Mr. Somapala Gunadheera’s kumbuk tree
Posted on January 23rd, 2014

C. Wijeyawickrema

Mr. Somapala Gunadheera (SG), a retired CCS officer is promoting what Mr. Tissa Jayatillaka (TJ) has said about Sri Lanka’s present predicament (ref. Colombo Telegraph website). I see both these as blind men of the black-whites paradigm, walking in the dark. So many retired officers, who thrived as CCS/CAS officers when they were young, began writing philosophy and generosity to Tamils after they went home. Only a Fulbright like TJ could talk so boldly about Sinhala ultra-nationalism, because he cannot fathom that the Sinhalese Buddhists (and to some extent the poor Christians) have been treated like the proverbial kind-hearted woman by the Colombo-based black-white politicians and their henchmen the officers cadre. Is it reasonable to call SBs ultras? These sets of people who went with the flow and benefitted, did not think out of the box when they had a say and power to influence. They are now preaching bana without thinking.

For example, I saw recently some publication by TJ on Fulbright scholars from Ceylon. The first was a CCS cadet, Bradman Weerakoon. From the publication it becomes clear that these Fulbrights became excellent local information source for the American embassy in Colombo. Imagine the rate of return on investment (generous stipend given to a Fulbright and his family) when you consider that Bradman, was the secretary to seven PMs in Sri Lanka!  The funny thing is TJ himself cannot understand that was what had happened. Things called the Fulbrights or Rhodes scholars were not different from the American Peace Corp or the Noble Prize. Something good is no denied, but they have become western political tools. I challenge both SG and TJ to show a single piece of anti-Sinhala Buddhist pre 1948 laws removed or modified by the black-white post 1948 governments. Instead, any new law passed, such as making the two leading pirivenas universities or the so-called foremost place of Buddhism, did severe harm to Buddhism.

Useless Foreign Service

Foreign Service was the most reactionary, black-white black hole in Sri Lanka. As Mrs. Chandrika once said it was full of boy-friends and mistresses. When you think of the so-called professional foreign service, it was most a place for children of CCS officers and the influential. Nothing other than maintaining the status quo was what this service did.  Wilmot Perera, who was the first ambassador to China, resigned in disgust because the foreign service office did not even allowed him to have the experienced clerk he wanted to hire. At UNO, Dr. Gunapala Malalasekera’s candidacy to UN president’s post was sabotaged by Pinto Moragoda and co. by sending wrong canvassing letters to wrong countries (anti GPM countries got letters meant to pro-GPM countries and vice versa!).  Hameed used to send those who cannot speak English (or French?) as trade reps to Washington, D.C. The Sri Lanka ambassador was taken by the collar and thrown out by a police man on duty at the barricade when he came hours late during Gorbachev’s visit to US Congress. The whole world saw this on CBS national TV and came to know who he was when he later identified himself as the ambassador from Sri Lanka and wanted to know the name of the police officer. The officer chased him out again. That was during RPremadas time. So there is no point talking about foreign service or foreign policy for the simple reason that the March Geneva plan is an American plan based on its global strategy, and it will proceed no matter what, unless MahindaR submits to American wishes. The bottom line is foreign service is in real bad shape with unsuitable people, but even when it was with the professionals it was with deaf and dumb officers. May be Churchill and the young Queen Elizabeth were so happy with DSS foreign policy. Mrs. B and Felix lost their powers lock stock and barrel after the Non-Alignment drama. Both SG and TJ know these truths but play hide and seek in public.

Wigneswaran problem

One can see people like SG and Dayan Jayatileke trying their best to keep the Wigneswaran marriage intact, because they promoted that marriage via 13-A as the ideal for the partners. Now it is very clear that despite the two honeymoon-like parties that SG considers as missed opportunities, W is determined to be an albatross on MR’s neck. I predict that MR who began as a Sinhala Vessantara will end up as a Siri Sangabo. W’s plan to rewrite Sri Lankan history and unwanted reference to Mahavamsa are clear indications that  after March Geneva W will start his real game to move to a separate bed or to a separate house. My question is why this retired CCS officer or the Fulbright man TJ did not look at the Tamil issue with a new perspective?

It was Colombo-living Christian Tamils and Christian Sinhalayas who made this Tamil issue a mess. When the issue was going to be a Buddhist versus Christian clash after 1948, it was cleverly turned into a Sinhala-Tamil language issue by the Colombo black-whites. Problems of economic inequality, regional poverty etc. received step-motherly treatment from the Colombo politicians and Euro-centric (Europe is superior) civil servants, except may be a handful.

Colombo politicians had sufficient warning from both the Donoughmore and Soulbury Commissions to be careful with the GGPonnambalam -SJV Chelvanayagam mess. But they did not act wisely and reasonably. They did not learn from the 1971 JVP uprising and faced the same situation again in 1988/9. The reactionary Christian forces which eliminated SWRD in 1959, floated a Coup in 1962. In what ultra-words SG and TJ describe such acts?

What actually was the problem?

There were two basic (ethnic) issues in Ceylon created by the colonial master. One was the fear of the Sinhalyas that the federal Ceylon Tamils will help Madras to grab Ceylon with the additional help of Indian Tamils in the Kandyan regions. There were clear signals. During Dudley’s times after India proscribed Tamil Nad separatism (16th Amendment, 1963) it moved to Sri Lanka as DMK and Dudley was so ineffective with his marriage to Federal Party. The other problem was Tamils desire to have some kind of space to enjoy their collective aspirations, whatever was meant by it by the late Kumar Ponnambalam while living in Colombo. But if that desire goes beyond what is reasonable under the geographical conditions of the island, then it must be said so directly and effectively. Thus, if there is a desire to have a separate Tamil country with a UN seat, the homeland for that idea has to be in South India in Tamil Nad, and not in Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, Sinhala politicians in Colombo had no courage to stress this fact because they wanted to curry favor with Tamil federal politicians to gain power or stay in power.

The solution to these two interrelated problems was so simple if Sri Lanka had genuine, intelligent officers and politicians. Sri Lanka had politicians who thrived by cheating Sinhala Buddhists and the poor Christians. Ronie de Mel’s wife, the daughter of the Panadura bus magnate Leo Fernando understood the tipping point of when officers realized it was better to get into politics direct rather than doing politics indirectly as stooges of politicians. Whenever Ronie wanted to quit his CCS job and get into politics his wife resisted because she knew CCS job was more useful and influential than becoming an MP. But finally she had agreed that the MP had become more powerful and Ronie quit his job. Looking at the plum and cushy university jobs, it had lots of Tamil teachers but unfortunately, they were not interested in creating a Sri Lanka for the benefit of poor Tamils, Sinhalese or Muslims. For example, the geography department which could have taken a leadership role in helping the country had Tamil professors who were inactive.

If we had genuinely officers and university teachers (geography) they would have at least copied what geographers at UK were doing and proposed demarcation of administrative boundaries on ecology and hydrology. Under the Colonial divide and rule policy arbitrary boundary line created havoc on communities and to the environment. For example 30or 40 thousands of villages should have been demarcated with natural boundaries, instead of artificial boundaries. At least such new thinking should have been on the agenda in the 1970s.

In the 1970s a few lonely voices pointed out the need to demarcate civil administration boundaries on ecological basis, but politicians and the political system was not willing to listen as they were happy with the status quo. Actually, political class and the Colombo black-whites as whole got worried only after Prabhakaran’s black cats came to Colombo Seven and started killing politicians. Now after May 2009, the solution to ethnic integration is not patch work or appeasement as suggested by SG or TJ. The solution is the creation of an environment where there is no room for the temptation that there is any possibility for a Tamil Eelam in the island. How can this be done in a reasonable and a Buddhist way?

Erase the artificial Nine Province map

Originated in 1832 the provincial map of the island is an anomaly. The divisions have no rational, scientific, ethical, ecological or geographic basis. It must be replaced by a Seven River Basins map (See map below). Each unit gets a sea face, all of more or less equal size and based on natural ecology. With a map like this there is no room for any mythical or real homelands. This is the number one fear of the Sinhalese and once it is removed, there will be no obstacle to grant an open ticket for Tamil aspirations at village level or Yaalpaanam river basin level. Especially, it will stop any new Oluvil declarations now coming out as Halal certification and Sharia laws.

 Empower villagers

Sri Lanka has had the administrative Trinity called the village, water tank, and the temple. This was actually an ecological unit that got destroyed the western-educated irrigation and civil engineers foolishness, arrogance and stupidity. They destroyed so much of our excellent hydrologic heritage. But now in 2014 what can we do?  Our lowest civil administration unit is the GSN unit. Rpremdas increased the number of these units from 4,000 to 14,000, god only knows why.  We can re-demarcate these units on the basis of ecology-hydrology with natural boundaries as was done in New Zealand. Because rivers have a hierarchy, like branches of a tree, each GSN unit so demarcated becomes a component of a larger river basin and these river basins finally end up as the Seven River basins mentioned above.

This means we can use such GSN units to create any type of administrative unit we need (electorates, districts, local government units) and all will be part of an integrated ecological units meeting the challenges of global warming, floods, droughts, landslides, land pollution, soil erosion etc. By empowering such GSN units with powers to manage their own basic daily affairs we solve the dilemma of devolution of powers.

With corruption, mismanagement, crime, inefficiency and all that rampant at all levels vertically and horizontally (spatially), if these GSN units, ecologically demarcated, were to elect a ten-member committee on non-political party basis, most of the corruption and crime issues can be reduced to the minimum as the bane in Sri Lanka today is the stupid politician. Actually it is the evil trinity called the politician, officer and the NGO.

There will be hundreds or GSN units exclusively with Tamil or Muslim people and there will not generate any fear among the majority Sinhalese as the GSN boundaries are not ethnic based, but ecological. By trial and error they will learn that harmony is the only way to live peacefully. Thus we will come out of the 550 years of western-Christian colonial trap and go back to our past which was the harmony we had at village level among all communities. I hope SG and TJ read this essay and think of putting new wine in new bottles. Then SG will not have to climb a kumbuk tree at the river side.

Wije05

Seven River Basins

  1. Yalpanam
  2. Raja Rata
  3. Dambadeni
  4. Mahaveli
  5. Deegavaapi
  6. Kelani
  7. Ruhunu

(Compare this map with the nine-province map which cuts all major rivers into artificial pieces).

 

2 Responses to “Mr. Somapala Gunadheera’s kumbuk tree”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Dayan Jayatileke problem and Wigneswaran problem were created by the govt.

    BOTH of them were useless discards until the govt. made them IMPORTANT. Now the govt. is grappling with them.

    However, CW, demarcating SL is NOT the solution.

    In your demarcation regions 1 , 4 and 5 will be TAMIL/MUSLIM MAJORITY. It makes it worse.

    Now they have only 2/9 Tamil/Muslim majority provinces = 22%.
    Under your method there will be 3/7 Tamil Muslim majority provinces = 43%.

    We are WORSE OFF under your method.

    Absolutely NO demarcations. One undivided unitary country. That will FRUSTRATE Tamil racists and they will either die in frustration or leave SL in peace. Either way SL wins.

  2. Nanda Says:

    Yes. I too agree.
    Empower villagers – YES.
    Devide the country according river basins or ANY OTHER BASIS – NO

    1 country – Tamils <10%
    7 basins – Tamil speaking dominates 3 regions ( 43%) ADD Colombo it will be 60% – GONE CASE

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