Tamils will vote TNA. According to BBS recent conference 50% of Tamils in the North are recent immigrants from India who came in the last year or so. Now we have a problem where Indians are going to decide our fate. This could be stopped by not allowing Tamils to vote or developing the north very well and bribe them to vote for proper Sinhala party.

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      Outgoing UNHRC chief said it all. Government is sacred of Army. Sumanthiran is backing that government. Army rules the North. It is an army of occupation. Freedom from that is more important to people. May not for your arm chair observers. Development for people whose land is grabbed, whose loved ones have been made to disappear by the army who is watching over them even now. Development by Government backed by traitorous TNA who could not the least talk to them who are protesting for more than 500 days.
      First thing in development is giving back the land. Who decides on the development. Team with army. What has army got to do with economic development. Northern provincial members should decide. Even the economic centre abandoned because Colombo and not Jaffna to decide on its location.
      It took three years for Sumanthiran to talk about constitution to the south after constitution project is virtually dead. Transitional justice with local judges with the President -if others have said would have been contempt of court -who tells the defence establishment not to give information to courts. Is he a President or a third rate thug. That is the government shameless Sumanthiran supports
      National problem should be sorted by having communication and Woking together with descent sinhala people and it takes a lot of effort and humility not ere words and arrogance. But not working third rate scumbacks. Lot of professional have realised that politicians of all cues and all races are for themselves and their families. It is better to work with them and solve the national question.
      Whether Wiggie will contest or not is a wuestion that is difficult to tell. But jaffna people will choose him not because he has done a lot. He has his lapses. At least he talks to them with humility, not with arrogance and stood by them.

    • 2
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      Jim,
      When did BBS become statistical authority of Srilanka?

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        Ajith
        : What is RTI. IT is only for Tzamils to collect how mzany Acres of Sri lanka are tamilized and how many thousands more of Indian Tamils can be smuggled via Nallur Temple, ?

      • 1
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        I never used the word authority. Are you sure you are responding to my comment?

  • 0
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    TNPF(GAJAN PONNA) AND EPRLF (SURESH) BOTH HAVE SOUR GRAPES AND ALWAYS WANT TO ATTACK SUMANTHERAN.IT IS NOT TOO LATE EVEN NOW FOR TWO NATIONAL LIST MEMBERS OF TNA TO RESIGN AND OFFER THE POST TO PONNA AND SURESH THEN MOST PROBLEMS OF NORTHERN POLITICAL FIELD WILL BE PEACE FULL.

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      PARAGON
      Your suggestion that TNPF Gajan Ponna and EPRLF should be given a chance to hold office does not sound virtuous as it ought to be, because they have not been able to do anything worthwhile to earn acceptance by the people after they quit the TNA for reasons of their own.
      Like them I too am not enamoured of the ITAK other than remain a critic and accept the realities of the situation the people of the NP have to cope with during these trying period of times like the rest of them in the island at large.
      As another commentator has stated elsewhere in this forum, the National Question can only be solved satisfactorily with talks, more talk and discussion.
      There is no quick fix. It can be a slow painful process.
      But Opportunities may also come suddenly and unexpectedly, who knows.
      Sumanthiran’s impatience goaded on by Mavai Senathi and the speaker of the NPC with their own selfish agendas with Douglas D’s side kick leader of the opposition against an experienced and honest retired SC Judge like CM Wigneswaran will ultimately only be beneficial to the Ma Ra siblings in the South.
      Instead of rushing ahead he must exercise caution by not putting all the Tamil eggs in the Yahapalnaya basket.

  • 1
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    ” The people must elect those who will actively engage in development rather than hysterical politics. Or we Tamils have no future. The Sinhalese must strengthen the hand of those making compromises for peace, and ensure that they have results to show the Tamil people and strengthen the process of peace-making. “ Sumanthiran is not going to impose anything on Tamils because he wants to earn “Good Kid “designation from The Observer.
    Sumanthiran is aggressively promoting the Secret Solution. Sumanthiran is expected to jump into UNP wagon. This may cut off Vijayakala or even Swaminathan. But the question is if Ratnajeevan too wants to abandon Chandrika and take Ranil’s hand, if he wants to hold Sumanthiran’s tail? “The sesame(Sumanthiran) seeds are drying, they are going to become Oil, but why the rat droppings(Ratnajeevan) with in them are drying too”?
    Sumanthiran said Federal Status is not necessary, but ad-hoc rights imitating Federal will do. Sumanthiran needs to remember, JVP terrorist Baboon de Silva, with one word split North-East; in Nallaratnam case, he shut off the ICC; Shiranee allowed Divineguma penetrate 13A; Mokan Pries refused fundamental rights in Nirmalrupan case. Now Sumanthiran is denying Colonization with Mahawelli Project. Ratnajeevan is wearing his sacks over his head and nodding to Sumanthiran’s cheatings, including Secret Solution.
    The very basic foundation of Secret Solution is faulty. You can’t cheat the Sinhala Mass and steal the rights. That is very dangerous. 13A is paralyzed because Rajiv Gandhi could not order anything to Sinhala mass. Ambassador Blake was more practical than Indian FAM Krishna, because he said a solution has to be accepted by both parties, but S.M. Krishna said TNA has to accept whatever Old King approves.

  • 2
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    Vishaakha Navaratnam Jaffna – Beginning To Awake As Provincial Elections Seem Nearing
    People in N &E have been half awake from the day after independence. Whatever is happening in JMC is not corruption – maybe political stoush.
    Vishaakha dare not look at corruption/nepotism/impunity driven MCs in the south.
    Vishaakha can see devils in NPC, JMC etc. etc. Sees angel in NPC Opposition Leader Thavarajah!
    .
    Vishaakha declares, following some discussion regarding Manivannan, “………What if he had become Mayor and the Mayor is debarred from functioning as a member?…..”. Watch out Vishaakha, your Hoolean logic lased slip is showing.

  • 1
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    It looks Dalit Tamil from the Frozen North Who could not find a job in Keneda is in the Yapanaya Municiapl Council. The other Tamil may be a recent Immigrent from Ramil nadu who became citizen

    • 0
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      JD aka Jimba Shitty, it maybe a frozen north but if I give you a second you will come over in a heart beat dummy. A donkey with your intelligence still has some hope in Canada……………….it is called the welfare social assistance program. Every job in Canada requires a certain level of intelligence but in your case you don’t even have even an ounce of that……….so as I said the social assistance will help you.

  • 0
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    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/

  • 3
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    In the matter seeking Manivannan’s disqualification, what the Tamil Congress leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam told the press is that it is a Jaffna matter that could have been filed in Jaffna High Court but they (ITAK) have filed in the South at the Court of Appleal where they will get a favourable decision.

    The latest news is that this party that sold out our Estate Tamil brethren for a ministership to make money, has now appealed to the Supreme Court against the Court of Appeals to stay order preventing Manivannan’s functioning as a municipal member

    And guess who the lawyer for this party so full of “brilliant” Tamil lawyers is: one Jayawardena!

  • 0
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    Tamils are not communal but they are very selfish.’ I ‘stand Tall than ‘WE’. As long as ‘I’ stand tall ‘We’ shall perish.

    • 1
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      ‘Tamils are not communal’ – joke of the year

      • 0
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        Taraki’s “………joke of the year”!
        Are you still laughing at the seventy years old joke “Sinhalese are not”?

  • 4
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    Do I smell a rat somewhere?
    The story seems far less a reportage of events than a promotional package from an interested party.

  • 0
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    Who is this Manivannan?.
    Is he from the Vellala Party or the Doughie Party….
    Thank God our Sinhala Buddhists in the South have only One Enemy and only One Issue..
    That is Dr Ranil & his Cohorts and their Segregation of the Elite and the poor rural Sinhala Buddhists.
    One example,
    Mr Mangala said the other day that our rural Sinhala Buddhists will be sooooo happy to be in Dr Ranil’s Gamaperaliya…
    How Cool
    Wonder whether this Dr Ranil & Mangala’s Gamperaliya will lift our Sinhala Buddhist Rural Poor income to at least half of Dr Ranil suckers in Colombo , who will be on USD 12500 in 2020, According to PanAsia Boss Dhammika Perera..
    I already said that I couldn’t understand why Abraham went to Galle .
    Obviously Abraham has his work cut out in Yarlpanam.although Abraham displayed his allegiance to the LTTE by calling the EPRLF the Traitors for nodding their Hooded Heads to the Srlankan Forces.
    Wonder whether Abraham and his Master Sampathar have Legit Addresses in a Leafy Suburb in Jaffna…

  • 0
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    Even Donald Trump would blush in front of Manivannan who is an unskilled so called ‘lawyer’ with a highly problematic and superficial personality who influences the Sinhalese police to win cases, and not by any lawyer- skills. He is promoted by Kottady Kuruparan a guy demeaning himself because he cannot, it seems, able to rise above his Kottadi DNA, and his bunch who are known as “Tamil Changam Lawyers” who pathetically were taught Law at Colombo Thamil Changam for lack of staff at the Jaffna Law Department/Arts Faculty except for its head, a Philosophy person. This tragedy is all showing now and putting us the Tamils in Jaffna at great existential risk.

    These fellows are utterly immature, rowdies who are also acting as if they know more law than Sumanthiran with a Master’s degree because they have lost their heads. They and Devananda using the caste card are the bane of our society ruining our youth who believe cheating, threatening, strutting around, negatively influencing elections and using force is to be preferred to skills. Now CV Wigneswaran yearns to be their leader! All birds of a feather it is turning out to be. The expatriates are hurting the Jaffna Tamil people for funding them.

    Dream high no problem, but acquire the skills and character that can justify your take. Stop fooling an utterly broken people with foxy tactics like Greedy Guts Ponnambalam who sold the Estate Tamils for a Minister’s post for himself.

    Show us what you and CV Wigneswaran have achieved so far for us after the LG elections except talking big and putting a wedge in the Tamil power?

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