14 December, 2017

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What Do NPC Election Results Convey?

By S. Sivathasan

S.Sivathasan

The unconquered will of the Tamils yet remains unconquerable. This genetic trait is conspicuously displayed. Trials and tribulations for thirty continuous years have not killed their spirit of defiance. Nor have they impaired their quest for freedom. Till they quench their thirst, the world will see the pursuit of this ideal. Freedom is my birthright and I shall have it, is sure to become the credo of every Tamil. If the spirit is understood and rights are conceded, the call will not become strident.

Chief Minister Elect

Justice Wigneswaran was well known for uprightness. In his judicial career he was unswerving in fair play. For him a life of religion was to be the consummation of his existence. In this ambition he was thwarted and with sensitivity he has responded to the people’s call. They too in equal measure have endorsed his decision unreservedly. The nation’s polity has expressed its desire of rising expectations. It is precisely this wish that will make his approach to administration most formidable.

There is a compulsion not only to take the tone and tenor of administration to top notch, but to deliver. Shibboleths like those at other places cannot be satisfying. Results have to be concrete, tangible and quantifiable in monetary terms. Two conditions have to be immediately met. (1) Seed funds by way of a one-off grant from the government for 2014 to be negotiated for and secured by October this year itself. (2) Assembling a compact coterie of high caliber administrators – serving and retired – with an acknowledged reputation for delivering results. As important would be their astute understanding of the nuances of inter- personal relations with those who matter in Colombo.

I have worked and interacted with the late Saumiamoorthy Thondaman sufficiently long to perceive the fundamental of his success. It was intense preparation. Never taking up an issue at high level discussions without thorough study and reflection. He will even seek to anticipate likely lines of cross examination and be sufficiently armed with cogent replies. I have been privy to a lament of his. “The TULF had excellent speakers, but were very poor negotiators”. Extensive study and analysis by those at the commanding heights of advising the Chief Minister will be crucial to securing Presidential and governmental support.

Ever since his nomination, Justice Wigneswaran has demonstrated that he had a mind of his own. It implied that there can be no dichotomy between thought and word, no compromise between truth and expediency or populism. When words spring from the depths of truth and when they are openly expressed some feathers are ruffled. Showing a little bit of unfamiliar terrain is indeed a step towards plumbing new ground. He has done this.

The CM Elect is conscious of his obligation to deliver in response to the huge trust placed upon him. He has grown up in an ethos where truth was valued. He has to live by what Bharathy said – “If there be the light of truth in one’s heart, it will illumine one’s words”. Valluvar said “Never belie your conscience”. Hence concern about people’s needs, makes it incumbent to eschew confrontation and to embrace a pragmatic course of moving together. Here again it is never implied that non-negotiables can be traded off in the name of smooth relations. What are they? Installation of a civilian Governor, whittling down of army presence and the total eradication of the para-military. A firm commitment from the Central Government is needed for the Provincial Government to get started. Election result reinforces this demand.

The calibre of the candidate for the office of CM has come out in bold relief in the last two months. His sensitivity to people’s needs and aspirations stand established with his speeches and interviews. Clarity of mind of the CM Elect has become still more explicit. Nailed to the counter are the darts of detractors and the doubts of skeptics. Preference volume bears sound testimony.

It appears that he is seeking to build a strong relationship with Tamil Nadu, while developing a rapport with the emergent new generation leadership. This does not imply excluding the wielder of state power in TN as of now. Hence the announcement of discussions with the CM. It is also evident that his message to the diaspora is to welcome their ideas even as he expects of them to respect policies that are indigenously evolved. In the wake of victory, he has already announced that he has opted for the path of cooperation with the government. He has also clearly mentioned that this does not mean becoming a part of the government.

There is now an immediate and empathetic response from the government side of its willingness to collaborate.

Basil Rajapkse Minister Of Economic Development

Basil Rajapakse, too close to the President, weighty enough in the government and with hands on the national purse, is an authoritative spokesman. He has outlined seven areas for cooperation and has made policy pronouncements.

1)     Important responsibilities will be entrusted to the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

2)     TNA is obliged to pursue the projects already initiated and under implementation.

3)     People’s mandate should be honoured by the TNA.

4)     We are prepared to collaborate with TNA.

5)     The area of development endeavor is particularly identified.

6)     Youth development should be ensured by TNA.

7)     National interest and sovereignty should be safeguarded by TNA.

An excellent beginning point, measured by any standard. Hand genuinely stretched by the CM Elect and clasped by the Minister with matching sincerity. Whatever the length of the journey, the first step is vital. It is now necessary for the Minister to buttress his words with: 1) Adequate finances and cash flow for the next three months 2) Finances for projects in the pipeline for this year 3) Finances in Printed Estimates 2014,for New Works already identified.

Above all is the one off grant in a very large sum for 2014.

TNA Leadership

Placement of trust on the current leadership of the Tamils by 80 percent of the constituency, is unprecedented. It is fulsome endorsement of Mr. Sampanthan’s adroit leadership particularly after May 2009. A community prostrate then, sees promise now. Confidence among the people was inspired by a rare show of unity within the country. The diaspora too showed its solidarity with a measure of pragmatism. These did not develop on their own. They were built assiduously, for the greater good of everybody in the country. The labours of the leadership together with the personality of the CM candidate secured this electoral victory. What is very much needed is never to rearrange priorities between the front burner and the back burner at least for now. As much important is not to create misgivings, when the need is to assuage them. Fundamentals certainly require to be inscribed on stone. When the primacy of the resident leadership is accepted, as is happening now, a new dawn can be expected.

Anandhi Sasitharan

“For Brutus, at least, Caesar’s death is more powerful that his life…” So it is with Sasitharan, more powerful in death.  With a clear endorsement by no less than 87,000 Tamils, Anandhi has emerged as a heroic lady like Kannagi, in Silappadikaaram, but with a difference. The latter burnt the city of Madurai to avenge the death of her husband Kovalan, wrongly executed by the King. When the miscarriage of justice was established by Kannagi, the righteous king died instantly. The same instant the virtuous Queen too died. The poet Ilango says, “like searching for her husband’s life with her own, following his”. The poet’s lines are similar to Shakespeare’s about Julius Caesar – “Mark how the blood of Caesar follow’d it, As rushing out of doors, to be resolved, If Brutus so unkindly knock’d, or no”.

While Kannagi burnt a city, Anandhi came through the baptism of fire. People’s vote is in memory of her husband. No legislation can erase gratitude for sacrifices made for a community’s cause. Elections have brought this out very forcefully.

NPC Election

A very decisive mandate has been given to the TNA and the CM candidate. It speaks with one mind in no unmistakable terms of what the people want. While submerged neck deep, only the head is above. Yet it has the two biggest afflictions. Military governor as a severe tooth ache and army occupation as the severest headache. These two demand an immediate cure for the CM and the Council to set about their business. The mood of the Province is such and nobody who received that verdict can neglect it.

Yogar Swami of Columbuthurai, gave this advice when his blessing was sought around 1960, for the launch of a paper ELANAADU. “They will revile you, beat you and will burn you, remain steadfast and come out unscathed”. This happened literally in 1981. The election was similar and the people have scored a remarkable victory.

Election monitoring particularly in the North this time was very real and serious. The local organisations took their work earnestly inhibiting state agencies like military, the Police and para military from doing evil at will as in earlier times. The political leadership of the TNA too braved all danger and braced up to the challenge. But for their services percentage polled would have been much less.

Goh Chok Tong, Prime Minister of Singapore in the nineties quoted a line from Thirukkural and exhorted composure from the people when there was financial turmoil. The Kural being “When confronted with trials, meet them with a smile; what follows will be something incomparable”. Tamils have weathered many a storm and have got tempered enough. Nothing can break their will. They showed it best at the elections. Hence Lee Kwan Yew’s perception that Tamils will have their freedom one day. If national unity is desired, then any intention of subduing the Tamils should be abandoned. It should be supplanted by a policy of rapproachment.

An Observation

A grave frailty with our ethnic entity, inappropriate for any time and unacceptable as of now is distrust of everybody and especially towards those with an adversarial past. A wholesale remake in attitudes making for positive approaches can conduce to at least some forward movement. This is not a call for an overnight change of inscrutable minds into dense brains. All I urge is for Tamils to concede a little bit of good intentions when some worthwhile responses are conveyed to an offer of cooperation by the CM Elect. I allude to the readiness of Basil Rajapakse’s hand clasp.

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    Mr. bgenendra

    I would like to add Lionel Fernando to the two names you have suggested.

    P.T. Rajah

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    Dr. Laksri Fernando

    Regarding your comment, some elucidation from me may be helpful.

    ‘Unconquerable genetic traits’

    Among the many things I sought to learn from Tamil literature and yet seek to, the most significant is the influence of economic and social conditions upon the people’s consciousness. They manifest in the evolution of their characteristics. Of the salient ones, their attitude to life, their outlook and values were primary. These were greatly conditioned by the noble and wise thoughts of intellectuals and scholars whose mode of conveyance was poetry. A great scholar and grammarian, Tholkaapiyar who lived in pre Sangam times said “Ulakam enpathu uyarnthor maaddae”. the world belongs to those high in learning. What is implicit is that they are the progenitors of society. Thiruvalluvar of Sangam time said “Even as the quality of water is determined by the texture of the soil, people’s consciousness is conditioned by the nature of society”. Same as what Karl Marx said, but 1700 years earlier and with an analogy added for greater assimilability.

    In the last two millennia, Tamils have seen many a vicissitude in their outlook. Life affirmation in the best of times- Sangam Age 1 to 3 century AD and golden age of Imperial Cholas 9 to 11 AD – and life negation in the worst of times, characterized by periods of decline and even transient decay. Yet, two threads ran continuously and consistently tingling with every drop of their blood, eventually even merging with their DNA (hyperbole). They were propensity for love and proclivity for war, the latter characteristic imbuing Tamils with the trait of irrepressibility. These two are picturesquely portrayed in literature and depicted in sculpture and painting. Only a brush with two millennia of Tamil literature can bring forth this discernment.

    ‘Equation of Anandi Sasitharan with kannagi’

    Why did Ilango produce his epic? His words were “….. A lady of estimable virtue, shall be exalted by the learned …..” This being one of three perennial truths he wanted to bring forth. Convinced of her husband’s innocence and assured of the king’s wrong doing she boldly stormed the palace, challenged the king for his impertinence and demanded justice. Addressing him as “Thera Manna” – king who never investigated properly and then placed her case forcefully. The king accepting his fault exclaimed “ With me the reign in the South is tainted, to end with my life”. So saying, he died and the queen followed. This digression is to draw a parallel with contemporary happenings closer home.

    The King’s successor enamored of Kannagi’s virtue brought a block of granite from Himalayas and installed a statue for Kannagi, a woman of virtue and chastity. At the ceremony was King Gajabahu, from Ceylon. The epic says “Ilankai kayavaahu venthanum”- “Also the king of Ceylon”. It was he who introduced the Pathini Cult to Ceylon.

    Regarding genetic trait, my understanding of the history of the Tamils and their characteristics through the medium of literature made me say it. In so saying no theory of ethnic stereotype was advanced. Nor was any claim made to monopolistic rights. Ethnic characteristic of distinctiveness was certainly highlighted.

    As for Anandi, Kannagi’s account would show that the latter is a millennial heroine. No equation can be made. Anandi boldly stepped forward to demand justice for her husband. In so doing, she is brave enough to dedicate her voice to several thousand widows who are voice less. Preference denotes social approbation and it was unmistakable for both husband and wife. The comparison stops here.

    S.S.

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    Mr.Sivathasan was an able and respected administrator.
    However no amount of administrative ability would help him fathom human minds.JusticeC.V. W may have triumphed for now but the TNA is a hotchpotch of ambitious politicians now wanting to taste power.A person like Tharmalingam Sitharthan who gave public statement that Srilanka army did not commit commit war crimes and himself having committed several murders in the past (ask Dayan Jayatilleka),Suresh Premachandran who accepted a lowly position as Advisor to the Ministry of Fisheries in Chandrika government,Sumanthiran who is a stooge of the Indian Central govt.,Sampanthan who is all too eager to get into the good books of Mahinda R by entering the All Party Conference,TELO leaders who make a fast buck by smuggling drugs through Mannar – these are the politicians vying for power.Only Ananthi,Dr.Sathyalingam and Kurukularasa among the elected could be tagged as persons with integrity and character. Even Justice CVW committed serious serious blunders in his interviews with the Hindu and Deccan Herald by belittling the efforts and emotional support from the people from Tamilnadu which shows that he is ignorant of the mindset of the Tamils in the North and East.If he goes on making such blunders and lets himself be led by his nose by Sumanthiran & co.,he will find his mistake very soon.People voted TNA not because they had faith in the Party but because there was no alternative.TNA is a party which led the Tamils on the path of disaster in the past with its empty rhetoric and no doubt will do so in the future unless and until radical and progressive elements emerge as the alternative.

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    What is needed is Avavnan’s ‘Pitcha Paatiram’ for the NP. The following is a wide ranging report on the sad situation prevailing in the larger Vanni and should be a priority for the NPC:

    “Food Insecurity, Debt Rise in Sri Lanka’s North
    In two northern districts of Sri Lanka, now slowly recovering from decades of conflict, almost seven out of 10 households are “food insecure,” according to a recent survey.
    Of the 300 households interviewed over two days in Vavuniya and Mullaitivu districts in August 2013, half reported selling jewellery to cope with falling income and rising debt.
    Food cost 10 to 30 percent more in local markets in the two surveyed districts than in the Northern Province’s central markets, which have better road access. This is on top of an estimated 12 percent increase in the average cost of food nationwide.
    While there is still enough food in the smaller number of villages surveyed, fewer people can afford it, said Kathy Derore, head of the program unit at World Food Program (WFP) in Sri Lanka.
    The situation has worsened since 2012, when a more comprehensive assessment in late March 2012 in Northern and Eastern Provinces found that 44 percent of the population could not get adequate, nutritious food.
    Some households have not recovered from a year-long drought that began in late 2011 and ended abruptly in December 2012, when fatal flooding affected more than 400,000 people, Derore told IRIN.
    Although more than half of the families received some form of drought aid, it was still “inadequate” said Derore. In response to WFP’s appeal earlier this year for $2.6 million to provide three months of aid to 60,000 flood survivors, no donors responded and no distributions were made.
    A lack of cultivable land since the back-to-back disasters, combined with poor irrigation and the rising cost of pesticides and fertilizers, has hit farming households hard, according to the still unpublished August survey by WFP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, World Vision, Save the Children, the Ministry of Economic Development and the quasi-governmental Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute (HARTI).
    “Borrowing to afford food for the day is different than borrowing [to purchase] new assets,” Derore pointed out.
    The government’s most recent Sri Lanka Labor Force Survey, which analyzed income sources by district in 2011, reported that 32 percent of the labor force in Vavuniya (about 18,000 people) and 55 percent in Mullaitivu (more than 12,000 workers) depended on agriculture for their livelihood. Overall, an average 40 percent of Northern Province’s one-million population survive from agriculture.
    Rising debt
    Liyanapathirana Rupasena, assistant director of research at HARTI, told IRIN that debt can easily multiply. “Farmers will also mortgage plots to raise money to fund harvests. In rural areas these loans are very rarely raised from banks, but from area money lenders, who will lend at high rates and with very high collateral.”

    Wijerathane Thenakoon, 47, a farmer from Anuradhapura District in North Central Province, (where nearly 245,000 workers depended on agriculture for most their income in 2011) said he and his wife are struggling.

    He has lost two harvests on his 0.4-hectare plot in the last 20 months. He is now in debt by nearly $1,400 and estimates his current paddy harvest will earn him $1,200. “If I lose this harvest, I will have to sell off my paddy plot.” He has borrowed money from a local lender, who kept his land deed as collateral.

    “I have tried working as a laborer at construction sites, and as a helper at the Anuradhapura main market, where I can earn about [$7-$11] a day. But I can’t do that every day and can only go do such work in the time between harvests and the next planting, which is about a month, [at most a] month and half.”
    Many families are skipping meals, eating less healthy foods and skimming from savings, which may mean higher malnutrition rates in the next six months, said WFP’s Derore.

    In a 2012 national nutrition survey, malnutrition rates for Vavuniya and Mullaitivu districts were already at what health workers considered an emergency level. Nearly 22 percent of children aged five, and 28 percent of children younger than five years in each district had signs of “wasting” (when their weight is too low for their height).

    Almost one out of every five children in each district (19.9 percent for Vavuniya and 17.6 percent for Mullaitivu) were too short for their age, known as “stunting”, which indicates a lack of life-saving nutrients.

    Whether nutrition improves will partly depend on how good the next harvest is, Derore said.

    In July FAO estimated a record paddy harvest of 4.1 million tons for the country in 2013, but noted that food insecurity continued for “vulnerable” groups.”

    This is in addition to the sad plight of the war-widows, orphans, disabled and the helpless elderly.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

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    Supreme Court has decided provincial councils have NO land powers! :)

    Yahoo! Fantastic!

    Now Tamils can get back to weeping and howling.

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      Fat “Mama” Fuk U Shima,

      Sinhala Supreme Court is a Lower Court than Indian Supreme Court and Indian Supreme Court will deliver the Final Judgement and until then eat a lot of Halal.

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    Ajith,

    Welcome back. North & East the traditional homeland of the Tamils. In your dreams man. Your homeland is Tamil Nadu. Prove otherwise and get it recognised by the UN

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      Ravi perere is a kid who does not know his history that he descended from Mahanadi valley to Srilanka.

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    Ravi- your racial attacks on the Tamils stink.
    Un sir?
    They are waiting to tighten the NOOSE round MR and his corhots.
    Then the people who were massacred,torured,kidnapped,raped and murdered will be enjoying many sweet dreams.
    Thanks for your valuable input on CT

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    Mr.Sivathason,

    I think we agree on almost everything but with a few reservations born out of mistrust of the Sinhalese Politicians for the last 64 years.

    1)Chief Minister Elect:

    “Justice Wigneswaran was well known for uprightness. In his judicial career he was unswerving in fair play. For him a life of religion was to be the consummation of his existence. In this ambition he was thwarted and with sensitivity he has responded to the people’s call. They too in equal measure have endorsed his decision unreservedly. The nation’s polity has expressed its desire of rising expectations. It is precisely this wish that will make his approach to administration most formidable.”

    ***Justice Wigneswaran for me is God sent and he is a means to an end. The end is for us to have Freedom Justice and Equality and above all Dignity.

    2)A very decisive mandate has been given to the TNA and the CM candidate. It speaks with one mind in no unmistakable terms of what the people want. While submerged neck deep, only the head is above. Yet it has the two biggest afflictions.

    Military governor as a severe tooth ache and army occupation as the severest headache. These two demand an immediate cure for the CM and the Council to set about their business. The mood of the Province is such and nobody who received that verdict can neglect it.

    My observation regarding the above is that we need a Head Transplant
    ( the head is ready)and that will be done when the theatre is ready and that will be in March 2014.

    An Observation.

    A grave frailty with our ethnic entity, inappropriate for any time and unacceptable as of now is distrust of everybody and especially towards those with an adversarial past. A wholesale remake in attitudes making for positive approaches can conduce to at least some forward movement. This is not a call for an overnight change of inscrutable minds into dense brains.

    “All I urge is for Tamils to concede a little bit of good intentions when some worthwhile responses are conveyed to an offer of cooperation by the CM Elect. I allude to the readiness of Basil Rajapakse’s hand clasp “
    ***** This is where I have a problem with your obseravtion and that is as follows.

    We are starting from the bottom scraping the paint. An offer of Cooperation by the CM elect and the hand of friendship by Basil is too much of a risk which we cannot afford to take. This is an alien language to MR and his clan and once bitten twice shy.You are not going to get anything from MR unless you keep the pressure up and he is a master of Deception. I will not play politics with peoples lives any more.

    TNA Leadership

    The CM knows the heavy burden on his shoulders and I have every confidence that he will discharge this working within the constraints as this is a fight to the finish for our survival.

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