27 November, 2021

Blog

Politics Without Scruples Undermines The Reforms That Can Unite 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The threat of further attacks by extremist Muslim groups linked to the Islamic State has receded. Due to the breakdown of trust in the political leaders it needed the reassurance of the army commander to make people believe that they could send their children to school. The confidence of the security forces in the improvement of the ground situation is evident in the more relaxed way they are getting about checking vehicular traffic. This is true even in the North, which was under strict surveillance in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday bombings. As recent as last week travelers to the North, and in people living in the North, complained about the hardships they were experiencing at the many checkpoints which are not present in the same way in the rest of the country.

But by this weekend the checkpoints have been reduced. Unlike three weeks ago, this time when I traveled to the North, there was no need to get down and walk to the checkpoint with one’s baggage while the vehicle was searched. This indicates that there is a reasonable assurance that the extremist network that took the lives of over 250 persons in suicide bombings six weeks ago has been disabled. The extremist Muslim network has been easier to apprehend than expected. The cooperation of the larger Muslim community would have played a big role. This needs to be appreciated by the general population who are falling prey to the campaign by anti-Muslim groups to boycott their shops and even doctors.

There have been strenuous efforts by many sections of the Muslim community to demonstrate their rejection of the suicide bombings and their disavowal of the violent extremists. In an extreme example some Muslim villagers had physically destroyed a mosque they claimed belonged to the extremist sect. Muslim opinion leaders have issued statements, participated in media conferences, joined inter-religious groups for peace and hosted Ifthar (breaking fast) events to express their remorse for what happened to their fellow citizens and also to demonstrate their goodwill. The mainstream Muslim community is also showing a positive reciprocity to proposals emanating from the government for reform of the legal system as it impacts specifically on Muslims.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has said that the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act would be amended to increase the age of marriage to 18 for Muslim women in a move aimed at unifying the personal laws as far as possible. As an initial step for implementing a common law cutting across different ethnic groups, he said the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act would be amended to declare 18 as the marriageable age for Muslim women in line with other the laws applicable for other communities. The prime minister said steps would be taken to reform the education sector and the legal system of the country. He said Madrasas or the Muslim religious schools would be brought under the purview of the Education Ministry.

Enclave Mentality 

In the past the mainstream Muslim religious leaders represented by the All Ceylon Jamayaat Ulema had balked at such reforms. However, the present crisis has impelled them to reconsider their positions on these and other issues. The ACJU has accepted the need for Muslim women to stop wearing the burqa which fully covers the face as a concession to the need to identify people in a time of national emergency. Sections of the Muslim community have also been willing to turn the searchlight inwards in trying to understand the violent extremism that new besets their community. They have accepted the need for self-criticism and for more engagement with the members of other communities. This again needs to be appreciated instead of seeking to punish the entire community for the actions of the extremists.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s proposal to have a uniform legal framework for all Sri Lankans corresponds to his desire to promote a Sri Lankan identity as means to unify the country. The need to press for reform of personal laws is due to the increase in insularity of each of the communities as a result of protracted conflict that has pitted one against the other. Although we live side by side, our actual engagement is limited and we tend to see the members of the other community as being the other, and not part of a common citizenry as envisaged by the prime minister.

Instead of unifying the people, the ten year post-war period has seen communal polarization grow. The town of Kattankudy from which most of the Easter Sunday suicide bombers originated is an example of separation with a corresponding enclave mentality setting in. The police have complained that they find it difficult to get the people there to follow the usual traffic laws, such as getting motorcyclists to use protective helmets. One way in which to counter this enclave mentality is to have uniform laws that apply to every citizen. But it is important that the law reform should be across the board, and apply to every community, and not be targeted on just one.

The minimum standard that would be applicable to all communities would the international human rights standard. Muslim marriage laws, especially that which permits under 12 girls to be married with permission from the religious clergy is clearly in violation of international standards. It is also likely that the Tamil personal laws of the Thesawalamai in relation to women’s inheritance rights would be similarly in violation of international human rights. It is important that when these personal laws are revised and reformed, that international standards should be maintained. All personal laws, including the Muslim, Thesavalamai and Kandyan laws could be upgraded to meet this standard.

Resolve Now

In the course of my visit to Jaffna I met with three groups that have public influence. One comprised religious clergy, the other human rights activists and youth, and the third was a group of trauma counsellors. The common feature of all these groups was the interest they showed to engage with the larger society rather than to remain insular and live in enclaves. After the war’s end and with the onset of violent extremism they did not wish to be isolated or singled out. They could see that the problems facing the country were inter-related. There is a strong desire for interaction with opinion leaders and activists from other parts of the country.

Unfortunately this desire on the part of people in the North and elsewhere is being purposely subverted by the national level politicians who engage in divisive politics. There is a deliberate and unconscionable campaign at this time to target and isolate the Muslim community and make them out to be a security threat within the country. There is the ongoing saga in which a Muslim doctor is being accused of having engaged in the covert sterilization of Sinhala women. Women who have undergone Caesarean surgery in which this doctor has been involved have been encouraged to complain to the authorities and get monetary compensation. Doctors who do not believe these allegations are afraid to speak up for fear of being lynched themselves.

The several crises besetting the country at this time, and the apparent paralysis of the govenrment is an indication of the need for leadership within the government. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe demonstrated leadership in visiting the North and reassuring the people that the government cares for them. Unfortunately, the prime minister’s ability to do more, and in particular to deal with the crises that are unfolding, is undermined by his lack of control over the police and security forces. The punitive and executive power of the state in relation to preservation of law and order is in the hands of the president. Unfortunately, he has not been cooperating with the prime minister for several months, during which time the country has plunged into crisis.

The divided powers of government are a recipe for disaster as indicated by the evidence given by police IGP Pujith Jayasundara in his evidence before the court with regard to the total unpreparedness of the government to act on intelligence reports of the Easter Sunday bombing that led to the slaughter of innocents. Unless President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe find a way to work together the unraveling of Sri Lanka’s prospects for development and peace will continue until the next elections scheduled for the end of the year. The country cannot afford to wait for so long. A failure to put things right now will also mean that the stage is being set for worse to come during the run-up to the elections and thereafter.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 1
    2

    The prime minister had to wait deaths of 250+ people before considering changes to laws! He still doesn’t want to address a key causal factor of the mayhem that occurred, i.e. the evident political patronage received by the would be suicide bombers. He is more concerned about saving his govt and hiding behind a PSC. Even that PSC is now used to publicly air national security matters (this could have been done in closed doors) exactly like what he did during Millennium City disclosures and put the blame entirely on the president thus save his buddy Badurdeen.

    • 0
      0

      Hela: they are promising new laws – laws that will never come. They need the help of all these rascals to fight an election. To them the future of this country and it’s people is of no interest.

  • 2
    1

    Dr. Jehan Did ISIS’ Al Bagdadi call you and inform that “The threat of further attacks by extremist Muslim groups linked to the Islamic State has receded”? Or did US Ambassador Ms Alina Tebliz who is fond of Buddhist monks inform you that she had a call from CIA-IS? Or is it because everyone knows who the real culprits that own and operate IS who re behind the Easter carnage now?
    Time for NGOs to organize a protest outside the embassy of the Empire and its Saudi proxy.. Actually, USAID funded NGOs without scruples that take blood money from those who set up the Easter Carnage are worse that the politicians without scruples!

    • 0
      0

      Dilhara: they had found one or two shot guns.Remove the knob fixed for sighting and use it against erectile dysfunction of your hubby. It can be used at both ends.

  • 2
    0

    Jehan Perera,

    Please tell the rulers to enforce the existing laws impartially to all communities before any new law is to be enacted.

    The problem with Sinhalese rulers is that they don’t enforce the law when it comes to Sinhalese crowds or the security forces breaking the law.

    There will be no peace or justice without enforcing the rule of law to everybody.

    As one Sinhalese writer put it recently , it is Mob0cracy in Sri Lanka not democracy!

    • 0
      0

      Thiru. How right you are.

  • 0
    0

    all the pm does is to make promises that he will do this and that
    he has been doing that for the last four years
    let us see when he will implement them

  • 0
    2

    Jehan Perera: The following is the need of the hour. There after the whole parliament need to be replaced.
    Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Shanahan summarized the main points of the Pentagon’s newly released “Indo-Pacific Strategy Report” during the Shangri-La Dialogue forum in Singapore over the weekend, but the document itself contains many other important details that he failed to mention, all of which pertain to the United States’ implicit goal of containing China.
    The document directly accuses China of being a so-called “revisionist power” that’s supposedly opposed to the U.S. vision of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” even though it is Beijing that stands to lose the most from any disruption of its majority-maritime trade routes, which suggests that the U.S. is projecting its own aggressive intentions onto China in order to justify its forthcoming containment measures against it.
    Before going any further, it should be understood that the following analysis is what the U.S. intends to do and doesn’t automatically mean that the countries that it plans to cooperate with will willingly agree to contain China.
    Nevertheless, drawing attention to the U.S.’ designs could help these governments and their people to realize what America is up to and avoid falling into the trap of being exploited as pawns in this plot.
    To begin with, the strategy report emphasizes that this is a whole-of-government effort that aims to sustain U.S. influence in this vast space through preparedness, partnerships, and promoting a networked region.

  • 2
    2

    Jehan PErera: I think these check points may have been set up because they found that you were travelling there and they wanted to find what you were doing there. Sri lanka is the only country that even 0.2% of Malays have to be acknowledged that they are there. but sinhala buddhists get beaten when anything happens. bhikkus simply should not talk or be present unless Dollar Kaakkaas and their agents in the country ask them to do so. See the UK Europe has migrants but they are there and they are fighting for everything. Why Sinhala even though it’s name was changed in 1948, have to give up every thing.

    • 0
      0

      JD ; Bakkus They sneaked on Keppetipola, tried to under cut and murder Dharmapala, seduced a woman and got roasted. Shot dead a Prime minister, roasted Tamils, Muslims, Christians. Great day for Sri lanka. The last bastion of Theravada Buddhism
      Sangam saranag gachchami

  • 1
    1

    I thought LTTE supporting Clergy in the North wanted even a separate Church there, But then it was a different Era, I guess.

    I am glad they now want to be one,, According to Dr Jehan,
    But the TNA still wants the Homeland with their Governors , their Government , their Police and the Land Titles?..Don’t they ?..

    Any way the Leadership of Dr Ranil has now got a Real Shot in the Arm through the Easter Carnage.,
    Thanks to UNP ex Minister / MP Ven Rathne ( Was he a Minister? ).

    What impressed me is the Solidarity and the Unity of the Muslim Factions and their determination to protect their Community and give strength to Dr Ranil ‘s Leadership and increase his power in these uncertain times.
    Now the so called terror friendly and normal ones are all in one group and occupying the Back Bench as solid as a Rock to protect Dr Ranil and his Yahapalanaya.. ,

    They have made a real sacrifice to help Ranil by abandoning 8 big ass Ministries in the Yahapalana Government.

    These Ministries cover Higher Education Urban Development, Highways, Oil and Gas Exploration , t,Industries, Skills Training, Cooperatives,Resettlement, Postal Services, Muslim Affairs, Health, Nutrition, Local Medicine, Local Government, Agriculture, Ports , and even Naval Affairs.
    What a formidable array of responsibilities.

    What a sacrifice after looking after those responsibilities for over Four and a Half Years to give our inhabitants Good Governance and Yahapalana Administration.

    Will the Sinhala Buddhists or the Sinhala Catholics under Dr Ranil make such sacrifices for their Communities?.

    All I read was there is a mad rush and massive a stampede now at Srikotha to grab those vacant positions, although there is only less than 12 months to reap the benefits.

    This reminds me of our culture where family members gathering to divide the Estate while the body is still at the undertaker.

  • 3
    2

    Jehan,
    Go and do your preaching to Vigneshwaran who cannot control his ‘Padikkan Kata’ if Wellala Demalu are serious about reconciliation and living with Sinhalayo. They should give up the tribal mentality and learn to live as ‘Demala people IN Sri Lanka and not Demala people OF Sri Lanka.’ These Aliens should learn to respect the culture of Native Sinhala Buddhists who are the majority in the country instead of ridiculing that.
    ===
    Wellala elite politicians who are the descendants of slaves brought from Malabar are the curse for this country. If ordinary Demala people get rid of these racist Fascist Wellala politicians who are trying hard to keep Sinhalayo and Demala people apart for their political survival, Demala and Sinhala people can live in harmony in this country.

  • 0
    0

    No way Jehan. You are wasting your time speculating. There is simply no hope for this country. It is only for Sinhala Buddhist Racists run by rabid buddhist monks. Political leadership is a bunch of morons, crooks and idiots and country is run by Pali educated otherwise illiterate racist monks. So no hope at all. Why waste your time with theories and principles, that are not applicable to this tragic country. Only hope is for sane people to leave, but how many can leave? Let these racist goons to run the country. Even that shameless Cardinal fellow is going after the racists and putting his two cents hoping that Katholika fellows will be spared by these racists so that they can go on converting. He has just forgotten to what was happening to the mushrooming illegal churches. Islam and Christianity works on same principle of hell and heaven and forced conversion.

  • 1
    0

    All the problems are centered around one idiot.

  • 1
    0

    cardinal ranjith is a rajapaksa stooge that is why he is calling for a change of government
    mangala was quite right in reporting him to the pope
    no protestant priest visited the monk
    now that he has got into the limelight ranja is playing politics

  • 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

  • 2
    0

    Moderator

    Thank you ( Vanakam & Nantry) once again for allowing me to rear my ugly head.

  • 0
    1

    Blind Eagle, there you are again with your bull shit. Moda Eagle the Thamil and it’s family of Dravidians are as old as Indian history. Moda Eagle the Indus Valley Civilisation is Dravidians. Even your great, great, great grand father was anywhere near them. Of course sinhalas are from Kerala lowcasts admixed with local nagas and yakshas. Kandyans are Thamil Speaking Thelungus. Your religion was Hinduism until the arrival of Buddhism. Your Shinkala language is a blend of Prakrit, Pali, Thamil and Sanskrit. Even Buddhism in SL was protected by ancient Dravidians. So stop your BS. I agree with your claim that low casts from both sides can co-exist but just see what the southern low casts are doing among themselves and running a country for Runner-Sinhas.

    • 1
      0

      Nathan,
      Amarasiri came out with the findings of a DNA research to show that DNA of Sinhalayo have similarities to DNA of Indians. I read that article and showed him that he picked up few figures to suit his needs but did not look at the conclusion. The conclusion is:
      “No definite association of the Sinhalese with any specific ethnic or linguistic groups of India was, however, detected in this study; thus, their exact immediate origin on the mainland remains yet to be confirmed.”
      Ranaweera, Lanka; Kaewsutthi, Supannee; Win Tun, Aung; Boonyarit, Hathaichanoke; Poolsuwan, Samerchai; Lertrit, Patcharee (2014). “Mitochondrial DNA history of Sri Lankan ethnic people: Their relations within the island and with the Indian subcontinental populations”. Journal of Human Genetics. 59(1): 28–36.

      There is hardly any pure language in the world. Languages have flourished by borrowing from other languages. Sinhala also has words borrowed from other languages but according to an authority on linguistics Prof. J.B.Disanayake says Sinhala language has unique features. Sinhala language is a creation of Native Sinhalayo of Sinhale.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.