2 December, 2023


Resolute Governance And Demise Of Boycott Philosophers

By S. Sivathasan

S. Sivathasan

S. Sivathasan

“Those who make revolution half way, only dig their own graves”.

Relentless and Resolute

A revolution rightly called or miscalled, glorious or not, needs first to be consolidated. Disaster can result otherwise. A bloodless revolution can be stamped out in blood. The leader who was elevated as Prime Minister in 1956, was swept to that position by a demagogic wave. It became a tragic irony that the assassin had in him the same demagogic forces. He was a Bhikku, a swabasha teacher and an ayurvedic physician. To avert a repetition after the second bloodless one in 2015, the revolution needs consummation with no loss of time. Compassion can be misplaced strategy. Complacency may be ill advised default. Relentless pursuit savours of realism.

Dr. N M Perera attributed IRRESOLUTENESS of the leaders for the failure of the 1962 coup. Never ever may it be said that the second revolution of 2015, had an inglorious end for the same reason. Karl Marx has pointed out that the ruling class will never depart the stage voluntarily. It has to be pushed out. Rephrasing Lenin’s words to suit the Sri Lankan context, liberation of the oppressed minorities is impossible without destroying the repressive apparatus of the state. To the Tamils, the use of extra-legal armed groups has been the worst feature of oppression by the previous government. They have to be in preventive custody at the earliest, for Tamil turnout to reach 85% in April 2015.

In 1688, the bloodless revolution in England shifted power from monarch to Parliament. The arrangement has not changed since then. In Sri Lanka power has shifted from President, Family and Dynasty to the people and their representatives in Parliament. This change of 9, January 2015 is destined to remain if infanticide is precluded.

Tamil Leadership and Support to Government

Mahathma Gandhi once said in stern terms. “If you are not satisfied with my leadership, throw me out, trample upon me, spit on me and I shall not complain. But so long as you choose to have me as your leader, you must follow my command, accept dictatorship and the discipline of Martial Law”. Tamil leadership is too refined to say it. Whatever be one’s innate inclinations for soft management, this is the temper that demands of leadership impose.

AAAAAs of today it applies most pertinently to the New Regime and the TNA. Sampanthan has responded to such imperatives and has navigated wisely and diligently through treacherous waters. The Tamil community has accepted his leadership. Anyone disagreeing, lady or gentleman can plough an independent furrow, if they have the strength for it. This will allow the true leaders to work unfettered for the Tamil Cause.

Distressingly, sulking voices in negative mode are yet heard. Even after seeing success for ten years and in the most tortuous five after 2009, the leadership is assailed with impractical suggestions. The most suicidal among them was the call to boycott the presidential election. Tamils rebuffed it knowing full well the stupidity of it.

Now they have a feel of getting their leadership heard in the counsels of Colombo. The central government too has a sense of Tamil support that worked for regime change. Total disregard by all Tamils, of calls for negative action at the general election in April 2015, will bring more seats to the TNA. Such action will increase its bargaining power with the new government. To realise that objective, a massive Tamil vote needs to be worked for by the community and its leadership. In the 100 Day programme, both Government and TNA have to move apace.

Resolution of Tamil Issue

The Tamil Question which plagued the country since independence has vexed the Tamils for as long. By a benign turn of events, it has fallen into three segments and primary responsibility is trifurcated. It has happened not by design or decision, but with effluxion of time.

Diaspora – Death and destruction on a huge scale internationalized the issue, invited world attention and involved the UN and its institutions. It was but inevitable that Tamil Diaspora should be drawn into it and it is engaged in it irrevocably. It was very unrealistic of the government to have judged the capacity of an injured community very lightly. What realistic handling required was plain honesty about wrong doing and remedies with genuine intentions. Instead, $ millions were wasted by the displaced regime in flaunting untruths and playing ‘Numbers Games’. They convinced nobody when Diaspora mobilized its intellectual resources. Victory at the UN will flow from resolution of the problem in Colombo.

Delhi – To decide on Indo Sri Lanka issues, there is a new dynamic leadership in Delhi from May last year. In Colombo power has shifted to more knowledgeable quarters. Both places have the benefit of Obama’s leadership in Washington. Modi’s spectacularly successful visit to US is not lost on anybody. Obama’s visit to India as Chief Guest on Republic Day is significant. It was not without interest in Sri Lanka’s developments that Kerry spoke to President Rajapaksa on election eve. Reference to free and fair elections with transparency was more a strong message than a goodwill one. Modi being the first Head of Government to congratulate Maithripala too was very significant. In the ‘Vibrant India’ Investment Forum of January 2015, Kerry was a distinguished invitee.

Together with them all, is Sri Lanka’s tectonic shift in relations with India and US vis a vis China, just beginning to be seen. It is Sri Lanka’s recognition of India’s dominance in the Indian Ocean and mastery over the South Asian Region.

Colombo and TNA

It is at this confluence of the Colombo – Delhi – Washington Axis power play that TNA is destined to steer the fortunes of the Tamils. The crucial spheres are political and economic. Primary are equality in all respects, of Tamils with the Sinhalese and all other minorities, with the majority community. All political parameters needed for restoration have to be worked out and anchored to a secure foundation. The next and no less important is the resuscitation of the fundamentals needed for economic regeneration in the North East. To put the past behind us, the majority and the minority have to hammer out a meeting ground.

The top leadership of the Tamils is endowed enough and adequately enlightened to think mainly of the future and to venture for fresh pastures. But when the tail wags with confidence deriving from ignorance of history or politics, movement is impeded. They advanced the philosophy of boycott. After miserable failure at the hands of an intelligent electorate, they changed tack. Non-participation in governance till Tamil issues are solved in the 100 Day Programme ie 100 years in 100 days, is now the stance!

Rejection of Portfolios

What does non – acceptance of portfolios mean? Preference to be outside the circle of influence. Eschew being in the cabinet and be listened to, even with a whisper. Bleat at the periphery never to be heard. Bellow from the barricade and get thrashed.

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Latest comments

  • 4

    “What does non – acceptance of portfolios mean?”

    I guess Tamils still remember P. Ramanathan, P. Arunachalam, A. Mahadeva, G.G. Ponnambalam, Suntharalingam and a host of others accepting portfolios led to. They in their advancing years regretted. May be TNA like to try new approaches. Not that there is any guarantee it would solve the problem but new multidimensional approaches need to be tried.

    • 4

      Thank you for your continued service to this nation. Your continued involvement in public life is needed and most welcome.

    • 0


      TNA also fear of being branded as traitors and that would seal their fate.

  • 4

    A good and thought provoking article by S. Sivathasan– one of the few intellectuals amongst the Tamils who has also held high administrative positions. He is therefore endowed with and had acquired the acumen to assess objectively and fathom better the political wind and how the sails must be set for a “change in course direction” that is absolutely and inevitably necessary to arrest further the political, social and economic deterioration and degeneration of the Tamils living in Sri Lanka.

    The decision not to accept any portfolio in the New Cabinet by the TNA would have been decided by the TNA hierarchy for the following reasons:

    •The Government’s preference (and so is Sambandan’s) would have been to give it to Sumanthiran. The reasons are his proficiency in all three languages—English, Tamil & Sinhalese—which none of the other TNA parliamentarians except Sambandan has; being a professional he is a better communicator than others; he has no blood stain in his hands or expressed affiliation to the LTTE at any time unlike the others of the Tamil groups.

    •This would have been very bitterly resented by the other hopefuls including Suresh Premachandran or Selvam Adiakanathan (with the help of the Mannar Bishop) and others. Why risk this internal bickering that would have augmented the division within the TNA especially when the duration of the cabinet would be only for a mere 100 days –for about just 3 months.

    •TNA would be able to face the General Election in April 2015 in a situation where no one of the TNA is part of the present Government because then they could show that by rejecting the offer of the portfolio they have no back- hand deals with the government which was what was said by those who campaigned for a boycott and defaced themselves.

    What is now important for the TNA is, if they are truly and genuinely interested in alleviating the sufferings of the Tamil and restore them back as meaningful players and partners in the Sri Lankan political, social and economic scenario, are to do the following:

    •Ensure that they do not, by engaging in cheap sentimental or vision-less stupid words or deeds help Mahinda Rajapakse to become the next Prime Minister by strengthening his hands to threaten for votes the Sinhalese masses with the non-existent bogey of LTTE or that the Tamils are still surreptitiously bent on separation, which all the sensible Tamils now realise that it is no more realistically achievable .

    •Extend overt support to the JVP in its present campaign for the abolition of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and the release of the political prisoners from detention.

    •Visit the Buddhist prelates, explain the Tamils grievances and obtain their support for a reasonable political solution under a united Sri Lanka and its sincere implementation for the good of all the communities.

    •In the event of Maithripala Srisena/ Ranil Wickremasinghe being elected with majority in the new parliament in April 2015 and then forming a National Unity Government, accept the Cabinet portfolios and work for the rehabilitation, reconciliation, economic progress and a political solution acceptable to the substantial number of all the three communities.

    • 2


      Your comment is written in a manner to set the pace for a worthwhile discussion. Thanks.

      In a multi ethnic society trilingual capability is needed to convey what you have. But without intellectuality you have nothing to convey.

      Puranaanooru the Sangam classic says, “the call goes not to the senior, but to the wise”. Sane advice in governance.

      My point about acceptance was that 100 Days are crucial for interaction, getting your credentials better appreciated and making your impact in the initial thought process.

      More crucially, being an early bird in catching the best worm. When you go late you may only read “SOLD OUT” in front of a closed door.

      Missing the bus and then waiting for better times and the best bus is typical of our mental make up.

      • 0

        “More crucially, being an early bird in catching the best worm.”

        In SL Politics, the best worm gets up late.!!! Any solution?

  • 1

    One can understand TNA decision not to accept any portfolio in the 100 Day government,but participate in the Governance council,Given the back drop.
    But Come April 2015 TNA Should prepare itself to be part of the unity government to provide immediate relief to Minorities particularly North/East and to negotiate for lasting solution.
    It is important to build bridges with Majority community representatives during the 100 days to go forward after April 2015.

    In this regard the current call from JVP for release of political Prisinoners and abolition of PTA is very important common program.

    Also TNA should take a note of Ven Athurilia Thero’s Conciliatory comments during the inaugural parliamentary speech and build bridges with JHU.

    Let’s chart and navigate a destiny together while being the driving seat as makers of change rather than complainers.

  • 0

    The Tamils have to be part and parcel of the Government and equal partners in the Island to participate in the 100 day programme. The 100 day programme initiated by the President doesn’t concern the Tamil problems. The Tamil problem which was not solved for many years, has to be solved first for the Tamils to part take in Government activities. It is not going to be solved yet. Appointing a new Governor( not discussed with the Chief Minister in appointing) is not that important for the Tamils. Removing the barrier for the visitors of Non citizens of Sri Lanka to the North is another minor matter. Removal of the Army from the North and devolution of power to the Tamils with land and police powers are the two main priorities besides other development programmes like the KKS cement factory, KKS harbour and an International Airport at Palaly. But there is going to be a parliamentary elections in April or May and what happens after that no one can be rest assured.

  • 2

    A well analysed report, a wake-up call to the people of North and East for a concerted action from now on with a foresight on the parliamentary elections in April.
    The long vexed Tamil question as stated by the author has now been trifurcated into three segments viz; Diaspora, Delhi and Colombo-TNA. It is therefore imperative that the entire Tamil community should rally round the TNA leadership in the forthcoming parliamentary elections and support their bargaining power in the most urgent issues such as resettlement of IDPs, release of political detainees, empowerment of war torn households still struggling to recover from the horrors and devastations of the war. Early action to to alleviate the people in the North and East from economic stagnation for more than three decades. As author suggested in one of his earlier reports in this regard, that instituting branch offices of the ‘Board of Investment’ and ‘Urban Development Authority’ in the North will attract foreign investments which will bring about a considerable economic improvement in the region. Also, accountability for war crimes is also essential because it is not just punishing the perpetrators but also a process of reparation for the victims.

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