Political Violence and Future of Democracy – Under UNP Government (1983)
Posted on July 19th, 2015

Professor Gananath Obeysekera, Head of the Department of Anthropology, Princeton University

Perhaps the government (UNP) is yet unaware that this many-headed monster it created may not only destroy its creator but also the entire democratic fabric of Sri Lankan society.

PART II

THE REFERENDUM AND THE ABOLITION OF ELECTIONS

Such political organisation of violence can herald the demise of what has been so far one of the few democracies in the non-western world. The present government, the United National Party, came into power with a landslide majority in1977 defeating Mrs. Bandaranaike’s SLFP(Sri Lanka Freedom Party). The SLFP did not have enough representation even to choose the leadership of the opposition; this went to Mr. Amirthalingam, the leader of the TULF (Tamil United Liberation Front), the Constitutionalist group representing the Tamil minority.

The government started with a great deal of public goodwill and confidence in the leadership of Mr. J.R. Jayawardene. He initiated his regime with two major policy decisions that changed the economic and political face of the country.

Firstly, he rejected the narrow and crude socialism of the SLFP and adopted an “open economy” encouraging foreign investment, by opening a free trade zone in the north of Colombo. The second was a political change initiated in1978. He used his five-sixths majority to change the “Westminster-type” parliamentary system that prevailed until then into a “Gaullist-type” system based on proportional representation.

This was initially done by simply amending the constitution, making himself President and converting the current elected representatives into the representatives of the new system. The PR system was welcomed by most civil rights groups in the country, though some features of the system were disturbing. One of these was that if a member of Parliament resigned or was expelled from the Party, the President could nominate someone to take his place and thus by-pass the need for by-elections. 

On October 20, 1982, the first Presidential election was held under the new constitution and Mr. Jayawardene was elected President with 52 percent of the votes polled. A general election based on PR under the new constitution was expected to follow. But this in fact did not happen.

In a press conference Mr. Jayawardene said that the very day after the Presidential election he had heard from the Police Department of a “Naxalite Plot” from within the SLFP” to assassinate me and four other ministers, as well as Mr. Anura Bandaranaike. Armed Forces chiefs and others; do away with the Constitution; imprison Mrs. Bandaranaike”. 

In order to prevent this he was not going to have a general election. “If I dissolved Parliament and held the general election, according to the 20 October voting (i.e. ,according to the Presidential election)my party, The United National Party, would have obtained 120 seats out of 196.The SLFP would have obtained 68 seats. I don’t mind that but I do mind if the opposition is an anti-democratic, violent and Naxalite (anarchist) opposition” He continued: “I decided to change my mind and call for a Referendum and not a general election for this reason and this reason alone.”

Thus the abolition of the general elections was done ostensibly for altruistic reasons, but effectively it meant that the government could by a Referendum requiring a simple majority perpetuate the Parliamentary majority of five-sixths held under the previous (Westminster type)constitution. The whole point of changing the constitution to a system of proportional representation was deliberately undermined.

It is more likely that the real reason far the change was the fear that if the SLFP obtained 68 seats, the government would not have the two-thirds majority it required to continue the pattern of successive amendments to the constitution such as it had introduced. It would also create an effective opposition that might be critical of the executive Presidency. It was thus decided to hold a Referendum, but prior to this the President asked all Parliament members of his party to submit undated letters of resignation.

Again the rationale was supposedly altruistic: to eliminate bad or corrupt MPs and nominate others instead. But once again it effectively meant that the President now had a strangle-hold on his MPs and could dismiss and replace them with members of his choice. The effect of the Referendum which Mr. Jayawardene won with only 51 percent of the votes polled was to strengthen the executive Presidency by eliminating criticism from both the opposition which now hardly existed, and from his own MPs, who had signed undated letters of resignation.

For example, the Minister of Finance who was unpopular in his constituency in the South resigned from that seat and he was reassigned to another constituency over the protest of Party members of that area. More recently, a Party member who helped organise the Referendum vote in two key areas was given a Parliamentary Seat when a recent “vacancy” occurred. Thus it is possible to reproduce in time a group of Parliamentary representatives who do not represent the people but only the President. The effect of these changes is to produce an all-powerful Presidency and muffle criticism within the governing party. The power of the Presidency is further reinforced according to Article 35 of the constitution as interpreted by the Solicitor General.

The President is immune from court proceedings and cannot be made a party in such proceedings. The President himself summed up the situation in an address to the Party at the 28th annual convention of the UNP:

“The country needs one strong individual who fears not the Judiciary, the Legislature nor the Party but only the general public to develop it and I have the power to do any-thing for six years” (The Island, Sunday, February 27, 1983.) 

The referendum saw the full mobilisation of the organisations of institutionalised violence to deliver the vote. Both sides adopted violent methods, except that the UNP, as the party in power, was better organised. What was especially striking for Sri Lanka was the mass-scale impersonation of voters that occurred.

In many villages I visited, people told me how they had been threatened the previous night and asked to refrain from voting; their votes were blatantly cast by impersonators, Another striking feature was the open threats made to public officers manning polling booths. These middle-class persons were so frightened that they did not report fraudulent voting to the police. That their fears were well founded is clear from a news item which appeared in several newspapers about a Colombo politician who, along with a number of his supporters, threatened the presiding officer with a pistol, assaulted him, while his supporters carried bombs.

The Island of January 6, 1983, wrote: “Mr.Anura Bastian, MP for Colombo West, denied in Parliament yesterday any implication that he was the politician concerned. It was not exactly clear why he should have done so when no names had been mentioned.” It was, however, clear that the President himself believed in Mr. Bastian’s innocence and political integrity for he was promoted as the head of the newly founded Home Guards!

The key thesis of the Referendum was the proposed take over of the SLFP by a group of anarchist terrorists (Naxalites) who, if elected, would disrupt Parliament, kill key personnel and produce a dictatorship. This was constantly repeated in election speeches by government leaders and heavily publicised in newspapers.

To prevent an early take over by violent elements, the government held the election under a state of emergency which gave police wide powers of arrest. These arrests in fact took place and included the arrest and remand of Mrs.Bandaranaike’s son-in-law (one of the Naxalites) who was also a film star and popular orator.

Eight opposition parties protested the arrest and remand of twelve key SLFP organisers in different electorates in the country. They were released after the Referendum was over and they were never produced in a court of law. Posters intimidating the voters to say “Yes” appeared all over, in spite of protests by political parties and civil rights groups about this flagrant violation of election law.

The Communist party newspaper was closed down so that it ceased to function at this time. Newspapers. even those supporting the government, widely reported cases of intimidation and violence. The Island, congratulating the President on his victory, underscored this: “It is a pity, however, that the Referendum had to be marred by ugly use of thuggery allegedly by Government leaders which has left a bitter taste in the mouth.”

The public disillusionment regarding elections was manifest in a 10 percent drop in the vote compared with the Presidential election of a few months before. Though there was a drop in the voting, some electoral districts showed disproportionate in-creases.

This phenomenon took place in Attanagalla (Mrs. Bandaranaike’s former electorate) and Dompe (formerly that of Mr.Felix Bandaranaike). Both electorates were important for the government for reasons of prestige, and a strong UNP party man was sent to organise these two areas. The ensuing violence was so great that Mrs. Bandaranaike had to withdraw her polling agents.

In spite of this, the total poll fell by 4.67 percent (when compared with the Presidential pall) yet the vote for the government showed a phenomenal increase of 59percent. In Dompe the poll fell from 84.7 percent to 74.08 percent yet the vote for the government rose by 13 percent. An election agent of the opposition was killed here.

One electorate, Matale (with many backward areas), suffered severe flood damage during the Referendum yet 30.565 voters out of a register of 35.129 allegedly braved these disasters to vote, giving the government a 50 percent increase. The opposition view that organised violence and election fraud did in fact take place seems to be substantiated at least in some key constituencies.

What then happened to the Naxalite anarchists in the aftermath of the Referendum? Mr. Pieter Keuneman, the Leader of the Communist Party, as reported in The Sun of March 31 1983, asks: “Where are the Naxalites and why aren’t they brought to book? Has one member been charged on this count? Why has it been totally forgotten’? The people have been deprived of their basic right of voting.” The Naxalite threat was not totally forgotten. Very recently (between July 23 and 28, 1983) the government released the CID report on this subject and it was serialised in several newspapers. Except for a lot of gossip and loose talk the deadly threat to democracy and the lives of political leaders turned out to be not so serious after all. No charges were made.

POLITICAL RHETORIC AND THE AFTERMATH

The racial riots started on the night of the 24th. Those of us who witnessed the situation that night felt that the government would impose an immediate curfew. I know of several senior government officials and politicians who said they telephoned the President on the seriousness of the situation, which he must surely have known anyway, since mobs demonstrated near his private residence.

Yet no curfew was imposed until 5:00 p.m. the next day and by this time most of the damage to property and looting had already taken place.

One thing must be clearly stated: President Jayawardene is not a racist. It is likely, therefore, that his inaction was due to bad advice he received from groups within his own party. Even more incredible is that neither the President nor any member of the government appeared on national TV or radio exhorting the people to calm down, or condemning the violence unleashed.

The President made his speech five days later with practically no compassion extended to those who suffered most the Tamils of Colombo. The tone of the speeches of other government leaders was the same: these speeches were designed to placate the Sinhalese community–not a word of compassion for the Tamils. Mr. Lalith Atulathmudali, the young Minister of Trade, opened his speech to the nation thus: “A few days ago, my friends, I saw a sight which neither you nor I thought that we should live to see again. We saw many people looking for food, standing inline, greatly inconvenienced, seriously inconvenienced.” Here was the leading intellectual in the government speaking of the hardship faced by Sinhalese people queuing up for food when 70.000 Tamils were in refugee camps’ Equally astonishing is the fact that neither the President nor any Minister of the government made an official visit to a single refugee camp to console the dispossessed.

The public utterances of government leaders seemed to be carefully orchestrated. It was as if they viewed the racial violence not as a product of urban mobs but as a mass movement of Sinhalese people in general; hence possibly the refusal to extend compassion to those who actually suffered. This came out clearly in the President’s own speech on July 28 where he promised to introduce legislation to ban separatism or even talk of separatism. He said further more that because of the violence initiated by Tamil terrorists, “the Sinhalese people themselves have reacted.” Prime Minister Premadasa was even more explicit:

We have now taken a decision to include in the Constitution that even advocating a division of the country is illegal. No one would be able to even talk about it. Such a campaign will be made illegal. We would not only deprive those advocating any division of the country of their civic rights. we would even bring legislation to confiscate their properties. Those advocating any division of the country will not be able to talk about it even in a foreign land. Because we would punish them on their return to Sri Lanka. The President yesterday promised you that such actions would be ordered by the government. He said so to dispel any doubts that you may have had in your minds. 

But see what has happened today. Today they have heard rumours that Tigers (Tamil terrorists) have come to Colombo and invaded Colombo. Just imagine the great destruction and the crimes committed based on such wild rumours. Our people not Only were aroused but also engaged themselves in violent acts. They have taken clubs and other weapons and engaged in violent acts. As a result even our Sinhala and Muslim brethren have been subjected to harassment. 

The words “our people” appear several times. It is certainly the case that the greatest destruction of property occurred in the area represented by Prime Minister Premadasa (Colombo Central) yet the “our people” in his speech does not refer to those specific elements of the city population. According to the government scenario those committing acts of violence were the generality of Sinhalese people. This is certainly not the case: most middle-class people, as well as ordinary villagers I know, have a strong Sinhala-Buddhist identity, but they did not engage in acts of violence against Tamils and were for the most part shocked by the brutality and suddenness of these events. It is true that some connived at these events, but others gave Tamil refugees shelter in their homes at great personal risk. They were not without a profound ambivalence but this was not a mass movement of the Sinhala people against the Tamils. If this were so, one must give up any hope for the future, not just of the Tamils who could flee to the north and east of the island or to South India, but more so for the Buddhists entrapped in their own violence. What a fate for a nation subscribing to a religion of non violence!

Both the Tamils hurt by these events and even Sinhala people, as well as the foreign press, openly stated that the government either condoned the attack or it was done by factions within the government. As a response to this, the government came out with its own theory of an international and local Communist conspiracy.

Even non-government leaders made the same point. Ariyaratna, a leader of a voluntary organisation called Sarvodaya, in his speech spoke of a situation created “by intrigue of both national and international origin.” This time it was not a Naxalite plot, but an internationally aided Communist plot to take over the country. The President even implied the possibility that the killing of the army personnel may also have been part of the plan. According to this anti-government plot scenario the Muslims and Christians were to be massacred next. The parties who allegedly planned this overthrow of the government were proscribed, these being the JVP (the political group that spearheaded a youth insurrection in 1971), the NLSSP (a tiny Trotskyite group), and the Communist Party. Dark doings by foreign embassies were also hinted at by the local newspapers.

For once the public was sceptical of these “complots,” as Richard III would have said. In the first place, all three of the proscribed parties were sympathetic with Tamil language aspirations, and two (JVP and CP) were supposedly in cahoots with the terrorists while one (NLSSP) openly sided with the Tamil demand for a separate state. It was difficult to believe that the very groups sympathetic to the Tamils would systematically plunder, loot, and destroy Tamil homes and gruesomely murder men and women.

Several Sinhalese people I met were willing to believe that these groups may have got involved later in the destruction of factories. But even here I know an owner of a factory and a manager of another who could identify the looters as members of the government trade union. Similarly it is difficult to believe that a government so promptly informed of a Naxalite plot by the C1D a day after the Presidential election were ignorant of a more serious plot by Marxist groups to create race riots. In other words, the government was forewarned of a plot that did not occur but not warned of one that did! Thirdly, if the racial riots were caused by Marxists, why did the government imply that it was a popular up-rising by the Sinhalese and why in heaven’s name did no one offer sympathy for the dispossessed or visit refugee camps?

The rhetoric of plots was obviously less for local consumption than for the Thatcher and Reagan governments whose co-operation was necessary to rebuild the economy. It is also obvious that these actions would further eliminate political opposition to the ruling party and reinforce tile power of the Presidency.

PROSPECTS FOR THE FUTURE: THE POLITICAL ISSUE

Needless to say, the future for Sri Lanka is bleak. But behind the rioting is the spectre of increasing authoritarian rule. The prestigious Indian newspaper, The Hindu, commenting on President Jayawardena’s “victory” at the Referendum stated in an editorial of December 25, 1982: “Mr. Jayawardene will be leading the country towards one-party rule with all its menacing implications–and, in the end, may have won nothing but a Pyrrhic victory.” In my view the recent riots would not have occurred at least on the same scale–if the general elections had been held, providing Parliament with a strong opposition.

The very existence of an opposition creates criticism of the government and provides opportunity for public debate. The actions of the J.S.S. would have been subject to Parliamentary criticism, and so would have been the ultra-nationalism of government party leaders. The motives for such criticism might have been unprincipled political opportunism, but their effect would surely have brought about division and debate among the two major Sinhalese political parties.

It is therefore sad to hear eminent Sri Lankan intellectuals, both in Sri Lanka and abroad, say that Westminster-type constitutions are of little use in Third World Nations and strong presidencies are required. Surely, we are dealing here with the prison house of language, where a convenient label like “Third World” is reified to designate a single social and political reality. It is also a mistake to assume that modern political institutions imported from the West have no parallel in tradition, since forms of voting and consensual government are not alien to traditional societies.Introduced political processes can often thus be given traditional validation.

Sri Lanka with its long history and tradition of Buddhist thought took readily to the concept of universal suffrage so that it had the largest voluntary voter turnout in the whole world. People understood the power of the vote and they used it to vote out practically every government in power since independence. There was also no attempt to tamper with the electoral process itself. Moreover, it was doubtful whether Sri Lanka ever had a Westminster-type government, except on paper. They had, through the long years of British rule and after, adapted the Westminster model to suit their own character and institutions. The one key institution they held in high regard was the free vote and free elections. The overthrow of this institution and the mass violence and impersonation of voters that followed have led to serious public disillusionment and demoralisation to be seen and felt everywhere. People, both in villages and cities, have told me on several recent occasions, that they will not vote hereafter because it is “useless,” This to me heralds the impending death of the democratic process.

The pernicious myth that it needs a strong authoritarian ruler to govern “Third World” countries is partly responsible for the present situation, providing intellectual justification for one-party rule, not just in Sri Lanka but elsewhere also. If Marcos uses his army to crush opposition, Sri Lanka (which has no army to speak of) has created a parallel institution in a government trade union hat has a paramilitary function. In doing so she may well have created a model for other small nations to emulate. The impending development and expansion of “Home Guards” I fear may also have a similar effect.

All this means that one should not be deluded by words like (‘Westminster-type government” “Gaullist-type regime” or that charmingly innocent term “Home Guards”: One has to probe the reality that lies beneath. The implication of that reality are also clear: unless the, government holds a general election soon, under conditions which permit people to exercise their vote without fear and intimidation, one of the few democracies of the Third World will surely go the way of nations like the Phillippines.

The erosion of political institutions has a paradoxical effect for it eventually creates a peculiar dilemma for the rulers themselves. The ruler who can no longer rely on supra-personal institutions to carry on the Process of government is forced to personalise them. Increasing personalisation inevitably pushes the authoritarian power. This seems likely to be the fate of Sri Lankad, as it has been the fate of other Third World countries.

President Jayawardana is a man of some stature; it is possible that he may have realised the monster that has been created in recent years (perhaps unwittingly) The monster seems now to have taken on a life of its own and must be tamed or killed if democracy is to survive in Sri Lanka and the President himself be given a niche in history.

PROSPECTS FOR THE FUTURE: THE ETHNIC ISSUE

What about the immediate issue, that of the secession movement in the North and the Sinhalese reaction to it? One thing is clear: if the intention of the mob was to push the Tamils out of the Sinhalese areas, they have surely succeeded. Not all Tamils have roots in the north and east, so some will have to come back and settle in Colombo and elsewhere, but professionals will probably leave the country and anyone with alternatives will resort to them. If the intention was to stifle the secessionist movement, then surely the strategy has backfired. The moderates among Tamils have been virtually eliminated in this polarisation of forces, and more people, especially youths, who had seen or heard of the macabre nature of the riots are now likely to join the terrorist organisations. This is a real pity for, in my view, political sovereignty on the basis of language can not work in South Asia. This is especially so in Sri Lanka.

Underlying the language uniformity which one sees in large areas of South Asia are serious and persisting divisions on the basis of culture and social structure. In the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka these differences are especially conspicuous. We noted that there are major sets of Tamil speakers, Hindu and Muslim. Sri Lankan Muslims do not consider themselves Tamils (in the ethnic sense) but Muslims. Prior to the language conflicts between Sinhalese and Tamils, there were endemic conflicts between Muslims and Tamil Hindus, some extremely violent, particularly on the east coast. This was to be expected given the Hindu-Muslim conflicts on the mainland. Assuming the existence of an independent Tamil state, one set of minority problems would be replaced by another. The Tamils would now be in a majority vis-a-vis the Muslims, but proportionately speaking, the Muslims would be a larger minority vis-a-vis the Tamils than the Tamils are in respect of the Sinhalese.

In addition to this there are deep subdivisions among the Tamils living indifferent areas of the island. The Jaffna Peninsula, where most of the political agitation takes place, is self-consciously identified with high Hinduism and a patriarchal ideology and the great tradition of Dravidian culture. By contrast the East Coast Tamils are mostly matrilineal, practice Dravidian folk religion and claim origins in Kerala. Even today there is considerable suspicion and hostility between these groups, especially the resentment by East Coast Tamils of the economic domination of northern merchants.

The recent Tamil Imported into the central highlands by the British are generally of low caste and remain divided from the two previous groups. These divisions between the various groups of Tamil speakers are reflected today even in the political system where the government party has three Ministers in its cabinet representing the Tamils of the East and the inland regions while Tamils of the North are represented by the TULF which is an opposition party. What the recent riots might have done is to push people from the east and central areas into a larger Tamil movement. If so, Sinhalese extremists would have fulfilled a prophecy–not theirs but that of their opponents.

One must also mention that great divider in Hindu society–caste. The aristocratic caste of landowners or Vellala dominate the politics and economy of the north and east and constitute about 40 percent of the population. In recent years the hegemony of the Vellala has been challenged by the Karaiyar (traditionally fishermen) who have moved into professional and entrepreneurial positions. There are also other large and powerful minority castes (e.g., Koviar, Mukkuvar) who are opposed to both these castes and are not likely to welcome the perpetuation of Vellala hegemony.

Finally there are untouchables and near-untouchables who are barely considered human by the rest of Hindu society and consequently were some of the first Buddhist converts in this region. Caste is compounded by another division, that of Tamil-speaking Christians of the North (5percent) who are politically and economically powerful. A striking feature of recent politics in both Sinhalese and Tamil areas is the extreme language chauvinism of the Christians.

It is as if their marginal Position in Buddhist and Hindu society has forced them to overemphasise their ethnic identity. But it is equally likely that in the event of an exclusive Tamil-Hindu domination in the North the Christians would be in an even more vulnerable position than the Muslims. The realities discussed above are reflected in the current political scene where, in spite of years of universal suffrage and democratic process, there are only two non-Vellala members of Parliament representing the Hindu-Tamil areas.

Thus, the upshot of the preceding argument is that in the eventuality of the Tamils achieving political independence (or even a form of federalism), there will arise a series of “minority problems” which will be as serious (I think even more serious) and internally more disruptive than that which prevails now between Sinhalese and Tamils. Language unity is an illusory one in Tamil Sri Lanka (as elsewhere in South Asia); the reality is internal division based on religion, caste, ethnic origins, etc. It should also be remembered that even the northern terrorist groups who are fighting to establish a separate Tamil State (Eelam) are not a single entity.

They are also fractionated into smaller groups based on caste affiliations and vying for political dominance. One of the terrorist groups currently very powerful, has a Karaiyar caste leadership and power base, while the other (now operating from South India) is Vellala caste based. Indeed recently the latter has openly upbraided the Karaiyar organisation for killing the thirteen Sinhalese servicemen in ambush in Jaffna and thereby triggering the massive Sinhalese reprisal and violence.

It is clear that current political realities seem to defy immediate political resolution of the inter-ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. Yet it is virtually certain that only political compromise by both sides can bring about any lasting solution. To the credit of President Jayawardene it must be stated that he started this process of compromise, by introducing legislation to give greater autonomy to the Tamil regions of the country. But much of this remained on paper since reactionary elements in his own party did not permit the implementation of government policy.

On the Tamil side terrorist organisations did not brook compromise, and moderate Tamils did not speak up for fear of reprisals from terrorists. While it is likely that when the riots broke out the President was advised not to impose an immediate curfew, since some strong-arm tactics against the Tamil business community would facilitate negotiations, it is however unlikely that the President or the Prime Minister would have condoned the use of UNP unions for mass reprisals against Tamils.

But an analysis of events makes it equally clear that elements within their own party forced the issue, and once urban mobs were roused, all sorts of pathological elements in the city population went on the rampage. 

Contrary to Tamil opinion I do not believe that the government actually organised the riots; rather it was organised for the government by forces which the government itself had created, albeit for other purposes. Perhaps the government is yet unaware that this many-headed monster it created may not only destroy its creator but also the entire democratic fabric of Sri Lankan society.

5 Responses to “Political Violence and Future of Democracy – Under UNP Government (1983)”

  1. Christie Says:

    Namaste; Professor open your mind and eyes and see the world as it is. You are in the US and who are the majority in Guyana. They are Indians. How come Bharat Jagdeo form Guyana come as an election monitor in the last Presidential Election? As a man living in the US you have an obligation to ell the world what Indian imperialists are up to in the world. Ceylon (Sri Lanka) is and Indian colony like Guyana. Jai Hind

  2. Christie Says:

    “Contrary to Tamil opinion I do not believe that the government actually organised the riots; rather it was organised for the government by forces which the government itself had created, albeit for other purposes.” 1983 riots were a natural reaction by the Sinhala Buddhists, Christians and Muslims against the Hindu Indian colonial parasites butchering Sinhala officials. Professor if you got resources please read all the papers of World Council of Churches Congress held in Canada in July 1983. You will get some insights to who were involved and what planning was behind the July 1983 events .

    I agree with you the then government was not responsible for organizing the riots, it was a natural reaction by the innocent people and a government who had no weapons or organizational backing to stand up to Indian Empire and its covert actions.

  3. Christie Says:

    “violent and Naxalite (anarchist) opposition”. . Naxalites are freedom fighters against the Indian Empire. This name is not a common word used in Ceylon but a word common among the Indians colonial parasites living in Colombo who were good friends and associates of JR. JR was a man who has close relations with Indian Colonial Parasites in Colombo who are still dictating our future. Who pays for the leftists and Sinhala Buddhist politicks like the JVP and the BJP?

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    July 1983 riot was planned and executed by Tamils to go to UK and Canada for a BETTER LIFE SL can NEVER give them.

    OPEN ECONOMY particularly affected Tamils who THRIVED under the previous CLOSED ECONOMY.

    Singhalese should STOP blaming themselves and the govt. for it.

  5. LANKAPUTHRA Says:

    Professor Ganath, please do not bring the past to the present, disinformation people like you confuse the reader by using the volatile time of the YOUNG republic to present. The man you refer as a patriot, ARIYARATNA was a common law criminal. He collected money from unsuspecting people and was to give to people who were displaced by the JVP /Prabhakeran war. Sarvodaya was a cover-up front. Walter Jayawardena wrote a excellent article giving the bank account numbers and how he avoided paying tax; he and his family lived in luxury in New York. It was published in Old Lanka web and I do not know whether it got deleted during the transfer of the server. As if we don’t know who you are and who pays you.

    Christie; Why bring JR in to today’s political platform. Don’t forget we could not go to the northern province at that time. Yes JR had to have close relationships with all INDIAN comedy actors because they had power and money.

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