Colombo Telegraph

Who Will Speak For Tamils At UNHRC?

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Spinning Everywhere

Our mendacious President declared in India that everyone has a right to protest in a democracy. But Tamils are questioned over religious functions and protesters are ducked in dirty engine oil, locked up or disappeared. He claimed to be performing a Suprabhata Seva for Venkateswara. But that seemed farcical given how many Hindu temples have been destroyed by his army. Claiming “a private visit” he reportedly met the head of RAW, Alok Joshi.

The rejection of 5,000 metric tonnes of diesel imported by Lanka IOC on grounds of quality leaves people wondering if it is really for that or his thumbing his nose at India ahead of the UNHRC, declaring himself unruffled.

Now in Jaffna he will open a hospital building, commission generators at Chunnakam and, as Myliddy-folk remain evicted, open a hotel there for soldiers. The TNA revealed that the military had taken over 10,000 acres near Palaly.

A show is on with carpet roads and intense cleanup wherever he goes. The culvert from Palaly Road at Ariyakulam to Subash Hotel has been rebuilt with supporting sand bags. Once he goes the bags need to be removed to prevent blockage. Does he think the public is fooled or is he being fooled by his stooges?

In Rajapaksa’s democracy TNA MPs were kept out of Jaffna development planning meetings. In a measure of progress, in 2011 young Jaffna couples for Rs. 100 could have a screened off area at check points for sexual activity, but today, Rajasingham Jeyadevan reports, Jaffna has a Honeymoon Lodge for quick sex at Rs. 1500 per hour. Recall Rajapaksa’s campaign promise to “create a society with good values and ethics,” and police in Colombo tokenly tearing down “indecent” posters.

Anwar Ibrahim

At the World Tamils’ Protection Conference last weekend in Kuala Lumpur attended by TNA’s Mavai Senathirajah and others, Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim called for protection for Tamils and punishment for our killers. Malaysians are fortunate, he said, that they “do not have Rajapaksa,” or authoritarian leaders who shoot or kill their people, adding when “hundreds of thousands are raped and killed and their land taken,” it is not a domestic issue.

Sampanthan or Ponnambalam?

It is time to push at Geneva. Last time the TNA did not go but this year party leaders aver they would, but no team has been named. It really is important that the MPs, especially those who will speak moderately in terms understood by diplomats, go and explain what is happening, avoiding the word Eelam with focus on human rights.

Sampanthan represents what is good in Tamils.  He has good relations with Muslims and, a devout Hindu, is well regarded by non-Hindu Tamils and helped SLMC candidates in the East during elections. His word counts.

Lankan Tamils with the most at stake may not go for want of funds but expatriates, whose needs and experiences are different, will through NGOs. Activists have begun cyber attacks on government sites and 50, including EPF, Ministry of Justice, Immigration, and the Media Center for National Security are down.

My fear is that speaking for us will be TNPF’s Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, now married in the West, whose sidekick Selvarajah Kajendran boasted in parliament during his 2004 maiden speech that the Sinhalese should ready themselves to receive 40,000 Sinhalese soldiers in coffins and in 2007 welcomed the LTTE’s Colombo air bombings. Diplomats in Geneva will be turned off.

In its YouTube videos titled Palaka’ni, TamilNet recently interviewed Gajendrakumar. Repeatedly using the strange word “obfiscate,” he left me shaken by defining the Tamil Nation as a people of the same predominant religion, departing from the long standing position on “Tamil speaking peoples.”

The Clough History

To understand Gajendrakumar’s Saiva mindset, we must go into his good Christian Clough heritage from Caradive. The first Clough was trained at Batticotta Seminary. There were then two Cloughs, presumably his sons, Albert Edward and William Adam. They went as surveyors to the Federated Malay States where Albert’s son was knighted and became a Minister standing for pluralism. William on his return was awarded the King’s LSO Medal. They both had acquired great wealth.  The Cloughs’ relatives included prominent Tamil Christian families – Eliezers, Hitchcocks, McIntyres.

Albert arranged a marriage for his daughter to a Christian that failed. With wealth but limited options, Albert agreed to marry her to GG Ponnambalam on condition of a civil marriage. GG reneged, with a follow up ceremony with 30 Brahmins.

To hide Christian antecedents the Clough name is never mentioned in public or biographies; nor is Mrs. GG. As fallout from the revoked compact, her eldest brother Clough Balasingham contested the Kayts seat against GG’s Congress in 1952. Further, in 1970 in the Jaffna District Court, the five Clough children wrangled over whether dowried daughter Millie should have a share of Albert and Clara’s Malayan rubber estates. The name Albert was buried for a previously unheard of Kasinathar although he signed his last will in 1937 as Albert Edward Clough. It is now claimed this Albert converted for admission to school whereas his father, Clough, was already Christian.

GG’s betrayed Tamil following waned after he joined the cabinet that passed the Citizenship Act. The Ponnambalam household does not seem to have been happy. Female servants could not stay. The related stories were election campaign stuff off Federal Party platforms. After the utter rout of the Tamil Congress in 1956 when only 1 Congress candidate, GG, was returned, GG slowly shifted to Malaya for his legal practice, with occasional forays: losing his seat in 1960, winning it back in 1965 and losing it forever in 1970 when, at the Sri Lanka Book Depot, I witnessed GG come campaigning, and asking a boy “Thamby how is your father?” and being replied “Tell me who he is.” Such was his fall.

In 1972 the TUF was formed. In GG’s absence, M. Sivasithambaram who had worked with the Federal Party during the Satyagraha, had brought the Congress into the TUF. GG came to Jaffna in a huff to break it up. I watched the TUF greet him as he arrived by Yaldevi and garland him as their leader. He went to Palm Court with the crowd following to prevent his intriguing. Frustrated, he took the Night Mail back and proceeded to Malaysia, fading out of Tamil life.


The younger GG, Kumar, was married to Additional Jaffna GA Murugesampillai’s daughter, Dr. Yogaluckshmi. When Mrs. Bandaranaike, subject to boycotts for standardization and the Buddhist constitution, visited Jaffna two incidents diminished Murugesampillai. Tamil newspapers widely ridiculed him for washing Mrs. B’s feet at Kandasamy Temple. And when Mrs. B was on a stage with a minister readying a cigarette, Murugesampillai ran up and lit it for him. The Ponnambalams were zeros.


But Kumar in the Chandrika era appeared free in egregious PTA cases. His associate A. Vinayagamoorthy is clear that Kumar was supporting not Prabhakaran but his “political ideology.” The Ponnambalam name seemed redeemed in some Tamil circles.

In 2001 the LTTE seeking to gain from Kumar’s murder in 2000, nominated his son Gajendrakumar for the TNA list and rigged the elections. However, Gajendrakumar’s real standing comes through in 2010 when his party polled a mere 4.28%, far less than Douglas! In 2003 Prabhakaran made Kumar a Maamanithan with Yogaluckshmi personally accepting. Since then many in the Diaspora have rallied behind Gajendrakumar. But in Sri Lanka, as noted, his support is nonexistent. If TamilNet is to be credible it must cultivate leaders who have support at home and re-examine some its own anti-Christian and anti-Muslim positions.

The Ponnambalams’ anti-Christian attitudes remain. Yogaluckshmi shamelessly plugs for only Hindus to hold high office in Jaffna.

Consistent Spokespersons

Liberal Hindus, Muslims and Christians, the vast majority of “Tamil speaking peoples,” will not find Gajendrakumar or anyone who justified the expulsion of Muslims and the conscription of children, an acceptable spokesperson in Geneva. To have a credible winning voice in Geneva, we must argue for accountability in a Sri Lanka that is plural and democratic, through spokespersons who have reflected the very same values we root for.

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