Saturday 4 July 2015

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam – 04 July 2015

Shared Leadership or Foolishness?

Today is American Independence Day. I believe that we best participate in others’ experiences through our own.  In my yesterday’s article,  I referred to the Hon GG Ponnambalam as Tamil Political Guru.  Here is an excerpt from an article, confirming the recognition of the spirit of Independence in the Hon GG Ponnambalam:

[In 1965-66 Premier Dudley Senanayake’s UNP Government had the honour of G.G. Ponnambalam, Q.C. agreeing to lead its delegation to the United Nations. The August Assembly was so spellbound by his oration that the US delegate, Ms. Frances Willis, rushed over to him, shook his hand and exclaimed "If that is the voice of an underdeveloped nation, we would all like to be underdeveloped."] Appathuray Vinayagamoorthy Member of Parliament, President - All Ceylon Tamil Congress at

Now in 2015 – we continue to be supported by American Government in the UN in our pursuit of Independence. Those who ‘see’ separation when they hear Independence – would not appreciate the likes of the Hon G G Ponnambalam who sought Equal Opportunity through his 50:50 proposal. Mr. Ponnambalam was an outstanding practicing lawyer. It is therefore understandable that he would expect Equally empowered leadership team in Parliament towards healthy debating on National issues.

The difference between the pathways used by Tamil Politicians who were Separatists and the likes of G.G. Ponnambalam who had the British heritage also in him  is highlighted as follows by Mr. Vinayagamoorthy:

[G. G. Ponnambalam Q.C. at the Sarkaria Commission

1976 January 30, saw the dismissal of Kalaignar Karunanidhi’s Tamil Nadu Government by the Central Government of Indira Gandhi under charges of alleged corruption, and Justice Sarkaria, a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court of India was appointed as a one-man commission to head an inquiry. At Karunanidhi’s request G.G. Ponnambalam whose legal skills are legendary appeared before the Commission. After dwelling at length on the double standards adopted by Delhi in its center - state relationship (with reference to Punjab and Tamil Nadu) he challenged the Judge to allow him to cross - examine every witness who was going to testify and prove them liars. This demand was turned down promptly by the Judge. With devastating legal arguments G.G. went to expose the nature and operating procedures of the Kangaroo Court that was meant to do a fix-up job after Indira Gandhi had made up her mind to wreak political vengeance on Karunanidhi. He then led his top team of Tamil Nadu Lawyers on a walk-out and continued to boycott the hearings. It was legal hara-kiri for the Commission thereafter and Karunanidhi won his day. G.G. refused to accept even a red cent as payment from Karunanidhi by way of fees or travel expenses and even insisted on paying for his accommodation. Later at a great thanksgiving rally hosted by Karunanidhi at Seerani Arrangam at the Marina Beach, he declared that the high moral standards set for true friendship in the Sangam Tamil Literature had been totally rewritten by G.G. Ponnambalam.

He also defended at the Trial-at-Bar late Mr. Appapillai Amirthalingam and three other Members of Parliament and got them released, and it was thereafter Mr. Amirthalingam became the Leader of opposition in Parliament.

Mr. Amirthalingam sought Separation and this gave birth to LTTE. As Resident Tamil Mr. Sithamparapzillai Kathieravelu who responded to my yesterday’s article also indicated - had Mr. Ponnambalam’s 50:50 proposal been accepted – the war would have been prevented and we would have progressed economically – as Mr. Ponnambalam the lawyer also was an example of. To my mind, when we are active – Equal Partnership leads to economic progress. Given that most Tamils would seek to be economically self-sufficient – this would have been acceptable to them – provided they felt ‘at home’ when they went back to their lands of origin – in Jaffna, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Mannar, Hill Country or any area where Tamils have traditionally been in majority.  Life as migrants in countries that are committed to Equal Opportunity Laws – is satisfactory to most Tamil migrants due to this economic self-sufficiency. From time to time they ‘go home’ through Community activities. But if there is threat to this economic self-sufficiency – then their motivation to live in a multicultural society is seriously damaged and hence they lose self-confidence. That’s when the separatists take over.

It is interesting that Mr. GG Ponnambalam and Mr. SJV Chelvanayakam whose position was inherited by Mr. Appapillai Amirthalingam travelled along different pathways towards the same goal. That is what an Academic Administrator said to me – that our goal was one but that  our pathways were different. It had to be due to our respective heritages. His was like SJV’s – to take over power and then delegate to me – the one like GG – already independent at National level.  Former is the pathway of most Tamil migrants here in Australia. That was also SJV’s, Amirthalingam’s and LTTE’s. They all relied on ‘Tamil only’ power which made them culturally junior to Tamil Nadu.

But GG’s message effectively was -  ‘I want Equal share in leadership because I believe in all of Ceylon being my Nation.’ It’s not different to a wife sharing power with her husband at Equal level in a family of male majority – as in the Hindu Holy Family – Shiva-Uma with two sons and no daughters. The Arthanaatheeswarar Form depicts this Equality / 50:50

Of the two original leaders – SJV and GG – SJV was born in Ipoh, Malaya and GG in Jaffna, Ceylon. Those who followed former’s pathway emigrated to other countries including India but  Tamil Nadu leaders came to GG and the West respected him highly and GG made room for them to lead him from within. The sense of Independence based on which the service was provided by GG is confirmed by Mr. Vinayagamoorthy as follows:

‘ G.G. refused to accept even a red cent as payment from Karunanidhi by way of fees or travel expenses and even insisted on paying for his accommodation.’


[Late Prof. Jayaratnam Wilson in his Book called "Sri Lankan Nationalism described late Mr. G.G. Ponnambalam in the following manner :-
"...This enormous void left by the ( Ramanathan and Arunachalam ) brothers had to be filled and G.G. Ponnambalam did so. He evolved his political credo not from them, but from Sir William Manning’s warning of the need for non-domination. The outcome was balanced representation, known as the "Fifty -Fifty" formula...
Late Mr. G.G. Ponnambalam in his Marathon Speech regarding balanced representation in the State Council in 1939 has stated:
"And what is the position of the Tamil Community? I want to repeat that our position is this. We are inhabitants of this country. We have lived here and a branch of the Tamil Community has lived here possibly longer than our brethren the Sinhalese. This is our home. We have as much right to claim to have permanent and vested interests in this country politically and otherwise as the Sinhalese people. We do not propose to be treated as undesirable aliens. We do not and will not tolerate being segregated in ghettos and treated like Semites in the Nazi States of Central Europe."

Had the principle of the balanced representation been accepted by the Soulbury Commissioners subsequent pogroms of l956, 1958, 1977 and 1983 could have been avoided and the obnoxious Sinhala Only Act which made Tamils Second Class Citizens and humiliated them would not have been passed in the Parliament.]

JVP – the Sinhalese rebel group  was born due to SWRD Bandaranaike’s ‘Sinhala Only’ desire. Likewise LTTE was born due to SJV-Amirthalingam’s reaction to ‘Sinhala Only’ through ‘Tamil Only’. Such declarations are based on smaller models of the bigger picture already present – like Pakistan’s separation from India. Once the picture is small – lower level players would try to ‘possess’ and take over the game. Hence we need intellectual leaders to keep it at the higher level through Common Laws acceptable at global level.

Writer  A. Patabendi states in regards to the celebrations / memorials relating to 18 May :

[This year for the first time since the conflict ended those who did not object to late President JRJ, (Yankee Dickie) declaring ‘war’ on the Tamils in 1977 were prominently present to suddenly ‘remember’ the heroic war dead at this parade. Was there a 10 year self imposed moratorium, boycott or suspension by these absentees to pay tribute to the nations’ forces? Would it have been extended if there was no change of government? This had to be simulated and contrived grief.] Does nation count for nothing ? Hypocrites all - Remembrance Games in SL – Island Newspaper

About the 1977 suffering of  Tamils in areas where they were in the minority Writer A.Patabendi states:

[In July 1983 when hundreds of Tamils were killed by government inspired and even organized islandwide marauding mobs, no member of the then government with a 5/6th majority attempted to stop the mobs, expressed sorrow or grief, accepted blame or resigned. The then executive President (JRJ) even tried to justify the actions of the mobs by stating on TV that the Tamils had aroused the fury of the Sinhalese. ‘Koti Friday’ that followed resulted in mass panic in Colombo and the worst of killings until the Army restored the situation beginning at Attidiya. The government leaders, hidden from direct sight, were seen only on TV as now- giving mischievous interpretations to protect themselves. It took over 24 hours to declare a curfew even while race murders multiplied. The capital and other cities burned.]

But this same writer damages the above by referring to the Government’s actions against Tamils in  2009 as follows:

[The 26-year-old so called unwinnable conflict ended in total victory in 2005. SL had thought and acted as a nation]

Where the number of civilians who died and were injured in the war is greater than the number of LTTE combatants killed and injured – the war was against civilians and not against armed combatants. If that is ‘victory’ to someone – then that someone is not different to President JR Jayawardene who according to that same writer declared war on Tamils in 1977. Anyone who desires political gain out of the suffering of civilians – be it in 1977 or in 2009 – would shrink the nation mentally and /or physically and contribute to separation of one form or the other. Then International Politicians would play role of Monkey Judge and ?????

If Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe who to me seems to be travelling along the lines of  Mr. Dudley Senanayake - retains his position of Prime Minister, there is hope that we would develop this Equal Opportunity system through Economic growth. The confirmations are visible with appointments of outstanding Tamils to Administrative Leadership positions. My Energies are with Mr. Wickremesinghe and UNP which I got to know through Gentleman Dudley Senanayake.

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