SLMC jeopardising reconciliation, says Arun T’muttu SLMC defends action
Posted on April 25th, 2012

By Shamindra Ferdinando Courtesy The Island

April 24, 2012, 9:49 pm

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SLFP Organiser for Batticaloa Arun Tambimuttu yesterday warned an SLMC push for a separate enclave for the Muslim community in the Eastern Province could cause political turmoil, which would quickly engulf the entire country.

“We are heading for a major crisis. The SLMC move can derail national reconciliation efforts,” Tambimuttu told The Island in a brief interview.

Asked whether he would campaign against the SLMC initiative, Tambimuttu said all right thinking people should oppose the creation of exclusive areas for any particular community under any circumstances. He said: “The SLMC is now stepping up its campaign for a separate administrative structure called South-Eastern Provincial Council. The SLMC leadership seems bent on exploiting the current impasse on the national reconciliation process to intensify its own political project.”

The SLMC move would strengthen the TNA’s agenda, Tambimuttu said. In fact, the TNA and SLMC would cooperate with each other to pursue their agendas, thereby creating a new post-war alliance, which could pose a new challenge, he added.

Tambimuttu recalled how the LTTE had entered into a separate agreement with the SLMC soon after signing a ceasefire agreement with the then UNF government.

The SLMC contested the last parliamentary election on the UNP ticket, though it subsequently switched its allegiance to President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Tambimuttu urged the SLMC not to play into the hands of those still pursuing political strategies inimical to national interest. He alleged that efforts were being made to cause further rifts among communities instead of bringing them together.

The government should act swiftly and decisively to thwart the SLMC project by educating the Tamil speaking people, Tambimuttue said, emphasising that the SLMC had sought a separate administrative unit for Muslims in the Districts of Ampara, Batticaloa and Trincomalee in a merged North-East Province. Now that the Eastern Province had been demerged from the Northern Province, the SLMC shouldn’t have any reason whatsoever to campaign for a separate administrative unit, he said.

Tambimuttu said that devolving police and land powers to Provincial Councils would be a grave mistake. Devolution of police and land powers wouldn’t be the panacea for problems faced by people living in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, he opined.

SLMC General Secretary, Hassen Ali, MP, told The Island that the Muslims shouldn’t be deprived of their legitimate right to have their own administrative unit. Ali said that of the 24 administrative districts, eight were predominately Tamil and others dominated by the Sinhalese. “We don’t have a single Muslim majority district and now we intend to have an administrative structure of our own.”

The SLMC official insisted that the de-merger of the Eastern Province from the Northern Province in 2006 shouldn’t be a reason for the party to abandon its project. “The de-merger is irrelevant,” he said.

All three communities should be given an opportunity to enjoy equal rights, the National List MP said, adding a Muslim-run administration was a long felt need. With the return of peace, the Muslims could now step up their campaign for a separate administrative unit.

The SLMC has recently declared that the next Chief Minister of the Eastern Province should b a Muslim. The President appointed a former LTTE leader, Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan aka Pilleyan, as the first Chief Minister of the Eastern Provincial Council much to the discontent of Muslim politicians.

SLMC leader Rauf Hakeem wasn’t available for comment.

Tambimuttu asserted that the SLMC demand would create a very unhealthy situation. The SLMC General Secretary said that had there been a separate Muslim administrative unit in the East, the party would never have to call for the appointment of a Muslim as the Chief Minister of the Eastern Province. “This particular issue shouldn’t be a reason for Muslims to fight it out with Tamils. There should be a free and frank discussion on the issue without further delay and reach an agreement for the creation of a Muslim administrative unit. The electorates of Samanthurai, Kalmunai and Pottuvil in the Ampara District can be the nucleus of such a unit encompassing predominately Muslim areas in the Batticaloa and Trincomalee districts.”

MP Ali said that whenever elections were held the Eastern Province, the issue of Chief Minister would come up. This wouldn’t stop until the Muslims right to a separate unit for Muslims was recognised, he said, emphasising that the South Eastern PC was for the Muslims not for the SLMC.

3 Responses to “SLMC jeopardising reconciliation, says Arun T’muttu SLMC defends action”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    To be fair by the SLMC, it is just one national list MP who made this demand. Not the entire SLMC.

    One is not better than the other.

    SLMC has more clout in the east than Arun Thambimuttu. SLMC can bring MORE votes and support for the govt than ANY Tamil politician in the east.

    Views of people like Ali Zaheer Moulana must be heard ABOVE what Thambimuttu says. MOST of our LLRP and DPU operatives are Muslims from the east. We have to listen to their views as well ABOVE what Thambimuttu says.

    Thambimuttu is an UNPROVEN leader still. First let him prove he can bring votes and then listen to him.

  2. Dilrook Says:

    Eastern Province must have a Muslim Chief Minister.

    The ideal solution is to have Sinhala Chief Ministers for all provinces but that is not practical at this stage.

    The worst thing is to have Tamil Chief Ministers in both NPC and EPC.
    When the EPC has a Muslim Chief Minister, that is the second nail on the coffin of Tamil homelands. We must allow it.

    Arun Tambimuttu’s opposition to a Muslim Chief Minister comes from his Tamil homeland beliefs somewhere deep in his mind.

    I sincerely hope the government will allow a Muslim Chief Minister for EPC. A UPFA Muslim voted highest preferences in 2007 EPC election but the government changed its promise and made the TMVP leader the Chief Minister. Such gross unfairness will not be tolerated by the people in the East.

    India is probably behind the government move to somehow keep a Tamil as the Chief Minister. It is disgusting.

    The government and UPFA will pay a very heavy price if it doesn’t allow a Muslim Chief Minister.

    Until 1987 Eastern Muslims supported SLFP and UNP. But after 1987 with the Indian imposed 13A and neglect of Muslims in favour of Tamil demands created SLMC – the first and only hardcore Muslim communal party. Thankfully in 2010 SLMC couldn’t stand alone at the election and joined main parties. This encouraging development should continue. Otherwise SLMC will reemerge as the most powerful political force away from SLFP and UNP which is a very dangerous development.

    Having a Muslim Chief Minister will diffuse the demand to have a separate Muslim administrative unit in the east.

    It will also help if ever the north-east merger referendum comes into effect. Unfortunately this referendum provision is in 13A which is still the law of the country.

  3. AnuD Says:

    As Lorenzo says, if votes are considered based on ethnic or religious grounds, Sinhala Buddhist and Christian votes should be about 70% of the total vote. Muslim and Tamil votes should be 7% and 11% repesticely. So, the govt should not screw up majority culture and rights cimply because politicians are greedy for power.

    Dilrook thinks in terms of Tamil homeland problem. Remember, muslims, if they have the power they will be worse. You need to remember the 1915 muslim riots in Kandy and what led to that riot. Muslims are silent and they are forced to do so bytheir religion. Peoole have written enough comments to understand the would be possible scenario.

    What run says has some very good relevance.

    I say, Muslims are building the case slowly.

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