22 September, 2018

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Our Leader Appapillai Amirthalingam’s Ninety First Birthday

By A.N. Rajendram –

A.N. Rajendram

Today, 26 August 2018, is the birthday of Appapillai Amirthalingam – unquestioned Leader of the Tamils and first Tamil Leader of the Opposition. To remember such a powerful politician, a Tamil leader with pleasant personal abilities and commanding presence, is I consider a joyful and appropriate thing.

Leader Amirthalingam was born in the village of Pannaaham in Vaddukoddai. After a stint  at Pannaaham Meikandaan Tamil School he moved on to Victoria College, Chullipuram. He was the first student from there to enter the University of Ceylon. At the university he was acknowledged as one of the few who could speak in both Tamil and English. Joining people like Prof. Vidyananthan, he acted in Tamil plays.

His fluency in Tamil and English, and his ability to speak impromptu on various topics with rich content and succinctness has been paraised by many. His speeches were a source of joy to many youth like me.

Appapillai Amirthalingam

A good leader may be assessed by his decisions and how he comes to them, and then implements them in ways acceptale to other people. He would read up on arguments on all sides of a topic, come to his decision very rationally, explain his position even to those who opposed him and often bring them over to his point of view. He was an excellent leader because of this.

At the Law College in 1949, he joined Thanthai Chelva (S.J.V. Chelvanayakam) in forming the Ilanka Thamil Arasuk Katchi (ITAK, aso known as the Federal Party). He participated at the initial meeting of the ITAK and was appointed the Head of the party’s Youth Wing. From that time to his death, he faithfully worked for the well-being of the Tamil people. He contested the Vaddukoddai seat in 1952. Although he was not returned then, he continued to build up the party and saw his work’s fruition in the 1956 General Election when he himself was elected as the Member for Vaddukoddai and the ITAK trounced to victory in the North and the East as the Tamil people endorsed the ITAK’s policies on language parity and citizenship for the Estate Tamils who had been cruelly betrayed by the Tamil Congress which turned its back on promises made to Mr. S. Thondaman.

That same year, our Leader participated in the Satygraha Campaign on Galle Face Green organized by Mr. Chelvanayakam and the ITAK to oppose S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike’s “Sinhala Only” language policies for Sri Lanka. At the Satygraha, Amirthalingam was assaulted by Sinhalese goons. However, even as he bled, he went to Parliament and gave voice opposing the language laws of the government. We cannot forget Prime Minister S.W.R.D. sarcastically and cold-heartedly insulting them saying that they had come to Parliament with the heroic wounds of war.

In the two elections that followed in March and July 1960, the ITAK prevailed impressively, showijg that it had the Tamil people fully behind it. As SJV Chelvanayakam consolidated his status as the unchallenged leader of the Tamil people, Leader Amirthalingam became his trusted right hand man.  Mr. Amirthalingam immersed himself in all activities of the ITAK – whether the Anti-Sri Campaign or protest march for parity for Tamil or Satyagraha. He organized these to perfection and often brought them to successful fruition. He was the man of action of the ITAK, the Action Hero as he was often called.

In 1961, Satyagraha Campaigns were held in front of the Kachcheris of the North and East. In these, the participation and contribution of Mr. and Mrs. Amirthalingam were found to be a violation of the laws as Satyagrahas are intended to be.  As a result both were arrested by the Government and imprisoned at the Panagoda Military Camp for six months.

In the year 1965, he contested again in the General Elections and was returned as the Member for Vaddukoddai. The ITAK offered its cooperation for the UNP to form a government.Mr. M. Tiruchelvam was nominated by the ITAK for the Senate, and represented the ITAK as the Minister for Local Government. As the compact between the ITAK and the UNP was not honoured by Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake, the ITAK quit the government.

In time as Thanthai Cheva became progressively more afflicted by Parkinson’s Disease, it had become difficult to comprehend his speech. However, the ability to understand and communicate  with him ony one person had – and that was Leader Amirthalingam.Once the late MP for Paruthiththurai, Mr. Thurairathinam,was repeating Thanthai Chelva’s speech on a loudspeaker and rather loudly at that. Thanthai Chelva who heard Thurairatnam speaking, signalled him to sit down  and requested Amirthalingam to repeat what he was saying. I am describing this incident to demonstrate how much Mr. Amirthalingam enjoyed Thanthai Chelva’s confidence!

Functioning as a sympathizer of ITAK from 1966, it was from 1970 that I developed a relationship with Mr. Amirthalingam. In the 1970 elections Mr. Amirthalingam contested the Vaddukoddai seat against the Tamil Congress’ Mr. A. Thiyagarajah and lost. This defeat caused us great grief. To grieve with Mr. Amirthalingam, I joined my friends at Tellippalai, hired a van and went to meet him at his Moolai residence. Instead he consoled us, and pointed to the half-built state of his house, telling us, “I have been so busy with politics that I have been unable to finish building my house; but now I will return to my practice as an advocate and finish the job.” That he did. In those days, parliamentarians did not have the perquisites and privileges like MPs today. They travelled about using the railways and bus services. Rarely would they resort to air travel. They had no privilege of constructing houses and building up fat bank accounts.

In 1972 he did much work opposing the new Constitution by Mrs. Srimavo Bandaranaike. Recognizing the urgent need for Tamil unity, he worked closely with the Tamil Congress’ Mr. Gnanamoorthy of Valvettithurai. Unitng with the Tamil Congress and the Ceylon Workers’ Congress, he worked on the frontlines in establishing the Tamil United Front   which later became the Tamil United Liberation Front.

With Srimavo Bandaranaike unwilling to concede Tamils’ basic reights, and all avenues closing, in 1976, the Vaddukoddai resolution was put forward. On the charge of distributing leaflets relating to this resolution, Messers Amirthalingam, K. Thurairatanam, V.N. Navaratnam, and K.P. Ratnam were charged and faced a Trial-at-Bar before a three-judge bench. More than 70 lawyers appeared and prepared briefs on behalf of the accused. I took leave to attend the hearings. On account of the skills our lawyers displayed, a “Not-guilty” verdict was returned for all four accused.

In 1977 with the sad demise of Thanthai Chelva, his mantle as Tamil Leader devolved on Leader Amirthalingam. Naturally, as Thanthai’s heir, Leader Amirthalinagam successfully contested the 1977 election from Mr. Chelvanayagam’s seat at Kankesanthurai. Eighteen persons including our leader were returned from the TULF while the UNP got 14 seats. The SLFP got only 8. As a result the TULF was the seond biggest party in Parliament and our Leader Amirthalingam became the Leader of the Opposition. The position was the first for a Tamil.

Leader Amirthalingam used his office to highlight the problems of Tamils in foreign fora. It was in this climate that he developed a close relationship with the Indian central government and in particular with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Unable to bear these activities of our Leader, the Sinhalese Government moved a motion of no confidence against him. This was the first such motion of no confidence against a Leader of the Opposition anywhere in the world. Communalists seemed determined to tear him apart like in the old days when elephants tore a body into two. Refusing to be bullied, Amirthalingam asked for time to reply. Being refused permission to respond, all TULF MPs walked out of Pmarliaent.

Today, the absence of a fearless, brave and well-informed leader with the intuition to do the right thing when confronting the unexpected is a matter of great misfortune for us as Tamils.

When J.R. Jayawardene’s UNP government on 16 July 1980 brought a motion in Parliament to strip Mrs. Bandaranaike of her civic rights, the speech our Leader made in Parliament against that motion earned the praise of leaders worldwide. Said he, forthrightly and firmly, “You are doing a wrong thing. You are trying to politically murder an opponent and leader of a party. This is not the forum for punishing her. The people of Attanagalle have chosen her as their representative. If she has erred, the people of Attanagalle must punish her. This motion is an international violation of her basic human rights.”

Even though Mrs. Bandaranaike refused us our basic requests for the 1972 Constitution, our Leader argued for her rights in Parliament and thereby his greatness, his humane character in guarding her and sending her safely home from Parliament. After she was stripped of her civic rights, he as a democratic leader organized a grand welcome for her in Jaffna’s Open Air Theatre. Perhaps because of this, after our leader was murdered, Mrs. Bandaranaike cryptically said, “Although the Sinhalese people had many reasons for murdering him, I am so glad that they did not commit this murder.” Those who understand what she meant must reflect on it.

Following the 1983 riots Leader Amirthalingam journeyed to India joined by his stalwart supporters in M. Sivasithamparam and R. Sampanthan. He participated in tripartite negotiations between the Sri Lankan, Tamil Nadu and the Indian Central governments. The Indo-Sri Lanka agreement was the product of these talks. However, not all that Mr. Amirthalingam wanted was incorporated in this. There were shortcomings. Be that as it may, it cannot be denied that it is that agreement that has given us the few powers we have over our own affairs. It was as a result of Mr. Amirthalingam giving voice to the shortcomings, that the agrrement stipulates that matters left out are subject to further negotiations and agreement.

In the 1989 general elections Mr. Amirthalingam contested from Batticaloa, aligning with the Eelam People’s Liberation Front, Tamil Eelam Liberation Front, and the Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front. The preference vote was misused as a weapon by the parties of comrades and caused Mr. Amirthalingam’s defeat.Nontheless, our leader became MP when he was nominated for a seat by the Tamil Uited Liberation Front.  From then to his death I had the privilege of serving as hisSecretary.

During this period I have been many times to Parliament with my Leader to simply listn to him and learn from him. I was thereby able to observe the great respect and awe with which he was beheld by all. Everytime he rose to speak, parliaentarians would lapse into pindrop silence to listen to his words and dwell on his thoughts. On one occasion he rose to speak on the subject of sending back the Indian Peace Keeping Force, the IPKF. I do not recall who but someone got up and said, “Don’t you want to send out the IPKF, the Innocent People Killing Force?” Our Leader immediately without any delay,  shot back with his classic penchant for repartee “No, I do not want them replaced by the All People Killing Force.” That we do not have a leader of Mr. Amirthalingam’s stature is a matter for great regret.

On 13 July 1989, Leader Amirthlingam was cruelly murdered in what I call an unholy hurry. We have still not been able to fill the vacuum that was created as a result. To detail this will make this essay too long. Deo Volente, I shall do that when another opportunity presents itself.

*A.N. Rajendram, APFA, FMAAT, FIPFM (UK). Former Head, Jaffna District Development Society, and Member, Valikamam East Prathesiya Sabai

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Latest comments

  • 7
    19

    Mr Amirthalingam was the only visionary leader the Tamils ever had. I will always have a great deal of respect and admiration for him. If the LTTE had not sabotaged him, the Tamils would have been never decimated in Nanthikadal.

    I will never forgive Prabaharan for his many brutal murders and blunders; killing of Amirthalingam by Prabaharan is one of such many brutal murders

    We miss you, sir.

    • 10
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      The life of a innocent civilian killed by LTTE carries a far greater weight than that of a politician involved in the issue. I weep for those innocents.

      Soma

  • 11
    8

    Mr. A.N. Rajendram
    .
    The way you put it, Mr. Amirthalingam does seem to have been a great leader for the Tamils. Then how can you explain the sense of betrayal felt by the Tamil youth towards him post-1977? I think this is what eventually enabled Mr. Prabhakaran to condemn him as a traitor – with a lot of feigned moral outrage, of course – and finally assassinate him in 1989. Why didn’t the Tamil people have the courage to rally behind Mr. Amirthalingam and preempt the fascist take over by the LTTE? Such a resistance by the Tamils against the Tigers could’ve saved his life as well. Did Mr. Amirthalingam mean the LTTE when he said in parliament that he didn’t want the IPKF replaced by the “All People Killing Force?” Was it an ominous foretelling by him of the even greater self-destructive bloodbath that Mr. Prabhakaran was waiting to unleash on the whole country?

    • 9
      3

      Ajay…coming to your question
      Why didn’t the Tamil people have the courage to rally behind Mr. Amirthalingam and preempt the fascist take over by the LTTE? answer is –> impossible because the owning Company of LTTE was RAW, Indira Ghandi, MGR & Karunanidhi & then LTTE’s strength was waning, then R. Premadasa used them offering boxes of matches, kerosene and other little help until he got blown off, then Laxman Kadirgamar started chasing them, until Condoleesa Rice visited Sri Lanka resulting in Kadir being snipered in his swimming pool, thereafter India finding difficult to manage its Kashmir, Maoists separatists & federal issues decided to eliminate LTTE the rest is history as you know. As for Tamil people they were caught between a rock & a hard place to an extent where old ladies, young widows are weeping today at the graveyards of their sons, hubbies & siblings…and according to Wiggie 85,000 widows in N&E. Sampanthan & Sumanthiran are highly worried, that is why they are waiting for their next car permit so that they can sell the permits.

    • 11
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      Ajay
      Well said.
      But I don’t your comment would satisfy the good doctor who worships and adores late Mr. Amithalingam with a closed mind.

    • 13
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      Both SJV and Amirthalingam were wrong in rushing toward the Vaddukkodai declaration without carefully thinking about the consequences. They might have been under pressure from the youth wings to take more extreme positions as a bargaining strategy, but they didn’t have to over-promise, knowing well they couldn’t deliver anything close to their promise.

      They failed to recognize that Indian self-interest was against the creation of a separate country in SL and that Delhi was fearful of resurrecting dormant separatist tendencies in Tamil Nadu. They should have recognized that the maximum India would agree to for Sri Lankan Tamils, would be the pseudo-federalism that India has given to Tamil Nadu.

      They also failed to make it clear that the creation of Bangladesh was a unique event
      but India would not replicate it elsewhere. Though SJV himself never encouraged armed militancy, only peaceful agitation, he should have realized that under the surface, the militancy would lead to an armed struggle and political leaders would lose all control.

      Their initial failures misled the youth to believe fervently in the creation of a separate state via armed struggle, making it harder for Amirthalingam to negotiate anything meaningful because the youth would dismiss anything less than a separate country as a sellout.

      At least one of Amirthalingam’s fellow ITAK MP’s from the North indicated to me in the mid 1970’s that he was somewhat ‘hotheaded.’

      So, while Amirthalingam’s murder by the LTTE was a dastardly act that should never be condoned by anyone, it is fair to ask that Tamil society and current leaders rethink the roles played by past Tamil leaders themselves, learn from their mistakes, and chart a realistic path forward. Rational stock-taking, not emotional speeches, is the way forward.

      • 4
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        Agnos
        SJV was pushed into endorsing the “Tamil Eelam” resolution by AA.
        SJVC was quite not in control of the FP by 1970. His Parkinson’s disease had got the better of him.
        Even earlier several things were done without due reference to him by a gang of three (to whom NR Rajavarothiam has made reference in his memoirs “Panadoda Days”).

      • 4
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        agnos

        extremely good review of the past.However your advice will never be taken because amirtham isn’t the only hot head in our community.We are full of them and they will never listen to saner counsel.Adding to this is the ego factor.Our sri lankan tamils have such ego that self esteem makes us stubborn to accept our faults.Rest be assured we will keep on making the same mistakes over and over again without learning anything from them.Controlling the ego is so difficult that even though Lord Bhuddha has pointed out the path to do it,many bhuddhists are bhuddhists in name only and have put it into the too hard basket.

        ps .In 1983 i told my sinhalese and tamil friends that separation of north east is unattainable and the only solution is quasi federalism(which you refer to i think as pseudo federalism) .I got glares from both parties though they did not say why they do not agree with me.Now also i say separation of north only is possible and india cannot oppose it,(otherwise they have to give back goa to the portuguese,)but it should be used as a bargaining chip to get quasi federalism to unmerged north and east and even the upcountry of a merged central and uva province
        Let us see whether in 2035(2009+26 years) i will be proved right or wrong.

        • 0
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          even the upcountry of a merged central and uva province///////////so further intrusion into ‘Sinhala homeland’ ???

          • 1
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            sach

            kandyans were the first to ask for federalism because they were losing control of their lands to the low country sinhalese.After the tamil problem is sorted out theirs will crop up again.See how they were treated by MR.He built the southern expressway,did so much development for the southern province including collossal amounts for white elephants in hambantota.Tried to get water to hambantota from uva and nearly wrecked all the houses there until current president halted the uma oya project.You can see low country sinhalese don’t care a damn for the upcountry sinhalese who are the original sinhalse and refer to low country as aappu minissu.No development at all in upcountry during MR time.Not even the oft repeated colombo kandy expressway.Now that low country sinhalese outnumber the upcountry ones and you think that just because power has shifted away from them due to the universal suffrage system they are going to tolerate this kind of treatment for ever?

            Also all the war victory credit is taken by low country sinhalese like mahinda,gota and fonseka while the sacrifices of soldiers like hasalaka gamini from the hills is forgotten.They are the real war heroes,those who shed their blood for the country though their region was considered not part of sri lanka by MR mob putting all the taxpayers money into the southern province.It is not an intrusion by me as you point out,to save the upcountry sinhalese from further humiliation.The jaffna part of my family has married into kandyan and we have always been traditionally allied for centuries with the kandyans against kotte.

            http://www.sundaytimes.lk/090111/News/sundaytimesnews_20.html

      • 1
        1

        Whether it is SJV or AA, Tamil politics in North was always centered around extreme Tamil Nationalism one which was constantly fed by the propaganda in Tamil Nadu where Tamil was thought to be the first language, first civilisation. The speeches made by the Tamil politicians were full of vituperation against the Sinhala people and imagined superiority of Tamils over Sinhalese.

    • 6
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      Ajay
      Nationalism, especially narrow nationalism, is the home of fascism. (Religion is now encroaching on that patch.)
      There was lack of democracy in the North ever since the Vaddukkoddai resolution. Dissent was resented and met with threat and later punishment. the idea of traitors deserving to be destroyed originated in the FP.
      A himself once listed a few who did not deserve a natural death.
      LTTE had several fascistic streaks, but still fell short of being a fascist outfit.

      • 3
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        SJ

        “Nationalism, especially narrow nationalism, is the home of fascism. (Religion is now encroaching on that patch.)”

        Then what do you have to say about weeping widow’s nationalism?

      • 5
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        SJ
        “A himself listed a few who did not deserve a natural death…..
        LTTE had several streaks”..
        Entirely true.That included his hot headed wife which bettered his.
        Any politician with a different moderate view point in the political opposition was dismissed away as a Tamil traitor and spy in truck with the majority community.
        I still remember the public 1977 election meeting at which the lady rattled off a string of words to hit below the belt of late CP’s V. Ponnambalam’s second marriage giving examples of-eligible bachelors in her party deciding to remain single for the Tamil cause.
        I can still remember the silent gloom that had descended heavily on the day rioting a few weeks after the said elections when I happened to be at the Jaffna MP’s Point Pedro Road residence where most of the important leaders and news was filtering in about Anaicoddai police station and shops in the Jaffna town were blazing with fire.
        Many instances are there about how he and his wife derided and ridiculed Tamils with a left political leaning as spies. But they both are now no more, so why flog them now.
        The present sad and unhappy fate of the Tamil community was predestined by their intemperate words and political shortsightedness.

        • 6
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          Hear, hear!

  • 3
    0

    The author writes – “ on 13th July 1989 , Leader Amirthalingam was cruelly murdered in what I call an unholy hurry “ . Please explain.

  • 15
    0

    he died by his own creation.Same for indira too.If you play with fire you will get burnt.

    • 0
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      shankar

      “he died by his own creation.”

      Actually he was killed by Banda’s children.

  • 2
    12

    Thank you A.N. Rajendram for the article which is concise. The wording makes it compelling reading.
    Several Tamil leaders sacrificed their whole future to fight (peacefully and democratically) for the rights of Tamils. The late Amirthalingam has an iconic slot. He joined the then Federal Party as a founding member at the age of 22 and has loyally carried out the mandate in a political atmosphere getting caustic and toxic.
    At election meetings, Amir’s speeches were in simple but elegant Tamil. The Amir-accent and his voice had the audience spell-bound.
    .
    In FP, same vintage as Amir was C Rajadurai. He was a talented speaker too. He created his unique brand. Down the grapevine news trickled that the relationship in caucus was not good. This sort of rivalry is found in all political parties down to the present. Both were dedicated and loyal to the cause. When the leadership went Amir’s way, in a weak moment, Rajadurai defected to UNP, was rewarded with a ministry. Later he served as our High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur.
    This bit was added just to indicate what happens to idealists in politics.

    • 13
      1

      Our leaders put themselves ahead of our people. Amirthalingam was no exception.

  • 12
    6

    He is one of the Terrorists who brought Vaddukodai Resolution to create a Tamil Elam and got the capital punishment from Prabhakaran & LTTE as a retribution as same fate as Indira and Rajiv Gandhi.

  • 17
    2

    Amirthalingam and his ilk should be judged by the fact that the nationalist politics they advanced brought nothing but total misery to the people they claimed to lead. They took Tamil youth down a path of terror which was never going to achieve their stated goals. The most horrific of crimes were committed in the name of the Tamil people by the genie they unleashed, including the murder of Amirthalingam himself.
    A leader? Bollocks.

    • 3
      3

      Jaymass it was state sponsored Sinhalese racism and terrorism and TULF opportunism and Pirapakaran’s stupidity, especially at the later part that created all this mess. Out of all these three it is the state sponsored Sinhalese racism that is still continuing , that has to take the largest portion of this blame. They can still sort this out bring real peace but no Sinhalese led government will never, as they thrive on Sinhalese Buddhist Fascism

      • 4
        0

        Hi RSSS: Stating the other side is more to blame is not leadership. Sinhala Buddhism and the chauvinism that follows from that is not going to go away. Granted, it was and is a problem. Leadership is to provide a solution to the problem. Amir and his people proposed a solution to this problem. Their solution failed. Now for you to say “It failed because of Sinhala Buddhism” is a circular argument which makes no sense. Get it?

  • 0
    0

    CT should have chosen a nice picture of Amir, I have seen his bust-size picture that is somewhat identical to the late singer T. M. Soundararajan, the pix CT has published above (not bad either) resembles kaviyarasar in the film Sooriyakanthi singing paramasivan kaluthilrundu paambu kaettadu garuda saukyama…..what is sad is kaviyarasar, jayalalitha, muthuraman, MSV, TMS and Amir all have departed, yet their legacy lives on like the melodies of TMS.

  • 0
    7

    Mr.Rajendran
    Thanks for remembering our leader. BTW, at 1977 Election UNP got 140 seats (NOT 14) and SLFP 8 seats in a 168-seats Assembly.

  • 20
    1

    To cite John F Kennedy, “Those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.”

    Amirthalingam, much like G.G. Ponnambalam started his political career as a demagogue stirring up an unrealistic Tamil nationalism only to get voted to parliament. The consequences were disastrous for the Tamil community. This is karma. Every action has a reaction – and Amirthalingam paid for his own folly. I remember his wife screaming at election rallies in 1977 that “we Tamils would swim in Sinhalese blood and make slippers out of Sinhalese skin”.

    What demagogues – much like Gnanasara Thera and Soma Thera!

    • 7
      9

      Mr. Tamimuttu,

      I was at some TULF meetings leading to elections in 1977 where Mrs. Amirthalingam spoke.
      There was never any speech like “we Tamils would swim in Sinhalese blood and make slippers out of Sinhalese skin.”
      Mrs. A has denied she ever said that and it was a canard spread by elements who sought to discredit the TULF. Unless you heard it yourself and can vouch for it here, do not simply repeat canards spread by others.

      • 14
        2

        Mr. Agnos, you obviously did not live in Jaffna during the 1977 elections! I did and still do! The speech was reported in the local press!! Of course, Mrs. Amirthalingam would deny it after the polls had concluded. She would look damn silly not to! The Eelanadu also had a report where Mrs. Amirthalingam, who was addressing a rally in a red saree, claimed that that color represented “the blood of the army”. Do snap out of your arrogance living in America and get it that the Amirthalingams (for that matter the entire TULF) represented pure opportunism and demagoguery solely with the 1977 elections in mind. Don’t defend the indefensible by detracting from the thrust of my point by your uninformed interjection.

        • 2
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          tambimuttu

          agnos asked you a specific question,did you yourself hear it.Yo skirted that and answered that it was reported in the local papers.Please answer the question.[edited out]

          • 7
            1

            Shankar: “[…] she charges 5000 rupees for a romp in the bed.When i ask them did they do it or do they know of someone who did it the answer is always no.[…]”
            Is this because you move in circles of people who cannot afford the 5000? If so, the claim could still be true, no!

            • 0
              6

              tee twenty

              that was along time ago when 5000 rupees was considered valuable,unlike now when it is valueless.You are right i was young and my income would not have permitted a romp like that.However i pointed it out to show how reputations are tarnished without any proof at all.Okay i agree with your point but someone in my circle should not have talked like that without being sure,don’t you think?

              • 6
                1

                Shankar:
                There is a huge difference. Your mates gossiping about a lady is bad, but no big deal. It is just gossip for you to ignore and get on with doing your homework or any household work your mother might have asked you to do.
                The comment about Mrs A is not gossip. Agnos claims “I was at meetings, I did not hear, therefore things were not said”. This is nonsense. It is just like many Sinhala people saying “I have a Tamil friend, he seems fine in a good job, therefor Tamils have no problem.” Those were days without mobile phones and cheap cameras, so nobody can prove precisely what she said. Thambimuttu claims it was reported in the press. It certainly was reported in the Hansard.
                But even if those precise words were not spoken, or not spoken by Mrs A, the fact remains those TULF platforms stirred up huge amount of racism and emotion, through utter lies and false promises. We know how those TULF platforms laid the foundation for our youth taking up arms and then the thirty years of misery our people had to go through, culminating in the massacre of thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of our people on the shores of the Mullaithivu lagoon. So, please, let us remember the old Tamil proverb that says “those plucking hair from the eggshell will miss out on the omelette” and recognise our errors of the Seventies. If we don’t, then Wigneswarans and Ponnampalams in Jaffna now will take our youth down that path once again. We cannot afford a repeat of that foolishness.

                • 2
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                  TT,
                  >>Agnos claims “I was at meetings, I did not hear, therefore things were not said”. This is nonsense. It is just like many Sinhala people saying “I have a Tamil friend, he seems fine in a good job, therefor Tamils have no problem.” >>

                  Stupid reasoning. I said that I didn’t hear anything like that, at least in the meetings held in Vadamaradchi in 1977, and since Mrs.A. had also denied it, if one were going to assert this was true, then that person would have the burden to vouch for it in some way.

                  Uthungan below says he directly heard such things; since he claims to have heard it directly, I don’t want to challenge him; if it was true, and Mrs. A. should have addressed the issue. But Mrs. A wasn’t in parliament, so your bringing up Hansard shows you still don’t get it. Hansard is for MP’s making all sorts of allegations, sometimes unsubstantiated canards and hearsay. It doesn’t make something a fact.

                  I had another reason to doubt the claim: while it was known that Mr. and Mrs. A were given to fiery speeches, to the extent that I knew them, they were not as uncultured as to speak like thugs and blatant racists.

        • 3
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          Mr. Tambimuttu,

          Not only did I live in Jaffna throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, but I knew Tamil politics well, so much so that I spoke at a TULF election meeting even as a 10-year old boy. So stop lecturing me.

          How do I know you are not simply repeating what others are saying and rumor mongering, as is typical in Sri Lankan society? Tamil newspapers were not immune to exaggerations and falsehoods because they publish hearsay as well.

          As for opportunism, did you wake suddenly and discover that the TULF politicians were opportunists while other politicians in SL and other countries are full of integrity and had the interests of the people in mind?

          • 10
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            Agnos – your slip is showing. So you are a kootani (TULFer) after all. Hence the vigourous defence of Mangayakarasi Amirthalingam. It was widely held that her speeches were full of racist venom. Jaffna had a TULF wave that year. She had no real detractors within Jaffna then. The stories nevertheless spread like wild fire in the print media and by word of mouth. Why didn’t she put out an official statement denying the reports? Her denials only came much later with the 1977 riots. And as for opportunism, do not be intellectually dishonest. Politicians may be opportunist in most places but the TULF landed the Tamils in a mess. At least the Tigers believed in their cause. The TULF were being duplicitous. But then, you were part of the problem and left the Tamils to fend for themselves while you prospered abroad.

            • 3
              1

              Hello Atputhan,
              Just because I spoke in support in 1977, saying that ‘youths were working hard for the liberation of the people, and since the youths have decided to support the TULF, the people should vote for the TULF,’ doesn’t mean I am a TULF loyalist.

              As a matter of fact, within a couple of years after those elections, my broader search for the truth turned to my Eureka moment, that any God defined by religions couldn’t exist, that societies everywhere had foisted an elaborate fraud. That this foundational falsehood, drummed into people as children, permeates every aspect of life.

              So my focus by then had moved to championing agnostic rationalism as a necessary first step to solving conflicts, while I continued to speak for justice for the Tamil people. I see my role as dispelling myths and falsehoods, not as a loyalist to one party or another.

              And while living in Jaffna, I too faced military atrocities during Operation Liberation and later by the IPKF. It wasn’t like I left without any suffering while others suffered.
              As for the TULF, while their leadership made many blunders, TULF was hardly the sole cause of the mess that resulted. India’s diabolical meddling exacerbated it. And if the LTTE leadership had been sane, they still had several chances later on to make a transformation, after the Indo-Lanka accord, after CBK’s proposals, after the Oslo accord, and find a working solution that would have been much better than the destruction in the Vanni and subsequent domination of civilian life by SLA. It is naive to pass all the blame to the TULF; calling them opportunists is superficial analysis.

              • 1
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                agnos
                “As a matter of fact, within a couple of years after those elections, my broader search for the truth turned to my Eureka moment, that any God defined by religions couldn’t exist, that societies everywhere had foisted an elaborate fraud. “

                so if you spoke at those elections when you were 10 years old then couple of years later as you mention you would have been 12 years old.At such a tender age how could you come to such a conclusion?and if you did how can you call yourself an agnostic ,because from what you mention here you are an atheist.If so can you explain how come the earth is just at the right distance from the sun.A tiny fraction away and we all would freeze up.A tiny fraction closer we all would fry up.Who designed it this way?

                • 2
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                  Shankar,

                  I think we have had those discussions before, and I don’t have the time to repeat myself. A hint: start by looking at the contradictions in religions first.

                  • 0
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                    agnos

                    religions are man made and i don’t have time to waste on them.However i have plenty of time to ponder the meaning of my own existence.Iam surprised that you don’t have time for the most important thing in life which is to know why we are here,but you have time for other mundane things.

                    ps.religions are like paths created towards god.All roads lead to rome but some may be shorter,longer,circuitous etc.It is up to you to choose whatever you like,but the most important thing is to believe in god.I believe something happened to you that made you angry towards god.Think of it as karma.We don’t know what sins we did in our past lives.

          • 6
            2

            Agnos: You boast of speaking at TULF meetings at the age of 10. Can you share with us what you said in those speeches? Who wrote the speeches for you? Given Tamil nationalism of those days had a significant role in bringing upon the Tamil people untold misery — and what was promised from those platforms were neither achievable (known then) nor achieved (known now) — do you not regret making speeches on TULF platforms?

            • 2
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              No I don’t. See my answer to Atputhan. I don’t have more time to waste.

      • 3
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        Agnos

        “There was never any speech like “we Tamils would swim in Sinhalese blood and make slippers out of Sinhalese skin.”

        Was this speech made well before 1970 and not in 1977 or after?

        • 5
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          It was heard between 1970 & 79. More likely after the seventies following the loss of the Vaddukoddai seat in the elections of that year.
          In fact a headmaster of a school in the Vaddukoddai constituency has told me, how the lady had said her sons would one day succeed her husband as an MP. The poor lady was so arrogant to think that the said electorate would eternally remain the family fiefdom.
          A meticulous search of the ‘Suthanthiran’ the FP’s weekly or ‘Eelanadu’ and or the ‘Veerakesari’ or ‘Thinakaran’ daily’s of that bygone era preserved in the government’s Archives should reveal the truth.
          I have personally heard and seen it reported in black and in newspapers white in those days.
          During that period, the police or CID did not only had the strict responsibility but also the necessary manpower to record or report such blatant irresponsible racist outbursts.
          Now any FP or TULF loyalist can easily hide and deny actual facts because of that lacking.

    • 13
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      Tambimuttu, friend you said exactly how I was thinking of this man and his wife. It was a disgrace while these folks were promoting other people’s children to go and die for their cause, their own were sent off to foreign lands to pursue higher education. It was an absolute disgrace when a woman who bears children and at times held at a much higher level than a man, speaking like this to stir up the emotions of the common man. Making slippers out of Sinhala skin? What does that suppose to mean? Nasty people saying nasty things and at times I felt so ashamed to be a Tamil especially when I heard comments such as hers.

  • 10
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    Our leader? this person is no leader. He is a down right racist that is all

  • 7
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    “At the university he was acknowledged as one of the few who could speak in both Tamil and English.”
    I would have thought that by his time, bilingual fluency was pretty much commonplace.
    *
    A was not half as clever or cunning as GGP. was a manipulator after he got close to SJVC. He was among these responsible for disastrous decisions by a minority group that cost the Tamil people dearly like the 1957 “Anti-Sri campaign”, the “Tamil Arasu”postal service during the 1061 Satyagraha, and above all the “Vaddukkodai Resoluition” of 1976.
    He made it impossible for C Rajadurai to continue in the FP/TULF. He marginalized Kumar Ponnambalamn and SC Chandrahasan to ensure unchallenged power in the TULF.
    The most stupid act was to be tempted by the post of Leader of Opposition, which was to JRJ’s advantage.
    I do not blame him alone for the disaster that the TULF turned out to be; but his company was his choice.

    • 6
      1

      SJ: “but his company was his choice.”
      Possibly not, if the marriage was an arranged one.

      • 5
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        TT
        Point taken, but even in arranged marriages the man has a choice, far less the woman.
        What I meant really was political company.
        (In fairness, Mrs A played a role in his career with her singing and sentimental speeches.)

    • 3
      3

      With the consultation of Amirthalingam, SJV ran Tamils issue for many Local & international intellectual as well as ordinaries admiration. But Vananthi missed to earn that name in the small compound of UoJ. She ordered teachers and students leaders to campaign for outed War Crime tyrant, Old King.

      ” He made it impossible for C Rajadurai to continue in the FP/TULF. He marginalized Kumar Ponnambalamn and SC Chandrahasan to ensure unchallenged power in the TULF.’

      By insisting Amrithalingan should have let to lead your enemies, you hate most like Kumar, you openly showing you minds hidden treasure. You doubled the clarity by purposely missing Navaratnam, who was only one Tamils blamed on Amirthalimga for departing from FP. It was said Amirthalingam worked on Kayts full-fledged for KPR and missed his Vatukoddai. You couldn’t be child to let it go unnoticed.

      A was not half as clever or cunning as GGP and GGP is not half as clever or cunning as SJ. (Probably this would leave you satisfied having reached enlightened knowledge, for all the efforts you put to proof in CT to show your piety and holiness in CT. That is your, one more unsubstantiated bogus claim. Further, once again, you are hiding from coming out with your ill-convinced logic and non-existing backups. If you are thinking you are annoying readers, you are missing the effect of downgrading you by it. You probably are trying to match the Kohilampal case, which was already confessed by all criminals involved. Further, I did know Amirtheligam as an unmatched politician, but not as good Nanny who can even keep unruly kids cool too.

      • 1
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        Mallung
        “I did know Amirtheligam as an unmatched politician”
        Everyone is perhaps unmatched in his or her own way, like you for example, amusing people with seemingly serious utterances
        Thanks for the entertainment. Keep it up.

  • 2
    2

    So, Mr Pirahaparan killed Mr Amithalingam,,,,How sad…
    But Mr Sampathar called Mr Pirahaparan and his Comrades, ” My Boys” ….. Amazing..
    Has Mr Sampathar apologized to Mrs Amirthalingam?.
    Didn’t Mr CM Wigneswaran call Mr Pirahaparan a “Hero” soon after Mr Wigs got the CM gig?.
    And now wants to commemorate Mr Pirahaparan’s Birth Day as well as Death Anniversary.
    Did Mr Wigneswaran light a Candle at the last Commemoration ,with Mr Ponnabalam and Mr Premachandran who are his new Political Partners?….
    Will Mr Sampathar join them?..

    • 4
      2

      KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

      “So, Mr Pirahaparan killed Mr Amithalingam,,,,How sad”

      Who said VP killed Amir, like Dr Mahinda/Dr Gota, Pottu Amman got someone else to bump him off.

      Why do you think its sad. Aren’t you happy you got one less Tamil to deal with and grateful to VP for destroying the Tamils?
      Don’t you think the Sinhala/Buddhist fascist noisy minority should remember VP’s birth,life and death for electing Dr Mahinda twice and winning the war for him in the process making a quite a number of people rich?

      • 0
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        Dear Native,
        Did you know Mr Amirthalingam?..
        Some one in a comment has said this Amir dude is the one who brought the Vadukkodai thing for Vellalar to go Federal…
        And form an Eelaam 50 years a go, I believe,,
        Why did Mr Pirahaparan kill him?.
        The latest I heard is your mate and Mr Sambandan’s hand picked first Eelaam CM is going to go Federal on his own, leaving Mr Sambandan behind.
        Is it true Native?.
        Apparently Mr CM Wigneswaran has formed a Troika with Ponna Gaendran and Mr Premachandran to fight the Election.
        So what is going to happen to your mate Mr Sambandan?.
        Is he fielding his own Team ?.
        Is it going to be a Wiggie , Douhgie and Sambandan Fight?.
        If it is, it will be hard for Sambandan…. What do you reckon mate?.
        Is this the reason why Wiggy’s Hero Mr Pirahaparan eliminated all the Vellalas except Mr Sambandan?…
        Is Wiggy now in the Kanada Faction or Suren’s Pommy faction?..
        Where is PM Rudra Kumaran?…

        • 4
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          KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

          “Did you know Mr Amirthalingam?..”

          I had listened to Premadasa, Vasudeva, Anura, Douglas, Wimal Sangili Karuppan Weerawansa, N M Perera, Thonda, Pieter Keuneman …………………….. more times than Amir.

          “Some one in a comment has said this Amir dude is the one who brought the Vadukkodai thing for Vellalar to go Federal…”

          No it was the Weeping Widow and her merry men who forced the Tamil youth to take up Tamil Eelam as the final solution for institutional state racism and discrimination against all Tamil speaking people and lack of opportunities and prospect for them. Amir and his merry men took up Tamil Eelam cause as a tactic to deflect youth anger from their party. Amir was the last one to fight for a separate state. As I have mentioned in this forum many times before “The Vattukottai Resolution was dead on arrival”.

          Once a highly respected monk who was a member of the governing body of Malwatta chapter when asked whether he supported a separate state, told me “look young man, there are two states already exist in this island one is colombo and surrounding area and the other is rest of the country. Can’t you see it yourself? “. He was a wise compassionate monk.

          Forget your perceptions, assumptions, theories, false consciousness, Commodity fetishism, …………………… deal with the real issue. Being a racist or bigot means you do not need to deal with real issue.

        • 4
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          KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera
          Continued

          Why are you so scared of having a Federal System of governance? Do you and your fellow ignorant bigots know what exactly federal governance means? I do understand, its the fear of the unknown isn’t it? Or do you fear if the state is further democratized under federal system you will lose all the opportunities to loot the state? Why do you fear people holding more rights?

  • 2
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    “Where is PM Rudra Kumaran?…”

    sumane,he is still recovering from 2009.Internal wounds take much longer than external to heal.

  • 0
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    Late Amirthalingam is undoubtedly a fearless leader who was committed for a genuine cause and fought hard to win the rights of the Tamil people during the many spheres of the struggles. His heroics would have inspired or motivated the youths to support behind his party in the yesteryears. But one unique thing is that Mr.Amirthalingam never went after accumulating personal wealth. He was a very humble and simple personality. Unfortunately, his political leadership was misjudged or misunderstood in later years and he was brutally gunned down in daylight by the so-called ‘BOYS’. It was a clear-cut betrayal. Many unarmed Tamil leaders were gunned down in daylight during the heights of the war.

  • 3
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    Hey Rajendran, you said “His speeches were a source of joy to many youth like me.”. Like somebody else in this forum said recently about another I say about you that ‘ I have seen a tiger tail under your sarong’.

    This is because Amirthalingam was a guy who aspired separatism/terrorism. He called Prabhakaran his son. His wife wanted to wear shoes made out of Sinhala skin. I am so glad Prabhakaran killed him.

  • 1
    2

    Thank you for the article. It’s so sad Thanthai Amir was killed by Thanthai Prabha. Why are we so stupid?

    • 0
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      Kasi Ananthan

      “Why are we so stupid?”

      Is this your Eureka moment?
      It is because you share your stupid gene with your Sinhala brethren.

    • 0
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      kasi
      both wanted to be thanthai at the same time.one thanthai at a time only possible.

  • 1
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    What are the rights of Tamil people in Sri Lanka other than Sri Lanka masses as a whole? Native or angoda or kala veddah and some commentators talk of rights of Tamil people without any justification. Besides, Angoda Veddah talked of Federalism and I want to ask him for what purpose Federalism is required here?
    In my view, discriminating Thesavalamai law must be discarded in the first place.

    • 1
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      NTW
      Seriously, Can you please detail what you know about the Thesavalamai Law and how it discriminates all other non Tamils like you or any one else in the island to justify it’s discard?
      As far as I know it’s application only discriminates the Jaffna born married Tamil women of the North.
      She cannot decide on her own how she can dispose her dowry property in land without the consent of her husband as long as the wretched man it alive.
      I know of cases where the husband lives separately out of wedlock with another woman in adultry without supporting his lawfully wedded wife and still adamentally and unjustly insist on getting an unconscionable reward for his valuable signature for her to deal with her property as she prefers. What help can you give her in such circumstances?

      • 2
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        Uthungan

        Please bear with Nimal Pissa Wijethunga

        “Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”
        ― Mark Twain

        None of the Sinhala/Buddhist fascists have any knowledge of Thesawalamai. If you ask him to explain Thesawalamai or Federal constitution he would not appear again in this forum for months.

        I doubt you will ever be able to educate Nimal Pissa Wijethunga and his fellow wannabe fascists.

  • 0
    0

    Amirthalingam never spoke on behalf of Chettis. The only politician who fought for Chetti rights is Sri Jeyaraj Fernandopulle

    • 1
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      usha

      one deed is worth a thousand words.He got you all nearly clobbered as tamils.As a result you rushed like a person having diarrhea to the JRJ loo and got yourself registered as a separate ethnic group.If not for him you people would have been sleeping even now.He got you your rights as a separate ethnic group that will never get clobbered again.So what are you whingeing,he had you interest at heart didn’t he?

      • 3
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        Colombo Chettis never considered themselves Tamils as far as I am aware.
        They however had Tamil names but never spoke that language as they were Christians and considered themselves to be Anglicised and more upbeat and civilised and modern than Tamil Hindus with whom they preferred to not have any social interaction.
        Perhaps that may be the reason why JRJ permitted his only son to marry one. He later on divorced her.
        But the Sinhalese whether Buddhist or Christians unlike Colombo Chetties are more close to Tamils and have more social interaction between themselves culturally and religious believe wise to certain a extent.
        Only politics and mutual racism keeps them apart.

        • 2
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          In those Colombo Chetties always played for Tamil Union and not for any other club.eg Casiechetties, Perumals, Fernandopulles and Rodrigopulles. This is similar with Bharathas. Unfortunately after 1983 riots Colombo Chetties somersaulted and demanded that they be classified separately. Even then they continued to be members of Tamil Union and did not change clubs.

          • 0
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            Until about the 1960s – when social clubs were fewer than later – Tamil Union was a sought out social Club by the Colombo Tamil elite. The Sara Brothers, M. Sathasivam et al enhanced the Club’s prestige at that time Most successful Benedictine cricketers joined the Cricket team. I knew many of them – including L.P. Rayen, who is from the Paravar community (Baratha, as they prefer to be called now) Location and crime associated with Wanathamulla may be reasons why the equation changed although Jeff Felix and Felix Perumal – who sought my assistance to increase membership – disagreed. I believe both were Past Presidents. It is a Club with an excellent history and needs to be supported for reasons other than the location of The Oval itself.

            Kettikaran

        • 0
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          Uthungan

          “Perhaps that may be the reason why JRJ permitted his only son to marry one. He later on divorced her.”

          that is not the reason.Chetties are there in JRJ’s ancestry too on paternal side.

    • 0
      0

      Late Fernandopulle was a colombo Chetti and thanks for protecting his community, whereas Amirthalingam failed in and out of the Parliament in spite of his continued struggle. I could cite numerous instances where SJV, Amirthalingam Thiruchelvam and their party failed and Tamil community that include upcountry Tamils suffered as a result of it.

      By the way do you know Amirthalingam carried a pistol with him. When a journalist warned his safety, he took his pistol out and told that ” don’t think thambimar ( boys ) only carries weapons I too carry one.” Poor man he could not use it when he was in danger and that was his last failure.

    • 1
      0

      “Sri JF”???? He was shy about his Tamil heritage. He was Sinhalese by choice and identified entirely with them – his voters. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong there. That’s his choice.
      Kettikaran

    • 1
      0

      Contribution of the late doyen of the Advertising community Deshamanya Reggie Candappa to the Colombo Chetty community in Sri Lanka is matchless. He also was largely responsible for the publication of the valuable manuscript Colombo Chetty’s of SL.

      Kettikaran

      • 0
        0

        ketti

        now that you mentioned the manuscript,some chettis who live abroad are damn wild that they have not been mentioned in the manuscript and that it is flawed giving those chetties who did not contribute much to their community or their country too much weightage and disregarding those who have done so much.So Candappa is the culprit is he?I did not know that.Most of the cream of the chettis migrated to the west a long long time ago.So this manuscript is worthless it seems without the cream.As for the Tamil Union thR Dr.gnana seems harping about at any given time it was mostly having sinhalese playing for it.Tamil in name only.Dr.Gnana must have migrated long time ago.Shows how broad minded colombo tamils are and embrace everyone towards them.

  • 1
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    Kettikaran, thank you so much for telling nice things about my late grand uncle Reggie

    • 0
      0

      you have not thanked me for my post.Playing favourites are you?Divide and rule.

  • 1
    0

    My dear Usha,

    There are two classes of chettis – Colombo and Negambo. Fernandopulles are inevitably Negambo and Rodrigopulles are inevitably Colombo. Navalar Chettiar from Jaffna (very high caste). You Candappas, Cassichettis, Mutuchettis are the posh Colombo Chettis who acquire the highest pedastal of all chettis.

    Why you call him Sri Jeyaraj, I’m mystified.

  • 0
    0

    Kasi Ananthan, the poet, so nice to hear from you. How’s life in India?

  • 0
    0

    dear Jeyalaxhmi

    I’m fine, thank you. how are you?

    Kasi Ananthan the Poet from Batti

  • 0
    0

    Dear Mr Kasi Ananthan

    Kindly confirm for information and knowledge building the following please

    (1) In one of the meeting where SJV was present did you make a speech to say that all the Tamil MP’s who joined the government in 1970/72 should not be allowed to die naturally and the full text of your speech was published in Suthanthiran the following day too?

    (2) Is it true after the 1977 election victory TULF leader Mr Amirthalingham made a “River of Blood” speech if the TULF not given the separation democratically specifically implying/referring to the dire consequnces for the nation in Colombo Saraswathy hall before the riots??

    I am not looking for explanation/justification as to why but just need to confirm facts for the records please as I read them somewhere and will be really grateful if you may confirm.

    thank you

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