24 September, 2020

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Truth Seeking In The New Year Will Become Politically Possible 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Local elections are scheduled on 10 February 2018. Nearly 16 million persons will be voting at these elections. This will be the largest election in Sri Lankan history. These will also be the first elections under the mixed electoral system whereby 60% of members will be elected using first-past-the-post voting and the remaining 40% through closed list proportional representation. However, anticipation is that the turnout of the electorate will be less at previous ones. The last local government elections held in 2011 saw a voter turnout of 65 percent. This time around the figure is likely to be less. There is a stronger degree of voter disenchantment with the political parties.

In Sri Lanka local government is weak in relation to the central government. Therefore, the issues at local elections are usually not local ones, but national issues which are of more interest to the voters. This election will be no exception. The opposition in particular has been trying to induce voters to see the forthcoming local government elections as being of national significance. Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa who is heading the Joint Opposition campaign has clearly stated that this election will not be about local issues but whether the people want to support or oppose the government. The argument he makes that the government has not delivered on its promises resonates with the electorate.

At these elections, the parties forming the government will be disadvantaged by the slowness of their performance in delivering on the promises made at the national elections that took place in 2015. The voter turnout at the last general elections in 2015 at which change for the better was the promise was 78 percent. The government’s main campaign promises were with regard to quick results in economic betterment for the masses and to meting out justice to those accused of large scale corruption. These promises galvanized the electorate. The irony in this campaign is to see the hunter becoming the hunted. Those accused of large scale corruption in the former government have sought to become hunters. The problem for the voters is that the track record of the Joint Opposition when in government was very poor and they seek to ignore their past instead of being self-critical.

Unreformed Opposition 

The Joint Opposition has shown little inclination to reform themselves which will prove to be a disadvantage to themselves at the forthcoming elections. Last week a small group of women activists from the war affected districts came to Colombo to meet with the government’s Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms which has been established under the Prime Minister’s Office and is headed by government advisor Mano Tittawella. Prior to coming to Colombo they had met several times on their own and presented their grievances to the government authorities in the areas in which they lived. But in keeping with the general belief that Colombo is the place to come to get things done, they insisted on meeting central government authorities in Colombo.

At the meeting the women made several points. One was that they were very keen to have their grievances heard by those in positions of authority.  But what they usually encounter is the reverse. Instead of listening to what they had to say, and to what they wanted, those in authority came to tell them had been planned for them and what they should do. They were angry about the slow pace of change and the non-addressing of their burning issues, such as that of missing persons. These women victims of war appreciated that officials of the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms listened to what they had to say before telling them what to do.

The second politically significant point they made was to appreciate the freedom they had to travel to Colombo to voice their grievances to the government. They compared the present to the past, and compared it favorably. They said that in the past they could not have travelled from north to south with such freedom, and if they spoke their mind to government authorities of the past, they would be taken away in white vans. The significant, if not total, reduction in the fear syndrome that existed during the period of the previous government is something the Joint Opposition needs to engage with instead of ignoring it like an ostrich.

The third point that the women activists made was that the people they interacted with in the south of the country were sympathetic to their problems. They found there was an openness to learn about what had happened in the past, to make amends and to ensure that this did not happen again. The sharing of sorrows and experiences was itself a healing exercise. It is not as if the people of the south have been spared the human rights violations of the past either. They also suffered during the time of the JVP insurrections both at the hands of the militants and security forces and again during the period of the LTTE.

Openminded People 

An ongoing study has shown that most Sri Lankan people are open minded about learning about the past.  On the one hand there is a big divide in the knowledge about other communities, even those living in their midst but are from different ethnic and religious communities, and even more so when they live in different parts of the country. On the other hand, there is a strong interest in learning about the other side of the truth which is a special feature of Sri Lanka. They know there is controversy about it and would like to know the truth. This also applies to most members of the security forces. They know they are under a cloud and would like to clear their names.

Despite many years of ethnic and inter religious conflict most people do not wish to hate or have such conflicts with those from other communities. One of the salient features of the ongoing research study is that people at the community level go out of their way to try and include those of other ethnic and religious communities in the decision making committees they form. Civil society groups such as the National Peace Council have found that people at all levels, and all sectors, including the government bureaucracy, security forces and religious clergy are glad to meet to dialogue and to solve problems together. This is a positive social and cultural feature of Sri Lanka that needs to be built upon.

Due to the focus on national issues at the forthcoming elections it is unlikely that the government will wish to do anything controversial that will provide the opposition with fodder for their election campaign. The Joint Opposition has espoused extreme nationalism in their political pronouncements which the government will prefer not to confront at this time for reasons of electoral politics. But after the conclusion of the local government elections on February 10 a new window of opportunity will open for reconciliation. Delivering on its promise of ascertaining and clarifying the truth needs to be a priority as it is wanted, needed and will have acceptance by the people.

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Latest comments

  • 4
    1

    “an ongoing study has shown that most srilankan people are open minded about learning about the past.”

    It may be true that most srilankan people are open minded about learning the past but the problem is will it possible to learn the truth about the past. For example, the people living in the South did not know anything about the suffering during the war and nobody told the truth about the factors that lead to war. They only listened to what was told by the Government but never listened to the people of North and East.

    • 3
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      This is a joke..

      I have the feeling from what I learnt each time back in Home country, that our people coming from various walks of life would never want to sense it.
      That is what colombo University historian, Dr Dewasiri made it very clear, people will undoubetedly want more time, than any other countries to let all go through their heads.

      That is the fact
      Just talk to your circles each of you would experience what I have been saying here is right.
      That they have in their blood. I think our people would take long to change their attitudes.
      Most of them are caught by sorcery tricks as no other nations..

    • 3
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      Ajith,

      Did people in the North knew about suffering of Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims who lived in the South and became victims of LTTE Tamil terrorists.

      People in the South knew that Prabhakaran’s arrogant behavior brought suffering to people in the North.

      Root cause of the problem was Ponnambalam and Chelvanayakam. They are the people who ignited racism among Tamils. First Sinhala-Tamil conflict was a result of a racially charged speech given by Ponnambalam in 1932 at Nawalapitiya. So do not blame Sinhalese. Blame your own racist morons.

      A Truth Seeking Commission should first seek truth about LTTE and the role of foreign countries/Governments in supporting a terrorist organization.

      • 5
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        Eekel Ice (Popsicle), do not twist the truth. Sinhala racist movement was started by Anagarika Dharmapala et al at the turn of the 20th century, long before GGP made the comment. The first racial riots was instigated by his gang in 1915, which was brutally put down by British. What happened to his Arya Sinhala movement which denounced Tamils as inferior Dravidians, which has been blown to pieces by recent genetic studies which showed that core genetic material in Sinhalese is south Indian with no Aryan input. Racism lies in Mahawamsa which says Tamils are animals and deserved to be killed. Even if a Tamil becomes a Buddhist he is half human and should get the same fate. So do not blame Tamils as the cause. No Sinhala government will have a truth seeking commission because the atrocities committed by their security forces and goon squads will come to light.

      • 0
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        Tamil people in the North East knew suffering of the people not only from LTTE Tamil Terrorists but also from JVP Sinhalese terrorists, Sinhala military. When you compare the suffering of the Tamils from 1958 until now from Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalists terrorists and Sinhala military terrorists cannot be compared with LTTE Tamil terrorists small number sufferings. Since 1948 the country is ruled by Sinhalese not by Tamils. Do you understand the meaning of racism? Do you understand the meaning of terrorism? Have you find out the root cause of the JVP terrorismin which you massacred 10,000 youth? Have you found out the root cause of the JVP/Miliary terrorism in 1989 which massacred over 60,000 Sinhalese in the South?

    • 1
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      JVPs should finally grow up.

      They have no whatsoever knowledge on how lanken folks tick.

      Else, I thought they would have been elected during last election.

      Peoples have shown, that their fears against JVPrs have not gone down even if decades gone since their lovely sons had been burnt down in late 80ties.

      I know few families their fathers went mad not having their own sons. Entire fmailies faced the losses and rest of their lives have turned out tobe so miserable.
      JVPrs talk clean today, as no others, but they have not proved their abilities by acts except few areas.

      That samarasinghe or few others destroy JVPrs today. They just let their lips to fabric anything. I respect Dr and few others, but all others in JVP are just sick people.

  • 3
    2

    If you have headache you do not change pillows but you should treat for headache..
    Same analogy can be applied to Sri Lankan politics.
    For 70 years UNP and SLFP managed to fool public..
    We should have been a Singapore or better than that..
    But 90% responsibility in the hands of our politicians and they still fool public..
    Enough is enough .
    If you truly love Lanka vote for JVP.
    Only party that could save Sri Lanka from corruption..
    UNP and SLFP are two sides of corruption coin.
    Please vote for JVP before it is too late

    • 2
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      True, for 70 years the UNP and The SLFP have made promises to people election after election but have all but failed to deliver. How long are we going to believe in their myth? They have had enough opportunities to prove their worth and deliver the promised goods and meet voter expectations, but have they done that? Clearly the answer is No.

      Those who beg for our vote and enter politics, most of them with their skin almost attached to the belly, leave with a big pot and several millions in their pockets all paid for by us, simply because we the voters are by and large an ignorant lot. We get easily carried away by their promises and are not prepared to look beyond the party symbol and/or the individual himself.Is this what we want to continue to witness?.Or are we prepared to open our eyes at least now and come to terms with the bitter truth.

      I have decided that enough is enough,that we have given both UNP and the SLFP/SLPP enough chances and it’s now the time to make a change.

      After all, at least I know that corruption, bribery and nepotism will be out of the door if we can chase out the corrupted ones; is that alone not enough a reward for making this change??

      • 1
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        But Native Suddo, do you think JVPrs and their composition would be talented to make a real change in this country. They are just theoretical. Not many in that party seems to have good mechanisms to prove them to be better than the prevailing combination. Besides, it is against the nature of people, if any party would behave like p persecuting them. Each and every nation, you would find more of culprits if the law and order would not be in place as is the case in developed countries.
        I think the best would be, current combination of politics with proper mechanism can save the nation for sure. Just allow JVPrs to abuse their facist agendas will never heal the nation. People will have to live as had been the case in 89, that is what none us would ever want to see in this war torn country. Right ?

        • 0
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          Lansihamy- I can’t see on what basis are you saying that JVP are lacking in talent? The few faces of JVP that we see in the Parliament and those beyond are talented and well educated, they work on a set of principles, are committed but most importantly, they are honest and un-selfish. Compare these qualities with the cronies in the 2 /3 mainstream parties today. Most of them have not even passed the GCE O’level, says one thing and does the opposite, corrupt to the teeth and are robbing our country in broad daylight.

          You speak of proper mechanisms. Can we expect that from any of the current or past rulers. They have had 70 years between them to set up these good mechanisms. Have they done that??

          On the contrary, in the few instances where JVP had been involved, they have delivered by and large. Remember the few Ministerial portfolios they held. Then the COPE committee on the CB Bond scam that was headed by a JVPer which delivered despite all the opposition it had to face; if not for the brave stance taken by the JVPer who headed this COPE committee, the biggest financial scandal in modern day SL history would have been swept under the carpet.
          So JVP have proved their worth in at least a few instances when they have had the opportunity. I am referring to the JVP of today and not what we encountered in the 70 s & 80s.
          This war torn country needs a set of educated, honest, selfless and committed politicians with a vision to pull us out of the terrible mess we are in. Do we want to chose the ‘ same old’ proven failures, or make a change and give JVP the opportunity to demonstrate that they can ‘walk the talk’.

          • 0
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            I believe, one needs more than Education to govern the country of our nature.

            Not just edcuated guys being in the parliament, but not having proper knowledge in external politics. Like for example, what do JVPrs knwo about external politics. Late Somawansa, the most senior next toWijeweera revealed a lot about JVPrs, remember ?
            Politics is not just persecuting for corruption/abusses. That is beyond that.. Mr Suddo.
            I tihnk that is why we see only slowly moves in terms of lanken law and order issues in the country today.
            Besides, JVPrs had been in the parliament few years ago, but their theories ended up in vain as is the case today.
            Most of them are no diplomatic enough to get the attention of masses. People in the country, majority of them are corruptoin and abuses friendlier than anything else. If the announcement woudl have been made them would be offered free rice packets and arrack, they would surely vote for JVPrs.
            All in all, except the composition of UNP and SLFP, no other forces would be able to get the folks in SL.
            Not many would be aware of the need of corruption less or free, since they hve long been used to live iwth corrupted way of life.
            That can take decades, people (masses) to realize good it would have been, to live without corruption. In today s context, they the JVPrs only after BOND scam, but there are various other high profile crimes, they seem doing nothing.

            As I know highest crimes in the world are connected with MURDERS. There are a plethora of evidence there, of the murder of that rugby player to have been killed by Rajapakshe family but nothing seems to be in media why ?

    • 1
      1

      But who would gurantee that JVP would not react the way they did in late 80ties.

      If you are not reborn, you too should have lost your batchas or known young chaps even if they did nothing against anyone in that brutal episode of lanken history.
      ID cards were collected, i myself escaped myself just becuase my reltaives gave me hand. Else, had I been in Galle, I woudl no thave been alive today.
      Fortunately, I left the country for my studies and completed my degrees as I expected, But how many of our batchas failed to do so. Each time on my return, I had to search for my then batchas, but parents or family ones shared me, they had been killed out by the insurgency held by JVP/Premadas UNP in that black era of the history.
      I know how my childhood friend Kulatunga was killed by them. And the other from Angulugaha, Sanath Seneviratne were all burnt down on tyre pyres. They were just university students to that time, but that was good enough brutal JVPrs to slaughter them.
      Can you guys forgive them ever in this life ?

      I hate Rajapakshe for their brutalitities, But I am even more against JVP, knowing the truth of their kind of brutal facism. Please never give them a chance, we dont want our youth to be disspeared again.
      Not many in JVP today are knowledgable enough but they just persecute the others. I am against corruption of the current or former men, but that can well be controlled, if Police would have been given more faiclities incl increas of their salaries accordingly.
      And by introducing better systems to them.

  • 2
    1

    An ongoing study has shown that most Sri Lankan people are open minded about learning about the past.

    Whose study is that? NPC’s reports are graded as sincere ones?

    Despite many years of ethnic and inter religious conflict most people do not wish to hate or have such conflicts with those from other communities. Is that a prediction of Yahapalanaya is going to bravely put out Secret Solution & Sinhala Buddhists are successfully voting it in?
    Civil society groups such as the National Peace Council have found that people at all levels, and all sectors, including the government bureaucracy, security forces and religious clergy are glad to meet to dialogue and to solve problems together.

    Didn’t, before 1948, Don Stephen invited Tamil Ministers “Guys let’s get together and we rule over self; let the foreigners go out?” But the NPC is getting enlightened only now?

    Now Jehan PhD is blaming on Tamil women of having insisted coming to Colombo for nothing instead of having it get down by the 180,000 Rapist Army, is on the wait to comply with their request. Last time it was the New King, who, when stopped on the way, offered free passes to transport those women to Colombo. Can the PhD tell us why did he bring them Colombo? Can Jehan PhD write here other than, as usual, “listening to those women” what else the New King did to relief their pain when he brought them to Colombo last time? Isn’t this reminding the EU envoys question, when they visited the Vanni’s protesting women, asked them, “Do you think government will do you anything ignoring the Army?”

    Isn’t the listening techniques is in line with of obtaining two years defer in UNHRC Resolution 30/1 to have Hangbangtota sold and Chinese veto confirmed on any economic sanctions?

    • 1
      1

      HE does not have a Ph D. He was lieing to us earlier. It is JD. check what it it.

  • 3
    0

    The guy is keep saving the Yahapalanaya with one single claim for more than three years that is “White van is taken off; then why are you coming to Colombo as nuisance disturbing us enjoying our life, after the victory”? Why Jehan PhD is hates to see the clumsily dressed Old Tamil women coming to Colombo? Is that an Obscene in the place where foreign VIP are Entertained for Commission milking?

    Now those women have complains about the Yahapalanaya. The smart PhD has turned it around as a plus campaign point to fool the IC as the “problems of Tamils have improved a lot away to looking for missing ones”. Was it different from anyway, when Old Royals were leaving? How the white van threat has changed while The Rapists Army threatening a judge in North and burning a Southern Man in Northern playground, claiming because it is government land so they can do anything in it? If the white van is not a threat in North anymore why the Northern Judge would not order not to burn decomposing human bodies in public places? The truth is white van is removed from a Barbarian and artistically imposed directly by the Land’s Top Ruling body, Parliament. Can Jehan PhD explain what the message behind TNA’s split is? Can he tell from TNA’s split what the North and East are thinking about their success in having their problems redressed?

    This is a very shameful essay. One of the earlier one advised to Yahapalanaya how to build on Lord Naseby revelation. Another one said how to invalidate OMP. This one is to advice Old Royals, how to cool down Tamils so as to escape IC’s radar and dodge the UN Electric Chair, in the event if have successfully launched come back campaign.

    • 0
      0

      If a judge cannot give a Verdict according to law or his conscience he should resign. Conscience and law are two different things. yet if the law is silent on an issue conscience come into play. However if threat plays a part in giving judgement, the judge should bring it to to Judicial Service Commission or to the Justice Minister. Did the Judge in question do anything to justify his conscience?. I believe NOT for fear of being sacked under some other pretext.
      Justice must not only be done but it must also appear to be done .

  • 0
    1

    The truth like everything in life is relative and subjective.

    When Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned in the Tower of London,” writes George Orwell “he occupied himself with writing a history of the world. He had finished the first volume, and was at work on the second, when there was a scuffle between workmen beneath the window of his cell, and one of the men was killed. In spite of diligent inquiries, and in spite of the fact that he had actually seen the incident, Raleigh was never able to discover what the quarrel was about: whereupon, so it is said – and if the story is not true it certainly ought to be – he burned what he had written, and abandoned the project.”

  • 3
    0

    Jehan ~ “Truth Seeking In The New Year Will Become Politically Possible”
    The ‘will’ to seek ‘truth’ is a pre-requisite. The ‘truth’ must be absolute i.e. not selective where inconvenient truths are masked.

  • 2
    1

    Dear Jehan Perera,
    How are you coming up with some hope for reconciliation? Can the Journalists, Academicians, and the experienced in Sri Lankans put Sri Lanka together again? First of all what did the good Government do to usher in the most important mechanisms to stop corruption and racism? The top executives themselves are bringing the Country down by indulging in more corruption to out shadow the previous corruption and openly get support from world famous criminals to form a Government. What do you make out from what is being done and what is being said? Do they understand there has to be integrity before prosperity.? Do they understand Politics is not burying the Fundamental Truths? Do they understand how to bring back integrity and prosperity? How long will they be trusted by outside investors when the top executives join the hard core criminals to run a Government? What did they do to bring integrity to their own army? Why do they allow themselves to go down always?

  • 2
    2

    Mr. Jehan Perera. Are you getting paid for these articles. IF you are, your NGO-financer is very stupid.

  • 1
    2

    Why don’t you talk about that Sri lanka has the world first prime minister who were caught cheating a cluster of banks and employee funds. When there three levels of govts and about 5000 politicians, why do we need need more input from the country, why they do not know the neighbourhood they live.
    why are you aiming for Need vehicles for the home ?

  • 0
    0

    If a judge cannot give a Verdict according to law or his conscience he should resign. Conscience and law are two different things. yet if the law is silent on an issue conscience come into play. However if threat plays a part in giving judgement, the judge should bring it to to Judicial Service Commission or to the Justice Minister. Did the Judge in question do anything to justify his conscience?. I believe NOT for fear of being sacked under some other pretext.
    Justice must not only be done but it must also appear to be done .
    (Most of the time I make a comment it says Duplicate Comment when in fact it is not )

  • 0
    0

    Ajith, Eagle Eye and Dr Shankaralingam are some examples why we can not achieve true reconciliation in this country. Its not their fault but the fault of the history itself. The truth is very sour here, not just in terms of suffering but also in terms of perpetrating. They are simply being shallow and want to believe whats convenient for them. Seriously worrying is that these protagonists would not be even living in the island. A true reconciliation will only start when our fingers first point inwards. That never seems to happen in this country.

    In terms of political support for the parties, the happenings after 2015 election clearly shows 3 demarcations in the peoples; tamil hardliners, sinhala hardliners and moderates that include all commmunities. Their proportion will decide which path the country will move. The challenge then is to manage that proportion. The process could be slow, but that’s the only way.

  • 0
    0

    This is absolute hogwash! One particularly phrase takes the cake. The joint opposition is espousing extreme nationalism while the government is not responding due to reasons of “electoral politics”. In other words ” political expediency”!!!Halleleujah ! This man has showed us the light. Praise to thee Oh Lord!

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