24 September, 2020

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Meeting Expectations Necessary To Maintain Support For Reconciliation

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The government has been responsive to public pressure in multifold ways. It amended the budget in 16 different areas due to protests by trade unions and affected groups even though the budget deficit grew by more billions. It is investigating a case of abduction by one of its members. It has been responsive to concerns expressed by civil society about the absence of participation in both the constitutional reform and transitional justice processes. Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed a 24-member committee from political and civil society to obtain views on constitutional reforms from the public. This Committee will seek oral and written submissions from the public and a report will handed to a Cabinet Sub Committee on Constitutional Reforms. In addition Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has appointed an 11 member committee to discuss and provide input on issues pertaining to the Geneva process.

It is important in a democracy that the people believe their government is prepared to both listen to them and change its decisions accordingly. On the other hand, the government has to balance the national interest as against the interests of specific groups, and to look at short term in relation to long term interests both for itself and the country. Embedded in both the constitutional reform process and the transitional justice process are potentially explosive issues which can be exploited by extreme nationalists and opposition parties for political gain. Even at present the issues highlighted in the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council that Sri Lanka co-sponsored in Geneva, which relate also to truth seeking, reparations and institutional reforms, are being distorted as being solely about war crimes and taking war heroes to The Hague for trial by international tribunals.

The issue of equitable sharing of power between the main ethnic and religious communities who live in the country is another controversial issue that has a long history of conflict. The positions on the sharing of power that each community has is unacceptable to the others. A compromise is necessary. However, in the past the representatives of these communities would sit across the table and attempt to negotiate. This was most notably the case between successive governments and the various representatives of the Tamil people. At the present time, the fact that the government is a national unity government, and has the two main parties within it, and enjoying the support of all the ethnic minority parties, provides an unprecedented opportunity for consensual decision making. Instead of sitting across the table and bargaining with each other, this time there is an opportunity to sit on the same side of the table and address common problems together.

Different Interests 

However, there is a gap between what is happening at the decision making levels of society and at the community level that needs to be noted. In the last days of 2015, I was in Anuradhapura to discuss issues of reconciliation with community leaders drawn from diverse backgrounds, including religious clergy, school teachers and local government officials. Looming large in any discussion in Colombo on the topic of reconciliation would be the issue of the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council, which the Sri Lankan government decided to co-sponsor, and the issue of inter-ethnic power sharing when it comes to constitutional reform. Accordingly the key components for the government to take on would be the establishment of a truth seeking mechanism, judicial mechanism to ensure accountability for past crimes, compensation for victims and institutional reforms to ensure that there will be no repeat of the past practices that led to conflict.

However, at the Anuradhapura discussion it became clear that the interest of the participants was not confined to the UN resolution and on whether the judicial mechanism should be hybrid or not, and whether confessing the truth is part of the Sri Lankan cultural heritage or not. Even before there could be a discussion on the Geneva process and its implications, a Buddhist monk from the audience interrupted to ask whether not giving school children their school uniforms, and instead giving their parents a voucher to purchase their own school uniform, was a practice of good governance. This comment was followed by an observation by a school teacher present at the discussion who said that it was an inefficient use of the school principal’s time, as he had to certify the receipts that the parents had brought to prove their purchase of the school uniform—there being thousands of such claims to be certified.

Another issue that was of particular interest to the participants was of the fertilizer subsidy, which was one of the 16 instances of reversals in the government budget, though evidently not to the satisfaction of the farming community. The government decided to convert the fertiliser subsidy in to an allowance of Rs. 25,000 for farmers who cultivate less than 2 hectares of land. Even though the overuse of low grade fertilizer provided at highly subsidized rates in the past is believed to be responsible for the kidney disease prevalent in the Anuradhapura area, it was clear that the reduction of the fertilizer subsidy was able to generate considerable emotion. It was such tangible issues, close to the lives of the people, that the participants at the discussion on reconciliation wished to discuss more fully. This preference will have to be taken into consideration in any mass educational campaign that is intended to build the support base for reconciliation in the country.

Different Impacts 

The message from Anuradhapura was that issues of constitutional reform and transitional justice, important though they are for national reconciliation, for the ethnic minorities and for the international community, are of less immediate consequence to the lives of the majority of people who are not national level decision makers or seek to influence them. What is of more consequence to them are matters of economic resources that impact on their lives on a daily basis. School uniforms, fertilizer subsidy, kidney disease and viable livelihoods are priority concerns that also need attention and responsiveness if the government is to obtain the political support of the people regardless of successes in constitutional reform and transitional justice.

Unfortunately the perception amongst the people at the grassroots level is that the government is favoring the rich over the poor. The lifting of the tax exempt income from Rs 500,000 to Rs 2 million a year was an entirely unexpected bonanza to those who are relatively well off in Sri Lankan terms. On the other hand, the increase in tax from Rs 2 million to Rs 10 million on collection centres for toddy will have a negative impact on the earnings of toddy tappers, who are amongst the low income earners and who are spread throughout the country.

There is a need for the government to follow the model it is adopting with regard to obtaining the views of the people on constitutional reform and transitional justice and utilize the services of civil society organizations that are in close contact with the economic life of the people, such as the Sarvodaya Movement. They can be a part of government mandated committees, as in the case of the civil society committees appointed to ensure people’s participation in the constitutional reform and transitional justice processes. There is also a need to ensure greater public and academic discussion on issues of the economy and on ensuring an improved environment for economic investments to be made. At the present time the discussion is more on issues of crooked deals and corruption rather than on creating an investment-friendly environment that could contribute to the economy. Progress on reconciliation will be easier if the economy is also growing and contributing to the betterment of the lives of all people irrespective of their ethnicity.

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  • 2
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    Today Shia Muslims are up in arms against Saudis. Iran has kicked out Saudi diplomats. protests are taking place everywhere in Muslim world. The reason is saudies have beheaded a prominent Shia spiritual leader.
    Now we Tamils of Eelam must recall the spiritual leader of Tamils and the late leader of glorious Tamil Eelam Velupillai Pirabakaran was gruesomely killed in the same manner by genocidal sinhalayas army. Worse still the late Thalaivar was inhumanely sodomized with a hot iron rod, before he was slaughtered. No country in the world kicked out genocidal sinhala diplomats for this barberic inhuman act. No country condemn that senseless crime. some even behaved like we Tamils happy to get sodomized. I know for sure Thalaivar did not like to be sodomized by a hot iron rod, who like such a treatment.
    We should demand an international investigation to this gruesome crime, if arabs can get justice, why not we Tamils

    • 4
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      Jehan this is a bit naive but probably true!
      Sri Lanka is facing a looming economic crisis and the Govt. needs to explain to the people why it is doing very little to hold ACCOUNTABLE those who are responsible for the massive national DEBT and tanking rupee;
      1.The debt, the looming economic crisis and tanking rupee is a result of the corrupt policies mainly of the previous Mahinda Jarapassa regime and this should be clearly explained and COMMUNICATED to the masses who should be EDUCATED that BI-PARTISAN POLITICAL CORRUPTION IS THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE CURRENT ECONOMIC CRISIS, that the people have to pay for while inequality gap widens and the rich get richer.
      The so-called National Debt and need for IMF bail out is really the COST of POLITICAL CORRUPTION and Chinese White Elephants like port and sea port in Hambantota. The Govt. needs a PUBLIC COMMUNICATION STRATEGY on this one.

      2. The Priority should be to recover the stolen Rajapaksa and cronies billions in Suiss, UK, Singapore, Dubai, China and Sechelles etc to cover the national DEBT and make the Economy solvent.

      3. There is a need for qualified Sri Lankan experts from the Institute of Policy Studies to lead the discussion on what is to be done re. the economic crisis. The IMF will lead Lanka into a Greece-like tragedy, which will result in renewed conflict and violence in Lanka.

      4. Ranil’s Royal College buddy Arjuna Mahendran is a corrupt insider trader and financial criminal who is not qualified to run the Central Bank. Mahendran is a bond and derivatives dealer and not an Economist and should not be in charge of the CB. He has been following the footsteps of the previous corrupt clown Nivard Cabraal who also made a huge fortune on insider trading and currency manipulation.

      • 0
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        I agree with you 1000%. The biggest reason for the failure of Yahapalanaya (if it can be looked at as a failure) is a poor PR strategy.

  • 1
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    Dr.Jehan Perera

    ” The issue of equitable sharing of power between the main ethnic and religious communities who live in the country is another controversial issue that has a long history of conflict.”

    Power sharing between groups based on their ethnicity and religion?

    Hindu Tamils
    Christian Tamils
    Islamic Tamils
    Nothern Tamils
    Eastern Tamils
    Low caste Tamils
    Upper class Tamils
    Estate Tamils
    Buddhist Sinhalese
    Catholic Sinhalese
    Anglican Sinhalese
    Govigama Sinhalese
    Non Govigama Sinhalese
    Upcountry Sinhalese
    Low country Sinhalese
    Malays
    Burgers

    Professor, you know better than anyone how these groups are geographically distributed. Which ******* model you are proposing other than Just repeating like a parriot power sharing, power sharing, power sharing. There is a substantial Muslim population in most of European countries and on the exponential increse. Are there any discussions on power sharing with the Muslims. Only sensible, practicable way of power sharing is focing them to assimilate rather than exacerbating existing divisions.

    Here you appear to be a champion of equal opportunity to all in expressing their views on constitution making and last week you were talking about how the Sinhala Buddhists can be sidelined in the process as they all are racists and majority of them voted for Rajapaksha – and that free choice is NOT democracy.

    Some **** every week for the purpose of sending a copy to the Headquarters.

    Soma

  • 1
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    The main aim of this so-called constitutional reform is the fulfilment of the unstated desire of the present lot of politicians – and others in waiting – to devise ways and means of achieving and enjoying the benefits and joy of becoming MPs, in an easier manner than at present, and thus ensuring the welfare of their families and future generations.
    They are not fooling anyone.
    The desire of the majority of the people is in existing day to day with at least one square meal daily, and a better deal with regard to employment, small businesses, hassle free travel, easier schooling for their children, etc., etc.

    The writer has encountered the problems of ordinary citizens at gatherings and none has expressed any sort of “constitutional reform”.
    The ordinary man is not bothered about “who rules” but only about their own day to day lives.

    The present constitution, if enforced to the letter, together with law & order, people centered justice system, total abolition of corruption, pruning of unnecessary expenditure and good education is quite sufficient.

  • 0
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    Jehan is turning out to be more and more honest and straightforward. He is cutting short of his double talks and expressing his opinion and demands in open ways. His boss Brother Prince is no longer there. His need to camouflage the Old Royal Government’s action is shrinking. So he is replying to Professor Jeyampathy Wickramaratna. Jeyampathy Wickramaratna cooked up 19A without referendum. Same was the case of Old King’s 18A too. We have seen Nagananda Kodituwakku’s law suit on 14A. These matters are alike, but on the opposite side, of JR elected members to Parliament by a referendum. These are normal and usual things in, Sinha Blooded Sinhala Intellectual’s wild life sanctuary, SouthEast’s Jurassic Park called Sinhale Land. From the time the film maker of the 6th century Steven Spielberg, Mahanama, introduced the new life to Lankawe in 5th BCE, the entire things in Lankawe has been going even more interesting than the 21st century Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. The latest chapter is the constitutional change of 2016.
    Even before anything took place on this change, the New King has compared him with Lincoln, Gandhi and SWRD. We all know the ends of these gentlemen. Lincoln and Gandhi were murdered by extremists, who disagreed with them on their political ideology. Kennedy’s murder too was connected to communism. But, SWRD was murdered by a monk, who was accused of involved in illegal businesses and womanizing, hiring another monk, probably equal in notoriety. So the new King has compared Sinhala Only hero SWRD with Lincoln and Gandhi and at draw a parallel line for him too, with Ghandhi and Lincoln. So let me call the New King for the rest of the comment as the New Lincoln Gandhi. So, now the question is why the New Lincoln Gandhi starting the “Murder story of the future” movie? The answer is plain is simple. From the time the resolution passed in UNHRC, there is no progress in appointing the so called Sinhala Intellectual living in foreign countries as Commonwealth and foreign Judges and lawyers to start the investigation. This is what promised at UNHRC according to the New Royals. Like in the Tamil kids’s comedy that I have written on CT a couple of times, it is time to write on the board the 0(zero) as count of Panchapandavar and erasing that too. The resolution has to go like the other 18 commissions appointed by the Royal governments of Lankawe on the extensive murders took place in Lankawe.

    The New Kings has already said that the process of fulfilling the co-signing of the UNHRC resolutions has to wait. He is too busy to meet the dates. New Royals has pointed out the constitutional change as the reason for that. The promised time for that, the January 2016 has also come. So he is talking about the story of SWRD’s murder. I do not know if somebody has to conduct a referendum on any war criminals’ death will fix the Lanakwe, if that is ok in the wild life sanctuary of SinhaLE. But that is not ok to Jehan. That is why he drafted this article.

    If anybody is lazy of re-reading Jehan in the following quote, this is what he is telling. “There is an opinion in the SinhaLE Sanctuary Inland. The Royal government must listen and implement it. All royal government did that in the past too.” If you like to read it in Johan’s words, here it is:
    “The government has been responsive to public pressure in multifold ways. It amended the budget in 16 different areas due to protests by trade unions and affected groups even though the budget deficit grew by more billions. It is investigating a case of abduction by one of its members. It has been responsive to concerns expressed by civil society about the absence of participation in both the constitutional reform and transitional justice processes. Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed a 24-member committee from political and civil society to obtain views on constitutional reforms from the public. This Committee will seek oral and written submissions from the public and a report will handed to a Cabinet Sub Committee on Constitutional Reforms. In addition Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has appointed an 11 member committee to discuss and provide input on issues pertaining to the Geneva process.

    It is important in a democracy that the people believe their government is prepared to both listen to them and change its decisions accordingly.”

    Then the question is what opinion in the SinhaLE sactury is? Here again Jehan: “ Even before there could be a discussion on the Geneva process and its implications, a Buddhist monk from the audience interrupted to ask whether not giving school children their school uniforms ………..The message from Anuradhapura was that issues of constitutional reform and transitional justice, ………. for the ethnic minorities and for the international community, are of less immediate consequence to the lives of the majority of people” What is he saying is that the UNHRC resolution worries about the minorities, and he and his clan don’t give a damn about it. If Royal government has a problem, he has a Buddhist Monk on hand in the crowd. Here, he is aligning his story with that of New Lincoln Gandhi’s story.

    Lets see the what Jehan’s as solution for the problem: There is a need for the government to follow the model it is adopting with regard to obtaining the views of the people on constitutional reform and transitional justice and utilize the services of civil society organizations…. He is asking the governed to use the data he is providing in the name of his fraudulent NPC. Here(in this place), he is giving up the New Masters of him and aligning him with his old masters like, G.L.Peries. Jehan feels like he need not to explain why there weren’t any need for a referandom for the draconian amendments like 6A, 13A, 14A, 18A 19A .. and so forth.

    Jehan knows well about the Tamils and SinhaLEs in the wildlife Sanctuary Island. Here he is not starting or supporting the already started SinhaLE sticker campaign. This is not another SinhaLE sticker campaign. Jehan PhD is too sophisticated to do that kind of foolish things. He is not a rowdy like the BBS crowds or the Old Royal family to start a sticker campaign like SinhaLE. So, to whom he is writing this? The Foreign diplomats like Sec. Kerry who depends on the co-signature of the Sinhala Intellectuals.

    • 0
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      Indian foreign ministry Secretary coming to Lankwe to research how to revise the UNHRC resolution. New Royals, now, preaching the development is first. All what was done so far is changing the plan of Northern highway to go from Trinco. That is all the development for North. Then trying to show Colombo Megalopolis like white elephants as the solution to Tamil. Jehan PhD is more honest than the New Royal.

  • 1
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    Sira says he is in no hurry either to build the Hybrid Court or to launch the new Constitution.

    This was in the Indian media yesterday as reported by a Journalist who interviewed the Prez at his home.

    Surely Sira must be listening to the great majority.

    As well as Chathu Sira .

    I am not sure about Daham Sira , because he doesn’t even look like Foreman material.

    But Whisky madam must be furious.

    Madam has to enforce the MOUs with Solheim , UNP London, Suren Surendran and Sambandan .

    But more importantly what better way to finish off Chattu and Daham both, than getting their old man to divide the Nation in to separate Tamil, Muslim , Elite and Dalit Homelands.

    And send the brave Army Soldiers to jail..

  • 6
    0

    Mr.Jehan Perera:

    Before I comment on your Article I would ask you to read the following statement from none other than the elected president ( with Tamil vote) and it speaks volumes.

    “Sri Lankan govt would not act in haste on the issue of setting up a special court on allegations of violations of human rights in the last stages of the civil war, President Maithiripala Sirisena said. Answering questions on the status of implementation of a resolution adopted by UNHRC in October on accountability, he replied that what should be done first was to evaluate what had happened (during the war).”

    As for following you couldnt have put it any clearer as to why we are not going to reconcile.

    Meeting Expectations Necessary To Maintain Support For Reconciliation

    You have made the above conditional upon making sure that the Sinhalses bellys are full before they can even begin to think of Tamil Demands.

    For me and for the vast majority of the Tamils there are two important things that need to happen in that order.

    1) ACCOUNTABILITY
    2) RECONCILIATION

    I am sure you know what the first one means. That means sending those Guilty of Mass Murder to Jail starting with the former Commander in Chief.

    The sencond one for Tamils has a different meaning to the one you envisage.

    You see it as meeting of minds.
    But I see it as showing Remorse ( after Accountabilty) and making sure that we dont have to suffer again by giving us the means to be in charge of our destiny. Nothing else will do.

    1) In addition Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has appointed an 11 member committee to discuss and provide input on issues pertaining to the Geneva process.

    *** From the Presidents statement it is obvious this is a delaying tactic.

    2) It is important in a democracy that the people believe their government is prepared to both listen to them and change its decisions accordingly.

    *** This is where I hava a problem. You are making it Conditional but that is not how I see it. Dealing with the UN report and findings is MANDATORY not subject to anything as you seem to suggest.

    3) On the other hand, the government has to balance the national interest as against the interests of specific groups, and to look at short term in relation to long term interests both for itself and the country.

    *** I totally disagree and if what you are saying is to be believed then GOSL have deceived the UN and got away with it.

    4) The issue of equitable sharing of power between the main ethnic and religious communities who live in the country is another controversial issue that has a long history of conflict. The positions on the sharing of power that each community has is unacceptable to the others. A compromise is necessary. However, in the past the representatives of these communities would sit across the table and attempt to negotiate. This was most notably the case between successive governments and the various representatives of the Tamil people. At the present time, the fact that the government is a national unity government, and has the two main parties within it, and enjoying the support of all the ethnic minority parties, provides an unprecedented opportunity for consensual decision making. Instead of sitting across the table and bargaining with each other, this time there is an opportunity to sit on the same side of the table and address common problems together.

    *** This is a 67 year long problem and it is NOW or NEVER. No more Tamil BLOOD.

    Different Interests:

    *** This is never going to change because we are two diffefent peole with seperate Bellys.

    5) However, at the Anuradhapura discussion it became clear that the interest of the participants was not confined to the UN resolution and on whether the judicial mechanism should be hybrid or not, and whether confessing the truth is part of the Sri Lankan cultural heritage or not. Even before there could be a discussion on the Geneva process and its implications, a Buddhist monk from the audience interrupted to ask whether not giving school children their school uniforms, and instead giving their parents a voucher to purchase their own school uniform, was a practice of good governance. This comment was followed by an observation by a school teacher present at the discussion who said that it was an inefficient use of the school principal’s time, as he had to certify the receipts that the parents had brought to prove their purchase of the school uniform—there being thousands of such claims to be certified.

    *** It is obvious from the above that left to Sri Lanka we will be having seminars for another 1000 years.

    Different Impacts

    *** The only impact I am concerned about is that is on the Victims.

    I am not hopeful.

  • 0
    2

    “I am not hopeful”

    Meaning road to Eelam is more crooked, precipitous, with many more rivers of blood to cross than previously thought?

    • 6
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      Soma you Sinkalam:

      Dont hide behind a Tamil name you Coward. You are a SLAVE whether you admit or not.

      Just to remind you

      Port City Project Shut by India on the 8th January 2015.
      Do you know why it hasnt taken off for a year. Because it is DEAD. Billions lost some stolen by the THIEVES and the rest have to be repaid by you and your Children over many centuries.

      “Meaning road to Eelam is more crooked, precipitous, with many more rivers of blood to cross than previously thought”

      *** If you dare challenge the Might of India you will be Swimming in Rivers of Sinkala BLOOD and dont forget the TUNNEL and the BRIDGE. .

  • 0
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    Jehan PHD is trying to arouse the SinhaLE Buddhist and keep them his earnest slave. His intention is to make the SinhaLE to boil and go on rampage so the UNHRC resolution will be given up the IC.

    First they came for Indian Coolies,
    I did not speak out, Because I am not a coolie.
    Then they came for North-east Kallaththonies,
    I did not speak out, Because I am not a Kallaththony.
    Then they came for the Kaaththankudy [Edited out],
    I did not speak out, Because I am not a [Edited out] .
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
    -a poem by a Sinhala Buddhist double crossed by Sinhala intellectuals

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