23 September, 2019

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The Need For Comprehensive And Balanced Social Integration

By Rajiva Wijesinha

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

I would like during this Committee Stage of the budget debate, as we consider the work of several Ministries which have been brought together, to register appreciation of the work of a few of these Ministries, whilst expressing the hope that they will be able to do more in the future. It is a pity that we have so many Ministries that some many have to be considered in a job lot as it were, but I shall take advantage of this to suggest the coordination that might make the work of some of these Ministries more effective.

I would like to concentrate most on the Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration, which has so important a role to play. I must commend the dedication of the Minister and the Secretary, and I am sure he must be delighted that the work he is doing has been recognized by the Ministry now also having the services of a Deputy Minister. I am happy that the new Deputy Minister comes from the Central Province, because with regard to social integration it is perhaps the Tamil community there that needs the most effort to be deployed by the State.

I should note too that in that area it would be useful if government moved swiftly on an excellent idea that had been mooted by the Ministry of Education, namely the establishment of multi-lingual schools in all areas, so that children of different communities could study together. I believe this should be promoted in each Division, and such schools made Centres of Excellence, with children not only being able to go to the same school, but also being able to study in the same class. For this purpose it would of course be necessary to ensure that English medium education was available in all these schools, but this would not be a difficult matter if the Ministry of Education followed the example of the training programmes we set in place when English medium was first introduced, way back in 2001.

In this regard the Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration should take the initiative, and encourage the Ministry of Education to move swiftly. In the past few months the Ministry has put forward several suggestions to the Ministry of Education, and this is perhaps one of the best uses of the system of Consultative Committees we have, which are otherwise not very productive. But given the vast responsibilities of the larger Ministry, I believe the Ministry of National Languages must push more effectively, and also develop programmes for the better delivery of language courses throughout the country. Setting in place Language Centres in every Division, using voluntary labour where possible but also providing facilities for paid classes, would be a step in the right direction.

In particular in the North and East, and in the Central Province, such Centres could also prepare students for the teaching of languages. The great complaint of the Ministry of Education, when we ask why the teaching of Second and Third Languages is so bad in rural schools, is that there is an absence of teachers. In particular this is true of Primary Teachers, but of course if there is no foundation, it is impossible for students to catch up, given the way our syllabuses are constructed. But unfortunately there has been no attempt to think outside the box to ensure the production of more language teachers. Here again the Ministry of National Languages, which has such dedicated staff, should take the lead in suggesting innovative solutions. I am sure that, even if the Ministry will not receive funds for such activities through the budget, it can prepare project proposals that will receive ample funding for so laudable a purpose.

Another area in which the Ministry could do more for Social Integration is through collaboration with Ministries in charge of leisure activities. I believe much is being done now in the field of Sports, and I hope the Ministry of Education takes seriously the commitment of His Excellency the President to ensuring the sports is made compulsory for all students. At present this is a privilege enjoyed only in schools that are centres of excellence anyway, but this should be extended to all schools, especially those in rural areas.

Though I believe the Ministry of Sports is doing its best in this regard, the same is not true with regard to Cultural Activities, which should also be in place in all schools. There should be programmes to encourage creativity and to bring students together, instead of the concentration on competition that is largely about individuals. Here again the Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration could work together with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the Ministry of Education to put in place programmes that ensure that our young people grow up with greater experience of our common cultural heritage, and how it should bind us together.

In this regard Mr Speaker I should speak a few words on the work of the Ministry of National Heritage. Here again I must commend the commitment of the Minister, but unfortunately his vision is not always fulfilled. I should note there are problems in that, when what used to be a single Ministry was divided up, not enough thought was given to principles. It would make sense for the Ministry of National Heritage to be about the Past, and about how that can guide us to  peaceful and pluralistic future, while the Ministry of Cultural Affairs should be about the Present, and should work on creative activity. Unfortunately I believe there is no clarity about where the Museums and the Central Cultural Fund belong.

This is the more to be regretted, because of the contribution these could make to Social Integration. I should draw attention in this respect to the Ministry at Kataragama, which showcases how all communities and religions are associated, and I should commend the former Director, Prof Sudharshan Seneviratne for his excellent work in this regard. But it should be added that the inspiration came from His Excellency the President, who was also in the forefront of ensuring that the Northern Kovils were included when UNESCO patronage was sought for our archaeological heritage in that area. Unfortunately, without mechanisms to take that vision forward, we are in danger of letting the north become the plaything of sectarian interests, in contrast to the framework that His Excellency promoted some years back.

I hope therefore that the Ministry of National Languages and Social Integration will take the lead in ensuring consultations in this regard, and the development of a programme to take things forward more effectively. In congratulating the various Ministries on what has been achieved, I believe it is also necessary to request that more be done, with greater coherence, so as to better fulfil the mandate that was conferred on this Ministry.

*Speech of Prof Rajiva Wijesinha in the votes on the Ministries of National Languages and Social Integration, of National Heritage and of Cultural Affairs, considered in the Select Committee during the Committee Stage of the Budget Debate, November 19th 2014

 

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  • 3
    1

    Professori,

    Nero fiddled while Rome was burning!

    Cheers!

    • 1
      0

      pprof,

      Is it true?

      re” The Need For Comprehensive And Balanced Social Integration

      The Need For Comprehensive And Balanced LAW AND ORDER AND END TO FAMILY DYNASTY Integration

      Rajiva Wijesinghe too wants to leave govt.

      WEDNESDAY, 19 NOVEMBER 2014 18:17

      http://www.lankatruth.com/home/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7808:rajiva-wijesinghe-too-wants-to-leave-govt-&catid=42:smartphones&Itemid=74

      It is reported that National list MP Prof. Rajiva Wijesinghe plans to leave the UPFA government.

      Prof. Wijesinghe had forwarded a proposal to the government regarding the breakdown that exists in the diplomatic service and frauds and corruption carried out by members of the government.

      Prof. Wijesinghe has told media that he would not support Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa at the upcoming presidential election and also he would leave the government if the government doesn’t respond to his proposal.

  • 2
    1

    “Multilingual Schools” are an impossibility – there have to be staff proficient in all three languages, or, staff of three categories, each proficient in one language.
    Every parent in sri lanka – north, south, east or west, yearns for English education for their children.
    It is a reality that those educated in English attain excellence in most disciplines.
    We need education in English only, with Sinhala or tamil taught as ‘second language’.
    Now, only the affluent educate their children in English, in “international” schools, or abroad.
    This is injustice thrust on those who do not have the means.
    This nation is still suffering from “Sinhala Only”.
    This must be remedied.

    • 1
      0

      justice,

      English for the Elite and Sinhala and Tamil for the masses.

      Sinhala Only act of 1956.

      The rest of the world does not care if Sinhala or Tamil becomes extinct. Orly Sinhala and Tamils care. It is the culture imported from India, the Para Culture, but that is the culture.

      Sri Lanka is too small, and we need English to operate and survive.

      Language is a Medium of Communication.

    • 1
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      Justice – I totally agree with you that the education policy should be reversed to 1950 era, when all subjects, except Language and religion, were taught in English. People in all provinces were able to criss cross the country with ease as most of the people at that time were able to converse or understood English. India from Day 1 had English
      as the link language and each state found it easy to communicate or do
      business with other states, where as in Sri Lanka, introduction of Sinhala only policy divided the people into linguistic groups and communal politics came into force.
      If the people are interested to go forward, want their children to be
      knowledgeable,and able to follow higher education overseas,they should shed their pride and go for English as the medium of instruction in all
      schools.Of course,the politicians will not like it as they have to hang
      on to some thing like what SWRD hung on, with the introduction of Sinhala only act, to get the votes. Language and religion are dear to us and must make every effort to develop it locally but English happens
      to be the language spoken & used in all parts of the world except in some areas where French is used. During the 1950 era,schools produced disciplined and knowledgeable students as they had access to English media and books, specially on science & technology.

  • 3
    0

    Dear prof.
    If you a patriotic Lankan why do not you reveal the corruptive nature of MR and co,
    We know well he is the most corrupted president of all time
    Please tell about this before he you talk about nonessential

  • 3
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    Dear Professor

    Social integration is the RESULT of all citizens getting equal treatment and justice in the work of all ministries.

    What has the govt done about the following findings:

    1. 1. ‘’Education must rise on the agenda of peace building. We know the wrong type of education can fuel conflict. The use of education systems to foster hatred has contributed to the underlying causes of conflicts, from Rwanda to Sri Lanka, but also in Guatemala and Sudan’’ – Why education matters for global security, Irina Bokova(Director General, UNESCO), 1 March 2011, http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/about-us/who-we-are/director-general/singleview-dg/news/education_and_security_dawn_pakistan_why_education_matters_for_global_security_234nextcom_nigeria/#.U1oX3vldVqU

    2. The Government dominates the educational publications sector in Sri Lanka through its provision of free textbooks to all students from grade 1 to 11 …. Tamils not involved in writing the textbooks – Textbooks written in Sinhala, and then translated into Tamil …. full of spelling, grammatical and factual errors …. distortion of history …. the history of Sri Lanka is confined to a few selected Sinhala kings …. the textbooks do not educate the child about the various characteristics of a multi-religious and a multi- racial society; the majority of Sinhala medium textbooks emphasize Sinhalese Buddhist attitudes; distorted maps under-represent North and Eastern Provinces; “geographical, social, economical or cultural features” of Tamil communities (including the plantation sector) are not adequately discussed or presented; in studying art, the Tamil student only studies Sinhalese Buddhist aspects of art; the textbooks encourage children to develop “apartheid attitudes” ….. War is shown as patriotic while peace is portrayed as cowardice’’ – Respect for Diversity in Educational Publication – The Sri Lankan Experience, Ariya Wickrema and Peter Colenso, 2003, http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EDUCATION/Resources/278200-1121703274255/1439264-1126807073059/Paper_Final.pdf

    3. ‘’The Two Faces of Education in Ethnic Conflict challenges a widely-held assumption – that education is inevitably a force for good. While stressing the many stabilizing aspects of good quality education, editors Kenneth Bush and Diana Saltarelli show how education can be manipulated to drive a wedge between people, rather than drawing them closer together. After analyzing the increasing importance of ethnicity in contemporary conflicts, this Innocenti Insight outlines the negative and positive faces of education in situations of tension or violence, including the denial of education as a weapon of war (negative) and the cultivation of inclusive citizenship (positive). It emphasizes the need for peacebuilding education that goes further than the ‘add good education and stir’ approach, aiming to transform the very foundations of intolerance. ..….Ethnic intolerance makes it appearance in the classroom in many ways…… Textbooks have often been shown to contain negative ethnic stereotypes….. A review of the textbooks used in the segregated schools of Sri Lanka in the 1970s and 1980s, for example, found Sinhalese textbooks scattered with images of Tamils as the historical enemies of the Sinhalese, while celebrating ethnic heroes who had vanquished Tamils in ethnic wars. Ignoring historical fact, these textbooks tended to portray Sinhalese Buddhists as the only true Sri Lankans, with Tamils, Muslims and Christians as non- indigenous and extraneous to Sri Lankan history. This version of national history according to one commentator, has been deeply divisive in the context of the wider state’’ – The Two Faces of Education in Ethnic Conflict: Towards a Peacebuilding Education for Children, Kenneth D. Bush and Diana Saltarelli(2000), http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/pdf/insight4.pdf

  • 1
    5

    Thanks Mr Wijesinha. I agree that tri-lingualism is important and I am glad that you have highlighted its importance consistently. I am grateful to the President, Mr Vasudeva Nanayakkara and the Government for whatever they did to promote Trilingualism, albeit in a fairly limited way. Some of my more cynical friends may say it was mere lip service. Perhaps it was, but it was most certainly a step change from what our Oxbridge educated, english speaking elite leadership ever managed to do since 1948.
    An issue of even greater importance is to do with the sense of ‘identity’ and ‘belonging’. This Nation building is something we as a Country and a People have failed in miserably. The state and the rulers have to be explicit and proactive in defining an inclusive Sri Lankan identity. The Sri Lankan identity cannot – in my view, be an exclusive Sinhala Budhist (or ‘Hela’)identity which makes the minorities feel as outsiders, invaders or worse ‘polluters’ of the great SB race. The fact is that the Sinhala, Tamil and Islamic cultures have co-existed for centuries in the Land and all ethnic groups have an equal claim to be considered as Sri Lankans. I am sure you and most other sensible people around will agree with this position. This self-evident fact however needs to be articulated by the leadership to prevent the fringe groups from advocating an alternate agenda based on the toxic ‘Jathika Chintanaya’ agenda that has led us to our current predicaments.
    I know you do not carry much clout/influence these days, but I think you owe it to the people/country to promote this agenda in whatever way you can. ‘Disa weva’, ‘Sigiriya’, ‘Thiruketheeswaram’, ‘Minneriya’ and ‘Thirukoneswaram’ are the collective ‘Urumaya’ of all of us…..not any one ‘chosen’ group amongst us.
    thanks
    Dr Mahesan Nirmalan
    Manchester Medical School

    • 4
      1

      Isn’t it hypocritical coming from you sitting in UK?

      Why don’t you promote it by coming back to Sri Lanka?

      Worried one of the “planted mercenaries” will get you ? LOL

      What has this MP done except enjoy the privileges of being an MP? Has he got anything to show?
      A performance based review would find him to have failed miserably.

      By the way, just so you know. Rajiva voted for the 18th amendment I believe.

      • 4
        1

        RobertR
        “Why don’t you promote it by coming back to Sri Lanka? “

        It looks like he is expecting something from president via this Prof.

    • 4
      1

      Mahesan,

      “which makes the minorities feel as outsiders, invaders or worse ‘polluters’ of the great SB race”

      You are disgusting.

    • 2
      1

      Mahesan,

      An In-depth Interview with former Supreme Court Judge CV Wigneswaran (15th Dec 2011)
      http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/3248
      Q: As a respected member of the Tamil community, what are your views on the efforts at political reconciliation and development?

      I do not see any possible solution to the ethnic conflict immediately, unless extraneous pressure, inland or foreign, compels the powers that be to relent. This applies to both the government as well as the opposition. Majority community parties are not interested in any solution and want to maintain the supremacy of the majority community through their language and religion.

      Except for a handful of persons like Dr. Wickramabahu Karunaratne, Mr.Weliamuna and a few others the majority of Sinhala masses do not want a solution.

      Let me explain why I make such a sweeping statement.

      Around 1919, the Sinhalese leaders found that unless they made their request for territorial representation unanimously the British were not going to grant their request. So they approached Sir P. Arunachalam, gave him written undertaking that a seat would be reserved for the Tamils in Colombo, and requested him to talk to the Jaffna Association, which preferred communal representation to territorial representation. In the cause of creating a well- knit united Ceylonese polity he was able to get the Jaffna Association to consent to territorial representation. He had implicit trust in the Sinhalese leaders. The request to the Queen was thereafter unanimous and the 1921 Constitution granted their request for territorial representation. Once the supremacy of the majority community was ensured in the Legislature the Sinhalese leaders Sir James Peiris and E.J.Samarawickreme retracted. A seat for Tamils in Colombo was refused. The reason they gave was significant. Apart from saying that they were not bound by their written promise since they no longer held the offices they earlier held when promising, they also said “You Tamils are yourselves the majority in your two provinces. Why should you have seats in Colombo?”

      This meant they recognised the individuality of the Ceylonese Tamil Community who had occupied the two provinces, North and East, from pre-historic times. It was such recognition that made S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike passing out from the Oxford University to recommend a federal constitution for Ceylon. The Tamils did not accept this idea favourably since they were scattered throughout the island while being rooted in the North and East and were doing well.

      Thereafter the majority community made use of the whip-hand they had got by virtue of the legal instrument of territorial representation, to discriminate against the minorities especially the Tamils. Under the Donoughmore Constitution the numerical strength of the majority community led to the formation of the Pan Sinhala Cabinet. After the Pan Sinhala Government of the 1930s we see them depriving the franchise of the Up Country Tamils in the 1940s. Then in the 1950s the Sinhala Only Act deprived many Tamils of their government jobs. Early 1970s saw standardisation in education, which deprived many Tamils of their higher education.

      Throughout this period the state was colonising areas traditionally Tamil speaking with outsiders without giving first preference to the people of those areas. The demography of the two provinces traditionally Tamil speaking was being calculatedly changed. The 1972 and 1978 Constitutions centralised power in the hands of the majority community. Now there is de facto Army rule in the North and East.

      Should there be not civilian over-sight in these areas? Does not democracy mean civilian management of local areas? How long is the military going to stay in the North and East? For ever?

      For all this, the Soulbury Constitution of 1947 was secular. It did not indicate a unitary structure. It had an inclusive approach. It recognised the multi-ethnic nature of our society and inserted the all important provision of Section 29. Our 1972 Constitution, which had no mandate to change the 1947 Constitution and no participation from the elected representatives of the Tamils of North and East, got rid of Section 29, giving no akin provision instead, made Buddhism State Religion and approved of the Sinhala Only Act earlier passed thus ushering in officially the supremacy of the majority community.

      Having got so far do you mean to say any Government of the majority community would consent to settle the issues of the minorities? They would want the minorities to creep around the stem if they wanted any succour and that too individual favours. Look at our budget. Highest for the military. After the war, is it human security that needs precedence or state security?

      What has prevented the State from granting the legitimate expectations of the people of the North and East that they be allowed to look after their affairs undisturbed by outside forces? Root causes which gave rise to violence among the Tamil youth still remain unattended to.

      None of the Political Settlements reached with the leaders of the Tamils have been given effect to. Bandaranaike – Chelvanayagam Pact, Dudley Senanayake-Chelvanayagam Pact, Regional Councils’ Legislation under J.R. Jayewardene have been abrogated. The present President, if I remember right in January 2010, gave an assurance to the Prime Minister of India that he would work along the lines of the Thirteenth Amendment plus. The Thirteenth Amendment is a dead letter today.

      Now tell me Ayesha! Do you think any majority community based Government, with a history such as this, would consent to grant rights to the Tamil speaking people, unless internationally or locally pressured?

      Q: What exactly does the Tamil community want?

      Simple. The Tamil-speaking people want to look after their affairs themselves. In legal terminology that is the right of self-determination. They want to be governed in the North and East in their language. They want to go back to the land of their forefathers from temporary living quarters provided by whomsoever. They want their security, law and order to be in the hands of their siblings and progeny not in the hands of outsiders.

      They want their lands and properties to be administered by themselves; not by outsiders. They want to elect their own representatives without being dictated to by outside agencies, military power or financial power or administrative power. They need to preserve their language, culture, religions and their way of life without outsiders building statues and vihares in their midst with military might. They need to be freed from mercenaries amongst their midst who plunder and rob at the instigation of outside agencies.

      All these are not rights which the Tamil speaking people have concocted for themselves. Any people who have certain identities of their own are entitled to ask for self-determination in terms of the international covenants.

      My suggestion is that a federal constitution is the best for our country so that the individuality of each community, major or minor, with its distinguishing identities, could be allowed to grow side by side with each other under one flag. Separation is what Prabhakaran asked. Federalism is what the non-violent Chelvanayagam asked! If need be you need not use the word ‘federalism’ since already it had gathered the status of a dirty word. But the maximum devolution to the periphery without a structural opportunity for interference from the centre should appease the Tamils.

      Of course the Indo-Lanka Accord could be a starting point. After all it was an international agreement. But fundamental changes in governance, constitutional process, judicial process, in public administration and local government need to be effected and most importantly reforms in the security sector need to be placed in position if this country is to progress democratically.

      Unlike when we were young, many Sinhalese have forgotten or have been made to forget the fact that Tamils occupied this country even before the birth of the Sinhalese language. Their progeny in the North and East are therefore entitled to their unfettered individuality.

    • 1
      1

      Mahesa,

      This is an article written in 2012 after UN HRC resolution A/HRC/19/L.2 . Please read.

      “After the dust has settled following the UN HRC resolution A/HRC/19/L.2 focused on human rights and accountability in Sri Lanka, we should try to make sense of the different voices, to the greatest extent possible. In addition, we should have a good understanding of what the resolution should progress into, ultimately, with an eye to history for guidance. And for the distractions and sideshow news items, let’s look at them and then look past them.”

      …..

      “The truth hurts sometimes. It hurts me every time when I think of the structural injustice that Tamils in Sri Lanka have faced for more than 60 years (and counting). “

      ….

      “The government has been using the LTTE’s name in vain to good effect for the past 3 years in spite of their annihilation. Anything is possible, but I’m extremely inclined to believe that it’s not likely. In any case, a lasting solution can only be cemented in a different arena. Next steps may come in an unpredictable manner, but common sense and 64 years of history tell me that there is a very precise, narrow path beyond this morass.”

      http://voicesinexile.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/opinion-resolution-ahrc19l2-passed.html

  • 2
    0

    1.In the last six months my brother-in-law had been in and out of a govt hospital in Colombo. My sister had to get the help of an officier in the hospital to fill forms that were available in Sinhala only. Nearly 50% of the population in Colombo is Tamil-speaking.
    2.My nephew went to apply for a job in the Western Province. The application form was available only in Sinhala.
    3. http://www.mdtu.wpc.gov.lk/
    Management Development Training Unit – W.P. Sinhala and English media only.
    4. http://www.forestdept.gov.lk/web/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=119&Itemid=123&lang=en
    Dept of Forest publications – English and Sinhala only

  • 3
    0

    Sri Lanka is a magic island. Everything is a pretence, except nature. Illusions are galore. Words rarely come from the depths of truth. We are a nation of appearences (Boru Show). We have grand buildings, roads, ports, airports and fancy cars, that create an illusion that we are a prosperous nation. The reality is that millons will starve if not for nature’s bounty. Statistics are fiddled with and are lies.The apparent wealth is of the few. The multitude struggle to meet the demands of modern life and those of a pretentious society.

    We have become a nation of pretenders, because we cannot speak the truth. We have schools and univesities that do not educate. We have temples, churches and mosques that do not help us become a better people. We talk of Dhamma/Dharma and compaasion, but are a society riddled with violence of all sorts at all levels. We talk of honesty, but will sell our souls for a few pennies. We have a constitution that has everything in words, but is made hollow in practice. We have a judiciary that does not dispense justice. We have a police service that is yet a force to break the law. We have a government that misgoverns. We have a public service that is composed of our masters.

    Yet, wee fear to speak out. We grumble a lot, but have no guts to growl. Why? Because, our politicians are turning us into cowards and gutless morons.

    Prof. Rajiva.

    Please come out of the rotten system and speak up for the people in unambigous words and from the depth of truth. Say this government is rotten and the country is rotting under it, openly and loudly.

    I am glad you have started to speak out. But you are yet talking in diplomatese. We cannot afford this luxury anymore!

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 0
    4

    Dr RN, thanks. I do not deny anything you have said above. I also know that you were one of those people who tried the ‘Inclusive approach’ after the war ended but failed…..and I respect you for that. The point I am trying to make is whether what the Tamils (and other vulnerable minority groups) have gone through is merely one of the manifestations of this ‘Moral failure'(or the ‘Boru show’ you refer to). The 60,000 or so dead bodies that either floated down one of the many rivers of the land or were found half-burnt at the roadside mass graves between 1987-1990 is another spectacular manifestation of this ‘Moral failure’ which we Tamils very rarely refer to in our discourses. I remember President Premadasa and Mr Ranjan Wijeratne going up and down the Country with their ‘Mal Vatties’ and attending ‘Bodhi Poojas’ while all this killing took place.

    That being the case, is the solution to this ‘moral failure’ something that is going to come from carving up ethnic enclaves or through creating 9 separate police forces controlled by a local ‘Silva, Mohideen or Devananda’? People from all sides have clearly used the ‘ethnic divide’ to cover their greed and moral bankruptcy and my view is that the current Tamil mindset based on a ‘Traditional Homeland model’ allows the rulers to perpetuate status-quo. In this process – and in its various iterations, the people who have suffered most are the Tamils and the situation may reach a point of no return. This is the irony that most well-meaning people seem to ignore. The ‘inclusive identity approach’ adopted by the plantation workers – through the wisdom of their leadership, does not seem to have diluted their cultural identity in any way…….or am I wrong in this? It is in this context, that I constantly write about the ‘Inclusive Sri Lankan Identity’ as the way to break the ‘us Vs them’ mindset. I know we (the Sri lankan people) have been let down on many occasions at several levels. But we cannot loose hope because if hope is lost then there is nothing more to live for. For this to come about all sides – including those who perhaps have been hurt, humiliated, brutalized and betrayed several times and at several levels, need to yield some ground…..starting with all of us – including the anonymous and faceless shadow boxers.
    Mahesan Nirmalan

    • 4
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      Mahesan,

      Broadly, I agree with what you have written. An inclusive Sri Lankan identity is crucial to galvanise all as sri Lankans, and I have no qualms about that at all.

      The Tamil Homeland concept came about as a direct result of the Sinhala Buddhist insecurity and the resultant political manifestations. In your write-up, you have completely overlooked the concept of Tamil insecurity. The Tamils are chronically insecure and fear that they will be overrun by the majority Sinhala who have perfidiously built a constitution building an exclusively Sinhala Buddhist state.

      The Tamils are clinging to the homeland concept because they have nothing else to cling on to. The war ended with high hopes but nothing whatsoever was done to convince the minorities that they are also part of the state. Many point to the vast development drives, but the locals played no part in any of them. The Tamils are excluded in many respects, and they are not allowed to be bestowed with due provincial powers to exercise.

      The overtures for a common sri Lankan identity should precipitate from the centre and the state should culture policies and endeavours to convince the civilians masses regardless of race, calour, and creed that, all are equal and valued. The minorities should be constitutionally protected; there should be statues to criminalise racists; there should be endeavours to promote trilingulism. The resettlements and colonisation programs should be undertaken with consensus. Do you think that the TNA would enjoy such a success, if the state had carried out the things that I mentioned above? You may say that the Tamils are the injured party and have no bargaining position; hence, it is they who should succumb; in reality, this cannot be possible.

      The UN Investigation is progressing and it will deliver its verdict in due course and coupled with the international consciousness and MR’s present electoral weakness, present an opportunity for the TNA leaders exploit. There is nothing whatsoever wrong in having a province with people predominantly populated with Tamils. Take the situation with wales and Scotland. Why do you think that the Scotts and the Wales were pushing for their own administrations? This does not mean efforts to meaningfully integrate people should stop.

    • 4
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      Again I ask, why not come back and serve this country?????????????

      All talk, you are also a “Boru Show” as DR RN suggested.

      What have the plantation Tamils achieved with their “cooperation”? Nothing, remember the landslide a few weeks ago? Probably not as this happened in SRI LANKA and not in Manchester.

    • 2
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      Dear Dr. Mahesan ,

      Thanks for your response to my comment. Yes, as you say, I have been trying to bring about an ‘ inclusive approach’ to ‘ THE’ problem. I am glad my efforts have been noted in the right context by at least some. It is difficult to be objective in the circumstances prevalent in Sri Lanka and the bitterness the past has bequeathed.

      What we have in Sri Lanka is majoritarianism masquerading as democracy. One community in a diverse nation as ours, although a majority, cannot and should not impose its will on the minorities in the name democracy. Every citizen should have an equal share of the national pie and this would ensure that the majority would have more as a collective. The majority consensus should represent the will of a majority of citizens, including the minorities. This is democracy in its truest sense. Beyond this, every citizen should be given the same opportunities in life.

      The political system in Sri Lanka has evolved to represent only the majority community and this trend has not changed even after the end of the bitter wars and the promise held out to the Tamils by Mahinda Rajapakse. He and his men have lied, prevaricated and deliberately set out to do just the opposite to what they promised during the last war and in the years that have followed, I was willing and wanted other Tamils too to extend a cooperative hand for Mahinda Rajpakse to turn a new page in our history and national fate. I was prepared to forgive, but not forget. I wanted other Tamils to do so too. Mahinda Rajapakse and his government, however, have not only done the reverse, but also mis-governed the country as never before.

      The Tamils in Sri Lanka are second class citizens. They are neither equal citizens nor do they have a say in how they are governed. Tokens and quislings represent them in the government. Their equality has been whittled down over almost seven decades and they are a shade if what they were at one time. They are at the mercy of the State and its agents if terror. The armed resistance of the Tamils has only increased their vulnerability and helped the government make them not only a manageable minority, but a broken one too.

      The Tamils of Sri Lanka belong to this island as much as anyone else, by having been here from primordial times. Even their history is being falsified and destroyed. Only the land they live in the north and east gives them some legitimacy. This was sensed by the Tamil militancy and the primacy it gave to land over the Tamils as people, was the result. An unfortunate and unbalanced stupidity. The governments in Sri Lanka too, sensed much earlier than the Tamils that their lands in the north and east gave the Tamils legitimacy in the island. This legitimacy has been under calculated attack for a long time and continues today under various guises.

      I am not a communalist or racist. I consider myself a Tamil-Sri Lankan, who is equal to every other citizen. I want the Tamils to be equal citizens in every way in a united Sri Lanka. However, the likelihood of this happening seems to be receding by the day. Until this happens, the lands that are ours in the north and east are our reserves- like the wildlife reserves in Yala and Wilpattu! We have to be adamant in not conceding our lands to encroachment and State- sponsored demographic change until we are treated as full fledged and equal citizens in the context of a united , truly democratic Sri Lanka, where the language we speak and the religions we practice are not barriers to our equality. To clarify, State-sponsored demographic interferences should not be acceptable unless it is done with our concurrence on the basis of fair laws and rules.

      The Rajapakse regime is trying to attain national unity by absorbing and/or sub summing the minorities into the Sinhela identity . This is not acceptable and will not happen as long as we have a territorial presence and a strength in numbers there-in. Land, is hence the target of attack, more than before. The Tamils have been broken and now their lands have become the main target,

      There must be deep and wide devolution of powers within a united Sri Lanka, for the north and east. We should be able to manage our affairs within these provinces to the largest extent possible, to preserve our inherited and historical identity and to develop and prosper in safety. We have to have control over provincial police services, to ensure societal stability and security. I have no objections to the presence of the national police in these provinces if its functions are clearly defined. I have also no objections to the presence of the armed forces in reasonable numbers, as long as their mandate is strictly confined to national security.

      The concept of ‘ Traditional Homelands’ , some even call them ‘ Bantustans’ became a necessity for the Tamils at a point in time when their security in the South became untenable. In fact they were shipped to the north and east by the Ceylon/ Sri Lankan governments after every anti – Tamil riot they sponsored. The north and east are yet the only places the Tamils can run to when they under attack in the South. The Tamil militancy has ensured that even this sinecure is much diluted now.

      The Tamil political leadership should act wisely in word and deed at this juncture. While demanding optimum devolution for the north and east they should also advocate Citizenship rights for all Sri Lankans within a united Sri Lanka. National issues and issues that concern other communities, should be the concern of the Tamils as well. In the present circumstances, a change of government and the constitution are imperative and the Tamils too should be part of this struggle. Ultimately, only good governance at the centre can take us as a collective forward. As long as the centre acts like the proverbial monkey that was asked to divide a slice of bread between two feuding cats and ended up eating the slice, we will have no respite from the ‘ problem’ in Sri Lanka.

      Dr.RN

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      Mahesa,

      “need to yield some ground”

      Yield what?

      Please read this article by Professor A Jeyaratnam Wilson is Emeritus Professor of Political Science, University of New Brunswick since 1972. Previously he held the founding chair in political science at the University of Peeradeniya.

      “To go back a little into history. I am of the view that the Tamil disaster really began at the time of the formation of the Ceylon National Congress in the good year 1919. Prior to the convening of this Congress, Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam who was one of the founder- members of the Congress used his enormous prestige to persuade and negotiate with the principal Tamil organizations, the Jaffna Association and the Ceylon Tamil Maha Jana Sabhai and to join in the venture the participate in the work of setting up the organization. Prior to this arrangement, Sir Ponnambalam Arunchalam had entered into an agreement in December 1918 with Messrs James Peiris and E.J. Samarawickarna, influential Sinhalese political leaders at the time to concede the Tamil demand for a Tamil seat in the Western Province if not one in Colombo town. When the matter came up for ratification before the Ceylon National Congress at its annual sessions, the Working Committee of the Congress without any explanation postponed consideration of this agreement. The matter was left to die a slow death in the years thereafter. Then on 28 June 1925, the delegates of the Congress’s Executive Committee led by MR.C.E.Corea, one of the leading liberals at the time and Mr. W. Duraiswamy concluded a treaty on the distribution of seats in the entire island on the a ratio of 2:1. The agreement was referred to as the Mahendra House Agreement. These were the beginnings of the Agreements, Understandings and Pacts that came to be signed and unilaterally abrogated by the Sinhala leadership in future years. Again the Sinhala leaders were reluctant and hesitant to proceed with the implementation. Sir P. Arunachalam was deeply distressed over the failure once again of the Congress to proceed with implementing the Agreement. The excuse given by their leaders was by no means convincing. They argued that it was unfair for the natural majority (the Sinhalese) in the island to be deprived of their due rights. They obviously saw in the demands of the Tamils a further attempt by the Tamils to have themselves recognized as one of the two founding peoples of the Island. These attempts at accommodation were as I said earlier only the incipient signs of a Sinhala unwillingness to enter into a consociational overarching understanding with their elitist Tamil counterparts. But this was never to be. Arunachalam’s residence at the time, Ponklar, and Ramanathan’s Sukhasthan were then the powerhouses of inter-ethnic diplomacy in Ceylon. In later year it came to be Tintagel and Horagolla. Mr. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike’s residences, and Woodlands D.S. Senanayake’s residences, During the 1920s, political activity was mainly confined to Ponklar and Sukhasthan as well as Queen’s House. During this entire period, the Governor for most of the time, Sir. Willam Manning, a masterful negotiator, kept all the minority communities elite’s and their Sinhala counterparts on their toes. It was ultimately Governor Manning’s formula to prevent the Sinhala members outvoting the combined strength of the minorities in the Legislative Council that became the basis of the Fifty Fifty demand of G.G. Ponnambalam and his All Ceylon Tamil Congress in the nineteen thirties and nineteen forties. ” http://www.tamilcanadian.com/eelam/hrights/?cat=19&id=1000627

  • 5
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    Mahesa,

    “shadow boxers”
    Mr Sampanthan & former Supreme Court Judge CV Wigneswaran are not shadow boxers.

    • 4
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      ..starting with all of us – including the anonymous and faceless shadow boxers.

      Who is the shadow boxer living in UK and talking of what should be done in SL?

      You are safe from white vans, many are not in SL.

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