Dr DJ’s about-turn and Rear Admiral Dr Sarath W’s Response

Constitutional Conversation

A response to Dr. Dayan Jayatillaka

  • We don’t agree with anybody justifying maximum devolution of power to the North
  • We are yet to address the Tamil ‘problem’
  • 29,000 servicemen died, 14, 000 wounded and the rest sacrificed
    their ‘youth’ 
  • Dr. Jayatillaka says the Tamils feel SL is not their state
  • A ‘Smart’ patriot is one who can identify who real patriots are

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. While reading DJ’s article which appeared in the  issue of October 11 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 Constitutional 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.  

The main argument of the separatist elements is that the Tamils in Sri  Lanka are gravely discriminated and not given their proper place in 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. 

Do the multi-millionaire Tamil wholesale dealers in Pettah, who control 90% of the wholesale trade in Colombo for decades, feel they do not belong to this state? Do the Tamils holding best positions in government and private sectors feel they are subjugated? 

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 throughout. Jaffna was never a separate entity and as such DJ’s comparison with Scotland doesn’t hold ground. 

We are yet to receive an answer to the Tamil ‘problem,’ except getting a barrage of terminologies such as alienation, aspirations and submission. DJ once said there were 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 are waiting to grab, to justify their claim in international fora. 

DJ asks, where did the fanatical self-sacrificial commitment of Tamil youth come from? It was because they have been systematically brainwashed 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 realising 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 to show as the ‘motivation’ behind suicide missions, but the false, separatist propaganda and sheer helplessness. 

DJ who is a strong supporter of the 13th Amendment 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 power is devolved to the North, how can it help the 52% of the Tamils living in the South amongst the Sinhalese? Do the champions of this ‘Constitution Conversation’ think the aspirations of the Southern Tamils are already met or they simply just don’t care? 
DJ says the Tamils feel 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-millionaire Tamil wholesale dealers in Pettah, who control 90% of the wholesale trade in Colombo for decades, feel they do not belong to this state? Do the Tamils holding best positions in government and private sectors feel they are subjugated? 

Thirty three MPs, the opposition leader, the Financial Adviser to PM, the former President of the Bar Association, the Central Bank Governor, the Chairman of Sri Lanka Press Institute, the Sri Lanka Navy Commander and the former Chief Justice are all Tamils. Do all these people feel they were alienated? Give us a straight answer. Don’t quote Machiavelli or Giuseppe de Lampedusa, or don’t drag Gordon Brown. Don’t take us to Abkhazia, Ossetia or Catalonia. Simply show us how and where the Tamils are being discriminated.  The two managers of the Constitutional reforms are Jayampathy Wickramarathna and M. Sumanthiran. One is a known federalist and the other, a bright lawyer, is a member of the TNA which at one time was propped up by the LTTE. The Chairman of the Centre Periphery Sub-Committee of Constitutional reforms was MP Dharmalingam Siddharthan of the TNA, who was a former member of PLOTE. He says the unitary nature of the country is an impediment to the smooth functioning of PCs. So much so, for the government’s claim and the commitment for a unitary state. 

I have experienced the Jaffna general public as very decent and good people. They sang our national anthem 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 by the high caste ‘Vellahlas.’ 

The staff of Colombo European embassies, mostly Tamils, always give preference to Tamils over Sinhalese and ensure visas of the latter gets rejected on flimsy grounds. Where are the Sinhalese chauvinists and extremists that DJ is consistently talking about? 

It was a Sinhala leader, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, who passed the Prevention of Social Disabilities Act in 1957, to combat the caste system, but that too was opposed by Vellahla elites.   DJ says the Tamils do not submit to political, ideological and social domination. Who asks them to submit? What are the areas and places they are forced to submit? From Point Pedro to Dondra, tell us a single place where the Tamils are deprived of any common facility such as education, employment, housing and business. But what about the majority Sinhalese? For DJ’s information, let me inform that the cut off mark for the Tamil medium Grade 5 Scholarship Exam is promulgated in all 25 districts, but the same in Sinhala medium is promulgated in only 21 districts. In a country where the majority are Sinhalese, in four districts viz., Jaffna, Batticaloa, 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 the Thesavalamai rule incorporated into the law of the country, only the Tamils are permitted to buy land belonging to Tamils. The Sinhalese and Muslims can never buy a perch of land belonging to Tamils in any part of the country as per that law, unlike Tamils who can buy any land anywhere 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 the Tamils are discriminated, is to 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. 

NPC CM Wigneswaran takes part in protest marches in Kilinochchi, demanding the removal of Buddha statues in Vanni and so called discrimination by the Sinhalese, 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 Katunayake and go back to Jaffna safely. Rev. Fr. Emmanuel, who openly advocated the LTTE, came to Colombo and held discussions with the TNA. The staff of Colombo European embassies, mostly Tamils, always give preference to Tamils over Sinhalese and ensure visas of the latter gets rejected on flimsy grounds. Where are the Sinhalese chauvinists and 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 one who loves his country and supports its interests. To me, a ‘Smart’ patriot is one who can identify who real patriots are. We want the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers to live in any part of the country like brothers and sisters of the same family. To that end, the Sinhalese majority, on their part, had tolerated and sacrificed a lot as mentioned above. We expect the same from our Tamil and Muslim brethren. 
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 the 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 patriots in the country are coming forward to reject it in Toto. If a strong medicine were given to a disease non-existent, the side effects could be disastrous. When unwanted side effects start to appear, not only the patient but the doctors and their consultants too will have to pay a huge price.  

 

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