Arun Thambimuttu wants Provincial Councils scrapped
Posted on May 14th, 2013

Chaminda PERERA Courtesy The Daily News 

Arun Thambimuttu saw the flames of terrorism sweeping across the country when he was in his teens. His parents like many families in the North, East and the South became the victims of bloody terrorism that engulfed the nation destroying the very ethnic and social fabric of the country.

Arun Thambimuttu who left for the UK for higher studies soon after the assassination of his parents is SLFP organizer for Batticaloa today.

Following in the footsteps of his father, Sam Thambimuttu who was a parliamentarian representing the Batticaloa electorate, Arun says he decided to venture into politics to save the Tamil people from the so called Tamil Nationalist leaders who are in the business of hijacking the interests of Tamil people for their own benefit.

Arun Thambimuttu

In an exclusive interview with the Daily News, Thambimuttu says that country has reached a juncture where it has become imperative to do away with a system which has done nothing for the benefit of the people of the country. He says the Tamil intellectuals in the country and abroad have started rallying themselves to demand the government to repeal the 13th Amendment through which the provincial council system was established.

Thambimuttu says this organization of Tamil intellectuals will go to every city and town in the country to educate the public on the importance of abolishing the provincial council system which has proved highly ineffective for the past two and half decades.

This organization demands the government to devise a viable mechanism to promote closer amity between the communities and ensure equal opportunities for all.

Q: Why did Tamil leaders fail to address the burning issues of the Tamil people in the country?

A: The Tamil leaders who identified themselves as the sole representatives of the Tamil community wanted to grab power at any cost and they hijacked the burning issues of the Tamil minorities for their benefit. The Tamil leaders took the Sri Lankan Tamils down the path towards destruction. These leaders have tried to come into power fanning the flames of Tamil racism.

Q: Why do you say that Tamil leaders incited racism in order to grab power?

A: Since the days of Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan and Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam, the Tamil leaders have taken a very questionable stance. GG Ponnambalam demanded 50 “”…” 50 representation for ethnic minorities in the legislature when the Governor General was Lord Soulbury.

Ponnambalam’s 50 “”…” 50 demand laid the foundation for the suspicion among the Sinhala majority. It is natural when you consider the fact that the British had brought a large number of Tamils to the plantation sector from India. They were brought into their areas and a conflict was brewing. G.G. Ponnambalam was racist who wanted to grab power by telling the Tamil community that power is centred on the Tamil community ignoring the historic and demographic realities .

SJV Chelvanayakam was brought into politics in 1948 “”…” 1949 by G.G. Ponnambalam who wanted to defeat Arunachalam Mahadeva who was Ponnambalam Arunachalam’s son because he thought that Chelvanayakam would be the way. My view is that S.J.V. Chelvanayakam made a severe miscalculation. He raised the issue of federalism believing former Prime Minister S.W.R.D Bandaranaike will ascend to power in due course.

Prior to 1925, former Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike was a proponent of federalism. However, the electoral and demographic realities and the politics in Sri Lanka had changed by that time. Through Chelvanayakam’s demand for federalism, he thought he has softened the stance of G.G. Ponnambalam who demanded parity in terms of power for minorities. He wanted to grab power through the concept of an ethnic homeland.

The Tamil leaders in 1948, were critical of India “”…” Pakistan Citizenship Act which was brought by former Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake as a reaction against huge demographic imbalance created by the British.

Tamil leaders such as G.G. Ponnambalam, Chelvanayakam opposed this move. They were never able to champion the real interests of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka. The Tamil leaders sowed the seeds of ethnic disharmony in Sri Lanka. Whatever the happenings in the 1970s and 80s, we have to first discuss what happened before independence. The Tamil leaders took the Sri Lankan Tamils down the path towards destruction.

Q: Sri Lanka has witnessed many Tamil leaders who emerged as sole saviours of the Tamil community. A number of parliamentarians represents the Tamil community in parliament too. Are they not representing the Tamil people and serving the Tamil community?

A: For the last 80 years we have not found a credible Tamil leader admitting and acknowledging these historic blunders. I feel with the exception of late Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar no Tamil leader has emerged with a clearly established principle of one nation and the notion that this island is for all of us to share and not for one single community. This is an island which belongs to all.

Today, the most pragmatic solution will be to foster ethnic harmony. One has to think from a national perspective and devise a mechanism to ensure equality for all . Equality should prevail in terms of opportunities to all citizens of the country.

Q: Is this not in the agenda of Tamil leaders at present?

A: That is not in the agenda of Tamil nationalists. They are hell bent on working for political purposes. They have no interest in achieving equality for the Tamil people living in this country. They could have done a lot to ensure equality in terms of opportunities for the Tamils. We can do a lot. Tamils both Sri Lankan Tamils and the Tamils of Indian origin form 15 per cent of the population. What we feel today is all of us are Sri Lankans. If you look at the Cabinet only two Cabinet Ministers represent the Tamil community.Of the 61 member Cabinet only two ministers are representing the Tamil community.

In many areas you do not find the representation of Tamils in proportion to the population. The Tamil leaders never looked at ways and means to ensure that their community is part of the national fabric.

The government opened doors for the Tamil youth too. The Tamil youth who joined Sri Lanka Armed Forces are being branded as traitors by the Tamil nationalists.

We have to ensure equality in all departments and segments

If you create equality of opportunities, people will automatically come into positions. What we are talking of is not advocated by the Tamil leaders. How can the Tamil leaders win the trust of the Sinhala majority when they have not come out and spelt clearly that the Sinhala majority is opposed to the concept of an ethnic homeland.

Q: The government is to hold the Northern Provincial Council election by end of this year. Don’t you think that the provincial council system established under the 13th amendment to the Constitution is a viable mechanism to solve the issues confronting the Tamil community?

A: The country is paying a heavy price for a system that is nothing but a white elephant. The time has come to do away with this system which we do not accept as a solution to the issue of the Tamil people. The solution should be for the nation as a whole and it should not be for an ethnic group.

We demand from the government that this provincial council system be abolished forthwith and to devise a mechanism to ensure equality and tangible reconciliation among the communities. The government should not pursue with the provincial council system which has been proven highly ineffective for the last two and half years.

I think the time has come for the government to evolve a system that directly reaches the people such as the Panchayat sytem in India.

The district can play a pivotal role in bringing the State closer to the community.

The district level administration system in place of provincial council should be given more teeth and it will promote closer bonding between the State and the community.

Provinces should no longer be the meeting point between the community and the State.

The provinces demarcated by the British colonists should be scrapped. The real administration should be closer to the people at grass root level.

The Northern provincial election will be held but it would not solve anything. The TNA itself does not accept the provincial council system as a solution to the Tamil question.

Q: Are the people in the Eastern province satisfied with the provincial council system?

A: In the Eastern province, the Tamil people are today disillusioned with the provincial council system. They have seen that the PC system has done nothing to enhance their livelihood and it is rather proving to be a mechanism that goes on without really solving their problems.

The land and police powers demanded by the TNA for the provincial councils are vehemently opposed by the people in the Eastern province. The people in the Eastern province would not believe that the land and Police powers would be in their interest.

If we ask a person in Matara whether he is benefited by the provincial council system which has been active for decades in all provinces other than the North and the East, the answer would be no. The people as a whole have hardly benefitted by this system.

Q: How are you going to demand the government to do away with the 13th amendment on which the provincial council system has been formed?

A: In fact a group of Sri Lankan Tamils have started gathering Tamil intellectuals in the country and overseas to develop a dialogue supporting the abolition of the 13th amendment as it has become a white elephant to the economy .

This group called Tamils for Sri Lanka will demand that the government devise a mechanism to ensure equality and a more tangible reconciliation among the communities rather than nurturing a white elephant.

This organization consisting civil society representatives and representatives from almost all political parities in the country will be launched soon as an alternative to the pseudo representatives of the Tamil community who have been in the habit of hijacking the Tamils’ issues for their own benefit throughout history. In fact we of the Tamil community also oppose an ethnic homeland for any part of the country. We want the national identity to prevail over the ethnic identity. Our organization wants to ensure that the Sri Lankan identity prevails.

The next six months will be a crucial period for Sri Lanka after the country was saved from the clutches of terrorism. We are coming to a juncture where a decision has to be taken whether we should continue with the existing provincial council system or not.

The government has to take a serious decision. Civil society representatives and those who held very senior positions in the LTTE politically at one time are also coming for this discussion. We have opened a dialogue within the Tamil community including the former LTTE high-rankers in the LTTE’s political wing.

Q: The TNA is demanding Land and Police powers to the Provincial Councils ignoring the existence of the vast number of Tamils living outside the Northern Province. What have you got to say about this?

A: The Tamil nationalists have completely ignored that Tamils live in vast numbers in areas outside the Northern province. What we felt is that the whole issue has been hijacked by a few over a period ignoring the existence of Tamil people living in large numbers in many areas outside the Northern province.

Today, more than 400,000 Tamils are living in the Nuwara Eliya district while 100,000 people live in Ratnapura. Kandy district has a Tamil population of over 150,000. Over 95,000 Tamil people live in the Badulla district. Matale and Puttlam districts have a Tamil population of over 50,000 each.

The best way to solve the issues faced by the Tamil community is to foster ethnic harmony and everyone should start thinking from a national perspective. Equality should be the underlying theme .

The present day demographic realities are that only 21 per cent of the Tamil population live in the Jaffna district but dispropotionately the political platforms are being dominated by a single district ignoring the plight of a significant number of Tamils in Ratnapura and many other districts.

Q: The government has already promised India that it is for the full implementation of 13th Amendment. What type of repercussion, would Sri Lanka face if she fails to comply with what it has promised to India?

A: We also apprise the Indian side the benefits of a viable mechanism which would reach the people at grassroots level more effectively. We appreciate India’s concern for the Tamil people living in our country. Their belief in the provincial council system is misplaced. It is important that Indian leaders understand the ground realities. India should not see this as Sri Lanka taking a step hostile to India. The bottom line is India would see the benefits of the system that we are advocating in the interest of Sri Lanka.

The 13th Amendment has good aspects. The Tamil language has been given parity with the Sinhala language through the 13th Amendment. We all agree that certain elements of the 13 A has positive attributes . However, the aspect that we need to rethink is the unit, ie the provinces.

It is important that when we look at the whole Indian interest, the Tamils in Sri Lanka have a peaceful coexistence with other communities. That is what I think, India wants in Sri Lanka.

The Western governments will also understand the benefits of political reform along the line we are advocating. The system what we are advocating will bring about true ethnic harmony in Sri Lanka.

Q: What is your comment on the massive campaign launched by LTTE rump against Sri Lanka holding the CHOGM in Colombo at end of this year?

A: The propaganda machinery has already started in Canada where the electoral realities are the driving force specially in Toronto where the Tamil population is quite vocal and significant in numbers.

The same thing goes on in the UK, where in marginal constituencies with a significant Tamil population it could have an impact. The Queen’s decision not to participate in the CHOGM in Colombo on health grounds has been given a political twist.

For the first time the Queen is not travelling due to health reasons though Prince Charles has already announced he is representing the Queen at the Colombo summit.

7 Responses to “Arun Thambimuttu wants Provincial Councils scrapped”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Seems like a REASONABLE guy. But Tamils don’t vote for you UNLESS you are a racist or a lunatic or a paramilitant. This is a FACT. That is why he is not in parliament or east PC.

    Asking to GET RID of 13 amendment is the CRITERIA to judge patriotism. This ANTI-13 campaign should snowball.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    Sri Lanka has spent about 85% of the loans and aid it has received in the recent past on development in the North, Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa stated.

    He said that the government has taken many steps to improve the living standards of the people in the North.

    The Minister highlighted the government’s achievement in resettling 30,000 displaced persons in the North adding that a large sum of money has been spent on improving infrastructure in the North after the war had left the region devastated.”



  3. A. Sooriarachi Says:

    In order to protect their human rights gained after eliminating LTTE terrorists, it is time for Tamils living in SriLanka to be proactive like Arun Thambimutthu and counter the false propaganda disseminated by the TNA, Tamilnadu, AI, HRW, Foreign funded NGOs in SriLanka and the Tiger diaspora.

  4. Nimal Says:

    Any relation to E.D Tambimuthhu,one time teacher at Wesley and principal of Christian collage Kotte?He was a decent man married to very fine Sinhalese lady, who was my English teacher.

  5. Senevirath Says:

    U talk about devolopment in the north yes u have spent 85% of the loans to do that But what have u done to restore what we sinhalaya s have lost during the last 500 years




  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    GoSL has to develop the entire country.

    A solid base in the system of Governance, Economics base shifted to grass roots, modern Education geared for the needs of the country, are a must.

  7. Senevirath Says:

    we need tamils like ARUN who can think like real sinhalaya and accept that core of the srilankan civilisation is sinhala buddhist.
    ARUN IS 100% better than U.N.P ers who has been voting for U.N.P seperatist policies


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