| by Brian Senewiratne
( February 07, Brisbane, Sri Lanka Guardian) February 4th, the day Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) got so-called “Independence” from Britain in 1948, is a day for action, not regret or mourning.
The British irresponsibility
Of all the irresponsible acts of the colonial British in Sri Lanka, by far the worst was leaving the country in the hands of the Sinhalese majority. The entire ethnic problem has stemmed from this. If Britain was the cause of the problem, then it has to be part of the solution. To support the blatantly anti-Tamil Sri Lankan government, is to compound the problem, not to resolve it.
It is absurd to claim that the British were unaware of the anti-Tamil stance of the Sinhalese ‘leaders’ such as D.S. Senanayake, leader of the United National Party (UNP), who took over from the British. Senanayake’s anti-Tamil stance (and actions) was clearly evident. This included altering the demography of the Tamil East by relocating Sinhalese from the South to make places like Amparai, a Tamil area, into a Sinhalese area.
His blatantly racist stance against the Plantation Tamils of Indian origin was not even thinly disguised. This outrageous racism was based on the absurd claim that since some of them went back to India and came back, and some sent money to their families in India, they were not permanent residents of Sri Lanka.
As Chairman of the Land Commission, his Interim Report of 1927 defined a “Ceylonese’ so as to exclude the Indian (Plantation) Tamils. The report stated: “by Ceylonese we mean the Sinhalese, Ceylon Tamils, Burghers, Ceylon Moors, Ceylon Malays and Europeans domiciled in Ceylon”
Based on this report, the 1935 Land Development Ordinance of D.S.Senanayake, as Minister of Agriculture and Lands (in British Ceylon), excluded Indian Tamils from the benefits of land alienation by the government.
As early as 1940, with Britain firmly in charge, Senanayake is on record as saying:
“It is unthinkable that we should give….full rights of citizenship to people who have not made Ceylon their permanent home. The vast majority of the Indians in Ceylon consider India to be their home, and Ceylon as their place of occupation……They are here only to earn and to make money (sic) and take it away to India…..Unless we stem the tide of the growing domination of Indians in Ceylon in our economic and social life, our extinction as a Ceylonese nation is inevitable”
This is the blatant racist to whom Britain handed over the country (and the Plantation Tamils) on 4th February 1948. I watched this comic-tragedy with disbelief, as the Rt.Hon.D.S.Senanayake, a school dropout, mounted the podium at the appointed ‘auspicious’ hour, in a pin-striped suit and tail coat, looking as British as they come, to receive the instruments of the transfer of power from the Duke of Gloucester, representing King George VI.
Although the capitalists, the ruling classes and elite celebrated with the visiting British royalty and the scions of nobility, I cannot remember the mute millions of ordinary Ceylonese getting too excited about it. It was clear that the capitalist horse would be going in the same direction, only the rider had changed. The pin-striped suit and tail coat said it all.
With the view Senanayake held and expressed openly, small wonder that his first act as Prime Minister was to disenfranchise and decitizenise a million Plantation Tamils (who had been citizens since 1931), who had put Ceylon on the map by their sweat and toil in freezing conditions in the tea plantations, and who were paid the lowest wages of anyone in the country. This was done within a year of ‘Independence’ with a British Governor in charge of ‘Independent’ Ceylon! The British Government is guilty of the gross betrayal of a million people who had toiled under dreadful conditions (which I was to witness first hand from 1968-76), to produce the wealth for the British to rule the colony.
If Senanayeke was bad news, the Bandaranaikes who followed were worse. S.W.R.D Bandaranaike from the other side of the Sinhalese political divide, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), embarked on a policy of discrimination against the ethnic Tamils. This was faithfully continued by his wife, Sirima, and daughter, Chandrika, all of whom were Heads of State.
Sirima Bandaranaike’s Prime Ministerial message to her people (meaning the Sinhalese) on Independence Day, 4th February 1965:
“We have removed the disabilities placed on the majority of our people by the foreign ruler. The language and the religion of the majority, which has been deliberately impeded and discouraged by the foreigner for his purposes, have been developed and their rightful place ensured. While respecting the rights of the minorities, the government, mindful of its obligations to the majority of the people has restored their lost rights.
If the Bandaranaikes were bad news, the Rajapaksas who followed were worse, much worse. The Sinhalese leadership has been going from bad to worse at an alarming rate.
Sinhalese leaders have never been inspired by any desire to create a common nationalism out of ethno-religious diversity. They have peddled the Sinhala-Buddhist jingoism of blatant anti-Tamil propagandists such as Anagarika Dharmapala, based on an exaggerated vision of the Sinhalese past.
It is important to focus on this exaggeration and ethnic intolerance since this is what is happening today more so than ever.
Anagarika Dharmapala was a confused, quixotic Buddhist with a crusading missionary zeal. He even renamed himself for the purpose, just as S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike changed his western attire to an improvised local attire (the so-called Aryan-Sinhalese dress), and even his religion from Christianity to Buddhism, for a purpose – to get elected to power.
Originally Don David Hewawitarne (the son of Don Carolis – the furniture manufacturer), he took on the name “Anagarika” (in Pali ‘the homeless one’), “Dhamapala’ (guardian of the doctrine). His propaganda was based on distortions, half-truths and blatant lies, peddled as historical evidence of the glories of the ancient Sinhalese.
Two examples will suffice. In order to idealise the past, Dharmapala wrote:
“No nation in the world has a more brilliant history than ourselves……There exists no race on earth today that has had a more triumphant record of victory than the Sinhalese”
In 1911, he proclaimed, “The Country of the Sinhalese should be governed by the Sinhalese”. In his view, the Tamils and others had no place in Sri Lanka.
Every Sinhalese leader has peddled this ethnic chauvinism with increasing virulence and violence, to get the electoral support of the Sinhalese majority (74% of the population). The British were well aware that such a problem could arise. Indeed concerns about the plight of the minorities were raised, not once but twice, by those in the British Colonial Office, of all places, before Independence was given.
All that Britain (Lord Soulbury) did, was to insert just one ‘safe-guard’ clause, Section 29 (2) (b) and (c), that no law shall impose any disabilities, or confer any advantage, on members of any one community. There were no penalties or consequences if this was violated (which it was, in full view of the British Governor of ‘Independent’ Ceylon).
As I have said, within a year of Independence, legislation was passed (1948-49) to disenfranchise and decitizenise a million Plantation Tamils, a seventh of the total population of the country at the time. With the stroke of a pen, they were made ‘non-people’, in one of the worst acts of political vandalism in the world. The Tamils lost 40% of their parliamentarians since those elected by the Plantation Tamils were thrown out of parliament. What did Britain do? Nothing.
It is of interest that today, half a century later, some 300,000 Sri Lankan Tamils are effectively being made non-people, not by the British, but by the Rajapaksa regime.
In 1956, systematic discrimination against the ethnic Tamils started (and progressed).
The consequences of the British legacy drove some Tamils, 20 years after the British withdrawal, to petition the British monarch for redress. They went to London in 1968 with a petition signed by thousands of Tamils, setting out the plight in which British rule had left the Sri Lankan Tamils, and presented it to Queen Elizabeth, seeking her intervention as Queen of Sri Lanka (which she was at the time). Expectedly, she did nothing. I am not sure what she said. It might have been “We are not pleased’!
Lord Soulbury, after being given a reward-holiday as Governor General of ‘Independent’ Sri Lanka, in a spirit of repentance for the failure of the British, took the blame on himself and later admitted, “I now think it is a pity that the (Soulbury) Commission did not also recommend the entrenchment in the Constitution of guarantees of fundamental rights”. He will be relieved to know that even he had, it would have been tossed out, as was his ‘safe-guard clause’ Section 29 of the Constitution. It is not possible to graft Westminster-type democracy evolved over hundreds of years, on those who are more at home with autocracy and familial rule, and expect it to work. It does not, Constitution or no Constitution. That is political reality in the 3rd World.
As pogrom after pogrom against the Tamils continued, ending in the genocidal killing of the Tamils in the North and East in 2009, what did Britain do? Support the murderous Sri Lankan Government, even supplying the necessary weapons and expertise. The ‘expertise’ was to train the notorious Sri Lankan Police and Armed Forces to kill the Tamils, and torture them, more ‘efficiently’.
Now with the ‘slow extermination’ of the Tamils in the North and East, what is Britain (and the USA) doing? Taking part in the rape of the Tamil areas and attempting to exclude China’s increasing foothold in Sri Lanka, so essential for the control of the economically crucial Indian Ocean.
Another ‘contribution’ of the British was to propagate a disastrous document written by a blatantly anti-Tamil Buddhist monk, Mahanama. It was an Englishman, George Turnour who in 1826 had a manuscript delivered to his office in the Sinhala South. This was The Mahavamsa, the ‘Great Chronicle’. He had it translated into English and widely distributed. Regarded as a major historical discovery, it is, in fact, ‘The textbook of Sinhala supremacy”. It glorifies the Sinhalese as protectors of Buddhism and saviours of the nation, and derides the Tamils as invaders, vandals, marauders and heathens. To be fair by the author, it was written “for the serene joy of the pious’, not as a record of history. It is this ‘Mahavamsa mind-set’ (the Dharmapala mould) of the Sinhalese that has prevented any form of justice for the Tamil people. Immeasurable damage has been done by this single document to ethnic relations in Sri Lanka.
Anagarika Dharmapala’s ethnic chauvinism of the 1900s,-“the Country of the Sinhalese should be governed by the Sinhalese” – was faithfully reproduced a century later. Army Commander Sarath Fonseka in an interview to the National Post newspaper in Canada on 23 September 2008, said, “I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese. We being the majority, will neve give in. They (the minorities) can live in this country with us, but must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue things”.
Fonseka does not need to give ‘permission’ for the Tamils to live in Sri Lanka. They are there because they were born there and have a right to be there. They do not need to pretend to be a minority, they are a minority. What are the ‘undue things’ they demand? To have their basic human rights protected, not to be discriminated against, not to be raped, tortured, or ‘disappear’, and not to be non-people whose very survival is in doubt.
He was questioned about this when he decided to contest Mahinda Rajapaksa for the Presidency, and was appealing to the Tamil people in the North for their support. He said that he had been ‘misunderstood’. There was no misunderstanding. It was in plain English.
All of this is well-known. If it is not, a comprehensive Report has just been tabled in the Sri Lankan Parliament Situation Report: North and East on 21 October 2011, which sets out what the Rajapaksa junta is doing to the Tamils.
Britain’s only concern is, and has always been, the geopolitical, strategic and economic gains, not human rights. On the eve of transfer of power, the British and Sri Lanka (Ceylonese) governments signed a “Defence and External Affairs” agreement of serious importance. In exchange for ‘Independence’, Britain would give military assistance to Sri Lanka, and would be permitted to station and have bases for its Army, Navy and Air Force in Trincomalee, Colombo and Katunayake.
The situation is no different now except that the international players and their ruthlessness have increased markedly. I refer in particular, to China, which is making Sri Lanka into a Chinese colony – colonialism by stealth.
In the dozen dvds I have recorded and distributed worldwide, I have said that there are two ’wars’ going in Sri Lanka. One between the Sri Lankan (Sinhala) government against the Tamil people to force them to accept Sri Lanka as a Sinhala-Buddhist nation. The other, at a different level, is ‘competition and co-operation’ (for which a new word has to be coined – ‘co-petition’) between China, India and the USA for a foothold in Sri Lanka for the control of the Indian Ocean. China can be replaced by China, Korea and Japan. India, by India and Pakistan. USA by USA, UK and Australia.
Tamil political leadership
The Tamil political leadership is no less to blame. Had they not joined hands with a blatantly anti-Tamil Sinhalese leadership to present a ‘common front’ to the colonial British, there would have been no Independence. The Tamil political leadership continues to be a problem rather than the solution.
The same goes on today. The longer the Tamil politicians (the Tamil National Alliance) engage in futile non-productive and meaningless talks with the Sri Lankan regime, more will be the damage done to the Tamil people. These endless talks only allow the Sri Lankan regime to claim that it is ‘negotiating’ with the elected representatives of the Tamil people. It is doing nothing of the sort. Nor has it since day one. These are only ‘pretence’ talks to keep the international community, in particular, the ‘aid-givers’, happy. The aid keeps flowing to keep a ruthless regime, guilty of the gross abuse of power and basic human rights, in power.
‘Independence’ for the Sinhalese
It is no exaggeration to say that on 4th February, 1948, ‘Independence’ was granted to the Sinhalese to do what they wanted to the Tamils. Britain could not care less, as long as the military bases were secure and the (British) tea estates remained under Sinhalese capitalist control, to supply tea at absurdly low prices to fill the British cup.
The very least that the departing British could have done was to leave a Federal set-up, or even what existed for centuries before their disastrous 1833 Colebrooke-Cameron ‘Reforms’ that unified what was divided, and centralised power in the Sinhala South.
However, as has been stressed, the British could not care less about what happened to the minorities under Sinhalese majoritarian rule. They were only concerned about holding on to military bases and a guaranteed supply of (cheap) tea, plucked by slave labourers. Just for the record, Britain which grows not a single bush of tea, was the largest tea exporter in the world. Ceylon tea auctions, even after so-called ‘Independence’ were conducted in London! So much for ‘Independence’.
The betrayal of the Tamils by the British cannot be ignored. If it is, then Britain must be reminded of its moral, legal and ethical obligations, to ‘do the right thing’, by the Tamils even belatedly.
As I have said, this is not the time to ‘express regret’ at what has happened to the Tamils in 1948, but a time for positive action.
Tamils, and those of us, non-Tamils, who support the right of the Tamil people to live with equality, dignity, safety, and now to live at all, must draw up an action plan. One thing is certain – to negotiate with the Rajapaksa regime for an acceptable deal for the Tamils is impossible.. Those who believe otherwise, are not living in the real world.
The Tamils are not going to get justice, any more than black South Africans were going to get justice from those who ran the apartheid regime. Justice will have to be extracted from a brutal, barbaric, ruthless, totalitarian regime. It cannot be negotiated, as Neville Chamberlain learnt in dealing with Hitler.
I will set out an ‘Action Plan’. This is not an attempt to reinvent the wheel but to set out what has been done (successfully) in handling other barbaric regimes, such as the one in Apartheid South Africa. Whenever I use this analogy, it is pointed out that the situation in South Africa was different, in that a small minority of whites were oppressing a vast number of blacks. I stand by my comparison in the Sri Lankan setting. It is a tiny number of Sinhalese (the ruling Rakapaksa junta) that is oppressing the vast number of Sri Lankans, be they Tamil, Sinhalese or Muslims. So the comparison is perfectly valid.
1. Isolate the Sri Lankan regime until it delivers an acceptable solution. This is exactly what was done in South Africa.
2. Organise and conduct a total boycott of all goods and services in and out of Sri Lanka. This must be comprehensive, with no exceptions. Tourism, sport, investment, loans, and support in every area must all be targeted. I am not claiming that this will be easy, any more than it was in dealing with the much more powerful South Africa. In fact it is much simpler since we are dealing with a regime on the verge of bankruptcy which relies on regular bail-outs for survival.
3. Trade Unions across the world will have to be informed of the brutality that is being unleashed on the Tamil people, and to urge them not to load or off load goods to or from Sri Lanka.
4. Tourist companies must be approached and urged to take Sri Lanka off the tourist destinations, and that there are other better, cheaper, and even safer, places to spend a holiday, than the blood drenched beaches of Sri Lanka. Every tourist dollar goes to supporting a brutal totalitarian regime that is guilty of horrendous atrocities and a gross violation of basic human rights.
5. Make it impossible for the members of this regime to visit countries without a massive protest. The British Tamils showed what can be achieved when President Rajapaksa tried to visit Oxford University in November 2010. Not only did the Oxford Union withdraw the invitation, but Rajapaksa and his goons had to flee the country before they were charged. Rajapaksa should only be able to visit China and Russia.
6. File legal action against the perpetrators of crimes against humanity and take them to the International Criminal Court. Can this be done? Yes it can. A ruling Head of State, the President of Sudan, has been tried and convicted.
Already there are charges filed in the US and in Europe. More must follow. Some of these criminals are now Sri Lankan Ambassadors. They must be sent back as was so successfully done to the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Germany, Switzerland and the Vatican, Jagath Dias, in 2011.
7. Stop hallucinating that the United Nations or even the UN Human Rights Council will act. They will not, they never have. The UN is a talk-shop, and has always been a talk-shop. The UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon has his own agenda. Justice for the Tamil people is not on his agenda.
What is going on in Sri Lanka is our problem. To expect the UN to deal with it is totally unrealistic. It will not happen. Despite the most damning Report by Ban ki-Moon’s Panel of Experts more than two years ago, he has done nothing. He says he has no power to implement the ‘advise’ in the Report. Why then did he appoint the ‘Advisory Panel’ in the first place?
8. To insist on a Referendum in the Tamil area to see what the Tamil people want. This was done in East Timor. There is no reason why it cannot be done in Sri Lanka.
9. Target the Plantation Tamils in Sri Lanka. If they down their tools, the Sri Lankan regime will collapse in a month.
10. Target the Sinhalese people (members of my community) in the South and point out the problems and hazards of living under a totalitarian regime. The guns that were turned on the Tamils, will now be turned on the Sinhalese. That is what Totalitarian regimes do. It is critical to realise that the Tamils in Sri Lanka can achieve nothing without the help of the Sinhalese.
Will the Sinhalese act? Yes they will, not because of any love for the Tamils, but for their own survival. As the International Monetary Fund tightens the screws, it is the working people who always pay the price. This is already happening to the Sinhalese..
11 Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Asian Human Rights Commission, and International Crisis Group, must be supported. They are groups with the necessary ability and experience to take on brutal regimes. They have done it before, and have succeeded. Their unrestricted admission to all parts of Sri Lanka, not just the Tamil areas, must be a non-negotiable demand. Until that is done, the sanctions should go on.
11. The R2P (Responsibility to Protect) will have to be applied, since the people of Sri Lanka, the Tamils in the North and East in particular, are not being protected by a ruthless government. R2P allows for armed intervention, if necessary. Words must mean something, and if R2P is to have any meaning, it has to be applied. If it is not, it will lose credibility.
12. Some international power has to take on the Sri Lankan regime. Canada already has. Britain must be forced to, if only because of the betrayal of the Tamil people by the colonial power which I have already set out.
Will sanctions and a boycott hurt ordinary people?
The perennial question is whether sanctions and a boycott will hurt the ordinary people. They might, but not half as much as they would hurt those in power whose declared intention is to remain in power for ever, manipulating the Constitution, rigging ballot boxes, and engaging in every possible violation of free and fair elections. They see it as their right to do what they want with the country, which includes robbing the country and its people for their personal gain.
As for the people, be they Sinhalese, Tamil or Muslim, they might well have to pay a price for being rescued from a totalitarian regime, the most violent, corrupt, incompetent and nepotistic, to ever run (and ruin) Sri Lanka.
I discussed all this with some ANC leaders in South Africa who should have the answers. They said that sanctions against the apartheid regime might have hurt the poorer sections of the population, but “they could not sink lower than the bottom which they had already reached, or lose anything from nothing”. There was no question that the major ‘casualties’ were those at the top, which is why they capitulated, enabling the dreadful apartheid regime to be dismantled.
The ‘new’ War.
To look at what is going on in Sri Lanka as a fight between the Sinhala government and the Tamil people will have to change. It is a fight between all the people of Sri Lanka (irrespective of ethnicity) and a totalitarian regime whose entire objective is to remain in power and to rob and rape the country, and do as it wants to whoever they want, with no accountability, or consequences. Unless this critical concept is transmitted to the Sinhalese people, however difficult it might be in practice, this murderous, corrupt and incompetent regime will go on for the foreseeable future, with appalling damage done, not only to the Tamil, Sinhalese and Muslim people, but to the country as a whole which is fast heading to be a Failed State,
Leadership and politicians
There is a serious lack of leadership, both in Sri Lanka and among the expatriate community. Where the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka are concerned, there have been no leaders. As I have said earlier, Sinhalese politicians have developed the ability to peddle Sinhala-Buddhist jingoism rather than to lead a nation. This has steadily and dramatically got worse. It is not something that is likely to change. Over the years they have produced a large number of politicians but no statesmen. At the moment, the Sinhalese can barely find a politician to lead the Opposition, as a result of which President Rajapaksa and his cronies can do what they want.
Just four days before the 2010 General Election, an editorial in a leading Sri Lankan newspaper, set out the options facing Sri Lankan voters. In one of the most accurate descriptions of the vast majority of Sri Lankan politicians, the editorial was blunt:-
“None of the individual contenders, political parties or opportunistic coalitions are worthy of our respect or our vote. Together they comprise the most mind-boggling array of crooks, thugs, conmen, hypocrites, unprincipled racists, rapists, drug dealers, money launderers, and general all-round scum that is without parallel elsewhere in the world. Other nations have their share of such undesirables, no doubt, but among them are a handful of honest, sincere, principled folk who have distanced themselves from the corrupt majority. Not so in miserable Sri Lanka.”
These are the ‘leaders’ and rulers in Sri Lanka – a ‘general all-round scum that is without parallel’.
The Tamils are no better. Their leadership has been abysmally poor. Their politics have consisted of making fiery speeches in parliament (which no one listens to), followed by a drink at the local watering hole where they socialise with their Sinhalese counterparts. Not surprisingly, the Tamil people have had a raw deal.
The expatriate community is no better. I can speak only of the expatriate Tamil community with whom I have worked for some four decades. There are simply no leaders worth talking about, and the situation is becoming worse.
There most certainly is not going to be a Mahatma Gandhi, in Sri Lanka or abroad, to rescue the people from tyranny and injustice.
If there are no leaders, and none that are likely to appear, it is going to be left to us (‘us’ meaning the Tamils and those who support their cause), as was the situation in Gadaffi’s Libya and the other countries in the Middle East ‘Spring’. The people will have to rise.
We in the outside world can only assist and support such action. State and State-sponsored violence will, most certainly, be unleashed by those in power. That is what totalitarian regimes do. They are politically and administratively bankrupt, and have only violence as an answer to all problems.
The ultimate responsibility falls on us – not on the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, who have no voice or power. If we do not act, the blood of the Tamil people will be on our hands – whether we are Tamils, Sinhalese, or non-Sri Lankans. This is not an ‘internal affair’ of Sri Lanka, anymore than Apartheid was an internal affair of South Africa. If we do not act, the Tamil people in the North and East will be extinct, the end of a ‘slow genocide’ from hunger, starvation, lack of medical care and suicide.
The British are to blame for part of this mess, but Sri Lankans have had more than six decades to sort out what they want their country to be. If they want to make it a country run by thugs, crooks and murderers, where only the ruling elite survive and all the rest are ‘disposable’, that is their choice.
In dealing with the Sri Lankan regime, it is important to realise that one is not dealing with an immoral regime, it is blacker than that. One is dealing with a regime that does not recognise morality. It is prepared to spend money it does not have (but which can be borrowed from whoever is prepared to lend it at whatever interest rates) putting the country deeper and deeper into debt. These limitless funds are spent on maintaining an Army larger, on a per capita basis, than any other country in the world. It runs a well-financed disinformation campaign whatever the cost. Right now, several members of the junta are visiting a host of UNHCR member countries, big and small, for support at the UNHCR meeting in March 2012, to apprise them of the outstanding things the Government has done (but is coy about allowing internationally credible human rights groups to behold). This massive effort is to try and block any attempt to force the Sri Lankan government to agree to an independent international investigation into war crimes in the closing stage of the war.
Tamils cannot counteract this disinformation campaign. All they have is an entirely justifiable cause, to be allowed to live with equality, dignity, and freedom in the country of their birth and not have their basic human rights violated. There is no one to carry their message to the outside world, let alone foreign powers. The Tamils are likely to lose this campaign. As such, the forces of evil, the Rajapksa junta, will probably triumph. Hence the absolute need to put the ‘action plan’ I have outlined into operation right now.
A separate Tamil State
I recently lauched I.T. Sampanthan’s book, Black July ’83: Indictment. In one of the contributions Professor Kopan Mahadeva wrote, “President Mahinda Rajapaksa alone holds the key to lasting peace”. I would have put it differently, “President Rajapaksa and his junta hold the key to Tamil Eelam, and have more than justified the absolute need for this”.
As a 10 year old schoolboy, I had just studied the 1833 Colebrook-Cameron ‘Reforms’ introduced by the British for their administrative ease. I had no idea of the practical consequences of these, I doubt if my history teacher did either. I was about to find out when my parents decided to visit Jaffna for the first time in 1942. We drove North past Vavuniya, heading for the Jaffna Peninsula.
I was devastated by what I saw – the gross underdevelopment and neglect of the area, in stark contrast to Colombo which I had just left. I told my parents, one of them the first cousin of S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike, “Until this area is separated from the Sinhala South, this area will never develop, nor will this area with some of the most hardworking people in the world, be able to contribute to the national income”. Now some 70 years later, I am even more convinced that what that 10 year old Sinhalese boy said in 1942 was absolutely correct. As an 80 year old, I am convinced that until the two nations are separated and the damage done by the colonial British reversed, there will neither be peace nor prosperity in Sri Lanka.