25 May, 2022


Transform This Tomb For Democracy Into A Hero-Stone To Fight For Its Revival

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

GA and District Secretary Vedanayahan, Prabhus assembled here including women, friends: When I accepted appointment as a Member of the Commission, it was on a happy day. We had come out of a hellish, brutish period when many men and women had been disappeared and our freedoms diminished. They knuckled us on the head. We did not bend down. We stood up. We won our freedoms back in 2015.

Today should be a happy day as we begin building this monument to democracy and the freedoms that come with it. However, I do not feel so happy. Why? Because our democracy is in ill-health and we have little to celebrate. We failed to stand up after winning our freedoms. Our choices are made for us by others. Democracy is in trouble.

I have always declined to light a lamp for Muruhaís cockerel but today I am thankful for a lamp without it. That I could light without violating my faith. However, the foundation stones are before a god and coconuts, all pointed in red and yellow. We protest that this is claimed as a Buddhist country ignoring the rest. How are we different from the Sinhalese in forcing our religion on others without giving choice? As minorities we must be better than the Sinhalese and show them the way to be democratic. (Without digressing I note that the pressure to go with the majority is so great that at the Anglican Christ Church Dehiwela the priest ñ who in our theology is marked indelibly as Christís own forever ñ prayed last week to the Buddha to come and save us and sang Hare Krishna songs ignoring all thoughtful opposition).

Most recently after the bombings of Easter Sunday, Muslims were targeted and continue to be so. Recently the police said Tigers are Tamils and therefore Tamils are Tigers. All Tamils were targeted. Today they say the bombers were Muslims, so Muslims are bombers, and therefore Muslims are targeted and searched and interrogated more just because they are Muslims. It is to express solidarity with such oppressed Muslims that I am wearing my Sufi hat presented to me when I visited my daughter in Turkey. Search me too, I say to our brutal guardians, since I am dressed as a Muslim.

Supposedly to find bombs carried under clothes the Ministry of Public Administration has introduced a uniform where men may wear Western or Eastern clothes, but women only the sari so that men may give release to their voyeuristic instincts. The Election Commission at our meeting on 4 June decided to reject the male voyeur-dictated dress code and told our officers that they may dress as they always did, and decided to ask the authors of the code to lay off. Even the Prime Minister and HRC have decried the code, the latter calling it sexist. They knuckled us on the head, we protested. The code will not be implemented, we are assured, but I harbour suspicions as to why it is still listed among valid circulars on government websites.

Democracy is about our freedom to make choices ñ what language we will speak, what religion we will practice, whom we will elect as our leaders, whom we may have as guests in our homes, etc. These choices are being lost. Muslims seem to have lost their choice of attire. Next it will be you and I that will lose that choice. These losses occur when people try to expand ñ aggrandize ñ power by taking over authority assigned to others. Our sartorial choices in dressing were attempted to be usurped by the Secretary for Public Administration when he told us how to dress. That came a cropper when we refused to knuckle under his knocks to our heads.

Then our language. Tamil is the language of administration and of the courts in the North-East according to our constitution. All of us in public service including MPs had to take oath to uphold the constitution and there was a time when Tamil MPs were hiding in India to avoid this. Now look what is happening. The Police in the North Speak no Tamil. Recently when I went to meet Headquarters Inspector Prasad Fernando he leathered off in Sinhalese to me when I know no Sinhalese. The public cannot take grievances to him because he cannot understand us. He and his likes are sent to Jaffna in violation of the constitution to show us who is boss and to lord it over us. How can the Police uphold simple laws when they are breaking our highest law, our constitution?

Then our judges! If you are charged with anything, the police will come and speak to the judge in Sinhalese. Poor clueless us! We need to hire a lawyer when we go to court even for simple matters. Judges are coopted into breaking the constitution and robbing us of our right, and lawyers make hay while the sun shines. They represent clients who most often need no lawyer and need only to plead guilty (but cannot for not knowing Sinhalese), pay the fine and go away. By not revolting we will continue to lose our democratic choices. We need to stand up as we are knocked on our heads even by judges who need to uphold the law.

Likewise we have the power to elect provincial representatives and a Chief Minister. We are denied that power and like counterfeit currency we have governors usurping the powers of our right to provincial representation and lording it over us with that counterfeit power rightly belonging to Provincial Government. Suren Raghavan, the Counterfeit Governor of the North even sits in the Chief Ministerís chair (when he has his own office) and plays lord working closely with the Jaffna HQI Prasad Fernando to prevent us from hosting refugees we chose as our guests in our homes. Democracy is gasping.

Then look at our system of democratic governance. We exercise our franchise, we elect representatives, the party commanding a majority of representatives forms a government with a prime minister, and the prime minister in consultation with the President appoints Ministers with subjects. Thus every walk of our life is governed by our representatives whose power flows from our franchise. That was our happy way of life. But now?

Gnanasara Thero, a street rowdy and ex-convict whom no one ever voted for and was let loose on us by the President, is able to decide who shall be Ministers. One Rathana Thero, an unelected Member of Parliament goes on a hunger strike and in fear that he might pop the government seems to have persuaded ministers and governors to resign. We should recall how the IRAís Bobby Sands went on hunger strike and Margaret Thatcher let him starve to death. By not happily letting Rathana Thero commit suicide we have empowered him to over-ride the genuine electorally established administration. We are ruled instead by worthless thugs; not by our representatives. After all which is more important ñ the life of one thug taking his own life by his free will, or our system of constitutional governance? Democracy has a bad case of life-threatening asthma. Our Parliament is being vetoed by mad monks.

The progressive robbery of our franchise does not end there. The Presidential Elections Act prescribes how the date of elections is set. The date is to be set by the Election Commission. Recently all three Commission Members (yes, unlike Sunday Times portrayals all three are members and one a chairman), met the President (not just the Chairman as in ST) about the long overdue provincial elections and the soon due presidential elections. The said Act prescribes certain rules for setting dates. We told the President that the dates will be any time in the period Nov. 15 to Dec. 7. It is now tradition that if a sitting President does not contest or loses, he or she vacates office as soon as another is elected. Almost the day after our meeting the President went to India and announced that the elections will be on 7 Dec. 2019. Whether to be President for as long as possible or for some such reason, the President usurped the powers of the Commission. He knocked us on the head with his knuckles. The Commission will not bend down out of respect because if we did so, a future President may choose to decide all kinds of things for us. When we meet to set the date, I will vote for any date other than 7 December, perhaps even for November 15.

Is our democracy in its last gasp? Not as long as we can take these knocks without bending down. Is the foundation stone we laid a gravestone for democracy? No, we must in Tamil tradition ensure it is a hero-stone on which we swear to fight with our all for democracy and our God-given rights as free men and women.

Note: The Election Commissionís Jaffna Office, housed so far in the Jaffna Kachcheri, has been allocated building space in Old Park Jaffna, and the foundation stone for a three storey building with the top floor to house staff visiting Jaffna, was laid on 5 June, 2019 in the graceful presence of District Secretary and Government Agent Jaffna, N. Vethanayahan, Esquire, Government officials in charge of building, Member of the Election Commission S.R.H. Hoole, Director General of Elections M.K. Saman Sri Rathnayake, Deputy Commissioner Samantha Jayasinghe and Director of ICT at the Commission Siri Ekenayake were present besides several Assistant Commissioners from the North-East and former officials. Assistant Commissioner Amalraaj organized the event to perfection said participants. The text above is a summary of the speech by Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole, Member of the Commission.

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Latest comments

  • 5

    The Old Park was meant to be a preserve of Jaffna’s flora and fauna – a bequest from a colonial GA. A later GA of Jaffna during the closing stages of the war decided build a GA’s bungalow in the Park, followed by a Governor doing the same. The Park has been progressively desecrated by our administrators who have no sense of aesthetics or the integrity of the environment. The wall along Old Park Rd. was short and while walking to school we could enjoy a view of the greenery. We now have a wall suggesting that there is a plan to turn Old Park into another Jaffna Fort. Presently Old Park and St. John’s College are both walled. Is it to allow the Chundikuli Girls to walk to school unobserved like flowers born to waste their sweetness in the desert air? Has the election commission also become a party to this desecration?

    There is plenty of room to build quarters and office space in Ariyalai at cycling distance from Old Park. One of the first signs of our degeneration is to regard it the norm that our administrators be facilitated to hog the roads in gas guzzlers at public expense.

    • 3

      Reminds me of Fowzie’s Plan to turn Vihara Maha Devi Park in Colombo, into a Mayoral Residence, a Long time ago!!

  • 10

    I am not arguing with your main points as I agree with much of what you say. But there is a minor side issue I wish to touch upon. You say you will not light an oil lamp with Lord Muruga’s cockerel on it as that would amount to violating your faith. Then how about voluntarily dressing as a Muslim by wearing a Turkish Sufi hat? Strikes me as inconsistent!

    • 9

      Estate Labourer

      Don’t you know Hoole is out and out an anti Hindu ? I wonder why he failed to despise Arumuka Navalar this time. It may be he got an extra person Governor Suren in his shooting list.

      Who knows dressing as a Muslim might give him a chance to become the Vice Chancellor of Hisbullah’s eastern university.

  • 14

    Estate labourer,
    A very astute question! You rightly expose Jeevan’s thoughtless contradictions common to the man battling internal conflicts, thus unknowingly compelled to show off as ‘holier than the Pope” – a classic case of complex!!
    Jeevan, please cease this unrelenting effort to divide the North on religious grounds, a track you have incrementally advanced, with one excuse or another, since the denial of the VC (or even a lower lecturer) post at UOJ. Your method is not merely despicable, but dangerous to a community that has had “had enough” in the last half a century!
    Jeevan, let me ask you one simple question: Academics, by their public writings, aspire to progressively increase their credibility with each passing writing. If the evidence (“proof of the pudding”, if you must) suggests a waning trend instead, the only conclusion is that the academic has failed! Can you genuinely give yourself a pass mark on that that count, based on the reception of your repeated writings in these columns over the last three years or so? Time to wake up and smell that coffee – and thereby help the entire community collectively express a common sigh of great relief!

  • 1

    Thanks for solidarity with Muslim wearing a Dervish hat like emperor Jodha Akbar.

    On 9/11 practically all in the US wore “I love NY” T_shirts as a gesture of solidarity with New Yorkers. It is sad the media did not interview folks like you sooner. Children should be protected from hate.

    Old park has fond memories till tortures happened below the GA’s office in the eighties. Blood on the stable walls.

    Keep old park green.

    No police there.

  • 8

    S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole
    Transform This Tomb For Democracy Into A Hero-Stone To Fight For Its

    S Ratnajeevan H Hoole uses every opportunity to recycle the same Hoolean ideas.
    The summary here is boring. Wonder how the audience put up with the full rendering/tirade.
    Lighting a lamp is very much a Hindu tradition. SRH H does not mind lighting one but if it had a cockerel he finds it annoying. The cock-problem is age related.
    The penultimate sentence {“Assistant Commissioner Amalraaj organized the event to perfection said participants”}
    Explain why SRH H did not find it satisfactory. .

    • 1

      K Pillai

      Hoole’s followers are now using kuththuvilakku with a cross on the top having removed cockerel. Very soon they might ask Hindus
      not to use candles to light kuththuvilakkus with cockerel, saying as it offends the Christians. For them candles are used in their prayers only and heathens shouldn’t defile by touch it.

  • 3

    “…Suren Raghavan, the Counterfeit Governor…”
    May I ask on what basis you are saying this? SR was appointed by the President — was it in violation of process?

    • 3

      Tee Twenty,

      And if MR had appointed Jeevan as the UOJ VC, would he have had any reservations functioning as the counterfeit VC?

      Incidentally, while championing to selectively expose State’s illegitimate activities of self-interest, why is Jeevan so tight lipped about his quid pro quo arrangements with MR that made MR promise to get him the VC job? What and how exactly did Jeevan sell-out Tamil interests to extract that promise from MR? If Jeevan is not ashamed of his role, he should explain that to the Tamils.

      • 0

        Oh no, Kumar R, you have spelt it out. I left the MR-VC topic as something to be read between the lines by the more enlightened readers of this forum, than make it accessible to the “Mallung” types!

  • 2

    ” I am wearing my Sufi hat presented to me “

    hmmmm.That knocks out my feeling that hoole is a hothead.Instead he seems to be a hat head.

    if he plays a game of tennis with his sufi hat on allah might help him to even beat roger Fedora.

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