May Day Politics

| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

( May 03, 2012, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) May Day to me is Labor Day. The celebrations in Sri Lanka have usually been political during my time in Sri Lanka. To me, it is still about the dignity of Labor. It is ‘workers’ day’. I worked for Jaffna on May Day 2012. Appendix 1

As per the report ‘Let Rajapaksa try waving Lion Flag along with KP: Ranil’ , about May Day Rally in Jaffna, published in Sri Lanka Guardian, ‘Mr R. Sampanthan, addressing the same gathering along with Ranil said that Rajapaksa government would never come out with a political solution to the question of Tamils in the island. Therefore, there is a pertinent need for all the opposition parties in the island to forge unity, Sampanthan said. The May Day demonstration in Jaffna is an example for how Tamils and Sinhalese could forge unity, he further said.’

The report goes on to state ‘While the UNP has brought around 10,000 Sinhalese from the South for the May Day in Jaffna, on the TNA side only less than a hundred Tamils participated the procession and the meeting. The local people didn’t come out even to watch the fun, news sources in Jaffna said.’
This is a picture I identify with as Jaffna’s reality today. May Day is the opportunity for ‘independent-workers’ to celebrate their achievement towards workplace equality/independence. Currently, workers in Jaffna do not feel independent enough to celebrate. As highlighted through my letter to the Public Administrators in Northern Sri Lanka, the Structures in Jaffna are not high enough for participation by wider community. We need to reduce our expenditure in Politics and look towards opportunities in Higher Administration. That would lead towards greater participation in May Day celebrations by Jaffna Tamils. I do believe that my genuine work on May Day 2012 would strengthen the workers’ rights in Jaffna and therefore Sri Lanka. 
Appendix 1
ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF TAMIL LETTER
Mr.A. Sothinathan
Divisional Secretary
Divisional Secretariat
Valigamam West
Chankanai
01 May 2012
Your Ref: VW/RD/THUNAVI/WRDS/01
Mr. Sothinathan ,
Valigamam West Development – Land in Thunaivi Village
I thank yourself for your letter dated 19.4.2012.
1. Government and People
————————————–
Reference has been made to the above in your response as ‘Thunavi Village Development Secretariat Land’. Also, it is stated in the 5th paragraph of your response:
“Therefore this land and the movable and immovable property within this land belong to the Government. The People have full rights to use this”
I would, as per my lawful assessment express these respectively as ‘Valigamam West Development – Thanaivi Village Land’ and ‘Therefore this land and the movable and immovable property within this land belong to the People of Valligamam West. . The District Secretariat has full responsibility to Administer it.’
This seems to be a question of which came first – chicken or egg? Government is Chicken and People are Egg. Yesterday’s egg is today’s chicken; Today’s egg is tomorrow’s chicken. In this instance I take yourself as ‘today’s chicken that came yesterday; and myself as tomorrow’s chicken that came today’. The moment we are able to produce eggs we have attained chicken status. I consider myself as the Valigamam West chicken.
2. Which is the Survey Map that reflects the Truth?
————————————————————–
In the 2nd paragraph of your response it is stated ‘ According to Deed 6245 dated 23.03.2006 registering the donation by Mrs. Gajalakshmi Paramasivam this land has been handed over to the Administration of the Government. ‘
This according to me confirms this chicken’s explanation. This is also the essence of our donation.
In other words, Administration is the Government’s responsibility. User facility of Owners rests with the People of Valigamam West. The Valigamam West District Secretariat is only one person. It is my assessment and belief that the Secretariat is only one person. Many persons / All persons could be embedded in this one person through belief. But each person has only one vote. Therefore when your are drawing pictures for the purpose of allocating rights and wrongs, I take it that you have the lawful authority to draw only one picture. Likewise, myself.
As per the Deed we have in our custody, the donation happened on 18 January 2006. I take it that the registration took place on 23.03.2006.
In the 3rd paragraph of your response it is stated ‘The above stated Village Development Secretariat and the path to it were appropriately surveyed by the Government Surveyor and boundaries were also marked.’
When we made the donation, the map used was the one drawn up by Surveyor Mr. K.Kanagasabai . The same Surveyor, as per my request prepared map 3088/08 dated 19-02-2008, according to which map the fence that your Administration has erected in front of the Public Building is within our Land.
If like us, your Administration also had commissioned a survey plan during the time of constructing the Public Building, we would appreciate receiving its reference number and date. If this is not the case, I request that the Government Secretariat gets its Administration in order. If I am also to correct myself in this regard, I ask for yourself to please provide me with the relevant details.
3. High Cost Building
————————–
In the 4th paragraph of your response it is stated ‘Accordingly, through the 2008 North East Society Resettlement Development Project, Rs.2.993 million was spent to construct Thunavi Village Development Society’s Building’
In that case, as per my knowledge that is the most expensive building in Thunaivi. On behalf of Global Tamils, I submit that Resettlement Projects need to prevent People from becoming displaced refugees again. Our donation is also towards this.
On this basis therefore, we ask that the Administration shares with us if it has projected outcomes/return on this capital identifying (1) greater participation by the People (2) higher status for the People (3) increased tax contribution.
As per NECORD’s Report it spent Rs. 1,916,675 on the Secretariat and Rs.814,425 to develop the Rural Road of 2.5 k.m. The balance of Rs, 1,076,325 (2,993,000-1,916,675) is taken as direct capital by the Government.
4. Authority and Independence
———————————-
In the 6th paragraph of your response it is stated ‘ Thunavi Women’s Village Development Society has been given approval by the Valigamam West District Secretariat to conduct its affairs and its activities in the said Thunavi Village Development Secretariat Building. ‘
In that case, my Administrative brain says that the Thunaivi Women’s Village Development Society has no right to directly administer in the name of Public Administration. Also, the last in the list of those to whom copies have been sent of yours response is the Gramar Sevakar – Sangarathai J/159 and the direct Public Administration by the Government is confirmed to cease at that level. Therefore it is confirmed that the Women’s Society does not have the right to directly administer the People.
In that case, it is confirmed that the involvement of and supervision by Mrs. Sarosa Maruthalingam who is known to be part of the Administration of the Women’s Society, in the construction of the fence was outside the limits of your Administrative boundaries. Also, it is now confirmed that when our representative Mr. Jegan was asked by Mrs. Sarosa Maruthalingam and her daughter to bring a letter from yourself to remove from the Public Area, the water meter in my name and the water pump that belongs to us, claiming that we did not have the authority to remove them, they were acting beyond the boundaries of lawful Administration.
The Secretariat conducting Direct Government Administration , as promised to us, is yet to be established in Thunaivi. Until this happens, it is my assessment and belief that we have the authority and the duty to administer ourselves as per our interpretation of relevant laws. This is what I was doing through my Representative. Anyone considering this to be wrong needed to inform the relevant Public Officer, unless they were directly affected as individuals, says my experience in Public Administration. I am one of those individuals directly affected by your construction of the fence. I therefore acted as per my interpretation of the law, to prevent such ill effects on me. I therefore expect your Administration to take disciplinary action against those punished us by acting outside their lawful boundaries. This orderly conduct is certainly needed by Thunaivi.
As per my belief we are all born equal. I believe that this means that there is God in all of us. It is my assessment that we need Common Processes and Administration for the sake of those who do not have this belief and for us to live in harmony with those who do not have this belief . It is my belief and assessment that beyond that one has the authority to discipline another including for Common Welfare only through belief.
This I believe is an important fundamental value to which Sri Lankan Tamils need to attribute priority status and commitment to practice. It is my discovery that when we follow the order – first experience, then knowledge and then observation – we would be able to live in harmony with others and with inner peace when we live on our own. To me this is true Independence.
5. One Land two Parts
————————–
In the 7th paragraph of your response it is stated ‘ The entrance to the Thunavi Village Development Secretariat has been established a few feet in front in consideration of the welfare of the vehicles that come to the Secretariat’
My question is whether there is lawful basis for your Administration to do this? I submit that as far as I am concerned – the answer is – No, your Administration’s structure is not within the principles of applicable policies.
In your response letter it is stated that I should ‘obtain due approval and act’ . I am not able to identify that yourself and your co-officers asked and obtained the approval of the relevant law and policy in your mind, before acting in this matter. As per my assessment, one has the duty to ask and obtain. I submit that your Administration has the authority to expect from myself and others to obtain approval from yourself only to the extent you obtained approval from within.
That pathway is Common pathway. Our share of that pathway donation happened due to those who did not have access to Public facilities – especially those residing in Maavadi Addaikalam Thottam Kanthaswami Temple Property, who specifically made the request in the first instance. It was after this that we came forward to donate land for the building also. Now, it appears that the importance of the original reason for the donation for pathway has been given second priority, leading us to conclude that the Administrators have used the People to demote the People. Your side says One Land. We donated as two distinct parts.
As stated in Section 3 above, – NECORD organization also has listed this as Common Rural Road. Back then it was agreed that the road would be named after our family ancestors. Now by stating that we need the approval of individuals, your Administration is being disloyal to our ancestors. It is because of this that I withdrew approval for the Government Administered School of Human Values to continue at our ancestral property. Our ancestors are our Higher Authority. It is my belief that as per Dharma they are Higher Authority to all those who claim ownership over and/or use such ancestral property .
I learnt that your Administration was constructing the fence for security reasons. The People are complaining that security has reduced. I therefore conclude that the fence was not constructed for the safety of the People. When belief is the basis of actions one has to go deep down to identify the connection between cause and effect. This is my experience-based conclusion.
On the basis of all this, I conclude that the People also consider this to be Common Pathway – which is also the basis of our donation. My assessment as per my interpretation of the law also confirms that this is Common Pathway. If not, there would be no access to Public roadway to residents on both sides of this pathway. Until known otherwise on a Public Platform, I take it that your Administration is also accepting this to be Public Common Pathway.
On the basis that it is Common Pathway, I consider it unlawful that your Administration constructed the gateway to include a part of our fence. As per my assessment, we have the authority to construct our gateways at any part of the fence. I submit that your Administration has temporarily obstructed the exercise of our rights in this regard. Had I reacted on equal basis, it would have been a weak example to the People. It would have gone towards rekindling the war. As per our plans a wide gateway for us at that part of our fence was important for those who came to visit us outside temple activities. As per my interpretation of the relevant policies, those gates would open within our compound. I therefore expected your Administration also to do likewise and set an example to the People of Thunaivi. I expect that at least after all this, your Administration would reduce the size of your gateway so that a smaller inward opening gate could be installed, or install a collapsing gate wide enough to suit your vehicles but without opening into the Public Pathway.
The other alternative is to demolish the unused rooms at the West-end of the Building so that your vehicles could go straight through into the property.
6. The Power of Belief
—————————
In Thunaivi there are many who do not respect the law. It is my belief that until majority residents of Thunaivi show respect for the law, we need to be driven by the Common Belief we share with them. It was on this basis that I wrote to the mothers of young men of Thunaivi when they acted inappropriately with me. I learnt recently that there is now a public inquiry into indecent enforcement by young men of Thunaivi on a female student. I am able to identify through my belief in Mother Kali – the connection between my complaint back then and the social justice that is happening now. I expected Thunaivi mothers to discipline their children the same way I would have, if my children had acted like that against another mother. Had they disciplined back then, they would have been pardoned through our common belief in Mother Kali. That is the path of Belief and the Glory of Belief. When we fail to use that path, problems surface at the Public level. The judgment delivered to us by the Public from within their circle of belief is social justice. This is usually not apparent. But would certainly deliver justice on Equal basis, is my belief.
On that basis, when recently the Public accused these Thunaivi youngsters I sadly thought to myself that if the mothers I had complained to had disciplined their sons back then, they would now not stand accused by the Public. Good conduct is far more important than clever acts. Hence I consider that it is a priority for Thunaivi Women’s Village Development Society to work hard to lift Good Conduct . The path of Common Belief is a Higher Path. Administration on the basis of Common Belief would therefore be Higher Administration towards Independence.
7. Water Problem
———————-
I heard that your Officers have not moved to locate themselves in Thunaivi, due to the Public drawing water from our well and bathing at the open area around the well. Given that your Offices have not moved as promised and no reason has been officially provided for this, I accept the reason taken by the Public – provided it seems appropriate to me. On that basis I believe that my efforts would show return through the system of Social Justice. The basis for such belief is my belief that we were all born with Divinity within ourselves. Likewise I believe that we all have Common Society in various forms, within ourselves.
Our son also suggested that we have a fence to provide privacy from users of the well – the way your Administration has constructed the fence. I declined. I said that the cottage designed by him and constructed within the temple premises was open and represented Transparency. I said I did not want to now add screen to reduce this value.
There is reason for this. At Global Level – Sri Lanka now needs Transparency and Accountability. Thunaivi folks who have benefited from global funding also have the responsibility to commit themselves to these policies. The way you have at your workplace – the People of Thunaivi, I have our children – they express their wants but would not exert authority over me. When they see an opportunity they show their side – independent of me. Greater the Transparency, lesser the need for Accountability. When my children show their side independent of myself but at equal level to myself – the picture drawn is the baby of Democracy. Until then I am government and they are the People. Our children at this point in time have a shortage of investment in Thunaivi to take up Governance position. Hence I rejected the ‘other side’ and included my son’s contribution with mine. Otherwise there is the risk of the picture being drawn at the lower level and the harvest is not likely to come home.
Those who draw water from our well on the basis of their needs, I believe, are continuously wishing us well. They would not cause us any problems. One night in Thunaivi, when I was seated at the verandah of our cottage – at around 9 o’clock I heard someone’s footsteps in the dark – coming from the path in front. I could not see the face. I heard the word ‘Ammah’ / Mother from the person coming from the direction of Navali Road. So saying the gentleman walked towards the well and while taking a wash shared with me his day’s work at the paddy field. He had a need. When he was using our well water, having come home tired after a day’s hard work, it was a true blessing for us. That is the basis of Public Life.
No mention has been made by yourself about the termination of water facilities. The water tank was constructed with the cooperation of those who constructed the Common building. The tank was built for the people by the people in Public Land. It is my assessment that until therefore your Administration establishes a just system of distribution as per common public policy, it was unlawful of your Officers to block the lawful Voluntary Service that we the People were providing. I consider such blockage to be abuse of power. It is my assessment that your Administration had the authority to take action against us in relation to distribution of water only if we had acted unlawfully.
To me it seems that the building under the Administration of the Government – of the Village Development Secretariat without water facilities would in itself seem to be in contradiction of Village Development. How come your officers installed tap water facilities within the Secretariat building without the approval of those who built the facility? Aren’t those actions in breach of the protection of the voluntary village development work? They indicate lack of inner fence. We considered the Village Development Society Secretariat as ours and hence we did not back then need the fence to show ‘ us and them division’. Now that you seem to need that fence we see the need for the fence of law that would protect our work.
On that basis, we propose to install a gate in the direction of the water tank – opposite the gate of Mr. Aiyathurai, at the boundary common to our land and the Public land. If you are not in agreement with this, we need to take other steps as per our need for water – until we receive a decision from the courts. Today, Mrs. Ratnathevi Karthigesan Sinnathamby (Retired Divisional Secretariat Officer) stated that she would be coming next month to stay at our Thunaivi cottage and tend to the medical needs of a relative of hers. Hence these water facilities need to be organized quicker than we previously expected. If you are not in agreement with the installation of the above stated gate, please do inform me within the month. If I do not receive a response from you, I would conclude that you do not lawfully oppose this and that you do not consider that this would adversely affect the Secretariat or the Public.
8. Changes and their Effects
———————————-
In the course of time, you yourself may get promoted to higher positions and/or get transferred to other areas. Likewise at our end, the younger generation – especially our son may take over the Administration from me. Both sides have the responsibility to handover a just establishment to the next generation. The way the Public is to you, my children and grandchildren are to me. The way your higher officers are to you, my ancestors are to me. If we fail to act as per Common Justice and Fairness, both sides would have to hang our heads in shame. Our son is an Architect cum Civil Engineer. He is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka with his family, later this year and would stay also at Thunaivi. He usually works with an artistic sense. The Landscape of our Thunaivi property would be planned out by him. This would involve gate-ways. When we built the Thunaivi home as per his design, there were many differences despite hours of communication between him and the builders. Some structures were broken down and rebuilt. The reason why I did that was because even though he is my son, I consider him to be an independent individual. I felt the need to respect that he contributed to our work through his special services. The fence that we have installed along the boundary with the common path also may need to be reconstructed. It may be completely removed. Our grandchildren may bring about further changes during their times. It is the right of each generation to bring about their own changes. If we are to protect and facilitate this right, our structures need to be in good order. They need to be high enough for all to participate. The higher the structure, the wider the spread.
In the 8th paragraph of your response it is stated ‘I am pleased to inform you that through your Australian Tamil Management Service, you yourself are welcome to implement projects, with due approval, towards the welfare of our Division.’
As informed previously, we did plan on a Library and Communication center at Thunaivi. But if I have to personally obtain the stated approvals, I do not have the resources under our current circumstances. If other organizations come forward, I will keep you advised. At the same time, I feel the need to inform them also of the difficulties I have faced through your system. Some may not consider it a problem.
In the 9th paragraph of your response you state ‘ While thanking yourself, on behalf of the People, for your donation of land towards the development of
Thunavi Village, we submit that we would offer yourself our fullest cooperation in your future duly approved projects towards the welfare of People.’
True ‘thank you’ happens when the genuine donor feels happy. The fact that you yourself sent this letter of response and the tone of this letter have confirmed to me – such a happening. Thank you.
If I am to believe that our projects there would happen in an orderly manner, we need to first sort out these Administrative knots. We have thus far acted within our interpretation of the law. It seems to me that we are expected to obtain addition approval over and above that. There has been no response to some issues raised by us. I conclude that that is due to your own circumstances. Response to some of the questions above could change the current circumstances. We could respond together by engaging with each other. That is my preferred approach. If that happens we do not need to go to Courts in search of Justice.
Again thank you for your response.
sincerely,
Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam
CC: Ms.Imelda Sukumar; Government Agent/Div. Secy, Divisional Secretariat – Jaffna
Mr. Sivakumar – Grama Sevakar – Sangarathai
Chairperson – Valikamam West Pradeshiya Sabha
Chairperson – Thunaivi Women’s Development Association
Mrs. Sarosa & Miss Vijitha Maruthalingam
Mr. P. Jeevarasa – Coordinator – Australian Tamil Management Service

  Share:

Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

Sri Lanka Guardian has been providing breaking news & views for the progressive community since 2007. We are independent and non-profit.