By Malinda Seneviratne –
Ex-judge C.V. Wigneswarn is now a politician. These are early days of his political career. Early days are typically made of words. Time will tell us more of ‘deed’ and the distance these have to rhetoric. We are not talking of the campaign rhetoric, which typically tends to gravitate to vote-getting imperatives. It is well known that manifestos are junked after election and mandates re-worded to match ambitions and justify decisions. Even in this sense we are still in ‘early days’ as far as Wigneswaran and the Northern Provincial Council are concerned.
Considering all this, it is important to give the man breathing space, to overlook tendentious utterance and in general accord him the benefit of the doubt. In these ‘early days’, Wigneswaran, even his most vocal detractors must admit, has succeeded in painting himself as a different kind of politician; time will tell whether he warrants the tag ‘Statesman’, for this requires a lot of deed to go with the lot-of-word the man is made of. He has nevertheless made some pertinent and refreshing pronouncements.
His outcome-preferences notwithstanding (one never known ‘true intent’ and he cannot do worse than other politicians, seasoned or otherwise, belonging to whatever community, whatever party), Wigneswaran has clearly spelled out the parameters of democratic and civilized process as the non-negotiables. In other words, if preferred outcomes are not yielded by the processes permitted by this operational frame, Wigneswaran would say ‘hard luck!’.
What is this frame?
Addressing members of the Northern PC among others, Wigneswaran mentioned that ‘the times of violence have been crossed’ and that everyone must understand that those days are past. More importantly he outlined seven principles he presumably envisages adhering to during his tenure: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. He said, ‘Those who are involved in public duty have to embody the above principles in their personal lives and set an example to others’.
He may have borrowed from John Major and indeed Major’s politics, domestic and foreign, was a far cry from these sentiments, but that’s incidental; C.V. Wigneswaran may have had his work cut out for him, but he has cut out for himself the principles that will frame his approach.
These are of the easy-to-say kind, the cynics will no doubt observe. The Northern PC is however a ‘new baby’ and it is heartening that the first-steps are being taken in the right direction and whatever one’s opinion may be with respect to the TNA, provincial councils, the 13th Amendment or devolution, Wigneswaran must be applauded for saying the must-be-said.
These principles are wholesome and profitable; they are valid not just for the Northern PC but for all PCs and indeed at all levels of Government, especially at the center. Disappointments and failures can be attributed to multiple reasons, but it is clear that the lack pertaining to the principles Wigneswaran has outlined cannot be ruled out as being non-contributive.
Some may claim that Prabhakaran recovered for the Tamil community its collective ‘manhood’. If one were to put aside the arrogance and pernicious patriarchy associated with the term, not to mention what that ‘manhood’ did in dismembering Tamil society, one can say that Wigneswaran has given new and better meaning to the word. It is now incumbent on all stakeholders (and these are not limited to Tamils, not limited to residents of the province) to support him. With word. With deed.
*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com