Bala" and the
Tamil national struggle
a remarkable display of courageous unity a cross section
ofGreater Toronto's Tamil........
a lesson in cheating
you never fail to amaze me with your hidden talents that you
whip out every now and then like a retired.....
knee deep in tank controversy
Bala" and the Tamil national struggle
Bala lying dead in a pool of blood opposite his house in
Wellawatte having been shot by an LTTE killer squad
a remarkable display of courageous unity a cross section
ofGreater Toronto's Tamil population came together
recently in Scarborough to condemn the killing of
Balanadarajah Aiyer on August 16 in Colombo and pay
tribute to "Sinna Bala" as he was popularly
of the TULF, PLOTE, TELO, EPRLF, EROS, EPDP along with
human rights activists, academics, journalists, lawyers,
Brahmin priests and other members of civil society
assembled on a Saturday evening to commemorate Sinna
Bala who was gunned down brutally at Wellawatte by
assassins on motorcycles.
D. B. S. Jeyaraj
event was rather significant as far as the Canadian
Tamil diaspora was concerned because of three reasons.
it was a rare occasion where the hopelessly divided non-LTTE
sections in Toronto united for a common purpose. Secondly, it
was after 15 years that a public meeting was being held in
Toronto to condemn the killing of a Tamil political activist
and pay homage to his memory. The last such meeting was in
1989 for TULF Leader Appapillai Amirthalingam. Thirdly, the
content of many speeches dealt with issues and concepts that
have never been discussed at a Tamil public meeting before.
the attendance was hardly in the league of gatherings
organised by the LTTE most participants at this meeting were
qualitatively of a different level in political consciousness.
The panel of speakers while speaking ofthe life and times of
Sinna Bala and his murder most foul, also ventured to address
the larger issues behind the killing. Within the short period
of available time the speakers approached the current crisis
of killings from different perspectives.
history of political assassinations in the Tamil community,
the phenomenon of labelling those with diverse political
opinion as "Thurogigal" (traitors) and justifying
their elimination as "Kalai eduppu" (weeding out),
the rise of Tamil fascism, the brutal nature ofthe on going
killing spree, the bleak future of the Tamil people, the
in the north-east during the last general elections, the
question of "sole representative status" etc. were
some of the hitherto 'forbidden' issues (Pesapporul) and
concepts delved into deeply by the speakers. In a double
cliche no punches were pulled or words minced.
politically aware members of the audience - many accompanied
by their spouses - were extremely appreciative of most views
expressed and indicated their endorsement through intermittent
outbursts of spontaneous and sustained applause. The
atmosphere and mood of the meeting though highly emotive did
not descend into vulgarity but retained a tone of refinement
for most of the time.
was also quite a lot of interaction and exchange of views
among participants at the fellowship dinner held after the
meeting at the same venue. The 'star' attraction of the
gathering was septuagenarian President, Tamil United
Liberation Front (TULF), Veerasingham Anandasangaree whose
pithy observations about contemporary Tamil politics went down
well with the audience.
poignant note was struck when Mrs. Thambirajah, mother of the
EPRLF's Subathiran alias Robert placed a garland around Sinna
Bala's portrait in homage (Malar anjali) as the meeting
commenced. There was hardly a dry eye when she began sobbing
loudly, presumably thinking of her own son who was gunned down
in Jaffna by the LTTE on June 15th last year. Her husband and
brother too had been killed earlier.
meeting was organised by the Coalition for Human Rights,
Equality, Peace and Democracy in Sri Lanka (CHEPADS). At the
meeting's conclusion a resolution was presented and approved
unanimously. The resolution condemned the killing of
Balanadarajah and expressed sympathies to his family. It also
demanded that the culture of killing those with differing
political views in Sri Lanka should end immediately. It also
called upon Canada and rest of the international community to
exert pressure and bring about an end to these killings.
several weeks have passed since his killing, the lifeand death
of Sinna Bala and his role in the Tamil national struggle for
equal rights is worthy of recalling even now.
Aiyer Balanadarajah Aiyer known popularly as Sinna Bala was
brutally gunned down at Wellawatte in Colombo on August 16th.
The killers riding motorcycles wearing helmets are presumed to
be members of a Tiger assassination team operating in Colombo.
Though attempts have been made to deflect the blame for the
killing elsewhere it is indeed widely known that the LTTE is
the guilty party. In a telling indictment the Tigers have been
conspicuously absent in expressing sorrow or condemnation for
the killing of Sinna Bala.
Bala was born on June 6, 1957. He belonged to the tiny Brahmin
community in Jaffna. Hailing originally from Pungudutheevu,
Bala's father Nadarajah was a school teacher in Oorelu in
Jaffna. Bala's paternal uncle was the well known music
composer, singer and poet "Inuvil" Veeramani Iyer.
It was Veeramani Aiyer who wrote and composed music for the
popular devotional song rendered by T. M. Soundararajan "Katpagavalli
Nin Potpathangal Pidithen."
was Bala who observed the last rites for Veeramany Aiyer when
he passed away last year in Jaffna. Though under life threat
Bala braved all odds and went to Jaffna last year without any
protection to do his filial duty. It was the same sense of
duty and family obligation that led to his tragic demise this
LTTE killer squads roaming the streets of Colombo in search of
leading members of the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP),
most EPDP stalwarts have been taking extra safety precautions.
Sinna Bala too had been staying with other EPDP members at the
party office in 121 Park Road, Havelock Town. He had however
gone home to 171/6, W. A. de Silva Mawatha on the 15th to
discharge religious duties to his departed father and uncles
on account of "Aadi Amavasai."
sending off his daughters to school Bala was waiting outside
his house for the EPDP vehicle when the assailants struck.
Incidently, Bala was scheduled to go to the Swiss embassy
later that day for a visa. His latest book - a critique of the
LTTE in relation to the Indo-Lanka accord - was to be released
shortly there. Apart from his innumerable journalistic
writings Bala has also penned three books. The most famous of
these was Kaani Uruthi (Land Deed), a book of short stories.
Bala was closely involved in Tamil national politics for more
than three decades. Influenced initially by the pioneering
Tamil militant from neighbouring Urumpirai Pon Sivakumaran
Bala began actively involving himself in Tamil student
politics from the age of 15. He became a member of the Tamil
Maanavar Peravai in 1972. Many old timers of the Tamil
militant struggle fondly recall the contribution of "Iyer"
Bala as he was called then. It is said that Bala helped
provide refuge, protection, shelter and food to many a young
Tamil militant fleeing the clutches of policemen in Jaffna.
on, Bala participated in the activities centered around the
progressive Tamil journal Manitham edited by Vimalathasan.
Becoming increasingly left-leaning after Sivakumaran's death
Bala moved away from the pro-TULF student and youth
organisations. His politics became progressively revolutionary
and soon Bala became one of the founding members of the Eelam
Revolutionary Organisation of Students (EROS).
student EROS later metamorphosed into the political front EROS
(Eelam Revolutionary Organisation). Once again Balanadarajah
Aiyer was a pioneering member. He was widely known then as
"Eros" Bala. Later on, when Velupillai Balakumar
came into EROS he became known as EROS Bala on account of his
seniority. The junior Bala was now being called "Sinna
(Little) Bala" and the name struck.
Bala was deeply involved with the publishing of Tharkeegam, a
tabloid articulating the EROS point of view in the early '80s.
He used the pseudonym "Ilaiyavan." He was also a
political activist mobilising public opinion and interacted
closely with the public instead of confining himself to the
editorial office alone.
a Brahmin hemoved closely with people from all walks of life
and displayed no caste consciousness. He even rejected
vegetarianism, but reverted back after marriage. Sinna Bala
has lived for long periods in the east, Mannar and India doing
political work in addition to Jaffna and Colombo.
July 1983, EROS too obtained arms training in India. Sinna
Bala belonged to the original batch of trainees. Though
trained in arms Sinna Bala abhorred the use of violence. He
never carried a gun and close friends say that after his
military training days Bala seldom touched a firearm. It was
more a case of penmanship than gunmanship for him.
Sinna Bala was no professional journalist he was for practical
purposes a full time writer. His journalism was only an
extension of his politics. He was no cheap propagandist, but a
man with deep convictions and unafraid to articulate those.
Many would regard Sinna Bala as a genuine journalist in
comparison with several other pseudo and self-styled
journalists parading as free members of the fourth estate. I
have the greatest respect for his writing from the days of
withdrawal of the Indian army and the ascendancy of the LTTE
saw EROS taking a momentous decision in 1990. The bulk of the
EROS led by Balakumar and Para opted to throw in their lot
with the LTTE. EROS was dissolved and many members joined the
LTTE. Sinna Bala too followed this course of action.
in Jaffna, Bala became assistant and later deputy editor of
the Tiger controlled Eelanatham newspaper. This provided him
an avenue of employment. The paper however was under severe
controls after the Mahattaya episode. Editorial freedom was
severely curtailed. Moreover the LTTE 'rule' in Jaffna
provided Sinna Bala with an insight of things to come. He
realised that the Tigers were only leading the Tamil people on
the road to disaster and wanted no part of it. Escaping Tiger
hegemony however was no easy task.
opportunity came in 1995 when the Sri Lankan army regained
Jaffna through operation Riviresa. Bala sent most of his books
and papers to the Wanni to allay suspicion and delayed his own
departure. He then remained in Jaffna with his family rather
than moving to the Wanni. He tried to set up a Tamil paper
Kaalai Kathir in Jaffna during this time. The attempt ended in
a political animal, Bala then joined the EPRLF and later
contested the Valigamam East Pradeshiya Council elections in
1998. He was elected on the EPRLF ticket. The party however
split into the Suresh and Varathan factions later. A
disillusioned Bala avoided both factions and virtually quit
Bala's 'worth' the EPDP's Douglas Devananda extended an
invitation to Sinna Bala that he join his party. After some
persuasion Bala accepted. He contested the parliamentary
elections ofOctober 10, 2000, December 5, 2001 and April 2,
2004 on the EPDP ticket in Jaffna District. Though he did not
win Bala plunged into the polls campaign with zestful
enthusiasm. He also courageously faced the violence, threats
and intimidation of the LTTE.
as propaganda secretary of the EPDP, Sinna Bala also found
ample scope to exercise his journalistic skills. After Ramesh
Atputharajah's death Bala got involved with editorial affairs
of the weekly Thinamurasu. He used the pseudonym "Ambimahan."
Bala also edited the EPDP organ Makkal Kural. He was also
responsible for the EPDP website in Tamil.
weeks before Sinna Bala's death, his erstwhile colleague
Balakumar now a senior LTTE leader telephoned him in Colombo.
Balakumar "advised" his old friend to drop out of
EPDP politics and go abroad if possible. Otherwise, Sinna
Bala's life too could be endangered he cautioned. Sinna Bala
refused firmly and politely.
fate was perhaps sealed then and there. It was only a matter
of time before the Kingarar minions of Deathgod Yaman ensnared
Sinna Bala's life with the Pasakkayiru lasso. That fateful day
came on August 16. Sinna Bala's life was snuffed out brutally
and cruelly. He leaves behind his wife Jegatheeswari and three
Bala has been interlinked with the evolution and growth of the
Tamil militant nationalist movement from its pioneering days.
He has a history that is equal if not more to that of LTTE
Leader Velupillai Pirapaharan. Sinna Bala has to a very great
extent personified the various stages and phases of the course
of Tamil political struggle.
murder is a horrible violation of his inherent right to free
expression, political opinion and above all, the right to
life. It is the right to life that is the most important of
all because all other rights are derived from that basic
right. Without life there can be no other rights.
the Tamil community at large does not seem to realise the
importance of the sanctity of life. Anecology of death
prevails and is being glorified. Eminent and sincere people
like Sinna Bala are being labelled "traitors" and
exterminated with ease. The communityis silent even as the
macabre death dance goes on and on. Unless and until the right
to life is upheld and honoured the future of the Tamil people
is bleak indeed.
a lesson in cheating
you never fail to amaze me with your hidden talents that you
whip out every now and then like a retired magician at a
Sunday School treat. From your own accounts you are now, and
do feel welcome to correct me if I'm mistaken, a first class
English trained cheater. Oops... No I mean teacher... Sorry
how the teachers are being constantly told to go back to
primary school by you and your clan. First it was Lal Kay
giving them a hurried tuition class on striking. Now it is you
telling them how to do their job. A shoddy business if you ask
me. But then do you? No. And the upshot? Shoddy overall bally
grieves me that you are devoid of speech-writers at the
Presidential office these days. Or has Mangy taken a day off?
Then again your sound education has given you a knack for many
things. A woman of many parts you have become. And a woman
dear lady if I may venture to point out, with many large
parts. And as you also keenly remind the voters, a woman who
is multi tasking all the time. And to whom do you owe your
gratitude? To those teachers of yore. Darling, if you did
learn anything it must have been from your teachers, for God
knows you don't seem to have learnt anything at home.
multi tasking is right. Holding the mike with your left hand,
tugging at an errant blouse hem with your right, talking
rapidly, flashing your eyes, scolding the teachers,
reprimanding the children, how can anyone expect you to bally
think too. Impossible.
all this, without a doubt, you write your own speeches
darling, which, pardon me for my candour, are nothing more or
less than shabby recommendations of yourself.
as I am sure, was your audience, tickled many shades of pink
to be assured by you that you don't beg, steal or borrow or
did you say steal, cheat or lie? These moral values you learnt
at the feet of your teachers. They don't make 'em like they
used to you grumbled rudely to the modern day teachers in your
audience, now busily shuffling their own poor feet.
accused them of shamming in class and raking in huge fees for
tuition classes. That is not teaching that is cheating you
said. In my day, teachers were dedicated human beings who
stayed back after school to help students free of charge, you
reminisced. This may well be true. My own dear mater, a
teaching type of the old school did the same thing in her day.
Only weak students took tuition you recalled. Admitting that
you yourself, were compelled to do so in the all important
subject of numbers. Maths. Arithmetic.
thus was the mystery solved. Here we hone in on the problem.
The mystery of the missing economic paradise. Ever and anon I
would sit in my rocking chair and balk at the rising COL,
crying out to my maker, Why, Why? What went wrong? Every year
you would faithfully jostle out the drooping professori who
was then your deputy, and bring out a bag of budgetary tricks
which never quite worked. Now as minister of everything under
the sun including finance, the economy is worse than ever. And
the root cause of it all,
as a kid you couldn't put two and two together.
wonder Paradise can't balance its books. From all accounts,
for you, balancing books is something you do to improve your
posture. Possibly as a fat little toddler in kindergarten you
were one of those tiny tots who was under the misconception
you had 20 fingers and 12 toes.
ever since you made these comments, my little grand nephew has
been running about the house singing in that mocking way so
typical of children, 'liar, liar, pants on fire.' I wonder
darling, was this speech of your's aired on the box, hmm? I am
well aware that your imaginary sojourn in Sorbonne has given
you a taste for the exotic and that now you swear by the
Khazakstan dictionary of wordiology rather than the more
run-of- the-mill Oxford, Websters, Chambers or Macquarie.
'Steal, cheat and lie' in your book could mean anything from a
new kind of bread to a method of mixing paint. I may as well
tell you it is not a book I would want any of my off spring to
your maths tuition teacher or for that matter your over rated
education does not seem to have done you any good. Having
posed a question to the children now watching you curiously
with their jaws hanging out, the cunning question, 'How many
countries in the world' you admonished them for not knowing
the answer. You posed the same question to their teachers who
were also stubbornly silent. Interpreting their silence to
mean ignorance you skewed your neck around to your trusty
secretary of education, the lovely Tara, who surprise,
surprise was stuck for words. 'See' you smirked triumphantly,
only 'I know the answer'. There are 196 countries in the
world. Oops!Take it from this lansiya darling I seem to
remember 191 in the United Nations, which General Assembly you
only just returned from. If we then also take the Vatican and
Taiwan that would make, ...tch, tch..you do the math. I know.
Next time you take Mallo for his daily 40 winks to the UNGA
darling, tell him instead of counting sheep to count country
m'dear, if you have learnt anything it surely should be this.
When you build your own pedestal you had better make it out of
very strong cement.
knee deep in tank controversy
site of the JVP's elaborate opening ceremony
of the 10,000 tanks project, the Havanpellessa tank
in Yapahuwa left abandoned aft r the tamasha
Mark Indika Samarasekera
is an old saying that even if money is being thrown in to the
sea, it should be accounted for. Today, funds from the
Treasury are not so easily dispensed with, but the recent turn
of events indicate that for the JVP's 10,000 tanks project,
state monies are being utilised outside of the standard tender
and estimate procedure.
a country whose rural economy is largely agriculture based,
the importance of an extensive irrigation system cannot be
overstressed. In Sri Lanka there are currently 27,000 tanks
that provide the necessary water for agricultural purposes.
The JVP's plan to renovate and rehabilitate 10,000 of these
tanks is certainly a noble one and such a contribution will be
priceless for the agricultural sector in the years to come.
Unfortunately, the current state of affairs with regard to the
project leaves much to be desired. The transparency of the
project has in fact come under fire by no less than the Head
of State, President Chandrika Kumaratunga herself.
begin with, the renovation of small tanks in a specific area
falls within the jurisdiction of the relevant provincial
council. But in the case of the 10,000 tanks project,
Irrigation Minister, Anura Kumara Dissanayake has taken the
matter into his own hands, cutting the provincial councils
totally out of the picture.
the process of calling for tenders and awarding contracts to
construct canals and waterways is officially the right of the
farmers' committees in each area. In rural areas, it is these
agricultural societies that work purely for the development of
the agriculture sector without political bias and the
government recognises them as legitimate bodies. However,
according to Minister Dissanayake and other officials
responsible for agricultural development in the country,
these farmers' societies are archaic and inefficient
bodies. Therefore in place of farmers' societies, Minister
Dissanayake and other officials designed the 'tank committees'
despite what may have become of the 10,000 tanks programme,
thousands of these 'tank committees' have come into being
largely comprised of members of the JVP's youth wing. Because
of these actions of the JVP those making decisions about
agriculture at the village level today are no longer villagers
with immense farming experience but red-capped activists
spouting Marxism instead. The result of these policies will no
doubt become public knowledge even in urban areas in the near
future. In an attempt to legitimise the 'tank committees,'
moves have been made to transfer two officials from the state
recognised farmers' committees to each tank committee.
area of the irrigation scheme that is being neglected is the
technical aspect. The construction of a proper tank involves
the correct measurements of bunds, canals and waterways lest
the collection and distribution of water does not take place
in the proper way. Therefore, technical reports are an
important part of such renovation projects. However, none of
these procedures are being followed by the JVP Minister in
this instance. The argument appears to be that if the job is
being done 'properly,' there is no need to follow tender and
other procedures. If JVP Ministers have the gall to discard
the 121 page document detailing the government tender
procedure guidelines, it is surely only a matter of time till
the Penal Code and constitution of the country are meted out
tender procedure changes according to the amount of
- Deputy Director General, National Budget, Finance
Ministry, Lalith de Silva;
government tender procedure is a very detailed document.
The tender procedure changes according to the size of
the project and the estimate standards. Usually, if the
project estimate is under Rs. 100,000 tenders can be
called according to the institution regulations, but if
the amount exceeds Rs. 10 million it has to be approved
by the cabinet of ministers. For the sum of about Rs. 2
million, tender decisions can be made at ministry level.
If we are to take the 10,000 tank project, the tender
procedure changes according to the size and
specifications of each tank.
technical committee reports become necessary. How these
committees should be set up and function is also laid
out in the tender procedure.
the tender procedure is not going to be followed at a
specific point, then what happens there also is decided
based on the size and money required for the project. It
is difficult to answer without knowing the exact nature
and size of the project."
farming committees have been the sacrificial lambs to
get the funds passed for this project"
- Former Irrigation and Water Management Minister,
Gamini Jayewickrema Perera;
the great kings of Sri Lanka constructed tanks and
irrigation schemes in the county, it was D. S.
Senanayake who breathed new life into the irrigation
system with the construction of tanks like Kaudulla and
Girithale. The United National Party has always had a
policy of tank renovation and even when you go into
villages today you can see the results of these schemes.
is a life giving and precious resource. In the dry zone
of this country it is nature's most precious gift. But
what is happening today is that instead of understanding
this, various committees are being set up in the name of
irrigation to carry forward political agendas.
few months ago,
when I was Minister of Irrigation and I attempted to
repair some of the Mahaweli machinery and erect a new
tank, President Kumaratunga opposed my idea and told me
not to go ahead with it without involving the provincial
councils. We accepted that and even today, her stance on
this matter is correct.
tank committees have no legal basis whatsoever. They use
the farming committees which are recognised by the state
to get their funds passed but then the farming
committees don't have a clue as to what becomes of the
money. Soon, these committees will have to answer to the
law as to what became of the monies.
following tender procedure, today officials are going
ahead with the construction work on tanks with equipment
obtained from the private sector. They don't obtain
engineering or technical advice. It is important to get
proper advice from experienced engineers during the
renovation process. But since these people seem to know
it all, they don't need specialists' input. If this
continues, the people will curse them when they are left
without water during the next drought.
the tender system is followed or not, those who want to
steal will do it anyway"
- Agriculture, Lands, Irrigation, Animal Products,
Health and Tourism Minister, Western Provincial Council,
tanks smaller than 200 acres have to be renovated by the
provincial councils while the bigger tanks come under
the jurisdiction of the central government. That is what
the 13th Amendment stipulates. However, if tanks are
going to be constructed the proper way, it doesn't
matter whether the provincial council does it or the
central government does it. As long as the people
benefit from it.
Minister Anura Kumara Dissanayake's 10,000 tanks
project, some tanks in the Western Province are also
being renovated. I have been involved with the Minister
on this matter.
are some elements trying to make out that there is a
conflict between the provincial councils and the central
government about the tank project. But I don't think we
need to become the pawns of that game.
contracts are awarded to build tanks, on some occasions
tenders are called, on others they are not called. What
I think is that whether tenders are called or not, those
who want to steal will steal anyway. There are instances
when one person sends tenders in seven or eight
different names with various amounts and then is awarded
one. That's how the tender system works in this country,
so whether tenders are called or not, it makes no
most important thing is not whether tenders are called
or not, but that the project work continues without
allegations of corruption. And I think we are proceeding