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Issues Faced By Tamils Not Fully Addressed – S. Thavarajah

by Thushari Nathaniel

S. Thavarajah, leader of the opposition in the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) and EPDP member, is of the view that the unity government has achieved some mileage in steering the country on the right track, but it is totally inadequate. Speaking to The Sunday Leader he said the Tamil people’s issues are still not resolved in a tangible manner. He said that the Tamil people who have undergone great difficulties over the past 30 years should be given compensation and the opportunities for them to rebuild their lives. He also said that he too had no faith in the NPC and added that they have limited powers, but they could do a lot for the people, which they have failed to do. He said the Unity government has a certain economic strategy and they need to wait and see how the government implements these initiatives and steers the country.

Following are excerpts of the interview:

Q: It’s been a year since the unity government was given power. After a year in power, how successful do you think they have been?

A: They have taken some initiatives. The recent OMP bill and the release of some lands occupied by the army and so on are some examples in this regard. But they have to do a lot more. The actions on the ground are not satisfactory, and they are not fulfilling the aspirations of the Tamil people. They expected much more. The army still hold a large extent of land in the High Security Zones in the Palaly and Mullaitivu areas.

The OMP bill was passed, but it is just a small step taken in the right direction. The UNHRC imposed three obligations. One was to establish the truth commission, which we have to do still, secondly, the OMP which we have done now and thirdly, the reparation, which also we have to do yet. Only one of these obligations we fulfilled so far. The truth finding commission is very vital in the reconciliation process. However, nothing has been done in this regard. Even with the OMP, just the office has been established, but there is a long way to go. Accountability is the main issue. The OMP is established to investigate the whereabouts of the missing persons. That is not enough. They need to go beyond the implementation of that office.

There are two types of missing persons. One is abducted and the other is handed over to somebody and gone missing. However, they are answerable to what happened to those handed over to them. Right now there is no provision to make those persons answerable.

Similarly, there is talk that the government is going to bring in a new act in place of the PTA, then what about those still serving under the PTA? All these issues have not been addressed properly.

Another issue that the Tamils are facing is cropping up of Buddhist temples in the Tamil areas where there are no Sinhalese communities at all. We can understand the need for such if there were Sinhalese Buddhists living in these areas. For what purpose the military is building them is a question. If the people want them, we can understand their need.

I am not claiming that the government has done nothing during the past year; they have taken some initiatives, but it’s insufficient to make an impact. They have a long way to go, so let’s wait and see.

 

Q: The country’s economy is said to be in a crisis. Do you see this government is in the right direction to revive the economy?

A: The government has economic plans but how effective they are is the question. The Prime Minister claims that one is a shortcut and the other is a more stable long drawn plan. I am not an economist, so I am not in a position to either endorse his plans or disagree with them.

The previous government borrowed money and tried to fast track the development. They felt that starting such development projects could expedite revenue generation, and the loans could be paid fast thereafter. This government thinks that we need a long term strategic plan. So we have to wait and see how they do it.

 

Q: With the issues of war widows and generation of employments in the North and East, How much has been done during the past year in this regard?

A: As I said earlier, reparation is one of the main issues. A large number of people are suffering not being able to put their lives back on track. Delaying the reparation process and paying them after another 10-15 years is not going to serve any purpose. So, they should not delay this process.

 

Q: The government claims that in spite of allocations being made, the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) is not doing anything for the benefit of their people. Do you agree?

A: Even I have made these allegations. At the last provincial council meeting too, I made this allegation citing all what I have said before which has been recorded in the Auditor General’s report.

The NPC is not doing anything for the people. Administrative wise, they are a total failure. I do agree that the NPC has limited powers. But even with this limited powers, they could have done a lot of things, which they have failed to do. This is what I have been repeating more often.

 

Q: Do you see a decline in rural development under the current government as some allege?

A: These are all part of the economic strategies of the different governments. I really don’t want to comment on the economic stand of the government as I am not competent enough to do so.

 

Q: Are you satisfied with the pace of investigations against the corrupt of the previous regime?

A: In this country, the entire prosecution and also the judicial mechanism are not satisfactory. The delay in delivering justice and in prosecution has resulted in the total ineffectiveness of the whole investigation process. The entire system needs to be changed.

Even in the Vidya murder case, nothing is being done. One year after the Vidya’s murder, another incident took place in Puttalam and the perpetrators in this case have already been charged. But in the Vidya murder case, still the high court trial has not started. This is the state of the entire prosecution of the country.

 

Q: Can you elaborate on the reasons for the delay of holding the Local Government elections?

A: I don’t know why the government is delaying it; my idea is that for democracy to prevail, we must have all democratic institutions functioning properly. Just focusing on one area and harping on it is not enough. There should be a proper election calendar and all elections should take place on time. This is the only way that ensures democracy.

 

Q: The TNA was adamant that a federal solution was the only way to reconcile and to resolve the issues of the Tamils. What is your stand?

A: I was in the committee collecting public comments on this issue. Some people wanted federal and some opted for a central government controlled solution. I feel that the people have not properly understood the real issue. It is more of an emotional appeal than one of understanding.

Irrespective of labelling it as federal or unitary, what we need is a mechanism to ensure that the powers granted to the peripheries cannot be taken back by the centre. That is the system that is needed. The peripheral units should be given certain powers and the centre should not be allowed to take back these powers at their own discretion. This is what the Tamils expect.

 

4 Comments for “Issues Faced By Tamils Not Fully Addressed – S. Thavarajah”

  1. Sangaralingham

    Names are an issues ie federal provincial all territorial however support to the man woman in the north east seems somewhat wanting. Support in all
    Aspects in life is lacking. Whether this is the responsibility of provincial or central is not clear. There is some. Possible thing one can do widows handicapped old age get a a small monthly pensions to tide them over the difficult times in life with helping with development of some employment opportunities in the north. East make life better

  2. How if you replace the word TAMILS with SRI LANKANS. Its time that all of us think SRI LANKAN.

  3. Issues faced by the Sinhalese also not fully addressed and has never been. Tamil politicians always look at problems racially. Politicians have always played with the people let them be Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim.

    As long as we divide ourselves racially and demand only for a specific race, it won’t work.

  4. iemerald

    come out with these issues or keep stump. we all have issues but if you do not articulate it in a comprehensive factual descriptive manner it will remain issues.
    so spell it out so every citizen of this country will know it instead of saying one has issues.

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