21 November, 2019

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Tamils Betrayed? 

By S. I. Keethaponcalan –

Dr. S. I. Keethaponcalan

In a Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) electoral organizers meeting, President Sirisena proclaimed that he would not allow a federal state for the Tamils or merger of the North and East provinces. Reportedly, he had stated that “he would have to be killed” before this happens. The presidential statement brought a smile to my face because it had elements of humor. However, this is not a joke. This is a serious matter.

The sacking of Ranil Wickremesinghe and the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as prime minister by the President forced the United National Party (UNP) members and sympathizers to feel “betrayed.” They made him president in 2015. Some UNPers have been using interesting terminologies to express their outrage of President Sirisena’s recent actions. These sentiments are highlighted and discussed in multiple platforms. The Tamils were already feeling betrayed because they also voted heavily for him in January 2015. 

Sirisena contested the presidential election as the “man of reconciliation.” In his election manifesto, he declared, “our country is now entering a decisive juncture in its history. Whether the country would turn towards becoming a haven for peace, prosperity, and reconciliation, or whether it would fall into an abyss of degeneration, instability and anarchy, depends on the way you, my fellow citizens that love our Motherland, will act today (p. 9). The President’s alliance with the UNP and his statements guaranteeing reconciliation, democracy, and good governance boosted confidence of the Tamil people.  

They responded positively. For example, Sirisena received 74.42 percent of the votes in Jaffna (Rajapaksa 21.85%) and 78.47 percent of the votes in Vanni districts (Rajapaksa 19.07). One could argue that without the Tamils votes, Sirisena could not have won the presidency. The difference between Rajapaksa and Sirisena was only about 450,000 votes. A Tamil National Alliance (TNA) induced boycott, which some were calling for, would have cost Sirisena dearly.

Did the Tamils vote for Sirisena because of love and trust? Of course, not. It was an anti-Rajapaksa vote. It is imperative to note that the Tamils overwhelmingly voted for Sarath Fonseka in 2010. It is safe to assume that the Tamils would have voted for anyone who opposed Rajapaksa in 2015.    

Nevertheless, the President owed something to the Tamils because he became president mainly (or partially) because of the Tamil votes. The President seemed grateful at the beginning. Consequently, he kept the responsibilities for national “reconciliation” under his ministry. The government took pride in the fact that the president himself was the minister in charge of national integration and reconciliation. Hence, this was a high priority area for the government was the argument. He proposed what was called the “national policy on reconciliation.”

Sirisena’s interest in national integration helped consolidate international goodwill towards the new government. At least, some Tamils believed that the President’s interest would lead to tangible benefits concerning political and socio-economic issues. However, not much happened in the first three years of the yahapalana government.   

Meanwhile, the President’s interest in Tamil issues did not last too long. He transferred the subject of reconciliation to Mano Ganesan when the Cabinet was reshuffled in April 2018. The demoted reconciliation signaled the President’s declining interest in Tamil issues as his heart was with Sinhala nationalists. What was more concerning in this transfer was that the subject, once considered paramount in Sirisena’s agenda, was assigned to a Tamil minister. The history indicates that Tamil ministers more often than not offered nationally insignificant subjects and they are mostly powerless when it comes to national affairs. Despite Ganesan’s enthusiasm, it was clear that his ministry cannot undertake transformative measures. 

Therefore, the transfer of “reconciliation” to Mano Ganesan’s ministry indicated the doom for ethnic reconciliation in Sri Lanka. On the other hand, the transfer also indicated that Sirisena did not want to be involved in Tamil issues.  

It is against this backdrop, Sirisena now says that he should have to be killed before any political autonomy is granted to the Tamils. It is abundantly clear that Sirisena, as he says, will not allow any concessions to the Tamils. However, my concern is, why is he saying this now? 

Is there an imminent danger of country becoming a federal state or is North-East being merged? Absolutely not. The yahapalana government started what looked like an ambitious project to devolve power through constitutional reform. Parliament was converted into a constitutional assembly, a steering committee and a number of subcommittees were formed, and the subcommittees submitted their reports. And that was it. The process stagnated due to the South’s resistance to grant any concessions to the Tamils.  

The TNA meekly accepted this position as the reality, and some United Tamil National Party members continue to buttress this state of affairs saying to the Tamil people that constitutional reform will become a reality sooner rather than later. They were wittingly misleading the Tamil people when in reality there was absolutely no possibility of the now defunct constitutional reform process to succeed. What this meant was that Tamil nationalism was working hand in hand with Sinhala nationalism. 

This is one reason why Vigneswaran has formed his own political party, the Tamil Makkal Koottani (TMK) and he probably will lead a radical Tamil nationalist campaign. Vigneswaran could have a considerable impact on future Tamil politics. 

The point is that President Sirisena at this point in time has no reason to say that he will not allow devolution or a merger of North-East. What he is doing is appealing to the Sinhala nationalists. In other words, he is trying to use racism for electoral gains. It was this kind of politics on both sides of the ethnic divide that led to the brutal ethnic war. 

In a way, Sirisena’s recent transition from a man of reconciliation to a Sinhala nationalist makes sense because of his new alliance with Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). Both of these entities are founded on Sinhala nationalist ideology. Therefore, in order to be with them and succeed, Sirisena had to be reborn as a Sinhala nationalist. Meanwhile, the Tamils feel that they were used like a condom.                             

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Latest comments

  • 7
    0

    Tamils feel betrayed by their own political leaders. Sirisena nor Ranil did not make any election pledges to accountability or political solution beyond the existing unitary framework. It is the tamil political leaders who sold them out on false pretenses so they can make their puppet masters happy by bringing a regime change. Let the sinhalese in the south fight out their differences but tamils need a change of course and proper leadership to guide them through post war to obtain their rights.

    • 1
      0

      Oh thamizh, Don’t you believe what Keethaponcalan has just pointed out. Sirisena guaranteed reconciliation, democracy, and good governance, at the stumps. He even took over Ministry of Reconciliation on becoming President. What was the need for Tamils to change anything!
      .
      Tell me, What will a new leader for Tamils do to get the Sinhalese Presidents keep their Word!

  • 5
    6

    The Tamils have been betrayed by their own politicians, then and now. Due to bias based on chaste, most low-chaste Tamils are still being neglected. MY3 government and Rajapaksa government both went out of the way to help the Tamils in the North, and they are doing well. Brings to mind the recent emotional farewell given to a certain Colonel in the Army who built schools and brought running water to a certain town in Jaffna – no such reception would be given to a Tamil politician.
    Tamil politicians should first clean up their acts by reaching out to all the innocent, peace-loving Tamils who are tired of war and just want to live in peace.

  • 5
    6

    If the Army Pfficer who made VISVAMADU villagers happy contest elections as an Independant, I would be happy. Beczuse, Tamils in the North like Army. I heard TNA leader Sumanghiran and TMK leader Wigneswaran hold opposite views. MAvai Senathiraja may with the Pathnabha group and they are asking additional Seats, may be a total of upto 25 seats.

  • 7
    2

    The Sinhala politicians (especially those aiming for high office) want the Tamil votes but they are not prepared to come forward and take any measures to address the grievances of the Tamils. All those who came to power because the Tamils voted for them or failed to vote for their opponent (as happened when the LTTE that was bribed by MR forced Jaffna Tamils to boycott elections) have eventually betrayed us.

  • 4
    6

    Tamils can keep begging for another 70 years for a dignified political solution. You get nothing other than farts.

    • 3
      8

      Thanthai Chelva: GO to Tamilnadu and ask dignified political solution.

  • 6
    4

    Mano Ganesan’s Ministry was nothing but became a hub of racism, he saddled it with own his kith and kin who overlooked the fact that the Sinhala is also an official language and started discriminating people who worked impartially. All his language awareness/reconciliation programs were nothing but done in a manner to muster his personal vote base.

  • 2
    5

    Keethapocalan,

    Were you expecting the new Sinhala rulers to allow north east merger or federalism.

    It is not the Sinhalese who are betraying you, it is your foolish expectations.

    Thousands of Sinhala soldiers did not lay down their lives to hand over 1/3 of the country to you tamils.

    Mark my word pocalan, finally you will be left only with Jaffna Peninsula.

    Full scale Sinhala colonisation has started in areas north of Mullativu too.

    Your only hope is the international community. Give all the facts and figures and convince them that North East belongs to you thalayas.

    • 1
      3

      Pathetic Pereira, you illiterated scumb bags sinhalese will never prosper in this island. Your 2/3 sinhalese land are colonized by Chinese and Indians. You fkcers will die sooner or later. Tamils curse will hunt each and everyone of you.

      • 1
        0

        Para demala,

        “Tamil curse will hunt each and everyone of you”

        You buggers are a cursed race you shit head.

  • 2
    6

    Keetha, I did not expect this of you, as a political scientist.

    At the commencement of your article you say:

    “In a Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) electoral organizers meeting, President Sirisena proclaimed that he would not allow a federal state for the Tamils or merger of the North and East provinces.”

    You do not name a source but that is not my point.

    At the conclusion of the same article you say:

    “The point is that President Sirisena at this point in time has no reason to say that he will not allow devolution or a merger of North-East. What he is doing is appealing to the Sinhala nationalists.”

    Now, how did “federalism” in the first rendition turn into ” devolution” in the second?

    What is he against: federalism OR devolution?

    You are enough of an academic to know that the two are hardly co-terminous and cannot be conflated. There are many countries which do not permit federalism but do implement devolution, just as there are many political thinkers and personalities who are for one but not the other.

    Such societies and persons are hardly racist. Vijaya Kumaratunga was for devolution but against both federalism and the merger. N. Sanmugathasan was for regional autonomy but bitterly opposed to federalism.

    • 1
      0

      “N.Sanmugathasan was for regional autonomy but bitterly opposed to federalism”.
      Not entirely true. He was for regional autonomy in keeping with the unsplit Communist Party’s Valvatithurai Congress Resolution of 1943/44 but within the boundaries of the right to self-determination which in a sense can mean federalism.

    • 3
      2

      Dr. Dayan Jeyatilake
      Do you understand the meaning of devolution and federalism? Do you understand What is your boss Sirisena (Liar) said and why he said whatever he said now. The main problem with the statement Sirisena is asking for bloodbath of Tamils as your Buddhist Sinhafundamentalists did all the time. Sirisena wants to become President? Do you deny that? Keerthi is very clear but you are a dirty blood thirsty ……..

    • 3
      1

      Dayan,
      Are you saying that Sirisena is opposed to federalism but not devolution? Can you get him to state what the “maximum” he would allow as a token of gratitude for making him president? I believe that he is opposed to devolution, not just federalism. It would be nice if we can get some answers. I know you have access.

    • 1
      0

      Sanmugathasan need not be the last wrd on the national question. In fairness, he corrected his position on the national question after 1976, and accepted that the Tamils were ‘developing into’ a nationality. In later years he also defended the right of the LTTE to remain armed, despite rejecting LTTE’s politics.
      Federalism is not the issue, self determination (not in the crude sense that translates it as secession) is.
      The three minority nationalities of the country should have the right to decide their mode of existence.
      The right to self determination has to be seriously reread in the context of the post-colonial nation question and national oppression.

  • 5
    2

    Betrayal by Buddhist Sinhala leadership is nothing new to Tamils or Sinhalese. Tamil leadership should learn the Buddhist will always use the Tamils as a weapon to capture the power of this island. This is not going to stop with Sirisena or Mahinda or Ranil. We have seen that Douglas already accepted a ministerial post. Like him many others are now prepared to follow his path. Similarly we have seen Some Muslim politicians and up country politicians crossed over or used this opportunity to get ministerial posts. This is where Pirabhaharan comes to our thoughts. He is the only leader never trusted Buddhist Sinhala leadership. Unfortunately, we all killed him and we have to face the consequences.

    • 1
      1

      Ajith
      Prabakaran on the contrary trusted MR so much that he described him as a “pragmatic Sinhalese leader”, and not only obtained a collosal hand out of the stolen tsunami funds from him to prevent the Tamils from voting for a candidate of their choice, enabling MR to become the President.
      You know how he met his inglorious end as the self declared sole leader of the Tamils in the shores of Nanthikadal betrayed by that very “pragmatic leader”.
      So don’t you think ,with due respect to you to say that it takes an oxymoron to conclude that Prabakaran was one who never trusted BUDDHIST SINHALA LEADERSHIP.

      • 3
        0

        Uthungan,
        It is wrong to assume that Pirabaharan trusted MR and got money to become a richest person like Mahinda. He did not get money from MR. There may be some international LTTE leaders would have got some money. He did not ask Tamils to vote for Mahinda or Ranil. He only asked to boycott the election. You may think that Ranil would have won if the Tamil voted for Ranil. That is an absured argument. In President elections a certain % of Tamils vote for both SLFP and UNP. The truth is that Ranil did not get enough votes from Sinhalese. Ranil is not different from Mahinda when it comes to devolution of power. It is under UNP that first Tamil massacre happened in this country. It is under UNP 1983 riots and burning of Jaffna library happened. Even now under Ranil nothing moved.
        What happened to Pirabhaharn in the Nanthikadal by butcherous Buddhist Sinhala fundamentalism does not say anything about Pirabhaharan. We all know what happened to Rohana Wejeweera, Chandrika’s husband WijeKumaranatunge or what happened to Lasantha by his best friend Rajapakse do say anything about them? Butcherism is the charcteristic of Buddhist Fundamentalism in Srilanka

  • 0
    0

    We majority people understand that the rival between in fact having USA+UK-EU a hegemony of rule-based regime like that UNP -RW and CBK Federalism and National democracies forces are contradiction is inherited.

    By and large USA+ UK led democracy that followed by UNP leadership having so many deficiencies which is never safeguard vital interest of sovereignty by practice. The contempeory UNP hard core leaders minimized popular participation by external game rules advices by USA led Western Embassies, IMF and World Bank…so-called adviciesrs discarded norms of rule of democracy

    While, UNP leadership since 2015 January 8th restrictions, and preventing Parliament legeataiave authorities from delegating major shifted to ruling making, powers to so-called to an independent regulatory bodies or agencies or commissions > These movers are clash with democracy of elected members Parlimreantry sovergerity. Therefor simple reasons behind UNP leadership that is seeks Not to be improved the functions of Parliament, Presidency and Judiciary of Island .
    The rule of UNP governed seek give extra-ordinary conseccsion and perks to MNC-Multi-national corporation of US UK Indian and EU countries.

    What is that People choice ? How is going to overcome in this great betrayal of UNP led this defect?
    The most apprioapted step is change regime in hot seat, who are undermined state-power by aim of undermined democracy aspirations back rule of Democracy of Governance is undoubtedly-” good governances” under MS +MR a new alliances.

  • 1
    2

    how can the Tamils be betrayed?
    one can be betrayed if one has trust in the other
    Tamils never trusted the Sinhala politicians of all colours and flag
    Sinhala of all colours and flag politicians never cared a damn for the Tamils

  • 3
    2

    Why Tamil feels betrayed? For what purpose Devolution or Federalism?

    According to comments, Tamil overwhelmingly vote against Rajapakse and do you ant to say that Tamils are supporting LTTE Terrorism and since MR has annihilated them to get rid of country of terrorism and therefore Tamils are not happy?

    After sacrificing so many lives to safeguard the Territorial integrity of the country, do you all expect to get searate state on a platter? Utter foolishness.

    • 2
      2

      Yes we all know that you a Sinhalese Buddhist Fascist . Nothing intelligent or informative in any of your comments just the usual anti Tamil vomit that all Sinhalese Buddhist Fascists post. Tamils do not belong , Tamils are evil , Tamils created all the problems , Tamils do not deserve anything, This land only belongs to Sinhalese Blah Blah Blah. Go and get a life you pathetic piece of racist shit.

  • 1
    0

    S. I. Keethaponcalan (SI K) yet again comes up with “Tamils Betrayed?”.

    If one looks at it, all Lankans have been betrayed. We are left to carry the burden of the elites leading a life immersed in culture of corruption/nepotism/impunity.

    SI K implies that Tamil leaders must take the blame for our predicament. This is the easy part. SI K does not say what they should do. Difficult? Yes, very very.

    .

    After some seventy years were are beginning to accept that our bane is the language/religion-divide. SLPP will make use of this in the coming elections.

    • 0
      0

      K.Pillai, Do not expect Keethaponcalan to respond to you. He has no time for sprats like you.

  • 3
    1

    Rohan,

    I am aware that whenever truth is being discussed, Tamil racists in these forum do not like as they cannot answer those because all their claims for homeland, elam, special problems for tamils, merger of orth and eastern provinces are to hoodwink people. They managed to deceive Tamil masses from 1933 to 2009 and no more deceiving as Tamil masses never ever buy those whims and fancies of a few racist individuals and TNA bunch of jokers.

    Rather than vomit yourselves with Racism, please counter argue with facts and justification about my line of thinking, if you can.

    Tamil masses deserve so many things such as being citizens of Sri Lanka, think as Sri Lankans, live as Sri Lankans and together with everybody must fight for rights of all Sri Lankans and must understand that their problems are problems of all Sri Lankans and no special problems.

    I know very well that Tamil masses are much more advance in this than a few racist individuals and so called Tamil politicians in this regard.

  • 1
    0

    What most Tamils do not understand is that it’s not about any President or PM; the VERY representatives of the Tamils must be firm and stick to principles no matter what the circumstances are. They must look into the well-being of the people who elected them. As long as everyone is only concerned about power, the Tamils’ issues will remain unattended or ignored.

  • 1
    0

    Dr. S. I. Keethaponcalan, now I know how Tamils feel. On Sira’s big statement that a North – East merger will take place only over his dead body, please do not worry. There is not going to be any dead body of anybody. Not even the body of a dead dog. His talk is all rhetoric.
    .
    He is a breaker not a maker. See his behavior since 2015. It is an unending series of break ups. He seems to be suffering from a form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Even some of his Ministers call him a dog – not just a dog but para-dog. But I would not, because that would be an insult to a whole species of animals – dogs (Canis lupus familiaris). We do not want to have a K9 rebellion in our hands on top of the political rebellion we already have. Do we?

  • 0
    0

    Oh please…. don’t make this too into a Tamil issue. And what did Sirisena do for the Tamils that you think that this is a betrayal? IMHO Tamils have hijacked the whole political scene since a couple of decades prior to independence, and this the main reason the country cannot function properly and progress. Tell me one thing we can do in this country, without that turning into a Tamil issue?

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