23 January, 2020

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Sampanthan As Opposition Leader

By Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Nimal Siripala Silva is the official Leader of the Opposition. The leader of his party is the President of the country. No office is vested with even a fracture of the powers of the President. Silva’s party, moreover has a parliamentary majority. That Silva is the Opposition Leader in these circumstances is a monumental joke. It makes a mockery of accepted democratic norms. The cry for a ‘true’ opposition leader therefore makes a lot of sense.

In the context of an SLFP-UNP led ‘National Government’ meaningful opposition cannot come from either party. Leave them out and the ‘next in line’ is the Tamil National Alliance. They have 14 MPs. Individuals belonging to other parties that contested under the UPFA or later joined that coalition are either part of the Government (Champika Ranawaka of the UPFA and Rauff Hakeem of the SLMC for example) or are single-member entities in Parliament (Wimal Weerawansa of the PPF, Dinesh Gunawardena of the MEP and Vasudeva Nanayakkara). Even if they join hands they are still ‘smaller’ than the TNA.

Sampanthan, leader of the political proxy of the Tamil Tigers, the Tamil National Alliance, addresses reporters during a media conference  in ColomboThe TNA supported Maithripala Sirisena at the last Presidential Election but didn’t take up any ministerial portfolios. Many members of Silva’s party, in contrast, have prospered even though they had backed Sirisena’s opponent. The case, therefore is strong for an Opposition Leader from the TNA. For many reasons, the natural choice would be R Sampanthan.

Rajavarothiam Sampanthan is as senior a parliamentarian as Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, both having been first elected in 1977. At 82 he is one of the oldest MPs if not the oldest. A staunch Tamil Nationalist whose political positions have seen him first as approver and later as servant of terrorism, Sampanthan nevertheless has been an ardent defender of general citizens’ rights when it comes to issues that are not of the ethnic kind. He is not without blemish, his detractors would argue. Then again, who among the 225 in Parliament is without blemish? Who is not guilty of crimes of omission and commission?

There will be comparisons with A Amirathalingam’s tenure as Opposition Leader of course. But that was then and this is now and there’s nothing to say that what followed then would come about now. Different factors. Different context. It is wrong to single out one factor and call in ‘overriding’ in producing particularly horrifying outcomes.

The point is, even if that were the case, it is always better to leave emotions out, err on the side of propriety and do the right thing, procedurally speaking.

My vote is for Mr Sampanthan.

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Latest comments

  • 12
    10

    Malinda Seneviratne – Mahinda Shill and Whitewasher.

    Can we talk about Mahinda Rajapaksa Lies, Crooks, Robberies and Criminal Activities.

    Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s Caligula!

  • 12
    5

    Very logical argument. Malinda S. I wish Dayan Jayatilleke would learn from you to write in a simple style rather than force feed the public with unnecessarily long paragraphs of terminology and vocabulary leave alone the venom he spews to create disharmony.

    • 10
      5

      Simplicity of writing is the hallmark of any good writer. Higher one’s command of the language, the simpler and easier his writing becomes.

      No it is not possible for Dayan to be like someone else – be it Malinda or any other – simply because Dayan talks down to, than with, his readership or audience, using verbosity, clichés and excerpts from here and there as his main weaponry in trying to make an impression on the ‘impressionables’. This is his end game. Malinda shows no such inclination here, and this bodes well for the future of the paper he represents.

      Sri Lankans must learn to accept every Sri Lankan on equal terms and Malinda here, has definitely shown the way at least among the newspaper editors of this country.

      His effort here, deserves commendation. It will be appreciated by all fair minded persons.

      • 2
        2

        Very impressive Malinda, kudos.

        Party having majority next to the party (ies) that form the government should be the opposition and the opposition leader is the one who is elected by that party. Mr Sampanthan is not the leader of the party now however if the party decides in favour of him, he can be the opposition leader. With this kind of scenario, where first, the two major parties have to agree on so much in advance in order to form the government and if that happened then secondly, TNA has to elect him, what Dayan more notoriously does is adding one more dimension to the problem providing a kind of racist profiling of a potential candidate for the decision makers of the first to consider and to prepare such a job description that doesn’t allow the men he refers but accommodate someone of Douglas calibre.

        Hope the minority group becoming the main parliamentary opposition, regardless of who the opposition leader will be, will not insinuate the relationship between the majority and minority further. What else the two main parties can do for TNA or any majority party among minorities if they are not willing to be part of the government. To make the national government more meaningful, it is desirable that TNA, SLMC, JHU,JVP will have to be part of it with the two majors. Will Mr Sampanthan & Mr Sumanthiran up to the challenge, they have to make a call only if both major parties come to term with a national government. Why don’t we give it a try, until that happens, we leave open for Dayan to curl some stones. Don’t think accepting the opposition leader position would be any more helpful to resolve the long standing political issue, if did, it is a bonus, but you are there to discharge a national responsibility and oppose every issue that are not justifiable, not necessarily the issues affecting minority alone.

      • 2
        2

        I could not agree more.
        my admiration of him grows with very article he writes

  • 11
    7

    Malinda,

    Thanks for your lucid, objective, fair and decent analysis. If the TNA commands a majority in the opposition, Sambanthan by right should be the leader of the opposition.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 12
    7

    Wow an about a turn from Malinda
    Move to sampanthan the opposition leader is Sinhala ploy to eye wash the International Community Such as the UN, UNHCR and the West

  • 8
    2

    about turn by old Royalist Malinda,is it actually a turn of heart or mere eyewash……only time will tell

  • 5
    4

    Thanks again Malinda for treating Srilankans with equal rights and equal merits. You can contribute a lot more for the nations good health by respecting ethics of journalism and integrity of your self. Nation cries for these qualities in its citizens specially in this profession. Tonics to nourish these qualities dried up in our great rivers and mountains. Our Social democratic republic need guardians to remain so in its deeds. wish you add strength to them.thank you.Regards

  • 9
    7

    I totally agree Malinda. My vote is also for Mr. Sampanthan.

  • 7
    3

    Hmmm… getting more objective, are we? Good on you, Malinda (unless there’s a catch in there, somewhere)!

  • 4
    1

    Very clear and rational argument Malinda, hats off!

    Some so called ‘learned doctors’ must be feeling ashamed.

  • 1
    1

    “…………………….later as servant of terrorism”

    State Terrorism since independence against tamils generated resistence
    which coalescsed into LTTE.
    Even now tamils are facing daily terror.

    http://www.tamilguardian.com/article.asp?articleid=14299

  • 3
    0

    “”In the context of an SLFP-UNP led ‘National Government’ meaningful opposition cannot come from either party. Leave them out and the ‘next in line’ is the Tamil National Alliance./22

    Like all time power seekers `The cat in the cap is hidden in journalist Malinda’s or Mahindas- SLMC?? power position national, religious.

    He never wants the T caste breeders to the Buddhist hmmmm.

  • 6
    1

    Malinda is seeing to logical reasoning and SAMPANTHAN should be elected as Opposition Leader, to show fair play and justice working.

    DJ would hate this but who cares for him.

  • 4
    0

    Don’t be fooled into thinking that Malinda likes Sampanthan, TNA or the Tamils. Don’t for one minute believe that Malinda considers Tamils to be equals to the Sinhalese or that they have the right to hold any position in the country. The only reason he is advocating Sampanthan for the opposition leader post is that he is so pissed off with the SLFP for joining hands with the UNP, he wants to bring the whole parliamentary system into ridicule by having a party that can only command 5% of the votes leading the opposition.

    The cornerstone of any democracy is a strong opposition. The absence of a strong opposition allowed Mrs B. and JR plunge Sri Lanka into a three decade civil war. The absence of a strong opposition allowed MR to plunder the country’s coffers. Now the MS-CBK-RW triumvirate is trying to do the same.

    Sri Lanka does not need a national government. It needs a government that puts the needs of the country above lining their own pockets. And it needs a strong opposition to ensure that happens. Sampanthan/TNA do not fit that bill.

    • 1
      0

      Agreed also in racist sri lanka of malinda’s and dayan’s a Tsmil oppostuon will soon be seen as a “Tamil Problem” giving Mslinda plent of oppertunities to revert to his original native state -from which he is tajing a short break here.

      • 2
        0

        simon

        Malinda types “My vote is for Mr Sampanthan.”

        Eerie feeling spread all over the island. What has got into him?

        Politics should be as usual as before.

        I am scared and confused.

  • 2
    1

    Fully agree with the article of Malinga and his analysis. Reconciliation is the need of the hour.We should all have a national identity and consider ourselves as Sri Lankans and move forward.

  • 1
    1

    This is exactly the reality. Speaks volumes to equal rights.

  • 3
    1

    What benefit the Tamil people are going to get by Giving the opposition leadership to Sambanthan? What can they do anything that they could not do at present.. As Dyan suggested that the opposition leadership should not go to Sambanthan because the Tamils wants freedom from subjugation and not opposition leadership. The Tamils wants their affairs being conducted by themselves under a federal set up. Can Sambanthan obtain this by accepting the post of Opposition leadership? Definitely not. Or give the Tamil people a chance to determine their position in a referendum.

  • 4
    1

    ‘My vote is for Mr Sampanthan.’

    Thank you for your vote Malinda – But Sampanthan will not give you any laptop. Looks like a vote wasted.

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