TNA and UNP an unholy marriage
Posted on January 20th, 2019

By Shivanthi Ranasinghe Courtesy Ceylon Today

The cat is out of the bag. While addressing a seminar at the Weerasingam Hall, Jaffna on 12 January, TNA Parliamentarian and Leader of ITAK Mavai Senathirajah revealed that there is a joint mechanism for the Government to hold discussions with the TNA,  prior to the Cabinet making its

Addressing the same seminar, TNA Spokesman M.A. Sumanthiran said that the development, in the North, must be the priority. He also admitted that it was on this agreement that the TNA backed the United National Party and Ranil Wickremesinghe; when unceremoniously sacked by Maithripala Sirisena on 26 October, 2018.

It was during this particular political upheaval, that Sumanthiran aggressively stormed up to Lakshman Kiriella while he was addressing Parliament and effectively shut him up. RW appeared as if he did not even dare look up. That, however, did not deter Sumanthiran from extending his angry gesticulation to him as well. This video clip went viral in social media and many speculated the basis for Sumanthiran to wield so much power over the country’s Prime Minister. Well, now we know.

The point that Sri Lanka must never forget is that the TNA was the political proxy of the LTTE. They have not reformed their thinking, nor apologised for the many atrocities committed by the LTTE against the Sri Lankan people. The Tamils in the North suffered greatly at the hands of the LTTE and not only in terms of property, intimidations and dignity.

Atrocities against Tamils

The LTTE engaged in the most despicable strategy to forcibly conscript children into the terrorist organisation. Children as young as eight were abducted either from classrooms or en route from school to home. They were used as cannon fodder to clear anti-personnel mined land for the fighting cadres to cross over. They were also thrown over the sentinel wire that surrounded military establishments so as to cushion the feet of the fighting cadres to break into the complex.

The LTTE plan was to recruit at least one child from each family. Then, the families would be forced to support the LTTE for that would be the only slim chance for their child to survive. Interestingly, this blatant exploitation of the parents’ bond to their child is hardly being categorised as a war crime or even a crime against humanity.

Instead of at least apologising for this atrocity, the TNA is insisting that they are the representatives of the Tamils. The LTTE too, while committing all these atrocities, insisted that they were the sole representatives of the Tamils. Therefore, in every sense, the TNA has simply filled the void created by the annihilated LTTE.

The only difference between the cadres of the LTTE and the TNA is that the former wore fatigues and were armed to the teeth, while the latter is in well tailored suits and armed with law degrees. Their objective however is one and the same. They differ in their modus operandi. Perhaps the subtle ways and the underhand dealings of the lawyers are much more dangerous than the sheer brutality of the terrorists.

The confounding question here though is the new Constitution that Sumanthiran always harps about. He has pledged to bring it to Parliament before the 4  February. The Most Venerable Prelates of the Malwathu and Asgiriya Chapters have voiced their concerns regarding this matter.

When the State Minister for Defence Ruwan Wijewardene paid his respects to the two Venerable Prelates on 15 January,  they had both advised him that the Government’s priority must be on solving the economic crisis of the country than this attempt to introduce a new Constitution. They had brought to his attention the increasing economic strain the ordinary people are buckling under and had stressed the need for the Government to show an active interest in easing this burden.

Indeed, the woeful economic situation was acknowledged by none other than Ranil Wickremesinghe, when he admitted that the Government is struggling to pay back debt. In the past four years the Government’s foreign borrowings had increased from USD 23 billion to USD 35 billion and the total national debt had increased by a staggering Rs 5 trillion. The Rupee’s depreciation by 41 per cent is unprecedented and the interest rates have increased by almost 50 per cent.

Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera, in a recent tweet, boasted that despite the 51-day coup” the government maintains the unblemished record” of paying debts on time by re-paying the 5-year USD 1 billion sovereign bond taken in 2014. Central Bank Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy, however, admitted that the repayment was done using the reserves entirely after the Government failed to raise the funds from three State Banks.

Central Bank (CB) Governor during Rajapaksa Administration, Ajith Cabraal noted that the CB had about USD 6.9 billion as reserves at the beginning of this year. This has now reduced to USD 5.9 billion. When this Government assumed power in 2015, CB had reserves of USD 8.2 billion. Yet, even after the massive borrowings and selling/leasing of assets, the Government was unable to even roll out a USD 1 billion. He also observed that with the Rupee depreciation, the Government has to now spend Rs  54 billion in order to buy the same amount of US dollars.

Rise in crimes

The Most Venerable Prelates also brought to the State Minister’s attention that the crime rate of the country is also on the rise. This observation comes in the wake of news alleging Sumanthiran of trying to intervene against the arrest of a narcotics dealer, apparently one of his supporters.

Maheswari Vijayakala too tried to protect Swiss Kumar. Given this background, if this new Constitution actually sees the light of day, the only recourse for parents in the North is to send their children to the South as they did during the LTTE days.

Sri Lanka is not only being gripped by local underworld gangs. It was reported that on 16 January an Indian fishing trawler had deliberately rammed into a Sri Lanka Navy vessel and caused damages. This is the first time such an incident had taken place. Serious note must be taken of the confidence displayed by the aggressors.

India’s unwillingness to redress the issue of  poaching, by Indian trawlers in Sri Lankan seas, exposes their hypocritical concern for the Tamils in Sri Lanka. This very act adversely affects the Sri Lankan fishermen, who depend on their catch to sustain.  It is this very livelihood that the Indian counterpart attacks and destroys, backed by the Tamil Nadu politicians who do not lose an opportunity to cry for the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils.

It is not only India, but also the West that remains studiously blind, to the situation. Their attention is more on the alleged war crimes that they insist the Sri Lankan military have committed. Their latest victim is Major General Shavendra Silva, who commanded the 58 division during the war. Earlier, this year, he was promoted as Sri Lanka Army Chief of Staff. This is being interpreted as an outrage and shows that the Government is not serious about accountability and security sector reforms.”

Real woes

The actual burden on the people is the ever increasing economic woes and the rise of the underworld. Yet, the solution pushed by the so-called international experts is on introducing a new Constitution that aims to place Tamils under the very hands that worked with the LTTE, who only differ in their attire. This new Constitution that is apparently still on the drawing board with the presentation deadline aimed at the country’s Independence Day seems almost a red herring.

Even if this deadline was met, with this being an election year, would the Government have the time to debate on it, vote in Parliament to win a two-third majority and then go for a referendum is a question. It is almost as if this is a decoy to keep us engaged, while the country’s economy and security are being sabotaged. Of course, the Government can always opt to emulate the Speaker’s style of No Confidence Motion to the clapping of the Western diplomats and get the new Constitution moving on fast motion.

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