24 September, 2020

Blog

Post-Sampanthan Era: Sritharan, Sampanthan And Sumanthiran

By A Tamil Diaspora Activist

The most popular Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP is not Sampanthan, or, Sumanthiran despite serving in its front facing function. The later does not have a constituency or even a democratic mandate. Instead, a cabal of Colombo based Tamil lawyers foisted him as a national list MP on the party. Nor, does he enjoy the confidence of his TNA peers with the exception of Sampanthan. In fact, many view his intentions with deep suspicion. However, all this is irrelevant, as the discourse that permeates Tamil political circles is what happens in the post-Sampanthan era in the not too distant future.

Sampanthan

The honor of having the largest following within the TNA belongs to Sivagnanam Sritharan. Not only does he enjoy the confidence of the masses but is also viewed by the diaspora as standard-bearer for the Tamil right to live with equality and dignity.  His family sacrificed blood and treasure for this –Brigadier Theepan, a legendary LTTE commander was his brother-in-law. Sritharan himself stayed behind in the “no-fire zone” till the very last to render support to his constituents while they were slaughtered. These are attributes that lend himself a level of credibility that his urbane peers like Sumanthiran lack. In fact the latters relative silence on the egregious human rights violations perpetrated by Sri Lankan forces during Eelam War IV was deafening.

This is also not missed by the Rajapaksa regime, and, is the reason why he is subject to ongoing harassment by the state’s security establishment. The reduction in his security detail, and, thus placing his life in mortal danger is one such example. The planting of explosives in his office is another. So concerned was Sritharan of the imminent threat to his life that he appealed to his colleagues and his party to raise this issue. Yet his calls were met with silent antipathy.

In exasperation he personally appealed to the British High Commission and the Embassy of the United States of America (US) in Colombo. They responded to his pleas by making representations to the regime. In addition, he wrote to the Indian High Commission to draw attention to his plight. He also pleaded with the diaspora who promptly brought it to the attention of the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office minister responsible for Sri Lanka. Several members of parliament have been briefed on his predicament and so have officials in the US State Department. If harm were to befall him, questions would be asked in several legislatures across the world.

The irony in the inaction of the TNA’s Colombo based appratchiks is obvious to everyone. It is no secret that, that their preferred successor to Sampanthan is Sumanthiran. Sritharan’s popularity across the religious and caste divide, and, global appeal is a significant obstacle to this. And, his elimination by the Rajapaksa regimes national security establishment would remove a formidable obstacle to enthroning Sumanthiran at the helm of the TNA.

Sampanthan and Sumanthiran need to be aware that if harm were to befall Sritharan and even if their consciences’ forgave them, their electorate or the global Tamil diaspora would most certainly not for raising this issue aloud in all forums.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Sritharan and Sivajilingam are fearless fighters for the Tamil cause. Unfortunately but naturally in the circumstances obtaining, they are being watched by the intelligence wing of the armed forces. Introducing explosives and arms to the homes and work places of those opposed to the regime on the Tamil side is an old practise here. It was used to make multi-millions a few years ago – even from the homes of wealthy Tamil business people. Now the habit is spreading to target Sinhala victims.

    The writer also tries to make a needless case against Sumanthiran alleging the latter remained silent on excesses against the Tamils previously. That makes the writer partisan in his own choice of the leadership of the TNA. His role at this time, I would reckon, should be more to narrow differences and help in the coming of a more united Tamil political formation now that there are many willing Tamils also ready to raise their hands against the Tamil common good.

    If the need to make representations to India, the USA, UK has arisen that is an indictment Tamils have no faith in the fair sense of our security apparatus. This is no surprise – neither does the former CJ nor the last Presidential candidate.

    Senguttuvan

    • 0
      0

      ‘Sritharan and Sivajilingam are fearless fighters for the Tamil cause.’

      How about, ‘Sritharan and Sivajilingam are fearless fighters for the Sri Lankan cause.’

      That would cause precipitous drop in preference votes received in the historic areas of habitation. The curse of Lankan politics, each for his own. Politics remain politics.

  • 0
    0

    I agree with Senguttuvan. In fact this writer’s sole motive for the article is to promote Sritharan. We do not need more people to create devides. WE have enough already.
    By your own admission, if Sritharan is lacking ‘global appeal’ then the choice is rather clear at the moment, when our entire hope is resting on appealing to the outside world.

  • 0
    0

    It is quite apparent that some of their post-Eelam war backers are becoming uncomfortable with the direction iSambanthan and Sumanthiran have begun to chart for the grouping. Sri Tharan – a leader? He is a man who yet believes that VP is alive? He is man who will lead the Tamils into the next hell hole. He is the very antithesis of the leader Tamils need now.

    I hope Sambanthan, Sumanthiran and the others with them will follow the wise path they have now taken and provide leadership for not only the Tamils, but all Sri Lankans.

    Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

    • 0
      0

      The unanimous observation senior Indian politicians both in the Tamil Nadu assembly and Lok Sabha was that Sumanthiran was the puppeteer who pulled Sampanthan’s strings!

  • 0
    0

    This is needless, but would have carried a little credibility had the writer at least given his name. Back-biting that prefers to remain anonymous is despicable and must be rejected since the motive is not clear.

    I am not part of the TNA and have nothing to say about leadership struggles, if any, but as an outsider it is clear that Sumanthiran is making an importnat contribution – which is not to say that Sritharan is not. I am sure Tamils appreciate the importance of having an erudite and bold person as an elected MP, so I think Sumanthiran has a good chance of being elected to a seat in the Jaffna Peninsula next time.

    • 0
      0

      Sumanthiran who suddenly appeared on the scene just 3 years ago. It took him over a year and half to even acknowledge the victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

  • 0
    0

    Why is the writer hiding his/her identity. Being a diaspora activist he or she is not living in Srilanka so whom he is scared of? The article is an attempt to boost up the rapidly deteriorating popular support for Sritharan in Vanni. The recent hunger strike organized by him in Jaffna to protest the arrests of university students ended in a fiasco and obviously this is a meek attempt to rectify his image. The entire episode of the army intelligence unit finding explosives in his office is also a part of that exercise. Are we to believe that the army really found explosives and did not arrest him?Don’t forget this is the army that arrested it’s own commander.
    Sritharan is far below Sumanthiran in the capability to handle the international community,and to articulate the aspirations of the Tamils in a rational way. Sumanthiran may not have the popular base as the other TNA MPs but clearly he is asset to the Tamil community and his knowledge and expertise is vital to the community at this critical juncture. There are other MPs from TNA like Selvam, Senathiraja, Premachandran or Sivashathy Ananthan who have been part of the struggle from the 70s and are definitely much more capable than Sritharan in giving leadership to the people at the local level

  • 0
    0

    Who is this self acclaimed Tamil Diaspora Activist? Why he is hiding his identity under a pseudonym? In order to promote Sritharan he is trying to drive a wedge into the TNA. He is comparing oranges (Sampanthan and Sumanthiran) with Sritharan (apple). Sampanthan, Sumanthiran, Sritharan are useful to the TNA in their own ways. It is naive to compare Sritharan with Sampanthan or Sumanthiran. It is not a sin to live in Colombo. S.J.V. lived in Colombo for ages. So is GGP family. What is important is what you do, not where you live. Mohamed Ali Jinnah till the last was a busy lawyer practicing in Bombay courts. This Diaspora Activist is now banking on Sritharan after finding their favourite horses Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and Selvarajah Gajendran having fallen on the wayside with their empty rhetoric. A section of the Diaspora which conspired for the break away of Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and his small group from TNA, is now betting on Sritharan. In that process there is concerted campaign of disinformation about Sumanthiran. This reminds one of the popular, but wrong headed policy in the past. The innate hatred for the educated and the intellectuals. Leadership cannot be foisted on the people. That want work and that will never happen. Leadership will have to evolve. It is a process. Sritharan is a down to earth grass root politician. But, he has many things to learn in politics. First, he does not exercise circumspection or diplomacy when he speaks or gives interviews. That is his greatest weakness. Not to fear what ought to be feared is folly. It is the hallmark of the wise to fear what should be feared. We cannot continue practice politics the same old way. We have to be innovative, circumspect and diplomatic. When he came to Canada last June, he made enemies of TNA supporters for no apparent reason. He even pretended that he does not know the existence of the TNA (Canada) after securing tens of thousands of dollars worth of assistance for his electorate. Also he made the claim he is not sure whether he will contest the next elections on the TNA platform. In a way it was political suicide very much at odds with for an astute and upcoming politician. He has improved much lately. That is good news.

  • 0
    0

    The Activist may do well to learn at least one Kural. “Even the uneducated are very good if they maintain reticence before the learned”.

  • 0
    0

    Sritharan is under intense pressure from the Rajapakse security apparatus. Sampanthan and Sumanthiran have hung him out to dry, just like they will to other sons-of-the-soil TNA MPs.

  • 0
    0

    Pro-LTTE Tamil Diaspora is promoting Sritharan as the next TNA leader. This moron reportedly fled when he was sent to the battle front by the LTTE and was punished by them for deserting. Though he was a Principal of a school, he is a semi-illiterate like most of the other TNA MPs.

    Tamils voted for TNA for lack of serious alternative but the present TNA leadership has no plan or policy to engage in any meaningful dialogue with the MR government.

    No doubt Sumanthiran with his English education, legal training and background can effectively make representations on behalf of TNA, but he lacks political maturity. He became an appointed MP thanks to Sampanthan. He was an unknown quantity and has no constituency.

    He has now muddied the waters with his unwanted involvement in the Shirani Bandaranaike impeachment saga. In fact, I believe he has become ‘persona no grata’ as far as the MR government is concerned. He will be a liability to the cause of the Tamils if he is to represent TNA in any new negotiations with the MR government.

    Like a fool he rushed to defend Shirani Bandaranike who is undefendable. Sumanthiran is a man who will lose his temper easily. He behaved like third grade rowdy ( worse than Mervyn Silva) at a dinner held in New Delhi at the conclusion of the failed Tamil Political Parties Conference hosted by Natchiappan. He was easily provoked by some statement made by Anandasangari and he, like a Mariyakade Chandkiya, advanced to assault that elderly man.

    After Sampanthan you will not see a TNA as it is presently constituted. It will break up into several groups and Tamil Arasu Katchi will lose its pre-eminence. I do not see anyone among the present lot of Tamil MPs or other Tamil politicians who has the charisma or capacity to lead the Tamils. Tamils are condemned to become the third community in Sri Lanka. Muslims thanks to the foresight of their pragmatic leadership have become the pre-eminent community in Sri Lanka next to Sinhalese. As Thanthai Selva prophetically said “only god can help the Tamils”.

  • 0
    0

    Sumanthiran may be a new commer unlike Sritharan who has a history of being a militant. Sritharan’s past cannot be useful to give leadership to the Tamils as the political environment in the country has completely changed. Tamils should have a leader with a new approach and strategy to suit the changing circumstances, of course with the aspirations of the Tamil people in mind. As Sambanthan comes from the lot of the early Sri Lanka politicians he to a good degree commands the respect of the politicians of other communities and because of his senior status is able to reach out to them. Sumanthiran, within the short time, too has acquired the skills of Sambanthan being able to reach out to politicians of other communities and his stand on various matters concerning common issues of the country has earned him the respect of other communities as well. As the Tamil people cannot seek solutions for their issues being isolated from the people of other communities it is a leader of the calibre of Sumanthiran who will be suitable to fill Sambanthan’s position if and when it falls vacant. Sumanthiran’s knowledge to Sinhala too gives him an advantage. The new generation in the country has begun to look upon Sumanthiran not only as a leader for the Tamils but also forth whole country following Sumanthiran’s speech in Parliament on the CJ Impeachment issue.

  • 0
    0

    Sumanthiran is a good Lawyer and makes some very useful contributions in the Parliament fearlessly. And I am sure he is the man behind many reports of TNA(in English)and no doubt drafts many of the stattements for TNA.I am sure that is why shrewd Mr.Sampanthan brought him in as a nominated Member of Parliament whereas it was Professor Chittampalam who was first in the TNA National list.When Gajendrakumar Ponnampalam left Sam thought Sumanthiran will be more useful to TNA and to him than Mr.Chittampalam of the Tamil Arasu Katchi. However Sumanthiran was never a Politician and he is not even sure of Vaddukoddai Resolution. As we know TNA is not even a registerd political party.If and when it is registered I think Suresh Premachandran is also working hard to become its leader after Mr.Sampanthan.Sritharan is good but is too young and he may take some more time to face the International politicians,politics and Institutions. In the modern world it is very important but I think he has age on his side to do that. When TNA is properly constituted or a new party is formed in the post Sampanthar era a person like Gjendrakumar Ponnampalam may be a fit and proper person who has all the qualities,academic (LLB-London, Barrister-Lincolns Inn,Attorney-at-Law-Sri Lanka), a good command of Tamil language as well and the will to fight for the Tamil rights and aspirations.Dr.R.N., how can Tamils become National leaders when they are not even considered as human beings by the Sinhala Nation?

  • 0
    0

    Radish.S,

    Providing leadership does not imply holding high political office. Leadership implies holding the candle light for the people in the dark. Tamil politicians with the education, exposure and intellectual and verbal skills like Sumanthiran, have to convince the larger Sinhala population that they are interested in the wellbeing of the Sinhalese and Sri Lanka, as much as they are interested in the affairs of the Tamils. This is the rabbit the Tamil politicians have to pull out from their hats, as the first step towards resolving Tamil issues. We have to become one among many in this nation.

    Further, GajendraKumar Ponnambalam, despite his educational qualifications, is a mere shadow of his grandfather, and is where he is because of his connections to his grandfather and the wealth his grandfather bequeathed. He is a big zero otherwise and has no vision for the Tamils. Men like Mavai Senathiraja and Suresh Premachandran are a blight on the Tamils. The others in the TNA are double zeroes and do not have any potential to lead the Tamils. The basket is virtually empty with respect of Tamil political leadership and unfortunately the LTTE destroyed anything that emerged that did not tow it’s line. Mr. Sambanthan has also failed to attract the bright and the best available into his political formation in the post-war years. Sumanthiran is electable. He has much potential and must be given the leeway to express his opinion and formulate his vision for the Tamils, without being besieged by the Diaspora money and noise power. He has much to learn about politics and much to experience. I pray he does not learn the wrong lessons from Tamil politics of old and also the present. He has pursued the old political line many a time and I have been one of his detractors. However, this not Diminish his potential.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 0
      0

      100% true!

  • 0
    0

    Kind Request to Sampanthan Iya.

    I am 48 years old following Tamil Cause since 1977, I have Never heard of Sumanthiran before. Nor he contributed anything to our cause; It is Mr.Sampanthan who brought him so they have good buddy buddy system inside TNA. Mr.Sritharan is Gentleman who loves his people and a true leader. Here with as a Diaspora Tamil , like to honourably request Mr.Sampanthan, here it is:

    Dear Sampantha Iya,
    As a Child since 1977 Election time to now one electorate that we Tamils most worry about is Trinco Parliament Seat. Iya, you have served our community, it is time that you resign your post and give way to a new leader. Iya, there have been many Tamil lives lost in the past. Can you kindly do this sacrifice for our race. Please Iya, history will remember you, we Tamils will never forget this good gesture at this time. Please Iya, it is time. You can be a TNA advisor for ever.

    • 0
      0

      Waran Vaithilingam

      Who would be the Tamilarasu Party’s next leader and leader of TNA.

      Please appeal to all the old guards in all Tamil party politics for they who ruined the lives of Tamils with their parochial Tamil nationalism.

      Knowing full well the Vattukkottai resolution was dead on arrival they continued with unbelievable objective of establishing Tamil Eelam.

  • 0
    0

    Will Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam ever return to Sri Lanka?

  • 0
    0

    Some of these yesterdays’ men exist within the diaspora and imagine they have a great following. The diaspora is moving on and as regards Mr. Sumanthiran, he is a cerebral leader of the highest quality and occupy a national and supra national platform. I have been myself very interested in our politics for a very long time, and participated in diaspora politics for well over thirty years. Mr. Sumanthiran is extremely well thought of in a section of the diaspora that I move with. This does not mean Mr. Sritharan is not capable.

    Dr. N. Satchi UK

    • 0
      0

      Let us be clear.

      Sumanthiran stepped up to defend a chief justice who did nought for the Tamils. Yet he remained silent on the unrelenting harassment of Sritharan by the state’s security apparatus. The only reason one can attribute to this is to ingratiate himself to the judiciary and thus command few hundred guineas more for each appearance in front of them!

      As for being an intellectual, his academic credentials are very mediocre indeed.

      • 0
        0

        Please tell me what the state has to do with a parliamentarian who publicly proclaims that VP is yet alive? The security apparatus will obviously keep a very eye on him.

        Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

        • 0
          0

          Sritharan and Sumanthiran are not just members of the TNA but also ITAK. Sumanthiran’s reluctance to raise voice in defence of his peer speak volumes about what his real intent is.

          With his reticence on the slaughter of the people he claims to represent, one must as whether he really cares at all?

  • 0
    0

    In sharing thoughts with Dr Satchi, I suspect this speculation of the leadership in the Tamil Nation is part of a regime-inspired conspiracy.
    One also notices a simultaneous appeal to Mr Sampanthan to retire – while his exceptionally able and useful services appear assured for some years to come. While this goes on, it is necessary for the Tamil people to reduce their differences and stand as one in regaining the wasted opportunities of the past 6 decades and more, in particular.

    Thai pirandal vali pirakkum.

    Senguttuvan

    • 0
      0

      WHY HAS NOT ANYONE QUESTIONED THE FACT THAT HE NEVER RAISED HIS VOICE IN DEFENCE OF THOSE SLAUGHTERED DURING & BEFORE MULLAIVAIKAL YET IS SO VOCAL IN DEFENCE OF A CHIEF JUSTICE WHO DID ABSOLUTELY ZERO FOR THEM! THIS MAN TOOK OVER 18 MONTHS AFTER MULLAIVAIKAL TO EVEN UTTER THE WORD WARCRIME!

      • 0
        0

        It is because the man who planned the so-called ‘ slaughter outcome’ and exaggeration of the numbers who died, as a propaganda strategy,is no more. VP is the only one who had to be questioned by everyone and alas as he is no more, we missed our opportunity. What you are demanding is a play of Shakepear’s Hamlet, without the Prince of Denmark!

        Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

        • 0
          0

          Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

          “and exaggeration of the numbers who died, as a propaganda strategy,is no more. VP”

          We do not know the final numbers yet. This is where an independent investigation is urgently needed.

          As a policy on war crimes Sri Lankan state never wanted to have body count without which these allegation and denial would out live for the time being and eventually catch up with war criminals.

          No justice better than natural justice.

          • 0
            0

            Native Vedda,
            Have you read the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) report on the satellite imagery made at the request of the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch? It is rather interesting that many refuse to refer to this report when making a case for investigations on the alleged large numbers killed in the last stages of Eelam war IV.

            It appears that there is deliberate attempt to pick and choose information to suit a particular agenda. This phenomenon has bothered me from the point at which this war ended, I am convinced, having spoken to those who came out alive from the hell that was the last stages of the war, the war-related civilian deaths were nowhere near the numbers being pedalled by many.

            I have also felt that the alleviation of the pain and suffering of the war-survivors, needed more attention and concerted efforts, than accountability issues relating to the dead. As you have rather ironically pointed out consistently, the stupid Sri Lankans – Tamils and Sinhalese in particular- chase after shadows, in prefers to the substance that confronts them.

            Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 0
      0

      Senguttuvan

      “I suspect this speculation of the leadership in the Tamil Nation is part of a regime-inspired conspiracy”

      I do not under estimate the clan’s ability to exercise Peda and Dhanda, foget Sama and Dhana.

      MR engineered split in the JVP and among the various Tamil groups/parties.

      Though he is not so smart his opponents are stupider than he is. Therefore it works very well for the family.

  • 0
    0

    Senguttuvan says:

    “it is necessary for the Tamil people to reduce their differences and stand as one in regaining the wasted opportunities”

    Come on, be realistic.

  • 0
    0

    These yesterdays’ men calling themselves Tamil Activist dare not mention their name. If there is one TNA MP whose name appear again and again in the portals that matter it is Mr. Sumanthiran’s. He is the workhorse of the TNA. I am yet to see any intellectual comments bar Mr. Sampanthan and Sumanthiran.

    When Mr. Sunanthiran is attending to many subjects, what are the other TNA MP’s doing? Could they not have protested or mobilized the people at what happened to Mr. Sritharan MP. Don’t they call themselves having grass root support? – Or are they incapable as many shadowy so-called Tamil activists are? – Like the proverbial dogs that bark at the moon?

    Dr. N. Satchi UK

  • 0
    0

    I advice the self-appointed Tamil Diaspora Activist – assuming he understands Tamil, that is – to listen to this: https://soundcloud.com/tnamediatribune/s-sritharan-mp-on-diaspora-tna-mud-slinging

    Sritharan MP himself defends his colleagues in this interview.
    Tamil diaspora, for the local Tamils, is irrelevant.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.