18 September, 2020

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No Protection Of The Constitution: No Law, No Elections

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

My greetings to Sivarajah, or Chivan as we called him, the brain behind this Simon Ranaweera Sivarajah Institute of Tamil teaching Tami to Sinhalese Let me start my story with Nallammah. According to an uncle of mine, well before I was born, she was a beautiful widow with a year-old infant. Of the Vellala caste and a strict Hindu, it was the end of the road for her, as by Hindu law few would willingly marry her. Then along came Simon Ranaweera from Matale. He married her; giving her a new lease on life.

The Simons ran a bakery together, and raised hens, cows, and goats. They did well. The children were raised as Hindus. Chivan’s sisters went regularly to the Nallur Temple to give flowers and sweet rice. We lived across each other, and feasted on their pukkai (sweet rice)  and other goodies for their festivals. Only the neighbourhood knew who they were, as Simon was their surname. They were so Tamil that Sivarajah was called Chivan in authentic Tamil fashion. None of the children knew Sinhalese. Chivan was like an elder brother to me. His younger brother my bosom friend. Chivan went to Jaffna Central College where he studied under the Rev. Dr. D.T. Niles and soon joined the Sri Lanka Police force. He sent money home. The family did well.

There the story changes. During the 1983 riots, Chivan’s bag from the upper floors of Colombo’s Police Quarters went flying out of the window to the ground. No one was apprehended or punished. He idled in Jaffna fearing to go back to the police who broke the law rather than uphold it. Then he went to the Middle East as a Security Officer. Tired of separation from family, he returned and set up this school to teach Tamil to Sinhalese with his Tamil wife. Like his parents, he was enterprising, seeing and creating new opportunities.

What went wrong to make Chivan lose his original happy life? He lacked the protection of the law. In this country anyone can bash Tamils and getaway with it. Impunity, it is called.

Recently, there were reports of a Buddhist monk trying to take over a Hindu temple at Chemmalai near Mullaitivu, the way Kathirkaamam and the temple by the University at Peradeniya were taken over, and the way the Hot Water Springs at Kinniya and Koneswaram Temple in Trinco are being shamelessly taken over. The Mullaitivu Magistrate issued a stay order when the aggressive monk died, and his followers tried to cremate him on temple premises which was polluting by Hindu law. As the problem was brewing in election time, through the Election Commission a warning was sent to the Acting IGP who promised to look into it. He did nothing. Court orders were not served. And Buddhist monks joined by Gnanasara Thero violated the court orders. No punishment. Impunity if you are a Tamil basher.

Sri Lankans led by Election to Drowning by the Pied Piper under Universal Jurisdiction

Now a private plaint has been filed by MP Shanthi Sriskantharasah, who lived through the carnage of the last battles of Mullaitivu and came out with one leg missing and with haunting memories of rows and rows of dead civilians drawing flies lined up on the floor after being killed by our army. Where an independent Attorney General not looking for elevation to the Supreme court should have moved court for contempt but failed us,  she attempts to give justice to the Hindus of Chemmalai by charging the SP and OIC who failed to serve the warrants, and Gnanasara Thero, who in a charade promised good behaviour after going to prison for contempt of Court was let loose by the president, came out, and did exactly as he was expected to do – break the law in Mullaitivu and threaten Hindus. I have lost hope. We, all of us, lack the protection of the law. Tomorrow it will be our turn.

Colvin R. de Silva famously said “Two languages one nation. One language two nations.” He forgot his own dictum and paved the way to separatism through his constitution. The armed forces and the police that are to uphold the law, regularly violate the thirteenth amendment by refusing to recognize that Tamil is the language of administration in the North and East. Today we heard schoolgirl Miss. Akashini Fernando (who was speaking of Tamil dicta and their equivalents in English) tell us “The law maker cannot break the law.” The opposite is what is happening in Sri Lanka. Our Parliamentarians are like the chain-smoking father who tells his son not to smoke. We have no protection of the law. When the Palaly airport opening had all speeches by our political leaders in Sinhalese with no translation provided, our leaders violated the constitution recognizing that Tamil is the official language in Jaffna. 

Our top leaders do not understand what Miss. Fernando knew. They break the law and we lack the protection of the law.

The law says that murders must be punished. Mr. Veluppillai Prabhakaran broke the law and had to be punished by the law. Instead, all indications are that he was executed without due process. The law requires an inquiry, but the law failed him and therefore failed all Sri Lankans. When Meera Srinivasan, correspondent for The Hindu, asked of a candidate the serious question (which in any democracy the press would pursue) about what happened to the hundreds of LTTE cadres who surrendered, it became a laughing matter. Our press failed us by not following up. Several cases of rape and murder in the North-East are falling by the wayside through seeming police collusion and judicial fear to uphold the law when judges do not know who the next President will be. 

 

As we go into elections, one candidate promises to release all soldiers lawfully convicted to jail terms. Another candidate vowed that “He was ready to take responsibility on any allegations made against the Sri Lankan Security Forces and suffer any punishment on behalf of them.” They promise to break the law for our votes. It can bring about “attempt to” charges if our Attorney General is good and conspiracy charges against a candidate who promises to let murderers loose. Together we Sri Lankan like the rats in the Pied Piper of Hamelin, are being led to the infamy of universal jurisdiction of international courts as the sane voice of Mangala Samaraweera warns us.

In essence, this election is about promising to break laws to win votes. Surely there are laws against promising to break laws? The dark policies being promised threaten minorities in a communal electorate, and we fail to see the gravity and iniquity  of the policies being promised. The point is easily lost because Sinhalese candidates are promising favours to those who killed Tamils. To put it starkly with clarity, what if a candidate campaigns saying instead of what is being promised against Tamils, “Vote for me (a Sinhalese) and I will hang my opponent (who is also a Sinhalese), when I am elected”? We would then see how horrible and unlawful this election is. That is exactly what some leading candidates are promising the electorate, but against Tamils.

Is the election about the Commission presiding over this vulgar competition to outdo each other in breaking laws at Tamil expense? Is that being a good Commission? I am advised that a good member of the Commission does not comment on these things. However, the Commission’s constitutional mandate is to uphold all election laws. I assert that the Commission is failing the nation in not framing the legality of election promises in context and hiding behind an old-fashioned fuddy-daddy notion of propriety. As a result, serious personnel issues at the Election Commission that threaten the integrity of elections, and mistakes in past elections remain undiscussed and undisclosed to a public that has a right to be informed.

There is no protection of the law for the tens of thousands of Tamils murdered by our soldiers. There is no protection as we wait to see who will win to release convicted murderers to run amok causing havoc.

Remember: the constitution gives us the law. The law gives us elections and the ballot to choose our government. We must use our ballot. Saying they are all bad and not going to vote, is to allow the most wicked to come into office and claim our endorsement. We must not boycott the elections which still offers us choice, however limited. The Sinhalese parties have calculated that rather than working for peace and justice, there is more to be gained by pandering to Sinhalese communalism.

I thought we – all good and decent Sri Lankans – had an easy choice of voting against the killers and rogues asking for our vote. Now we have candidates vowing to protect killers. It is not Hobson’s choice as the pro-boycott lobby says, because we do have a choice. At this point, we must use our ballot to vote against the most wicked, and vote into office the least wicked of the candidates.

The alternative is clear. In the US there was voter apathy sweeping in Donald Trump. Voter turnout peaked at 61.1% when Obama came in first in 2008, and dropping a little to 58.0% for Obama’s second term in 2012. There was utter apathy in Trump’s year of 2016, turnout dropping to 56.0% with voter apathy increasing as a result of Bernie Sanders’ being left out of the race. (Data from Professor Michael McDonald’s United States Elections Project).

And the result, as put to us by public speaker George Takei (Sulu in Star Trek), an Orangutan, an Ignorant Moron, got into the White House.

Vote we must, for Simon Ranaweera’s legacy of living peaceably with our neighbours. We must learn to think like little Miss. Akashini Fernando.

*Based on a lecture at the Simon Ranaweera Sivarajah Institute of Tamil delivered at the Kasbewa Town Council Piliyandala to celebrate Sri Lanka’s trilingual policy brought about by the Thirteenth Amendment. 

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Latest comments

  • 9
    2

    It is Sri Lanka, their election mentality is different from those of western people. this election is between forces of evil and good. Gota want to win at any cost. to rob the nation. if Gota win, it would be means end of democracy. it would be mean Sri lanka will be for Rajapaksa family for ever

    • 3
      0

      Prof. Ratnajeevan H Houle,

      “It can bring about “attempt to” charges if our Attorney General is good and conspiracy charges against a candidate who promises to let murderers loose. Together we Sri Lankan like the rats in the Pied Piper of Hamelin, are being led to the infamy of universal jurisdiction of international courts as the sane voice of Mangala Samaraweera warns us.”

      Where there is no law, or laws not implemented, there is anarchy.

      Thanks for your article. As a preamble, you should should have referenced the book Buddhism Betrayed by Dr. Stanley Thambiah, that was printed in 1980 , by the Chicago University Press, Before the 1983 riots.

      This is Para-Sinhala Para-Buddhism , that is a distortion of Buddhism and is an Insult to the Buddha, in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho.

      The Para-Sinhala Para-“Buddhist “
      Candidates are pampering to the racist segment of the Sinhala Buddhists who comprise 70 percent of the voters.

      What percentage of the Para-Sinhala Buddhists are racists? To a first approximation, it is the percent votes obtained by the most realist Gotabaya Rajapaksa divided by 70. Also to a first approximation, one may say that those Buddhists who do not vote for Gotabaya are Buddhists.

      • 1
        0

        Correction,

        Most realist should read most racist.

  • 8
    1

    The wit and the sarcasm make this a most interesting read.
    .
    Yes, much truth gets told in the story. To me, it looks as though this Elections Commissioner sees that much is going wrong with this election. It is not the fault of the Elections Commission.
    .
    Now we await the storm that must necessarily hit us tomorrow morning through afternoon.

  • 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

  • 1
    4

    Traditionally people voted in two ways at presidential elections. (1) To the candidate that they are committed because of party, promises/policies or personality/leadership. (2) To the candidate they consider to be the least offensive or dangerous, i.e. the ‘lesser evil.’ Many minority voters, leftists, civil society groups, independent thinkers belonged to the second category. What they had/have not recognized properly is the availability of the preferential voting.

    At a presidential election, it is necessary (given the present circumstances) to express people’s disappointment (if not outrage) over the two main camps before selecting the ‘lesser evil.’ For minorities, that is the best way to bargain however in my opinion fielding a single candidate as much as possible and also articulating practical/pragmatic policies. Boycotting election is not a good thing for democracy or any cause.

    While left and civil society groups have realized this necessity ‘in some manner,’ this has not taken place among the Tamil or Muslim political communities in the North/East. I doubt whether Sivajilingam or Hizbullah fulfil this necessity. In my reading of the situation, the TNA as the main political current of the Tamil political community, should have contested on a feasible program (not 13 points in my opinion) and then requested to cast the second preference to the United Democratic Front candidate. That is the way of facilitating conflict resolution and resolution of the national question. This is also the way even the left (JVP) and the civil society (NPP) contestants should act in resolving social and democratic issues. (1) You don’t completely trust any one of the two main camps. Deny 50%. (2) Put forward your own program clearly. (3) Nevertheless, prevent the most dangerous or select the ‘lesser evil’ by casting the second preference in the immediate context.

    • 0
      2

      Laksiri,
      What if the most evil candidate gets 50%+1 in the first count? Don’t you see that it is the anti-Gora votes that is threaten to broken up, if your strategy is followed? This PE is too critical to play such mind games. Many who originally were very enthusiastic about a “harbinger” of third political movement are now beginning to change minds. In this weekend Anidda paper, I saw Sarath Jayasuriya also expressing the same view I’ve been advocating all along: We should not fall into JVP’s trap of struggle for survival (by fending off the threat from FSP – my addition).

      TNA & Muslim parties are already serving minority interests with one difference: TNA is not in the cabinet. I think that Muslim politicians are correct to be joining the Gvt or at least working with major parties b’cos the ultimate goal has to be to eradicate the mentality of racial divisions. I do understand Hoole’s concerns expressed in the essay but as a strong advocate of HR, I’m totally against division of power based on geographic distribution of races. Hoole is correct to point out the lack of respect for constitutional provision that safeguard the equal status of Tamil & Sinhalese but, if PM & the president failed to provide translations, it needs to be considered more as a stupidity than a disrespect; for politicians should have done everything possible to get their message across, in an election time in particular!

      I’m following the path of MLK & Gandhi followed – incorporation, not separation. If the Language is the problem, why not develop a system to encourage all Gvt employees to learn both languages? I think that politicians themselves must set the example by being tri-lingual. We are living in an age of instant communication where basic human needs dominate racial needs. Politicians as well as intellectuals representing all races must understand this fact.

      • 1
        0

        D. P., – why not develop a system to encourage all Gvt employees to learn both languages?
        I know that you were not born yesterday, by any chance did you wake up today?

      • 0
        0

        D. P.
        Of course I take yours and Sri-Krish’s points into consideration. Your outlook in resolving the national question is very much closer to mine. However, your ‘demand’ for the JVP to renounce Marxism, was out of character posted in one of your previous comments. I was puzzled. We should allow the parties to evolve whether they are left, right, center or nationalist. It is from that perspective that I try to look beyond the immediate.

        Yes, there is a ‘possibility’ that GR moving beyond 50%, in my opinion irrespective of the ‘split’ or not. The reasons mainly are the past mistakes + the SLFP position. The ‘split’ also includes certain sections of the SLFP. I did advocate “It is best for democracy if SLFP contests.” I could have done more if I were in Sri Lanka. That advocacy also was in line with what I have stated in the above comment although it was not mentioned.

        It may be possible (in Sri-Krish’s opinion most imperative) that at a presidential election people look at the intensifying immediate struggle and the preferential voting becomes obsolete. However, 1988 example is not categoric confirmation. (1) Turnout was very low. (2) JVP and their followers stood for extremism. (3) Civil society and their disaffection was not that prominent. It is not only the JVP that has emerged as an Alternative at this election. Mahesh Senanayake is also strong, supported by Sarvodaya.

        The election process has already achieved two gains. (1) A leadership change in the UNP. (2) Emergence of Alternatives. Of course there are failures too. Denying 50% to two main candidates would be the best for democracy. We still have time for tactical moves on the part of the left and the civil society, to prevent the ‘most evil’!!!

      • 2
        0

        Yes, Thappu, it has been government policy for years – and reasonably successful. However, enthusiasm hasn’t been consistent. On the other hand, it must not be forced on people, then they react against it.
        .
        What is important is attitude more than actual knowledge. I don’t know any Tamil, but I heartily encourage trilingualism.
        .
        D. P. hasn’t yet told me whether he read up about Chedi Jagan, Mihail Gorbachov, and Shevardnadze.
        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-mahesh-senanayake-candidacy/comment-page-1/#comments
        .
        I didn’t include a guy like Mandela in that list, but really, Marxism influenced many such good people. He ought not to teach, unless he knows more than he appears to know at present. Not a bad guy, but people like him do a lot of harm.

    • 0
      0

      This is not a feasible solution.

      In the heat of the election as the election date nears, the voting will converge around the first two candidates.

      The voters of the third candidate,rather than exercising the second or third preferences option, is compelled to give first preference to one of the first two candidates.

      As a result the Tamil or the left candidate will get very much lesser vote thus getting discredited..

      This fear compels them not to enter the fray.

      Please note what happened in the 1988 presidential election when Kumar Ponambalam and Dr Colvin R de Silva contested and got lesser vote in the first preference and got discredited.

      When a Tamil nationalist candidate contests they normally expected to canvas as if it is a referendum and expect to get a mandate for their cause and their opponents in turn after the elections will claim that their voters had rejected them.

      This fear keeps them away from the contest.

      In this Presidential election, the winning candidate will get more than 50%% as in the previous presidential elections and hence there is no need to count the preferences in the second round!

  • 3
    8

    He set up the wrong Institute – to teach Tamils to the Sinhalese.
    The need of the day was to teach Sinhala to the Tamils. What a great difference it would have made? At least to his bosson friend Professor S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole.

    Soma

    • 1
      0

      Just after making Sinhala official language in 1960s,
      Tamil, Sinhala and English languages
      Should have been compulsory
      For GCE (OL) certificate from
      1965.There was no attempt whatsoever made by successive
      governments.

      If this had been sorted out that time,
      We would not have in this muddle !!!
      There would not have any difference of Sinhalese or Tamil

      • 0
        0

        Recruit 10,000 trained Tamil language teachers to South
        And other part of Sri Lanka.

        Similarly recruit 10,000 trained Sinhala teachers to North & East of Sri Lanka.

        Progressively , plan to conduct
        All 3 languages compulsory for all candidates sitting for
        2025 OL examination,
        This must be built into the National policies of Sri Lanka,
        If we want live in harmony and dignity,
        One must not think this is done by force, but everybody is aware the root cause of the
        Problem, language barrier has been the main problem.
        I sincerely hope this message
        will open the eyes of all concerned & resonsible.

  • 5
    1

    Some food for thought by the writer. The writer is a member of the EC. Please clarify how one candidate (NGR) is permitted to contravene and violate the very Constitution that the winner is bound to take an oath and vow to uphold and defend? Aren’t there rules, checks and balances to weed out and reject such applicants?

    Hasn’t this same candidate (NGR) taken a similar oath when he assumed citizenship of another country (USA)? Is such an individual qualified and can be trusted to Lead our Nation?

    Yes, most Politicians and aspiring Leaders are corrupt and untrustworthy to varying degrees. But it may be clear to the right minded. honest & righteous souls who the most corrupt and untrustworthy of them all is! The choice may be the best out of a ‘bad’ lot.

    There are only two candidates who can realistically win this ballot (SP & NGR).

    If you are interested, please watch the video clip on You Tube, the link to which is provided below. Perhaps that will give you a another perspective.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPIcEX8Kqgw

    Voters, please take time to study the rules governing this election. Use your franchise wisely so this Nation will continue on the ‘Democratic’ path.

  • 6
    1

    Have to agree with what Dr. Hoole says. I can personally vouch for what has happened at the Kanniya Hot Wells and the Koneswaram Temple in Trincomalee, being a regular visitor to this area from the early Seventies to the present.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

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  • 7
    2

    Sad Christian countries are providing nearly all the aid to Sri Lanka which was used for arms to kill so many innocent Tamil children and newborns and babies in the wombs by indiscriminate bombings under the Rajapaksas.

    Sri Lanka is the very opposite of the kingdom of God. Swords into ploughshares is the dictum for Christians.

    Sri Lanka should not be given aid unless it shows human decency in correcting its human rights record.

    Malcolm Ranjith is with the Rajapakses misleading the western nations. The church has done nothing for the human rights of the Tamil Christians.

  • 4
    0

    The trilingual policy was not brought in by the 13A but by the 16 A.

    The 13A merely stated that Tamil also will be an official Language and English be a link language whereas the 16 A had realistically and adequately elaborated on the trilingual language policy to the satisfaction of all non-Sinhala speaking people of the country.

  • 3
    5

    // the tens of thousands of Tamils murdered by our soldiers.//
    Where was the author in 1971 and 1989? Does he not know that our soldiers also murdered tens of thousands of Sinhalese. Why are Tamil lives brutally terminated by our heroic soldiers more important than the Sinhala lives also terminated by them with arguably equal brutality?

    • 3
      1

      Chandra

      Brilliant.
      The author may not know what had happened in 1971 and 1989, probably he was in his cradle sucking his thumb, listening to All India news. I haven’t got the faintest idea about what you are typing about.

      Please explain to us what had happened to the Sinhalese in those years and Tamils for many years. I take it that your soldiers murdered tens thousands of Sinhalese and Tamil lives were brutally terminated irrespective of race(?), religion, region, gender, … making them race blind, ……….. essentially their intention and motivation was just to kill people innocent or guilty.

      Therefore I believe these men (mostly men) were serial killers, psychopaths, sociopaths, mass murderers, …………………… acted with impunity. I do not remember wise people addressing them being brave soldiers. Gota was heavily involved in both mass murders, which took place in the periods between 1987 and 1990 and between 2005 and 2015.

      The saddest part of this island’s history is that a psychopath was elected as president and another is contesting to become one. If you want me to comment on other psychopaths, mass murderers, …….. such persons as Rohana Wijeyweera, Vellupillai Prabaharan, Karuna, Udugampola, Mendis, Silva, ……. please feel free to ask me.

      Is it the little lion in your tummy that is trying burst out in support of war criminals, ….?

      • 0
        2

        NV: Please look up the word Eye… Ar… Oh… En… Why…! That comes close to what you have perceived as intentions of the bacterium masquarading as lion in my tummy.

        • 2
          0

          Chandra

          I am lost.
          Could you clarify what you have just typed.

          • 0
            2

            Read it slowly. There is a chance. Or ask our resident humarist Es Jay for help :-)

            • 0
              0

              Is it irony

              • 1
                0

                Sri-Krish

                You have just spoiled the fun.

  • 0
    0

    “At this point, we must use our ballot to vote against the most wicked, and vote into office the least wicked of the candidates.”

    Thank you for putting it very neatly so that any fool can understand. In fact, that is the only option available to us unfortunate Sri Lankans!

  • 0
    1

    Ratnajeevan,
    Don’t you think that, in order to resolve ethnic conflict, country needs more Simon s & Nallammah s, Mandana Ismail s (not mentioned in the essay). Isn’t this the better solution than 13 A? Can Tamils be inclusive among themselves by discarding the caste system before talking about ethnic fairness? Will 13 A ever provide safety to lower caste Tamils & to minorities (S/B, Muslims, Christians)? Pls read my reply to Laksiri.

  • 0
    0

    We are in a state, where, we are damned if we do, damned if we dont.

  • 0
    0

    Ratnajeevan. You have raised and pointed out many valid points. The name Simon reminded me of Simon who is the father of 4 Boys and 2 girls and married to a Sinhala lady. The lived next to the house opposite to hours in Athiady near theJaffna Railway station. We moved there in 1943. Mr. Simon is a Sinhala friendly person who let all the boys in the village play in his front yard.
    His job is to counsel people who come to him to help them find the jewelry they had lost. And other such problems. He holds a metal box and an open flam lamp and stares into the box and comes up with an answer. He had a successful practice. He also drives “demons” away from emotionally disturbed persons. I dont know his last name. He gies away half if each month.
    The comments remind me of the job Mr. Simon do.
    Considering our past and present presidents and candidates wear nool around their wrist – a Hindu Priests vocation that the Buddhist priests also practice – it is not surprising that the Buddhists have taken over Kathirkaamam and trying to take over other Hindu Temples. May be they like to emulate the army taking over agri business, construction business and tourist businesses in the North. Now Buddhists priests and the army are also doing the work of the archeology dept.
    MR has visited Pillayan in remand jail accused of Joseph Pararajasingam and stated when Gotabaya is elected President he will release pillayan. Is MR violating Election law canvassing in or around the jail?

  • 1
    0

    it looks like SL is not in a mood for reconciliation and unity of the various ethnic and religious groups. If there was a true Sinhala statesman our country would have been a truly prosperous country by now. Sad to see how the politicians are looking after themselves and their relatives and are not interested the progress of the country.
    People can not rely on the security/judicial systems to provide safty to the law abiding citizens in SL.

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