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For Whom Should We Cast Our Votes? – OpEd

For Whom Should We Cast Our Votes? – OpEd

Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it”.  — Martial Arts expert Bruce Lee

Even though this article is about politics, I chose a quote from martial arts expert Bruce Lee because of his profession of self-defence. As far as politics is concerned, presently ‘trust’ is merely terminology. In practice, it is put aside or completely ignored, especially on the island of Sri Lanka.

This can concern economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights. American;image sharing;and;social media ‘Pinterest’ said ‘when trust is broken, apologies/sorry mean nothing’.

Last February, Sri Lanka celebrated seventy-six years of independence. Well and good. Let us look into the number of disasters – coups d’état, bloody revolutions, civil war, or armed conflict eventually causing many cross-killings. There are still people in detention waiting for a fair trial and what about shortages of food and other daily needs of the people?

In other words, annual celebrations of independence are more a formality than a marker of progress or development. Every four or five years, the government, head of state, and the cabinet change. But how has Sri Lanka progressed and developed? The revenue earned by exporting tea, rubber, cocoa, etc has made no progress. Since the late 70s, new revenue has been;earned by emigrant workers. To be frank, when there is a shortage of manpower for white, blue, and pink-collar jobs in Sri Lanka, people are going abroad looking for greener pastures.

Since or even before independence, the ethnic conflict or political aspirations of the Tamils remain as they were in the beginning. There has been no change, and no progress reported except for the change in demography of the North and East – N&E. Electorally, the number of constituencies;has shrunk dramatically but the number of political parties in the N&E awaits a place in the ‘Guinness Book of Records’. Presently there are about thirteen registered Tamil political parties and nearly fifteen unregistered political parties creating a mess and misleading the people.

Who is to be blamed for not finding a solution for more than seven decades? In fact, the political struggle of the N&E started with pacifist methods (non-violent). These faced violent repercussions, and another thirty years of armed struggle with severe casualties and economic damage.

Last fifteen years

But for the last fifteen years, things have been moving sluggishly. The armed struggle ended in May 2009 with the help of India and the international community, on a promise that, as soon as ‘terrorism is wiped out’; there would be a political solution to the N&E. Has this materialised? Until 2015, the government which promised not only 13th but 13plus had a two-third majority in the parliament. Even with foreign mediation, they manipulated things in their favour.

In fact, anyone who goes into the history of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka can see how the Tamil leaders were given bogus and broken promises.

If it were one or two occasions, it could be considered oversight or ignorance. After May 2009, the way the government handled affairs in the war-torn N&E proved their intentions.; It’s so obvious that none of the governments in power has any intention to settle the ethnic conflict. Projects of changing demographic patterns, settlement, and other issues reveal the lack of motivation to settle the ethnic conflict. On the contrary, the N&E is divided systematically through settlements and buddhisation.

On the other hand, the younger generation in the N&E is harassed to leave the country. The logic is that, in time to come the people in the N&E who lived there for thousands of years will be made a minority in;their land. Then nobody would talk about a political solution. Ranil Wickremasinghe’s latest theory is that no Tamil under forty years is bothered about a political settlement. This is an exaggeration.; The University students and other youths are at the forefront of everything concerning the people of the N&E.

Every election time, the usual stories of political settlement to the Tamils is the talking point: only with Tamils, not with Southerners. A political settlement is not mentioned in their election manifestos.

So-called moderate Tamils or opportunistic Tamils go along with the line peddled by political settlement swindlers.; If you analyse those individuals, they are either not popular among the people of the N&E or are Colombo-based.

Tamil politicians in Colombo

Tamil politicians living in Colombo and doing politics in the N&E are the most toxic strands in Tamil politics. In his book, “The Fall and Rise of the Tamil Nation”, the late Member of Parliament and founder of ‘Tamils Suyaadchchi Kazahagam’;(Tamil Self Rule Party) in 1969, Mr. V Navaratnam, described beautifully the gloating Tamil politicians living in Colombo.

He said that Mr. M. Thiruchelvam, the father of the late Neelan Thiruchelvam, managed overnight to convince the leader of Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (Federal Party) Mr. S.J.V Chelvanayagam to accept a ministerial position in the government and Thiruchelvam became a Minister of local government in Dudley Senanayake’s cabinet in 1965.

For the last fifteen years Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (Federal Party) and Mr. Sambandan have been proceeding in the same manner. The same problem, same controversy, same position believed to be pressured by an immature Tamil politician based in Colombo.

The increased number of political parties and the non-achievement of anything fruitful caused disunity among the people of the N&E. The emergence of ‘The Tamil Civil Society’ as the force that determines the destiny of the people of the N&E marks a great turning point in Sri Lanka.

Now this force is very keen on fielding a ‘common Tamil candidate’ to stand in the forthcoming Presidential election. This logic is not to win the Presidential election and to become the Executive President of Sri Lanka and mess up people’s lives. It is to show the Southerners and the international community their frustration about the long overdue political solution and other issues.

This is a new initiative full of democratic aspiration and hope. In 1977, the Tamil United Liberation Front – TULF did almost the same in the N&E and was overwhelmingly supported by the people in the N&E. Now, civil society is motivated to prove the same once again.

Regarding this idea, there have been objections. Let’s take for granted that it is wrong to field a Tamil common candidate in the Presidential election. If so, my question is what have the governments in power and the Colombo politicians done on the political solution, especially within the last fifteen years?

During the Sirisena-Ranil period of 2015-2020, they could not even implement the 13th;Amendment in full. Instead, they talked about a new constitution with a minority government that never had a two-thirds majority. This cunning idea of Ranil Wickremasinghe was well-endorsed by immature politicians. In the meantime, they worked very hard to reinstate Prime Minister Ranil who had been chased away.

Israel and Sri Lanka

It is ridiculous that two Colombo-based Tamil politicians, directly and indirectly, support the Presidential candidates from the South. Let us see briefly the backgrounds of three possible candidates from the South.

Ranil Wickremasinghe caused many divisions between Tamils and India; also he claimed in many Southern political platforms that it was himself who sowed the seeds for the Tamils’ weak position today. ;

It was the JVP who filed a court case and demerged the North East in 2006. Sajeeth Premadasa is in the process of recruiting most of the military officials involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against the people in the N&E.

In such a situation, the idea of a ‘Tamil Common Candidate’ in the forthcoming Presidential election is to be welcomed and proves: “always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it”,;is the right logic.

As of this week, it has been eight months since the Israel-Hamas war began. Ironically, until today our political analysts do not understand why Israel is destroying Gaza. Very late, Israelis have realised that they made a historical blunder by dividing the Palestinian territory into two parts – Gaza and the West Bank.

The reason is that the Palestinians increasing international influence may end up in the creation of two Palestinian states – Gaza and the West Bank. Presumably Democratic Palestine and Republic Palestinian, who knows? As a result, Israelis are determined to eliminate Gaza at any cost. They plan that after the elimination of Gaza, it’s easier for them to accept only the West Bank as a Palestinian state.

Similarly, the increasing international influence of the Tamils in the N&E may end up with two possible self-reliant areas. The blunder is that the N&E is artificially and arbitrarily separated by the creation of Weli Oya and settlers in the Mullaitivu district.;

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