By S. Sivathasan –
In a communication addressed to Prime Minister Cameron, by some Tamils purporting to be near and dear to Obama, it is said “You met with three TNA members, all three of whom live most of their time in Colombo. We regard all of them as too sympathetic to the Colombo government”. What a preposterous position for anyone to take! Political positions are taken by physical proximity of a community’s leaders to power centres!
It is further said “We wish you had been able to meet with elected representatives, who live in and represent the North East”. In saying so, is it suggested that the three leaders are unelected and therefore have no credentials to represent the people, to champion their cause or to speak up for them?
In what light is Cameron to treat this assertion? What is the message that the readership of Colombo Telegraph will inescapably glean from such misleading statements? Publishing it in the public domain is obviously designed to convey the idea that whatever the seeming togetherness of Tamils, know it on our authority, that they are riven into multiple splinters. They are located:
- In the capital, Colombo
- In the North
- In the East
At the summit is an enclave in US, friendly to Obama. So Cameron, ignore this triumvirate and lend your ears to this caucus. So we, ‘Tamils for Obama’ are more legitimately placed to speak for the Tamils residing in Sri Lanka. How tenable is this usurpation?
What is the position, composition and nature of the TNA group? They are the top leadership of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). R. Sampanthan, handpicked 43 years ago by SJV Chelvanayakam, the respected Tamil leader, for a leadership position one day. He assumed the mantle a quarter century ago, has symbolized people’s aspirations and lived up to their expectations. He moved deftly among many a landmine and has brought the Tamils to where they are now. They have ceased to be voiceless and able spokesmen have surfaced.
Not stopping at that and being mindful of infusing fresh blood into the TNA, he inducted five years back, a man of promise in MA Sumanthiran into politics. The latter had displayed his concerns for the community more than a decade ago, is learned in law and has trilingual capability. By making studied discourses in Parliament and at international fora, he has helped the Tamil cause come to centre stage.
Justice Wigneswaran, elected by the North with an unprecedented majority and a resounding preferential vote, enjoys the endorsement of the community. Where he is, North or South, has become the first port of call to visiting political personalities. Since he became Chief Minister, the Northern Province and the Provincial Council, are very much in the counsels of nations that matter. He holds the great responsibility of delivering through democratic means in a post war environment.
The Tamil leadership now has the unenviable challenge of converting decades of adversarial politics and boycott stances into an era of promise and peace for the North and of cordiality with the South. The battles that lie ahead are not in the familiar terrain of North East. They have much to do in Colombo at the power centres and in the foreign domain. When Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Beijing, Geneva and a few western capitals wield more influence on Sri Lanka, Tamils have to respond appropriately to the emergent situation.
How will Tamils measure up to the changing environment and what will be the response of the leadership? It is intellectual resources that are called for in the areas of history, politics, international affairs and relations with neighbouring countries. They have to immerse themselves intensely in such pursuits. It is intellectual caliber they need, to engage extensively with enlightened leadership in modern nations and in institutions. Subtle nuances in negotiations too will be of great importance.
The present Tamil leadership is certainly capable of picking talent, composing study teams and drawing on their expertise. The study teams will throw up hopefully, men and women of commitment and character to take the people forward. The “three TNA members” may be faulted only if they do not enlarge the number to ten or more in the near future. The diaspora too has a good and sustained part to play and to proactively assist in the process. Did not Tholkaapiyar, the great Tamil scholar say “Ulakam enpathu uyarnthoar maaddae” two thousand year ago? The world is on the side of the learned and the righteous.
When challenges of this magnitude face the Tamils in all climes and when the concern of the world is drawn to happenings in the North and the rest of Sri Lanka, is this the time to conjure up non-existent issues of divisions and magnify them? Do not the ‘TFO’ know of the strong determination with which Cameron made his presentation in the House of Commons? Do they not recall the acclaim with which the House received it? Is it to throw cold water on his resolve that this letter of mischief was sent?
Little do they realize that their credentials are weak and credibility is poor. Are we to prove to the world that the enemy of the Tamils is not without but lurks within? Just a few days back a hill country Tamil earned the wrath of all Tamils. Now the ‘Tamils for Obama’ are incurring the enmity of Tamils worldwide.
For the good of the community and of humanity, we have to bury our perverse frailties in the deep,deep Atlantic or in deepest Pacific.