Posts Categorized: Politics

The Tyranny of the Majority

Culture matters; and so do rules. In Patterns of Democracy, political scientist Arend Lijphart argues that democratic governments come in two basic models: majoritarian, like the British, with strong single-party cabinets dominating decision-making, or “consensual,” with power exercised through coalitions. Lijphart observes that while in homogeneous societies all citizens can feel reasonably represented in a majoritarian system, the same model in nations deeply divided by class or identity “spells majoritarian dictatorship and civil strife.” He argues for electoral rules which guarantee a measure of proportional representation, coalition governments, an empowered and truly bicameral legislature, decentralization. Lijphart claims that the consensual model maximizes democratic legitimacy without sacrificing effectiveness.

Extremism Rises Among Myanmar Buddhists

“Myanmar monks are quite isolated and have a thin relationship with Buddhists in other parts of the world,” Phra Paisal said. One exception is Sri Lanka, another country historically bedeviled by ethnic strife. Burmese monks have been inspired by the assertive political role played by monks from Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese majority.

The Uphill Road

by ‘The Economist’s’ Banyan blog, June 22, 2013  OFTEN, when Sri Lanka’s ethnic-Sinhalese-dominated government appears to be offering a hand in friendship to the Tamil minority, it turns out to be a slap in the face. For example, in 2010 it appointed a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the final phase of the… Read more »

The 13th Amendment: What Next?

Defeating the LTTE did not create a united Lankan nation. Sri Lanka today is what she was after 1956: one and indivisible, with marginalised minorities and seeds of separation germinating underground.

Maximalism is a mindset, a way of looking at the world and living in it. It is a habit that dulls the eyes, stops the ears, blunts the intellect and silences the conscience. It is a habit which makes one do not only what is wrong but also what is counterproductive.

Gajendrakumar on 13th Amendment

Gajendrakumar exposes New Delhi’s deception behind 13th Amendment New Delhi that had wanted the LTTE to commit on federal solution as condition to bring in ceasefire, started arrogantly imposing the unitary 13 Amendment once the war ended in genocide, Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam exposes, bringing out the roles played by new Delhi’s National Security Advisor, M.K. Narayanan,… Read more »

Tamils Want More Devolved Power in Sri Lanka’s North

Photo: Contributor/IRIN TNA leader Rajavarothayam Sampanthan COLOMBO, 11 June 2013 (IRIN) – Ahead of Sri Lanka’s planned provincial election in a former war zone, the country’s main ethnic minority Tamil party is pushing to have as much power devolved from Colombo as possible. The island nation has grappled for decades with the question of the devolution… Read more »

Lights, Camera, Election

by ‘The Economist,’ London, June 8, 2013 WHEN the film “Parasakthi” was released in Tamil Nadu in October 1952, it played for over 100 days to rapt audiences… During the past 50 years, five of Tamil Nadu’s eight chief ministers have been film stars or scriptwriters. To this day, power still ricochets between Mr Karunanidhi’s… Read more »

Sri Lanka to Water Down Tamil Power-sharing Plan

COLOMBO — Sri Lanka plans to reduce the power of local councils before the first-ever provincial elections in the island’s former war zone, a leading politician said Thursday, in a bid to deny minority Tamils greater autonomy. The ruling coalition promised to share limited power with Tamils, pointing to elections to local councils, after the… Read more »

Sri Lanka Monk Self-immolation Highlights Anti-Muslim Sentiment

The suicide by a Buddhist monk who set himself on fire in Sri Lanka to protest the slaughter of cattle has been hailed as an act of great self-sacrifice and compared to acts of self-immolation by Tibetan Buddhist monks protesting China’s repression in Tibet. Nothing could be more ill-informed. In fact, it is one more… Read more »

Sri Lanka’s Ugly Side

by ‘Bangkok Post,’ June 3, 2013 Sri Lanka celebrated the fourth anniversary of its military victory over Tamil separatists last month amid concerns over a venomous hate campaign and resultant attacks against Muslim and Christian minorities by some Buddhist monks, one of whom set himself on fire. Army tanks rolled onto the streets of Colombo to… Read more »

Buddha Buzz

Across the Bay of Bengal, a Therevada Sri Lankan monk—adopting what has become a common strategy among Tibetan Buddhist monks—self-immolated in the street. The monk, Ven. Indarathana, set himself on fire outside the Temple of the Tooth—the holiest Buddhist shrine in the country—in protest of the Muslim halal method of slaughtering animals.

Ven. Indarathana belonged to the Buddhist revivalist group Voice of Sinhala, a hardline Buddhist rights group. This could qualify the self-immolation as the first connected with an anti-Muslim organization. According to BBC correspondent Charles Haviland, Sinhalese ultranationalist government ministers are praising the incident as “an act of self-sacrifice for the good of the country.”

Celebrating A Victory That Has Lost Its Way

“Truth must be told. After all, it is the truth that will set everyone free. But, for truth to be told, there needs to be a change in attitude”, are words from my first speech in Parliament and three years later we have yet to see a change in attitude. We have seen instead, a… Read more »

Sampanthan MP’s Speech in Parliament

They never had before and do not have now a sense of economic or political empowerment. To put it in simple language, the Tamil people do not have the ability to take control of their lives. This is because their democratic verdict is not respected. They have to deal with masters and rulers. They cannot deal with persons whom they have elected as their representatives to attend to their needs and to exercise political power on their behalf; to whom they can talk freely; whom they can question and who are answerable to them. They can only deal with masters and rulers who can be merciful as they wish to be, can be rude and arrogant if they wish to be. Are not the Tamil people being treated grossly differently from the Sinhala people? Is it not the true position that the Tamil people have a price to pay because they are Tamils? Mr. Deputy Chairman of Committee, this cannot continue….

It must be understood that inclusiveness, tolerance, pluralism, egalitarianism and justice are the hallmarks of a truly democratic society. This is not to state that the wishes of the majority of the people are irrelevant, but it certainly means that the wishes of the majority of the people must be guided by these fundamental elements, and that the political leadership should have the wisdom to guide the people in this regard. Great democracies the world over have acquired unity in diversity, respectability, stability and prosperity by adopting this spirit. A State, which does not accept these principles, cannot be regarded as a truly democratic State. In today’s context, Sri Lanka’s democratic credentials do not stand the test of scrutiny. The Sri Lankan State regrettably stands out as a majoritarian State, which does not uphold the rule of law, particularly in regard to the minority peoples, that excludes legitimate minority rights and concerns, disregards the democratic verdicts of the Tamil people, and is strongly influenced in its governance, by sectarian nationalist thinking. This must change, and this is yet another lesson that must be learnt, if there is to be voluntary and genuine reconciliation, peace and harmony. A State, which claims to be democratic, but which distorts democracy, and practises majoritarian authoritarianism, will inexorably traverse the path of self destruction. To be truly democratic, is a lesson that a Sri Lankan State needs to learn early.

Videos of Recent Conferences

International Council on Eelam Tamils (ICET) – Tamils rights conference in Geneva, March 2-4, 2013          !     Transnational Government of Tamil… Read more »

Spot Fixing Sri Lanka Style

There are numerous reasons to be concerned about this survey. The timing of the survey – and the military’s heavy involvement – suggests that this was (and remains) an obvious effort to deflect international pressure at the HRC and other international fora. When and why did the DCS begin to work so closely with the Defence Ministry?

Burma [not so random] Connection

The similarities of the Myanmar and the Sri Lankan states are obvious. Majority of the people in both countries practice Theravada Buddhism. And both countries are plagued by ethnic conflicts.

Four Years On, Genocide Continues Off the Battlefield

On the anniversary of the 26-year civil war, the Sri Lankan state celebrates its 2009 victory while Tamils mark the bloody nadir of the campaign to systematically dismantle the Tamil nation – one which continues today. In May 2009 as the armed conflict between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the government of… Read more »

Genocide in Guatemala

In further contrast to its neighbors, Guatemalan society was (and remains) profoundly racist, fearful of the indigenous majority that it has continually dehumanized. That racism let the elite-military alliance use anticommunist counterinsurgency principles to justify the extermination of Mayan peoples and communities.

“Why do you ask why Indians were killed?’’ a member of the oligarchy once asked me. “A better question is why didn’t we kill more Indians?”