Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Anointed Federalists and Anandasangaree

by Sachi Sri Kantha

Secondly, federalism as a viable option to save the multi-ethnic, multi-religious, newly independent Ceylonese state was first put forward among the Eelam Tamil voters in the 1952 general election by Chelvanayakam.

Thirdly, federalism was supported by the majority of the Eelam Tamils who voted in the general elections of 1956, March 1960, July 1960, 1965 and 1970.

I write this commentary to rebuke the recent self-serving, opportunistic pronouncements and bloated promotional gigs of Mr. Veerasingham Anandasangaree, which have recently appeared in the Colombo and Chennai newsmedia, projecting himself as the sane voice of Federalism. Should one care about the sophomoric antics of an over-the-hill politico, who never shed any sweat and blood for the cause of Federalism in Sri Lanka and Eelam during his active political career spanning from 1960 to 2004? I, for one, do care a little since it is not fair to the real Tamil Federalists, who stood for election on the federal platform and got elected as peoples' representatives among the Tamil-speaking people, including the Muslims of Eastern Province, between 1952 and 1970 in six general elections. Quite a number of these Tamil federalists (elected MPs and foot-soldiers) suffered political harassment, attacks by hooligans, detention, house arrest and property loss for their political convictions about federalism. Thus, it is insulting to the memories of these activists to allow an impostor like Anandasangaree, to blabber banalities as a die-hard federalist.

 

Bare Facts on Federalism in Ceylon

Here are some bare facts on the emergence, popularity and denouement of federalism in the blessed island.

First, the founding father of federalism, who actively promoted this concept in the island for 25 years (from 1950 to 1974) was S.J.V. Chelvanayakam (1898-1977), who launched the Tamil Federal Party aka Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi, on December 18, 1949. It is on record that S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, at the beginning phase of his political career in the 1920s, had proposed federalism in the island. But as one would expect, for politically expedient reasons, he gave up on federalism following the Donoughmore Constitution reforms installed in 1930.

Secondly, federalism as a viable option to save the multi-ethnic, multi-religious, newly independent Ceylonese state was first put forward among the Eelam Tamil voters in the 1952 general election by Chelvanayakam.

Thirdly, federalism was supported by the majority of the Eelam Tamils who voted in the general elections of 1956, March 1960, July 1960, 1965 and 1970.

Fourthly, Anandasangaree never subscribed to the federalist ideals of Chelvanayakam, and in the four general elections (namely March 1960, July 1960, 1965 and 1970), he stood among the voters in the Kilinochchi constituency opposing federalism. In the general elections of 1960 and 1965, he was soundly defeated, when he stood as a candidate of the Trotskyist Lanka Sama Samaja Party, led by Sinhalese Leftist politicians. In the 1970 election, Anandasangaree switched his allegiance to the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC), sneaked to first place and got elected to the Ceylonese parliament for the first time.

Fifthly, neither Sinhalese nor Muslims never warmed to the federalism concept since 1956, though quite a handful of Muslims were elected in the Eastern Province on the Federal Party ticket in 1956, July 1960 and the 1962 by-election. Two notable political pacts signed by Chelvanayakam on the basis of the federalism concept, namely the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact of July 27, 1957 and the Dudley Senanayake-Chelvanayakam Pact of March 24, 1965, were annulled by the two Sinhalese prime ministers who wanted to save their faces and political grip among their Sinhalese constituencies. Muslim politicians of yore also undermined the federalism concept for selfish community interests by pampering the ruling Sinhalese parties.

Sixthly, after 25 years of active campaigning, non-violent demonstrations (including satyagraha), house arrests, insults, the major anti-Tamil riots of 1958, and state-aided Sinhalese colonization in traditional Tamil homelands, in utter disappointment, even Chelvanayakam – the founding father of federalism in Eelam – gave up on federalism (as a lost cause for Eelam Tamils to protect their identity) in favor of a separate state for Tamils in February 1975.

Seventhly, I have compiled a list of 29 ‘real’ federalists anointed by the Eelam Tamils between 1952 and 1970 in the general and by-elections. These 29 legislators include four Muslims (M.C. Ahamed, M.S. Kariapper, M.E.H. Mohamed Ali and M.M. Mustapha), who were elected on the Federal ticket, but subsequently all four deserted the Federal Party. In alphabetical order of names, they are presented below. The constituencies they represented and the year of elections are given within parenthesis.

T. Ahamparam (Mutur – 1960 March, 1960 July)

M.C. Ahamed (Kalmunai – 1960 July)

V.A. Alegacone (Mannar – 1956, 1960 March, 1960 July, 1965, 1970)

A. Amirthalingam (Vaddukoddai – 1956, 1960 March, 1960 July, 1965)

M. Balasundaram (Kopay - 1960 March, 1960 July)

S.J.V. Chelvanayakam (Kankesanthurai – 1956, 1960 March, 1960 July, 1965, 1970)

V. Dharmalingam (Uduvil – 1960 March, 1960 July, 1965, 1970)

K. Jeyakody (Udupiddy – 1970)

V.A. Kandiah (Kayts - 1960 March, 1960 July)

M.S. Kariapper (Kalmunai – 1956)

S. Kathiravelupillai (Kopay – 1965, 1970)

S.M. Manickarajah (Trincomalee – 1963 by-election, 1965)

P. Manickavasagam (Kalkudah – 1960 March, 1960 July)

C.X. Martyn (Jaffna – 1970)

M.E.H. Mohamed Ali (Mutur – 1962 by-election, 1965)

M.M. Mustapha (Pottuvil – 1956)

E.M.V. Naganathan (Nallur – 1960 March, 1960 July, 1965)

V. Navaratnam (Kayts - 1963 by-election, 1965)

V.N. Navaratnam (Chavakachcheri – 1956, 1960 March, 1960 July, 1965, 1970)

B. Neminathan (Trincomalee – 1970)

C. Rajadurai (Batticaloa – 1956, 1960 March, 1960 July, 1965, 1970)

N.R. Rajavarothayam (Trincomalee – 1952, 1956, 1960 March, 1960 July)

S.M. Rasamanickam (Paddiruppu – 1960 March, 1960 July, 1965)

K.P. Ratnam (Kilinochchi - 1965; Kayts - 1970)

X.M. Sellathambu (Vavuniya – 1970)

A. Sivasunderam (Kilinochchi – 1960 March, 1960 July)

A. Thangathurai (Mutur – 1970)

K. Thurairatnam (Point Pedro – 1960 March, 1960 July, 1965, 1970)

C. Vanniasingham (Kopay – 1952, 1956)

 

The 1970 Election Manifesto of the Federal Party

As Anandasangaree was first elected to the Sri Lankan parliament in May 1970, under the All Ceylon Tamil Congress label, he never subscribed to the Federal Party’s election manifesto of 1970, the last time the Federal Party issued its manifesto. When the 1977 general elections came around, quite a number of ranking Tamil federalists had already passed away. These included, Chelvanayakam, Naganathan, Rasamanickam and Alegacone; and the Federal Party itself had morphed into the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), advocating a separate state for Eelam Tamils.

Now like a donkey braying while cloaked in a horse’s garb, Anandasangaree is aching for federalism while carrying a phony TULF label. To expose Anandasangaree’s baloney of his newly-found admiration for federalism, for the record, I provide the details of the 1970 Federal Party manifesto, under the 17 items which were its focal themes. To quote [subheadings in bold-fonted big case letters are as in the original]:

PROMISES

Since in 1960 the Sri Lanka Freedom Party broke its promises to us and there was a widespread feeling among the Tamil-speaking people that the United National Party should be offered an opportunity. As a result, in the first place, we had talks with the United National Party and an understanding was reached between its leader, Mr.Dudley Senanayake, and our leader, Mr.Chelvanayakam. On this basis, we formed a National Government with the United National Party.

Though the Government had failed to keep all the pledges it made to us, we have however won back at least some of the rights we lost. Our understanding with the United National Party has not been totally fruitless as claimed by our political opponents.

The Sinhala Only Act of 1956 was the only language law of Ceylon that was in force till 1966. The Tamil Language (Special Provisions) Act though passed by the legislature in 1958 remained a dead letter till 1966. On the basis of the understanding reached between us and the United National Party, regulations with regard to the use of the Tamil language were presented in Parliament on 8 January 1966.

The legal position of our language today in the Northern Province and Eastern Province is that, in the transaction of any government business or in government records, Tamil also should be used. Equal status to Tamil and Sinhala has been accepted in law in these two provinces.

TAMIL-SPEAKING AREAS

From the signing of the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact in 1957, planned colonization of our lands with the Sinhalese people from other provinces has been stopped. The colonization schemes of Gal Oya, Kantalai and Allai were not carried out after 1957. But illicit colonization by the Sinhalese continued in districts like Trincomalee.

Through legal action and through getting watchers appointed to illicit colonization areas, we took action to control, to some extent such Sinhalese colonization. Also we took steps to ensure to the Tamil-speaking people, in law, lands colonized by these people in places like Mutur, Poonakari and in certain parts of Trincomalee.

PUBLIC SERVANTS

We stated in our manifesto of 1965 that no public servant who has been in service should be made to lose his appointment, increment, promotion, allowances, etc., on account of the Sinhala Only Act. With regard to the old entrants who joined the service before 1956, we have fully carried out our pledge through Treasury Circular No.700.

Our demands were not completely successful with regard to new entrants who joined the service after 1956. They were given a further extension of three years to gain proficiency in the Official Language. Also, the standard of proficiency was reduced to Junior School Certificate level from the Senior School Certificate level.

We made the government to accept the right of the new entrant Tamil-medium officers to sit for their promotional examinations through the Tamil medium. The rule under the earlier government was that new entrant officers should sit their promotional exams through Sinhala.

We paved the way for the new entrant Tamil clerical servants to gain their increments if they secured a pass in Tamil typing. The rule under the earlier government was that such officers should secure a pass in Sinhala typing. Complete exemption from proficiency in Sinhala has been granted to Tamil teachers, typists, stenographers, radio announcers, and several categories of members of the minor staff, who do not need a knowledge of Sinhala for their duties along with members of the minor staff that were recruited without educational qualifications.

OTHER LAWS

Also we were successful during the period of our association with the National Government in getting deleted, from some important pieces of legislation, sections that were adverse to the interests of the Tamil-speaking people.

By way of examples could be mentioned the Indo-Ceylon (Implementation) Act, Registration of Persons Act, and White Paper on Education.

DISTRICT COUNCILS

On the basis of our principle that the Tamil-speaking people should be provided a set-up by which they could enabled to rule themselves. Mr.Dudley Senanayake in the agreement he reached with us, accepted the principle of decentralization of power through the setting up of District Councils.

A Bill to set up District Councils was prepared after months of deliberations by several political parties. A White Paper embodying this Bill was presented in Parliament and debated.

In the face of opposition both in the country and even within the Government party, the Prime Minister, Mr.Dudley Senanayake abandoned the District Councils Bill.

CONTINUED SUPPORT

Though we failed to achieve our important demand of District Councils, we continued to extend our support in the idea of realizing some other rights, the Prime Minister agreed on. We remained in the Government Parliamentary Group on the basis of the assurances that a full-fledged university would be set up in Trincomalee, that the Tamil language regulations would be implemented and that special attention would be paid towards the long neglected economic development of the Northern and Eastern Provinces through the development of the Kankesanthurai harbour, industrial estates in Jaffna, a ferry at Poonakari, development of transport and the Eastern Province, etc.

IN OPPOSITION

Though we continued our support to the Prime Minister, the government failed to take steps either to set up a University at Trincomalee or to develop the Tamil areas. But at the same time, the Government was found to engage itself in several measures that were detrimental to the interests of the Tamil-speaking people.

SITUATION TODAY

The political situation in South Ceylon is not dissimilar to the situations that prevailed before the general elections of 1965. Of the two political parties operating in the midst of the Tamil speaking people it is the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi alone that stands apart from these lines of combatants.

The political experience of our past five years has emphasized to the utmost the need for the representatives of the Tamil-speaking people to function as members of one disciplined political party. Even our political opponents own that the representations of the Tamil-speaking people must speak in one voice in Parliament.

The Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi alone, was the only political movement that was able for the last 20 years to unite the Tamil-speaking people eliminating any differences of caste or religion or even of geography among the Tamil-speaking people of the Northern Province, the Eastern Province and the Upcountry areas.

CONSTITUTION

It is the present constitution of Ceylon that paved the way for the Tamil-speaking people to be pushed down to the level of second class citizens and thereby destroying their individuality and identity irrespective of whether their representatives were with their government group or the Opposition group in Parliament.

The Tamil-speaking people of Ceylon also believe that a Federal type of Constitution that would enable them to look after their own affairs alone, would safeguard them from total extinction. Only under such a constitution could the Tamil-speaking people of this country live in dignity and with our birth-right to independence as equals with our Sinhalese brethren.

It is our firm conviction that division of the country in any form would be beneficial neither to the country nor to the Tamil-speaking people. Hence we appeal to the Tamil-speaking people not to lend their support to any political movement that advocates the bifurcation of our country.

As a prelude to a federal constitution we sought regional autonomy. What we sought to achieve through the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact and the District Councils, was a decentralization of power to provide for regional autonomy. However, nothing short of a federal constitution could be an adequate remedy to the political ills of Tamil-speaking people. We pledge hereby that we will carry on our struggle for freedom and lead our people towards the goal whatever misery or misfortune may befall us.

A HOMELAND

One of the greatest dangers we faced under the unitary constitution was the erosion and final extinction of our traditional homelands through the deliberate Sinhalese colonization of our areas, planned by the State. However, we might boast about equal status to our people all over the country the only safeguard we have is our traditional areas.

It was because of this that the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi from its inception had been shouting that state-aided Sinhalese colonization of our areas must be stopped.

TAMIL LANGUAGE

The Tamil Arasu Kadchi fought against the imposition of Sinhala Only from 1956, from both within the Parliament and without. Through the agreement we reached with the Government, we have achieved, in law, in the Northern and Eastern Provinces equality of status for Tamil with Sinhala. In the other provinces, we have achieved for the Tamil-speaking people the legal right to have, in Tamil, all government publications, notices, gazettes, etc., and also to correspond with the government in Tamil and to receive replies in Tamil.

We have to continue our struggle to get these rights in law, to be fully implemented in practice and also to gain for our language the same status in other provinces as it enjoys in the Northern and Eastern provinces.

CITIZENSHIP

By the citizenship laws enacted some were rendered stateless and by the 1949 amendments to the election laws, their right to vote and hence the representation they had in Parliament were taken away from them.

We were opposed to these points in the Sirima-Shastri Pact. They were (1) compulsory repatriation, (2) separate electoral lists for those gaining Ceylon citizenship, and (3) the granting of Ceylon citizenship in proportion to the number of persons REPATRIATED. The Indo-Ceylon (Implementation) Act to which we lent our support in Parliament is bereft of these provisions.

The Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi will work towards the expeditious registration of Ceylon citizenship and also towards the obtaining of citizenship by those left out. This registration of citizenship will not only remove the rigours of statelessness but also will help us regain a part of our strength in the politics of this country. We cannot accept a position in which the persons thus registered will be made second class citizens through a place in a separate electoral list.

EDUCATION

We pledged in our manifesto of 1965 that ‘the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi will fight for the rights of the Tamil-speaking children, throughout the island, to receive their education from the kindergarten to the University in Tamil’. On the basis of this pledge, we made the Prime Minister and the Government we supported, to accept in a Bill presented to Parliament on the 20 November 1967, after a White Paper on Education that the mother tongue should be the medium of instruction.

The Ministry of Education is keen on encouraging the Tamil parents who are willing to make Sinhala the medium of instruction of their children in the fond hope of realizing the mirage of government service for their children. School buildings costing thousands of rupees are hastily put up for the convenience of even a few Sinhalese children or a handful of Tamil children willing to study in Sinhala even in places where hundreds of Tamil children suffer for want of school buildings.

If we give in on the question of medium of instruction of our children, the Tamil-speaking people will become extinct in this country in one generation. Far more dangerous than the Official Languages Act is the genocide attempt of the Ministry of Education through the change in the medium of instruction of the Tamil-speaking children.

The Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi considers no struggle too numerous nor any sacrifice too great to put an end to this genocide attempt and to ensure that the medium of instruction of a Tamil-speaking child shall be Tamil. We shall take action to establish institutions like a full-fledged College of Fine Arts Technical College and a full-fledged University for the Tamil-speaking people. We will oppose the down-grading of the schools in the Tamil-speaking areas and also the imposition of Sinhala.

ESTATE SCHOOLS

It is a disgrace to this country that the children of Tamil estate workers, who produce a major portion of the wealth of this country, are denied facilities for a fair education. Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi will fight for the take-over of all estate schools by the Government and to upgrade them as in other parts of the country to the level of junior schools with Tamil as the medium of instruction, and also to provide for the higher education of these children who pass out from these junior schools in the Tamil Maha Vidyalayas of the respective areas.

CULTURE

Steps are being taken in support of the absorption of the Tamil-speaking people by the Sinhalese through a change in the medium of instruction of the Tamil-speaking children. The severance of the cultural links of the Tamil-speaking people of Ceylon with Tamil Nadu is a further step in this process of absorption and destruction.

We are pledged to preserve the purity of our language and our cultural contacts. We cannot permit the attempts being made to cow us down and finally to destroy our identity by fanning the flames of Sinhalese fanaticism through such bogeys like the ‘We Tamil Movement’ and the DMK.

The Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi will always throw its weight behind a socialist economic set-up that would put an end to this injustice and provide full employment and equal opportunities for all in the fields of education and employment without any discrimination on the basis of caste, religion, race or sex.

OUR UNITY

The Tamil-speaking people who demand justice from the Sinhalese people are in duty bound to mete out that very same justice to a section of their own people who are being treated as under-privileged. It is on this realization that the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi has, from its inception, declared as its fundamental principles ‘the unification and rejuvenation of the Tamil-speaking people through the eradication of social inequalities, particularly the practice of untouchability prevalent among a section of our people’.

With this end in view, our party took steps in 1957 to provide representation to these less-privileged people in the Senate. Though a similar attempt we made again last year has failed for want of sufficient votes in our party, yet we shall continue our efforts to secure them representation.

Our party will persist in its continued efforts to deny opportunities to these forces that exploit the curse of untouchability to create ill-will and bloodshed in our midst, and we will take all steps to eradicate this curse through the Gandhian methods of kindness and love.

CAUSE FOR CONCERN

The political position of the Tamil living to the south of Batticaloa that has been created as the Amparai district by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party Government gives cause for deep concern. The Tamil people scattered in the four constituencies of Kalmunai, Nintavur, Pottuvil and Amparai are undergoing hardship because of non-representation in Parliament. Our party will take strong steps to prepare a scheme that will ensure their representation in Parliament when the next delimitation of constituencies take place.

 

The 1970 Election Manifesto of the Tamil Congress

For comparison, the 1970 election manifesto of the Tamil Congress party also deserves equal attention. This manifesto contained a segment in which federalism was pronounced as “whilst federalism is bad for Ceylon, it would be worse for the Tamil-speaking people.”

And Anandasangaree stood as a Tamil Congress candidate for the first time in 1970 and won against the Federal Party candidate M. Alalasundaram on a plurality of 657 votes in Kilinochchi constituency. Now that Tamil Congress manifesto of 1970 has been conveniently forgotten by Anandasangaree, so for record I provide the details of this Tamil Congress Manifesto and its 7 focal themes, among which federalism was the first one. To quote [subheadings in bold-font big case letters are as in the original]:

We solemnly pledge to work for the recognition of Tamils as an official and a national language of Ceylon – Tamil shall be to Tamils, wherever they may be resident, what Sinhala is to the Sinhalas. We advocate the continued use of the English language in those spheres of public activity (e.g., the courts of law), in which, and for such time, as the national language cannot be used with equal efficiency.

We are firmly convinced that if the Tamil language is to survive in this country it must have its place in every part of the country and not be cribbed and confined to two provinces. We are equally convinced that if the Tamil language does not have its place in every part of the country, it will end up by having no place in any part of the country.

It is a matter of deep regret that the united voice of the Tamils has been disrupted by the dissidence of a section of the originally elected members of the Congress for personal reasons, and because of disappointment at not being able to secure ministerial office. A new party under a name and an appellation which has been both misleading and deceitful was formed and this Party has been able, by its claim that Thamil Arasu (Independent Tamil Raj) will be achieved by them, to attract the support of the Tamil community in such numbers since 1956 that it has resulted in a very large section of eminently reasonable Sinhala people believing that the Tamils are wedded to the objective of dividing the country. The result has been unimaginable humiliation, frustration and degradation to the Tamils. This party stands today at the cross-roads of history utterly barren of any achievement in the last fifteen years and with no programme or policy which can inspire the Tamils with any kind of hope in the years to come.

The Tamil people, quite understandably and excusably believing in the cry of Thamil Arasu and that the Federal Party alone could achieve parity of status for the Tamil language, decided to return almost in its entire representative strength federal candidates in 1956, 1960 and 1965, but, in fact, in these fifteen years or more, the Federal Party has abandoned in express terms the claim for parity of status for Tamil.

FEDERALISM

The All-Ceylon Tamil Congress is sincerely and honestly convinced that whilst federalism is bad for Ceylon, it would be worse for the Tamil-speaking people. We would earnestly ask the Tamil-speaking people not to harbour the delusion that because federalism is unitedly opposed by every Sinhalese party in the South, it is therefore a prize worth winning. We are honestly convinced that this opposition stems from a fear complex due to the proximity of the Northern and Eastern Provinces to South India, and we feel sure that if the Tamils inhabited a clearly defined territory in the South, federalism would have been granted by the Sinhalese for the mere asking.

The puerile notion that is sought to be propagated that a change in the mechanics and structure of the constitution is the remedy for all the ills of the Tamil-speaking people should be abandoned before the lesson has to be learnt at a repeatedly bitter cost. If the major community is intent on discrimination, the constitutional structure, be it federal or unitary, cannot prevent such discrimination. Moreover, if any federal or regional set-up, it is the unit which is economically weak and undeveloped that will suffer most. The Tamil unit under a federal constitution will have neither the resources to maintain even its present standard of living and the level of social and public utility services now available to it nor the capacity for capital formation essential for investment and economic development and for providing avenues of employment for our youth. A federal constitution therefore will neither prevent discrimination nor ensure the restoration of our rights or economic development and progress of our areas.

The Tamil-speaking people must be clear in their own minds as to the ultimate objectives for which their efforts and energies should be directed. Is it the objective of the Tamil people that they should live as friends and equals with the Sinhalese and enjoy rights in all the nine provinces of their motherland, or is it their objective that they should contain themselves within the narrow confines of the Northern and Eastern provinces? The Congress refuses to believe that the Tamil people will surrender their rights which they have so far enjoyed in seven of the provinces. A federal constitution at its best will inevitably result in the Tamil people being segregated in the Northern and Eastern provinces and in losing all their rights in the rest of the country.

Under a federal set up, Tamil can only be an administrative language in the Tamil provinces whilst Sinhalese will be the Official Language in all the nine provinces. Hence the demand for a federal constitution signifies a retreat from the Tamil people’s demand for parity of status for the Tamil language throughout the Island. Under a federal set up avenues of employment in the administrative services and in the private sector for Tamil educated persons will be restricted to two provinces.

As the Tamil unit will be financially deficit, Tamil areas will fail to be developed and economic emasculation would inevitably ensue. As the upcountry Tamils will come within the jurisdiction of the Sinhala unit of the federation, they will be compelled to study Sinhala and in course of time get absorbed by the Sinhalese just as the Tamils in the Negombo district and adjoining areas have been so absorbed.

EDUCATION

The All-Ceylon Tamil Congress demands –

(a) That every Tamil-speaking child is assured by the State of a sound education from the Kindergarten to the University in whatever part of the Island its parents may choose to live.

(b) That the Tamil-speaking students shall enjoy equal rights in all the Universities in Ceylon as the Sinhalese students do.

If Ceylon is not to become an isolated backwash of the Indian Ocean, English which has now assumed the status of an international language should be made a compulsory, second language in all schools, and in the Universities those students who choose to pursue their studies through the medium of the English language should be provided with all necessary facilities.

MEDIUM OF INSTRUCTION

As far as Tamil children are concerned, the medium of instruction should be the mother tongue right up to the secondary stage with no option given to the parents in this regard. English should be a compulsory subject from the third standard, and at the G.C.E.(Ordinary Level) Examination, English should be a compulsory subject and till such times as the national languages are sufficiently developed, there should be a paper in English at all University examinations dealing with the sciences, medicine, engineering and technology, or in some other foreign language, which would enable the students to keep abreast of advanced trends in their particular field of study.

UNIVERSITY FOR THE NORTH

That there should be a university established called the Ramanathan University, in the North, was accepted as long ago as 1956 by the late Mr.Bandaranaike. Token provision for such a university was included in Mrs.Bandaranaike’s budget in 1963 and 1964. This token provision has continued to be included in the budgets of 1965 to 1969. This means that every single party, be it might, left or centre, has accepted in principle the establishment of the Ramanathan University.

The Tamils would have been privileged to see the beginnings of a University in Jaffna at least five years back, but for the perverse, partisan, questionable and indefensible attitude of the Federal Party which utilized its Parliamentary strength to obstruct the demand we made for the establishment of the University in Jaffna as early as in 1965.

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

The manner in which the Souolbury Constitution has been worked by successive governments has revealed the urgent necessity for the incorporation in the Constitution of a Chapter of Fundamental Rights. We therefore undertake to work for the incorporation in the Constitution of a Chapter of Fundamental Rights to ensure, inter alia:

(a) Equality before the law, and equal protection of the law, to all citizens irrespective

of race, religion, caste or creed.

(b) Non-discrimination by the State against any citizen on grounds of race, religion, caste or creed.

(c) Equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State or in any State-sponsored Corporation or under any local authority.

(d) The right to all citizens to freedom of conscience and worship to freedom of speech and expression, to freedom of assembly and association.

(e) The right to all citizens to move freely, to secure employment, to acquire property, to practice any profession, and to carry on any business or trade, in any part of the Island.

(f) The right to any section of the people of Ceylon having a distinct language and culture of its own to conserve the same.

(g) The right to any citizen to be admitted into any educational institution maintained by the State, or receiving aid out of State funds without discrimination based on grounds of race, religion, or language, caste or creed.

(h) The right to any citizen to be educated through the medium of his mother tongue to communicate with, and to be communicated to by the State in his own language and to transact any business with the State in his own language.

(i) The right to all religious and linguistic minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

(j) To ensure that in the life of the nation as a whole, particularly in the sphere of administration, Tamil shall be to the Tamils what Sinhala is to the Sinhalese.

(k) In the matter of Government-sponsored colonization schemes, precedence, preference and priority should be given to the people of the area and the immediate neighbourhood and every effort made not to change the nature of the social fabric of the area.

(l) The right to any citizen to move the Supreme Court for the enforcement of the rights enumerated above.

We accept the Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations, and shall work for its adoption by the Government.

PUBLIC SERVANTS AND LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY

The All-Ceylon Tamil Congress records with pride and pleasure that it has been able to secure from the National Government the implementation of the pledges given by the late Mr.Bandaranaike to the President of the Congress on the floor of the House of Representatives in regard to public servants recruited prior to 1956, and an extension of a period of three years for those new entrant officers who had not obtained proficiency in Sinhala. The question of seniority of those who have attained proficiency during the period of grace should be considered favourably by the Government in the near future.

PERSONS OF INDIAN ORIGIN

Early steps should be taken to see that the running sore in the body politic of lakhs of Tamils of Indian origin whose status is undermined and indeterminate is terminated. They should become citizens of Ceylon, or at their option, citizens of India. All those who irrevocably desire to make Ceylon their permanent home must as a moral and legal obligation, be accepted by the Government as citizens of this country.

 

The Verdict of Eelam Tamils in 1970 and Its Aftermath

On reading the English text of the Tamil Congress party’s 1970 manifesto, it becomes apparent that the unsigned author was none other than its founder leader G.G.Ponnambalam, who was performing his political swan song in front of the Tamil audience. The manifesto was sprinkled with some alliterative flares of legendary Ponnambalam prose. To quote a few,

“We are firmly convinced that if the Tamil language is to survive in this country it must have its place in every part of the country and not be cribbed and confined to two provinces.”

“It is a matter of deep regret that the united voice of the Tamils has been disrupted by the dissidence of a section…”

“…but for the perverse, partisan, questionable and indefensible attitude of the Federal party which utilized its parliamentary strength…”

But one is not sure about who authored the English text of the Federal Party’s 1970 manifesto. It could have been a contribution of Federal Party pamphleteers, E.M.V. Naganathan and S. Kathiravelupillai, with Amirthalingam adding some deft touches. By 1970, V. Navaratnam (one of the founder members and Federal Party’s pamphleteers) had been evicted from the party and two sentences in the manifesto make specific critical mention about Navaratnam’s newly advanced proposal of a separate state. To quote,

“It is our firm conviction that division of the country in any form would be beneficial neither to the country nor to the Tamil-speaking people. Hence we appeal to the Tamil-speaking people not to lend their support to any political movement that advocates the bifurcation of our country.”

In the general elections held on May 27, 1970, the Federal Party contested 19 constituencies in the North East of Ceylon and 13 of its candidates got elected. Its main rival, the Tamil Congress, contested 12 constituencies and only 3 of its candidates got elected. Anandasangaree was one among these three. But he himself was a late-comer to the Tamil Congress, having switched his allegiance from the Trotskyist Lanka Sama Samaja Party in the late 1960s. Thus, even among Tamil Congress circles, he was not considered a heavy-weight.

The political paths taken by the three Tamil Congress neophytes who were elected to the parliament for the first time in 1970 deserve a little exposure here. C. Arulampalam and A. Thiyagarajah deserted the Tamil Congress party and prostituted themselves into the SLFP camp in 1971. [Arulampalam and Thiyagarajah were thrashed by the Eelam Tamil voters in the 1977 general election for their trust-busting perfidy. Subsequently, Thiyagarajah attempted to resurrect his political career as a UNP candidate in the District Development Council election scheduled for June 1981, and before that he was assassinated by PLOTE cadres.] Anandasangaree spent most of 1971 in the fence-sitting mode and wavered between either joining the SLFP-LSSP-CP ruling alliance or committing himself to the newly formed Tamil United Front (TUF), the nucleus of which was contributed by the Federal Party and Tamil Congress. He had personal reasons for wavering in his commitment to the Tamil cause, since the Trotskyist LSSP party which he embraced to begin his political career was in power and he stood to gain by political patronage if he joined the government ranks as a Tamil LSSPer in heart. The proof of Anandasangaree’s hesitancy in committing himself whole-heartedly to the TUF is available in the issues of the Tamil news dailies (Veerakesari and Eela Nadu), and Sutantiran weekly (the official organ of the Federal Party) published in 1971. Either due to cajoling pressure from his then patrons and constituents of Kilinochchi or due to some degree of common sense mixed with selfish interests in investing in a long term career as a politician, Anandasangaree planted his foot in the TUF camp hesitatingly in May 1972. Though he now sheds crocodile tears for his fellow senior Federalist colleagues, until Amirthalingam’s death in 1989, Anandasangaree was not taken seriously by his colleagues for 17 years. This is partially confirmed by the lack of meaty details in his own website (www.anandasangary.com), about his political activities on behalf of TUF/TULF from 1972 to 1989.

For the record, I should add that Anandasangaree’s father, Mr. Veerasingham was a federalist in the Federal Party’s early years. From a Tamil memoir on Dr.E.M.V. Naganathan (1901-1971), one of Chelvanayakam’s confidants, authored by Karikalan [entitled, Candle (1977)], I gathered the information that Mr. Veerasingham was once the principal of Puttur Sri Somaskantha College, and he usually presided at the Federal Party meetings held in the towns of Atchuveli, Aavarankaal and Puttur in the 1950s. But, Anandasangaree never inherited the federalist torch from his father.

Sources

The 1970 manifestos of the Federal Party and All-Ceylon Tamil Congress were transcribed from the reference book, ‘The Parliament of Ceylon: The General Election of 1970’, Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd., Colombo, pp.191-198.

For more information on the failure of federalism in Sri Lanka, the best source is, ‘The Break-Up of Sri Lanka: The Sinhalese-Tamil Conflict’ by A. Jeyaratnam Wilson, C. Hurst & Co, London, 1988.