11 August, 2022


What Is Wrong With The Tamil Leadership In Sri Lanka ?

By Noel Nadesan

Dr Noel Nadesan

Dr Noel Nadesan

Present political climate in Sri Lanka, especially the Tamil politics, reminds me an ancient Greek mythology. King Sisyphus was condemned by the Olympian God Zeus to spend all the eternity in fruitless labour, rolling a rock up a mountain until it rolled back down of its own weight, again and again. Nothing could be more absurd than a life of such futility. King Sisyphus was punished for his trickery and killing. The Myth of Sisyphus was used by Albert Camus to explain the absurdity and thereafter Danish Philosopher Søren Kierkegaard used this to compare man’s greed to earn money. Franz Kafka  compared it to man seeking political power and aspiration.

It was a philosophical metaphor that a person seeking power and money could not achieve them. Likewise, the Tamil politicians are asking power from the Colombo government but the ordinary Tamil citizens are not going to enjoy the fruits.

During the two weeks I spent in Sri Lanka including in the North, I heard many Tamils  praising Douglas Devanantha MP and Chandrakumar EX-MP. The main reason for this is that   they have been a bridge between the ordinary people and the government and people found it easier to handle their issues. This is what we call representative democracy. The Provincial government was elected to look after regional development in the North but they are also screaming for Tamils rights. They are not fulfilling people’s aspirations. Irregularities seem to be abundant in some of the more important sectors of the provincial government such as health and education.

The most essential elements lacking in the North are moral, social and political leadership. The Jaffna university incident has been the clearest example of failed leadership. I am not blaming the politicians alone for everything and even other sections of the society are not providing any guidance to the ordinary people. Temples are renovated from overseas money like whitewashing the tombstones. They do not provide any spiritual guidance to anyone. And the nature of Hindu religious establishment is that it lacked any authority. Everyone knows that Jaffna is a leading district in consumption of liquor while wall posters are seen in every nook and corner warning about narcotics.

Tamil politicians are only available through their media statements in daily newspapers and their rhetoric is very old and rusty. They are so used to life in the opposition like a wallowing buffalo in muddy lake. I could not see anyone speaking with vision about the future or providing leadership. They only ensure keeping their seats warm so that they can occupy it until their demise.
This has been our history. Crematoriums and cemeteries have seen numerous politicians with empty rhetoric.

Futile and absurd politicking by Tamils started in 1927 with the arrival of the Donoughmore Commission in Sri Lanka. Eminent Leader Ponnampalam Ramanathan argued against the universal franchise because he did not approve voting rights for members of the Tamil non Vellala lower caste and the women. He further argued that giving voting rights to these groups would be a grave mistake and suggested that it would be anathema to the Hindu way of life.

Just before independence, another Tamil leader G.G. Ponnambalam demanded from Soulbury Commission ‘50:50’ representation (50% for the Sinhalese, and 50% for other minorities) when Sinhalese were more than 65 % of the population at the time. His racist rhetoric in Nawalapitiya attacking Sinhala Buddhists and Mahawamsa  provoked the first racial riots in Sri Lanka . His speech was a pretext for S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike to establish branches of the Sinhala Maha Sabha in every part of the south of Sri Lanka. As a politician I will not blame S. W. R. D Bandaranaike to have made political capital out of G.G. Ponnambalam’s rhetoric.

It was a sad state of affair that S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike brought the Sinhala only act after the 1956 general election, but later he attempted to correct it through the Banda –Chelva pact. This was the time when everyone worked overtime to destabilize the government led by SWRD Bandaranaike. GG Ponnampalam too opposed it, adding to the opposition from the United National Party and Buddhist monks. A trivial issue cropped up in the Sri Lankan political scene in 1958 when buses were sent to the North with registration plates carrying the Sinhala ‘Sri’ letter along with numbers. The Federal Party organized a country wide protest resulting in the 1958 race riot.

I am not condoning or appeasing Sinhala politicians, but want to point out that we Tamils have many skeletons too. Our blunders resulted in turmoil and destruction. Majority racial attitudes were not countered cleverly but instead we hoisted the Tamil racist flag high.

It was the Federal Party that was most insincere by pushing a federal solution while calling themselves Tamil Arasu Kadsi (Tamil Kingdom Party) at a time S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike proposed regional councils. In the same way the Tamil United Liberation Front was formed which passed a resolution for an independent Tamil nation. If I were a Sinhala leader or Sinhala citizen these concepts and titles would have created in my mind doubts and bitter feelings.

Tamil politicians declared separation, but without any preparation for the consequence. I heard from a prominent politician that Mr Amirthalingam was told off by Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for his Eelam demand.

It is true that President JR Jeyewardene’s misadventure briefly made India to support the militants but very soon India realized their folly and tried to reverse the situation. But the rhetoric of the Tamil leadership was so poisonous and powerful that many young people swallowed it including Velupillai Prabaharan. Words can be arsenic and kill us, but slowly.

Velupillai Prabharan and the LTTE struggle for the last thirty years had cost a large number of lives and I do not want to go into this more as enough has been written already.

Mao Zedong firmly believed in communism to help the billions of Chinese, but Deng Xiaoping said a cat can be skinned in many ways and opened the economy resulting in the Chinese economy almost overtaking American economy. Why are we still insisting on confrontation, complaints and sulking, like children. In this day and age abstract notion of political right is very low down in the priority when considering the economic empowerment of the people. In Sri Lanka the other two minority communities have already set an example and shown the way forward.

I cannot understand the Tamil leadership. What do they have in their minds? Are they thinking outside the orbit? What is happening? I just cannot find any common thread running through all the Tamil leadership except for the fact that most of them are trained lawyers who thrive on the deeds and misdeeds of people.

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Latest comments

  • 4

    Dear Dr Nadesan

    You are wrong. Your materialistic view of life is not what the Tamils want. That’s why these Tamils are remaining in Sri Lanka. Tamils need a dignified life in Sri Lanka. People like you who come from abroad from time to time and pass your opinion to get attention from the powers that may be, and go off. you need to go deeper than your superficial searching to grasp the real issues. This is an existential issue with deep rooted socio-cultural issues.

  • 1

    My Dear Sach,

    “This country has only TWO problems..”

    I think you conveniently forgot the third and foremost problem . JO boys desperately trying to get back to power by hook or by crook.They even tried to negotiate a backdoor entry strategy with RW.!! Nothing short of sheer desperation.The BBS which is JO orchestra is back in howling harmony .
    At the moment sadly ,JO(Jackal Opposition) do not want to acknowledge their (BBS) existence.

  • 0

    Dr.Gnana Sankaralingam,

    “Vast majority of Tamils have faith in TNA as they know that they cannot be bought for money or positions and are self respecting persons who do not have any hidden personal agenda to betray Tamils.”

    As long as Tamils of Lanka and Diaspora keep parroting this above refrain not even God Almighty can save them from oblivion.They are the problem.They have to be rescued from themselves.Anyone with a little intelligence and a bit of common sense can easily discern this by just reading the recent history of Lankan Tamils.As the saying goes–Patriotism is the last resort of the scoundrels–TNA arouses Tamil nationalist sentiments for their own selfish ends and political survival.For TNA,the Tamils’ well-being,safety,future, prosperity are of no concern.Tamil civilians are disposable and cannon fodder for them as in the recent past. TNA knows for sure if they want to remain in the political circus forever they should keep the Tamil national question boiling forever without any solution.Once there is a solution they would be out of business. In other words the Tamil Problem is like a “Beggars Sore” for display and soliciting pity.
    The only solution for Tamils is to escape from the deathly claws of the TNA for them to regain their dignity ,honor and prosperity.

    • 2

      You seem to be unaware of the situation. Ranil Wickremasinghe the Prime Minister when addressing a group of NGOs, stated that Sinhalese are not concerned about a political solution. Also Ruwan Wijewardene the deputy minister of defence when addressing a seminar stated that government has failed so far in bringing peace and reconciliation to north and east. If you think that TNA has to keep up Tamil national question for their political survival, then the remedy is to settle Tamil National questtion according to internatinal norms and put TNA out of business. You seem to be an apologist to the government and therefore please impress upon the government to settle Tamil national question effectively and rapidly. If the two stalwarts in the present government say that there is no hope for any settlement in the near future, why are you blaming TNA or the bulk of the Tamils. As a person who was born, educated and lived among Sinhalese for 44 years prior to migrating, I will categorically state that except a few Sinhalese, the rest will never allow Tamils to live with dignity and prosperity as first class citizens in Srilanka. So whether Tamils ditch TNA or not nothing tangible will result even if they co-operate with government. As I have said unless and until there is international intervention in Srilanka, diplomatically at first and if it fails militarily, Tamils will never get justice under any Sinhala governments.

      • 3

        Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam

        You are a confused man aren’t you?

        You lived along with Sinhalese for 44 years before migrating. How long did you live with the Tamils in the north, east or up country?

        I am sure you would have lived at least 20 + years overseas. If you had lived with Tamils few years in addition to the 44 years you mention you must have reached the staggering 80 + years now.

        Your equation of your life span and exposure does not work well for a balanced comment.

        You say international intervention? How will this happen? India failed because of Tigers. Who else can intervene. Maldives?

        Don’t be ridiculous. Get what you can get on every opportunity. Don’t hype your demands. Work with the system and progress further. Behave like the Kaakas.

        In few years, you will be dropped dead. Leave some thing for your future generation.

        • 1

          You are the one who is confused, as your method of calculating my age appears illogical. Only time I lived among the Tamils was for a few years after 1983 riots for the sake of safety. My house in Colombo was intact during that time, being occupied by my grand mother, who passed away subsequently. For your information, I am nowhere near 80. I think the consumption of Dankotuwa special has caused irreparable damage to your brain, making you irrational.

          Do not be hasty. This government has promissed the international community that it will setle the Tamil problem and therefore they are being given time. Prabaharan was given 06 years and when he did not, he was eliminated. Do yo sincerely believe that Mahinda and security forces defeated LTTE, without international help. Similarly Mahinda was given 06 years and when he did not he was removed. Do you sincerely believe that Chadrika/Ranil/Maithri combination defeated Mahinda without international support. This government also will be given six years or a bit more to settle Tamil problem, and if it fails will recieve the same fate.

          Do not be complacent that Tamils do not have any support. It may be so when LTTE was active, when the government went round saying that we are prepared to give the rights to Tamils, but LTTE is intransigent and we cannot do anything. Now LTTE is gone and the Sinhalese are being exposed as the intransigent ones who are not prepared to settle the problem. This patience of international community will not last long and they will intervene decisively.

          When LTTE was commiting crimes, Tamils lost sympathy for their cause, and now after LTTE has been defeated, Tamils have regained the moral high ground. Now Tamils have the strongest weapon in the world to fight for their rights and that is justice. You are stupid to think that only India and Maldives can intervene. In 1987 India intervened with selfish motive and lost. Moreover USA was against India interfering in Srilankan affairs, and it is well known from where LTTE got money and arms to fight IPKF. This time it may be different as justice always wins at the end.

          • 2

            Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam

            Thank you for giving me some details. Based on what you have stated you are 44 + 2 + 30 = 76. Just 4 years under than my previous estimate.

            You do not know the basics. Praba was defeated by KP & Co.

            You are fixated that you are using six year deadlines all over. This means Praba should have surfaced from Nadhikkadal in 2015.

            Dankotuwa Manike is a clever lady and she has loads of Tamil friends. I respect them and they respect me. I have taken few of them to Dankotuwa on holiday and they bought Dankotuwa porcelain. We had good time. I am a good entertainer. Machang! Join me in the next trip, I will entertain you as well.

            By the way what is your specialism in Medical Legal field? Are you a death certifying doctor under the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 to call yourself Medical Legal doctor. I am sure you certify death to the best of your knowledge and belief by stating the cause of the death.

            This is a basic work needing bit of brain. But you do not show any signs of basic knowledge on issues and is making psychotic comments to demean yourself.

            Please go to a corner and think wisely before you put anything in these columns in the future.

            • 0

              Do not woory about my age, as it has no bearing to what is in store for future Srilanka. Unfortunately, all my predictions have come correct, even demise of Prabaharan, though I was not sure when that will happen. The day Rajiv Gandhi was killed, he had signed his death warrant. Similarly Sinhalese will suufer divine punishment for the crimes they committed on Tamils.

              As for medico-legal knowledge of a doctor, please do not venture into an unknown field. Every medical student in Srilanka has to pass forensic medicine in their course. It is because any doctor who is posted to a peripheral hospital has to do medico-legal work even in his early years. Therefore I am not an exception. I had no intention to take up that field as my career.

              I was forced to do medico-legal work in Jaffna as no one else was willing to take up the post due to army interference. I stood up against army pressure in early part of the war, when army was trying to whitewash murders committed by them. Even relatives of old people killed by army were asked to sign a declaration that they were members of LTTE. Since government authorised army to issue death certificate which was necessary for relatives to get properties, savings and pension, most of them declared so. This is how army counted the number of terrorists killed. This has been coroborated by a lady recently when giving eveidence before reconciliation commission headed by Manouri Muttetuwegama.

              There is no point in engaging in any argument with a person of low IQ like you. I am giving my views based on natural justice which had been in existence for several thousand years, where any injustice perpetrated have been reversed by divine intervention. Tamils will be ultimate winners of conflict on this basis. You keep your views to yourself, and enjoy your skewed mindset.

              • 3

                Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam

                In Jaffna it is not few years as refugee after 1983. Then you have served in Jaffna as well. This further creates confusion in calculating your age. This means your arrival in the UK is not 30 years ago. It is less than that.

                You say that you are forensic doctor in the military field that germinate falsehood. You must be sick to do forensic work for the army and now you claim you are a medico-legal and you have put all three field to a sickening low level.

                Who was your science teacher at Royal college? Are you the chap who went to Royal in suit and tie to study?

                Your level IQ during your school days seems be very low. Good luck to you. Stop blabbering in the future.

  • 3

    This Nadesan was the person who organized a state sponsored diaspora conference in Colombo during MR’s time. They all were sponsored by MR govt and Basil was the prime mover. This was backed by Duglas and his gang.

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