2nd August 1998
UNP's business buddies 1977-94
As you can see Viruddha Paakshikaya, I am only giving a background of the Business of Politics or the Politics of Business-whichever- about the UNP's past with the murky world of business with cut-throat intrigue. This, Viruddha Paakshikaya is only a prelude to the next instalment.
Reading through the long litany by my friend, Viruddha Paakshikaya last week, I felt he was writing like a man possessed, losing all sense of objectivity.
He (or she) had challenged me to produce Ranil Wickremesinghe's Top Ten business personalities, asking me to find a large magnifying glass and saying, I didn't have even three names. So, Viruddha Paakshikaya was all excited; why? I'm told Siri Kotha and Cambridge Terrace were all agog, some scrambling to get into the Top Ten and some to get out of it!
Well, Viruddha Paakshikaya, what I promised I shall deliver, but I'm in no hurry to please your deadlines. So, let's begin at the beginning of what must be a long essay. And, to do that, we must take a look at those who were UNP beneficiaries since 1977 when the UNP "opened" the economy.
For example, there was Mitsui Corporation of Japan. They were awarded several construction contracts including the new Parliament Complex, the Rupavahini Corporation and the Airport runway. They were only required to give jobs to J.R. Jayewardene's relatives. They also gave legitimate commissions to their local agents.
Then there were the local agents of companies involved in the many construction projects of the Mahaveli project. They were agents for the likes of Skanska and Balfour Beatty, which supported the JRJ regime. And, those who got spin-offs from the contracts at Mahaveli later became financial backers of Gamini Dissanayake. They were the transport agents, those who provided the cement, heavy machinery etc. They would not only finance Gamini Dissanayake's political objectives, but also undertake contracts like constructing a pavilion for his old school!
Gamini Dissanayake also had Finco - (Remember, Viruddha Paakshikaya, how S.P. Amarasingham of The Tribune said the Mahaveli flows not to Trinco but to Finco!) - a firm of his in-laws.
If those were the suave, English educated urban businessmen, in Christian Dior short sleeves shirts and tie, there was R. Premadasa with his coterie of indigenous businessmen - the self made Sinhalese businessman in white sarong and shirt.
There was S.M.A. Aloysius alias Aloysius Mudalali, Kattar Aloysius of Free Lanka Trading, a rare breed because he was a friend of Premadasa, Dissanayake and Lalith Athulathmudali!
Then there was Nawaloka Mudalali, H.K. Dharmadasa, who was really a fan of J.R. Jayewardene (JR said at the opening of his hospital that had he been monarch of England he would say, "Rise, Sir Nawaloka" and knight him. Instead, Dharmadasa got the 'Deshabandu' award and ironically, JRJ breathed his last at the same hospital he opened).
Anyway Nawaloka Mudalali was a UNPer and Premadasa was a party man, so their interests didn't clash. So whenever Premadasa appealed to the people to hoist the National Flag on February fourth, Nawaloka Mudalali made a handsome profit. "Mudalali" as he was known those days also kept a line open to Premadasa through a super secretary at that time considered to be the Vice-President of Sri Lanka under the Premadasa Presidency.
The 'Grayline' Wijeratnes were also Premadasa's men running a luxury intercity bus service but had some 3000 of their jackpot machines destroyed overnight when Premadasa ran foul of Joe Sim and his casinos. Yet, the Grayline people bounced back under D.B Wijetunga but that is another story.
Premadasa also backed the Casino types. Aloysius Mudalali opened the first casino in Sri Lanka "next door" to Janadhipathi Mawatha. When others in the UNP wanted to close down casinos, Premadasa howled saying so many jobs would be lost. But close them he did when he thought Joe Sim had become too friendly with his family.
Then there was Lalith Athulathmudali who as Minister of Trade and Shipping had a natural reason to befriend the commercial world. But rather than be befriended by the traditional lot, he built his own loyalists by giving them breaks to do business. People like Chanaka De Silva were foremost among them. De Silva a former Royal College opening bowler had worked at Lewis Browns. He became an agent for Mitsui and was to later purchase Kelani Tyres.
So, basically the players at the time were Premadasa, Dissanayake and Athulathmudali- the three musketeers of the UNP, each preparing for the post - JR Presidential stakes. They all knew they needed financial resources to compete with each other. JRJ gave them Housing, the Port and the Mahaveli. So they could use government machinery to cut each others neck, so that his own was saved.
Perhaps another who ran in this race would be Ronald Joseph Godfrey de Mel who wanted to be something more than being a finance Minister. But he was jittery about Upali Wjewardena, the country's most colourful entrepreneur at the time who said, modestly that his intention was to be like the famous World War II German leader Erhard who said, "First Finance Minister, then Chancellor (Erhad succeeded but Upali didn't neither did Ronnie)
This dislike of Upali Wijewardena made Ronnie de Mel and Premadasa form an alliance of convenience against the "common enemy"-Upali and that too helped JRJ who did what the British did-divide and rule.
Now among these- apart from Aloysius there was a group which was able to keep everybody in the UNP happy: the Rajahs They had JR in their left pocket, Premadasa in their right pocket, Dissanayake in their shirt pocket and Athulathmudali in their hip pocket, but let's put all this in perspective Viruddha Paakshikaya.
Athulathmudali really, was their lawyer. When he was practising as Minister of Trade he did business with them, but I concede there were no allegations of impropriety or favouritism. JR also maintained good relations with them and again there were no allegations of impropriety other than possibly when he argued their case with officials of the Insurance Corporation after some factories of the Rajahs were burnt down out during the 1983 July riots to obtain higher compensation.
As for Dissanayake and the Rajahs, it was one school chum of his, whose name unfortunately rhymes with 'crook' who dealt with him. Then there was also the Rajah's London correspondent who would look after Dissanayake when the latter was in Old Blighty.
Dissanayake, of course was blessed with school boyish good looks and was a charming man. He made easy friends with the rich and famous-Upali Wijewardena and even Harry Stassen Jayawardena. He was apolitical when it came to business buddies and he regarded the Rajahs as one of them.
But it was Premadasa who was Number One with the Rajahs. After all the Rajahs knew he was only a heart beat away from the Presidency, being Prime Minister to a President, though fit, was in his eighties. So much so that the Rajahs who had not done too well during the SLFP's 1970-77 rule advertised one day in the newspapers in 1978 that they had 40-odd agencies for world wide companies, for instance for Parker pens. When the principals came to Sri Lanka, tea with the PM at the Parliamentary complex was a sure fixture on the schedule but Premadasa would never talk business - only small talk: " How long are you here for? and "Where are you going from here? But ask any businessman and he will tell you how important it is to show off that you can get your principal to have tea with the Prime Minister of the country!
But the 1983 riots did hurt them and since then like most businessmen anyway, they began siphoning off monies, mostly to Australia and the Australian High Commission in Colombo perks up when their passports arrive while lesser mortals have to hang around and suffer the ignominy of harassment for visa!
When Premadasa became president, the Rajahs became emperors. Everything had fallen into place. A lingam ( Who was by now in their coat pocket) had become the most important man in Sri Lanka next to the President. Everything financial had to go through this man. The power of the Rajahs at this time was illustrated in this story:
You see, Viruddha Paakshikaya, the Rajahs work on a Commission basis - they have several freelancers in the field when tenders are called. They provide them with some pocket money for incidental expenses- taking an official for dinner at the Hilton or offering some cash to a Technical Evaluation Committee member- even a Minister. The freelancers have to clinch the deal and prove they did it. Then the Rajahs dole out their commissions because they are also really the agents for the tenderers.
One of these freelancers was a crook. He was absolutely with Gamini Dissanayake, who had fallen out with Premadasa during the halcyon days of the impeachment, and Premadasa wanted the crook sacked as a free-lancer of the Rajahs. It had been discovered that Dissanayake had been given funds and a vehicle for his political work against Premadasa. The Rajahs stood firm. They told Premadasa to go to hell-metaphorically of course. It just shows the clout they had with a UNP President because they knew he couldn't do without them -and vice versa too.
They were able to get the Airbuses purchased for AirLanka and when the Eels tendered by offering Boeing aircraft the wrath of the President fell on them. The state run Observer at that time lashed the pants out of the Directors of Eels who learned the lesson of their lives- not to mess around with the Rajahs. And what followed was that the Rajahs, the agents for an obscure Middle Eastern airline, became local collaborators for AirLanka. And Viruddha Paakshikaya complains beating his strident drum when our government merges AirLanka with Emirates, picked as the No. 1 airline of the world!
But what happened next was the LTTE assassinated Premadasa and the otherwise shrewd Rajahs never bargained that the gentle Dingiri Banda Wijetunga would be President of the Republic on May 1, 1993
Now it was not that Wijetunga would have been averse to some help from the Rajahs. But when you are blinded by making money you forget little things like looking after others. So Dearly Beloved Wijetunga shut the door firmly in the face of the Rajahs, though some say it was a communal minded decision
He had his own breed of men to nurture and promote-The Earls of Gunasekara, the Nilames of Kataragama and the like. And one Rajah looked to us in the SLFP in total desperation! By this time they (the Rajahs) no doubt backed Dissanayake as a stand by choice but the October 1994 bomb dashed their hopes with the UNP. Undeterred, they hitched their wagon to the rising stars in our own party- with ulterior motives of creaming the little fat that was left in this land.
I do concede, Viruddha Paakshikaya, in all this, Ranil Wickremesinghe kept aloof. Viruddha Paakshikaya refers to a story that the Rajahs sent him a big bouquet of flowers when he became leader of the House and that Ranil had told a nosey friend who queried from where they were: "new appointments, new friends."
It just goes to show how the Rajahs operate; The only problem they had was they forgot to send flowers to D.B. Wijetunga!
Now, I can almost see Viruddha Paakshikaya saying, "so where's the Top Ten of Ranil Wickremesinghe that you promised?"
Well, I did say that Ranil Wickremesinghe, had kept aloof from all this business of business from 1977 to 1994 when the UNP ran riot in Sri Lanka, when contending party leaders were competing for the hands of businessmen and gave them favours in return for their patronage of political work.
But what of now? Ranil Wickremesinghe is the Leader of the UNP. Viruddha Paakshikaya will surely agree that no businessman, in his right sense would not 'cultivate" Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Even in the 1977-94 period Ranil Wickremesinghe was no insignificant pup in the UNP regime especially after he became Minister of Industries and then Prime Minister for 15 months.
He once went to the Paris Aid Consortium. He had negotiated with the United States on garment quotas. He bailed out one or two companies that had got into serious financial difficulties.
He was the friend of some non-political business groups-the Singers, the John Keells, the Ceylon Group, the Tobacco company to name a few -who had kept their links with all parties and governments without getting involved in political wheeler dealing and financing as far as we know.
As you can see Viruddha Paakshikaya, I am only giving a background of the Business of Politics or the Politics of Business -whichever- about the UNP's past with the murky world of business with cut-throat intrigue. This, Viruddha Paakshikaya is only a prelude to the next instalment.
So I will bide my time, my friend. Today's information will help you and our readers - to judge whether those in Ranil Wickremesinghe's Top Ten- when they are revealed -are any better or much worse than the lot that have been rewarded with an honourable mention today.!
By Javid Yusuf
Most people across the political and ethnic spectrum have realised the need for urgent steps to be taken to end the strife that has taken its toll of many Sri Lankans.
While there is sufficient agreement on the need to bring about peace with justice to all communities, the same degree of commonality of views does not exist with regard to the strategies and content of any measures to be taken. It is in this context that the Government's decision to place concrete proposals before the people and other political parties for discussion with a view to addressing the concerns that have given rise to the conflict needs to be welcomed.
This article attempts to discuss one of the most contentious issues relating to any form of devolution - the unit of devolution from the standpoint of the Muslim community.
Proposals of the Government have suggested the creation of a South-Eastern Unit which will have a predominantly Muslim population as one of the units of devolution.
The Muslim community constitutes an integral part of the Sri Lankan nation as much as the Sinhala, Tamil and other communities. The Muslim community has a duty while maintaining its religious and cultural identity and asserting its rights to show concern for the rights of the other communities as well. Similarly the state has a corresponding duty to look after the interests of all communities in a fair and just manner. The writer believes that the Muslim community being part of the larger Sri Lankan nation can reconcile - without compromising - its own interests with that of the other communities.
The Muslims have lived in harmony with the Sinhalese and Tamils for centuries. They have set an example that it is possible to live together with others without in any way diluting their own cultural and religious identity. While the devolution proposals have been the subject of intense discussion within the Sinhalese and Tamil communities, unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the Muslims whose leaders and intelligentsia have maintained a stoic silence on the issue. The irreparable damage that the South-Eastern Unit could cause to the Muslims has been lost on many as there has been no meaningful analysis of the proposals.
Fortunately for the Muslims, Minister and SLFP Muslim Federation leader A.H.M. Fowzie has kept the issue alive by coming out strongly against the proposal and alerting the Muslims, at every possible opportunity on the dangers inherent in the suggestion to set up a South-Eastern Unit. It is upto other leaders to take a stand on this issue which can have far reaching consequences for the Muslims.
In analysing the proposal to set up a South-Eastern unit, one could examine it from three perspectives:
1) The credentials of those who made the proposal.
2) Does the proposal benefit the Muslim community?
3) Does the proposal result in any benefit to the country?
The proposal to create a South-Eastern Unit has been made by the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress. The SLMC has signed an agreement with the Tamil United Liberation Front by which it has received the concurrence of the Tamil party to the setting up of a South-Eastern Unit. The SLMC has not thought it fit to divulge the contents of this agreement to enable the Muslims to decide on the merits or otherwise of the agreement. Indeed it would be correct to state that even the membership of the SLMC is unaware of what this agreement contains. It is imperative that when any political party enters into any agreement the public must be kept informed of the details as these relate to public matters that could impinge on the day-to-day lives of the people.
Minister and SLMC leader M.H.M. Ashraff has told his party members that the government's proposal was an achievement of the SLMC after years of struggle. However in statements to the Sinhala media the SLMC leader has denied that the proposal orginated from the SLMC and claimed that it was the Government's proposal. Of course the SLMC's track record of saying different things at different times is nothing new. The SLMC and its leadership have during the past several years taken up divergent and at times even contradictory positions with regard to the unit of devolution.
At the 1977 General Elections the SLMC leader actively campaigned for Eelam. Mr. Ashraff had even claimed at those meetings that even if Amirthalingam did not achieve Eelam he (Ashraff) would achieve Eelam.
Thereafter the SLMC leader supported the Swiss Canton System as a model of devolution. Then in the mid eighties and right upto the Presidential Elections in 1988 he supported the concept of a Muslim Provincial Council comprising non-contiguous Muslim areas as a suitable unit of devolution for Muslims. After the manifesto of SLFP leader Sirimavo Bandaranaike included a unit of devolution on these lines to accommodate Muslim interests, Mr. Ashraff who had until then supported Ms. Bandaranaike switched his allegiance to Mr. Premadasa and campaigned against the very same Muslim unit he had supported.
The SLMC and its leader campaigned and supported R. Premadasa at the 1988 elections and right through his rule. Mr. Ashraff promised that he would support Mr. Premadasa at the 1994 elections thereby endorsing and approving all the actions of the then UNP Government. Only after Mr. Premadasa died, that the SLMC leader sensing a change in electoral fortunes decided to support the People's Alliance. All this indicates that the SLMC position on any issue is based on subjective considerations of an opportunistic nature without a proper consideration of the merits of any issue.
This probably explains why the SLMC leader and his party have upto date never put forward any reasons justifying the proposed South-East Unit. It is axiomatic that anyone who makes a new proposal should adduce reasons as to why he is making the proposals. The SLMC for its part only criticises those who oppose the proposal for a South-East Unit without giving reasons that will enable the public to come to a conclusion on the merits or otherwise of the proposal. The only conclusion one can come to is that the SLMC and its leader cannot justify the proposal.
The SLMC is a communal party that has sought to exploit the religious sentiments of the Muslim community for political advantage. SLMC leaders and spokesmen have in the past warned voters that unless they voted for the SLMC they would have to answer to God on the day of judgement. The constitution of the SLMC makes the astounding claim that "the decision of the leader shall be presumed to be the divine guidance on the matter in issue."
The SLMC's communalism is only second to its opportunism. Consequently there is a common opinion in political circles as well as among the public that the SLMC cannot be trusted. It is almost undisputed that if the UNP is likely to win at the next elections, the SLMC will switch its support to the UNP. In short the SLMC and its leadership do not enjoy the trust of any section of the country although political expediency may result in alliances being formed at different times with the SLMC.
While President Premadasa was alive, the SLMC extolled his virtues and promised him and the UNP his support at the 1994 elections. But today the SLMC leader and other spokesmen do not speak of President Premadasa. Instead they refer to the 17 years of UNP misrule, conveniently ignoring that the SLMC by supporting the UNP was also a party to UNP rule. In the same way the SLMC today praises President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga but will surely change its tune the day it decides to publicly support the UNP.
A few years ago when a vacancy arose in the UNP's national list to Parliament and the UNP was considering appointing M.M. Mustapha or Segu Issadeen to represent the interests of the Muslims of Digamadulla, the SLMC through its Secretary Rauff Hakeem made representations to Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe that if either of them was appointed the UNP would not be able to count on SLMC support at future elections. Despite this we read in the newspapers SLMC spokesman now criticising the UNP for not appointing a Muslim to represent the Digamadulla district.
Thus it shows that the SLMC always acts in a parochial and subjective way, sometimes ignoring and often going against the larger interests of the Muslim community.
Benefit to Muslims
Statistics reveal that the proposed South-East Unit will have within its boundaries less than 15 per cent of the Muslims in the country. Thus more than 85 per cent of the Muslims will not share in any imaginary benefit that the Muslims of the South-Eastern Unit may receive. The Colombo District alone has more Muslims (14.9%) than the proposed South-Eastern Unit (14.3%). The SLMC which is now propouding the cause of the South-East Unit ignores that such a proposal will benefit, if at all, only the Amparai district Muslims who account for about one third of the Muslims in the North-East. By making this proposal the SLMC is betraying the Muslims of the Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts as well as those of the Northern Province who are all displaced from their homes.
The feelings of the Batticaloa Muslims were clearly expressed when the entire district observed a hartal and SLMC supporters there boycotted the party's annual convention as an expression of disapproval of the party's stand on the unit of devolution.
Muslims of Trincomalee too made no bones about their feelings when they gave a torrid time to SLMC General Secretary Rauf Hakeem when he visited the district recently. Even the Muslims of the Amparai district are unlikely to benefit from this proposal of the SLMC and all reports indicate that there is strong opposition to the proposal from within the district.
Neither the SLMC nor any other body has made any study with regard to the economic and social consequences of setting up a South- East Unit. The Eastern Province, particularly the Amparai district, has an agricultural economy dependent on irrigation from different sources for its sustenance. With the Amparai electorate being excised from the Amparai district to create the South-Eastern Unit, the conditions would be created for disputes relating to water use between the South-Eastern Unit and the Uva Province.
These and several other factors have to be considered before one can be convinced that the proposed South-Eastern Unit will benefit even the Muslims living within the unit. The viability of the unit has also to be examined in relation to the powers that are to be devolved to the regions. All this should have been done by the advocates of this proposal before making such a far-reaching suggestion.
The negative fallout of this proposal to the Muslim community is also significant. The trust and goodwill that has existed between the Muslims and the Sinhalese as well as with the Tamils has begun to erode from the time the SLMC was formed. Unnecessary and unfounded suspicion towards the Muslim community began to arise due to the actions of the SLMC and its leadership. The public does not always realise that the SLMC accounts for only a small support base and that the majority of the Muslims have always shown a desire to live in harmony with the other communities and have always supported the main stream political parties. Consequently the entire Muslim community is often held responsible for the sins of the SLMC. In the 1960s, Galagedara, a predominantly Sinhala Buddhist electorate, elected a Muslim, the SLFP's Abdul Jabbar as its Member of Parliament. This was a reflection of the extent of harmony and mutual respect between the two communities. When trouble broke out in Galagedara recently between the two communities, Minister Fowzie who rushed to the electrorate was able to talk to both sides and help to ease the tension. Mr. Fowzie's efforts were all rendered useless due to the actions of SLMC supporters who themselves were alleged to have fuelled the trouble by their actions in the first place..
The manner in which appointments and allocation of funds have been made in the SLMC leader's Ministry has given rise to allegations of discrimination from both the Sinhalese and Tamil communities. Indeed there are allegations of discrimination even from the displaced Muslims of the Northern Province who allege that they have been given a raw deal by the Ministry.
Thus it is upto the SLMC to make a case for the South-Eastern Unit. So far it has shown a total inability to do so. When Minister Fowzie criticised the proposal to set up a South-Eastern Unit, the SLMC leader without answering the criticism challenged Mr. Fowzie for a debate. Mr. Fowzie readily accepted the challenge but said that he also wished to debate at the same time the corruption in Mr. Ashraff's Ministry. Thereafter there has been no talk of a debate from the SLMC leader. One Muslim Organisation which wished to organise a seminar on the subject with both ministers as well as representatives from other parties were told by SLMC sources that their leader preferred to have lectures on different days rather than a seminar on one occasion.
Benefit to the country
Any proposal to solve the ethnic problem must improve the situation and not make it worse. The proposal to set up a South-Eastern Unit or any similar proposal will only aggravate the situation. Instead of bringing the communities together, it will tend to compartmentalise them and drive them apart. The South-Eastern Unit will encompass an area that is less than 2000 square kilometres in extent. Creating units of devolution of such a small size will encourage divisive tendencies without any corresponding benefit to the country.
The need of the hour is for the different communities and their leaders to recognise, respect and address the fears and perceptions of the other communities. The Sinhalese community must look at the problems of the minorities in a just manner. Equally the minorities and their leaders must recognise that the Sinhalese too have their share of problems and fear which must be addressed. But all these cannot be done if communal parties like the SLMC make communal demands which benefit neither the community which it claims to represent nor the country.
The Muslim community and its leaders have over centuries demonstrated their ability to live together with the other communities. Only those who do not have confidence in their ability to do so can make proposals to set up a South-Eastern Unit.
In its attempts to resolve the ethnic problem, the Government must take into account Muslim opinion. This opinion is reflected by the Muslims in the two national parties - the SLFP and the UNP. The SLFP and the UNP as separate parties as well as collectively account for very much more support among the Muslims than the SLMC. The Government must not make the mistake of thinking that the SLMC views are that of the Muslims when the SLFP and UNP reflect Muslim views more accurately.
The Government must therefore consult the Muslim leaders of the SLFP and UNP before finalising its proposals. Failure to do so and continuing with the proposal to set up a South-Eastern Unit may jeopardise the chances of success at a referendum where the majority of the Muslims (whose votes can be decisive) may reject the entire devolution package because of the proposal to set up a South-Eastern Unit.
The author is a former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, former Principal of Zahira College, Maradana and currently is a member of the Human Rights Commission.
Defeat terrorism, separatism and racism
Honourable Prime Minister, We the Sri Lankans are indeed proud of the fact that you and other leaders of South Asian countries are honouring our country with your presence in order to declare to the world the goodwill, co-operation, solidarity and unity that exists between our countries. We share with all these countries a common identity and civilisation. It is a historical landmark that the SAARC Summit should be held in Sri Lanka when this country is passing through an agonising crisis of terrorism which has already taken a toll in your country and threatens to spread widely in the South Asian region and destabilise it. We of the National Movement Against Terrorism which stands for a peaceful and democratic Sri Lanka free of terrorism and racial conflict consider this a most opportune moment to meet with you, hounourable sir.
South Asia is entering the 21st century replete with both its excellence and its weaknesses. We have to be aware of both our capabilities and our weaknesses. We in South Asia form one fifth of the world's population. In other words, it has to be emphasised that one fifth of the global resources and global markets belong to us. The peoples of this region have an ancient heritage.
SAARC countries India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka, although they have their separate identities are linked together by one civilisation. Although millions of people of different religions, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian and other faith live in these countries, it was here in this region that the origin and evolution of Buddhism and Hinduism took place.
Through thousands of years of evolution, there has developed in this region, indigenous systems of productivity, a rubric of knowledge and values, an ethos, political theories, structures and organisations in the image of the countries of this region. But despite the magnitude of our populations and the magnificence of our heritage we have not inherited the world's wealth or its political power.
However, it has to be noted that the concentration of economic power in the West is significantly shifting towards Asia. With the gradual transfer of technology from the West to the Asian region and the consequent modernisation of the countries of South-Asia, the imbalance between the west and the Asian region is slowly breaking down and the gap is surely closing.
In the developing context of the current era, the clashes of the future between the regions will not centre around creeds or ideological systems as in the past, but between the old civilisations and the new.
In this novel situation that is developing, it is the responsibility of our countries in the South Asian region to consolidate ourselves and unite, so that we will not be defeated again by imperialist forces. It is by defeating the political and divisive forces that are endeavouring to divide us, that we can rise and be strong enough to protect our civilisations, our political and economic systems, while at the same time respecting each others identities.
The culture of the subcontinent is not new to us in Sri Lanka. The Sinhala people were historically responsible for the conceptualisation and evolution of Sri Lankan civilisation and they as a community are not alien to the Bharathiya Aryan civilisation.
When we take a look at the evolutionary process of Sri Lankan civilisation and culture, we see only too graphically the common links and relationships between us in culture, religion, a language, technology and learning. From the dim past history of Rama and Ravana, there is a lesson our two countries should have learnt: that in the security interests of not only our two countries, but also of the whole region, goodwill and co-operation between us is of prime importance.
We might specially mention that, as in the ancient era of the great Emperor Dharmashoka, if we follow the panchasila promoted by him, India would indeed be a light unto us now, as in the past.
Honourable Prime Minister.
In the 1980s due to either interference from powerful world powers or due to the vicious machinations and forces of racist disruption in our own region, our two countries were caught up in a massive political trap.
As a result India had to sacrifice the lives of her soldiers, absorb the expenditure of many crores of rupees and come to terms with a blemished reputation. By this eventuality, those dangerous separatist forces which in the past had been conspiring to carve up India into parts received a new lease of life. It also provided a forum for the divisive forces from outside, which had been fostering the mirage of the establishment of a hostile separate state, which would have led to the destabilisation of the region. What followed was a breakdown of the big brotherly and friendly relationship which has existed between our two countries.
In addition, the losses cannot be quantified - the loss of the life, the cultural breakdown and general disruption and destruction. For this very reason we have to ensure that these hostile and disruptive forces do not drag us down the same road of disaster and tragedy. It is evident that the Tamil separatist parties and movements are again presenting you and your government with various proposals and humble appeals while concealing their true hidden agenda and objectives.
The same slogans used by a non-Aryan Dravida separatist campaign in the first half of this century, seeking the assistance of Western imperialist to carve up the Indian union are being used again by the Tamil separatists, with the help of the same old masters These same slogans are used to present to the world what are known as Tamil "grievances".
It is not only the Tamils who can lay claim to an Indian heritage. The Sinhala and Muslims too belong to the same heritage. Neither the Sinhalese nor the ordinary Tamils nor the Muslims have ever expressed opposition to India. They have never attempted to establish a separate state in the sub-continent. On the other hand Tamil racist political parties, such as the Tamil United Liberation Front, the Ceylon Workers' Congress (classified as so-called "moderates"), the LTTE and its front organisations and certain NGOs which are now trying to pass off as the friends of India, are in fact endeavouring to break up Sri Lanka first and India next.
The idea is to convert the South Asian region into a battleground engulfed in hate like the Middle East. It is our fervent hope that you, honoured sir, your government and the people of India would join with Sri Lanka, a friendly country, to consolidate peace and unity in the region.
These hostile Tamil separatist forces hiding behind your party's ideology of 'Hinduvata' are disseminating disinformation that the Tamils of Sri Lanka are being persecuted and subjected to oppression and harassment. The very fact that more than half the Tamil population of Sri Lanka live outside the north and east (which the Tamil racists claim as their homeland), in the south in peace and amity with the Sinhala people gives the lie to this diabolical piece of propaganda.
While Buddhism was brought to Sri Lanka from India, it was the Buddhists of Sri Lanka who built and evolved a truly integrated Sri Lankan culture and civilisation. The existence of Buddhistic ruins and places of worship in all parts of the country, including Jaffna, Batticaloa, Nuwara Eliya is evidence of the fact that this culture and civilisation evolved as a homogeneous whole. Yet, the Buddhists of Sri Lanka have never impeded Hindu worship in this country.
However, the Tamil separatist racists, in order to trigger clashes between the Buddhists and the Hindus have destroyed 261 Buddhist places of worship in the north and the east. Tamil terrorists have attacked the two most sacred, the most revered pinnacles of Buddhist worship in Sri Lanka, the Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura and the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. These are sites which are sacred to Buddhists all over the world and are the heritage of all mankind.
They killed in cold blood the revered Dimbulagala Maha Nayake Thero, the most important Chief Monk of the north and the east. At Aranthalawa they massacred 34 Buddhist Monks and later attacked the Sammbuddhaloka Vihare and murdered the Venerable Chandrajothi Maha Nayake Thero who was the Sangha Nayake (Chief Monk) of the Western Province. That dastardly crime was committed on a Poya day. But even after these brutal crimes, is there anyone who can provide evidence to prove that there was backlash against the Tamils of Sri Lanka.
In the last five years at least two and a half lakhs of Tamils have migrated from the north and east to the city of Colombo.
Around fifty new kovils have been built for their worship. The majority of swamis serving in these kovils are Indians. During the last decade alone Tamil racists have killed more than 500 persons and disabled or injured more than 5000 persons by bomb blasts in the city of Colombo.
But no Hindu kovil, no Hindu procession and no Hindu person has been attacked as a reprisal for these brutal attacks on the Sinhala citizens of Colombo.
In addition no Tamil is barred from living, working and engaging in politics in any part of Sri Lanka. But in the last fifteen years more than 3000 Sinhala and Muslim persons have been massacred in the north and the east and more than 50,000 of them driven from their homes and reduced to the status of displaced persons or refugees living in refugee camps. At least a lakh of Muslims and Tamils too have become homeless due to the harassment and pressures from the LTTE.
Should similar ethnic cleansing take place in Kashmir, Nagaland or Assam, your honour would know only too well what the reaction of the Indian people would be.
But in the last decade the Sri Lankan people have been incredibly patient in connection with the brutalities inflicted on them by the Tamil racist separatists. But Tamil racist propagandists distort the truth and invent a so-called clash between the Sinhalese and the Tamils and the Buddhists and the Hindus in order to conceal their real objective - the conspiracy to establish a separate Dravidanstan within the Indian Republic and in Sri Lanka for the Tamils dispersed around the world. Can we the Sinhalese stand by and watch in silence and let this happen?
This is why the Movement Against Terrorism has risen to totally reject and defeat the objectives of the Tamil separatists to carve up the Republic of India, dismember Sri Lanka and establish a separate Tamil state.
This is why we request that our representative be given an opportunity to meet with you, Your Honour during your stay in Sri Lanka.
The golden key to the security of a united India is an undivided Sri Lanka. The integrity of the nations of Asia is the foundation stone for the non-disruption and continuance of the noble civilisation of South Asia.
We pray that you and your government and the people of India will move forward with us in Sri Lanka, shoulder to shoulder, in one single front, in order to ensure an undivided Sri Lanka and a united India, by defeating Tamil terrorism, separatism and racism.
– Committee for National Movement Against Terrorism
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