Another Presidential Election, Another Display of Tamil Eelam and Malaya Nadu Maps to the World
Posted on July 19th, 2019

Dilrook Kannangara

Another presidential election is around the corner. And that means the nation is forgotten once again and political clans take centre stage. 

There is a sinister side to all presidential elections.

All presidential elections after 1994 showcased internal divisions to the whole world. The ethnic group classified as ‘Sri Lankan Tamils’ demand Tamil Eelam – a hypothetical state making up the entirety of the north and parts of the east and the north western areas. This has been an election issue since 1977. Similarly since 2002 the ethnic group classified as ‘Indian Tamils’ have been demanding Malaya Nadu – another hypothetical state within the hill country in the middle of the island.

All presidential elections after 1994 divided voters into two main camps very clearly separated out on a map. The areas claimed as Tamil Eelam and Malaya Nadu are obvious on the election results maps. This is the perfect opportunity for external meddlers to interfere in local matters. What they see are three different countries within the island.

Politicians understand this very well but they don’t care. However, they do rely on this fact for their benefit. People demanded referendums for the 13A and the proposed new constitution. Politicians (including likely candidates for the 2019 presidential election) stated that it is dangerous as it will display to the whole world our internal divisions. Correct. However, why don’t they see the very same danger in presidential elections? Surely, it’s an attempt to hide their real views on 13A and the proposed new constitution. If a referendum is called they have to say their stand and people will know they are not different to TNA.

Sirisena won the 2015 presidential election. He had support of the two dissenting Tamil speaking areas. This calmed the international community down as the president was seen to have won the confidence of the pro-India and pro-West minorities. What will happen if the result is the opposite?

This happened in 1999, 2005 and 2010. In all these instances the international community put severe pressure on Lanka to come up with separatist political solutions, address sham human rights issues and downgrade the military. However, before 2009 it was a difficult choice for the international community. Accepting separatist territories was out of the question as one of them was controlled by a banned terrorist organization. Even the Chief Minister of the East was a former LTTE cadre accused of using child soldiers. The north didn’t have an elected Chief Minister.

This is not the case since 2013. There are governance mechanisms in place in each of these areas that have devolved powers now vested in them.

More than anything else, the 2019 presidential election will be a massive display of a fractured country, outright rejection of the winner with executive powers by the minorities and existing divisions will be exploited by foreign powers for military purposes. It is much worse than a referendum on 13A which federalist politicians of all shades of patriotism have cunningly avoided.

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