Deciding Between Ghosts Of LTTE Past And Peace

Despite sharing over six decades of independence, the Sinhala and Tamil vote has not agreed when electing a President to the country. Five years post war, the irrelevance of the minority vote in a real sense outside of a number used to move a Southern agenda will become more real than ever. It is indeed ironic that the ethnic card will play little to seek a real solution to the ethnic sensitivities in the country. The credit for that must lie with the petty and opportunist politics played by both the Sinhalese and the Tamil politicians over the years. It is their success that sees the two communities polarised as they are today. It is this that must remain a concern as the country goes to the polls on one its most decisive elections post war.

The opposition call to address issues of governance and Constitutional reform as sought at the upcoming polls has yet to provide any credible attraction to the Tamil voter. With Common Candidate Mr. Maithripala Sirisena yet to articulate his solutions to the Tamil question, it is unlikely that there will be a greater sense of faith placed on the camp by the minority Tamil voter come January. One could not ignore the neglect in a credible approach towards the Tamil people at his inaugural press conference on December 21. Neither was it visible when he addressed the people via the Sirasa TV on Saturday (22).

It is sad to note that neither party is offering an honest option to the Tamil minority. There is no real discussion on what is offered as a solution to the biggest issue that continues to face the country five years post the war. A people vastly divided over a terrorism that used the legitimate aspirations of the people today remain as lost on this most crucial of national issues as they were under the LTTE. It is unlikely that either party will be affront with the fact that this election will not offer the solutions for the national issue, but could provide for a genuine discussion on it. Instead they will, with the able assistance of the Tamil political parties successfully confuse them between such solutions and those really before the January poll.

What about Tamil concerns pose such fear on the Southern polity that they adopt such an approach to the issue? What about the concerns and aspirations of the Tamil voter prevent an honest response from Colombo? What prevents the two main Southern political camps from opening a rational discourse on the Tamil future, leave alone offer a solution? It is in this dishonesty that the Tamil voter continues to feel disenfranchised, however many elections continue to be held in the country.

Their disillusionment on Colombo is therefore to be appreciated as they have witnessed their concerns being shelved from national planning over successive regimes. Instead there are the rational fears in view of the influence of extremist nationalists parties such as the Jathika Hela Urumaya or the Bodu Bala Sena. They are all too aware that post poll whoever wins, the extremist Sinhala Buddhist elements within either camp can and will prevent a viable solution to their problem. They are too mindful of the irrationality of these elements within successive governments to help provide any real dignity.


Extremist elements

The Tamil voter is once again pushed therefore to decide between ghosts of LTTE past and peace. Fear and the threat of the unknown appear to be the winner once more. The sheer predictability of using the war crimes charge and thereon the threat of the return of the LTTE to a people who have suffered the worst under a three decade old war, seemed to have moved out of a well versed election script. It is certainly regrettable that the past mistakes of Sinhala polity have taught it nothing. Essentially the choice for the Tamil voter will vacillate between the unknown. They will be pushed once more to vote in the dark when it comes to their future. It will be presumably a very confused minority voter who will go to the polls in January. They will quite likely to be pushed to exercise their vote in vengeance to serve the petty political grievances of a few. The rationale behind that will bring them no closer to their aspirations.

It is fact that there is still no credible solution sought or a path towards such offered by either candidate. While the present administration will place faith in the physical comforts provided, the Opposition will largely bank on what is absent in the comfort factor to draw votes. Neither is likely to move out of this position given the practical realities of the support base they derive strength from. While both candidates personally have no racial baggage so heavy that they are incapable of providing a solution, the fact remains that the extremist elements within both camps will ensure this does not become reality.

It is however naïve on the part of the political hierarchy on both sides to assume that the Tamil vote will not appreciate that their needs will be sacrificed for the extremist Sinhala vote that will demand its pound of flesh. It is sad to note that neither the SLFP nor the UNP has done much to promoter a Sri Lankan identity that moves the vote from one of nation building to that of Sinhala Buddhist welfare. It is both convenient and safe for both camps to attract the Sinhala vote, and look only at the minority with promises that need not necessarily be fulfilled. The Tamil polity unfortunately will do little to help this situation.

Five years past the end of the war the political scenario has changed little where the concerns of the minority communities are concerned. Granted there are impressive infrastructure facilities in place in the war torn areas. There is free movement, rehabilitation and resettlement has made impressive marks in the peninsular and the two provinces are today ready for engagement with the South on equal ground.


Tamil aspirations

While the political concerns of the two provinces revolve largely around the 13th Amendment and Devolution of power, neither the TNA nor Colombo has yet succeeded in articulating the aspirations of the Tamil man on the street. It is to be noted that the sound of the Tamil voice continued to be weakened in the Parliament as a result of the current political system and arguably the powers vested elsewhere.

A serious cause for grievance where the Tamil vote on the North and the East is concerned is crucially the fact that neither a Common Opposition call for support via the Tamil National Alliance nor the government will come with an appreciation of the issues affecting the people in the areas. Regrettably the TNA has yet to reach a political sophistication that provides it a thinking and decision making devoid of the Tamil Diaspora in general or Tamil Nadu in particular.

A bigger fear however are the physical freedoms allowed the people to express their vote at the upcoming polls. The polls related violence recorded over the last week will pose a sad reminder of the limitations in this scenario to the minorities. The discriminative and nationalistic rhetoric of both the BBS and the JHU will do little to ally these fears.

It is indeed a sad reflection of the political scenario in the country, to note that neither of the main candidates despite their clear understanding of the issue holds the freedom to provide an honest response to it, given the extremist baggage within. What really does Colombo know of these needs aside of that emanating out of the politically biased rhetoric of the Tamil polity? What really would attract that vote? How much a concern are political and physical freedoms to the people outside of infrastructure and livelihoods creation?

The Tamil vote tends largely to behave differently at Presidential elections as opposed to General or lower elections. To their credit they appreciate the necessity to look beyond personal benefits offered at the local polls to that of the Presidential. It is yet to be seen if they will appreciate the reality behind the finer line between the Executive powers and the devolution of power. A broader discussion dealing with judicial issues with reference to the 13thamendments and its resultant limitations would allow for a more educated vote. Yet, the politically motivated stance of the TNA is unlikely to drive the masses towards such eloquence. Instead the debate is likely to remain lagged far behind the past mistakes, hate mongering and personal agendas of a selected few.

4 Comments for “Deciding Between Ghosts Of LTTE Past And Peace”

  1. Sangaralingham

    Why such a thing. Politicians must first have a vision for the whole country. Talk action speeches see to go in different directions. Yet people of the country except for a few crazy individuals are getting along fine. Now what politicians must wake up at home ie within the country and plan and direct the country with minorities play a role in the development and progress of the nation. Going to UN and making grand speeches with no reflections of it within the country is a shame. People must help with minor financial to all ambitious people to develop trade craft food production animal husbandry much better than building roads harbours.politicians are not playing the role to keep the country from polarizing like a 2+ boxes nailed separately. Citizens media should wake up global world politicians buyim
    NGO houses becoming citizens in faraway land keeping country divisive with unity not in their minds and heart

  2. The present government is so arrogant and will not listen to anybody including their SLFP members. They think they can only run this country and nobody has the experience to run our country. Borrowing money and building roads and bridges are not what we need. We need peace and we all need to work so hard to improve the economy of our country. Some members of the government are experience business people, but most of the other lot can only good at making money for themselves at our expenses. Ranil may not be a good man as far as voters are concerned, but he is too honest person to be in the political arena and Maithiripala Srisena, is a humble person. We need to support someone who will work for the betterment of our beautiful country. Electing otherwise for the third term will be questionable.

  3. Roshan

    Fears are realistic…only ungreatful people do forget the past and not give due credit where it deserve!! Mahinda but no other!!

  4. JHU says it would like to talk to TNA and ask TNA not to insist on 13A in the constitution of SL- an unconstitutional and illegal act.

    Tamils of North and East pf SL have a legal right of self determination as prescribed by the UN. Tamil demand since 1977 is maximum autonomy to have their safety, security and freedom.

    Sinhalese as a nation;

    a) have a mindset to dominate, control and oppress Tamils. This is
    b) within a short time can turn out to be dangerously destructive to the
    extent of brutally killing Tamils collectively. Anti Tamil violence and
    Tamil genocide prove this point.

    This is the culture, inheritance and history of the Sinhalese in the past and is now. So rightly, the Tamils cannot and do not trust them at all.

    Also the spiritual leaders have not taught and led the Sinhalese to;

    a) to meditate and choose to do whatever things that are true, noble, just,
    pure, good and lovely.
    b) to do unto all fellow citizens what they will do to themselves.
    c) to love Tamils and not hate them.

    Therefore, to achieve peace, stability and prosperity in SL any solution should be based simultaneously on;

    a) a spiritual solution and
    b) a political solution.

    I believe in solutions based on principles and wise choice of people, not on promises of politicos.

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