By TU Senan –
Vote for me, the “known devil”, exhorts the incumbent Mahinda. Meanwhile the essence of the main opposition campaign is an appeal to vote for the lesser evil, or the ‘unknown devil’ Maithri. In fact in terms of what’s on offer for the working and oppressed masses of Sri Lanka they are ‘twin devils’.
The opposition wants this election to be a two-horse race and claims that any other candidature will merely divide the vote and will be a waste. With this argument, Maithri’s supporters aim to crush those who want to stand on principle and provide a long-term strategy for ending repression and decisively changing the conditions of those who suffer under the Rajapaksa rule. The anti-Mahinda vote, congealed solely in the person of Maithri, is the only way to end the Rajapaksa’s family grip – or so we have been told. But it is worth remembering that devils don’t come readymade – they are formed over time. Mahinda looked more ‘progressive’ than Chandrika and Maithri in 2005.
What makes one candidate more evil, or lesser evil, or not evil, is facts – what they stand for, what they do, and what social forces they seek to base themselves on. So let us examine Maithri’s application to be considered as a lesser evil. Maithri is a ‘known’ close companion of the JHU and is ‘known’ to follow the same approach that MR takes on most issues. His promises of minor changes in the way he would govern do not amount to a hill of beans. There will not be a new constitution or even attempts to reverse all the damage done by the ‘royal family’. In other words we could hardly differentiate between these twin devils.
Is a lesser evil argument going to decisively convince voters? It is a world phenomenon that significant numbers of people abstain from the election process, feeling anger at a ‘choice’ of parties that all want to attack their living standards and make them pay for the economic crisis caused by the super-rich. In the UK, for example, more people voted in the X-factor TV talent programme than in the last general election. However, as we saw in the independence referendum in Scotland and in the Northern provincial election in Sri Lanka, people are enthusiastic to exercise their voting rights once they feel it will make a difference. But when you present candidates like these twin Ms, people eschewing the voting booth can become the dominant trend. It is no surprise this feeling is dominant among Tamils who are promised no relief from the repression they face in Maithri’s stand.
There are some, of course, will not be able to bring themselves to vote for JR Jayewardene’s heirs in the capitalist UNP alliance no matter what. Siritunga standing in this election is an incentive to this layer to turn up to vote and not be silenced by the so-called ‘mainstream’.
But providing such an opportunity in the election is not the sole aim of Siritunga’s campaign. If a real change is to be achieved, the silent minority of all progressive sections in the country need to be mobilised. The people’s voice is weak. Unless the oppressed masses have a strong organisational expression for their rightful demands, our rights will continue to be suppressed. The need for an organisation or a mass party that can articulate our rights and that will not gamble or compromise us is felt throughout the country. The thirst for such an organisation is registered by the hundreds of thousands who turn up to meetings in opposition to both Ms. Siri’s platform aims to provide energy and hope that such an alternative can be built.
Regardless of who will win the election, the campaign to fight for our rights must continue. If this is to be strengthened, alternative mass forces need to be built. Many activists sincerely hope that the election time could be used to achieve that aim. Siritunga’s campaign only adds to this aim.
It is widely known that Siri stands for the right to self-determination of the Tamil-speaking people among many other demands that are relevant. His platform is much more progressive than any other candidate. But, apart from Sivajilingam and a few other noted exceptions, the TNA leadership ignored this, hence losing support among Tamils, particularly among youth.
Tamil Solidarity, based mainly among diaspora youth, has worked with Siritunga in the past in the anti-war campaign. Tamil Solidarity is the only campaign to come forward to openly support Siri. This decision has further improved the influence of this campaign among Tamils – youth in particular. Imagine the reputation the TNA could have maintained if they managed to show a fighting face for a candidacy that stands full-square for the right to self-determination. And what a warning this would be to the next chauvinist, capitalist government whatever face it wears – your greatest foes are capable of uniting in struggle and of learning the lessons of history.
It is good to see that a section of TNA leaders and TNA youth have come forward in opposition to the current leadership. But they seem to be still unable to take the extra step of supporting those who stand on principle. This has led to claims that Tamils don’t have a ‘tradition of supporting the left’. This is wrong. But there has been a long and sorry history of the so-called Tamil leadership (such the TNA now) having a conscious anti-left attitude. It must also be said, if we are to correctly learn from history, that the list of betrayals by some left leaders is a factor.
Now, for the first time in history, we are beginning to see a change in this. The uncompromising position of Siri can assist in the rebuilding of trust in left forces as a reliable force for Tamil workers and young people in their fight for their rights. Other diaspora organisations, while recognising the lack of choice, allowed themselves to be silenced (apart from the right-wing GTF which doesn’t have much support among Tamils – youth in particular). This silence will go down in history as another failure in the long list of mistakes by Tamil leaders. They must explain publicly what stops them supporting a candidate who stands for, and provides a programme to fight for, all what they want and more. Will they?
Without doubt all protests against the regime and its allies should come forward. But what is needed to harness the determination to struggle of the masses is organisation, a programme that can unite and ideas that can inspire. Not a loose electoral coalition with those who will not make any changes – but building a force that is prepared to take the fight on beyond election. We should start the discussion to build such an alternative.
Peter / January 6, 2015
“It is widely known that Siri stands for the right to self-determination of the Tamil-speaking people among many other demands that are relevant.
The TNA leadership ignored this, hence losing support among Tamils, particularly among youth.”
TU Senan – We should not forget that the Federal party is the main partner of the TNA. Federal party has proved many times in the past that they are not bothered about what are the need of Tamils.
Federal party always like to be with a Sinhala party. So it is not surprise that they took this decision.
TNA is not bothered about the right to self-determination of the Tamils. They don’t know what it is.
“apart from the right-wing GTF which doesn’t have much support among Tamils – youth in particular). “
TU Senan – Who is GTF? This was started by a few individuals who want to be in the lime light. They have no support among the diaspora. But they are good in their publicity.
They voluntarily contact media for their publicity. So you ignore those people.
Maithiripala has no respect for neither the TNA nor the Tamils.
But TNA is canvassing for Maithiripala.
Native Vedda / January 6, 2015
“Federal party has proved many times in the past that they are not bothered about what are the need of Tamils.”
Please tell me which party is bothered about the needs of the Tamil people or for that matter any people.
“Maithiripala has no respect for neither the TNA nor the Tamils. But TNA is canvassing for Maithiripala.”
This should not surprise ordinary people for Maithiripala has been a loyal servant of a racist party machine actually for a long time and in fact he was a intermittent defense minister.
Does he respect any other party?
Political marriage of convenience should not be confused with dignity of the people.
jansee / January 6, 2015
It is not difficult to feel your pulse. After all, the Tamils have been cheated, again and again and again by the Sinhala leaders. The promises, even those given in writing, were never honoured. The infamous tearing of a written agreement by Bandaranaike can never be forgotten. In short, promises given by Sinhala leaders are not even worth the paper they are written on.
Many have written about the promises, or lack thereof by even by Sirisena, the opposition candidate. No Tamil in his/her right mind will endorse or vote Mahinda Rajapakse (MR). Apart from being responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent civilians, he had NEVER kept any of the promises, vis-a-vis the Tamils. Even after the NPC election, his promises on and over the Governor and the Secretary had not been honoured. Instead, he has proven to be the worst nightmare of the Tamils, and admittedly he had labelled himself as the devil, albeit the known devil.
While there are those like Ananthi Sasidharan who try to drive home the point that Sirisena had not mentioned anything in favour of the Tamils to warrant voting for him, my view takes a totally different angle. For argument sake, say Sirisena does promise the Tamils satisfactory devolution promises. Only fools will ever believe any promise from any Sinhala leader and Sirisena is not an exception. After all, wasn’t he the acting defence minister during the final stages of the war? With parties like the JHU in the fold, you don’t need to be a soothsayer to believe he will overnight become an angel.
There was a time when the Tamils’ cause was holding promise. One decision changed that fate, to a fate that had taken the Tamils cause many many years back, and possibly will remain a pipe dream in the forseeable future. Prabhakaran failed as a leader, both militarily and politically. The end at Mullaivaikal saw not only the dreams dashed but the Tamils lost heavily, both limb and life. You may cite thousand and one reasons for Prabhakaran’s failure but the truth still remains – that he failed, and he failed miserably and what the Tamils face is a dark and an uncertain future. That one fateful decision in 2005 by Prabhakaran propelled a mass murderer into the chair and we all know what and where the Tamils are.
Much as the likes of Mdm Sasitharan have the passion and genuine interest of the Tamils, their lack of wisdom is appalling. The TNA is supposedly in charge of the NPC but what is the reality there? Unabated colonisation and pathetic treatment of the Tamils by a president appointed governor who has scant regard to the elected reps. Has Anandhi been able to change anything? Or even the TNA had been able to do anything beyond making their grievances known? That is the reality today.
This is a time for the Tamils to whip MR and what more a better way to do that using another Sinhala? The Tamils have a chance to spit on the face of Rajapakse and they cannot do it by themselves and using another Sinhala to scorn him would be a chance that I would never want to miss. To argue that Sirisena will, like MR, ignore the Tamils and therein lies the reason to ignore him too is pure nonsense and as if the Tamils are not aware of this fact after years and years of being cheated by all the Sinhala leaders. The instant interest is to unseat Rajapakse. As far as the Tamils are concerned, the voting for Sirisena is to unseat MR, not to expect that he will move mountains for the Tamils. He will not. The option of not voting, and in which case the likelihood MR getting re-elected is high, will never give the chance for the Tamils to blow on MR’s face.
As for the politics and future of the Tamils, it does not lie in SL itself anymore. And that will take time. Let us move one step at a time to build the future.
Mallaiyuran / January 6, 2015
TNA-Federal party has done the blunder of their history. Never, ever the Federal Party so boldly stated in any statement a lie like that they did in their last statement. It has been very clearly stated in the MY3 side campaigns that they are not for EP removal. They have many times repeated that there will be no army removal from North. It is not simply any internal or external inquiry on the war criminals, Ranil even extended an unconditional invitation for National government for King. Once, everybody had realized that TNA’s statement had misrepresentation of facts, TNA, now lying through the teeth by pleading that their object is only helping the NDF to remove the King. Then, will TNA explain why Ranil is inviting the King to join the National Government? It is so frustrating and exasperating to see knowingly TNA is playing double game together with the Sinhala intellectuals.
Where is TNA found out this lessor devil story? If the Sinhala Intellectual is going to bomb you to death, would you like they bomb on the leg and survive for few hours, instead of they bomb you on the head and die then and there, instantly? There is a saying in Tamil, if the water is above the nose what is thereafter if it is one inch more or one foot more. TNA has to find a way get out of these criminals or if it wants to go underneath them, it should seek the death for the Tamils soon. Why could not TNA to stay out of this election recommendation, so the people will not by the fear of the army, unless IC brings them proper protection? Is the TNA going to claim, if MY3 was elected by the Sinhala Buddhist votes, it because it recommended to Tamils to vote that is why MY3 won? Why could not TNA behave like the Tamil saying, “Uthavi seyyaaviddaal upaththiravamaathu seyyaathai” (If you could not help that is ok, but, please don’t cause more pain).
Let see how the lessor evil maxim work in Lankave. Isn’t that because Dudley was lessor evil to Sirima and he was selected, it ended up Sirima coming back and murdering even Sinhala Boys and girls? Didn’t this lessor evil gave path to JR appear? Isn’t it Sinhala Intellectual always turns against the lessor evil and goes for grater evil? Isn’t that CBK dismissed Ranil’s government and brought King’s government? Isn’ t the Sinhala Intellectual knocked down Ranil and made King as the EP. Say, it is true, the MY3 is a lessor evil, and then who is waiting in the line? Sajit, Athurulia, Wimal, Champika, Mervyn, Galagoda Atthe Gnanasara……? Is that what for all these the sacrifice of Tamils?
The war criminal who murdered the white flag surrenders, the defense minister who authorized trucks loads of rebel girls to be rape and murdered in a fashion of worse than ISIS, the defense minister who allowed his secretary to murder the helpless child who had lost the family, Balachandren, isn’t he two feet above if the King, if he is one foot above the nose. To whom the TNA is hiding this murder’s murder records. Is it to their own people who faithfully voted for TNA, thinking after the devastating war, they may bring them some relief? If MY3 refusing to talk about his murders, Why could not TNA say that MY3 is not a war criminal, we will take care of him if there are any case come against him in UN, so the Tamil people can go and take the risk of being beaten by army when trying to vote for him.
TNA’s last election manifesto stated they will seek for self-determination. There were cases filed against this statement in Sri Lanka. I do not know, now, the exact status of these actions. But TNA was well aware that the Tamils wanted the right to determine their destiny. TNA used their wish to win the last election. Now, TNA has twisted even their stand on the last election. They have denied it too.
There are stories in the media that TNA from MY3 group and TNPF from Royal Family, received large sum of money to campaign for them, respectively. TNPF has promptly denied that they took a stand against both candidates on their merit basis; they are not the one go for money. Is that too hard to release statement for TNA to say something like TNPF? TNPF took a decision. All of their members are accepting that. They don’t turmoil in the party. What TNA did when their dissent members talked about their mind? A ruthless, undemocratic penalizing was the action it took.
Astonishingly TNA is calling the Tamils to vote, but not ready to ensure their safety. It had not called on the IC or the Royal Government or Election Commissioner to ensure the army will be in the barracks, at least on the day of the voting. It appears to be a stealthy behavior on the part of the TNA. If they talk about the fear of army openly, Tamils may not get out and vote. So they are pushing the people through the dark tube. They have to go through it without knowing what is going to happen for them. MY3 is calling the IC to protect him because he is worried about his safety, but not ready to talk about Tamils. Even the British ambassador had gone and checked the security situation in the north knowing what the Royal Government and the imperial army would be planning to do. TNA pretending like it doesn’t know that there is a security concern in the north.
Is this something so needed for TNA after all these struggles?
Out of all major and minor parties campaigning in the north, Siritunga is the only one asked protection for Tamils from army for free voting.
Siritunga, after knowing well that he is not going to win, after knowing stopping the Sinhala Intellectuals to put the blame on the Tamils for the Mullivaaikkaal and threatening them to vote for MY3 or another one is coming, after knowing well that TNA is hanging on the CBK’s sari Munthaanai and reeling behind her and not going be grownup-matured-serious, he still promised that he will bring the referendum for Tamils. Siritunga said that he accept the Tamils right to call for a referendum. What the TNA said? They said they are for unitary government! Well, it looks like that there is some misunderstanding or lack of understanding from the side of TNA about the referendum.
Democracy can work within the country with single race countries like Japan. If implemented properly, it is the only suitable form of government for mufti racial countries, too. But, if it is not implemented properly, it is not just dangerous for minorities; it will promote the same atrocities towards or against the majorities too. So, when, without devising a proper mechanism to implement it properly, TNA talking about unitary country is a comedy. After many times the Sinhala Intellectuals set up the Sinhala Buddhist to tear pacts and carry out genocide communal riots, TNA has not taken the subject of voter education with the Sinhala Intellectuals. Because, TNA doesn’t know how the referendum for self-determinations works. The referendum, at the starting level, is only a warning message. In the Scotland case, the conservative party in the power worked hard to satisfy the Scottish people. Labor Party, which stood more to lose than Conservative Party, promptly co-operated with the ruling party. Scottish people felt the warning message was well received by the England and they gave up the referendum. Here it worked as a pure tool of finding an opinion on a case rather than mandate to do something.
If the referendum had been approved by Scottish people, it is still might not have ended in the outright division. Both parties still might have had chance to negotiate for a more equally devolved Union. If that did not happen, as TGTE has stated in its charter, that two peaceful nations like Singapore and Malaysia can be created. If even that did not work two nations like India and Pakistan can be created, though they are enemies, they still respect each other. If even that did not work only the “Sri Lanka the North Korea” and the “Tamil Eelam the South Korea” has to be created. If TNA can understand this, then, there will be no need to not supporting Siritunga and supporting the second time in raw, a well-known war criminal.
Uthungan / January 6, 2015
Talking about the Scottish Referendum; now according to latest news report in a London newspaper many in England do not like the Scottish voting on subjects of importance to the English.
The creation of Pakistan by the British is the result of the horse deal midwifed by the U.S. between British imperialism and Indian capitalism which the Mahatma did his best to prevent.
He was killed for trying within a few months of independence by an Indian, a Hindu fundamentalist at that, and not a British. Now that same fundamentalism has taken a driving seat to haunt Inda in the form of Modi and is being assisted by crony capitalism in that country.
The creation of Malaysia and Singapore in the sixties as separate states is an outcome of the unstable conditions which existed in SE Asia when Indonesia became free from Dutch colonialism and the beginning of the war in Vietmam
Real Peace / January 6, 2015
Tamil youth were the “Sole representatives” of Tamils for 30 yrs, but what did the Tamils achieve? Tamils now should not be led by emotional Tamil youth, Tamils need mature and decent politicians to to participate in delicate negotiation with the SL state. Tamils’ right to internal self determination is already here in the form of 13 A & provincial council. Tamils need to build it on. I would hate to see the Tamil militancy again.
Lanka Liar / January 6, 2015
If Tamils do that think about the plaight of the plastic Tamil leaders, organizations leaders in foreign counties. What can they do. Will go out of business out of audience and out of the seance.
CHANAKYAN / January 7, 2015
Real Peace, we seem to be in the grip of the devil and it won’t allow any escape it looks.
Murugan / January 7, 2015
Actually this is a good idea, and I think whoever wins that Tamils need to have this attitude for the next six years.
Actually it is best summed up in your own words, not an inch … not an iota …
Murugan / January 7, 2015
Your words to say it plainlty were Tamils will not give up an inch ouf our land or a an iota of our dignity.
Actually you wrote this some time back. This is the politics Tamils need now.
Engaging in the esopionage world and diplomatic ricles was only necessary for organizaing the voting in the Human rigts council thing in the united nations organizations – also for being able to manipulate New Delhi and Bolomco and bring in Beijing.
Now these politics are not necessary and actually politics of Sivaram should be adopted.
At least for hte next presidency like next 6 years must be plitics of Sivaram or straightforward from the Batticaloa man.