by Kumarathasan Rasingam – Secretary, The Tamil Canadian Elders for Human Rights Org., December 16, 2019
The Singapore success is attributed to their leader LEE KUAN YEW developing a society where each race appreciate and respect that of others, encouraged to preserve its unique culture and traditions, let alone that of the majority. It’s fostering such an approach for a multi-race society enabled them to go forward. LEE KUAN YEW was the first Prime Minister of Singapore, governing for three decades with the country described as transitioning from a “Third world country to first world country in a single generation” under his leadership.
The Present President has the power and support of the Buddhist Clergy, Buddhist Sinhalese masses who can easily persuade these people by explaining the prospect of a united country where all communities live happily like in Singapore, Switzerland and Canada where there is no discrimination against other community and how they prosper.
It is a fact that any development without rule of law and justice cannot succeed. The country cannot prosper without a good system of government. It is high time before it is too late to fix the 70 year old ethnic problem faced by the Tamils in the North and East. The Diaspora Tamils are waiting anxiously to invest in Sri Lanka and waiting for the solution to the Tamil’s problems in the North and East.
Sri Lanka can become a country like Singapore if the newly elected President take a very firm and determined stand and lead the country towards prosperity and work towards this with genuine and sincere determination. If he shows the signs of prosperity and peace and justice in Sri Lanka during his first term in office he will definitely elected for the second and third term or even life time if he take up this with determined and unwavering mind. It all remains on the actions of the Buddhist Clergy, Maha Sanga and selfish extremist Buddhist Sinhala politicians.
Due to the hardcore Buddhist Clergy and power seeking politicians who used racism as a short cut to come to power without considering the consequences Sri Lanka is remaining as an undeveloped and debt trapped country unable to move forward and in fact going backward, with heavy burden to the future generation to suffer from this debt trap.
Had our leaders followed LEE KUAN YEW Sri Lanka would have ended a society rich in spirit, a gracious society, where people are considerable and kind to one another.
Singapore’s diversity is a fundamental aspect of each group’s identity. LEE KUAN YEW aimed for integration not assimilation, for him being Singaporean has never been a matter of subtraction but of addition
What the Tamils are demanding is for the separate identities for the respective ethnicities and not separate states. Therefore, it was proved in India that demarcating of provinces based on the language and ethnicity would run down the demands for separate states. It is also to be noted that when Mahatama Gandhi visited Sri Lanka [Ceylon] in 1927 made the following statement while speaking in Nalanda Mahavidiyalaya, he appealed to the students to follow the teachings of Lord Buddha and said ‘IF YOU DO NOT REPRESENT THE TEACHINGS OF LORD BUDDHA IN YOUR OWN LIVES, YOU HAVING BELONGED TO THIS INSTITUTE WILL BE CONSIDERED USELESS. YOU CAN REPRODUCE THE CENTRAL TEACHING OF GAUTAMA BUDDHA IN YOUR OWN LIFE .. HE GAVE US THE UNADULTERATED LAW OF MERCY AND HEINSISTED UPON PURITY IN LIFE”.
In a multi-ethnic society we must make a clear distinction between citizenship and nationality. Citizenship implies political loyalty to the state irrespective of ethnic origin. You may be a Sinhalese, Tamil or Muslim, but you are a citizen of Sri Lanka and your loyalty is to the Sri Lankan State, the second pertains to nationality, which includes cultural moorings. You are a Sinhalese, you follow Sinhalese culture practice Buddhist religion and you have your education through Sinhalese language, while being a loyal citizen of Sri Lanka. Similarly the Tamils also follow Tamil culture, practice Hindu religion and you have your education in Tamil Language. The success of nation building will depend upon the nature of political system. If the political system provides sufficient space for multiple identities to co-exist harmoniously the nation building will be on the right track. But if it does not provide for tolerance of multiple identities, tensions, hated and fissures will develop. For a meaningful solution to the problem of ethnicity and nation building can be found only if the political system enshrines tolerance, devolution, power sharing and autonomy. [For Example: Canada where English speaking and French speaking people live peacefully – Quebec a French speaking province is an autonomous state where the French speaking people have the right of self-determination and they have their land and police powers to rule themselves without the interference of the central government.]
After the 1983 riots there was a surge of Tamil youth to the Eelam concept; good or bad is beside the point. If Prabaharan did not take it up, some other guy would have voiced it. The Tamils underwent several pogroms in 1956, 1958, 1971, 1977 and no one can blame the Tamils for the uprising to protect them from state terrorism.
In Sri Lanka ethnic strife is created by politicians and not by the people – people are mere pawns in the game of power politics. SWRD called for ‘Sinhala Only’, the LTTE for ‘Eelam’ and politicians of both sides kept blowing flames of ethnic hatred.
The Provincial Council System was a half-baked system of power devolution enacted in 1967 in a scandalous rush. This formula failed to produce inter-communal reconciliation. Since independence in 1948 the Sinhala Buddhist political leaders took Tamil leaders and the people in the North and East for a ride. The Banda-Chelva , Dudly-Chelva pacts were unilaterally abrogated by Sinhala leaders, the successive Sinhala Buddhist Governments master-minded riots and pogroms against the Tamils in 1956, 1958, 1971, 1977, 1983, imposed standardization in education, abrogated the ceasefire agreement, committed genocidal war from 2006-2009 and assimilation of Tamil race by colonization of Sinhala Buddhists in Tamils homeland in the North and East, Buddhisisation, Sinhalization and militarization of Tamils homeland where Tamils live for generations and centuries.
The economic problems facing the country at the moment are enormous and radical members of the clergy seem to be more interested in seeking revenge on one group and rewarding others. At a time when the nation needs the collective effort of all in developing the country, the clergy should not deepen the existing divisions and damage even the little peace prevailing at the moment.
Will the new president adopt a partisan policy favouring only the Sinhalese Buddhists to the exclusion of other communities on the assumption that it is not his responsibility to look after the interests of non-Sinhalese Buddhists because he had come to power with the Sinhalese Buddhist vote alone, thereby creating a stalemate situation in the face of the ethno religious division? In this backdrop, the fate of the country rests on whether or not he is able to solve this complex puzzle and act like a statesman like LEE KUAN YEW for the prosperity and betterment of the country.
Throughout history, except during the colonial era, Sangha played a moralising role in the governance of the country. While monarchs took care of the welfare of the people and clergy, members of the Sangha in turn instructed and advised rulers, not specifically on day to day administration or who to be appointed and who to be punished, but on the ways and means of establishing virtuous government and a just society within the bounds of Buddhism. Sri Lanka’s glorious past is silent testimony to this righteous combination.
What is needed in Sri Lanka is Good Governance free from corruption, nepotism and favouritism upholding RULE OF LAW, JUSTICE AND NON-DISCRIMINATION OF MINORITIES.