Posted on November 25th, 2009

By Noor Nizam, Sri Lankan Peace Activist and Freelance Journalist, Canada. 25th., Nov. 2009.

The announcement made by HE. Mahinda Rajapaksa that there is no room for a re-merger of the North and East provinces as a political geographical land mass entity and human settlement in Sri Lanka is a reality of contemporary politics in Sri Lanka. The president said this to editors N Vithiyatharan of Sudar Oli and Devaraj of Virakesari at a breakfast meeting with the heads of media institutions on the 25th., of November, in Colombo this week.

 Rajapaksa ruled out north-east re-merger and said the merger of the two provinces had been a demand of the LTTE and there was no question of entertaining it now.

 HE. President Rajapaksa was echoing the same political stand he took while attending the special cabinet meeting at Temple Trees on September 1997 that was called by then president Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunghe to discuss the devolution of power proposals.

 Rajapaksa said to the editors that he had to keep in mind the interest of the Muslims, who, he said, were in a majority in the Eastern Province, and who, as such, would not be happy to be merged with the Tamil-majority. 

 The Muslims of Sri Lanka and especially of the Eastern Province thank HE. Mahinda Rajapaksa for ruling out the North-East re-merger and declaring his decision publicly through the media representative with whom the President had a cordial breakfast meeting.

 The two provinces, which were united following the India-Sri Lankan Accord of 1987, were de-merged by a Supreme Court decision based on technical grounds in 2006.

 Political analysts and Muslim academics have more than once highlighted the perils of the Muslims of the Eastern province. Muslim politicians have stressed the situation of the Muslim majority in the East, with no avail for any consideration, both during the presidency of late JR. Jayawardene and Madam Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunghe.

 Colombo’s elite Muslim politicians who have treated the Eastern Muslims in a step-motherly manner, have argued the point that in the entire Eastern Province the Muslim population was around 30 per cent, but only 12 per cent of them lived in the Eastern Province. In the runner-up to the “Devolution of Power proposals (many forms were on the table), the late Hon. Ashraff’s called for a separate South-Eastern Council which was challenged by Cabinet colleague A. H. M. Fowzie at that time.

 The de-merger by a degree of the laws courts of Sri Lanka in 2006 enabled the government of HE. Mahinda Rajapaksa to call for provincial elections. The Rajapakse regime has multi-lateral objectives towards the Eastern province. With the popularity of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, the Colombo Muslim elites reached out to the Eastern Muslims as their brethren in a very honorable manner. Understanding and UNITY is now strength for advocacy of the “Muslim Factor”.

The Eastern Province is now a separate Province for all administrative and political over view. Secondly, there was a need for an intensive military campaign to be waged to drive away the LTTE from the territory it controlled in the East. The East was the shore of the setting of the sun “Paduvaankarai” as referred to by Tamil writers who believed in the theory of a Tamil Eelam. For the government, making this “Paduvaankarai” free from the clutches of the LTTE was important.

 But the East has vast natural resources like ilmenite (used for nuclear energy), silicon dioxide (used for making glass), sea weeds (for use in pharmaceutical products),  fishery resources and the development of tourism which are a few to name. A comprehensive plan to develop and exploit these resources would be of great political and socio-economic stability to the government and to the upliftment of the Eastern province population who had been pushed to extreme poverty since independence. Added to this was the dominating attitude of the Northern Tamils, who considered the Eastern Tamils as second class citizens, a norm that was seen by the infiltration and dominance of all public service positions and the control of the business and private sector segment of the East by Northern Tamils. The Eastern Muslims were also battered by this unethical practice of the Northerners. This was also a reason for Karuna Amman to break away in March 2004 from Prabaharan and helped the government forces to clear the East from the LTTE presence. The government as a result the demerger, called for an Eastern provincial council election which took place on May 10, 2008 to elect members to the new Council.

 Thanks to the peculiarities of the proportionate representation voting system more Muslims than Tamils were elected as Eastern provincial councilors. 18 of the 35 elected councilors were Muslims. Of these eight were in government ranks. Only ten of the elected councilors were Tamils. Of these only six were from the TMVP. But the biggest loss was for the Muslims when they lost “lock stock and barrel’ the possibility of having a Muslims Chief Minister of the Eastern Provincial Council. Was this due to petty selfish regional politics or political selfishness and greed for positions by neglecting the overall benefits to the Muslims in the East or due to the failure of political “CUEMANSHIP” by a certain Muslim political leader? Failed political strategy could be a better analysis of this disaster that the Muslims of the Eastern Province will have to live with until the next Provincial Council elections, to get our legitimate rightful “Representative brokerage political leadership Chief Minister of the Eastern Province”.

So what is all this about the re-merger of the North East a time when the citizens are deeply contemplating about the presidential elections that has been announced?

 Political analysis clearly indicate that the forces that they be, still supporting an unreasonable political resolution to the realities of the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict, even in the defeat of the LTTE on May the 17t., are still manipulating their visions for consideration in the political play ground at this Presidential Elections too. The so-called minority Tamil speaking political parties/representatives gathering in Zurich, the International West against the GSP+, the UN cry for HR and concerns about the IDP’s in the Wanni and the instigations of the Tamil diasporas in the West to come down to the streets in protest and now pitching the best General against the President, are some of the methods that has been adopted to bring pressure on HE. Mahinda Rajapaksa to bow down to the forces that are detrimental to the wellbeing and prosperity of a Nation so small, but ever determined to move forward, what may come, to be another developed Nation. It is sad that Sri Lankans of the caliber of the leader of the opposition and a group of unpatriotic politicians have joined to covertly support these enemies of Sri Lanka.

 Talking to HE. President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a covert manner, even through journalistic questions at a breakfast meeting is a strategy adopted by the UNF to deprive the legitimate Muslim Chief Minister of the Muslims in the future, by trying to influence the Government to make a promise of a re-merger, suggesting that it will bring the Tamil votes from the UNF  to President Rajapaksa and to pitch the Muslims of the Eastern Province against the President.

 The Muslims of Sri Lanka and especially of the Eastern Province thank HE. Mahinda Rajapaksa for ruling out the North-East re-merger and declaring his decision publicly through the media representative with whom the President had a cordial breakfast meeting.

 The writer was a former SLFP District Organizer for Trincomalee District for a long time and later SLMC, Deputy District Organizer Trincomalee.

One Response to “THE MUSLIMS OF THE EAST SHOULD SEE THE REALITY OF CONTEMPORARY POLITICS.-Rajapaksa rules out north-east re-merger.”

  1. Ram2009 Says:

    I am glad that the President has clarified this position – that there will be no merger of the two provinces. What the Tamils terrorists could not achieve by terror and war, they must not gain in peace. The Muslims of the East, most of whom suffered the wrath of the terrorists should work with the government for their betterment.
    The Eastern province has a great future, which must not be sacrificed to satisfy the whims of a few.

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