| by Gomin Dayasri
(November 13, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Metric that matters most is whether TNA with whom Government has initiated a dialogue genuinely want the reconciliation process to succeed. Or are they merely posturing together to placate foreign embassies? The Government gains if reconciliation becomes a success unlike the TNA. But is the Government capable of structuring and contriving a reconciliation process because of the inadequate intellectual grasp?
TNA – being a demagogic ethnic party, cat’s paw until 5/19 of the LTTE and faithful to its unadulterated racial politics, are in peril if it achieves harmonious relationships with the South, disturbing their perpetual political ploys. They thrive on alleging discriminatory treatment by the majority Sinhalese – generating hate and hostility, instilling fear and anguish to collect votes. Alleging discriminatory treatment is understandable but to vituperate while engaged in the reconciliation process is to make a mockery of amity talks.
The attitude of the TNA cannot attract confidence in a dialogue, by globe-trotting with a complaint sheet to the West, already whirling a rod to spank Sri Lanka. It is an effort to extract the maximum through unwanted foreign political interventions while discrediting the image of Sri Lanka abroad among Lanka skeptics.
If their narrow plank of peddling disharmony between ethnic communities collapses, TNA will fall into a whirlpool. A reconciled North/East will allow the two national parties of the South to make an impact on the Tamil voters on broader issues. Their desire is to prevent national parties – PA, UNP and JVP – from penetrating into the Tamil constituencies. Unlike the TNA, Muslim parties in the East have related to the two main national parties and advanced their cause. So too have individual Tamil parliamentarians and politicians in the past, some with left leanings, before being decimated by the LTTE. Not so the TNA and its predecessors who deemed such persons traitors to the Tamil cause.
The North/East voters, realizing its beneficial aspects, are more inclined to participate in the reconciliation process than the TNA. Following the road map of the LTTE, roadblocks on ethnic harmony are created by the TNA for their political advantage. The TNA holds a dominant position in the Tamil electorates, a rainbow coalition of many shades of northern opinion on a single slate without a virtual opposition. Minister Devananda’s EPDP [A heart throb of the Liberal/Marxist leaning pro-13th amendment’s latent stragglers in the UPFA holding high office] is more a liability than an asset to the UPFA. EPDP creates a negative image among the voters, except among the Kayts islanders, for its misdeeds in the North. Southerner Mahinda Rajapaksa commands greater respect.
TNA will not mount a platform where reconciliation is reachable. If a satisfactory rapport develops between the three main communities, it is the TNA that will lose its monopolistic position and would be compelled to revise their game plan for political survival.
Their answer is to pitch impossible demands on land and police powers under the 13th amendment that gives rise to secession, knowing well it will not be accepted, in the interest of national security. After successfully destroying terrorism to which the TNA was a willing party, at a premium price, the country cannot create fresh props for the TNA to tread on the path to federalism leading to separation. TNA should suggest feasible alternatives if there is a genuine desire to reconcile. If the LTTE were not comprehensively defeated TNA would have been still furthering the objectives of the LTTE and would not have dared to participate in a reconciliation process and instead sought a separate state.
Harmony and Reconciliation is not in their vocabulary. To be fair to the TNA, they cannot safeguard their continued existence as the prime party in the predominantly Tamil constituencies by walking along the bridge of friendship to the South. They gain mileage by keeping the ethnic divide alive among their constituents by fanning flames of ethnic disharmony to attract a following on an anti –Sinhala trajectory.
It’s not the Tamil people that engineer it, but the TNA poised at the helm of this smear campaign like the LTTE. People of the North/East suffered more than those in the South under the LTTE regime while the TNA acted as their parliamentary spokesman defending and supporting the LTTE.
The approval in furthering the cause of Eelam to which the TNA subscribed during the troubled period displays in mind and spirit the close alignment to the Tigers. Subsequent to 5/19, TNA has neither disowned the conduct of the terrorists nor condemned terrorism that caused immense hardships to the Tamil people.
Moreover, eagerly cohabitating with the Tigers during the height of terrorism, TNA display their priorities and principles.There were courageous Tamil leaders who opposed LTTE terrorism like Anandasangari; LTTE assassinated the TNA leadership including its intellectual giant Neelan Tiruchelvam – yet cowardly bent to the LTTE under the fickle leadership of Sambandan notwithstanding TNA being denied the right to engage in political activity.
The presence of a vote churning Left in the North/East with charismatic leaders like Dr N.M Perera, Dr Colvin R de Silva, Pieter Keuneman and Dr S.A. Wickremasinghe would have provided an alternate voice that could have moderated the shrill sound of the TNA. There is a political vacuum of empty space between the TNA and the southern political parties that a viable Left could have bridged. The Left, left behind, is a lost Left.
If harmony is achieved parochial issues will recede into background and bring North/East into the mainstream of politics after 26 years of terrorism. That will enable Tamil politicians to reach out for national leadership, as in India, through national parties. National political parties taking root in the North with a Tamil leadership at the national level is the ultimate answer to national reconciliation.
To reach for a meaningful reconciliation it is prudent for the Government to study the recommendations of the LLRC that sought extensive opinion in the North/East from varied sections. Enriched with such insights, the LLRC is positioned to make incisive recommendations to achieve national reconciliation. Hopefully it must not reflect either the opinion of the Government or the TNA. Would the Government have the intellectual grasp and the mechanism to implement the recommendations especially as those who are making allegations against Sri Lanka place reliance on the observations of the LLRC?
The Government’s track record is dismal on the reconciliation efforts. The high-powered inter-ministerial committee under the chairmanship of Prof. G.L. Peiris with then Attorney General Mohan Peiris as the head, directed to implement the interim recommendations of the LLRC never delivered. If this is repeated on the final recommendations, it will be an unpardonable lapse that can cause a diplomatic disaster and lead to many seismic shocks.
The TNA would opt to let negotiations drag on without results and fault the Government for that. It is prudent to implement recommendations of the LLRC provided they are worthy and fall into the fast track on reconciliation, placing the TNA on the back foot. The greatest stumbling block presently to reconciliation is the TNA.
A comprehensive market survey well sampled showed 94% of the Tamils in the North and East wish to learn Sinhala, while 92% of Sinhalese in the South desire to be proficient in Tamil. Sinhalese and Tamils have always had close affinity and presently it is the lack of a political initiative that keeps them apart – especially the deceitful hardline adopted by the TNA, which closely follows the diaspora module. The uncompromising Sinhala parties have shown greater flexibility.
Sinhalese from humble homes first rushed to the North with supplies when the war ended, forgetting 26 years of terrorism – long before TNA arrived on the scene with the diaspora in a state of shell shock after the defeat of the LTTE. In the homes of two communities there is a great desire for amity provided the government initiates a meaningful process. In the reconciliation process Sinhala extremism could be as harmful as Tamil terrorism.