07 November 2018
Two Bleeding Constitutions for Sri Lanka?
Today, when I sat down to write this article, I looked up the ‘two nations one language or one nation two languages’ claim by Tamil leader the Hon Suntharalingam, I came across the following:
[Suntharalingam became a champion for the rights of Ceylon's Indian Tamils who had been made stateless and disenfranchised by Sinhalese dominated governments after independence He observed that "if the Buddha were to come to the country today, he himself would be deported" (Buddha was from India, the Sinhalese were Buddhists)]
I thought of my recent article headed ‘Is Buddha Foreign to Sri Lanka?
in response to the president of Sri Lanka stating that his opponents were being influenced by ‘foreign agents’. I smiled and the Hon Suntharalingam smiled from within me.
Dr Laksiri Fernando who recently claimed that the recent appointment of Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa was Constitutional wrote about the language policy as follows, in his Sri Lanka Brief article ‘TOWARDS A LANGUAGE REVOLUTION FOR RECONCILIATION AND DEVELOPMENT’ dated 06-02-017:
[A diagnosis of the problem (Samudaya) came from Colvin R. de Silva six decades ago in 1956 as follows, also with a prognosis.
“Do you want two languages and one nation, or one language two nations? Parity, Mr. Speaker, we believe is the road to the freedom of our nation and the unity of its components. Otherwise two torn little bleeding states may arise of one little state, which has compelled a large section of itself to treason, ready for the imperialists to mop up that which imperialism only recently disgorged”. (Hansard, Vol 24, Col 1917, 1956)
What he meant by ‘parity’ is basically making both Sinhala and Tamil official languages in 1956. This came from his/their socialist thinking or Sama Samaja (equal society) principles. But the unfortunate fact was that he himself abandoned this principle when it came to the drafting of the 1972 Constitution. Therefore, it was not only SWRD Bandaranaike’s ‘one language’ policy that later made ‘two bleeding nations,’ but also Colvin’s own constitution in 1972. As Loganathan has correctly commented, it was a terrible lost opportunity.]
To my mind, Dr Colvin R de Silva gave form to his thoughts based largely on External knowledge. In other words, he was still under the influence of the West that the current president of Sri Lanka refers to as foreigners.
Not so to the Hon Suntharalingam who had the Experience based wisdom and hence produced heirs who would carry his message. He fought for equal rights for Indian Tamils whose parallels are labour class migrants in Western nations like Australia, and India in turn continues to support equal rights for Sri Lankan Tamils at regional and global levels. Indian Tamils in India – provide the Energy for this.
There is a saying in Tamil – ‘to always remember the good someone has done to us and forget the bad from the same person’. By remembering we Energize the good and the first step towards this is by being grateful. True gratitude completes the experience – and no debts are owed to the service provider. Had Dr Colvin R de Silva remembered continuously to thank the Tamils known to him who confirmed the earning of Equal status he would have lifted this ‘unity’ to Energy level. But he forgot the good – as explained by Dr Laksiri Fernando in the above mentioned article:
[This is a dreadful predicament of many politicians and intellectuals. They say one thing, and do quite the opposite later or at the same time. It is not just a revision or improvement of their views, but opportunistic political summersaults altogether. Look at what GL Peiris says and does today. He was the main architect of the August 2000 new constitutional draft. Now he is talking against a new constitution. He was also the main peace negotiator and one of the key drafters of the Norwegian brokered Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) with the LTTE in 2001, which virtually separated the country. Now he is talking against any concession to the Tamils on the pretext that it would divide the country.
When Colvin talked about parity of status, he also correctly spoke about “unity of its components.” What he meant was ‘our nation,’ to mean the Sri Lankan political or the civic nation, comprising of different cultural nations or communities (Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims) that should be united by recognizing their ‘cultural and language rights.’ This is multiculturalism and in accordance with the most enlightened views of human rights today. However, it is doubtful whether the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) or its leaders like Tissa Vitarana subscribe to these views any longer by aligning with the Joint Opposition (JO) led by Mahinda Rajapaksa.]
Has the same Dr Laksiri Fernando who highlighted the summersaulting/ backflipping nature of politicians as above, not backflipped in his own contribution to the Sri Lankan constitution?
Sovereignty is a Divine attribute that every human being brings with her/himself when s/he is born. Parents have the right to ‘tell’ us only to the extent they groomed us by ‘including us as part of themselves. The rest has to be earned through common principles and values of a family and community. It is because of variations in this that Equal Opportunity principles have been made law in multicultural nations. As per these principles, Equal status has to be allocated to one who looks different to us until known otherwise through ‘current’ merit basis. Dr Laksiri Fernando did not demonstrate that he had allocated that Equal status to me – a Tamil – representing the Tamil community in the Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum, Sydney and effectively ‘told’ me and talked about ‘giving’ Tamils – without distinction between ‘rights’ and ‘matter’. With other Tamils to whom academic knowledge was of stronger interest than experience based wisdom – it would not have mattered as much as it did to those of us who as Sri Lankans fought for our merit based rights at the workplace and in multicultural social circles.
To my mind Dr Devanesan Nesiah is a true Sri Lankan. In the early days of my public writing work – I once wrote critically of Dr Devanesan Nesiah – who was a stranger to me at that time. The picture in that article was that that of the flower arrangements in front of the altar of Naina Theevu Amman temple. The photo was taken by me. On that same day when I continued to take photos of Mother Nagapooshani during the ceremony outside the altar – the batteries in my camera went dead. From then on I do not take camera to the temple because I took it as a message from Mother to bring Her into me instead of taking photos that I had been to the temple. I believe I was deserving of that lesson due to my genuine faith in Morther Nagapooshani. My mother shared with me the faith of Uncle Sri Kantha and his wife which was confirmed at this temple - just before Uncle Sri Kantha became Government Agent – Jaffna. I raised this goodness by recalling appreciatively the manifestation of that confirmation – each time I personally visited the temple. The photo I took during that last session and posted with my article in Lanka Newspapers – vanished due to some system problem. I took it as a lesson from Mother to me - that there was much more about Dr Devanesan Nesiah than met my eye. Later I met Dr Devanesan Nesiah at the Friday Forum and thanked Mother for the lesson learnt. Today – I received through a Tamil Diaspora media leader – the message that Dr Devanesan Nesiah has supported by renouncing the Deshamanya title that was given though Mr Sirisena:
[As a loyal and patriotic Sri Lankan I see no alternative but to regretfully return the ‘Deshamanya’ medal and certificate that you awarded me. I am currently overseas and will make arrangements to return the medal and certificate to your office, when I come back to Sri Lanka.]
Dr Devanesan Nesiah has thus confirmed the true Sri Lankan heritage that he has developed and preserved, despite the temptations of benefits that come with offers by leaders who use their positions at benefits level and damage the very structures that provide them the opportunity to hold high status.
To me this is a clear example of the GA Jaffna living inside me as Mother Nagapooshani and helping me lift my experiences as Sri Lankan. All because I remembered the good in the Government Agents of Jaffna as if they were me and I was them.
Tamils who continued to remember the bad by some Sinhalese leaders who acted as individuals – became their opposition. Some who started telling them were driven by revenge. They are unable to work the Sri Lankan system as a whole. But the likes of Dr Devanesan Nesiah, and the Hon Mylvakanam Srikantha would continue to empower those who are eligible to the Energy of the whole of Sri Lanka – beyond time and space borders.
In the meantime Sinhalese who played the race game – using majority force – have divided themselves into two bleeding Prime Ministers driven by two bleeding Constitutions.
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