A review of Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka’s latest book, Long War, Cold Peace –
Posted on June 6th, 2013

H. L. D. Mahindapala

Devolution bad for Ceylon and worse for Tamils — G. G. Ponnambalam

My friend Dayan Jayatilleka takes great pride and pleasure in branding himself as a “political scientist”. That is his right and privilege. Besides, it is a term very fashionable in academic circles even though the research in this pseudo-science has not yielded the kind of positive results like the scientific research that produced aspirin or viagra. Marx and Engels, the two most influential sociologists of the 20th century, were the first to claim in the 19th century that unlike other “utopian sociologies” theirs was “scientific socialism”. There is no need to elaborate on this claim as we all know how it ended in Berlin and China. That apart, this claim imposes on Dayan certain obligations to retain that title. A scientist working to establish universal and unalterable laws of nature / history cannot loosely make assertions which do not accord with reality. His/her calculations and analyses cannot brush aside the realities that contradict his/her theses and pretend that they don’t exist, or can be overlooked.

The absolute test of a scientist is to be dead accurate to the last decimal point. For instance, Dayan refers constantly to a 30-year-old war in his book Long War, Cold Peace. That would take him to a date three years after the war was declared by the Vadukoddians. The Vadukoddai Resolution which declared war on May 14, 1976 cannot be erased by the arbitary dismissals of “political scientists”. The duration of a war is calculated from the date it was declared officially to the date on which which came to an end. Accordingly, the dating of the Vadukoddai War should begin from May 14, 1976 and end in May 18, 2009, which adds up to 33 years, give or take a few days. So on what political science has Dayan concluded that it is a 30-year-old war and not 33 years?

However, it must be said that there is total confusion on this date. BBC says 26 years. Even the Ministry of Defence is not clear when the war began and when the war ended. This detail may seem rather trivial. But getting this date correct is important not only for histriographers (present and future) but also to those who are attempting to bring peace and reconciliation. Clarity of knowing what happened precisely in the past is vital for the reconstruction of the future. It also can determine as to who should be held responsible for unleashing violence when the options were open for non-violent negotiations as seen in the case of the other two Tamil-speaking communities — the Muslims and the Indians. Besides, at the end of a 33-year-old war — the longest running war in Asia — haven’t the Vadukoddians who opted for the military solution in 1976 come back to negotiations in the post-Nandikadal phase, beginning in May 2009?

Two factors are critical in fixing the date at 1976. First, Velupillai Prabhakaran, restructured and renamed his war machine in April 1976 as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) making it the juggernaut that carried the Vadukoddai violence to its bitter end in Nandikadal. He became the official war lord of the violence endorsed in the Vadukoddai Resolution. The resolution called upon the youth to take up arms and never shirk until they achieved Eelam. It was the ideology that Prabhakaran pursued to his last waking minute in Nandikadal. Second, the entire Jaffna elite, led by S. J. Velupillai Chelvanayakam, the so-called Gandhian, officially endorsed the military solution in passing the Vadukoddai Resolution in May 1976. Velupillai Chelvanayakam who led the Federal Party, scrutinised and endorsed every word of the Vadukoddai Resolution, as stated by his son-in-law, Prof. A. J. Wilson in his biography of the father of Tamil separatism (p.128 – S. J. V. Chelvanayakam and the Crisis of Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism, 1947 – 1977, A. J. Wilson).

Legitimising Vadukoddai violence officially by Velupillai Chelvanayakam, “the trousered Gandhi” (Ibid – p.95), is as important as the LTTE war machine that was launched in the same year. The convergence of the two forces in 1976 — one at the top in Vadukoddai and the other at the lower-level with Prabhkaran carrying out the violence legitimised by the Vellahla leadership — cannot be ignored in determining the the date of the Vadukoddai War. It is true that Velupillai Prabhakaran began his killings in May 1975 when he gunned down Alfred Duraiyappah, the mild-mannered Mayor of Jaffna. But the official endorsement for the Vadukoddai violence and the launching of the LTTE killing machine for the Vadukoddai violence came within one month of each other in 1976. It is the convergence of two forces that over-determined the politics of the post-Vadukoddai period.

What happened in Vadukoddai in 1976 is absolutely critical: the Vellahla elite handed their power to Velupillai Prabhakaran hoping to ride on their backs to power. It was the deliberately chosen means of speeding up “the little now and more later” policy of Velupillai Chelvanayakam through the guns of Velupillai Prabhkaran. Resorting to violence in any situation is a huge gamble which could go either way. And it did turn against the entire Vellahla elite who opted for the miltiary solution in Vadukoddai.

The Vellahla elite handed the guns to the lower-level to target the Sinhala south. But the first victims were the fathers of the Vadukoddai Resolution. Velupillai Prabhakaran, the first born son of Velupillai Chelvanayakam’s Vadukoddai Resolution, devoured their fathers. Violence has a way of recoiling and hitting the very sources from which it came. The Tamil Tigers were the brutal Jacobins who decimated their own leadership as in the French Revolution. In modern terms, Prabhakaran became “the latest Pol Pot of Asia” (James Burns, New York Times) — the mass murderer of his own people. The Vellahla elite reaped the violence they sowed.

History records that the two Velupillais jointly took to violence on an organised scale in 1976. Prof. Wilson concedes that both groups coalesced in the mid-seventies. (Ibid- 128). Though both took place in two different dates, within a space of one month, of the same year, the ideology spun at the top and the execution of it by the lower-level dovetailed neatly to produce the horrors of the post-Vadukoddai period. Both groups abandoned mainstream non-violent politics to pursue violence to the bitter end as laid down in the Vadukoddai Resolution. The legitimising of mono-ethnic violence at the highest level gave the required political cover for Velupillai Prabhakaran to perpetrate and perpetuate his brutal violence.

For the first time in the history of Jaffna the Vellahlas embraced the non-Vellahlas as their “boys” in Vadukoddai. It was a deadly combination. Vadukoddai Resolution was the extremist fire that was lit at one end of a dry rope of mono-ethnic extremism that burnt slowly but surely until it hit the powder keg packed by Velupillai Prabhakaran. Appapillai Amirthalingam and his band of Tamil lawyers defended their “boys” violence in courts. Velupillai Chelvanayakam even garlanded Sivakumaran’s statue, one of the first militants who attempted to assassinate a Police Superintendent. He even accepted a human blood mark placed on his forehead instead of the customary yellow pottu that represents holiness in Hinduism. (Ibid – 119).

This sketch was outlined to highlight the incorrigible commitment of the Left-wingers and academics to churn out books on contemporary Sri Lankan politics without factoring in the dynamics of mono-ethnic politics that generated extremist violence in peninsular politics. I am afraid, that is precisely what Dayan has done. He has resorted to the Vellahla-NGO trick of blaming the Sinhalese. Example: blaming D. S. Senanayake for rupturing the north-south relations by introducing the Citizenship Act even though it was done with the consent of all the leading community leaders, including G. G. Ponnambalam, the sole representative of the Jaffna Tamils at the time. From the ethnic leaders, the notable exception was that of Thondaman, who was partly responsible for the failure of the Indian workers to register in time for citizenship. In a knee-jerk reacton he first asked the Indian workers not to register and when he realised his blunder and asked them to register at the eleventh hour it was rather late and thousands missed out.

Dayan’s accusation of D. S. Senanayake as the first cause for the breakdown of inter-ethnic-relations flies in the face of the historical realities. Velupillai Chelvanayakam was an unknown deputy to prominent Ponnambalam at the time. When the deputy breaks away from the leader on grounds of personal rivalry (Chelvanayakam considered Ponnambalam to be his “implacable foe” (Ibid- p. 46)) why should D. S. Senanayake be blamed for defining Ceylon cirizenship on a solid foundation of consensual politics? I am revisiting this issue again because it reveals the habitual tendency of the Left-wing and anti-Sinhala-Buddhist intellectuals to blame everything on the Sinhalese and exonerate the Jaffna Tamils.

Even when the Srima-Shastri agreement accepted the fact that the stateless Indian estate workers were citizens of India and should be repatriated to their homeland “Chelvanayakam denounced the deal as “a pact between racialists”, an overreaction partly explained by his helplessness in the face of arragnements made between two sovereign states.” (ibid -p. 102). Then again, nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy — a policy hailed almost universally as a progressive move to eliminate the ills of capitalism in the post-World War II phase — was condemned by Chelvanyakam as “Sinhalisation” (Ibid — p. 100 & 121). Earlier, G. G. Ponnambalam went before the Soulbury Commission and decried the cooperative movement — a global movement of grassroot people to have a grip on the rapacious market place — as discrimination against the Tamil traders. Dayan, unfortunately, has accepted uncritically this Jaffna-centric propaganda of blaming the Sinhalese. Surely, the anti-Sinhala paranoia and propaganda, based on mono-ethnic extremism of the north, cannot be logically and rationally elevated to the level of “political science”. But that is standard narrative propagated by “political / social scientists” who occupy chairs in the universities, both at home abroad.

I haven’t come across a single anti-Sinhala-Buddhist tract, starting from Prof. S. J. Tambiah’s Buddhism Betrayed?, that has deviated in any significant way from the mono-ethnic thrust of Jaffna-centric politics that demonised the south. This overworked line is perpetuated to this day to white-wash the oppressive, brutal and violent political culture of Jaffna. From Tambiah to Dayan the political line has been to rationalise Jaffna-centric mono-ethnic extremism and blame the Sinhala south for everything that went awry. The long line of academics argue that if the Sinhala south had been more accomodating the violence could have been avoided. But none of them have paused to ask: if the Sinhala south was that chauvinistic refusing to accommodate the minorities, or to live and let live in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society, how did they co-exist in relative peace and harmony with the other two Tamil-speaking Muslims and Indians, resolving differences through negotiations? Why did the Sinhalese fail only with the Jaffna Tamils of the north? If so what are the factors that militated against resolving differences non-violently with the north only?

Take the example of Dayan blaming D.S. Senanayake, accusing him of striking the first blow against inter-ethnic relations by introducing the Citizenship Bill. Here again he repeats Jaffna-centric propaganda without taking into consideration historical realities. Prof. K. M. de Silva, Sri Lanka’s foremost historian, has outlined in two brilliant essays ( see The Ceylon Journal of Historical and Social Studies Vol II July -December 1972 and Vol III January June 1973) how Sir. Ponnambalam Arunachalam left the Ceylon National Congress, causing the first rupture between the Sinhalese and the Jaffna Tamils. G. C. Mendis, writing in the era of pre-politicized history, also pointed out that the communalism, whipped up in the thirties, (by G. G. Ponnambalam), caused the rising tensions between the two communities in the south. So according to respected historians it is not the Sinhalese who made the first move to break up inter-ethnic relations. The root cause has been invariably the intrasigence, arrogance and the short-sighted calculations of the Jaffna Tamils overestimating their power and underestimating the power of the Sinhalese.

D. S. Senanayake, on the contrary, went out of his way to bring all the communities together in every which way and he proved himself to the consummate master of consensual politics. If Dayan had done his homework, as a “political scientist” ought to, he would know that the following voted for Indian Residents (Citizenship) Bill: G. G. Ponnambalam, KC., T. B. Jayah, H. Ismail, K. Kanagaratnam, Gate Mudliyar M. S. Kariyapar, V. Nalliah, Mudliyar M. M. Ebrahim, S. U. Ethirimannasingham, J. Aubrey Martensz, Maj. J. W. Oldfield, CMG, OBE, S. A Pakeman, OBE, MC, EB, historian, T.Ramalinkam, A. Sinnalebbe, E. E. Spencer and A.L. Thambiyah. (Hansard Col. 592 — December 10, 1948). Dayan will agree that none of them is a Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinist bent on rupturing inter-ethnic relations.

Dayan’s surrender to Prof. (Buddhism Betrayed) Tambiah’s line is also seen in his reference to Anagarika Dharmapala (1864 – 1933) without a commensurate reference / judgment on Arumuka Navalar (1822 – 1879), the rabid caste fanatic who consolidated the political power and status of the Vellahlas — one of the most decisive factors in peninsular politics that spilled over to the rest of the nation in the post-independence period. Like all Left-wing ideologues Dayan is wont to repeat the Jaffna-centric propaganda rather than analyse critically the divisive and violent forces that spilled over from the north into the south, exacerbating inter-ethnic relations beyond redemption. So he merrily repeats the hacked political propaganda of blaming “chauvinistic” southern politics, contradicting his own claim that the north-south crisis cannot be categorised in either/or terms but only as and/and. He repeats how young S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike championed federalism in the twenties, soon after he arrived from Oxford. But obviously he does not know that G. G. Ponnambalam had rejected proposals for district councils — let alone provincial councils and federalism — saying that they were “bad for Ceylon and worse for Tamils” ( Wilson – 108).

So which of the two statements is valid for contemporary times and for the future as well? Ponnambalam’s rejection of devolution of powers to the periphery has a greater significance as it comes from a leader who argued for 50 – 50.The rejection of devolutionary powers even at the level of district councils by Ponnambalam overrides Bandaranaike’s idea of federalism. If devolution was bad at the grassroot level how can it be valid at the higher federal level? Ponnambalam rejected the District Council proposal when the Federal Party was negotiating the modalities for devolution of power with the Prime Minister, Dudley Senanayake. In fact, M.. Tiruchelvam, who was the Minister for Local Government in Dudley Senanayake’s National Government, had drafted the legislation for District Councils. It was a concrete proposal and “Tiruchelvam acknowledged in the Senate that the Prime Minister had “tried his best to honour his promise” by introducing the District Council Bill.” (Ibid – 109). It was at this critical stage that Ponnambalam rejected devolution. He said that he rejected District Council on the principle that it was “bad for Ceylon and worse for Tamils”.

Dayan’s text does not reveal any knowledge of these developments when he quotes only Bandaranaike’s theory of federalism. Nevertheless, he hangs on to Bandaranaike’s statement obviously because it is favourable to his pet theory of enforcing the 13th Amendment. In keeping with academic objectivity, it is imperative that he balances it with Ponnambalam’s outright rejection of Chelvanayakam’s district councils and federalism. Ponnambalam even argued that Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi meant a separate state and not federalism. He didn’t see any advantage in it for the nation or the Tamils. So which leader’s argument are we to accept?

Ponnambalam and Bandaranaike were contemporaries who set the stage for the  post-independence phase in inter-ethnic relations.  They were the two key pioneers who shaped the ideologies on which the post-independent nation parted company. After Ponnambalam it was only a hop, step and a jump for Chelvanayakam, his junior, to take mono-ethnic extremism to the lowest possible level. Peninsular politics was focused  perennially on political rivals  competing to be the sole representative of the Jaffnaites. When Ponnambalam, the new comer to Jaffna politics, arrived on the scene with his version of  “50 – 50” communalism to beat the established aristocracy of turbaned Mahadevas (p.327, Communal Politics under the Donoughmore Constitution, 1931 – 1947,  Jane Russell,) he succeeded. Chelvanyakam took the next step and  jumped from “50 – 50 ”  to separatism — the last  extreme step — to beat Ponnambalam who dominated Jaffna and he too succeeded. After Ponnambalam there was no room for mainstream democratic politics to gain the upperhand. His rejection of all offers pushed Jaffna into a cul-de sac of mono-ethnic extremism. After the extremism of Ponnambalam and his junior Chelvanayakam it was one way street all the way to Nandikadal.

In settling the old scores in history, or in conflict resolution, it is neither logical nor valid to pick only on the statements of Bandaranaike (as usual) to blame everything on the Sinhalese. Twentieth century history did not begin or end with Bandaranaike. Other actors too played a dominant  role in paving the road from Vadukoddai to Nandikadal. Any academic scrutiny of the forces that led to the ethnic explosion must balance  the Sinhala reaction with that of the provocative statements and aggressive and strategic manouevers of the Jaffna jingoists who pushed peninsular politics to mono-ethnic extremism. To blame only Bandaranaike without evaluating the role of  G.G.Ponnambalam, Jaffna’s leading racist, is worse than blaming Sri Lanka for India’s neo-imperialist intrusions.

On balance, shouldn’t more weight be given to Ponnambalam’s rejection of devolution at all levels in the thirties, forties, fifties, sixties and seventies than Bandaranaike’s theoretical proposition of federalism in the twenties?  Besides, why should only statements of Banadaranaike be quoted as valid and not that of Ponnambalam? Put simply,  since Ponnambalam rejected devolution for the north consistently why should the Sinhalese go for Bandaranaike’s federalism? Also, if devolution was not good enough for Ponnambalam how can it be good for the Indians, Dayan or anyone else?

So where does all this leave Dayan’s argument for the 13th Amendment?

(To be continued)

6 Responses to “A review of Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka’s latest book, Long War, Cold Peace –”

  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    GODDAMIT!

    Don’t FINE TUNE the 13th Amendment POISON PILL, REPEAL IT COMPLETELY and DEMOLISH the Provincial Council System by Leaf, Branch, Trunk and Root!

    If the GOSL is RUNNING SCARED, Let the PEOPLE of Sri Lanka REPEAL it in a NATIONWIDE REFERENDUM!

    Rise Up … O Patriots of Mother Lanka … and DEMOLISH this Indian IRON CHAIN that BINDS the HANDS & FEET of OUR Motherland!

    ……………
    President’s right to merge provinces to be repealed
    Stripping of provinical land, police powers not discussed – Keheliya

    by Zacki Jabbar
    June 6, 2013

    The Cabinet of Ministers has approved a proposal to repeal the President’s right to merge Provinces, which has been provided for under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

    Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella addressing a news conference in Colombo yesterday, said that constituent members of the ruling UPFA had been given time to study the Bill to amend the Provincial Councils Act.

    The proposed two amendments pertained to the President’s right to merge provinces and the requirement that the approval of all provincial councils were required to amend the Constitution, he noted.

    Asked if the government was also trying to strip the provinces of land and police powers, the Minister said that it had not been discussed.

    Rambukwella said that the UPFA had only taken up the proposals to repeal the President’s right to merge Provinces and the consent of all provincial councils to enact legislation.

    At yesterday’s Cabinet meeting the SLMC leader and Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem had asked for more time to study the proposed amendments and it had been granted.

    President Mahinda Rajapaksa has proposed that the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSSC) on the National Question be reconvened with or without the participation of the Tamil National Alliance.

    Informed sources said that the President was of the view that if the TNA refused to attend the PSC process, the PSC should continue with the participation of Tamils in the government and Opposition.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    I can’t believe what I’m hearing …. are the BJP Politicians FINALLY getting it … that they can’t get Sri Lankan Tamils an Eelam without ALIENATING and making an ENEMY of Sri Lanka, that would rather BEFRIEND India, if they BUTT OUT of our Internal Politics?

    And here I was PROPOSING that Sri Lanka undertake a FACT FINDING MISSION to India to INVESTIGATE why the “legitimate aspirations” of the multivarious SEPARATIST and TERRORIST groups in India are being suppressed and denied their FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS to inflict MURDER & MAYHEM upon other law-abiding citizens of India.

    If this degree of RATIONAL COMPREHENSION of India’s CULPABILITY for Sri Lanka’s PAIN & WOUNDS persists, I may have to SHELVE my PROPOSALS.

    Well, let us wait and see … after all Indian Politicians suffer from Advanced Alzheimer’s Disease, and do tend to forget what they said yesterday, especially after the Indian elections are over.

    ………….
    India can’t solve Lanka’s political issues: BJP team

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    June 07 (NIE) A Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led team, which is currently on a tour in Sri Lanka, has told the war-ravaged Lankan Tamils that India is ready to provide the healing touch but it cannot be expected to solve their political problems.

    Interacting with a wide cross section of political parties and civil society in Jaffna on Wednesday, the leader of the six member team, Rajya Sabha member Ravi Shankar Prasad, said that India was aware that the Tamils of the Northern provinces needed a healing touch and assured them that India was with them.

    However, he made it clear that Lankan Tamils should not expect India to solve their political problems. These would have to be solved by the people themselves through participation in the domestic political processes, he said.

    India did not have a magic wand to solve their problems, he said.

    Prasad also made it clear that India saw Sri Lanka as a friendly country and would never de-stabilize it.

    The six member Indian team, which has a representative of the Shiv Sena (Suresh Prabhu), an RSS official (Ram Madhav), a political commentator (Swapan Dasgupta) and a human rights activist cum advocate (Monika Arora), was presented a kaleidoscopic view of opinions in Lanka’s Tamil-speaking Northern Province. The team met pro-government and anti-government groups separately, besides top civil and military officials.

    Members of the team showed keen interest in the issues the Tamils were facing and asked probing questions. On Thursday, the team met MPs from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) at Hilton Hotel in Colombo.

  3. Senevirath Says:

    Some call themselves”POLITICAL SCIENTISTS”””
    no body can be a politicale scientist who has said that tigers could not be defeated
    GO BACK TO SCHOOL

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    Long War – thanks to Tamil leaders Separatist aspirations lasting 33 yrs
    Cold Peace ? thanks again to Tamil leaders of TNA (ITAK) still trying for the same goal in different ways.

    TNA – time to re-think what really counts. Tamil peoples’ peace & happiness vs your Ego.

  5. Marco Says:

    I’m rather intrigued that after 4 “critiques” from HLDM on this book his “friend” has not even bothered to response with a “rebuttal” (if one was required, even)

  6. Ananda-USA Says:

    Solution for Sri Lanka cannot be a Rajapaksa-Sampanthan agreement, President tells Indian delegation

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    June 07, Colombo: All political parties must get together for an all-inclusive political solution for Sri Lanka’s ethnic issue and it cannot be just an agreement between the ruling party and the Tamil party, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa emphasized today.

    “All parties must get together for an all-inclusive political solution. We cannot import a solution, and it cannot be a Rajapaksa-Sampanthan agreement,” President Rajapaksa told a visiting Indian delegation when they called on the President this afternoon at Temple Trees.

    The six-member Indian delegation headed by the deputy leader of Indian opposition Bharatha Janatha Party (BJP) in the Rajya Sabha, Ravi Shankar Prasad, told the President that “Sri Lanka’s unity and integrity are not negotiable.”

    Congratulating President Rajapaksa for eradicating terrorism, the delegation said that what they saw during their visit to Jaffna “was an eye-opener,” noting the development work that has taken place, and said that the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission report “was a bold step and is brilliantly written.”

    The delegation also spoke about the nature of the relationship between India and Sri Lanka and said that local issues in Sri Lanka sometimes impact India as well.

    “Sri Lanka is a friend of India beyond politics, beyond government,” Prasad said. “It’s a relationship of the heart.”

    The discussion also focused on several other areas of mutual interest, including the challenges faced by fishermen and the Parliamentary Select Committee to find a political solution in the north and east.

    The Indian delegation asked the President about northern elections to which President Rajapaksa reaffirmed his commitment to holding the elections in September of this year.

    The delegation visited the northern Jaffna peninsula Wednesday and during the visit, they held discussions with the leaders of Tamil parties including the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). They also met the Governor of the Northern Province to discuss the Northern Provincial Council elections planned to be held in September.

    The BJP-led team has told the Tamils in the North that India is ready to provide the “healing touch” but it cannot be expected to solve their political problems.

    Prasad has told the Tamil parties that India cannot solve their problem and urged them to participate in the domestic political process to arrive at a solution.

    The delegation includes Suresh Prabhu (Shiv Sena), Ram Madhav (RSS), journalist and political commentator Swapan Dasgupta, former IFS officer Vivek Katju and human rights activist Monika Arora.

    Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris, Secretary to the President Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs Karunatilaka Amunugama and Advisor to the President Dr. Sunimal Fernando were also present for the discussions.

    (Photos by Chandana Perera)

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