Colombo Telegraph

Military Attacks Against Constitutional Conversation

By P. Soma Palan –

P. Soma Palan

I refer to the article captioned “Constitutional Conversation by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka – a Response”, by  Rear Admiral Dr. Sarath Weerasekera (Dr. SW), in the Daily Mirror of 17th October.

I respond, as an independent thinker, when untruths, Falsehood and defective reasoning are found in the views expressed by the writers. Having said this, I contradict some of the views expressed by the learned Dr. SW. as follows:

Unitary State

Dr. SW states “ours is not a Federal country and Sinhale (Ceylon, Sri Lanka) has been a unitary country throughout “. This is a downright lie. The word Unitary is a modern concept and relates to a Constitution and structure of a State. In the recorded history of Lanka, from the pre-historic times, there had never been a Constitutional rule. So, how can the Dr.SW say that we have been a Unitary Country throughout?  Can he with honesty say in which period of history, the country had an unbroken, continuous Unitary rule. All Rulers of the country from the legendary King Ravanan to the last King of the Kandyan Kingdom till 1815, were Monarchs. Ravana’s grandfather, Pulasthi ruled as king from the city of Pulasthinagar, which name was later changed to Polonaruwa in the Mahavamsa. Even Muthusivan and his son, Devanambiya tissa, were Hindu Telugu kings. Devambiyatissa was followed by his four brothers till the first Chola invader, from South India, who ruled for 22 years. He was followed by Chola invader Ellalan (Elara), who ruled for 44 years.  In 993 A.D. Rajaraja Cholan invaded and ruled for 24 years, followed by his son Rajendra Cholan (30 years).  In 1017 Magha from South India invaded and ruled for 36 years.  Even in the modern period, the country was ruled by four Nayakkar kings from Andhara in South India , for a total of  76 years. So, Dr.SW, where does your spurious claim stand, that the country was” unitary throughout?” Can the learned Dr. SW deny this and prove to the contrary. The labeling of the country as “Sinhale”, is a fabrication of the Sinhala racists. Geologically, there was no country till the landmass separated from the Sub-Continent of India around 9000 years B.C. The country was called “Ilankai”, in Tamil, which name was later modified to Lanka by deleting the first and the last letters of Ilankai.

Denial of Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke’s statement

Dr. SW counters Dr. Dayan J’s statement that “there were Sinhala extremists who feel that only Sinhalese should live in this country,” by saying “I have never come across in my life a single such Sinhalese”. Isn’t this a blatant lie? Dr. SW has lost his memory to remember the two communal riots of 1958 and the worst one of 1983, where the Sinhalese mobs, under State patronage, unleashed murder and destruction on the Tamils, to drive them out from the country. Isn’t the killing of innocent surrendering Tamils in the last stage of the war, in thousands, by the armed forces, amounts to wiping out the Tamils from the country? Ironically, Dr.SW is a self- illustration of Sinhala extremism, when he refers to the country as “Sinhale”, and not with the official name Sri Lanka. Isn’t the attacks on Christian Churches and Muslim Mosques and their business establishments, a manifestation that “only Sinhalese should live in the country”, which proves Dr. Dayan’s rightful assertion? He has still not come across a bandwagon of extreme nationalist/racists, as Ven. Galagoda Atte  Gnanasara Thero, Ellewansa Thero,

Dr. Nalin de Silva, Dr. Gunadasa Amerasekera, Manohara de Silva, just to mention a few, who are prominent public personalities, and thousands of their followers , who are lurking under, unknown.

Discrimination of Tamils non-existent

According to Dr. SW discrimination of Tamils is non-existent. Dr. SW states “who says Tamils are discriminated and to give at least one example where Tamils are deprived of anything by any law of the country”. One can cite a catalogue of discrimination of Tamils. He wants at least one example but, I can be generous and give a few examples of substantive ones to improve his knowledge. Discrimination is something that has to be experienced and not in constitutional guarantees and laws.

1. Isn’t the Constitution ‘per se’ discriminatory, when it stipulates that the religion of the majority Sinhalese, Buddhism, will have the “foremost place”? Does it not mean that other religions, including the Hinduism of the Tamils, are relegated to a secondary place?

2. Discrimination in employment opportunities. Can the Dr. SW give the total cadre of the defense forces, the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Police and the number of Tamils in the armed forces. Then, he will know the extent of discrimination of the Tamils. Whereas, U.S.A and Indian defense forces are fully representative of various ethnic groups of their countries. American Negroes are very conspicuous in their armed forces.

3. Likewise, what employment opportunities are there for the Tamils in the Government Administrative and Diplomatic Services and other Institutions and Departments.There would be some sprinkling of few Tamils to showcase non- discrimination. Effectually Tamils are discriminated and denied avenues of employment.

4. Tamil is also an Official language by law. Is this being implemented in practice? Certainly not.

5. Can a Tamil make a Police Entry or a statement in his language at the Police station? No.

6. Isn’t there step-motherly treatment of the North and East regions in economic development plans?

7. Only employment available for the Tamils is in the Private Sector. Even here, Dr. SW grumbles, out of jealousy, that Tamil staff in Foreign Diplomatic Missions discriminate against the Sinhalese by denying them Visas. This is an insult to these Missions. This means that Visa approvals are determined by non-foreign staff. This is a concoction of his mind.

8. A few Tamil people in high positions of the Government, is out of necessity, because of their insuppressible ability. This does not mean there is no discrimination of the Tamil community at large. A case in point is Muralitharan playing for the Lankan cricket team. He simply cannot be ignored for his superlative talent. Hence, per force, he got a place in the national team. It is out of national self-interest. How many, more than average Tamil players, are in the National Cricket team? Whereas, India draws the best of players from all ethnicities, from all the States.

9. The appointment of Mr. Sampanthan as Leader of the Opposition, was met with a battle cry of opposition from an extremist bunch of corrupt politicians, who to circumvent this, formed themselves into a separate Joint Opposition, rather than accepting him with dignity and respect. This proves that, in this country, a Tamil cannot hold even the position of Leader of Opposition.

Maximum Devolution of Powers to the North/East

Dr. SW poses the question that “if Power is devolved to North/East, how can it help the 52% of the Tamils living in the South amongst the Sinhalese”. Power devolution is to the region, which has a distinct national characteristic, with a more or less homogenous Tamil population. Such a territorial region has the right to self-determination to govern their affairs. It has no relevance, to the percentage of Tamils living, more correctly in Colombo city and its suburbs .It does not mean they have given up their traditional habitat in the North. Even then, so stated 48%, have the right to govern their affairs where they are a majority. If power is devolved fully, the region would economically develop, with job opportunities for the youth and a reverse process of return to their homeland would be the result. Dr. SW responds to Dr. Dayan J’s view that”. They ( Tamils) feel it is a State they are under, not one they fully belong to or fully represent them” by asking a counter question “ Do the multi-millionaire Tamil wholesale dealers in Pettah, who control 90% of the wholesale trade in Colombo for decades  feel they do not belong to the State”? This is a ridiculous argument. Financial/ material prosperity is not indicative of acquiescence of belonging to the State. A sense of belonging has to be felt emotionally. Dr. SW seems to have penetrated the psyche of these businessmen to conclude that they have an emotional sense of belonging to the State. The tone of his reference to the success of the Traders is not in appreciation, but out of a hidden, inner jealousy, of their success.

Thesavalamai Law of the Northern Tamils

Dr. SW has misunderstood the Law of Thesavalamai of the Northern Tamils, which is a Personal Law. It deals, inter alia, with the buying and sale of landed property among themselves. Dr. SW states Sinhalese cannot buy land in the North. There are no Sinhalese owning land in the North. It is a customary law of not selling landed property to those other than the Tamils. If there are Sinhalese  owning land in the North, then the Law has not precluded them from buying land in the North and the law is not rigid but flexible. The Sinhalese too are at liberty not to sell land to the Tamils, if they choose to, in the South. But they happily sell land, mostly to the Tamils and Muslims, for they get a better price, because of their financial capacity.

Show of brotherhood

Dr. SW states pompously that “we want Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers to live in any part of the country like brothers and sisters of the same family”. This is a generous call with the insidious motive to undermine the distinct Tamil region of the North, while knowing well that Sinhalese is the dominant majority in rest of the country. Soothing words, indeed, but the actions of the Sinhala nationalists/racists is to the contrary. Dr. SW states further that “we don’t agree with anybody justifying  maximum devolution of power to the North to address the artificially created alienation and aspirations issues, because they are non-existent”. Devolution is not restricted to the North and East only. It embraces all the other Sinhala dominant Provinces, which he would gladly agree to, but not to the Tamils. What the Sinhala extremists want is Sinhala hegemony, and hold concentrated power in their hands, without dispersal of power to the Tamils of the North and East. However, as Dr. Dayan J correctly observes, the Tamil problem has transcended the stage of mere grievances, to regional self- determination.

Back to Home page