FROM PACKAGE TO CONFEDERATION
(1999 August 25)
August 19, 1999, like July 15.1995, has come and gone. The ministers and the others who picketed to pressurise their own government to introduce the new amendments to the constitution to the parliament can wait till July 15, 2000 for another picket unless the parliament is dissolved before that date. In any event they are pre-occupied with the latest channel 9 episode that they have no time for anything else. Meanwhile the minister of constitutional affairs Dr. G. L. Pieris is talking about consulting the government parliamentary group before presenting this all-important bill to the parliament.
There were some who were of the view that Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam was killed by the LTTE as there were moves by the government to amend the constitution before the 19th August. However, the LTTE was not to be fooled by the pickets of the ministers and the promises by Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga. Only the JVP, who were in any case trying to find an excuse to withdraw from the presidential election in 1994, could be deceived by those promises.
The package can now be considered as dead for all purposes. After the date, 19th August, was announced by the government the Ruhunu Rata Bhikku Peramuna and the Ruhunu Jathika Ekabhadda Mandalaya very correctly observed the pansukula rites at a funeral of the package organised near the Matara Bodhiya. However does it mean that there is no threat of federalism and separatism now?
The Sinhala nationalist organisations cannot be complacent of the events that have taken place. The Tamil racist movement has entered definitively into its third face with the killing of Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam. As described in the booklet "An Introduction into Tamil Racism in Sri Lanka" the first phase of the Tamil racist movement started long time ago in the last century. The first phase spanned roughly from about 1833 to 1947. In order to understand the Tamil racist movement one should be aware of the basic aspiration of Tamil racism in Sri Lanka. The Tamil racist movement is driven by the aspiration to deny the rightful place being given to the Sinhala people, Sinhala language, Sinhala history and Sinhala culture in this country. Tamil racism in Sri Lanka was created by the British and is based on a mythical history in the tradition of Yalapana Vaipava Malai written during the Dutch period. Tamil racism as a political movement was baptised by the British in 1833 when they created the legislative assembly and appointed one unofficial member each to represent the Sinhala people who constituted more than 75% of the population and had a history going back to more than two thousand three hundred years and who had created a unique culture peculiar to Sri Lanka and the Tamils who constituted less than 15% of the population and whose continuous history as a settled population in the country began with the re-introduction of the Thesawalamai law by the British, after it was first codified by the Dutch in the eighteenth century. The British also appointed an unofficial member to represent the Burghers and three unofficial members to represent the Europeans.
From that day the English educated Tamils in the country were determined not to give the rightful place to the Sinhala people, their language, their culture and their history in the country. They refused to accept that the Sinhala people were the majority of the country and always insisted that the number of Tamil members in the legislative council should be equal to or at least two thirds of that of the Sinhala members. I do not want to go into details of the first phase of Tamil racism in which the English educated Tamils with the support of some of the British governors made sure that the Sinhala people were not adequately represented in the legislative assembly. In fact Tamil leaders like Mr. Ponnambalam Ramanathan connived with governors such as Manning in this game of numbers. Mr. Ramanathan and others went before the Donoughmore Commission and canvassed against universal franchise as they knew that with the introduction of universal franchise the number of Sinhala members in the legislature would increase substantially. The aim of Tamil racism in its first phase was to control the centre, meaning the legislative assembly and later the state council, through the numbers game. In other words Tamil racism did not want to give the rightful place to the Sinhala people, their language, their culture and their history by reducing the number of Sinhala members in the legislature. The English educated Tamils wanted the Soulburry Commission to delimit the electorates in such a way that Sinhala members would not have a majority in the new parliament. However, the commission realised that it was not possible and told the Tamil leaders that one cannot reduce a natural majority by artificial means.
In order to satisfy Tamil racism the commission in its recommendation on delimitation tried to make sure that number of Sinhala members in the parliament does not exceed 65% of the total number of seats. However the calculations of the commission were proved to be wrong by the 1947 elections results. This result was the beginning of the second phase of Tamil racism led by Mr. Chelvanayakam. He was supported by people like Dr. Naganathan and Mr. Wanniyasingham. Mr. Chelvanayakam opted for federalism and then Eelam in the north and the east. It appears that having realised that it was impossible to reduce the number of Sinhala members in the parliament and maintain power in the central legislature for Tamils, through numbers far in excess of their population ratio, he wanted absolute power in the north and the east. To justify their demand for a federal state and then Eelam the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) or the Lanka Tamil State Party, based on the mythical historical tradition of Yalapana Vaipava Malai, created a "history" for the Tamils going back to three thousand years in the so-called traditional homeland of the Tamils in the northern and eastern provinces (belonged to the Ruhuna) demarcated by the British only in 1879. The so-called grievances were created, based on these myths and on the aspiration of Tamil racism to deny the rightful place being given to the Sinhala people, their culture, their history and their language. Mr. Kapila Pieris in a series of articles published in the "Kalaya" (now published in the form of a booklet) has analysed these so-called grievances and has exploded the myth behind them.
The third phase of Tamil racism was started around 1970 by terrorists such as Prabhakaran, who were brought up on the myths propagated by Mr. Chelvanayakam and the others in the ITAK and the TUF that was renamed the TULF. The third phase demanded Eelam in one step without the intermediate step of a federal state. The terrorists unlike the so-called moderates of second phase took up arms to achieve a separate state. However it should not be forgotten that the TUF and the TULF leaders by their speeches encouraged the terrorists, who were affectionately called "the boys", to take up arms. The second phase and the third phase politics existed side by side and the so-called moderates and the terrorists were able to function simultaneously. With the killing of Dr. Thiruchelvam the second phase politics has receded and hereafter it will be mainly the third phase of Prabhakaran. All the so-called solutions, starting with the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact, to the Tamil problem offered to Tamil racism on the basis that there were grievances, were given to the second phase politicians. The Dudley -Chelvanayakam Pact, the District Developmental Councils, the Provincial Councils and finally the proposed Regional Councils of the "package" were all offered to the ITAK and the TULF. The ITAK and the TULF adopted the policy of "little now and more later" of Mr. Chelvanayakam and more and more power was given to Tamil racism through the "solutions".
The LTTE on the otherhand was not interested in these "solutions" offered to second phase politicians. The LTTE has rejected the "package" not because it gave more power than they expected. They are not satisfied with what has been offered, as they want Eelam. By killing Dr. Thiruchelvam the LTTE has told the other Tamil racist parties that they (the other parties) would not be tolerated anymore and that none of the other parties would not be allowed to use the LTTE to achieve their objectives. They want the other Tamil parties to recognise them as the sole representatives of the Tamils. Already as revealed by a columnist in another paper, the Tamil Catholic clergy have already taken certain steps to get the other Tamil racist parties to accept this position. Also some businessmen from Jaffna have come to Colombo in order to request these parties to play a very low key in day to day politics. All these imply that the Tamils in the Catholic Church hierarchy, especially the Tamil priests, are trying to make the LTTE the only spokesman for the Tamils.
For sometime now the so-called business community has been trying to get the UNP and the PA to come to an agreement on the amendments to the constitution. Their intention is to meet Prabhakaran with the agreed amendments and then to make way for negotiations between the government and the LTTE. Mr. Lalith Kotelawala who heads this politicised business continuity has said that he will meet Prabhakaran. While Mr. Kotelawala is preparing to meet Prabhakaran, it is learnt that many Sinhala businessmen are taking steps to boycott hereafter the business enterprises of the politicised business community.
Mr. Kotelawala and his team are not the first to initiate an agreement between the UNP and the PA. The former British Foreign under-secretary Dr. Fox was in Sri Lanka on number of occasions for this specific purpose and he was able to accomplish what is now known as the Fox agreement. His successor Mr. Fatchett has given his full support to the Fox project. Also there have been attempts by the NGO's and various other parties to initiate talks between the government and the LTTE with or without third part facilitation/mediation. It was only recently that Anton Balasingham went to London and as we have mentioned in our article "Bala goes to London town" he could not have gone there without the support of the western powers. "The Island" on Monday the 22nd had a news item on the powers behind Balasingham's visit to London. The national Christian council and its parent body the world council of churches have taken an active interest in the so-called peace talks. The politicised business community are the new comers to the business of peace talks. It is very clear that some members of the Catholic and the Christian churches have played a big role in all these "peace" attempts. It is unfortunate that the Sinhala Christians and the Sinhala Catholics have been left without a leadership and it appears that there is no body to talk on behalf of this community.
What is the purpose of having talks with the LTTE? It is well known that the LTTE has rejected the package. The LTTE has rejected the package as it wants more than what is given in it. Now that should be very clear even to the politicised business community. Do all these saints who love "peace" think that the Sinhala people will agree to give more and more power to the LTTE in order to help them to achieve their aspiration of denying the Sinhala people, their language, their culture and their history being given the rightful place in the country? Are they depending on the so-called surveys conducted by professors of sociology who have come to the conclusion that the Koran is the most widely read book in the country, through such surveys?
The LTTE and people like Prof. A. J. Wilson on many occasions have said that the LTTE is prepared to drop Eelam only if a confederation is offered. As Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe's asymmetrical devolution is also closer to a confederation the "saints of peace" may be thinking of some kind of agreement between the PA and the UNP along those lines. It has to be emphasised over and over again that the LTTE insists on accepting the Thimpu conditions even before the negotiations commence. While the biggest NGO in the country "Sarvodaya" financed by money from the Christian countries in the west is appealing to the Sinhala masses in the Buddhist idiom of "Bhavana" the "saints of peace" are preparing the background for talks with the LTTE. The country has definitively entered the third phase of Tamil racism. There is no more room for the second phase politicians in the guise of "moderates". The provincial councils and packages were "solutions" that attempted to form a federal state as an intermediate stage before Eelam for the second phase "moderates". The "saints of peace" are plotting for a confederation which is Eelam by another name.