Tissa Vitarana, in Island, 29 July 2020, where the title runs “TNA has failed to come up with a realistic plan to address problems of the North-East people”
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has come out with its manifesto for the August 5 general election, and it is disheartening to see that the TNA has failed to come to grips with the new reality and introduce a realistic plan to address the problems facing the people of the North and the East, says LSSP leader, Professor Tissa Vitarana,
Prof. Vitarana has said in a media statement: “They have come out with the same set of demands that were raised by the TNA at the time the 30 year war of separation began. A news report of July 19 labeled it as a “low key event”, a clear indication of the lack of enthusiasm among the Tamil people.
“The war was fought and won by the government to prevent a merger of the North and East as a single province and the demand for a federal solution. In the context of the separatist sentiments prevailing then and also now in the North, the people in the South viewed it as a prelude to separation. Federalism may be acceptable to them at some time in the future, but it would require the removal of the fear of separation that emerged during the period of the war, and still prevails in the country. For a solution of the problems of the Tamil speaking people, a key requirement is that there must be mutual trust and confidence built up between the Tamil speaking and Sinhala speaking people of our country, he said in a statement.
“When this is not there, bringing up the same demands that led to mistrust and lack of confidence is only going to make matters worse, not better. To highlight the concept of a ‘Tamil homeland’ formed by the merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces, and to demand demilitarization, would portray the presence of Sri Lankan troops in their military bases as a ‘foreign’ incursion and is bound to lead to resentment, when similar bases exist in the South. No doubt such a statement would not have been made had there been a majority of Tamil military personnel in the military bases. Certainly the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) would support such a trend in the future, Prof. Vitarana further noted.
“Harping on the past, the TNA calls for justice for “the thousands of missing persons” and this certainly needs attention in the future with a revival of a properly constituted Office of Missing Persons (OMP) and the Office of Reparations. The LSSP would also agree that if indeed war crimes have been committed by identified persons that they should be charged, and dealt with, if proven guilty. However, we cannot agreed to setting up of an international mechanism to investigate alleged past crimes and human rights violations, the statement further said.
The statement added: “There should be a credible internal mechanism as was recommended by the LLRC and the Paranagama Reports. In accordance with international practice, the investigation of such matters relating to internal conflicts should be undertaken by internal mechanisms, and not by external mechanisms. External meddling in the internal affairs of our country rather than being essential to ensure lasting reconciliation and peace in the island, would have an opposite effect,
“For instance, the claims made with regard to deaths during the final phase of the war, which amounted to around 7,500 (according to the figures of the Health Department, which were also confirmed and accepted by the Red Cross and the UN office in Colombo) was inflated to 40,000 by the USA and by United Nations Human Right’s Council (UNHRC), and angered the people in the South.
“This is a reminder to us not to place any trust in foreign agencies however impartial they may claim to be. The TNA Manifesto also stresses that the UNHRC resolutions 34/1, 30/1 and 40/1 which were co-sponsored by the UNP government with the “international community” should be implemented fully. Considering the many falsehoods and distortions that these resolutions are full of, the LSSP is totally opposed to their implementation.
“The TNA manifesto further states that it hopes to formulate a regional economic policy to revive local industries in the war-affected regions through cooperative societies and to seek investments to address unemployment, poverty, and livelihood issues. Considering that the war has been over for more than 11 years, one wonders what the TNA has been doing all this time without even making any plans up to now.
“The TNA had extremely good relations with the previous UNP led government from 2015 to 2019, but why did they not think of forming such plans and getting the necessary financial and administrative support? It is clear that the TNA which only talked about the need for development and did nothing about it, is inclined to do the same thing now. It would like to make out that the government in the “South” is not interested in developing the North, a lie which they have been propagating among the Tamil speaking people so as to win their sympathy and get their support at election time. Thus, the former TNA Chief Minister of the Northern Province Wigneswaran utilized only 30% of the funds sent by the Central Government.
“When the Tamil people in the North required street lights and other basic amenities, to send back 70% of the allocation to be used by the UNP government indicates where their heart really lies. It is certainly not with the Tamil people but with the UNP.
“I think it would be absolutely clear to the Tamil speaking people that the real intentions of the TNA are not to solve the political, social and economic problems of the people of the North and East, but only to arouse their emotional feelings so that they will vote for the TNA to enable them to enter Parliament once again. The way in which many of the TNA MPs have been enjoying the perks and other benefits in the past are known to everybody. It is time that the Tamil speaking people take a more realistic and practical course of action.
“The LSSP stands for all the people of Sri Lanka to be united as one Sri Lankan nation of equals. There should be no discrimination against any citizens on the basis of race, religion or caste. The LSSP wants to ensure that everyone in the North and the East enjoy the same rights and privileges as everyone in the South.
“We must all think as Sri Lankans first and of our communities, be it Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim, second. The LSSP stands for the fullest development of the culture of every community and safeguarding of their rights and privileges at all times. The LSSP has put up three lists of candidates one in Jaffna (on the key symbol), one in the Wanni (on the spectacles symbol) and the other in Trincomalee (on the flower symbol). The candidates chosen are honest and capable and are committed to serve the people who vote them into power. A vote for them would assure you of the protection of your rights as well as the benefits of your representative being a member of the government in power, formed by the Podujana Alliance (SLFPA) of which I am a Vice-President.
“The LSSP is committed to achieving a lasting solution to the national question of the Tamil speaking people. The All Party Representative’s Committee (APRC), set up by Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2006, of which I was chairman, produced a set of proposals that was acceptable to all the participating leaders of the Tamil speaking people. This only needs a few modifications to finalize and to be included in the Constitution, and I am determined to do that. The TNA kept out of the APRC then. Will it do the same this time?
“An economic program for the development of the North and East is a part of the national plan that I drew up and executed as the Minister of Science and Technology in the 2005/15 period, when over 12,300 entrepreneurs emerged and more than 60,000 received computer training free. I hope to expand this with the latest digital advances.
“With advanced technology through SLINTEC and the Biotech Centre, I propose to develop value added industries based on agricultural and natural raw materials (e.g. rare earths at Pulmudai). I call upon the Tamil speaking people not to be misled by the TNA, the SLMC and the ACMC, but to join hands with the LSSP to achieve a better future. Along with the LSSP, I take this, possibly last, chance to join the mainstream of progressive Sri Lankan politics to achieve a position of dignity, self-respect and a better life for all.”
SPECIAL NOTE: for the complete text of the Manifesto presented by the Chelvanayakam and the ITAK on 18th December 1949 at Maradana visit the last few pages of Michael Roberts, Tamil Person and State. Pictorial, Colombo. Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2014.