Carrying two black eyes comfort me, knowing the reasons for the bashing. Tamil Diaspora targets me as a Sinhala chauvinist, a membership I rather seek than apply to be a President’s Counsel, a congested club of over a hundred and ten.
But a few in the Sinhala Diaspora sent me over the moon by awarding a rank comparable in status to a Deshamanya [enabled a holder to spend time in general/prison hospital rather than in remand jail] calling me a Tiger in sheep’s clothing, for having appealed for fast remedies to legitimate Tamil grievances before the LLRC. One offsets another but on being sentenced by both, I can die in peace.
Reading between the lines in being a double agent reminds me of a chapter in Tolstoy’s War & Peace. Leo’s story shows standards applicable in times of War are not the same when Peace is regained.
Peace must be meaningful after a War that was successful. It is a lesson learnt by those living in their native land than or biting Diasporas of any colouration.
|File photo: LLRC sittings at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Centre in Colombo
Most telling is the market research that revealed 94% living in the North and East are desirous of becoming proficient in Sinhala, and 93% living in the South are desirous of learning Tamil. This trend became symptomatic with a tilt in the vote towards national parties in the North and East at the expense of an ethnic party at the General Election. The moment to grasp has arrived, if language alleged once to be a divider, becomes the healer.
Nirmala Rajasingham’s article, The Stimulated Politics of the Diaspora (Himal-Daily Mirror 7/1/11) shows maturity in understanding the psyches of the Diaspora Tamils and Sri Lankan Tamils and the LTTE: writer in a capsulated form says: “It is of no consequence to them [Diaspora] that the LTTE is now discredited among Lankan Tamils...Pressurizing [Western Governments] to prevail upon the Sri Lankan government is currently their sole strategy…Most members of the nationalist Diaspora have not had the same experiences of living through the war…
The Diaspora leadership abdicated its responsibility towards the Tamil people by being dismissive about LTTE’s transgressions…Diaspora today needs to recognize that the Tamil community’s future lies in peaceful democratic co -existence with the other two communities on the island…the politics of Diaspora nationalism continue to prescribe separate development, which will ghettoize and marginalize Tamils.” True and brave words, including few of the references to the Rajapaksa regime.
Such understanding, require thinking caps to be adorned by enlightened nationalists in camp Sinhala and be flexible. Those worthies shoulder psychological weight than numerical strength: war was won on their perennial thesis - talking to the Tigers is a futile exercise while force will decimate the LTTE-which proved to be correct. The Sinhala majority sticks to their opinion, in trust when reasonable, in preference to the politicians.
Nationalists of any description must stand up to a man to protect their cultural interests but walk on common ground in a nation building operation, mindful of safeguarding their respective legitimate rights. It’s the alienated socialites oscillating in embassy street, that mock nationalists that have attracted a dedicated following as extremists, because they fight for rights unseen by those wearing tinted lenses.
Moderate nationalists on either side of the divergence can lend a helping hand by calibrating their stances to establish an undivided country, instead of allowing foreign funded NGOs waiting to fill any available vacuum to earn a name and a dollar to enter the theatre and become mischievous.
Such moderation was difficult in times of war as wiping out terrorism or safeguarding civilians with Tigers in toe under cover became competing primes. Correctly selecting Option One enabled the war to end after two decades without further prolonging the agony though there were the inevitable civilian casualties any unintended crossfire attracts.
War is history; recent but still an event of a fading past kept alive by cries of war crimes. Grateful people on a show of appreciation returned the President and the Government; gratitude has its time lines and not a lifeline in perpetuity. The government cannot survive on past performance and credit alone. Sinhala voters are fortunately not living on their laurels after the celebrations but a moronic government appears to be. To Lankans the victory and the consequent peace brought security and stability but not comfort with an erratic economy.
Tamils, collectively did not come to the party, their pride was hurt but in solitary silence showed relief on being freed from the Tiger yoke. Their aspirations patent or latent were shattered but a new life more realistic and comfortable is unfolding before them. They needed time to recover on being freed from the camps, to return home, pick and work on the woodwork left behind, settle down and come back to normal life. Now, is the time, looking back through their private prisms to assess whether the events of the past were glories or follies?
Outstandingly magnificent at War, the same government has become a dismal failure in its Peace endeavours. Good intentions of the President remain un-implemented; like burning tyres tied round the government’s neck, searching self-immolation. Worse, there is no monitoring to douse the flames. The interim recommendations of the LLRC on burning issues still remain in filing cabinets; fast implementation would answer critics.
Absence of effective implementation and monitoring the progress are setbacks to reconciliation and all other live problems. Security Forces won the war since they were trained and disciplined to effectively implement orders of skilled superiors that were duly monitored. Not so, the inept public officers — including corporations and boards — often selected to high office, for being a sycophant of someone, instead of talent and ability. The public service still has great talent untapped; since the able remain unrecognized because they do not have benefactors to fawn and be toady.
A government that reached the zenith of popularity can end up, when luck runs out, as the big bad wolf. It’s not too late, for the President with nearly six years ahead, to sharpen the axe before felling.
The writer is a senior lawyer