Gajalakshmi Paramasivam – 29 May 2016
Sri Lankan Muslims in Public Administration
Here in Vaddukoddai, in Northern Sri Lanka, I said to a student in Management studies – that to live harmoniously, we must use our Truth where we are ‘free’ of position responsibilities or consciously use Common Principles, Laws and Values to relate to each other.
As highlighted by Professor Laksiri Fernando – whom I got to know through the Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum, Sydney – the recent incident in Eastern Sri Lanka has surfaced racial tensions. Professor Laksiri Fernando states through his Colombo Telegraph article ‘Sampur Incident & Tensions In Devolution’:
[There are several issues related to the devolution of power to the provinces lurking behind the Sampur event where the Chief Minister (CM) of the Eastern Province (EP), Nazeer Ahamed, abused and insulted a senior naval officer, Captain I. R. Premaratne, at a school event where small children were present in addition to the US Ambassador. The behaviour typical of many politicians in recent past or even today should be condemned without hesitation.]
To my mind, we the People have to make decisions about how to bring these demonstrated Governance values – be they positive or negative – into our lives. Where we do not have position responsibilities – we are free to use our Truth and bring that person into ourselves as strengthening our side or showing the ‘other-side’ as Opposition. Truth allows only that kind of ‘inclusion’. Where we use relativity – we need Common Principles, Laws and Values to position ourselves viz a viz the other person. A child’s school behavior is likely to be different to her/his home behavior due to the child being more in her/his Truth at home and conscious regulated behavior in school. Likewise where leaders are strongly in their ‘home-culture’ – they are likely to override that True behavior in public also.
Professor Laksiri highlights:
[there are two other issues more profound in my opinion than what appears to be the case. First is about the way the CM has apparently been treated at the said event without being invited to the stage by the compere. It is said that it was the Governor who gestured him to come on board and when he was approaching the stage he was stopped by the naval officer probably to give way for the small children. Could it be a mistake or misunderstanding? I really doubt. As The Island editorial (26 May 2016) rightly said, while condemning the behaviour of the CM, “The CM should be treated with due respect and if any official has been remiss in his duties action is called for against him.”]
The million dollar question is - what are the duties of the officials and the leaders concerned? The parallel that comes to mind is the University system in Australia which I got to know through the University of NSW. The Chancellor is the parallel of the Governor and the Vice Chancellor is the parallel of the Chief Minister. Given that Professor Laksiri has been part of the Official system of the University he is more like the Vice Chancellor’s group than the Chancellor’s group. Duty to the Environment therefore prevails above personal Truth. To this day, Professor Laksiri Fernando has not ‘understood’ that I was acting as per my Truth at the University of NSW. As per the responses from Professor Laksiri Fernando I concluded that he grouped me as one of the ‘unfortunate lot’.
When something happens we can choose to bring that into us as part of ourselves and make the experience our Truth or relate to it through Common Principles and Laws. The Governor calling the Chief Minister to the stage was based on Truth – the same way my complaints were identified with by Chancellor Sir Anthony Mason followed by Chancellor Dr. Yu. But I learnt that their powers stopped there. The reality was cover-up of the Central Administration’s weaknesses by the Vice Chancellors.
In the Sampur incident, as the Common guest – the Chief Minister could have taken his position as the ordinary citizen’s person – as I often do when Professor Laksiri Fernando is appointed to and/or facilitated to take the ‘telling’ position at the Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum – Sydney. Officially as per my way of respecting the Structure - I then take the ‘listening’ position. But where the ‘telling’ goes beyond the institutional positions and their relationship – treat the ‘teller’ as a Common outsider. I have done this many times with Professor Laksiri Fernando himself. The strongest memory is that of Projects where Professor Laksiri Fernando who is part of the Academic Program – tried to override my contribution. This resulted in the persons who were ‘official listeners’ but were usually deaf to the ‘teller’ asking me during meal breaks to explain my contribution.
Professor Laksiri Fernando has demonstrated this ‘telling-tendency’ as follows:
[The CM has apparently regretted his behaviour according to the SLMC leader, Rauff Hakeem (The Island, 26 May 2016), but in any decent democracy this is a matter that any responsible politician or political officeholder should have resigned on. Unfortunately we don’t have that responsible tradition in Sri Lanka. In addition to any ‘disciplinary’ inquiry conducted on the matter by the President or the government, the aggrieved naval officer has every right to claim damages from , and he may be liable not as the CM but in his personal capacity. Otherwise, the tax payers’ money would be wasted.]
Wrong Professor Fernando, wrong due to LBW rule! The Chief Minister as per his position is the highest Administrator of that area. Confirming that structure is the duty of every Government Official including the Naval Officers in that area. Navy is the Leg and the Central Administration responsible for the Naval Officer is the Wicket. The Naval Officer has authority to take the position of a private donor – in the event/project described as follows by Professor Laksiri Fernando:
[It is said that the event was organized by the Navy to declare open a computer unit and a science lab at the Sampur Mahavidyalayam to the benefit of the students. This is commendable. On the Navy initiative, they were the donations of the David Pieris Group and the incident has happened when some school bags were being distributed to the students on the stage.]
In the Sri Lankan Public Administration – the Navy has the duty to guard our coastline and not to organize public events outside their boundaries. The could attend and be part of the Guards protecting the public – but not directly participate in Educational activities which are the responsibility of another part of the Administration – in this instance the one that comes closest is the Chief Minister through his Common Consolidated portfolio. It is NOT the Governor who has to connect through his Truth and provide policy feedback to the Central Government.
When I watched on TV that night - the expressions of the Chief Minister – I was unhappy. But I have learnt to appreciate that the Truth is more important than shows of harmony especially in war affected areas. So long as we have enough ‘sophistication’ to include that unpleasant Truth in our own pleasant Truth – we are still progressive as One unit. The weaker parallels of that behavior have been demonstrated by many leaders in the Sri Lankan Diaspora in Australia – including by Professor Laksiri Fernando at the Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum, Sydney. Anything more pleasant-looking would be frivolous if not covered by Common Principles of the official structure. We need to bow to that Truth where it is manifested through the Elected Head of that area.
Truth above the Official level – becomes positive Energy. Truth outside the Official boundaries – manifested at lower levels – especially emotional levels through hearsay – becomes negative Energy. Sampur is a reservoir of such negative Energy due to the deaths and suffering of civilians in the hands of those who did not have the authority of Truth nor the blessings of the Official system and its laws. Interestingly – Water the Natural element is part of the reason for this negative Energy in that area including through the Battle of Sampur. One may choose to not recognize Truth to do one’s duty. But where Truth is recognized to avoid duty – the manifestations confirm continued existence of animosity which the current Government has failed to diffuse or absorb.
Most Muslims known to me are driven by their Truth than by their position duty in a multicultural area. One needs to expect this and use their positions as facilities and not ‘take-over’ to run the show as if Sampur was a Naval base. Taking over is an invitation to react at the emotional level and the result would be the Middle-East also coming to Sri Lanka the way India came through Tamil Nadu.