29 July, 2021

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Last Chance For Settling The Festering Ethnic Question

By Veluppillai Thangavelu

Veluppillai Thangavelu

Veluppillai Thangavelu

President Maithripala Sirisena will be completing a year as President on January 08, 2016. A year ago he was the Minister of Health in Mahinda Rajapaksa’s cabinet. He was first elected to parliament in 1989 representing Polonnaruwa and was re-elected in 1994, 2000, 2004 and 2010. In 1997, he was appointed as the General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) but was beaten in 2000 following which he became one of the Deputy Presidents of SLFP. He staged a come back as General-secretary of the SLFP in October 2001 following Dissanayake’ s defection to the United National Party (UNP. President Kumaratunga appointed Sirisena as Minister of River Basin Development and Rajarata Development in the new UPFA government in April 2004. He belonged to a family which settled down in Polonnaruwa as colonists during DS Senanayake’s time and, therefore, not a politician from the political elite and socialites. Throughout his political career, he remained an unflashy and a low profile politician.

In November, 2014 Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned from his post as President and announced his candidature two years ahead of schedule. The news of his resignation took everyone by surprise, including his close confidants, advisors and even the opposition. The only exception was Rajapaksa’s trusted Astrologer of over 30 years who gave him the go ahead telling him that according to his horoscope he is an invincible personality and a blessed man. He will win a third term resoundingly.

Since first elected as President in 2005 by defeating Ranil Wickremesinghe from the UNP, Mahinda Rajapaksa has consolidated his political power beyond anyone’s expectation.  The 18th Amendment virtually made him an elected dictator more powerful than JR Jayewardene the godfather of the executive presidential system of government. The 18th Amendment further strengthened the presidency at the expense of the legislature, the judiciary and the citizens, thereby exacerbating the imbalance inherent in the system. Mahinda Rajapaksa did away the two terms limit to continue his rule in perpetuity. As executive president he along with his siblings, controlled 80% of the budget expenditure. His cousins and nephews who had little education were appointed as Ambassadors, Heads of Corporations etc. Some one produced a Rajapaksa’s facility tree that depicted about 250 relatives working at the Temple Trees.

Maithripala Hindu TamilNot only the Astrologer, had many people thought is Rajapaksa invincible in an election.  He saw no opposition candidate capable of defeating him anywhere in the horizon. He was confident he will make history by winning the presidency for a third time. . From the opposition ranks, he only saw Ranil Wickremesinghe as the likely opponent. Ranil Wickremesinghe cajoled the UNP to nominate him as the presidential candidate.  When he approached the leader of the Thamil National Alliance for support, R.Sampanthan politely declined. He told Ranil Wickremesinghe that he cannot ask the Thamil people to vote for a losing candidate. He asked him to look for a strong candidate, likely someone outside the UNP, to contest Rajapaksa. It was then the hunt for a presidential candidate gathered pace not within the opposition parties but right inside the ruling UPFA. It ended in Maithripala Sirisena pitted against Rajapaksa who least expected the turn of events.

A relatively low profile Cabinet minister stunned the country by winning a bitterly fought election against his former boss. On the day of the election, Sirisena has gone into hiding with his family in a coconut estate owned by one of his friend from Dodangaslanda. Emerging from his hiding next day, he told the press that had he lost the election he and his family would have been murdered by Rajapaksa.

Sirisena (63) was elected president of Sri Lanka after polling 6,217,162 (51.28%) of the total vote cast as against 5,768.090 (47.58 %) polled by Rajapaksa. In predominantly Thamil and Muslim populated 5 districts in the Northeast provinces, Sirisena polled a staggering 978,111 (74.35%) of the total votes. Thus the 332,705 (1.26%) votes lead Rajapaksa had over Sirisena in the predominantly 16 Sinhalese districts was more than off-set by the votes polled by Sirisena in the Northeast  provinces plus Nuwara Eliya district (272,605 – 63.88%)  votes as against 468,939 (31.64%) votes polled by Rajapaksa. Sirisena won by an overall majority of 449,072 votes.

In the 2010 presidential election Rajapaksa polled 6.015,934 (57.88%) as against 41, 731, 85 (40.15%) giving Rajapaksa a majority of 1,842,749. Thus compared to 2010 presidential elections, Rajapaksa’s vote bank decreased by 247,844 (10.88%) in 2015. There was an increase of 955,990 registered voters in 2015 compared to 2010. At the parliamentary elections held on August 17, 2015 history was repeated.  Rajapaksa’s desperate attempt to stage a come back as Prime Minister failed. The UNP won 106 seats and the UPFA 95 seats. UNFGG polled 5,098,916 (45.66%) votes and UPFA polled 4,732,664 (42.38%). Together with the SLFP (Sirisena) the UNFGG was able to form a national government.

Following the defeat of Rajapaksa, democratic space has increased in the Northeast. Thamil people still have daunting problems that remain unaddressed and unresolved. Foremost is the return of lands grabbed by the army during and after the war ended in May, 2009.  Though about 3,359.5 acres of land in the Northeast have been released, still there are many thousands of acres of land still occupied by the army.  The army is resisting the re-settlement efforts of the government   and there is reluctance on its part to vacate occupied lands.

As of November 01, 2015 in the Jaffna district a total of about 7,075 acres of land belonging to 10, 495 families in 7 Pradesha Sabhas (See Table 1 below) are occupied by the army. These displaced people are living in 31 welfare centres, with relations and friends for over 25 years. More over 172 houses, 16 schools, 19 temples, 12 public places, airport, fishing port, hospitals, banks and  bus stands continued to be occupied by armed forces. In Jaffna where IDPs have been allowed to resettle, they need 39,770 houses, 31,845 toilets, including 729 toilets for the handicapped.  Additionally, 2,713 toilets and an unspecified number of schools, hospitals have to be renovated. A total of 627.517 kms of road within the re-settled area have to be re-constructed.

ForcesOn December 30, President Sirisena handed over 701.5 acres of land to the original owners and thus the balance is now 6,373 acres. He has since promised to release all private lands seized by the armed forces within 6 months.

There are 13,487 acres of land in Mullaitivu district, 501 acres of land belonging to 123 individuals in Kilinochchi and 4,000 acres of land in Mannar and Vavuniya still under army occupation. Thus 14,361 acres of private land is still occupied by the armed forces in the North. This does not include several thousand acres of privately owned paddy lands, lands belonging to the Agricultural department, Forest Department and other departments continued to be occupied by the armed forces. The inordinate and inexcusable delay in releasing private lands owned by the people is exacerbating tensions among the IDPs. People are losing patience after waiting for 25 long years that include 6 years after the war to go back to their own lands.

In contrast to the pathetic and gloomy situation in the North, the government went the extra mile in the East to release 818 acres of land belonging to 1,250 families and another 237 acres owned by 634 families, but occupied by the Sri Lanka navy. Many temples and a well known school Sampur Maha Vidyalaya were located in land. The re-settlement is now in progress with the help of UNHRC, NGOs and help from Thamil Diaspora to build temporary shelters.

One of the glaring and autocratic mis-use of state power was the taking over and vesting of 818 acres of land in Sampur belonging to displaced Thamils in 2006 following army offensive in Mavilaru. The poor Thamil refugees who were mostly peasant farmers and fisher-folk hoped they can go back to their lands and homes or what remained over after the war ended in May, 2009. Promises were made in parliament by the then powerful Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa that the displaced people will be resettled after de-mining. That was a misleading statement and an attempt to keep the Thamil politicians and the IDPs in good humour.

What the government did was to vest the said land with the Board of Investment (BOI) by a presidential gazette notification. A further presidential gazette notification gave away the land to a private limited company styled Sri Lanka Gateway Industries on 99 years lease. This company established in June, 2010 had an ambitious plan to develop an Industrial Zone with necessary physical and social infrastructure, in a land extent of 36 sq.kms (9000 Acres) in Sampur in the Trincomalee District. This location was chosen because the industries targeted for the proposed Industrial Zone require direct access to a dedicated and a deep water jetty to cater to Cape–Size vessels. The project location also has a vast stretch of un-inhabited land and is considered most suitable for this purpose.

The Rajapaksa cabinet approved the project on 23 February 2011. The industrial project will include an Oil and Petrochemicals Refining Facility, Vehicle Manufacturing and Assembling Plant, Fertilizer Plant, LNG degasification and storage facilities. Power Generation, Transhipping Coke and Thermal Coal etc.etc. The project was expected to cost US $4 billion and will take place over three phases. And who owned the shares of Sri Lanka Gateway Industries?  It was none other than Prabath Nanayakkara who was the Chairman and sole director! Prabath signed the agreement with BOI on June 13, 2012. And who is Prabath Nanayakkara who was ready to invest US$4 billion?

A little known businessman, Nanayakkara Prabath’s meteoric rise ran parallel to President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ascent to power. Prabath’s mainstay is Dilshan Wickremasinghe (38) who is the son of the President’s brother-in-law, Nishantha Wickremasinghe, who is also the Chairman of Sri Lankan Airlines. This shows Mahinda Rajapaksa was not lily white and he ran the government to the benefit of his own family members and others close to them.

The gross injustice done to the hapless Thamil refugees was redressed by none other than President Maithripala Sirisena. Through a gazette notification the President revoked the BOI agreement on 07 May 2015 and released the land held by the BOI and leased to Sri Lanka Gateway Industries (SLGI) to the rightful owners. The SLGI petitioned the Supreme Court and obtained an interim   restraining order on May 15, 2015 suspending the release of lands.  But after a full hearing on May 21, the Supreme Court lifted the stay on the transfer of land in Sampur to the rightful owners.

I am writing at length about SLGI simply to demonstrate the magnanimity and the sense of justice displayed by President Sirisena, in stark contrast to Mahinda Rajapaksa’s arrogance and total contempt for the rights of ordinary and underprivileged Thamil citizens of the country. He punished the people of Sampur once during the war and then after the end of the war by robbing their lands.

More serious problems faced by the Thamil people in the Northeast is the release of political prisoners, tracing involuntary disappearances during and after the end of the civil war, resettlement of 89,000 war widows, the reduction of the army, decentralization of power etc.

The number of political prisoners held in prisons for decades has been progressively reduced during the last 6 years. Yet, a total of 217 prisoners remained in prison. Out of this 39 prisoners have opted to under go rehabilitation in army camps.   But, the fate of the remaining 188 prisoners remains in limbo. President Sirisena gave an assurance that his government will find a solution before November 7, 2015. However, this assurance was not kept. Apparently, the Attorney General Department is placing road blocks against the release of prisoners. A Special Court was established to expedite the cases, but the Attorney General Department is asking for time to file charges.

Despite wide spread pessimism among the Thamil people, there is light at the end of the tunnel that a new constitution will be drafted within 6 months or within one year in 2016. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will move a resolution in the parliament on January 9 to coincide with the first anniversary of President Sirisena’s presidency for converting the House into a Constitutional Assembly, marking the formal inauguration of the process of making a new Constitution in the place of the 1978 Constitution. Once the Parliament adopts the draft Constitution Bill with a two-thirds majority, the Bill will be sent to Provincial Councils for opinion and eventually, tested through an island wide referendum among the people. If this process succeeds, it will be the fourth constitution after independence.

The constitution is best described as a bundle of compromises. This statement is very true because everyone at the Constitutional Assembly had to compromise because there was no way everyone could get what they wanted.  US constitution enacted in 1787 AD work even in the present day. During the last 228 years the US constitution has been amended only 33 times, that is roughly one in seven years!

Canada’s Constitution Act, 1867 and the Charter of Rights enacted in 1982 created power sharing at federal, provincial and municipal levels.  Prior to 1982 only 32 minor amendments have been made to the constitution.  In each of the 10 provinces in Canada, the provincial government is responsible for areas listed in the Constitution Act, 1867, such as education, health care, some natural resources, and road regulations. Sometimes they share responsibility with the federal government. There are three territories populated by aboriginal people (First Nation) who have their own governments, with responsibilities that are delegated to them by the federal government. The sharing of powers as outlined in the Constitution Acts of 1867 and 1982 is the glue holding a vast country like Canada together.

In Sri Lanka the first autochthonous Soulbury constitution lasted for 25 years, Mrs Bandaranaike’s unitary republican constitution for just 6 years and Mr. Jayewardene’s executive presidential constitution may be for 38 years with 19 amendments!

The 1972 and 1978 constitutions were aimed at Sinhalization of the Sri Lankan state. It assigned   foremost place to the religion and language of the majority at the expense of the national minorities. The framers of these constitutions aimed at consolidation of a power structure and were opposed to the Thamil people’s demand since 1949 for power sharing and a regionally decentralised state system based on federalism.

The year 2016 will be the make or break of Sri Lanka among the comity of nations. Therefore, all eyes are on President Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Head of Office for National Unity and Reconciliation Chandrika Bandaranaike, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera and Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan who together brought about the January 8 revolution.

The year 2016 is also the year of reckoning for TNA Leader R. Sampanthan who has given an assurance to the Thamil people that there will be a reasonable, workable and a durable political solution within the framework of a united, undivided Sri Lanka. He has appealed to the government the recognition of Northeast provinces as the historical habitat of the Thamil people and the Thamil speaking people. The Thamil people are entitled to the right to self-determination and shared sovereignty over land, law and order, enforcement of the law so as to ensure the safety and security of the Thamil people and socio-economic development.

The year 2016 provides the last chance for settling the festering ethnic question satisfactory to all three communities and take Sri Lanka on the road to prosperity and lasting peace.

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Latest comments

  • 27
    5

    This is old regurgitated information. There is nothing new in this article.[Edited out]
    Let us Tamils who chose to remain in Sri Lanka decide our fate, thank you. We do not need overseas pseudo Tamil fascists to speak for us! Thangavelu makes a tired argument.

    • 7
      2

      So, TNA will be able to do according to their plans, right? After all, TNA is the choice of the people. NOT TPC, the creation of misguided Diaspora under the leadership of CV Wigneswaran. Remember that CV said those who are 70 plus should not take leadership roles will be 77 this year!

      Also, CV has become a cheap politician now. He said in the NPC in December 2015 that the Military who blocked the drainage lines due to the fear of LTTE should be asked to clear those to avoid flooding, as the soldiers are idling there any way. He said also that there are (Sinhala) settlements in the North due to the presence of the Military. Then, he said in January 2016 that he did not demand the Military to clear the drainage lines, but he merely suggested that Military could be requested. He added also that what he said should not be seen as a racially divisive comment.

      • 4
        17

        “Last Chance For Settling The Festering Ethnic Question,”

        Veluppillai Thangavelu, don’t forget that there is always the final solution just like what Hiltler did to the Jews.

        Move them to the promised paradise in train loads to you know where there is no return!

        • 1
          2

          Surely I don’t agree with the final solution for Tamils by the Sinha-le rulers but that is what they partially succeeded in Mullivaaikkaal.

          God forbid though, but they might try it again.

    • 18
      0

      I completely agree with Jebaratna. [Edited out]

    • 0
      0

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

    • 20
      3

      This is a very poorly written article.

      There is ‘no widespread pessimism’ amongst the Tamil people in Ceylon as claimed by the writer. The Tamils are not ‘losing patience’ as the author claims. We go about our daily lives trying to make ends meet like all others in Ceylon. We are not consumed about the issues that the author, living in the comfort of the West, is. The Tamil youth today do not know and are not interested in issues such as the Soulbury constitution, the 1972 constitution and the 1978 constitution. They are concerned about their livelihood first and foremost. The question of land is important. But that will be resolved.

      I am allergic to diaspora Tamils pontificating on our behalf. We have our own elected representatives to articulate our issues.

    • 4
      16

      Yes, It is the Tamils who live in the island of Sri Lanka should decide their fate. There is no doubt on that. But it is not advisable to ignore those overseas Tamils who are still sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, parents of those who remain in this island who are firmly standing behind them economically, culturally and socially forever. Origins of Srilankan Tamils should be a united force until Tamils of Srilanka achieve their aspirations of equality. Those Tamils who remain in Srilanka categorically expressed their aspiration solidly throughout the period of independence democratically.

      • 18
        0

        Ajith

        The Sri Lankan Tamils living in Sri Lanka should be in the drivers seat. This means that we decide our priorities. Diaspora Tamils live overseas, pay taxes there, send their children to school there and their children intermarry with locals there. The grand children do not speak Tamil.

        This article gives election data that is no longer relevant. A lot of water has passed the bridge in the last 12 months. It gives data on land, IDPs and sanitation. That is relevant but really it is something that we here have to negotiate with the powers that be. Sumanthiran and Sampanthan are doing that.

        I am not sure why Colombo Telegraph publishes pieces like this when there are so many Tamil citizens of Sri Lanka and resident in Jaffna/Batticaloa/Nuwara Eliya who are less often published. This slants the discourse.

        Note that all my previous comments on this tread were censored. Shouldn’t our voices be heard?

        I like Seevaratnam’s and Jeba Ratna’s comments. I did not like this article because it arrogated the right to speak on behalf of the Sri Lankan Tamils.

        2016 is not an year of reckoning for Sampanthan/Sumanthiran in the eyes of us resident in Sri Lanka as claimed by Thangavelu. Nothing really will be achieved this year but we are ok – better now and looking ahead.

        Just come and visit us please to find out.

        • 16
          0

          Thank you Seeva and Ariamalar!

          Velupillai’s choice of words such as last chance, make or break, federalism, self determination etc represent a defeated Tamil Tiger view. We have moved on in Jaffna.

          Narendran Rajasingham correctly mentions that we are in this process for the long haul.

          Tamil origin writers from abroad are out of touch with the real on the ground Jaffna and rely on internet research. These write ups are hard line when Jaffna Tamils today are pragmatic. This is the CV Wigneswaran line that is doomed to fail.

          The sanctimonious long distance nationalism that Thangavelu represents is irritating.

          • 1
            12

            “Velupillai’s choice of words such as last chance, make or break, federalism, self determination etc represent a defeated Tamil Tiger view. We have moved on in Jaffna.”””””””””

            Jeba Ratna,
            Don’t use your personal hate of Tamil Tigers to mislead the real aspiration of the Tamils. These words are nothing new to Tamils since 1950s and nothing changed over the time. If you are in the dark, please read below:

            Some of the words used in the Manifesto from TNA in 2015 election.

            * The Tamil People are entitled to the right to self –
            determination in keeping with United Nations International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic,Social and Cultural Rights.

            *Power sharing arrangements must continue to be established
            as it existed earlier in a unit of a merged Northern and Eastern Provinces based on a Federal structure.

        • 1
          11

          Ariamalar Niles,

          I can remember your name probably from Lankaweb. I am sure your understand the importance of freedom of speech. Even CT publishes articles from hard core Buddhist fundamentalists like HLD Mahindapala, Roberts etc. Why don’t you write an article yourself rather than commenting on some others article for your satisfaction.

    • 1
      12

      ”old regurgitated ….”?
      They have been changing every few months or so with periodic promises by Govt.

      We need this Table of data, true on 1 Nov 2015.

      Thank you, Thangavelu.

      • 11
        0

        Punitham, Ajit

        If you guys are so keen on our situation, why don’t you come back to Jaffna or Batticaloa. We do not need arm chair nationalists but people on the ground. Yes, Thangavelu’s arguments are tired and regurgitated as Jeba Ratna mentions. They do not reflect what the Jaffna man thinks currently. I would add that Thangavelu like many in the diaspora is blinkered and caught in a time warp. The Tigers brought misery to the Tamil people in Ceylon after having broken the ceasefires of 1987, 1990, 1995, 2004. It is the Tigers who brought Mahinda Rajapakse into power. They used Tamils as human shields in 1995 in Jaffna, in 2006 in Vakarai and in 2009 in Mullaitive. Innocent Tamil civilians were killed trapped by the Tigers and bombed by the Sri Lankan military.

        No wonder that the Tigers and Tiger fronts like the Tamil Peoples Movement were banned internationally.

        The TNA manifesto you and I know so well was an election ploy to unit different wings of the TNA. The last elections were such that all the hardliners lost – Gajan Ponnambalam, Suresh Premachandran. Wiggie will lose if he were to contest today. People are solidly behind Sampanthan and Sumanthiran. The latter two are not really committed to federalism and so be it. As Jeba Ratna said, we have moved on.

        And yes, having Michael Roberts, Mahindapala and Thangavelu as frequent writers in Colombo Telegraph confirms what Ariamalar says. All three live abroad. They slant the debate when people in Ceylon itself are less divided today than before 2015.

        The Sinhalese diaspora is just as irrelevant as the Tamil one. Both sets have a sense of guilt of having left their fellow nationals for greener pastures overseas. Let them both focus on their new adopted countries.

        I find Dr. Narendran Rajasingham’s comments to be particularly relevant. He after all is a man on the ground like us.

      • 6
        0

        Punitham

        Today Tamils are in this position, because people like your father MP Thiagarajah.

        Some of those Tamil MPs did the worst damage during Srimavo Banadaranayake’s period.

        Including your father, they endorsed the 1972 constitution and now your talk a different story!

  • 16
    5

    So here’s the thing.

    The poor Thamil refugees who were mostly peasant farmers and fisher-folk hoped they can go back to their lands and homes or what remained over after the war ended in May

    A Tamil refugee from Colombo would typically follow a well worn routine when he seeks asylum in the UK.

    He would flush the passport down the toilet after landing. Then he would approach the immigration officer and says he has been “gang raped” by the Sinhala army. He can even show an enlarged anus with stretch wounds.

    Anyhow, the officer gives him asylum. The Tamil guy gets his permanent residency in UK after about 7 years.

    A Tamil refugee from Jaffna does the same. He however takes a boat to Tamil Nadu. This guy is very likely a genuine refugee. He lands in Tamil Nadu. He is automatically entered in a refugee camp.

    The 2nd guy will live a squalid camp for up to 30 years without permanent residency unlike the Tamil guy in UK. This is Tamil Nadu, the homeland of his culture no less.

    The 2nd guy has family and that family in turn has more family. So 2 generations stuck in Tamil Nadu without permanency.

    The second scenario is completely engineered by Tamils. These Tamils are mostly low-cates Tamils. They are treated like cattle kept rounded up without re-integration in TN. Upto 100,000 Tamils were kept like this for 30 years.

    Although this Thangavelu is “highly concerned” about Tamil the GoSL hasnt settled down.

    What Thangavelu and TNA should do is to follow the same method in TN where 100,000 still held in camps there. Give them houses in TN and settle them there permanently. Its inhuman to treat your own people that way.

    • 4
      3

      “A Tamil refugee from Jaffna does the same. He however takes a boat to Tamil Nadu. This guy is very likely a genuine refugee. He lands in Tamil Nadu. He is automatically entered in a refugee camp. “

      What is wrong with you mate? The writer talks about the IDPs. There is no reference about leaving the country.

      “What Thangavelu and TNA should do is to follow the same method in TN where 100,000 still held in camps there. Give them houses in TN and settle them there permanently. Its inhuman to treat your own people that way.”

      Those people fled their homes and the land to protect themselves. If Sri Lanka is a safe place for people, let them return. Or, declare the island as a hell hole, where people have no hope of living peacefully.

      • 5
        2

        Those people fled their homes and the land to protect themselves.

        Sure, 30 years ago. Their children have grown up there.

        They should not be in refugee camps any more like the Tamils who left for UK for example.

  • 1
    2

    How about the thousands of Indian Tamils who migrated to Wanni during Tamil-Eelam times ?. Now they get lands and housesfaster than the sri lankan people who were born in Sri lanka but lived in huts.

    • 4
      3

      Fell down and hit your head somewhere after a new year booze party, or you were just made this way?

    • 5
      1

      Jim softy

      “Now they get lands and housesfaster than the sri lankan people who were born in Sri lanka but lived in huts.”

      Those who live in Vanni also were born in this island. Their ancestors were also were born here, maybe they have lived here for more than six generations.

      What is your problem?.

      Why don’t you urge the government to nationalise upcountry tea and rubber plantation which can be redistributed to landless peasants.

      Please note most houses were built with the assistance of Hindian aid.

      Is there a way we can help you to remove your brain from where it is now and replant it inside your head?

  • 2
    3

    The best thing is to ask to enact thimpu agreement. So that, Every Tamil in the world gets a piece land in eelam.

  • 7
    0

    If government wants to acquire land for any purpose which it considers as essential in national interest (defence or development or whatever) adequate (market value) compensation must be duly paid. This process is long overdue in North and East. Better late than never the government must appoint a commission comprising Tamil and Muslims lawyers for identifying the legal owners of the lands. From outside TNA and SLMC must provide voluntary assistance to the poor peasants. People still remaining displaced due to forceful acquisition of their land is TOTALLY unacceptable. If in principle government agrees that due compensation is a fundamental right TNA must drop its confrontational stance on the issue and cooperate with the government. It is far too late.

    soma

  • 8
    2

    It will be damned hard to dislodge Vellala Wiggy from the CM.s seat in the NCP after it goes Federal.

    So where is Veallala Sambandan going to sit in Federal East?.

    Did Hakeem sign an MOU last week to have two seats in the CM’s office?.

    Or is it one seat in Trinco and one in Batticolao.?.

    Is Baththa going to Kanthankaddy?.

    The constitutional deliberations surely will be interesting stuff.

    Is it going to be on TV?.

    Wonder who are going to talk for the Dalits and Sinhala Buddhists?

    I mean most of the latter are Dalits anyway.. .

    How are they going to be shared or split up….

    Is Batalanda taking half and giving the rest to Sira?.

    But then Sira will be a minority leader as Batalanda has all the Elite with him?.

    So where can Sira fit Chathtu & Daham?.

    What about the Madam and the two kids?.

    Has Batalanada agreed to adopt them?..

    My head hurts .

    BTW I never realised there were so many landed proprietors there, before Mr Pirahaparan took over…

  • 23
    3

    Last chance? This a chance no doubt to begin sorting out issues. It will be process and never an event. Let us not place all our eggs in one basket and then drown ourselves in false hopes and the frustration that it generates. What comes out of the present constitution making exercise is not going to be the ideal. There is no such thing. What will come out is a compromise that will try to satisfy many contending and cantenkerous parties. Let us hope that it will take solutions to the ‘Tamil National Issue’ a couple of steps forward in a meaningful direction. This process has then to be taken a couple of steps thereafter, in a series of steps over time. I hope the new constitution recognizes the equality of all citizens in terms of rights and opportunities as one of the essential first steps and atleast improves on the 13th amendment. More of course would be welcome, but let us not hope for wide ranging utopian solutions in one go.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 2
    12

    The question which is not asked is – What right does the army have, to illegally occupy lands belonging to citizens?

    During the war, so-called High Security Zones may have been necessary, but now it is more than six years after the war ended.

    Why is the government diffident in ordering the army to quit occupation of citizens’ lands forthwith?
    Is the peacetime army “more powerful” than an elected democratic government?
    Is this an unseen undercover military regime pretending to be a democratic government?
    There are thousands of acres of state land in the south which the army can acquire and ‘use’ for its unknown purposes – why make only northern citizens landless, and NOT southerners?

  • 21
    2

    We should also formulate our goals in terms of current context. Recalling the past may point to the need for caution, but it cannot be the guiding star.

    One aspect of the context I refer to relates to yesterday ( 4th Jan’ 2016)’ which was the first day of school for the 2016 academic year. Eighty (80) students in one Mahavithyalayam in Jaffna attended school without shoes or slippers. Many attended with slippers with holes or held together with safety pins. The number who did not attend because they did not have proper shoes or slippers is not known. I am sure the same situation prevails in many other schools in the north, east and the rest of the island.

    There is endemic and widespread acute poverty all over, but it is aggravated by the war in the north and east. When spoken to on political issues, the poor, the marginal and even the struggling middle class, mostly say, ” Naayayi pidi, Aalai vidu!” meaning, ‘ hold the dog and let me go) . Their priorities are different and relate to their economic welfare- money, employment, cost of living, education and sheer survival. They do not want the repeat of the past, which they know will rock or destroy their flimsy boat.

    Yes, the stolen land issue is important, but it loses its significance in terms of the numbers, particularly those in the Diaspora , who want to dispose of their lands. There are the landless and the land deprived who are living amidst fenced up or abandoned, unused lands! This is a tragedy too.

    Dr.RN

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      Dr RN,

      Wish you happy new year
      ” Eighty (80) students in one Mahavithyalayam in Jaffna attended school without shoes or slippers.”

      Of course living condition should improve.

      I did not wear shoes or slippers (walked about 3milesx2) till I reached HSC.

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        Anpu,

        Happy New Year to you too.

        Dr.RN

      • 0
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        “I did not wear shoes or slippers (walked about 3milesx2) till I reached HSC. “

        I agree with you. I and many of other fellow students didn’t wear shoes until HSC, even then only on assembly days. We didn’t didn’t wear a tie until, (except for HSC dinner), until I started to work in audit firm in Colombo. We studied under kerosene oil lamp. And Jaffna schools turned out brilliant A level results.

        These days kids want shiny shoes, shirt and tie and flunk in exams.

        Perhaps Dr RN should advise his OBAs all over the world to stop raising funds for labs and libraries and books but instead spend the funds on shinny shoes and socks and school uniforms.

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          In this day and age, how would a student feel if he/she had to go to school without shoes, with others who do so?

          A very insensitive and brazenly cruel comment.

          Dr.RN

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            If things have moved on and students wear shoes and ties to school and eat with fork and spoon that definitely shows progress

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              If you happened to live in Jaffna today in the year 2016, when all school children are expected to wear shoes and wear ties, would you have let your children or grandchildren walk to school barefoot and sans a tie ?

              Yes, I would also encourage school children to learn to use the fork, spoon and knife elegantly and to even learn to use chop sticks. These are essential skills in this much travelled world. They should be ready to even dine with ethe queen in the Buckinggam Palace. However, these accomplishments must not make them forsake their heritage.

              Dr.RN

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          Rajash,

          “These days kids want shiny shoes, shirt and tie and flunk in exams.”

          Actually it is the principals and rest of staff that cause problems. Especially the older kids are punished if they try to attend school without shoes etc. In practice some principals force poor kids out of school and condemn them to continued poverty.

          Was there not a promise of a pair of shoes for all kids last year?

          I can now confirm that fast food is delivered in Jaffna town. Even draft beer is available.

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      80 kids walk bare feet to Jaffna Mahavidyalayam..How sad.

      Pair of shoes is only LKR 600.

      Our Colombo Chicks and even Roosters paid LKR 35,000 each, to watch Englesi Ass .

      Add a another couple of thou for the designer undies which they threw away, the total is nearly LKR 40,000 for each ticket.

      At 600 Ruppiaa per pair, one ticket would have paid for shoes for whole 80 kids.

      That illustrates the income gap between the Dalits and the Elite in our Yahapalana Srilanka.

      Our Dalits in the South are no better.

      With the help of our family and friends we take care of schooling needs of a few kids in the South.

      And I know how it is to live as Dalits .

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        KAS,

        You are right, although the word Dalit is alien. We have a multitude of poor amidst our much flaunted affluence. We are rotten under the surface.

        The money spent on poojas, coconuts , giving Dana to already fat monks and holding very expensive weddings, birthday parties, coming of age parties and funerals, can if pooled lift most of our poor out of the quagmire they are submerged. They need fishing rods to catch their own fish and not charity. The children I mention and you mention need the means and tools to receive proper schooling, while not feeling inferior in any way to their more affluent classmates.

        Dr.RN

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        KAS,

        “Pair of shoes is only LKR 600.”

        An unqualified woman in rural Jaffna earns 250-300 per day if there is work. How does a single mother family with some kids buy shoes when there is not enough money for food? There are 60000 war widows.

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      RN What is the cost of a pair of Bata slippers?
      I am sure you can ask you brother to remit ten quid every month from his undiyal that will buy 10 pairs of slippers…

      Or are you trying to make a cheap point?

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        Look at yourself in the mirror to see who is making a cheap and a mean point!

        Those 80 children will be going to school in new shoes, come Monday morning.

        Dr.RN

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          Dr RN,

          “Those 80 children will be going to school in new shoes, come Monday morning.”

          Thank you for the good news.

          I only read the comments now.

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      Dr RN,

      “One aspect of the context I refer to relates to yesterday ( 4th Jan’ 2016)’ which was the first day of school for the 2016 academic year. Eighty (80) students in one Mahavithyalayam in Jaffna attended school without shoes or slippers. Many attended with slippers with holes or held together with safety pins. The number who did not attend because they did not have proper shoes or slippers is not known. I am sure the same situation prevails in many other schools in the north, east and the rest of the island.”

      Unfortunately I have missed this article and your comment totally. I only found it because of our dear friend Kumar R.

      I have also noticed the children without any kind of foot wear and proper school uniform . I believe that one reason the poorest children do not attend school is the fact that they are ashamed of their lack of foot wear and clothing. Some might even be punished for this poverty in school by the less enlightened members of staff.

      I have for some time had an idea of asking our Northern MPs to use part or all of their 15 million “allowance” for foot wear, clothing and other basic educational needs of the poorest children. Even better if the PC and PS level politicians contribute.

      What do you think?

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    Rajasingham,
    [Edited out]

  • 5
    15

    Mr Thangavelu is supporting the TNA to the hilt when in fact there are no luminaries in it. The biggest fool is a king in a country of fools. Tamil Homeland is in such a state now. All intellectuals have been either murdered by the Sinhala agents or left the country for good or till the time apolitical settlement is reached. No sane person could live in a land where Tamils are abducted and murdered without trace. Do not ask me for evidence. Proofs are coming out. What happened in Mullivaikal is a tragedy for which no one is bothered. The present constitutional council is a diversionary tactics by the Sinhala government to protect the modern Duttu Gemunu MR. Many extremist still support him.

    See the stickers in three wheelers that is painted in bright colours “Sinha Ley”.President M Sirisena might be sincere but what can one man do? Tamils are being taken a second round of all what happened since independence in 1948. Who is to stand guarantee in a land where racism is cheap. After one year the majority race will declare that they are changing the constitution. Remember what the Oxford genius SWRD Bandaranayake who advocated two official language police later said that he had since changed his mind and started the SLFP.

  • 0
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    The astrologer is a key figure in this episode and has not been rewarded adequately for his great service. This must be done without delay for he must have lost his credibility and his business by now. He should be appointed to the cabinet under the new constitution.Bensen

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    Ayaah Thangavelu,

    “Last Chance” for your pets and pals Sumanthiran and Sampanthan as well.

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