25 September, 2020

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Tamil Diaspora Group Calls On Sri Lanka To Establish A ‘Ministry For Overseas Sri Lankan Affairs’

A Tamil diaspora group urged the Sri Lankan Government to establish a ‘Ministry for Overseas Sri Lankan affairs’.

The Non Resident Tamils of Sri Lanka (NRTSL) a group lobbying to promote the interests of Non-Resident Tamils of Sri Lankan origin in the UK organised a event to launch their cause on the 31st of May 2015. This event took place at the Barn Hill Community Centre, Hayes, Middlesex. 

The meeting was chaired by the interim Chairman of the association V. Sivalingam. Barry Gardiner MP was also present.

Following is the text of the speech by one of its founder members, Shanthan Thamba, outlining the objectives of the organisation.

NRTSL Panel

Good Evening!

Our guest of honour Right honourable Barry Gardener MP

Friends, Ladies and gentlemen

First of all I would like to welcome you all once again on behalf of the NRTSL for making this effort to be here this evening. I know how precious Sunday evening is, and I appreciate that extra effort that you made to be here today. We will try our best not to disappoint you.

I must also thank my colleagues and the founder members of the NRTSL for giving me this opportunity to outline the objectives and the vision of the NRTSL.

I will try to do this as best as I can; within the time I was given.

I am aware that all of you have a fairly wide ranging understanding and experience of the Tamil expatriate social and political scene here in the UK.

The objective of this meeting today is to share with you the origins of the idea of the NRTSL and also to listen to your valuable opinions and contributions to further develop this concept.

Those who are here today are all invited by the founder members of the NRTSL. In our opinion…. you are all active in the community in different spheres and also have a desire to move our community forward.

I must also say that the NRTSL is still in its formative stage and the direction and the effectiveness of it will be influenced and shaped by your inputs and positive contributions.

In other words this is an opportunity for us to tell you what we are trying to achieve.

More importantly we would like to listen to your views about this idea and also your suggestions about how to move forward.

Friends Ladies and gentlemen

Let me begin with defining the context in which we thought of working together as Non Resident Tamils of Sri Lanka.

You will all agree that the Tamil diaspora in the UK is a robust, dynamic and an upwardly mobile community. It is estimated that there are more than 300 thousand Tamils live here. They make significant contributions to the UK economy.

They are respected for their hard work and professionalism. They are well integrated within their local communities. I am sure this will continue for generations to come.

As much as we are proud of our British identity we are equally proud of our identity as Tamils… Sri Lankan Tamils.

We in Britain are living in a multicultural society. We know each and every community maintain their socio, political and economic links with their country of origin.

The degree of involvement may vary but still everyone maintain their links with their country of origin.

The host countries also recognise and encourage these links. These links are also seen as one of the important part of building bilateral relationship between countries.

The fact that the Rt. hon. British Prime Minister summoned members of the Tamil community to number 10 to hear their point of view before he visited Sri Lanka; is a manifestation of this understanding.

The main opposition Labour Party’s public pronouncements expressing concerns about Sri Lanka is also another indicator of this trend.

The frequent meetings the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have with representatives of Sri Lankan Tamils including with us NRTSL; also illustrates how keen they are to engage with the diaspora.

What I am trying to say here is; that the present day diaspora activism in reality has new dimensions. The host countries’ attitude and enthusiasm to engage with the diaspora communities is seen as an integral part of international relations.

These changing perceptions are not confined to Tamil or Sri Lankan diaspora. This is a general trend.

The globalisation along with the larger movement of population from country to country and continent to continent all contributes to the growth and enrichment of the diaspora communities in the west.

This trend is most likely to continue in the coming decades.

It is important for the community and social leaders like you; like us all… to understand the new context in which we are operating.

It is important for us to find ways to manage these new realities in order to benefit our communities. This is the wider context in which we are thinking of working.

Ladies and gentlemen

Now let me move on to the origin and how the idea of NRTSL was born:

The word Tamil diaspora is to some extent stigmatised by the attitudes of Tamil and Sinhala extremists. I am only talking about perceptions.

At present ‘Tamil diaspora’ can sometimes be projected as a hostile entity to the national interests in the mainstream Sri Lankan media and also by some influential Sri Lankan political leaders.

We think that the ‘Sri Lankan Government versus the Tamil diaspora’ approach is fundamentally flawed. This perception in our view is one of the main causes that prevent positive engagement for progress.

There is a need to recalibrate the relationship between communities in order to break out of this stagnant mind set.

The phrase Non Resident Tamils of Sri Lanka is an attempt to articulate our identity as well as break out of the present perceptions of diaspora mind set.

We are also inspired by the constructive role played by the Non Resident Indian Organisations and the institutional mechanisms and arrangements created by the Indian state to harness the expatriate resources.

In short this is the beginning of the idea and the name of the organisation.

Our motto ‘Engagement for Progress’

We as an organisation intend to engage with all the stake holders to explore the ways in which we could work together to achieve our objectives and make progress for our community.

When we say all the stake holders we mean different organisations working in the UK, all political parties in the UK and in Sri Lanka.

We also intend to further strengthen our work with the international community and institutions that are engaged in Sri Lanka to bring peace, stability and reconciliation.

Ladies and gentlemen

Let me finally explain our objectives and targets that we would like to achieve. These are specific, measurable and achievable goals. We do not think that these are easily achievable; we do not underestimate the enormity of the targets we set for ourselves.

The only way these goals can be realised is that many people understand and join hands with us to strengthen the work we set out to do.

Our targets are:

Lobbying for the establishment of a ‘Ministry of overseas Sri Lankans’ or to start with a ‘Department for Overseas Sri Lankans’ to engage with the non-resident Sri Lankans

Continue to campaign for equitable, transparent and efficient institutional arrangements for granting of Dual citizenship for anyone who desires.

Campaign for the recognition of the special status of second, third, fourth generation children similar to that granted for overseas Indians in India.

Campaign for:

Clear policies and encouragement to invite non-resident investors and professionals to participate in the task of Nation building

Attractive and efficient banking procedure and facilities to increase foreign currency flow through state banking institutions

Legal right to purchase land, houses, retirement homes, holiday homes and also to inherit properties

It is needless to say that these objectives can only be realised by the collective will and effort of all of us. This also requires commitment and hard work over a long period of time.

In our view this is a gathering of well -meaning and resourceful people who can make a change.

Today we call upon you all to give your candid opinion on our approach and become part of the NRTSL to work towards achieving these goals.

Thank you

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Latest comments

  • 1
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    [Edited out] Make a soup or mulligatawny and bathe that silly Barry Gardner in it. These buggers are never happy anywhere. Deck them in gold in their body weight, offer them Prabhakaran’s swimming pool and all his other luxuries and they will still be asking for more. If the West is not careful they will find them turning their Tiger claws on the silly whiteys as well in no time.

    • 0
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      This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

      • 1
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        Yakkadaya

        Brilliant.

    • 2
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      melonoma

      “If the West is not careful they will find them turning their Tiger claws on the silly whiteys as well in no time.”

      Sorry are you saying the westerners as stupid as those gullible Sinhalese and Tamils?

  • 1
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    [Edited out]

    • 2
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      Arichandran

      “[Edited out]”

      Brilliant

      • 3
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        Native Vedda

        I respect the decision of the editor to completely edit out my comments. Without knowing what I said, you seems to see brilliance in the blackout.

        You make so much comments all over in the CT contracting yourself on many issues.

        Beside it, let me ask you something that you may know. Would you tell the readers of CT who kidnapped Mathivathani for Prabakaran when she was fasting at the Jaffna Uni in Thirunelveli in Jaffna.

        If you do not know please say no.

        If you do not want to give the answer please say no.

        Where is the kidnapper now?

        Any reader who is willing to disclose the facts he will be doing a just service to open a discussion.

        • 2
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          Dear Yakkadaya,

          Wasn’t another girl kidnapped along with Mathivathani?

          • 1
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            Off the Cuff

            Possibly.

            • 0
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              [Edited out]

        • 3
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          Yakkadaya

          “Would you tell the readers of CT who kidnapped Mathivathani for Prabakaran when she was fasting at the Jaffna Uni in Thirunelveli in Jaffna.”

          I confess It wasn’t me.

          However my sources vouch that she was kidnapped and bundled into a vehicle and taken to India where she was forced to fall in love with the brave, great, brainy …. Thesiath Thalavaru.

          I am neither confirming nor denying whether she was in a relationship with another person when she was kidnapped. Poor girl.

          You should contact Mrs Balasingam for further details.

          Let me sit on this important international problem until I make contact with the right old codger who knows a thing or two about this sordid affair.

          • 1
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            Native Vedda

            ‘I confess It wasn’t me’ – I am sorry I was not referring to you.[Edited out]

            • 1
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              Yakkadaya

              “[Edited out]”

              I am not S Paranavitana hence I am unable to read interlinear inscriptions.

  • 2
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    Which is this group. There are so many? They have no legitimacy. Just a group of relatives and friends. Often very foolish. This is such a group. We should not waste time with this jokers.

    • 3
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      Lanka Liar

      “We should not waste time with this jokers.”

      I hate to agree hence let us waste our time poking fun at them

  • 6
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    It was really good to see the number of responses for the ideas I expressed on the 31st of May 2015 in the launch event of the NRTSL. Although it consumed a bit of my Saturday morning reading time; I am not complaining because it gave me an opportunity to learn about the contributors to this forum.
    First of all I must thank the Colombo Telegraph for providing this opportunity to engage with its vast readership. The motto of the NRTSL is “Engagement for Progress”. We intend to proactively engage with all sections of the Non Resident Sri Lankans regardless of their political or religious believes or indeed about their ethnic backgrounds.
    NRTSL has never claimed and do not intend to claim to represent anybody because we firmly believe that nobody in the diaspora can claim to represent the entire diaspora. It is a diverse and pluralistic entity which bound to have numerous tendencies within it.
    If one wants to label the NRTSL you may call it a lobby group or a campaign body which espouses a clear set of objectives in order to encourage the Sri Lankan diaspora to play a constructive role in the nation building.
    So it is the ideas that need to be scrutinised. We welcome the critical evaluation of the ideas; put forward by the NRTSL. We will endeavour to refine it and evolve them to suit the needs and become more effective.
    Finally NRTSL is only in its formative stage, we the founder members as well as many others who have contacted us believe that there is a need for such an organisation.
    Some concerns/fears expressed in the comments:
    • The name NRTSL: Why not NRSL? This is a valid question. Same sentiments were expressed by the well -meaning Sinhala and Muslim and progressive Tamil participants in the launch event. Our understanding is that in today’s reality Tamils are not included in the nation building process, which is in fact beginning to change but not yet changed. So at present there is a need for an organisation to meet the requirement of the Tamils. We will continue to engage with all communities and work towards forging a common program for a unified approach.
    • Is it an attempt by some NRTs to exploit the locals and drive them out of the market? There will always be somebody out there who is waiting to exploit. In our view it is happening now. The absence of transparency will only make it worse. If we have a dedicated department or Ministry for Overseas Sri Lankans it can institute mechanisms to regulate the affairs to minimise negative impact on the locals.
    • Who pays for the expenses of this Ministry? Who is going to bear the costs on the health and the other sectors that are going to be incurred by the dual citizens? This again is a sensible question. The common sense answer is; this venture should be able to raise adequate revenue to sustain the expenditures and create additional income. If not; this venture will never come into being.
    • NRTSL promotes the idea of buying retirement homes, holiday homes, and investment opportunities. Is NRTSL attempting to make ‘our’ land a playground for those who want to make profits? This idea comes from total ignorance or a perverse understanding of the economic realities of Sri Lanka today. Thousands of acres of lands, harbours and coastal areas were leased out for China, India and other countries for long term for mega projects. Multi -million dollar investors are encouraged to invest in money making projects such as casinos, hotels and export oriented production sectors. These investors have lucrative tax concessions including long term tax holidays. Colombo stock market provides another big window of opportunity for those who have money and knowledge about the market to make vast profit. We all know what happened in the recent sale of the government bonds. Whereas NRTSL is attempting to promote ordinary hard working professional people of Sri Lankan origin to play a constructive role by sharing their knowledge and experience and in the meantime exercise their birth right as a person who was born there. NRTSL is also promoting the establishment of transparent institutional arrangements so that nobody exploits the system.
    • The chances of the asylum seekers will be jeopardised! Somebody ‘living in the clouded cuckoos land’ only will think that western governments are going to shape their policies based on the NRTSL demands. The establishment in the west is probably better informed than many of the commentators on this column about the real situation there.
    I do not want to go on and on. If anyone wants any clarification you can always email us (nrtamilssl@hotmail.com ) or call one of us and we will be pleased to discuss any matters. This is not a secret organisation. We need broader participation of people to achieve our objectives.
    I can also summarise that there are two types of commentators who make repeated comments and ranting.
    The first type comes from Sinhala extremist and chauvinist section who masquerades as patriots. They think that they own the country and any views expressed by the Tamils should be dismissed and ridiculed. Fortunately the vast majority of the Sinhalese people are sensible; so this type of people do not cause any damage except waste readers time and space of this valuable forum.
    The second type of commentators are finding it difficult to come out of the monolithic, autocratic sole representative mind set the Tamil society has been subjected to for so long. They act as if they have the monopoly of ideas; any alternative approaches outside their understanding needs to be opposed and destroyed. These ‘underground warriors’ always comment under different disguises. They represent only themselves, they need to be persuaded to come out of their closets and engage with the real world.
    Finally, I want to quote a comment by Raymond in this page “This forum descends into uncivilised, low level attacks and reprisals. This is a sad country and will never improve unless people get educated. Until then the politicians will promote racial hatred and exploit the poor Sri Lankan masses.”
    I fully agree that we need to patiently educate the contributors to raise the standard of a discussion forum.
    I can also tell a Persian saying to Raymond and others who are equally annoyed by these ‘underground warriors’ that “Dogs may bark but the caravan moves on? These people may criticize, complain and rant as they please but that doesn’t stop the flow of events.

    • 2
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      Shanthan,

      Let me pin-point few general assertions you make within your response above:

      “The absence of transparency will only make it worse.”

      “NRTSL is also promoting the establishment of transparent institutional arrangements.”

      “This is not a secret organization.”

      Now, let me reiterate my one simple, straightforward request in line with your assertions above — could you detail the political or other relevant background of the executive and founding members of NRTSL, which will provide the readers some starting point to make informed assessment of the capacity and credibility of the group?

      If that is an unreasonable request, could you please explain why?

      Having made such a strong case for transparency of the State and others, would it not be hypocritical for you to stay mute on that aspect, when it comes to your own door-step — the NRTSL?!

      • 3
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        Busker Rajash Kumar alias…….

        All the answers were in the edited out comments of mine.

        Use your bloody intelligence to understand what others are saying without asking silly questions even a school kid wont ask all the time.

    • 2
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      Shanthan, Sivalingam, et al,

      Why silent on the “transparency” issue after mouthing off as a maveric on that same issue?!

      Some “bad apples”in the groupor are all of you “rotten” to start with? What exactly scares you?

    • 1
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      Shanthan, Sivalingam, et al,

      You state “we need to patiently educate the contributors to raise the standard of a discussion forum. “

      If only you guys would act responsibly and respond in a forthright manner instead of resoting to ruses, then both your distractors and your defenders will have no reason to stray from civilized standards in discussion.

      It is your hide-and-seek and use of depraved proxies that is lowering the standard of discussion here!

      Hope at least one in your group has the sense to persuade you guys in the correct direction – else, as I said before, your entourage is DEAD-ON-ARRIVAL!

    • 2
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      Dear Shanthan Thamba,
      You need not get agitated.
      What the people are asking is :
      1. Have you got the mandate from diaspora to speak for them.
      2. Be transparent by giving your credentials and past record.
      3. Inform us how many members are there in your association.
      These answers will clear any suspicion about your motives.

      • 0
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        Raja “Inform us how many members are there in your association. “

        The answer is six.

        I am sure he would have encouraged all his supporters to log on to CT and support his comment.

        • 0
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          Rajash,

          Since you seem to have some more detailed info on the group, and since Sivalingam, Thmaba and others continue to remain mute, could you please spell out the details of who-is-who in the group. Perhaps that will help start the ball rolling.

      • 0
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        Rajah,
        Absolutely! It is mind boggling why the group started playing defense so early and for no reason.

        It is indeed the silence that is raising even more suspicion on the group – only aggravated by the empty-threats of the loud-mouthed rust-laden Yakadaya, who is undeniably a core-constituent of the group.

        As Thamba says, the caravan keeps moving – the concern is whether it is that of snake-oil salesmen and vagabonds or not! Playing hide-and-seek does not help.

        I am sure they have by now realized any further initiative of the group to access the Diaspora via the CT columns seem dead-on-arrival, only because of their hesitation, if not reluctance, to be forthright even on the most basic of information – and they want to pretend to be “transparency” champions! What hypocrisy!!

  • 5
    2

    /// “Dogs may bark but the caravan moves on? ////

    Well said Thamba – Only question is who is the dog and who is the caravan here. I don’t think government of SL is the caravan – Just food for thought…

    You are barking since 1980 – no one is listening… Not even EPRLF!!!! Here we go again

    • 2
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      Gayathri

      Barking dogs also can bite at times. It may be biting time for Thamba. Be careful.

      • 3
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        Ganapathy

        Now you have really scared me. I am going to keep my mouth shut and just look after my grand children.

        • 2
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          [Edited out]

          • 2
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            Rajash

            “[Edited out]”

            You seem to be suffering from writers block.

        • 1
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          Gayathiri

          “I am going to keep my mouth shut and just look after my grand children”

          No don’t keep your mouth shut however think before you open your mouth.

          It is out of love for them you look after your grand children. You can still open your mouth not just for eating by to hold an intelligent conversation.

          Don’t you ever forget the days when people opened their mouth only to have their meals during the glorious days of EPRLF and LTTE reign.

          • 1
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            Native veda

            thank you – you plonker

            • 2
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              Gayathiri

              “thank you – you plonker”

              Are you a practicing public racist?

  • 3
    3

    Nutter!

  • 2
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    As you make this post here, your Rajasingham Jeyadevan is making a post [Edited out]

    He is shouting Hello Mangala we are here please please include us!

    • 2
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      Busker Rajesh Kumar alias…….

      Last night you must have had a good dream of Rajasingham Jayadevan after finishing off the double blended scotch.

      Good, keep it up. There are many other ghosts like Jayadevan will come in your dreams.

      Hold chest with one hand and the head with the other. Northwick Park hospital is in Harrow on the Hill, not far away from your home.

      Make sure you give your true and well known alias name to the ambulance crew.

      • 2
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        Yakkadaya
        “Last night you must have had a good dream of Rajasingham Jayadevan “

        wow what an admission that you are a gay and you shag him

        • 0
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          This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

          • 3
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            Yakkadaya

            Brilliant again.

            Looking forward to more of it.

          • 0
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            [Edited out]

            • 2
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              Yakkadaya

              “[Edited out]”

              Fantabulous

  • 3
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    Shanthan Thamba “I do not want to go on and on”

    oh you poor thing ….there is nothing to go on and on.

    • 2
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      Busker Rajash Kumar

      Shanthan Thamba must be knowing you very well. He is not far away from you.

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