Who Am I?

| by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam

( November 9, 2012, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the contribution ‘To be or not to be Sri Lankan? … That is the question!  by Theruni Sebastiampillai, published by Sri Lanka Guardian.
This sharing went straight to my heart for I have done similar research through my Australian experiences and this is shared through  my book ‘Who Am I?    I have come a long way from that experience – all the while consolidating without compromising my high standards. Those who take majority agreement as victory would tend to not go deeper and discover  the beautiful Truth – that we are all Universal when we live close to our hearts. Given that I was mentally led by my Spiritual Guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba – I have become Indian to that extent.

Knowledge about Armed Rebellion – sure the Tamil Tigers do have higher knowledge than I as would many Australian and Sri Lankan Chartered Accountants – in Accounting knowledge. But that does not become wisdom without actual practice in common with the International Governments whose ancestors also fought and realized freedom to govern themselves. Likewise Accountants who work more for money and status less for ownership. 

Theruni asks ‘Am I French or Sri Lankan? I was born in France, I studied in France, I live and work in France. So what could be more natural than to feel French?

I wrote as follows in this regard – (Justice Tambelin heard also the case regarding David Hicks – the Australian who was imprisoned by the USA due to his association with Taliban –  and to me his Honor’s judgment in that case seemed to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the terrorism issue where an Australian was involved) :
 “Justice Tamberlin says ‘One important matter in those reasons  was that the police were called not because the applicant was wearing a sari or for her ethnic origin, but rather because she was asked to leave the University’s premises and refused to do so.’  This is an admission that I was arrested because I was NOT Australian to them. My looks would have been a strong influence in making the decision that I was NOT Australian. Asking me to leave on the basis that I was not Australian is a lawful basis. Making out that I was NOT Australian is unlawful because the law says I am Australian. Who am I? Australian or Sri Lankan/Indian? These days I think of Swami Sai Baba’s saying – that there are three I’s. The person others think I am; the person I think I am and the person I really am.  In summary – body, mind and soul. Once a white Australian colleague introduced me as ‘small body, big heart and a great mind’.  I carry that with me and make myself feel better when I feel down and out.”
The Police (all White Australians) arrested me for peaceful assembly while waiting to meet with the Vice Chancellor of the University of NSW,  on Management issues that became issues of public concern to my mind.  Excerpts from my book in relation to the submission to the Federal Magistrates Court, against the State of NSW (Police). (Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam v State of NSW  at Federal Magistrates Court SYG 584 of 2007) are in Appendix 1
Theruni asks ‘Am I Sri Lankan or just belonging to an ethnic group? My mother is Sinhalese and my father is Tamil. For some, I could be seen as an ideal fusion and proof that different communities can live together in harmony in one country and for others, I could be seen as an atypical fusion and will not really belong to one or the other communities or would not even be a “Sri Lankan”.
In my case I never had doubt that I was ‘Sri Lankan’.  This is the parallel of Theruni feeling she is French. By the same token I accept that to majority Australian Tamils – they are ‘Tamils’ rather than Sri Lankans. Majority Australian Tamils are not legally Sri Lankans nor Tamils. Hence there is no conflict over that. Not so for Tamils living in Sri Lanka. Like with Australianism for me – Tamils of Sri Lanka have conflict between  the legal description and belief based description. It is made worse by Sinhalese ‘only’ legal Sri Lankans.
If Theruni goes through in France , similar  experience to the one   I went through here in Australia, she would appreciate that the Sinhalese are doing exactly what the mainstream races in Western countries are doing. Yet not one Tamil wrote publicly in support of my fight against racism (as perceived by me) here in Australia. On the other hand by their silence as well as active participation, they condemn the Sinhalese Government – day in and day out. To that extent it is citizens v government rather than an ethnic issue.
As the records in Appendix 1 show – I was born in Jaffna. The part of the earth on which we are born has special powers over us and we also tend to ‘feel’ greater confidence when we are ‘alone and private’ in that part of the world. Hence the need for devolution  where multiculturalism is not actively practiced. It is for this reason that at my personal level, I accepted the Police Officers who demonstrated such feelings for Australian soil. My challenge was with senior officers and not juniors living close to Mother Earth. But the seniors hid behind these junior officers and sent ‘excuses’ when subpoenaed to attend court. Their lawyers used their subjective powers to influence judgments whilst I learnt the Truth and demoted such institutions that failed to do their duty at International level. I was an independent International citizen contributing actively to Australian Governance of  Global Standards and not a dependent Australian  migrant. The actions of these senior officers acting through hired lawyers were later followed by my husband’s relatives whom we sponsored as per our higher family positions. As money-affluent  migrants they elevated themselves above me and thus assimilated with White Australian society whilst making out to be supporters of Tamil Eelam.
 I now believe that every individual who believes that s/he is an independent international / global citizen –  would naturally and intuitively connect to me even if they do not know me as a person. When I had the experience I did not hold such belief and hence I often felt upset and later when writing my book felt ‘depressed’.  That was part of my challenge – due to my expectations from my seniors at the workplace and later with my relatives –  to do their duty as per their positions. Later I realized that if they had done their duty as per the apparent position – they would not hold the senior positions they hold/held in those institutions. In other words, I had matured beyond the real Administration at the University of NSW – and was global before their most senior Administrator – the Vice Chancellor. Likewise – I became global before our Australian Prime Minister – who was then Mr. John Howard. But so long as I expected them to know this – I was unhappy. It also kept reviving my expectations as per my past status rather than my current. Now I rarely go down that path. Being ‘alone and private’ in my Coogee Home – feeling for the victims of Bali bombing – feeling sorry that I did  not do more to prevent it – I feel as if I was born here.
Death of loved ones also brings us close to that part of Mother Earth provided we share our feelings with the Dead and help release their souls. Towards this we pray – Hindus chanting Siva Puranam. In Hindu Holy-Trinity Siva is the Lord of the Mind. Brammha is the creator of the Body and Vishnu is the Preserver of the Bliss we feel in our hearts. They are all different forms of One Whole. Many Coogee residents died in Bali bombing and I believe that feeling for them has deepened my feelings as an Australian. The parallel of that in Sri Lanka is 1983 riots in Colombo and 2009 tragedy in Vanni. I believe that I can do more than I did before to prevent recurrence of such tragedies. The best contribution I believe I could make is to be there – and share genuinely myself with the folks over there.
I do believe that in addition to us being born – we mothers – by giving birth to our children also feel the power of Mother Earth more deeply. All my three children were born in Colombo and hence I feel the deeper natural connection to Colombo also. Likewise here in Australia – my grandchildren have deepened that feeling of belonging. That is the power of Mother Earth. Anyone singing Sri Lanka Maatha with feeling that Sri Lanka is Mother – would appreciate and help others feel likewise in their places of birth and consciously and expressly work against colonization. Likewise here in Australia.
Theruni narrates ‘While waiting for an oral exam during my A- levels, I saw a young girl. She seemed to be from India or Sri Lanka. Later on, she came to me and asked from where I was from. I answered “I am from Sri Lanka and you?”. She replied “Me too. Are you Tamil or Sinhalese?” I told her that I was Tamil and Sinhalese and she said very spontaneously: “Oh! So you are not Sri Lankan!”…Did I miss something? The only thing I could say is “Oh really! I did not know! That is actually something new! Well, my parents are Sri Lankan and have lived there, so I think it would be quite natural to feel Sri Lankan!”
This young lady who made the declaration   is the parallel of the young Police Officers who listed me as Indian / Sri Lankan (Indian as per my looks and Sri Lankan after knowing I was born there and perhaps as Tamil – if they had known I had worked with the Tamil Tigers –  all for their own purposes of disposal of the matter to suit themselves). This young lady confirmed that according to her – the status of multicultural Sri Lankans is less than the status of  Sinhalese or Tamil. This is the risk that the Sinhalese closely connected to the  Sri Lankan Government are exposing their children to, within the Diaspora and in Colombo. One cannot be multicultural if one had assimilated with majority – through passive silence and/or active dependence.  Tamils close to Tamil Diaspora leaders  tend to assume higher status than a Sinhalese in a Western country which has officially included Equal Opportunity laws in its administration.  Some of this is due to this active dependence especially through workplaces that are yet to actively practice Equal Opportunity principles.  One Australian Tamil Diaspora leader wrote to me on 14 September  2003:
‘You have spoken about wider social wisdom Tigers need, to integrate with the international world (community):
To integrate at the higher level- the tigers need a mother like myself to help them have confidence in themselves“.
You are talking about the low level Tiger Cadres you have encountered during your short ordeal in Thamil Eelam. The Tiger hierarchy only integrate with the IC and they are doing very well. They have much superior wisdom than yours.’
Knowledge about Armed Rebellion – sure the Tamil Tigers do have higher knowledge than I as would many Australian and Sri Lankan Chartered Accountants – in Accounting knowledge. But that does not become wisdom without actual practice in common with the International Governments whose ancestors also fought and realized freedom to govern themselves. Likewise Accountants who work more for money and status less for ownership.  
Like that young French Tamil – this Australian Tamil Leader – also took up higher position with me on the basis of his ‘home status’.  The ‘home status’ would automatically become true public status if it was truly earned by the leader. This leader was later demoted by the Community and he lamented about it during tea time – at a meeting with our Federal Government.  Whether it is this Australian Tamil or that French Tamil or the White Australian Police Officer – when they take up such positions as individuals – outside their position boundaries  – and the person on the other side is truly higher than them – they would get their own returns/karma back. As Lord Buddha said ‘it’s returned to sender’. I have seen this happen with the officials who were disrespectful of my earned position and used individual thinking due to their haste. In some ways – that was natural non violent non cooperation that Gandhi actively and consciously practiced.
Like Theruni, friends of mine – Mrs. Malar a Tamil and Mr. Nihal Fonseka a Sinhalese – married and have  three beautiful  children – all three of them being fluent in English and  Sinhala and they speak Tamil fairly fluently. More importantly – they accept Eelam Tamils as naturally as they accept Rural Sinhalese. I witnessed this also with my son’s children (their mother is White Australian) when they were in Sri Lanka earlier this year. If their father or his parents  had assimilated – they would have lost out on multicultural enjoyment of  Sri Lanka. (They ate with their fingers and showed much enjoyment for the ethnic spicy food ). Witnessing that helped me appreciate that my pain in Australia to uphold my racial independence – was paying off at family level also.  I believe that this is the most valuable heritage I share with my children and grandchildren.
At the primary level – we feel for the Earth. At the secondary level we ‘feel’ for a group of humans. At tertiary level – we become that source of ownership power. Right through my challenges at the workplace – I upheld my Sri Lankan Chartered Accountancy as the highest professional qualification I had. Through such I kept feeling deeper and deeper as a Sri Lankan – even though attributing credit to Australian qualifications would have been more beneficial to me. But that was not my Truth. To me that would have been  assimilation. Sri Lankan Chartered Accounting qualifications to me are the parallel of Tamil Eelam for the Tigers. If we are good at our work and our skills were developed in Sri Lanka – we have the duty to attribute credit to Sri Lanka. In turn we naturally feel blessed by the person to whom we attribute credit and therefore we naturally share in their goodness. That I believe was how I was able contribute to the establishment of a branch of the Sri Lankan Institute of Chartered Accountants in Jaffna through Ms Saroja Weeratunga, who was then Director-Members Relations of the Institute and who was very appreciative of the contribution by Mr. Samy Pasupati to the Institute and who also was appreciative of my friend Mrs. Malar Fonseka’s contribution to the profession. These real networks manifest support when we genuinely need them. We ought to have invested in common values for this to happen. Hence we must keep searching within until we find the bliss of independence.
I believe that if Theruni keeps searching within – she also will feel this bliss as her return. I know of  no better  return than this sweet feeling which is also called Love by us.
Gajalakshmi Paramasivam      09 November   2012
Appendix 1
I said in my final submission made orally on Thursday, 24 April 2008
15. ‘At the end of yesterday’s proceedings, the Respondent submitted Police Business records marked ‘C’ (exhibit 11)  which states:
Country of Birth              –       Sri Lanka
Country of Birth – Father    –  Unknown
Country of Birth – Mother     Unknown
Place of Birth                   –      Sri Lanka
Nationality                       –       Sri Lanka
I now produce its parallel as produced by me and published by Commonwealth of Australia (passport).
As per my  evidence that Business Record would have read like this:
Country of Birth              –       Sri Lanka
Country of Birth – Father    –  Sri Lanka
Country of Birth – Mother     Burma
Place of Birth                   –      Jaffna
Nationality                      –       Australian
1.      The information presented in a Public Court with my natural participation would have been fundamentally different. Some users would have been conscious of my migrant status and given it Due Credit and respected the value I brought into Australia – especially my sacrifice of majority support and blind support from others like myself – as enjoyed by those who feel naturally Australian – as Mr. Lawson does. Others would not because they are still living in old Australia. A small group of the likes of Officer Grech are likely to actively use it against me. The middle group is guilty of passive  discrimination which is covered by Sections 9 & 11 of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. The last group is guilty of active discrimination covered including by Section 13 of the Act.
2.      Different decision makers including judges would rule differently – each one as per their commitment to common outcomes and beliefs. Some would be like Officer Smeallie and some others like Mr. Grech whose conduct to me did not fit that of a uniformed officer using uniform language. Many may be driven by Management constraints as perceived by themselves- for example use of caged wagons and lack of equality symbols – such as migrant officers and religious books to take oath. It does cost us and it has cost me. That is our contribution to improving our Equal Opportunity system.
3.      The outcome delivered by Officer Smeallie was a good democratic Management outcome. It is not an Administrative outcome except for process because Officer Smeallie did not have access to Standard procedures for determining Trespass guilt – called merit basis; nor did he attempt to do the calculations specifically on the stated provisions of the Inclosed  Lands Protection Act 1901. It is my belief that with more migrants like myself we will develop more officers like Officer Smeallie – just by recognizing as customers / users their higher standards.
4.      Officer Smeallie to my mind saw his task as making an intuitive assessment as to whether I was guilty as suggested or not. He reduced the influence of majority effect and arrived at ta majority vote decision that I was guilty. Majority vote is belief vote and is valid until challenged through Administration. Hence the Doctrine of Separation of Powers between the Executive Government (through management) and the Judiciary (through administrative calculations from a distance). If majority voters are of one race the decision is naturally racially discriminatory. There is no need to prove the apparent. If we do not have event hat common base – then we are fundamentally and naturally divided – requiring two different systems. We need to recognize this and keep our distance from the other.
5.      My place may very well be in Northeastern Sri Lanka after hearing Mr. Grech’s statement from the Sri Lankan government.  This would result additional difficulties for me with Sri Lankan authorities who require me to get special security clearance to go to my birthplace (Ministry of Defence document – Exhibit 12). To my mind I would need to do more work and invest more in Sri Lanka to make up for the loss of self confidence caused by officer Grech’s evidence about how Sri Lankan government saw me – the same way I paid higher price to be listed as Australian.
6.      The word Jaffna in my passport is carried by me with the Dignity of my investment in my birthplace. I could have said Colombo because my parents were residents of Colombo when I was born and they were visiting Jaffna when I was born. Despite the serious risk attached to that Jaffna label – especially with hasty Security Officer – I carry that label with dignity because it is my earned right through Natural Justice – similar to the feelings of Australians born in Australia.
7.      Likewise, now my professional and civil records carry the label that I am a ‘criminal’ – 3 times over. I do answer honestly when potential employers including the United Nations ask the question about criminal records. If I had walked away I would have avoided it and someone else would have received it.
8.      I worked hard and sacrificed much to be Australian – for me to feel Australian. It was easily damaged by those who got it more easily than I. The cause and damage are clearly visible to me and I have done my best through excruciating pain at times – to bring my work to be shared with Australian Public through this court. As an owner I work the system. As a dependent I am ‘given’ benefits.
9.      Exhibit 11 shows clearly that I had the opportunity to naturally override my attachment to Sri Lanka because my mother was born and groomed in Burma. I added my own merit based work primarily through higher education, to further raise myself to international multicultural level. Now I am paying the price for being ahead of  majority in my environment.
10.  The respondent claimed that they were not liable to compensate under Common Law. If they are successful in the Equal Opportunity Court also – then I must accept that in Australia, the cost of practicing democracy through peaceful assembly is imprisonment, label of mental illness, depression and loss of migrant ownership. And most damaging of all – Ban from entering Public Property freely with my own consent. I confirm that I have not set foot into UNSW after 29 October 2004 and forewent social and professional enjoyment as well as medical (eye clinic) service. I have also not feely entered any Public building without prior orders from those apparently in charge.
Officer Ross Lawson mentioned above – said that he was fourth generation ‘Australian’. But taken as an individual, Lawson is younger than my son and at the time he arrested me – he was 23 years old and I was 53 years old. I had by then lived as an Australian for 18 adult years compared to Lawson’s 5 years (23-18).  In Australian status on the face of that passive evidence – I was 3 levels above Lawson – and yet he was telling me what my nationality was.
There are migrants who are driven primarily by economic difficulties. Likewise governments that recruit for economic purposes. To them both, it is better that migrants return to their countries of origin once the economic purpose has been completed. Otherwise,  there would be various expressions of the ‘power struggle’ as  was demonstrated between the UNSW Vice Chancellor and I – with me using current power through merit basis and the Vice Chancellor using his historic power.
Had Tamils who came to work in Sinhalese dominated areas and v.v. returned to their original home areas– there would have been no ethnic war in Sri Lanka or 9/11 at the International level. Only those who invest in national and international common values would strengthen the roots of Peace.   Lawson who insists on calling me Sri Lankan even after all this has revealed that he is in Sydney for economic purposes. He needs to return to his home grounds once that economic purpose is fulfilled.  That would clear the path for the likes of Officer Smeallie who demonstrated active investment in democracy and therefore facilitating equal participation by the other side.
I was wearing sari when Officer Lawson arrested me. I was wearing western clothes when Officer Smeallie arrested me. It ‘happened’ that way. Now I know that when we genuinely invest in common – we connect subconsciously and combine forces naturally. Officer Smeallie connected to me naturally and hence during his arrest – the standards were elevated to the higher international level that is customary to me.  It’s a Divine force.
By arresting Tamils who were remitting money back to Sri Lanka, the Australian government was actually promoting the development of rebel activities on Australian soil.  Once Australian government’s economic purpose is satisfied, it is best to let go of these economic migrants. My experiences have clearly established that that is the main purpose of  migration here in Australia.

Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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