The Macabre Irony of Tamil Politics
Posted on July 11th, 2018

Palitha M Senanayake 

The dust has still not settled on the recent controversial statement made by the UNP MP Ms Viyayakala Maheshwaran on ‘rekindling the LTTE’ and the chances are that it will reverberate for some time, given the legal and political overtones associated.  To add insult to injury, the Chief Minister of the Northern Province Mr. CV Vigneshawaran has issued an official statement in defence of the beleaguered MP stating that ‘Vijayakala Maheshwaran should not be penalized for telling the truth’.

In order to view of these two statements in a more objective vein, as Ms Maheshwaran has contended in many of her subsequent statements, it is necessary to analyze the context in which these two statements had been made. The issue that was under discussion on that particular day was the gang rape and murder of a 6 old female child and of the delay of bringing the perpetrators to justice. It was in this context that Mrs Maheshwaran maintained that, ‘this type of incidents would not dare take place during the LTTE period as the punishment then would have been swift’. Thus, what Ms Maheshwaran is implying in her statement is the breakdown in law and order under the present regime in which she herself is a part.  The defenders of the current regime may come out stating that the law and order is a matter for the judiciary and since there is more democracy now there is no interference in the judiciary. Such defenders would even go to the extent of declaring that such situations are in evidence that ‘the present regime has ushered in five-star democracy’! However, what these supine defenders of the current regime fail to appreciate is that the proper conduct of law and order is the hallmark of a democratic society and without the timely and impartial implementation of justice, a democratic society could well become anarchic. Therefore, the Government, with the Police and Prisons being execution arm of justice, and also with a Minister in charge of justice, can not absolve itself from the state of justice and its execution in the country.

That fact apart, the issue that bedeviled the Jaffna UNP MP’s statement is whether this situation warranted a call for an LTTE type of despotic rule back in the Tamil society? It is a well-known fact that the justice that prevailed under the LTTE rule was ‘Kangaroo Court’ justice. Therefore, the irony here is that not just Mrs Vijayakala being an MP, but also the current Chief Minister of North,  Mr. CV Vigneshwaran, a former judge of the Sri Lankan judiciary, making statements in preference of the Kangaroo Court dispensation of justice.  What is even more anachronistic is that the LTTE rule was not confined to justice alone and it had more to do with democracy and human rights in the Tamil society. The LTTE leader made his entry into Tamil polity by assassinating the elected popular mayor of the Jaffna Municipal Council Mr Alfred Duraiappah back in 1976 and since then the LTTE killed two elected mayors of the Jaffna MC in the 90’s making democratic politics not possible in Jaffana and the north. This was so since the LTTE scuttled the DDC elections in 1981 and even though the Indo- Lanka accord brought about Provincial councils such PCs functioned in all provinces except in the North and East as the LTTE prevented members being elected to those councils.  Thus, it is an undeniable fact that both current MP Vijayakala and the current Chief Minister owes their present positions to the ‘absence of the LTTE’. This being the truth then what makes Viayakala and Vigneshwaran eulogise the virtues of the LTTE rule?

To go a little further, the inquiry in to the killing of Mr. T Maheshwaran revealed that the LTTE had hired a contract killer as the popularity of bilingual Maheshwaran, sitting MP at the time, was not to the liking of the LTTE who sought to be the ‘sole representative’ of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. The other point is, if Mr Vigneshwaran who is bending over backwards to make himself popular with his racial overtones would certainly have not been tolerated if the LTTE had been active with its role as the ‘sole representative’ of Tamil racialism. Therefore, now we have a situation where two politicians elected  to their office who owe not just their office, but even their very existence to the absence of the LTTE , eulogising the virtues of the LTTE rule. How does anybody rationalise this situation and how do we explain this Tamil psyche? This is certainly a situation of macabre irony in Tamil politics!

This is not to talk about the recruitment of thousands of child soldiers by the LTTE as fodder for war over a period of 30 years, exhorting Tamil commercial enterprise and the rich at will, arbitrary occupation of schools and hospitals ostensibly for a ‘national struggle’ and other uncertainties associated with absence of peace.  Any visitor to the north, soon after the end of LTTE rule, could witness huge holes on the building walls and roofless buildings in schools, offices and residencies; a hall mark of LTTE rule in the area.  As a result of all this the once cultured, educated and nonviolent Tamil community that represented 12.5% of the Sri Lanka population in 1982 had been reduced to a community, violent ridden and wanting in education, numbering less than 11 % of the SL population; thanks to the shenanigans of the LTTE.  Jaffna that was the second most commercialised city (MC) in Sri Lanka in the 1970’s and 80’s is an insignificant town today falling behind even the UC cities in the rest of the country.  It is despite this reality that this so-called Tamil leaders are paying homage to the LTTE and its rigid rule. This is simply beyond comprehension but we need to find an explanation to this situation, if anybody is to advocate a solution to this ‘Tamil problem’ in Sri Lanka.

The problem, as far as we could see is that the Tamil politicians by advocating Tamil racism since 1923 has made racism the be all and end all of Tamil politics. Ponnambalam Arunachalam, having formed the Tamil Congress (the first communal political party in SL), after relinquishing his leadership with the multi ethnic Ceylon National Congress in 1923 declared that,  The Tamils are more intelligent, hardworking and civilised and therefore racially superior to the other races in Ceylon including the Sinhalese”. Further he also maintained at this address that, the Tamil history in Sri Lanka is more than 3000 years old” (Communal politics- J Russel) making this historical claim of 3000 years for the first time.

The Tamil leaders since then have been trying to justify this statement by imbibing racial superiority among the Tamils with the creation of a Tamil history in Sri Lanka to suit the agenda. Thus, over the years this passion for communal superiority grew and hence the Tamil leaders found it convenient to bash the Sinhalese leaders for the privileges they lost since independence in a progressive Sri Lanka. Even with 1956 reforms the education was broad based and the average Tamil student was given the right to have education in his/her own language and the average Tamil was bestowed the right to communicate with the Government in his own language.  The Tamil leaders however opposed all that on the grounds of Sinhala majoritization preferring to maintain their privileged position at the cost of national progress. SJV Chelvanayagam was on record on many an occasion posing the question, How could the Sinhalese govern us the Tamils?’

30 yers of military shenanigans by Prabhakaran boosted the Tamil ego to no end proving the claim of racial superiority. They saw Prabhakaran as a military genius who wiped out Government military camps with 1200 soldier strength.  The likes of Vijayakala and Vigneshwaran has no words for the brutality of the LTTE when they massacred innocent unarmed civilians in 236 instances because such cruelties get buried in the racial superiority demonstrated by the LTTE in wiping out army camps. Therefore, until and unless the average Tamil man breaks the genealogical shackles of racial superiority and accept humanism or Sri Lankanism, the Tamil politicians will ignite the flames of communalism at the cost of social and economic development, even of their community. Tamils believe the Tamil culture is the cradle of world civilisation and it is advocated that a Tamils who dye for their race is borne in Heaven. Therefore, for a Tamil, his race is his number one priority in life. Entrenched in a caste system where members of a lower castes are being killed for making overtures in marriage, Tamil society is culturally and traditionally trained to seek contentment in separation than in assimilation. They view Tamils as one body and thus it matters little whether a few are being killed as long as Tamils as a communal body maintain its racial superiority.  It is only by attributing such a psyche that we could explain the behaviour of the likes of Vijayakala and Vignashvaran.

Palitha M Senanayake 

3 Responses to “The Macabre Irony of Tamil Politics”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    The last paragraph theorises how to understand Tamil politics.

    It is foolish and even racist when some Sinhalese tell Tamils how to think about the LTTE, etc. Don’t Tamils have the right to think and to form their own political views? The fact that they disagree with us must be respectfully and peacefully understood. And look for ways to advance our interests accordingly.

    The statement by this UNP MP made her and the UNP popular in the Tamil community. They were becoming irrelevent in the Tamil community due to blunders. Now they are back in the game.

    Another blunder is the matter concerning the excellent army officer Ravipriya. Some jumped to the conclusion that the emotional farewell given to him is a sign of reconciliation! Of course these people reconciled with him, but nothing to say they reconcilied with the nation or the Sinhala community. He was working there since 2011. The 2018 February election in the Puthukuduiruppu PS (where Vishvamadu is a ward) was comprehensively won by Tamil separatist political parties. JVP and SLPP (the only parties that are outside the TNA-UNP so called ali-koti hawula) managed to win less than 1%. Is this reconciliation?

    JVP May Day rally was held in the north with the participation of the TNA. Is this reconciliation?

    Millions of Tamils voted for the Sinhala army commander in 2010 and a Sinhala politician named Sirisena (who didn’t even bother fooling them by speaking Tamil) in 2015 despite his rival dishing out gold pendants to Tamils. Is this reconciliation?

  2. Dilrook Says:

    Quote – Ponnambalam Arunachalam, having formed the (Ceylon) Tamil Congress (the first communal political party in SL), after relinquishing his leadership with the multi ethnic Ceylon National Congress in 1923 declared that, The Tamils are more intelligent, hardworking and civilised and therefore racially superior to the other races in Ceylon including the Sinhalese”. Further he also maintained at this address that, the Tamil history in Sri Lanka is more than 3000 years old” (Communal politics- J Russel) making this historical claim of 3000 years for the first time.

    Thanks for stating this from the book.

    In addition, he used the term Tamil Eelam at the inauguration of the party in 1922 and introduced a new ethnic group called “Ceylon Tamils” in the 1911 census. It never existed before in any census (1881, 1891 and 1901) or official document.

  3. Randeniyage Says:

    What is reconciliation?
    Two or more groups of people who fought bitterly reflect back and come to the conclusion that fighting doesn’t bring any good. Then they acknowledge errors and wrongdoings of each side and apologize accordingly. Third step would be all parties accept those apologies and move forward in a peaceful manner agreeing to compromise and dialogue.

    Tamils have never apologized for supporting a terrorist group and they never will. Instead they appreciate dictatorship and peace they enjoyed under that dictatorship forgetting the suffering they had to undergo under Tamil dictatorship.
    They want Tamils to be ruled under a Tamil dictator and Sinhalese to be ruled under a democracy and that democracy is expected to be listening and agreeing with the Tamil dictator.

    Reconciliation introduced in 2010 is about teaching Tamil to Sinhalese students, developing North and East with no funds from those who did the destruction, listening to India, reducing army presence in the North, getting advice from South Africans ( who don’t even know how to run their country, killing white farmers one by one until now).

    Reconciliation introduced in 2015 is about keeping armed forces personal in Jails without proper charge, reducing army presence in the North further, letting Tamils to glorify terrorists, letting them sing the national song in Tamil and releasing terrorists.

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