Sunday 4 January 2015

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam 

Tamils Need to Respect Democracy

Last night’s mail brought the message headed ‘Vote to Save Democracy’ from the Jaffna University Science Teachers’ Association which included:

Neither of the two major candidates nor their strongest supporters showed any indication that they understood the national question. It is thus clear that they have no answer to this question that has sapped, misdirected and wasted the energies of generations since independence and not just of Tamils. However, it is a great blunder to ask Tamils to boycott the presidential election for this reason. Democracy should first be saved for the Tamils to have a voice to demand and fight for their rights. When a democratic dispensation dawns on the entire country, the Tamils too can enjoy its benefits. We must exercise this opportunity that is our right and duty as citizens to cast our ballot at the forthcoming election to secure broader options for the future.’

I happily identify with the above message.  If we do not exercise our right to vote – we risk takeovers by dictators.  Tamils are voting not for one side or the other to win but for their own entry into the operating system of governance – whatever form it may have.  Some would vote for democracy and others who supported armed rebellion would   vote for Mr. Rajapaksa if they were true to themselves. The Tamil community has the responsibility to give its own form about who we are – based on our own Truth. If according to that discovery we are democratic – then we need to first eliminate undemocratic practices before claiming the benefits of democracy. These Presidential elections are such an opportunity.

As per news reports:

1.      TNA leadership stated :  'YOU KNOW WHAT WE WANT FROM MAITHRI …….. We do not want pacts or agreements but to achieve our objectives'

2.      LTTE member in TNA Ms Ananthi Sasithran :  Recommends boycott – a weak following of LTTE Leadership when it was active and stopped Tamils from exercising their right to vote.

3.Tamil Academics: (i) Recommend voting to confirm Tamil right to democracy.

                                        (ii) Acknowledging the Rajapaksa Regime’s contribution to Jaffna being developed as a knowledge hub. The likes of former Vice Chancellor of the University of Jaffna – Professor Balasundarampillai are in this category. (‘Momentum’ – Jaffna, brings together private and public sector intellectuals ). In addition the achievement of  Jaffna Tamil student Mr. Pakiyarajah Daruksheesan of Hindu College Jaffna who earned  the first place in the Maths Stream in Sri Lankan University Entrance Exam, was recognized with a Presidential Award. 

Each one’s Truth could be connected to through the above statements. The Tamil Diaspora also could be categorized and grouped as above. 

If TNA did not enter into agreements – then there is no policy commitment. TNA is confirming  common understanding as Common Opposition to Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa.  In other words – TNA is voting to negate the investment by Tamils in the armed rebellion. Where the investment in Democratic Administration is greater than this write off – Tamils would be better off through such a position.  Where such investment in Democracy is less than the write off – we risk being taken over including by foreigners working through the Diaspora – trading in  Global Politics and takeovers – as often happens under American leadership. We must not forget that colonialism is also in our genes.

In a country where higher education is more for living than for life – we often do not plan and attack. We tend to react or be indifferent. Unless therefore we analyze through the effects we would not identify with the true causes from within.  We would blindly blame the most visible outsider as the cause of problem – in this instance it is Mr. Rajapaksa at the moment and would become Mr. Sirisena or his mentor Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga – the daughter of the ‘Sinhala Only’ rule maker, if Mr. Sirisena became the President.  

Whether it be Sinhalese or Tamils – we have formed our own true structures through our independent thinking and conduct.  This confirms a natural opposition that exists between the two communities. The Doctrine of Separation of Powers needs to be strictly adhered to at all times where there is consciousness of this separation. The last time I spoke to Professor Balasundarampillai was in 2014 – at Nallur Murugan Temple – the Governance seat of Jaffna Tamils. Lord Muruga set us the example in relation to Democracy. So long as we follow that example – we would achieve our goal of self-governance.

In the related   legend – Muruga - the younger son who completed the global journey from zero base – promotes himself  to reign from Hill-tops (to have independent aerial view) and therefore ‘see’ the whole picture from above.   Once we become equal level consumers – we lose the power to rise to the higher level and therefore  ‘observe’ the whole. Hence such consumers have to have the demarcation through the middle – to form opposition that is Equal to themselves. Under this system we must not speak for the person we are observing. Hence the Doctrine of Separation of Powers between the Judiciary and the Executive Government. That is the way of democracy. Distance in democracy replaces the height in autocracy – when we are also consumers of the benefits. This is essential for a multicultural society to live in harmony and yet maintain the diversity of all parts of One society.

TNA’s promotion of Mr. Sirisena needs to ensure that his government does not use subjective powers to ‘think’ for Tamils – especially Tamils who have chosen the democratic path. Unless therefore TNA is able to include LTTE supporters and speak as one voice it is better for us to vote for Mr. Rajapaksa’s side  and show his structures as the ‘opposition’ side – to match which we Tamils must produce our own independent outcomes. Tamils as a community are not responsible to repair the damage caused to Sinhalese who have the power to form Government. We Tamils are responsible to ensure that we uphold our Equal status through show of investment in Democracy during this period – when the focus in on Sri Lanka’s Democracy.  Given that we are equal level consumers as the Sinhalese – we do not have the authority to ‘judge’ the other politically as if we hold higher status than they. We have the responsibility  to use our Energies to strengthen our investments in Democracy and develop common systems that would confirm this. Devolution without this higher investment than the average Sinhalese – would lead to lower level standards being visible through the outcomes produced – for example lower level motivation to study professional courses that develop higher common thought order.

Until therefore Tamils as a community invest more in democracy of global standards they would be better off showing as their opposition – a person like Mr. Rajapaksa who would continue to confirm at the Presidential level – as Equal Opposition, our investment in armed action – lest we forget the way of the average Sinhalese resorting to physical action as a priority.

Ultimately – we need to respect Democracy for Democracy to respect us. Hence we need to vote out of respect for Democracy and not be driven by the ghosts of autocracy still haunting Jaffna.

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