By C.V. Wigneswaran –
I met a very senior respected Sinhala Politician a day or two ago. He made a pertinent observation. He said my speeches were not vituperative nor abusive. He advised “Never lose sight of the need to be objective”.
I truly value his advice.
I hate none. But I love Truth. I have come to conclusions about our past after studying certain historical facts. If my conclusions are wrong others must point out the shortcomings in my conclusions. Instead to get upset and abuse me and invite me for public debate does not make Truth a falsehood or vice versa. If need be, Honourable Speaker! let a Commission be appointed consisting of top Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and International Historians well versed in South East Asian History to report on our heritage and history. The Historians must be Internationally recognized. I for my part would like to tender a note to Your Honour to be included in the Hansard which speaks of The Antiquity of the Tamil Language and Tamil Society in Sri Lanka prepared by a respected Emeritus Professor of History – Professor Pathmanathan.
As for my friend Udaya Gammanpila all his historical references are out dated. Let him study history again and then come back.
An Honourable Member from Colombo named me personally yesterday and referred to certain matters against me. I may be given a few minutes in addition to my quota to reply him.
Firstly he said that I had forbidden Sinhalese and Muslims entering the North when I was Chief Minister. Truly I must be a Demon to have said so when my children have both married Sinhalese. Mr.Speaker! I do not indulge in such vituperative, racial exercises. I would like to see any video or audio report of such speech if there be one to explain to the Honourable Member. But certainly I may have said that it was wrong to bring outsiders to set them up in Mahaweli Colonisation Schemes contrary to International Law principles which expects the local people to be given priority.
Honourable Member asked if I had given blood to patients and went on to say only the Military members give blood to Blood Banks in Jaffna. He asked if the Vellala community would accept blood from other castes. Honourable Member should realize the people of the North had given blood to Blood Banks prior to the Army coming to the North as well as afterwards. They are aware that all blood fall within four categories. They do not believe as some do, that some are born with blue blood!
I remember it was General Mahesh Senanayake who told me when he first met me that he was going to change the attitude of the soldiers towards the locals by getting them to do projects for the benefit of the locals. Blood donation by soldiers was probably his innovation. Honourable Weerasekera need not make politics out of the humanitarian act of the Soldiers.
The Honourable Member asked naively “What of the Tamils of the other part of the Country constituting almost sixty percent if federalism is granted to the North and East.” Honourable Member should remember that we do not ask for separation. Federalism is unity in diversity. Nothing adverse will happen to the Tamils elsewhere unless the Honourable Member sets up his goondas to attack them for no fault of theirs.
There were certain other matters he had said but I have forgotten them.When the occasion arises I shall deal with them.
I thank most humbly the Honourable Speaker and others among this august assembly of men and women who stood by democracy and fair play without being drawn into the crude racial vituperative net that a few Parliamentarians were trying to lay. I must also thank the Secretary General for being very professional and forthright in dealing with this same Member’s outbursts at our Training Session.
Let me now come to the matter in hand.
As a Representative of the Tamils I find nothing significant to comment about on this mid – term Vote on Account.No Government has so far rendered any significant help to pull out our war affected people from their penury stricken indigent circumstances. They are also not interested in granting economic powers to the periphery to enable them to look after themselves. You would remember the Chief Minister’s Fund was refused to our Province during the time of both Governments. Hence I deem it necessary to stress on this occasion the urgent need to solve the political question of the Tamils first which is basic to the amelioration of the conditions of our affected People.
We are fortunate that the Honourable Prime Minster Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse has obtained two third majority in this Parliament. He has been showered a golden opportunity to usher in a peaceful and prosperous Country. By granting what I call eksathism as opposed to ekiyaism this country could be transformed into a veritable heaven on Earth despite its ten trillion international debt. A form of unionism which in fact is federalism is the panacea for our national question.Unity in diversity.
It would be stupid Sir! to run away from problems by saying such problems do not exist akin to the Ostrich which lowers its head in sandhoping to find a safe haven. Let us face the national question together. Let us not hand it over to the next generation. To win a war is easy. But to bring about Peace is extremely difficult. But it is Peace that could usher in permanent victory. It is this realization that made King Asoka to embrace Buddhism.
The new utterance that says this Country has no ethnic problem but only one of economic inequality does not fall in line with our past history. Since Independence the alternate Governments which came to power recognized the existence of the ethnic question and sought to solve it. Agreements between Government heads and Leaders of the Tamils were signed on that basis. International Agreements were also signed on that basis. Ceasefires were undertaken on that basis. It was the desire on the part of successive governments to attempt a hegemonic control over the Tamils which brought the Liberation Tigers of Thamizh Eelam into the arena. It would be wrong to think that the disappearance of the LTTE from focus would erase away the problems of the Tamils.
I like to ask a question Honourble Sir! Why did we fight for Independence from the British? We were peaceful and prosperous. In fact Lee Kwan Yew swore that he would make Singapore another Ceylon. Such was the peace and prosperity of our Country under the British. But we still wanted Independence. Why? It was our desire to resurrect our identity by language, heritage and culture that made us want ourselves to be freed from the domination by the British.
Many of you would be surprised to hearspecially in Colombo that the Tamils of the North and East are now exactly in the same predicament that we were before Independence. Our People live under Sinhala Buddhist dominance today. Though we in Ceylon did not have to take up arms to get freedom from the British since Gandhiji in India obtained it for us in an oblique way, our Youth had to take up arms to ward off the Sinhala Buddhist Governmental dominance over us. I am more than anyone else aware acutely of our political and social limitations in the North and East. Having served the Judiciary country wise, I was called to serve the periphery as a member of the Executive and now I belong to the group of Legislators for the entire country. Thus I have served the three limbs of Governmental machinery in my four score life. I was able to gather during my peregrinations the intrinsic shortcomings we suffered from, due to the dominance of the Centre over the periphery.
Some have started saying after the last Election that our People have lost interest in their political goals and they are now interested only in economic sops. If that be so this is the best time for the Government to conduct a Referendum among the People of the North and East overseen by the International Community to find out what political settlement they want. If they want economic prosperity only under a Unitary Constitution I would gladly leave politics. If not our Leaders must think anew and take statesmen like decisions to solve our National question.
So let me conclude by saying “Give us the authority and recognition and we will together with the others make this country peaceful and prosperous!”
*Speech by Justice C.V. Wigneswaran, MP, in Parliament Proceedings of 28/08/2020 Debate on the Vote on Account