Colombo Telegraph

R. Sampanthan And The Sinhala Black-Whites

By C. Wijeyawickrema –

A parliament full of idiots

“…Two of the tallest leaders, Mr. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and Mr. Dudley Senanayake     who served this country, signed these Pacts (7/26/1957, 3/24/1965) and along with the undisputed leader of the Tamil people, the late Mr. S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, in their capacity as Prime Ministers of this country. Their idea was that the territorial identity of minority peoples, who preponderantly occupied the Northern and Eastern Provinces, must    be preserved…” Parliamentary speech by TNA Leader, R.  Sampanthan on December 14, 2013).

           After talking about the infamous B-C & D-C pacts and on the Mrs. Chandrika drama of Neelan-GL package deals, TNA leader Mr. Sampanthan thanked the members of parliament for not interrupting him during his speech which is a good sign of learning self-discipline by a pack of rowdy MPs. But was there a single Sinhala MP who could reply to Sampanthan with facts & figures (plus history) so that the Hansard has the whole story recorded? This is pathetic and I am glad that the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) has finally realized the urgent need to consider sending BBS MPs to the parliament, learning from the mistakes made by the JHU. This Sampanthan speech and others by Sumanthiran and Co. will be used as evidence at UN-HR forums to trap MahindaR on his own words and to transform him from a Sinhala Vessantara to a failed Siri Sangabo.

There was a time in Sri Lanka that people like Gamini Irriyagolla, W.S. Karunaratne and K.N. Jayatileka who told the world (embassies in Colombo) the other side of Chelvanayagam’s bogus story now repeated by the Sampanthan crowd. Fortunately, on the false story that land colonization was a project against the Tamils, the geography professor G. H. Peiris has gifted us with well-researched wealth of data and documentary evidence that so far no Tamil separatist academic was able to dispute or dare to touch. If one wants to think of an episode that was a very pro-Sinhala settlement scheme (Sinhalization?) it was the dedicated service rendered by the late R. G. Senanayake, son of F. R. Senanayake, in getting Sinhala people to settle down in the Trinco area. This was a private effort and not a government project linked with the Monsoon season-based migratory work habit of Sinhala fishermen in the South.

Humiliated black-whites

Why the likes of Sampanthans can talk this way forgetting history and distorting facts was due to the mental weakness and ignorance of the black-white PMs and Presidents Sri Lanka has had. Grew up under the humiliation paradigm (yes, white masters came to civilize us, the natives) before and after 1948, these people did not know island’s history or geography and believed in European superiority. The older and new generations can still remember what JRJ, R. Premadas and Mrs. Chandrika did but what SWRD and Dudley did could still be in memory of people over 65 years of age. Therefore, I wish to record the other side of the story that Sampanthan did not want to reveal to the international HR lobby. Readers will see that my approach is non-traditional and certainly not politically correct. I want to call a spade a spade and sugar-coated biographies should be discarded, if Sinhala Buddhists and poor Christians in Sri Lanka to escape from Tamil separatists’ and Sinhala politicians’ cheating game. When it comes to the Tamil separatists issue both SWRD and Dudely were not “tall trees” as Sampanthan thinks but two Sinhala black-white opportunists.

Post of king of the world

I can remember one UNP election poster in the 1960s with Dudley’s picture on it which said in bold big letters, “[I] will not betray the country even if [I was] offered the post of world kingship-Sakvithi Rajakama.” But, only after reading an interview given recently by S.L. Gunasekera that I came to know Dudley did exactly that (betrayed the country), if the country Dudley referred to was the country that has a Sinhala Buddhist heritage of 2500 years. Dudley’s mother was from a Christian family and Dudley became second PM of Ceylon via a conspiracy. The conspiracy was to use Sir John as a lap dog by Dudley’s father to get rid of SWRD from UNP. The second conspiracy was by Esmond Wickremasinghe and Sir Oliver to deny PM post to Sir John when DSS died suddenly by an accident. It was a continuation of such “king-making” coups that the British and black-whites jointly did in chasing out Anagarika Dharmapala and Sir D. B. Jayatileke to India. Therefore, it is not difficult to understand that Dudley could betray the country to stay in power. Felix Dias and UNP were separately bargaining with FP to form a government, and Dudley won the game after agreeing to an anti-national bad deal. What Sampanthan is talking about, the Dudley-Chelva Pact was the result of it. So Dudley may be a tall leader for Sampmanthan, as a mile post in his separatist drive, but no Sinhala Buddhist will consider him tall at all if they know the whole story. Whenever, he becomes the PM, his brother Robert comes through the back door and runs the show. When JRJ proposed a national government with Mrs. B, Dudley opposed it.  Both Dudley and JRJ were behind the 1962 Coup supporting Oliver G.

SWRD was not as bad as Dudley considering his situation as the last descendant son of generations of dedicated British agents. Half way into their role, it was not clear whether actually the British governor controlled them or they controlled the governor. Their family circles were on the top of lots of other competing agents from the non-Govigama castes. With all the privileges he had within the inner white colonial circle, SWRD was least affected by the humiliation complex and thus from the process of becoming a black-white. A simple example was his decision to wear a national dress and give a speech that impressed even the Royal representative on the day of Feb 4, 1948, while DSS, the jungle john, was sweating under his three-piece suit and the top hat in hot damp weather in Colombo that day (Sir Muttu Coomarswamy’s European dress dazzled even Queen Victoria, but it was in London’s cold weather). SWRD had no shame in supporting native things such as the Ayurvedic medicine. The Five Great Forces was a native thing that he embraced. His weakness was, he came to a point of accepting anything which would help him to become the PM. Thus he wanted to act as a reasonable person, but did some unreasonable things. SWRD not appointing CC Dissanayaka as IGP because the latter was not a Buddhist ended up as the 1962 coup led by CCD and a group of Christians.

Victims of history (and geography)

Both SWRD and Dudley studied, if at all, the history of England and the geography of Europe (history is nothing but past geography). Dayan Jayatileka and others say that SWRD was a supporter of a federal system in Ceylon. When SWRD came back after his education in England, the division and rivalry between low country and Kandyan Sinhala black-whites was so acute, and SWRD thought a federal system will make both groups happy. But long before he married a Kandyan Buddhist woman (DSS also married a Kandyan-Christian woman) SWRD gave up his federal idea as he became more knowledgeable of the population geography of his native country. But both SWRD and Dudley did not show signs of knowing the settlement geography of the island. The northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka were replete with archaeological ruins proving that these were Sinhala areas, before the Colonial rulers created Northern and Eastern Provinces, and before SJVChelvanayagam created an idea called a traditional Tamil Homeland. SJVC’s son-in-law, A.J Wilson wrote that SJVC created this myth so that a viable political unit can be created combining NP and EP.  One can understand SWRD’s and Dudley’s ignorance of geography, when even Jehan Perera was not aware of the historical fact that Trinco area was under the Sinhla kings during the Dutch period!

Malaria mosquito and Tamil Buddhists

It was the Malaria mosquito that sabotaged a future Tamil homeland in the East or in the Wanni. Tamil and Muslim settlements were limited to the littoral areas of the east and Colonial attempts to create Tamil settlements in the Wanni. But as the white field administrative officers reported then, the Sinhala settlements known as the “Purana Gam” were there continuously in the interior of the dry zone of Ceylon, ever since the collapse of the Raja Rata irrigation system. Tamils’ preference to avoid the dry zone with all its problems became very clear when the Puttalam cement factory was built (1969-70). It was expected that Tamil workers would move from KKS cement factory to Puttalam with promotions and new employment. But it did not happen as expected and those who came grudgingly made weekend trips to their wives the first bus they could take on Friday evening. There was even a joke that they run home because their silos (cement is stored in round silos) were full by the weekend!  With this shortage of manpower the factory manager had to get down people from his home town area, Kegalle and Kandy.

The new theory by some separatist-oriented academics that the ancient Buddhist cave inscriptions have some examples of Tamil cave donors and therefore, there were lot of Tamil Buddhists even before the arrival of the Arhat Maninda in the island cannot be used as a justification for a Tamil homeland. If so, why Tamil terrorists destroyed archeological sites of those ancient Buddhists Tamils, need a good explanation. The Tamil Buddhist Association in Jaffna now is rejecting separatism and questioning why Buddhist monks go to Europe and America, instead of visiting Jaffna to help Jaffna Tamils. Buddhist monks were never in the habit of exploiting social injustice as a conversion gold mine and thus avoided meeting the low caste Tamils discriminated against by the high caste Tamils, whether Hindu or Christian. Sinhala Biddhists were never in an expanding mode (Lebensraum) was clearly evident from this reluctance to fish in this troubled Harijan caste water. Even after passing a law to prevent caste discrimination (Prevention of social disabilities act of 1957), monks did not target Jaffna low castes for conversion. Even in India when Dalith leader Ambedkar embraced Buddhism with millions of followers, there was no involvement at all by Sri Lankan Buddhist monks. Ambedkar said that he selected Buddhism for the reason, among other things, that it is in harmony with Hinduism and will not harm Hinduism unlike Christianity or Islam.

Sinhalaization and Tamil traitors

The funny thing about the Sinhalization complaint by the separatist Tamils stationed or domiciled in Colombo is that it was anchored on the colonial policy of divide and rule. First is the artificial division of the island in to nine provinces with an NP and an EP.  Next is the use of EP as part of a Tamil homeland by SJVChelvanayagam. Third is the desperate search for evidence to argue that there was a Tamil kingdom as old as or even older than the Sinhala kingdom. Even the Muslim Congress and the new Ulama groups now make such homeland claims. With the grant of universal franchise in 1931, for which both the Tamil and Sinhala black-white raised objection (the only politician who supported it was the labor leader A. E. Gunasinghe), Colombo Tamil leaders realized that they could no longer be the controllers of political power in Ceylon like the way they had numerical power over government jobs and other professions learned via English.

Thus began an era of labeling anything and everything done by the Colombo government as an attempt of Sinhalization and discrimination against Tamils. G.G. Ponnambalam complained to the Soulbury Commission that allocation of money for the preservation of Anuradhapura ruins was an example of such discrimination! Nationalization of private bus companies, removal of the power of English language as a colonial subjugation and humiliation weapon, citizenship laws, removal of British control of Trinco naval base and Katunayake air force base, nationalization of schools, land reform law, nationalization of tea estates, all such actions came to be identified as acts of Sinhalaization. If, any Tamil decided to cooperate with the Colombo government he was branded as a Tamil traitor by Tamil separatists. GG Ponnambalam as the minister of industries got a cement, a paper and a chemical factory for Tamil areas and yet he was also branded as a Tamil traitor during that phase of his life. Jaffna Mayor Duraiyappa, Postal Minister C. Kumarasuriyar, Col. Karuna and the latest the cricket baller Muralitharan (according to the Chavakachcheri p.S) were Tamil traitors. Somebody like Colombo-living Mano Ganeshan is yet to call Arun Tambimuttu a traitor for opposing Tamil separatism.

Fake Buddhists

Any politician who claims that he is a Sinhala Buddhist and does unreasonable things, just to placate or fool the Sinhala Buddhists is not a Buddhist. Until 1956 Colombo government was like a Christian kingdom (like the Ranil Wickrmasinghe cabinet during 2001-04), and at least DSS had the courage to admit it when he said, “there is no Fourth Refuge in Buddhism called I take refuge in the government.” Despite the clear warnings given by both the Donoughmore and Soulbury Commissions, the black-white PMs and Presidents of Sri Lanka could not act reasonably as a good Buddhist would do and be fair to both the poor people in Sri Lanka, whether they were Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim or Christian. These PMs and Presidents, each had Christian shadows in their kitchens or bed rooms and did not know the true meaning of the Four Noble Truths and the Eight Noble Path. Because of this weakness and their propensity to cheat Buddhists to get elected, they never could act properly and eradicate the Tamil separatist cancer from Sri Lanka by taking the bull by the horns. They did not learn from the 1971 and 1988 insurrections in the south. These insurrections were partly a reaction to the Marxists blunders in Sri Lanka who had no Buddhist influence.

It is not clear if those who wanted to university status to Vidyalankara and Vidyodaya Pirivenas were genuine or not. What should have happened was not to copy the Peradeniya plan, but make room for monks to have their traditional education enhanced by the addition of foreign languages, more history, geography, more sociology and more political science and international relations. The environment that helps a monk to become a better monk with knowledge should have been the goal. Instead, what has happened was V and V became places where monks got the temptation to have girlfriends and most of them giving up robes. Actually it was better than bad behavior while remaining as a monk. But the end result was Buddhists lost two great institutions of monk education which produced great, fearless and disciplined monks who shaped the independence movement in Ceylon.

Think of Dudley making Sabath Day a working day and making pre-Poya-Poya weekend holidays. It was a disaster as the rest of the world was closed for business on Sunday. Unlike the V and V case this was a pure political gimmick to placate Buddhists. It is like a Buddhist president going to Rome to invite Pope to visit Sri Lanka. The Vatican considers it divine duty to somehow Christianize Asia. A Buddhist cannot therefore invite Pope to visit Sri Lanka. But a Buddhist president should not object if Pope himself decides to visit or the Arch Bishop in Colombo or poor Christians decide to invite him. His duty is to provide state security. Vatican has billions of dollars, but when a president invites him who will pay the bill? These have become silly matters. That was why Ranil W wanted to invite Portuguese PM to come to Sri Lanka to celebrate completing 500 years of Portuguese control. What Buddhist people can remember is how Buddhist temples were destroyed and their stones used to erect churches. But Ranil (ghost) writes (books on Buddhism and talks about Ajasat!

Greatest land robbery (1840-56)

If 2002 CFA was the world’s greatest giveaway of land, native people, especially people of the demolished Kandyan Kingdom, faced several land robberies by the colonial master after the 1832 division of the island into five provinces. They were: the Crown Land Ordinance (1840, 1851), Wasteland Ord. (1850), Temple and Devale Lands Registration Ord. (1856).  May be SWRD or Dudley, perhaps, did not know about these, even though their ancestors also heavily benefitted from them. Actually, if one looks at the 50 or so State Councilors elected in 1931 under the Donoughmore Constitution only a handful were not enriched from dirt cheap land (50 cents or 1.50 per acre)  that their parents or grandparents could buy via these ordinances and become walaw dwellers! Except for the new rich popped up after JRJ’s economic liberalization, war commission sharks and flukes like Sakvithi Ranasinghe, Sri Lankan economy is now under the  control of descendants of these1840s-1850s land robbers.

The result of this land robbery was not just white men came to begin coffee and tea plantations. Fortunately, Adams Peak was saved from denudation because of the Sri Pada, otherwise it was hell with land clearing and soil erosion and the Mahaveli River becoming brown from blue. There was a suggestion to bring Irish labor to work on the tea plantations, but the availability of much cheaper South Indian labor prevented it. The group suffered most from this stealing of land was the Kandyan peasants/villagers. They became the most neglected segment of the colonial land. They were squeezed into narrow valleys and other marginal lands not wanted by the planters. After independence a commission was appointed to look into their survival issues and nothing much had happened to elevate their poverty. One purpose of the land settlement schemes in the dry zone was to help relieve the pressure on this land-less villagers and empty land suitable for their resettlement as rice cultivators was available in the dry zone of which Eastern Province was one section. A new factor uncovering now is that 90% of the irrigation technical officers handing these settlers in the dry zone were Tamils. One can imagine the suffering and harassment helpless new settlers faced in the hands of these technicians on the field, especially when there was also a language barrier. One of the reasons for the not so successful results from these colonization schemes can be due to useless way these Tamil officers behaved, with top level of the irrigation department in Colombo was dominated by Tamils.

Unreasonable pacts

Thus Sampnathan’s long story needs to be considered in the light of all these interlinked factors. The complaint that colonization schemes were government projects aimed at Sinhalization cannot hold water when examined in detail. How can SWRD agree to give power over land to a group of Tamil separatists when their aim was to create a separate country joining with Tamil Nad?  Only in 1962, with nationalism cry during the Indo-China war that Nehru gained sufficient courage to ban Tamil separatism by a constitutional amendment. This means SWRD’s time was not separatism free period in Ceylon. Even though it was not as bad as what Dudley did, as Sambandan’s speech records—“ (F) It  was agreed that in the matter of colonisation schemes the powers of the Regional Councils shall include the power to select allottees to whom lands within their area of authority shall be alienated and also power to select personnel to be employed for work on such schemes—SWRD was willing to remove monitoring power of the central government.

But a real disaster came with Dudley. During his time the DMK proscribed in India was a severe problem in the Kandyan areas plus the Kallathoni illegal immigrants, yet Dudley agreed to a giveaway similar to what RanilW did in 2002. Thus, as Sampanthan reveals, “Mr. Senanayake further agreed that in the granting of land under colonization schemes the following priorities be observed in the Northern and Eastern provinces.

(a) Land in the Northern and Eastern Provinces should in the first instance be granted to landless persons in the district.

(b) Secondly, to Tamil-speaking persons resident in the northern and eastern provinces.

(c) Thirdly, to other citizens in Ceylon, preference being given to Tamil citizens resident in the rest of the Island.”

This order of priority means a landless Tamil in Dehiwala or Hambantota will get preference over a landless Sinhala in NP or EP! The Thesawalmei law blocks any outsiders buying most lands in NP. Thus Tamil separatists want all for them, and none for others.

This behavior of Dudley for the simple reason of keeping the PM job  for him was arbitrary and he had no power to decide a national matter like this without a people’s mandate in a clear statement in an election manifesto. Therefore, citing D-C pact as a historical incident in the march toward separatism has no moral or legal authority. The behavior of these politicians at least since 1948 only proves what the Anagarika Dharmapala said in the 1940s. He said that the white master will leave the island after creating a group of black-white group of about 20-30,000 people and that they will continue to do what the white master trained them to do.

Back to Home page