Constitutional Conversation- a response to Dr. Dayan Jayatillaka
I am not an expert like Dr. Dayan Jayatillaka (DJ) with Doctorates in International politics. I am an old salt, who was in active service from the beginning to the end of the war. Whilst reading DJ’s article appeared in Daily Mirror on 11th Oct and listening to his speeches on above , I thought of responding as a service officer who has committed his whole life ( 4 decades!!) to protect the territorial integrity of the motherland. For, I sincerely believe, that the proposed constitution amendments, which endangers our territorial integrity, is a solution to a problem non existent .
Twenty nine thousand servicemen died, fourteen thousand critically wounded and the rest sacrificed their “youth” in fighting an enemy who was hell bent on separating the North. How would such a serviceman and the dear ones of those who were killed feel, when the “ separation” which they prevented paying such a huge price, is in fact going to occur, by a constitution drafted by the proxies of the same enemy!!
The main argument of the separatist elements is that the Tamils in Sri Lanka are gravely discriminated against and not given their proper place in the society because they are Tamils. When we ask how , DJ tells us to pause and ask ourselves as to why Scotland came to seceding through a referendum despite the fact that the UK had a Scottish Prime Minister, Gordon Brown!
Scotland was a separate country subjugated by England. UK is a United/Federal country and in that federation anyone can be elected as the PM . Ours is not a federal country and Sinhale (Ceylon, Sri Lanka ) has been a unitary country through out. Jaffna was never a separate entity and as such DJ’s comparison with Scotland does’nt hold ground.
We are yet to receive an answer to the Tamil “problem”, except getting a barrage of terminologies such as Alienation, Aspirations, Submission etc. DJ once said that there are Sinhala extremists who feel that only Sinhalese should live in this country. I have never come across, in my life, a single such Sinhalese. DJ is requested to clarify it further , because, such a statement coming from a Sinhalese, is exactly what the separatist Tamil diaspora/politicians waiting to grab, to justify their claim in international forums.
DJ asks ,where did the fanatical self sacrificial commitment of Tamil youth come from. It was because they have been systematically brain washed from birth, depicting Sinhalese as arch rivals of the Tamils. Initially, when these suicide cadres arrived in Colombo for certain missions, seeing how the Tamils live happily among Sinhalese and after realizing that all what were told to them were blatant lies, some have abandoned their missions and vanished. When this trend was gathering momentum the LTTE took the family members of the suicide cadre hostage till the mission assigned to him/her was completed. So it was not the authentic, collective emotion that DJ is trying show as the “motivation” behind suicide missions, but the heinous , contemptuous, false, separatist propaganda and sheer helplessness.
DJ who is a strong supporter of the 13th A says the solution is neither federalism nor unitary but a unitary state with powers devolved to autonomous provinces. Why ? obviously to meet the so called “aspirations” of the Tamils. So if the power is devolved to North , how can it help the 52% of the Tamils living in South amongst the Sinhalese? Do the champions of this constitution conversation think that the aspirations of the Southern Tamils are already met or they simply just don’t care?
DJ says the Tamils feel that Sri Lanka is not their state. “They feel it is a state they are under, not one they fully belong to or fully represent them” he says. Surprisingly , this is exactly what the separatist Tamil diaspora tell and try to convince the international community in the Human Rights Commission in Geneva!.
Frankly I am surprised. Do the multi millioner Tamil whole sale dealers in Pettah, who control 90% of the whole sale trade in Colombo for decades, feel they do not belong to this state? Do the Maharajas feel the same? Do the Tamils holding best positions in government and private sector feel that they are subjugated? In Wellawatta, Dehiwala, Mt. Laviniya, Kotahena most of the single storey houses turning to flats and rented to anyone except Sinhalese. Is it because those Tamils feel that the Sri Lankan State view them as the ”other” or, is it out of sheer hypocrisy?
Thirty three MP’s ,opposition leader, PM’s financial adviser, President Bar Association, Governor of the Central Bank, Chairman of the Sri Lankan press institute, the Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, the former Chief Justice, etc. all are Tamil. Do all these people feel that they are some kind of alienated species? Give us a straight answer. Don’t quote Machiavelli or Giuseppe de Lampedusa or don’t drag Gorden Brown. Don’t take us to Abkhazia, Ossetia or Catalonia. Simply show us how the Tamils are being discriminated against and where.
The two managers of the constitutional reforms are Mr. Jayampathy Wickramarathna and Mr. Sumandiran. One is a known federalist and the other, a bright lawyer, is a member of TNA, the political wing of the LTTE. The chairman of the Centre Periphery Sub Committee of the constitution reform was MP Dharmalingam Siddharthan of TNA, who was a former member of PLOTE. He says the unitary nature of the country is an impediment to the smooth functioning of the PC’s!!”. So much so, for the government’s claim and the commitment for a unitary state!.
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksha did a grave mistake. When Hitler ,Pol Pot, Sadam Hussein, Mubharak were killed/ousted their political parties Nazi, Khemer R, Bhath respectively were either destroyed or vanished. But after we killed Prabhakaran and defeated the LTTE, the most ruthless in the world, we allowed it’s proxy, the TNA to continue!!. Ironically , they are the ones who draft the country’s constitution to devolve power to North! It is like, after the second world war, Sir Winston Churchill inviting the Nazis to come and decide about the foreign policy in UK!
I have experienced the Jaffna general public as very decent and good people who mind their own business. They sang our national song in Sinhala with pride and they loved our forces. They never wanted a separate state . The caste discrimination was very strictly and widely practiced and the low castes were looked down upon like animals by the “high” caste “Vellahlas”.
It was a Sinhala leader, SWRD Bandaranayaka , who passed the Prevention of Social Disabilities Act in 1957, to combat the caste system but that too was opposed by Vellhala elites!
Mr. Mahindapala , in one of his articles exposes the true nature of the Tamil politicians who clamor for federal powers on the pretext of meeting the aspirations of the Tamils. Quote “ Tamil Vellala elite was leading a racist movement against the Sinhala Buddhist majority purely to protect their socio- political interest. Tamil nationalism was not in their vocabulary at the time though nationalism was the popular flavor of all politics in the early 20th century. Initially Tamils were not moved by nationalism in which masses rallied behind a Nehru or a Ghandi. It was primarily a movement of Vellalas elite at the top to protect their powers, positions, properties, perks and privileges more than a mass movement for nationalism. Even the issues raised by Ponnambalam in thirties and Chelvanayagam in forties, related to concerns of the Vellalas elite and not the Tamil masses. The language issue, for instance, was essentially an economic issue, that concerns a comparatively few Tamil public servants and professionals and not the Tamil masses who negotiated their commercial and private transactions comfortably from the sea street jewelers to barbers and thosai kadays in Kandy in Sinhala!” unquote.
When the persecuted low castes were slowly rising against them the Vellalas changed their strategy to “racism” and “ anti Sinhala Buddhist ideology “ to pose as “saviors” of the Tamils, to rob the votes of the low castes to be in the legislature whilst maintaining Vellala supremacy in Jaffna.
DJ says the Tamils do not submit to political, ideological and social domination. Who asks them to submit? What are the areas and places that they are forced to submit? From Jafffna to Donra, tell us a single place where the Tamils are deprived of any common facility such as education, employment, housing, business etc.? But what about the majority Sinhalese? For DJ’s information let me inform that the cut off marks for the Tamil medium grade 5 exam is promulgated in all the 25 districts but the same in Sinhala medium is promulgated in only 21 districts! In a country where the majority are Sinhalese, in 4 districts (Jaffna, Baticaloa, Mannar and Kilinochchi ) there is not a single school teaching in Sinhala medium! The remaining few Sinhala students in these districts are “compelled” to learn in Tamil medium! Then who are the people forced to submit?, the Tamils or the Sinhalese? DJ please answer.
In “Thesavalamai” rule incorporated into the law of the country, only the Tamils are permitted to buy land belong to Tamils. The Sinhalese and the Muslims can never buy an inch of land belong to Tamils in any part of the country as per that law unlike Tamils who can buy any land any where without any restriction. These are very clear examples where the Tamils ride over Sinhalese, and yet the Sinhalese never grumble!!. What we have been asking from those including DJ who say that the Tamils are discriminated against is, give us at least one example where the Tamils are deprived of anything by any law of the country. If a statement cannot be substantiated with examples when required, it can be construed as deliberately misleading.
The CM NPC Wigneshvaran openly says that Sinhalese have no right to live in Jaffna, takes part in protest marches in Kilinochchi demanding removal of Buddha statues in Vanni , comes home and lives happily and safely amongst Sinhalese in Colombo. Mrs Anandhi ( wife of former LTTE Ellilan) and Sivajilingam , both NPC members, make derogatory and contemptuous statements about the “ Sinhala” state in Geneva , return to Katunayaka and go back to Jaffna safely. Fr Emmanuel, who has blood on his hand, is now at large in Colombo having discussions with TNA. The Colombo European Embassies staff, mostly Tamil, always give preference to Tamils over Sinhalese and ensure visas of the latter gets rejected on flimsy grounds. Where are the Sinhalese chauvinists and the Sinhalese extremists that DJ is consistently talking about? Who are the people who exercise great restrain amidst such indignation/insults/humiliation? That restrain, is it because of the kindness, compassion, equanimity or weakness of the Sinhalese? Or is it taken for granted?
A patriot is a one who loves his country and supports its interests. For me , a Smart Patriot is a one who can “ identify” who the “real patriots” are. We want the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Malays, Burghers etc. freedom to live any part of the country like brothers and sisters of the same family. To that end, the Sinhalese majority, on their part, had tolerated/sacrificed a lot as mentioned above. We expect the same from our Tamil/Muslim brethren. How would the Sinhalese feel if Tamils living in Colombo give a statement condemning Wigneshvaran of his anti Sinhala stand in Jaffna? Why can’t my Tamil friends understand how unfair it is to deny Sinhalese the right to live in North when more than 50% of them are living amongst the Sinhalese in South.?
Although I respect DJ as a brilliant diplomat, let me disagree with his argument. We don’t agree with anybody justifying maximum devolution of power to North to address the artificially created “alienation” and “aspiration” issues, because they are non existent. If it exists, please prove.
The people in Sri Lanka have not given a mandate to the present “ national” government to change the constitution. This government is merely implementing, like a faithful servant, the recommendations of the flawed OISL report as required by the 30/1 Geneva resolution. All the patriots in the country are coming forward to reject it in Toto. If a strong medicine is given to a disease which is non existent, the side effects could be disastrous. When the unwanted side effects start to appear , not only the patient but the doctors and their consultants also, will have to pay a huge price.
Rear Admiral ( Dr.) Sarath Weerasekera VSV, RWP,