Natural Tamil Right to make the Devolution Decision.

Sinhalese Government using claim of Sovereignty instead of merit during the war, automatically entitled Tamils to Devolution Rights. In a Just society, Tamils would make the choice whether to Devolve or not Devolve. In an unjust society they would be denied the exercise of that earned right.

l by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam

(March 13, 2012, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the article ‘Devolution of Police Powers – A response to Mr. Sumanthiran MP’ by Gamini Gunawardane, published in Sri Lanka Guardian.
As I read the article, I recalled a fellow Australian of Sri Lankan Sinhalese origin raising the question at a meeting of expatriate Sri Lankans whether we were all committed to a unitary Sri Lanka? I interpret through the above article that the response to that from Mr. Gamini Gunawardane, would be YES SIR! A more independent member of that group – also of Sinhalese origin to my knowledge – but would be very difficult to know without going into his past – stated that the formation of any Sri Lankan group should not be dependent on what the Tamils were doing. To me HE is a Sri Lankan and the former is very much a Sinhalese. Likewise, Mr. Gamini Gunawardane, to me is a Sinhalese. An independent Sri Lankan does not ‘show’ his ethnic origin except for a specific stated purpose. S/he may be seen as belonging to a particular culture – but that is in the eyes of the beholder. The words spoken/written do not identify with the substance underpinning the expressions.
Mr. Gunawardane says ‘It is unfortunate that Mr. Sumanthiran ( MAS) and his ilk see the so called national problem only form their point of view. Naturally what they see is a distorted picture. Hence needless to say what kind of solutions they would develop.’
It is the core duty of a Politician to present the experience from her/his point of view on behalf of her/his people. Mr. Gunawardane is reported to be a retired Senior Inspector General of Police and NOT a politician. The fact that he is still talking as if he was in Administrative Service – confirms the political influence that Police Administrators carry – for better or for worse. Tamils need to match this political influence by Sinhalese Police Officers if we are to practice Equal Opportunity principles and values.
Recently, I heard that a close relative of mine Gajamuganathan Kathiravelu (born in Kilinochchi and whose father has gone back to live in his farm in Kilinochchi, Northern Sri Lanka ) – who is in the Toronto (Canada) Police Force was a key member of the Police team that investigated an insurance fraud by Tamil Canadians. It’s the intuitive connection through common culture-based faith that gives us that deeper connection to identify with the other person. This is the base of our further investigations and expressions beyond Administrative limits, towards Truth / wisdom. That is also the personal service component of our work.
Devolution of powers is needed where majority decisions are taken rightly or wrongly ‘outside’ the Administrative limits. Services that are heavily based on subjective thinking, often require devolution/delegation of central powers to local areas/ lower levels. Mr. Gunawardane states ‘We police officers on the other hand, are able to look at the Provincial Councils issue from the total country perspective, as senior officers who have worked in the Northern, Eastern, Southern, Central Provinces and at the Center. Hence, our problem is not merely giving police powers only to the North and the East, but to all Provincial Councils in the whole country. I shudder at the thought.’
If Mr. Gunawardane considers himself to be a Police Officer – he needs to limit himself to what he achieved as a Police Officer – which he would carry as wisdom, to be used at any place any time. The way we take our sins and virtues (Paava, Punniyam) after death into our next life, we take this wisdom into the future stages of our life. That is our Truth and we are entitled to use it any time anywhere. Beyond that we need official position to express on behalf of a group / institution. In other words, Mr. Gunawardane has ‘taken over’ powers that he does not have the right to use. Mr. Gunawardane at any time is entitled to speak through his knowledge as a citizen without special portfolio. Once retired, only one’s wisdom needs to be used and not the official position and its powers that have become ‘history’ in retirement. They are the scaffolding used to realize wisdom, ownership. They need to be dismantled once the job is completed/goal is achieved.
Mr. Gunawardane needs to ask himself as to whether or not he has official position with Mr. Sumanthiran and if yes, the limits of its powers and responsibilities. A more productive path to my mind and one taken by me is to become an independent customer of Public Service and know the reality from the ‘other side’ of our positions prior to retirement. This might help Mr. Gunawardane not express himself without completing the ‘other side’ of the picture drawn by him – the Tamil side in this instance. By expressing prematurely, Mr. Gunawardane is taken by me as trying to ‘enforce’ his ways – rather than leaving it in the open/being transparent for others to take it or leave it.
We gain wisdom through our official positions. Once we retire from those positions, we have the natural opportunity to give form from the ‘other’ side of that official position that we held. That way we leave behind a real structure based on our work, for the next generation as well as those who do not have inner knowledge of that position and the institution that the position is a part of. Writing this framework is like writing our Wills. To me that is high level service.
Mr. Gunawardena quotes Mr. Sumanthiran as follows “The provincial executive also must have the necessary independence from central control to give effect to and implement regional laws and regulations. It is essential therefore that a substantial measure of powers over police be vested in the province so as to implement regional laws.”
Tamils of Sri Lanka are strongly driven by their culture and therefore customary laws such as Thesawalamai. In Thesawalamai one’s wealth is classified as Muthusum (inheritance) or Thediya Thettam (acquired wealth). Where there is dispute relating to issues covered by customary laws, in this instance Thesawalamai – one would need to approach the matter intuitively first so that others of that local area would be able to identify with various aspects of the matter and the outcomes. This is faith based. The other alternative is to start from ZERO base – as in democratic budgeting systems – and draw the full picture based on a 360 degree view of what happened. Hence going over to the ‘other side’ after retirement to complete the picture.
Using Hindu values, in essence, those who relate to God through Ganesh to whom His parents were the whole world – would take the intuitive approach. Those who relate to God through Ganesh’s younger brother Muruga who through His six faces has 360 degree view, would take the ZERO base approach and draw the full picture as per CURRENT forces. As an accountant I take Muthusum (inherited wealth) as long term capital and Thediya Thettam as Working Capital. Mr. Gunawardane’s wisdom from his official position is now Muthusum and is NOT working capital. Many Western Public Service Agencies are switching to ‘Business Unit’ / ‘Zero Base’ / ‘Working Capital’ approach in multicultural / global services. This prevents racial discrimination and other subjective discrimination outside that particular discipline.
To achieve this CURRENT picture of the whole matter – we need to bring into the common forum only that which we witnessed and experienced directly. Mr. Gunawardane states ‘It was only a few weeks ago that retired SSP Tassie Seneviratne wrote in an article after a tour in the North, about the great community relations work being carried out by the police there in the North, under the enlightened leadership of Snr. DIG Gamini Silva, DIG Daluwatte and the SSPs.’
How could someone have intuitive knowledge of the Jaffna community by merely doing a tour? Or 360 degree view of current residents of Jaffna? I was once asked in the middle of a management training in Northern Sri Lanka, to join the group that was being spoken to by senior Police Officers. I agreed because the person asking was very humble and respectful of my status in that community. The senior officers spoke about alcohol problems; domestic violence; loitering in the streets etc. At that time, the real fear of that group was the Grease-Devil.
Mr. Gunawardane refers to Mr. Sumanthiran’s comments on Grease-Devil matter as follows: ‘He cites the ‘Grease Devil’ phenomena as the latest issue to justify such a demand. Now it is common knowledge among all police officers in this country that from time to time there emerge in villages, antics of some sex pervert who collect ladies underwear or engage in voyeurism or even engage in petty thieving in villages with grease on their bodies. They are either caught or just disappear after sometime. There is no big fuss. This time it was blown out of proportion by Tamil press specially and read political & other meanings more for propaganda effect. Now where is the ‘Grease Yakka’? Is it a permanent feature? Are these good enough reasons to dismantle a strongly built time tested centralized police structure?
To Mr. Gunawardane, this kind of low class behavior may be ordinary business requiring no-fuss. But Jaffna Tamils are seriously affected by war and displacement and the way they receive such incidents would be very different to the way a Sinhalese without the experience of war pain and loss would. Once the bus I was traveling in came to a halt in Navaali area in Northern Sri Lanka, because of Grease-Devil activity in which a young hospital worker was attacked. Passengers, drivers and conductors immediately shared and alerted each other – and to me it seemed as if they were going into an ‘alert’ mode once the alarm bells were rung. That is the state of affairs in Jaffna. It will continue to be so unless our memories are overridden by more pleasant observations and pleasant knowledge born out of experience. The intellectually driven would need to know the connection between what happened and the cause for themselves and those they feel a part of. Then they would feel they have more control over their own destiny. We need our privacy to know for ourselves – so that we do not blame others. The other alternative is for recruitment, dismissals, promotions and demotions to be strictly on merit basis – measurable through objective evidence. The lack of open action to punish the perpetrators of war crimes confirms that Sri Lankan Government is a long way away from merit based Administration. They used intuitive knowledge particular to their ethnic group to punish Tamils. Tamils are morally entitled to Devolution because of that act alone. Devolution on the basis of ethnic majority would be progressive for all concerned, until we are ready to use ZERO base approach.
Sinhalese Government using claim of Sovereignty instead of merit during the war, automatically entitled Tamils to Devolution Rights. In a Just society, Tamils would make the choice whether to Devolve or not Devolve. In an unjust society they would be denied the exercise of that earned right.


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.