Dr. Noel Nadesan
Once again the Tamil leadership is resorting to the old tactic of threatening the Government with demands and deadlines. The latest is the TNA setting conditions for talks with the Government. It has not only put forward three conditions but also insisted that the Government should respond within a period of 10 days. It is insisting that the Government delegation, with whom it is having talks, should inform the TNA in writing of its position on the following matters: (1). the structure of governance; (2). the subjects and functions allocated to the central government and the provincial councils and (3).the issues pertaining to fiscal and financial devolution.
These are the failed and arrogant tactics of the LTTE at a various negotiations held in various international capitals. Where did it take them? I also like to ask what will the TNA do if the Government refuses to go along with their demands and deadlines? Do they have any plan Bs? Are they going to run to India? Do they want to ride on the backs of the Tamil youth once again as they did in passing the Vadukoddai Resolution in 1976? Or are they planning to stage satyagrahas like S. J. V. Chelvanayakam in the 60s and 70s?
Any responsible leadership that gives priority to the overall interests of its community has a duty to look back and consider the lessons learnt from the past before rushing into places where angels fear to tread. Since Independence the Tamil politicians have plunged headlong into one crisis after another at great cost to the Tamil community. They are the worst gamblers I ever have come across. In the Hindu Epic Mahabharatha , Tharmar gambled with wife Thraubatha only but our politicians are gambling with the life of every Tamil. Their misguided political programmes have put back the North and East clock to 1920. Haven’t the Tamil people suffered enough by trying to make our politicians happy? They have been drawing fat cheques as MPs, Ministers and members of various minor administrations without giving the same opportunities for our people to draw the benefits of the government which they criticize day in day out pretending to be their liberators. They are doing exactly what Prabhakaran did: destroy the Tamil community by proclaiming to be their liberators.
In any case, where did the best organized front of the Tamils led by Velupillai Prabhakaran take us? If he failed with his deadly military machine what can the TNA deliver to the Tamil people? The TNA leadership should know better than anyone else because they were a part and parcel of the LTTE killing machine, following obediently the instructions issued to them by the “sole representatives of the Tamils”. Their actions indicate that they do not have the intelligence to understand the failed past or they are heartless and cruel, like Prabhakaran,?
As a Tamil I know that the bull is our sacred symbol. But that does not mean that we have to behave like a bull in a China shop running wild destroying everything in it. The time has come for us to sit down and review our past before we rush into an uncertain future with no guarantees of success through anti-Government policies or violence.
It is true in the last two years President Mahinda Rajapaksa has not put forward any concrete political proposal. But on the economic front – the front that really matters to our helpless people now — he and his government has been involved in massive rehabilitation work of historical proportions to put out people on their feet again. Any one visiting Sri Lanka can see for themselves the amount of infra-structure work that is being carried out. I would venture to say that it is done on an unprecedented scale and our first duty is to go along with development and rehabilitation work to lift our people from the depths to which they have fallen as a result of the folly of our past and present leaders. Our failure was in putting politics before rice and curry.
Mahinda Rajapaksa has inherited a 60-year problem of racial politics and thirty years of terrorism that haunted and devastated both sides. Besides, he is not having any respectable TAMIL leadership to work with. Velupillai Prabhakaran decimated the entire Tamil leadership in the non-violent political stream. Leaders, of course, will not come overnight. For them to emerge through the will of the people they have to be tried and tested by the people over a period of time.
Last local council election showed the utter failure of Tamil politics, including that of TNA and EPDP. What can Tamil people gain by reverting to Tamil nationalism in local council elections? The choice between the EPDP and the TNA is like choosing between the woman with a cough and a woman with a runny nose.
Human dignity and self respect come from work and many Tamils are without work. The TNA has a great opportunity by joining the Government to help the Tamil people to get gainful employment. Jobs, houses, food, health, education are some of the essentials that will restore their dignity. Politics in the main have degraded their lives. The TNA must also be wise and mature enough to know that it must come out of confrontational and racial politics. We have missed all the opportunities given by the Sinhala leadership. Who killed the CFA which gave the Tamils the nearest thing to Eelam? Instead of admitting our failures – our stupid failures — we keep on confronting and accusing the Sinhala leadership. Where will it take us?
Those who advocate the alternative of co-existing with the other communities and cooperating with the Government on the broad front of economic development are bound to be accused of being stooges of the government. I am one of those who believe in achieving results for our people by joining hands with the Government. What is the viable alternative available now? Who else is there to help our people? How much of politics can they daily to fill their stomachs? Jane’s Weekly reported that the Tamil diaspora collected $300 million every year. With that money our people could build a paradise in the Tamil areas. Where has all that money gone? Why isn’t that money coming now?
The Australian Tamil Congress reported in its annual report for 2010 that it spent $86,000 for public relations? So what are the gains of that expenditure? Did they stop the appointment of the Navy Commander as the High Commissioner? Did they stop the Australian cricket team from playing in Sri Lanka?
I find that the most constructive way to help our people is through the facilities provided by the Government. I am not ashamed to go to any length to win the backing of any source to help our war-weary, dispossessed people. I am not that foolish or hard-hearted to wait till Eelam comes to help our people who are fed up with unattainable political promises. All this talk of the return of Prabhakaran can keep Fr. S. J. Emmanuel in a job going round the world with no tangible results. True, the airy-fairy Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam has given a lot of jobs and money to the affluent Tamils in Western bases. But how has that helped the poor people of Jaffna? How much of the lobbying by the pro-Tiger agents in the West has helped to put food in the mouths of our people?
My Sinhala friends tell me that it was wrong to defeat Prabhakaran and his Tiger cadres so early. They say that the Government should not have finished the war so early. They say that he should have been allowed to carry on for another ten years or so, killing more and more Tamils until none will be there to follow him. They say that if he was allowed to live longer the problem would have been solved automatically with his ruthless tactics of trying to survive by sacrificing the lives of all other Tamils as seen in the way he used the Tamils as his human shield. I can’t argue against that because it is true. Besides, almost more than one million Tamils have emigrated to greener pastures in the West, according to their own figures. It is estimated that two thirds of the Tamil middle class have gone out of Sri Lanka. If LTTE and Velupillai Prabhakaran survived another 10 years what would have happed to the rest of the Tamil middle class? They have been the backbone of the Jaffna society and culture. If they go then the base of the society also goes with them.
There is also other known historical trend of the openness of the Sinhala race to absorb the minority communities. I do want to go too far into history. Roughly 500 years ago Kotte king recruited many archers from south India Thanjavur district and they settled in south coast of Sri Lanka. They married Sinhala brides and got lands. Barava people from Tuticorin area too came to Negombo area only 100 years along with the Chetties. All of them became a part of the Sinhala community. It is different with the Muslims in Sri Lanka because their religion prevented them from integrating with the majority Sinhala-Buddhists. The Sinhala people have grown numerically by absorbing the other minorities.
I like a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious Sri Lanka. if Prabhakaran lived the chances of the Tamils surviving as a viable community would have been reduced to zero. He would have either send the Tamils youth to a war he could not win or would have killed them himself. So I must conclude by saying that I am grateful to President Mahinda Rajapase for finishing Velupillai Prabhakaran and saving my people – our Tamil people who deserve peace at any cost just for their survival.